Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,195 / Crucible

Posted by mhl on December 16th, 2010


An excellent puzzle from Crucible. (I’ve been lucky with two Crucibles in four weeks :)) There’s a mini theme in 3d, 7d, 20d and 21d, but if there’s more to it, I’ve missed that. I don’t get 14 across, I’m afraid, but I’m sure someone can clear that up…

9. SEX APPEAL SEX = “In Rome half a dozen” + APPEAL = “beg” (Definition: “it”); “sex” is 6 in Latin rather than Italian
10. EQUIP QUI = “Who in France” in EP = “old record” (Definition: “supply”)
11. UKRAINE UK = “This country” + RAIN = “drops” + E = “euro”? (Definition: “[This country] never had it”)
12. VITAMIN T = “Tense” (presumably in dictionaries?) + AMI = “French pal” in VIN = “his tipple” (Definition: “retinol, say”)
13. AGING [man]AGING = “coping” without MAN = “husband” (Definition: “Going grey”)
14. AU NATUREL (Definition: “In the raw”) – I don’t get the cryptic part, though: “French cut their tipple with it, they say” Thanks to togo for explaining this – it’s a homophone of EAU NATURELLE (still water), which you might cut your drink with to dilute it
16. CONGRATULATIONS (ROASTING COLA NUT)* (Definition: “very well done”, as you might say to someone)
19. SMALL ARMS SS = “Nazi police” around MALLARM[é] = “French poet after tip off” (Definition: “firing these?”)
21. WAY IN Sounds like “weigh in” (“broadcast fight preliminaries”) (Definition: “Access”)
22. ART DECO A + RT = “radio-telephony” (I guess? I don’t have Chambers with me…) + (CODE)* (Definition: “1930s-style”)
23. SYNAPSE A neuroinformatics &lit! Y = “variable” + SPAN reversed = “gap going over” in S and E = two points” (Definition: the whole clue)
24. GIMME An excellent (but tough) &lit: 1 MM = “A short distance” in EG reversed = “say, round” (Definition: the whole clue – in a round of golf, you might refer to a short putt as a gimme)
25. RECHERCHE HER = “woman” in RECCE = “survey” around H = “hotel” (Definition: “Exotic”)
1. ASSURANCES RUN = “dashed” in UC = “University College” in ASSES = “fools” (Definition: “Promises”)
2. EXERTION (INTO)* below EXE and R = “two rivers” (Definition: “effort” – it can’t be “Putting effort”, which is a weakness in the clue, I think)
3. SPRING The first themed clue: double definition (Definitions: “Time”, “bound”)
4. GENE Another lovely &lit: GEN = “Information” + E[veryone] = “everyone’s origin” (Definition: whole clue)
5. ELEVEN-PLUS EL = “the foreign” + (SEVEN UP)* around L = “left” (Definition: “test”)
6. KEPT AT IT TATI = “Jacques” in KEPT = “remained” (?) (Definition: “persevered”) Thanks to Eileen for pointing out “kept quiet” = “remained quiet”
7. SUMMER The second themed clue: An “adder” (one who adds) might be a SUMMER (one who sums) (Definition: “Time”)
8. OPEN O = “Duck” + PEN + “Swan” (Definition: “clear”)
14. AFTER HOURS (OUR FATHERS)* (Definition: “Illicit drinking time”)
15. LOS ANGELES ANGEL + “Financial backer” in LOSES = “doesn’t win”
17. RELIEVED RE = “about” followed by EVE = “woman” in LID = “hat” (Definition: “No longer worried”)
18. OLYMPICS (CO[e] SIMPLY)* (Definition: whole clue)
20. AUTUMN The third themed clue: N = “new” + MUTUA[l] = “joint nearly” all reversed (Definition: “time”)
21. WINTER WATER with IN instead of A (Definition: “time”)
22. ALGA Hidden in speciAL GAstronomic (Definition: “Seafood”)
23. SACK COSSACK = “fighter in [UKRAINE]” without COS = “company’s” (Definition: “Fire”)

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,195 / Crucible”

  1. togo says:

    Thankyou mhl

    I think 14ac is (sounds like) eau naturel (still water, used to dilute French tipples), so au naturel = in the raw. I spent some time in the rough before the gimme.

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, mhl, you lucky man, getting two Crucibles in a row!

    I needed you to clear up GIMME and togo for AU NATUREL.

    I think ‘kept’ = ‘remained’ is OK, eg ‘kept quiet’.

    The only extra thing I could see with the theme is that the four answers are arranged symmetrically [in order] in the grid. Isn’t it lucky that all four of our seasons have six letters?

    Many thanks, Crucible, for yet another great puzzle!

  3. mhl says:

    Thanks, togo and Eileen – I’ve made those corrections.

  4. Roger says:

    Thank you mhl ~ and Crucible, of course. Enjoyed the &lits in 4 and 24, very clever. Also the four seasons (now there’s a candidate for music of the day …). I think the definition in 2d could be ‘putting effort into’ with the into doing double duty. Oh, and there’s a wee typo in 1d (for RUN read RAN) !

  5. molonglo says:

    Thaks mhl. Found this a cakewalk until near the bottom with 24a (I’m no golfer) and 23d, which held everything up, until the aha – good clue. 21d ditto: it had me wondering.

  6. Martin H says:

    All clever, quality stuff. Enjoyed this. Thanks for the ‘mutual’ bit of AUTUMN, mhl.

  7. James G says:

    thanks. What a good puzzle, and excellent blog, too. Needed that for au naturel and 23d “sack” and “aging”, all of which I had but couldn’t quite see the word-play. Had “went at it” for 6 for ages and felt it wasn’t quite right. Thanks again. Bit of a French theme, as well as the seasons, and I loved the symmetry of the seasons.

  8. James G says:

    re 1 d, if “putting effort” is a golfing putt, then the effort put into putting is exertion…!

  9. James G says:

    sorry – meant 2d

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and crucible

    After a first brief fruitless scan, this all fell into place.

    A clever puzzle, with excellent and often witty cluing, but although I got all the French references without searching (I did check au naturel etc), I am still clearly out on a limb with my irritation at the abundance of them. Mallarm(e)is really rather 25a for my taste even though it is q.

    Clues that amused were 9, 16, 5, 20, 21d, 23.

    I had to check gimme for its golf connection.

  11. Daniel Miller says:

    Thanks. This was fairly straightforward as well.

  12. tupu says:

    Sorry. Sc. ‘quite clever at end of comment re 19.

  13. tupu says:

    For info – I now find one can write é with alt + 0233. This may be useful if we have to write much more about clues with French answers. There is a good guide on
    :) which can also help if we start to get clues with answers in German, Finnish, Estonian etc.

  14. Gaufrid says:

    You can also use Alt+130 which is slightly less typing but quicker still is to use Ctrl+Alt+e.

  15. Lopakhin says:

    It’s so much easier with an Apple Mac…

  16. Stella Heath says:

    Or with a Spanish keyboard :)

    Thanks mhl, especially for your clarification of the bottom row: I’d never heard the golfing reference, and still don’t know what ‘recce’ is – and besides, I took the exotic woman to be Cher!!

    Thanks to Togo for the parsing of 14ac., and to Crucible for an excellent puzzle.

  17. tupu says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    Thanks for that. Very helpful. I see that any acute e.g. á can be done in the same short way. :) Bring on the clues!

  18. Roger says:

    Thanks for the tip, tupu, but not a whole lot is happening when I use Alt+0233 in this box (or Alt+130 for that matter, Gaufrid ~ although Ctrl+Alt+e works just fine … éééé). Perhaps there’s a trick to it ? If this is heading too far off topic I’m happy to be directed to a side ward where the mysteries of the superscript might also be revealed.

  19. Ramasamy says:

    Hi folks

    Can someone please explain how 15D works? I see the split-up of ANGEL and LOSES, but am at a loss to grammatically construct the wordplay, especially the ‘WITHOUT’ in between.

  20. Gaufrid says:

    Roger @18
    You need to check that the number lock is on and then use the numeric keyboard on the right hand side of your keyboard whilst holding down the Alt key.

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Ramaswamy

    This is an old jokey usage. ‘Without’ can mean ‘outside’. ‘The carriage awaits without’ is the first line of a piece of old comic banter. ‘Without what?’ comes the reply etc.

  22. Tokyocolin says:

    Hi Stella. Recce, pron. “rekky” is short for reconaissance. First used in the British military I believe and then became part of the Hash House Harriers lexicon which is how I know it.

  23. tupu says:

    ps Please forgive misspelling of Ramasamy

  24. MikeC says:


    There is an old usage of without to mean outside –

    “Where is so-and-so?”
    “He is without”

    Hope this helps.

  25. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Ramasamy
    You need to read it as ‘Financial backer [with] doesn’t win without (outside)’.

  26. Roger says:

    Thanks for that Gaufrid @20, all makes sense now ~ opens up a whole new world …

  27. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Colin, I’m not very well up on military jargon.

  28. Ramasamy says:

    Thanks a lot to all for the prompt replies…

  29. grandpuzzler says:

    Beautifully done Crucible and mhl. Needed the blog to understand 25A. Also thought the woman might have been Cher. My favorite clue was 18D.


  30. Derek Lazenby says:

    I must have relapsed to a fuzzy day, this was all a mystery to me. Sigh.

  31. BrigC says:

    Spare a thought for the non-doms, bloggers, please. Telephone call today from NZ asking for explanation of eleven plus. Hadn’t thought it exceptional myself either but of course to a non dom…………

  32. Robi says:

    Thanks Crucible and mhl for a nice blog, explaining all. Couldn’t do 24, perhaps because I only knew ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (a Man after Midnight)!’ Where are all the ABBA fans?

  33. William says:

    Thank you, mhl, a good blog of an elegant puzzle.

    I’d have struggled with AUTUMN & WINTER had it not been for the mini theme.

    Didn’t really twig MAN for husband in 13a until your explanation.


  34. dupin says:

    A gold medal for this one.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, another splendid puzzle by Crucible [blogged in an even better way ( :)) by mhl].

    But (question):
    (a) was it that we were on top form, or
    (b) was it because this was probably the easiest Crucible so far,
    that we solved it in half an hour or so [which, for us, is quick – though about 2 minutes on the rightback-scale]?

    Just one minor quibble.
    In 6d ‘kept’ is part of the construction (as ‘remained’) and also part of the solution (this time with the T of ‘Tati’).
    Very unelegant, and unusual for this great setter.

    Apart from that, only positive news.
    Another corker, as they say.

  36. Davy says:

    Thanks mhl,

    I thought this was terrible initially but finally warmed to it. Congratulations and jubilations to Crucible and maybe Arthur Miller. I guessed GIMME but had absolutely no idea why but it couldn’t be anything else. I did think that the clue for SUMMER was poor but I suppose it makes a change from the abstract and the abstruse.
    My favourite answer was SEX APPEAL. Good night everyone.

  37. Crucible says:

    Thanks for all your comments. You’re quite right Sil. A case of taking my eye off the ball. I was more concerned about possible reactions to yet another clutch of French-based clues and answers after the ticking-off I got last time. It’s hard to explain (or resist) what first pops into my head when staring at a blinding light; getting transfixed by a snazzy clue is often the first false step. If this seemed easier, I’ve no idea why. Perhaps you’re all getting used to me. Must try harder.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    “Must try harder”?
    Don’t think so – this was a great crossword.
    The level of difficulty is not really important to me.
    It’s more about how stylish, inventive and adventurous the clueing is.
    Dear Crucible, in my opinion, in a relatively short time you have become one of the best Guardian setters. Being the C in my ABC (Alberich and Boatman being the others).

    And when someone whose name I have never seen before on this site (dupin @34) says “A gold medal for this one”, then that’s just it.
    Yes, that’s just it !!

  39. Gerry says:

    ‘Gimme’ was no gimme for me-though I holed it.

  40. Carrots says:

    Hello Crucible: Thanks for stopping by….I wish more setters would. Your puzzles don`t get easier, they just get better. This one I have no qualms about. It provided me with almost an hour of brain-stretching and pinta-downing and I only got one wrong (“GAMME” instead of “GIMMIE”). But good fun, so thanks to you and to mhl for a neat blog.

    Going to K`s Dads “do” in Derby on the 29th January? Twill be fun!

  41. tupu says:

    Sil’s point re 6d and Crucible’s positive response to it are instructive and reveal a remarkable aesthetic fastidiousness, while at the same time pin-pointing what probably makes the clue a fairly easy one.

    At the same time, ‘remain’ and ‘keep’ are not simply synonyms, as mhl’s original query clearly shows (with Eileen providing the relatively small overlap between them). ‘Remained at it’ is much less purposive and much less like ‘persevered’ than ‘kept at it’, since ‘keep’ even as an intransitive verb retains a kind of transitive or perhaps more accurately reflexive quality – ‘keep oneself at it’ – which ‘remain’ lacks.

    I myself did not worry. I simply ‘obeyed orders’ and saw the ‘t’ in ‘kept’ as instructed (i.e. after Tati), and Sil’s point did not strike me (or most of us as far as I can guess). Through this blog, I am learning more from him and others about the aesthtics of clue surface structure, but I still tend to be that little bit more interested in semantics.

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Tupu, the only thing I can say about this is that, when you are a crossword setter, you don’t want a thing like this (8d).
    When Crucible says “A case of taking my eye off the ball”, I know exactly what he’s talking about.

    Nobody else can’t be bothered? Fine by me.
    I am sure Crucible knows what I mean.
    On hindsight, he probably would want to adjust that clue – alas.

    But but but, don’t get me wrong, GREAT puzzle.

  43. Stella Heath says:

    It’s a bit late to answer, but I don’t see the problem with 6d. – the answer is TATI with KEP – T outside, exactly as the clue indicates.

  44. Carrots says:

    Hear Hear! Stella. Tupu & Sil are always odds-on favourites in the Semantic Stakes, with both preferring hard going. I`m just happy if I can finish!

  45. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    My point was not to criticise but simply to point out that the meanings of the words also matter.

    Also I wonder what you thinks about ‘charade’ clues which may easily take a comparable form, I think.

  46. tupu says:

    Hi Stella
    Part of my point was as yours, the clue’s order indicators.
    Yet Crucible’s positive response to Sil reveals that there genuinely can be more to cluing than we may sometimes think.

  47. Carrots says:

    Tupu: “What you thinks(?)…..I think”??? Now I wouldn`t know a split infinitive from a Jersey Cow (10 out of 10 if you can name which Western this came from) but there is decidedly something odd about your syntax.

    Also, get an outboard for your bath-tub: I once took my little Shetland from fen-land to Derby and it only took me five days. You have no excuse for missing K`s Dad`s “bit of a do”.

  48. tupu says:

    :) Hi Carrots. It’s not my syntax – just my typing.

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