Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,207 / Orlando

Posted by Eileen on December 31st, 2010


Orlando’s puzzles are always entertaining and I’m pleased to get one of his for my last blog of the year. There’s a good variety of cluing, with smooth, often witty, surfaces throughout, some clever anagrams and amusing homophones – and one piece of wordplay which I thought had me beaten until the light dawned. Thank you, Orlando, for this and your puzzles throughout the year: a very Happy New Year to you and all our readers.


9   AHEAD: HE [man] in bAcArDi [13 across]; a nice piece of misdirection,  suggesting a play / film at 13ac.
10 DEATH BLOW: anagram of WHO TABLED
11 GAITSKELL: IT in GASKELL [Mrs Elizabeth, Victorian novelist, author of ‘Cranford’ and ‘North and South’]: Hugh Gaitskell, Labour leader 1955-63
12  READY: READ [scan] + [pla]Y
13  BACARDI: AC [centre of attrACtion] in BAR [pub] + D[etective] I[nspector] [policeman]: we’re used to seeing ‘rum’ more often as anagram indicator than definition.
15  HIDEOUT: homophone of ‘high doubt’
17  WRENS: R[un] in W E N S [all directions]
18 DIM: DIM[e]
20  TRIPE: T[ime] + RIPE [ready – 12ac]
22  SILK HAT: anagram of HIS TALK
25  SAD SACK: SAD [regrettable] SACK [dismissal]:  an American fictional comic strip and comic book character
26 FLAIR: L[eft] in FAIR [blonde]
27  PREMINGER: [so]NG in PREMIER [first]: Otto Preminger (1905 – 1986) the Austro–Hungarian-born American film director
28  METROLAND: MET [bumped into] + ROLAND


1   BANG: BAN [outlaw] + G[reenwood]:  again, ‘report’ is more usually a homophone indicator.
2   MEDIOCRE: anagram of MORE DICE – a very neat surface
3   ODES: ODES[sa]
4   IDLEWILD: IDLE [unemployed] + WILD [crazy]: the former name of JFK International Airport
5   WALLAH: ALL [quite] in reversal of HAW [fruit]
6   SHORT-DATED: anagram of HATTER’S ODD
7   EL PASO: hidden reversal in orlandO’S A PLEasant
8   SWAY: W[ickets] in SAY [for example] – a nice topical one!
13  BOWLS: B[ook] + OWLS
14  RESTHARROW: anagram of HERTS + ARROW [director – not of films this time]: ‘a papilonaceous plant [genus Ononis] with long, tough, woody roots’ [Chambers]
16  TWEAK: W[ith] in TEAK [timber] – clever use of  ‘timber frames’
19  MISLEADS: homophone of Miss Leeds [Yorkshire beauty queen]
21  IRANGATE: IRATE [up in arms] around N[icaraguan] G[roup] A[ided]: US political scandal in 1987 involving senior members of the Reagan administration
23  LEAN-TO: LEANT [listed] + O [nothing]
24  TIPCAT: TAT [tasteless articles] around I PC [one computer]: I have not played [nor heard of!] this game – details here:
26  FUME: reversal [up, ‘not down’] of EMU [Australian runner] ‘under’ F[ollowing]: it was a real penny-dropping moment when this finally yielded.  :-)
28  IVAN: [d]IVAN: the name of various Russian Tsars, perhaps most notably Ivan III [the Great] and Ivan IV [the Terrible]
29  RARE: double definition: meat cooked rare is red inside.

30 Responses to “Guardian 25,207 / Orlando”

  1. aloo2 says:

    Defeated by ‘Irangate’ as I had ‘table’ at 20.

    My thanks for the solution.

  2. MikeC says:

    Many thanks for an excellent blog. A fine puzzle from Orlando, although it had me beaten a few times.

    Happy New Year to you too.

  3. malc95 says:

    Thanks Eileen for such an informative post, and thanks Orlando for an interesting end to the year.

    This seemed to be an unusual mixture of very easy and quite difficult clues; also a fair amount of humour to lighten up a grey day.

    26d Loved the Australian runner, but still can’t see where the “F” comes from. Is it a recognised abbreviation for “following”? Or am I just being extra 18a this morning?

    Happy New Year to all.

  4. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen and all the best for 2011.

    I found this a bit of a struggle at times. I got FUME but didn’t see why, so thanks for that. My penny-drop moments were IDLEWILD and IRANGATE.

    And finally a thanks for all your fine blogs throughout 2010.

  5. Wanderer says:

    Many thanks Eileen and Orlando, this was very enjoyable. I got FUME only from the crossing letters, without being able to justify it, so your explanation was much needed. No number of crossing letters would have got me anywhere near to TIPCAT, which defeated me. Thanks for your blogs over the year, and happy new year to you too.

  6. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks Eileen. I found this quite straightforward. It helps that I knew all the references bar RESTHARROW and that yielded simply from the wordplay. Emus can only do one thing well (there is even a song called Old Man Emu with the line “I can run the pants off a kangaroo”) so I was looking for a way to fit emu into 26dn as soon as I saw “Australian runner”.

    Happy New Year to all, setters and bloggers in particular. I have enjoyed crosswords more than ever this year by finally having someone to share my strange obsession with. In 10 years in Japan I have only met one other person who even understood what I was doing.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for an excellent blog and Orlando for a lovely puzzle to end the year,

    Lots of humour and varied trickery.

    I had wanted to spell the Labour leader as Gaitskill but this was corrected for me as soon as I ‘got’ Idlewild (a great clue!).

    I enjoyed Miss Leeds and Bacardi among many others. I found Dim and Aster and Ivan (involving ‘ellipsis’ of letters) hard to explain at first despite the answers being clear.

    I had to check ‘restharrow’ and ‘sad sack’. I knew of ‘tipcat’ and liked the clue surface a lot.

    All in all a lot of fun.

  8. Eileen says:

    Hi malc95

    Yes, F is a recognised abbreviation for ‘following’. [It’s in Chambers.]

    Thanks, Tokyo Colin, for the emu reference. [I was initially looking for a River Ume!] Chambers has ’emu: a flightless, fast-running Australian bird’. I knew about the ‘flightless’ – but I suppose, if it can’t fly, it has to be able to run!

    And, tupu, I think, without the clue, I’d probably have written ‘Gaitskill’, too.

  9. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    :) I guess that’s what the clues are for! I have had Gaskill and Gaskell colleagues in recent years, which helps to keep me muddled, but I should have known better with Elizabeth if not with Hugh. On the other hand, it added to the pleasure of getting Idlewild straight from the wordplay.

  10. malc95 says:

    Thanks Eileen for “following” info. @ 8#.
    I’ll have to dig out my old Chambers.

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    Just to add to your comic book character in 25ac, Chambers defines SAD SACK as “(esp US sl) a person who seems to attract mishap and disaster, a misfit”.

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Gaufrid. I thought I recognised the phrase from somewhere but didn’t know the comic character, which I got via Google. [I’m still not entirely used to expecting to find everything in Chambers!]

  13. jim says:

    Thanks for an excellent blog.
    One minor gripe. Am I the only one who dislikes the inversion of the sensible order in 20? Shouldn’t it be Time on 12?
    Otherwise, very enjoyable.

  14. Paul B says:

    You might be Jim, you might not, as in an across clue X on Y by convention equals YX. This is not the case in down clues, where ‘on’ (again by convention, though more obviously as the words read from top to bottom anyway) simply means ‘on top of’.

    Great clues in this puzzle by Orlando, one of the very best Guardian setters IMV.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi jim

    It depends what you mean by ‘sensible’. 😉

    This is a perennial cause for discussion. I think that, in an across clue, ‘on’ in the sense of ‘added onto’ is perfectly acceptable.

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Eileen, for this and all your other entertaining and informative blogs during 2010.

    I did enjoy this one, though I struggled with the last few. There were some unfamiliar words, but that’s no bad thing; I was pleased to get TIPCAT from the wordplay, though I’d never come across it before. BACARDI and METROLAND were also pleasing, and AHEAD was cleverly done.

    Jim at no 13: I’m sure we’ve touched on this before. I personally am more relaxed about this kind of construction, although I know there are other solvers who, like you, aren’t so keen. I always think of something like Newcastle-on-Tyne, or Richmond-on-Thames. Here the ‘on’ has the sense of ‘next to’, so for me that makes Orlando’s clue today work.

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and for all your other contributions this year. And thanks to Orlando for another great puzzle — clever, funny and with many great surfaces. I particularly liked MISLEADS, IDLEWILD and IRANGATE. Guessed FUME, but didn’t see the wordplay and TIPCAT threw me, although I should have been able to work it out from the wordplay.

    Happy New Year!

  18. Robii says:

    Thanks to Orlando and Eileen for an enjoyable puzzle and a super blog.

    I got FUME from the description, but couldn’t see the wordplay – obviously not down-under.

    Didn’t know TIPCAT, and was playing with articles like ‘the, an, a’ until I sorted it.

    Happy New Year to all setters and bloggers – thanks for making the puzzles so entertaining.

  19. Robi says:

    P.S. Sorry my laptop thinks I am ‘Robii’ but I am really ‘Robi’ as before.

  20. PeterO says:

    Thank you, Eileen, for the exemplary blog. I also find Orlando and entertainingly devious setter. In 26D, I spotted the F for following (as I should have done, having used the ‘plural’ version in my blog Wednesday), but did not get the wordplay for UME before you enlightened me.

  21. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Orlando for your puzzles and Eileen for your blogs. Like aloo2 @1 I had TABLE at 20A. This ruined the SE corner for me. Hadn’t heard of TIPCAT at 24D but research indicates that it is similar to one-a-cat which is common in US Crosswords. Happy New Year to all!


  22. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Eileen, for today’s blog – and, of course, for all the other blogs you ‘delivered’ in the year gone by.
    What I do like about them is not just that they are so detailed, but also the fact that you amply give your personal opinion on these crosswords – one can almost feel how you experienced solving them.

    Today a splendid puzzle by one of my favourite setters.
    More than an average share of misdirection today, ánd the famous ‘lift & separate’ clues (like ‘Leading man’ (9ac), ‘Mad Hatter’ (6d), ‘computer game’ (24d) and the fantastic ‘Timber frames’ of 16d).

    Just like many I knew it had to be FUME, but couldn’t explain the UME/EMU part – was looking for an Australian river (‘runner’).
    Only thing I wasn’t completely sure about [although I do understand it] was the use of (I think) the noun ‘content’ to indicate that we should put ALL inside HAW<.

    And guess what, on the last day of the year, I fully agree with Paul B. :) [#14].
    We had the X on Y discussion many times, and Paul explained it (again) very well in his post. Not that every single setter does it like that, and certainly not Araucaria (who doesn't always stick to rules anyway [in a positive sense] and who even invents his own words sometimes, like a few days ago 'more or lesh').

    Yes, Orlando is one of the best that the Guardian has in store.
    But let's not only thank Orlando for his contributions in 2010 – all the others did a fine job too.
    Of course, I have my preferences and the level of Guardian crosswords is not really consistent, but let's face it: 365 Araucarias, Rufuses or Pauls in a row wouldn't be a good idea either and certainly not serve everyone's taste.

    Happy New Year to you All !!

  23. tupu says:

    Happy New Year Sil and and all my fellow ‘silly bloggers’.

  24. molonglo says:

    Eileen – just to join the chorus of praise for all your fine blogs in 2010, including this excellent one, and to wish you a warm 2011 (it has started off here already, 37C).

    The only trouble I had with Orlando’s enjoyable puzzle was why y=playback in 12a: it’s obvious now. I got 25a at once, from Jailhouse Rock:

    Sad sack was a sittin’ on a block of stone
    way over in the corner weepin’ all alone.
    The warden said, “Hey, buddy, don’t you be no square.
    If you can’t find a partner use a wooden chair.”
    Let’s rock Everybody, let’s rock.
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

  25. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen.

    Had to go back to this one two or three times before I could complete it. I don’t think my mind is on the same wave length as Orlando but it was a very entertaining puzzle.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi molonglo

    I don’t know where ‘here’ is for you, you fortunate person, [though I think 37º is rather much for me!]. ‘Here’, for me, is the British Midlands, which Hilaire Belloc described as ‘sodden and unkind’, which I’ve always rather resented, but at the moment it’s really rather apt – much less pretty than the sparkling snow we’ve had but we must think of the travellers.

    As I think I said earlier, Gaufrid’s Chambers link was more useful for 25ac – it’s probably from the Elvis song that my distant memory came.

    Hi gm4hqf

    I think you’re quite new here [please forgive me if you’re not]. Even if you don’t think you’re on the same wavelength as Orlando, he’s certainly one to stick with and learn from, because his cluing is so fair.

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    I’m all for learning, but too many unknowns can stop you dead, and they did. Oh well.

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi Derek

    It’s good to hear from you. [I was just thinking that you hadn’t commented for a day or two.]

    I do hope you had a good Christmas and that things will soon be going better for you.

  29. Daniel Miller says:

    Once I got going this was ok – had an immense struggle with Restharrow – presuming it to be another film director – otherwise asked my son for Sad Sack (I guess Americanisms are more familiar to the younger generation)

  30. molonglo says:

    Eileen – Australia’s captal. On 1/1/11 it was, quite rare, the hottest city in Oz. Online, Webster’s is good: for Sad Sack it gives “Someone who makes mistakes because of incompetence” and then, in the next section, a picture of the comic “created by Sgt. George Baker during World War II” depicting “an otherwise unnamed, lowly private experiencing some of the absurdities and humiliations of military life.”

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