Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,227 / Orlando

Posted by mhl on January 24th, 2011


A very nice puzzle from Orlando today, although I think many people would think it rather difficult for Monday in the Guardian. I look forward to seeing many of you in Derby on Saturday :)

1. GOLDFISH BOWL (HOLDS BIG FOWL)*; Definition: “It clearly holds small fish”
8. NAIL BAR Cryptic definition – the “quick” is a part of the nail
9. LONDRES LON[g] DRES[s] = “Long dress, backless”; Definition: “French capital”
11. INFANTA INFANTRY = “soldiers” without RY = “railway” + A; Definition: “King’s daughter”
12. NIAGARA AGAIN = “over” (as in “to do it over”) reversed + R[ussi]A = “Russia’s borders”; Definition: “Border river”
13. NINON Hidden in “woveN IN ONe”; Definition: “Sheer fabric”
14. IMPRINTED DEMI reversed = “Halfback” around PRINT = “picture”; Definition = “made an impression”
16. PORTRAYAL RAY = “Beam” in PORTAL = “door”; Definition: “painting”
19. CHAIN Double definition: “Measure” (the unit of length) and “binder” (something that binds)
21. LABIATE LAB[rador] = “Small dog” + I = “one” + ATE = “fed”; Definition: “mint, say” – one of the definitions of LABIATE is “A plant of the order family Labiatae”, of which mint is one Thanks to Geoff for the correction – he also remarks that the familiy is “now more usually known as Lamiacae
23. UNCOVER UNCO = “odd Scottish” + REV = “vicar” reversed; Definition: “Reveal” – “unco” always reminds me of these lines from Tam O’Shanter: “While we sit bousing at the nappy, / An’ getting fou and unco happy,” – almost appropriate with Burns Night tomorrow…
24. SPICIER S[i]P = “Drink I ignored” + ICIER = “colder”; Definition: “Hotter”
25. ANTONIO A + (NOTION)*; Definition: “of ‘The Merchant of Venice’” – “of” suggesting “a character in” Thanks to Martin H for the correction – Antonio is the title character of “The Merchant of Venice”. I’d always thought, wrongly, that was Shylock, but Wikipedia is very clear on that point. He also points out that this common misconception is alluded to in the surface of the clue – very nice, I think!
26. WHO GOES THERE I don’t understand where the first ‘W’ comes from here, unless it’s W = “words” and “words” is doing double duty – I parsed it as: ESTHER = “girl” put into OE = “Old English” after W = “with” + HOG = “pig” first; Definition: “Challenging words” Thanks to Gaufrid for the correction
1. GRIFFON GON[e] “almost missing” around RIFF = “repeating phrase”; Definition: “dog”, not to be confused with the gryphon
2. LEBANON LE = “Nancy’s the” (Nancy as in the French city) + BAN = “outlaw” + ON; Definition: “country”
3. FORMALITY MALI = “Country” in FORTY = “doubled score”; Definition: “observing convention” – I’m not quite convinced by that definition, by the usual “substitute in a sentence” test… Update: tupu suggests a nice example below
4. SALON SAL = “girl” + ON = “working”; Definition: “art exhibition”
5. BENGALI (BELGIAN)*; Definition: “Tongue”
6. WARRANT A WAR RANT might be a “sabre-rattling diatribe”; Definition: “Justify”
7. INDIANAPOLIS INDIA = “Country” + NAPOLI = “Italian city” + S = “South”; Definition: “American city”
10. STANDING ROOM A very nice clue: a STAND-IN GROOM might be a “union representative”; Definition: “Provision for the unseated”
15. POLLUTANT POLL = “Survey” + U THANT = “UN secretary general once” without H = “heroin”; Definition: “harmful substance”
17. RUBBISH Double definition: “Cobblers” and “being critical, put the boot in”
18. ROARING RING = “belt” around OAR = “propellor”; Definition: “making a loud noise”
19. COCOTTE CO CO = “Senior office repeatedly” + TT = “refusing alcohol” + E[at]; Definiton: “a little casserole” – according to Wordnet, a cocotte is “a small casserole in which individual portions can be cooked and served”
20. ADVANCE Double definition: “Go ahead” and “loan”
22. EERIE E = “European” + EIRE = “republic” all reversed Thanks to Gaufrid for pointing out that this doesn’t actually work – you get ERIEE…

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,227 / Orlando”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi mhl
    In 26ac the beginning is W (with) HOG (pig) followed by the parsing you have given.

    Regarding 22dn, if you set-up ‘European republic’, as instructed, you get ERIEE rather than EERIE.

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, mhl, and Orlando for another very nice puzzle, with a number of witty clues.


    In 26 across, the W comes from ‘starting w[ith]‘.

  3. Eileen says:

    Pipped by Gaufrid again!

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl – I really enjoyed this, with several nice penny-dropping moments, especially in 7dn (where the def. should be “American city” BTW) and 10dn.

    See you on Saturday!

  5. mhl says:

    Thanks Gaufrid, Eileen and Andrew – I’ve applied those corrections or comments now. In my defence, I was writing the post in Luton Airport at 4am, and probably not quite thinking straight…

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Orlando

    Some difficult bits in a generally pleasant puzzle. I read 26 as Gaufrid, and was also slightly worried by 22d but assumed the ? gave the setter some leeway. Like mhl, unco also always reminds me of Burns’ poem.

    I thought 1d might be griffin, checked it in the dictionary and of course found the correct answer immediately. A shame as it is guessabel from the clue. I did guess labiate and ninon correctly from the clues.

    My COD definitely 10d but 15d also pleased as did 2d, 9a, and 24a.

    17d seemed a bit ‘heavy’ and I wondered if ‘rubbish’ was enough.

  7. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen,

    By the time I’d finished writing, your entry with its reinforcement re ‘with’ was in.

    Apologies for ‘guessabel’ (a little known sister of Isabel and Jezebel?).

  8. Geoff says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. Nice start to the working week, with a bit more of a challenge from Orlando that we customarily get on a Monday.

    I parsed 3dn slightly differently: “observing” can be read as a copula – hence “Country has double score without” = “convention”. FORMALITY = convention works a bit better than = “observing convention”. Not a brilliant way of clueing equivalence, but it does wonders for the surface reading.

    To be really pedantic, a LABIATE is a member of the family (not order) Labiatae – now more usually known as Lamiacae, BTW.

  9. Geoff says:

    Lamiaceae, even.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks mhl, I needed you for the explanations of 1d and 19d.

    There were some obscure words today, and the style seemed strange to me; did any one else find this? A toughish puzzle needing two good sittings.

    I wasn’t keen on 1a, with fish in the clue and answer; I thought this was so blatant, despite getting it straight away, I didn’t fill it in until much later, so this delayed solving the top half. I am sure Sil will have something to say on this one!

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry, forgot my comment on 22d: is it a kind of &lit too, as it is disturbing that if you follow the instructions you don’t quite get the answer; also, SET-UP could indicate an anagram?

  12. tupu says:

    Hi Geoff and mhl

    Re observing formality. I wonder if we are stuck here over participles and verbal nouns. I think observing as a v.n. is fine – e.g. my Concise Oxford gives ‘conformity to rules’ as its first definition. Formality is more than ‘convention’. Informality can be conventional.

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, mhl.

    The less said about my ability to finish this one, the better – I found it tough! I will put it down to tryingtoorganisethederbyevent disorder, even though it hasn’t happened yet …

    Anyway, mhl and Orlando can sit next to each other, and there will be 43 others as well jockeying for position.

  14. Robi says:

    Thanks Orlando and mhl for explaining some things. Definitely more difficult than usual for a Monday – that’s what we get for saying that Rufus always sets it.

    Nancy boy….. I spent ages on that one trying to find a connection. I also got misdirected by ‘South American’ city; nice clue though.

    Didn’t know NINON or COCOTTE – I guess everyone knows the latter is another word for prostitute. Oh, and didn’t know the LABIATE mint connection. I wondered whether 17 might be a triple definition as ‘being critical’ is to rubbish someone, and ‘to put the boot in’ could be to rubbish something [and cobblers].

  15. blaise says:

    Negative misdirection? For 1 across I instantly guessed the answer from the definition and (8,4) and then rejected it because it contained the word “fish”… Didn’t spot the anagram until later, after I got a couple of crossers.

  16. mhl says:

    Geoff: I don’t think “observing” really works as a link word, though. I think tupu’s right about it being a verbal noun, it’s just that in most examples it sounds very forced to me – the most natural substitution I came up with was: “Formality at the meeting was expected” / “Observing convention at the meeting was expected”, which is OK, I suppose.

  17. Shirley says:

    Andrew Re 7Dn I think the blog should say “South” rather than “Southern”. This is a nice misdirection by Orlando making it look as if you need to find a South American city.
    The South is abbrieviated as S to go on the end of Napoli.
    I too got caught out by looking for South American cities ending in “polis” of which there are a few but they didn’t fit!

  18. Martin H says:

    A nice puzzle, and good to get something a bit more stimulating than usual on a Monday. Most of the clues were cleverly constructed, although I too didn’t like ‘fish’ in 1ac. NAIL BAR I thought poor, likewise the stand-in groom. BENGALI and LEBANON were both excellent.

    ‘Observing convention’ seems to me a better definition of FORMALITY than simply ‘convention’, and doesn’t sound at all forced.

    ANTONIO is the title character in The Merchant of Venice, so the ‘of’ just links the definition with the cryptic element, mhl.

  19. mhl says:

    Shirley: indeed, nice misdirection, and thanks for the correction, which I have applied. As well as the Luton Airport / ungodly time in the morning factor, the other thing that made this post more difficult than usual to write was that the arrow keys and backspace key on my netbook no longer work…

  20. mhl says:

    Martin H: thanks for correcting me on the Merchant of Venice – a misconception of mine which has lasted since school, apparently…

  21. tupu says:

    Hi mhl

    I agree it is not easy. How about something like ‘I don’t see the value of formality/observing convention when a ‘big hug’ would be much more useful’.

  22. Martin H says:

    mhl @20 – a common misconception, indeed a ‘false notion’, as Orlando has it.

  23. mhl says:

    Martin H: ah, how lovely :) I’ll add a remark about that too.

  24. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks mhl

    Completed this one apart from 24a, it is obvious when I see the answer.

    Must say I didn’t like a lot of these clues. Some of them quite ambiguous in my opinion. I must be getting old!

  25. muz says:

    Thanks mhl for blogging under difficult circumstances.

    A nice puzzle today, really.

    Can anybody explain what a NAIL BAR is? I had NAIL BED; if you can be treated in a burns ward, maybe you can be treated in nail bed?? This slowed me down some, but 3d is precisely enough clued to reveal my mistake.

  26. Dynamic says:

    22 Disturbing set-up of European republic? (5)

    I too was puzzled by 22d which really looks like ERIEE from the wordplay. I guess we could all be missing something, like I did for quite a while with 26a.

    Unlike mathematics, there’s no precise order to things and no brackets to change that order or lump words together to undergo the same process, so there’s some flexibility, but I really couldn’t make it become EERIE.

    Discussing it with my PinC, the best justification I could come up with was the rather unsatisfying, but technically accurate:

    Take the abbreviation for European (E) and reverse that (still E!)
    then take the name of a republic (EIRE) and reverse that too (ERIE) and append it:
    <E< + <EIRE< = E + ERIE = EERIE

    Not very satisfying to reverse a single letter and then carry over the same reversicator to act on the next word, which is placed after the first reversed letter.

    Likewise it's not satisfying to say that a reversal can use an anagram indicator because reversal is technically a special case of an anagram, or that a double reversal (for surface reading's sake, I guess) would count as the same word forward, acting either as part of a charade or a double-definition. These things are frowned upon unless there's an unusual special reason (maybe a theme of double-negatives).

    However, I thought this was a marvellous crossword, with some lovely misdirection, plenty of well disguised 'lift and separate' moments such as "French capital" and "South American city". This is rather unusually challenging for a Monday Guardian, but I'd enjoy this any day.

  27. Dynamic says:

    @muz – a nail bar is also known as a nail salon, where mostly ladies go to have their quicks treated and their nail polish or false nails applied by a beautician or manicurist. I think somebody set one up with that title in Albert Square (Eastenders) in the last few years as they started popping up in many towns around the country, so I’d imagine it’s a fairly well-known phrase in the UK.

  28. John Doe says:

    re 22d: set-up of European republic gives ERIE E, as has been pointed out

    *Disturbing* does double duty as the definition and a further instruction, so

    disturbing (instruction) ERIE E gives E ERIE, anyway you like it, anagram or swap

  29. Rosmarinus says:

    Being new to cryptics I found this one hard and had to make fair use of my check button. I can usually finish Rufus now and look forward to him on a Monday. I also dismissed 1ac to begin with as I believed the answer to an anagram should not be in the clue.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well well, it was certainly different today.
    Not just more challenging than on a normal Monday [which probably will not be appreciated by the average Guardian reader], but also on top of that – in our opinion – one of the toughest Orlandos we’ve seen so far.
    In fact, it took us almost 90 minutes to complete, which was the same time we spent on last Saturday’s Enigmatist. During the first quarter of it, we hardly put anything to paper.

    Nice puzzle, full of Orlando’s trademark misdirections.
    A quasi-simple clue like 12ac (NIAGARA) could take you anywhere – I mean “Russia’s borders” were clear, but it could have been just as easily a “river” (flowing backwards) with RA inside, giving “Border”.
    One or two unusual things like, for example, LONDRES.

    We forgive Orlando 2x “fish” in 1ac [yes, Dave @10], with its well-hidden anagrind, and perhaps the EERIE clue too [although, when John Doe is right @28, there is nothing tó forgive].
    While others weren’t completely happy with “observing” in 3d, we weren’t convinced of the necessity of “needed” (16ac PORTRAYAL), other than for the (splendid) surface.

    Good, but tough puzzle.
    Generally very well-written, as we’ve come to expect from Orlando.

    But we suspect that there will be some Guardian readers out there, still staring at an half-full grid. :)
    [Wonder what the policy behind today's choice was, but we thought it was a good one]

    And of course, mhl, thanks for the blog.
    Hope to meet you and others this Saturday!

  31. mark says:

    Yes I was staring at a two-thirds full only grid and don’t like some of the answers now I’ve seen them.
    How does a setter make the mistake that is 22D – that’s so annoying and I lose faith then.
    17A seemed cumbersome and I couldn’t believe I’d got it right.
    Didn’t know W was short for WITH.
    And 5D – it doesn’t work! Belgian is twisted not Tongue on the surface. That’s more than misdirection it’s lazy or clumsy.

  32. Carrots says:

    Wow! Wotta Monday! This was seriously brain-mashing stuff from Orlando…and I look forward to complimenting him about it on Saturday. He beat me with LEBANON, NINON & LABIATE. As I don`t use life support systems (like Chambers & Google etc.) I can forgive myself the latter two, but not the former.

    K`s D “do” seems to be shaping up really well: I can see the headlines now in the Derbyshire Evening Telegraph: “FIGHTING DRUNK CRUCIVERBALISTS CLASH OVER THE SPLIT INFINITIVE!”

    God Speed to you all who attend.

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    In addition to my post @30, I want to emphasise that some of the last lines are not meant to be read as cynical or so.
    The smiley after the remark that some people might still be staring at a half-full grid, is possibly misplaced (and true, at the same time).

    I really think that a lot of Guardian readers weren’t very pleased today.
    With the posts @29 and 31 as a result.
    When I say that we thought the editor’s choice was a good thing, I meant that we (my PinC and I) liked it for a change.

    Most of the above posts appreciated the crossword, but Fifteensquared regulars are not the average solvers.

    I hope that the editor gives Rufus the Tuesday spot tomorrow.
    Which would be surprise #2 this week.

    mark @31:
    When EERIE (22d) is indeed a mistake, then that’s very annoying – I agree.
    But normally Orlando is such a precise setter that I find it hard to nail him to the wall for just one misgiving (which could have any reason – who knows).
    I do agree with you about the order of things in BENGALI (5d). The problem, however, is that this is Crosswordland. The clue cán be read as “a tongue which when twisted gives us Belgian”. I know it’s not the obvious way of looking at the clue, but, you see, there’s a question mark at the end too.
    But I definitely see your point.

    This wasn’t a puzzle for Monday Solvers.
    We did like the cleverness of many clues.
    We do understand the imperfection of some other clues.
    But there was a lot that’s priceless.
    But again, for us, that is.

  34. John McDonald says:

    Re. 22D — Eerie is E (European) followed by Eire reversed.

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