Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,229 – Gordius

Posted by manehi on January 26th, 2011


Solved most of this quickly but couldn’t get a foothold in the NW for a good while. Some nice clues (26d my favourite), but some (6d, 14d) were a bit shaky.

1 AFTERGLOW (Great flow)*
9 SNAPPY SPY=watch, around NAP=”forty winks”
10 GENEALOGY GENE[r]AL + rev(GO) + Y=unknown
11 PONCHO Hidden in “uPON CHOice”
12 WELL-MEANT WELL=”oil supplier” + (met an)*
17 MAD rev(DAM)
19 CHATEAU CHAT is a little potato + EAU=water
20 UNLOOSE (one soul)*
21 DEB Short for debutante, one who goes out. rev(BED)
23 PUPPET PUP=”Man’s little friend” + PET=”such a one”
27 ESPIONAGE (is page one)*
28 INTERN INTERNET=”the web” minus ET=alien
29 SLAPSTICK SLAPS=hits + TICK=credit
30 AUNTIE Auntie BBC or Beeb. A + UNTIE=UNLOOSE=20ac
31 INTERLOPE I think the wordplay is IN + (tree)* around LOP=cut, but can’t quite make it read that way
2 FEEDER FEED=paid as in “fee’d” + ER=sovereign
3 EVENLY EVELYN (Waugh) with N[ame] “elevated” i.e. moved up.
4 GILLET Scottish word for a flighty young woman. L=student in GILET=waistcoat
5 ORGANZA ZA=”South Africa” (Zuid Afrika) after ORGAN=(news)paper
6 INSOLUBLE cryptic def
8 EYE-OPENER EYE=watch + OPENER=”first in” in a cricket team
14 SCEPTICAL cryptic def
15 CARPETING =Summoning in the sense of a reprimand. CARING about PET
16 METEOROID (I do more to)* Edit thanks to greyfox: (I do more)* around ET
17 MUD hidden in BerMUDa
18 DUB rev(BUD)
22 EPSILON (L[etter] is open)*
24 SIMPLE =Herb. As opposed to INSOLUBLE.
25 INSTAL (Last in)*
26 EGG CUP cryptic def

38 Responses to “Guardian 25,229 – Gordius”

  1. Rishi says:

    I agree that 31a doesn’t work in the manner intended by the setter.

  2. beermagnet says:

    I thought INTERLOPE worked, enough.
    It was the duff anagram for METEOROID that annoyed me.
    I too struggled with the top left corner. Why did it take so long to see AFTERGLOW?

  3. greyfox says:

    I think 31dn is an anagram of ‘I do more’ around ET.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Manehi

    I had no problem with INTERLOPE but I had never heard of ORGANZA (I opted for ORGANSA) or GILLET.

    Otherwise, very enjoyable!

    Now back to the Cricket – even though I don’t believe England have scored nearly enough.

  5. Bryan says:

    Greyfox @ 3

    I’m sure that you mean 16d – there’s no 31d.

  6. greyfox says:

    Oops! Silly me.

  7. Martin H says:

    A well-clued puzzle for the most part; again the NW providing the sticking points. Horrid grid though.

    I can’t quite see the summons as the reprimand in 15, and don’t think it quite works. Likewise ‘there to sleep’ having gone back (21) seems a rather awkward wording, similar in style to 31. 26 elicited a sound like sitting on a whoopee cushion, but there were some neat and devious clues; 7, 10 and 22 stand out. I’m sure greyfox’s reading of 16 is what was intended.

  8. jim says:

    Too many iffy clues for me.
    How does 7d work? What’s ‘A model’ doing?
    31a doesn’t work at all.
    Interesting that UNLOOSE and UNTIE mean the same, but appear to be opposites.
    And egg-cup raised a smile, but that apart I thought this was quite mediocre.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks manehi and Gordius

    I found myself a bit irritated with and not greatly interested in this, but some surfaces e.g. 3, 4 and 18 were in retrospect better than I initially thought.

    I agree with Martin H and greyfox re 16. Not enough Es in I do more to.

    But this gives us two ET clues (16 and 28) and 2 PET clues (15 and 23).

    The surfaces of 1 and 7 are a bit wonky.

    Interloper is ok. It reads ‘in (gnarled) tree without (outside) cut (lop)’

    I was amused by 14 and 26.

  10. malc95 says:

    Jim @8.

    7d “A model” – I think this refers to a model T Ford

  11. walruss says:

    I agree with Jim, a lot of iffy clues. But 31 is okay where ‘having’ is the link word. He’s just plonked the IN and the angram together.

  12. Roger says:

    Thanks manehi. Agree that this was a bit of a mixed bag and am still unsure how herb = simple in 24d (herb seems to be a stupid or uncool person according to the Urban Dictionary but am I missing something more obvious ?). Chuckled at 26, though.
    Perhaps alien is a misnomer for ET in Crosswordland !

  13. Conrad Cork says:


    Simple is a generic term for a herb, or more accurately a medicinal herb.

  14. Andrew says:

    A fairly typical Gordius, not helped by the dreadful grid. Just one more nitpick, re 28ac – the Internet is not the same thing as the (World Wide) Web, though admittedly it’s becoming a bit of a lost cause to try to insist on the distinction.

  15. Robi says:

    Thanks Gordius and manehi.

    Strangely enough, I completed the NW corner relatively easily, but then got stuck in the SE until I realised there were a couple of straightforward anagrams. Never before heard of simple in the sense of a medicinal herb. I thought EGG CUP was a humorous clue. I forgot ‘model’ meaning ‘T’ and thought SPECTATOR must refer to the oglers at fashion (model) shows – must have got waylaid by the clue to 11! Like Tupu @9, I thought the INTERLOPE clue seemed to make sense.

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    I failed at the top right as I had put DIFFICULT for 6d, which fits both clues (6d and 24d). The surface of 6d doesn’t read well, it needs a commas after WERE. Once I had seen your solution, manehi, I quickly filled in the rest.

    I agree about the grid being awful – essentially four independent bits.

  17. Roger says:

    Thanks Conrad @13, a new meaning of simple for me too. (Had searched for herb = simple but somehow on this occasion failed to look for simple = herb. Oh well, next time ….)

  18. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks for the solution manehi

    I agreed with jim, too many iffy clues in this one.

    I was stuck for quite a while with the NW corner. Eventually realised that Scots farm workers were FEE’D to work for a term but I have never heard of GILLET. If a Scot doesn’t know it, how does anyone else? Any Scots on here know this word?

  19. blaise says:

    For those puzzled by the etymology, Chambers defines simple as “a medicine of one constituent, hence a medicinal herb.”

  20. John says:

    I agree with all the above crits, and add one of my own.
    A calumny may “muddy” a reputation, but this does not make the association valid; or soluble.

  21. gm4hqf says:

    Further to my last message I dug out my Scots Dialect Dictionary which gives GILLET as “a giddy young woman”. Plenty of words to conjure with in this book Gordius!

  22. Robi says:

    gm4hqf @18; apparently, McChambers knows it!

  23. Robi says:

    P.S. Slightly off-topic but when I was playing Scrabble using an old version of Chambers, I christened it ‘the Scottish dictionary’ because of the number of dialect words it contained – jo is a good one [so is qi, but that is another (non-Scottish) story!]

  24. tupu says:

    Hi John

    Chambers gives ‘slander’ as a definition of both ‘mud’ and ‘calumny’.

    More generally I too agree about the grid and think this contributed to my attitude to the puzzle. As I’ve said, several clues were in fact rather better than I initally felt and I should withdraw my comment about 7d which I hurriedly saw as an anagram of spector + (the second) ‘at’ and took model daftly as an anagrind.

  25. cholecyst says:

    Well, I thought this was good sport, especially the egg cup! Surprised that simple = herb is not more widely known. It comes up a few times in Shakespeare eg Hamlet Act IV Scene 7:


    I will do ’t.
    And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.
    I bought an unction of a mountebank,
    So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
    Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
    Collected from all simples that have virtue
    Under the moon, can save the thing from death
    That is but scratched withal. I’ll touch my point
    With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly
    It may be death.

    Mind you, I haven’t had much cause to use “cataplasm” recently.

  26. FumbleFingers says:

    More than the usual amount of pendantic carping here today – are we still a bit tetchy after the appalling shambles of Monday’s Quiptic puzzle?

    Personally I thought this was quite a good puzzle, and I’m certainly not going to beat up either myself or Gordius just because I had to resort to Chambers for GILLET.

    I particularly liked 26d EGG CUP – not exacvtly difficult, just nicely witty & whimsical.

  27. FumbleFingers says:

    More thoughts on this wretched word GILLET…

    Chambers explicitly cites GILL, GILLET, GILLFLIRT, JILL, JILLET, and JILLFLIRT as variants, so obviously it’s a pretty “vague” word at best. Probably survives partly because of association with “giggly girl” (GIGLET or GIGLOT according to Shakespeare), and GILPY / GILPEY (boisterous girl according to Chambers).

    Isn’t our language wonderful?

  28. Frances says:

    Can someone please explain 18d. Why is Bud “return address in America”?


  29. Robi says:

    Frances: I think that is because ‘bud’ is a short form of ‘buddy,’ used as a form of address in America.

    BTW for anyone still interested in the ??? clue in the Quiptic, it now reads:

    Conflict with quiet pervert (4)

  30. Frances says:

    Of course. I was thinking of ZIP codes etc.

  31. Carrots says:

    Another Cuurate`s Egg from Gordius, but at least he provided a cup to put it in.

    With no aids I guessed GILLET and ORGANZA (but spelt it with an S). 2Dn had to be FEEDER, but to use FEED as “paid” seems wrong to me: shouldn`t there be an apostrophe (i.e., Fee`d)?

    I didn`t know that a meteoroid only becomes a meteor when it enters the Earth`s atmosphere. This was a pity because I was honing the spleen I was hoping to vent about Gordius neologisms had to be wasted.

    I also have a sense of unease about INSOLUBLE being used as “unsolvable”, but I`m probably wrong and I can`t be bothered to look it up.

  32. Jack Aubrey says:

    After a desperate hand to hand struggle with Paul yesterday, this went down nicely with the post-swim coffee. I thought it all quite fair and good fun; no carping required. I did like the egg cup!

  33. gm4hqf says:

    Robi@22: Touche. I didn’t look for it in my McChambers!

  34. FumbleFingers says:

    Carrots@31 – I too would rather see insolvable / unsolvable restricted to “incapable of being solved”, and insoluble to “incapable of being dissolved”. But I can’t see any support from either dictionaries or the usage of the great unwashed…

    According to my daughter I’m a grammar nazi anyway, but the one that really grates on me here is 20a UNLOOSE. How on earth can UNanything mean the same as anything?

  35. Scarpia says:

    Thanks manehi.
    Not much to add this late in the day but,for a self-confessed Laodicean of the cryptic definition type clue,I thought 26 down was ‘eggcellent’.- Sorry! :)

  36. tupu says:

    Hi FumbleFingers

    I too wondered re unloose. The OED tells us “The redundant use of un- is rare, but occurs in Old English unlíesan, and Middle English unloose, which has succeeded in maintaining itself. Later instances are unbare, unsolve, unstrip (16–17th cent.), and the modern dialect forms unempt(y), unrid, unthaw (also locally uneave)”. Unbare is now rare but is quoted as occurring from 1530 till the late C19.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    UNLOOSE is in several “dictionaries” (a.o. in the ODE, but not in Chambers) as ‘(let) free’.
    The word was in my Christmas crossword and I clued it as “New toilet in use for free”, but in a more adventurous (read: libertarian) mood I could have gone for “New toilet engaged or free” ….

  38. Huw Powell says:

    After noticing the grid’s structure, I pretty much put this aside. Four separate little 6×9 puzzles connected by almost nothing?

    Pulled it back out today (in disgust), and got a few clues. Gave up in utter revolt and came here to see how some of what I found to be very opaque clues – with no real hope for building check letters from anywhere else in the puzzle – I hate to say it, but for the first time, I will: this was a very poor puzzle. The grid *demands* cross-referenced cluing, to make up for the lack of checking.

    Thanks Manehi and everyone else for the explaining, Gordius, you should have refused this grid or worked harder to pull the four quadrants together. And if you picked it yourself, shame, shame, shame!

    I hope I never see a grid as disconnected as this again – one of my pet peeves are grids that are little more than four separate puzzles, but at least usually the four interconnecting words provide 3-4 checks into each quad.

    Oh well, we can’t all be happy all the time!

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