Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,230 – Crucible

Posted by Andrew on January 27th, 2011


I seem to have got into a habit lately of sailing through one half of a puzzle and struggling with the rest. With this one I finished the bottom half quite quickly but had much more trouble with the top. There’s some quite devious wordplay here, especially in 3d, but all pretty fair and gettable, so it was an enjoyable solve, though I have a couple of small niggles as noted below. To those I’ll see in Derby on Saturday – I’ll see you on Saturday in Derby!

7. ADVERSE ADVERBS (qualifying terms) less B, plus E
8. PIRAEUS U (posh, as in “U and non-U”) in (ASPIRE[s])*
9. DANE Anagram of the first half of (Hans Christian) ANDErsen gives DANE, which is what he was.
10. AT A STROKE R OK in A TASTE. It probably shows my age to say that I associate this phrase with Edward Heath, though its use by him in the 1970 election campaign is often misquoted to suggest that he promised to “cut prices at a stroke” rather than “cut the rise in prices…”. Of course, he wasn’t totally successful even at the latter.
12. SENSE S (sea) in SEEN*, with reference to the so-called five senses.
13. THE GREAT EGRE[T] in THAT. See also 24ac – I don’t think this is a very common expression on its own.
15. COAT CROAT less R
16. NORTH Hidden in goverNOR THat. Lord North, Prime Minister 1770-1782.
17. ROAD A[laska] in ROD (power, figuratively). “Road” can mean “anchorage” – a usage that I’ve seen a few times in puzzles (search the archives for several examples). The misleading capital A in Anchorage, suggesting the Alaskan city to give a nice surface, might be frowned on by some, but it’s fine with me. (The opposite trick – starting a proper noun with a lower-case letter – would not be.)
18. STILETTO Reverse of LIT (landed) in SET TO
20. PADRE [sideboar]D in PARE. Army chaplains are often called Padre
21. CATATONIA CATALONIA with L[eft] changed to T[ime]
22. AUNT First letters of About Usual Nuptial Troubles, &lit. Nice idea, but surely it’s agony aunts that get such letters, not just plain aunts.
24. THE GOOD (E[at] HOT DOG)*
25. SUCCESS CC (hundreds) in SUE + SS (ship)
1. IDEA AIDE (adviser) with its first letter moved to the end
3. ESCAPE A sneaky trick that pops up from time to time: “French art” is “French for ‘[thou] art’='[you] are'”, which is [tu] ES, + CAPE=ness
4. FIFTIETH TIE (match) in FIFTH (musical interval)
5. FAVOUR To FAVOUR something is to prefer it, and Grace and Favour houses are provided (e.g. to members of the government) rent-free
6. OUSE Homophone of “ooze”
11. AFTERNOON N[ew] in (TEA FOR)*, plus ON (the leg side in cricket). The definition is just “time to brew”.
12. SCOTT SC (scilicet=namely, or “that is”) + O.T.T. (lacking restraint), and the expedition leader is Scott of the Antarctic
14. AMAZE A + MAZE – former prison in Northern Ireland, site of the notorious H blocks and the 1981 hunger strikes.
16. NOTATION Reverse of TON (fashion) + (INTO A)*
17. RIDDANCE I DD in RAN (managed) + CE
19. LET’S GO Reverse of ST in LEGO (small blocks)
20. PLAGUE PRAGUE with L instead of R
21. COHO Hidden in alCOHOl. The coho is a type of salmon, which presumably could be marinated.
23. NESS Second half of guinNESS. I’m not sure that porter is quite the same thing as stout, but I could be wrong

45 Responses to “Guardian 25,230 – Crucible”

  1. sidey says:

    There’s some sort of theme; The Great and The Good; The Great North Road; there may be more.

  2. JS says:

    Thanks Andrew & Crucible

    @sidey – ‘Good’ point – The Great Ouse, The Great Plague, The Great Escape ….. could also have Great Dane, Scott, Aunt; Good Riddance etc.

    As for 11d I took “(to) brew” as an anagram indicator for “tea for” which means the definition would be just “Time” unless “brew” is doing ‘double duty.’

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, neat blog. For 6d I’d got fuse (current) and might rhyme ‘few is’ with it, but your version is the one. And I had radiance for 17d, untidily. This was all fair if arduous (10a, eg) but some good moments: 7a, eventually, and the French art in 3d.

  4. Uncle Yap says:

    Thanks Andrew and Crucible … a delightful solve today. Can SIXTIETH also be an answer for 4Down? I also reckoned AFTERNOON is an &lit or nearly one.

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew.

    I usually struggle with Crucible and today’s puzzle was as bad as ever. In several cases, even where I had guessed the correct solution, I lacked the confidence to commit it to paper.

    For me, it was much more GRATE than GREAT.

  6. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, and Crucible for another very entertaining puzzle.

    In 22ac, my thoughts were initially the same as yours, but then I decided the wordplay just meant the letters making up the word.

    Now it’s been pointed out, can I add GOOD SENSE and GOOD IDEA?

    [“See you on Saturday in Derby”. :-) ]

  7. Monica M says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    I really struggled with this one and barely solved half before my lunch break was over.

    Thanks especially for 3 dn … that’s completely new to me … also within the clue a reference to a well known hymn relating to the “great” theme.

  8. blaise says:

    Other theme tie-ins: good afternoon, greatcoat, greatness, goodness, and the old advertising slogan “My goodness, my Guinness!”

  9. blaise says:

    And the coho is a “small salmon of northern Pacific coasts and the Great Lakes”

  10. Thomas99 says:

    I didn’t spot the theme at first, but I think the idea is that there are two categories, the good and the great, spread though the grid, which explains the otherwise puzzling “here” in 13 and 24.

    Re 23 – Porter does mean stout (porters were meant to drink it), as far as I know. A quick check on wikipedia seems to confirm it.

  11. jim says:

    I agree with Uncle Yap: both a fifth and a sixth are musical intervals, and there’s nothing to distinguish the solutions.
    Apart from the weak clue to coho, I thought this was excellent, and all the better for the theme being hidden.

  12. Robi says:

    Thanks Crucible and Andrew for an entertaining, though difficult puzzle.

    I’m ashamed to say that as a Guinness drinker I failed to notice the connection in 23 :(

    Does ‘current’ mean ‘river’ in 6, or am I missing something? Thanks for explaining 12d, I thought ‘that is’ would be i.e.; didn’t know sc.

    Like Eileen @6, I thought 22 just referred to the first letters :)

  13. James G says:

    thanks all
    Lovely puzzle, which I found hard but rewarding. A great combination!
    May I ask why “Ton” is fashion (16d)?

  14. Rishi says:

    ‘Ton’ in the sense of ‘fashion’ is a word that is used often in crosswords.

    It is French. Chambers records it.

    The word also means ‘people of fashion’.

  15. Rishi says:

    Re Message #12:

    Yes,’current’ in the sense of ‘river’ is also used often in crosswords. Chambers has ‘stream’ as one of the meanings for ‘current’.
    sc. is short for ‘scilicet’ (Latin word) meaning ‘namely’.

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew (excellent blog) and Crucible

    A hard puzzle but some very goood clues esp. 3d and 5. 8 and 10 also pleased.

    I also put fuse (few’s) but agree with ouse especially once ‘theme’ is revealed (thanks Sidey).

    I also put ‘scout’ for 12d. (sc + out (e.g. of prison)) as an expedition = expeditionary group or party. This is possible from selective reading of dictionary entries but Scott is much better. It is hard when solving to shake this sort of solution off.

    Also it is clear that in these last two cases I was not attuned to the possibility of names.

    I got idea but misread it as *die (end) + a (with plan doing double duty). I got coho but did not know it till I checked in Chambers.

    I chose and much preferred Plague, but Prague might just about be possible if one doesn’t worry much about word order and punctuation.

  17. rulei says:

    12d could equally well be SCOUT.
    The “expedition leader” would be spatial rather than hierarchical.
    “Out” (eg. of prison) seems fine for “lacking restraint”.

    I don’t like ambiguous ones – the whole point of a cryptic crossword is that when you get the answer (and the reason for it) you’re certain it’s right.

  18. rulei says:

    Sorry tupu – you posted as I typed!

  19. tupu says:

    Hi rulei
    :) Thanks. I do it quite often!

  20. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew & Crucible

    Quite a tricky puzzle & I failed to get 6d OUSE Why is it always the little ones. Seems to have been harder puzzles all week.

    Regarding 12d, I read it as SCOT FREE, without penalty, or perhaps restraint.

  21. Crucible says:

    I think I should own up and apologise for 4’s ambiguity. But I’m happy with SCOTT.

  22. Jack Aubrey says:

    Great fun. Gave me some grief; but it was good grief. (Sorry.)

  23. tupu says:

    Thanks Crucible

    Good of you to get back to us.

  24. Robi says:

    I echo @23. Re. #13 & 14, my French dictionary says that ‘donner le ton’ means ‘to set the fashion.’ Apparently, it also means ‘to give an orchestra (the) tuning.’ …………. Something new every day

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    Failed on OUSE. I was pleased to remember that there is always a theme with Crucible but I regret to say, I have yet to spot one, despite looking hard from the start today! The two HEREs were good indicators, and had I seen this earlier, solving would have been much shorter and OUZE would surely have oozed out.

    I found this enjoyable and not as hard as some.

  26. Roger says:

    Thanks for explaining ES in 3d, Andrew, I’ll have to remember that one. Juggled with sixtieth and scout as did others. Favourite clue, 5d, very clever. And thanks Crucible, a ‘great success’ !

  27. Andrew says:

    Crucible, thanks for dropping by, and for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    Thanks also to sidey and others for pointing out the theme. I suspected there was something going on with THE GREAT and THE GOOD, but totally missed the connections.

    Re 4dn, I should confess that I originally, carelessly, put in FORTIETH here, but missed the other ambiguity when I realised the second letter was I.

    The “art” trick in 3dn reminds me of the story of the classicist (from Cambridge, according to this) who labelled his tea caddy with the Latin word “doces”, meaning “thou teachest” (tea-chest, geddit?)

  28. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew. I hadn’t heard that one – loved it! :-)

  29. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew and thanks to Crucible for a challenging puzzle. I failed on OUSE and also didn’t spot the theme (thanks Sidey) despite noting the link between 13ac and 24ac…Some really tricky wordplay here I thought — some of which passed me by :-(

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Another great puzzle from Crucible, who once [but that was once :)] called me ‘his nemesis’, even though I consider him as a real source of inspiration!

    The first one to go in was CATATONIA (21ac), within about seconds and thanks, tupu, for spotting why!
    We are not in a very good solving mood this week [hope that doesn’t give any problems this Saturday], so it took a while to get started, but we got there in the end.

    Like you, Andrew, and some others we completely missed the theme – so therefore we were wondering why there were these ‘here’s’ in 13 and 24ac.
    Just like we couldn’t explain SCOTT and ESCAPE.
    As to the last one, is “thou art” really the same as “tu es”? I mean, wouldn’t there be an old-French equivalent? I don’t know.
    Normally, misdirecting use of capitals (done like Andrew explains in his blog) don’t annoy me, but this time I agreed with my PinC that the capitalisation of “Free” was completely unnecessary – or am I missing something?

    Today Crucible joined the ABNU (the Army of Brand Name Users).
    It happens quite a lot recently that brand names are being used in the answer, a thing that I don’t really like. “Lego” is in Chambers, so that’s alright then, but I wasn’t very happy with the use of “(Guin)ness” in 23d. But maybe, that’s a matter of taste.

    Finally, 12ac (SENSE). It is a very good clue, but where can I find S as an abbreviation for “sea”? Certainly nót in Chambers.

    But: everything that I didn’t mention is just splendid!

    And as the much missed rightback would say:
    Music of the Day: “Good Riddance” by Green Day.

  31. Gaufrid says:

    “….. but where can I find S as an abbreviation for “sea”? Certainly nót in Chambers.”

    No, but it is in Collins.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, Gaufrid, but you can’t possess all the dictionaries, can you – well, you can, but not me. (Btw, can you or someone give me an example of S being used for “sea”?)

    And, btw2, just discovered (thanks to Eileen) that we had a Double Bill today, Crucible in the FT making his debut as Redshank. And a good puzzle it was.
    So, boys and girls, who can’t get enough of this setter:

  33. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    I am not sure of your query re Free French but, just in case it’s relevant, it was a capitalised political term in its WW2 days. So its for the surface.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, I was afraid that it was something like that.
    What is the link with ‘art’?
    If there isn’t any, then I think it doesn’t justify the capitalisation – which means: I would’nt have done it.

  35. Carrots says:

    An entertaining puzzle….but another characterised (and completed by) guesses. I`m sorry to have to admit that ESCAPE still escapes me, in spite of Andrew`s very useful blog.

    COHO was personally first encountered, some thirty years ago, on our arrival in the mid-west, having resigned ourselves to a fresh fish`n`chips absence there. But a planeload of `em arrived every day in the Twin Cities and they are excellent marinaded in lime juice, Tobasco, salted black beans and galangal.

    I can`t quite see IDEA as “plan”, anymore than RO(a)D as “power”. But it`s been a long hard day and I`m tired.

  36. Bryan says:

    So Crucible is aka in the FT – What a surprise!

    Judging by the double bill that was served up on the same day. I guess that the FT pays a lot more than The Grauniad?

  37. Bryan says:

    aka Redshank in the FT

  38. Peter says:

    A very uneven one! There were a few really lovely clues — I hadn’t met this lovely use “French art” before, and 15a was also short and sweet — and the theme (along with other hidden bonuses) was great fun; but several other clues left a bad taste in my mouth: the ambiguities of 50th/60th/90th and scout/Scott, and the refuge to obscure meanings of “road” and “current” was distinctly unsatisfying. I found myself hitting the “check” button on almost every other answer, which I usually avoid like the plague…

  39. Dynamic says:

    Only did this today. Struggled to get a start and got a few answers at a time, but enjoyed some interesting constructions and liked the theme. Struggled dreadfully in the NE corner and resorted to this blog.

    I guess a “perfect interval” would more clearly define it musically as either a perfect fifth or a perfect fourth thanks to the near-perfect ratios 3/2 and 4/3 between the frequencies (and the latter is ruled out here by not being spelled forth), whereas sixth could be either a minor or a major interval (as could a third, commonly).

    As to the ‘French art’, I like it. They retain both familiar and formal versions of YOU, tu and vous, while we’ve dropped the familiar form from English except in biblical passages and a few dialects such as in Yorkshire. The most common verbs, to be and to have are where the verb forms often differ most between the types of “you”.

  40. Gordon Roy says:

    I have to agree with Andrew and not Thomas99. Porter is NOT Stout today, and may never have been from what I have been told. I know this from having worked as a consultant for the excellent Ringwood Brewery, before it was bought by Marstons, and from three other breweries also. Stout uses roasted barley, Porter uses malted barley. That is why Stout tastes richer and more chocolatey, but Porter tastes deeper and sweeter [when made properly]. By the way I would not touch Guinness with a bargepole. Why would anyone want to drink beer served via Nitrogen, barely better than with CO2. Unfortunately this makes it all but impossible to get any real beer in Ireland.

    As for 22A I think an alternative clue would have been “Her letters are primarily about usual nephew troubles. The connection with nephew would make it a nicer connection.

  41. eldee says:

    In case anyone ever sees this, and notwithstanding Crucible’s apology at 21, doesn’t “Golden” remove the alleged ambiguity? “Sixtieth” in the implied context would be “Diamond”.

  42. maarvarq says:

    “Current” as the definition of a river name? “Amaze” as a purported synonym of “electrify”? This and the wildly out-of-date chestnut of there being only five senses (move past Aristotle, guys) adds up to pretty sloppy cluing in my book.

  43. Ken says:

    Scout is not only an expedition leader but has an archaic sense of mocking which is a behaviour lacking restraint!

  44. rfb says:

    Have to agree with #42. Also with the previous comment re S being used as an abbreviation for sea. There were some nice clues, and the theme was good, but only a B+ in my opinion.

  45. Anne A says:

    “Too good” is used quite commonly in Australia. Sorry for delayed post – we are quite a bit behind in the Guardian crossword we get in the Courier Mail (Brisbane), and I’m a bit behind in my stockpile! Really enjoy the posts, and they have been very helpful.

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