Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25252 Gordius – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Posted by Uncle Yap on February 22nd, 2011

Uncle Yap.

I am often perplexed by Gordius who must find it extremely difficult to NOT spoil an otherwise good set of clues with some horrible ones. One of his foibles is to throw in something totally obscure like the name of a remote village in England or someone with dubious claim to fame. Surely he badly needs a good moderator. I am afraid I found today’s puzzle very much below par.

1 IRONIC IRON (golf club) IC (in charge)
5 BLACKEYE Ins of LACKEY (footman) in BE (exist)
9 COMMANDO Command (order) O (first letter of order)
10 TENDON Tend On
11 ITCH (W) itch
12 EASY STREET Horrible and meaningless cd which would have been unsolvable without crossing letters
13 UMLAUT *(mutual)
14 SIDEDOOR *(do or die’s)
16 PERIODIC Period (stop) IC (Roman numeral for 99)
19 BARREN Sounds like BARON (lord)
20 HAPPY EVENT Another horrible and quite meaningless attempt at a cd, probably alluding to the forthcoming royal wedding. I am surprised that this gets written after what have transpired with the marriages of Queen Elizabeth’s children
22 CAGE dd with the other Cage probably a composer by name of John Milton Cage Jr (1912-1992) said to be a minimalist. Surely Gordius should know more famous Cages like Nicolas, the actor
23 EULOGY *(leg you) Horrible surface
24 VINELEAF *(veal fine)
25 BESETTER BE (live) SETTER (me, Gordius)
26 EPERDU E (English) PERDU (A word marked obs in Chambers (obscure and obsolete) meaning distracted like someone in love

3 NYMPH New York (East Coast city) Miles Per Hour (speed)
4 CONTENTED Content (what’s printed) ED (Editor, journalist)
5 BLOUSES Ins of LO (look) in BUSES (public transport)
6 ANTIS *(saint)
7 KINDRED Kind (sort) Red (communist like a follower of Trotsky)
8 YEOMEN OF ENGLAND *(fangled money one)
15 DEBUTANTE Ins of EBUT (rev of tube, underground train transport) in DANTE (poet of Divine Comedy fame)
17 IMPLODE I MP (one politician, member of Parliament) *(dole)
18 CLEAVER Ins of A in CLEVER (crafty) Anyone see the need or the significance of the ellipses? I think there are totally gratuitous
21 EGYPT *(Good TYPE)
22 CALVE Ins of L (learner, student) in CAVE (warning)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

72 Responses to “Guardian 25252 Gordius – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”

  1. Dr. Gurmukh says:

    Uncle Yap’s good blog as expected. However he appears rather upset today. Possibly the result of a fried PC,a damaged printer and the loss of a piece of software.
    A little harsh to Gordius methinks.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I agree with you on the setter, and this example. A few pretty good clues, like the long anagram in 8d and the short one in 13a. But too many wrong’uns. Having French I got 26a, but it’s not in the SOD for example. You might be being a bit unfair re 22a: I’m an ignoramus, but I knew this bloke who invented dead silence as music, and see from Wikipedia that “Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century.”

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap

    Sorry to disgree with you but I really enjoyed this and the only new word for me was EPERDU which I was able to guess correctly.

    I thought YEOMAN OF ENGLAND very good because, initially, I had assumed that the anagrind would be NEWFANGLED in its entirety.

    Sorry to hear about your computer probs but, nevertheless, you are still the Fastest Gun.

    Also a big thank you to Gordius.

  4. Chris says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Gordius’s puzzles myself, but you are being terribly unfair on him with regards to John Cage and, if I may say so, only showing your own ignorance. Cage is one of the most famous and most important composers of the last 100 years. I’d say he’s far more worthy of inclusion than his namesake Nicholas.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you Uncle Yap.

    I enjoyed bits of this but I think your comment about managing to spoil a decent puzzle with some bizarre clues is just about right. I liked KINDRED and BLACK EYE, for example; but as you say, EASY STREET and HAPPY EVENT are meaningless. CAGE is also a strange choice. I speak French too, but had never heard of EPERDU: ‘Lost in France’ would have been a fairer clue, I think, and why choose an archaic word when EMENDS fits?

    So overall, the usual Gordius: patchy and rather disappointing.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius

    I too feel you are over-reacting. I quite enjoyed this puzzle.
    re 12a: the idea is clearly that of the hardships which true pilgrims take upon themselves e.g. on the walk to Santiago de Compostela.
    Re 20. I agree that one needs the crossing letters as well, but it is a CROSSword ( :)to which you add a dd). And why not a bit of cost-free optimism in such gloomy days!

    I agree that ellipses are often unnecessary and they are not needed in 17/18d. But as noted above these are gloomy times in which politicians are wielding the axe over jobs and other means of livelihood and both clues relate. If only 17 were true!
    Beyond all this, I enjoyed 5a, 8d, and 15 and felt the clues were generally quite well constructed.
    I guessed ‘eperdu’ but could only find it in Chambers and it is for me the least satisfying clue, though bloggers have recently praised puzzles that are bulging with French words that are not even always borrowings. It is not in the most recent OED.

  7. William says:

    Crumbs, Uncle, quite the most vituperative blog we’ve had in a long time. Marvellous. Far too much polite appeasement in the world generally for my taste, and I’m broadly inclined to your point of view with this setter.

    Re the ellipses at 17 & 18d, I suppose the setter was going for the surface of the axe-wielding MP in today’s climate of cuts to vaguely link the 2 clues. Not very credit-worthy, really.

    Look on the bright side, this probably means you won’t be asked to blog too many more Gordius puzzles in the future!

    Have a nice day, nonetheless.

  8. ACP says:

    I’m with Uncle Yap.
    Gordius has some annoying clues – HAPPY EVENT a prime example.
    Don’t forget the 13 and 19ac with only two checked letters of six, which I haven’t seen in a reputable puzzle for as long as I can remember.

  9. Roger says:

    Sorry you’re feeling grumpy today, UY. An easy puzzle it may have been but perhaps not so black as you painted it …

    The Way taken by Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress was certainly no Easy Street (12a) and as tupu says wrt 20, why not … plus we all get a day off to boot ! I liked the idea of a possible happy event coming along sometime after.

    Had to rummage a bit to find EPERDU.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I too found this easy, due to the large number of anagrams, but also patchy.

    I agree with other comments re 12ac, which I thought quite good, but for 20ac my first try was ‘state issue’, which seems an equally good, more cryptic, answer to the clue IMO.

    No problem with ‘éperdu’, but I was surprised to find it in an English crossword – it sounds old-fashioned even in French.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    I am sorry but I also disagree with UY’s gloomy assessment; I thought this was quite an entertaining crossword, and I quite like the CDs. Also, in 23a, I thought the surface was good, even quite amusing in a black humourous, ironic way.

    For 26a I am not sure why Gordius would choose this word: EMENDS would be an alternative.

    CAGE appeared recently in a Saturday prize Crossword – Brummie Feb 12th

  12. RCWhiting says:

    Re 22ac
    I am afraid that UY is out of touch with contemporary culture.
    It has become customary for a few years that a social net-woek group will attempt to thwart Simon Cowell (who he, ed?) in his ambition to create the Christmas Number One (what that, ed?) by promoting an alternaive recording.
    In 2010 Facebook chose Cage’s 4 minute 33seconds silence,but were unsuccessful.
    This led to many references to Cage in the most unlikely places – I heard him feature as a question on The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4).

  13. Jack Aubrey says:

    I’m with those who enjoyed it. A bit of a skoosh perhaps; it almost didn’t last the post-swim coffee until “eperdu” stopped me in my tracks. Surely there’s no problem with Cage? Quoted as an influence by Lennon and Macartney, if I remember right. (Although they may have been under other influences at the time.)

  14. tupu says:

    Hi ACP

    13 and 19 were very easy clues, though I am surprised we haven’t had any homophonophobic moans about barrEn and barOn.

    The number of unchecked letters depends of course upon the chosen grid. Is this form as rare as you say?

    :) My grammar check (which I have never used again) once told me not to use the word ‘baron’ because it was gender specific!

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. Gordius isn’t my favourite setter, but he didn’t wind me up quite so much today as he usually does!

    CAGE has cropped up a few times lately and the last time I made a comment similar to RCWhiting@12 re the Christmas number one. Of the two well-known Cages, I would rather have John than Nicholas, who is a pretty bad actor in my opinion :-)

    The clue I liked least was 26ac. Although it was easy enough to get from the wordplay, I don’t think that a word that is both French and obscure is fair in a daily puzzle.

    But I think you are right to identify patchiness as being part of the problem with this setter.

  16. Robi says:

    Sorry to hear about your troubles, UY, but I think you have been too harsh about this crossword.

    I thought HAPPY EVENT was quite a good clue with the two senses. EPERDU was new but I assume the ‘abroad’ was a reference to the French PERDU for lost. In my (new) version of Chambers it is only given as obsolete for the sense of ‘a person on a forlorn hope.’ Otherwise, it is defined as ‘lost to view.’ We had endless comments recently about John Cage, so I would have thought everyone would know him by now.

    BTW; for those bemused by my OKgram comment on yesterday’s puzzle – it was a PAN(wok)GRAM without the ‘w’ letter. Yes, I can hear the groans from afar!

  17. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, these cd’s (12ac, 20ac) are perhaps meaningless, but aren’t cd’s often a matter of taste? Horrible? Well, I cannot be bothered too much.
    And indeed, there’s no need to make an ellipsis of 17,18d.

    But there is also no need to be so negative about this crossword.
    The clues are well constructed, and there’s hardly anything iffy in this puzzle (which is, I admit, quite unusual for a Gordius).

    An easy puzzle (finished it quicker than today’s Birthday Child in the FT) which I enjoyed solving.

    I had some trouble with 13ac (UMLAUT) as I initially entered AMULET, thinking that Gordius made a mistake.
    Weird part of the grid there (as others have commented).
    The grid would have been much better when the 4th and the 12th square in the middle row were blank.

  18. Wanderer says:

    Didn’t help myself in the BLOUSES clue by putting BURKHAS. I thought I was being so clever finding an anagram of HARK (how I understood Look!) in BUS, and since it gave a word which means “Women’s garments” and “appeared” to parse, I didn’t hesitate to put it in. Anyone else as foolish as me?

  19. Roger says:

    … or even when the 4th and 12th squares were not blank, Sil.

  20. Chas says:

    To ACP@9: I half remember, several years ago, a notice printed by the crossword editor saying “that’s the last time we use a grid with more than two unchecked letters next to each other” or words to that effect. I was therefore disappointed.

  21. Chas says:

    Sorry I meant ACP@8

  22. Scarpia says:

    Thanks UY.
    Can’t agree with you on this one – i thought it one of Gordius’ best.
    I very rarely stick up for cryptic definition type clues,but the 2 contentious ones here(12 and 20) I thought were rather good.There are more layers to them than is originally obvious.My initial thought re.12 was Pilgrim’s Progress(see Roger’s comment @9) and re.20 the possible happy event(a birth) after a wedding.
    John Cage is,as has been previously said, a very well known composer.Totally agree with Liz@15 Nicholas is ham cut very thick!
    BLACKEYE was,for me,the pick of a pretty fair bunch of clues.

  23. John says:

    Anyone else think of IMPACT for 13 ac. It is after all a sign of two things hitting each other?

  24. crypticsue says:

    I enjoyed this quick to solve Gordius today, apart from the aforementioned EPERDU.

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Roger @19, don’t get what you mean.
    I meant to say that these squares should be changed from black into white, which extends 17d and 7d into 9-letter words.
    Hope I’m clear enough now – we’ll surely mean the same thing.
    Funny that the software gives us a grid like this when just a tiny change could make it so much better.

  26. JimC says:

    21D is easy to solve, but what a great surface! Is it pre-meditated topicality, or just coincidence?

  27. bamberger says:

    Like mastermind clues, if you know the answer, it’s easy. So if you are keen on classical music, Cage would be a doddle. Re “John Cage and, if I may say so, only showing your own ignorance. Cage is one of the most famous and most important composers of the last 100 years.” I will confess my ignorance -never heard of him. But then I probably know the names of more downhill skiers than most -sadly for me they don’t appear too often in crosswords.

  28. HelenEdith says:

    I have to say I quite enjoyed this one. It kept me entertained all the way to London Bridge this morning without me needing recourse to the easier Herald Scotland cryptic crossword. I had another look at lunch and then came here to find the answers to the 60% of the puzzle I didn’t manage – and hopefully to learn more about solving these Guardian puzzles.

    I will have to save up the Herald Scotland for the way home…

  29. AndyB says:

    eperdu – why is that when rare words are used, some people think this is unfair but others are pleased to learn a new word? Some setters are praised for this but others are vilified? And on this puzzle, it seems very much to be a case of giving a dog a bad name …! And what’s the point of suggesting alternative words that he could have used to make the crossword “fairer”? Why can’t we just accept a small number of rare words as an integral part of these crosswords as long as they are well clued -they help stretch the vocabulary and provide added interest!

  30. reg says:

    I had ‘parody’ for 1ac, ‘rod’ in ‘pay’. Ok ‘pay’ doesn’t quite work for ‘charge’ on sober reflection, but it seemed secure enough to put off revisiting until it became unavoidable.

  31. snigger says:

    22d – struggled to make “hepactectomy” fit so decided it had to be something else.

    eperdu – still lost and abroad with that one.

    ps thank you to all who contributed to yesterdays blog re scandinavian “o’s” etc – umlaut, one of the first in.

  32. Roger says:

    We do indeed, Sil @25. I’ve always thought of the black squares as the blank ones where you don’t put anything and the white squares as the lights where you do. As you say, the addition of a couple of whites may well have improved things.

    AndyB @29: Yes, it’s always good to track down new words and information … although it can take me ages sometimes when the search leads off into uncharted waters and I sail around picking up all sorts of other stuff as well !

  33. Geoff says:

    I didn’t tackle this puzzle until this afternoon (GMT) so there is little left to say that hasn’t already been aired.

    I’m on the side of those that considered this one of the best Gordius puzzles for a while, with few GOL (groan out load) moments – for me at least. CAGE did not a prison make for me, and I spotted EPERDU immediately.

    My (pedantic) quibble is with 13ac: UMLAUT strictly refers to the sound change, rather than to the diacritic which is used in German to represent it (which should be an’umlaut sign’) but this sloppy usage is so well established that it is futile to complain…

  34. walruss says:

    I am thoroghly in agreement with Dr Yap about this disappointing puzzle. There seems to be no editorial strengthh at the Guardian, with compilers’ work going through unadulterated. That is quite okay if you are Araucaria, but if you are not, well it’s wheat AND chaff!

  35. Dave Ellison says:

    I suspect AndyB @ 29 is referring to my earlier remark when he says:

    “And what’s the point of suggesting alternative words that he could have used to make the crossword “fairer”?…”

    though I didn’t in fact comment about fairness or otherwise. The point I was making was there are “simpler” alternatives and, were I a compiler, I would have not gone for some obscure word. I would only do this if there were no alternatives or the the only other alternative was so hackneyed any other word would be preferable.

    I do like some unusual words in Xwords; indeed, it was because of one such that I was able to answer a question in the Brain of Britain final last Saturday that none of the contestants could. The question was, in part, who wrote Roderick Random, one answer of a Smollett theme in a Guardian Xword in the 1960s.

  36. Peter says:

    Agreed with others, John Cage seems quite a reasonable inclusion to me — moderately well-known, and certainly culturally significant, having influenced most music since, and arguably much art too.

    But agreed with Yap that the cryptic definitions are hopeless. And also frustrated by EPERDU — not so much from its obscurity, as because if I understand it’s etymologically almost identical to perdu? Or am I misunderstanding its origin?

  37. Wolfie says:

    It was the offensively sexist clueing of 11ac that I didn’t like in this crossword – not what I expect to see in the Guardian. I agree with those who know John Cage as a respected modern composer. Like others, I struggled with eperdu which as the past participle of eperdre appears to be obsolete even in French. It does not appear in any of my French dictionaries.

  38. Frank says:

    Re 26a, I remember Cordelia describing her bareheaded father confronting the fearful storm as “poor perdu” (a sentry in a perilous position) King Lear IV.vii.35.

  39. Carrots says:

    Here we Gordius again…the flawed master continues to confound and perplex, but nevertheless provides a diverting enough couple of pintas. What on earth does he mean by HAPPY EVENT? I couldn`t care less about “Royal Weddings” or their aftermath and, indeed, am desperately trying to flee the country whilst this one happens and swamps the media. This I did on HRH`s first marriage, but first joined a motley gathering of men in the market square, grumbling about the pub being closed until almost noon. The surging throng almost trampled the barmaid off her feet when she parted the portals and flinched in dismay when the cry of “Quick love, Twenty pints of bitter…and turn that f*****g (TV) thing off!” went up.

    I claim a fault for EPERDU (which I failed to get) but found BESETTER apt and sublime.

  40. tupu says:

    Hi Wolfie

    Eperdu is in both Collins Gem (small) and Robert (large) French/English dictionaries. Not that that makes it a good choice for a Guardian crossword!

  41. Robi says:

    Maybe the reason for the ellipses is that there was a previous MP called Leonard Cleaver

  42. Brian Harris says:

    Quite enjoyed this today. One or two not particularly great clues, but overall thought it was better than an average Araucaria.

    Still, each to their own, eh?

  43. Paul B says:

    ‘Tis pity indeed when HAPPY EVENT might have been clued as ‘Dwarf tossing?’. That, like 11ac would have fallen I’m sure quite safely within the Grauniad’s (poor) taste horizon.

    That is all what I am saying.

  44. Paul B says:

    … though m’colleague Mick H’s comment @ CC is worth a squint.

  45. gm4hqf says:

    Just found time to attempt this one.

    John CAGE seemed the natural connection to me but EPERDU didn’t seem a good clue. Spoiled my enjoyment of the whole puzzle!

  46. eadmundo says:

    Is it possible, given the possible republican sympathies of those who both read the Guardian and do the cryptic, that 20ac is ironic in intention? I certainly took it that way, and groaned appreciatively when I realised the solution.

  47. Wolfie says:

    Thanks Tupu – your French dictionaries are clearly more comprehensive than mine! Having read French at University and never having encountered the verb eperdre I still feel slightly aggrieved that a form of the verb should appear in a midweek Guardian puzzle.

  48. PeterO says:

    Uncle Yap, I’m on your side over the cryptic definitions. I feel they require a good dose of wit to make them palatable, and neither 12A nor 20A strikes me as well endowed in that department. At least in 20A there is the element of double definition in the allusion to the birth of a child. For 12A, I am only vaguely familiar with Bunyan, but there does not seem to be any specific association with Easy Street.
    26A sent me to Chambers to find éperdu as a borrowing from the (antique?) French with definition ‘distracted’ (perdu is also a borrowing, but with different meanings not referenced in the clue; the particle appears as the straight French for ‘lost’). However, the clue strikes me as weak in that perdu and éperdu are such near neighbours.
    In 22A, I was not worried by the reference to John Cage, but I did raise an eyebrow at his description as a minimalist. Minimalism in music describes a particular style of composition which arose around 1970, at which time John Cage’s compositional career was winding down. Of course, 4’33” could hardly be more minimal in a more general sense!

  49. Robi says:

    Not sure why some people are objecting so much to 11. The term hag ‘appears in Middle English, and was a shortening of hægtesse, an Old English term for witch.’ One of the definitions of witch in Chambers is: ‘a hag, crone.’ Seems to me the setter is allowed to use words in the meaning given in the dictionary.

  50. Davy says:

    Thanks UY,

    I have often been a criticiser of Gordius and occasionally a defender, but I thought this was mainly rather good and quite similar to Everyman. Yes, HAPPY EVENT was rather trite but I did like ITCH as the clue made me laugh. Also EULOGY, DEBUTANTE and EGYPT which was definitely a reference to the recent demonstrations that resulted in the fall of Mubarek.

    I can’t see a problem with CAGE as he is a fairly well-known name albeit mainly for his silent work which to me is just bizarre (does anyone have the chords for it ?). In a similar vein, isn’t the work of one artist a blank canvas ?.

  51. Paul B says:

    Now within those two works for example, would lie, most unequivocally, your irony.

  52. Derek Lazenby says:

    Damn, missed a good argument. Bloody hospital visits!

    AndyB @29, I suspect the underlying reason for slagging this off rather than others is that not only was the solution obscure, but part of the charade was also obscure, unless you are good at French.

    I was just as peed off by the CAVE part of 22d. Surely a usage foreign to all normal English speakers with the exception of Upper Class Twit of the Year candidates? I’ve been lucky enough to mix with folk from all walks, and never once heard this usage despite that. I have a vague memory of the usage from school boy literature, but that was about kids at a posh snob school. Anybody out there heard it used in real life?

  53. Sil van den Hoek says:

    A lot of YES and NO about Gordius again.

    But why not switch to today’s FT?
    A nice Dante.
    Ye all love Rufus, don’t ya?

    Only three comments there so far.
    And … it is his 79th birthday !!

    Why wasting the opportunity to congratulate this nice man by instead keeping on discussing these two, three or four Gordius clues?

  54. morpheus says:

    While I found this crossword quite enjoyable it was nothing compared to the pleasure of reading Uncle Yap’s blog and subequent comments.

    Bamberger @27 – quite agree. It’s disappointing how infrequently Cuche and Ligety crop up.
    Carrots @39 – a classic. “The surging throng almost trampled the barmaid off her feet when she parted the portals and flinched in dismay when the cry of “Quick love…” Almost like reading Fielding.

  55. Bob says:

    12ac is a perfectly good cd: in Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian has to travel the hard road, so the opposite is Easy Street. Or do the Guardian-reading PC Police now object to references to books that assumed a religious belief in their readership at the time of publication?

  56. stiofain says:

    Perhaps the sexism was attributable to the poster presuming the root word was b**** not witch.
    Gordius is my least favourite setter but this had some good clues.

  57. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I would like to repeat what I said in #53:

    Why not switch to today’s FT?
    A nice Dante.
    Ye all love Rufus, don’t ya?

    Only three [it’s FOUR now] comments there so far.
    And … it is his 79th birthday !!

    Why wasting the opportunity to congratulate this nice man by instead keeping on discussing these etc etc etc …. ?

    stiofain, fully agree with your comment @56 and thanks for taking up ‘my point’ re Rufus, the one we all love so much.
    Don’t we, boys and girls?

  58. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Did anyone notice that the cryptic definitions were a bit weak in this crossword?

  59. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap,

    The neatness and topicality of 21d did not excuse some very lame clues elsewhere.

    Carrots@29. I doff my cap. Marvellous – exactly how I feel about the inevitable media overkill for either interpretation of ‘happy event’.

  60. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, tell me Dad’s Lad, which are those “very lame clues” that apparently can spoil a whole crossword?
    A comment like this is non-information to me.
    And don’t tell me that two or three debatable clues can make a crossword completely inferior – I do not believe that.
    Then there wouldn’t be a good Araucaria, too.
    Sorry to be so unfriendly, but I’m a bit on Gordius’ side today.

    And on the incomparable Rufus’ side too (@53 and @57)

  61. Sylvia says:

    I’m quite amazed at the outcry regarding eperdu. My schoolgirl French knew ‘perdu’ and it was simple to deduce from that. I enjoyed this crossword. Nearly had ‘belted’ lord instead of barren!

  62. Bryan says:

    I can’t see why there has been such an outcry over EPERDU …

    Surely. EVERYONE has read or at least heard of ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’?

  63. PeeDee says:

    Bob @55 – well done, a learned man! I take back my comment at 55 (hang head in shame).

    There does seem to be a lot of arguments of the form ‘I don’t understand therefore the clue is rubbish’ today.

  64. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, indeed, PeeDee, nail on the head!

    And, Uncle Yap:

    I would have appreciated it when you would have returned to this place to take part in the discussion. After all, it was you who started it having such strong opinions on especially these cryptic definitions.
    Maybe other readers might have changed your mind, or perhaps not, of course.

    Instead of that, I’ve read your post at the blog of Dante’s FT puzzle in which you misused the name of another (beloved) setter to give Gordius one more kick in the back.
    Not very polite, in my opinion.

  65. Rishi says:

    I live in India and I am not a native speaker of English. I have not visited any country where French is spoken. I have not studied French in school.
    But I, as a student of literature, came across perdu in some play long ago (I forget the title)- when I looked it up and learnt what it was.

  66. Uncle Yap says:

    Dear Sil van den Hoek,

    I think you know I live in Malaysia, a region with time GMT + 8. Every Tuesday, I will do my blog and then get on with the rest of my life, including taking part in a hash run which involves drinking huge volume of beer after a very strenuous 8km run through tropical jungles. By the time I get home to my computer it is already nearly midnight and time to sleep. Most time, I can hardly keep my eyes open, let alone respond intelligently to some of the comments on the Tuesday blog. The next morning, everything is passe (old news)

    I went to the FT blog at your very strident insistence and who better than the Dante, the acknowledged Master of the CD to teach Gordius how to create a decent cd. Come on, Sil van den Hoek, the cd’s (e.g. Happy event) Gordius created were rubbish, totally meaningless and unsolvable without crossing letters. If you disagree with my opinion, please show me how the cd’s work and why they are not rubbish.

    Just because you do not agree with my opinion, therefore I have “misused the name of Dante” Come on, Sil van den Hoek, you are more intelligent than that

  67. Chris says:

    UY, it’s been pointed out exactly how the CDs work, if you re-read the comments. It’s surely a feature of cryptic definitions in general that they are never totally verifiable without crossing letters? It’s the way they all are, more or less – even the best ones.

  68. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Uncle Yap, I do not want to start any animosity.
    That’s not what 15^2 is for, but.

    “I went to the FT blog at your very strident insistence …”

    Yes, because I was hoping more people would send him their birthday wishes as he fully deserves them.

    “… and who better than the Dante, the acknowledged Master of the CD to teach Gordius how to create a decent cd.”

    Asking this from Rufus, a colleague, the way you did, is patronising and extremely impolite re Gordius.

    “Come on, Sil van den Hoek, the cd’s (e.g. Happy event) Gordius created were rubbish, totally meaningless and unsolvable without crossing letters.”

    I have no problem with someone’s strong opinion, but your words are more like a very strong inflexible statement, showing no will whatsoever to understand other solver’s ideas about these cd’s – ‘they ARE rubbish’? Well, in your perception.

    “If you disagree with my opinion, please show me how the cd’s work and why they are not rubbish.”

    I said before that personally I cannot be bothered too much as I have not a good antenna for cd’s. I think there are some posts above that give an agreeable explanation, like for example Bob’s @55, who convinced PeeDee @63.
    But why not just accept that some people like them and others don’t. That’s how it usually is with cd’s. Often just a matter of taste.

    “Just because you do not agree with my opinion, therefore I have “misused the name of Dante” Come on, Sil van den Hoek, you are more intelligent than that.”

    Thank you for calling me ‘more intelligent than that’, but that’s not what it’s all about here. Asking Dante explicitly: ‘Can you please give Gordius a few lessons on how to create good cryptic definition clues?’ is so inappropriate.

    It is not your strong opinion on some of these cd’s as such that upset me, but the attitude shown towards Gordius.

  69. walruss says:

    It doesn’t matter if PERDU is a known word, even if it is foreign, but that EPERDU is not. I do not wish to stir, but that word doesn’t belong in a UK daily puzzle!!

  70. Rishi says:


    Obviously, you want the French out!

    Anyway, why is the word (with the diacritic) recorded in the Chambers [English] dictionary?

  71. MadLogician says:


    CDs are an inherently weak type of clue and need an element of wit or other added value to earn their keep. These examples do not do so. 12 would be OK if Easy Street was one of the places on Christian’s pilgrimage but it is not.

    Obscure words are OK. French words are OK if they are in the dictionary. Obscure French words? Not OK.

  72. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Welcome MadLogician to this exciting and mind-provoking site.

    “CDs are an inherently weak type of clue and need an element of wit or other added value to earn their keep.”

    Fully agree, but unfortunately I have not a particular radar system for them, I prefer to stay neutral. Sorry.

    “These examples do not do so. 12 would be OK if Easy Street was one of the places on Christian’s pilgrimage but it is not.”

    Well, there we go again. Some like them, others don’t. I really do believe it’s a matter of taste. Bob, for example, @55 made EASY STREET quite plausible, didn’t he?

    “Obscure words are OK. French words are OK if they are in the dictionary. Obscure French words? Not OK.”

    But what about so-called obscure French words that áre in the Dictionary?
    Our friend EPERDU is apparently “mostly” used in the expression “éperdument amoureux ” – desperately in love.
    Oh, how I would long to be like that … :)
    Funny though, despite all the comments, that I had no trouble whatsoever to find the word.
    And btw, it is in Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary too, for many a kind of crossword Bible.
    So someone must have used the word before in a crossword.

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