Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,267 / Gordius

Posted by manehi on March 11th, 2011


Apologies for the late blog of an entertaining puzzle, especially 2dn.

7 NUMERATE (true name)*
10 ECHO =Reflection. Hidden in “for thE CHOp”
11 TWIST DRILL A tool for boring. TWIST=”mid century dance” + DRILL=exercise
12 ATTACK =”Set on”. A T[ime] + TACK=”change direction”
14 MOUSE PAD USE in MO=second + PAD=house
15 CLAMPER L[earner]=”provisional driver” in CAMPER=”Dormobile”
17 ATHIRST (Shirt at)*
20 BEANPOLE (openable)*
22 ANGINA ANNA around GI=soldier
23 CONSPIRACY CONS=studies as a verb + PIRACY=freebootery
24 PINE double def
25 TUREEN hidden in “venTURE ENdlessly”
26 TROPICAL R[ight] in TOPI=a type of sun hat + CAL[ifornia]=state, &lit
1 MUSCATEL could be found in a wine cellar. MUSCA=fly (in Latin, also a constellation) + rev(LET)=”allowed up”
2 NERO Fiddled (i.e. bowed) while Rome burned.
3 BARTOK the composer. Lionel BART the composer of musicals including Oliver! + OK=fine
4 OBSTRUCT OCT[ober] around (burst)*
5 INBREEDING IN=fashionable + BREEDING=manners
6 DAHLIA Roald DAHL + rev(A1=excellent/fine)
8 ENIGMA (Imagine)* minus an I=”one”
13 ADMINISTER (irate minds)
16 EMOTIONS (some into)*, &lit
18 SON IN LAW IN + [Nigella] LAWSON with the last letters moved to the beginning
19 TENANT ENA=girl in TNT=explosive
21 EXODUS rev(OX=neat) inside (used)*
22 ANYHOW (Why on a)*

36 Responses to “Guardian 25,267 / Gordius”

  1. Robi says:

    An entertaining solve. Some of the clues seemed very easy, whereas others took quite a lot of thought. Thanks manehi for the blog.

    Last in was 2, which took a while to understand, although I think it is a good clue. My usual problem of forgetting that OX=neat, and 11 was nicely misleading with ‘mid-century.’ I did like TROPICAL, although I just thought that TOPICAL=a kind of state, so missed the correct parsing.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks manehi and Gordius

    A reasonably satisfactory puzzle. 2d especially), 21d, 21a were quite amusing as were a few others.

    I read 25 as (v)enture ‘tossed’, though the insert is also there as you say. We can talk of the ‘front end’.

    The surface of 10a seemed a bit strained.

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, manehi. I finished but I didn’t quite know why, but I do now. 19d was the last I put in, was convinced it was TENANT, but couldn’t see why as I had EVA in mind. Thought about HERO for 2d, too, being possibly a person who fired arrows.

    I wasn’t very convinced by the hidden ones (10a and 25a), as too many superfluous words for my taste. Otherwise a fair puzzle.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Manehi

    I really enjoyed this but struggled for far too long in the SW corner and then with 2d NERO which was my last entry.

    Well done Gordius and Thanks!

  5. Geoff says:

    Thanks manehi.

    I completed this puzzle fairly quickly until I slowed down in the top left quadrant. NERO was my last entry – great clue, but it definitely needed the crossing letters to solve.

    MUSCA is not just the Latin (ie ancient Roman) word for ‘fly’, and a constellation in the southern sky, but is also the scientific name for the genus which includes the housefly, so is entirely legitimate, if not the first word to come to mind.

    Gordius gets a lot of stick from our correspondents, but I consider this is a fine crossword, with some really good clues.

  6. Roger says:

    Thanks manehi .. hope all’s well now, whatever the problem(s) was/were.

    A fairly straightforward offering from Gordius today I thought but most entertaining for all that. Musca was a new word to me (Latin not a strong suit !), 3d clever with its double musical associations, 8d and 16d nice &lits, 18d a bit of a gimme but done well, inbreeding delicately put, conspiracy amused, mid-century at 11a seemed a mis-direction (the clue works ok without it, surely) and 10a a bit wordy. Arrived at tureen as an anagram of ‘vENTURE’ (left-hand) endlessly tossed but then what’s the role of ‘hazardous’?

  7. RCWhiting says:

    Might I join the 2d last in group?
    Because I had mouse mat I wasted a long time trying to convince myself that mat = home with no success.

  8. Roger says:

    Robi & tupu … great minds, or something !

  9. Rosmarinus says:

    Re 13d Why not need instead of needs. The surface would be smoother unless I’m missing something!

  10. Ian says:

    Thanks manehi

    What a treat from Gordius today.

    An uncharacteristically exacting puzzle which contained two cracking anagrams at 20ac and 16dn, an absolute corker at 1dn, good humour at 5dn, but above all a complete mindbender at 2dn. (For me anyway)

    2dn was last to go in. I literally spent over an hour using aids in a vain attempt to cross the finishing line only for the penny to drop after reinterpreting down the second word. How I fiddled about with this one!!

    It may be because I have been out of commission until very recently but it just seems that all puzzles seem to be taking me an age to finish. Solving time 1hr 45 mins.

  11. Robi says:

    Rosmarinus @9; I see what you mean, but I read this as: ‘To govern…needs organisation.’

  12. John H (Not the Enigmatist JH) says:

    Despite 35 years in IT I have never heard of a “mouse pad” so I stuck “mat” in but could not make sense of the clue.
    It is a US phrase i think.
    Is the double way of solving 25A a coincidence, accident or did Knotty get a bit confused?

  13. tupu says:

    Hi JohnH et al

    25a is a problem as you say. It is almost two separate clues knitted together. ‘Hazardous’ is redundant in the (V)enture version and, strictly speaking, it and tossed are redundant in the (ven)ture en(dlessly) one. Either might be there for the sake of the surface.

  14. pipthirteen says:

    25ac venture endlessly = enture, tossed – also produces tureen.

  15. muck says:

    Thanks manehi: I haven’t used a mouse mat (or pad) for many years, but see this.

  16. muck says:

    Or better, try

  17. muck says:

    or this,

  18. tupu says:

    Hi pipthirteen
    Yes. :) See 2, 5, 8, 12 and 13 above.

  19. FranTom Menace says:

    There were some brilliant clues in this, thanks Gordius. A minor grumble would be the excessive use of superfluous words, especially the two hidden answers. Of the half dozen which I got stuck on, all but 2d had words adding to the surface but not the clue which threw me! Our favourite was 2d – the most succinct clue, although like lots of others here was our last to go in!

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Gordius’ previous puzzle caused a storm of criticism, especially regarding some cd’s, which I didn’t find very fair at the time, as appreciating a cd is often a matter of taste (in my opinion).

    So I was happy to see no cd today. Did I say: no cd?
    In the nick of time, our last entry 2d (NERO) turned out to be one. Where others apparently liked it, we looked at each other thinking ‘what a ….’

    (For us) an unsatisfying end to a very uneven Gordius.
    There were a whole lot of nice (or at least decent) clues, with 14ac (MOUSE PAD), 15ac (CLAMPER), 17ac (ATHIRST) and 26ac (TROPICAL) as highlights.

    We thought 11ac (TWIST DRILL) would read much better when ‘Mid-century’ weren’t there. But then, perhaps, Gordius used it to wrongfoot us, suggesting (cen)T(ury) at the start. Which was indeed so, but for a different reason.
    Why does the clue for 22ac (ANGINA) have a question mark at the end?
    And ‘from the cellar perhaps’ for 1d’s MUSCATEL is a bit loose, we thought, but at the same time quite defendable.

    We agree with Dave Ellison about the two hidden ones.
    Here Gordius used indeed too many words, mixing up the context with the device – especially 10ac doesn’t feel right.
    While solving 16d (EMOTIONS) looked also a bit iffy to us, but on hindsight I think it is just about OK.

    As I said before, our last entry (NERO) was surely not the best clue. Our first clue (SON-IN-LAW, 18d) was not the best either.

    Manehi, many thanks for the blog, but your parsing of this clue [IN + [Nigella] LAWSON with the last letters moved to the beginning], thát’s not how it is. The clue says ‘first to last’ and not the other way around.
    During our solving session we thought it had to be read as:
    ‘Relative’= definition.
    ‘first to last in Nigella’= the construction.
    Of course, ‘Nigella’ is LAWSON, but is ‘first’ the first half of that word? OK, if so, there is the next problem, because of ‘in’ doing double duty. When we just do the swap in LAWSON (what the surface tells us), we’ll get SONLAW. So, the ‘in’ must be part of the construction too. Moving the first to last in ‘in Nigella’ then? That gives us … something silly.
    So, on hindsight, the clue must be read as:
    The answer is SON-IN-LAW and when you take the first (part) to the end, you will get “IN LAWSON” (which then is “in Nigella”).
    Dear all, sorry for all these words, but one of the things I’d like to do is share the thoughts that we had while solving.
    To cut a long story short, my main objection is that ‘first’ apparently stands for the first 3 letters of the 8-letter word SON-IN-LAW – bit unusual.

    When I like a Gordius I will tell the world, when it left us merely cold I will do too.
    Sorry to say that this was the case today.

  21. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks manehi,

    I loved 2d. One of the best clues of the year for me. Concise, fair and wickedly misleading. Hats off to Gordius.

  22. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    Re 18d I read this as ‘in Nigella’ = ‘in Lawson’. Now take off the first 5 letters and put them on the end = son-in-law.

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, tupu, yes, I admit, we should have seen that.
    So I withdraw the ‘something silly’ bit in my post, even though it still reflects how we experienced it during solving.

    Nevertheless, your parsing – very plausible as it is – makes it even worse for me: ‘first’ meaning taking the first 5 letters (out of 8)?

  24. Martin H says:

    A really enjoyable puzzle – I’m with Geoff at 5. Not perfect though, for me anyway: I don’t like Famous Name clues, so, in disgust, I’d written off 18d, having spent time trying to find another common name for love-in-a-mist, before the structural weakness, which Sil has so thoroughly described, became evident.

    The hidden answers were excellently camouflaged – if you want to hide something why not multiply the possible hiding-places, particularly if you can do a bit of misleading at the same time? I cheated on NERO, last undone, having other calls on my time, but despised myself for it – it was a (very rare) excellent cd. Otherwise my favourite, among many distinguished by their witty surfaces, was 1d – I got a buzz from that one.

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Martin H
    I take your point about creating extra camouflage. But I am unclear how one can be sure that 25a is preferably solved as a hidden answer. It seems odd, either way, to want to mislead the solver away from the correct solution. I have wondered whether Occam’s razor might apply, but while a hidden answer is simpler than a hidden anagram, it is no more legitimate as a crossword form.

    Hi Sil
    Thanks. I was of course only talking about logic. Manehi’s version ‘last to first’ would have been neater.

  26. Martin H says:

    Hi tupu – your parsing of 18d is, as Sil says, plausible, but I share his reservations. If we’d been given ‘back to front’ instead of ‘first to last’, that might have been a bit better, particularly as we’re talking about whole-word units.

  27. Martin H says:

    Hi again tupu – we crossed. If the anagram was intended either ‘hazardous’ or ‘tossed’ becomes superfluous – you shouldn’t have two anagram indicators. However, in a ha clue, that’s not a problem. The possible anagram has to be intended as misleading.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Martin H, Dad’s Lad and probably others,
    you all find 2d an excellent cd, but for us it was quite the opposite.
    Cryptic definitions are most of the time a matter of taste, but some are evidently better than others.

    We (which includes my British PinC) cannot see any other allusion than to Nero fiddling while Rome’s burning , meaning that we don’t see anything else in “Fireside bower”. Is it an expression in the English language? Can’t find it in dictionaries nor on the Internet (tried my best) nor are we familiar with it in any other way.
    If it is, I can understand the lyricism – if not, well, I would be happy to learn something today.

  29. Martin H says:

    Hi Sil

    (Chambers) bower: a shady enclosure or recess in a garden, an arbour; an inner apartment; a lady’s private room…..etc. You can see that the clue conjured up an image quite different from that of the solution.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks Martin, I thought I would get an answer like that.
    But the crucial thing for me is whether one speaks of a ‘fireside bower’ in any kind of context. That would indeed turn it into a rather good cd.
    As, in my own words, cd’s are a matter of taste, I fear that this one still doesn’t appeal much to me/us.
    I said it on previous occasions, I just haven’t got a good antenna for this sort of device [which is probably a shame].

  31. Martin H says:

    Hi again Sil – I should have said that the two meanings of ‘bower’ would also be pronounced differently: the fiddler to rhyme with ‘thrower’, and the intimate space with ‘hour’ (I’m sure some homophone sticklers would jump on that one, but I hope it’s clear to you).

    ‘Fireside’ thus also appears in two very different scenarios.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, Martin (and/or others), I get it (and got it).
    Let’s leave it there.

  33. tupu says:

    Hi Martin H
    Again I take your point, but we are still then left with a strange type of misleading. Normally, a misleading element in a clue is aimed at taking the solver away from the answer. As I noted above, however, I find it hard to understand a misleading element that takes the solver to the answer.

    Like you I liked quite a lot of this puzzle (including Nero). There the clue, as you suggest, conjures up a quite misleading image (almost of a shepherd and his lass sheltering cosily besides a fire). But I have slight reservations about 18d (the first 5/8 is a lot to move) and 10a (a long and somewhat messy construction), and really serious ones about 25a.

  34. Scarpia says:

    Thanks manehi.
    I thought this was a very good puzzle from Gordius,which makes 2 in a row if I’m not mistaken.
    18 down wasn’t great but there has to be at least one quibble with a Gordius puzzle!
    I’m not a fan of cryptic definitions but I did think NERO was a corker.Reading Sil’s post above I have been trying to think why this should be.It was definitely an aha moment when I twigged the answer(my last one in as well) and I like it’s brevity,also I think the clue read like a double definition,so I felt it was a nice misdirection.
    Reading what I have just typed I am sure Sil will think – so what!
    But like you say cd’s are a matter of taste,what works for one person,doesn’t for another.

  35. ernie says:

    An enjoyable puzzle – did it all (but for a couple of clues) in reasonable time.
    For me ‘fireside bower’ conjures up ‘inglenook’ – so the surface is okay.

  36. Huw Powell says:

    No one else seems to have been thrilled by two I had marked as favorites – ENIGMA and BARTOK.

    I never found NERO. And some of the others left me a bit cold. Kicked myself for how long it took to go from pencil to pen with MOUSE PAD. Very common phrase in USA.

    Thanks Gordius, and manehi!

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