Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,297 – Gordius

Posted by Andrew on April 15th, 2011


A fairly typical Gordius, with some reasonable clues, including some that revealed their secrets very easily, and also quite a few that I have quibbles about. I can’t fully explain 13ac and 26ac, but no doubt will be enlightened very soon. Both now resolved to varying degrees of satisfaction, thanks to commenters.

1. OBITER BITE in OR. Obiter is Latin for “by the way”, I think usually only seen in English in the legal phrase “obiter dicta”. Easy to solve, despite the relative obscurity of the word, but I think “into” is doing double duty as both the insertion indicator and part of the definition of “bite”
5. LINOTYPE (PITY LONE)*. Double duty again for “composer”, as angram indicator and part of the definition of LINOTYPE, which is a machine that was used to compose type.
9. SCHEMING Not-very-cryptic definition. There’s an attempt to mislead by making us think of gardening, but the disguise is much too thin.
10. REFELS (FEELS R)*. Refel is indeed an old word for “confute”, and it was fairly easy to guess from the anagram, but why use such an obscure word when commoner words such as RAFFLE would fit?
11. NICE Double definition
13. UGANDA A country in Africa, of course, but otherwise I don’t get it. Is there a “Uganda” or “Ugandan” boot? Thanks to Kathryn’s Dad and Eileen: it’s UG[G] AND A
14. GAS MAINS Spoonerism of MASS GAINS
16. PANTHEON PAN (god) + THE ON[E]
19. NEURON Homophone of NEW RON (fresh man)
23. DROP DR (doctor, GP) + OP (work)
24. SILVAN (V NAILS)* – “building” is part of the anagram indicator, which is quite nicely misleading
25. INTERMIX IN TERM IX (9). Students usually sit their finals in their ninth term, but surely it should be undergraduate finals?
26. LEAVINGS Another one that I don’t get – “Remains” is presumably the definition. Prompted by commenters, I think it’s the part of CLEAVINGS (=chops) that comes “after the start”
2. BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Cryptic definition – can be shortened to Bucks, which is slang for US currency
3. THEREIN THE REIN. I don’t think “which it contains” can be called a definition of THEREIN
5. LAGGING Double definition
6. NURSE Anagram of SUNRISE less IS
15. SINUSITIS US in SIN + IT IS (the “complete” form of “it’s”). Seeing SIN immediately made this a giveaway for me.
17. TEL AVIV Reverse of VALET + IV. As usual I disapprove of “in the Middle East” as the definition.
22. NINON Hidden in “wouldn’t be seeN IN ONe”. Ninon is “a sheer fabric of silk, rayon, or nylon made in a variety of tight smooth weaves or open lacy patterns” (Wikipedia).

29 Responses to “Guardian 25,297 – Gordius”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Andrew.

    Mixed bag as usual. I liked INTERMIX and SPOUTS, but elsewhere there was some dodgy stuff.

    I think UGANDA is referring to UGG boots, so at least Gordius is showing that he’s up to date with fashion. I think LEAVINGS is something to do with CLEAVINGS, but I don’t really understand the clue either.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thank you for the blog, Andrew 😉

    I can’t see 26, either – I did wonder if it had something to do with ‘cleaving’ ?

    13 is, I think, UG[g] [toeless boot] AND A

  3. Eileen says:

    What is it about great minds, K’s D? :-)

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks K’s D, so it’s UG[G] AND A. I was wondering about CLEAVINGS too but like you I couldn’t make it work.

    PS Thanks to Eileen too!

  5. DougHug says:

    The type of boot in 13a is “Ugg”, a popular brand currently. Hence Ug[g]+and a.

    26a will be something to do with chopping the start from “cleavings”, so the whole clue provides the cryptic definition?

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Fools seldom differ, Eileen … although I’m of course not putting you into that category!

  7. Andrew says:

    OK, I suppose LEAVINGS is “after the start of” CLEAVINGS (=”chops”)

  8. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew & Gordius

    Didn’t get BUCKINHAMSHIRE which stymied me with the top left corner. Thought 13a was UGANDA but the fact that I have never heard of UGG boots didn’t help. Considered 9a Cultivating plots as Hatching or planting so I was all wrong. Not one of my best efforts.

    I took 26a as LEAVINGS because when people get the “chop” from employment, they leave.

  9. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew

    Although UGANDA seemed obvious, I’d never heard of UGG boots.

    Also, REFELS was a new word for me but quite guessable.

    Also thanks to Gordius. Very enjoyable!

  10. Ian says:

    Thanks Andrew for the blog which explained 10ac. A word I haven’t come across before and one which I had to check in Chambers before entering. Obviously the ‘otherwise’ anagram indicator was perfectly OK for me to arrive at the correct answer.

    I too struggled to parse 13ac. Not being a fashionista I remained, until now of course, in blissful ignorance of Ugg footwear. My spell-checker too is apparently in the dark about this brand of foot covering!! Do they sell them at Marks and Spencer?

    As for the rest it was pretty much plain sailing with the usual curates egg of a Gordius puzzle. I was becalmed for a short time at 24ac before the penny dropped.

    The best clue, without a shadow of a doubt, was 22dn. Cleverly written and smartly hidden.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    An enjoyable solve. I finished the RHS first, with the exception of 10a which I assumed was REFELS, leaving most of the LHS to do. I too thought 9a was HATCHING, but on getting 2d, the rest followed, though I couldn’t explain UGANDA.

    I put PEELINGS for 26a because I misread my poor writing of V of TEL AVIV for an L – doh! Must practise more.

  12. walruss says:

    I quite enjoyed this, all the more becuase I was expecting not to! One or two typical Gordius annoyances, but really not too bad. fave clue same as Ian’s. Many thanks ebryone.

  13. otter says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for the blog, and (along with others) for explanation of 1d and 26a. Most clues here were pretty straightforward, with a few which taxed me more.

    I was nicely misled by the wordplay in 24, thinking I was looking for ‘nails’ made by V in a rustic building.

    Didn’t know ‘NINON’ so that was last to go in. Went through all African countries I could think of, failed to think of Uganda until I had the G, then it went in and I remembered the horrid Ugg boots. (There was a craze for them in the early 90s too.)

    Thought 25a clue of the day: I like the almost Araucarian definition, although agree it should be undergraduate finals.

    Haven’t we had that clue for NICE a few too many times?

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog – you explained quite a few where I thought tme answer must be xxx but why?

    I always thought of Spoonerism as swapping the initial letter[s] of two words e.g. down train -> town drain but it seems in crosswordland it also includes homophone effects as well. So MASS GAINS -> GAS MAINS losing an S on the way!

    I liked 12 and 19.

  15. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for a helpful blog and Gordius
    for a puzzle that looks better in retrosepect than during solving.

    Finished after getting back from a morning out.
    I couldn’t get ‘intermit’ out of my head for 25a asnd spotted the correct answer after looking to see if ‘intermit’ had any unusual meanings. It’s a nice clue as said above apart from ‘graduate’ which is just about possible but iffy.

    I realised 13a was Uganda but did not thing of Ugg. I took a different slant on it – as Boo[t]
    = boo (expressing contempt) and ug as short for ugly. Kathryn’s Dad and Eileen are clearly correct.

    Refels had to be right and had to be checke.

    For once the ellipses were pretty good.

    I think ‘which it contains’ will do e.g. ‘I wanted to see the library and some books therein’.

    A few nice clues inc. 3d, 4d, 15d 24a, 25a.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. This was the usual mixed bag, I thought. REFELS seemed unnecessarily obscure and 9ac was weak. 11ac should be retired!

    I liked 21ac and 22dn.

  17. Pelham Barton says:

    @chas (#14): It is reasonably well authenticated that Spoonerisms are genuinely based on the speech of Dr Spooner, so a Spoonerism should work in sound not in spelling.

  18. Carrots says:

    Gordius doesn`t go out of his way to win friends and influence people, does he?

    I put in HATCHING in preference to SCHEMING at 9ac. and still feel the former is a more clue-specific answer than the latter.

    UGANDA it had to be but, clutching at straws, I justified it as “Ugly” (as in ugly old boot) without the toe (“ly”).

    Didn`t put SILVAN in because I`d never seen SYLVAN spelt this way.

    OBITER it had to be too, but I`ve never heard the term before….ditto REFELS.

    INTERMIX only works for some universites which adopt a nine term structure, for which there are notable exceptions.

    All in all, flawed. I regretably have to join the ranks of those who expect just this from a Gordius puzzle.

  19. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots

    :) here I go defending the indefensible? Much of what you say is true. I too tried doing something with ‘boot’, and ‘refels’ is really only for ‘scrabble fiends’ who scour the dictionary for contentious words to spike the guns of ordinary players.

    But it’s not really Gordius’ fault if you couldn’t get Bucks at 2d from a reasonable clue which would have told you ‘hatching’ was wrong.

    Nor if you haven’t see ‘silvan’ before.

    Intermix (which I didn’t C for myself)is clued with an ‘often’ and a ?.

    A bit harsh?

  20. ray says:

    When I eventually spotted INTERMIX I thought it very clever. But on reflection many current degree arrangements make even the ‘often’ questionable as a justification. ‘sometimes’ might just about be o.k. Apart from the fact that semesters instead of terms have been adopted in some places, there are large numbers of four or five year degrees which wouldn’t fit and, with the concept of modules (and end of module exams) making inroads into degree structures, the whole concept of finals is maybe dated anyway.

  21. yogdaws says:

    Leave the Knotty One alone. We like him.

    And nice to see he’s up on – or should that be ‘down with’ – current female footwear.

    Gratitude to Gordius and Andrew.

    Clue of the day: 2d

    Have a good weekend everyone.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Now y’all know I like an argument just for the fun of it, but, having finished, I’m left with a total lack of enthusiasm, despite the obvious candidate clues.

  23. Robi says:

    Nothing wrong with this, although I couldn’t really enjoy with a multitude of distractions today.

    I’ve only just realised that the anagrind in 20 was ‘dicky,’ I thought it was ‘suffer,’ so leaving me with the predicament of trying to correlate dicky with undergo. Thought it was something to do with a dicky going under a jacket (doh!)

    Obiter, refels and the spelling of s(y)ilvan new to me. I did like INTERMIX, however, despite the grumbles above; surely, using ‘often’ would indicate that term nine is not always the appropriate time. I didn’t have any problem with (c)leavings, but failed to find the UGG boots – not sure they would really suit me. Nice surface, I thought, for ESPLANADES.

  24. Carrots says:

    Tupu….you truly are wise….and, indeed, know of all things, so I shall defer to your wisdom. Except, perhaps, for a certain tendency to absolve flaws when they are perpretated by a setter who should know better.

    My point is that one clue (9ac.)compromised the solving of another (2dn.)… with another clue (1ac.) compounding the problem. I had BUCKINGHAMSHIRE long before either of the contentious clues, to which might be added UGANDA. (I know bUGGerall about fashion boots…and don`t care to).

    Harsh? MOI?? I`m a pussycat..and have previously tried to defend Gordius for his odd streak of cruciverbalist genius.

  25. Steve says:

    Late start on this, as I didn’t pick up a paper on my way to work, so no sneaky glances and solving throughout the day. Managed to get all but 6 answers before calling it a day and checking here! 10 and 24 were new to me despite deducing them, and liked 12A and 21. The SW corner otherwise escaped me.

    Oh well, another day… :-)

  26. Daniel Miller says:

    Some of these clues were excellent. Particularly:

    1a. Obiter = a thing said in passing – Obiter Dicta
    25a. Great use of (IX) to infer the 9th term
    15d. Sinusitis – a lovely clue

  27. Daniel Miller says:

    Oh yes – only The Guardian could use a reference to an Ugg boot. Very droll.

  28. Daniel Miller says:

    As for Leavings – I remember as a child using this term to describe Profit! :) Must mention it to my old fellow.

  29. Dreadnought says:

    Don’t know if anyone’s still out there on this one, but it does strike me that e.g. A”driver’s test” is a test would-be drivers so similarly
    “graduate finals” for would-be graduates?

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