Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25306 Gordius … TO LET

Posted by Uncle Yap on April 26th, 2011

Uncle Yap.

Two weeks ago, I apologised for using Dr Livingstone, I presume? in the headline. I further added Green Eggs and Ham,the title of Dr Zeuss’s classic as an example of something totally unrelated. However, as luck would have it, Pasquale’s theme that day was meals and suddenly my title (pre-written before I even downloaded the puzzle) became another source of contention. If that be the case, I apologise again for unwittingly “spoiling”. I shall henceforth listen to the advice of Gaufrid and not include any title to my blog.

Today, I feel extremely tired after a strenuous week of running mountain trails in Taiwan but found Gordius’s puzzle pleasantly entertaining and light (as Taiwanese malt beer) apart from some answers which may require some obscure local knowledge; but that’s Gordius, isn’t it?

Thank you, Gaufrid, for covering for me during my Hash junket in Taiwan.

7 ARMPITS *(tramp is) 12D is aroma, of which the armpits would be hardly a likely source of
8 PAYROLL Ins of AYR (Scots town) in POLL (vote)
9 BEER The answer to 6 is ALES. As for the reference to Devon, perhaps a native can enlighten me
10 LOOSE ENDS I am bemused by the reference to Radio 4
12 ANTIC *(I, one CAN’T) Chambers marks this usage as obs
13 TRESPASS Ins of ESP (extra-sensory perception) in *(stars)
15 CODA COD (fish) + A for a passage forming the completion of a piece
16 LEGAL Ins of EG (exempli gratia, for example) in *(ALL) Allusion to the expression The law is an ass from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
17 MOON MOO (low as by a bovine creature) N (number)
18 BACKSPIN A reversed clue where the answer is the clue to a fodder ; in this case, backspin requires you to reverse spin to get NIPS
20 CACHE C (Roman numeral for 100, many) ACHE (pain)
21 SWORDPLAY S (South, point on the compass) WORDPLAY (puns)
22 RUBY RUGBY (ball game) minus G (good)
24 MOLIERE Ins of LIE (deceit) in MORE (increasingly) for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, (1622–1673) a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature.
25 AUTOPSY Thanks to NeilW, an &lit *(you past) cd that raised a snicker from me

1 FREE Ins of R (right) in FEE (charge)
3 ITALIC Another delightful cd
4 BAKEWELL A flan consisting of a pastry base spread with jam and a filling made of eggs, sugar, butter and ground almonds. The spoonerism is WAKE BELL (alarm)
5 PRE-NUP (3-3) for prenuptial agreement; however, to smarten oneself is to PREEN UP. Where am I missing an E?
6 ALES ha
11 OCTAGONAL Ins of TAG (label) in OC (Officer Commanding) + ON A L (learner or trainee)
12 AROMA A ROMA (capital of Italy which we know more commonly as ROME)
14 SLOPE cd for Reverend Obadiah Slope, a character from Anthony Trollope’s work; namely the domestic chaplain to Bishop Proudie at Barchester.
16 LAPIDARY LAP (drink) + *(DIARY) relating to stones
17 MACAROON Ins of A CAR (vehicle) in MOON (answer to 17A) sweet biscuit made with egg white and ground almonds or coconut.
19 KAOLIN Rev of NIL (no) OAK (timber)
20 COYPUS COY (shy) PUSS minus S, Manx cat is supposedly tailless, hence PUS(s) My COD
21 STOP Rev of POTS (China as in porcelain)
23 BASS dd for a brand of British beer from the Bass Brewery founded in 1777 by William Bass in Burton upon Trent, England

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

32 Responses to “Guardian 25306 Gordius … TO LET”

  1. caretman says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap and Gordius for blog and puzzle, respectively. I found it quite enjoyable, with several aha moments. In addition to the excellent 20 dn (I agree, the clue of the day), I also loved 16 ac when it hit me. With 5 dn, I wondered whether we were to take the whole clue as suggesting a homophone of PRE-NUP for PREEN UP, but if so it was a very weak indication. Of course, since it’s the Grauniad, how do we know a word wasn’t left off the end of the clue?

  2. EB says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap & Gordius.

    You’re correct both 9 & 10ac need local knowledge.

    9ac – “BEER” is a town on south coast of Devon.,_Devon

    10ac “Loose Ends” is the name of a program broadcast on Radio 4.

    9ac BEER – always reminds me of a time (many, many years ago) when a friend and I (aged 15) went on a cycling tour staying at youth hostels. We rode from Cardiff to Bath on first day then from Bath to Beer. I always liked claiming afterwards that I’d had a beer in Bath and a bath in Beer!

  3. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Gordius for the puzzle and Uncle Yap for the blog and especially the parsing of 14d. I got SLOPE but was trying to anagram the last five letters of Trollope’s.
    Caretman @1 – see my entry @38 to Guardian 25303. If you interested, let me know.


  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Good to see you back!

    I’m not sure that if I say, “The Law is an ass” that means an ass is LEGAL….

    I think 25 is an &lit rather than a cd with the parsing being *(you past)

    I agree with you that I can’t find an alternative spelling of preen being PREN. Perhaps Eileen will tell us it’s a Scots variation…

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap.

    I found this very enjoyable but, even though LOOSE ENDS seemed OK, I was also bemused by the Radio 4 reference.

    PRENUP was my last entry but there was no hyphen in my version. I assumed that it simply sounded somewhat like Preen Up.

    Another great one, Gordius, keep ’em coming!

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW

    I’m no expert in Scots expressions – I just know one or two from having had a Scottish husband.

    Having said that, I’ve never heard ‘preen up’ as an English expression: surely it’s just ‘preen’ [oneself]?

    Thank you for the blog, UY.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks UY for a good blog and Gordius for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    This setter’s best that I can remember even though the odd answer needed checking (e.g. Beer, Loose Ends – both vaguely familiar) and 5d (quite funny but needed a question mark at least).

    All sorts of witty tricks – 16a, 17a, 20d! Also enjoyed 7a, 8a, 13a, 21a, 22a, 19d.

  8. Ian says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius.

    Quite a test I thought. Apart, that is, from the NW corner.

    Coypus very good, definitely the clue of the day.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Obscurities with ANTIC and SLOPE. ‘Of Radio 4′ = LOOSE ENDS with a vague definition. ‘It’s wrong to use’ as a definition of TRESPASS? I personally don’t have an AROMA coming from my armpits and the last pint of BASS I had was hand-drawn, so why ‘bottled’? And a faulty/rubbish clue (you choose) at 5dn.

    What’s not to like?

    I shall be happy to remain in a minority of one, but I thought this was poor. And Derbyshire residents know they’re BAKEWELL puddings, not tarts (and no, that doesn’t make that clue faulty, I know).

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sorry, Uncle Yap, because this puzzle made me grumpy I forgot to thank you for blogging.

  11. tupu says:

    Hi K’s D

    I think you may have misread 13a. Definition is ‘It’s wrong’ and to get the answer you use clairvoyance (ESP) in *stars.

  12. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I was puzzled by the same clues as you, and just assumed local knowledge was involved, though not having it was no obstacle.

    Last in 5d, where I see no homophone indicator or anything to suggest dropping a letter. The term doesn’t appear in my online Chamber’s.

    At 14d., I read it as ‘Trollop(e)’ = SLOP(E), ie. slut, but I’m sure your parsing is correct. I’ve read a few of his books, but don’t remember characters’ names.

    I found this relatively straightforward until the last three or four clues, in the NE, with a few smiles. Thanks Gordius.

  13. tupu says:

    re 12a

    I was reminded here of the lines from Richard II (done for the last year of School Cert in 1949 and, not surprisingly, not wholly accurately recalled before I checked them)

    ‘….for within the hollow crown
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king
    Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
    To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if this flesh which walls about our life,
    Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
    Comes at the last and with a little pin
    Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!

  14. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, although I got a bit stuck in the NE corner. I would have thought that 5 needed a ‘say’ or somesuch in the clue.

    Thanks UY for a useful blog; with my brain still in holiday mode I failed to parse RUBY properly. I particularly enjoyed ARMPITS; mine, of course, have a pleasant aroma.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. About halfway through I was finding this Gordius quite enjoyable but by the end, I decided that it was the usual mixed bag.

    As others have commented 5dn doesn’t work as an expression ‘preen up’ nor is a homophone indicated.

    re 16ac I agree with NeilW @4.

    I also think that ‘of Radio 4′ is as vague a way of defining a particular programme as ‘of England’ is of defining a place name.

    I did like 13ac, 22ac, 20dn and 25ac.

  16. IanS says:

    “Loose Ends” was a programme on Radio 4. I think Ned Sherrin was the presenter.

  17. tupu says:

    Hi IanS

    Latterly Clive Anderson.

  18. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog.

    I believe that aroma is defined as a sweet scent and armpits are notoriously not sweet so that annoyed me.

    I remember the Rev Obadiah Slope from my reading of Barsetshire novels many years ago so that one went in very easily.

    I liked 21a and 20d.

    I guess that people with no connection to Bakewell are happy with tarts: people with local knowledge apparently prefer puddings.

  19. BillK says:

    Bass actually has a long and noble history as a bottled beer, particularly for export: you can spot the distinctive red triangle at the bottom right of Manet’s 1882 painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère…,_A_Bar_at_the_Folies-Berg%C3%A8re.jpg

  20. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap.

    I’m fine with the clue for ARMPITS. I think ‘unlikely’ is playing a double role: as an anagram indicator, and as part of the definition – armpits are an unlikely source of aroma. No problem there for me.

    I was also puzzled by PRENUP, assuming it was a homophone of ‘preen up’, and perhaps ‘say’ or ‘we hear’ was missing from the end of the clue. Either that or it’s similar in construction to 18a, but that can’t be because ‘nerp’ doesn’t mean to smarten oneself, as far as I’m aware.

    Very clever &lit for AUTOPSY – that was my clue of the day.

    Thought the clue for LOOSE ENDS was itself a bit loose, but got the answer without trouble as I listen to Radio 4 quite a lot – though not a fan of Loose Ends, which I find a bit self-satisfied.

    Mostly fairly straightforward, held up by a few obscurities (to me – I’m not complaining), such as KAOLIN – for some reason I had got this muddled in my mind with Shaolin so was thinking of it as a kind of warrior monk and not a clay. Got it eventually, though, and that led to a groan when I finally entered SWORDPLAY – can’t believe I hadn’t seen that one straight away. In the end gave up before getting PAYROLL – had a bit of a headache and simply couldn’t be bothered to trawl through Scottish towns (in this puzzle; hope I haven’t offended the Scottish Tourist Board).

  21. otter says:

    Oh, yes, I meant to say that I think Bass was the first bottled beer commercially available on a large scale. The red triangle was also the first commercial logo registered in the world, from memory.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Loose Ends (agree the definition is much too vague) is a very long running R4 programme. I think CA is an improvement over NS’s over-rapid delivery. A very squirmy listen, with a small audience made up of the fellow performers who laugh and clap with apparently faux enthusiasm.
    chas @18
    Chambers gives: a spicy or distinctive fragrance; flavour or peculiar charm.
    Chacun a son……. eh?

  23. tupu says:

    I remember kaolin from the bottle of Kaolin and Liquid Paraffin mixture I was supplied with by a Uni medic for a trip to East Africa many years ago. The idea seems to be that the kaolin mops up whatever is troubling your stomach and the LP flushes it out!

  24. walruss says:

    The law is not ‘an’ ass in Dickens, but ‘a’ ass. Not too bad from Gordius today, and I think I really quite enjoyed it! Happy Easter everyone.

  25. Carrots says:

    A satisfying solve, in spite of a few “liberties” with convention. I think Gordius delights in winding up fifteen-sqareders with innovative word-plays (SWORDPLAY appears at 21 ac.), and “iffy” clues. Ximenes he is not….but good fun (usually). Thanks Tupu for the versified enlightenment: very appropriate!

  26. John says:

    I think 16 ac goes like this.

    The law “it’s (been) said” is a(n) ass.
    LEGAL = “of the law”.
    Ergo, substituting “an ass” for the law, we get “Of an ass, it’s said…..
    I resyt my case.

  27. John says:

    Or rest it even..

  28. Roger says:

    Hi NeilW @4 … 16a works fine I think … if The Law is an Ass then ‘of an ass’ (the definition) would be ‘of the law’ … i.e. LEGAL. Also liked moon, coy pus(s) and the autopsy &Lit. A shame about the muddle at 5d.

    … and Kaolin & Morphine works the other way of course, tupu !

  29. Roger says:

    Hi John … obviously thinking along the same lines !

  30. tupu says:

    Hi Roger

    Thanks. Yes I realise. :) We seem to be having some rather corporal exchanges recently!

  31. Paul B says:

    Of an ass, it’s said, for example, all stupid (5)

    Not quite so keen on this as some other posters. First thing that strikes me is that the ‘for example’ bit should indicate EG as the first two letters of the answer word. Obviously this is not the intended case, which means (as there’s no inclusion-indicator) that this must be an anagram of all the parts, indirectly indicated and thus wrong.

    And if we have a quick look at the definition, unless you’re feeling REALLY generous (and some of you are), this part of the clue is also not acceptable. If Gordius had used ‘a ass’ (the correct form of words used by Bumble as noted above) then solvers might have been given a fighting chance despite the poor construction, but unfortunately this did not occur.

    Sorry, but that is just an extremely disappointing clue – Hugh’ve been had.

  32. tupu says:

    Hi PaulB

    Thanks for your helpful comment as a setter on 16a. I can see clearly from it what your objections are.

    However, the clue still sees acceptable to me.
    Bumble, as a literary creation, may have said that the law is ‘a ass’ but countless real people say ‘an ass’ when using the expression.
    It is otherwise only the comma after ‘example’ that is misleading, but we are told regularly to avoid paying excessive attention to surface punctuation in ‘crosswordland’.

    Re the quotation, I am reminded a little of the arguments about homophones that involve, in my view, too rigid a demand for exact replication of sound in the answers. ‘It’s said’ does not have to mean ‘Bumble says’.

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