Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,319 / Gordius

Posted by mhl on May 11th, 2011


A nice puzzle from Gordius – with a few exceptions (noted below), I don’t think this should have created too many problems.

1. ORDNANCE SURVEY ORDNANCE = “Artillery” + SURVEY = “inspection”; Definition: “planning authority” – “planning” as in “mapping”
8. FORUM FOR … UM … = “I can’t think what purpose” (“I can’t think what for”); Definition: “Meeting”
9. ALLOCATE ALL = “everything” + O = “nothing” + CATE = “Blanchett” (referring to the actress); Definition: “Place”
11. REMODEL (MERE OLD)*; Definition: “What Cameron & Co want to do with society”
12. ARRAIGN ARRAIGN sounds like “a rain” = “a weather report”; Definition: “Call to account”
13. ORIEL ([h]OLIER)*; Definition: “College” (referring to the Oxford college)
15. TRADE NAME (MEANT DEAR)*; Definition: “Exclusive brand”
17. YELLOWISH YELL = “cry” + O = “nothing” + WISH = “desire”; Definition: “Hue”
20. GREBE A very nice clue: hidden reversed in “icEBERG”; Definition: “Diver”
21. OROTUND TUN = “barrel” in (DOOR)*; Definition: “Pompous”
23. NUANCED (CAN NUDE)*; Definition: “subtly different”
25. STIMULUS (SUIT SLUM)*; Definition: “Incentive”
26. INION OPINION = “view” without OP = “work”; Definition: “Head back” – a new word for me – the INION is the most prominent point on the back of the head
27. UNINTELLIGIBLE Cryptic definition
1. OFFERTORY BOX OFFER = “Propose” + TORY = “politician” + BOX = “fight”; Definition: “charity” – is this really substitutable for OFFERTORY BOX?
2. DURUM DU = “of the French” + RUM = “spirit”
3. ARMADILLO AMARILLO = “Texas town” around D = “old copper” with R = “right” moved; Definition: “Toothless creature”
4. CHAPLET P = “parking” in CHALET = “Swiss Cottage”; Definition: “Garland”
5. SULTANA (NUT ALAS)*; Definition: “fruit”
6. RECUR RE = “about” + CUR = “dog”; Definition: “Come again”
7. EXTRICATE (TAX CERT IE)*; Definition: “Free”
10. INDEPENDENCE (DINE)* + PEN = “writer” + DEN = “study” + CE = “Church”; Definition: “self-government”
14. ILL-GOTTEN (TELLING TO)*; Definition: “bankers’ bonuses?”
16. ENGRAVING Double definition: “Impression” and “burial?” (putting someone in a grave)
18. INDULGE The trickiest parsing today, I think: INGE = “old dean” referring to Dean Inge holding LUD = “London gate” reversed; Definition: “Favour”
19. HANDSEL HANDEL = “Composer” around S[onata]; Definition: “inaugural gift”
22. UNMAN U.N. MAN = “post of inter­national official?”; Definition: “Empty” “Empty post” Thanks to all those who corrected this, liz being the first
24. CLIMB C = “Conservative” + LIMB = “member”

33 Responses to “Guardian 25,319 / Gordius”

  1. Martin H says:

    Morning mhl.

    I enjoyed this one – a few light-hearted clues (FORUM is lovely), a couple of obscure words to learn, and generally decent clueing all round. RECUR a bit weak; if 1d is defined as ‘for charity’ rather than just ‘charity’, it sounds a bit better.

  2. Mystogre says:

    Thanks for the explanations mhi.

    26a was a pure guess on my part as I just could not see it. But I did enjoy 17a. That is more than I can say for 18d. It fitted in nicely and it was only later I realised I didn’t really know why.

  3. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks mhl, as you say this was largely accessible, with two or three unusual words that I got from the wordplay, one I couldn’t parse – 18d, I think you may be right -; and one I found impossible with only one letter missing, as I could make no sense of the wordplay, so thanks for explaining 26ac.

    There were some excellent surfaces, like the tichy 14d, and I agree with MartinH re 1d – at least, that’s how I read it.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Gordius

    A varyingly difficult puzzle with some words I was not particularly familiar with. I remembered durum but needed the letters to see it, and got handsel and inion from the wordplay. I had vague memories of orotund.

    I felt ’empty’ was slightly odd as a definition for ‘unman’ and wondered if there was also the idea of decommisioning a ship’s crew – an old use of the word.

    Generally pretty enjoyable with some quite amusing clues e.g. 8a, 17a (very clever COD), 27a, 4d.

    26 is another clever surface. The ‘to’ is a bit odd unless opinion is treated as a verb which it also is according to OED with examples from the 16th to the 21st century. But it is probably just Gordius’s relatively free approach to cluing.

    After the pointed political comments in 11a and 14d, I wondered for a moment if 24d might somehow be snide reference to Clegg!

  5. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I needed your explanation for the wordplay at 18dn — knew ‘Lud’ but didn’t know ‘Inge’. Also failed to get ‘Inion’ at 26ac — new word to me, but others have solved it, so I should have done!

    8ac made me smile, as did 14dn.

    re 22ac — I took the definition to be ’empty post’, which perhaps makes more sense than simply ’empty’.

  6. NeilW says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    I thought this was the best Gordius for a long time. I had the same passing thought as tupu about 24!

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl, for the blog.

    Regarding tupu’s query about UNMAN, I read it as ’empty post’, since ‘man’ can mean to fill a post.

  8. Eileen says:

    Sorry, liz! :-)

  9. Uncle Yap says:

    Thanks mhl for an excellent blog. Gordius, as usual, had to ‘spoil’ the puzzle for me with INDULGE which I put in without understanding why until I came here … and again, his obsessive self-indulgence with pieces of obscurity detracted from an otherwise excellent set of clues.

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    Mostly very straightforward, although HANDSEL and INION were unfamiliar. The former was obvious from the crossing letters and wordplay, but the latter took me a little longer (although I think I may have met the word before – in a crossword, naturally).

    I agree with Martin H on 1d. I think the def for 22d is ‘Empty post’, rather than just ’empty’, with the second definition ‘international official’. Putting someone in place to occupy a position can be described as ‘manning a post’, so to remove them might be to UNMAN the post. But as tupu (@4) says, UNMAN has the normal meaning of ’emasculate’. Hence Gordius’s use of the question mark at the end of the clue.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all.
    I have been a G. solver for 50 years so I don’t imagine that I am suddenly getting better at completing it.
    I usually start the print version around 10/11 am with my first coffee.
    It is satisfactory if I can dip in and out and finish in the afternoon or even the evening.
    I am disappointed if, as Mon/Tues/Wed this week, all the pleasure is over by noon.
    Am I being uneasonable?

  12. RCWhiting says:

    …..or unreasonable…..

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    I must put in my bit in defence of 18d. It seems to me a perfectly good clue; I knew both INGE and LUDGATE. I didn’t know 26a INION – it doesn’t even sound like a word – so I had to look it up to confirm. 24d and 26 down were my last ones in.

    8a FORUM raised a nice smile. A very good Xword throughout. I managed 11 answers on the first run through, which I think is a PB.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    26a not 26 down

  15. tupu says:

    Hi RCC
    :) …or unseasonable?

    Hi Liz, Eileen and Geoff
    Thanks re unman. :) The answer was obvious but somehow I forgot to read the post! It may doubly need the question mark since OED only gives ‘To denude (a vessel or fleet) of men’ for this sense.

  16. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl & Gordy.

    This was very enjoyable and I even learned a new word (INION) which I shall now use in everyday conversation – just to show how clever I am.

    HANDSEL was also new and easily guessed but nowhere near as useful as Inion as far as I can see.

  17. Robi says:

    Good, typical Gordius with many fairly simple anagrams, but then some difficult clues to balance.

    Thanks mhl for a good blog. I didn’t have any trouble with 18 as I knew LUDgate, so was convinced that INGE must be a word and looked it up – it is pretty obscure though. CHAPLET, INION, OROTUND and HANDSEL all new to me but well-clued so the answers were not that difficult to elucidate. I thought at first that the Texas town in 3 must be Dallas, but of course there are a few other towns in the state – and how could I forget Peter Kay singing “Is this the way to Amarillo.”

  18. Ian says:

    Thanks mhl and Gordius.

    An otherwise very good crossword spoilt by too many anagrams.

    Excellent 8ac that, like Liz, had me smiling. Both INION & HANDSEL were new words in my lexicon that needed referencing.

    11ac & 24dn were deft, playfully clued and typically Guardianesque.

    Bryan (#16) It would certainly prove a conversation stopper. They would certainly say to themselves “That man knows his inions”.

  19. Dave Ellison says:

    “That man knows his inions”.

    Excellent one, Ian – wish I had said it myself.

  20. Geoff says:

    A point about 3d:

    ARMADILLO is clued as ‘toothess creature’ presumably because it used to be lumped into the mammalian order Edentata (‘toothless ones’), together with the anteaters, sloths and pangolins, all of which lack front teeth. Modern taxonomy has separated these groups of animals into different orders.

    Armadillos are now classified as the sole members of the order Cingulata, although they are believed to be most closely related to the order Pilosa (anteaters and sloths). But they are most certainly not toothless: the nine-banded armadillo (the species whose range extends into the southern US, and is probably therefore the most familiar) has plenty of teeth at the back of its mouth – 32, in fact, which is as many as we humans!

  21. chas says:

    Thanks to mhl for the blog.

    I was beaten by INION (sigh) and needed the blog to see why I was correct with INDULGE.

    My favourite was YELLOWISH which fooled me for a long time trying to find a word meaning ‘hue and cry’! Once I remembered the old rule “read each word in the clue separately” it then fell into place.

  22. Bryan says:

    Ian @ 18

    Many thanks for your encouragement – not that I really needed any.

  23. Robi says:

    Geoff @20; thanks for the info. I found this also: ‘ the Giant Armadillo, with a total of 80 to 100 teeth, has more teeth than almost any other mammal.’

    Oh well, Gordius knows his inions and deans, but perhaps not his aramadillos so well.

  24. Davy says:

    Thanks mhl,

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle from Gordius who is often overly criticised. I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned ILL-GOTTEN as it’s a brilliant clue and so apposite. Thanks Gordius.

  25. liz says:


    I did! (mention ILL-GOTTEN) :-)

  26. Bob M says:

    This was a most entertaining puzzle with some amusing and clever clues. If I have any quibble, it is with 1 down; when I was a server – many years ago, I hasten to add – the Offertory was the bringing of the elements of the Mass to the altar, rather than the plate or the poor-box for contributions from the congregation, but perhaps I’m being too picky because I managed to finish another one.

    Thank yous to everyone who commented – you make a puzzle even more enjoyable.

  27. Robi says:

    Bob M@26; perhaps it depends on your religious persuasion; e.g.: ‘If you are considering visiting Foy Church then you can deposit your donation in the Church’s offertory box which is situated in the middle of the nave.’

  28. tupu says:

    Hi Davy

    Me too re ill-gotten @4

    Hi Geoff

    As Imentioned the other day, Araucaria got his homework completely right on these creatiures some time ago. It was 5th June last year.

  29. Wolfie says:

    Well spotted, Geoff @20! Despite being a zoology graduate I was not aware of the re-classification of armadillos. However, I would not be too hard on Gordius; animal taxonomy has always been fluid and often controversial, and even the on-line editions of the OED still assigns armadillos to the now defunct mammalian order Edentata. By analogy, I don’t think anyone would object to to the appearance of the word ‘Brontosaurus’ in a cryptic clue or solution, even though the genus was abolished many years ago and replaced by ‘Apatosaurus’. (What arcane topics we encounter through the medium of Guardian cryptics!)

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    As Davy said @24 “this was an excellent puzzle from Gordius who is often overly criticised”. No iffiness today, instead many smiles along the way.
    To be honest, I can’t be bothered too much whether an ARMADILLO is toothless or not – if it’s not the definition is perhaps not completely right, but the clue as such works well. The same for the OFFERTORY BOX in 1d.

    Highlights the politically flavoured REMODEL (11ac) and ILL-GOTTEN (14d).
    Also very fine: YELLOWISH (17ac)
    But Winner of the Day the unbeatable FORUM (8ac).

    Last word in: INDULGE (18d) without understanding why.
    Is it really fair/right to clue LUD with ‘London gate’?

    Ian @18, you found that there were too many anagrams.
    Well, I’ve counted 4.5 across and only 3 down.
    Is that really too many?

    One of the better Gordiuses.
    Very enjoyable.

    PS, after only having 9 blanks + G?B?E my PinC knew immediately that 27ac had to be UNINTELLIGIBLE [not the best of clues, she thought], but we weren’t sure enough to enter it.
    Then I had a luminous idea. Could it perhaps be CLAAAARKGABLE?
    “If this is it, you won’t get it” – would you? :)

  31. Roger says:

    Hi mhl. I read 16d more as a cryptic definition … the engraving on a tombstone.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    Ludgate is in London. How else would you clue it?

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    RCWhiting (@32), I presume that you are referring to my comment on the cluing of Lud(gate).

    I am not a Londoner, but I do know that Ludgate is in London. However, Gordius used ‘London gate’ for just Lud (so not Ludgate) and my question was: is that fair/right?

    London has a lot of city gates but I can’t imagine someone cluing New or Ald by ‘London gate’.
    Especially since all these ‘gates’ consist of one word.
    Perhaps, Notting Hill for ‘London gate’ is more acceptable just like, for example, Golden Gate (for ‘West Coast bridge’) and Yellow (for ‘Cinese river’) – although the latter is quite tricky [I clearly remember discussions on a river themed puzzle in which it was one of the solutions].

    I hope I made clear what I meant.
    It was a question, not a statement.

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