Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,333 / Gordius

Posted by Gaufrid on May 27th, 2011


Apologies for the late post but for some reason the scheduled blogger hasn’t been able to make it today. This is just a simple clue analysis since I didn’t solve the puzzle but just used the reveal facility for the on-line version.


7 IMPOSTURE *(PROUST) in I ME (myself)
8 CABIN B[rother] in CAIN (murderer)
9 HERBICIDE HER (the lady) BIC (writer {pen}) IDE[as]
10 STEAM S (second) TEAM (XI)
12 TANNOY T[ravel] ANNOY (irritating)
16 TERRACE ER (how d’you say?) in TRACE (track)
19 MINARET (barely) cd – the tower in a Mosque from which the call to prayer is given
22 NUMERATE cd – ‘tell’ as in add up
25 DETAIL d&cd – de-tail
27 ODOUR O (love) DOUR (grim)
28 STOP PRESS d&cd – ‘press’ as in crowd
29 DEATH *(DATE) H[eaven]
30 ANTENATAL ANTEN[n]A (aerial direction lost) TAL[k] (short conversation)
1 AMOEBA A MO (a trice) E (English) BA (graduate)
2 COMBINER IN in COMBER (gaper) – comber/gaper is a sea-perch
3 STICKY STICK (remain) Y (unknown)
4 PRODUCE PRO (for) DUCE (Mussolini)
6 CICADA homophone of ‘sick’ (ailing) ADA (lass)
11 MALI MALI[ce] (ill-will apart from the church)
14 MAR MAR[gin] (dropping trap from the edge)
15 NET dd
16 TEN d&cd – 15 is TEN
17 RAM d&cd – 14 is MAR
18 CHAR dd
21 DESTINY DES (boy) TINY (little)
24 EQUITY QUIT (leave off) in YE (the old) reversed
25 DAPPER dd – to ‘dap’ is to bounce

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,333 / Gordius”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. After all that was said about Philistine’s debut, may I just say that I would prefer yesterday over today, any day!

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid this was very enjoyable.

    I had to struggle with the SE corner but was rewarded with a lovely feeling of satisfaction after I had unravelled 30a ANTENATAL and 21d DESTINY.

    Many thanks Gordius.

  3. NeilW says:

    I did learn some new words, though, so thank you Gordius: dap; gaper and comber.

  4. caretman says:

    Thanks for covering this one as well, Gaufrid. It was a very straightforward puzzle with some nice touches. 29a was my favorite clue.

  5. Geoff says:

    Thanks for doing the honours, Gaufrid.

    I first parsed 28a as you did, until I realised that it should be OPPRESS (what the police do to protesters) on the ST(reet).

    Some very good clues here: I particularly liked 29a (an &lit) and 24d, with its good surface. On the other hand, 9a is ungrammatical: HER should be ‘the lady’s’ and not ‘the lady’, as written.

    But this curate’s egg has more good parts than bad, IMHO.

  6. Tokyocolin says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid. I think that is 3 blogs today.

    I wondered if perhaps this was “be kind to solvers week”. Gordius can be, well gordian, but this was definitely Gordius Lite. The only one that held me up and pushed the time over 10 mins. was the brand name at 12ac. Unknown to me.

    I know brand names have appeared before but this seems fairly specialized and a tad unfair.

  7. Geoff says:

    Tokyocolin @6: In the UK, TANNOY is widely used as a generic term for a public address loudspeaker system, in the same way that we use ‘hoover’ to mean vacuum cleaner (at least we did until Sir James Dyson started up!).

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Gaufrid and Gordius

    As usual with Gordius one sails along happily and all too easily till one is suddenly brought to a halt. The NW and SE corners held me up eventually. The gaper/comber link needed checking once I’d guessed 2d, and there was another fishy idea lurking around (albeit irrelevantly) the dap/dapper/bounce link (dapping is a form of float fishing as well) with ‘char’ providing a further, more obvious piscine link.

    I didn’t like 28a very much (seemed a bit forced one way or another), but missed geoff’s sharp insight.
    30a was clever and one or two others amusing.

  9. Eileen says:

    Congratulations on the hat-trick, Gaufrid! – and thanks.

    Hi Geoff

    My parsing of 28ac was the same as Gaufrid’s but yours makes it a rather better clue than I thought it was.

    There’s nothing grammatically wrong with 9ac: ‘her’ is the accusative [corresponding to ‘him’] , as well as the genitive case [corresponding to ‘his’] of the feminine personal pronoun – as in ‘her indoors’!

  10. Robi says:

    Thanks Gaufrid for a good blog. I parsed 28 as Geoff @5.

    Entertaining puzzle; had to investigate the COMBER gaper.

    No doubt the more experienced have seen [il] DUCE before, but I did enjoy the clue for PRODUCE. Another fine clue was for ANTENATAL.

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Geoff @5
    I agree with your alternative parsing for 28ac but shouldn’t the clue have been ‘some police’? I would like to think that here in the UK the police don’t treat protesters with tyrannical cruelty or injustice, though I suppose they might press against or try to overwhelm them.

  12. Geoff says:

    Eileen: You’re absolutely right – I was misled by the lady in the clue being its grammatical subject! In fact, in the colloquial example you give, I don’t think it is ever phrased as ‘she indoors’, so in this particular expression ‘her’ can be the subject as well.

  13. otter says:

    Thanks for the analysis, Gaufrid. Another simple puzzle from Gordius. Nothing to complain about here (apart from the ungrammatical part of 9a, already pointed out). I agree that this puts Philistine’s debut of yesterday into perspective, as on the whole I probably preferred his/her wordplay.

    Didn’t see the ST / OPPRESS parsing of 28a. Thought it was simply that police try to stop the press (ie crushing). Could be read either way. Probably the former, as most recent STOP PRESS news of treatment of protesters has been from eg Libya, Syria, Bahrain and so on, where the police have certainly not shown restraint.

    I ended up stuck for a while on 2d and 21d. Eventually got COMBINER as I had all the crossing letters, but had never heard of a comber – must look it up. I confess I eventually put in a couple of guesses for 21d until a couple of letters fell into place and finally the little light bulb went on above my head. Can’t think of any clue I particularly liked, although the semi-&lit. in 29a was nicely done. It was more like that little task you need to knock off before leaving the office rather than a real pleasure to do this.

  14. tupu says:

    Hi Geoff and Eileen

    I wondered first about ‘her’. But it seems OK as Eileen says.
    Also, take the simple expression where one says ‘It’s me’, ‘It’s him’, ‘It’s her’ where I, he and she would be in my view quite artificial. In these cases (as with ‘Who is it? ‘Me’)the form is accusative (or objective as seems to be preferred by modern grammarians), but the function is not the usual ‘objective’ one and seems more like what Crystal calls a ‘subject complement’.
    As is often the case, formal grammar has a hard job dealing with natural language, especially when it tries to go beyond inductive description to deductive prescription.

    Crystal notes that criticism of this usage has paradoxically led to over-sensitivity which he links, as over-correction, directly to ‘the between you and I’ sysndrome.

  15. chas says:

    I found this somewhat easier than the usual Gordius but even so there were words new to me e.g. COMBER and DAP.
    Thanks to Gaufrid for explaining them.

  16. Geoff says:

    tupu @14: Subject complement, as you say. The prescriptive grammarians would say ‘It is I’, but the far more commonly used form, ‘It’s me’ is rather analogous to the French use of a ‘disjunctive pronoun’ – “C’est moi’ (rather than ‘C’est je’).

    (In Italian, on the other hand, there is no alternative but to say ‘sono io’ – literally ‘I am I’ – they don’t use an impersonal construction like ‘it’s’ or ‘c’est’ in this context, oddly).

  17. muck says:

    Thanks Gaufrid and Gordius.
    1dn: I don’t think AMOEBA is a bug

  18. muck says:

    Try this link to AMOEBA

  19. PeeDee says:

    Thanks to Gaufrid for explaining Dap and Comber, both new words for me.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    In Wiltshire in the 50s we used dap in two ways.
    As a verb, to bounce a ball with open hand and no catching.
    As a noun to describe a rubber/canvas gym shoe. Known in other areas as sandshoe/plimsole/pump.
    I do not know whether there is any link between the two meanings.

  21. Geoff says:

    muck: I started off with the same disapproval of AMOEBA = ‘bug’, but then remembered that the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica is a pathogen, responsible for amoebic dysentery, and therefore could be considered to be a ‘bug’ in the colloquial medical sense.

  22. tupu says:

    Geoff @16

    Thanks. Finnish is also like Italian in this. It seems German has ‘ich bin’s’ (‘bin es’ I assume).

    I wonder if Eileen can tell us how the Romans said it?

  23. muck says:

    Thanks Geoff#21: I stand corrected

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    It was tempting to compare this crossword with yesterday’s Philistine – more or less the same level of difficulty. In that sense, I have to agree with NeilW @1 (though his ‘any day’ wouldn’t have been part of my verdict).
    Yet, it is fairer to compare Gordius with Gordius. And then one must conclude that it was rather enjoyable.

    We weren’t happy with 9ac (HERBICIDE), for two reasons. Firstly the ‘her’ bit that Geoff brought up, and which has now been justified by Eileen. Secondly, the ‘short on ideas’ for IDE. But on second thoughts, that’s OK too. When you’re short on ideas, you don’t have enough ideas, so you’re missing something: IDE[as].

    Despite what’s been said about ‘a bug’, I’m not convinced yet.
    Apparently a certain AMOEBA might be seen as a bug, but that doesn’t make ‘a bug’ a good definition for AMOEBA, in my opinion.
    Example: some felines are ‘a pet’, but that doesn’t make ‘a pet’ a suitable definition for FELINE.

    Even so, as Geoff said @5, there was more right than wrong.
    Nevertheless, I find it hard to single out a Clue of the Day.

    The only really annoying thing in this crossword was 23ac.
    “Is nude the new knickers?”
    The word ‘the’ is completely out of place here. Strictly speaking, as it is now, it means (IS NUDE THE)*.

    29ac (DEATH) was surely one of the most amusing clues, but I wanted to tweak it immediately: “Uncertain date for introduction to hell!!” (either !! or a question mark)

    Thanks Gaufrid for stepping in, and Gordius for filling in another hour or so of my life …. :)

  25. Martin H says:

    Hi Sil – I liked 29a too, one of the nicest &lits I’ve seen for a while, with both heaven and the alternative giving the H – take your pick.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    I have waited until late but I am sadly disappointed that none of you have fainted at the use of such “risqué” language as 23ac.

  27. Gaufrid says:

    Hi RCWhiting
    There is no 23ac so I assume you are referring to 23dn. Why do you consider this risqué? Is it the ‘knickers’ or the ‘undies’ or the ‘nude’? All of these terms are in common usage.

  28. Carrots says:

    Fairly easy fare from Gordius but not without quite a few Gordian “liberties” spicing the pot. I couldn`t wait to get home to see what the usual suspects made of these, expecting Sil, Tupu and NeilW to be dancing with indignation at his affrontery…but `twas not to be. I fell among some old cronies hell bent on reliving times past, hence this late post.

    I`ve a sneaking suspicion that Gordius seeks out stretched and inappropriate definitions, clumsy parsing and obscure usages just to wind the usual suspects up. I like a maverick and G. is the nearest we`ve got to one.

    Not looking forward to the hangover tomorrow.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Gaufrid #27
    You are, of course, right to correct my 23ac to 23down.
    In all other respects you have completely missed the point!

  30. mike04 says:

    Hi Sil @24
    re 23dn

    For “the new” Collins Dictionary gives “(to be) set to replace the current vogue”
    with this example: comedy is the new rock’n’roll.

    Is that not OK as an anagram indicator?

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, this morning I was thinking about what RCWhiting’s point re 23ac might be. At the same time, I reconsidered my criticism on the use of “the new” in that clue.
    Mike04, I agree with you now!
    ‘Nude is’ could be ‘the new’ form of UNDIES (the answer).
    Not much wrong with that (that said, I’m still not sure what RCWhiting meant :))

  32. Huw Powell says:

    It’s been a while since I completely finished a Grauniad puzzle, so this one was a bit refreshing in that regard. Proceeded on a quarterly basis, mostly – had all the NE, then the SW, then the SE, and finally the NW, probably due to the quadrants being so isolated from each other, but heavily checked within themselves – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a puzzle grid with four checks in a row! I did “cheat” slightly (used OneLook to search “antena?a?”) to get ANTENATAL, though I might have got there on my own with a bit more patience.

    The “bug” thing didn’t bug me at all – sure, I was thinking of beetles and such, but the other insectual clue/answer helped me veer away and when AMOEBA came out it made perfect sense – a person suffering from dysentery would certianly be said to “have a bug” – although perhaps that is more of a US usage?

    Thanks for the blog, Gaufrid, since there were a few parsings I was weak on, and to Gordius for this less-than-usually tangled knot to unravel!

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