Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,356 / Gordius

Posted by Eileen on June 23rd, 2011


I seem to have spent almost as much time trying – unsuccessfully – to come up with a preamble for this puzzle as I did in solving it.

I’ll just say that I think it would have been more appropriately assigned to the Quiptic slot.


9   DISAPPEAR: anagram of PAPER SAID
10 UNTIL: anagram of UNIT + L[eft]
11  SONGS: N[o] G[ood] in SOS [Mayday – the international distress signal]
12  SCANSIONS: ANS[wer] in SCIONS [offshoots]: I only know this word in the singular, as the analysis of metrical structure.
13  RE-ENTERS: R[oyal] E[ngineer] [soldier] + ENTERS [enrols]
14  BRUNEI: I [one] replaces L [student] in BRUNEL [engineer]
17  ABSURD: anagram of BUS in A RD
19  ENSNARES: anagram of SENSE RAN
22  IDENTICAL: anagram of DIET IN + CAL[ifornia]
24  FLAIR: FL[orida] + AIR [bearing]: I must admit that by now [after six anagrams in ten clues] I was so deep into anagram mode that I automatically entered TASTE here, trying desperately to see ‘has bearing’ as an indicator! 15dn set me to rights.
25 ÉCLAT: anagram of TAC[k]LE
26  UNTENABLE: UNABLE [unqualified] round TEN [round number]
27  ACHILLES TENDON: anagram of ONE TENDS after A CHILL: I think this is a poor clue: it’s Achilles’ heel that is a metaphorical vulnerability.


1   PEDESTRIANISED: anagram of TRADE IS IN SPEED – & lit
ESSENCE: C[hristianity] in ESSENE [Jewish sect]: [definition: ‘actual – 21dn – nature’ ]
EXPOSITOR: IT in anagram of POOR SEX
TREASURE: TREA[d] + SURE [certain]
5   NORMAL: NOR [and not] + MAL [pain]
6   TRUSS: hidden [just] in sovieT RUSSia
7   OUTWORN: TWO [number] in OUR [the Guardian’s] + N[ame]
8   PLASTIC SURGEON: PLASTICS [credit cards] + URGE ON [are a strong temptation]: I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen ‘plastic’ in the plural used for ‘credit cards': Chambers gives ‘plastic’ as ‘short for plastic money’.
15  RING FENCE: RING [arena] + FENCE [fight]: I think Derek might like a hyphen here!  I would – and so do Collins and Chambers.
16  INFLATES: anagram of FELT AS IN
18  SHELLAC: SHELL [oilmen] + AC[count]
20  ROADBED: AD [notice] in ROBED [dressed up]
21  ACTUAL: ACT [performance] + U [open to all – film classification] + AL[l]
23  TUTSI: TUT [expression of mild disapproval] + reversal of IS

45 Responses to “Guardian 25,356 / Gordius”

  1. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen

    Two words I don’t often see in puzzles are SCANSIONS and EXPOSITOR. Other than that quite solvable.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius

    A relatively quick ‘solve’. I liked the two long anagrams at 1a and d and a few other clues such as 14a, and 6.

    re 8d I read it as plastic + s =? strong plus urge on but even then ‘urge on’ = ‘strong temptation’ was not wholly convincing. Perhaps one can say ‘I have an urge on to do something’ – but it doesn’t trip off the tongue. Am I mising something?

    12a also seemed a bit odd, as did the definition of 19a.

    I was less worried about Achilles tendon but you are quite right, Eileen, re ‘heel’.

  3. Roger says:

    Hi Eileen.
    I thought the S for SURGEON at 8d came from S(trong) and having an ‘urge on’ equates to having the ‘temptation’ to do something.

  4. mike04 says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. A very quick solve for me too.

    I agree with your misgivings in 27ac and 8dn. In both cases Gordius has used the word ‘perhaps’.
    Maybe this qualifier justifies the clues?

  5. Roger says:

    Oh dear, done it again, tupu !

  6. Mystogre says:

    Thanks for the work Eileen. I found this curiously unsatisfying. Perhaps (that word again) because it all fell into place easily.

    Well, almost all as I has trouble believing the TENDON bit as I to expected HEEL to follow ACHILLES, although the former is well known in sporting circles and ia a real vulnerability for sportspeople.

    I also agree with Roger and Mike04 with regard to the parsing of 8d, as I have never found credit cards referee to other than as plastic – singular. Or is that a collective noun?

    Then again, I needed a quiet solve tonight after the day. Thanks to Gordius for providing it.

  7. Mystogre says:

    Sorry about the spelling. I am blaming on this iPad thinking it knows what letter I mean. Mutter, grumble.

  8. Thomas99 says:

    I think you might be missing something re 8d. I agree with Eileen; if plastics is in the (slightly surprising but OK IMO) plural then it’s not “urge on” = “strong temptation”, which doesn’t really make sense; it’s “urge on” = “ARE A strong temptation”, as she says in the blog. And I think that does make sense.

  9. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Thomas99 – I was just about to say that I was sticking to my guns on that one, because of the grammar of the surface, though I’m usually prepared to be put right by tupu. 😉

    tupu, is it really 19ac where you’re questioning the definition? Nothing wrong with traps = ensnares, is there? [But the ‘falling into’ is superfluous.]

  10. tupu says:

    Hi Roger

    :)Oh dear, indeed! Actually of course such confirmation is always welcome.

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen and Thomas99


    It seems that despite Roger’s support I may have got it wrong in these two clues.

    re 19a I have to agree with your reading. I suppose the idea is that once the letters ‘run amok’ they then ‘fall into’ place as ‘traps’.

    re 8d I accept that ‘plastics’ = ‘credit cards’ is more likely to be meant, though I don’t like it. The surface ‘are’ is not conclusive in itself, though.

    I suspect the trouble is that one does not trust Gordius always to get it right, and one can then too easily assume he hasn’t.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu, I’m sorry to nitpick but I disagree with your ‘The surface ‘are’ is not conclusive in itself, though.’ I can’t accept URGE ON as a noun = temptation, whereas ‘are a strong temptation’ = URGE ON makes perfect sense.

    I’m afraid I have to agree with your last observation, though. 😉

  13. Geoff says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Very straightforward puzzle, heavy on the anagrams.

    A few weak clues, as mentioned above. I wasn’t certain of the parsing of 8d but ‘s’ = ‘strong’ is plausible. ‘Vulnerability’ is an iffy def for 27a and the ‘perhaps’ barely conceals its modesty. 13a is poor: ‘enters’ and ‘enrols’ are too similar.

    However, most clues are well constructed, with good surfaces. The &lits at 1a and 1d are very good – these are almost mutual anagrams. 2d is clever: the Essenes were responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls and are thought to have influenced the development of Christianity. 6d is as succinct and smooth a ‘hidden’ clue as we are ever likely to see.

    As ‘easy’ puzzles go, this is much more to my taste than ones based on vast quantities of cd/dd clues.

  14. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen & Gordius – I evidently enjoyed this more than anyone else so far!

    The secret of my success is that I first entered PLASTIC SURGERY which added to my difficulty in getting TENDON. Of course, I was also looking for something HEELish.

    Please do try making the occasional error: it sure works wonders for me.

    As for a preamble, how about …

    Oh Gord what next?

  15. tupu says:

    HI Eileen

    :) I think we are really in agreement. What I meant was that the ‘are’ would not be in itself conclusive without the trouble caused by ‘urge on’ as a nouny form and ‘s’ = ‘strong’.

    I can imagine a clue (albeit a clunky one) which went ‘Perhaps credit cards are a small temptation to go by rail. But it might save face’ to which the answer was ‘plastic surgery’.

  16. tupu says:

    Hi geoff
    Thanks re ‘strong’.
    :) I had an image from your comment of ‘perhaps’ as a figleaf (or even ‘modesty vest’ as in COD), but that would probably need ‘immodesty’.

  17. Roger says:

    If ‘credit cards’ = ‘plastics’ (which still doesn’t work for me) then ‘strong’ is surely superfluous.

    In a similar vein, does 26a really need both ‘to accommodate’ and ’round’ ? I liked Brunei and the &lit at 1d though, but 13a was a bit weak. Initially tried at 12a to fit ‘ans’ into an anagram of ‘shoots’ but maybe that was an intentional misdirection. As Mystogre says, sports men & women often seem to be vulnerable to pulled/damaged 27acrosses.

  18. gm4hqf says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle Bryan and like you I also entered PLASTIC SURGERY which made things more interesting for a while.

  19. Miche says:

    Thanks for the blog. Nice to see I’m not the only one dissatisfied with 8d. Last to go in for me was SCANSIONS, because I took “offshoots” meant an(other) anagram. I like anagrams, but there were a few too many here.

  20. Miche says:

    *Took it to mean. Oops.

  21. stiofain says:

    Rubbish and annoying with the trademark shoe-horned in religious references.

  22. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Found this very straightforward, as usual for Gordius. Had a lot more trouble with today’s Indy. Agree that this puzzle would be more suited to Quiptic; in fact, did a few recent quiptics yesterday and had more trouble with one of those – possibly Arachne’s most recent.

    Agree with the problems of the superfluous ‘falling into’ in ENSNARES, and of the oddity of PLASTICS for ‘credit cards’. I also wondered whether S was from ‘strong’ but then the definition doesn’t make sense, as Eileen points out.

    Only slipped up on SCANSIONS. I saw ‘scansion’ as a possibility early on, but like Eileen have never heard it used in the plural. Also thought it is synonymous with ‘scan’, ie the metre itself rather than the analysis of metre, so discounted it as a solution for ‘critical examinations’.

    And plenty of clearly flagged anagrams. Much as I like an anagram, one can have too much of a good thing. And many of the definitions were give-aways – I filled in at least four solutions without even looking at the word-play.

    So not a great vote of confidence from me, I’m afraid.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Rather too easy but I didn’t really have many of the complaints spelled out above.
    I cannot see in all the chat about 8d the view which I took. The thing should be read as a whole ie ‘credit card-s are a strong temptation’ = plastic s urge on.
    No one has mentioned it, but I liked the misdirection in 15d.

    Elaine, as I said the other day, don’t worry about the preamble!

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Sorry, Eileen.

  25. chas says:

    Eileen thanks for the blog.

    I agree with all those saying PLASTIC (singular) means credit cards(plural).

    I liked 9a. Its surface led me to try and find the name of a paper which sounds like fold. Eventually I saw the correct parsing.

    I also tried, vainly, to fit HEEL into 27a.

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Must have been easy if even the class dummy thinks that! Still at least there were some amusing bits.

  27. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen. This puzzle fitted in very well with my day today, as at 9.45 I calculated I had about 15 mins. to get into it during breakfast before getting ready to go out for a 10.30 appointment. By 10.00, I had all but one solution, and the missing word I needed (SCION) occurred to me while I was getting dressed. Obviously, by then it was too late to pop in and comment – but then there’s not really much to say, is there?

    I like RCW’s parsing of 8d @23. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, for obvious reasons, but this is the most convincing I’ve read here.

  28. Tokyocolin says:

    Many thanks Eileen, for an excellent blog as always. I agree with most of the assessments and quibbles expressed above. However, most unusually, I have two minor disagreements with your parsing and comments.

    I parsed 8d as RCW did. I agree that it carries wordplay into the solution but that is OK IMO.

    As a runner in a club in which at any one time 5-10% of the members are afflicted with Achilles tendonitis

  29. scchua says:

    Thank Eileen, for the blog and Gordius for a v easy cryptic.

    Think it was the number of easily spotted anagrams that made it easy, though 9A had a nice misdirection with “said”. I think 27A is okay, once we accept that its a physical instead of a metaphorical “vulnerability” in the definiton, as some above have pointed out. And “plastics” could just be setter’s licence to extrapolate a word’s meaning?

  30. Tokyocolin says:

    Sorry, doing this on the iPhone and the Publish button is too close.

    … the word Achilles immediately brings to mind the runners’ vulnerability, not the classical source. The clue did not mention mythology and ‘perhaps’ is the anagrind for One Tends, not a plea for latitude. Maybe Gordius is a runner too?

  31. John says:

    I’m not sure if anyone has actually questioned the definition in 12 ac. I certainly do. Scansion has only one (singular) meaning and has nothing to with a scan or any other sort of examination.

  32. MattD says:

    Well I enjoyed this at least! Not every puzzle should be difficult, sometimes it’s good to have a not too strenuous journey through a setter’s mind. Surely there should be a variety of levels so that an occasional solver who buys the paper can have a good go on one day and then another day there’s one for the Crossword Olympians we have on this site which leaves the occasional solver lost. (I do not include myself in that btw!)

    I’ve said before on this site that there is little fondness for this setter compared to certain others I could mention. Personally, I like Gordius as (s)he can be a little looser with definitions than others and less algebraic in clue constructions requiring a little more of an intuitive approach. The other setters also take liberties sometimes, but it’s OK for them it seems.

    Thanks for the blog Eileen and many thanks to Gordius. For what it’s worth, I also read 8d as Stella@27 and RCW@23 and I like the slightly ambiguous grammar in play.

  33. walruss says:

    The PLASTIC SURGEON clue is just badly written, that’s all. ‘Credit cards are a strong temptation’ just doesn’t equate to the needed material, because crdit cards are ‘plastic’, not ‘plastics’. The alternative reading with s=strong id grammatically unsound! Not so good, but he was not out to ofeend today, which is good.

  34. Thomas99 says:

    John (31):

    1. The action of scanning a line of verse to determine its rhythm.

    Or Merriam-Webster:
    scan·sion noun \?skan(t)-sh?n\
    the analysis of verse to show its meter

    I think it’s fine. It obviously involves examination of the line of text; and the determination of its rhythm could form part of a critical study of the verse. So “critical examination” works, and I see no reason why you couldn’t have more than one of them. (“Your scansion of line 112 is fine but your scansion of line 117 is terrible – on average, your various scansions are ok.”)

    I have to say I’m impressed by how much controversy people have managed to generate out of such a straightforward and inoffensive puzzle.

  35. RCWhiting says:

    “The PLASTIC SURGEON clue is just badly written, that’s all. ”
    Only if you do not read it appropriately (see #23).

  36. Bamberger says:

    1a & 1d were catch 22 clues. Hard to solve without the checking letters from the answers that they started but harder to get those answers witout the first letters. Failed on
    3d -thought it an anagram of “in poor sex” . Had a crossing t from 13a so thought enters must be wrongCouldn’t make a word of out “in poor sex” either.
    7d Our=Guardians just didn’t come to mind.
    15d Didn’t have enought crossing letters to have a stab.
    20d Thought of caravan, tractor but again didn’t have enough crossing letters to have a fair go.
    12a I would never have got this. Didn’t know the word and would have thought of scions for offshoots.
    14a Brunel =engineer didn;t conme to mind. If I’d had ?r?n?i , I might have got it but with only ????i, not much chance.
    24a Again hard with only ????r to go on given the multitude of states and bearing =air isn’t obvious to me.

    So Gordius if you are reading this, at least person didn’t think it was trivially easy.

  37. Wolfie says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog.

    I am firmly in the camp of those who found this a pleasant and entertaining crossword, and who are puzzled by the tendency in some quarters to criticise Gordius for taking liberties that would be nodded through indulgently from other setters.

    I liked 27ac very much. Others have pointed out that the Achilles tendon is a real (not a metaphorical) vulnerability for athletes. I would add that this is particularly the case in chilly weather – hence the importance of stretching and warming up the tendon before exercising when cold. This makes the clue a particularly clever &lit in my opinion.

  38. Eileen says:

    RCWhiting@23 and 35

    Your reading of 8dn is what I intended to indicate in the blog. I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear. [Maybe I should have omitted the ‘+’. ]

    Bamberger, it’s worth filing away WE / OUR for Guardian / Guardian’s, as it crops up quite a lot [and FT used in the same way on another thread].

  39. RCWhiting says:

    ……………and even more common…..’US’.

  40. Carrots says:

    Got all but SCANSIONS in under half-a-pint, including changing EXHIBITOR for EXPOSITOR as the first one in.

    There`s one thing to be said about Gordius….he usually prompts a fire-fight among the usual suspects, which I have a sneaky suspicion he does on purpose.

    See y`all in Brummieland.

  41. Paul B says:

    I can never understand that film. The Usual Suspects, I mean. The plot has more holes in it than Wentworth.

    Perhaps credit cards are a strong temptation, but one might save face (7,7)

    Sorry, but I’m struggling very badly to see how that works, either as a whole or in parts. A credit card can be one’s plastic singular, I suppose (even though most of us in the C21st would have more than one card), and credit cards are indeed referred to as ‘plastic’, but certainly never ‘plastics’, as the word fulfils both the singular and the plural case. That leaves, one suspects, either SURGE ON, or S and URGE ON.

    To ‘surge on’ would not be to strongly tempt as far as I’m aware, but nor would ‘urge on': that’s to strongly encourage, isn’t it? Even in Chambers Online Thesaurus (usually most generous, liberal and lavish with the meanings it assigns) ‘tempt’ does not appear under ‘urge’. And S doesn’t stand for strong on its own in any dictionary I possess.

    So what then, grammarians? I must say I am not persuaded by your efforts so far.

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Why don’t we just simply accept that Gordius means:
    1 credit card = 1 plastic, so 2 credit cards = 2 plastics.
    Maybe even in the RCWhiting variant of +s = +s.
    [don’t worry, I know, it’s linguistically wrong]

    It is just not worth spending so much time on trying to explain it.
    Well, that’s what I think :).

    As we all know, Gordius is a regular visitor of Sloppy & Floppy Land.

    Very easy, this puzzle.
    But always nice to see at least two fine clues: 1ac and 1d.

    Thank you, Eileen, hope to meet you again this Saturday.

  43. Paul B says:

    Yes, but it’s always fun to make exacting requests of persons for detailed explanations of things that are clearly going to require a lot of explaining. You’re just TOO sensible by half, Sil.

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Am I?

  45. Eileen says:

    I’m amazed at the number of responses this seemingly anodyne puzzle has generated – but thanks for your comments, everyone.

    I’m with you all the way, I think, Sil: see you Saturday – but it’s a shame about your P in C! :-)

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