Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,362 / Chifonie

Posted by mhl on June 30th, 2011


An easy but enjoyable puzzle from Chifonie – and for once I have a time-zone difference that makes it easy to get the post done in time :)

1. ALLOWED ALL = “Everything” + OWED = “payable”; Definition: “legitimate”
5. DEVOTEE (VETOED)* + E = “ecstasy”
9. CRYPT CRY = “Keen” + PT = “point”; Definition: “vault”
10. GERMINATE (A REGIMENT)*; Definition: “to shoot”
11. STAND ASIDE ST = “The way” + AN + DA = “attorney” + SIDE = “team”; Definition: “give way”
12. SLOT S = “small” + LOT = “fortune”; Definition: “Opening”
14. AMBIVALENCE VAL = “Girl” in AMBIENCE = “mood”; Definition: “uncertainty”
18. DARDANELLES (DEALERS LAND)*; Definition: “strait”
21. ROTA ROT = “Spoil” + A; Definition: “schedule”
22. DETACHMENT Double definition: “Body of troops” and “reserve”
25. BARRISTER ST = “street” in BARRIER = “blockade”; Definition: “Advocate”
26. MOIST O = “duck” in MIST = “fog”; Defintion: “damp”
27. EXACTOR EX = “from” + ACTOR = “performer”; Definition: “One forcing payment”
28. DORMICE DORM = “sleeping quarters” + ICE = “freeze”; Definition: “Rodents”
1. ACCOST A + C = “conservative” + COST = “asking price”; Definition: “buttonhole”
2. LAYMAN LAY = “put down” + MAN = “fiancé”; Definition: “Parishioner”
3. WITHDRAWAL WITH = “In spite of” + AWARD = “trophy” reversed + L = “Labour leader”; Definition: “retraction”
4. DEGAS D = “departs” + SAGE = “wise man” reversed; Definition: “Painter”
5. DAREDEVIL D = “died?” + A + RED = “ruddy” + EVIL = “disaster”; Definition: “Stunt man” – I think the “That’s” is problematic here Thanks to Geoff for pointing out that this read as “died? That has: […]”
6. VEIN Hidden in “aggressiVE INstinct”; Definition: “Mood”
7. TRAILING TR = “Turkey” + AILING = “sick”; Definition: “hanging back”
8. EVEN THEN EVENT = “affair” + HEN = “bird”; Definition: “Despite that”
13. BLASPHEMER (AMBER HELPS)*; Definition: “one uttering profan­ities”
15. BEEFEATER E[xecutes] = “initially executes” + FEAT = “exploit” in BEER = “drink”; Definition: “Royal guard”
16. ADORABLE DORA = “girl” in ABLE = “expert”; Definition: “Sweet”
17. PRETORIA (I REPORT A)*; Definition: “capital”
19. GEMINI EG = “for example” reversed on MINI = “a car”; Definition: “A sign”
20. STATUE SUE = “Girl” around TAT = “shoddy item”; Definition: “work of art”
23. ACRID AC = “Bill” + RID = “free”; Definition: “bitter”
24. SIFT F = “fellow” in SIT = “hold”; Definition: “Investigate”

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,362 / Chifonie”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. Yes, a quarter-hour job. I had less trouble with the D in 5d than that in 6d, and more than both with ‘with’ in 3d. Last in was 24d, mild additional trouble with sit=hold.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl & Chifonie, this was a breeze.

    Like Molongo, 24d was my last … it’s funny how clues for some 4-letter words can prove so tricky.

  3. EB says:

    Thanks mhl & Chifonie.

    I agree that this was at the easier end of the spectrum – as with molonglo & Bryan I had trouble with 24d.
    Once I had the crossing letters (I’d guessed ‘Fellow’ = ‘F’ was in the word) then the amswer had to be ‘Sift’ – molonglo had trouble with ‘sit’ = ‘hold’ and so do I.
    In what sense can these mean the same? Can anyone give an example?

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    I really think it’s time Chifonie was promoted to the Quiptic section. The editorial attitude seems to have a certain attitude as well, with some dubious definitions and sloppy clueing waved through. MAN=”fiancé”, for instance???

  5. NeilW says:

    EB, I thought SIT = “hold” was just about OK in the sense of “I’m going to sit on these shares for a while, in case they go up,” meaning “hold on to.”

  6. Barbie says:

    re ‘sit’ = ‘hold': another example could be that in an election, if a previously sitting MP holds his seat he continues to sit in Parliament.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. [Whatever time zone are you in now, I wonder? We missed you on Saturday!]

    I’m sorry but I’m not convinced by either suggestion for sit = hold [and why do we need ‘found’in the clue?] And as for man = fiancé …!

    [However, NeilW, surely the Quiptic department is the last place we should find ‘dubious definitions and sloppy cluing’?]

  8. Roger says:

    Ref 24d …The theatre can sit/hold 500 people

  9. NeilW says:

    Hi, Eileen. I wasn’t suggesting any link between the two but your point is well taken. I think the level of difficulty is not even really for a Monday and this amount of editorial laxity is just bad.

  10. scchua says:

    Thanks mhl, and Chifonie for a nice easy puzzle.

    Yes, this took only 1 pass, and less time to solve than an average Quiptic, but not complaining as it allows more time for other puzzles today.

    Re 24D SIFT, “sit” is as when one “holds” office as for a judge, or bishop, or any official. If I understand monlonglo@1, I think the “with” in 3D WITHDRAWAL is given by “having”, unless it’s something else that’s the problem?

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Chifonie

    I enjoyed some of the anagrams and did not feel this was as dire as some others seem to have done. :) Sometimes it’s nice to be able to get on with the day!

    Re sit – I scoured Chambers on this. A further possibility is holding as in ‘a sitting tenant’. But they are all a bit of a stretch.

  12. scchua says:

    Sorry, of course I meant molonglo@1.

  13. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    Pretty easy offering from Chifonie.

    I didn’t like ‘hold’ = SIT, but Roger ‘8 offers an explanation which just about convinces me. However, ‘fiance’ = MAN is very tenuous.

    mhl queries the “that’s” in the clue for 5d. Here Chifonie has used a device which I find very irritating: the use of the ‘apostrophe s’ as a contraction for ‘has’ rather than ‘is’ (so the clue should be read as “…died? That has a ruddy disaster!”). This trick is also used in 23d. The reason I don’t like this is that the contraction is only used (in all but archaic poetic registers) when ‘has’ is an auxiliary verb and not when it denotes possession. In a sentence like “He’s a slave called Spartacus”, “he’s” can only sensibly be interpreted as ‘he is’ and NOT ‘he has’. Compare this with the sentence “He’s got a slave called Spartacus” – here the ‘has’ is an auxiliary verb and can therefore be contracted, as it is an unstressed syllable.

    And I didn’t like ‘disaster’ = EVIL in 5d either!

  14. tupu says:

    Hi Geoff

    Interesting but is that altogether right?
    I’ve reason to doubt it.

  15. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks mhl. I agree some of the definitions are a bit tenuous, but I think they just about hold water.

    I believe Chifonie has already written a few quiptics, but I don’t think this puzzle would qualify. It may have been easy for the habitual solver, but I think some of the clues would be quite tough for a learner.

    Hi scchua@10. I took WITH in 3d to come from “in spite of”, as when we say “With all that, I still think…”

  16. tupu says:

    ps Though I’ve no wish or intention to make a fuss about it.

  17. tupu says:

    Geoff – More seriously, such examples seem to be most idiomatic in the negative – He’s no reason/right/intention etc. I had not noticed this before, or the more general point re auxiliary use.

  18. scchua says:

    Hi Stella@15, agreed. Better than my explanation of “in spite of” as contributing to the surface.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu and Geoff

    So is it the ambiguity that’s the problem with the third person singular? [I personally have never minded it: I think Scots say ‘[s]he’s’ for ‘[s]he has’ and I was married to one for long enough to have got used to it, I suppose.] But we all say, I’ve, you’ve, we’ve, they’ve – so why not he’s, she’s, it’s?

  20. Geoff Anderson says:

    Eileen, isn’t this why not:

    I’ve : I’m
    you’ve : you’re
    we’ve : we’re
    they’ve : they’re
    (s)he’s : (s)he’s

    In every case except 3rd person singular, the contractions for ‘to have’ and ‘to be’ are different from each other, so there is no risk of confusing the two.

  21. John Appleton says:

    Sit = Hold isn’t terribly obvious, but in the context of the clue probably somewhat fair – only four letters, and it’d be obvious to most there’d be an F in there. Coupled with checked letters, it’s easy enough from the defintion.

  22. Robi says:

    Thanks Chifonie; fairly easy as others have noted.

    Thanks mhl for a good blog. I’m not sure why you disliked d=died; I would have thought that that is used more frequently than d=departs (presumably, that is from train timetables etc [?].)
    I thought fiancé for man was OK – I seem to remember Arachne’s owner=mistress was complimented in the past.

    I didn’t realise that South Africa had three capitals. Pretoria is the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital (according to Wiki.)

  23. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen (and Geoff)
    I apologise for not having paid sufficient attention to Geoff’s important specification of 3rd person sing so my 14 and 16 are quite off beam. However the examples I gave at 17 pose a question to which your comment may be part of an answer. Expressions such as he’s no right, he’s every right, he’s reason to regret are all very standard and are in any case unlikely to be ambiguous. Perhaps Geoff can enlighten us on this, since he clearly knows (rather than wonders) more about it than I do.

    I wonder too what dialects do if anything in places where the verbs ‘to be’ and ‘have’ conjugate differently. Are there examples where e.g ‘we’s’ is standard and might be ambiguous and were these avoided?

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu, Geoff and Geoff A

    The comments have been coming so fast that I’ve accidentally deleted two responses that I wrote in haste!

    I have to go out now, but I may come back to it later!

  25. mhl says:

    Thanks to everyone for the comments.

    With regard to sit / hold, I thought this might be from “sit tight” = “hold tight”. For man / fiancé, I thought “he’s my man” and “he’s my fiancé” was probably OK.

    Robi(#22): it wasn’t “died” that bothered me – it was “That’s” as a link word(s). However, I take that back after the discussion above.

    Geoff: I’d agree with tupu and Eileen that I think it’s quite normal nowadays to drop the “got” from “He’s [got] …” – the ambiguity in your Spartacus example is nice, though. Thanks for pointing out the “That has” reading – I’m quite used to that device, of course, but somehow didn’t see it there.

    Eileen: I was very sorry not to see everyone on Saturday as well – I hope it was as much fun as the previous events. In the end I couldn’t manipulate my travel plans to go via Birmingham, unfortunately, and had to go straight to Virginia. I hope I can still get a copy of Sil’s special puzzle from someone, though!

  26. Geoff says:

    Eileen, tupu (and Geoff A):

    The examples tupu gives of the use of a contracted ‘has’ are all in stock expressions, and all have it with a pronoun.

    If you try the same expressions with a noun (and as a crossword device it is always used with a noun as a way of glueing bits of a charade together):’the man’s no right to…’ and ‘the man’s every right to…’ are just about acceptable (though most speakers would insert ‘got’ or not contract the ‘has’); ‘the man’s reason to regret…’ is only interpretable as a genitive construction and could only stand as a noun phrase subject.

    mhl: The dropping of ‘got’ in such expressions as ‘Papa’s (got) a brand new bag’ is not ‘normal nowadays’ – rather the reverse. The verb ‘get’ generally means ‘obtain’, with an emphasis on the action of procurement. Since the 17th century, in the perfect constructions, it has come to mean simply ‘own’ – without the emphasis on the ‘getting’. Thus ‘He’s got a new car’ normally just means the same as ‘He has a new car’. If you want to re-emphasise the sense of procurement, rather than simple possession, you would have to say ‘He’s got HIMSELF a new car’.

  27. John says:

    In 3dn, even if I accept that “in spite of” is a synonym for WITH (which I don’t), either it or “having” is redundant.
    As for the “that’s” controversy in 5dn, “Stunt man died? Ruddy disaster” would have made a much better clue and avoided the need for the esoteric discussion.

  28. chas says:

    Thanks to mhl for the blog. You explained why I had the right answer for 5d.

    For John @30 I would make a small change to “Stunt man died? A ruddy disaster” because ‘a’ is needed from somewhere.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Rather too easy, rather dull but rather correct clues.
    I would rather I did it than not.

    John, you’ve lost an ‘a’.

  30. Stella Heath says:

    Would it be putting a spanner in the works to point out that, in American TV series, the answer to “Have you got..?” is “Yes, I do/no, I don’t”? :)

  31. mike04 says:

    Hi John @27, and previous posts

    “in spite of having” is given as a definition of “with” in Chambers.
    The following example is provided: “With all his money he’s still unhappy”.

  32. apiarist says:

    I think fiance is fine. It has to be a man as surely a woman would be a fiancee ?

  33. NeilW says:

    Hi all.

    My point at the start was to highlight what I see as the basic problem of this puzzle: solvability with no satisfaction, only irritation. Sorry if I was a little contentious but, probably a little vitriol was required – if not this really didn’t merit much comment at all. I guess, finally, my point is: if a crossword is going to be doable at twenty paces, at least the clueing should be tight! Araucaria delights when he stretches or even breaks the rules but there’s a gulf between the puckish and the careless.

  34. Carrots says:

    From early on in a fairly quick solve, I suspected this puzzle would give the Usual Suspects a few bones to chew over….and from the foregoing posts, it seems I wasn`t far wrong. But I thought the focus would be on rare usages, stretched definitions and clumsy structures:

    (lay)MAN= Fiance
    VEIN= Mood
    SI(f)T = Hold
    SIFT = Investigate
    (Dared)EVIL = Disaster

    ….but that darned apostrophe got in the way. (I`m jealous, really, because I have as much linguistic analysis at my disposal as a Jersey Cow.

    I hope tomorrrow`s puzzle takes more than half-a-pint to solve!

  35. Tuck says:

    Stella@15 do you mean they just about sit water?

  36. John says:

    Thanks chas and RC for pointing out my need of the “a” in 5dn, but my point remains.
    And to mike04 for being the one this time to scour Chambers for a defendable definition. If you asked a roomful of reasonably educated people for a list of definitions of the word “with”, I doubt whether “in spite of having” would make an appearance. I often wonder whether some setters deliberately go looking for the most obscure definition they can find in the dreaded Chambers.

  37. RCWhiting says:

    “I often wonder whether some setters deliberately go looking for the most obscure definition they can find in the dreaded Chambers.”
    Azed does, almost invariably. I always start looking from the last definition!

  38. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Tuck@35, very witty, but no. Meanings depend on context.

  39. Taxi Phil says:

    In view of earlier comments, I asked my partner to tackle this puzzle (it had taken me a shade under 5 minutes, and the slack clueing really hacked me off !)

    Denise is certainly a novice, and takes an hour to do the Daily Mail down to the last couple of clues before waving a white flag under my nose.

    This kept her occupied for 20 minutes, by which time she gave it up having failed to get 12A, 14A, 18A (which she hadn’t heard of), and 8D (she groaned over that one !)

    She didn’t really enjoy it at all. Her comment was “I quite enjoy Rufus occasionally, even if I get left with half a dozen, but this didn’t float my boat.”

    In my opinion this compiler should appear on a Monday, or not at all.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Taxi Phil,
    “In my opinion this compiler should appear on a Monday, or not at all”
    That’s (meaning: that is :)) indeed an opinion.
    I fully understand that, if you can solve this puzzle with an average of 10 seconds per clue, this is certainly not your cup of tea.
    But many Guardian solvers are probably not as experienced as you and perhaps they found this puzzle a gentle start to their working day (did I say: working day? today? :)).

    Chifonie has been around for ages and all at once it looks like we need another setter to shoot at. Chifonie’s style has always been similar to today’s offering. And to be fair, normally his cluing isn’t sloppy at all. Yes, a limited number of devices, but rather precise and generally smooth surfaces. I admit, today was not his best.
    The Monday, fine (but we need Rufus too!). But saying ‘or not at all’ is not really fair on this setter.
    Maybe you (and others) shouldn’t just do Chifonies any more.
    Or turn to the Indie instead, for a greater challenge.

    BTW, we found 8d one of his smilier clues (glad he didn’t make an ellipsis with 7d).
    And we thought, 10ac was very nice.
    But twice ‘dodgy’ as an anagrind (5ac, 18ac) should have been avoided.

    Just like Eileen we found the container indicator in 24d (‘found stowing away in’) unnecessarily wordy – one can take away half of it. My PinC thought that it should have been ‘stowed away’ instead of ‘stowing away’. I have no opinion on that.

    Finally, I fully agree with John who made clear that Chifonie could (should!) have said “Stunt man died? A ruddy disaster!”.
    Then this whole discussion on “apostrophe s” would not have taken place.
    Nevertheless, it is an interesting one.

    I knew already Geoff’s opinion on this ‘device’.
    On the one hand I do agree (and I see his point, no mistake about that), on the other hand it is not that black and white.
    In real life there are in fact 3 uses of “apostrophe s”:
    – meaning: is
    – meaning: has
    – as a genitive (indicating possession)
    In Crosswordland the use is often limited to “has” (becoming +).
    And there we have the problem.

    Let’s take: “Dad’s Army”
    This clearly means: “Army of Dad”, but in extremis it cán be read as “Dad is Army” or “Dad has Army”.
    In that sense it is very different from “That’s OK”, which can only be seen as “That is OK”.
    Therefore I have no problem with “Dad’s Army” for DAD+ARMY, but I do object when someone uses “That’s OK” for THAT+OK.

    This is where I draw the line , just like the majority of setters.
    What Chifonie did in 5d (and also in 7d and 23d) wouldn’t be my choice, as in each of these cases “has” is out of place in the surface.
    Even so, setters do it nowadays as they are breaking down clues into independent units. Like it or not.
    Many of us favour things like “Sad journalists indeed” for DEPRESSED, but for the same reasons Geoff disapproves of the “apostrophe s” device we could reject this one, because “Sad journalists in deed” doesn’t mean anything. Or does it?

    One more example:
    “Setter’s workplace” is clearly meant to be “Workplace of setter”.
    But it can be read as “Setter has workplace” (by which I mean: “Setter has workplace” is not meaningless), so I+’WORKPLACE’ is fine by me.
    “Setter’s work is crap” is something I would nót convert into I+’WORK’, because “Setter has work is crap” is, um, crap. :)

    But be aware! Setters do, even Araucaria. He is a setter that finds construction more important than surfaces. At times you first have to cut the clues in little pieces and then fit the pieces together (regardless of the surface and/or the grammar).

    I wouldn’t have done what Chifonie did in 5d, all the more as it was unnecessary.
    I wouldn’t want to do it as in 7d and 23d, but it happens.
    If you don’t believe me, keep your eyes open from now on.

    Phew! :)

    Thank you, Mark, for your blog.
    If you want my Birmingham puzzle, just send an email to me (as a blogger you should have it).
    Alternatively – and others are more than welcome too – contact me at [email protected] .
    And please, don’t dismiss 29ac as a poor cryptic definition …

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