Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian N° 25,411 by Gordius

Posted by PeterO on August 26th, 2011


Once I had dug out the answer to 1A, this puzzle gave me little trouble. Gordius comes up with several ingenious misdirections, and a smile at 24A; but there are also some clues (10A, 13A, 17A) where he seems to be waving his arms about furiously to indicate the answer. I submitted this blog first to Gaufrid, who had a few useful comments; my thanks to him.

1. It’s about a pound in English money (5,2,7)
DECUS ET TUTAMEN Cryptic definition. The Latin tag, translating as “an ornament and a safeguard”, to be found on the edge of most British one pound coins.
9. All or nothing about turning feature of flower (7)
COROLLA A reversal (‘turning’) of ‘all’ + ‘or’ + O (‘nothing’) + C (circa, ‘about’).

The striking corolla of the blue and red lotus

10. Active in the Goon Show (2,3,2)
ON THE GO I suppose this counts as an anagram (‘show’?) of ‘the Goon’.
11. One resigned when about to get endlessly ill (5)
STOIC Envelope (‘when about’) of ‘to’ in SIC[k] (‘endlessly ill’).
12. One might study insects, it could be (9)
SCIENTIST An anagram (‘could be’) of ‘insects it’.
13. He might be handy with an unusual book (3-3,3)
ODD-JOB MAN This seems to be half-way between a cryptic definition and a charade. The charade part is ODD (‘unusual’) + JOB (with a long o, the Bible ‘book’).
14. Writer reflected over first Greek letter (5)
SIGMA Envelope (‘over’) of G (‘first Greek’?) in SIMA, a reversal (‘reflected’) of AMIS (Kingsley or Martin, ‘writer’).
15. Customs are second matter in language of 1 across (5)
MORES Mores are the customs of a society, and is a word borrowed from Latin. The cryptic part is tucked into the middle of the clue: a charade of MO (‘second’) + RES (‘matter’, legal usage). I have Gaufrid to thank for this parsing.
17. It gets you to sit up (9)
CHAIRLIFT Cryptic definition, sort of.
20. Hell’s Angel sets off with it and puts the boot in sharp (4-5)
KICK-START Charade of KICKS (‘puts the boot in’) + TART (‘sharp’). The definition refers to a motorcycle.
22. Tender of French metal (5)
OFFER Charade of ‘of’ + FER (‘French metal’, iron).
23. Alan Turing partly decoded and was not affected (7)
NATURAL An anagram (‘decoded’) of ‘Alan Tur[ing]’ (‘partly’). Alan Turing played a prominent part in the cracking of German codes during the Second World War.
24. How Incitatus reportedly declined government office? (7)
NEIGHED Incitatus was Emperor Caligula’s favourite horse, and Suetonius reports that it was said that Caligula wanted to make him a consul. Gordius has the animal saying nay.
25. Light-headed lady? (8,6)
PLATINUM BLONDE Cryptic definition.

Jean Harlow, the Platinum Blonde

1. Tossed coin, side creating government policy? (8,6)
DECISION MAKING A charade of DECISION, an anagram (‘tossed’) of ‘coin side’ + MAKING (‘creating’). Again, this comes from Gaufrid; I had put foreward the idea that MAKING was the anagrind-in-the-answer, essentially ignoring ‘tossed’. The definition seems closer to ‘creating government policy’, so perhaps ‘creating’ is doing double duty. You pays your money and takes your choice. I hope at least that this is not an &lit.
2. Vehicle capacity causes state highway to switch sides (7)
CARLOAD Formed from a charade of CAL (‘California, ‘state’) + ROAD (‘highway’) with the R and L swapped (‘switch sides’, right and left).
3. Short Australian social could become lustful (9)
SALACIOUS An anagram (‘could become’) of AUS (‘short Australian’ – very short) + ‘social’.
4. A lintel may take time to redeem (7)
TRANSOM A charade of T (‘time’) + RANSOM (‘redeem’).
5. Note work by Scot is ideal (7)
UTOPIAN A charade of UT (‘note’, the original name for the note do of do-re-mi) + OP (‘work’) + IAN (‘Scot’. It is well known that all Scotsmen are named Ian).
6. Suit one lost in London (5)
ACTON Formed by subtraction (‘lost’), taking I (‘one’) from ACT[i]ON (‘suit’, a legal case).
7. Time for this clue starting off with gin sling? (7)
EVENING A Charade of [s]EVEN (‘this clue’, number 7 ‘starting off’ i.e. with its first letter removed) + ING, an anagram (‘sling’) of ‘gin’.
8. Agreement with composer for playing in a quartet? (8,6)
CONTRACT BRIDGE A charade of CONTRACT (‘agreement’) + BRIDGE (Frank Bridge, the ‘composer’). You generally need three other people to play contract bridge.
14. Tailors are not entirely involved in such matters (9)
SARTORIAL An anagram (‘involved’) of ‘tailors ar[e]’ (‘not entirely’ indicating the dropping of the final e); with an &lit definition.
16. Indefinite article used in narration (7)
RECITAL An anagram (‘indefinite’) of ‘article’. Nice clue.
17. Padre, not a comic actor (7)
CHAPLIN Formed by subtraction, from CHAPL[a]IN (‘padre’, ‘not a’).

Charlie Chaplin, the Little Tramp

18. New man carries Old Labour leader or the opposite (7)
ANTONYM An envelope (‘carries’) of TONY (Blair, the ‘old Labour leader’) inANM, an anagram (‘new’) of ‘man’.
19. Possibly a fish — an Iranian city? (7)
ISFAHAN An anagram (‘possibly’) of ‘a fish an’.
21. Fish for rodent without offspring initially (5)
SPRAT A charade of SP (sine prole, ‘without offspring’) + RAT (‘rodent’), with the ‘initially’ indicating the order of the particles.

20 Responses to “Guardian N° 25,411 by Gordius”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Many thanks for standing in PeterO.

    You have O (nothing) missing from your explanation of 9ac and I parsed 15ac as: MO (second) RES (matter {or thing, in Latin, as in ‘res judicata’ or ‘res ipsa loquitur’}).

    I don’t quite agree with your interpretation of 1dn since there is already an anagram indicator (tossed) in the clue. I think ‘creating’ is doing double duty as the wordplay for MAKING and as part of the definition.

    Appologies to all for the late appearance of this post but the scheduled blogger has gone AWOL.

  2. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, PeterO. AS you say, a mixed bunch. I liked 1ac, but would be surprised if it hadn’t been used before. Anyone? There are all sorts of interesting things engraved on coin edges, why not have a look (especially on the £2)? Incidentally, I see that Incitatus has a more surprising meaning according to the Urban Dictionary. Who makes this stuff up?

  3. rrc says:

    not my cup of tea, I actually gave up because I lost interest = that doesnt happen very often these days but blame 1 accross!

  4. Eileen says:

    Quite right re 1ac, cholecyst. It has been used before, even more cleverly than you might think:

  5. cholecyst says:

    Thanks , Eileen. Presumably the Latin tag was in the nina. As you say, very clever!

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius

    Thanks also Gaufrid for the parsing of ‘mores’. :) As a non-rhotic North-westerner I nearly managed to type a hybrid Gaudius!

    A quite pleasant offering. I liked 1a, 11a, 14a, 20a, 23a, 4d, 16d (a nice misdirection – it looks as if ‘indefinite is the definition at first), and 18d.

    I wondered if there was an &lit element to 18d with Tony Benn as well if leader is broadly defined, but it won’t quite work.

  7. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO. Gordius beat me as I failed to get 1ac. Money is never in my hands long enough to look at!

  8. Geoff says:

    Thanks, PeterO

    tupu has put this well – a quite pleasant offering. Helps if, like me, you retain a residuum of Latinity.

    I rather liked all the long lights round the edge, especially 8d and 1a. Gorgeous has been very precise in stipulating ‘English’ rather than British for 1a, since there have been Scottish (‘Nemo me impune lacessit’) and Welsh (‘Pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad’) versions as well, with corresponding emblems on the reverse face of the coin.

    My last entry was CHAPLIN because to start with I had confidently entered STAIRLIFT for 17a. Something to do with ageing, perhaps?

  9. crypticsue says:

    I quite enjoyed this one. The Tippex had to come out in a couple of places and I had a hard trouble finding a £1 coin with the 1a on it – 4 out of the 5 I had a sort of pattern round the edge instead. Thanks to Gordius and Peter O.

  10. Derek Lazenby says:

    Got 1a from the trusty old gadgets. Didn’t know it because the time taken from taking coins from the pocket and the time they land in the bookies satchel is not long enough to allow study!

    Is 2 being a bit naughty? Surely changed sides should only appear in an across clue?

  11. MikeC says:

    Thanks PeterO, and Gordius (mostly). I did eventually manage this one but I was very unenthusiastic about 1a (google struggled with it). A simple cryptic definition of a not very well known non-English phrase seems a touch unfair to me. The same answer with a different type of clue (anagram, charade, . . . ) would be far more acceptable. I think the root of my displeasure is that solving the clue is difficult if you don’t already know the answer – whereas I think most of the pleasure in cryptic crossword solving comes in working one’s way to the solution. I want more play in my word-play!

  12. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeterO & Gaufrid

    This was too tough for me and I would never have got 1a ever.

    Very disappointing!

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Not quite up to the high standard of Wed/Thurs but still a good challenge for one’s money.
    I liked 17ac (rather Rufusian, I thought), 7 d and 2 d.
    Derek, ‘left(L)’ and ‘right(R) are sides irrespective of where they appear so I think 2d is fine.
    I have recently decided that the most critical parts of a cryptic crossword are the definitions. One sometimes gets the impression that the setter has spent so much effort on the cryptic and then just thrown in a definition so obvious that all the effort is wasted.
    I do not like to write in a solution (especially with crossing letters) from the definition and then read the cryptic and think “that’s clever”. It’s not really!
    There were two fine examples of good definitions today in 1ac and 8d.

  14. PeterO says:

    Two off-beam references to the Urban Dictionary in as many days. I hope I don’t detect a theme. Anyway, who is this “famous Greek eunuch Incitales”? Even Google has not heard of him outside the UD quote.
    Derek – I’m not sure why you object to changing sides. L & R are sides, as in “this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side”, even if you are lying down or standing on your head.
    MikeC – I agree with you over 1A. It took me quite a while to guess that we might be dealing with a Latin phrase, and then hunt for something suitable. I may have the odd pound coin salted away somewhere, but I’m not sure where, and the edges of dollar coins do not make for very interesting reading. Still, when the penny (or pound) finally dropped, it does make for a neat clue as CDs go.

  15. Gail S says:

    Interesting to see how you worked out 15ac – mores. I immediately saw that and thought of O tempora! O mores! from Cicero (language of 1ac)- thus it was the second matter in a very famous Latin quotation. In fact, that’s what put me onto the fact that 1ac must be Latin.

    Of course, it also works out beautifully from mo and res.

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I delayed myself for a while on 10a by insisting that GO was the first two-letter word. Eventually I saw the light.

    I liked CHAPL[A]IN and I loved NEIGHED, once I had looked up Incitatus :)

  17. FranTom Menace says:

    Well 1a was the last one in for us, I got it after looking at the last word and going through the alphabet for the first letter! Got it straight away when I had the TU_A_E_.
    We really enjoyed today’s puzzle, every clue a good’un with the possible exception of chairlift (a pretty woolly cd).

    Regarding RCWhiting at 13, I often think ‘that’s clever’. Most of the time when I put in the solution and parse the clue afterwards I take that to mean the compiler has actually been cleverer than me!

  18. RCWhiting says:

    But isn’t the point of a cryptic crossword that the cryptic will give you all or at least part of the solution which will then fit the definition. Otherwise it is just a non-cryptic with some redundant cryptic bits added on?

  19. Pie Quay says:

    I didnt much like this one. Where does the ‘man’ come from in 13a?

  20. Mr Beaver says:

    Pie: It’s the ‘he’ at the start of the clue. A bit awkward, though, I agree..

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