Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,428 / Orlando

Posted by Eileen on September 15th, 2011


An Orlando puzzle with the usual good variety of clues and some brilliantly misleading surfaces, with a number of smiles to boot. ‘Wit’ and ‘elegance’ are the epithets that most naturally spring to mind when blogging Orlando’s crosswords and I’m afraid I can’t think of any original ones. Thank you, Orlando, for a real treat.


1   PINTAIL: PIN [immobilise] TAIL [dog]:  this duck
5   ANTONYM: ANTONY [‘lover of drama’ – ‘Antony and Cleopatra’] + M[arried] – the first of many great surfaces
9   EXCEL: reversal [brought back] of LEE [general] round [to cover] X [cross] C [first letter [leader] of ‘country]: definition: top: another great surface – it’s nice to see this word clued with no reference to 40!
10  ASCERTAIN: I was slightly relieved to discover that this is simply an anagram of CARTESIAN!
11   CHARTREUSE: CHAR [tea] + US [American] in TREE [plane]: the question mark tells us this is a definition by example – I spent less time on this than I might have had to, if we hadn’t had the same misleading usage in Monday’s Quiptic puzzle.
12  ACTS: anagram [new] of CAST: very clever – at first sight, this seemed ungrammatical but this is Orlando: ‘play’ is a noun, not a verb.
14  OPPORTUNITY: reversal [backing] of TROPPO [‘too much for musicians’ – surely only ever seen as ‘non troppo’!] + UNITY [one]: this one made me laugh: the definition is ‘knocker’ and refers to the TV show ‘Opportunity Knocks’  – a kind of antique ‘X Factor’, with the famous ‘clapometer’, which registered audience ratings.  [It would be invidious to single out any of its famous alumni.]
18  BOTTICELLIS: BOTT [first letters {heads} of Building Opposite The Tate] + I CELL [one room] + IS
21  ONCE: contained in cONCErto
22  FIELD HANDS: anagram [developed] of SHED IF LAND  and a very neat &lit
25  VELVETEEN: VELEEN [eleven with the V {five} put at the beginning] round [to grab] VET [check]
26  UTTER: [p]UTTER [club] minus P [parking]; another excellent surface – the definition, ‘say’, also indicates that a putter is an example of a club.
27  DOROTHY: reversal [turning] of TO + H[usband] in DORY, which often in crosswords is clued as a fish but it’s also a flat-bottomed rowing boat.
28  EVESHAM: EVES [24 and 31 December are Christmas and New Year’s  Eve respectively] + HAM [meat]; maybe a little parochial, but fairly clued – and it’s good to see Eve as something other than ‘first lady’.


1   PIERCE: PIER [supporter] + CE [first and last letters of cigarette]
2   NECTAR: NEC [centre of Birmingham] + TA [cheers] + R[ex]: for non-UK residents, the NEC is the National Exhibition Centre. I’m glad to see TAR not clued as ‘sailor’ but I do dislike ‘Cheers’ = ‘Thanks’, although I can see that it has to be that here.
3   ALLOTROPIC: A LL [a couple of lines] + O[ld] + TROPIC [line on map]
4   LEAVE: double definition
5   ANCESTRAL: anagram [at sea] of TARS and LANCE [23dn]
6   TORT: first letters [starters] of Time Or Right Time
7   NEARCTIC: NEAR [not far] + CT [Connecticut] + IC [first letters [originally] of In Canada: a new word for me – Collins: ‘a zoogeographical region consisting of North America north of the Tropic of Cancer and Greenland’.
8   MIND’S EYE: anagram [desperate] of MY NEED IS
13  GUEST HOUSE: THOU [‘you once’] in [ be content] in GUESS + E last letter [ultimate] of state: a wonderful piece of misdirection and perhaps my favourite clue [but it’s very hard to say].
15  PRECISELY: PRÉCIS [abstract] + ELY [‘see’ – the East Anglian diocese beloved of crossword setters] – this would be a close runner-up
16  ABSOLVED: SOLVE [crack] in anagram [sort] of BAD – I might be accused of sycophancy if I applauded yet another great surface. 😉
17  STICKLER: S[econd] + TICKLER [one catching trout]
19  SNATCH: S[mall] + NATCH [of course]
20  ASHRAM: R [‘ringleader’] in A SHAM [a feigned]
23  LANCE: Lancelot [knight] minus lot [fortune]
24  HEAT: most [majority] of [Edward] Heath [former prime Minister]

26 Responses to “Guardian 25,428 / Orlando”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    You’re right, Eileen, this was a most enjoyable puzzle, with some delightful surfaces and clever bits of misdirection. The references to 23 had me foxed for a while, but they ended up being just that rather than a theme. Too many good’uns to list today.

    Thank you to both slogger and better (talking of which, Orlando is one of the setters you’ll meet if you come to the Derby Day on 26th November, he said, shamelessly plugging the event …)

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad

    I meant to say that I was a bit disconcerted, on my first skim through, to see two references to 23, since my original reaction had been, ‘Ah, Orlando – no theme to look out for today, then!’

    I’ve just done the Dogberry [Shed to us] in the FT and there’s quite a coincidence in one of the clues, in practically the same position in the grid: different definition but similar wordplay – both very good clues, of course. 😉

  3. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen. Does ‘top’ really = EXCEL at 9a ? Wasn’t sure.

    I wonder if anyone else toyed with abseiling 5d. Sounded as though it should work !

  4. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen and for explaining some of the wordplay I failed to see. As you say, this was a very elegant puzzle, with great surfaces. 15dn was the last one I got — I was well and truly misdirected. Needed the check button on a few occasions, too, especially at 7dn, which was new to me.

    Thanks, Orlando — I look forward to meeting you in Derby!

  5. Eileen says:

    Hi Roger

    I didn’t think twice about ‘top’ = EXCEL: both Chambers and Collins give ‘surpass’ for both words.

  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks (I’d better not say “cheers”) for the blog Eileen. I agree with your enthusiasm – I’m coming to admire Orlando more and more for his nicely understated wit and elegance, and I thought this puzzle was a particularly good example of his work.

    I was wondering whether 14ac referred to the TV programme, or whether “opportunity knocks” was a common expression that the programme took its name from. I found this page which has some examples, including a good one attributed to Mae West, which if genuine would presumably predate the programme: “Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.” And I mean that most sincerely, friends.

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    In my eagerness to provide a link to a picture of the hi tech clapometer and scoreboard, I entirely forgot to mention that ‘Opportunity knocks’ is, of course, a familiar saying.

    Ta [!] for the reminder of the Mae West quotation. :-)(

  8. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, with brilliant surfaces; NEARARCTIC the only new word.

    Thanks Eileen for a nice blog. I failed to parse VELVETEEN, NECTAR and OPPORTUNITY correctly. I must remember the Birmingham NEC, which has been used before in these crosswords. I always think of the bull ring there. Cheers=thank you is in Chambers, so I guess it’s OK.

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi

    I’ve no objection to the clue – I know that’s a more modern interpretation of the word – but I just don’t like it! ‘Cheers’, to me, suggests a ‘symposium’ or, at a pinch, a departure – but that’s just me being reactionary, I know. 😉

  10. sidey says:

    Nice puzzle. I assumed that the ‘one’ in 14 was doing double duty refering to the phrase ‘Opportunity seldom knocks twice’ rather than the game show that was so bad the Russians tried to kill the host.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Sadly this didn’t last long but while it was still alive I did appreciate some very allusive definitions (14ac, 8d, 13d).
    I do not see any reason for ‘one knocker’in 14a. If ‘opportunity knocks’ then ‘opportunity’ is a knocker.
    After all it’s the postman who always knocks twice.

  12. Eileen says:

    I understand what you mean by ‘allusive’ in 14ac and 8dn, RCW, but did you really mean 13dn, where the definition is ‘pension’?

  13. Andrew says:

    The earliest citation for “cheers”=”thank you” in the OED is from Philip Howard in the Times of 5th August 1976: “By a remarkable transition from the pub to the sober world at large outside cheers has become the colloquial synonym in British English for ‘thanks’.”

  14. Thomas99 says:

    Another coincidence (after the 2 snatches) – in addition to 24d here, Ted Heath makes an appearance in the Independent (in a rather splendid clue, I’d say)!

  15. djm says:

    Mr Whiting:

    Don’t read it as “one knocker”. Just “knocker”. The “one” = UNITY.

  16. Jan says:

    What a goodie from Orlando (nearly typed Cincinnus!) and thanks Eileen for the blog.

    I couldn’t get beyond NEARC— in 7d, but 10a lifted my heart – what an apposite anagram.

    (I once wrote a story which had Cartesian planes flying around in vector space :) – it didn’t take off.)

  17. grandpuzzler says:

    Well done Orlando and Eileen! NEARCTIC was new word for me also. Tried unsuccessfully to make an anagram out of SEE JUST SO in 15d. 5ac was my COD.


  18. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. You explained something I had missed – TROPPO=too much – as you said one normally meets in in ‘non troppo’ :)

    It took me an age to get 15d but I laughed out loud when the penny finally dropped.

    I have (at last) spotted that Antony is a lover in a play rather than somebody who loves drama!

    As you say it is good to see EVE as ‘the evening before’.

  19. RCWhiting says:

    djm @15
    That was precisely the point I was making to sidey@10.
    Perhaps you didn’t read his contribution.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    I agree 13d is different to the other two but I thought the misdirection of ‘state’ pension was so good that the pension became allusive (or at least not too straightforward, which is what I seek in a puzzle).

  21. Eileen says:

    RCW @20

    Just when I thought I understood what you meant by ‘allusive’, as in Chambers: ‘hinting, referring indirectly’, [eg Gordius’ ‘on the farm’ for ‘heifer’, to which I took exception], you cite ‘pension’ [= GUEST HOUSE], which, for me was the most splendidly precise definition!

    At least we agree that it was an excellent clue. 😉

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Fair comment – just a little quirk (at least I think that’s what she said).

  23. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Orlando

    I found this quite testing in parts when I solved it earlier today.

    Re 14a, I agree with Eileen’s parsing (unity = one) but there is a well-known expression that ‘opportunity (unlike RCW’s postman) only knocks once’ which seems possibly to involve a double duty for ‘one’.

    Can those with sharper memories than mine help? I had a sense of deja vu with several clues and began to feel I might have solved a similar puzzle some time ago. Pier as support(er), line on a map, and possibly chartreuse and antonym seemed oddly familiar. Perhaps they are simply common crossword fodder – no criticism implied here of this super setter btw.

    Overall very enjoyable.

  24. tupu says:

    ps re 14a As sidey suggests

  25. djm says:

    Mr Whiting,

    You did however say that “I do not see any reason for ‘one knocker'”. The reason is that “one” = “unity”.

    Anyway, no matter ……….

  26. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks for the explanations, Eileen, I missed a couple and brute-forced a couple more with onelook. Nice puzzle, Orlando, I wish I could have worked out those last few clues.

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