Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25434 Chifonie

Posted by scchua on September 22nd, 2011


Thanks Chifonie for a not too difficult, but nevertheless enjoyable, puzzle.  I liked 14A, 2D and 20D for their surfaces.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  Hidden connections are in 2 of the picture sets.  (See also comment#3)


1 Against Jack helping holocaust (13)

CONFLAGRATION :  CON(against,opposing,from Latin contra) FLAG(a flag, famous example being the Union Jack) RATION(a helping,portion, eg. of food)

Defn:  A extensive fire causing such destruction,holocaust with a lower-case initial letter.

10 Intern ate stew in harbour (9)


Defn:  To hold, embrace or cherish in the mind, as in “to entertain,harbour thoughts of being famous”

11 Simple to be the first person in the body of the church (5)

NAIVE :  I(first person pronoun) contained in(in) NAVE(the main space,body of a church building).

12 Taxidermist initially given rotting body part (5)

THIGH :  T(first letter,initially of “taxidermist”) HIGH(descriptive of meat, especially game, left to decompose,rot before consumption, apparently enhancing the flavour).  Nice surface.

13 Meant assembly to go round labyrinth in wonder (9)

AMAZEMENTAnagram of(assembly) MEANT containing(to go round) MAZE(labyrinth)

14 Caught after no ball when cutting (7)

EXTRACT :  CT(caught, as in cricket notation) placed after(after) EXTRA(a run awarded when a “no ball” is delivered)

Defn:  Noun, a cutting,piece cut from say, a newspaper article.  Nice cricketing surface, as a “cut” is also a batting stroke.

16 Notice attendant dripping (7)

SEEPAGE :  SEE(verb, to notice) PAGE(an attendant, eg. in the royal court)

Defn:  Liquid that comes out of,seeps from a slow leak

18 Judge’s heroic, if agitated, in Palestine (7)

JERICHO :  J(a ­judge) plus anagram of(agitated) HEROIC

Defn:  Biblical city in Palestine.

20 Startle team leader dropped into a well (7)

ASTOUND :  T(initial letter,leader of “team”) contained in(dropped into) [A {WELL}(adjective, all right,sound,free from defect)]

21 Blast shy Indian opener’s wicket (9)

CASTIGATE :  CAST(a quick throw,shy as in a coconut shy at a fair) I(initial letter,opener of “Indian”) GATE(wicket, eg. a turnstile, not a cricketing reference this time)

Defn:  To vigorously scold or criticise,blast, not to be confused with having a good time,blast on a night out.

23 Pluto gets sunglasses off first (5)

HADES :  “Shades”(slang for sunglasses) minus(off) its first letter.

Defn:  Hades to the Greeks and Pluto to the Romans, the mythical god of the underworld,hell.  Not to be confused with Walt Disney’s dog nor the downgraded planet.

24 Arouse approval in a girl (5)

EVOKE :  OK(okay,alright,approval) contained in(in) EVE(name for a girl)

25 Notice vehicle in popular church beforehand (2,7)

IN ADVANCE :  [AD(advertisement,notice in print media) VAN(a vehicle)] contained in(in) [IN(popular as in the in-place,in-crowd) CE(­Church of England)]

26 Kind but eccentric theatre legend (6-7)



2 Tailor is abroad, getting more qualified (9)

OUTFITTER :  OUT(abroad,out of the country) plus(getting) FITTER(comparative,more of fit,qualified)


3 Keep Henry away (5)

FORTH :  FORT(noun, keep,strictly speaking, the innermost and strongest part of a stronghold,castle,fort) H(Henry)

Defn:  In the direction out and away from one, as in “go forth”.

4 First person overseeing worker is determined (7)

ADAMANT :  ADAM(the first human,person) placed before(overseeing, in a down clue) ANT(could be of the worker caste in an ant colony)

5 Building worker upset about new items for hire (7)

RENTALSReversal of(upset) SLATER(worker,craftsman who tiles,slates your house,building) containing(about) N(new)

6 Rested ten in organisation? Most kind! (9)

TENDERESTAnagram of(in organization) RESTED TEN

7 Believe person is without a relationship (5)

OPINE :  ONE(an individual,person) containing(without) PI(the relationship,ratio = circumference of a circle divided by its diameter, a decimal number that people actually vie to memorise.  Guinness record holder has got it to 67890 digits, and there’s an unconfirmed feat of 100,000 digits.  Talk about single-mindedness.  Me, I’m happy with 3.142 or even 22/7)

8 Hide clothing and grub (13)

LEATHERJACKET :  LEATHER(material made from the hide,skin of an animal) JACKET(an item of clothing)

Defn:  The larval young,grub of the crane fly, commonly called daddy-longlegs in the UK.

 crane fly 

9 Cleaner in panic, when harbouring the rudest criminal (7,6)

FEATHER DUSTER :  FEAR(panic) containing(when harbouring) anagram of(criminal) THE RUDEST.

Defn:  What the domestic help uses to clean.  I recall in my childhood when the non-feathered end made a handy cane to used on naughty children.

15 Designer makes Catholic dose with ecstasy during play (9)

ARCHITECT :  [RC(Roman Catholic) HIT(slang for a dose of a narcotic drug, eg. Ecstasy) E(the drug, Ecstasy)] contained in(during) ACT(verb, act in,play a role eg. in a play)

17 Lots roll into a ball (9)

ABUNDANCE :  BUN(roll of bread) contained in(into) {A DANCE}(a ball,an event featuring food, drink, and dance).

Defn:  Noun for plenty,lots.

19 Work on an inlay that’s iridescent (7)

OPALINE :  OP(opus,a work of music or literature) placed before(on, in a down clue) A LINE(a narrow continuous mark cut into a solid surface and then filled by the same or another material of a different colour/texture/etc, the inlay.  Though inlays could also be broadly shaped.)

Defn:  Opaline is the exhibiting of different colours, like in an opal.  Iridescence is the range of colours that you see on soap bubbles and oil films.  I don’t think they’re the same phenomenon though, scientifically speaking.



20 Woman in advancing years becomes mean (7)

AVERAGE :  VERA(name for a woman) contained in(in) AGE(advancing in years)

Defn:  Another mathematical relationship = Sum of numbers divided by the number of numbers.  Another nice surface, but with apologies to those who don’t become mean.


22 Angry about Tory account (5)

SCORE :  SORE(feeling angry at someone/something, like “a bear with a sore nose”) containing(about) C(Conservative,Tory)

Defn:  A reckoning,account, as in “to settle a score”.

23 Bear queen to vacillate (5)

HAVER :  HAVE(to hold,bear eg. a grudge) R(regina, from Latin for queen)


41 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25434 Chifonie”

  1. Mystogre says:

    Thanks scchua for the explanations. Although everything fitted nicely I felt rather unfulfilled by this one. But I did have trouble seeing the ALINE bit of 19d. I knew that had to be the answer but why was the problem. Thanks to you, I now know. I ws amused Chifonie used “first person” in two different ways and beiefly wondered if that was pointing to a theme.

    As for your picture sets. I am wondering if the three men all played women at some point. The other thought is the big set but it got rather convoluted rapidly and involved Elizabeth Taylor so I gave up on that.

  2. Gervase says:

    Thanks, scchua, for a most thorough and illuminating (illuminated!) blog. One little error: in 17d you have put A BALL rather than A DANCE in the exposition of the charade.

    Not, I thought, a difficult puzzle, with some good clues. The triple cricket clue at 14a was ingeniously followed by 21a, in which ‘wicket’ has no cricketing connotation, despite the surface reading.

    I had HOVER for 23d: HOVE meaning to carry or ‘bear’ + R(Regina). I guess either would fit the clue pretty well.

    Pi is often clued as ‘ratio’, which upsets some of the more mathematically minded. I rather like ‘relationship’; 7d is nicely misleading. OPINE is more commonly used to mean ‘express a belief’ rather simply ‘believe’, but the later is a respectable usage.

  3. scchua says:

    Hi Mystogre, I assure you, no Liz Taylor involved.

    Hi Gervase, thanks for pointing out the error, now corrected.

    I forgot to mention in the preamble that I’ve taken a leaf from the setters’ book and used a couple of cluing devices in the picture sets.

  4. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks scchua. Rather an easy puzzle from Chifonie this time although I was stuck with 3d FORTH for a while. I had entered TRIPE for 12a instead of THIGH. TRIPE seemed to make sense at the time.

  5. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Enough sticky moments to hold me up.Some self-inflicted,like spelling Jericho as Jericoh and so failing to get 19d until late on.
    ‘Average’in 20d is the group name for mode, median and mean, scchua’s definition is for the latter.
    I hesitated lengthily over 22d,trying to find a link between ‘store’ and ‘account’ but when I recalled the cricket term “to open one’s account” ie to score the first run, I settled for ‘score’.
    Pi is the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle. Relation(ship) is a wider term which includes ratio.
    Generally quite enjoyable.

  6. tupu says:

    A generally enjoyable puzzle with some amusing clues e.g. 2d, 3d, 7d, 17d.

    Help please. Although the answer was clear I was and am still puzzled by 19d. I have not found any direct dictionary equivalence of ‘line’ (n) and ‘inlay’, and the general link seems too vague for me without this. In the end I thought it might be ‘line’ (v) meaning to put a lower layer in something (a box, sleeve, etc.) But this leaves ‘an’ as an awkward part of the clue. Incidentally this use of ‘line’ comes from ‘linen’ rather than from the linear sense.

    Google throws up ‘line inlay’ as a kind of inlay along with feather inlay etc. But this seems a bit like using ‘fountain’ as an indicator of ‘pen’.

  7. JohnH (not the setter) says:

    Sorry but average is not the group name for mean, mode and median. All three are measures of central tendency but are not the same thing.

    If I earn £100K and my two daughters earn nothing the average is £33.3K, the median is £50k and the mode is £0K. Not the same at all and quite useless.

    Which only shows how pointless using averages etc is in populations (in the statistical use of the word) which are not normally distributed.


  8. scchua says:

    Hi tupu, I’ve added a couple of images of line inlays. equating inlay to line. Another meaning I was toying with was horticultural – an inlay graft, where another line/stock is used, but this sounded more unsatisfactory than the first. Unless I’m missing something, the only other (remote) possibility is a Guardian slip.

  9. tupu says:

    Hi scchua

    Many thanks. I saw these while fereting about in google. Perhaps there is a slip. I suppose the line (v) as in ‘lining’ would just about do if ‘an’ = ‘a before a consonant’ and is simply juxtaposed to (rather than semantically attached) to ‘line’. But that’s also asking a lot.

  10. William says:

    Thank you, scchua, for an interesting blog.

    As you say, some lovely surfaces here (14, 21 etc) together with some very simple clues (26, 6, 4 etc)

    As for your picture sets, I’m a bit stumped. The last set of 3 are all drag queens, of course, and in the first set there is clearly a Hamlet connection, so are we having a drag on a cigar? Would a clue be possible?

    Thanks again.

  11. MikefromBath says:

    I found this crossword to be a bit dull. I think one reason is that completed words gave less help than average. By this I mean that it seemed that when I solved a clue and filled in the answer, it was more likely than usual to contribute an E or an A or a T to the intersecting words.

    I have not measured this yet, but maybe an index could be developed, based on the, simplified assumption that in general, the more frequently a letter is used in the English language, the less of a contribution it offers to determining the answer to a clue. For any crossword, we could then assess the “Intersections Contribution Analysis” or ICA. We could then survey people to get their solving satisfaction for a number of crosswords with different ICAs and see if there is a correlation. I will go out on a limb and say that I expect the R-Squared factor would be at least 0.7 (fully realising that there are many other conidertions.)

  12. Robi says:

    Mostly good puzzle, although I, too, did not much like inlay=A LINE (if I have understood this properly.)

    Thanks scchua for a super blog. Nice having the clues and the picture puzzle. The women of a certain age are Edna Everage (Barry Humphries), Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Marlene Dietrich, and Margaret Thatcher (Danny La Rue) and Lily Savage (Paul O’Grady.) The top ones are a bit more difficult (Burton, Guinness, Connery?, Fiennes, Oldman, Shire) – given the topicality, I think it must refer to Tinker, TAILOR, Soldier, Spy but I don’t quite get the connections (Burton, Guinness, Connery & Oldman have played spies, but I don’t think the shire horse has – unless he is a sPIEBALD)

  13. Gervase says:

    MikefromBath: Interesting observation, which I have often made with Rufus’s crosswords – the intersecting letters are almost always ones which would score 1 at Scrabble.

    Of course, the more frequent letters in English are likely to be well represented in any puzzle, but the probable explanation is that it is easier for the setter to find reasonable words to fill the grid if the crossing letters aren’t all K,Q,X,Z.

  14. William says:

    MikefromBath @11 & Gervase @13

    I’ve often wondered this myself and once(being a bit nerdy, I’m afraid) developed a spreadsheet to look into it. You plug in the intersections, add them up for each letter. You then divide each total by the respective normal letter occurence frequency in English. Then I add these 26 numbers together to get what Mike might call the total ICA for the grid. Interstingly, this puzzle scores very lowly – only 15.7 I repeated the exercise for Araucaria’s puzzle 25,422 of 8 September, which most people thought was a good, enjoyable puzzle, and saw that it’s total ICA was a very high 23.9

    Having done a little compiling myself. I’m sure Gervase is right – it’s not at all easy to have more than a couple high Scrabble scoring intersections in your grid; much easier to intersect with low scoring letters such as vowels etc.

  15. Robi says:

    P.S. OK, the ‘gypsy horse’ is a Tinker……

  16. William says:

    I think the first set have all starred in Le Carré film scripts.

    Richard Burton was in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
    Alec Guiness was well-known as Smiley of course
    Sean Connery was the boozy Barnie Blair in The Russia House
    Ralph Fiennes played opposite the excellent Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardner
    Gary Oldman excels in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which I saw last night.

    Not sure what the Shire horse connection is, though.

  17. Gervase says:

    Another possible parsing of 19d is OP + *(AN LIE), ie ‘an’ (in)’lay’, but that isn’t terribly convincing either.

  18. Gervase says:

    And I thought the animal in the top set of pictures was the setters’ infamous *(ORCHESTRA)…..

  19. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Chifonie for the cryptic and scchua for the puzzling blog. Liked FORTH and THIGH. Needed an explanation for CASTIGATE and ASTOUND. Regarding the puzzle at 2d: my thinking is similar to Robi but probably too much of a stretch. Burton was in The SPY Who Came In From The Cold. Guinness was in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SPY. Connery played James Bond who was a SPY. Fiennes was in the 2002 film classic SPIDER. Oldman is in the 2011 version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SPY. I’ve never been a member of the horsey set so I’ll defer to Robi on the last picture.


  20. grandpuzzler says:

    Took too long to write my script. I like William’s answer much better than mine although I think I should get a gentleman’s C for creativity.


  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Doh! Chifonie again! We did this to death a couple of years back, last time Chifonie used it in fact. PI is not a relationship, it is a number. It isn’t even derived from a single relationship as other mathematical formulae can also be used to define it, not just the familiar one. Nor for that matter is a ratio a relationship. The circle formula in full is “the evaluation of the ratio of the circumference to diameter is equal to the number pi”. The phrase “is equal to” is the relationship. A ratio is a “simple expression”, a number is an even simpler expression, neither is a relationship. Simple equations take the general form . The relationship is clearly the bit in the middle and not the expressions on either side of it.

    And Dictionary writers are not mathematicians and are hence not reliable on the subject, so don’t waste your time quoting from them.

  22. mike04 says:

    Hi JohnH (not the setter) @7

    The Median is often defined as “The middle number of a set of numbers arranged in order”.
    In your example, in ascending order, the numbers are: 0, 0, 100.
    Using the above definition, the Median and the Mode would be zero.

    Are there different definitions of Median in Statistics?

  23. otter says:

    Hi scchua, thanks for the blog. For the most part fairly straightforward, with some pleasant surfaces, as you say. Thanks for the parsing of ARCHITECT, which I got but didn’t manage to understand.

    Anyone else get TRIPE for 12a? T + RIPE (rotting) gives a sort of body part, when used as food. Then got FORCE for 3d, which I didn’t really understand, but thought perhaps a wordplay on FOR C.E., something to do with Henry’s rejection of Rome and founding of the Church of England. No one? Oh well, I am extremely tired.

    I’m a bit confused about the drag artists as well.

  24. scchua says:

    Hi to all who took part. Your collective minds have solved the connections puzzles.

    The first set should be looked in reverse (if a setter can do it, so can I? :-). John le Carre did not write “Irish horse, Outfitter, Soldier, Spy”, but those actors did act in the film versions of le Carre novels per William@16 (Hamlet was a red herring).

    The second set was based on the homophone of Average (if a setter…..), all MID, men in drag. Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Everage, Paul O’Grady aka Lily Savage and Danny La Rue who played all those in Robi@12 plus Joan Collins.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    “Sorry but average is not the group name for mean, mode and median. All three are measures of central tendency but are not the same thing.”

    Of course they are not the same thing but are all averages (measures of central tendency.
    It is futile applying statistical analysis to a set of three
    Mike, you are correct although see previous sentence.

  26. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Chifonie and Scchua and all contributors for an entertaining discussion.

    Nice to see the scientific elements discussed for a change – maths is a foreign language to me!! The highlight of my school career came when I heard an older girl declare that she would be dropping maths. It was like a huge weight being lifted off my nine-year-old shoulders! Simple arithmetic and tables are my forte, although I do remember pi!


  27. Jack Aubrey says:

    I can understand why the english ear hears “haver” as a wibbly word meaning something like hover mixed with waver. But for a Scot , “haver” does NOT mean vacilate. It means to talk nonsense. “Swither” means to vacillate. Havering is very different – and a much more useful word for describing what our political class do with language.

    “Man, that is all havers” means “That’s a lot of cr*p” not “That is all rather indefinite.”

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Chifonie is Chifonie – he has his own distinct style, which is not too demanding and one relying on a rather limited number of devices. But surfaces are normally very good, while one can hardly fault him on sloppiness.

    In my opinion, today’s crossword was slightly harder than an average Chifonie. But while I am not happy (an understatement) with PI for the ‘relationship’ in 7d, I am more than happy with FORTH at 3d. I think this is a fantastic clue, which really made my day!

  29. andy smith says:

    Re PI: The relationship between the perimeter of a circle and its radius is a function of the surface in which the circle is embedded. This relationship has the “numerical” value of Pi when the surface is a plane.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Andy Smith @ 29:
    thanks for your explanation. I am a Maths teacher, but in Crosswordland I just don’t like PI being clued by ‘relationship’.
    I know, it has been done many many times before like this.
    And therefore, some people are pro.
    Some however have their cons.
    Not hard to guess where I stand.
    Still enjoying 3down though!!!

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    If it could be said that a relationship has a value then it would be true or false, the expressions being related have the numerical value.

  32. Scouse Tim says:

    I seem to be the last man standing again (see time). Pretty fed up as I also had tripe. Goodnight …and hello to the day shift.

  33. tupu says:

    IMHO there is too much quibbling about pi, and it seems to go on whenever the the point arises.

    The size of circles varies, and pi is a constant. It is also an irrational number. It is not part of or a product of the standard set of integers which have general reference. It exists simply as an expression of the relationship between geometrical features of a particular shape. If you ask what is the relationship between the diameter and the circumference of a circle, the answer is that the latter is pi times the former. It is not unreasonable for everyday purposes to say that pi constitutes that relationship.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nope pi does not exist purely as a relationship between geometrical features. As I said above there are other formulae from which pi may be derived.

    The argument in the previous post could be generalised, as any valid argument should. In which case all numbers are relationships as they can all be derived from some equation or other. In which case the word number then becomes redundant. However, the word number isn’t redundant as it doesn’t mean relationship. So going back from the general to the particular, pi is a number.

  35. scchua says:

    I’m with you tupu. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “ratio”, and used instead “number” or “fraction” or “value”. But I’m more tolerant than others when it comes to “relationship”. My rationale is that the word refers to the relationship between the circumference and the diameter, which is a constant relationship and whose value is denoted by pi. Of course there are other relationships between two or more of other variables, whose value also happen to be pi. But they are all “relationships”.

    To be really strict the setter would have to say in full “name of value of relationship”, but just “relationship” as a convenience/expediency is okay by me, with “name of value of” left implicit.

  36. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua.

    Derek – what are some of ‘the other formulae from which pi may be derived’? And why should anyone want to know pi except for understanding the geometry of circles and related forms e.g spheres and cones? Incidentally the word ‘pi’ derivies from the greek letter ‘p’ and is a direct reference originally to ‘perimeter’.

    Also what you say about generalising may be true of other constants but not, in any untrivial way, of numbers in general.

  37. carlostheshackle says:

    I particularly like the format of your solutions. As a struggling beginner having the clue repeated with a gap before the solutions helps me work my way through the clues without accidentally seeing the solution too early. The real bonus is having the definition underlined. This gives me a second go at solving clues where, as is often the case, I’ve failed to identify it. Thank you.

  38. scchua says:

    Welcome carlostheshackle, I appreciate your comment and I’m glad to be of help.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    tupu, sorry only just seen that, how’s about 4 x acrtan (1) for a start? There are loads more listed in Wikipedia.

    I’m just off to the pub otherwise I’d sit down and start a list of each integer in turn, just for the sheer fun of it. Be glad it’s too late for that.

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh sorry, your other question, pi is used everywhere in modern maths and engineering. Once you measure angles in radians then it pops up absolutely everywhere, right down to quantum mechanics.

  41. tupu says:

    HI Derek
    Thanks for responding. We’ll have to agree to differ. I suspect we are talking past each other.

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