Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 620/Arachne

Posted by Pierre on October 3rd, 2011


It’s over a year since I started blogging the Quiptic, but it’s the first time I’ve become entangled in Arachne’s web.  She’s produced a very pleasing entry-level puzzle for us today, I think.  I always enjoy her Guardian Cryptic crosswords, partly because of the slightly naughty sense of humour that you find there.  Sadly there’s just the one fetish on display in this offering.



cd  cryptic definition
dd double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed



1 One reportedly has to decrease medication
A homophone (‘reportedly’) of I and DROP for ‘decrease’.

5 Twisted boy and caused an injury
A charade of WOUND and ED for ‘boy’.

9 “Goodbye”, said DI Rebus evenly
The even letters in ‘said DI Rebus’.  He does exist, fictionally at least.

10 Ma suckled pathetic, helpless creatures
(MA SUCKLED)*  ‘Pathetic’ is the anagrind.

11 After an interval promise to protect 50 developing nations
A charade of THIRD and an insertion of L in WORD.  The ‘interval’ is a musical one (a major or minor third) and L is the Roman numeral for fifty.

12 Character in Greek mythology taking back Egyptian port
A reversal of SUEZ.

14 A cordial monk
A dd.  I raised an eyebrow a nanometre or two at first, since for me ‘cordial’ is a soft drink, which Bénédictine clearly isn’t.  But the SOED gives ‘a medicine, food or drink to stimulate the circulation and invigorate’, which Bénédictine clearly is.  Burnley Miners’ Club is the biggest single consumer of the liqueur.  You learn some stuff from t’Internet, don’t you?

18 Administrator’s routine is to play hangman
A charade of EXEC and (ROUTINE)*  ‘Is to play’ is the anagrind.

21 Sharp cry
A dd.

22 Thief who must be very strong?
A cd.

25 A star pursuing stud for a dance
A charade of BOSS for ‘stud’ and A NOVA for ‘a star’.  Shades of Strictly.

26 Very into eggs, Arachne would shortly become egg-shaped
We hope not.  An insertion of V into OO for two eggs, and ID for ‘Arachne would’ or ‘I’d’.

27 Part of foothold’s terribly crumbly
Hidden in foothOLDS TERribly.  ‘Crumbly: a person considered very old or senile, esp by teenagers.’  That’d be me then, according to mine.

28 Erasmus dressed up in rubber
Please.  I’m sure the classical scholar would never have dreamt of such a thing.  Although he was a Catholic priest of course …  It’s (ERASMUS)*  and ‘dressed up’ is the anagrind.


1 Demands and gets precise amount of old money
A charade of EXACT for ‘precise’ and S for ‘shilling’, which was old money before decimalisation in 1971.

2 Team consumed by anger about liquid containing drug
Nice clue.  It’s an insertion of XI, eleven, for ‘team’ in a reversal of RILE for ‘anger’.

3 Circuitous part of traffic system
A dd.

4 Winnie briefly taking lithium for serious condition
An insertion of the chemical symbol for the element following hydrogen and helium in the periodic table in a shortened version of everybody’s favourite bear.

5 Eccentric Lib Dem won southwest London constituency
(LIB DEM WON)*  ‘Eccentric’ is the anagrind.  I don’t think ‘Lib Dem won’ will be in many headlines come the next election somehow.

6 Ruin a French party
A simple charade of UN for one of the indefinite articles in French and DO for ‘party’.

7 Finally informed European Commission about coal mine that is crumbling
I’m going for this as my favourite today because of its lovely surface.  It’s D for the final letter of informeD, EC, RE for ‘about’ and PIT for ‘mine’.

8 SAS tried frantically to provide cover for debacle
(SAS TRIED)*  ‘Frantically’ is the anagrind, but I’m not sure what the ‘cover for’ part of the clue is doing.

Edit: it’s there for a very good reason, which Eileen explains at comment no 1.

13 I scour URLs, which could be interpreted as defamatory
(I SCOUR URLS)*  ‘Interpreted’ is the anagrind.

15 Be close to someone on Ramsay Street?
A kind of cd.  Although I’ve never watched it, the soap ‘Neighbours’ is set in Ramsay Street.  Don’t know how I knew that.

16 Quiet cry followed by a surprising noise during children’s game
Another nicely constructed clue.  P for musically quiet is followed by EEK! and A BOO!

17 Late December got milder
A charade of DEC and EASED.

19 Useless series of books that’s about a sailor
Possibly the least common word in the puzzle, but Arachne’s clued it pretty clearly: it’s OT for Old Testament and an insertion of OS for ‘ordinary seaman’ in IE for id est, ‘that is’.

20 Merchant has traditional sovereign
A charade of TRAD for ‘traditional’ and ER for Elizabeth Regina, our current sovereign, lovingly known as Brenda in Private Eye.

23 Worships Almighty without devotional words
Hidden in worshiPS ALMighty.

24 Articulate wrong tense
Last clue, and my last one in.  The crossing letters weren’t megahelpful ones, and I got fixated on the final T being the ‘tense’ bit.  But it’s a homophone of TORT for ‘wrong'; ‘articulate’ is the homophone indicator.

A lovely puzzle from Arachne which I enjoyed solving and blogging.

7 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 620/Arachne”

  1. Eileen says:

    Merci bien, Pierre.

    Lovely puzzle, as usual from Arachne. I agree with you about 7dn but have to add 5dn as joint story-telling favourite – not to mention 28ac! [10ac is rather sweet, too.]

    Re ‘cover for’ in 8dn: it’s actually an anagram of TRIED round SAS, so it does work.

  2. PeterO says:

    Thank you, Pierre and Arachne.

    There seems to be quite a wide variation between dictionaries concerning the alcoholic version of cordials. Some get no closer than the definition you quote; some stress the sweetness of the drink; some (but surprisingly few) indicate that it is a spirit flavoured by infusion. This last jibes with my understanding.

  3. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Peter. The clue is fine, since it’s supported by dictionaries, but certainly for me a ‘cordial’ would be something like ‘lime cordial’ or ‘blackcurrant cordial’, the kind of syrupy stuff you’d stick into lager and lime or lager and black (if either exists any more), or that you’d dilute to make a soft drink.

    Feels like the Mary Celeste in here today …

  4. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well, the class dummy is going to exercise his perogative of being closer than you lot to the target audience to say it was a bit tricky for a Quiptic. For example, I can’t remember the last time I used OTIOSE, largely due to having never used it.

  5. Arachne says:

    Many thanks, Pierre, for such a spiffing and amusing blog (sometimes I worry that you bloggers are more entertaining than us setters) and thanks to Eileen and PeterO too for kind comments. Derek – sorry it was a bit hard: it’s really quite difficult to judge the level right, but I’ll keep working on it and your feedback is invaluable. And I just can’t restrain myself from asking – are you related to James Bond? I rather hope so. It is a bit quiet here isn’t it? I do hope the passengers and crew of the Marie Celeste are merely lying insensible in the scuppers and will be in sooner or later.
    Love and hugs
    Arachne x

  6. Sil van den Hoek says:

    A bit too quiet here? OK, let me join in then!
    While several clues were too quiptic for me [but, rightly so, because it is a Quiptic after all], I ticked four of them that would lighten up any crossword.
    The Erasmus anagram was very fine, probably done in days gone by, but one I hadn’t seen before.
    The clue for WIMBLEDON is just magnificent.
    And the imagery of 22ac (SHOPLIFTER) very amusing – perhaps my CD of the Month [me and CDs … :) ?].
    But the absolute winner is 17d’s DECEASED. Not only such a natural surface, but it took me back in time. Cryptic, isn’t it?

    Thanks Pierre for your blog. Your last was my last.

    And love and hugs in return.
    Hope to see you soon in the paper! :)

  7. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well, my father was called George, but not that one! I would have retired somewhere sunny if he was!

    Don’t fret overly if the class dummy struggles. Most of the regulars on this particular blog do appreciate that it is the hardest thing to create a deliberately easy cryptic.

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