Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,475 – Enigmatist

Posted by Andrew on November 9th, 2011


Some typically tricky stuff here from Enigmatist, who we haven’t seen for a while, but as always very clever, and satisfying to solve. There were quite a few clues where I guessed the answer but couldn’t fully explain the wordplay; fortunately all eventually became clear (or clearer) as I was writing up the blog. The setter has hidden a reference to himself in the puzzle: I can’t see any more of a theme than that, but maybe I’ve missed something.

1. POTOROO T (time) in POOR (bod) + a tailed or truncated 007 (James Bond – spy). The potoroo is “a kangaroo/rat like animal about the size of a rabbit” – despite the kangaroo part it’s not clear to me that it’s a “bouncer”
5. BALDWIN BALD + WIN. Stanley Baldiwn, Prime Minister in the 1920s and 1930s.
9. PRESS Double definition
10. HENDERSON ENDERS (they conclude) in HON (short for honey, affectionate name for a lover) Henderson the Rain King is (I learn) a novel by Saul Bellow. Henderson also happens to be Enigmatist’s surname (see also 22dn).
13. ARTY A HEARTY is a sporting type or non-aesthete (e.g. at Oxbridge). Take away HE and you get an ARTY aesthete
14. PICAROON P (penny, little change) + O in (AIRCON)*. A picaroon is a pirate or rogue
18. TWIN I think the way this works is gem = half of Gemini = half of twins = (just one) TWIN
21. SMALL INTESTINE [exa]M + ALL IN TEST (every candidate) in SINE (function)
23. RATIONALE CAMRA members wouldn’t be pleased to be told to RATION ALE
24. LENTO LENT O (nothing) – following Polonius’s advice in Hamlet I:3: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,/For loan oft loses both itself and friend,/And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” LENTO in music means “slowly”
25. WARLORD A + R L (both sides) in WORD (rumour)
26. RIGHT-ON BRIGHTON (place to walk along the pier), less its “top”.
1. PAPA PAP (mediocre writing) + A. Papa follows Oscar in the phonetic alphabetic.
2. THE LITTLE MASTER (TEST R[uns] ALL THE TIME)* &lit. “The little master” is the nickname of the Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, so the anagram is very apt, but it’s a pity that THE occurs in both versions.
3. RESECT C in TREES*, with “cut away some of” being the definition
4. OTHERS OT (books) + HERS (belonging to Esther or Ruth, say)
5. BONHOMIE Reverse of NOB (head) + I (current) in HOME (in)
7. WASTE NOT WANT NOT Cryptic definition. “Waste not want not” was a slogan in World War I – see this propaganda poster, but seems to be much older, going back to at least 1772
8. NINETY-NINE A 99 is a type of ice-cream, and “genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration” according to Thomas Edison.
12. MAN OF STRAW MAN (counter, as in board games) + O (old) + FARTS* + W (won). A straw man argument is one in which one argues against something that one’s opponent has not said.
15. WELL-TO-DO The nursery rhyme Ding Dong Bell, featuring Johnny Green and Tommy Stout, could be said to be about a “well to-do”
16. STANDARD AND in reverse of DRATS (“drat” and “blast” being mild oaths)
19. VENEER E in NEVER* – “divers” indicates the anagram, and the definition is “finish”
20. STALAG STALAGMITE (floor formation) less MITE (a little).
22. JOHN Double definition – can=john=toilet, and “he” indicates that it’s a man’s name – in fact Enigmatist’s first name (see also 10ac).

57 Responses to “Guardian 25,475 – Enigmatist”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I’m most impressed that you managed to solve and blog this in less than 90 mins! It took me that long just to solve it. I found this, particularly the right side, pretty tough but, as you say, very satisfying to finish.

    Just the one, slight, inaccuracy I think: 12 is MAN O (old) FARTS* W (won)

  2. JollySwagman says:

    Brilliant puzzle and blog – thanks both.

    Potoroos do bounce. They can scurry along like rats, which they closely resemble, but for longer distances they hop like tiny kangaroos.

  3. stumped says:

    Very hard, lots of it went over my head. Learned some new words, for which thanks to Enigmatist and Andrew.

    12d I think it’s MAN + O[ld} + (FARTS)* + W[on]

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Neil and Stumped for pointing out the error in 12dn – now corrected.

    Thanks also for JollySwagman for the inside information on potoroos.

  5. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I found this tricky. Especially liked 2dn – very topical because TLM has just become the first to score 15000 Test runs. See

  6. Anthony Warren says:

    20dn surely stalAgmite less A mite

  7. NeilW says:

    Hi Anthony

    I think you may have been misled by Andrew’s typo – the answer is STALAG(mite)

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks again, Neil. Typo corrected.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew and Enigmatist. I think we did have one of his recently, though it’s true he doesn’t appear very often.

    This was a tough one, for me at least, as I’m unable to follow cricket from here, so 2d was wholly guesswork and check button. I had to find 1ac in Chambers, hadn’t heard of the Rain King, and didn’t know the references in 13ac and 1d.

    BTW, as far as I’m concerned, the phonetic alphabet, or IPA, is a number of symbols used to represent the sounds of language so that an expert can pronounce a new word without having to hear it. It’s a device used to help students of foreign languages.

    OSCAR and PAPA represent letters, not sounds, and therefore form part of a “spelling” alphabet.

    It took me a while to remember the nursery rhyme, which was annoying because I usually like them – they give some fascinating insights into popular culture :)

  10. Andrew says:

    Stella – you’re right, I should have said the (inaccurately-named) NATO phonetic alphabet.

  11. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew, and as Neil says, impressive indeed. A good mental knockabout with Enigmatist today so many thanks to him also.

    POTOROO and PICAROON were both unfamiliar but had to smile at NINETY-NINE, WELL-TO-DO (brilliant !), LENTO and RIGHT-ON.

    By some strange coincidence, HENDERSON crops up in the lyrics to Rain King by Counting Crows. Is the squirrel relevant ?

  12. NeilW says:

    Andrew, I noticed it (the typo) at the time this morning but thought it would be churlish to point it out, given your still very impressive performance in the early hours! :)

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Andrew. I thought this was a hard and (having now seen the blog) a fairly unexciting crossword. Only completed about half of it.

    22d. Why the question mark? “He can” would have sufficed?

    18ac TWIN a strained clue.

    COD – unknown

  14. crypticsue says:

    I too wondered whether there was a theme as you don’t often see a setter put their whole name in a puzzle. The usual very enjoyable brain stetching from Mr H, thank you to him. I did like 18a and 8d in particular. Thanks to Andrew for the review too – I certainly couldn’t have solved and reviewed an Enigmatist, or indeed any of his other alter egos, in that time.

  15. Mick H says:

    15 down (WELL TO DO), what a peach. And 23ac (RATIONALE) too. I love clues that reinterpret the whole word as a phrase so neatly.

  16. Stella Heath says:

    Re PICAROON, I think it probably comes from Spanish “pícaro”, which originated a whole literary genre, “picaresque”, in the 15th/16th centuries. The first opuscule was the anonymous “Lazarillo de Tormes”, about an orphan boy who recruited himself to take care of a blind man, in order to steal from him whenever he could, and in ingenious ways – the epitome of the lovable rogue :)

  17. NeilW says:

    I’ll be interested to come back in the morning and see if the comment total has gone up. This must be a record for the lowest number for a puzzle of such quality. Is it that solvers are still crunching, I wonder or is it just a stunned silence?

    Oh well, night night from Indonesia!

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Like others I found the RHS tricky but got there in the end.
    I have to thank Mr Google for confirming ‘Henderson’.
    Excellent challenge with some nice oddities (22d, 18ac).

  19. FLS says:

    Sticky clunge, less offensive than yesterday but still…

  20. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Enigmatist

    I had to come back to this this afternoon after a busy morning. A tantalising but ultimately very satisfying puzzle with too many excellent clues to list them all.

    I had to check that ‘potoroo’, ‘picaroon’, and ‘the little master’ were right – both were gettable from the word play. Oddly I missed the proper explanation of ‘stalag’ though the answer was clear enough.

    I liked the self-reference in 10a – I happened to know the novel but was first puzzled by ‘hon’. 21a was alo very clever and 15d amusing. 4d and 19d also pleased.

    This tested my solving skills pretty well to the tolerable limit. Enigmatist is a quite remarkable setter combining a mass of varied references with impeccable cluing and a nice ‘twinkle in his eye’. I greatly enjoyed meeting him in Derby and am sorry not to have a chance to go and say hello again later in the month.

  21. yogdaws says:

    Loved this crossword despite a few clues which we thought were a bit of a stretch…

    13ac…A HEARTY???…Not being an Oxbridge type I bridled at the whiff of elitism in this clue…

    although I know John is a very nice man and not in the least bit snooty…

  22. Wolfie says:

    I was pleased to finish this without resorting to aids – though I needed Andrew’s blog for the parsing of 20d. Thanks for that. It helped that I am an admirer of both Saul Bellow and Sachin Tendulkar!

    FLS@19 – having Googled the (to me) unfamiliar word in your comment I question both its relevance and its propriety.

    Thank you Enigmatist for a challenging couple of hours entertainment.

  23. David W says:

    Could someone expand on the answer to 3d please? I can see that the C is the initial of castle, but is that it?

  24. Robi says:

    Nice for experts. It’s been a bad day anyway, but when I saw Enigmatist, I knew there would be trouble.

    Way past my pay grade, but I’m glad it is satisfying for the cognoscenti. Little more to be said; I’d better go back to Everyman!

  25. Paul Monroe says:

    Enigmatist’s real name is John Henderson. Apologies if others have already spotted this.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    David @23
    (trees) + c (astle)* ;def: cut away some.

  27. David W says:

    RCWhiting @26

    Thanks for your response.

    If ‘cut away some’ had been placed next to ‘castle’ it would have been lovely as both definition and instruction to cut away the ‘astle’. But the trees intervene, so I still have my problem of understanding the process by which castle gives C.

  28. John H says:

    Just back in the Smoke from an entertaining three crosswording days with about two dozen others in my home county. We bought Guardian and Indy for the journey, and the Times was complementary on the train (excellent pieces on Silvio quotes and simple inventions now forming a display at the Science museum).

    Deserved recognition for a certain person in both Indy and Times sport sections, but none in the Guardian. Was it left to me, then, to recognise his feats – and another record yesterday – at 2dn? Maybe Hugh tipped the Sports Editor the wink…

    Thank you all for your feedback, all noted.

    22 10

  29. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew and Enigmatist

    This one was too tough for me. Finished about three quarters of it and guessed some of the others.
    Misread 15d as “unfortunate circumstances” and entered WELL IN IT which didn’t help!
    Never heard of a POTTEROO or THE LITTLE MASTER.

    Great blog and puzzle but very hard.

  30. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew – and JH for the puzzle and for dropping by.

    Like tupu I started this in the morning but had to leave after about 20 minutes – with only 8 clues solved. On my return I did eventually finish it, but this is about as difficult a crossword as I can manage. Great fun, though.

    POTOROO was new to me, and not being a cricket aficionado or very knowledgeable about Bellow’s novels, 2d and 10a were mystifying, and I had to check the Hamlet quotation for 24a, but with the crossing letters (and the setter’s name at 22,10) there was nothing else they could be.

    Many lovely clues, including the splendidly Araucarian 18a and the clever 13a.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    David @27
    Chambers gives C as an abbreviation for Castle (chess).

  32. Derek Lazenby says:

    Good old Chambers, when did any practising chess player ever use C? It’s always been R for rook. Whilst castle as a complete word may have been used informally, the notation has always been R.

  33. morpheus says:

    Far too much of a slog. Didn’t finish it. Enders = they conclude? Come on.

  34. togo says:

    Morpheus @ 33; the Free Online Dictionary gives Ender as n. “One who, or that which, makes an end of something; as, the ender of my life”. Now, I know it’s not Chambers, but the usage does exist…

    That said, it was very hard work, and I didn’t like being beaten by Enigmatist. Funny how hard work brings satisfaction when I do finish!

    Thanks to him, and for a welcome blog.

  35. MrChigleysAunt says:

    Hello, this is the first time I have posted here. I’m trying to learn how to solve crosswords but today’s has nearly put me off completely. I solved one clue (15dn), bringing my total solved in the last seven days to 46. I should have managed 23ac too. But apart from that, there were no others I would have solved in a month of Sundays.
    Bother!, and Wow!, in equal measure.

  36. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Finished all but 4 clues but not enjoyable at all.

    Very clunky as a previous poster said and “enders”! (Never heard of the book anyway)

    “c” for castle?

    “The Little Master”. (Far too esoteric!)

    Overall far too contrived for my liking. It’s easy to make a crossword difficult with high vocabulary words and dodgy clueing.

    I am happy when I see an answer I couldn’t get and think “I should have seen that!”. Didn;t think that for any of these.


  37. Trebor says:

    Firstly a hearty thanks to the blogger – Enigmatist surely must be the most fearsome name to see when doing one of these!
    Possibly the hardest (including Genius and Prize puzzles) that I’ve attempted this year. Attempted being the operative word because I barely got 2/3s of it finished. Some ingenious stuff like stalag, lento, waste not want not: but a few I didn’t like as well (and never got) in little master picaroon and potoroo.
    Overall one of my favourite setters but not my favourite puzzle.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I am telling no secret when I say that this 22 10 puzzle was one of the hardest we recently tried to solve. Tried to solve? Yes!
    Despite some easy starters like PRESS (9ac) and OPERETTA (17ac), it was at first impenetrable as ever.
    Even now, at this very moment, I can hardly understand how we managed to near-solve this crossword in about 90 minutes, far away from any form of aids (and being tired after A Hard Work’s Day). POTOROO and BONHOMIE had to be completed with a dictionary at hand, the latter in hindsight not particularly complex.

    Thank you, Andrew, for your afterthoughts. They explained a few that we couldn’t parse: the OO in POTOROO, the cultural references in 24ac and 15d, plus the CAMRA connection in 23ac [in which we initially thought that there was an anagram going on, with “not a” + “in” (popular) fed by “order” as the anagrind – but there wasn’t].

    Gervase @20 qualifies 18ac (“Gem?”) as Araucarian. We thought it was more like one of those extravaganzas that every now and then crop up in the other Paul H’s puzzles. Not a great fan of them (these extravaganzas, I mean).
    On the other hand, 22d (“Can he?”) was very very neat.

    Other highlights and there were quite a few eventually: 21ac (SMALL INTESTINE), 26ac (RIGHT-ON), 2d (T.L.M.) and 4d (OTHERS).

    Finally, why is “repaired” (in 14ac) given in quotation marks?
    In the end it is just an anagram indicator, isn’t it? But because it has “-“, we thought maybe we had to “re-pair” AIR and CON, so swap them.

    All in all, a great Saturday crossword!

  39. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog. This was out of my comfort zone, but I’m glad to have got about 75% without any help. Loved ‘lento’.

    No pain, no gain. Thanks, Enigmatist.

  40. James G says:

    Boring tech question. Viewing on an android. Can’t seem to get any of the links to work on the mobile site. Including comments, so of course I won’t be able to see any responses to this, but just wondered whether I can see comments if I submit one.

  41. RCWhiting says:

    I suggest that the ‘rogue’, by introducing O and causing little change did not actually “repair” the air con at all. ie he was a cowboy.

  42. gm4hqf says:

    MrChigleysAunt@35 Welcome to a first time poster. Don’t be put off, this puzzle was very difficult for a midweek cryptic puzzle. Stumped quite a few by the looks of it.

  43. Paul B says:

    Oh Sil, you’ve gone and done it now: setters will be re-pairing most every day.

  44. MikeC says:

    Thanks to Andrew and Enigmatist. Finally finished this, though without parsing several. Very hard, as others have said. Some clever stuff from E – and it’s fun to see JOHN HENDERSON and RATION ALE in the same grid!

  45. tupu says:

    I suppose the names in 22d and 10a constitute a signature in addition to a self-reference by the setter comparable to the way in which some artists hide theirs in a painting..

  46. Tony Davis says:

    This defeated us, I’m afraid – gave up after an hour with ten unsolved. There were some very clever clues, but some were pathetic: 19 dn for instance – how can ‘divers’ be an anagram flag? It doesn’t mean the same as ‘diverse’. And 12 dn – MAN for ‘counter’?? Most unsatisfactory.

  47. PeterJohnN says:

    13a could have been worded “Aesthetic or athletic? etc”!

  48. John H says:

    Excuse me, Tony #46.

    From Chambers Thesaurus:

    divers (adjective)

    varying, varied, various, different, many, numerous, several, some, miscellaneous, sundry

    Pray tell – what other clues were ‘pathetic’?

  49. RCWhiting says:

    We all started off by being useless,the only way to get better is to attempt more. Practice makes perfect, or at least better.
    Another alternative is to practise on easier cryptics (The Guardian is generally considered one of the more difficult dailies). Personally, when I started many years ago, I thought that the Daily Telegraph was easier and I had a coworker who bought it so I could have a free solve each day.

  50. RCWhiting says:

    Tony D @46
    Ignore any complaints and criticise away. Nobody has to agree with you (I don’t) but the setters are not gods, an impression you might get if you read this MB often.

  51. togo says:

    Tony D. I support RCW in encouraging you to challenge.

    But John H has shown you something that happens a lot: there are meanings and constructions that we sometimes don’t know – in this case ‘divers’, which I happened to know – though I’m caught out frequently enough. I might also have pointed out that the word ‘man’ for “counter”, a piece on a board in a board game, has a long history.

    I think a degree of circumspection, rather than letting the impatience spill into words like ‘pathetic’, is always sensible… Challenge yes, rubbish no, I suggest.

  52. Bodgel says:

    Late as usual, since once I start one I do my damnedest to finish … which I failed to do. Got 13 in, and three correctly guessed but not in, because I couldn’t be sure from the clue that those answers were correct. I see no-one has commented on 7d.

    Isn’t it a reasonably good rule to define a fair clue, that if you think of the answer (and you aren’t baffled by clever wordplay) then you can be pretty sure that it is right? The answer to 7d is a remark – well yes, as any phrase generally is. And it has something to do with throwing things away. Surely fairness demands a stronger connection than that? A true cryptic definition makes you laugh and say “what a clever way of putting it”. No laugh here.

    I was never going to finish anyway of course – without dictionary or internet (well you’ve got to have some rules) potoroo, picaroon and Henderson were bound to elude me.

  53. John H says:

    RCWhiting and togo (49 and 50),

    thank you for saying what you said. The point about blogs is the exchange of views. For some too easy, for some too difficult – that’s the nature of crosswords.

    I jumped in because of the use of a certain word – ‘pathetic’. I spend a lot of time on wording my clues precisely, and my puzzles are checked by two solvers before I send them.

    Bodgel’s post above sums up how to write a post. I think I speak for all setters (and we are not gods or goddesses) when I say that this is the kind of posting that we read. Critical, yet constructive.

    I really would like a communication, publically or privately, that answers my question above #46. Tony?

  54. RCWhiting says:

    If I called a comment by Polly Toynbee ‘pathetic’ nobody would raise an eyebrow.
    If I wrote that PT was pathetic that would be unnecessary,uncalled for and rude.
    Tony called a clue ‘pathetic’ (I don’t agree) which is quite legitimate.

  55. eimi says:

    This isn’t my fight, but I’d certainly hesitate to call that argument ‘pathetic’ as I would anything else on this site. On this day of all days, it might be a bit naive, but “what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” Let’s not use the P-word please.

  56. Tony Davis says:

    I returned today to see if there had been any response to my comment #46 and was surprised that my little tantrum had provoked so many replies. John H, I’m sorry; I withdraw the word ‘pathetic’, and apologise for having allowed my frustration at being outwitted to overcome my normal good manners.

    I stand by my choice of ‘unsatisfactory’ to describe ‘counter’ as a synonym for ‘man’ in 12dn, and would apply it also to 10ac, where my objection is not so much to ‘enders’ as to ‘hon’ for ‘love’ – a ‘bit of a stretch’, to echo yogdaws #21, with whom I agree about 13ac (even though I must confess to being an ‘Oxbridge type’).

    togo #51 – I did know what ‘divers’ means, and still think it is not a good anagram indicator. However, in future I shall try to exercise the circumspection which you recommend and to be more constructive in my comments.

  57. Van Winkle says:

    Practical difference between Enigmatist and other setters of that ilk … with others the more common experience is to solve a clue and think “oh, clever me!”; with Enigmatist it is to not solve a clue and think “on, clever you!”.

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