Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,495 – Gordius

Posted by Andrew on December 2nd, 2011


Regular readers may have noticed that Gordius is not one of my favourite setters, but I found this one quite enjoyable, though perhaps rather easy for a Friday. It also suffers from coming at the end of a week of some of the top-rank setters. Just a couple of quibbles, noted below, but no more than one often finds in others’ puzzles.

9. ELABORATE LABOR (US workers) in E + TEA*
10. ALPHA LP in A HA
12. COEQUAL [Sebastian, now Lord] Coe + QUAL[ity]. I wondered if this should be hyphenated, but Chambers only gives it as a single word.
13. RUDE Homophone of “rued” (regretted). I think this would work better as a clue for RUED (which is what I originally put in), but it just about works the other way round.
17. BIG-SHOT [Ronnie] BI[g]GS + HOT (fresh, as in “hot news”)
19. PEBBLE-DASH PEBBLE (beach) + DASH. You can have a “pebble beach”, but pebble = beach doesn’t really work for me. Alternatively, maybe a “pebble dash” is a “hurry to the beach”. The Wikipedia article on pebble-dash as a wall-covering links to a press release from Direct Line insurance suggesting that pebble-dashing cna reduce the value of a house by 5%.
25. THORIUM (OU MIRTH)*. As featured in Tom Lehrer’s Elements song – “There’s Iodine and Thorium and Thulium and Thallium…”
26. NIECE E (Spain) in NICE (French resort)
27. EXEMPTION EXE (river) + MP + INTO*
1. SEMI-TRANSPARENT TIMES< (paper, back) + RAN (moved) + SPARE NT (extra books). I frown slightly at the joining of "paper" and "back", but otherwise a very nice charade.
3. LOTTO LOT + TO. Lotto and House (or Housey-housey) are alternative names for the game of Bingo.
4. MAHARAJA MA + HA[s] + (A JAR)<. More usually spelt MAHARAJAH, I think, but Chambers gives both variants.
5. PENCIL Cryptic definition
8. EARLY SETTLEMENT Double definition, though I think Avebury is a monument rather than a settlement.
20. BRACES Double definition

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,495 – Gordius”

  1. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew, especially for the parsing of 1d.

    Seeing the ? in 19ac, I took the first half as a cd: “Hurry to the beach?”

    As you say, on the easy side, particularly after yesterday’s Paul, but fairly clued although, like you, I had RUED for 13ac until 2d made me change it.

    Thanks Gordius

  2. Djawhufc says:

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for blog.

    I agree on rued it held me up for a while until I realised my mistake.

    Overall enjoyable enough. Looking forward to a sterner challenge tomorrow

  3. DtD says:

    Another one who had gone for Rued until 2d wouldn’t fit. I regard devices like “paperback” as fair game and enjoy solving clues all the more for them.

  4. MarionH says:

    Rued / rude – I went the same way.

    To quote Wikipedia “Avebury is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. Much of Avebury village is encircled by the prehistoric monument complex also known as Avebury.” While the monument complex is prehistoric, the village church dates back to Saxon times, so I think the settlement could justifiably be called ‘early’.

  5. MarionH says:

    I went with rued initially as well. And I was surprised to find coequal didn’t require a dash. But I’m with DtD on devices like “paperback”.

    On Avebury: Wikipedia “Avebury is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. Much of Avebury village is encircled by the prehistoric monument complex also known as Avebury.” While the monument complex is prehistoric, the village church dates back to Saxon times, so I think the settlement could justifiably be called ‘early’.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Gordius

    Quite enjoyable with some clever cluing.

    I was too suspicious of ‘rued’ to put it in – it would be almost non-cryptic. As Andrew says, ‘rude’ does work (just about).

    The NE corner held me up a little.

    Some nice misleading clues and smooth surfaces.

    I ticked 9a, 22a, 1d, 4d, 15d (I was first trying to think of a bird ending in ‘r’), and 17d.

    Someone complained the other day about large South American rodents infesting their puzzles and here we have another one in 23d quite nicely clued.

  7. nusquam says:

    Thanks to Gordius and Andrew.

    I too was a rued beggar.

    What is ‘see’ doing in the clue to 3dn?

  8. Andrew says:

    nusquam – I meant to point out in the blog that “see” in 3dn is redundant in the cryptic reading. I suppose you could read it as “much to, see!”

  9. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    ‘not entirely clear'(4,11). Only too clear, sadly.
    And then all those start letters gave a storm of write-ins (although I too wrote ‘rued’) and this was, from then on, a diappointment.

    In all those years he was a genuine world class athlete I do not remember him ever being commemorated in a crossword; now he’s a lord he seems to be flavour of the month!

  10. Mitz says:

    Thanks Gordius and Andrew.

    Yep, all pretty straightforward today. I hedged my bets with ‘rude/rued’ until ‘calendar’ went in at 2 – IMHO the clue is valid either way. Quite liked ‘pebble dash’ and ‘horrific’. As for quibbles about devices like ‘paperback’ – for me this is the kind of thing that keeps one on one’s toes and is to be encouraged. Thought 5 was a bit clumsy – I would have tried to be a little more economical, along the lines of “Once had lead, but drew”, but that’s a matter of taste.

    Coypus, coatis and degus certainly do seem to infest a lot of crosswords – probably because there is a finite pool of words ending with ‘u’ and ‘i’ from which to draw.

  11. Robi says:

    Entertaining puzzle with PEBBLE-DASH and ORAL my favourites.

    Thanks, Andrew; I already had a crossing letter, which made RUDE clear (Regretted-sounding.) LOTTO was my last in, and quite a clever clue, I thought. PENCIL had a nicely misleading clue, and I took this as a dd (noun and verb,) rather than just a cd. Thanks also for the Tom Lehrer link, which is amusing, but not an easy way to remember elements…….. I liked his “rhyming” couplet: ‘These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard, And there may be many others but they haven’t been discovered.’

  12. nusquam says:

    Thanks Andrew @8 for backing my doubts about 3dn. I thought of ‘lotto’, but wondered how it could be right, and continued to try and find better answers.

  13. John Appleton says:

    I was also among the RUED multitude. I personally find clues like this a little unfair, if either end could be either definition or wordplay, leading to two plausible answers – it means you can’t enter something until you get the right checking letter(s).

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I thought this was going to be a breeze, as Gorgeous puzzles usually are, but I got mired in the NE corner and it eventually took me almost as long as yesterday’s (which I didn’t find quite as hard as most other folk, unaccountably). I had SETTLEMENT, but couldn’t see the first word of 8d for ages, and I always forget that U can be preceded by Q, so COEQUAL was a real struggle.

    And, of course I put RUED in to start with – this is the only clue which I would quibble with. I enjoyed ‘paperback': this device is a shibboleth for identifying the arch-Ximeneans (indeed!), but as I am not one, I like it a lot. Pity that the definition part of the clue has no relation to the charade.

    There is a lot that could be said about the naturally-occurring radioactive element THORIUM, but let’s confine the comments to the literary: it is one of only two elements named after Norse deities (the other being vanadium).

  15. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Gordius and Andrew. Yes, I rued, but unlike John find the technique quite fair; waiting for crossers is part of the game, no?

    I find ‘paperback’ and its like entertaing and fair, on the grounds that the space in ‘paper back’ is a form of punctuation (a separator?) and therefore fair game for the compiler.

    A nice puzzle which made me feel good because I did it quite quickly!

  16. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Gordius and Andrew. Enjoyable puzzle. Yes, I ‘rued’, but unlike John find the technique quite fair; waiting for crossers is part of the game, no?

    I also find ‘paperback’ and its like entertaing and fair, on the grounds that the space in ‘paper back’ is a form of punctuation (a separator?) and therefore fair game for the compiler.

  17. Mr. Jim says:

    I’m surprised COEQUAL is a word — surely it just means the same thing as EQUAL?

    I took BRACES to be a cd rather than dd — as in it holds up a pair of trousers.

    I agree with the RUDE/RUED issue. I didn’t put it in until I crossed the D.

    Like Andrew, I liked this a lot more than I usually like Gordius’ xwords. HALLOWEEN was a nice misdirection. Thanks to both.

  18. Robi says:

    Mr Jim @17; Chambers gives: ‘one of the same rank’ for COEQUAL.

    Braces ‘hold up’ and are also pairs, so I guess that is why Andrew indicated a dd.

  19. Andrew says:

    Robi – yes, I read 20dn as the two definitions “They hold up” and “pairs”.

  20. Stella Heath says:

    Sorry, Mr. Jim, it’s clearly a double definition, as a BRACE is a group of two – pigeons or rabbits, for example.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    I’m with Mr. Jim, coequal is a pointless word. The quotation from Chambers proves it! Talking of Pointless, I’d better get the tele on.

  22. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. Until I came here I did not see 1d – apart from TIMES<.

    On 13 I saw the two spellings but only wrote in RU to start with. This illustrates why I dislike clues of the form like this where you have to wait for the crossing letter to finish it.

    On 23d my first thought was PUSHY where bashful=shy but I could not see a quadruped so I had to try again :)

  23. chas says:

    The other thing I meant to say in my previous post was about 1d.

    I found paperback perfectly OK. After all we are used to seeing ‘in Gateshead’ as a way of indicating ING so this is just a similar example.

    I am sure there have been other instances but I cannot remember any more at the moment.

  24. stiofain says:

    I thought the paperback device was oone of the few good points in this – at least he didnt shoehorn in his usual biblical stuff

  25. Mick H says:

    I’m surprised the RUDE/RUED ambiguity got through. I think most editors see that kind of clue as unfair. I felt it read better as a clue to RUED – as, clearly, did most people here. Surely that’s not viewed as a legitimate way to trick the solver?
    Enjoyable otherwise.

  26. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew and Gordius

    I also entered RUED for a start, seemed to make more sense.

    Had to think for a while over MAHARAJA, COEQUAL and PARENTAGE but otherwise not too difficult.

  27. bingybong says:

    Seeing the generally-positive responses to ‘paperback’ is quite reassuring. As someone who did the Times Crossword for many many years I was rather shocked to be told that ‘slaphead’ was not a fair indicator for ‘S’ in a clue I’d submitted to another site, and would “never be allowed” on a Times puzzle. Whether that’s true or not I’m still not sure but it certainly raised the hackles of a couple of strict Ximeneans.

  28. fearsome says:

    Lotto was my last answer and I was not still not sure of it. The final “see” in the clue puzzled me. Am I missing something?

  29. ChrisChods says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Came on here today having just downloaded the pdf for the prize, which also shows the solution to the previous day’s puzzle of course. I was a little taken aback by LOTTO at 3d, which I didn’t recognize, then remembered this too was my last in, and I had inserted a guess (for what it’s worth, HOSTS) in my grid. While I accept my guess was wrong, (‘house'(vb) to equal ‘host’ + has = ‘s giving hosts, lots to see) I feel my guess makes better use of the clue than the answer, LOTTO, with that redundant ‘see’, (maybe that of the Bishop of Bath and Wells). Yes, I’m a little annoyed by the true answer, and think this is one of the weakest clues I have seen in a Guardian Crossword. A shame because otherwise I was enjoying the puzzle, but the editor ought to have a word about this clue.

  30. Innocent Abroad says:

    Well, I only got four clues, and now I’ve seen the answers I’m not at all surprised.

    I have lots of quibbles but will only bore you with a couple. I agree with Mick H [25] – clues with two solutions are just unfair. And clueing “e” as “Spain” because it’s the initial letter of Espana is surely a bridge too far, whilst using “over” to indicate position in an across clue is even further than that, surely.

  31. Davy says:

    To Innocent Abroad,

    In 26a, ‘E’ is also the international registration letter for Spain so I think the clue is fine.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    If you turn ‘Africa barter’over you get ‘retrAB ACIrfa’.

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