Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,523 – Arachne

Posted by Andrew on January 4th, 2012


A nice mixture of clueing devices in Arachne’s web today. Mostly not too difficult, but I was fooled by a hidden answer till right at the end, and there are a couple of clues where I’m not totally convinced by my explanations – improved suggestions welcomed! Thanks to Arachne for an enjoyable puzzle, and Happy New Year to everyone.

9. SATURNINE I’m not sure about this: SATURNINE = “gloomy”, and then I think it’s SATURDAY “wasting” DAY + NINE, which is the number to the left of the clue.
10. AWAKE A WAKE (farewell party)
12,19,28. ALEXANDER THE GREAT (LARGE-HEARTED TEXAN)*. A nice anagram, but rather wasted as the clue was easy to solve from the definition and enumeration.
13. MAKE WAY A KEW in MAY (blossom)
14. INQUEST An inquest is a hearing, and to be IN QUEST is to be searching
17. DEPOT Hidden in (and actually the centre of) besDE POTsdam. My last entry – it’s amazing how often hidden answers can be so hard to spot.
20. ADMIT AD (bill, as in billposting) + [her]MIT. HER=SHE is a bit naughty..
21. CLEAR UP Anagram of CLUE + A R[ight] P[uzzler]
22. MUEZZIN IMPURE less I P (quietly) R[uns] + ZZ (sleep) + IN (at home), and a muezzin calls Muslims to prayer
24. SQUARE OFF 4 is a SQUARE number, + OFF = turned (as in milk turning sour)
26. NIGHT KNIGHT (Sir) less K
29. CHLORATES (OCHRE SALT)* – the first of a couple of science-related answers: perhaps words that Arachne couldn’t fit into her science-based puzzle a couple of weeks ago?
1. ASBO HAS BO spoken without aspiration would be ‘AS BO.
2. ATTACK AT TACK, “tack” being old naval slang for food (as in “hard tack”)
3. FRESHWATER Another one I’m not sure of: I think it must be WAT in (penetrating, with a misleading comma) FRESHER (comparatively bold), and perhaps WAT is a “cheeky” spelling of WHAT…
4. BINARY BIN (get rid of) A RY (railway)
5. TELEVISE Alternate letters of ThE oLdEr + VISE – American spelling of vice (as used by carpenters etc)
6. JAVA Hidden in ganJA VAlium – funny surface suggesting a rather unusual lunch menu?
8. JEER JE[st]ER
13. MEDOC MEDIC with I[talian] replaced by O (love)
18. PLEXUSES COMPLEX less COM + USES (services)
19. TOP NOTCH T + OP + NOTCH ( as in “turn the volume up a notch”)
22. MUFFLE MU (Greek letter) + F + alternate letters of FiLlEd
23. ZYGOTES Cryptic definition. Another scientific one: a zygote is a type of cell involved in sexual reproduction.
24. SIGH SIGH[t] – sight = (tourist) attraction
25. RITZ Homophone (as said by one dictating) of WRITS
27. TOSS Double definition: tossing a coin is a way of deciding something, and “I don’t give a toss/monkey’s”

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,523 – Arachne”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Arachne for the challenge:

    Re 9A SATURNINE: I think NINE (o’clock) refers to the “time that’s (to the) left” on the clock face.

  2. Rick says:

    With regards to 3 down, could it be an anagram of “whats” (with “cheeky” as the anagram indicator) inside “freer” (“more free” meaning “comparatively bold”)?

  3. scchua says:

    P.S. Re 3D FRESHWATER: I think it’s an anagram(cheeky) of WHATS contained in(penetrating) FREER(bolder).

  4. scchua says:

    Sorry Rick, we crossed!

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. NINE refers to the clue number to the left! (Someone else did this recently.)

  6. Rick says:

    No problem scchua – glad we came up with the same explanation! (-:

  7. NeilW says:

    By the way, this is a rather splendid double pangram!

  8. scchua says:

    Apologies, I withdraw my explanation for 9A, misread the second part of the clue.

  9. NeilW says:

    Sorry about my comment @5 Andrew – I was responding to scchua @1 before I realised that you’d correctly parsed it already.

    I thought the her in 20 was coming from a probably equally naughty “she’s” rather than just “she.”

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    It was MEDOC that I resisted entering for ages: I knew it must be that but just couldn’t explain it – a lovely clue, with a great surface, and a real ‘aha’ moment.

    I also particularly liked 22 and 26ac and 5dn and the cheeky little four-letter ones: ASBO, RITZ and TOSS.

    Re 20ac: I thought ‘she = her’ was perhaps a step too far but I like Neil’s reading of it – naughty but nice!

    Many thanks to Arachne for an enjoyable puzzle, as ever.

  11. andy smith says:

    Thanks for the helpful blog – there were several clues that had previously mystified me.

    Re 22d, I thought that envelop, not envelope=muffle ?

  12. NeilW says:

    Hi Andy. I had the same thought as you at the time so trotted off to Chambers, where I found meaning 2 of MUFFLE, as a noun, “a means of muffling.” Meaning 1, as a verb, “to envelop…” Since “envelope,” meaning 1, is “something which envelops…” Arachne, I think, gets away with it. :)

  13. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Another great one from Arachne.

    I found this a mixture of relatively easy clues and some very cleverly devious ones which took a while to solve. 17a is one of the best hidden clues I have seen; I spent a long time looking for a word that began with S (PotSdam Central), then when I had the T I assumed it was ‘Central StaTion’.

    Last in for me was 18d, helped by realising that the puzzle was a pangram. I didn’t spot that it was a DOUBLE pangram. Bravissima!

    Other favourites were 4a, 26a, 6d (great elevenses!), 13d (wonderful surface) and the splendid clues for the four-letter 24d, 25d and 27d.

    I agree that the def for 12,19,28 could have been a bit more cryptic to match the splendid anagram, but this hardly spoils a lovely puzzle.

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, the girl done good again. She can do Quiptic, and she can do hard, and this wasn’t Quiptic. And she can do double pangrams (which sadly was wasted on me).

    I am happy to be in a minority of one, but I found this really hard. It’s all fair, but I struggled with lots of it. Didn’t help that I put in TOP CLASS at first for 19dn (well, it kind of works). Cleverly hidden stuff, some unusual words, and ZYGOTES my favourite clue.

    Thank you for your blog, Andrew.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Enjoyable. A lot was very straightforward and led me to think it would soon be over. Not so.
    Plenty of tricky ones (18,19, 23, 27d). I am still a little doubtful about notch = degree, but well done compiler.

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Arachne et al.

    I ‘solved’ this but missed the parsing of ‘nine’ in 9a, and of ‘admit’ in 20a. In any case I am not very happy with ‘hermit’ for ‘monk’. I found the puzzle rather difficult in parts.

    I made an unnecessary rod for my own back with 13a which I first wrongly read as Mile End (Mi – cockney May + lend – advance). This does not fit the clue and of course throws much of the NW into chaos.

    I also missed the pangrams.

    There is a minor typo in the answer to 23d which should be zygote (sing) – the plural fits neither the clue nor the space.

    I liked 10a, 12a etc. (nice abagram), 22a, 1d, 27d.

    re 27d ‘I don’t give a monkey’s toss’ is a common version of the saying along with simply ‘a monkey’s’, and a ‘monkey’s uncle’ etc.

  17. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew for explaining those I got without fully parsing, and making this puzzle even more enjoyable than it originally was.

    The spider woman brilliant as ever!

  18. MikeC says:

    Stella@17: my thoughts exactly!

  19. Wolfie says:

    Andrew, thanks for the blog, which cleared up some parsing issues for me.

    In case anyone has missed the subtleties of 23d, a ZYGOTE is the single cell produced by the union of cells from two mates – the egg cell from the female and the sperm cell from the male. One of the best cryptic definitions I have seen for a while. I agree with Kathryn’s Dad – my COD too.

    Thank you Arachne.

  20. Robi says:

    Thanks Arachne for the torture, and to Andrew for explaining the four letter words.

    I thought 29 was ‘chelators,’ until that became impossible (and not really salts anyway.)

    I have no problem in saying that I found this hard. Must be all the spidery clues. 4 was particularly frustrating as the misdirection made me think I had to solve ‘2’ first.

    Very masochistically enjoyable.

  21. Gervase says:

    Andrew (and others)

    Arachne is off on holiday today, so she has been unable to make her customary appearance on the blog. She has asked me to pass on her thanks for doing the honours today – and to everyone who said nice things about her puzzle (which I think is everyone).

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    KD @14. Add one to the minority!

  23. morpheus says:

    Excellent work Arachne. Nice to have a crossword which is hard but fair.

  24. nic@60 says:

    This if my first time wrting a comment though I check in everyday and enjoy verifying answers, which I confess don’t always come easily to me! However, could anyone explain what a ‘pangram’ is (never mind a ‘double’ one)? Many thanks.

  25. nic@60 says:

    And a typo for my first post! Not my day.

  26. Alan Moore says:

    nic@60 @24
    I think a pangram is where all the letters of the alphabet are in the crossword, so a double pangram would have all the letters twice. An example of a pangram sentence is “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. I hope someone else can improve on this explanation.
    By the way I thoroughly enjoyed the crossword, so thanks to Arachne for setting it and to Andrew for explaining all the bits I failed to understand.

  27. Kathryn's Dad says:

    No need for improvement, Alan, that’s exactly what a pangram is (and welcome to nic@60). A double pangram is an unusual feat from a setter and normally involves some less than common words, so well done to Arachne for managing it without that. If memory serves, there was a triple pangram in the Indy last year.

  28. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Arachne and Andrew.

    I came late to this and didn’t find it at all easy but ultimately enjoyable once it was solved! The hidden words were well hidden, too!Alexander the Great got me under way.

    Happy New Year to all of you.

    Giovanna xx

  29. Paul B says:

    Yes K’s D, there was a triple pangram in the Indy last year. There’s one in today’s FT ‘n’ all, and how nice it is to see that alphabets haven’t yet been affected by all the cu(*)ts.

  30. nic@60 says:

    Thanks Alan and K’s D for the explanation. I will look out for pangrams in the future.

  31. ChrisChunders says:

    Sorry for this late post, but I was just passing while looking at the blog on the most recent Guardian Prize (Paul’s NYEve one).

    I enjoyed most of this puzzle and thought it was all in the bag until I downloaded the pdf for the next day and an unfamiliar answer at 27d caught my eye. So I checked my solution and lo and behold, 27d was wrong. I remembered not liking this one and sticking in a provisional answer ‘test’ to be checked later, and forgetting to check it (perhaps they’re right about 45 and memory loss).
    Any hoo, reviewing 27d in the light of what’s been said on the blog, I have to say I found this a loose clueing. I’ve always heard this phrase as either ‘…couldn’t give a monkey’s…’ expanded to ‘…couldn’t give a monkey’s (cuss)…’ or ‘…couldn’t give a toss…’ . I suppose the toss does stand for monkey’s but it’s all a bit ok if you know what she means. Not really a classic two routes to the solution, and I feel a spoiling of an otherwise enjoyable puzzle.
    But I only say this because I do give a toss, so please no harsh comments!

  32. Russ says:

    I know this is a late post (it’s delayed down in the antipodes) but fail to see how this is a pangram and don’t even know what a DOUBLE pangram is.
    I thought a crossword pangram used every letter of the alphabet – for the first letter of the answer. This one had numerous duplicates and missed quite a few.
    Can someone explain?

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