Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,547 – Chifonie

Posted by Andrew on February 1st, 2012


I found this a little harder than usual for Chifonie, and with more variety of clue types. Still pretty straightforward, but soundly clued and very enjoyable in its way. (Somehow I had managed to disable comments on this post – sorry to all who have been frustrated!)

5. JOB LOT JO (character in Little Women) + BLOT (disgrace)
10. GODIVA I think this is just a cryptic definition, referring to Lady Godiva‘s legendary naked ride through Coventry “to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants.” As Eileen and Miche have pointed out, it’s GO (game) + DIVA (prima donna). I don’t know how I managed to miss that!
12. RATEL ATE (took food) in R + L. The ratel is also known as the Honey Badger.
13. ESOTERICA E SOT (drunkard) + ERICA
18. PLASTER SAINT ASTERS in PLAINT. Chambers defines PLASTER SAINT as “a virtuous person” or “a person who pretends hypocritically to be virtuous”
23. INDUS Hidden in hINDUStan
24. ORACLE CORACLE less its first C = Charlie (in the NATO phonetic alphabet, or as an abbreviation for cocaine)
26. SHEATH S (see) + HEATH (moor)
1. ASHORE A[mphibians] + SHORE ( a prop or stay, as in “shore up”)
3. SMELL A RAT LARA (heroine of Doctor Zhivago) in SMELT (fish)
6. OZONE OZ (Australia) + ONE (a)
8. TEA CADDY A (article) + CA (circa, about) in TEDDY. Gunpowder is a kind of green tea.
11. LONSDALE BELT (NEED LOST BALL)* for the boxing trophy
16. SPECIOUS IOU (promise to pay) in SPECS
17. FAIR GAME Double definition
19. EDITOR IT in reverse of RODE
20. OSPREY Reverse of SO (like this) + PREY (quarry)
22. ISLET IS LET (allowed), and a key is a small island (as in Florida Keys)

37 Responses to “Guardian 25,547 – Chifonie”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    As you say, just a bit trickier than the usual Chifonie.

    Re 26ac: I’ve never come across / can’t find ‘S = see’.

    10ac is GO [game] DIVA [prima donna].

  2. Miche Doherty says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    10 a is a charade: GO (board game) + DIVA.

    Last in for me was TEA CADDY. I’d forgotten about gunpowder tea.

  3. Mistley says:

    Thanks Andrew

    Like Eileen at 1, I’ve never come across S = see. Also I know it makes for a better surface but the “m” in moor should not be a capital.

    Last in for me was 18a which is a phrase I haven’t come across before. Apart from this fairly straight forward.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Bravo to Chifonie for a much improved puzzle and for lulling you into a false sense of security at 10. :)

  5. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Andrew and Chifonie
    A very gentle jobbie today … all done on the train ride but still quite a bit of fun. Last one in was 9, probably because I started in the SW and worked my way up to it. Couldn’t find a reference to S=See in my old OED or any of the on-lines.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Chifonie

    A well constructed puzzle that caught me wide awake for once and presented relatively few difficulties and considerable entertainment.

    I assumed ‘s’ must = ‘see’ but a subsequent fairly thorough search reveals no examples. I began to wonder if it might refer to its ecclesiastical meaning (perhaps as part of an acronym) but have so far had no luck there either.

    I remembered gunpowder from a previous puzzle. Teddy makes a nice change from the usual familiar forms of the name.

    I ticked 1a, 10a, 13a, 27a,15d and 16d.

  7. Mitz says:

    Thanks Chifonie and Andrew,

    Very straightforward I thought, with only 18 holding me up (I hadn’t come across the expression before, but I like it a lot!) I too wondered about ‘See’ = ‘s’ at 26 and wondered what would have been wrong with ‘Southern’ which would have fitted the surface perfectly well. Plenty to like, highlights for me being the nice misdirection at 14, the lovely surface at 10 and the unusually choice of definition at 8.

  8. Robi says:

    Good crossword, although I didn’t know PLASTER SAINT or RATEL.

    Thanks, Andrew; I think the s=see might be from ‘text speak’e.g. GTSY – glad to see you, IYSWIM (if you see what I mean.) If that is the answer, it’s horrible! With predictive text, there really is no need for these silly abbreviations. And as for TWITTER, the name is predictive of the users (joke; no offence intended!)

  9. NeilW says:

    Robi, to be fair, WYSIWYG – younger, I admit, than the QWERTY keyboard abbreviation, has been around for a long time now. (“What you see is what you get,” for anyone who’s wondering!

  10. NeilW says:


  11. NeilW says:

    Oh and, tupu, you’ll be relieved to know that WYSIWYG is in Chambers!

  12. NeilW says:

    Thought it was familiar… Enigmatist used it as the answer to 1ac on 25th June 2010. Clued as: Yes, European is in more than one way leaking a gallon, but it does what it says on the tin (7)

  13. Mitz says:

    If you go here and scroll down about half way there is a reference for ‘s’ = ‘see’.

  14. andy smith says:

    TY Andrew.

    I thought 10a was a rather splendid &lit.

  15. andy smith says:

    The capitalization of ‘Heather’ in 13 (as well as ‘Moor’) is another slight liberty.

  16. NeilW says:

    Hi, Andy, for a true &lit, doesn’t the whole clue have to contain the construction and form the definition as well? (I’m not terribly clever on this sort of thing but would think it’s more like a semi &lit.)

  17. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I raced through this one today. Nice clues, though, my favourite being the lovely 10a.

    I was dubious about S=’see’, and hadn’t come across ORACLE = ‘shrine’ (I only knew it as the person to consult for ambiguous forecasts), though all the dictionaries confirm it.

    Mistley @3 and andy smith @15: Ximenean ‘rules’ allow words normally spelt with a lower case initial letter to be capitalised for misdirection, whereas it is considered ‘illegal’ to do the reverse – i.e. to spell a proper name with a lower case initial. So Chifonie is entirely within his rights. Personally, I don’t mind compilers modifying their orthography either way; it just demonstrates how arbitrary these conventions are.

  18. apple granny says:

    We enjoyed it too, but felt very unhappy about “s” in 26a, though it had to be sheath. We guessed “plaster saint” at quite an early stage, and found it in Chambers. It was harder than most Chifonies, and that was good, to have such a good range of clues. I had never heard of the Lonsdale Belt, but luckily my other half had!

  19. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. I had never heard of gunpowder tea so I was left wondering why TEA CADDY.

    I also was puzzled by S=see.

  20. andy smith says:

    Gervase@17 – TY for the rules clarification – I didn’t know that.

    NeilW@16 – yes, you are quite right, its a ‘semi &lit’. But a splendid clue IMO anyway!

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Rather easy due to early spotting of long solutions 4d 11d and especially 14a.
    Last in was ‘godiva’.It still surprises me at the way I am sometimes held up by a clue. Here the ‘revealing tax protest’ and the ‘diva’ completely passed me by and in the end it was the ‘game = go’ which gave it to me. With -o-i-a there, my slowness is inexpliquable.
    I agree with Gervase about capitalisation. It is like putting commas in the ‘wrong’ place, all tools in the setters’ armoury sent to fool us. And long may they remain sharpened.
    S=see is one of those examples on this MB which always astonishes me by the reactions expressed.
    I enjoyed 1ac and 8d.

  22. jackkt says:

    S = ‘see’ is in Collins

  23. Barbara says:

    In Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, there are 90 entries for the letter “s”, and “see” is one of them.”

  24. Gervase says:

    My first encounter with RATEL was as a child, in the poem ‘Goblin Market’, by Christina Rossetti. The first description of the goblins goes as follows:

    One had a cat’s face,
    One whisked a tail,
    One tramped at a rat’s pace,
    One crawled like a snail,
    One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
    One like a ratel tumbled hurry scurry.

  25. flashling says:

    Got to do this for once, quite easy I felt except plaster saint which I got from wordplay, and then spending a few minutes trying to remember where I’d heard the phrase before and did have a few moments trying to see “see” as it were. Probably my fastest solve of a serious paper crossword this year but enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks Andrew/Chifonie

  26. Eileen says:

    jackkt @22

    Re my Comment 1
    You’ve confirmed what I’ve been thinking for a while: I must get a new Collins – S = see is definitely not in my dilapidated sixth [2006] edition.

  27. tupu says:

    Re ratel or honey badger

    At one time I worked in Northern Uganda and ratels were a sacred ‘totemic animal’ for many of the local people for whom it was a sin to kill them. They have a reputation for exceptional toughness and ferocity and even lions are said to be quite wary of crossing them. They are not often seen and I myself never saw one. They have a symbiotic nature with the honey guide bird (indicator indicator) which locates a bees’ nest and then alerts the ratel and leads it there. The ratel is able to break open the nest with its powerful claws and its thick fur protects it from the bees. Bird and ratel then share the feast.

  28. flashling says:

    I will say about capitalisation and punctuation that when I was first introduced to cryptics, I was warned to (almost) ignore all of them as they’d probably be only there to mislead – this obsession with the “rules” – no they’re not rules they’re to be taken as guidelines – as how to set cryptics 50 odd years ago – the world moves on elsewhere.

    If setters were obliged to follow Ximinean rules would Auricaria be allowed here or Anax in the Indy?

    I don’t have an issue if setters do, I do if they’re obliged to.

    Sorry I’ll end rant now.

  29. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Very good puzzle from Chifonie that I enjoyed very much although the last four clues took a while to get. I think tupu hit the nail on the head when he described this as “considerable entertainment”. To me, entertainment is the key factor in a crossword and the yardstick is that the clues should be fair which today’s certainly were.

    So many good clues so I’ll select ANCESTRY, PLASTER SAINT (I’d never heard of this but it’s a great expression), RAISE THE ROOF and SPECIOUS. By the way, ORACLE was the last one in.

    Many thanks Chifonie.

  30. Paul B says:

    As far as I’m aware setters can use any single-letter indicator they like, so long as it can be found in (the latest editions of) Collins and/or Chambers, for puzzles going into The Guardian, The Independent and The Financial Times. Not sure about The Daily Telegraph (although I suspect it’s the same), and in The Times you have to stick to the allowed list.

  31. jackkt says:

    Eileen @26

    I have Collins 9th edition (2007) and 10th (2009) and it’s in both.

    A warning, if you buy the 10th edition it’s worth spending 10-15 minutes going through to check that every page is present as they had some binding issues resulting in missing chunks and duplication of other sections. According to feedback on Amazon I wasn’t the only one to experience this.

  32. tupu says:

    It is also in the free online Collins at the following address:

    under abbreviations

  33. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the tip, jackkt.

    [I’m afraid that, as far as I’m concerned, the single letter indication for ‘see’ is still ‘v’. ;-0 ]

  34. Eileen says:

    Sorry – 😉 !

  35. Robi says:

    Whatever next; perhaps we’ll have r=red soon (shock, horror!)

  36. Paul B says:

    That’ll be ‘vide’ then Eileen. See also = C, as it’s apparently how you spell it.

  37. Gordon says:

    Hi Andrew
    Sorry you are getting this late, but I do other things before my Guardian Weekly crossword in USA.
    I’m surprised that nobody mentioned that Erica is not the true heather. Calluna is Heather, Erica is heath which is another plant altogether that very closely resembles heather and is sometimes mis-labelled as such. Both belong to the family Ericaseae which adds to the confusion though.
    I suppose it is no worse than people calling pelagoniums geraniums, which they most certainly are not.
    Can you tell I’m an pernickety gardener!
    On another matter I thought clue 23a was very very poor.
    Best wishes

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