Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,553 / Gordius

Posted by Eileen on February 8th, 2012


After my blog of the last Gordius puzzle [unbelievably, only twelve days ago – I could think, like Kenneth Williams, that ‘They’ have it in for me 😉 ] I will forgo a preamble today.


1   BLESSED: according to the Sermon on the Mount, the pure in heart are blessed, so LESS in BED = more up and about: a great clue to begin with
5   HALIBUT: HAL [Henry] I [the first] BUT [only]
9   UHURU: HUR [Ben] in U U [bends]
10 PHILANDER: PHIL AND ER: brilliant clue – I laughed out loud the first time I met it [Araucaria? – and I preferred his definition, ‘are flirting’] but there are lots of new solvers who may not have seen it the first time round and it really is good.
11  COLORATION: COL [colonel] ORATION [speech]: my instinct was to bridle at the American-looking spelling of this unfamiliar word but all my dictionaries give this as the first alternative: of course, it comes from the Latin, ‘color’, [as, indeed, does ‘colour!’] and so is entirely logical
12  TOGO: TO GO: reference to the board game, Go – Edit – or, more likely, to the instruction in Monopoly:  ‘Advance to Go’
14  MOBILE HOMES: cryptic definition
18  INSTABILITY: INST [this month] ABILITY [skill]
21  GAME: hidden in crossinG AMErica
22  BLUE-COLLAR: double / cryptic definition: the police are ‘the boys in blue’
25  IRRADIATE: IRATE [with anger] around RADI[o] [wireless curtailment]
26  ISSUE: IS SUE [prosecute]: I could take issue with this definition but I see Chambers [but not {my} Collins] gives it
27  ENCHANT: EN [letter] CH [church] ANT [worker]: two crossword clichés in one clue
28  DIEHARD: anagram of I [one] HAD RED – but can’t you be a diehard Socialist, too?


1   BRUNCH: B[ishop] RUN [preside over] CH [church – again!]
2   EQUALS: is the same as – well, yes …
3   SQUARE MEAL: anagram [involved] of EQUALS ARE M [thousand -‘many’] – a brave attempt at making ellipses work but they don’t quite, for me; maybe I’m missing something
  DEPOT: DE [of French] POT [vessel
5   HOI POLLOI: HOI OI [interjections to take notice – can be used separately or together] around [over] POLL [voting]
6   LOAF: double definition
7   BEDROOMS: BROOMS [sweepers] round [catching] ED [journalist]
8   TORTOISE: TORT [wrong] OISE [French river]
15   BRILLIANT: ILL inside [at heart] BRIAN [screen lifer] T[ime]: reference to the Monty Python film, ‘Life of Brian’
16  RINGSIDE: anagram [excitement] of DESIRING
17  ISOMERIC: I [one] SOMER[set] [county ‘set off’] IC [’99’, which will probably spark the perennial argument, since the Roman numeral for 99 is actually XCIX – but try fitting that into a crossword!]
19  ALASKA: ALAS [sad comment] KA [Ford car]
20  FRIEND: FIEND [devil] round R[ight]
23  EMEND: ME [setter] in END [finish] – not always so, as we know!
24  EDNA: anagram of DANE and also E[nglish] DNA [genes]: reference to Barry Humphries’ character, Dame Edna Everage

89 Responses to “Guardian 25,553 / Gordius”

  1. sidey says:

    12a is a reference to Monopoly I reckon. Nice blog, thanks.

  2. Rich says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius.

    Re 28A I think it’s a reference to the phrase “Better dead than red”, which would make it an &lit as well as the anagram.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen & Gordius

    However, there’s a typo in 17d which read ISOMERIC – in accordance with your analysis.

  4. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius both for the enjoyable puzzle and an uncontroversial puzzle/blog :-)

    My favourites were PHILANDERER (lol clue) and BRILLIANT.

    I think there’s a typo in 17A. My thinking on the ellipses is that BRUNCH EQUALS (a) SQUARE MEAL (or two).

  5. scchua says:

    Sorry Bryan we crossed, and I meant 17D of course

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Bryan [where have you been or so long?] – corrected now.

  7. Eileen says:

    i meant ‘for so long’, of course. I meant to say, too, that I must have automatically typed the word that was more familiar to me.

    Thanks to scchua, too.

  8. scchua says:

    Actually I also liked 2D … = … , which took me sometime to see, partly also because the definition is smack in the middle of the clue.

  9. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks Eileen. I think you may have keyboard trouble today – in 11a it says “ORTON [speech]”!

  10. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I agree with sidey @1: one of the Monopoly chance cards instructs you to “advance TO GO”.

  11. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Thomas – also corrected now.

    [My poor typing skills make for tediousness in the blog. I shall correct any further errors as they are pointed out: please, everyone, take any thanks due for pointing them out as read. ;-)]

    I take the point about Monopoly: I’m just so used to GO = game in crosswords.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Excellent crossword today

  13. James G says:

    Re 12, I think I agree with Siday at 1, that it refers to that card you can get in Monopoly “advance to go”
    Lovely puzzle. Esp Brilliant! And blog. Thanks

  14. James G says:

    Perhaps there’s a monty p connection with 1a as well as 15, for in the Life of Brian, there’s that wonderful scene as people listen from miles off to the sermon on the mount. “blessed are the cheese-makers…”

  15. Paul B says:

    I don’t know what people think an &lit is, and I always try to be really nice by pointing them in the direction of this excellent site:


    One had red tendency? Far from it! (I/HAD/RED*)

    isn’t one.

    Apart from the fact that I don’t buy ‘tendency’ as anything like a decent anag-ind, a die-hard (Collins) or diehard (Chambers) is, as a noun (it’s also a modifier), ‘a person who is resistant to change’. And as pointed out, that can mean anyone in any sphere who won’t budge on some issue or other. Someone really foolish for example, like a diehard Southampton fan. But crucially, the WHOLE CLUE MUST BE A DEFINITION to qualify as an &lit, and, obviously enough, this one is, um, ‘far from it’.

  16. Paul B says:

    PS If it helps,

    The jungly mass one cleaves (7)

    for M+AC(HET*)E is an &lit that cuts the mustard. Inter alia.

  17. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Eileen
    What started out as a straightforward looking puzzle, actually had a lot of substance in it I thought. A number of the clues had some double takes in them.

    DIEHARD – someone who resists change .. cf RED as a radical revolutionary who is seeking change.

    BLUE COLLAR – referring to manual laborer – COLLAR to arrest and BLUE a slang term for a policeman (copper). Also in Aust, BLUE refers to someone with red (copper) hair !

    I missed the hidden run on for GAME and had Georgia (GA)to Maine (ME)as across America (but rather it would have been up America) :(.

    Hadn’t heard of Uhuru – but a cute clue for the Swahili word for freedom (also an interesting book by Robert Ruark)

    Thought 7d was rather clever too …

    Nice work Gordius for a very entertaining crossword!!!

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. (Gordius again — is someone trying to tell you something :-) )

    I remember a Phil and Er’s previous outing but the clue still made me smile.

    Remembered a health food shop from my university days called UHURU which helped with 9ac…

  19. Kayoz says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog, and Gordius I think.

    I got this one out but only by default. I couldn’t work out how come 1ac was BLESSED. Thank you for explaining it Eileen – I still had to look at your description for a while before I finally got it. Cheeky cheeky Gordius.

    scchua @4 I didn’t get 2dn EQUALS properly until I read your message (a meal squared, doh!) – once again very cheeky to my mind. That is the sort of clue that you need to show people who are really getting into cryptics – think outside the square at all times. Brunch is my favourite meal of the day.

    I still don’t get why freedom is UHURU. I tried ULURU, a mountain in the middle of Australia (Ben being mount in some parts of UK).

    I liked 14ac MOBILE HOMES, made me chuckle. I also liked PHILANDER. I remembered ‘Inst’ from Law studies years ago so 18ac went in easily.

    I did not like the KA in ALASKA because that vehicle is not sold in the rest of the world. It limits those of us from other countries from totally enjoying the whole solving experience. The plus side is that you can visit a site like this to explain the KA for you.

    Thanks Gordius, I like cheeky.

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi Kayoz

    Apoogies for not enlarging on UHURU – I meant to.

    Chambers: ‘uhuru [esp in E. Africa] freedom [eg from slavery]; national indepences. [Swahili, from huru, free]’.

  21. Eileen says:

    And yet more apologies for ‘apoogies’.

  22. Robi says:

    Thanks to the blessed Gordius.

    Good blog, Eileen; no, I hadn’t seen PHILANDER before, and yes, it’s a LOL clue. I knew ULURU, but not UHURU.

    Nothing like a challenge, Eileen – ’99 at see abandoned duty (6,3)’

    I wasn’t sure where ‘notice’ fitted into 5d. I parsed this as two ‘OI,’ plus ‘H’ (hospital notice.) Maybe, HOI and OI are two ‘interjections to take notice?’

  23. Kayoz says:

    My apologies, have got the Swahili reference for UHURU now.

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I needed you to explain 25a: i had got IRE for anger but could not parse the rest of it.

    When I looked at 12a I had -O– so the state just had to be IOWA. This lasted until I solved 8d :(

    I liked 15d ‘screen lifer’ indeed!

    I thought 2d was weak. Even after seeing the comments here I am left with the thought that it is not cryptic at all.

  25. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen (and hard luck, though I think this had fewer Gordi-isms to object to than usual). The PHILANDER trick is a nice one, but it’s lost its novelty for me, and I don’t think “make love” (in either the current sense, or the more old-fashioned one of “woo”) is a very satisfactory definition.

    To expand further still on UHURU, it’s the source of the name of Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek.

  26. Kayoz says:

    I seem to be crossing. Thanks Eileen for the explanation. Robi, should it be ‘sea’?.

  27. crypticsue says:

    I enjoyed this one, particularly 15d. Thanks Eileen for the explanations – not much to object to with this one.

  28. Robi says:

    Kayoz @26; not ‘sea,’ but ‘see’ as it’s an anagram (abandoned is the anagrind.)

  29. Matt says:

    Not sure I side with Eileen & Paul B on the diehard debate. Another definition of diehard can have specifically conservative connotations;

    cf the ‘diehard’ tendency in the MacMillan administrations, that fervently opposed decolonisation of Africa (unless under Dr Ian Smith). These politicians were described, and described themselves, as ‘diehards’.

    If diehard can (sometimes) mean conservative, then I think this sets up the opposition to ‘red’ that Gordius is looking for.

    Another, far more tenuous, allusion might be to do with Bruce Willis’s political views.

  30. NeilW says:

    Robi. Haha. Excise tax. Good response to Eileen’s challenge.

    I think you have to take “interjections to take notice” at face value, as in, “Hoi, look at that!”

  31. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius

    Better than I feared and quite hard in places. Liked 9a, 22a, 15d, 16d, 17d, 19d, 24d.

    Re blue collar, I saw the police allusion and also wondered whether there might also be a colour reference to copper sulfate crystals. I could not find any direct use of blue = police in Chambers, but I have just found on google that the Texas police magazine is called The Blues.

  32. Robi says:

    tupu @31; don’t forget yesterday’s BLUE-BOTTLE.

  33. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Better than average Gordius crossword, IMHO, with some cracking clues and only one really weak one (2d). Favourites were 1a (clever), 22a (I was decoyed for a while in thinking that the second part was BOILER, ie ‘copper’), 16d (nice anagram).

    PHILANDER didn’t wow me particularly, because I remembered Araucaria’s first use of the construction, so it went straight in; hence I missed the chuckle when the penny dropped.

    ’99’ has become standard crosswordese for IC, so 17d didn’t cause me any problems. However, as a chemist, I demur at the definition ‘identical but different’. Isomers are compounds whose molecules contain exactly the same atoms but connected differently. Some sorts of isomers (eg optical isomers: ‘enantiomers’) are more similar than others, to be sure, but they are never ‘identical’!

  34. Tata says:

    The biggest problem here was finding the blog! This was a fun crossword from start to finish. many thanks for it.

  35. tupu says:

    Hi robi

    Thanks. I remembered that and wondered whether ‘blue’ without ‘bottle’ or ‘boys in’ was sufficient even with a question mark, but the Texas ref. suggests it is.

  36. NeilW says:

    Gervase, Gordius has lifted the Chambers definition of ISOMERIC directly: “Identical in percentage composition and molecular weight but different in constitution or structure”. The Defence rests. (Never thought I’d find myself defending Gordius :) )

  37. Rich says:

    PaulB @15,

    Thanks for the link. I was working on the definition I found at

    n : one who adheres to traditional views [syn: traditionalist]

    adj : tradition-bound and obstinately opinionated; “an inflexible
    (or die-hard) conservative”; “rock-ribbed republican”
    [syn: die-hard, rock-ribbed]

    If one accepts the right wing connotation and that red is associated with left wing then a diehard would have far from red tendencies, so how is that not an &lit?

  38. NeilW says:

    Rich, forgive me interrupting the “discussion”. PaulB’s explanation is half right, in my understanding. The whole clue has to form the definition, as he says but then the whole clue has to form the construction as well. In this particular case, the whole construction is contained in the first half of the clue. Most people seem to call this a semi &lit.

  39. Thomas99 says:

    Gervase –
    If isomers are “exactly the same atoms but connected differently”, then they are “identical but different” . They are identical from one point of view (number and type of atoms) but different from another (arrangement), as the clue states. Also bear in mind that “iso-” means the same, so the clue works etymologically too.

    As far as I can see what you are saying is identical to Gordius, albeit also different.

    Paul B
    Rich (37) has a point. Actually I think 28a is what some call a “partial &lit” in that the definition is the whole clue but the wordplay is only part of it. “Definition” in this case is a term of art; obviously it doesn’t contain anything like a dictionary definition. It’s still an &lit because the whole thing also (&) literally (lit) describes the answer. How were you parsing it and what were you identifying as the definition? I don’t see any non-&lit contenders.

  40. Thomas99 says:

    Cross-posting; sorry. Well put, but Paul B does seem to have missed the fact that the whole clue is the definition, which does rather nullify the point he made IN CAPITALS!

  41. Gervase says:

    NeilW and Thomas99: ‘Identical’, without qualification, means ‘exactly the same’. That is different from ‘identical in respect of……’, which does describe isomers – as in the Chambers definition. The word ‘isomer’ is indeed from the Greek: ‘isos’ – ‘equal, like’ and ‘meros’ – ‘part’. Isomers have the ‘same parts’, but they aren’t identical!

  42. NeilW says:

    Thomas99, well put too, in your post. Remarkable that we both picked up on the same two points pretty much simultaneously, although you’re also right to point out the capital mistake!

  43. Paul B says:

    The very best I could give this clue is semi &lit (and even then begrudgingly), because a significant part of it functions ONLY as a definition, and a supportive one (‘far from it’) at that.

    Plus, of course, it depends on whether or not you subscribe to the view that Reds are the opposite of diehards: to my way of thinking, looking especially to China, or even to the likes of Putin and his cronies, this could certainly never ALWAYS be the case.

    From a technical POV, which is where a number of contributors here seem to be confused, have a look at the great &lits on the link I gave, and you’ll see how all the clue elements are doing double-duty: defining, and contributing to the build-up. Here’s another for your consideration:

    Fantastic warblers do it – sew leaves! Here’s one among them (6-4) TAILOR-BIRD

    (e.g. one possible anag of warblers/do/it – say TAILORBRDSEW – minus s, e, w in that order, containing i)

    … and another:

    By it ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ looked alternately interchangeable (11)

    I won’t give you the answer to that one, but try some anagrams of alternate letters and you’ll see again how ALL the parts, while a definition, are also necessary for the solution.

  44. andy smith says:

    Gervase@41. WADR, this is a bit theological. Yes, if two things are logically ‘identical’ they are by definition indistinguishable, but the clue can be happily understood in the vernacular sense of identical as in e.g. ‘identical twins’ who may have the same genotype but still exhibit small differences physically (and are different people).

  45. Mitz says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Gordius.

    I’ll start with the positives: loved ‘blessed’ – almost, dare I say it – Araucarian. ‘Alaska’ very nice, although I appreciate the objection from an overseas solver’s point of view. ‘Philander’ – always good for a smile, although hardly original. ‘Ringside’ – I just like full word anagrams that I haven’t come across before.

    ‘Blue-collar’ – the clue would have worked better with the word ‘of’ rather than ‘by’ IMHO.

    ‘Tortoise’ went in readily enough, but I didn’t parse it correctly.

    Didn’t really get the 1d,2d,3d link up, although now I see what was happening. I still think it was a bit clumsy, with the word ‘meal’ appearing in the clue for 1d, only to be repeated in the answer to 3.

    I’m sorry, but 99 = IC is completely unacceptable. Renders the interesting discussion about the nature of isomers rather moot for me, I’m afraid.

    Still, anything that mentions LoB gets credit. “Oh! 1a are the MEEK! Oh that’s nice – they’ve had a helluva time…”

  46. Paul B says:

    I didn’t see other posts while I was composing that monster, but I agree that the clue as it stands is a semi &lit, IF you accept the definition. My claim in capitals was thus a goof, in a way, despite the fact that you all seem now to be agreeing that it’s not a full &lit.

  47. Matt says:

    Paul B

    I like the &lit examples you give, and I agree that the clue in question isn’t ‘literally so’ to the same full extent.

    Not sure about the ‘always’ point that you make in the second paragraph. The link I gave earlier shows that just one of the definitions for diehard is conservative, and it’s only in this usage that I (and NeilW and Thomas99, if I may presume to speak for them) are seeking to use it.

    Similarly, ‘best’ doesn’t *always* mean the same as ‘worst’, but in one usage (to beat) they are equivalent.

  48. Matt says:

    ah yes, we agree.

  49. Gervase says:

    andy smith @44: Of course this is all rather pedantic, but that’s half the fun of this site. ‘Identical twins’ are more properly referred to as ‘monozygotic twins’, precisely because they aren’t really identical! However, such twins are very similar indeed. Isomers, on the other hand, can be very different. A reasonable analogy would be to a set of Lego. It is perfectly possible to make a wide range of models using exactly the same bricks. The results would be ‘identical in percentage composition’ (to quote Chambers), but nobody would ever describe the different structures as ‘identical’.

  50. NeilW says:

    PaulB et al, let’s all walk away from this and let Rich have the last word, if he’s still around!

  51. Dave Ellison says:

    The identical/same discussions remind me of Bertand Russel’s two Eiffel towers and other stuff in An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth”

    Sorry, I forgot to thank you earlier for the blog, Eileen

  52. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Devious enough to be an enjoyable challenge.
    chas @24 I agree.’which is the same as’ is a direct equivalent for ‘equals’ and therefore not at all cryptic. Thus ‘same’ is not a definition in the middle.
    It could be argued that the ellipses make it so but I do not agree.
    I think there are some unreasonable requests for over precise definitions around today (especially 17d). If successful these will lead to some awful (non)cryptic crosswords.
    Does it say something about the compiler’s outlook on life when ‘compromising places’ is his chosen definition for ‘bedrooms’.
    And not a single objection from the precise definition obsessive!
    I bet it is not in Chambers.

  53. Matt says:


    Wikipedia sez:
    “There has never been a universally accepted set of rules for Roman numerals.[4] Because of this lack of standardization, there may be multiple ways of representing the same number in Roman numerals.[4] For example, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology could find no authority that could describe if the year 1999 should be written as MDCCCCLXXXXVIIII, MCMXCIX, or MIM.[2] Despite the lack of standardization, an additional set of rules has been frequently applied for the last few hundred years” [wp goes on to describe these rules]

    IC being completely unacceptable as 99 seems to be a product of this additional set of rules that have been frequently (not always) applied for the last few hundred years.

    My hunch is that the usage requested by Gordius would be understood, and indeed sometimes used, by a Roman, and it seems to come down to a matter of taste rather than authority.

    de gustibus non est disputandum, I would argue.

  54. Robi says:

    Gervase @49; yes, I think we know that isomers are not identical. The clue, however, says: ‘identical but different,’ which follows the Chambers definition, and alludes to the identical nature as in composition, MW etc., but the different properties. N’est-ce pas?

  55. Thomas99 says:

    I withdraw this immediately if I’m wrong but I very much hope Paul B doesn’t think all the clues on the “&lit” site are &lits. Most of them aren’t. It might explain some of the misunderstanding here. His 3 examples are all sort of &lit but none are typical examples, especially the Tailor-Bird one. It’s really just a non-&lit with a definition that alludes to one other part of the clue. I don’t see how “sew leaves” could possibly help define the answer. It rather does the opposite, since presumably they don’t. That’s fine, but strictly speaking it stops it being an &lit. Or is there another meaning of “sew”?

  56. Gordon says:

    Hi Eileen

    Shouldn’t the number of the crossword be 25,553?

  57. Paul B says:

    Unlucky, Thomas: tailor-birds pierce leaves and sew them together with plant fibre, so &lit it is. For me. The surface is accurate enough, and the build-up correct. You may decide otherwise if it suits – obviously &lits are an emotive subject for some folk.

    Goodness me we (by which I probably mean ‘I’) have gone on a bit about this, and I wish I’d been more precise at some earlier juncture, but ESSENTIALLY someone called the clue at 28ac ‘an &lit’, and I felt obliged to point out that it is not. And it is indeed not. So there.

  58. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi @22

    I haven’t been ignoring you but I was going out very shortly after you posted your clue: nice try, many thanks – and to NeilW for solving it in my absence.

    I came back to an inbox overflowing with comments. I’m staying out of all the intervening discussions – except to say it was not the blogger who suggested that 28ac was an & lit. 😉

    And to Gordon @56: ‘Yes’.

  59. andy smith says:

    Gervase@49. OK (pulls out knuckledusters). If we are going to be pedantic then the word “identical” is an atomic oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. You can’t have two identical triangles in a plane – you have congruent triangles – if they are identical, they have the same location and (as 2 dimensional objects) you then only have one. In physics (expecting to get clobbered here by someone who really knows what they are talking about) two or more objects are only identical if they have a common wave function – but, at that point the gestalt behaves as a single entity (Helium II etc).

    The word “identical” necessarily, implicitly or explicitly, refers to some domain of measurement – identical weight, shape, colour, molecular composition, chemical properties, etc. I think.

  60. Gervase says:

    Chambers (again):

    identical, adj. the very same, not different, exactly alike

    No implications of having to be in the same place, or of being similar in only certain domains of measurement, unless the adjective is specifically qualified to refer to only particular attributes.

    I’m not going to comment further, as everyone else is probably sick of this by now (and I’m going out).
    Eppur si muove, as Galileo (probably never) said.

  61. Mitz says:


    Re #53: I disagree – this is not a matter of taste. Granted, there have been numerous variations found in inscriptions, and the standard conventions are a good deal more recent than the Romans, but after an extensive search I can find no example of IC ever being used for 99 outside of a lazy crossword clue. Quite happy to be proven wrong, naturally.

  62. andy smith says:

    LOL. But I would still maintain that if two things have a different location by definition they differ in at least one of their characteristics.

  63. Matt says:

    Hi Mitz,

    Here’s are a few examples of IC being used for 99 outside of a crossword clue.

    I’m hesitant to cite these as an authority, as there are many other sources that dispute the matter. However(as you say) there have been numerous variations found in inscriptions. If roman numerals are allowed to reflect roman usage, rather than the retrospectively applied strictures of latin syllabi, then I’m willing to allow discretion to the crossword setter.

  64. Matt says:

    (Forgive my sloppy grammar)

  65. amulk says:

    Crikey! I just came on to say how much I enjoyed the puzzle today, and find I enjoyed the blog even more! On the &lit debate, I must say I, like PaulB, have often been confused by the usage of that term on this forum. As far as my understanding goes a clue is only an &lit if the whole qualifies as both the definition and the wordplay. Nothing more to add. Thanks to Eileen for a nice blog. I was too late to post yesterday, but I saw what I thought were some rather rude comments about the blogger. Can I just say, how much I appreciate the job all the bloggers do. No matter what my views might be on the puzzle itself, I am always amazed by what a good job all the bloggers do and how they manage to tease out a meaning from even the dodgiest clues (not there were any today).

  66. Matt says:


    Seconded. Firm thanks to Eileen today, Uncle Yap yesterday, and all the other good folk who weigh in above the line to give us something to fight over down here.

    Like you I wasn’t around yesterday, and am a bit surprised at some of the comments that strike me as a bit presumptuous.

  67. Paul B says:

    From Wiki:

    There has never been a universally accepted set of rules for Roman numerals. Because of this lack of standardization, there may be multiple ways of representing the same number in Roman numerals. For example, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology could find no authority that could describe if the year 1999 should be written as MDCCCCLXXXXVIIII, MCMXCIX, or MIM. Despite the lack of standardization, an additional set of rules has been frequently applied for the last few hundred years:

    The symbols “I”, “X”, “C”, and “M” can be repeated three times in succession, but no more. (They may appear four times if the third and fourth are separated by a smaller value, such as XXXIX.) “D”, “L”, and “V” can never be repeated. “I” can be subtracted from “V” and “X” only. “X” can be subtracted from “L” and “C” only. “C” can be subtracted from “D” and “M” only. “V”, “L”, and “D” can never be subtracted. Only one small-value symbol may be subtracted from any large-value symbol.

    A number written in Arabic numerals can be broken into digits. For example, 1903 is composed of 1, 9, 0, and 3. To write the Roman numeral, each of the non-zero digits should be treated separately. In the above example, 1,000 = M, 900 = CM, and 3 = III. Therefore, 1903 = MCMIII. Following this additional set of rules, there is only one possible Roman numeral for any given number.

  68. tupu says:

    Have any of you wondered how it is that ‘identity’ is used to specify someone as different from all others and ‘identical’ tells us two things or twins are the same? It gets more complicated if you put time into it. It is important legally and philosophically for identity that a person is the same today as he/she is tomorrow and was yesterday, but Heraclitus tells us ‘all flows’ and you can never step into the same river twice. Overall, ‘identical’ seems to be an approximation to an ideal, and I feel quite comfortable that things and persons are identical in some definitional contexts and not in others.

  69. andy smith says:

    yep, that’s what I said, I thought.

  70. Mitz says:

    Hi Matt,

    Not convinced, I’m afraid. (“Factoidz”? Ye Gods…!) What I was looking for was an actual example, such as those supplied here: Plenty of eccentric formations abound, but I have never seen a single example of IC. Supply one, and I promise I’ll take it all back!

    By the way, the other objection is that using ’99’ in a clue will, 99 times out of 100, lead to a word ending in ‘ic’ – apart from being annoying (in my view) for its inaccuracy, it’s just too bleedin’ obvious!

  71. mrs t says:

    Enjoyed everything today, Eileen and Gordius, so `thanks` to you both.

    A relative new-comer to cryptics, I appreciate the `&lit` debate (and `signposts`) here. I`ve been relying on Bradford`s examples… which you might all know, but if not, here`s my fave:

    `Initially passionate meeting of boy and girl could result in it` (9)

    What`s the average length of apprentice-ship required afore qualification to opine with conviction on this subtle subject,d`ya reckon? (No Roman numerals…)

  72. Mr Beaver says:

    Liz @18 – ‘Uhuru’ is still there :)

  73. slipstream says:

    Even though I live in Alaska (which explains why I am always last to comment)I had a lot of trouble with “Alaska.”

  74. Eileen says:

    Hi amulk @65 and Matt @66

    Thanks for the link to yesterday’s blog. I don’t always see the later blogs on the day’s puzzle and certainly don’t usually revisit the previous day’s blog, unless it’s my own, in which case I receive an email of any comments.

    We’ve had discussion before about the style of blogs, of which there is a wide variety. I think I may have admitted before that I nearly gave up before posting my first one, having received a template which would, I think, have delivered everything in neat columns, as Duncan does, but which was like double Dutch to me, with my very limited IT skills. In fact, my first few blogs had to be emailed to Neil Welland, the then administrator, for him to post for me.

    I later realised that I could, in fact, post my blogs myself, in the more conversational style used by my [now] friends Andrew and Mark [mhl] and thus I have continued. I was greatly chuffed when, after patient guidance from Mark and Gaufrid, I managed to provide links, rather than website addresses, to my sources.

    And then along came newer bloggers, who provided pictures, rather than mere links and – horrors! – quizzes linked to the pictures [this is a crossword site, for Heaven’s sake!] and a very helpful blogging colleague who offered software that allowed one to show instantly the clues for the day and simply fill in one’s own blog – again, too much, I’m afraid, for this technophobe.

    I do, however, when monthly blogging the Guardian Prize puzzle, take the time to cut and paste the clues but, pace Paul B@25[yesterday], I’ve really never understood the need for this re weekday puzzles.I’ve just never envisaged solvers coming to this site without their solution in front of them – but then I solve my puzzles in the paper! – and I thought that the priority during the week was to get the blog posted as soon as possible

    I think it’s been said before that, just as we have – and, usually, rejoice in! – a variety of Guardian setters, bloggers also have their individual styles and solvers will have their favourites.

    The most important thing of all: there’s sometimes the whiff of a suggestion – not so much here but it’s rife on the Guardian comment blog, which I dip into from time to time, and several people comment here as well as there – that bloggers here are in some way self-confessed omniscient experts, rather than ordinary solvers who have stuck their neck out either as a volunteer or in answer to an invitation. It’s all voluntary, folks, and it’s great to see so many of you coming forward – even though it’s difficult / impossible to keep up with you technologically. 😉

    [ realise that the lateness of this blog means that, like the comment on yesterday’s blog which prompted it, it will be largely unnoticed and so I shall file it away perhaps to reproduce on a later occasion.]

    And finally, mrs t: I don’t recognise your name, so please forgive me if I welcome you to the site and you’ve commented before.
    I love your example. As for commenting – just go for it! I still remember my qualms [and I still have them!] at first hitting the ‘Submit’. Hope to hear more from you. 😉

  75. JollySwagman says:

    Sorry to come in late (again).

    When I first got 28A I thought to myself (in my haste and ignorance) ‘Hmm – nice &lit’.

    To clarify what I meant I should point out that I was using the term “nice” in its common sense (pleasant, agreeable, kind etc) not the more pejorative one (overdelicate, fastidious, fussy) nor indeed a town in France nor a biscuit (raising, of course, the age-old question of how to distinguish in speech, and indeed in a cryptic clue, between a nice biscuit and a Nice biscuit).

    So many shades of meaning to such simple words.

    Regarding the term &lit; having now learnt that its use to describe clues which are not actually 100% &lit for the entire clue causes great irritation in certain quarters, I shall make a point if using it for that purpose at every possible opportunity in the future.

    BTW Eileen and Gordius – great work both – many thanks.

  76. RCWhiting says:

    A very daring and welcome comment.

  77. JollySwagman says:

    Late again picking up the arguments about blogging style.

    I think it would be otiose to explain in full every definition. Generally identifying the definition part is sufficient. Conciseness is the key – too detailed a blog leaves nothing for folk to chat about.

    Also, for me at least, most times I come here it is to look for what the blogger made of a particular one or two clues which I had trouble with – so there is no need to spell out the clue in full – although no harm done if it is.

    I am absolutely happy with all styles done here – Eileen and Uncle Yap being star bloggers for me and, like many, I read 100 times for every once that I comment.

    What you all do (even the Ximenian axe-grinders) is massively appreciated.

    Special thanks to those UK-based who stay up late to get a blog up early. Hugely appreciated during antipodean mid-morning but fully appreciate that through timezone and work commitments that cannot always be done.

  78. andy smith says:

    Eileen@74 – Just to say a big thank you to you and your colleagues – I find the 225 blog invaluable – I always check it after doing the puzzle to clear up parsings that I didn’t understand. I have no idea why some posters on the Guardian site are sniffy about 225 – informed, intelligent and courteous would be my description of you all.

  79. Jake says:

    ‘Fate’, will have her way Eileen! Tough titty”s for the hand you’ve been dealt. Mind you, you are the only one who can upset yourself.

    Cheers Gordius.

  80. Jake says:

    Now 80 comments(at the mo), a first for 15/2

    CHEEKY was great!

  81. Rich says:

    NeilW@38, Thomas99@39,

    Thanks for the clear & FULL explanation. I was unaware that the entire clue had to be crucial to the word play. I have seen many clues described as an &lit where this was not the case.

    Anyway I would like to edit my original post to include “semi” or “partial”.

    As for a last word (just for sheer cheek and at risk of being flamed to death) how about “tendencies far from it” as the anagrind? :-O

  82. buddy says:

    And there was me simply assuming that 99 (cryptically) meant 1 before 100 and so writing I before C.

  83. Matt says:

    Paul B,

    Also from wikipedia (and not, I promise, added by me)
    ic: a rare short version of the Roman numeral XCIX (99)

    Not sure if this meets acceptable standards, mind: wikipedia is useful but not always reliable.

    Look forward to continuing this discussion next time it’s used!


  84. Thomas99 says:

    Paul B (57)
    I’ve only just seen it your post and it’s rather too late to comment, but if you do look in here again – yes, I “goofed” too, regarding the Tailor Bird; I had no idea. It’s embarrassing to have exposed my ignorance – and the clue is an &lit – but on balance I’m rather pleased to have learned that extraordinary fact.

  85. Edward says:

    Isn’t there a doubt over whether 13dn is CHRYSOTILE or CHRYSOLITE? They are both anagrams that are minerals and fit in the grid.

  86. JollySwagman says:

    @buddy #82

    I see. (homophone)

    or if you prefer the Latin


  87. RCWhiting says:

    Edward, if the definition had been ‘mineral’ I think you would have a good case.
    It was ‘stone’ and therefore chrysolite wins easily.

  88. Huw Powell says:

    Late to the party to comment on a puzzle which was so fine overall, yet marred in a few places in awkward ways. I’ll get my whining out of the way first…

    DIEHARD could have had a better clue. It was the first word I wrote next to it, with only the last D in place. But I couldn’t justify it. 1, 2, and 3 down are a weird set. Ellipses are often used just to make a smoother surface, with each clue self-contained, but sometimes they have a strange transitive function. Not sure what was really intended here. 1D doesn’t need them and was an easy clue. 2D has no cryptic part – I read the “…” as being equal to “…”, end of drab clue. And 3D completely lacks a definition. Assembling them into “Brunch equals square meal” is even worse, since it’s not a sentence, not a common phrase, and now the 3-part definition uses one of the solution words in the clues.

    That out of the way, everything between the NW and SE was wonderful and full of variety. So other than my plaints, thanks for the fun, Gordius, and the fine as always blog, Eileen!

  89. Richard says:

    I know it’s a bit late but when I solved 22ac I thought that blue might refer to the fact (I think) that copper gives a blue flame.

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