Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,567 / Shed

Posted by Eileen on February 24th, 2012


A welcome appearance by Shed, to ensure that an eventful week in Crosswordland didn’t end in anti-climax. Shed’s characteristically intricate and inventive cluing provides a puzzle which I found entertaining and amusing.

My first two entries were 1 and 11ac, making me think we might be in for a rather unpleasant theme but, fortunately, it didn’t develop further.

This posting is rather later than I intended, owing to the late delivery of my paper, my accidental deletion of a half-written blog and the arrival of the window-cleaner – my apologies! And many thanks to Shed, as ever.


1   REGURGITATION: reversal [round] of A TIGGER [friend of Pooh – storybook character] round [about] UR [ancient city]  + anagram [trouble] of INTO: interesting that ’round’ and ‘about’ can both be both reversal and containment indicators; the definition is ‘bringing up’, which could cause confusion in a down clue.
10  TRADESMAN: reversal [back] of NAME [handle] round [holding] S [first letter {‘head’} of Spear] + DART [arrow] ; definition: ‘back door user’, referring to ‘tradesmen’s entrance’.
11  RETCH: [w]RETCH [pathetic person] minus W [women]
12  ROUND: round figures / numbers end in 0, which is a [nearly] round figure / shape
13  REGISTRAR: GIST [thrust, eg of an argument] + R [right] in [into] REAR [bum]
14  TEA SHOP: reversal [reflected] of POET [bard] round [about] ASH [tree]
16  TRIREME: R [first letter {‘head’} – again – of Round in [boarding] TIRE [weary] + ME [compiler]
18  ONE-STAR: NEST [home] in [secured by] OAR [blade]
20  MAGHREB: anagram [ruined] of H [heroin] + EMBARG[o]: The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania.
21  POLLARDED: POLE [European] round [straddling] LARD [fat] + D [Germany – International Vehicle Registration]: some may query the syntax here but it works for me as LARD [with] POLE straddling [it] – like a Latin Ablative Absolute
23  TOPOS: TOPS [max{imum}] round [maintains] O [love]; ‘topos: a stock theme, topic or expression in literature or rhetoric’
24  RONDA: sounds like [spoken of] Rhondda [Welsh valley]: Ronda is a city in Malaga, which I hadn’t heard of – but I knew the valley!
25  THEREFORE: TE[n] [10 almost] round [bypasses – very nice!] HEREFOR[d] [county town]: definition: ‘so';  my favourite clue, I think – or it could easily be
26  QUEEN OF SPADES: anagram [off] of ENO FAQS PEED US: ‘Queen of Spades’ is an opera by Tchaikovsky, which might well be one of the productions of English National Opera [ENO]


2   EJACULATE: ELATE [delight] round anagram [cooking] of CAJU[n]
3   UPEND: U [bend] + PEND [hang]
  GUMDROP: GOP [‘Grand Old Party’ – Republicans]  round [to keep] anagram [banging] of DRUM
5   TONIGHT:TIGHT [drunk] round [carrying] ON: song from Leonard Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story
6   THRUSTING: RUST [corrosion] in [infecting] THING [object]
7   OTTER: OTT [outrageous] ER [queen]
8   STORMTROOPERS: reversal [raised] of S [first letter {‘leader’} of Squadron] + RE [concerned with] + POOR TOTS [children in need] round [to adopt] MR – another strong contender for favourite clue
9   SHIRLEY BASSEY:  L [left] in SHIRE [county] + BASS [another singer] + E [ecstasy – drug] in [amid] YY [unknowns]
15  HIT PARADE: anagram [involving] of A DEATH RIP: definition: favourite 20 once – another very nice clue
17  EUROPHOBE: anagram [screwed] of UP HERO + OBE [award] – and another!
19  RIDOTTO: DOT [spot] + [‘on’, in a down clue] T [time] in RIO [former capital of Brazil]: ‘ridotto: a public dancing party in the 18c and 19c’
20  MADNESS: MSS [manuscripts – documents] round anagram [crazy] of DANE: reference to Hamlet’s assumed madness
22  LENAU: N[name] in L’EAU [the water – French]:  Nikolaus Lenau is the Austrian poet
23  THETA: THE [article] + first letters [origins] of Troubled Adolescent; definition: [Greek] character

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,567 / Shed”

  1. tupu says:

    Many thanks Eileen for the blog and Shed for a fine puzzle and welcome return.

    I did not know ridotto but got it from the cluing, as too with Lenau. I also missed the parsing of 26a (many thanks for that Eileen).

    I enjoyed many of the clues (just the right level of difficulty for me), ticking 10a (a forgotten world), 12a, 13a, 14a, 1a, 21a, 25a, 17d, and 20d.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Shed for an enjoyable session. Some novelties (same two as Tupu’s), some Pauline risqué ones and some neat devices – like 1 a’s “into” and 5d’s “carrying on, as well as the misleading 10 in 25a and the 20 in 15d. Only regret was that the anagram along the bottom was so obvious, even if the sense of it was lost on me.

  3. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Very entertaining puzzle from Shed, with a lot of his characteristic complex charade clues. Several (for me)unfamiliar words here (RONDA, LENAU, RIDOTTO), but all eminently gettable from the wordplay and the crossing letters.

    I particularly enjoyed 13a, 25a, 4d, 15d and 17d. Nice to see DSB clued at 9d with something other than a Spoonerism.

    (BTW, I thought English National Opera’s recent production of 26a was rather good).

  4. Gervase says:

    Correction: It was Opera North! Shed’s clue has confused me.

  5. hgh says:

    Ronda does not sound like Rhondda – ‘dd’ should be pronounced like English ‘th’i ‘the’!

  6. hgh says:

    Should have added that we Welsh will be singing Cwm Rhondda (not Cwm Ronda) tomorrow as we sing our boys home at Twickers!!!

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Gervase @4: I was a little confused, as I’d googled to see if ENO had done it recently. 😉

    Hi hgh @5
    I don’t recognise your pseudonym, so perhaps you’re new here: ‘homophones’ always cause controversy and I’ve undertaken not to comment on them any more! I know you’re right but I’m afraid that’s not how any English people I know would pronounce it. Apologies to all Welsh solvers! [And may the chariot swing low. 😉 ]

  8. Gervase says:

    hgh @4&5: As I’m sure you know, not only is the Welsh DD pronounced as a voiced ‘th’, but the RH digraph represents a silent ‘r’. Rhondda should be pronounced ‘hrontha’.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. This was a puzzle where I saw the answers on several occasions before understanding the wordplay — and in a couple of cases, I was too lazy to work it out, but knew you would clear it up!

    My particular favourites were 17dn and 25ac. But lots to enjoy overall and refreshing to see Shed again.

  10. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Shed and Eileen for the work-out and parsing!

    24a, Like, Eileen, I knew the valley but wouldn’t have a clue as to its true pronunciation, so thanks to hgh and Gervase.

    Ridotto for me suggested reduced in all its senses – was the dance a lesser dance of some kind, anybody i.e. not a ball?

    Giovanna x

  11. Eileen says:

    Hi Giovanna

    I was hoping you would tell me!

    Chambers doesn’t give a derivation but my SOED gives it as Latin reductus, reduced; some online dictionaries have it as Italian ‘retreat’ [cf ‘redoubt’], yet the definition in all seems to be ‘public’ entertainment.


  12. KayOz says:

    Thank you very much Eileen, for your informative explanation of the whole crossword. And thank you to Shed. Woopee, he/she always catches me unawares.

    As always Eileen, you explain things very well, so that even the new crossword afficionados can understand. Even as a long time cryptic crossword doer, I can’t always work out the why (totally) of a correct answer.

    I needed your help for the ‘parsing’ of 1ac. I didn’t get the Tigger backwards bit. I had some idea of Riga for a city.

    For newcomers, I am trying to explain the language here. You can ‘solve’ a clue and write in the answer. But sometimes, you cannot work out why some parts of it are right. That is when you visit a blog like this one, and they explain how to get that other part of the answer from the clue. That is called ‘parsing’ or explaining. If sites like this existed when I was younger, I would have become a crossword setter, instead of being an Air Traffic Controller, Accountant and Lawyer. Oh and lately, environmental campaigner.

  13. Robi says:

    ENOtaining crossword, although I thought that anagram was a bit clunky (‘fed opaqueness?’)

    Thanks Eileen, especially helping me to complete the parsing of STORMTROOPERS. RIDOTTO, TOPOS and LENAU were new to me, although the cluing was precise.

    Giovanna @10; despite the usual dictionary etymology of ‘from Italian: retreat, from Latin reductus, from red?cere to lead back,’ I found an alternative concerning the ‘Il Ridotto’ wing of Venice’s San Moisè Palace, which says: The term “ridotto” comes from the Italian word “riddure,” meaning to “close off” or “make private.” Apparently, [casino] ‘players had to wear three-cornered hats and masks in order to participate in Il Ridotto’s games.’ This seems to me to be a more likely derivation for the ‘old party’ that often seems to be in masquerade.

  14. Gervase says:

    RIDOTTO is certainly the past participle of the Italian verb ‘ridurre’, to reduce (all from the Latin ‘riducere’, of course). Quite how the semantic shift works to go from that to ‘public entertainment’, I’m not sure. Perhaps it meant ‘small scale’? Or ‘cut-price’ (tariffa ridotta)? RIDOTTO as a noun in Italian also means the foyer of a theatre (and I don’t know how it got there either!). Perhaps that was where public entertainments were held? Or perhaps the foyer was so named because cut-price entertainments were shown there? Isn’t etymology wonderful?

  15. Gervase says:

    Crossed with robi. His explanation sounds very plausible.

  16. tupu says:

    Since the name is so familiar to me – not a very good reason I agree – I was surprised that Ronda in Andalusia is unknown to several contributors. I encountered it first in the mid 1950s in Hemingway’s ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and visited it shortly after reading the book. It was still as beautiful and ‘unspoilt’ as he lovingly portayed it, a small country town built on a spectacular site, and not yet the modern tourist centre it has become.It is said to have the oldest bull ring in Spain.
    Well worth a visit if you can find a quiet time to be there.

  17. Gervase says:

    robi @13: Now I’m not so sure, having followed your link to the Wikipedia page. The author has misspelt ‘ridurre’ which is not a sign of great familiarity with the Italian language. And I can’t find any reference in any of my dictionaries to the verb meaning ‘close off’ or ‘make private’. Reduce, abridge, cut down – all those sorts of things, which are not the same. And it doesn’t explain why a public entertainment should take its name from an exclusive and private area.

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks, Gervase @17; usual Wikiness, but it still might be right: ‘When the entertainment of the place ends, that of the little room (ridotto) would commence. Ridotto, forefather of the casino, was open every evening and it was accessible to any and all, the only condition was to carry the mask;’ from here

  19. tupu says:

    Hi robi and gervase

    Merriam Webster links the word directly to ‘redoubt’ and to the idea of a marked off, enclosed place. However I suspect it is simply a corruption of risotto – ‘s’ and ‘t’ were often transposed in ancient Greek dialects and some of this may have persisted into the Greek parts of Italy and Sicily, though why it didn’t become ‘ritosso’ is a question that will no doubt tax the minds of philologists for some time (a nano-second?) to come.

  20. tupu says:

    Apologies. I should have added the further dental d/t transposition into the equation.

  21. Robi says:

    Thanks, tupu; I can’t argue with the linguists. Here is a bit more Wikiness.

    John James Heidegger, a Swiss count who arrived in London in 1708, is credited with having introduced the Venetian fashion of a semi-public masquerade ball……..The reputation for unseemly behavior, unescorted women and assignations motivated a change of name, to the Venetian ridotto but as “The Man of Taste” observed in 1733;

    In Lent, if masquerades displease the town,
    Call ’em Ridottos and they still go down.”

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A pleasant solve with little to remark on.
    Last in ‘ridotto’, favourite ‘therefore’.

  23. Robi says:

    P.S. What has risotto got to do with masks?

  24. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Eileen, Gervais, Robi and tupu.

    Ridotto is most familiar to me as prezzo ridotto or cut-price but ridurre in Italian has a host of other meanings, as does its English equivalent, of course.

    I shall have to have a special look round when we have a few days in Venice in early May.

    Giovanna x

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Robi

    Perhaps they can help to stop it spreading over one’s face?
    A little more seriously, the ideas of ‘retreat’ (lead back) or withdrawing into an enclosed defence (redoubt) fit well with your more specific reference to the Venetian theatre foyer, and the semantics seem likely to involve a shift of reference from the location to the actvity therein.

  26. Robi says:

    Thanks, tupu; I think we’ve finally made it. The little room (ridotto) was used for nefarious purposes, including gambling. In Venice, they had to wear masks there, so leading to our derivation. Q.E.D?

  27. Gervase says:

    Although I’m reasonably sure that the Italian verb ‘ridurre’ has the same group of meanings as the English ‘reduce’ (which we borrowed from French), it has changed its meaning over time. It comes from the Latin ‘reducere’, which literally means ‘lead back’ – and did retain this original sense in Latin. So RIDOTTO in the sense we are trying to disentangle must come directly from the Latin participle ‘reductus’, i.e. ‘led back’. In later Latin ‘reductus’ was used as a noun meaning ‘refuge’ – as in the English ‘redoubt’ (via the French ‘redoute'; the ‘b’ crept in by accident).

  28. tupu says:

    The OED links redoubt with ridotto very clearly (see below). Gervase is quite right that the withdrawing idea (cf drawing room BTW) is clearer in Latin than in Italian, but it seems difficult to by-pass Italian altogether, given the Venetian origin of the practices. Italy was only unified relatively recently, and there is a distinctive Venetian dialect today. We are perhaps dealing with a Venetian dialect form that retained this part of the Latin meanings, though I suppose they were possibly also still retained elsewhere in Italy at the time.


    a. An entertainment consisting of music and dancing, esp. a masked ball. Now hist.

    1698 Post Boy 12 Feb., On Thursday next?at Exeter-Change, will be a new Entertainment, call’d A Redoubt, after the Venetian manner, where there will be some considerable Basset Banks and variety of other Entertainments. No Person will be admitted without a Ticket and a Mask.

    1787 P. H. Maty tr. J. K. Riesbeck Trav. Germany II. xxxi. 47 [In Hungary] every town with four or five houses in it, has its assemblèes, and redoutes.

    1858 T. Carlyle Hist. Friedrich II of Prussia II. vi. iii. 24 ‘The two Kings, after dinner, went in domino to the redoubt’ (ridotto, what we now call rout or evening-party).

    1920 M. Fleury Mem. Empress Eugenie I. xiii. 347 The Princess Metternich and Arsènene Houssaye introduced into Paris society of the sixties the custom of giving redoubts or ridottos, entertainments in which dancing and music were mingled.

    2000 E. Krimmer in B. Henke et al. Unwrapping Goethe’s Weimar vii. 196 Goethe’s diary mentions redoubts and preparations for a masked procession as late as 1818.

    †b. A public assembly hall used for gambling and entertainments. Obs.

  29. Eileen says:

    Many thanks to all for the interesting input on RIDOTTO, which should, perhaps, now be laid to rest, since the clue was impeccable. :-)

  30. stiofain says:

    RIDOTTO ad absudum?

  31. MikeC says:

    Thanks Eileen and Shed. Didn’t get to this until late today but enjoyed it a lot. Super puzzle – amusing; varied clues; unusual words very precisely indicated. Great stuff!

  32. stiofain says:

    absurdum of course

  33. tupu says:

    Hi stiofain

    :) Absudum is an emphatic form = particularly absurd.

  34. Querulous says:

    Despite what it might say in Wikipedia, I would suggest that Ronda is more a town than a city. It’s a pleasant place to while away some time, once you are at an appropriate remove from the summer tourist masses near the gorge lookouts/bull ring. The Camerons have been known to take holidays in this area.

  35. tupu says:

    Hi Querulous
    I knew the place had been ‘spoilt by ‘day-trippers’ but, oh dear, not them as well!

  36. ernie says:

    Late as usual. Well done Eileen@29 and Stiofain@30 and tupu@33. Is Gervase Phinn? As an NYCC teacher I used to respect the man. If not Phinn then I still do and whoever this one is he is up himself.

  37. ernie says:

    Sorry, Gaufrid, uncharacteristic outburst. But, really …..

  38. ernie says:

    I did O Level Greek, Latin, French, and German. (But I became a chemist: not pharmaceutical). We do not need this sort of in-depth language analysis do we? And I have been to Rondo as a horrible tourist. Let us keep it light. We are all intelligent.

  39. ernie says:

    RondA, indeed. Mea culpa.

  40. ernie says:

    Mea culpa – what a thing for a Jedi to say.

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