Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic crossword N° 25,578 by Chifonie

Posted by PeterO on March 8th, 2012


This is typical of Chifonie’s style of puzzle, with compact clues, direct constructions and an emphasis on surface.

5. Key sign of tooth decay (6)
CARIES A charade of C (musical ‘key’) + ARIES (‘sign of the Zodiac). I think I have seen a very similar clue not so long ago, but a search turns up nothing more recent than nearly a year ago. I suspect that it was in an old FT puzzle; I print up a batch now and then, mainly for doing in the doctor’s waiting room or the like, and only recently got round to solving it. (if it was the FT, it was probably an Armonie, who is none other that John Dawson aka Chifonie)
6. The endless stream of excitement (6)
THRILL A charade of TH (‘THe endless’) + RILL (‘stream’).
9. Praise exotic old country (6)
PERSIA An anagram (‘exotic’) of ‘praise’.
10. Determined soldier found the answer (8)
RESOLVED A charade of RE (‘soldier’) + SOLVED (‘found the answer’).
11. Crazy going back for knife (4)
STAB A reversal (‘going back’) of BATS (‘crazy’).
12. Over without annoyance being threatened (10)
ENDANGERED An envelope (‘without’) of ANGER (‘annoyance’) in ENDED (‘over’).
13. Nurse keeps rare dog for arbiter of taste (11)
TRENDSETTER An envelope (‘keeps’) of R (‘rare’) in TEND (‘nurse’) + SETTER (‘dog’).
18. Implements used to prepare firewood (10)
CHOPSTICKS Definition and literal interpretation.
21. Regret keeping sovereign in control (4)
RULE An envelope (‘keeping’) of L (libra, Pound Sterling, ‘sovereign’) in RUE (‘regret’).
22. Reject paintings and poetry being cross (8)
TRAVERSE A charade of TRA, a reversal (‘reject’) of ART (‘paintings’) + VERSE (‘poetry’).
23. Ruin meal at university (4,2)
MESS UP A charade of MESS (‘meal’) + UP (‘at university’).
24. Beautiful woman embraces a partner from Scandinavia (6)
DANISH An envelope (‘embraces’) of A N (‘a partner’ of S?) in DISH (‘beautiful woman’). The answer is obvious, but I am not sure how to interpret ‘partner’. Is it a n other? Thanks to NeilW for pointing out the all-too-obvious!
25. Conservative leader has holiday cut (6)
CLEAVE A charade of C (‘Conservative leader’) + LEAVE (‘holiday’).
1. Combination lock on bicycle (8)
CROSSBAR A charade of CROSS (‘combination'; in breeding – labradoodle, for example) + BAR (‘lock’ out).
2. Avoid worker admitting conflict (6)
BEWARE An envelope (‘admitting’) of WAR (‘conflict’) in BEE (‘worker’).
3. Old king keeps ambassador stumped with old joke (8)
CHESTNUT An envelope (‘keeps’) of HE (His Excellency, the correct address for an ‘ambassador’) + ST (‘stumped’) in CNUT (or Canute, ‘old king’). Thanks to Rishi and Dave Ellison for pointing out the omission.
4. Small measure starts to irritate European hunting guide (6)
GILLIE A charade of GILL (¼ pint or thereabouts, ‘small measure’) + I E (‘starts to Irritate European’). A gillie, more commonly ghillie, is a Scottish term for a hunting attendant.
5. Cockscombs getting time off in civil service (6)
CRESTS An envelope (‘getting’) of REST (‘time off’) in CS (‘civil service’).
7. Songs the chief heard (6)
LIEDER A homophone (‘heard’) of LEADER (‘the chief’).
8. Detects rare fusion of special expertise (5,6)
TRADE SECRET An anagram (‘fusion’) of ‘detects rare’.
14. One barely appreciates the outdoors (8)
NATURIST Cryptic definition.
15. Centaurs injured old Italian (8)
ETRUSCAN An anagram (‘injured’) of ‘centaurs’.
16. Animal in South Dakota is carved up (6)
SHARED An envelope (‘in’) of HARE (‘animal’) i SD (‘South Dakota’).
17. Painter gets praise in church (6)
CLAUDE An envelope (‘in’) of LAUD (‘praise’) in CE (‘church’ of England).
19. Dance Virginia enters through the window (6)
PAVANE An envelope (‘enters through’) of VA (‘Virginia’) in PANE (‘window’).
20. Old Bob’s big test (6)
SAMPLE A charade of S (shilling, ‘old bob’) + AMPLE (‘big’).

38 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic crossword N° 25,578 by Chifonie”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    I can’t remember when I last just wrote in every solution as I went with no pause for thought.

    Your comment about CARIES did at least give me something to think about for a minute. I’m not surprised you thought it familiar – Rufus on Monday: V-sign shows one is not in agreement! (6) VARIES.

    I am a little surprised you don’t recognise our old friend and bridge partner North in 24.

    By the way, there’s a little typo in your explanation of 17.

  2. Rishi says:

    PeterO, Thanks for the blog.

    I think the anno for 3d has inadvertently omitted ‘s’ (stumped, as in cricket score card).

  3. William says:

    Thanks PeterO and Chifonie.

    Much has been said about the spectrum of difficulty to be found in these puzzles; this one being rather far to the left, perhaps. I scarcely paused.

    COD – SAMPLE at 20d I suppose.

    Didn’t know Claude – does it refer to Monet, do you think?

    Thanks again.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Peter.

    Yes, this was pretty much a write-in, but it wouldn’t have been for me a few years ago. I’d much rather something like this with clean, concise surfaces and clear clueing than a puzzle with clunky surfaces and unclear directions.

    I think this would have sat well as a Quiptic, but for those solvers who only do a crossword in the paper, it was one ‘for beginners and those in a hurry’, as the puff for the Quiptic says.

  5. liz says:

    Thanks, PeterO. Pretty quick to solve, but nice services and smooth construction.

    William @3: Claude refers to this painter

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Chifonie

    I agree with K’sD and others. Elegant cluing and good for relative beginners which we all were at one time or another. Left me feeling a bit ‘hungry’ but no matter. A strong contrast with yesterday.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks PeterO and Chifonie.

    I don’t like this grid so I was pleased I found the clues relatively easy today.

    3d CHESTNUT Couldn’t explain this, so thanks; I think Rishi @2 is partly correct: ST (not S) for stumped should be included.

  8. Rishi says:

    Thanks, Dave. I am sorry I was careless.

  9. Rob Harries says:

    I agree it was quite straightforward, but for 16 ac I had “SLICED” – “LICE” in “SD”, which meant I couldn’t complete the bottom left corner.

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Plain sailing, and rather disappointing. Clues are (largely) fair and straightforward, but without the humour and clever cryptic definitions we expect from other ‘easier’ setters like Rufus and Orlando. Good beginners puzzle, as others have stated; although a beginner would be more likely to be mildly intrigued than wildly excited about carrying on with solving.

    ‘On bicycle’ as a definition for CROSSBAR is rather like the ‘in Yorkshire’ device which some of us loathe. Not me, as it happens – and at least it held me up for a few microseconds.

    Rob H @9: I nearly put SLICED in for 16d until I noticed that ‘animal’ was singular. One of the better clues, as the definition ‘carved up’ is at least ambiguous.

  11. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Chifonie and PeterO.

    The easiest crossword to solve for a while but grateful anyway.

    Last in was 4d, as I am more accustomed to Ghillie. 3d had me looking for Cole as the old king at first but the answer soon came.

    Giovanna x

  12. crypticsue says:

    Plain sailing but not disappointing for me. Even after all my years of solving I still enjoy a straightforward cryptic from time to time. I particularly liked the idea of a setter recognising that we all groan at the 3ds in crosswords. Thanks to Chifonie and PeterO

  13. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I was bothered by 13a: R clued simply as the first letter of rare? I dislike the idea of just picking a random word which starts with the right letter :(

  14. NeilW says:

    chas, the same objection came up a while ago about R for rare. Unfortunately the site’s search engine understandably doesn’t search for anything other than solutions but I seem to remember that, after much discussion, it was concluded that this is quite often seen in restaurants who put little flags in steaks with R MR M etc.

  15. Robi says:

    Well, as a relative beginner, I found about three-quarters easy, but got stuck on one or two (the 8, 12, 13 intersections were difficult until I got TRENDSETTER.)

    Thanks PeterO for a good blog with clues and definitions. Chas @13; allegedly (!) r is a ‘standard’ abbreviation for rare (apparently, waiters are supposed to write it [but then, again, why don’t they write r=red, rant, rant!]) St. for stumped is another silly cricket abbreviation, but then I suppose everyone in crosswordland gets used to these.

    I fell into the 4d trap where I thought the small measure was the first letter. BTW is ‘fusion’ the anagrind in 8? If so, it seems to be a slightly weird indicator.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I was all set to be criticised for my lese-majesty today but it seems I am, for once, part of the majority.
    Perhaps someone can tell me just when it is considered proper to complain about
    ‘write-in’ croswords.
    I do wonder how the editor can consider that both yesterday’s excellent product and today’s were both fit for publication. There should be minimum standards unless the G. wishes to lose its prestigious position as the most challenging daily puzzle.

  17. Robi says:

    P.S. NeilW @14; this was mentioned in scchua’s blog of Quiptic 623 by Pan.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Yesterday,just out of interest,I solved the Genius puzzle. It reminded me of how much I hate the process of solving on line and I shall not repeat the exercise.
    However, there was one occurrence which intrigued. On trying to enter a wrong letter it was refused and a beep happened. Does this apply to the daily version which a lot of you seem to use?

  19. Matt says:


    Similar to you, I very much dislike the online version. Have you tried the print-out version? I don’t know if you can still submit it for the prize, but i find it much more pleasant to use.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Matt. The prize element dos not concern me but I do not have a printer anyway.

  21. NeilW says:

    Robi, I don’t do the Quiptic and so don’t read the blogs. Same goes for other crosswords – I don’t have time. The Guardian and this blog are my only leisure/pleasure in a very busy 18 hour day. So, the discussion was definitely here but thanks for making the effort. :)

  22. andy smith says:

    RCW@16 – FWIW I very much like the hotchpotch of styles and levels of difficulty – every day is different.

  23. Robi says:

    NeilW @21; try rightback’s blog of Guardian 24999.

  24. Robi says:

    RCW @18; no beeps here. I don’t recall there being any in the Genius either. Were you doing the current one?

  25. NeilW says:

    Robi, I’ve just spent ten minutes trawling back to May 2010 but can’t figure out how to find the relevant blog. Do you have a link?

  26. PeterO says:

    NeilW @25
    The search does work if you put the comma in 24,999, and ignore the more recent, if unhelpful, suggestions. The link is

  27. chas says:

    Steak is something I eat very infrequently and in any case I have never seen what the waiter writes on taking somebody’s order. I am not surprised that I do not recognise R as a ‘standard’ abbreviation for rare.

    I am another who appreciates that the Guardian has a panel of compilers giving a range of difficulty – it makes the day more interesting.

  28. Wolfie says:

    RCWhiting @ 16 ” … when is is considered proper to complain about ‘write-in’ crosswords?”

    It is absolutely fine to comment about a puzzle being easy – as today’s was. But complaining about it is pointless, because you know that it is the policy of the Guardian to provide a range of crosswords of varying levels of difficulty, and this is not going to change. You are going to have to get used to it.

    Maybe there was a time in the distant past when you were new to cryptics and would have been thrilled to complete a puzzle like today’s?

  29. Gervase says:

    I rarely complain about puzzles which are easy, because they usually have other redeeming features such as humour, clever cryptic definitions, ingenious constructions and perfect surface readings. I felt that this one didn’t have very much of these, which is why I felt short-changed. It would have made a good Quiptic.

    Of course, many puzzles which, objectively, are of only moderate difficulty can give problems even to experienced solvers. I particularly like ones which prompt a lot of smiles or even laughs. This enjoyment during the solving process seems to relax me, so that I can spot tricky constructions more easily. Arachne’s crosswords are a case in point – I sailed through yesterday’s with a big grin on my face.

  30. Robi says:

    Rather than the r=rare associated with waiters, the r=rare association with coins might be more likely: see

  31. RCWhiting says:

    Robi@24 It was the current one (pairs).
    If, Wolfie,it is perfectly fine, why have I been criticised by other posters (including yourself)?
    And “it is pointless”,”it is not going to change”, ” You are going to have to get used to it.” do not seem to match “perfectly fine”.
    I do realise that difficulty in this context is very subjective. However,my memories of struggling regularly when I was still working (even with a team effort)twenty years ago are very strong.I suspect that old age has hardly sharpened my brain to such an extent.I do not want to see The G. (my favourite paper) going downhill in any way, including its crosswords.

  32. Wolfie says:

    RCW – I don’t recall that you or anyone else being criticised in this forum merely for commenting about a puzzle being easy. Occasionally people (including myself) have taken exception to the tone in which such comments have been expressed.

  33. tupu says:

    Hi RCW

    This debate has gone on and on and could theoretically run forever if you don’t mind boring other people.

    ‘It is not going to change’ does not necessarily match ‘perfectly fine’ but it does not necessarily contradict it either.

    Most of us seem to recognise that there is a good case for variations in difficulty. Gervase (like Sil earlier) points out that good cluing style is also important. Gervase seems to have been more disappointed today than I was, though we were both left feeling a bit ‘hungry’. However, I can remember a time when Chifonie’s puzzles seemed harder than they do now.

    I think Robi’s point is that you have become extremely predictable on this issue. We all know you like harder puzzles, and we don’t know it any better if you keep on saying it. I am often amused and interested by your comments on other things, so I hope you don’t mind too much that I wish you’d lay off a bit on this one.

  34. Robi says:

    tupu; maybe you meant Wolfie’s point?

  35. andy smith says:

    @RCW – I suspect that with old age and much experience the crosswords seem easier as well as the policemen seeming younger …

  36. stiofain says:

    RCW the “beep” you refer to happens when you replace any letter in the grid, so doesnt signify you have put in a “wrong letter” and is no help or hindrance in solving.
    I too was left a bit hungry by this one but it left me time to tackle this months excellent genius puzzle by Crucible which I think is the most accessible genius yet.
    So Im not complaining and agree with the varying difficulty policy but this was the easiest cryptic in a long time I tried to stretch it by not tackling the down clues until I had all the across ones finished but I still finished in sub Rightback time.

  37. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks, Stiofain.
    Andy, hard to believe but you might well be right.

  38. tupu says:

    Hi Robi

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