Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 648/Algol

Posted by Pierre on April 16th, 2012


A couple of surprises when I opened up this morning’s puzzle: a new setter, and a theme.  I can’t ever remember there being a themed Quiptic before (although there was a hidden message in one a while back) and I’m wondering if it’s appropriate for the Quiptic’s target audience.  Anyway, perhaps some of that target audience will say what they think.

The gateway clue is referencing the RMS Titanic, which sank on her maiden voyage 100 years ago yesterday.  Personally I’m in Titanic overload at the minute; it seems to have been all over the media for the last month or so.  There were some clever surfaces related to the theme, but also a few clues which I didn’t find particularly cryptic.  If that’s just me, then apologies to Algol, our new setter (or perhaps an existing setter in disguise?).

There is one clue which appears to be faulty.

dd  double definition
cd  cryptic definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed


8 See 12

9 Like seabird behind a boat
A charade of AS for ‘like’ and TERN.

10 Royal Navy?
I think this is referring to the fact that royals are ‘blue-blooded’, and of course navy BLUE is a colour.  The question mark just about rescues it, I think.

Edit: Andrew explains this much better at comment no 2.

11 Can’t be holed
Is this cryptic?  I’m with Mark Twain on golf, by the way.

12,8 19’s fate, uncharacteristically!
Well, clearly this is what happened to the Titanic, but what the ‘uncharacteristically’ is doing, I can’t say.  Is it trying to indicate that the Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable?

14 Places in office where 19 aimed to be
INSTATE is a verb meaning to ‘put in office’ (cf RE-INSTATE) and IN STATES is where the Titanic was meant to end up.

15 Scruffy drunk empties pockets
Nicely hidden in drUNK EMPTies.

17 Director of romance at sea?
Referring to James Cameron, director of the Titanic movie.  It’s (ROMANCE)* with ‘at sea’ as the anagrind, and is an &lit or ‘all-in-one’ clue, where the whole clue suggests the solution.

20 Dish of shellfish acquiring a central Paris following
Nice surface.  The setter’s inviting you to insert A into CLAM and then follow it with ARI, the central letters of ‘Paris’.

22 Show embarrassment in Communist hideout
A simple charade of RED and DEN.

23,16 Plenty had abandoned wreck, yet entertainment continued
Cleverly clued.  (PLENTY HAD ABANDONED)* with ‘wreck’ as the anagrind.  Referring to the fact that the band on board Titanic did play on while the emergency unfolded.  ‘Abide with Me’ if memory serves.

24,6 Complete mix-up, made haste with a call for top speed
A charade of FULL for ‘complete’ and (MADE HASTE A)*  The anagrind is ‘mix-up’ and it’s another themed reference, I suppose.

25 Musical performance by unaccompanied topless escort
Interesting image.  A charade of GIG and [S]OLO.

26 Hear my reaction to Halloween trick or treat
Another cleverly put together surface.  It’s a homophone (‘hear’) of I SCREAM.


1 Issue with women leaving 19 first
It’s ‘issue’ in the genealogical sense, and a further reference to the disaster.

2 Look out up front
A dd, referring to what golfers shout when they’re teeing off.

3 Elect concerning change of course
A charade of RE and TURN.  ‘I do hereby declare that the said Jane Smith has been returned as the member for Piddling-by-the-Sea.’

4 Aristotle shipped in Desdemona’s sister
Hidden in DesdemONAS SISter, and referring to Aristotle ONASSIS, the shipping magnate, although I don’t think he had anything to do with the Titanic.

5 Enigma resolved by a cure for indigestion
Milk of MAGNESIA is a (rather old-fashioned now) cure for dyspepsia, but I think the clue is faulty.  The way it reads is (ENIGMA)* plus A with ‘resolved’ as the anagrind.  But there’s no S in the anagram fodder, which makes me think that it should have been ‘Enigma’s resolved …’

6 See 24 across

7 Burnt tea, as reported to general
As in crème brûlée.  It’s a homophone (‘as reported’) of BREW and General Robert E LEE, the setters’ General of choice because of his helpful surname.  And brûler is indeed the French for ‘to burn’.

13 Safeguard wrought iron teacup
(IRON TEACUP)*  ‘Wrought’ is the anagrind.

16 See 23

18 Burden after maiden perhaps put on too much weight
A charade of an OVER in cricket where no runs are scored and LOAD, and perhaps another themed reference?

19 It hit an iceberg largely concealed, dropping headfirst
The gateway clue, and to be fair, it’s a giveaway from the definition.  It’s hidden in iT [H]IT AN ICeberg.  The setter’s asking you to remove the H as the first letter of ‘head’.  And it is a good surface.

21 I need a translation of Latin poem
(I NEED A)* for Virgil’s poem.

22 Right part of cow is provided to steer
A charade of R and UDDER.  Another clever surface and another nautical reference.

24 Ticket price sounds reasonable
A homophone of FAIR.

Many thanks to Algol – perhaps we’ll see him or her again in the Quiptic slot.

10 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 648/Algol”

  1. andy smith says:

    Thank you Pierre (& Algol). Some of these clues were very neat I thought.

    Re 12, 8 I thought the ‘uncharacteristically’ was just that a drop in the ocean is something small and insignificant, but something that is ‘titanic’ isn’t..

    I prefer Fortran btw.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Pierre. I thought this was good fun, with lots of watery references that weren’t obviously linked to the theme (e.g. 2ac)

    10 ac – you can have Royal BLUE and Navy BLUE

    23,16 – the myth has it that the band played “Nearer, my God, to thee” rather than “Abide with me” , though this is probably not true. I was reading this Wikipedia article yesterday which debunks a number of the legends.

    11ac refers to the fact that the Titanic was described as UNSINKABLE, though, according to the Wikipedia article, only after the sinking.

  3. Pierre says:

    Morning Andy, and thanks for your thoughts on ‘uncharacteristically’. Still not convinced, though …

    Morning Andrew. You are of course right on BLUE, thank you. I understood the reference in UNSINKABLE, but my question remains: why is this cryptic?

  4. Andrew says:

    Pierre – I agree it’s not really cryptic, I was just trying to excuse it on grounds of its relation to the theme.

  5. Paul B says:

    Seems peculiar to bother to have a themed Quiptic: obviously you can if you want, since someone has, but per the rationale behind the quiptic mission, to wit keeping things simple for beginners, it seems, well, rather odd!

    I’m further surprised that we didn’t see A BAND ON SHIP in this one, though we were close.

  6. Derek Lazenby says:

    Uh? So 11 is a Quick clue? That would be why it’s called a Qui[ptic] then. Strictly speaking, we should be complaining that there aren’t enough of these in general.

    Remembering when I was even more of a beginner than I am now, I have to say that had I seen 8ac as the first clue in those days I would have given up immediately. I suspect other beginners might feel the same. Psychologically, that clue should have come further down the list so that people “have got a start” before they get too frightened!

    Fortran eh? I was already brainwashed by the Algol family before I finally got to use Fortran. There again I could have never got a spacecraft to go wildly off course by accidently leaving out one punctuation character!

  7. Mike says:

    Thanks, I enjoyed.

    To answer the question about a themed quiptic, I consider myself to be the target audience (beginner and the quiptic is about the only cryptic I can consistently solve) and I managed this and enjoyed the themed element. As far as I am concerned the point of a quiptic is that it should not be too hard but contain all the elements of a good cryptic. A theme doesn’t necessarily make it hard, especially when the entry clue is as easy as this one, but it does add one of the fun elements of many harder cryptics, so in this case I’m all for it!

  8. Pierre says:

    Thanks for commenting, Mike – glad you enjoyed it!

  9. John says:

    Not really adding much, but perhaps there is s slight element of crypticness in that when the ball goes into the hole in golf, it has been sunk. (So both the ball that cannot be holed, and the ship that cannot be holed, are unsinkable)

  10. Nic says:

    Two ‘beginners’ here.

    This is my first completed quiptic, (except for brulee, which we wouldn’t have ever figured out)

    The theme was very helpful, nudging us in the right direction before we had fully solved the clue. To be honest, I rarely find quiptics easier or quicker, than cryptics so it was refreshing to have a theme.

    5 ac, They must have fixed the error; our version has enigma’s.

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