Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,614 – Pasquale

Posted by Andrew on April 19th, 2012


I learned a couple of new (botanical) words from today’s puzzle. Fortunately, the clues were reasonably easy and, as one would expect from Pasquale, admirably sound. The grid is not one of the Guardian’s best, but the three multi-entry down clues help to even things up in the solver’s favour. Grazie, Don Pasquale.

4. BACKUP Backup is support, and if you’re off the ground again you’re BACK UP
6. SOCIABLE I in SO CABLE. We seem to have seen a lot of Vince Cable in crosswords lately, because of his helpful collection of letters.
9. RECTAL C in reverse of LATER. Moving swiftly on..
11. CARBURETTOR ROTTE[n] RUB (trouble) RAC, all reversed
15. GUILDER L in GUIDER (leader of a Girl Guide troupe)
18. SCHLESINGER LE in SCH SINGER. Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr was an American historian
22. ABUTILON ABLUTION, with the L moved. Abutilon is a genus of plants – a new word for me.
23. MOSAIC Double definition – picture made from bits of stone etc; and relating to Moses.
25. BOLTON A BOLT-ON is something that can be added to a machine or device
1. TUVALU TU (Trade Union) + VALU[e], giving the Pacific island nation, famous for making lots of money out of its Internet country code of TV.
2. COMPETENCE COMMENCE with one of the Ms replaced by PET
5. CUCURBIT CU (copper) + CUR (bad dog) + BIT. A plant of the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes gourds and melons. Another new word for me.
7,21. BATH CUBE BATH (city) + CUBE (8 million is the cube of 200)
8,14. EURO-AMERICAN U (superior) ROAMER in (A NICE)*
12. EARTHBOUND EARTH is hidden, or “bound”, in nuclEAR THeory
13. BRAGGART Melvyn BRAGG + ART (skill)
16. DESKILLS DESK (newspaper dept, as in “sports desk”) + ILLS (misfortunes)
19. ISOPOD POISO[n]* + D. The Isopods are an order including creatures such as woodlice.

29 Responses to “Guardian 25,614 – Pasquale”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I’m glad you found the clue to ABUTILON “reasonably easy”! It only became so for me once I had all the crossers. I had A_U early on and was playing around with moving L around in some variants of LAUNDRY but couldn’t come up with the right number of letters! :)

    I was unhappy at first with BATH CUBE as I thought it would have really been a clue for the plural and only then had a rethink and realised that not only were 8 and 1,000,000 cubes but also 8,000,000. Doh!

    I found this quite a slog but, as so often with this setter, couldn’t quite see why afterwards.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Found this tough, mainly because of the grid, as you say, and the couple of unusual botanical references (birds, I like; don’t do plants unless I can eat them). Also never heard of EARTHBOUND in the sense of ‘dull’. BATH CUBE made me smile when I got it, because I haven’t seen one for about four decades.

    Pleasing puzzle, in which COMPETENCE was my favourite.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I didn’t like this as much as you. I got it out, but there were toomany clues that baffled or irritated me, despite your parsing, including 11a, and 2 and 3d. The ‘million’ in 7, 21 seems forced, the “hidden, or bound” in 12d eludes me and the 16d definition is not quite right. IMO.

  4. aztobesed says:

    Beg to differ but ‘city with eight million’ was quite lovely. Had me checking the population of Venice then puzzling over possible wordplay that included Greater London. Misdirection doesn’t come better. And I liked the ‘bound’ too.

  5. andy smith says:

    Thank you Andrew.

    I made hard work of this. Re 1d, how is that ‘when there’s cutback in’ means to truncate ‘value’ by 1 letter? But maybe more experienced solvers see that as fair enough?

  6. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew

    This one was too tough for me. Failed to get about 5 answers which is not normal. I don’t think some of the clues were clear enough but that’s probably an excuse!

    If anyone is interested, the print function on the web site is working again.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Pasquale

    A tough one but enjoyable with the usual excellent cluing.

    Thanks for parsing carburettor. I wrongly had it as reverse of rot + terub (inadequate trouble)+ rac which won’t do.

    I only got bath cube after looking for bath mate I’m afraid. I was misled by first thinking washing would be lavation.

    I ticked 23a, 4,20, 16d.

  8. Robi says:

    Horrible grid; I only did this with liberal use of word searches.

    Thanks Andrew, although I spotted the EARTH ha, I still failed to parse it (doh!) Like molonglo @3, I thought the definition of DESKILLS was not quite right (I thought this was just getting rid of skilled people,) but I see Chambers has: ‘remove the element of human skill…through automation’ so I guess it is OK. I played with ablution, but didn’t know ABUTILON or CUCURBIT.

    Melvyn was a bit of a give-away in 13, although I needed all the help I could get. I got the AMERICAN in 8,14 early on but was convinced the ‘ground’ was a type of coffee bean until I became enlightened.

    I did like the BATH CUBE, but overall found it somewhat EARTHBOUND.

  9. Robi says:

    Andy Smith @5; I’m not very experienced (at least in this field) but I assumed the cutback meant literally cut [the] back i.e. the last letter.

  10. Berny B says:

    Can someone please explain the reference to emperor in 3 down?

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Berny B

    I think the reference is to R[ex] I[mperator] – Latin for King Emperor.

  12. Robi says:

    RI is an abbreviation for Rex et Imperator (King & Emperor)

  13. Berny B says:


  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Jolly good fare.
    I realy struggled over the NW corner.
    I claimed recently that I had quickly got Nauru because unlike most people I had been there; strangely Tuvalu, which was my last in, I have also visited.
    I liked 22 ac although it was new to me and I struggled with laundry like NeilW.
    Also enjoyed 7,21; 12; 16 d. I took the latter as a perfect definition.
    ‘Cucurbit’ was another new word for me although the cryptic was more straightforward than I assumed.

  15. andy smith says:

    Robi@9 – Thanks. But I think it was the ‘in’ that I didn’t like, just there presumably for the (IMO not particularly good) surface reading – ‘Country union has little merit’ would be better, if a lot easier to deconstruct….

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hardwork and lacking the smiles of yesterday.

  17. apiarist says:

    I couldn’t finish this, (9ac & 1dn), but at least I think I am getting the hang of the Don !

  18. Waswallin says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Phew! Quite a push. Never heard of ABUTILON, SCHLESINGER, EURO-AMERICAN, CUCURBIT or even TUVALU sadly. All the more credit to The Don as one could derive them from the clues.

    Re the grid, for anyone interested, at nearly 38% this is also one of the blackest grids used by The Grauniad. It’s a hard grid but at least there’s not much to fill in!

    Thanks, Don.

  19. Rosmarinus says:

    Waswallin. Please can you tell us the percentage black in Rufus’ grid on Monday. They must be comparable.

  20. Pasquale says:

    Thanks to all for bouquets and brickbats (the latter being what I now generally expect at GU). Next one should be easier.

  21. apple grandpa says:

    Thanks to Pasquale for an enjoyable crossword. Held up by writing Xanadu for 1d, but after getting 4a had to do a wordsearch – hadn’t heard of Tuvalu (but no problem with abutilons and cucurbits: have grown both). Favourite clues 7d, 15a and 25a.

  22. Richard says:

    I thought this was one of the best crosswords I’ve seen from Don. Please don’t make them easier in future!

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    I concur with mongolo @ 3 and Derek @ 16

  24. Waswallin says:

    Rosmarinus @19 well spotted. Monday’s Rufus grid 25611 is the blackest I’ve ever seen at 39.1%

    Interestingly, blackness doesn’t necessarily seem to equate to easiness. A grid like 25609 by The Reverend on 13th April for example, is only 24.4% black but is made significantly easier due to the number intersecting first letters. Of course the grid brings only secondary considerations – the clues themselves are the tricky bit!

  25. morpheus says:

    Not remotely do-able in our regulation evening hour I’m afraid though on seeing the blog, for which thanks, the clues appear to be tough but fair albeit with a few abbreviations which rarely turn up here (eg TU for union or I for emporer). Would have been better as a Saturday set to my mind.

  26. togo says:

    All in all, a great puzzle, I thought. Stalled (but only because I was too stubborn to check with references – the cluing was immaculate) with 5dn and 22ac.
    Don, thank you for your visit/comment: do make hay with the brickbats or otherwise mix metaphors. Thank you both.

  27. Plotinus says:

    Is Euro-American a familiar expression? I’ve not come across it.

  28. Huw Powell says:

    Grumpy, went very slow, first half dozen solves were all charades, the 8 or so I didn’t get still make me grumpy.

    Euro-American I got, although the phrase is never used by anyone over here.

    TUVALU should have been clued as “Trade Union…”

    CARBURETTOR was awful.

    22 is just junk unless you are lucky.

    DESKILLS is just weird, though I suppose if I got that close to it, my trusty and beloved Chambers could have confirmed it.

    12 makes no sense to me. “Dull” as a definition is very poor, IMHO.

    That said, I starred 9a and 2d as wonderful.

    Back to whining, I had to do a lot of research for places like BOLTON (takes 2 seconds at wikipedia, poor clue unless you know the town is in that vicinity); likewise kNELLing. I read BACK UP as two words for both definitions, oh well.

    Grump grump.

    But I shouldn’t complain, Thursday is supposed to be a fairly hard puzzle, and Pasquale delivered. Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

  29. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks all … this was tough and another late blog here.

    Like apple grandpa@21 XANADU got in the road of an earlier solve for me … but finally the BACKUP clicked (and as a data storage consultant where backups are bread and butter, there are no excuses!). TUVALU was then last in.

    Have no problems with the clues here and in fact found quite a few of them generated a satisfying sigh when the penny finally dropped. Again like any good puzzle a number of new words (ABUTILON, BIRDCAGE WALK (blushingly), SCHLESINGER and EARTHBOUND in the sense of meaning dull and unimaginative.

    Agree with Richard@22, please don’t make them easier … it was a great challenge that occupied me on and off for 3-4 days. :)

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