Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,619 – Gordius

Posted by Andrew on April 25th, 2012


Another rather horrible grid, with four semi-isolated quadrants. There were a couple of these last week, where the setters had helpfully split some answers around the quadrants. No such luck here, but instead there are quite a lot of very obvious clues that wouldn’t be out of place in the Quiptic.

5. RUMPUS RUMP (as in the Rump Parliament) + US
9. HIGH TIME Double definition
11. RETICENT Reverse of IT in RECENT
12. TWINER Moving the T to the front in WINTER
23. DEMERARA ERA (long time) in reverse of ARMED (with weapons)
24. INFECT “In fact” as pronounced by someone who would “ectually”
25. SMASHING SHAM* in SING (squeal, as in confessing to the police)
26. RELISH RELI[gious] + SH!
27. OLD-TIMER A not-very-cryptic definition – an hourglass is an old-fashioned way of telling the time
1. LAHORE LA (Los Angeles) + [w]HORE
3. NOTICE OT (Old Testament) in NICE (French city)
4. DEMON-LOVER If you swap the D and L you get LEMON and DOVER, which are both types of sole (the fish). It’s not really a spoonerism, though, as they should work phonetically. DEMON-LOVER doesn’t seem to be a standard phrase, and surely it would have to be unhyphenated to mean a Lothario, otherwise it would have to mean a lover of demons.
6. UNTOWARD People in hospital make be taken “UNTO a WARD”, and UNTOWARD = awkward, but this is rather unsatisfactory wording
8. SURPRISE Homophones of “sir” (teacher) and “prize” (award)
13. ISOTHERMAL (OTHER MAILS)*. Isothermal = having the same temperature = “to the same degree”
19. TEA SET EASE in TT (race)

23 Responses to “Guardian 25,619 – Gordius”

  1. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    This might have fit better on Monday, providing that “gentle start to the week” that many enjoy. Not much fun when half the answers go in without any pause for thought. I did like INFECT.

  2. John Appleton says:

    Thanks Andrew. Despite the quibbles about DEMON LOVER, I found it the most entertaining of the clues.

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Andrew. The grid no problem today, as the clues I found were mostly easy – 16′.

    4d didn’t quite work for me either, though I quite liked 27a.

  4. PeterJohnN says:

    I agree with Andrew regarding 6a UNTOWARD, as the definition appears in the middle of the clue.
    Also re 27a OLD TIMER. The latter could have done with a definition such as “Hourglass for a veteran” say.
    I liked several other clues though, including 4d DEMON-LOVER, despite Andrew’s reservations, and 13d ISOTHERMAL.
    A welcome relief after Monday’s stinker!

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Gordius

    A clear blog of a relatively easy puzzle. I did not much mind this as I have quite a lot to do today. I share Andrew’s qualms re 4d as a spoonerism. I quite liked 18a, 23a and 24a and was mildly amused by one or two others

  6. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Andrew and Gordius.

    4dn seems to be a reference to Coleridge’s Kubla Khan:

    But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
    A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
    By woman wailing for her demon lover!

    But I still don’t quite get it.

  7. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Why not replace all clues by (slaying alarms)* – so much more efficient.

  8. JollySwagman says:

    Thanks Gordius for a fun puzzle and Andrew for that part of the blog that wasn’t quibbles.

    How anyone (not just A) can be bothered to audit the syntax on a simple joke like 6D is quite beyond me.

    4D COTD for me but I agree – the hyphen wasn’t necessary – unless I’m missing something – still – a good joke – making the Spoonerism not quite work is surely part of the joke.

    Sure it wasn’t tough but the chuckles were there. I don’t do crosswords to prove to myself how clever I am – I already know that.

    A good while back now I thought Gordius had gone a bit flat but for quite a while now he’s been consistently entertaining.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I don’t share your dislike of the grid: 1ac, 5ac, 1dn, 15dn give plenty of initial letters to aid in the solving. I find ‘even row & column’ grids with loads of unchecked initial letters far more off-putting.

    Loved tupu’s damning of this puzzle with faint praise. A typical egg from this former curate.

    Some good clues: 24ac was amusingly Araucarian, and 16dn and 19dn have particularly fine surfaces. However, 4d and 6d don’t work, for all the reasons already stated, although the ideas behind them are good, and 27ac would have been better as a dd.

  10. Thomas99 says:

    I’m rather surprised by the reaction to the Spoonerism at 4d. Why is it a problem that what Spooner says (which would sound like “Demmon Loaver”) doesn’t sound like the answer as defined? The wordplay is meant to provide the letters (in the right order), not the pronunciation! It’s an unusual way to use a Spoonerism but as far as I can see perfectly valid. The fact that it works in an unfamiliar way – and that what Spooner is imagined to say is so silly (reminiscent of the only verified spoonerism he made – “The Kinquering Congs” – in that it results in gibberish) is presumably why people are choosing it as their clue of the day.

  11. Robi says:

    Pleasant enough; I got stalled somewhat in the NE and had a SURPRISE at last (which I failed to parse.)

    Thanks Andrew; I thought you were a bit hard on Gordius; OLD-TIMER seemed cryptic enough for me. I agree with you about the hyphen (or lack of it) in DEMON LOVER. Whilst we are being pedantic, shouldn’t 7 be vegetables, rather than the singular? [Presumably it was to allow ‘cuts’ to be used]

    TWINER seems to me to be a rather ugly word; not much choice though, once the grid has ?W?N?R. INFECT was good.

  12. Gervase says:

    Thomas99 @10: My objection to 4d is not the Spoonerism, even though a ‘sight’ version is very unusual for a device that is customarily homophonic. However, I’m not happy with ‘Lothario’ = DEMON LOVER (help anyone?) – demon lovers seem to be known for their ghostliness rather than their promiscuity – and the surface reading makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. A good idea spoiled by its execution.

  13. Gervase says:

    And the hyphen doesn’t belong, either.

  14. Thomas99 says:

    That (“Demon Lover” meaning Lothario) is another matter, and you seem to be right. It isn’t in Chambers or Collins (as far as I can see – I looked rather cursorily) so it’s pushing things – but I should add that it didn’t seem to make the clue too difficult. Using the adjectival definition in Chambers, “Demon lover” (no hyphen, presumably) means someone who is very good at “loving” (their example is “demon cyclist”) so the definition works well enough (for me anyway), it’s just that the combination is non-dictionary so I assume it wouldn’t be acceptable in an advanced cryptic or similar. The Guardian cryptics quite often allow non-Chambers phrases, however.

    Forgot to say – thanks to Andrew for the blog.

  15. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    I am another, like Robi, taking issue with singular/plural on 7d. Gordius could perfectly well have written Vegetables and changed nothing else.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    You could all be right but if somone asked me “Which vegetable have you planted there?” I would probably answer “Parsnips”.

  17. Paul B says:

    Swagman appears to be quibbling about quibbles – how very post-modern. Or simply funny. Yet:

    Where awkward types may be taken in hospital?

    for UNTOWARD is surely worthy of mention, and criticism. We might legitimately ask ourselves, for example, in what part of speech is the definition? Or, why has the compiler chosen to include the words ‘where’, ‘types’, ‘may’, ‘be’ and ‘taken’? Or, why would ‘untoward types’ necessarily need to be taken unto a ward? Are they ill?

    Et cetera. And it’s a wet Wednesday. Blooming Henry.

  18. William says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Rather bland stuff, I thought. Not a great fan of this setter. Surely RELISH could be clued better than the using the first bit of religiously? Partial anagram of Shirley for example?

  19. aztobesed says:

    Confound it! Shirley! Why not? Tasty…

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Surely the introduction of Shirley is rather untoward?

  21. JollySwagman says:

    @PB #17 – it kind of spoils a joke if you analise (sic) it too much but it works like this:

    Where awkward types may be taken in hospital?

    The QM indicates that it’s a question – so answer it.

    Answer: Unto the ward.

    Telegraphically – UNTO WARD

    Didn’t need them to be awkward for that did we?

    Oh hang on UNTOWARD means awkward – haha.

    It’s prolly easier for people who don’t view the cruciverbal world through ximlenses.

  22. Paul B says:

    There’s still a difference between Libertarianism and sloppiness, old boy.

  23. James says:

    We are about a month behind you here in Australia but, this had to be the easiest puzzle the Guardian has published in all the years (almost 50) that I have been doing Cryptic (Times & Guardian)puzzles. It made Rufus seem very hard.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

3 × = twenty one