Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,621 by Crucible

Posted by PeterO on April 27th, 2012


I found this an inventive and amusing challenge.

There were a couple of places where I was not sure of what was going on, which may be the result of my hay fever. The whole has a well-worked musical theme, centred on 1A, Debussy, and three of his best-known compositions.

1. Composer starts losing tempo, say, gutted (7)
DEBUSSY A charade of DEBU[t]S (‘starts’) without the T (time? ‘losing tempo’) + S[a]Y (‘say, gutted’).
5. Performers are childless reformers (7)
ARTISTS [ch]ARTISTS (‘reformers’) without CH (‘childless’).
9. Rare working party piece that’s repeated (5)
RONDO A charade of R (‘rare’) + ON (‘working’) + DO (‘party’). A rondo is a piece of music in which a theme is repeated, separated by contrasted episodes.
10. Traditional Gaelic music performed with delay now and then on river (6-3)
DIDDLY-DEE A charade of DID (‘performed’) + D[e]L[a]Y (‘delay now and then’) + DEE (‘river’). The definition looks plausible, but I cannot pin it down.
11. Mercurial character in book: it’s set in turbulent Italy (10)
VOLATILITY A charade of VOL (volume, ‘book’) + an envelope (‘set in’) of ‘it’ in ATILY, an anagram (‘turbulent’) of ‘Italy’.
12. Woman doesn’t finish change (4)
EDIT EDIT[h] (‘woman’) without the last letter (‘doesnt finish’).
14. 1 across piece, a version of Cinderella, captivates its composer’s heart (5,2,4)
CLAIR DE LUNE An envelope (‘captivating’) of U (1A is debUssy ‘its composers heart’)in CLAIRDELNE, an anagram (‘version’) of ‘Cinderella’.
18. An opera is rewritten to include Queen’s instrument (6,5)
SQUARE PIANO An envelope (‘to include’) of QU (‘Queen’) in SAREPIANO, an anagram (‘rewritten’) of ‘an opera is’.
21. Radical Paris edition of the Pink ’Un? (4)
LEFT Le FT. For those who only know the Financial Times as crosswords on a web site, it is printed on pink paper.
22,17. Engineer made Freudian slip describing middle of tune, 1 across piece (6-4,3,5)
LAPRES-MIDI DUN FAUNE An envelope (‘describing’) of UN (‘middle of tUNe’) in LAPRESMIDIDFAUNE or LAPRESMIDIDUNFAE, either way an anagram (‘engineer’) of ‘made Freudian slip’. It is standard crosswordese to ignore the apostrophes and the accent, but still I find the enumeration does not do justice to the answer.
25. Steak went off stuffed with duck (extra large) (9)
TOURNEDOS An envelope (stuffed with’) of O (zero, ‘duck’) in TURNED (‘went off’) + OS (outsize, ‘extra large’). Tournedos Rossini might provide another musical connection.
26. Not as convincing as 1 across piece (2,3)
LA MER LAMER (‘not as convincing’), for the Debussy symphonic sketches.
27. Played together better stripped — Moore’s outstanding (7)
DUETTED An envelope (‘outstanding’) of [b]ETTE[r] (‘better stripped’) in DUD(as in Dud and Pete, Dudley ‘Moore’).
28. Use it to trace letters from angry clients (7)
STENCIL An anagram (‘angry’) of ‘clients’.
1. Trace source of echo in Verdi orchestration (6)
DERIVE An envelope (‘in’) of E (‘source of Echo’) in DRIVE, an anagram (‘orchestration’) of ‘Verdi’.
2. British and German article abroad makes a pile (6)
BUNDLE A charade of B (‘British’) + UND (‘and German’) + LE (‘artice abroad’, in Francophone countries at least).
3. Initially, stiff drink damages penile extensions? (6,4)
SPORTS CARS A charade of S (‘initially Stiff’) + PORT (‘drink’) + SCARS (‘damages’). Not exactly a dictionary definition, but I get the drift.
4. This is not art, perhaps — and trained Tyroleans do it (5)
YODEL ‘YODEL is not art’ is an anagram (‘trained’) of ‘Tyroleans do it’, so that ‘this, or rather the whole &lit clue pointed by ‘this’, is the definition.
5. Check old song picked up in music halls (9)
AUDITORIA A charade of AUDIT (‘cherck’) + O (‘old’) + RIA, a reversal (‘up’ in a down light) of AIR (‘song’).
6. Rang, say, and drove home (4)
TOLD A homophone (‘say’) of TOLLED (‘rang’).
7. Rolls here supported with drink (4,4)
SIDE DRUM A charade of SIDED (‘supported’) + RUM (‘drink’).
8. Step unsteadily over tiny adult plant (5,3)
SWEET PEA An envelope (‘over’) of WEE (‘tiny’) in STPE, an anagram (‘unsteadily’) of ‘step’ + A (‘adult’).
13. Dragonfly from French-German river I caught (10)
DEMOISELLE A charade of DE (‘from French’) + an envelope (‘caught’) of ‘I’ in MOSELLE (‘German river’).

Male demoiselle

15. A very quiet Scottish singer nearly died, clapped out? (9)
APPLAUDED A charade of ‘a’ + PP (pianissimo, ‘very quiet’) + LAUDE[r] (Sir Harry Lauder, ‘Scottish singer’) unfinished (‘nearly’) + D (‘died’). Not my first association with ‘clapped out’, but after all one does applaud a performer as he or she is leaving the stage.
16. I worried about short solo by daughter, being unaccompanied (8)
ISOLATED An envelope (‘about’) of SOL[o] (‘short solo’) in ‘I’ + ATE (‘worried’) + D (‘daughter’).
17. See 22
See 22
19. Black Magic represented as fast food (3,3)
BIG MAC A charade of B (‘black’) + an anagram (‘represented’ – that is, re-presented) of ‘magic’.
20. Irish Republican breaks law over in part of Merseyside (6)
WIRRAL An envelope (‘breaks’) of !R (‘Irish’) + R (‘Republican’) in WAL, a reversal (‘over’) of ‘law’.
23. Seizes women leaving bars with no music? (5)
RESTS [w]RESTS (‘seizes’) with the W (‘women’) removed (‘leaving’).
24. 2 of banknotes offering security (4)
KNOT I suppose the intention is to indicate an answer hidden in ‘banKNOTes’, but I am not certain how 2 (BUNDLE) does this.

43 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,621 by Crucible”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    I found this hard going even after Googling Debussy which made the themed solutions all write-ins.

    I couldn’t track down DIDDLY-DEE either. I thought 24 was OK: if you make a BUNDLE of something, you wrap it up and KNOT is wrapped up in banknotes.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. Totally non-musical, I got 1a from “say, gutted” while the theme clues needed not much knowledge and only a little French. No complaints at all though I wondered about the YODEL clue (the answer jumped out) and worried about how 16d exactly worked (ditto. Thanks for elucidating.

  3. Trebor says:

    Dreadful puzzle. I don’t want to start another themes discussion but the long answers simply aren’t gettable without knowledge or research. Usually enjoy crucible too.

  4. PeterJohnN says:

    I am no expert in classical (romantic) music, but even I was able to complete Debussy, Clair de Lune, L’apres-midi d’un faune, and La mer unaided. The pieces are all beautiful, and I thought very famous pieces of music.

  5. PeterJohnN says:

    PS thanks to Crucible and PeterO. I enjoyed the puzzle, and liked 3d SPORTS CARS and 19a DIDDLY-DEE especially.

  6. Rick says:

    Thanks for the blog PeterO and also to Crucible for the puzzle (I seem to have enjoyed it more than some others on here!).

    With regards to 10 across, I’m not sure but I think some people refer (in a somewhat disparaging way) to the sort of gaelic folk music where the fiddle plays a prominent role as “diddly-dee” music.

  7. Eileen says:

    Lovely puzzle – many thanks, Crucible, and PeterO for the blog [especially for sorting out 4dn – great clue.]

    Favourites were 14, 22/17 ac and 3dn. BIG MAC made me smile.

    If you google ‘diddly-dee, you’ll find dozens of references to Gaelic music. [The second entry at the moment is this blog. 😉 ]

  8. Rorschach says:

    “I am no expert in classical (romantic) music, but even I was able to complete Debussy, Clair de Lune, L’apres-midi d’un faune, and La mer unaided. The pieces are all beautiful, and I thought very famous pieces of music.”

    Haha! I suppose different people have different ideas of what constitutes being an expert :)

    I’m not sure how you are supposed to make the link between “Yodel is not an art” and “Tyroleans do it”. It’s an example of an &lit. which you get (as I did) from the crossings and the fairly overt definition and then spend about 30 minutes working it out. It may be clever but it never functions as a cryptic clue – simply as a roundabout quick clue… In my opinion.

  9. Ian Payn says:

    I’m with PeterJohnN@4. I think knowing who Debussy is and what the titles of his three most famous works are isn’t expert knowledge, it’s general knowledge. Had the references been a bit more obscure, I’d sympathise , but I don’t think one can complain at this level. You don’t even have to know how the tunes go (I think I know one of them but I may be confusing it with the music from a Terry’s All Gold commercial years ago). It’s the same as not having read Dombey and Son. You know who wrote it, though.

  10. Andy J says:

    Re 24d: “knot” is modern, slang usage for a bundle of banknotes. The definition can be found here..

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The compound anagram at 4d is the latest flavour in cryptic clues. I do not know whether he invented it but it is a device which Azed has adopted more and more over recent years.
    I had a slow start here but 14ac cracked it open since, like molonglo, I had spotted the *****sy early.
    I had to look up 22ac although in truth I did know the title.
    I liked 26ac, didn’t like the free advertising in 19d and my last in was 23d which was also my COD.
    I didn’t find ‘diddly-dee’ in Chambers but wasn’t as thorough as Eileen, it just seemed very appropriate.

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Crucible

    I found this mainly enjoyable but rather hard in places – for some reason it took me rather long to see 7d and 12a ( I first thought this might be a three letter woman + t -end of doesn’t).

    I’m afraid I did not take to 4d. The answer was obvious so that the contrived parsing offered nothing towards finding it. I eventually saw that yodel + is not art is an anagram of Tyroleans do it but remained unimpressed.

    In contrast, I made ‘Diddly-dee’ from the instructions. Like others I found no dictionary record but it made some intuitive sense and google supported it.

    I did not know ‘square piano’ though the answer and its rationale were clear enough.

    ‘Big mac’ and ‘lamer’ raised a smile. I thought 6d and 13d were elegant.

  13. RCWhiting says:

    BTW the cheap advertising of cheap food could have been replaced by ‘filmic’.

  14. Matt says:

    I very much liked the Big Mac clue. Once saw this clued as something like “What fat person might eat or wear”

  15. Thomas99 says:

    Mainly I really enjoyed this. The knowledge required seemed just about right to me. Thanks for the blog.

    I quite like compound anagrams normally. 4d is rather obscure, though. What I like is a cryptic reading that actually tells you what to do, or states that the clue is a compound anagram. This one is tricky and I can sort of see why Crucible did it his way (I think it would be ok without the “and”). It was of course perfectly gettable because of the clear &lit definition. My attempted improvement would be something like: “This is not art? It could be: trained Tyroleans do it”. The hope is that the solver will interpret this to mean “The phrase ‘[solution] is not art’ could be a mixed up [trained] version of ‘Tyroleans do it'”.

  16. Pandean says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog and to Crucible for an enjoyable puzzle on a theme with which I am familiar. This year is also an anniversary one for Debussy, as he was born on August 22 1862.

    Being slightly pedantic on the musical front, I wouldn’t agree that a RONDO itself is a piece of music that is necessarily repeated. It is rather a form or piece of music (eg a part of a sonata) that includes some repeated sections. Also, although a bar of music can be full of RESTS, this does not mean that the bar contains no music, since music is a combination of notes/sounds and rests/silence such that rests are themselves an essential part of the music. And ‘bars….’ as a definition for RESTS is not really correct either, since the bars are the containers for the music that in a silent bar is the rests.

    Aside from the pedantry, they were both fine, fair and gettable clues – I just wanted to put the record straight from a musician’s perspective.

  17. harry says:

    Thanks PeterO & Crucible.

    Diddly-dee is a colloquialism for Gaelic “mouth music” – i.e. the tuneful singing of meaningless sounds.
    I took “bundle” to indicate “knot” was bundled within banknote in the same way is software is bundled with a computer.

  18. Robi says:

    Interesting attempt at a musical theme. Yes, I have heard of Debussy, Clare de Lune and La Mer, but as for the third one………. as Ian @9 says, either it’s general knowledge or not. If the former, it is just a quick crossword clue; if the latter, one has to Google the answer and then as Neil@1 says it is just a write-in. I can see no way of arriving at the answer from the anagram fodder, and for this reason I don’t think it is a sound clue or a fair answer. [NB, perhaps we should think again about some scientific words that seem to be general knowledge to some of us, but are abstruse in the extreme to others]

    After the polemic….. thanks to PeterO for a good blog – I do enjoy seeing the clues as I read the answers. I needed your explanation of YODEL, which, unlike some others, I now think is a great clue. I did enjoy the simple LEFT which I 15. I thought the clue for SQUARE PIANO would have been improved by adding ‘old’ or somesuch, as I believe the instrument is archaic(?)

    P.S. RCW @13, alternative is ‘micmac.’

  19. Robi says:

    P.S. ‘Undefined marsupial’ would have been a nice anagram for 22,17

  20. JollySwagman says:

    Nice – thanks both

    @Pandean #16 I don’t think you’re being too pedantic on RONDO. The rondo itself isn’t repeated – only the refrain within it – gettable but not quite an accurate definition.

    Can’t agree on RESTS though – a bar’s rest is of itself silent so that’ll do – it’s not an exact equivalence but I think it points strongly enough to what’s intended.

    Re 4d – nice to see more devices coming into daily cryptics. Anyone familiar with comp anags knows that “this” etc is a dead giveaway and it’s definitely fair when, as already stated, the answer was hitting you in the face anyway.

    “and” is a well accepted linkword between wordplay and definition – thus OK I think between the two parts of a comp anag – not quite the same thing but indicating equivalence. OTOH I agree – the clue would have also worked had that one word been deleted.

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Robi@ 27
    If ‘l’apres-midi…’ is obscure to you I can claim much superior obscurity to me regarding Canadian Native Americans (??).

  22. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I also have a pedantic objection: the full title of 22,17 is Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune and the clue gave no hint that we should omit the first two words.

  23. Robi says:

    RCW @21; here is all you will ever need to know about the Micmacs (Mi’kmaqs):

  24. Pandean says:

    chas @22, I think perhaps the full title sometimes gets shortened, although really L’aprés-midi d’un faune is the title of the poem by Stéphane Mallarmé that inspired Debussy’s Prelude.

    JollySwagman @20, I would still argue that ‘bars with no music’ is not a very good definition for RESTS. ‘Contents of bars with no music’ might be OK (if you ignore the fact that the silence is an integral part of the music), but would destroy the surface reading. Again putting pedantry aside, I think the clue works OK especially with the ? at the end.

  25. Thomas99 says:

    Not wishing to prolong the pedantry beyond endurance, nonetheless I think the ballet (using the music) was called simply “L’après-midi d’un faune” like the poem and you might, if you were a music rather than ballet fan, say that is by Debussy too. Personally I almost always drop the first two words anyway, out of laziness/ignorance.

    Out of interest, if a rest counts as music, what about a “general pause”?

  26. postrophe says:

    Am I alone in thinking that The Sporting Times (founded 1865, ceased publication 1932) is “The Pink ‘Un”?

  27. postrophe says:

    ….or perhaps even a weekly, paid-for newspaper and website, that focused on Norwich City football club and also non-league football in Norfolk? (God Bless Google!)

  28. Paul B says:

    Rests are literally equivalent to notes (which they replace in mathematical value precisely), not bars. Although whole- and half-note rests look like bars, depending on who’s written the chart. Usually Blind Bob, I regret to say.

    The ‘trained’ Tyroleans things is certainly a compound anagram, but not &lit, since yodelling is, rather than is not, to those particular Tyroleans and their appreciators, art. So it’s just that there’s an equivalence (hence ‘and’) in the anagrams, unfortunately. That’s the thing about &lits – good ones are rare, and difficult to produce.

    What happened to the snooker anyway? Is Crucible bored with it this year?

  29. martin says:

    Diddily-dee music is used to refer in any sort of folk music, especially if it involves a fiddle or whistles; it is usually a very derogatory and dismissive term.

    BTW. That is a picture of a damselfly, not a dragonfly. Usage of demoiselle is a bit variable, but as the clue mentioned dragonfly…

  30. PeterO says:

    Andy J @10 – I had wondered in passing about that possible interpretation – thanks for the link. It seems to me more satisfactory than ‘bundle’ as a containment indicator (although why not have it both ways?).

    Pandean @16 – I’m with you. RONDO is a little loose, which is why I put the gloss on the definition into the writeup. RESTS put me in mind of part scores, with perhaps extended rests counted in bars, but I take your point that rests are integral parts of the music; also, ‘bars’ can be niggled over because a rest may be less than a bar, and there can be more than one rest within a bar. Still, as you point out, the clues are sufficiently clear to be fair.

    Thomas99 @25 – I am not sure what you had in mind for your question at the end. It brought to my mind the “general pause” at the very end of The Rite of Spring, which seems a vital part of the music.

    Martin @29 – the picture (lifted straight from Wikipedia) is indeed a broad-winged damselfly (or demioselle). Damselflies and dragonflies, in as far as they are scientific terms, are distinct, even though belonging to the same order Odonata. Again, the clue may be taken as sufficiently clear, if not precise.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    In my youth almost any town with a football league club would have a special edition on a Saturday reporting on local matches. It would usually be pink or green.
    It was quite remarkable that you could buy it as you walked home from the ground; and there was no computer type setting.

    Thanks Robi, that fits beautifully into my file of useless knowledge.

  32. stiofain says:

    Martin@29 I have to disagree about diddly-dee being derogatory it is just a term for traditional Irish session music. Having been on that “scene” for 30 years I think I first heard it in Belfast around 1985 and in Clare about 5 years later it is now completely accepted and common through-out Ireland, and is in no way offensive if a venue was asked what kind of music is on tonight they would say diddly-dee in the same way they might say jazz or blues.
    It is possibly my all time favourite clue from one of my favourite setters and I also loved BIG MAC and thought the Debussy references were reasonable.

  33. Thomas99 says:

    That would mean it is music then. The difference I was thinking about was that rests are always of a defined length, so part of the rhythmic structure, whereas GPs…well, they’re not of a defined length, but I can see they can still be part of the structure. A composer friend once told me that the minimum definition of music is rhythm – pitch, harmony etc. are not required. I’m impressed we’ve managed to discuss this without mentioning John Cage. Damn.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    Seriously hard work, needed to come here to understand half the clues despite “getting them”.

    Re diddly dee. Ignore all the wishy washy comments about what certain types of music are called, insultingly or not, the term originates from the Celtic tradition of passing on instumental parts of tunes oraly via the mechanism of singing the instrumental parts using diddly dee type words. The process was refered to as diddling. Other uses of diddly dee are therefore later and derivative.

  35. darkstarcrashes says:

    RCW if I recall from my early days walking home from games at Filbert Street the sports edition of the Leicester Mercury only had half time scores, not full time. Still no mean feat though.

  36. Eileen says:

    And wasn’t it ‘The Buff’?

  37. james says:

    Debussy wrote a cantata called “La Demoiselle Élue”

  38. Ape says:

    Can someone explain to me why

    Queen = QU in 18 across,
    Rare = R in 9 across?

    Where do these abbreviations come from?

  39. PeterO says:

    Ape #38 Good question. Certainly in chess and cards the standard abbreviation is plain Q. Perhaps a u is added because it generally hangs out with q. A google of “qu elizabeth” produces plenty of hits (including, it seems, the French qu’Elizabeth).
    We have had discussion on 15² before now on R, and I think the consensus was that it was most likely to be found as a little flag on a steak.

  40. JoannaM says:

    Thanks for blog which explained many clues that flummoxed me. I was surprised by “German river” in 13d though. The German river is Mosel not Moselle which is the French spelling.

  41. Thomas99 says:

    Moselle is the English spelling too, and the clue does not specify the German spelling, which would be unusual in an English crossword. There was a discussion about this under the crossword on the Guardian site. (The latest Chambers allows “Mosel” for the wine calls the river the Moselle.)

  42. Thomas99 says:

    PS. Correction: my last sentence should be: “(The latest Chambers allows “Mosel” for the wine but calls the river the Moselle.)”

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Only finished this crossword today [after making a start last Friday following a pub do (hence not being capable of finishing anything except a glass of wine)].
    I am not around that often nowadays, but when I am there must be a good reason.
    We would like to say that this was a delightful puzzle.
    OK, it’s not a pangram this time ( :)), and yes PeterO, I agree with you about the enumeration of 22,17 feeling uncomfortable, but.

    The Debussy references were quickly found – 22,17 is French, indeed, but obscure? (don’t think so) – and the puzzle as a whole was very accessible.
    Also nice to see, apart from the Debussy clues, so many other clues referring to music. They gave the crossword just that bit extra (to us, that is).

    Not the hardest of Crucibles, but certainly one of his most elegant(ly clued).
    While we liked the “definition” in 3d (SPORTS CARS) – probably right up RCW’s street who constantly asks for definitions that are a bit less obvious – , the COD award goes to 16d (ISOLATED): simple construction, beautiful surface.


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