Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25630 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on May 8th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

Quite a stroll in the park for me with nothing seriously amiss nor spectacular. Neat and concise clueing style adopted today with great economy of words with most clues, short, simple and sweet. A good morning’s ramble.

Place cursor over clue number to read the clue

5 SALOON Ins of LOO (WC, water closet, rest room, etc) in SAN (sanitation) for a Western-style watering hole
6 CHEAPO Ins of HEAP (pile) in CO (company, firm)
9 RAT-TAT cd Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7)
10 ABNEGATE Ins of *(AGENT) in ABE (Abraham Lincoln, old President of the USA)
11 WOOL WOO (court as in pursuit of a mate) L (plate displayed by learner driver) Thanks to samak@1, the name of an obscure village in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. The village has a population of 4,118 in 2001
12 COUCH GRASS Cha of COUCH (lie down, perhaps to sleep) GRASS (slang for informer) grass related to wheat, a troublesome weed owing to its creeping rootstocks.
13 RACHMANINOV RACHMAN (letter or landlord : Peter Rachman (1919–1962) was a London landlord in the Notting Hill area in the 1950s and 1960s who became so notorious for his exploitation of tenants that the word “Rachmanism” entered the OED as a synonym for any greedy, unscrupulous landlord) I NOV (first of November is All Saints’ Day) for Sergei Rachmaninov or Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.
18 WOODCUTTER WOOD (Victoria Wood CBE born 1953, is an English comedienne, actress, singer-songwriter, screenwriter and director) C (circa, about) UTTER (speak)
21 EARL King LEAR (old ruler) with L moved to the back
22 FOREBEAR FORE (warning of a flying ball on the golf course) BEAR (beast) for an ancestor found up the family tree
24 RUMBLE Ins of MB (bachelor of Medicine, doctor) in RULE (prescription) to perceive, realise, stumble upon, twig, etc
25 ORNATE OR (aurum, gold) + *(NEAT)
2 POETIC POE (Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849, an American author, poet, editor and literary critic) + TIC (rev of C, circa or about IT) Tut tut second time c = about used in the same puzzle
3 SHANGHAI dd to drug or make drunk and send to sea as a sailor, probably after the city where it all started
4 DANGER D + (ANGER) IRE Thanks TokyoColin
5 SHADOW Ins of AD (advertisement, notice) in SHOW (present)
7 OBTUSE *(BUT SO) English
8 MANUFACTURE Ins of U (turn) + FACT (reality) in MANURE (fertiliser)
14 HOUSEFLY HOUSE (Bingo! from the expression shouted when all the numbers have been called on one’s card) FLY (slang for being astute and sharp)
16 COLOUR Cha of COL (colonel, officer) OUR (publication, The Guardian)
17 GRIEVE dd a grieve is a Scottish farm overseer
20 REVERE REVEREND (preacher) minus ND for Paul Revere (1734–1818) a patriot in the American Revolution. He is most famous for alerting Colonial militia of approaching British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, as dramatized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, Paul Revere’s Ride.

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

26 Responses to “Guardian 25630 – Gordius”

  1. samak says:

    re: 11
    Wool is a town in Dorset.

  2. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. 4dn isn’t really a dud. The wordplay is D-IRE, giving D-ANGER. My COD I think.

  3. molonglo says:

    This was a good Gordius, with some nice bits like the letter in 15a and all of 8d, last in.

  4. Robi says:

    Thanks Gordius and UY.

    I liked FOREBEAR and DIRE, now it has been explained to me!

    I don’t think bog-standard equates to CHEAPO; my understanding is that it is normal or average [Chamabers: ‘basic, ordinary.’]

  5. Robi says:

    P.S. The etymology of bog-standard seems to be obscure; try:

    1. ‘I don’t know what constitutes “nailing down”, but if you read old British sports car and sports motorcycle magazines from the Brooklands era you will find references to “box standard” vehicles, i.e., standard vehicles straight out of the maker’s box, as opposed to those which had been tweaked in various ways to go faster. It is my impression that ignorant journalists overhearing the techie engineering talk in the pits misheard it as “bog standard”.

    2.Uncertain; perhaps most likely bog (“toilet”) + standard with obscure semantic development. Believed to derive from early ceramic toilets being produced to exactly the same specification in white only which became known as the bog standard.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius

    I found this quite hard in places – perhaps I’m a bit rusty after a few days off.

    Thanks Tokyo Colin for explaining ‘dire/danger’ – a much better clue than I thought and one increasing my respect for G though I feel one never knows quite what to expect with him.

    I had forester at first for 22a with ‘st[e]er’ for ‘beast gives one’, but I eventually came to my senses – once again a much better clue than I had first imagined.

    I also liked 13a, 24a (my COD), and 8d.

  7. tupu says:

    re a detailed history and discussion of bog-standard (much along lines of Robi above) see (a very good site in general)

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Gordius and to Uncle Yap for your additional information, which has cleared up the couple of questions I had. I think I’d heard of the landlord in 13ac, probably on this site, but he failed to ring a bell :(

    As you say, some lovely, concise cluing here.

  9. Dreadnought says:

    Yes, I found this tricky in places – I made the same mistake as Tupu on22a and found the only fit from my sources was “huuhtelu” which, oddly enough given this thread, is Finnish for flush .

    COD 7d cos I’m English.

  10. crypticsue says:

    I too found this tricky in places but perhaps if it had been my first rather than 3rd puzzle of the day, I might have got on better. Thanks to Gordius and UY.

  11. Judy Bentley says:

    Thanks to Gordius and Uncle Yap, and for the explanation for ‘danger’. Like ‘anagram’ the other day this is the sort of clue I couldn’t ‘rumble’, which was my last one in. This crossword was far from a stroll in the park for me but to have it done by lunch time without recourse to Grandma Alice makes it just about the right level for me.

  12. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Yesterday someone accused me of criticising whole puzzles rather than individual clues. Although not entirely true that is largely a fair comment.
    So today I shall ignore this “puzzle” and concentrate on just one clue – 4d.
    This is a classic example of the kind of clue which when it occurs too frequently (as sadly it does here) will ruin a puzzle.
    I had -A—- when I glanced at ‘peril'(6),it was obviously ‘danger’, what else could it be?
    As I wrote it in I spotted d-ire and thought how clever that would have been if it were not made immediately redundant by the obvious definition. The cryptic should puzzle, not be something to admire after the puzzle has been solved.
    I am not a compiler so I do not know how easy it is to predict the facility of a definition. What I do know is that there are a number of compilers who so rarely give the game away with a definition that it must be a skill which it is possible to acquire.

  13. Robi says:

    RCW @12; I understand your point. It could have been hazard, however, if you only had the ‘a.’ Perhaps ‘dire possibility’ would have suited you better?

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    Rather a good Gordius, I thought, which took me rather longer than it should in retrospect; the grid didn’t help.

    Last in for me was WOOL, having unsuccessfully tried to persuade myself earlier that it might be LYME or BERE.

    Favourite definitely 13a – given its position in the grid, and the unusual number of letters (not many grids have 11-letter lights), I suspect Gordius might have built the puzzle round it.

    RCW @12: I agree with you that the device for 4dn was clever but that the definition gave it away rather easily. I’d have been tempted to go for ‘Dire warning?’. However, several esteemed colleagues couldn’t parse it, which suggests that a more allusive definition might have made the clue rather difficult. As for your comment: ‘I’m not a compiler so I don’t know how easy it is to predict the facility of a definition’, I would suggest that the compiler is the last person to be able to predict such a thing. I know from my own amateur attempts how difficult it is to gauge the solvability of a clue that I have devised myself. The only way is to put the crossword to one side for several months and then see if I can solve it!

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Good point Gervase,although I rarely solve an Azed clue without at least a partial use of the cryptic!
    Of course that will be partly due to his use of obscure vocabulary.
    Gordius can do it but too often doesn’t. I thought ‘nuisance’ for ‘housefly’ was fine but I had so many crossing letters by then that it still failed.

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog.

    I am another who thinks that bog-standard and CHEAPO are not the same thing.

    It took me some time to remember the press-gang and that other meaning for press but I got there in the end :)

  17. Colin says:

    I could have been here all day, and was for most of it, off and on. A real stinker – I clearly have a long way to go. And cheapo isn’t bog standard.

  18. Brendan (not that one) says:

    General concensus seems to be that this was not “a stroll in the park”! Certainly wasn’t for me although I finally finished it.

    Now I have to “puzzle” why “cd Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7)” is an explanation of 9 Across!

    Anybody help?

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Are you seeking enlightenment about the UY biblical quote, if so I am not the person to ask.
    If you want an explanation of the clue:
    rat-tat is the ‘sound’ you make (on the door-knocker) when you ‘apply’ to enter. Does that help?

  20. Paul B says:

    RCW today does pass judgement on the whole puzzle, I would argue, since he refers to it as (and these are not my quotation marks) a “puzzle”. That is to say, he thinks it is an excuse for a puzzle rather than a proper one. And as ever, there’s precious little to back his insulting opinions up.

    At 4D the device is not clever, but a Guardianism akin to having ‘indeed’ mean ‘contained by DEED’.

  21. stiofain says:

    I usually do the crossword around this time and never get to the comments til late the next day
    so most of the spleen has been vented and my parsing problems have been resolved and comments on the excellence or otherwise of individual clues by me most times are irrelevant.
    I just want to comment on the bad moods and not tomorrows/todays excellent pangrammatic hidden nina masterpiece by the B man.
    RCW u are a cad.
    Your complaints are crap and your insight on what you claim to be acceptable clues are – while perhaps, spelt proper and researched occasionally are also crap.
    Saying you appreciate the great resource that is 15 squared now and again is like a fat old man kicking his dog for sniffing his dinner.

  22. TokyoColin says:

    Well I hope it is late enough that no-one else reads stiofain’s comment. I sometimes disagree with RCW’s opinions and how he expresses them but I think on balance his contributions are worthwhile, if only to stake out one end of the spectrum of solver opinions. I don’t see any reason to resort to that level of abuse.

    And to Paul B, I for one think that the use of ruses such as ‘indeed’ meaning ‘contained by DEED’ is indeed clever and adds sparkle to a pursuit which can otherwise be a pedestrian search for synonyms and unravelling of anagrams.

  23. Paul B says:

    As long as you don’t mind unfairness, Colin. Afrit’s Injunction has a purpose, which is to make crosswords solvable. And in any case, being wilfully obtuse doesn’t seem at all clever to me, rather it seems cheap: hard just for hard’s sake. Any idiot can do that (and some of them actually do).

  24. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Thanks RCW.

    Only just seen your reply.

    No I understood the clue and its solution. I just diddn’t see what the biblical quote added to the explanation.

    “cd” was sufficient but anything that the quote provides eludes me! Or am I being “obtuse”? (Again!)

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Like most biblical quotes it adds merely confusion.

  26. brucew_aus says:

    Very late in getting to this one and for me far from straightforward! RACHMANINOV kept me at bay for days until it finally dawned and with more effort to parse – it was clearly the cod.
    Found this a good contest – with several not parsed correctly – had gone with Dorset sheep for WOOL rather than the place, missed the clever device for D-IRE although I think that I’ve seen that used before and missed the definition of SAN. provided a challenge and some fresh learning (RACHMAN, Ms WOOD) so it gets a big tick from me. Thanks Gordius.

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