Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,631 by Bonxie

Posted by PeterO on May 9th, 2012


I put this mostly at the easier end of the spectrum, but none the less pleasing for that; but in reviewing the writeup, I see that I found quite a number of the answers required special comment or explanatory link .

There is a distinctly American twang to several of the answers.

9. Main toy is destroyed — ill feeling results (9)
ANIMOSITY An anagram (‘destroyed’) of ‘main toy is’.
10. English detective attends court ruling (5)
EDICT A charade of E (‘English’) + DI (‘detective’ inspector) + CT (‘court’).
11. Pitt discharged from Outpatients wearing robe (7)
SOUTANE An anagram (‘discharged’) of ‘outpatients’ without ‘pitt’. The answer is a primarily Roman Catholic clerical vestment.
12. Retire around 50, then party! (7)
BLOWOUT An envelope (‘around’) of L (Roman numeral, ’50’) in BOW OUT (‘retire’).
13. She returns in an instant (4)
NINA An answer hidden in ‘AN INstant’ reversed. The puzzle has a Nina! I cannot spot any other.
14. Turn up repeatedly before noon? That’s ridiculous (10)
COCKAMAMIE A charade of COCK (‘turn up’) + AM AM (‘repeatedly before noon’) + IE (‘thats’). The answer is an Americanism.
16. Boy played with headless dog (7)
SAMOYED A charade of SAM (‘boy’) [t]OYED (‘played with headless’).
17. Drives over to workforce of women (7)
DISTAFF A charade of DI, a reversal (‘over’) of ID (‘drives’ in Freudian analysis) + STAFF (‘workforce’).
19. Posturing wildly, gripping pole below the belt (10)
UNSPORTING An envelope (‘gripping’) of N (‘pole’) in USPORTING, an anagram (‘wildly’) of ‘posturing’.
22. Case held in perpetuity (4)
ETUI An answer hidden in ‘perpETUIty’.
24. Try to catch the girl (7)
HEATHER An envelope (‘to catch’) of ‘the’ in HEAR (‘try’).
25. Queen embraces new quiz game (7)
BEZIQUE An envelope (‘embraces’) of ZIQU, an anagram (‘new’) of ‘quiz’ in BEE (‘queen'; an instance rather than a definition). The answer is a card game.
26. City given half the capital for material (5)
NYLON A charade of NY (‘city’) + LON[don] (‘the capital’).
27. Reticent judge about to butt in (9)
INTERJECT An anagram o ‘reticent’) + J (‘judge’).
1. Oriental leaves circuit, having chanted verses about painful outburst (7,8)
LAPSANG SOUCHONG A charade of LAP (‘circuit’) + an envelope (‘about’) of OUCH (‘painful outburst’) in SANG SONG (‘chanted verses’). The answer is the famous Chinese black tea.
2. Plant flying bomb behind packing container (8)
VIBURNUM A charade of VI (V1, ‘flying bomb’) + an envelope (‘packing’) of URN (‘container’) in BUM (‘behind’).
3. Today? Forever? Never! (2,3)
NO WAY A charade of NOW (‘today’) + AY (‘forever’).
4. Kindling passion prior to deal (8)
FIREWOOD A charade of FIRE (‘passion’) + WOOD (‘deal'; again an example).
5. Other ’alf goes back into Denmark for spirit (6)
DYBBUK An envelope (‘into’) of YBBU, a reversal (‘back’) of ‘UBBY (‘other ‘alf’) in DK (‘Denmark’ IVR). The answer is a generally malevolent spirit in Jewish folklore.
6. One changing others with first-class intervention? (9)
REFORMIST An envelope (‘with … intervention’) of FORM I (‘first-class’) in REST (‘others’).
7. Wind-up children’s characters, new out (6)
SIMOOM The definition has ‘wind’ with a short i; The children’s characters are MOOMI[n]S (‘new out’), reversed (‘up’).
8. One holding torch trips — batteries fly out (6,2,7)
STATUE OF LIBERTY An anagram (‘trips’) of ‘batteries fly out’. Excellent surface.
15. Instrument to chop — sharpen axes first (9)
XYLOPHONE A charade of XY (‘axes’) + LOP (‘chop’) + HONE (‘sharpen’).
17. After sound of bell try looking up symbolic text (8)
DINGBATS A charade of DING (‘sound of bell’) + BATS, a reversal (‘looking up’ in a down clue) of STAB (‘try’).
18. Hostile towards endless pursuit of relics (8)
ANTIQUES A charade of ANTI (‘hostile towards’) + QUES[t] (‘endless pursuit’).
20. Principal way to core fruit (6)
STAPLE A charade of ST (street, ‘way’) + AP[p]LE (‘core fruit’).
21. Preserver of the Ancients — salt and heart of plum? (3,3)
TAR PIT A charade of TAR (‘salt’) + PIT (primarily American for a fruit stone or pip, ‘heart of plum’). The answer refers in particular to the La Brea Tar Pits.
23. Ezra Pound’s heart­broken shade (5)
AZURE An anagram (‘broken’) of ‘ezra’ + U (‘poUnd’s heart’).

41 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,631 by Bonxie”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter, including for explaining the ‘try to catch’ in 24a and the kids characters in 7d. 75 minutes for this one, with aids only afterwards for the abstruse ones: 14a, 5 (!) and 7d. But I did fail on 27a, having ‘intercept.’ Lots to like here, including 1d’s tea and 15d’s axes. Nice one, Bonxie.

  2. greyfox says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle. A pangram too – the first in quite a while?

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Peter, for your clear explanations. I’m not sure I’d put this one at the easier end of the spectrum though!

    It was a puzzle that grew on me, and I ended up really liking LAPSANG SOUCHONG, BLOWOUT and HEATHER – all cleverly but clearly clued. COCKAMAMIE, DYBBUK, SIMOOM and SOUTANE were all new to me though, which held me up a bit. For the last, I took ‘discharged’ to be the instruction to remove PITT, and ‘wearing’ as the anagrind, but I could be wrong.

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Peter, though I thought this was distinctly hard; the cheat book was out midway through. It started off well with 9a and 10a going in straight away, but slowed down thereafter.

    I concur with KD’s interpretation wrt SOUTANE.

  5. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. There were several cases where I was convinced I had the right answer but could not explain them. I have never heard of those childrens characters but I did remember the wind.

    It took me a while in 15d to recognise that axes were NOT choppers – then I could see the whole derivation.

  6. Allan_C says:

    Some new words for me, in particular COCKAMAMIE – not in Chambers (1998), though it’s in Collins (2006).

    I agree with K’s D an Dave E about SOUTANE.


  7. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Bonxie

    I found this teasingly hard with many clever clues.

    I agreed with KD and dave E above.

    I oddly misparsed Heather – I thought it was heat (try to get something to catch fire?) + her, and also edict (I mistook dic for a detective and saw the t as somehow att-ends. The answers themselves were clear enough and perhaps this led to accepting first explanatory guesses too hurriedly with a busy late morning and afternoon ahead. But I should have known better – since such parsings are almost insulting to the setter..

    I also missed the pangram.

    I ticked a number of clues which were pleasingly clever – 12a, 16a, 1d, 2d, 7d, 15d (my COD).

  8. Paul B says:

    SOUTANE, COCKAMAMIE, ETUI, BEZIQUE, VIBURNUM, DYBBUK & SIMOOM I don’t think so, Mr Daily Puzzle Setter. Yes it’s a pangram, but that’s no excuse, as we see quite frequently in other puzzles.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO.

    I had started suspecting a pangram, but gave up looking for it as my frustration increased by not seeing the wnswers without aids. It didn’t help that two of the longer ones – 1d and 14ac – were quite outside my experience.

    I’ve only ever heard the latter watching “the Big Bang Theory”, and hadn’t the slightest idea how to spell it. Eventually I realised that it was “before noon” that was repeated, rather than “turn up”, but this was when I had almost all of the crossing lertters, a bit late for it to have been any use :(

  10. PeterO says:

    Completing a puzzle that I have to blog gives such a sense of relief that it tends to make me think it must have been a particularly easy one! In this case it did help that I knew all the vocabulary.

    K’s D (and just about everyone else) – I agree on the parsing of SOUTANE – it was a slip in my writeup.

  11. Robi says:

    Thanks Bonxie for one that I didn’t think was ‘mostly at the easier end of the spectrum.’

    Thanks to PeterO; I’m not sure whether the GEE ‘TS E’SY counts as a NINA and validates your assessment! I didn’t know of the Moomins, although guessed at their existence. SOUTANE, SIMOOM and DYBBUK new to me. I’m somewhat surprised that a few people don’t know COCKAMAMIE (which is in my Chambers 11th ed.) I think I remember John Wayne saying it in some Western but a more recent example, often quoted is from the Clint Eastwood ‘In the Line of Fire’

    I particularly enjoyed REFORMIST and XYLOPHONE, and took far too long to distance myself from Olympic torch bearers.

  12. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    When I saw ‘oriental leaves’ my thoughts were instantly on tea.
    The enumeration gave me 1d and made the left hand side disappointingly easy.
    However, this was more than compensated for by the RHS and particularly the NE corner which had me really struggling. This, even though Tove Jansson’s work was a favourite with my daughters.
    Although 15d went straight in I admired the attempt to mislead with ‘axes’.
    Last in was the weird ‘cockamamie’ and I failed on 21d by entering ‘tar-oil’ without thinking properly.
    Overall, a jolly good work-out after two disappointing days.

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Yes, Robi, I forgot how good I thought ‘reformist’ was; spent ages looking for NEO______! Well done compiler.

  14. noddybankie says:

    Ah, etui – it has been a while.
    That and stoa – two stalwarts of Crossworld World.

  15. Miche says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Didn’t spot the pangram. Never do. I often miss Ninas too – but not this one!

    I’d only heard of ETUI because it was in a Rufus a while back. VIBURNUM new to me, but clear enough from the wordplay. Mention of Moomins brought back fuzzy memories of a TV version long ago, voiced I think by Michael Flanders.

    Allan_C @6: I have Chambers 9th ed. on paper and 12th ed. as an iOS app. Only the latter has COCKAMAMIE, so it seems to have (re?)entered sometime after 2003.

    COD for me: XYLOPHONE for the great misdirection on “axes”. Honourable mention: STATUE OF LIBERTY.

  16. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    This seemed tough to me, probably because it was done in several sessions through the day, between meetings and on an iPad which is always a horror in itself. Having said that, it was fun, in a rock climbing sort of way.

    BEZIQUE made me think “pangram coming up” straight away and it did help with XYLOPHONE, almost the last in.

    5 and 7 down were, for me, examples of the good and the bad in clues for uncommon words: the former very fair with a clear construction and the latter, in my opinion, unfair, cluing an uncommon word with another.

  17. NeilW says:

    clueing even..

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Not too uncommon, Neil

    Although they obviously do not parse it is interesting to note that simoom has the alternative spelling simoon and cockamamie has been spelled cockamanie.

  19. NeilW says:

    RCW, Finnish children and North African winds? Sorry, but both had passed me by and I stand by my comment that the combined serendipitous knowledge is not ideal in a daily.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Not just Finnish/Swedish, visit your local library. They sell world-wide in millions. I bet more UK children know the works of Tove Jansson than those of Dickens.

  21. NeilW says:

    RCW, here in Indonesia, we’re short on libraries, never mind Mr Jansson’s works…

    Anyway, I’ll dodge the bullet and accept that the Guardian is an English newspaper so I can’t complain. At least the Keris comes up regularly, although annoyingly often misspelt as Kris.

  22. scchua says:

    Thanks PeterO and Bonxie for a challenging workout of a puzzle.
    Favourites were 1D, 6D and 7D, and 8D, easy enough but an excellent surface. And haven’t of the Moomins before either.
    The one I failed on was 13A. I wonder if anyone else went for NONA, Roman goddess – reversal (returns) of “anon”, in an instant?

  23. Lloyde says:

    Sorry, I’m new to this. I know what a pangram is, but where does it appear in this puzzle? All the letters appear in the puzzle, but that can’t be that unusual, surely.

  24. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Not easy for me. I managed about half of it fairly quickly then ground to a halt. After spending most of the day on other activities I came back to the puzzle, which eventually yielded.

    Lots of very good clues. I did know all the words, though they weren’t all easy to recall, and I recognised (after BEZIQUE, I think) that the puzzle was likely to be a pangram, though this didn’t help me much (Lloyde @23 – it isn’t that common for a crossword to contain all the letters of the alphabet unless the compiler deliberately tries for it).

    NeilW @21: Tove Jansson was female (a Swedish-speaking Finn, as it happens). As well as the Moomin books, she wrote several adult works, of which the best known is probably ‘The Summer Book’ (Sommarboken).

  25. PeterO says:

    Welcome Lloyde. As Gervase says, a pangram is no more than what you thought it was. They come up fairly regularly, I take it mostly as the setter’s intent.

  26. slipstream says:

    I am an American and have visited La Brea Tar Pits. I am a bit embarrassed that I got TAR easily but stared at _I_ for a long time. Good one.

    Never heard of SOUTANE, BEZIQUE, VIBURNUM, SIMOOMM or moomins.

    Lloyde @ 23: “pangram” simply means that the entire alphabet is used in the grid. It is a rare accomplishment.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Yes, Gervase, she was a quite remarkable woman. She was trained as an artist and drew all the illustrations herself. The children’s stories have been filmed and turned into a TV series.
    The most fascinating aspect of her Moomin stories is that through a satirical look at contemporary society she makes them much more interesting to adults than the standard child fare.
    This was always a relief when I had bedtime reading duties for my daughters – nothing like a bit of lefty indoctrination with the cocoa!

  28. RCWhiting says:

    By the way, apart from the UK, their biggest market is Japan but I do not know anything about Indonesia.

  29. Thomas99 says:

    Re Tove Jansson – a lot of her work has been (re-)translated and (re-)published recently, including her illustrations to Alice in Wonderland, which I was recently given – wonderful. Apparently the Moomin books range from fairly straightforward early ones to darker, more adult themes later on. That said, the very first was apparently Comet in Moominland, which held me utterly enthralled but also quite frightened when it was on Jackanory many years ago. On my shelves I have just the Alice, A Winter Book (short stories for adults) and the splendid Folio Society edition of Finn Family Moomintroll. Oh, and somewhere a cuddly Moominpapa doll from Foyles. All are recommended.

  30. stiofain says:

    Im really surprised more hasnt been made of the great double bluff of NINA this was my favourite guardian xword in quite some time.

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    While the Indy’s Dac can always be saved for a rainy day and while we normally go for The Guardian, the FT’s choice of the day (the great Loroso) created a dilemma.
    I must say, I am not one of Bonxie’s biggest fans – he’s clever, for sure, but at times also quite impenetrable – but after throwing the dice the B of Bonxie came on top.

    Today’s offering was, we thought, one of Bonxie’s better offerings. Clever, but accessible this time, even if there were some very very obscure words – all guessable, though. That said, all? I agree with NeilW that SIMOOM (7d) was one bridge too far.
    We (that is: I) spotted the pangram quite quickly, and for once, it helped us with the final bits (the W that had to be part of 12ac, for example).

    On balance, a very good puzzle – perhaps not that hard on the Scale of Bonxie, but certainly not that easy on the Scale of the Guardian.

    Nevertheless, we are left with some question marks.
    In 11ac Pitt is discharged from Outpatients, leaving us with Outaens. I don’t think that ‘discharged’ is the anagrind, but I do believe that Bonxie wants us to see ‘wearing’ as the anagrind.
    In 16ac TOYED is defined as ‘played with’. Not sure that is right. ‘Toyed’ needs the word ‘with’ too.
    My PinC was not happy with ‘Drives’ for ID in 17ac. In her opinion, it should have been the singular ‘Drive’.
    And, finally, we both thought that in 20ac ‘to core fruit’ for AP[p]LE was grammatically not completely pure within the clue.

    Other than that, good stuff!
    Thank you, Bonxie, for that & PeterO for the blog.

  32. Paul B says:

    Well, the ‘Pitt discharged from Outpatients wearing robe’ has quite a lot wrong with it, in terms of fairness. First, you would expect to have the letters p, i, t & t ‘discharged from’ (meaning removed from) o, u, t, p, a, t, i, e, n, t, s as described, i.e. as a linear sequence, but instead the solver is expected to remove p, t, i, t through divination. And as ‘from’ is not enough (it doesn’t mean ‘taken from’) as a subtraction indicator, we must assume that ‘discharged’ (which would have been weak by any standard measure) is not an anag-ind to help us with the problem.

    Thereafter, though vexed, we must anagram the remaining elements (presumably o, u, t, a, e, n, s) using the indicator ‘wearing’, which seems to me a very weak instruction. Add to that the fact that the required word is hopelessly recondite, and you have a disaster of a clue, quite frankly, written entirely to satisfy a surface rather than any decent cryptic construction, and one for the Cryptic Hall of Shame (even in The Guardian section).

  33. Davy says:

    Regarding 11a, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I thought the structure of the clue was fairly obvious
    although the answer wasn’t. I cannot understand what difference it makes (Paul B) whether PTIT or PITT is removed
    from outpatients, the same letters remain ie OUTAENS. The problem lies in solving the anagram as there are four vowels,
    three consonants and loads of possibilities. However, with crossing letters, it became more guessable. So, dictionary
    check and bingo.

  34. Paul B says:

    It’s an unfairness conversation, Davy.

    If you instruct solvers to remove letters from anagram fodder prior to anagram indication, then the letters (by convention) have to come out in the same order as they appear in said fodder. So, you’d need to start with something like ‘Pitt, after wounding, leaves Outpatients’. After that, there ought to be another anag-ind to complete the solving operations, so the clue might be something like ‘Pitt, after wounding, leaves Outpatients, looking shaky in robe’. (Even though it’s actually a cassock.)

    But even then, I’d argue that it’s utterly unfair to clue any recondite word by anagram: how will solvers know where to put the letters, even if they can see through someone’s complex clueing schemes? In a daily puzzle, in all but the most special circumstances, clues should be solvable on their own (i.e. without the aid of crossing letters) and without the use of a dictionary. And if an entry must be arcane, the setter should give it away. In a Prize puzzle it’s different, in a themed puzzle, sometimes it HAS to be different, but the best setters, in my opinion at least, always seem to find a workaround.

  35. Bertandjoyce says:

    We are not sure whether anyone else has noticed but the title seems to have incorporated a typical Grauniad typo!

  36. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks B&J, now corrected.

  37. RCWhiting says:

    Of course Paul, the degree of reconditeness (?) is very much in the eye of the reader.
    I am not RC but for some reason ‘soutane’ was very familiar.
    Does it feature in some detective novels? Perhaps someone else might know, but it is certainly very unrecondite(?) to me.
    I agree with Davy, re PITT.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    RCW, good to see you back on terms with Paul B.
    The solution ‘soutane’ was not really the problem for us (even though it could have been ‘tousane’ – but then, it is a ‘cross’word).
    The Pitt discussion is probably not a major point for some, but I totally agree with Paul B on this when he says that it’s wrong to remove letters before the anagram takes place.
    And, indeed, it looks like Bonxie does this.
    But does he?
    What if we read the clue as: Pitt discharged from “Outpatients wearing”?
    Perhaps, this is nitpicking in the eyes of the solver, but for a compiler it should be something quite essential (IMO).

  39. RCWhiting says:

    If one were to consider ‘Pitt’ not as a word or name (this is just for all those surface lovers) but as a selection of four letters. If asked to remove (discharge) these four letters from the eleven letters ‘outpatients’ why would it occur to anyone to bother about order.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    RCW, I do agree with you that PITT could also be seen as P,I,T,T (four characters) – which could mean “what are we talking about?”.
    Personally, I do not have a problem with that at all (like I do not have a problem with this particular Bonxie clue too, eventually), but there are quite a few rules in Crosswordland (especially outside The Guardian Empire).
    While at times my heart lies elsewhere, I do see where people/setters like Paul B come from.

  41. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Bonxie and PeterO.

    This was certainly at the challenging end for me and took a few sessions to get it out. Recognized the pangram early on (after INTERJECT closely followed on from BEZIQUE) which helped knowing that there were X, W and V to be found eventually.

    A nice combination of unusual words (DYBBUK and VIBURNUM) with some like TAR PIT which took a while to settle with (kept fighting the TAR OIL monster). I also had written in MONA originally as a reversal of AN with MO(instant) which made getting the tea clue that bit harder.

    Throw in some clever clues and surfaces and an enjoyable hour or two filled in.

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