Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,632 – Qaos

Posted by manehi on May 10th, 2012


Enjoyable crossword with lots of nice surfaces and a clever little theme. Favourite clues: 2,21,22, 14 and 24.

9 TREACHERY =”infidelity” (Terry)* around ACHE=”desire”
10 NAMES =”Calls” rev(SE[a]MAN)=”sailor”, with an ‘a’=”one” docked
11 RUINOUS =”catastrophic” (In our)* + US=”America”
12 TRIGGER =the famous horse [wiki], Del Boy “Trotter’s… friend” in Only Fools and Horses T[rotter] + RIG=fiddle + rev(R[oyal] E[ngineers])=ENGINEERS=25, around G[rand]=”£1,000″
13 BLESS =”Approve” B LESS
14 AIR KISSES =”Mwah! Mwah!” AIR=song + KISS=”rock band” + the first letters (“leads to”) of E[xciting] S[ounds]
16 AUTOMATIC TELLER =”it pays out money” AUTO=car + (claim letter)*
19 DECAGONAL =”Having many sides” (can go)* in DEAL=agreement
21 PRUNE double def “Cut”; “dried fruit”
22 PIGGIES “small animals” PIG=”Wolf”=devour greedily, + GI[v]ES
23 GASOHOL =”fuel” Gaol=”Can”, around SO=very + H[ot]
24 PLAIT &lit “PIGTAIL” being an anagram (twist) of: PLAIT + I=one + G[ood]
25 ENGINEERS double def “Driver’s”; “manoeuvres”
1 STORYBOARD =”outline” STORY=lie + BOARD=table
2,21,22 CECI N’EST PAS UNE PIPE =”17’s piece[wiki] (piece paints up scene that’s)*. Also known as The Treachery of Images – see 9ac, 7dn
3 ACROSS =”12’s bearing” in this grid A=one + CROSS=angry
4 ZEUS =”god” Z=unknown + rev(SUE)=”girl raised”
5 HYSTERICAL =”Very amusing” (hairstyle)* around C[onservative]
6 INFINITE =”for ever” IN=trendy + FINE=elegant around IT[aly]
7 IMAGES =”ICONS” if Apple had a range of wizards, they might be called iMages (as in iPhone etc)
8 TSAR =”ruler” (Tears)*, losing E[nglish]
14 ASTONISHED “surprised” (he is not sad)*
15 SURREALIST &lit (is art’s rule)*
17 MAGRITTE =”Artist” MATE=”China” plate in rhyming slang, around GRIT=courage
18 LAUGHTER =”glee” A + (thug)* + E[scape], all inside L and R =”sides”
20 COGNAC =”Drink” Hidden reversed in VatiCAN GO Carefully
23 GAGA =”Crazy” Not sure of the parsing, is it implied that Lady Gaga has taken the name of a Mr/Lord GAGA?

61 Responses to “Guardian 25,632 – Qaos”

  1. Mitch says:

    Isn’t 12a to do with characters in “Only fools and horses”? I loved the tichy reference to England’s ex-captain :-)

  2. Mitch says:

    Sorry. Tichy etc referred to 9a

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, manehi

    I thought TRIGGER was referring to Del Boy Trotter’s friend in Only Fools and Horses.

    I think “docked” only really works for cutting the tail off a word so wasn’t too happy about NAMES.

  4. Miche says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    Trigger is the nickname of Del Trotter’s friend in the long-running sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

    I got off to a slow start on this one, maybe due to my precaffeinated state. Seeing that the first word of 2,21,22 was _E_I, I realised it wasn’t English, but then wasted several minutes trying to think of a Latin phrase.

    I think you’re right about 23d.

    I liked iMages a lot.

  5. manehi says:

    Mitch, NeilW, Miche: thanks for the help with 12, corrected now.

  6. NeilW says:

    Perhaps I’m being slow but why 12 in “12’s bearing”?

  7. Gervase says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    Fun puzzle, which I managed without assistance. I agree with Mitch that TRIGGER refers to a character in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ (see Tramp’s puzzle Guardian 25612!); the wordplay alludes to the scams which are an essential part of the mise-en-scène. I can’t parse GAGA either….

    At first I thought ‘Lie on table’ might be FIB RE BOARD, but crossing letters put me right for 1d.

    Quite a lot of anagrams and partial anagrams, but this didn’t spoil my amusement, because the surfaces were very apposite; 16a is particularly good in this respect. I also liked the long anagram (again, nice surface); 24a, 6d, 7d also appealed.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks manehi and Qaos

    I found this hard and entertaining. I had to rack my brains and work at the anagram before solving 2d etc having got 17d. I forgot about Lady G and this made parsing Gaga difficult but it eventually became clear after googling.

    I ticked 12a, 23a, 5d, 18d.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    Well, I’m not sure what to make of this one. I do think the long clue, in French, as an anagram is a bit unfair (by the way, it’s (PIECE PAINTS UP SCENE)* which just leaves ’17’s’ as the definition). If you’re familiar with Magritte, it’s a write-in; I’m not, and persevered to work out the title, which was pretty much my last one in. But I speak French, so could guess several of the words; if you don’t I can imagine you’d be knackered (or you’d resort to the internet).

    I thought it was a bit anagram-heavy too, but I like IMAGES now that you’ve explained it.

  10. Gervase says:

    NeilW @3,6: ‘Docked’ can refer to the removal of a tail, as you say – which would be the implication if there were no accompanying words. But you can also refer to pay being ‘docked’, which just implies ‘taken away’ without any position being implied; therefore ‘one’s docked’ works for me as ‘take away A’.

    In 3d I interpreted ’12’s bearing’ as the orientation of the answer for 12 (i.e. ACROSS), but without much confidence.

  11. CliffB says:

    To NeilW: Crossword clues can have one of two bearings (across and down). “12’s bearing” refers to this and should not be replaced by “Trigger’s bearing”.

  12. manehi says:

    Kathryn’s Dad – thanks for pointing out the missing anagram fodder… I was one of those who just wrote it in.

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    For GAGA, I took it that it was just half of LADY GAGA, but again I entered it without much confidence.

  14. CliffB says:

    The wordplay I don’t fully understand (apart from “gaga”, which nobody seems to follow fully) is “trigger”. How do you get ER from “over 25″?

  15. molonglo says:

    Thanks manehi, and Qaos for another fine offering. Some ingenuities here, like 14d which made me think of Wham and whose exciting sounds are a bonus not (really) the definition. Similarly with 24a where there is double-delivery in the pigtail. ‘Can’ gets three tricky runs in 19 and 23a and 20d. ACROSS and GAGA are trickier still. Luckily I knew 17d’s famous work.

  16. manehi says:

    CliffB: “over” implies reversal, and 25=ENGINEERS. This leads to rev(RE) where RE=Royal Engineers.

  17. NeilW says:

    CliffB @11. Thanks but I’m not *that* slow! :) The question is why 12, why not any of the other across clue numbers? (That’s why Gervase says he’s not all that confident either.)

  18. CliffB says:

    I understand over and I know that this blog says 25 = “engineers” but I’ve never come across 25 meaning “engineers”. Why?

  19. manehi says:

    CliffB: the answer to 25ac in this puzzle is ENGINEERS.

    NeilW: TRIGGER fits more nicely into the “surface” than the other across solutions, perhaps?

  20. CliffB says:

    NeilW: 12 is the only across clue that has a solution (a name) that lends itself to the deception involving the solver thinking its answer should be substituted in place of the clue number. It just doesn’t work for “names”, does it?

  21. CliffB says:

    Manehi: I can’t believe (especially bearing in mind the discussion on 12 across) that I missed that! Unbelieveable. I’ll go and lie down.

  22. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks manehi

    I don’t remember attempting a Qaos puzzle before.

    Last in was 14a. Getting a bit aged but not a rocker, I had never heard of a band called Kiss.

    Enjoyable puzzle.

  23. Gervase says:

    Suggestions from manehi @19 and CliffB @20 that ’12’ is the best fit for the device in 3d seem very plausible. But 12 is still only an example of an ACROSS clue, albeit perhaps the most suitable for the purpose, so the clue for 3d could have dope with a question mark, ‘e.g.’, ‘say’, or ‘perhaps’.

  24. Paul B says:

    That’s right, it’s only one example, so should have been given a ‘for example’.

    I had a great many quibbles with these Qaotic clues, which contained myriad ungrammatical contructions, and multiple unfairnesses. I’m not going to list them as this would effectively re-blog the puzzle, but some really dreadful stuff. Essentially I would say this: stop worrying about the bloody surfaces, and get to grips with the cryptic grammar!

  25. Barry says:

    I thought of “whiteboard” for 1d, (“white lie”) since I’m often in meetings with people who use ‘to whiteboard’ to mean ‘to outline’ when scribbling on a whiteboard.

    But then I also thought of ‘Air Quotes’ for 14a (Quo being Status Quo the rock band, and t-e-s coming from ‘leads’ (of) “t”o “e”xciting “s”ounds.

    Both wrong, but funny.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Except for the SE (23ac, 23d) I polished this off too easily.
    I am neither an expert at the French language or 20th century artists but it happens that ‘ceci….’ is the one and only Magritte piece of which I know the title so that was a big help. A tip for beginners: I very early decided that 1d was ?????board, so I used the B, A and D to make rapid inroads, you do not need to solve the whole clue.
    If a compiler is happy to include ‘air kisses’ then s/he must struggle to find a definition that is not obvious. I cannot think of anything better than ‘mwah,mwah’ but it is very weak.
    ‘Gasohol’ took me a while at the end and it was only then that I could write in ‘gaga’ which I failed completely to parse until I came here.Sadly,I still have no idea, the Lady Gaga seems just unbelievable. Unless lady is used as in ‘she is my lady’ meaning wife. Not really?

  27. chas says:

    Thanks to manehi for the blog.

    I took 25 to be ENGINEERS because in USA a train driver is called an engineer – I assumed Qaos had omitted the hint that he wanted a foreign driver. That omission is bad.

    When I was initially fighting 2,21,22 I had _E_I which obviously leads to peri since that is the only word in crosswordland fitting there! Once I had solved MAGRITTE then I knew that peri was not right.

    In 17d I did like China=mate eventually. I had spent some time trying to squeeze MING in there but it refused to go :)

  28. NeilW says:

    chas, I think it’s OK. Chambers merely says “esp US”.

  29. Thomas99 says:

    The quibble that 3d needs a “for example” or similar seems wrong to me. The “bearing” 12 is across and can’t, on the correct reading, be anything else. An equivalent case would be cluing “Yellow” as “the colour of custard”. Would we expect a “for example” or “perhaps” or similar there? I don’t think so.

    I’m not sure the second paragraph of Paul B’s comment follows fifteensquared’s site policy: “Any criticism of a puzzle or clue must be valid, constructive and presented in a polite manner. The reason for any dissatisfaction should be clearly indicated” (my emphasis). He says there are lots of flaws in the puzzle but doesn’t indicate what they are (apart from the one about 3d, which, as I say, I think he’s wrong about anyway). I think there are very few liberties in this puzzle and Paul B has probably misunderstood some of the clues.

    This point has been made here before (by Enigmatist, no less, on one occasion): if you’re going to be negative you have say what you think is wrong.

  30. Qaos says:

    Many thanks manehi for the blog and to everyone else for their feedback. It’s always appreciated!

    I can help clear up a couple of points. For 23dn the artist in question is LADY GAGA, so “other half” was just meant to be the second half of her stage name.

    For 3dn, I did indeed choose 12 as the reference across clue since 12’s answer is a person. “bearing” then might be (mis)taken to mean “manner” to make the clue a bit more cryptic. It’s an interesting discussion as to whether this needs an extra “perhaps” or not. Personally, I think not, since although 12 is just one of the across clues, it only has one bearing.

    Since this puzzle was produced back in January, the TRIGGER overlap with Tramp’s excellent “Only Fools and Horses” puzzle from a few weeks ago (25,612) was purely coincidental!

    Best wishes,


  31. Thomas99 says:

    Correction to 29 above – I missed out a word in my second sentence. It should read “The ‘bearing’ of 12 is across…”

  32. Thomas99 says:

    Not surprisingly, Qaos explains 3d rather better than me anyway!

  33. RCWhiting says:

    Thomas99, I think you have failed to recognise Paul B’s comments for what they are, perhaps?

  34. Thomas99 says:

    I don’t think so. What do you think they are?

  35. Miche says:

    Chas @27: The UK train drivers’ union ASLEF is the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, so I don’t think ENGINEERS needs to be signalled (sorry!) as US.

  36. RCWhiting says:

    In view of your reminder about the board rules it would be better if I say no more (as Eric Idle would say).

  37. Gervase says:

    Hi Qaos. Thanks for dropping by.

    Re 3d, I take your point about the clue. But ‘E.g. 12’s bearing makes one angry’ would have preserved the ambiguity and made it a wee bit easier to parse for most of us!

    Great puzzle. Hope for more soon.

  38. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thank goodness for the Check button! It meant that my first attempt at 23d didn’t screw me up after I tried Gala, Dali’s other half (well he was a bit unusual wasn’t he?).

  39. Andy says:

    Re 3d – fools and angels – I saw 3d immediately, smiled & moved on. But I found the gasohol/gaga bit intractible though.

    Overall, entertaining, amusing and fresh I thought. Thank you Qaos.

  40. Paul B says:

    As I said, I didn’t really want to step on Manehi’s toes and, with a long list of concerns, effectively re-blog the puzzle. If Thomas99 thinks my only route to salvation is to post that list regardless, then he should say and I’ll go for it. If he prefers to come off-line, for the sake of others who might not wish to endure what will very likely be seen as ultra-pedantic moaning, then he can send a response to surfcake at tiscali dot co dot uk, where we’ll chat at our leisure.

    Most people on the Guardian thread tend to decline this latter invitation, I note, which is always a disappointment to me, obviously.

  41. smokeythebandit says:

    Does anyone remember a crossword many years ago on this same theme. I think it must have been the independent saturday magazine. Can’t remember much about it but the letters to be highlighted formed a picture of the said pipe.

  42. Trebor says:

    I have no time for clues which are firstly very obviously anagrams and secondly resolve to non-English words or phrases. Very unsatisfying clue in an other words fine puzzle.

  43. apiarist says:

    Good grief ! A theme too far for me.

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Even though there were a few clues that we labelled with a question mark, we thought this was all in all an enjoyable puzzle to solve.
    As others said, perhaps just a tad too many clues based on anagrams but, that said, some of them were quite good like 14d and 15d (and that painting too).

    I do not want to step in Paul B’s shoes (although I am really interested in what he thinks is wrong with this crossword) but, as I said before, we had some question marks too.
    We are, just like some others, not convinced by the use of ‘docked’ in 10ac (NAMES), also a pity that the crossing TSAR (8d) [which we solved at the same instant] has a similar device.
    13ac (BLESS) has a nice idea, but that short thing is a hyphen, not a minus sign.
    Qaos already explained GAGA (23d), but unfortunately I still cannot see why the ‘second half’ is the ‘other half’. Bit weakish.
    More serious, I think, is the use of ‘with’ in 18d. Many setters use this word as a link between construction and definition. Here it is meant to be like that too, but not really appropriate as the clue suggests that “with glee” is the definition.
    We liked the idea in 24ac (that PLAIT plus IG could lead to ‘pigtail’) but the anagram indicator is in the wrong place, we thought, that is if it’s all right at all. Qaos means: it can be ‘pigtail’ combined with IG after a twist. Not convinced that the clue tells us this.

    We liked, however, “gives away heart” in 22ac, 7d (a surface which, for some reason, made me think of Uriah Heep’s Demons and Wizards) and a few more (including 3d, although we understand the objections).

    Despite some critical notes, I have a feeling that Qaos is a setter who puts his heart in compiling and does not make use of some kind of automatic pilot.
    A thing that I always appreciate.

    As I said before, we enjoyed solving this crossword, for which many thanks to Qaos.
    Tatu ( :) )to Manehi.

  45. Stumper says:

    For 23d, I took Gaga to mean Lord Gaga or Mr Gaga, therefore the husband (other half) of Lady Gaga

  46. Ivah says:

    10 across : ones docked nes around am = ancient mariner?

  47. Sil van den Hoek says:

    But, Ivah, where’s the indicator that tells us that NES should go around AM? It’s certainly not ‘back’. I fear, it is like Manehi’s blog tells us – ‘docked’ like ‘cropped’, ‘clipped’ or ‘curtailed’, which is not what happened to the SEAMAN.

  48. RCWhiting says:

    If ‘dock’ means to shorten, then the removal of ANY letter from a word will shorten it.
    And how exactly is an hyphen distinguishable from a minus sign?

  49. Sil van den Hoek says:

    RCW, I am not a Brit, but my understanding of ‘to dock’ is that it means ‘to shorten the tail’. Surely in Crosswordland it has always been like that.
    As to hyphen/minus, the symbol for ‘minus’ (as intended by Qaos) is typographically longer than a ‘hyphen’. See:

  50. RCWhiting says:

    Chambers, amongst many meanings for ‘dock’ gives the one Gervase quotes @10.
    Your wiki link actually states that in many circumstances they are the same. In any case do we know which was printed in the paper and was it the same as that used online. Did you get out your micrometer (I didn’t)and what are the two lengths.

  51. flashling says:

    My ex wife was a typographer, very hot on the differences between m/n dashes hyphens etc, but I’ll admit I never really saw the point to the difference, perhaps that’s why she’s the ex…

    Still B- was clever to me, but some here don’t work for me, docked in the middle, gaga? Oh well perhaps I’m just out of practice with the G, the ex was a regular buyer and failer at the crossword (she hated me for completing it) and I fell out of love with the paper too. Paul B is I suspect a bit sore he doesn’t get a regular gig here, but I get his general points.

  52. Paul B says:

    Well, Flash, you suspect speculatively, I suggest. I sincerely hope your ex-typographer didn’t have to put up with such jibes.

  53. flashling says:

    @Paul B, no my barbed acerbic nature was caused by her not the other way round, sometimes though you seem to take great offence at a gentle ribbing, ’twas just meant in a friendly, jocular way, sorry to cause offence – if I hit a nerve sorry, Phil

  54. Rorschach says:

    We’ve hit a new low with the discussion of differentiating between hyphens and minuses no?

  55. Paul B says:

    Just ‘B-minus’ would have worked, don’t you think, and without spoiling the idea? (That btw was one of the gripes I didn’t post, just to irritate Thomas99. Apparently.)

    Yes Phil, sorry – sometimes on blogs, it’s hard to spot invisible ‘gentle ribbing’ icons! But I know typographers, and I’m sure you’re right.

  56. JollySwagman says:

    Very enjoyable and amusing puzzle – superbly well clued.

    Hope to see this setter appearing more regularly – seems to on a rising plane.

    Isn’t spot the unindicated definition-by-example starting to wear a bit thin? Most of us (say) don’t mind (perhaps) if they’re never indicated (for example) and the spotters only spot the most obvious ones (maybe).

  57. RCWhiting says:

    I am with you there, Jolly. And many other over-(not minus)pedantic quibbles.

  58. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Some posters want to make clear that a puzzle gave them value for money because it was a real challenge to tackle.
    Others rave about surface readings, while some others just want to express what an enjoyable solve it was.
    There are also crossword lovers (and I am one of them) who are interested in the technical side of cryptics. These solvers want to say something about the style of clueing or perhaps about the phrasing of one or two clues. Because, apart from having a good time, they also like to learn a bit more about the Art of Clueing.

    When I pointed at the hyphen/minus discrepancy, I had no intention to make this into a big issue. While most people cannot be bothered, I (perhaps, unfortunately) can. Clues should be as sound as possible, grammatically correct etc. Making remarks about the technical side of crosswords is not pedantic – it has to do with looking at a crossword in a different way.
    Therefore, saying that ‘we’ve a hit a new low’ (Rorschach @54) by just questioning technical crossword issues, is a bit over the top, isn’t it?

    And don’t worry, I can look in more than one direction. I think, in general, this is amply reflected in most of my comments. I can be mildly critical, but I am usually on the setter’s side as it is his/her intention to entertain us. And if a puzzle disappoints, well, so be it, it’s no reason to give the setter a slap in the face – unfortunately, there some of us differ.

    As to this particular crossword, just like others I did make clear how enjoyable this crossword was, just like others I see that Qaos in only his second daily puzzle is ‘on a rising plane’ (Jolly @56) and I appreciate the efforts made by this setter very much.

  59. TomM says:

    FWIW I had GOGH for 23d. It being the second half of Vincent’s name. Well, it fits.

  60. Norah F says:

    Please can anyone explain why 24across has This in italics?

  61. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Qaos and manihi

    This is the third puzzle that I have completed by this setter and they are getting better each time – all three have had a subtle theme throughout and the difficulty level and smoothness of the clues has improved along the way.

    Totally enjoyable – and an introduction to Rene Magritte whom I had not come across in any detail previously.

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