Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,672 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on June 26th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

Quite an easy canter except for a couple of hard-boiled eggs, which you should expect from Gordius.



Place cursor over clue number to read the clue

1 SPUTUM Ins of PUT in SUM (amount)
5 LEGUME Ins of GUM (sticky stuff) in General Robert E. LEE of American Civil War fame.
8 EXPLOIT Ins of X (cross) in *(POLITE)
9 DYNAMIC Ins of YNAM (rev of MANY, a lot) in DIC (rev of CID, Criminal Investigation Department, police department)
11 PLENIPOTENTIARY Ins of P,O & L (half the letters in police) in PENITENTIARY (jail)
12 ROOD Rev of DOOR for Christ’s cross
13 WITCHCRAFT Sounds like “which craft”
17 EPIGLOTTIS *(PIGLET SO IT) for a cartilaginous flap over the glottis, the opening to the windpipe
18 COIL C (circa, about) OIL (fuel)
20 COURSE OF JUSTICE COURSE OF (part of meal is) JUST (mere) ICE (cold sweet)
23 DOLEFUL Tichy way to describe a person on unemployment benefit (dole)
24 ITALICS Ins of ALIC (Alice Springs in Northern Territory, Australia minus E, detailed or with tail removed in Crossword language) in ITS
26 TOLLER Ernst TOLLER, a German playwright. To toll is to ring
2 PEPPERONI Ins of Evita PERON in *(PIPE)
3 TROPIC Not a very convincing cd alluding to the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn … a hot line would be the equator
5 LODGE *(English GOLD)
7 MAMBA MA (mother) MBA (Master of Business Administration, a degree)
8 EXPERIENCED cd alluding to the word GREEN meaning someone totally inexperienced
10 CRYSTAL SETS cd for old technology in early radio and transmission sets
14 CLIP JOINT CLIP (trim) JOINT (ankle) for a place of entertainment, eg a night-club, where customers are overcharged or cheated.
15 ABORIGINE *(BOEING AIR) with craft as indicator
19 ASSAIL Today’s hard-boiled egg. Wonder who will be the first to claim. Congratulations, Dr G@1, this must have come from the hours you spent coaching your daughters to pass their music exams. Personally I prefer WASSAIL with 12 year-old single malt :-)
21 UNLIT Ins of L (first letter of lady) in UNIT (single)
22 OILED Rev of FIDELIO (overture, an opera by Beethoven) minus IF. This clue is one where you get the answer from the definition and then work backwards to figure out the wordplay.

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

24 Responses to “Guardian 25,672 – Gordius”

  1. Gurmukh (Dr.G) says:

    19 Down: ASSAI=very (in music) + L large

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks UY.

    After a run of quite good puzzles, Gordius seems to have taken a little bit of a dip with this one but no major complaints – just a bit dull.

    I think I would describe General LEE as more “of crossword fame”! 😉

    Don’t you think that 10 is a double def with the second def cryptic?

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius

    Oh dear. I missed the parsing of 22d which I hurriedly dismissed as
    (f)oiled – treating the ‘f’ as the ‘overture’ and ‘foil’ as ‘reject’. A clever clue.

    I thought several other clues were clever. I liked 13a with its double use of ‘spelling’, 24a, and the unlikely anagram in 15d. The ‘once’ puzzled me slightly at first but I gather it is no longer considered PC in some quarters.

  4. William says:

    Thanks, Uncle.

    Missed assai – very neat and didn’t know Herr Toller.

    Loved the clever WITCHCRAFT clue.

    Not convinced about EXPERIENCED as there’s no real definition, is there?

  5. Paul B says:

    William: groaning CD – if you’re GREEN you’re inexperienced. The only one that I found dodgy was the ins of LPO in PENITENTIARY, which is indicated as POL.

  6. Paul B says:

    … or rather L, then PO: not sure ‘deployed’ is enough to handle all that.

  7. NeilW says:

    Paul B, I had the same thought but: Chambers, deploy: 3. To spread out and place strategically

  8. William says:

    PaulB at 6/7. Thanks, I got the green = inexperienced thing but…aw shucks, it’s only a small point.

    Funny how the spreading around (deploying) of POL made you bridle a bit – I read it the same way as NeilW without a second thought.

    Funny ol’ things, clues, aren’t they?

  9. harry says:

    Thanks UY.
    Just in passing for 7dn – depending on where you live in the English speaking world it could also be Mam + BA. Makes no difference, but that was how I parsed it.

  10. Paul B says:

    Well, if it’s good enough for you, Neil & William, great!

  11. Robi says:

    Some very nice clues e.g. for WITCHCRAFT and ABORIGINE, and thanks to UY for the blog.

    A few grumpy/pedantic comments: I didn’t like the lazy ‘PUT’ in 1; I thought ‘overture’ in 22 was a bit obscure, although I gather that there were several ‘rejected overtures’ in Fidelio [why not use opera?]; I didn’t think the ‘is’ in 20 was part of ‘COURSE OF;’ I parsed 7 the same as harry @7; I thought the ‘POL’ in 11 was suitably deployed.

    I didn’t parse the clue for COIL correctly; I got stuck in my head about a vowel replacement in ‘coal,’ but then didn’t find the clue sufficiently convincing. I tried ‘osprey’ for 19 and was grumbling about the clue until I found ‘assai’ in the dictionary……….. but having finished it, I did admire most of the crossword, so no more grumbles. :)

  12. Robi says:

    P.S. Neil W@2; see ‘God Bless Robert E Lee.’

  13. gloriam says:

    The contributors at The Guardian’s own crossword chat room seem to think this one is a bit loose all round, which is quite telling I think, as they’re usually really charitable towards Gordius, and most other setters, it has to be said.

    As is the case quite often, most of the problems in this one could be resolved with minor tweaks, like having ‘IT can be deadly’ to improve the MAMBA clue. So it’s a little frustrating as a solver to come across such ‘loosenesses’. To add my threepence-worth to remarks above, the PLENIPOTENTIARY clue I’m erring on the side of ‘not happy’, as we’re being asked to take half of a word, anagram it, then put it into another word in two separate chunks. What I would NOT like to say is how it SHOULD have been done!

    But there were nice clues too. Like Robi I was satisfied by WITCHCRAFT and ABORIGINE, and I enjoyed the ambiguity of the cryptic bit in MAMBA. I liked DYNAMIC, CRYSTAL SETS and METHODIST, but not DOLEFUL which seemed a bit controversial given Mr. Cameron’s recent speech.

    Thank you very much for all your help in my solving in recent years, 15 Squared, and for today’s very good blog.

  14. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Robi. Quite a fan of the late Johnny Cash but I’m sure you’ll agree that every time you see “general” in a clue, particularly in puzzles from the likes of Gordius, the first reflex is that it’s LEE – a bit like Marshal Ney.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I love a bit of looseness, especially on a Tuesday.
    I parsed 7d as Harry did.
    After a too easy 75% this was redeemed for me by the SE corner where I (eventually) admired 15d and especially 13ac. ‘Assail’was a struggle to write in until the dictionary gave me a musical solution.
    I could not parse 22d (except in the tupu fashion) until coming here.
    When I solved 11ac (quite early) I admired ‘deployed’ as the perfect verb for what he had done.

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog. I needed you to explain why OILED was the right answer.

    Superb misdirection in 10d: the numeration was right for British Navy and I persisyed in this until I had C-Y as the start then it fell into place. I may be fairly old but I never used a crystal set. Radios had valves when I was a lad.

    I also parsed 7d as MAM plus BA.

  17. rhotician says:

    Thanks all.
    I enjoyed the debate about POL, especially RCW @15.

    “I love a bit of looseness” then “I admired ‘deployed’ as the perfect verb”. That’s a win-win for RCW.

  18. rhotician says:

    I dislike 22dn a lot. Fidelio is not an overture it is an opera. I accept that the clue as it stands has quite a nice surface and that substituting ‘opera’ ruins it but ‘overture’ is too loose for me. Like others I had to go to the blog.

  19. paul8hours says:

    This went in quite quickly until I put 19d as ‘osprey’ which seemed to fit nicely, never having heard of Toller. Thanks for the clarification as always.

  20. Taco_Belly says:

    Many thanks to Uncle Yap for the blog. As a new-boy to 15sq I was very thankful to get an answer to the parsing of 22d which completely failed me.

    Sad to say (for a few moments) I thought 10d was CRYSTAL TIPS (a UK childrens TV chararacter with amazing hair=Waves) but after taking the correct medication saw I was wrong.

    Good fun without being too taxing – but loved 4d.

  21. rhotician says:

    gloriam @13:

    I don’t agree that the clue to MAMBA is loose. Adding ‘it’ would, controversially, introduce redundancy AND ruin the surface.

  22. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Gordius and UY
    Found this a really interesting challenge that divide into three:
    – the actual writing in the answers – which was relatively straightforward apart from COIL which gave me trouble after first writing in PEAT (with knickers in a twist for PET around A :) ) followed by COAL with no sensible parsing and finally COIL (which I ended up parsing incorrectly as a dd – COIL = TWIST and also the part of the petrol engine that generates the spark :( )

    – the parsing – which was the sting in the tail with 19, 20 and 22. Thought that FIDELIO was particularly good, as it was evident from the clue that the answer had to be flipped with something added. When googling FIDOLIO OVERTURE their were a number of references caused by the number of versions that Beethoven wrote before settling on the fourth one.

    – the surfaces – which I only appreciated when going over the full grid again.

    Overall a very enjoyable solve !

  23. rhotician says:

    Well stone me there IS a Fidelio Overture. Four even, though the other three are called Leonora. The only Overture I’ve ever heard of is The William Tell and I’d always assumed that the associated opera was never performed.

    So I’m obliged to conclude that the clue is very clever but just too..erm…arcane…recherche…whatever, and I shan’t be doing any of these Gordius’ things again.

  24. JollySwagman says:

    Lovely puzzle as usual from Gordius – likewise UY’s blog.

    Particularly liked 11a. It works on more than one level. Firstly just as a well-formulated clue to yield the answer.

    Secondly a sort of meta-misdirection to send pedants off on a wild goose chase leaving them eventually into a group denial that somehow the simple word “deploy” doesn’t mean “To spread out and place strategically”.

    But it’s a funny thing that it only works for Gordius. Had Nimrod or Monk done the same they would not have drawn any fire.

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