Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,691 – Qaos

Posted by Andrew on July 18th, 2012


This is Qaos’s fourth weekday puzzle since his debut in January this year. I actually solved and blogged this last night, then found I’d written a rather grumpy blog and decided to sleep on it. My opinion has mellowed slightly overnight, but I still have quite a few criticisms, particularly of clues where a major element of the answer is clued by a definition of a meaning that is almost identical to that used in the answer. I think 16ac is a particularly bad example of this. On the other hand there are some sound and nicely-constructed clues, so it’s not all bad news.

There are a few spy-related clues to make a mini-theme, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly developed. Wrong! As NeilW points out in the comments, there are numerous Bond-related answers in the puzzle

Thanks for flashling for standing in for me last week while I was away.

9. ANDROMEDA AND (with) + O in DREAM*
10,23. ASTON VILLA AS (when) + NOT* + VILLA (building). The first example in this puzzle (though by no means the worst) of a major part of the answer being clued with a sense very close to its meaning in the answer. In this case the villa in Aston Villa actually is a building.
11. ICEBERG ICE (slang for diamonds) + BE (“are” – really??) + [foreve]R + G (£1000 = a Grand or G, though more usually used to describe $1000, I think)
14. THINK TWICE THINK “backed by” T[rain] W[omen] I CE. THINK = “reason” is another weakness.
16. GUNNING GUN (weapon) + IN (at home) in N + [body]G[uard]. As I noted above, this is a pretty bad clue because of the definition of the GUN part of the answer.
17. BUSTLED SUBTLE* + D (symbol for the old penny, or “copper”)
19. INSPECTION (POINTS NICE)*, definition “Check” (as a noun). Some people like these “lift and separate” clues, where a word has to be split to make the cryptic reading work: I am not a fan.
22. STUN SATURN less A[tmosphere] and R[ainforest]. I was wondering what the 10% was about, as the clue seems to work without it, but as Atmosphere and Rainforest each have ten letters, the first letter is indeed 10% of them, which is rather a nice touch. To STUN is to “wow”.
24. SECONDI (CD NOISE)*. Plural of SECONDO, which is the name of the player sitting on the left in a piano duet (the other is “primo”).
25. CLIMATE CLI (151) + M (1000) + ATE (“eight, say”)
26. AGENT Definition “Spy”, and two charades: A GENT (a refined male) and AGE (mature) NT (New Testament = books)
27. BALALAIKA BA (“Bass’s first”?) + LA (sol-fa note) + homophone of “like a”, with just “sounds” as the indicator. (Not sure about this – maybe it’s B[ass] + A LA, or something else?)
1. CAPITAL GAINS TAX CAPITAL (Tripoli is an example of a capital city) + GAINS (wins) + TA (Territorial Army) + X (a vote)
2. ADHESION (HE SAID)* + NOT* less T, definition Bond, with a nice 007-related surface.
3. HONEY Anagram (“doctor”) of NO HE [m]Y. “He’s” needs to be read as “He has”. Surface ref to one of James Bond’s adversaries; and (coincidentally?) Honeychile (“Honey”) Rider is Bond’s love interest in Dr No, memorably played by Ursula Andress in the film.
4. HEDGEHOG EDGE (crawl) in HHO (H2O) + G. The change H2O -> HHO is (in my shaky memory) not “chemically” valid (it would have to be HOH if anything) but perhaps it’s just about OK, though it seems like an extra level of indirection.
5,13. MARTIN AMIS Hidden in “musliM ART IN A MISquote”, and a vaguely relevant surface, as Martin Amis has stirred some controversy in remarks about Muslims.
6. RAP ARTIST RAP = hit, so a rather vague cryptic definition., and of course a rap “artist” may release hits in the record sense.
8. INDEPENDENCE DAY Double definition. I think this clue would be better without the question mark, as the answer actually is both a holiday (4th July) and a film (in fact more than one).
17. BROCCOLI BRO[ken] + CC (cubic centimetre – used to measure car engine size) + OIL*
18. LOTHARIO LOT (much) + HA (laughter) + R + 10
20. SACRED S[pain] + ACRE (measure) + D (Germany)
21. TRILBY TRI (prefix for 3) + LB (pound) + Y

41 Responses to “Guardian 25,691 – Qaos”

  1. Rick says:

    Notwithstanding the fact that there are some nice clues I do agree with your misgivings Andrew – I had much the same thoughts as I solved the puzzle.

    Thanks for the explanation of 10% in 22 across; I couldn’t see how that fitted.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Unlike you, I really enjoyed this.

    Plenty of 007 littered around – ASTON MARTIN, HONEY, AGENT ( Why didn’t he clue Secret for the crossing 20?) LOTHARIO (at a pinch) Cubby BROCCOLI, TRILBY. Probably you could make an argument for a couple of the other solutions…

  3. aloo2 says:

    I settled for war artist as 6d.

    Wrong, but found the definition vague.

  4. NeilW says:

    I thought the clue for 22 should have read “first 10%”.

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks Neil, I thought there must be more to the spy theme than I had noticed.

  6. ToniL says:

    27a I had the simpler B (bass musically) a) (first) la (note) and ‘laika’ (‘like a’ – homophone). Bass’s apostrophe – ‘has’?


    …From Russia with Love….

  7. JollySwagman says:

    Thanks Qaos and Andrew. You can probably pick a few holes in this (agree on 16a) but I found it a massively enjoyable solve.

    My only gripe would be not about what’s in but what’s not in – ie some of the theme/link possibilities (identified by NW and also by some on the G thread) which might have made it even more fun. Harder/easier? Who knows.

    The good clues were so very good that I hardly noticed the bumps in between.

    I read 27a as per your second reading – so B for bass, A for first, LA for note etc

    Maybe 4d for a COTD.

  8. aztobesed says:

    I think it harsh to cavil at 4d. Two Hs and an O is surely acceptable for water in crosswords? To complain it is chemically inaccurate is just being a kill-joy. If wordplay like this gets the bird the fun gets squeezed out of them.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Pleasant challenge, despite a few inelegancies, as already mentioned. GUN in 16ac is a bit too obvious, CC is hardly ‘engine size'; on the other hand I don’t think the VILLA for ‘building’ in 10,23 is too close, given the ‘team building’ in the clue (there are many other types of ‘building’) and I love ‘lift-and-separate’ clues of which 19ac is a nice example.

    I couldn’t get 3dn (-O-E- offered too many possibilities and I hadn’t the enthusiasm to pursue it). I can’t quite parse BALALAIKA either.

    Andrew is right in suggesting that HOH would be strictly more accurate than HHO for ‘water’, but this did make me smile – I thought there was a nod here to Araucaria’s notorious HIJKLMNO. Other favourites were 9ac, 14ac and 17ac for good costruction and surface.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    I was rather disappointed with this offering. There seem to be two camps, and I’m with Andrew’s.

    Like Gervase I failed on 3d, so thanks for the blog Andrew.

    I though 22a STUN was particularly clumsy. “first 10%” would have improved it, but then it would need an extra “of” before “rainforest”; or be written “first 10%s”.

    I thought it must be ICEBERG early on, but couldn’t parse it so this delayed the UL of the Xword.

  11. Mitch says:

    You lot can be kill-joys at times!

    4d priced a “lovely” from me with an accompanying giggle. 15d was my COD – beautifully worked. Fair enough,I did snort at 16a, but to let that spoil the entertainment is a tad like letting the Frank Schleck brouhaha stop you appreciating today’s stage in the Pyrenees.

  12. Trailman says:

    Well I rather enjoyed this. It was just about at my level of capability as a solver (unlike Bonxie yesterday) and that always adds a certain sort of golden glow.
    Obscure extra Bond link: a band called the Andromeda Project has recorded the James Bond theme tunes. Not too sure Qaos knows this.
    I agree though with some of the clue criticisms. 6d in particular seems very loose, as aloo2 points out – worse with having just the A clued in the first word. At 22a the 10% works OK but seems both laboured and superfluous. And 8d, as ‘holiday’ is effectively an Americanism.
    The usage of SECONDI is new to me, though the clueing here was fine. I only knew it from the dessert menu of an Italian restaurant.
    Best clue 4d. Last in was 3d – didn’t make the Bond link till my own honey told me.

  13. Col says:

    I think the ‘10%’ in 22a is a misprint. It is totally superfluous. With modern electronic typesetting, I think it has been inserted instead of a space – like when you create a url and it doesn’t like a space so it inserts ‘20%’… or something like that. If it was part of the clue it would surely be ‘first 10%’ not ‘10% first’?

    Anyroad, quite enjoyed it – looked like he had toyed with a Bond theme and then gave up on it after a bit? Last in was 3d, but got there in the end…

  14. Gervase says:

    Trailman: They must have a very sweet tooth at your local Italian restaurant. SECONDI (piatti) are what Brits call ‘main courses’ and Americans call ‘entrées’ (desserts are ‘dolci’). The classic full Italian meal comprises antipasto, primo (pasta or risotto course), secondo (meat or fish course) – with contorni (veg side dishes), dolce. Buon appetito!

  15. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Qaos and Andrew
    I’m one in the ‘like corner’ for this – thought that it was full of very nicely surfaced clues and I reckon that 6-7 related Bond clues should probably rate as a theme.

    6d was last in after originally going with POP ARTIST which just made ASTON VILLA a bit harder to get – I don’t have any problems with either the 4 or the 6 – hard work but absolutely clear when they went in – with 4 the clear COTD. Was prepared to forgive 16 with just a tiny EEW!

    Very enjoyable solve.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    What have we done to deserve two consecutive challenges like this.
    Even with a degree (very old) in Chemistry I had no objection to the clever 4d.
    Like aloo2 I opted for ‘war artist’ but without enthusiasm.
    I also failed to get ‘honey’ although it was among my possible solutions.
    Good to see Mr Amis so well hidden, hope he stays that way.
    Overall,very enjoyable.

  17. Chris says:

    Thanks Qaos (although I only managed around 50%) and Andrew (for elucidating the remaining 50%!)

    Col@13: Unlikely to be a typesetting error – the “%20″ you mention comes about because space is not a valid character in a URL, and it’s “escaped” to its ASCII representation – space is character number 32, or 0x20 in the computer-friendly hexadecimal (base 16). The % indicates a code is coming up; so %20 is “Code number 20 (base 16) – that’s 32, or a space”.

    Characters below 32 aren’t printable. In fact “%10″ would be a control character imparting special meaning to some very old computer systems; not likely to get even an accidental outing in the Guardian.

  18. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Qaos

    Like some others,I had slightly mixed feelings about this. Several clues pleased me e.g.10,23, 14a, 19a, 1d, 2d, 6d, while 16a rather grated and ‘balalaika’, while amusing, left me a little unsatisfied.

    I read 11a as ICE (diamond) + (am)BER (forever) = G = 1000.

  19. Qaos says:

    Hi all,

    Thanks again for all the comments and Andrew for the blog. Always appreciated.

    This crossword had an unusual beginning, in that it began with a clue that was originally part of a crossword submission for Magpie. One of the answers had to be changed during test solving and the clue re-written entirely. The irony was it was my favourite clue from that puzzle! So rather than waste a good clue, I used it here for 2dn and added the mini-theme for fun.

    Well done those that spotted SECRET would have made another addition to the theme for 20dn! It was part of the original puzzle, but sadly for me Chifonie used the answer SECRET on 6th July, so it had to be changed.

    22ac was changed by the editor and I agreed that adding “first” would help indicate which 10% of atmosphere/rainforest was being used in the clue. I think the original was something like “Planet loses 10% atmosphere and 10% rainforest – wow!” so you can decide yourself if the revised version helps with the reading or not.

    Best wishes,


  20. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Qaos – I much prefer your original clue for STUN. The surface is also much better.

  21. Qaos says:

    … and of course, given the theme, I should really have signed myself:


  22. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Qaos for dropping in.

    I enjoyed this, and smiled at the topical references in the clues for 1 and 20d – especially the latter, acknowledging the fact that “we” are once again the champions :)

    I did suspect a Bond theme, but am not enough of a fan to have recognised all the references.

  23. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for dropping in Qaos, and thanks for the puzzle. I also prefer your original clue for STUN – great surface – but I sort of see why the editor might have been worried. I wonder if “in the West” could have been used…?

  24. Trailman says:

    Thanks for putting me right Gervase. I now remember a very expensive menu in Rome …

  25. Tramp says:

    Enjoyable puzzle. I thought 1, 2, 3, 17a and 20 were super. I don’t agree that “VILLA” and “building” are too similar; I think it’s a very good clue with a nice joining of definition and wordplay with the use of “team building”.

    If I had to be critical, I don’t like the use of ‘weapon’ in 16a — it’s from the same root as the answer (GUNNING) and I’m not keen on 11a.

    I think the puzzle is fun. Qaos’s style is not dissimilar from that of Araucaria.

  26. [email protected] says:

    Thanks Qaos for dropping by. Thought the theme might have been occasioned by the 50th anniversary of the original Bond movie Dr No (1962). Thanks Andrew for your blog. Enjoyed this puzzle.


  27. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Qaos. I don’t understand at all why Chifonie’s use of a common enough word like secret should preclude its use as a solution 13 unlucky days later. Seems as spoilsporty as some of the comments on your puzzle. :(

  28. Morpheus says:

    Of course continuing the Bond references Martin Amis has authored new Bond stories, and (I appreciate this may be accidental) Rap Artist and DJ Goldie memorably appeared in “The World is Not Enough”, while a pipeline inspection guage (or PIG) played important roles in the same film, Diamonds are Forever, and The Living Daylights. Maybe I should stop there…

  29. rhotician says:

    NeilW @27: I wonder how this is policed. And what the time limit might be.

    I remember a solution appearing twice on consecutive days.
    The clues were the same as well.
    Don’t remember the clue but the number, 24ac or whatever, was also the same.
    Different setters, of course, different grid.
    I do remember the solution.
    It was deja vu.

  30. duncan says:

    “tap artist”. but, as they say, “meh”. you seldom hear either rappers or tap dancers described as artists.

    had some sort of mental block in the NW; I knew it couldn’t be “aphrodite” but in she went, on account of the weirdness of some of the other cluing, & that was that. 15d c.o.t.d in our house.


  31. Morpheus says:

    Knew there was something troubling me. Iceberg boat. Quantum of Solace. I’ll get my coat…

  32. Morpheus says:

    Damn. It was A View to a Kill not Quantum of Solace. Anybody still there?

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We (yes, ‘we’ again! [after my long stay abroad]) did not like GUNNING (16ac) for the reason Andrew pointed out.
    We did not like INDEPENDENCE DAY (4d) either because of the two ‘days’.
    Yes, ‘be’=’are’ in ICEBERG, mwah – well, it serves the surface.

    But apart from that, we enjoyed this crossword tremendously and are very surprised to see so many relatively negative comments.
    A clue like 2d (ADHESION) is just superb.
    Ans as RCW said, MARTIN AMIS was very well hidden.

    There’s so much right about this crossword, in our opinion.
    Just like Tramp, I cannot see the point against ASTON VILLA – the combination of ‘team’ (definition) and ‘building’ (device) is rather clever.
    Unlike Tramp, I think this crossword wasn’t Araucarian at all.
    It is more in Philistine’s or his own category.
    Thoughtful cluing, care for the surface.

    Perhaps, a pity that 5,6d wasn’t made into an ellipsis.
    And this Chifonie/’secret’ thing, what a nonsense – that’s not what editors are for, I hope?

    Well done, Qaos, apart from some minor niggles I/we really think this was a sparkling crossword. Perhaps even your best so far. Many thanks for that.

  34. rrc says:

    i am really surprised at the knocks this crossword is taking, because I really enjoyed it although failed on 14 because of an a instead of an i and 2. I do prefer clues that are accessible, which I think these are.

  35. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Brummie and Eileen

    This started off a lot easier than the last two from this week with the bottom half going in quite quickly. Got stopped in my tracks with the local geography and the quirky pronunciation of them and needed a lot of ‘net-help’ to get the last few in and then to understand how I got them! 4d was last in and 28 was last parsed. Was satisfying to work this one out although I still needed Eileen’s help with the HOUSE to TRAIN leg in what was my COTD.

    Learnt about a few new places and would look forward to visit them when I next get an opportunity to get over there.

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Dear Bruce, I think you submitted your post to the wrong blog ….. :) (blame it on the time difference)

  37. Aguers says:

    Sorry Morpheus, but I don’t think Martin Amis has written any James Bond fiction. I suspect you’re either thinking of Kingsley Amis’ “Colonel Sun” (as Robert Markham), or Sebastian Faulks’ more recent attempt.

  38. Morpheus says:

    Thanks Aguers, a bit of both I suspect!

  39. Huw Powell says:

    I prefer “pop artist” as a better answer for 6d. But eventually I somehow thought “aston”, and knew due to the Bond refs it had to be right.

    I’m in both camps on this puzzle – there were some very hard, interestingly done clues, but there were also some real groaners.

    GUNNING stayed in pencil from early on… and even when fully checked I refused to ink it.

    Independence Day went in with about two checked letters, home side advantage on that one. 1d went in last, I had to resort to onelook and ?a?i?a? to refresh my memory of all the words that fit that pattern (Taliban was very tempting, but Taliban Gains Nay is just a crummy headline).

    COD was 15. I’m ok with CC for “engine size” and HHO for water – it’s not chemistry, it’s wordplay – H (2) O = HHO.

    Having the editor remove secret was unfair, as was the violence done to 22, although the original clue doesn’t thrill me either. As presented, removing the “10%” would have made it a very easy clue, though.

    I really appreciate Qaos dropping in and commenting, especially in such detail, and especially considering the tone of some of the comments. And of course, thanks to Andrew and everyone else for the blog. Now back to “yesterday”‘s brutal offering by Bonxie…

  40. Huw Powell says:

    Also, since 90 and 91 slowed me down so much, I have some lovely blank Brummie and Tramp to look forward too. And tomorrow? Odds on that the Prize will be an Araucaria, and my prediction is for a devious mess that the “print version” can’t parse. OK, that’s a bit lame since whatever it is is on line now, but I swear I haven’t looked!

  41. Paul B says:

    So why not H (2) O = HOO? From a cryptic POV there’s no difference whatsoever.

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