Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 662 Hectence

Posted by scchua on July 23rd, 2012


Thanks Hectence for an enjoyable puzzle, though there are a couple of gaps in the parsing I can’t fill in.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  [[Eaach of the pictures at the bottom has an identified link to the puzzle.]]


1 Politician involved in smear goes to earth in usual hangout (8,6)

STAMPING GROUND :  MP(abbrev. for Member of Parliament,politician) contained in(involved in) STAIN(smear) plus(goes to) GROUND(the earth below you).  I could be missing something (eg. “g” as an abbrev. for “goes”), but if not, there isn’t an indication for the first “g” in the answer.

9 Artist with US band has trademark shirt (9)

REMBRANDT :  REM(alternative rock band, formed in 1980 in the US) plus(has) BRAND(trademark, as in “designer brands”) + T(short for a tee-shirt, collarless and buttonless).

Answer: van Rijn, Dutch artist, famous for portraits.


10 A doctor’s bitten by oddly mean snake (5)

MAMBAA + MB(abbrev. for Bachelor of Medicine,a doctor) contained in(…‘s bitten by) [M+A]{first and third letters of(oddly) “mean”}. 

Answer: A highly poisonous and aggressive African snake.

11 Knock up cradle with hardwood (5)

BIRCHReversal of(knock up) CRIB(an infant’s cradle) plus(with) H(abbrev. for hard). 

Answer: The wood from such a tree.

12 Animals long kept in pens hate going out (9)

ELEPHANTS :  L(abbrev. for long) contained in(kept in) anagram of(going out) [PENS HATE].

13 I’d take on student having seen disastrous results ending in laziness (8)

IDLENESSI’D containing(take on) L(abbrev. for learner,student) plus(having) anagram of(disastrous) SEEN + S{last letter(ending) of “results”}.

14 Poor Master Brook (6)

STREAMAnagram of(poor) MASTER.

17 Bother to come back and fire French foreman (6)

GAFFER :  I got the answer, but the wordplay has beaten me.

19 Biscuit Mum takes Joey in prison (8)

MACAROON :  MA(another name for mum,mother) plus(takes) [ROO(short for kangaroo, a young one is called a joey) contained in(in) CAN(slang for prison)].


22 Demoted Socialist member dined in (9)

RELEGATED :  RED(socialist,communist) containing(….in) [LEG(a member,limb) + ATE(dined)].

24 Ready to fight (3-2)

SET-TO :  SET(ready to start) + TO

Defn: As a noun.

25 Task I’ve managed partly to get out of doing (5)

SKIVEHidden in(partly) taSK I’VE

Answer: To shirk work or responsibility, an art by itself.

26 River is liability without oxygen, being full of toxins (9)

POISONOUS :  PO(the river in Italy) + IS + [ONUS(liability,responsibility) containing(without,not inside) O(chemical symbol for oxygen)]

27 The Tate, for example, has painting and really good sculpture (7,7)

PICTURE GALLERY :  PICTURE(a painting) plus(and) anagram of(sculpture) [REALLY + G(abbrev. for good)]. 

Answer: Of which the Tate in London is an example.  An almost perfect WIWD(wordplay intertwined with definition) clue.


1 BBC bring us production on career for cleaner (9,5)

SCRUBBING BRUSHAnagram of(production) BBC BRING US placed above(on, in a down clue) RUSH(to career, at high speed, and sometimes uncontrollably).

2 Senior officer takes Russian vehicle up to orbit space station (7)

ADMIRALReversal of(up, in a down clue) LADA(a Russian brand of car,vehicle) containing(to orbit,circle round) MIR(from the Russian for peace, the Russian-launched manned space station from 1986-2001).  Nice surface. 

Answer: Senior officer in the navy, equivalent to a general in the army.

3 Change coming over arch-criminal, perhaps? (9)

PERCHANCE :  PENCE(plural of penny,change you get from bigger denomination money) containing(coming over) anagram of(criminal) ARCH

Answer: Maybe,possibly,perhaps, often literary, as in “To be or not to be…….To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub…..”

4 No point having feeling without meaning (8)

NONSENSENO + N(abbrev. for north,compass point) plus(having) SENSE(a feeling, as in of touch,taste).

5 About time! Pull up at the side of the road (6)

GUTTERReversal of(up, in a down clue) [RE(about,with reference to, from the Latin res) + T(abbrev. for time) + TUG(to pull)]. 

Answer: The drain,channel at the side of the road.

6 Get up and go very fast, heading off (5)

OOMPH :  “100 mph”, which is a very fast speed, minus the first character(heading off). 

Answer: Energy and vitality, get-up-and-go.

7 Chosen one‘s born without honour at home (7)

NOMINEE :  NEE(born, as an adjective, used as an introduction to a married woman’s maiden surname) containing(without) [OM(a title,honour bestowed on deserving citizens of the Commonwealth by the Sovereign of the Commonwealth, ie. the British monarch) + IN(at home, not out). 

Answer: One nominated,chosen to stand as a candidate or to fill a position.

8 Average man with debt gets crafty in a mean way (14)

PARSIMONIOUSLY :  PAR(average,norm) + SIMON(a man’s name) plus(with) IOU(a written acknowledgement of a debt) plus(gets) SLY(crafty,wily). 

Answer: In a stingy,mean way.

15 Dodgy mushroom with toast’s keeping daughter bent over toilet (9)

TOADSTOOLTOAST containing(keeping) D(abbrev. for daughter) + reversal of(bent over) LOO(slang for toilet).  A nice surface, if somewhat gruesome image.

Answer: It would be dodgy,risky to eat one as it’s likely to be poisonous.

16 Hanging back to see old bird get fish after diving, initially (8)

DAWDLING :  DAW(archaic,old term for a jackdaw, a bird of the crow family) + [LING(a food fish) placed below(after) D{first letter of(initially) “diving”}].

18 Pitched to cool independent film director (7)

FELLINI :  FELL(pitched,plunged or fell forward or headlong) plus(to) IN(popular,fashionable,cool) + I(abbrev. for “independent”, eg. in elections). 

Answer: Federico, Italian film director (and scriptwriter) of “La Dolce Vita”, “8½”, and others.


20 Open University book includes chapter as a result (7)

OUTCOME :  OU(abbrev. for the Open University) + [TOME(a book, especially a heavy, large or learned one) containing(includes) C(abbrv. for chapter, as in a book)].

21 Puts active alternative to lethargy (6)

STUPORAnagram of(active) PUTS + OR(used as an introduction to an alternative).

23 Welcome to get soldiers in (5)

GREETGET containing(….in) RE(abbrev. for the Royal Engineers,soldiers in the British Army).



25 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 662 Hectence”

  1. Richard Tateson says:

    Thanks for your clear and nicely illustrated decoding! I’m new to online crosswording so just beginning to find gems like this and 15squared in general.
    I think there might be an error in 17 which explains your difficulty. I think it parses as a reversal of ‘fag’ (bother) followed by the French word for iron ‘fer’, rather than the French word for fire ‘feu’.
    I could so easily be wrong though (it has happened before!). Richard.

  2. Andrew says:

    Richard, I had the same thought as you about FEU/FER.

    I thought 11ac was a bit unfair, especially for a Quiptic – “knock up” surely can’t indicate reversal, and I don’t like the hardwood = hard wood trick.

  3. Andrew says:

    Sorry, I should have said “can’t indicate reversal *in an across clue*” . And thanks to scchua for the blog.

    [[The second picture is of the hobbits from the film of The Lord of The Rings, including Sam, whose father is GAFFER Gamgee. ]]

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    I thought this was generally a good Quiptic, possibly at the more tricky end of the spectrum, but with some nice clueing nonetheless. MACAROON and POISONOUS hit the spot today.

    However, I do agree with you about STAMPING GROUND. Where do we get the G from? The alternative is A MP in STING, but then how do we get from STING to ‘smear’?

    I also agree with Richard (if it’s your first contribution, Richard, welcome!) that this clue is faulty – as he says, fer means ‘iron’ among other things; feu (which in not a homophone of fer) means fire.

    If these two do prove to be errors, it’ll be a Grauniad hat-trick, ‘cos there’s a balls-up in the Cryptic today as well.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks Richard and Andrew for your comments.
    Yes, like you, I thought of FER/FEU, but I thought to myself, “can’t be”, as “iron” and “fire” are so unlike each other that it couldn’t possibly be a typo?
    And if we’re considering typos, then could “G GROUND” in 1A be “e-earth”?
    [[You’re right Andrew, about the hobbits and GAFFER.]]

  6. scchua says:

    Hi K’sDad, we crossed. Thanks to you too, and also (forgot my manners) welcome to Richard if it’s his first time.

  7. Eileen says:

    I agree with all the above reservations and – unless we’re all wrong, three dodgy clues in a puzzle designed to encourage improvers is not very good, is it?

    Welcome to Richard. 😉

  8. postrophe says:

    Hectence certainly seems to have a problem with irons in the fire at 17 😉

    Thanks, otherwise, for a fine puzzle, which I found more taxing than Rufus today, and thanks to scchua.

  9. Richard Tateson says:

    Hello, just been out fixing my roof while it isn’t raining and returned to find many cheerful greetings. How nice!
    Andrew, could ‘knock up’ indicate an anagram rather than a reversal and if so is it bad form to have an anagram which actually is also a reversal (if you see what I mean)??
    Kathryn’s Dad and scchua, I lazily justified writing in stampingground as ‘sting’ with ‘a mp’ inside it but there’s not really any way sting=smear (it made me think of Vince Cable being stung and smeared over Rupert Murdoch and the BSkyB bid, but that’s just my mind playing games). So, yes, I agree we are one G short of an answer.
    Eileen, I’m definitely in the ‘improver’ category and I found this a really good puzzle despite the above reservations about 3 clues, so it’s still hats off to Hectence from me.

  10. Robi says:

    I echo the other comments; missing ‘g’ in STAMPING GROUND; feu/FER; ‘knock up’ instead of ‘knock back.’

    Otherwise, pleasant enough. Thanks scchua for your usual masterly blog.

    [[Image 1 is a ROO]]

  11. stanXYZ says:

    The Picture Quiz.

    1. Federico Fellini – himself!
    2. La Dolce Vita – Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain!
    3. No idea
    4. No idea
    5. No idea

    I’ll give myself a lot less than 8 1/2.

  12. scchua says:

    [[Hi Robi, pic 1 is part of a bigger collection linked to the puzzle. I just happened to pick the roo.]]

    [[Hi stanXYZ, you’re right about Fellini and La Dolce Vita. The pic after those is from 8 and 1/2. But the real teasers are the 2 pics right at the bottom of the blog.]]

  13. Robi says:

    [[From ‘NONSENSE Alphabets by Edward Lear’]]

  14. scchua says:

    [[Well done Robi, 26 Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures, to be exact.]]

  15. Robi says:

    I suppose it is just possible in 17 that French=FRE and ‘fire’ is an anagrind. At least there is a way out for the setter.

  16. Hectence says:

    Redfaced apologies to all for the two errors in this puzzle:
    STAMPING GROUND should have been “Politician involved in smear initially goes to earth in usual hangout”
    GAFFER – For some reason I thought FER was French for fire. Sorry, obviously far too long since I did French at school!

  17. stanXYZ says:

    Pic no #3. Claudia Cardinale? I hope so!

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks Hectence; it’s always great to get a response from the setter.

    Despite the two slips, it was an entertaining puzzle.

  19. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Yes, thank you Hectence for dropping in. We all make mistakes! Agree with Robi that it was still a pleasing Quiptic puzzle.

  20. scchua says:

    Thanks Hectence for clearing it up for us. It was, nevertheless, an enjoyable puzzle as mentioned in my preamble. (Lateness of this response is due to time zone difference.)

  21. Big Dave says:


    Many thanks for standing in for me – I’ll be returning the favour next Monday.

    An enjoyable puzzle and an excellent blog – ironically mistakes in a puzzle help to increase the number of comments!

  22. scchua says:

    You’re welcome, Dave.

  23. stanXYZ says:

    Scchua, I very much doubt that you will ever read this, but……any chance of revealing the solution to you picture quiz? Thanks in advance!

  24. Big Dave says:

    @ StanXYZ

    The blogger gets an email every time a comment is left, but it is now the early hours of the morning where Scchua lives so I’m sure he will reply soon.

  25. scchua says:

    Hi StanXYZ, apologies for not responding earlier. The woman in the 8 1/2 pic is in fact Sandra Milo, shown with Marcello Mastroianni, who was also shown with Anita Ekberg in the other pic.

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