Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,741 by Gordius

Posted by PeterO on September 14th, 2012


The crossword was quickly solved; the blog took quite considerably longer.

The main holdup was deciding which of Gordius’ idiosyncrasies I feel to be justified and which not; then of course it is up to each of you to make your choices. I do not see any cases where this leaves the answer in any doubt, which may be justification in itself. The whole is an exercise in variations on the &lit theme, which does not make it any the easier for me to decide what to underline as the definition.

1 HACKS Newspaper staff cuts? (5)
 Double definition.
4 HAWTHORN Playing what instrument is found in the wood? (8)
A charade of HAWT, an anagram (‘playing’) of ‘what’ + HORN (‘instrument’).
8 LONG ENGAGEMENT Protracted wait may egg gentleman on to err (4,10)
An anagram (‘to err’) of ‘egg gentleman on‘, with a semi-&lit definition.
10 ENTREATY Prayer for space agreement (8)
A charade of EN (‘space’) TREATY (‘agreement’).
11 STUPOR Lethargy sets back squaddies (6)
 A charade of STUP, a reversal (‘back’) of PUTS (‘sets’) + OR (Other Ranks, ‘squaddies’)
12 SOBERED UP Probes due for condition the morning after? (7,2)
An anagram (‘for’) of ‘probes due’. Maybe ‘condition’ might be regarded as part of the anagrind.
15 TASKS Time demands things to do (5)
A charade of T (‘time’) + ASKS (‘demands’).
17 ODEON Poetic work gets no backing at place of entertainment (5)
A charade of ODE (‘poetic work’) + ON, a reversal (‘backing’) of ‘no’.
18 STAGHOUND One whose quarry is sought and abused? (9)
An anagram (‘abused’) of ‘sought and’, again with a semi-&lit definition.
19 ELIJAH He was involved in jailbreak in biblical times (6)
An envelope (the first ‘in’, but used backwards from the normal way) of LIJA, an anagram (‘break’) of ‘jail’ in (the normal way) an anagram (‘involved’) of ‘he’. I think this is the best description of the wordplay, which seem to need a little special pleading. ‘he’ would seem to be needed for a reasonable definition, but I cannot track down anything involving Elijah and a jailbreak.
21 CHASUBLE Short prince adjusts blue vestment (8)
A charade of CHAS (a ‘short’ form of Charles, ‘prince’) + UBLE, an anagram (‘adjusts’) of ‘blue’.
24 MONKEY BUSINESS King moves into cash trade involving shady dealing (6,8)
An envelope (‘moves into’) of K (‘king’) in MONEY (‘cash’) + BUSINESS (‘trade’).
25 SYNDROME Said to have erred, Catholicism is characteristic of a problem (8)
A charade of SYND, a homophone (‘said’) of SINNED (‘erred’) + ROME (‘Catholicism’).
26 LOSER On reflection one’s not quite resolute enough (5)
A reversal (‘on reflection’) of ‘resolu[te]’ cut short (‘not quite … enough’, with ‘enough’ more for the surface) and a semi-&lit definition. Sometimes it seems more sensible to include more in the definition, sometimes not.
1 HALLEYS COMET Ye shall possibly appear on time, around 2061? (7,5)
A charade of HALLEYS, an anagram (‘possibly’) of ‘ye shall’ + COME (‘appear’) + T (‘time’). I think this is the best of the semi-&lits in this puzzle.
2 CONSTABLE An artist has to study horses (9)
A charade of CON (‘study’) + STABLE (‘horses’).
3 SWEDE European without married quarters (5)
An envelope (‘without’) of WED (‘married’) in SE (‘quarters’ of the compass).
4 HIGH TIDES Eights hid from influxes of water (4,5)
An anagram (‘from’) of ‘eights hid’ – that is, to present the clue as leading to the answer, whereas what it says is, to paraphrase, that eights hid may be obtained from an anagram of the answer; of course, if A is an anagram of B, then B is an anagram of A.
5 WAGE Contend for one’s due? (4)
Double definition.
6 HEMSTITCH Marginal produce of sewer? (9)
Cryptic definition; just pronounce ‘sewer’ correctly.
7 RUN-UP Hurriedly appear prior to delivery (3-2)
Double definition, more or less: ‘hurriedly appear’ would be RUN UP without the hyphen.
9 CROSS-DRESSER Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing (5-7)
Cryptic definition.
13 RANSACKED Plundered and did a bunk before getting dismissed (9)
A charade of RAN (‘did a bunk’) + SACKED (‘dismissed’).
14 PLAYHOUSE Where to indulge in bingo? (9)
I was tempted to describe this as a cryptic definition without a definition. Actually, there is a stage play called Bingo, by Edward Bond, so, given that, we can call the clue a charade of PLAY (‘indulge in’) + HOUSE (‘bingo’).
16 STUMBLERS The unsteady begin seeing with glasses (9)
A charade of S (‘begin Seeing’) + TUMBLERS (‘glasses’).
20 IRONY Figure to press young beginner (5)
A charade of IRON (‘press’) + Y (‘Young beginner’). The definition is a figure of speech.
22 STILL Calm for the working of the spirit? (5)
Double definition. The ‘spirit’ is distilled alcohol.
23 TYRO Tory disaster caused by one lacking experience (4)
An anagram (‘disaster’) of ‘Tory’.


23 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,741 by Gordius”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks PeterO. Even for Gordius, this was pretty easy stuff – the usual slightly wooly clues sometimes, I agree, but obvious enough.

    Tiny point: 8. I think you need to add “on” to the fodder.

  2. harhop says:

    Well, even I found this fairly straightforward. An interesting blog as ever, but I did just wonder whether Bond’s play is needed in 14D. Isnt it enough to take it as an &lit with ‘Play’ as a verb and ‘House’ as a common synonym for Bingo?

  3. Frank Robinson says:

    Thanks PeterO

    re 14d and 17a, perhaps there may be a stage/film mini-theme: there’s Monkey Business (at least 2 films from Marx bros to Cary Grant) and (Very) Long Engagement with Audrey Tatou.

    Any others?

  4. John Appleton says:

    Not terribly happy with 9. “Like a…” suggests an adjective, not a noun. I therefore put CROSS DRESSED (considering the adjectival sense), which of course made 26 impossible. Otherwise fairly straight going.

  5. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Gordius and PeterO
    Found this one on the easy side for Gordius as well. Did get held up in the SE corner as I also had initially written in CROSS-DRESSED, but once STILL arrived – so did the LOSER !
    Only other one to cause an issue was to convince myself that FIGURE = IRONY – thought that it was a bit loose.

  6. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks, PeterO. I can’t fault any particular of the puzzle except that it took me only 7 minutes to solve, which is too easy for a Friday.


  7. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius

    I simply quite enjoyed this without, I must confess, too much analysis. Some nice whimsical ideas as in 9d (I too thought this was ‘cross-dressed’ at first but it is valid enough). I also liked 8a, 10a, 1d, and 14d.

    Re 9d I’m not quite sure whether it is simply a cd, or whether ‘cross’ (bad-tempered) is also lurking there.

  8. Median says:

    I’m another who put CROSS-DRESSED for 9 – further evidence that it wasn’t a great clue. Overall, though, about the right level of difficulty for the time I had today. Thanks, PeterO.

  9. Robi says:

    Pretty straightforward, although I didn’t know CHASUBLE.

    Thanks PeterO; I liked HALLEYS COMET. I’m not sure I understand John @4’s point: ‘like a wolf’ could mean a coyote, Don Juan etc; I don’t think ‘like’ necessarily points to an adjective. I thought ELIJAH was OK, although as Peter says it needs double-duty of ‘he.’ Can’t see that that is a problem.

  10. John Appleton says:

    Robi @9, it’s more what the clue suggests. “Like a wolf” to me would suggest vulpine. “One like a wolf”, or “It’s like a wolf” would be more suggestive of a noun. It perhaps fall into a similar category as the “In America”-type definitions, meaning “It’s in America”. Oddly, those don’t bother me. Maybe I’m just being grumpy because it stopped me finishing!

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A very disppointing effort for a Friday.
    The list of sub-Everyman clues (8,17,19,21,25 ac and 23d et magnus al) was extensive.
    The only slight delay was in the SE corner due to the problem explained by John A. @4.

  12. SimonP says:

    I figured 19a as jailbreak in E(arly) H(istory) – “biblical times” …?

    If it’s EH from “He was involved” then there’s no definition.

  13. harry says:

    Thanks PeterO and Neil Ferguson @3 – re 19ac. The main character in the film “Prison Song” is called Elijah, and an attempted prison break is a key part of the film. Possible connection? Or too obscure?

  14. rowland says:

    I too had CROSS-DRESSED! So with a good few of us thwarted there, it must be a bad one. That CHASUBLE one I didn’t really like ‘adjusts’, maybe adjusted would have been better. And it’s a bit chestnutty, I think I’ve seen that version, kind of, quite few times. Rest okay, not too terrible.

    Thanks for a nice blog, and to setter,


  15. kenj says:

    re 19ac
    I think ‘involved’ and ‘….break’ are anagrinds for an anagram of he and jail.
    Definition is ‘he was …. in biblical times’.
    Nothing to do with jailbreaks.

  16. rowland says:

    Yes, not too keen on that, which seemed a bit of a mess. ‘Was’ is not used except for the ‘surface’ meaning, and ‘in’ has to be a verb, I guess, to ‘in’ the ‘break of jail’. Wow, not my favourite clue!

    Thanks KenJ

  17. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I also had CROSS-DRESSED. The number of us taking that view says to me that the clue needed better writing.

    On 1d: when I see a date-like number in a clue I always check what it would look like in Roman numerals. On this occasion I got MMLXI which looked extremely unpromising!

  18. muffin says:

    MMLXI is written in my working space too!

  19. duncan says:

    cross-dressed here too. chafing. don’t know how the ladies deal with all these straps & bits of elastic…


  20. tony says:

    Got off to a very bad start when I Googled 2061 and opted to put Odyssey Three in for 1d. Fortunately, I didn’t come up with any suitable answers for a 1,8, 10, 12, 17, and 19a to aggravate the situation before I returned to Wikipedia and found there was a better answer for 1d.

  21. g larsen says:

    I quibbled at 1d -‘around 2061′. Presumably we, or at least the astronomers among us, know that Halley’s Comet will appear in that year, not around it.

  22. Mr DNA says:

    It could be argued that the definition of 1D isn’t necessarily the whole clue, as PeterO has it, but is just ‘around [in] 2061?’. So ‘around’ in the sense of ‘present, in evidence’ rather than ‘approximately’.

  23. g larsen says:

    Interesting idea, Mr DNA @22, but I think it only works if your bracketed ‘in’ is included, which it wasn’t. Even then it’s not a fair definition. I’m with PeterO on this.

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