Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,751 by Gordius

Posted by PeterO on September 26th, 2012


Gordius seems to be following me around, or I him.

I found this puzzle quite pleasing, with much wit, and no more than the odd minor quibble.

1 MOONLIGHT Sonata form of flit? (9)
Double definition; a reference to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, generally known as the Moonlight Sonata (a title attached after Beethoven’s death, but it has stuck). I do not think ‘flit’ is quite right for the colloquial meaning of MOONLIGHT. See the comment #31 by Thomas99, to whom thanks.
6 TASTE Discrimination starts showing in the gallery (5)
An envelope (‘in’) of S (‘starts Showing’) in TATE (‘gallery’).
9 ITALIAN VERMOUTH It could be Gordon’s partner (7,8)
A jocular reference to the well-known brand, Gordon’s Gin.
10 TOOL Play about with a gun? (4)
A reversal (‘about’) of LOOT, a play by Joe Orton.
11 NEWSROOM Where the Sun gets going more snow is unlikely (8)
An anagram (‘is unlikely’) of ‘more snow’, with reference to the Sun newspaper.
14 BOYFRIEND Swain keeps fiery type in restraint (9)
An envelope (‘in’) of YFRIE, an anagram (‘type’?) of ‘fiery’ in BOND (‘restraint’).
15 INFER Conclude that hell is a no-no? (5)
A subtraction: INFER[no] with no NO. I like that one.
16 RACES Breeds found at Ascot (5)
Double definition.
18 CHURCHILL Former PM finds urchin shivering with cold (9)
An envelope (‘in’ from ‘urchin’) of ‘urch’ in CHILL (‘shivering from cold'; this works with ‘shivering’ as a gerund, a fit of shivering). Very devious.
20 DRIFT ICE It floats aimlessly, if direct (5,3)
An anagram (‘aimlessly’) of ‘if direct’.
21 AQUA Somewhat less than 2 pints water (4)
A QUA[rt] (‘2 pints’) truncated (‘somewhat less than’).
25 NEWS CORPORATION In snow poor react badly to publisher employing hacks (4,11)
An anagram (‘badly’) of ‘in snow poor react’.
26 EDGES East End garden boundaries? (5)
This must be the Cockney (‘East End’) dropped aspirate [h]EDGES (‘garden boundaries’), with ‘boundaries’ doing double duty as definition.
27 SPEEDWELL Spooner’s curse on unwanted growth of a flower? (9)
A Spoonerism of WEED SPELL (‘curse on unwanted growth’). Most speedwells – veronicas – are also weeds.
1 MOIST Wet one’s in majority (5)
An envelope (‘in’) of I (‘one’) in MOST (‘majority’).
2 ORATORY Rhetoric of a socialist or otherwise … (7)
A socialist OR A TORY.
3 LAIC … brought up in socialism, which is unprofessional (4)
A reverse hidden (‘brought up in’) in ‘soCIALism’.
4 GANG Criminal band go from Glasgow (4)
Double definition, with ‘Glasgow’ indicating the Scots form of ‘go’.
5 TREMENDOUS It’s very big, but with treatment sure to mend (10)
An anagram (‘with treatment’) of ‘sure to mend’.
6 TIME SWITCH Paper’s consumer publication said when to … (4,6)
A charade of TIMES (‘paper’) plus WITCH, a homophone (‘said’) of WHICH (‘consumer publication’). The definition runs on to either the first word of the next clue, or its answer.
7 SHUT OFF stop and shout awfully loudly (4,3)
A charade of SHUTO, an anagram (‘awfully’) of ‘shout’ plus FF (fortissimo, ‘loudly’, with perhaps a touch of double duty from ‘awfully’).
8 EPHEMERAL Short-lived help — a mere tinkering (9)
An anagram (‘tinkering’) of ‘help a mere’. The answer also appeared in Monday’s Quiptic.
12 BRASS TACKS Basic facts of loads beneath supporters? (5,5)
A charade of BRAS (‘supporters’) plus STACKS (‘loads’).
13 PEACE CORPS Case copper makes for non-combatant organisation (5,5)
An anagram (‘makes’) of ‘case copper’.
14 BARN DANCE Lawyers’ den can be arranged for a social occasion (4,5)
A charade of BAR (‘lawyers’) plus NDANCE, an anagram (‘be arranged’) of ‘den can’.
17 CHINWAG Whig can get involved in conversation (7)
An anagram (‘get involved’) of ‘whig can’.
19 INQUIRE Make investigation in papers (7)
A charade of ‘in’ plus QUIRE (‘papers’).
22 ANNUL Abolish yearly with a disappearance (5)
A subtraction from ANNU[a]L (‘yearly’) with ‘a’ removed (‘disappearance’).
23 DOVE Pigeon plunged in Texas (4)
Double definition, using ‘Texas’ (like ‘Glasgow’ above) to indicate the American past participle of DIVE (‘plunged’).
24 PAID Apartment in which one’s settled (4)
An envelope (‘in which’) of I (‘one’) in PAD (‘apartment’).

51 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,751 by Gordius”

  1. JollySwagman says:

    Thanks Gordius and PO – on the easy side but good fun.

    In 1a I think “form of flit” is the definition – in Yorkshire dialect (and prolly elsewhere) to flit is to move and a moonlight flit is a surreptitious one.

    WORDSPLITS ARE LIKE MARMITE i SUPPOSE – SPREAD THINKY i LOVE ‘EM.18a I liked a lot. In the end I thought “shivering” must be from “shiver” – eg a splinter of glass – so an indicator to split “urchin”.

  2. JollySwagman says:

    Sorry about the upper-case. A moth landed on my new touch-screen while I was still editing – can’t wait for summer – I wonder if it can be turned off. All done otherwise.

  3. Fat Al says:

    Thanks PeterO,

    This was the first chance I’ve had to attempt a Guardian crossword since last Tuesday, and so was pleased to find it easy enough to get most of it done without assistance. After my allotted hour, I had all but 6, 9 and 10 solved, although I still couldn’t parse 26, so thanks for that PeterO. A bit of on-line detective work helped finish it.

    I enjoyed solving 27 from the Spoonerism and 3 crossing letters. The answer was as unknown to me as a Bath Bun or an Inglenook though. I hope my “woeful lack of vocabulary” doesn’t offend! That was my chuckle of the day last week. I also had never heard of “Which” magazine or the play, “Tool”. I enjoyed the crossword though. Thanks Gordius.

  4. Fat Al says:

    Doh! It was 6d I couldn’t solve and I hadn’t heard of “Loot”.

  5. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Gordius and PeterO
    Quite straightforward today … only held up a little trying to find the play “LOOT” and the WHICH? publication.

    Liked 1A, 6 and particularly 18.

  6. KeithW says:

    Very nice, thanks Gordius and PeterO.

    Moonlight flit is, in London, moving house during the hours of darkness without settling up with the landlord.

    Still not convinced by the shivering in 18ac.

  7. CrumlinT says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    Is it not urch “in shivering” with Chill?

  8. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Gordius and PeterO. It would seem that ‘moonlight flit’ is pretty widespread; it was certainly common in Lowland Scotland when I was a lad.

    “We ‘ad to move away, cos the rent we couldn’t pay – the movin’ van came round just after dard” etc etc.

    Coincidentally, I’ve just heard John Major explain ‘moonlight flit’ on Radio 4 a few minutes ago, just as I was solving the clue!

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius

    Started as ‘write-in’ at the top but redeemed itself with some trickier and amusing clues lower down.

    I agree with JollySwagman and KeithW re ‘moonlight flit’.

    I liked 12d despite the bras/supporters which I had been ‘burned’ by now. I also liked 11a, and 23d and the unlikely anagram in 17d.

    18a seemed reasonable to me once I had understood the envelope. Chill is given as a feverish cold in Collins and also as an adjective (alternative to chilly).
    and it seems to work more or less as either.

  10. tupu says:

    sc. ‘I hoped had been burned’ above. It wasn’t a very good joke and rushed editing doesn’t help it :).

  11. Trailman says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius. Like Tupu I found the bottom half harder than the top, then as I was talking to the man who was fixing the kitchen drawers the Spoonerism came to mind for no reason. Finished quite quickly then. That SE corner is quite neat really.
    There’s a bit of a mini-theme with the various press-related clues and answers.

  12. John Appleton says:

    Felt like a half-hearted attempt at introducing a theme, especially as two of the solutions began with NEWS. That said, there was room for some amusement (15, for example). Loot was last in. I’m familiar with the play but not with TOOL being a synonym for a gun. You live, youy learn.

  13. anio says:

    I can remember using the phrase tooling around for playing about and thought of that and then saw loot.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks PeterO. I enjoyed this and found it quite easy going, though I missed some of the subtleties of the wordplay in a few cases — ‘It’ standing for Italian in 9ac, for example.

    I liked 15ac, though I have seen something similar before.

  15. Mitz says:

    Thanks Gordius and PeterO.

    I had a feeling that 18 would be the centre of most comment today. I struggled initially, thinking ‘shivering’ was the anagrind for ‘urchin’ with some other part of a charade making up the rest of the answer. When it became obvious from the crossing letters that Churchill was required I was bothered by the redundant ‘n’. Then the penny dropped regarding ‘urch [in]’. Don’t think I have ever seen Gordius use this type of device before; I always like the eureka moment that comes with spotting one of its type. Personally, I’m quite at peace with ‘shivering with cold’ = ‘chill’ as well. Long-winded way of saying: COD.

    Liked the clue for 14a – helped, not hindered, by a swain cropping up a couple of days ago.

    ‘Tool’ was last in for me, as so often the nasty little four letter words are…

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I had EDGES but could not explain why so needed you for that.

    Like Mitz @15 I often find the short answers are the last to go in. For me that was 15 – but laughed out loud when I fanally spotted it.

    On 9a I solved it when I had sufficient crossing letters. I did not notice ‘It’ mening Italian in the clue until I came here. :(

  17. chas says:

    For ‘fanally’ please read ‘finally’

  18. KeithW says:

    I’ve not come across TOOL as a synonym for gun except in the phrase “tooled up” meaning armed with a gun.

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A nasty groan a mom lets out on Wednesday instead of Monday.(3, 4, 8)

  20. RCWhiting says:

    I hate emoticons, especially when they are imposed on me.
    (3, 4, 7+1) so there!

  21. PeterJohnN says:

    I think 25 across “News Corporation” is in poor taste, the day that Rebeccah Brooks et al are up in court for hacking. Well done Gordius!

  22. Mitz says:

    …and yet you have supplied one more, RCW?!

    Has anyone ever done any research as to the average number of anagrams in any given crossword? Here I counted 10 solutions that were entirely or in part anagrammatical, out of 30 in all. I have to agree with RCW – 1 in 3 does seem rather high. Is Gordius any more or less guilty of over-mixing than other setters?

  23. PeterJohnN says:

    Re me @ 21. Should be Rebekah Brooks.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Well done Mitz. I agree with your total
    It would be less annoying if they were not so obvious.

  25. muffin says:

    Just to confirm on 9ac, “Gin and It” used to be a popular request for a drink. “Dry martini” then became more “sophisticated” – both should be about 10 parts gin to one dry vermouth (though I have seen it recommended, by Kingsley Amis, I think, that the vermouth bottle is just waved over the gin glass)

  26. tupu says:


    I did not think ‘chinwag’ was an obvious anagram, though I agree re the others. In ‘chinwag”s case I was misled by the final ‘g’ into thinking it must be an ‘…ing’ word.

  27. liz says:

    Muffin @25 I think Kingsley Amis might have been repeating a joke that had been doing the rounds for a while. Other variations include ‘introduce the two bottles to each other’ and ‘point the gin bottle in the direction of Italy’ (General Patton).

  28. Mitz says:


    While 25 was in itself a nice, topical clue it included an anagram which was very easy to spot. And with the crossing ‘w’ ‘chinwag’ was a write-in.

  29. rowland says:

    Well I’ll moan about URCH-IN if no-one else will! Especiallt as CHILL formed the second bit of the word anyway. What’s the sense, or ‘tense’ of that anyway? I remember the odd ‘chill’ night, I think.


  30. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Gordius and PeterO,

    Doing a moonlight flit was a common expression in the various counties that I lived in as a child.The sonata reminded me of my moment of triumph in having a go at the first movement being crushed by the question: “Where’s the tune?”, which is, of course, largely in the little finger.

    Giovanna x

  31. Thomas99 says:

    I agree with Giovanna (and others)- the parsing of 1a in the blog is slightly wrong; the two definitions are “Sonata” and “form of flit” (not “sonata form” and “flit”). (The clue is saying that “moonlight” commonly precedes “flit”, not that it means the same thing. I remember being utterly bamboozled by a similar device where the definition was “kind of charge”, for Bayonet.)

    Rowland @29 – it could be “chill” as a synonym for cold, but I think PeterO’s parsing is better – with “shivering” as a gerund, i.e. noun.

  32. PeterJohnN says:

    Rowly @ 29, “chill” can mean “cold” as an adjective or as a noun.

  33. RCWhiting says:

    I agree with Mitz @28.
    Whether an anagram is easy or difficult to solve depends very much on
    a) the definition being more allusive than conclusive;
    b) having one or two crossing letters.
    Hence it is difficult to classify them without knowing the context.

  34. gerardus says:

    Many thanks for the blog.

    Perhaps the tool in 10ac reversed is a glue gun or staple gun.

  35. PeterO says:

    Thomas99 @31

    Right you are – the penny has finally dropped for 1A; I will change the blog accordingly.

    Having turned at last to Chambers for CHILL in 18A, I note

    chill adj shivering with cold, slightly cold, unfriendly, aloof

    So it works either way, but there seems little doubt which way Gordius had in mind.

    gerardus @34

    While I have Chambers open, among its definitions, it gives gives TOOL as a weapon, esp a gun (sl). So, again, take your choice.

  36. tupu says:

    Gerardus @34

    Collins gives tool = gun in British underworld slang and OED says it may refer to any kind of weapon.

  37. Robi says:

    I enjoyed this crossword; the anagrams just helped the solve without detracting from the entertainment.

    Thanks PeterO; I thought CHURCHILL was a cracker – when the penny dropped I thought it was a classic. I also particularly liked INFER and ITALIAN VERMOUTH. Slight disappointment that there were two ‘NEWS’ – I guess the top one could have been messroom instead.

  38. PeterO says:

    RCWhiting @19 & Mitz @22

    It struck me neither in solving the puzzle nor in blogging it that it was anagram-heavy; but in writing up 6D, I did consider pointing out that it was the first time that “charade” had come up.

  39. rrc says:

    me thinks there was another crossword recently which used inferno with the end missing. that crossword i thought it was a great clue, but having seen the construct once this was rather a disappointment.

  40. Dave Ellison says:

    rrc@39 I thought also I had seen something similar. Shed had: “Hell hath no…”? – work it out on 7 July 2012 puzzle 25,767. I think I prefer Gordius’ version.

  41. RCWhiting says:

    PeterO @38
    As I said recently I love anagrams. My real complaint today is that the whole thing,especially the anagrams, was too easy.
    Since we had special relief on Monday perhaps I will just have to put up with today’s disappointment and hope for tomorrow.

  42. Davy says:

    Thanks Peter,

    I thought this was an enjoyable puzzle from Gordius and particularly admired the cheek of NEWS CORPORATION.
    Gordius has been heavily criticised in the past but I think his puzzles have improved significantly.

    For those who say this puzzle was too easy, just remember that the Guardian Cryptic is not published just
    for the better solvers who post comments here. It is published for everyone who happens to buy the paper
    or print it off from the website.

  43. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Davy @42

    “For those who say this puzzle was too easy, just remember that the Guardian Cryptic is not published just
    for the better solvers who post comments here. It is published for everyone who happens to buy the paper
    or print it off from the website.” or do it online.

    But however they access the puzzle and regardless of their skill level they are all surely entitled to an opinion!!!!!

  44. Paul B says:

    Re INFERNO, shurely for Guardianistas this leads to FERON, or FOERN? Well, unfortunately there isn’t a FEORN either, dammit, but … let’s keep looking anyway.

    Somewhere out there, there is an in-something-something that leads to a real word.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I have no problems with Gordius, even if ‘historically’ (not to be confused by ‘hysterically’) I often oscillate between plus and minus when it’s a G-day.
    I agree with some that this was a lot easier than the average Gordius, although TOOL (10ac) defeated us.

    Now this, 15 across:

    “A subtraction: INFER[no] with no NO. I like that one” [Peter O, many thanks for your excellent blog!]

    “me thinks there was another crossword recently which used inferno with the end missing. that crossword i thought it was a great clue, but having seen the construct once this was rather a disappointment” [rcc]

    “rrc@39 I thought also I had seen something similar. Shed had: “Hell hath no…”? – work it out on 7 July 2012 puzzle 25,767. I think I prefer Gordius’ version” [Dave Ellison]

    “….. that hell IS a no-no?” [me]

    IS? [me, again :)]
    Shouldn’t the clue be “Conclude that hell’s a no-no?”.
    Apart from the fact that I also don’t see a role for ‘that’ (although I can live with, er ‘that’).
    Maybe I’m nitpicking, maybe I’m missing something.

  46. duncan says:

    went with “martini vermouth”, lost the whole NW corner on that account. should’ve got the crossers, but I’ve never heard of “italian vermouth”. oh well. no problem here with “urch” in “chill”…


  47. rhotician says:

    Sil – I think you’re right. I didn’t like ‘is’ myself. Your clue, to be read ‘hell has’ fixes it. And ‘that’ can just be removed.

  48. Davy says:

    Re Paul B at 44

    As always, you tend to baffle me. Maybe it is your intention to baffle but how could FERON (assuming that the word existed)
    possibly be an answer?. I see that INFERNO has two Ns so removing NO leads to two possibilities which are INFER and IFERN
    but not FERON. Please explain simply or is this just another joke !.

  49. rhotician says:

    Davy – I’m sure Paul B doesn’t intend to baffle, but he does like to be cryptic.

    Think of the use of ‘urchin’ in the CHURCHILL clue. Now think about ‘inferno’ but forget about ‘no-no’. Reading ‘inferno’ as ‘in fern o’ gives three possibilities, none of which are words. He’s inviting us find a word in-something-something that leads to a real word.

    He chose ‘inferno’ as an example that doesn’t work because the ‘urchin’ device and the ‘no-no’ device are related, one indicating addition, the other subtraction.

    I suspect in-something-d or in-something-r might yield something appropriate but I don’t feel like thinking about it.

  50. rhotician says:

    On the other hand, thinking about it, ‘inlets’ gives LEST. I’ve had enough now.

  51. Davy says:

    Thanks rhotician for your sevensquared response. Quite obvious really. I am grateful and not an ingrate…leading to great. Great.

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