Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,763 – Gordius

Posted by Andrew on October 10th, 2012


A lot of very simple anagrams and some other clues that let me write in the answer almost without thinking made this a very quick solve, and not very satisfying. As often with Gordius, I have a few quibbles, particularly about definitions that don’t accurately correspond to the answers.

9. COLD SNAPS COLDS + NAPS (= sleeps = kips)
11. ELSE E + LSE (London School of Economics)
12. ADDITIONAL ADDITION (bit of maths) + A L. I have two criticisms here: ADDITIONAL is not synonymous with “as well as”, and “addition” in the wordplay is much too closely related to the answer, of which it is a large part
14. OPENER Double definition
15. NUCLEUS UNCLE* + US. Chambers gives “heavy, clumsy” as one of its definitions of “Dutch”, which I suppose justifies its use as an anagram indicator
16. AMERICA A.M. + ERICA (heather)
18. OSTEAL O + STEAL (“bone” is slang for steal – a new one on me)
20. PACKSADDLE PACKS (parcels) + ADDLE (go off)
24. OMEGA Double definition – capital Omega is used as a symbol for the Ohm (unit of electrical resistance).
25. OSTRACISM OST (German for “east”) + RACISM
26. AMATEUR A MATE + reverse of R[ugby] U[nion]
27. EXPANSE PANS in [River] EXE
2. MILK-SOP MILKS (gets benefit from) + OP
3. SO-SO Vaguely cryptic definition
4. STANDARD AND POOR Cryptic definition of the American financial services company, which has been in the news a lot lately for its reduced credit ratings of some European economies, though it is officially called Standard and Poor’s
7. ANDANTE AND (together with) + ANTE (advance payment). I take issue with the definition – as a musical tempo indication Andante means (literally, and also figuratively) “at walking pace” so it’s hardly “not quite snail’s pace”
13. SNAIL’S PACE NAILS (tacks) “in SPACE”, i.e. “away from earth”
16. AMPHORA AMP (unit of electrical current) + HORA (Latin “time”)
17. EXCRETA Anagram of X (times = multiplied by) + CREATE. I have nothing against “smut” or references to bodily functions in clues, but this seems rather gratuitous, and lacking in any redeeming qualities: the surface reading – an attempt to refer to The Times, presumably – is very clunky.
19. AUCTION U (upper-class, “smart”) “indeed” = in ACTION
22. SOMME M (1000, “considerable number”) in SOME
23. CAMP CAM (river) + P[eterhouse]. Peterhouse is a Cambridge College, so the juxtaposition with the CAM is apt – perhaps more could have been made of it in the clue.

36 Responses to “Guardian 25,763 – Gordius”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Certainly, 17ac caused a bit of a double take… a bit messy all round!

    On the other hand, I liked the NAILS in SPACE.

  2. ToniL says:

    Certainly not one of G’s trickier offerings.

    I read def’n in 12 to be “as well” as a… rather than
    “as well as” a…

    Didn’t really question Dutch… I was probably thinking of “Double Dutch” confused? and seem to recall ‘in Dutch’ can mean in trouble? (or was I imagining it).

    Maybe ‘not quite’ in 7 could be taken as ‘similar to’ rather than ‘almost’??

    There rests the case for the Defence M’Lud!

    Overall, I rather enjoyed this even if a bit on the easy side.

    Thank-you Gordius and Andrew.

    (No defence for 17, Guilty as charged)

  3. JollySwagman says:

    Thanks Gordius – very entertaining 4d long overdue for some leg-pull. Having a 15-letter name (when you knock off the ‘s) was surely always asking for it.

    Also liked 7d, 13d, 17d.

    Andrew – I thought your comments were unjustifiably harsh. You obviously don’t like Gordius’s work. Why don’t you swap with someone who does – or just give the explanations – fair enough raise a question mark but don’t slag the poor guy. Gordius sets in a style very typical of the Guardian of old and I for one think it’s great to have him around.

    15a “in Dutch” means “in trouble” so a reasonable grinder.

    Tonil @#2 has already addressed the specifics very well I think so no need to repeat.

  4. JollySwagman says:

    Oops – but thanks for your efforts anyway Andrew – always appreciated.

  5. KeithW says:

    I have never heard of bone being slang for steal and I can’t find any evidence for it on google. Overall I was disappointed with the puzzle. Thanks, Andrew, for the explanations for the couple of answers I wrote in with no real conviction.

  6. Andrew says:

    JollySwagman – sorry you found my remarks “unjustifiably harsh”. I tried to explain my reasons for the criticisms, and I’m sorry if they come across as excessive. On a practical point, it’s not really possible to swap with someone else: bloggers are assigned to days on a rota, and we don’t know who the setter is going to be until we open the newspaper or look at the website.

  7. JollySwagman says:

    Hi Andrew (#6). Likewise sorry if my accusations of harshness were themselves a bit harsh, but to get the fun out of Gordius you do need to cut him a bit of slack at first sight, and often some of the dodgy looking clues actually turn out to be quite sound.

    If I had to criticise a clue here it would be 18a (as identified by KW #5) – bone for steal is both obscure and archaic and also has other horrible possibilities. the answer is guessable from the stem but still not all that everyday a word – so black mark there from me, despite my other comments.

  8. dialrib says:

    I took 7d to be ‘not quite [as slow as] snail’s pace’.

    I am probably being dim, but where is the anagram indicator in 17d?

  9. rowland says:

    Thanks Andrew. FWIW I think yr blog is very polite and couteous, and it has to be okay not to like the puzzle you are blogging. It would be so boring otherwise! And I agree with you anyway.

    Dutch is interesting, but at least ‘clumsy’ is an adjective! I remember this used in the sense of ‘nonsensical’, or ‘nonsense’, sometimes ‘Greek’ too is used in that way. Not sure how satisfactory that is!

    Thanks for your hard work, and to Gordius.


  10. tupu says:

    Thanks Gordius and Andrew

    Mainly on the easy side but osteal was last in after checking bone = steal. It’s new to me too but one can see where it’s coming from.

    I liked 1a, 15a, 25a, 13d and 19d.

    It took a moment or two for the penny to drop with 13d. :) I thought at first there might be be a dreaded indirect anagram lurking there.

    In 5d I wondered about ‘gamble’ but then assumed it is to be read as a verb in the suface and a noun in the word play.

  11. Robi says:

    Enjoyable crossword; the anagrams made the solve reasonably straightforward.

    Thanks Andrew; I do not exactly share your opinions, although it’s interesting to hear different personal views. Maybe 12 was a bit weak and could, perhaps, made use of ‘add it on,’ but the clue worked. Bone=steal is in my Chambers Xword dic., so OK by me. Chambers gives andante as: ‘moving with moderately slow, even expression,’ so ‘not quite snail’s pace’ seems to me to fit the bill. I thought EXCRETA was just playful; if it was supposed to refer to the newspaper in the surface, presumably it should have said createS. Rowly @9; Dutch is also an adjective and means ‘clumsy [Chambers],’ so I can’t see what is the problem.

    I thought AUCTION had a nice clue.

  12. Robi says:

    tupu @10; I, too, at first thought there was an indirect anagram in 13.

  13. Jeff says:

    Thanks, Gordius and Andrew. A pleasant write-in, with a few oddities. Standard & Poor’s is the rating agency and the “slang” of steal for bone, though obvious, rattled. NeilW@1, there is no 17ac. you must mean 17d. I saw nothing wrong with excreta. “pubic hair” was a recent answer.

  14. rowland says:

    Hi Robi, yes, I get that. I was trying to say that ‘Dutch’ in the sense of ‘clumsy’ fits the clue better because it is an adjective.

  15. rowland says:

    EXCRETA by the way I though to be a bad clue in every respect. It doesn’t work properly, is disparaging in a nasty way, and ‘clunky’? Well, that is VERY generous! Awful.


  16. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. I had written in SNAILS PACE and you explained why I was right.

    I am sure that Gordius could have found a nicer way of writing the clue for 17d with a little more effort.

  17. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Oh dear. This did not deserve a place in The Guardian cryptic slot.
    Far too many easy definitions which were solvable without reading the cryptic parts of the clues.
    1d, 1ac, 10ac, 14ac just for starters and ‘gamble for Putin’ (7,8),I still haven’t bothered to parse it.
    Keith @5 ‘bone’ = steal is in Chambers.
    Rowland @15
    Who exactly is being disparaged by the inclusion of ‘excreta’ in a crossword.It is just a word in a word puzzle.
    Last in was ‘nucleus’, quite a nice clue.
    Is America a country? Is ‘U’ smart (in either meaning)?
    Andrew, continue to be honest – it is the best policy.

  18. rowland says:

    The clue is not funny at all, and my feeling is that The Times is treated shabbily. I do not care if you disagree!

  19. chas says:

    RCW @17: I think it is arrogant of people in the USA to take the name of the continent and use it as the name of their country.

  20. John Appleton says:

    I’m another that hasn’t found this the best of the Guardian’s recent offerings; what quibbles I have, have already been covered, so there’s no need to repeat them.

    I had no quibble, though, about EXCRETA – though I can see people’s points about it.

  21. Trailman says:

    Easiest solve for some time (three stops on local train), though that is not in itself a criticism.
    A bigger problem to me is that 18ac is a collection of words rather than meaningful phrase or sentence. That and the arrogation of America as a country. And the ratings agency being miscited. Oh and Paul would have given us a giggle with 17d.
    That’s all just a bit sloppy. A shame, because there are good clues here, and I’ve stuck up for Gordius in the past.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Rowland @18
    I wasn’t aware that I used the word ‘funny’ anywhere because it isn’t.
    I have also belatedly realised (correctly I hope) that you think it disparages The Times newspaper. Of course it doesn’t. That is always the problem with innuendo; it only nods if the reader is nodding!

  23. William says:

    Thanks, Andrew and Gordius. I liked NUCLEUS but the puzzle otherwise was a bit meh. (A texting term I’ve recently been introduced to.)

    If Admin will allow the off-topic post, I was sent a bit of French violin music recently and was interested to see that the up-bow mark was defined as POUSSEZ (push) and the down-bow as TIREZ (pull). Can someone remember the recent puzzle which had us all debating these terms?

  24. Andrew says:

    Despite my other issues with this puzzle, I really don’t understand the objections to America=USA. It’s an absolutely standard usage in (as far as I know) all varieties of English, and other languages; in fact I would say that the usual, indeed the only natural, interpretation of the word “America” (as opposed to say “North/South America” or “the Americas”) is the USA. To try to claim otherwise is to fall victim to a version of the etymological fallacy.

  25. Andrew says:

    William – I think you’re referring to this puzzle by Brummie (blogged here by Eileen), where he clued UP-BOW as “Pushy string player’s action, having finished with acknowledgement of applause? (2-3)”.

  26. Paul B says:

    ‘America’ is the short form of ‘The United States of America’, so to try to enforce the point that its use is arrogant is rather weak, I think. ‘The Americas’, that is to say the American continent, comprises North, South and Central America.

  27. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Gordius and Andrew.

    Cissy and Milksop evoked another less PC era. I liked snails pace and andante.

    Giovanna x

  28. Derek Lazenby says:

    ERICA = HEATH? About as accurate as PANSY = BED.

  29. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Derek
    Second def. in Chambers 12th Ed. under ‘heath': “Any shrub of genus Erica, sometimes extended to Calluna (heather) and others of the family Ericaceae”. Second def. in Collins under heath: “heather, any low-growing evergreen ericaceous shrub of the Old World genus Erica and related genera, having small bell-shaped typically pink or purple flowers”. Second def. in Oxford On-line: “Erica and related genera, family Ericaceae: many species”.

  30. Robi says:

    Derek @28; re Erica, you better argue with Wiki (and Chambers.)

  31. Martin P says:

    Gordius generally sets much better puzzles than this, and I’ll continue to look forward to them.

    I’ve usually heard “bone” to mean slang “rob” (as in fillet I suppose) rather than “steal”, but the light-fingered seem to reverse those meanings anyway…

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Don’t see why anyone should be offended by the surface of 17d.
    Don’t see an anagram indicator either.

  33. William says:

    Andrew @25 – clever chap, many thanks.

  34. vikki28 says:

    Just echoing previous comments about not finding an anagram indicator for 17d. Thanks!

  35. tupu says:

    re 17d
    I assumed ‘create’ was somehow, and not too successfully, trying to do double duty as indicator and fodder.

  36. rhotician says:

    In 17d I took ‘articles of’ to be the anagram indicator. I don’t think it’s necessary for the definition, which is just ‘crap’.
    As, some seem to think, is the entire clue.

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