Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,787 – Philistine

Posted by Andrew on November 7th, 2012


A puzzle of varied styles from Philistine, with clues ranging from the conventional, almost banal (e.g. 9ac, 10ac, 19ac) to the devious 17dn and the bizarre 1dn. Fortunately the easy ones provided enough crossing letters to make the harder ones gettable, so overall a well-balanced delight (with a couple of quibbles, noted below). Thanks to Philistine.

1. TORTOISESHELL TORTOISES (other creatures) + HELL (great suffering)
10. REACTOR RE (about) ACTOR
12. HINGE Double definition – Hinge and Bracket were a comedy drag double act from the 1970s until the death of one of the members in 2002.
13. DUSK Hidden in katmanDU SKy, though as Katmandu is very near the equator it probably doesn’t actually get much dusk.
14. WOOD PIGEON WOOD (deal – this needs a “perhaps” or “for example”) + PIG + EON
16. COLOURLESS CO (company, firm) + (SELLS OUR)*
19. ROSE ROSE = went up and ROSÉ = wine
20. DEUCE Double definition – slang for the Devil, and a situation where the scores are (temporarily) tied.
21. ARMY CADET (ACADEMY + T R), T and R being the 5th and 7th letters of miliTaRy
24. RELEARN Last letters of anotheR chequE usefuL + EARN, definition “once more pick up”
1. TOULOUSE-LAUTREC Homophone of “two loos” (ladies and gentlemen) + LYRIC with its “contents” replaced by “revolutionary” (A TRUE)*. The definition is just “artist”. One of the strangest clues I’ve seen for a while, but clever and amusing.
3. ORLANDO Double definition – character (part) in As You Like It and city in Florida.
4. SCREWED SC[O]RE (20ac, “deuce”, being a score) + WED A better explanation, as PeterO and NeilW point out, is that 20 is a score.
5. SMASH HIT SMASH (break) + HIT (strike). By far the weakest clue in the puzzle – the surface reading is poor, and the cryptic elements are too close to their meanings in the answer.
6. ENTENTE CORDIALE TEN in TEN* (“maybe” ten out[side] of ten) + (ARE DOCILE)*
7. LARGE INTESTINE (INTERESTING ALE)*. The colon is only part of the large intestine, so the definition is slightly flawed.
8. RATIO DECIDENDI RATIO (two in three, maybe) + reverse (going North) of DICED + END (death) + I. A legal phrase meaning “the reason for the decision”
17. LEAVE BE BE LEAVE (auditor’s or listener’s “believe”) with its parts interchanged
18. SAMURAI UR (“you are”) in MASAI*
22. COLON COL + ON, and the definition is cunningly an actual colon (punctuation mark)

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,787 – Philistine”

  1. PeterO says:

    An excellent blog of a splendidly offbeat crossword. In 4D, it is not necessary to go to 20A (but it does no harm if you do): a score is 20.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I really enjoyed this – except, perhaps, 8dn which I had to Google to confirm but the wordplay was clear enough. (I bet it was last in for all except the lawyers amongst us.)

    I think Philistine has misdirected you on SCREWED – 20 is a score and I don’t believe the clue has anything to do with 20ac…

    I thought LARGE INTESTINE was excellent and leaving out the caecum and rectum didn’t seem unreasonable to me. On the other hand, the punctuation trick is a bit old hat now – especially when there’s no particular reason for a COLON to be used in the clue. I seem to remember Paul did this first with a question mark, which was better disguised.

    TOULOUSE LAUTREC: brilliant, although it did jump out at me and was first in.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. Slowed by doing this while watching coverage of the US poll results emerging, and bamboozled by 8d: the one resort to references. Otherwise it was a good, straightforward challenge. Thanks Philistine.

  4. Sylvia says:

    Gave up on 8d but otherwise completed without resort to references. Loved 1d and 11a. A brilliant crossword with a difference!

  5. samui pete says:

    NeilW put it better than I could!! Great, cheers all

  6. KeithW says:

    I enjoyed this but like Sylvia gave up on 8d. Is this a new grid? I don’t remeber it before. Thanks Philistine and Andrew.

  7. rrc says:

    an interesting work out – it fell into place remarkedly smoothly except for 8d which actually spoilt the crossword for me.

  8. Janice says:

    Good blog as always but Kathmandu Is not very near the equator and it does get a period of dusk although clearly not as much as the UK for example.

  9. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Philistine and Andrew. Cheated on 8d, so thanks for the explanation. For me, the ratio associated with ‘two in three’ would be 2:1, the former being more in the nature of a fraction.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    This started out very easy, but then became hard. I was convinced 7d was GREAT something and left this instead of LARGE which screwed up the solving for a while – it would have been much easier with the correct version.

    I didn’t like 8d which I had to google eventually; I agree with dunsscotus and am not convinced “Two in three” is a ratio – two to three would be (perhaps Derek will comment, too)

    3d As You Like It ought really to be capitalised, and along with a distracting , reminds me of yesterday’s discussion on punctuation.

    15d wet = rain? not quite

    Otherwise some good clues. Thanks Andrew

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Philistine

    An enjoyable mixed bag as Andrew says. I rather liked the humour of e.g. 1d and 25a which I had come across before – 1d with its resonances of ‘two-gun Pete’ and ‘Two-Jags Prescott’ and 25a in (inter alia) an old seaside-style postguard of someone standing forlornly outside a Public WC and complaining ‘He said he’d meet me at my convenience’.

    I ticked 1a, 14a, 20a, 25a, 1d.

    17d puzzled me at first as I read ‘auditor’s credit’ as ‘be’ (as B in old exams I could once pass) so I began to think it was supposed to mean ‘eb’ in ‘leave’ which I did not like for a couple of reasons. But seeing the ‘believe’ homophone provided me with the correct ‘ratio decidendi’.

  12. tupu says:

    Dave E @10

    ‘He’s been out in the wet’ means ‘he’s been out in the rain’ I think.

  13. NeilW says:

    Dave @10 and tupu @12, meaning no2 of wet as a noun is RAIN in Chambers.

  14. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Most enjoyable, even when attempted while trying to follow a certain election. At 8d I worked out DECIDENDI from the wordplay and then googled. It takes a bit of a hop and a skip to get from “two in three” to RATIO.

    That wasn’t quite my last in, though. For some reason TORTOISESHELL eluded me right up to the point where I decided to give in and look it up, when it suddenly became plain.

    1d and 4d my favourites.

  15. John Appleton says:

    Entertaining. SUZERAIN and RATIO DECIDENDI both new to me, but 1d has to be my COD. The grid probably made for a quicker solve due to a number of long answers, but that’s just nitpicking.

  16. Robi says:

    Good crossword; I especially liked TOULOUSE LAUTREC, SAMURAI and ARMY CADET.

    Thanks Andrew; once I saw the final ‘i’ in 18, I spent ages in trying to involve ‘impi’ somehow. Did anyone else think of ‘tent’ for 19? :) Thought not.

    Like most others, I didn’t know the RATIO thingy. ROUST as an alternative to rouse was also new. LARGE INTESTINE/INTERESTING ALE good anagram, I thought.

  17. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Fun puzzle, though not, I think, quite up to Philistine’s usual (extremely) high standard – it fell out more easily than most of his.

    1d was a write-in for me, but it did raise a smile; 7d a very good anagram and I liked the construction of 14a. 15d seemed so obviously SUZERAIN that I demurred about putting it in at first. I suppose it follows the rare word = easy clue rule, although this was one I knew, unlike 8d, which required a wordsearch.

  18. rowland says:

    Yes, bit of a hotch-potch, but a good one. Good contrast between this and the Indy today, a good jux of the two styles maybe. Quite liked the ‘weirder’ clues by virtue of this difference really, including Mr Two Loos and maybe 7dn despite its mistake.


  19. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks tupu and NeilW. Hadn’t really come across that interpretation before.

  20. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew; as you say, the easier clues provided a gateway to solving the more difficult ones, so that by the time I got to 1d I already had enough crossers to make it a write-in, but I still laughed out loud at the ingenuity of the wordplay :-)

    Being a linguist, not a mathematician, I had no problem with RATIO in 1d, and was then able to work out the second word with a little knowledge of Latin and the wordplay, so no research needed for once.

    My thanks to Philistine for an enjoyable solve and not a few smiles.

  21. William says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    What a lovely mixture. The more esoteric was gettable from crossing letters of the easier ones. Very nicely balanced.

    Cheated on 8d and loved the 2 loos.

    Favourite was ORLANDO – lovely surface.

    Thank you Philistine, more please.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Dave @10. Hmm. Yes, see what you mean. I missed that cos I was concentrating on it being nearly time to pop round the corner for a pot of tea and a tea cake, not to mention the double roll over ticket. Aren’t local shops wonderful? I think you’re right that it’s not the way you would normally indicate a ratio, but I think it’s close enough. It has a particular resonance for me because the old mortality rate for Multiple Myeloma was 2 out of 3 don’t make five years, but that has been brought up to date a few months back and is now put at ten years. Sorry guys, you may have to put up with me longer than you thought!

    Should I sue Philistine for breach of copyright? It’s ages since we lived there, but one of our previous dwellings was always refered to by my family as The Lautrec House, for the self same homophonic reason!

    Yes, strange mixture of clues. Looked like a shoe in, but then ground to an almighty halt whilst I got out my words gadgets.

    Right, off to the shops!

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. I had ARMY CADET but was scratching my head over 5th and 7th: you explained that.

    8d beat me entirely. If I had ever studied Latin I might have made some progress but alas :(

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    An artist (8-7)? Well that went in immediately and I prepared myself to be disappointed.
    I wasn’t; this was a good challenge.
    Technically last in was 8d (ratio* is fine for a cryptic clue) although I never did write in ‘leave be’ because I failed to parse it,which left ‘leave me’ as still a possibility.
    Favourite was 21ac although 7d and others were worth a mention.

    * 2 in 3, 2:1, 2 to 1, 2/3 etc are just alternative ways of expressing the same idea.

  25. Brendan (not that one) says:

    A nice difficult solve. Never heard of 8D but had enough letters to work it out. Obviously it was some Latin referring to a court judgement so a little Google did the trick.

    Last in was 24A as I had a mental block. Thanks to Andrew and Philistine

  26. Paul B says:

    I’m curious as to why this one’s been spared the grilling yesterday’s Indy was given. Would anyone like to comment, Rowland?

  27. Trebor says:

    I was my own worst enemy here by confidently deciding, with just the C in place, that 21a would be _ _ _ _ / CHORD (i.e. 7ths and 5ths being examples of chords). Thus it took a while but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  28. Morpheus says:

    thank you philistine and andrew.

    however, i’m very disappointed with the vigour of the discussion here about the clueing of ratio. I’m sure we’ve had much better ding dongs between the mathematical pedants and the others in the past!

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, PB, my name’s not Rowland.
    Why should this puzzle be grilled?
    OK, there’s the omnipresent “…. leader” again (9ac), but I’m not completely with you re this anyway.
    I would have avoided to use “may be” as an anagram indicator twice (21ac, 6d), and 3d is not really good for several reasons (some already mentioned the (de)capitalisation, but I also disliked the double duty of “part” and if it wasn’t meant to be like that, “in Florida” for Orlando).
    Also not sure whether the definition of COLOURLESS should be ‘Black and white’ – and?

    But there was a lot to admire in this crossword.
    Philistine is a thoughtful setter (which is something I appreciate) and 11ac, 1d and 7d were quite good.
    Not a big fan of 19ac (ROSE) and I think we have seen 22d’s trick before (and better).
    Yet, the reversed homophone is 17d was clever, perhaps even novel.

    So why grill Philistine?
    Or PB, did you mean: why grilling yesterday’s Indy?
    In that case I am with you, but not 100%.
    Still, I am on Alchemi’s side as the overall feeling was right.

    And here’s one to annoy you (and perhaps others, including me, for more than one reason): “American leader trapped in soapbox put upside down (5)” :)

  30. RCWhiting says:

    Sil, I do not see why you feel it necessary to criticise Dave Price (Philistine); after all he is 103 years old and often has a pint of beer at my local.

  31. rhotician says:

    NeilW @2 “I seem to remember Paul did this first with a question mark”

    Paul does use this “trick” in 24826 from Oct 2009, so your memory is very good. (Unless of course he reused it more recently.)

    It would be very difficult to establish who “did this first” but Puck did it with ? in 24448 (Jul 2008). He also used a similar device for ‘exclamations’. In addition he clued ‘invertedcommas’ and ‘quotationmarks’ conventionally, arranging the four round the edges of the puzzle.

  32. NeilW says:

    Hi rhotician. For what it’s worth, I only discovered the Guardian’s online crossword site and started solving again, after a thirty year hiatus, in early 2009. Thus my limited personal memory bank of clues! (Long term expat so no access to regular printed editions.)

  33. Paul B says:

    Neither, Sil: I was just curious, and amused really, to see the one tested and not the other.

  34. don says:

    If peope are questioning the structure of the colon [7d] and whether “Two in three” is a ratio [8], how about the fact that white light is not colourless [16a], but contains “all the clours of the rainbow”.

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