Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,836 by Picaroon

Posted by PeterO on January 4th, 2013


To solve this, I had to negotiate my way past an impressive array of diversionary tactics.

9. Opponent finished Old Course (9)
ANTIPASTO An charade of ANTI (‘opponent’) plus PAST (‘finished’) plus O (‘old’).
10. Trailblazing traveller left with another identity to tour Italy (5)
LAIKA An envelope (‘to tour’) of I (‘Italy’) in L (‘left’) plus AKA (also known as, ‘another identity’), for the first dog in space.
11. Close to end of condiment that is something put on kipper? (7)
NIGHTIE A charade of NIGH (‘close’) plus T (‘end of condimenT‘) pus IE (‘that is’).
12. Intellectual bachelor loves drunken snog (7)
BOOKISH A charade of B (‘bachelor’) plus O O (‘loves’) plus KISH (an inebriated pronunciation of KISS, ‘drunken snog’).
13. Incline to keep reading and you might well! (5)
LEARN An envelope (‘to keep’) of R (‘reading’, one of the three Rs) in LEAN (‘incline’) semi-&lit.
14. Fibbed half-heartedly, with lies perhaps generating this response (9)
DISBELIEF An anagram (‘perhaps’) of ‘fib[b]ed’ (‘half-heartedly’) plus ‘lies’. and another semi-&lit.
16. Religious official trying to convert Iraq, so intruding (5,10)
GRAND INQUISITOR An anagram (‘to convert’) of ‘Iraq, so intruding’.
19. Call up soldiers, colonel wanting one to get shocking treatment (9)
RECOLLECT A charade of RE (Royal Engineers, ‘soldiers’) plus COL[one]L (‘colonel wanting one’) plus ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, ‘shocking treatment’).
21. More than one counter in taxicab adds the wrong way (5)
ABACI A hidden (‘in’) reversed (‘the wrong way’) answer in ‘taxICAB Adds’).
22. After Metamorphoses, Ovid was to issue a denial (7)
DISAVOW An anagram (‘after metamorphoses’) of ‘Ovid was’. The Metamorphoses is a poem by Ovid.
23. Unsettled person needing heavy metal, it goes without saying (7)
PROVERB An envelope (‘it goes without’) of ROVER (‘unsettled person’) in PB (chemical symbol for lead, ‘heavy metal’).
24. Foreign currency racket completely disheartened auditor (5)
DINAR A charade of DIN (‘racket’) plus AR (‘completely disheartened AuditoR‘).
25. Judge needs a long time to go over close votes (9)
REFERENDA An envelope (‘to go over’) of END (‘close’) in REF (‘judge’) plus ERA (‘a long time’).
1. Elite nags, whipped into shape, run this (5,5)
SAINT LEGER An anagram (‘whipped into shape’) of ‘elite nags’ plus R (‘run’); semi-&lit.
2. Signs of suffering as Athenian character volunteers to accept budget, finally (8)
STIGMATA An envelope (‘to accept’) of T (the first one, ‘budgeT, finally’) in SIGMA (‘Athenian character’) plus TA (Territorial Army, ‘volunteers’).
3. Revolting, like those going bare-chested? That’s right! (4,2)
SPOT ON A reversal (‘revolting’) of NO TOPS (‘like those going bare-cheated’).
4. Wimbledon champion, not male (4)
ASHE A charade of A SHE (‘not male’).
5. What sustains a setter in trouble again, one constrained by censor (3,7)
DOG BISCUIT A charade of DOG (‘trouble’) plus BIS (‘again’) plus an envelope (‘constrained by’) of I (‘one’) in CUT (‘censor’, verb). The ‘setter’ is a dog. At least, I hope so.
6. Are they flowery knickers? (8)
BLOOMERS Cryptic definition.
7. One replacing good cycling holiday gear (6)
BIKINI BIKING (‘cycling’) with I (‘one’) replacing G (‘good’).
8. Physicist is a tragic figure losing bet (4)
MACH MAC[bet]H (‘tragic figure’) ‘losing bet’.
14. “The Godfather” — major piece of art or utter tedium? (6,4)
DONKEY WORK A charade of DON (‘the Godfather’) plus KEY WORK (‘major piece of art’).
15. Shakespearean warrior reportedly gave battle wearing ladies’ lingerie (10)
FORTINBRAS A charade of FORT, a homophone (‘reportedly’) of FOUGHT (‘gave battle’) plus IN BRAS (‘wearing ladies’ lingerie’).
17. Labour’s conclusion: party ultimately scorned, getting sent up (8)
DELIVERY A reversal (‘getting sent up’, in a down clue) of Y (‘partY ultimately’) plus REVILED (‘scorned’).
18. Member of oppressive regime thrashed a servant (8)
TSAREVNA An anagram (‘thrashed’) of ‘a servant’, for the daughter of a tsar.
20. Place for better business that’s like home inside (6)
CASINO An envelope (‘inside’) of AS (‘like’) plus IN (‘home’) in CO (‘business’).
21. American and British foreign affairs (6)
AMOURS A charade of AM (‘American’) plus OURS (‘British’, with apologies to those unfortunates who aren’t).
22. One following pop art movement (4)
DADA A charade of DAD (‘pop’) plus A (‘one’).
23. Winning over with very loud praise (4)
PUFF A charade of PU, a reversal (‘over’) of UP (‘winning’) plus FF (fortissimo, ‘very loud’).

38 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,836 by Picaroon”

  1. vinyl1 says:

    So many of the clues were easy, I was surprised at how stuck I got. Either the puzzle is inconsistent, or I lost my solving ability for a bit. Seeing ‘grand inquisitor’ and ‘dog biscuit’ got me going again.

    Finally getting the obvious ‘bloomers’, I was left with L_I_A. I put in ‘Laika’ from the cryptic without having any idea of the literal.

    COD to ‘Fortinbras’….implying he wore more than one?

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. The variety here, with a good number of hard clues in among the others, made this a fun puzzle. The DOG BISCUIT clue was very nice, as was the dog in space one. my last answer, too. Thanks Picaroon.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. Another excellent puzzle from Picaroon that, like Orlando, leaves you wondering why you found it so tricky!

    Strange to see BIKINI again after only two days, especially since it was clued with the same device by Philistine, except on that occasion it was the M in “bimini” that we were asked to replace.

    I think you should extend the underline to include “trying” in the definition of GRAND INQUISITOR.

  4. muffin says:

    Thanks PeterO and Picaroon
    I found it difficult too – I left TSAREVNA blank (I had found the answer but didn’t get the reference or the parsing!)
    I saw straight away that 1dn was an anagram of “elitenagsr”, so I put it into an anagram solver. This generated no less than 109 “5,5” anagrams, the list not including the solution. I had to resort to more traditional methods, but the “&lit” made it my favourite.

  5. muffin says:

    Before RCW reads it, I will correct “no less” to “no fewer”.

  6. muffin says:

    Not having a good day…”I shall” is better than “I will” in this context.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO.

    What a week we’ve had! I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. When I’d finished, I discovered that I had almost more clues ticked than not [and I don’t give ticks too lightly]. Special accolades, though, as you might expect, for 22ac and 15dn {for recalling Shed’s gift: ‘Tenor in drunked choir fought for fort? Not in such a dialect [6]}

    Surfaces smooth as silk and lots of smiles and ahas. Just my cup of tea. Huge thanks, Picaroon.

  8. Eileen says:

    I’m sorry – that should be ‘drunken choir’.

  9. BillK says:

    A lovely puzzle that reminded me of a calypso tribute to poor old Laika…

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Picaroon

    A very good mixed puzzle. Donkey work was my last in – for some reason I found it hard to see.

    Like Eileen I had lots of ticks icluding 19a, 21a, 23a, 5d, 14d, 15d, 20d and 22d. As Eileen says, lots of fine surfaces.

    Muffin Re ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. There’s far too much worry about this. Why can we manage without ‘manier’ for example? I remember reading that ‘less’ in such cases may be technically a mistake but at least it is a very old one – I think it first appears in Alfred the Great’s translation of Boethius, a literary error to add to his baking problems.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Although there were not too many write-ins this was rather towards the easy end of Picaroon’s spectrum.
    Last in was ‘Mach’, I was looking for the ‘bet’ (or ‘ante’?) to be removed from the start or finish; so I liked it.
    I did not know ‘Tsarevna’ but the anagram was obbvious.
    I liked the ‘col(one)l’ in 19ac.

    You intrigue me. I am sure that I have never corrected anyone on this board for fewer/less (or similar).
    And yet……you must be cyber-telepathic. I shout “fewer” at Radio 4 at least once a day. My other most frequent shout is as I hear the use of adverbs being replaced by adjectives.

  12. Aztobesed says:

    Less sugar, fewer cabbages (Kingsley Amis). You can forgive those who think less is more informal (but you have to like them first).

  13. RCWhiting says:

    BTW, tupu, there is a very good mathematical reason for differentiating things which are countable from quantities which are not (and therefore can never be measured exactly, something which many do not appreciate).
    Cakes are countable, cooking times are not (easily overdone!).

  14. muffin says:

    I too shout “fewer” at the TV. I can’t think what possessed me to write less.

  15. NormanLinFrance says:

    @muffin 14

    The fact that brevity is the soul of wit, perhaps :-)

  16. muffin says:

    Very good! I should, of course, have typed “less” – bad day continues.

  17. William says:

    Thank you PeterO, a gem of a puzzle.

    COD for me was PROVERB with its clever surface of ‘it goes without saying’.

    Thank you Pirate.

    BillK @9 many thanks, hadn’t heard that before. She was a bitch wasn’t she?

  18. Rowland says:

    The last Picaroon was very good, but this didn’t make the grade for me. Too inconsistent for one thing, and again I found some of the devices overly fussy or obscure (like BIS), or perhaps the writer is just trying too hard to get surface meanings to seem credible — it results in bitty clues?

    Not the worst, but not the best, so medium enjoyment for me today.

    By the way thedefinition in GRAND INQUISITOR is ‘Religious official trying’.


  19. tupu says:

    Hi RCW
    Thanks. Such are the contradictions within us that I myself often respond, despite my better judgment, as you and muffin do to ‘less’, though between you and me my pet hate is ‘between you and I’.

    But my point about ‘manier’ remains unanswered. ‘More’ is the correct comparative for both ‘many’ and ‘much’ and it causes no confusion and raises no hackles in those roles.

  20. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Great puzzle from Picaroon which, unusually, I flew through. Last in was MACH because I couldn’t see the ‘tragic figure’. Duh! Loads of amusing clues – invidious to pick any out.

    On the subject of ‘less’ v ‘fewer’, I have noticed that one can tell the quality of a supermarket by the sign above the check-out for customers with only a small number of purchases: most have ’10 items or less’, but Waitrose uses ‘fewer’ (as does Booths in tbe NW). Curiously, Swedish has one word which covers both ‘less’ and ‘fewer': ‘mindre'; on the other hand, there are separate words for ‘more’, depending on whether the noun is countable (‘flera’) or uncountable (‘mer’).

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks Gervase

    Its interesting that Swedish has the opposite convention to the English one.

    Re supermarkets, I’m not sure I would always agree re your use of ‘quality’ -social class may be a better guide at times, :) not least in the present context though Waitrose does have nice wide aisles.

    I recently acquired David Crystal’s enjoyable book ‘The story of English in 100 Words’. This interestingly brings out how many of our treasured conventions are relatively recent, and is a salutary read for self-appointed guardians of correctness.

  22. Robi says:

    Good puzzle with some difficult solutions; I knew ‘tsarina’ but not ‘tsarevna.’

    Thanks PeterO; apparently, ‘abacuses’ can be used instead of ABACI. Are they people afraid to admit that they like Swedish pop groups? 😉

    Some great surfaces here, like for SPOT ON, PROVERB and SAINT LEGER, to name but a less few.

    As NeilW @3 said, we have got two bikinis for the price of one this week – and ‘bras’ and NIGHTIEs today. I’m not sure that I understand the definition of the latter [kipper tie, kipper=slipper?…I’m getting nowhere with this.] Perhaps someone can explain for me in simple language.

  23. Robi says:

    ……..sorry, I geddit; kipper=sleeper [doh!]

  24. fearsome says:

    thanks PeterO and picaroon
    Very enjoyable puzzle, many clues made me smile
    Laika was my last laugh.

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Yes, all of the above. I got LAIKA fairly easily because it was clearly clued, but also because it featured in another puzzle (a Quixote, I think) not that long ago.

    Since we’re on pet hates in supermarkets, mine is in the clothes section of my local Tesco, with hanging signs for MENS, WOMENS and KIDS. It’s all I can do to stop myself from finding the nearest person in a Tesco uniform, ripping their head from their shoulders with my bare hands, and painting in the apostrophes with their freshly-spilled blood.

    Thanks to S & B.

  26. muffin says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @25
    My local supermarket sells CD’s.
    By the way: on “shall” and “will”, have you heard the story of the unfortunate Frenchman who fell in the Serpentine and cried “I will drown, and no-one shall save me!”…….so, of course, no-one did.

  27. Trailman says:

    Late start with this but a pretty speedy finish.

    First stab at 10ac was AKITA. Google showed this was a sort of Japanese Greyfriars Bobby. The stuff you learn by mistake eh?

  28. rhotician says:

    Eileen @7: Thanks for sharing Shed’s gem (from more than 3 years ago!). As for FORTINBRAS, well I had to laugh.

  29. rhotician says:

    Re less/fewer most dictionaries are less prescriptive than Collins, some even give examples where the “incorrect” usage is preferred. It never bothers me. I do sometimes mutter when I hear “refute” used when “deny” is appropriate. “overly” also provokes. But this is off topic. First-class puzzle.

  30. Tramp says:

    Lovely puzzle with super clues (as we’ve come to expect).

    I shop at Aldi: no signs or special 10-items-or-fewer queues just German quality and efficiency at Tesco-value prices. As I always think when the neighbours look down their noses at me pulling my four massive Aldi bags out of the car (for less than £50): “you carry on getting your Tesco Club points: I’ll keep saving +£30 a week”.

  31. Paul B says:

    Aisle of Plenty:

    I don’t belong here, said old Tessa out loud
    Easy, love, there’s the safe way home
    Thankful for her fine fair discount, Tess co-operates

    Still alone in o-hell-o
    See the deadly nightshade grow

    English ribs of beef cut down to 47p lb
    Peek Frean’s family assorted from 17 1/2 to 12
    Fairy liquid giant – slashed from 20p to 17 1/2
    Table jellies at 4p each
    Anchor butter down to 11p for a 1/2
    Birds eye dairy cream sponge on offer this week

    It’s scrambled eggs

  32. Eileen says:

    rhotician @28

    I’ve left my response until later, not to bore old hands – but I know you pursue threads for a day or two.

    Yes, it’s a while ago [but I know you’re a relative newcomer] and others are fed up hearing about it but you must have done some research to find it and it explains occasional references to Eileen’s reactions to ‘homophones’ and my continued promise not to mention this particular type again. I still treasure my fifteen minutes. 😉

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Some used the word ‘inconsistent’ for this crossword, but we thought this was once more a wonderful puzzle by the Guardian’s shooting star.

    At a first glance we couldn’t make much of it (for about 6 minutes), but after the NW unfolded itself, it wasn’t the hardest of crosswords. Still tricky in places and certainly not a write-in.

    Why do I like this setter’s crosswords so much?

    Picaroon’s clueing is very precise, there is hardly any padding. Not even ‘trying’ in 16ac as it is part of the definition. Only at ‘Metamorphoses’ I thought mwah – it is a plural. But then you might say change ‘Ovid was’ and change it again ….. :)

    What I also like is the fact that Picaroon doesn’t use indicators more than once. And often very well chosen like in ‘losing bet’ or ‘wanting one’.

    On top of such quality clueing there is a real bonus in the form of splendid surfaces, something I appreciate.
    Sometimes leading to semi-& Lits, sometimes showing us combinations of words that we had to lift & separate like ‘pop art’ in 22d or the fabulous ‘it goes without saying’. Or the combination ‘in trouble again’ (in 5d).

    One or two chestnuts (‘bloomers’ or ‘spot on’) couldn’t spoil our party.

    Perhaps, I am living on another planet but I had expected Rowland to be very positive today and that’s no cynism. But alas.

    We both (my PinC and I) found this a delightful crossword from a setter – and I have said that before – with a style that is right up my street.

    Thanks PeterO for the blog.

  34. ClaireS says:

    Thanks for the blog today.

    I entered ASHE because it had to be (from the definition) but couldn’t parse it and LAIKA because it had to be from the wordplay but didn’t undertand the definition. Excellent crossword all round – excellent analysis from Sil van den Hoek @33. I can’t add anything to that, so I won’t try. Others seem to have an agenda simply to denigrate the Guardian crossword because it’s not to their taste.

    Just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed the airings of pet hates today. I’ve agreed with them all. Kathryn’s Dad @25 made me laugh out loud. I’d find you not guilty if you ever did – justifiable homicide in my opinion!

  35. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’m a pussycat really, Claire …

  36. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Another very fine crossword from Picaroon.

    I polished it off quickly due mainly to luck as I had an inspired period on the first pass which left all the middle three rows across solutions in place as well as all the top half down clues. (For some reason I saw GRAND INQUISITOR almost instantly.) Definitely not my usual experience with Picaroon.

    Only hold up was the SE corner.

    As a Northern lad I personally never notice the usage/abusage of less and fewer. I don’t particularly worry about abusage if the correct usage doesn’t actually lead to a clearer statement or avoids misunderstandings!

    As regards mathematical distinctions between things countable and uncountable I seem to remember that these are a little more complicated than those of less and fewer. A cursory glance at Measure Theory will soon bring about those “I think my head is about to explode” moments. However I’m not sure Mathematics has a “reason” for making these distinctions :-)

    Thanks to PeterO and Picaroon

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    That word ‘cynism’ in my post @33 should, of course, be ‘cynicism’. Of course? In the Netherlands we call it ‘cynisme’ and that’s why I wrote ‘cynism’. Funny, this difference, isn’t it when you really think about it (given that it is not an English or Dutch word as such)?

  38. MikeC says:

    Thanks PeterO and Picaroon. Not the hardest puzzle but a very neat and amusing one. I’m very much with Sil @33 on this. More please!

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