Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,870 by Chifonie

Posted by PeterO on February 13th, 2013


Here we have a collection of well-turned, straightforward clues.

I think it would not be out of place in a Quiptic, where the tendency to repeat ideas would be more justified as driving home a lesson; but there is a place for a range of difficulty (and a range of solvers) in the Cryptic.

1. Dotty results after artist’s fifth drink (7)
STIPPLE A charade of S (‘artiSt’s fifth’) plus TIPPLE (‘drink’). I take the answer as a noun, so include ‘results’ in the definition.
5. King free to eat fish (7)
RICHARD An envelope (‘to eat’) of CHAR (‘fish’) in RID (‘free’). I suspect that the Guardian’s lead time to be too long for Richard III’s recent appearance in the news to be more than a coincidence.
9. Performer turning right in fire (5)
EXTRA An envelope (‘in’) of RT (‘right’) in AXE (‘fire’), all reversed (‘turning’).
10. Plant for bishop in high spirits (9)
EUPHORBIA An envelope (‘in’) of B (‘bishop’, chess notation) in EUPHORIA (‘high spirits’).
11. Revolutionary follows country dance (6,4)
TURKEY TROT A charade of TURKEY (‘country’) plus TROT (Trotskyite, ‘revolutionary’).
12. Dish of wood (4)
BOWL Double definition; ‘wood’ refers to the game of bowls.
14. Time in replicated environment provides excitement (11)
STIMULATION An envelope (‘in’) of T (‘time’) in SIMULATION (‘replicated environment’).
18. Blow a fuse and fire second eleven (3,3,5)
LET OFF STEAM A charade of LET OFF (‘fire’) plus S (‘second’) plus TEAM (‘eleven’). I think of LET OFF STEAM as a good deal less cataclysmic that ‘blow a fuse’.
21. A delay brought about celebration (4)
GALA A LAG (‘a delay’) reversed (‘brought about’).
22. Obtain applause for review, again (10)
REAPPRAISE A charade of REAP (‘obtain’) plus PRAISE (‘applause’).
25. Irish tart formulated complaint (9)
ARTHRITIS An anagram (‘formulated’) of ‘Irish tart’.
26. Follow Tory leader contest (5)
TRACE A charade of T (‘Tory leader’) plus RACE (‘contest’).
27. Time to get beast’s foot (7)
TROTTER A charade of T (‘time’) plus ROTTER (‘beast’).
28. Referee initially upsets football team (7)
RANGERS A charade of R (‘Referee initially’) plus ANGERS (‘upsets’).
1. Society fellow leaves carnival for a nap (6)
SIESTA A charade of S (‘society’) plus [f]IESTA (‘carnival’), with the F removed (‘fellow leaves’).
2. Lay to rest navy doctor (6)
INTERN A charade of INTER (‘lay to rest’) plus N (‘navy’).
3. Was cautious after speedy Alfa crashed (6,4)
PLAYED SAFE An anagram (‘crashed’) of ‘speedy Alfa’.
4. Maintain penniless specialist (5)
EXERT A subtraction – EX[p]ERT (‘specialist’) with the P removed (‘penniless’).
5. Spin doctor enters contract to make a copy (9)
REPRODUCE An envelope (‘enters’) of PRO (public relations officer, ‘spin doctor’) in REDUCE (‘contract’).
6. Bird caught with string (4)
CROW A charade of C (‘caught’) plus ROW (‘string’).
7. Delicious food makes Maria sob uncontrollably (8)
AMBROSIA An anagram (‘uncontrollably’) of ‘Maria sob’.
8. Tedious approach to time limit (8)
DEADLINE A charade of DEAD (‘tedious’) plus LINE (‘approach’).
13. Dicky tramples on old British leader (10)
PALMERSTON An anagram (‘dicky’) of ‘tramples on’, for the 19th century Prime Minister Lord Palmerston.
15. Supervisor gets much-liked odds on Trojan ’ero (9)
INSPECTOR A charade of IN (‘much-liked’) plus SP (starting price, ‘odds’) plus ‘ECTOR (‘trojan ‘ero’).
16. Label tirade brazen (8)
FLAGRANT A charade of FLAG (‘label’) plus RANT (‘tireade’).
17. Weapon lit up during fight (8)
STILETTO An envelope (‘during’) of TIL, a reversal (‘up’, in a down light’) of ‘lit’ in SET-TO (‘fight’).
19. Close dossier about North America (6)
FINALE An envelope (‘about’) of NA (‘North America’) in FILE (‘dossier’).
20. Cuts made perpetually aboard ship (6)
SEVERS An envelope (‘aboard’) of EVER (‘perpetually’) in SS (‘ship’).
23. Exhibitionist is a conundrum (5)
POSER Double definition.
24. Born traitor is a rascal (4)
BRAT A charade of B (‘born’) plus RAT (‘traitor’).

43 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,870 by Chifonie”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Last time out, Chifonie appeared on a Monday which seemed a good idea; it would appear, though, that there were complaints that the level of difficulty was too easy so he’s been moved back to mid-week! 😉

  2. vinyl1 says:

    Rather easy, and very straightforward for a Guardian puzzle. This could pass for a routine Times offering.

    This would be a good puzzle for beginners, I agree. If they don’t give some easy ones, they’ll never get any new solvers.

  3. michelle says:

    I’m a beginner and I found this very hard-going. It took me a long time to get onto Chifonie’s wavelength. Anyway, I persevered and eventually succeeded in solving it. But it was a real struggle!

    Thanks PeterO for your blog as I needed to know how to parse 5d, 5a, 1a, 9, 12, 15.

    Many new words for me in this puzzle including EUPHORBIA, TURKEY TROT, TROT = Trotskyite, STIPPLE, wood = game of bowls, CHAR = fish, RT = right, SP = starting price.

    I liked 22, 27, 4 & 16 which I could both solve and parse.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    As you say, Peter, this wouldn’t be out of place as a Quiptic, but it’s none the worse for that. The clueing was all sound and there were some nice surfaces too. And although Michelle found it tough, it will have given encouragement to others new to the dark art. And the more experienced solvers who knocked it off in ten minutes will no doubt have a tougher challenge tomorrow or Friday.

    No particular favourites today.

    Thanks to Chifonie and to Peter.

  5. muffin says:

    Thanks Chifonie and PeterO
    Very straightforward, but still enjoyable. I wasn’t all that happy with “dead” for “tedious” in 8dn, but I found everything else very fair clueing.

  6. michelle says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @ 4

    I agree with you that other beginners may be encouraged by my admission that I found this puzzle difficult.

    Thankfully, it is not every puzzle that feels difficult, or worse still, impossible.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Peter and Chifonie. It may be easy but still took 30′, REAPPRAISE and FINALE taking up the last few minutes.

    No explanations needed today, for a change.

    12a I thought “wood” referred to “ball” rather than to the game of bowls itself.

  8. William says:

    Greetings all, and thanks PeterO.

    Got a bit cocky, firing in answers to this and came unstuck by putting SPECULATION for STIMULATION. All came out in the wash though, and left time for other stuff. I love the Graun for just this arc of difficulty.

    Michelle @3 – don’t be at all surprised by this state of affairs. It’s sometimes feels like the point of this blog, for one to flog through a grid only to come here and read that others breezed it. It (sometimes) also happens the other way and leaves one feeling smug! Press on and keep it light.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Chifonie and PeterO

    Relatively easy but no bad thing for the start of a relatively busy day. Some very well polished surfaces and gentle misdirections plus the odd unlikely anagram. My first thought was that ‘dotty’ was an anagram indicator, and I tried to parse ‘trotter’ as TR + otter before seeing the rotter/beast link.

    I ticked 1a, 10a, 3d, 17d in the course of solving.

  10. michelle says:


    Yes, I agree with you. Thanks for the encouragement.

    I will press on and I am sure that I will continue to enjoy the puzzles.

    This blog has been the greatest help in understanding how to do cryptic crosswords, and how to parse the answers. I can’t thank all of you enough!

  11. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Chifonie and PeterO. Muffin @5: I too wondered about dead/tedious but my Oxford thesaurus gives it under ‘slang’.

    The issue of degree of difficulty rumbles on. I don’t myself think that Wednesday in the Guardian is the place for a beginner’s puzzle. There are other puzzles (Quiptic/Everyman …) and other publications which do that job very well. I hope for a bit of a stretcher tomorrow.

  12. Monkeypuzzler says:

    Couldn’t agree more with William @8. Many times have I come here expecting to find everyone up in arms about the impossibility of the day’s offering, only to find comments on how many write-ins there were! Sometimes, though rarer, the other way round. It just shows we all think a little differently – thank goodness.

    Having said that, it was at the Monday end of the spectrum for me. I hampered myself by deciding 12a was DEAL, but 7d was such an obvious anag the mistake didn’t last too long.

    I wonder if anyone else doing the print version was amused by the juxtaposition of the answer to 28a & the report of the Celtic game above? Celtic were peeved with the referee’s decisions or lack of – and who are Celtic’s greatest rivals…?!

  13. michelle says:


    I did not mean to sound like I am complaining about the difficulty of puzzle(s). Just being honest. I was responding to vinyl1 @2 who said “This would be a good puzzle for beginners, I agree. If they don’t give some easy ones, they’ll never get any new solvers.”

    It might be easy for all of you, but it’s not easy for us beginners.

    Yes, I also do the Quiptics and Everyman. Sometimes they are harder than these daily cryptics.

    Hopefully soon I will be posting about how easy I find all of the puzzles.

    In the meantime, I am ill-equipped to analyse the quality of the clues etc as I am only a beginner. So my posts are probably quite unnecessary to this blog.

    By the way, I only have access to these Guardian puzzles online. I notice there is no puzzle on Saturdays – or am I wrong about this? What cryptic crossword is available online on a Saturday?

  14. muffin says:

    Michelle @13
    The Saturday puzzle is a prize puzzle, so is found under “Latest Prize Crossword” here:
    The fifteensquared blog doesn’t appear until after the deadline for prize entry, of course.
    The Saturday crosswords are generally (though not always) harder than the weekday ones.

  15. michelle says:


    thanks for the information. I’ll have a look.

  16. MikeC says:

    Thanks PeterO and Chifonie. Agreed, relatively straightforward – but I went wrong (I suppose!) on 12a. Considered BOWL but didn’t see the game connection, so went for “doll” instead (cryptic reference to American slang/DD with Pinocchio?). The proper answer is neater but I do think this is defensible. Anyone else sometimes hate the combination of very short clues and answers? Enjoyable puzzle overall, nevertheless.

  17. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I often find that there are one or two clues that I failed to parse so need to come here to 15sq. Happily, today I was able to sort out all of them while raising a question mark over tedious=dead.

  18. NeilW says:

    michelle, as muffin says, the prizes are often not harder than weekday puzzles, presumably to encourage entries, but last Saturday’s was tough, especially I would imagine for antipodeans so don’t even look at it in the first instance – wait till Saturday when the blog comes out.

    A word of encouragement: I notice that you’re often flummoxed by words or abbreviations that experienced solvers recognise instantly as old friends in crosswordland. Very soon you will start to recognise them too. For instance, in your comment @3, SP for “odds”. CHAR as a fish is fairly unusual outside crosswords but common here; LING (also a name for heather!) and IDE are other recurring fishy examples that spring to mind.

  19. Rowland says:

    Re 2, in The Times it really depends who you get. Today’s was easy for a lot of people, judgiung by the responses on TfTT, but Monday’s was a real pigg-ie. As a result not sure what a ‘routine Times offering’ is!!!

    Let me not Michelle-bash, but this was ridiculously easy, with nary a new device to be found. Bog standard to the max, and bit boring.


  20. Dave H says:

    One of my occasional contributions and my point is very simple.
    I think 3 on the bounce is too much and whilst it will resonate with the “beginners”, of which we were all once (I cut my teeth on the Express Crusader before moving into the big league), I have not enjoyed a single offering this week so far.
    Nothing personal against the setters who are no doubt just carrying out their brief from the Editor bit maybe Hugh might need to reconsider his scheduling
    Rufus, Gordius and Chifonie or Punk, Morph and Dac, good job for a choice of papers.

  21. Rowland says:

    A good point well made.

  22. michelle says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, it’s hard enough being an antipodean, and furthermore I have lived away from Oz for many years so I do not even know the “Australianisms”, e.g. butternut pumpkin.

    Anyway, I seem to solve all the answers in these puzzles one way or another. I just can’t parse them all (yet).

    Rowland @19
    I realise it is pretty tedious to have a beginner’s comments posted to this blog. I’ll keep quiet from now on unless I have a specific question to ask. I’ll leave this blog to the experts.

  23. muffin says:

    Michelle @22
    Another site where more relaxed discussion of crosswords (including advice and answers provided) can be found at:

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Don’t you dare restrict your comments in any way.
    You are as free to post opinions which annoy others as I am.

    “will no doubt have a tougher challenge tomorrow or Friday.”
    As some of said on Monday, Tuesday…….

    ‘Referee initially……’ …….’football team’.
    I didn’t need the match report above. Even as a non-Scot I completely ignored the renowned Rochdale and Rotherham and plumped for the third division lot.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Missed the ‘us’,sorry.
    Michelle, Neil’s comment @18 is very true. I am often astonished when reading clues at just how many terms are instantly changed inwardly to what the setter meant but didn’t want me to know.
    It is very similar to translating from one language to another and equally needs practice to achieve facility. Keep going.

  26. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Michelle @22
    For once I have to agree with RCWhiting. Please don’t stop posting your comments. They are invaluable feedback to the many setters who visit the site. Also, as stated in the About Fifteensquared page, “We want to appeal to all types of solvers, those new to cryptic puzzles and those with more experience, …”.

  27. NeilW says:

    RCW and Gaufrid, Hear Hear!

  28. DunsScotus says:

    I agree with Rowly (19), Dave H (20) and RCW (24). Some of us have found rather a lot of old chestnuts and writes-in this week, but it in no way follows that you, Michelle, or anyone else, should feel unwelcome on the blog. Please, M, keep asking questions and sharing opinions.

    I was very lucky in that my cruciverbalism began and grew in the privileged context of a school common room and my elders and betters taught me the tricks, beginning with the Telegraph, through the Times and on to the Grauniad. I sympathise with those who persevere alone, and hope that the blogs can play the part of my old friends in crossword corner.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    The worst thing about the difficulty issue is that just because some people are experts at solving a hard puzzle that leads them to think that that gives also gives them some expertise in deciding what constitutes a beginners puzzle. In reallity they are almost always totally wrong. Too easy for an expert is not necessarily easy for beginners, there is a whole range of levels between the two levels, which our dear experts willfully ignore. The only people who genuinely know what is a good beginner’s puzzle are beginners and those of us who have limited solving abilities no matter how hard we try. So, this was not a Quiptic.

    Also, our dear experts seem to be totally blind to the fact that they are a very small minority of the paper’s crossword readership and therefore have no rights to be pandered to.

    Michelle, damn well stay with us. A better balance of posters is desparately needed here.

  30. coltrane says:

    I was not going to comment today because much of what I wanted to say had been said in the early posts. But I have come on to put my threepenny worth in support of Michelle. Clearly you feel bullied and that is inexcusable!! Keep coming on M. We only have some posters’ word for it that they find a crossword easy and do it in 10 mins etc.. This is especially true of those who solve online where the temptation of the check and cheat button might get the better of some. 225 is a wonderful site for crossword solvers of all abilities, and the more diverse the comments the better. Well done RCW, Gaufrid, Dunscotus, NeilW et al for their encouragement!!

  31. tupu says:

    Hi Michelle

    I’ve just got back in and seen the flurry of messages of support. Let me add my own encouragement. I can remember when I myself found Chifonie quite hard.
    These days, although I am not a very fast solver, I complete and understand almost all the puzzles, though the occasional parsing can still pass me by.

    Hi RCW

    It is right to encourage Michelle as you do, but your complaints, if listened to, would mean that s/he would find it much harder to progress than s/he seems to be doing. Live and let live, and try to appreciate the cleverness and elegance of many simpler clues.

  32. HKColin says:

    Like Coltrane, I didn’t see a reason to contribute today but wanted to add my support to Michelle. Please stick with us, your comments are refreshing but I suspect you are already beginning to irritate true beginners with your protestations since as you say, you “usually solve all the answers in these puzzles”. That puts you well into intermediate class and obviously have a flair for this obscure pastime we enjoy.

    As has been said several times above there are lots of standards/chestnuts/crossword cliches which make otherwise incomprehensible clues write-ins for those who have been doing this for a while. That only comes with practice and some of us are still fooled after countless examples (I never twig that take = R, for example).

    I would also strongly encourage you to tackle the Saturday Prize Puzzle. I have never submitted an entry but always make a determined effort to complete it. The absence of the Cheat button sharpens the mind, I find. This last one was not optimal for a non-UK resident but eminently and enjoyably doable with access to the right aids, once you crack the code. Such thematic challenges are a common feature on Saturdays.

    I also like to see more solvers who are not from the Guardian heartland. While the newspaper may have limited distribution, the online version goes everywhere the internet does (I use an iPhone app which is always with me. Boring meeting, out comes today’s Guardian puzzle). While we are often at a disadvantage, every now and then a setter will pick a word or theme that hits your specialty, be it geographic, or professional, or just plain serendipity. I hope that as setters realise that more and more of their audience are spread across the globe that they will rely less on “parochial obscurities” as I think Uncle Yap puts it.

  33. Rowland says:

    Hi Michelle, I wasn’t trying to say your comments are tedious. I nfact I find them quite charming! Please, as others have said, keep posting. Your remarks are most welcome, and I’m sorry that you got the wrong end of the stick.


  34. NeilW says:

    HKColin, I was just suggesting that last Saturday’s might not be the best prize to kick off with – trying to encourage michelle is all.

  35. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Chifonie and PeterO

    Was another who was not originally going to post today either, but a couple of points. Firstly with both Chifonie (with envelopes and use of one letter) and Rufus (with usually only cd and dd type clues), I find them more one-dimensional than easy. I can usually complete Gordius (looseness that some find irritating), Qaos (fresh and original devices), Brendan (his thematic approach) and Puck (hidden themes and crisp clueing style) relatively quick to solve but but still give you a higher sense of satisfaction when you complete their puzzles. And then there are the more challenging ones that tend to require a lot more lateral thinking to do.
    I’m with DaveH@20 when he says that three of the more ‘straightforward’ puzzles in a row is certainly going to provoke discussion as we can see here and hopefully Hugh does visit and note :).

    As for local British knowledge – keep it coming I say from down here – that and what I have noticed is the use of a lot of slang or informal words is just another dimension to me and another source if learning – probably now know more about UK politicians and TV personalities than Aussie ones these days!

    I find that the learning that can be derived and the itch to learn more from what some compilers (esp Araucaria) include in their work, is one of the reasons I for one keep coming back for more.

  36. matt says:

    I found this too easy for my taste, just as I found Saturday’s too hard.

    This variety is a good thing, but I agree wholeheartedly with Dave H @20 and others thereafter. Three days in a row on the green slopes is too much for me.

  37. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Chifonie and PeterO,

    Michelle, as I said yesterday, you are doing very well. We need your comments and questions!

    Hope you are encouraged by all the support today.

    Giovanna xx

  38. Paul B says:

    Michelle is a s/he?

  39. Simon S says:

    I’m an infrequent poster but would also like to say to Michelle “don’t go away, please”.

    And for anyone who does these crosswords online, or prints them off to tackkle on paper, you can access them directly by using the URL
    where 20130xxx = yyyymmdd, so today’s entry would be 20130213, for instance.
    Sometimes this doesn’t work so you can try where today’s was 25870

    The date entry often works for the Saturday prize, but if it doesn’t, then, similar to the daily is worth a bash

    Of course, if the pdf hasn’t been uploaded yet, you’re scuppered…

    Similar principles work for the everyman on Sundays


    Simon ô¿ô

  40. nametab says:

    I echo all the support for Michelle

  41. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Late today although the crossword was done 4 hours earlier than usual. I was forced to revert to paper and pen in the salubrious surroundings of the Royal Oak in Helmsley. Ably assisted by a pint of Ringwood Forty Niner. (I can recommend both of the above!) Tomorrow I may even have to buy the Guardian! 😮

    Straightforward enough and must agree with previous posters about the 3 “Mondays” in a row! :-(

    Recently it appears that the choice of daily crossword is becoming random! (Except of course for the RufusMonday :-( If you’re reading Hugh please prove me wrong.)

    Thanks to PeterO and Chifonie

    P.S. Michelle. If you haven’t already noticed, everybody who posts on here annoys everyone else as we’re mainly grumpy old men! So please carry on posting but try to be a little less polite 😉

  42. rhotician says:

    Rowland @33.

    Usually, “getting the wrong end of the stick” implies that the fault is the receiver’s rather than the giver’s. Collins gives examples. In this case I think the fault was yours, not Michelle’s.

  43. Huw Powell says:

    First, I hope PeterO took the trouble to email Michelle to alert her to the copious support of her postings.

    Second, Michelle, the fact that you manage to finish these things one way or another is all that matters. You might think of yourself as a “beginner” but your language skills are obviously far beyond that label. I typically invest HOURS on most of these. The Grauniad offerings are right at my comfort level of difficulty, in general – I have to work hard, but I “often” get all the lights filled in, even if in pencil with Rufus.

    Third, I put DOLL in at 12 and I stand by it. It’s a perfectly good solution to “dish of wood”.

    Finally thanks for the blog, PeterO, and a puzzle I found quite interesting and challenging, Chifonie! Sure, some of the clues I got late on seemed like “write ins” once I solved them, they weren’t on first read.

    Peace out, and please don’t bite the noobs!

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