Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,911 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on April 2nd, 2013

Uncle Yap.

Quite a fair to middling kind of puzzle with the expected Gordian obscurities thrown in here and there.

1 SKINFLINT Mean injunction after non-U plenitude of drink (9)
SKINFUL (plenitude of drink) minus U + IN junction = T (Thank you, JollySwagman@1)
9 MYOPIC Hardly able to see setter’s round illustration (6)
Cha of MY (setter’s) O (round) PIC (picture, illustration) for short-sighted
10 COLD FRAME Officer farmed out nursery item (4,5)
COL (colonel, officer) + *(FARMED) for a structure, usu of wood and glass and without artificial heat, for protecting young plants (yes, that kind of nursery).
11 COYOTE Runner holds back toy animal (6)
Ins of YOT (rev of TOY) in Lord Sebastian Newbold COE (middle-distance runner with 4 Olympic medals and Supremo of the last Games in London in 2012)
12 STARTLING Flier gets overtime, which is alarming (9)
Ins of T (time) in STARLING (bird, flyer)
13 HARASS Pester to the point girl retreats (6)
Rev of S (South, point on the compass) + SARAH (girl)
17 FEE Complimentary without right to payment (3)
FREE (complimentary) minus R (right)
19 CAESURA Pause as a cure for breakdown (7)
*(AS A CURE) for a word new to me meaning division of a metrical foot between two words; a pause or natural breathing space occurring anywhere in a line of verse
20 GLISTER Brilliance of a good surgeon? (7)
G (good) + Joseph LISTER (1827–1912), British surgeon and pioneer of antiseptic surgery
21 TAG Refrain from turning a weapon (3)
Rev of GAT (US Slang for a gun) for a word with many meanings including “… a moral to a story; the closing words of a play, etc, usu addressed to the audience; a refrain; a vehicle licence plate (US); a parking ticket (US) …”
23 NATIVE It’s natural — alter this and you get something else (6)
ALTER + NATIVE = something else
27 SMELL A RAT Girl in smart outfit may be suspicious (5,1,3)
Ins of ELLA (girl) in *(SMART)
28 MATURE Victor was no spring chicken (6)
Allusion to Victor MATURE (1913–1999) an American stage, film and television actor
29 INFATUATE In 17 down you reportedly have consumed to turn to folly (9)
Cha of IN + FAT (answer to 17D) U (sounds like you) ATE (consumed) for the verb to the familiar INFATUATION, meaning to inspire with foolish or unreasoning passion
30 SPLASH Drop in the ocean and mountains turn quiet (6)
SPLA (rev of ALPS, mountains) + SH (quiet)
31 PACHYDERM In cramped condition heartless Henry is an insensitive type (9)
Ins of HenrY (heartless) in *(CRAMPED) any animal of the old classification Pachydermata, but usu an elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus; an insensitive person.
2 KNOTTY Like Gordius, who once kept wicket for England? (6)
Allusion to the Gordian Knot which Alexander the Great solved by one stroke of his sword plus reference to Alan Knott, former wicket-keeper-batsman for England
3 NADIRS Drains are directed to the lowest points (6)
4 LORDLY Not “Early” nor “County” but dignified! (6)
I suppose Gordius must have his fun … this clue attempts to associate EARL and COUNT as LORD plus Y & Y & LY respectively. Didn’t work for me
5 NOMINEE He’s put up, but setter’s a long time without rising (7)
Ins of MINE (setter’s) in NOE (rev of EON, a long time)
6 PYROMANIA Extreme policy — state impulse to light … (9)
PolicY (extreme) + ROMANIA (state) I wonder whether anyone has clued this as A burning desire (9) yet?
7 IPSO FACTO … thereby one cop to cover seat (4,5)
I (one) + ins of SOFA (seat) in PC (Police Constable, cop) + TO for a Latin term meaning by that very fact; thereby.
8 ACCESSORY Additional item that could be charged (9)
dd an accessory can be a fashion item like a scarf and can also be someone who abets in some crime
14 ECONOMISE Someone once contrived to emulate 1 (9)
*(SOME one=I ONCE) to emulate a skinflint is to be frugal or to economise
15 DEATH TOLL Exit duty? (5,4)
I find this clue a tad unconvincing. Although DEATH = EXIT and TOLL = DUTY (in the sense of payment to the state) the term, death toll is the number of deaths resulting from some particular cause such as an accident or a battle or a natural disaster whereas exit duty would mean tax payable from the estate of a deceased person.
16 PULVERISE Repulsive scheme to turn to dust (9)
17 FAT Article in paper about obesity? (3)
Ins of A (indefinite article) in FT (Financial Times, paper)
18 EGG Incite and one gets laid (3)
22 AMMONIA Egyptian deity — one with a strong nose (7)
AMMON (the ancient Egyptian ram-headed god) + I (one) + A for a pungent compound of nitrogen and hydrogen
24 BLEACH Leading lady in seafront but it won’t get her a tan (6)
Ins of L (first letter of lady) in BEACH (seafront)
25 VALUED Goes across the Channel with lusty sound and is appreciated (6)
Va is 3rd person singular of ALLER, French for to go; thus goes in French is VA + LUED (sounds like LEWD, lusty) Thank you, NeilW for the French lesson.
26 HALTER Noose said to change at Bow (6)
Allusion to the Cockney (indicated by Bow) dropping of the letter H, pronouncing HALTER as ‘ALTER (change)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram
yfyap88 at = in case you wish to contact me privately, for say, to point out a typo

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,911 – Gordius”

  1. JollySwagman says:

    Thanks G&S. :) I found this quite tough for a Gordius. :(

    I think INT for injunction in 1a is a lift and separate – IN raw – junction = T.

    15d I stared at for an age and wasn’t sure of 23a (a clever one) until they coincided so not fond but I think it’s fair – just a 2-piece CD for a well-known phrase.


  2. NeilW says:

    Je vous en prie, UY.

    Four tricky puzzles for the price of one, thanks to the grid. I agree with your comments about both LORDLY and DEATH TOLL, although I quite liked the whimsy of the former.

    COD for me was NATIVE – the answer was clear enough but the barn door parsing eluded me for a while – very neat.

  3. JollySwagman says:

    Oops – that should have been thanks G & UY. :(

  4. DR. G says:

    Chamber says “glister = vi to sparkle, glitter”
    “brilliance = n”

  5. NeilW says:

    DR. G @4, Gordius is not a Chambers man, apparently: Collins gives it as both verb and noun.

  6. michelle says:

    Collins has GLISTER as an archaic word for ‘glitter’ which then leads us to ‘glitter’ as noun @ definition #4 meaning sparkle or brilliance.

    The dictionary supplied with my Apple Mac computer also has glister as a noun meaning sparkle, brilliance.

  7. michelle says:

    I found this puzzle to be quite a challenge ( or, as Neil mentioned, four puzzles).

    I now realise that I rate a puzzle as “enjoyable” when I can solve and parse all the clues. In this case, I was unable to parse 1a, 5d, 8d, 23a, 14d & 25 (last in). So I guess that my enjoyment level dropped a little on this one.

    Unlike Uncle Yap, I enjoyed LORDLY as very few clues in this puzzle made me chuckle, but this one did.

    My other favourites were HARASS, MATURE, MYOPIC, IPSO FACTO & SMELL A RAT.

    I learnt some new words today: GAT = pistol, CAESURA, GLISTER, COLD FRAME.

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap and additional comments from Jolly Swagman & Neil. Re 25d, I could parse the LUED = ‘lewd’ but had been stumped on the VA. I now think that is a very good clue.

  8. muffin says:

    Thanks Gordius and Uncle Yap
    Three of the four puzzles went in very easily, despite me not understanding in INT in 1ac. The SW however…..I had CAESURA, but the rest remained blank for ages, then I put in DEATH RATE, which obviously didn’t help much.
    Some lovely clues – personal favourite was HALTER, though that might not be to everyone’s taste.

  9. muffin says:

    btw I shall definitely remember that REPULSIVE and PULVERISE are anagrams of each other – that’s almost in the CARTHORSE/ORCHESTRA class!

  10. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Gordius and UY

    Enjoyed this one – Puck’s armadillo grid – wasn’t it? Took two short stints to complete with PACHYDERM last in. Knew CA would somehow be French for go – lazily went for CA VA = How are you going? ?

    Actually enjoyed the quirky 4 and 15 – and although his puzzles don’t take very long to finish, I find that I’m liking them more and more recently.

  11. Stella says:

    Thanks Gordius and UY.

    My experience of this was similar ty muffin’s, with a smile or two on the way, but I felt 31 maligned elephants, who are anything but insensitive :-)

    Of course, PACHYDERM could be translated “thick-skinned”, which is synonymous to “insensitive

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius

    More sticking points than in the usual Gordius. I found myself a bit irritated by the grid and some of the cluing, though the answers were all clear enough in retrospect. I liked 1a, 23a and also ticked 8d (at the time).

    1a puzzled me for a while – first thought it must be an order to e.g. drink less.

    To be fair to 15d it does have a ?.

  13. NeilW says:

    brucew_aus @10, ca va? translates as how’s it going? or, if you prefer, how goes it? so you were close enough! [Sorry about the lousy punctuation!]

    Stella @11, I checked and Chambers [despite my comment @5 ;)] has PACHYDERM, meaning 2 “an insensitive person.”

  14. Ian SW3 says:

    tupu @12 — yes, I was held up for some time by convincing myself that 1a must be an incorrectly-ennumerated SPEND LESS (def: mean injunction, s[u]p + endless (non-U plenitude of drink)). Once it became clear that the Grauniad was typo-free today, the final corner fell into place. Thanks Gordius and UY.

  15. aztobesed says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    “All that glisters is not gold”. (Merchant of Venice?)

    “I can’t act – and I have the tapes of 119 movies at home to prove it” (Victor Mature).

    Really enjoyed it today.

  16. aztobesed says:

    @ 8 muffin

    I had DEATH RATE too.

    “What’s the death rate round here?”
    “Same as the whole world over, son – one per person”. (They Rode West, 1954). (Not one of Victor’s)

  17. Colin says:

    Thanks to Uncle Y and Gordius.

    The usual tricky Gordius with some liberties that can be either amusing or irritating depending on outlook. I think if Rufus had clued 15, a posse would be formed.

  18. tupu says:

    Brummie on March 19th also used ‘early’ in this sort of sense.

    Hi Ian SW3. Yes I also toyed with ‘spend less’ while also aware that something like ‘f(u)l’ should really be lurking about.

  19. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, UY. I share your reservations about 4dn and 15dn – they didn’t quite work for me, either.

    The central four went in straight away, then of the four mini puzzles, it was the NW one that gave me the most trouble. I’m not sure why. KNOTTY was my last one in.

    In retrospect (as I didn’t manage to parse it at the time) I think 23ac is a very good clue.

  20. eXternal says:

    Could someone explain 15d to me, please. Where is the definition?

  21. tupu says:

    Hi eXternal

    As far as I can understand it the whole clue is a cryptic definition where the question mark allows for some leeway. Exit = death and duty = toll so the two together add up to ‘death toll’. The clue might have been simpler if a bit less cryptic as ‘exit toll’ with an answer ‘death duty’.

  22. Trailman says:

    Had the same blind spot as JollySwagman @1, with 15d/23a taking ages. Unconvinced by both at the time, but with the blog (thanks Uncle Yap) now see the cleverness of the latter.

    Preferred the grid to yesterday’s, which was essentially two separate crosswords with just a couple of linking clues.

    COD for me was AMMONIA, which had me pondering variants of AMNERIS for far too long. IPSO FACTO pretty good too.

  23. Stella says:

    Sorry to make you resort to the dictionary, NeilW; I was just expressing my sympathy for the elephants :-)

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius. Agree about the 4 minis, though not so stultifying as the Rufus “classic” one.

    Surely people are being a bit hard on Gordius, as often happens.

    Had 23a, 4d and 15d been in an Araucaria, there would have been much praise, I’m sure.

    Had 15d been a Rufus, I would have praised it – it has humour which R’s hardly ever have, and he would probably have omitted the ? mark.

    In any case, I enjoyed them all.

  25. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog. On 7 I had sofa=seat but failed to translate cop->PC so I had IPSO FACTO without being able to explain it.

    On 27 I decided the girl was LARA which left me with SMELT :(

  26. eXternal says:

    @21, Thanks tupu. I am new to Guardian crosswords so was unsure about how that construction works.

    So, only the two separate words need be defined and the setter can put a ? to allow for the lack of definition of the whole. So something like ‘Flexible players?’ would be OK for ELASTIC BAND even though the answer is not defined?

  27. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Gordius and Uncle Yap.

    aztobesaid @15. Yes. It was The Merchant of Venice. It was written on the scroll in the golden casket.(Act II Sc. viii)

    This fell out nicely today and I didn’t even notice the grid because I was on the Gordius wavelength.

    Giovanna x

  28. jeceris says:

    I can’t find an Egyptian god called AMMON, only AMUN and AMEN.

  29. muck says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius
    According to Chambers, AMMONIA is derived from the Egyptian deity Ammon. I didn’ know that.

  30. jeceris says:

    Re Ammon – Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, The Chambers Thesaurus (1996, Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1997 edition with amendments)and Chambers 21st Century Dictionary Chambers Thesaurus all tell me:

    No exact matches for ammon, but the following may be helpful.

    ammonia chem noun 1(formula NH3) a colourless pungent gas formed naturally by the bacterial decomposition of proteins, etc, and also manufactured industrially, used in liquefied form as a refrigerant, and in the form of its compounds in fertilizers and explosives. 2 an alkaline solution of ammonia in water, used as a bleach and household cleaning agent. Also called ammonium hydroxide, liquid ammonia.
    ETYMOLOGY: 18c: from Latin sal ammoniacus = sal ammoniac.

  31. muck says:

    Wikipedia AMUN gives Ammon as an alternative Greek spelling

  32. muck says:

    Ammon is listed in Chambers 12th edn 2011.
    It doesn’t appear under (egyptian) gods in Chambers Crossword Dictionary 2011.

  33. William says:

    Thanks UY.

    Took longer than it should due to grid and a couple if instances where I was searching for a synonym but had already been given the word (INFATUATE eg).

    Can someone tell me how 1ac works? SKINFLINT is clearly a noun and I’ve only ever used ‘mean’ as an adjective. Can it also be a noun perhaps?

    Thanks Gordius.

  34. muffin says:

    I have just had another quick look at what has been said. HALTER reminded of a pub quiz I attended years ago. One question was pronounced as “What animal lives in a ‘olt?”. The answer was given “A hotter lives in a ‘olt.”

  35. Dave Ellison says:

    Then, of course, there was Round The Horn’s Water Otter (kettle)

  36. muffin says:

    Which animal would you like to be on a cold day?…………………a little otter.

  37. Dave Ellison says:

    eXternal @26.

    I read the clue “Exit duty?” for DEATH TOLL as a whole, rather as two separate words defined, which interpretation other contributors have adopted. So, to me, at first “Exit duty” suggested a charge for leaving a country (or, possibly [but, of course, not] some task you have to perform on leaving, as you used to do in youth hostels). But, of course, DEATH TOLL is not really the definition hence the ?

    Exit duty?

  38. Dave Ellison says:

    delete the last Exit duty?

  39. MDatta says:

    Needed help from my 90 year old mother-in-law to finish……but very enjoyable.

  40. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Completed the whole puzzle in double quick time except for the NE corner which was still blank!

    Then spent what seemed liked hours completing the grid.

    William @33

    I believe that the “defintion” for 1ac is “Mean injunction” and injunction does double duty as part of definition and wordplay!

    Thanks to UY and Gordius

  41. William says:

    Thanks, Brendan @40. See your point but I’m not really convinced. The double duty thing is even worse than a wrong part of speech!

    Thanks anyway.

  42. Brendan (not that one) says:

    william @41

    Yes, I forgot to say that according to Ximenean principles it’s wrong.

    But some modern compilers are more “Libertarian” and allow this. (Going the whole hog with an &lit clue where everything does double duty.)

    I’m sure you’ve read this but here’s a link anyway

    and more from the same source.

  43. eXternal says:

    Dave @37

    Thanks for the elucidation on this point. I have never seen a clue without a definition before, hence the query. I now realise that it is acceptable to have a definition of what the word could whimsically refer to, as long as you stick a question mark on the end. I’ll watch out for this in future.

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