Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,935 by Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on April 30th, 2013

Uncle Yap.

I careered through this puzzle merrily until the very last clue and I am still wondering. Otherwise, an easy-going puzzle today

7 ERRATIC Unreliable boy harbours vermin (7)
Ins of RAT (vermin) in ERIC (boy)
8 USUALLY Mostly we object having to turn to a friend (7)
Cha of US (objective first person plural) U (turn) ALLY (friend)
9 BATH Where to find chaps undressed? (4)
cd or is there more to this?
10 NEPHRITIS Wrongly diagnosed Pinterish condition? (9)
*(PINTERISH) for an inflammation of the kidney
12 STRAP Holding device for turning leaves (5)
Rev of PARTS (leaves as in company)
13 INSPIRIT Cheer with fashionable tipple (8)
IN (fashionable) SPIRIT (tipple)
15 MORE What people expect from a famous Chancellor? (4)
dd Thomas More was a saint, martyr and author; Lord Chancellor of England during the reign of Henry VIII, better known here as the author of Utopia
16 CACAO Tropical tree is about calcium, nothing 15 (5)
CA (circa, about) CA (calcium) O (nothing more)  tropical American tree Theobroma cacao or its edible seeds from which cocoa and chocolate are made.
17 KIDS Offspring’s deceitful (4)
18 PHEASANT With odd shape worker becomes fair game (8)
*(SHAPE) + ANT (worker) for this game bird
20 VANYA Classic uncle, whoever’s in a state (5)
Ins of ANY (whoever) in VA (Virginia, state) Uncle Vanya, a tragicomedy by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov
21 DALLIANCE Trifling gets many to a committed union (9)
D (Roman numeral for 500, many) + ALLIANCE (committed union)
22 ACHE Discomfort in toiletry container (4)
sACHEt, toiletry container … I wonder whether this clue is considered fair
24 BEADLES Workers hold wayward lad for local officials (7)
Ins of *(LAD) in BEES (a gathering of persons to unite their labour for the benefit of one individual or family, or for some joint amusement)
25 AEROSOL Possibly a looser of particles endangering the ozone? (7)
*(A LOOSER) Neat &littish surface
1 ARIA Melody featured in Enigma Variations? (4)
2 SAWHORSE Saying “beef”, say, can be supporting timber (8)
SAW (saying) HORSE (allusion to the scandal in Europe where horse meat has been passed off as beef)
3 KIDNAP Ink-pad designed for press (6)
4 ESPRESSO Half-hearted energy supplier keeps media with coffee (8)
Ins of PRESS (media) in ESSO (oil company, energy supplier) minus one S (half-hearted)
5 CANTHI Where eyelids join, unable to offer greeting (6)
CAN’T (unable to) HI (greeting) for the plural of CANTHUS, the angle where the upper and lower eyelids meet.
6 ALPS If they keeled over it would make a lot of splash! (4)
11 PRINCETON Charles not up to university? (9)
PRINCE (Charles of Wales) TON (rev of NOT), one of the Ivy League universities in the USA
12 SLOTH Sin has much to keep quiet about (5)
Ins of LOT (much) in SH (quiet) for one of the seven deadly sins … the complete list being wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
14 INDIA Eastern country returns help to Ulster (5)
Rev of AID (help) + NI (Northern Ireland, Ulster)
16 CLARINET Instrument held in by Bordeaux (8)
Ins of IN in CLARET (dark-red wines of Bordeaux)
17 KANGAROO Tree keeps on about rag over jumper (8)
Rev of ins of RAG in ON -> ORAGN and inserted in OAK (tree)
19 ALLUDE Refer everyone to due amendment (6)
ALL (everyone) + *(DUE)
20 VIEWER Inspector gives opinion with hesitation (6)
VIEW (opinion) + ER (hesitation)
21 DIET Perish over square meals? (4)
DIE (perish) T (T-square, a draughting instrument)
23 HOOF Support for part of 2 on which governmental policies are made? (4)
2 is SAWHORSE and hoof is a support for a horse. If you do something on the hoof, you do it quickly and without giving it your full attention because you are doing something else at the same time … the consequences of making government policy on the hoof (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary) Is this Gordius’s political statement today?

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 anyone wants to contact me in private about some typo

51 Responses to “Guardian 25,935 by Gordius”

  1. rhotician says:

    9a: Bath chaps are breadcrumbed pig cheeks. A nice clue.
    22a: Not nice.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY. A return to the Gordius of old: mostly very straightforward but with the odd wierdo thrown in. Anyway, let’s hope it’s a one-off.

  3. stiofain says:

    Usual Gordian loose clued drudgery.
    I sort of understand those people that dont like Rufus but no one can deny he gets people started on cryptics as he did to me 20 years ago.
    Perhaps some clues by Rufus are just too easy but Gordius has consistantly bad clues, inaccurate definitions, faulty wordplay and unamusing unnecessary obscurities.
    At least this time he didnt shoehorn in his usual religious dogma but that was negated by his spurious use of
    Ulster = NI in 14d
    It doesnt and
    Iberia does not equal ESP
    Benelux doesnt equal NL
    I feel sorry for UY having to blog this rubbish.
    Gordius is so far below the standard of the Guardian stable of setters it is ridiculous he is used so regularly.

  4. stiofain says:

    And 23 down related to 2 down was rubbish a crap clue refering to another crap clue.

  5. JollySwagman says:

    Thanks UY and G – also R #1 for explaining “Bath chaps” – didn’t know it meant that.

    I agree that Ulster for NI is both inaccurate and overused – what’s the point with so many other possibilities around – News International for one?

    Wordplaywise I found 8a an unusual mix of intense accuracy (“we object”) and lumpiness (“having to”) – otherwise I thought it all normal Gordian setting and a nice easy puzzle – perfect for a Monday or Tuesday.

    Fave 2d of course.

    @S #3 – For “unamusing unnecessary obscurities” on the G or any other paper I would not rank Gordius the worst offender by a long chalk.

  6. JollySwagman says:

    @stiofain – So can we take it that you’ll be making a note not to do Gordius puzzles in future?

  7. stiofain says:

    No JollySwagman I will continue doing them just to show me how lucky me and other cryptic solvers are to have the likes of Tramp, Paul, Boatman, Brendan, Arachne, The Don and a few others.

  8. michelle says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle by Gordius. I liked 11d, 5d, 21a, 2d, 6d, 12d and my favourite was KANGAROO.

    I though 22a was fair and I was pleased that I could solve and parse it because usually I am baffled by clues like this.

    I didn’t realise that ‘kidnap’ and ‘press’ can be interchangeable. Is it in the sense of ‘to force (men) into the army or navy’?

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap.

  9. Andreas61 says:

    I’m not a big fan of Gordius either and I enjoy a good rant. However, stiofan, I don’t quite see what is so wrong with this particular puzzle? “Beef” actually raised a smile, as did “hoof”. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, or, as the saying here goes in Germany, “one man’s owl is another man’s nightingale”. Maybe this puzzle is not in the nightingale category, but I’d definitely rate it “chaffinch”: pleasant, if short. Thanks Gordius, and thanks Uncle Yap for the lucid blog!

  10. rhotician says:

    stiofain @3; ‘Ulster’ for NI is not spurious. It is specious.

  11. slipstream says:

    Michelle @8 —

    Consider “Shanghai” = “press” = “kidnap.”

    My somewhat hazy recollection is that ship captains who found themselves short on crewmen in Shanghai would send out “press gangs” to kidnap any likely prospects. Yes — to force men into the navy.

    “Shanghai” somehow from this situation became a verb. But more to the point, “press” is equivalent to “kidnap.”

  12. William says:

    Hmm…I’m with Andreas61 on this – never been much of a fan of this setter but don’t see the need to burn the fellow at the stake. Better, I think, to settle on the setters one enjoys and pick and choose. There are plenty available every day. It’s only fun after all.

    Having said that I rather liked SAWHORSE and PARTS was nicely constructed.
    Thanks for the blog, Uncle.

  13. ChrisS says:

    No-one has yet commented on the ’15’ at the end of the clue for 16a. I spent a time wodering what sort of link I was looking for… I guess it was just a Grauniad typo?

  14. Thomas99 says:

    15 means “More”, i.e. “in addition”.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. I also thought this was a more typical, that is patchy, Gordius than those we have had lately.

    I liked 11dn, but I didn’t like and couldn’t parse 22ac. And I didn’t much care for 6dn either.

    Thanks to rhotician @1 for the Bath chaps reference, which makes this clue better than it first seemed.

    I didn’t know CANTHI, but the wordplay made this straightforward.

    I also liked NEPHRITIS, but I wonder whether this might be obscure for some solvers. I knew it because my brother had it as a child — v unpleasant!

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius

    A bit more mixed than some recent puzzles from this setter – almost literally a curate’s egg.

    2d was my last in and I rather liked it once I’d got the idea. I also ticked 9a, 4d and 8d.

  17. MikeC says:

    Thanks UY and Gordius. Like others, I found this rather 7a – not up to the standard of some of this setter’s recent offerings. Some good moments, nonetheless.

  18. michelle says:

    Thanks for the explanation of shanghai=>press=>kidnap

  19. Jake says:

    I thought this was the best puzzle I’ve done this year! Of all the daily and weekend crosswords this came out top by miles.

    @stiofain – Go out and start a war!

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog. I had ACHE for 22a but needed you to explain why I was right.

    I had quite forgotten that one of the meanings of press is kidnap: once I had shuffled the anagram fodder and saw the result I had to smack myself :(

  21. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Gordius and Uncle. Thanks also to rhotician; bath chaps new to me.

    Maybe this was a bit easy for a Wednesday but does it really deserve the vituperation it’s getting from some, including some who can’t spell ‘consistently’? And do we really want repeated use of ‘crap’ as an adjective in this blog? Sure, ‘Ulster’ is not a synonym of ‘Northern Ireland’ but since when was synonymy a requirement? We’ve been arguing about this one for so long, why not just admit it as a specious (thanks, rhotician, for the correct observation)but acceptable old chestnut. It’s meant to be fun!

  22. Robi says:

    As others have said, a bit of a curate’s egg, but a few good clues.

    Thanks UY; my first reaction was that there were some rather peculiar surfaces – like 16a and 17d. However, I now realise that the ‘tree’ in 17d could be a last name, which then makes more sense. I didn’t much like DIET, both for the surface and for the T=square, although maybe the question mark takes care of that. I failed to parse (s)ACHE(t) but think it is a legitimate clue.

    SAWHORSE had a nice, topical clue and I liked ALPS, which was my last in. [I was thinking about things like orca for a long time :( ] I don’t think NEPHRITIS is any more obscure than a number of classical references often found in the Guardian.

  23. Regalize says:

    I said this after the appalling personal attacks on Rufus and I will say it again. If you don’t like a particular setter, go cut the grass.

    @stiofain – Do you think setters do their job for fun? Yes, of course! Do they set puzzles for the enjoyment of us solvers? Ditto. Do you think they have no feelings? Don’t get upset when they are slagged off in this way? I have been privileged to meet many setters via Sloggers and Betters and every one has been a thoroughly nice person, good fun and a pleasure to meet. We are all sensitive souls at heart and I apologize to Gordius on behalf of th.ose who appreciate his efforts.

  24. medici says:

    4d: For nitpickers, the press is a medium.

  25. crypticsue says:

    Well I enjoyed it – I did wonder whether Gordius was suffering from eye problems when he set this one.

    Regalize @23 – Hear Hear!!

  26. Rowland says:

    A lot of rubbisn, I ageree with Stiofaian!! But he DID get the hatchet out, didn’t he, phew.

    No comment on the clues, as I have a pronlem with most of them, and would re-blog, unhelpfully.


  27. viscosity says:

    Its nice to be in sunny Connecticut and see all today’s arguments sorted before a pot of Russian Caravan is completed! Didn’t hate this one. Bath chaps new to me also.

  28. Dave H says:

    Can’t comment on this crossword (or yesterdays) as I have taken the advice of the Rufarian love in’s and Regalize, but instead of cutting the grass I sat in a chair and gave my daily donation to newapaper industry to the Independent who have provided 2 excellent crosswords as usual.
    If Hugh is determined to continue with his editorial policy my allegience will move completely to the Independent and why why why can’t he print 2 crosswords on a Monday and Tuesday and then he could keep all of the people happy all of the time.

  29. NeilW says:

    Regalize, thank you for your comment. I’m the author of the “appalling personal attacks” on Rufus: all I did was lament commercialism. Your comment actually supports my point. Yes, perhaps, stiofain is being a little aggressive, but he’s still not entirely wrong.

    If you wish to attack contributors, it would be nice to see you joining in on a regular basis rather than just trollling.

  30. Hazzabean says:

    Ah, so suggesting that commentators should moderate their criticism is “trolling” now but intemperate abuse of compilers is not. Well, I’m a troll then.
    BTW Andrew, we don’t need invitations from you to comment or instructions as to when it’s appropriate for us to comment. Some of us like to come here to learn and enjoy and normally be impressed with the level of comment and good manners. That doesn’t make us trolls.
    Oh, and to the rest of us not obsessed with things Irish, Ulster is in Northern Ireland just like Scotland is in Northern Britain – get over it.

  31. Hazzabean says:

    Apologies Andrew, my reply should have been directed at NeilW and not you. I’ve shot myself in the other foot now to even things up.

  32. jeceris says:

    Just a final criticism of a generally very sloppy puzzle – DALLIANCE and TRIFLING as different parts of speech should not be clued as synonyms. It’s the sloppiness I object to.

  33. letzbefair says:

    Agreed that some comments go over the top but the plain fact is that this was a sub-standard crossword by a sub-standard setter. How 22a slipped by Hugh is beyond me.

  34. PeterO says:

    Jeceris @32

    Trifle vi. to dally; trifling gerund – dalliance. What’s your problem?

  35. Thomas99 says:

    Trifling is the gerund (nounal form), not the participle.

  36. Thomas99 says:

    Sorry PeterO – cross-posting. At least jeceris indicated which clue he didn’t like/understand. Some of today’s comments don’t, which breaks the second rule of the site policy (“The reason for any dissatisfaction should be clearly indicated.”)

  37. Saran says:

    As a relative ‘newby,’ I enjoyed this crossword. The only clue I couldn’t solve was Sawhorse. But I did learn saw = saying, so that’s good! I couldn’t parse Ache, but I don’t object too much to the clue having come here to check it. Also, thanks to UY for the blog, I do like your layout which includes the clues.

  38. Derek Lazenby says:

    So what’s it to be chaps? Handbags at dawn? Good job it wasn’t anything more serious than a crossword, otherwise World War III would have started!

    Grow up.

  39. jeceris says:

    PeterO @34. Thought I was in a pub there for a moment.
    My problem is that although it’s very often possible to squeeze an approximation from some arcane grammatical contortion, when I look for a way to crack a clue I look for something concrete e.g. an anagrind, or in this case a definition. I would never have equated the two words until after solving the clue by other means, which is I assume what you did. Or perhaps it immediately struck you that of course this is the gerundic form of the verb “to trifle”. Well you’re much cleverer than I then, and I still find it sloppy. Can’t seem to see a way in which they’re interchangeable without a bit of a stretch.
    Still, you live and learn.

  40. Paul B says:

    Well, ‘a trifling’ equates in some way to ‘a dalliance’. I have to read up on gerunds occasionally, just to kill the suspense.

  41. ClaireS says:

    From Chambers 2011 edition

    dalliance noun
    1. Dallying, toying or trifling
    2. An amorous relationship

    Collins also gives trifling as a synonym for dalliance.

  42. george says:

    My Mum and I have only just finished. Well I have been gardening all day. We managed OK between us. No gripes with the puzzle. Just glad to complete it

  43. nametab says:

    Phew; stormy teacup today.
    All I disliked was the grid – and learned ‘canthi’ and ‘ nephretis’, which is nice

  44. nmsindy says:

    Re comment by Stiofáin at #3 “his (ie Gordius) spurious use of Ulster = NI in 14d It doesnt and Iberia does not equal ESP Benelux doesnt equal NL”

    Strictly speaking the first point is correct. However it only reflects imprecision in everyday usage of language (recognised by dicts) ie that Ulster is sometimes loosely regarded as equal to NI.

    It does not, I think, mean Gordius or anyone else is suggesting that the three historical counties of Ulster that are outside NI today should be seen as part of it. Governments on both sides of the border agreed this position in 1921.

    I personally do not recall seeing the other examples quoted above appearing in crosswords – they would not seem to be equivalent to the other example unless Ulster (or NI) were to be clued as ‘Ireland’.

  45. stiofain says:

    I wont get involved in the vexed question “this was a crap crossword or not?” but will in the simpler NI/Ulster debate.
    @44 nmsindy says:
    Re comment by Stiofáin at #3 “his (ie Gordius) spurious use of
    Ulster = NI in 14d
    It doesnt
    and Iberia does not equal ESP
    Benelux doesnt equal NL”
    I personally do not recall seeing the other examples quoted above appearing in crosswords.

    That is the point none of these would be deemed acceptable.

    @10 rhotician says:
    stiofain @3; ‘Ulster’ for NI is not spurious. It is specious.
    Thanks for the correction and for not being rude like

    @21 dunsscotus says:
    does it really deserve the vituperation it’s getting from some, including some who can’t spell ‘consistently’?
    Sure, ‘Ulster’ is not a synonym of ‘Northern Ireland’ but since when was synonymy a requirement? We’ve been arguing about this one for so long, why not just admit it as a specious but acceptable old chestnut.

    It is an old chestnut that should be retired and isn’t acceptable.

    @30 Hazzabean says:
    Oh, and to the rest of us not obsessed with things Irish, Ulster is in Northern Ireland just like Scotland is in Northern Britain – get over it.

    Northern Britain is not a country.
    Scotland is not a mainland limited portion of the island of Great Britain.

    While there are many venerable institutions with Ulster in their title,
    those since 1921 tend to be fundamental religious organisations and sectarian paramilitaries.
    The usage seems to give some historical sense of legitimacy to the Gerrymandered border solution.
    So if this not offensive in the Cotswolds, Connecticut or Cuernavaca that doesnt matter.
    It is to a small number of people ( in global terms ) in Ulster/NI.

    Retire it.

  46. Brendan (not that one) says:

    DL @38

    Thank you for putting us in order sir ;-)

    Nothing to say about the crossword?

    I personally thought it was almost Rufusian in it’s awfulness. (Sorry Sir!)

  47. Grumpytalker says:


    stiofain sticks end of claw into what he thinks of Gordius crossword (4)

  48. Hazzabean says:

    @45 Stiofain gives us the full rule book definition of NI having had the gall to complain about Gordius shoehorning “in his usual religious dogma” (what???), and “Gerrymandered border solutions”. I’m just surprised it didn’t end “Hic! Hit me again barman and up the IRA”. It’s a crossword. A bit of flimflam, not a crusade to crush people underfoot.
    I enjoyed the crossword. You didn’t. Don’t like it, fine, but does it really require character assassination as a response? Or bizarre political rants?
    And Ulster is in Northern Ireland, just as Newcastle and Edinburgh are in Northern Britain despite being in different countries, unless you’ve arranged for bits to be moved south of Dublin. I don’t care if you don’t like it. It’s a crossword.

  49. morphiamoney says:


    Stiofain thought the crossword was tat.

    It’s people like ‘im what cause unrest.

  50. nmsindy says:

    Re comment from Stiofain at #45, some of those points might be more suitable for a political forum than a crossword forum. All I could suggest is that he would contact the Guardian crossword editor. He would need to explain it fully however as I expect most Guardian readers (as a UK publication) would be unlikely to be aware of the distinction unless they happened to be very familiar with historical Irish counties and which provinces they are part of.

  51. brucew@aus says:

    Thanks Gordius and Uncle Yap

    Wow … finally finished this one after it languishing and getting more and more tattered over time !! BATH and SAWHORSE were the last couple that had held me up for this long. An inspiration in the early hours of this morning finally made a case for BATH … but needed the blog to make it a super clue with the pig ear dish. Subsequently the penny dropped with SAWHORSE and was able to amend hoop to HOOF at 23 to bring it to a close. Amen.

    Glad I wasn’t here at the time for what looks like a somewhat undeserved slating of the setter … maybe that’s why we’re not seeing so much of him these days.

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