The Gold from the 31st of July

1 down: NZ quickie fooled Aussie counterpart (6)

A fantastic clue which shifts elegantly from one cricketer to another: fooled Aussie counterpart = had Lee = Hadlee = NZ quickie.

The grace of the clue, though, smoothes over a bending of the rules: you have to know the answer to the direct portion of the clue before you can answer the indirect!

9 across: Gives five to Harry Seidler (8)

DA’s legerdemain is all over this one with the graceful anagram indicator and well-concealed direct portion of the clue: five to Harry Seidler = v to deliers = delivers = gives.

3 down: Outspoken southern Spanish population? (9)

A sweet aural clue: outspoken southern Spanish = outspoken Sevillians (Seville is in the south of Spain) = civlians = population.

14 across: Warrant bribe bucks where the buck stops? (6, 6)

Gold because of the brilliant combining of an anagram indicator and humorous direct clue: warrant bribe bucks = rabbit warren = where the buck stops (a male rabbit is a buck).

1 across: Summit bivouac prone to 19-down (minces)? (4, 4)

RC’s superior knowledge of slang solved this cheeky piece of DA devilry: summit bivouac = high camp = prone to minces (to mince is to move or act in a way that implies homosexuality).

24 across: Understood skin to be familiar (2, 4)

In my opinion, the most difficult of the crossword’s clues, but also a very good one: understood skin = fathomed skin = athome = at home = to be familiar.

25 across: Spooner’s two girls make super container? (5, 3)

It would have to be a poor Spoonerism for me not to consider a Spooner clue gold. This one’s reasonable, and the direct portion of the clue is clever to boot: Spooner’s two girls = Spooner’s Kerry Jan = jerry can = super container.

RC came to solve this one by harking back not so long ago to when DA had supreme container = pizza box as part of the clue/answer.

5 across: Baseball great captures us in trap (6)

Because of a Soundgarden song, I had the right baseball great running through my head, but I couldn’t see how cobb could make a word (two words as one are always the hardest to guess). Anyway, here we have baseball great captures us = Cobb captures we = cobweb = trap.

And I shall be forever grateful to that Soundgarden song for introducing me to the madness of Ty Cobb.

16 thoughts on “The Gold from the 31st of July

  1. 24A: More silver or bronze than gold. If it contained “understood skinned” or “skin understood” then it would be golder. “Understood skin” is much more FD than ATHOME.

    Clues where the verb trails need to be tidier, otherwise the compiler can get lazy and throw in any old pairing.

  2. re 24A: I don’t think you quite “understood” DA’s nuanced style. “Skin” here is used in a verbal sense, an instruction.Definitely gold in my book.

  3. AL

    Allow me to re-understand.

    I accept that understood skin = fathomed skin = athome = at home = to be familiar. In other words, to “skin” FATHOMED = ATHOME. No worries. I get that.

    I also accept that in crosswords it’s not uncommon to have the word, in this case “understood” followed by the verb, in this case “skin”. I just don’t like that order. To me “understood skin” is ugly. I would prefer “skin understood”, with the verb first. After all, I generally play football, I don’t football play.

  4. Part of the difficulty of cryptic crosswords is that the instruction to do something can be before or after the word that the instruction is applied to.

    Case in point, 14 across, where the anagram instruction is after the words that are being de-anagrammed:

    14 across: Warrant bribe bucks where the buck stops? (6, 6)

    If that’s OK, “Understood skin” and “Skin understood” have to be cryptic equivalents as well.

  5. AS

    I wrote above that there are crossword clues where the verb trails, but the grammar still should be correct.

    The plural “s” makes “bribe bucks” and “buck stops” different to “understood skin”.

  6. Nah, don’t agree.

    Taking what looks to be a noun and turning it into an instruction as a verb is standard cryptic crossword practice.

    So “Understood skin to be familiar” read as a complete clue has “skin” as a noun, but, as noted, “skin” is a verb when read cryptically.

    I think when you read a clue as a complete clue it should make sentence-sense, but when you read a clue cryptically it only needs to make cryptic-sense, which means the words themselves can retain their ambiguity.

    Words that can play multiple grammatical roles garner their specific grammatical role only in complete sentences. When that same word is not in a complete sentence, it retains its ambiguity.

    So in “understood skin to be familiar”, “skin” is definitely a noun.

    In “understood skin”, which is not a complete sentence, “skin” can be either verb or noun because there is nothing else that constricts its possible construal. So, in this case, it can be read as a verb, and without the rest of the clue being of any consequence.

  7. AS

    Sorry, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    I fully understand the intention of the clue, that’s why I didn’t call it DA Bullshit.

    The fact it relies on

    But the way “skin” relies on cryptic ambiguity rather than correct sentence structure is what relegates it from DA Gold. For me. But for Yoda not.

  8. Yoda is Sardinian.

    True story.

    Read this:

    For Italian fans of the Star Wars series, especially children, Yoda is often referred as “The Sardinian One” or “The One Who Speaks Sardinian”. This is due to the fact that once translated into Italian, Yoda’s manner of speaking is very close to the Sardinian accent that in Italy is considered humorous, even if slightly ridiculous.

    From here:

    More proof that Yoda is Sardinian: Sardinians are famous for being among the longest-lived of all people. They even get studied because they just keep on living.

    More info here:

  9. AS, I agree with TT.

    “Warrant bribe bucks where the buck stops?” is an example of a clue where
    the grammar is sound for both the surface gloss and the cryptic charade.
    When interpreted as a charade, the first three words can be read as:
    “warrant bribe” bucks
    where “bucks” is the present tense of the verb “buck”. “jumps” or “hops” etc.
    would be other reasonable verbs to use in place of “bucks”, but “bucks” works
    in well with the surface reading. But the key is that it is grammatically sound.

    In contrast, “understood skin” as a cryptic instruction is not grammatically sound. “understood skinned” would be ok, as would “skin understood”, but
    not “understood skin”.

    (I have this vague recollection from a decade ago reading about the history of cryptic crosswords that there are traditionally two schools of cryptic crossword setters. One school thinks imprecision — as in this clue — is acceptable as long as it works in well with the surface reading, and the other frowns on it as never acceptable. I’m with the latter.)

  10. Of possible relevance to this discussion is:
    The Ximenean principles of square dealing are what I was referring to, I think.

    Interestingly, Azed’s rules:
    A good cryptic clue contains three elements:
    1. a precise definition
    2. a fair subsidiary indication
    3. nothing else
    tends to allow “understood skin” as a fair (but imprecise) subsidiary indication. Oh well, it wouldn’t be a cryptic if there wasn’t something
    for someone to grumble about.

  11. TT & MF: I think you are both getting a bit lost in “cryptic correctness”. Bottom line is the clues are a code decided on by the compiler…so you play by his (or her) rules. The fun I get out of DA is that he is a little out of the box and at times kind of weird. You eventually get to know how he frames his clues and it is very satisfying when you solve them.

  12. I did pretty well on this getting within 3 or 4. I missed on:

    26A – a DA teaching. Never would have known that deodar was a tree without googling.
    17A – bally = damned? You mean you can say something like “sinners will be bally to hell” !?
    24A – I figured this had to be “at home”, but I would never have gotten the understood skin = f(athome)d bit. Maybe, just maybe, if the clue had been understood skinned I would have gotten it. I am inclined to side with TT and MF on this, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.
    11D – This is the one I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t get. If I had only just listed all the philosophers I know, I surely would have twigged. I need to be a bit more systematic in future!

    My happiest moment was 13A when the rare event occurred when I worked the whole wordplay out to its logical conclusion first and only then did the answer (olive drab) magically appear!

  13. Sorry I’m late. Been on holiday.

    NC, “bally” is used only as an adjective. As in “what’s wrong with this bally thing!”

    “Understood skin” seems to have elicited much comment. I reckon the clue is OK. Yes, it’s true that the surface reading of the clue uses skin as a noun whereas the cryptic reading treats it as a verb. And to complicate matters, this verb (skin) is an instruction that follows, rather than precedes, the words to be skinned (understood/fathomed). Both these ruses are often used by DA. For example, the first ruse is used in 12A (surface reading uses “trouble” as a noun, but the cryptic reading treats it as a verb – to ail); and the second ruse is used in 26A (gnarly follows, rather than precedes, the word that is to be “gnarled”) and 15D (castle ran relay).

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