Monday, September 5, 2011

What "Bodyguard" Could Mean In Cryptic Clues

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bodyguard-in-cryptic-clues If you are thinking of Salman Khan, you are probably off the mark.

The word "bodyguard" in a cryptic clue usually directs you to the abbreviation SS in the answer. SS is short for Schutzstaffel, the paramilitary organization that served as Hitler's bodyguard.

Example:
FT 12991 (Neo): Fool makes very good bodyguard (3) ASS
A (very good) SS (bodyguard)

Other words "bodyguard" could lead to:

MAIL: Mail is a flexible armour with interlinked rings, worn by a knight as a "body-guard".

Guardian 24512 (Rufus): Bodyguard on vessel, the post nobody wants (4,4) JUNK MAIL
MAIL (bodyguard) on i.e. after JUNK (vessel)

MINDER: Slang for someone acting as a bodyguard.

Guardian 25286 (Araucaria): Nudge concerning bodyguard? (8) REMINDER
RE (concerning) MINDER (bodyguard)

Solve These

FT 13788 (Redshank): Have bodyguard pursue gang (7)
Independent 6841 (Tees): Enterprise possibly shown where bodyguard with it maintains rate of progress (9) _P_____I_
THC 7386: Unnecessary to goad Hitler’s bodyguard (8)

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28 comments

Bhavan said...

FT 13788 (Redshank): Have bodyguard pursue gang (7) POSSE + SS
Independent 6841 (Tees): Enterprise possibly shown where bodyguard with it maintains rate of progress (9) S(PACE)S + HIP
THC 7386: Unnecessary to goad Hitler’s bodyguard (8) NEEDLE + SS

Chaturvasi said...

Shuchi

Re: the clue from THC.

You will be surprised to learn that the same clue, word for word, has appeared in The Daily Telegraph crossword 26326.

Though the THC clue predates the DT clue, it is possible that it was taken from an old crossword in the undivided Indian Express or from the New Indian Express - which I believe is by the same compiler as the DT crossword's.

Of course, it might be a case of two great minds thinking alike but you and I know that some clues in some THC crosswords are brilliant but others in the very same crossword are riddled with problems and unacceptable cluing techniques. This dissimilar quality of clues in a single puzzle raises disturbing questions in the minds of far-seeing solvers.

raghunath said...

FT 13788 (Redshank): Have bodyguard pursue gang (7) <{POSSE}SS>
Independent 6841 (Tees): Enterprise possibly shown where bodyguard with it maintains rate of progress (9) {S{PACE}S HIP>. What's HIP?
THC 7386: Unnecessary to goad Hitler’s bodyguard (8). Where "Hitler's" was really Unnecessary!

Siva said...

Hi Shuchi,

"Bodyguard" is new to me. Nice to know! Not absolutely confident about the second one.

FT 13788 (Redshank): Have bodyguard pursue gang (7) POSSESS
Independent 6841 (Tees): Enterprise possibly shown where bodyguard with it maintains rate of progress (9) _P_____I_ SPACESHIP
THC 7386: Unnecessary to goad Hitler’s bodyguard (8) NEEDLESS

SandhyaP said...

Have bodyguard pursue gang (7) {POSSE}{SS}

Enterprise possibly shown where bodyguard with it maintains rate of progress (9) {S{PACE}S}{HIP}

Unnecessary to goad Hitler’s bodyguard (8){NEEDLE}{SS}

Sumitra said...

Have bodyguard pursue gang- POSSE SS

Crucifer said...

Have bodyguard pursue gang (7)
POSSESS (posse + SS)

Enterprise possibly shown where bodyguard with it maintains rate of progress (9)
SPACESHIP (pace in SS + hip)

Unnecessary to goad Hitler’s bodyguard (8)
NEEDLESS (needle + SS)

anax said...

Well spotted Chaturvasi! This raises an interesting and slightly worrying subject.
As regards DT puzzle 26326, this was set by Roger Squires, and it’s fairly likely it wasn’t the first time he used this clue. Roger keeps a massive hand-produced index of his clues, carefully catalogued and dated to ensure that if he uses a clue more than once such occurrences are a) kept apart by a sensible period of time and/or b) published in newspapers which are geographically disparate. For example, if clue X is used in the free weekly newssheet of a small town in Scotland there’s no harm at all in having it appear very soon after in another freesheet for a small town in Kent – there will no crossover of solvership. And, quite apart from anything else, if Roger has written the clue then he has every right to use it repeatedly at his own discretion.
I haven’t seen the THC puzzle but, from what you say, it looks rather suspiciously as if the setter has trawled (at least) Big Dave’s blog looking for good clues to bolster an otherwise unsatisfactory puzzle. The concept of ‘great minds think alike’ means that accusations of copying are unlikely to develop into anything more than that, but I do think it would be most unfortunate – and distasteful – if that is what has happened.

Chaturvasi said...

For years I have been writing publicly about the patchy quality in the work of a THC compiler.
I have also sent emails to the Editor/Readers' Editor of the paper but to no avail.
Since the topic has come up once again, may I draw your attention to a blog I wrote two years ago (this is only one sample; I am sure my Comments must be strewn all over the blogs by writers based in India).

http://dailydozen.blogspot.com/2009/10/thc-9668.html

The puzzle itself is here:

http://www.hindu.com/2009/10/22/stories/2009102299951000.htm

Please note that I do not have the source of the brilliant clues (original compiler can perhaps help) but I am questioning their provenance purely on the basis of the poor quality of some other clues.

Shuchi said...

Good answers!

@raghunath:
hip = with it (trendy, fashionable)

"Hitler's" is helpful I think - it narrows the type of bodyguard solvers must think of.

@Siva: You're right about SPACESHIP. It's a tricky one, well done.

@Chaturvasi, @anax: The COCKTAILS clue quoted in Verb phrase as definition for noun - another similar case.

Chaturvasi said...

Further to my comment above and following Anax's response to it, I am writing this after a reader of a blog wanted further explanation to a clue even after an anno had been provided by the blogger.

The clue is:

Grand old man longing to give party support (5) - DOYEN {DO}{YEN}

Not having done the puzzle but looking at the surface reading of the clue and the deft handling of wordplay therein that is so lacking in many other clues in the same puzzle, I did a search and found that this appeared in New Indian Express crossword on June 27, 2007.

The setter? Manna! On Sept 8, 2011.

Actually, no elaborate search is needed. Any good clue in this setter's puzzle is a suspect.

anax said...

I’ve just solved today’s M Manna puzzle – same story again, I’m afraid. Several sound clues which have a very Rufus/moderately Libertarian feel, and several which are just plain wrong; clumsy, inaccurate, incomprehensible. And I have to say it’s making me rather angry.

Clearly the Hindu Times isn’t prepared to address the issue by responding to the emails of esteemed visitors here, so maybe we simply publicise this plagiarism as much as we can? I’ve tweeted a link to today’s (9th September) puzzle, also put a link to it on the Guardian’s Crossword Blog. I will also put something on my own anaxcrosswords blog today.

If word gets around to the extent we all know it should, perhaps the Hindu Times will have to begin taking notice?

Anonymous said...

Some more that may amount to plagiarism...

TH 9848 (Gridman) (21/5/10) Turn to get hold of mug and a tumbler (7) ACROBAT

Everyman 3315 (11/4/10) Turn holding mug and a tumbler (7) ACROBAT

--------------------------------

TH 10184 (Gridman) (18/6/2011) Duck dis or dat? (5) EIDER

Guardian 22256 (Rufus) (9/7/2001) Dis duck - or dat? (5) EIDER

Shuchi said...

Links to the Hindu crosswords that Anonymous has mentioned: THC 9848 and THC 10184.

Link to the Hindu crossword with the NEEDLESS clue: THC 7386.

I invite my esteemed readers to see these crosswords in their entirety. What does your cruciverbal antenna tell you - coincidence or plagiarism?

Chaturvasi said...

Normally a post by 'Anonymous' may be ignored as the person doesn't give his/her real name or even a pseudonym but like Polonius lurks behind arras. As I am Gridman I would like to say the following:

When I wrote that 'duck' clue, I didn't have any crossword by my side.

Long, long ago, I was a prolific writer in an Australia-based message board called Wordplay-L (nothing to do with crosswords) where we discussed English usage, grammar, pronunciation and so on (I think I was only Indian member of that group). The subject line of one of the messages by a foeigner was 'dis or dat' which has stuck in my mind and which I have subsequently used in some mails to my friends. Faced with EIDER, I noticed that 'd' here is same as d in 'dis or dat' and thus was born the clue.

Solvers know that many clues even in UK crosswords have similar word breakup and similar wording. The whiff of plagiarism may rise when a clue is the same - word for word - as that of a previously published one. Also the overall cluemanship in the crossword must be noted.

anax said...

Chaturvasi's final sentence is of paramount importance. In a puzzle of generally high standard, similarity of clues to those you've seen elsewhere is invariably the result of "great minds think alike".
I don't think I've yet used EIDER in a grid but, were it to crop up, I would see a reversal of RED IE or RE DIE, or IDE in ER... and then the ideas start to dry up. If I give it some more thought, the concept of EITHER being changed in some way to EIDER would eventually present itself, and I may be persuaded to use it.
It's when you have a puzzle filled with clues of just two types - namely, very good and very bad, with no middle ground - that suspicions must be aroused.

Chaturvasi said...

As for Anon's first set of clues, Everyman is dated 11/4/10. Gridman's 21/5/10.
Chaturvasi has publicly stated on several occasions that Gridman's bunch of crosswords are set some six or seven months prior to publication.

Anonymous said...

Gridman does talk often about editing or modifying the clue on the day prior to the publication. It is a tall story to believe that both are coincidences.

Irrespective of the setter or his clueing prowess or his online presence or his reputation, I whole-heartedly renounce and excoriate plagiarism - whether or not it is a regular occurrence.

Shuchi said...

I have something to add with respect to the EIDER clue.

Gridman had emailed to me on 26th Sep 2010, to test solve his clue "Duck dis or dat? (5)" and ask if it worked. We had a discussion around it before it was sent for publication.

I can vouch for the fact that the clue published on 18th June 2011 was the same as the one I test solved.

---

Please use your id to post further comments. Comments posted anonymously will not be approved.

Bhavan said...

Anonymity is quite a useful thing to point fingers at.

I can third what Shuchi said about EIDER for I received a similar message from Gridman on the same day (26/10/10)

If Gridman will excuse my making public this conversation on a closed orkut group :


26/10/10 Chaturvasi:
Gridman's confession
Bhavan has quoted a NIE clue in the Col's blog today.

Now, faced with EIDER in one of my own grids, I wrote this clue a couple of days ago:

Dis or dat duck? (5)

Honestly, I did not resort to any dB - I did not have any NIE crossword before me. I don't store anyone's dB or my own clues in any sw to lazily and promptly copy when the word crops up.

However, I may have been influenced by reading a recent blog of Shuchi on pronunciation of words.

I may have remembered the subject line 'dis or dat' that I myself gave for a mail that I sent to an Englishman once.

Now, this clue that I wrote is for a future crossword that will appear more than six months later. Yet I am worried whether I will be accused of 'taking' NIE clue. That has preceded mine in a crossword and quoted appreciatively in a blog familiar to members who keenly watch the NIE crossword and my TH crossword.

26/10/10 Bhavan:
Personally I don't think one clue would make the solvers question a setter's credibility.

Given the history of Gridman, it is safe to assume the solvers would know better than to think he has plagiarised a clue.

Dat and dis confession should placate the doubters (if any).

Chaturvasi said...

Today there are aids to a crossword setter.

Some decades ago if a composer had to write a clue for BEDROOM he had to jumble the letters mentally, or for longer words or multi-word phrases, he had to write the letters on paper and work out possible candidates, often finding, after having scratched out some letters, that the remaining letters did not lead him anywhere. How many times he would have written the letters, scratched them and reworked, we can guess.

Just search 'bedroom' online and you're most likely to reach a site where you have BOREDOM. (Let's not trouble ASTRONOMER who is worried about seeing NO MORE STAR.) You may have even got a FWD mail from a well-meaning friend of yours who thought you were still groping in the boudoir, neglecting the lady in the chamber.

Yes, there were books of anagrams where you looked up BDEMOOR would give BEDROOM BOREDOM BROOMED. But would anyone, setter or solver, have the patience to put the letters in alphabetical order and look it up?

Today the setter has an app (I found one after persistent trawling online with all kinds of search words with a yearning for such a thing and after non-implementation of a suggestion to some MCAs for this desideratum) that offers tiles for the given word and he can happily drag and drop them around till he finds a nice anagram.

If he is lazy to do even that, he has many an anagram software; enter a given word/phrase and it offers scores of anagrams that you have to only scroll down and see the list to pick up one.

If you have exhausted your quota of anagram clues, launch the unique app that gives you all sorts of breakdowns for the given word.

It is possible that two setters chose the same anagram/wordplay to write a clue.

There are similarities in crossword clues of two setters in the same paper. There are similarities in crossword clues in two different papers. There are similarities in the same composer's crosswords over time (don't crossword applications offer you a dB of the clues that you have written and show, when the same word occurs next, the ones you have written before? Were you lazy and just put in one of those?)


Any open charge against a setter is serious. The Editor of any newspaper insist that when a letter/email is sent for publication, it must carry the identity of the writer. Why? The writer is as much responsible as the publisher for the comment made.

Kishore said...

While agreeing with Anonymous that plagiarism cannot be overlooked, we should distinguish between murder and manslaughter (I wonder why Anon is Anon?). For this we need to consider the following:

1. Two persons do think alike sometimes, separated by time and space. Many parallel discoveries and inventions show that. Take a clue from yesterday’s Bang.ed. of ET, with the answer ‘PARKING’ and ask people to set a clue for in a contest where each participant does not know the other’s response. The first choice and probably most common choice of word play will be PAR and KING(as clued in by the setter in that CW), with some word to clue in both the parts. Some others trying to avoid this word play would probably come up with PAR(K)ING. Both these will lead to a fairly finite number of word play possibilities.
2. People remember things, consciously and subconsciously, and quote things, correctly or erroneously. While conscious ‘lifting’ is no doubt a clear case of plagiarism, subconscious references can be avoided by diligent checking, if the person vaguely feels that he has heard it earlier, but the onus is on the person who gets that feeling.

A swallow or even some swallows do not an adding machine make (with apologies to Aristotle), but when there is a wild variety of avian fauna ranging from the wise owl to the silly goose, with a lot of inconsistency thrown in, it makes one wonder whether borrowed clever ideas have been fitted into a grid and one’s own penmanship has filled in the balance with mediocre work.

veer said...

Thanks for the nice article on the cryptic use of bodyguard, Shuchi. It is quite amazing to me how many different hidden subtleties there are in clue writing. If blogs and online comments had been around when the first setter used bodyguard = SS, I am sure it would have generated plenty of kudos and some flak (there always is, isn't there?). Actually, I am quite curious if the setters that comment here can claim credit for having first used an abbreviation that later came to be popularly accepted..it is a nice feather in one's cap, to be sure.

Looks like the comments here have taken on a different tack and the sleuthing seems appropriate to this article on SS, as at their peak, they were more than just a bodyguard, and became investigator, judge, jury and of course, executioner.

Having solved the THC for several years as have many others here, and also solved a few of the Rufus, Everyman, DT, London Times, FT, Independent puzzles etc., from time to time, I have thought some of the THC clues to be eerily similar to others I have seen elsewhere. Like Bhavan, I do not have a database of clues to go and check - my impression is mostly just a nagging sense of familiarity I encounter when solving.

As another comment here, it is really up to the Hindu to ensure that they are not being exposed to being sued by other syndicates - at one level, crossword setting is a business and blatant plagiarism does rob a syndicated puzzle / setter's source of revenue and hence leaves open the possibility.

Apart from that, in civil debate, one can only hope personal ethics, basic intellectual honesty and pride amongst the fraternity of setters will ensure that plagiarism, if any, is purely accidental, and if pointed out, results in an acknowledgment of the unfortunate turn of events. Just lobbing needless counter accusations and slinging barbs at a messenger behind invisibility cloaks does not mask the issue under discussion. It is rather childish and smacks of the attitude, if some purportedly do it, why can't all do it, regardless of whether the "it" is right or wrong.

Chaturvasi said...

While on the subject, it is interesting to read the following article:

http://www.slate.com/id/2236024/

Chaturvasi said...

And this:

http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Rec/rec.puzzles.crosswords/2007-12/msg00252.html

Chaturvasi said...

Sometimes I feel that perhaps like so many other crossword setters I too should have been reserved, quiet, reticent, mum, hand on mouth rather on the keyboard and so on.

Over the past ten years I have left so much footprint online that you never know how readers interpret what I write.

Anon (may his/her tribe not increase) notes: "Gridman does talk often about editing or modifying the clue on the day prior to the publication."

Yes, Gridman does. But not to write or insert a whole new clue!

But -

To see whether any typo went uncorrected (if the same eyes of the hand that typed are looking at an MS, typos are apt to slip by as the mind takes in a word with the first letter and the last letter).

To see whether the same abbr. for a component is used in two clues (RA for 'artist', for instance).

To see if a component in a charade or a letter in an anagram is left out inadvertently.

To see if a number at the end of any clue is wrong or is unfairly indicated (e.g., leaving out a hyphen in a compound word where it ought to have one)

There may be other things too.

(Pardon me if this is a repeat of what I have written on this very website.)

Without this last-minute check, the MS is apt to have a mistake somewhere - as I see so often even in published crosswords.

truth-table said...

OK, let us say you publish a clue and in the very next weekend, you find another setter has previously come up with the same unobvious idea as you. How do you react? Surprise? Amazement? Awe? Or a word of contrition and a claim that the coincidence is truly inadvertent?

Everyman, TH, 23/5/2010

Here instead the clue-writer seems to surprisingly downplay the coincidence and abstains from mentioning it at all. This is more than a sufficient proof, I'd reckon.

Rufus's clue has been written a whopping 10 years back and anyone who has been active in the crossword blogs and forums for all these years would have surely come across a discussion on such a 'cult'-clue.

And the comment on similarity of clues in clue-writing competitions is ridiculous. In this CCCWC challenge, as many as six clues are of the same idea, but with the ever-so-charming slight variations. This is not the only example on this site. When the cryptic definition and the wordplay (fodder and anagram/charade/containment indicators) are similar, one can safely say with 95% accuracy that the clue has been flicked, as is the case with the examples that I provided.

Everyone makes mistakes but it takes a man of steel and integrity to stand up and apologise. It is for lesser mortals to feign ignorance and go about ranting on irrelevant stuff.

Ultimately it is for the newspaper to identify such occurrences and take action against the compilers. Quite distasteful to find one compiler reviling another and trying to project himself as the messiah of THC.

Bhavan said...

Gridman said the TUMBLER clue is a coincidence. I for one believe him. There will be others who will not. So be it. If the setter's own word doesn't convince them, nothing else will.