Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,220, Paul: Follow the grapes

Posted by michod on October 29th, 2007


Just a quick post to get the ball rolling as I’m in a training course all day. Not sure why we have the treat of a Paul on a Monday – is Rufus on holiday? Anyway, some gems here – 15 down made me laugh out loud.


1. SECOND TON ONE. 101-200 refers to the runs contributing to a second century.

8. PRIMULA. I got this without understanding the wordplay. Now I see it’s RIM occupying PULA (PAUL with minor adjustment).

9. PASS(I)ON. Tricky syntax  – it’s one (that) ‘hand down’ skirts.


13. AU RA L. ‘Prospect for this’ = gold (AU)


19, 2. PRIVY COUNCIL. Boom boom.

26. SEVENTY-EIGHT. I don’t remember the crash of ’29, but I do remember those funny little records.



5. NOS T RIL(l). SON<.

6. NOIS(OM)E. I’m assuming it’s this, aas the wordplay works, but the definition would then be ‘stinks’. What’s that all about?

7. S(PICK)AND SPAN. Spruce as an adjective, grains= sand.

10. NURSERY RHYME. Because cursory rhymes with nursery. I think I’ve seen a similar clue using bursary.

15. C ASTIGATE. I love the idea of the wine scandal ‘Astigate’ – complete with a ‘deep throat oenologist?

18, 12. MASS AGE PAR LOUR. PAR = ‘standard in golf’, not just the standard ‘standard’.

19. PUDDING. As in gooseberry fool.

22. (p)OVERT(y).

14 Responses to “Guardian 24,220, Paul: Follow the grapes”

  1. conradcork says:

    6 down. The definition is indeed ‘stinks’ because ‘noisome’ means ‘disgusting to sight or smell’ (Chambers).

  2. Judy Bentley says:

    NOISOME sounds to me like American-speak for ‘noisy’ but means ‘evil-smelling’.

  3. Judy Bentley says:

    Aw shucks Conradcork, you beat me to it. At the time I wrote (posted, whatever) it said ‘no comments.’ Did you notice that the time recorded did not allow for the clocks having been put back? Further thoughts: if, as I’m told, Chambers is the best dictionary for crossword solvers, why does The Guardian give a Collins dictionary as the prize? Do they assume we all have Chambers already?

  4. Rufus says:

    The Guardian recommend Collins and Chambers equally, although there was a preference for Collins until the latest editions took out people and places which many, including myself, found invaluable.

  5. bracoman says:

    9 Across made me smile. An excellent clue! Typical Paul.

  6. Judy Bentley says:

    I’m using The Oxford English Reference Dictionary which I find very useful for people and places but I refer to a 1972 Chambers on occasions. The person who recommended me to Chambers was someone I met in the loony bin 3 decades ago. He told me that he and the head of the Art Department quite often won the Listener crossword prize because so few people could complete it. He said it was the hardest crossword in the country. Would others agree?

    Rufus, this will probably seem like a silly question but can you tell me how you setters manage to fill the grid. When I’ve tried it I’ve ended up with an impossible combination of letters. Is there a technique? Also, do the grids themselves follow a standard pattern or does anything go? Sorry if this is all elementary stuff to you.

  7. Rufus says:

    Hi Judy! A large choice of grids is usually provided by each publication, mostly designed to have a variation of word lengths and to give fair opportunity for solvers to gain letters from solving other clues. My Telegraph batch, for example, is numbered nearly up to 200 although a few have been dropped.
    I think most setters start by entering the longest solutions, especially if these intersect, and then work down to the 3- or 4-letter solutions. I was considering cutting down my output seven years ago on reaching 68 but, for my birthday, my son Michael, a Sheffield vet and IT buff, bought me the Crossword Compiler program and showed me how to use it. With this, I “seed” the selected grid with what I hope are new and interesting clues, then the program instantly gives me all the words or phrases that will fit in the remaining spaces. I scroll down the list until a word I think clueable turns up, which then, with a touch of a key, is inserted. You still may have to chop and change if you come to a sticky corner, say, but the program does this quickly, whereas in the old days I had to skim constantly through dictionaries that, on average, only lasted a year before disintegration.
    The more you do, the experience makes it easier. Good luck!

  8. Judy Bentley says:

    Hi Rufus
    Wow! I should’ve guessed modern technology would be involved. That rules it out for me then…
    Many thanks

  9. Colin Blackburn says:


    far from it. Using software can save time and for someone with Rufus’s output that’s very helpful. However, it’s still fun to fill a grid by hand. One book that helps a lot with standard blocked grids is Chambers Crossword Completer. This lists words by length and then alphabetically by alternate letters. Thus CROSSWORD will appear under the two 9-letter sections as CrOsSwOrD and cRoSsWoRd.

    Start with one of the easier grids, with just two long answers across and down, and give it a go.

  10. Rufus says:

    Hi again Judy!
    As Colin says, lack of computer expertise shouldn’t stop you setting puzzles. I compiled crosswords for 37 years without it. But I know it was well worth having this one program – it is very easy to use (it must be if I can do it). Not only do you have great help in setting, it prints the grids, empty and filled, provides a choice of anagrams etc and exports it to be e-mailed to publications.
    I follow Colin’s advice – have a go!

  11. Judy Bentley says:

    Thank you guys. I’ll get my son on it when the moment’s right.
    Best wishes to all.

  12. Alan G says:

    Rufus, can I ask you this. I have recently gone back to compiling, after a 15 year gap in which I ran a successful business as a driving instructor. Before that, I compiled about 300 for the News Of The World, and the now defunct Sporting Life. I recently submitted one to the Guardian for the editor to give it the once over. As yet I have had no reply. Should I have sent it by e-mail, and is it usual not to get a reply if the crossword is deemed unsuitable, or should I get a rejection note? I have had a good relationship with editors in the past, so maybe it got lost in the postal strike.

  13. Rufus says:

    Hi Alan G,
    You picked an awkward time, I’m afraid. The crossword editor is on the high seas heading for Port Stanley in his yacht – he left in August and left the Canaries a few weeks ago. Sandy Balfour is standing in for him while he is away but, while although doing a great job checking the puzzles, may not have the authority to take on new blood. I think you will have to wait until late January for any response.

  14. Alan G says:

    Hi Rufus,
    thanks for the info. I have just finished compiling another one on a Guardian grid, but will delay sending this one. Would be nice to have someone professional to check them over, though. I did have a checker, but unfortunately he died in 2003 (my brother).
    A yacht? I think I’m in the wrong job!

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