Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,545 – Paul

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on November 13th, 2008

Ciaran McNulty.

A fairly topical theme, with the Turner Prize nominees being exhibited at the moment.  Like a lot of people I find this sort of puzzle, with a large set of related answers, fairly frustrating.  If you’re not familiar with the subject you’re stuffed and need to resort to cheating, while if you’re able to spot the answers from the grid it becomes too easy!

As it happened I did fairly well on spotting artists’ names so got the grid populated quite quickly. I only had a couple of unsatisfactory answers (2 and 4d).

<< = reversed
“” = homophone
* = anagram
(X) = inserted
(x) = deleted
dd = double definition


1. OTTAWA. [A WAT TO]<<.  A wat is a temple, as in Angkor Wat.
4. LOCKJAW. “Jock Law” spoonerised.  Lockjaw is an old name for Tetanus.
10. REIGN. “Rain”.  Initially put in “slide”.
11. STEVE MCQUEEN. Name shared between the artist and the actor.
29. DESERT. dd.


1. OPOSSUM. OP(t) + SO<< + SUM.
2. TASTE.  TATE is the home of the Turner Prize.  Presumably S is ‘close to bankrupt’ somehow?
4. LAY OVER. L(AY)OVER. Presumably Always = AY?
5. CHRIS OFILI. C + H(R)IS + O(F)IL + I.
6. JAILBREAK. J(ack) + AIL + BEAR* + K(ing).  Def of ‘escape trouble’ doesn’t quite sit right.
14. QUALIFIED. dd.
16. CLUBHOUSE. CLUB + H(U)OSE. In golf, the clubhouse is referred to as the 19th hole.
21. IGNORE. chartER ON GIbraltar.
23. PRIZE. “pries” in the sense of being nosey.
25. RHINE. R(iver) + HIN(d) + E(stuary).

36 Responses to “Guardian 24,545 – Paul”

  1. Andrew says:

    I suspected an error in 2dn – I think “close to bankrupt” = “T”, which is then to be inserted in TATE, except of course it doesn’t work..

    4dn: AY does indeed mean “Always”, usually seen in the expression “for ay”.

    I’m not sure what to think about this one after yesterday’s discussion of obscure answers: I got most of the winners from the Wikipedia article, and worked out the wordplay afterwards. Emin and Hirst are well known, but I’d never heard of Steve Ofili, and Steve McQueen as an artist was at best vaguely familiar.

  2. mhl says:

    Lots of excellent clue here and not too tricky, despite only having hazy memories of Turner Prize winners.

    In 6a cross I read the definition as being “Escape” on its own.

    You’re quite right in 4d – AY is a form of “aye” meaning “always”.

    I assumed that the clue for TASTE just had an error in it, and it was meant to be “close to [a word ending in S]”. (Unless it’s S for shilling, but that doesn’t really work for me.)

    I’d been waiting for the next Paul puzzle to point out to other fans that he now has a website! You can find it at

  3. mhl says:

    Sorry, Andrew, I seem to have had a bad track record this week with coincidentally repeating almost exactly what you’ve said. I should be more careful about reloading the page before submitting the comment…

  4. Andrew says:

    No worries mhl, I’ve done the same myself a few times, and it’s nice to have my suspicions about TASTE confirmed.

    Thanks for the tip about the website.

  5. JamieC says:

    I agree with all the above. I enjoyed this, but I share the reservations about themed grids. Paul and Araucaria quite often go in for them and it can make an otherwise difficult puzzle doable (which is great), but once you’ve got the theme, you can often put in the themed answers without worrying much about the clues and then get the remaining answers from the cross letters, which is slightly unsatisfying. Without giving anything away, this month’s genius puzzle is very much a case in point.

  6. mhl says:

    JamieC: I might have cited this month’s Genius to make the point that it can still be difficult to finish a crossword even once you have got all the themed clues :)

    I’m surprised how often I end up getting the theme by indirect means, which I think adds to the satisfaction of this type of puzzle. (e.g. in this one I gussed the theme by getting the “this dire man” anagram.)

  7. JamieC says:

    Mhl: Actually the first of your observations occurred to me pretty much as soon as I hit the submit button :)

    Themes can be good if handled well, but I think some setters overuse them. I didn’t mind this one, but TURNER PRIZE WINNER just leapt out at me from the themed clues and then the rest fell into place.

  8. Will says:

    I don’t mean to raise a jarring note here particularly, but as someone who’s trying to learn to do crosswords, it bugs me a little when people refer to using references as ‘cheating’.

    After all, we’re all doing these things for our own entertainment. Nothing puts off my friends who look at my crosswords so much as the ‘but I don’t know that word, so how can I do this puzzle?’ concept. Then they frequently tell me that using a dictionary is cheating.

    Of course all of you are very good at crosswords. I just sometimes wish you’d think back to the days when, aged seven, you paused for a moment during your Listener and had to ask ‘Mummy, is it ‘ProOst’ or ‘ProUst’?’

    Sorry. The above is all good-natured, honest. I realise it’s just terminology, really. But lesser mortals read these blogs too.

  9. Will says:

    p.s. ‘Taste’ smells like a mistake to me, too. But I quite enjoyed the puzzle, with the help of Wikipedia.

  10. Eileen says:

    Apart from the themed clues, some of these [REIGN, TRUCKER, DESERT, RETREAT] were very easy, even hackneyed, for Paul.

    But many thanks for the link, Mhl. Lots more time-wasting potential – and, presumably, it means Paul can keep in touch while he’s away.

    Like you, I read ‘escape’ as the definition in 6dn: ‘trouble’ is needed to clue ‘AIL’.

  11. Brian Harris says:

    The artist is actually Rachel Whiteread, by the way, not Whitehead. I think that’s maybe just a typo, Ciaran, as your explanation is correct.

  12. davidoff says:

    Paul is the Beethoven to Araucaria’s Mozart – his themed puzzles are a delight and truly deserving of the description “compositions”.
    Here’s a link to enjoy (or at least experience..) some Turner Prize winning art:,,1062817,00.html

  13. mhl says:

    Will: between the bloggers and commenters here there seem to be a huge variety of views on what constitutes “cheating”, and how seriously people mean the word when they use it. I doubt that anyone intends it to be proscriptive, though.

    I think lots of people (myself included) try to complete the daily crosswords without resorting to reference books (or computer help) in the first place, but being a less experienced solver I certainly do when I get stuck or if I’ve given up, otherwise I’d never learn anything new from them. And unlike my local pub quiz, the things you learn are often worth knowing. :)

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    I enjoyed this, but I suppose it was much easier than usual for Paul. I guessed the theme only after I got a slightly shaky Turner in 19d; at this stage I had none of the themed answers. I, too, thought it would be too easy once I consulted a cheat source, but as I was on the bus at the time, I persevered and mannaged to finish all, with the exception of C_R_S; isn’t he the elephant dung man?

  15. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Will – I certainly didn’t mean any offence and my use of ‘cheating’ was a bit tongue-in-cheek. I generally try and solve the puzzle without reference and then once I’m stuck I’ll reach for the dictionary or Google. This tends to happen a bit earlier if I’m stuck and want to get the puzzle blogged before lunchtime, in which case I have no shame in using references. If it hadn’t been Art clues I’d have been googling like a madman, no fear.

    Brian – thanks for the correction, I initially put WHITEHEAD with the intention of thinking a bit more about it when writing up the answers, at which point I realised my mistake but didn’t correct it in both places.

  16. JimboNWUK says:

    Well, what a load of deeply unsatisfying crud that was.

    If I want to look up obscure referencees to junk and rubbish that is laughably referred to as art then yes, I can Google for it… but as someone who carries only a pen on the train rather than a blackberry, I screwed up this puzzle and chucked it away as soon as I got the theme early on because I knew there was no point continuing woithout access to Google and, even WITH access, I ccouldn’t be bothered — wherin lies the challenge of googling for “turner prize winners” and then picking the answers off a list — utterly pointless and un-ximenean in the extreme.

    Shame on you Paul that was dross and completely awful.

    Try using Chambers instead of Google.

  17. Gaufrid says:


    I have recovered your comment from the spam file. The spam filter doesn’t like comments with full URLs in them so in future it is probably best to omit the http://.

  18. Trench Adviser says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle. I completed it partly because the Turner Prize theme was up my street. Over the past ten years I have watched the Turner Prize show on Channel 4 and, though not always a fan of the art on show, I appreciate its worth in society. Needless to say, I didn’t think it dross.

    Also, I am proud to have completed a Paul puzzle with no “cheating”. All the best everyone.

    PS Cheer up Jimbo.

  19. beermagnet says:

    Jimbo, it’s horses for courses.
    I found this puzzle to be the most enjoyable for a long time.
    [I was going to add to the general condemnation of yesterday’s till I saw that it had all been said – Today I thought: At least I’ve learnt a new Aussie phrase.]

    The theme did not immediately spring out at me – like mhl it was Mr £50M bling skull man that lead me to it.
    By my reckoning (This dire man/Damien Hirst) equals (Presbyterians/Britney Spears) on the anagram sublimity scale.
    Then the theme answers came not too fast – stretching my knowledge of YBA’s names.
    Mind you I do rate a few of these very highly – Rachel Whiteread’s Trafalgar Square upside down Plinth was particularly fine. While on this subject – I find the story that curators at the Tate hung a couple of Rothkos upside down absolutely hilarious – I wonder how anyone could tell.
    [Enough asides – Ed.]
    Even getting all the theme answers did not make this an easy puzzle – now I look here I find I got one wrong.

  20. Tramp says:

    I disagree JumboNWUK: of the Turner Prize winners, I’ve only heard of Hirst (who hasn’t?) and McQueen. The others were sufficiently clued so that with a few checked letters the answers could be deduced – the sign of a good clue in my book. My only gripe was that I convinced myself that TATTE was a word.

  21. crikey says:

    I agree with Tramp. Only knew Hirst and Whiteread, but got the others from the wordplay.

    All I can imagine (re 2d) is that it’s maybe meant to be “close to penniless” instead of bankrupt, and something’s gone awry in the transcription.

  22. Ian Hinds says:

    2d … could simply be a cryptic comment from the setter to the nature of the exhibits/installations that often walk off with the prize.

  23. stiofain_x says:

    i also think that paul has used “bankrupt” to pass a very telling comment in the surface reading of the clue as
    “sophistication close to penniless” doesnt work though i think there could have been an indicator that it was a synonym
    but i am willing to forgive paul for this
    i also agree with beermagnet on the sublimity of the damian hirst/this dire man anagram
    and also with trench advisor lighten up jimbo

  24. dave says:

    I rarely find a Guardian crossword unsatisfactory, and indeed didn’t today, though as a philistine scientist, my knowledge of the arts, and especially modern art, is very limited.
    I frequently refer to Chambers, much less to Google, as I find Google tends to give you the answer, rather than need you to work anything out.
    Incidentally, does anyone have a copy of, or link to, a Bunthorne puzzle from early December 1986? It isn’t in the compilation tribute published a couple of years ago, but stands in my memory as the only broadsheet puzzle I couldn’t get a single answer in.

  25. PaulD says:

    2d I suppose “close to” (near to) could be an indicator for a synonym to “bankrupt” (=”penniless”) and also the final letter (the close) of the synonym. If so it wouldn’t be to my taste as a clue.

    I’m one of those who didn’t enjoy the theme, but that again is my own personal taste.

  26. mhl says:

    Dave: there’s a Bunthorne book in Guardian Cryptic Setters series of books – perhaps you might find it in there? (If you do, do post back to let us know which number it is…)

  27. Smutchin says:

    Jimbo, your comments are mean-spirited and, frankly, wrong. You may not rate contemporary art and that’s fine, your opinion on that matter is unimpeachable. But given the amount of controversy and news coverage the Turner prize generates every year, surely none of the artists in the puzzle should be unknown to anyone who reads the rest of the paper rather than just turning straight to the crossword? They are all general knowledge. Ofili, for example, was the artist whose paintings were shit. Literally. And Rachel Whiteread [in]famously wrote “Fuck Cilla Black” on the cover of G2.

  28. Peter says:

    Nothing wrong with a themed puzzle every now and again. The theme may spark off an interest, as an Araucaria Showboat puzzle did for me a few years back, and even if it doesn’t, at least you can free up your day a bit, and there’s always another one tomorrow.

  29. Smutchin says:

    And Steve McQueen has been in the news recently for his film about hunger striker Bobby Sands.

  30. Fletch says:

    It doesn’t exactly ‘free up your day a bit’ does it though, if you’re doing it on the train to work.

  31. Smutchin says:

    This Hirst fellow is a new one on me though – very obscure!

  32. Fletch says:

    I didn’t do the puzzle but there’s an assumption in Peter’s post that’s it’s only retired old men doing crosswords and if you’re defeated it frees up your time for more pottering in the greenhouse – that’s what got me when Jimbo had implied he was doing it on the train.

  33. muck says:

    2dn: my first thought was TA(S)TE had to be an error. Good to have agreement from Andrew, Mhl et al

  34. muck says:

    2dn: Crikey, I like your suggestion that the clue should have read “close to penniless”.

  35. ACP says:

    For what it’s worth, I’d heard of only Hirst and only because of a recent auction of his work. None of these artists and the Turner prize are particularly well publicised south of the equator.

    Having said that, I discovered all the artists from the helpful clues, so I consider it a pretty good puzzle when setter is able deliver that.

  36. Duncan says:

    4ac was such a sublime spoonerism, I’m surprised no one else commented on it …

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