Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,541 (Sat 8 Nov)/Paul – Nit picking

Posted by rightback on November 15th, 2008


Solving time: 7:44

An amusing offering from Paul, with a theme: the key clue is the one to 13dn/20ac, which yields “ASK A STUPID QUESTION”. The definitions to 10 other clues are given as “13 20 …?”, hinting at the response “get a stupid answer”, and these 10 answers (given in bold below) are all synonyms for a stupid person, ranging from the jovial ‘dipstick’ to the less polite ‘pillock’. I thought this was probably easier than usual for a Paul puzzle.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

9 CHUMP; CHUM (= ‘china’) + P
10 NERD (hidden)
11 WALT DISNEY; (NEWTS DAILY)* – marvellous definition (‘Father of mouse drawn…).
12 PL(I)ANT – referring to 1dn.
14 C(RAM + F)ULL
15 JACKASS; JACK(AS)S – I think jacks was a playground game where you put some small objects on your knuckles, then turned your hand over and tried to catch them, or something like that. I was more into British Bulldog, football and how-far-can-you-push-the-dinner-ladies-before-they-snap.
17 CHARLIE (3 defs) – one of the many slang terms for cocaine, hence ‘it’s stimulating’.
23 VOLUMETRIC; (LUMET + R) in VOIC[e] – I’m pretty poor on films, and didn’t know Sidney Lumet.
25 IDIOT; I + D(I)OT – because the letter ‘i’ has a dot over it.
26 DIPSTICK (2 defs) – I thought ‘Rod graduated’ was superb.
1 CAMEL + LI[on] + A – this was my last entry and a guess because I didn’t know the flower Camellia, but I couldn’t think of any other feasible animal to fit ?A?E?.
2 BARD (rev. of DRAB) – not sure why the ‘so’ was necessary here.
3 NITWIT; rev. of IN + TWIT
5 A + CID + BATH – Haigh is John George Haigh, an English serial killer in the 1940s who dissolved his victims’ bodies in acid.
6 BU(R)ST + FORTH – a deceptive and very well-worded clue, which made me think the definition would be a two-word river.
13/20 ASK A STUPID QUESTION; A[la]SKA + (rev. of PUT, + Q in (DUTIES)*) in SION – a decent surface reading for such a long clue, and perhaps deliberately complex to avoid too early a solve, although ‘Jerusalem’ had to be SION and ‘question’ Q (or QU) so this fell out early on.
16 STILETTO; T[a]IL in SET-TO – very Private Eye!
21 UTOPIA; (OUT)* + PI + A
22 BIC + EPS – ‘Company of writers’ as in ‘company that manufactures writing implements’.
24 PUTZ; PUT + Z – Yiddish for ‘penis’, apparently!

5 Responses to “Guardian 24,541 (Sat 8 Nov)/Paul – Nit picking”

  1. Barnaby says:

    I was a little unhappy with 10ac – a nerd isn’t by definition stupid (indeed, very likely the opposite).

  2. ygor says:

    In the States, Jacks is a playground game for multiple players which employs a collection of small objects (the jacks) and a rubber ball. Players have to bounce the ball, pick up as many jacks as possible, and catch the ball before it touches the ground. Whoever can pick up the most jacks wins.

    Store-bought jacks were available which resembled small caltrops. More often we played with bottle tops or pebbles.

  3. Ralph G says:

    10ac NERD. The Chambers’ definition goes “..clumsy, foolish, socially inept..”
    15a JACK..S Chambers has this hidden under JACK with the definition under ‘dib(2)’ confirming rightback’s original note. As does the Collins’ entry, which is easier to find.
    2d DRAB. Possibly it indicates a degree of dullness, satisfying the ‘so’. In which case, not necessary but optional.
    22d BIC… I read ‘company of writers’ as ‘what writers have by them’ and didn’t think it was very good.
    24d. PUTZ. Solvers using the 1998 edition of Chambers wouldn’t find PUTZ in the required sense. It’s there in the 10th edition. The setter could have used PUTT (greenhorn etc) but PUTZ has a possible advantage in yielding a definitive entry from the subsidiary indications.

  4. mhl says:

    Unsurprisingly, given that it’s Paul, I really enjoyed this, and the theme was ingenious and entertaining. The clue for DIPSTICK was great. :)

    Barnaby: I was very surprised to find the “foolish” meaning of NERD in Chambers, although the definition (in the 10th edition) does go on to say “although often (eg in computers) knowledgeable”. I always thought “nerd” was relatively unambiguous compared to the horrendously overloaded word “geek”, which could be the subject of a very long rant.

    In 22d, like rightback, I interpreted BIC as being the “company of pens”.

  5. Ralph G says:

    BIC: “Company of pens’ is convincing, thankyou. I liked DIPSTICK too.

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