Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,627/Paul

Posted by Andrew on February 19th, 2009


As usual, good fun from Paul, with a couple of typically cheeky clues, and not too difficult. One or two minor quibbles, but nothing to complain too much about: in fact there are probably fewer liberties taken than average. I’m not sure about my parsing of 9/24 – perhaps others could put me right.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

9,24dn. USAIN BOLT A star of the Beijing Olympics, world record holder in the 100 and 200 metres. I think the woirdplay is USA IN BOLT, with “Past” (which I originally thought was superfluous) indicating that (in + streak of lightning) comes after (i.e.past) (Americans).
10,18. OPEN MARRIAGE (AGREE ON A PRIM)* – nice anagram, but I frown slightly at the use of the misleading (and unnecessary) comma.
11. OBAMAMANIA BA + MA + MA (degrees) in ON + I + A – a word that is probably not in any current dictionaries!
12. SCOTCH dd. Pedantry corner: “scotch” meaning “to finish off” is a mistaken usage – it comes from the line in Macbeth: “We have scotch’d the snake, not killed it where it clearly means something like “temporarily disable”. Even more pedantically, the word itself is a dubious reading, and should maybe be “scorch’d”.
22. VIAGRA VIA GRA(n) – the definition is just the neutral “drug”, but maybe one could read some &lit into the surface…
23. RINGO STARR RING + SO< + TAR + R, and Ringo was the “beating one” of the Fab Four.
24. BAIL dd – “out on bail”, and cricketing equipment.
25,15. GREENSLEEVES cd – hilarious if somewhat yucky
2. ANON dd
3. BROOCH “Broach”
4. DYNASTY D(irt)Y + NASTY. Legendary American soap opera of the 1980s, featuring Joan Collins and lots of shoulder pads.
5. GUJARATI JAR A in (I TUG)>. Gandhinagar is the capital of Gujarat State.
6. CASABLANCA dd – “White House” in Spanish
7. ENSIGN hidden in “slackiNG IS NEver”<
13. TREE-HUGGER E EH (=”pardon?”) in RUGGER, all after T.
19. STEALTH TEAL in ST + (pat)H
21. TWINGE TWIN G (collaps)E
22. VERTEX VERT (green in French or heraldry) + EX

26 Responses to “Guardian 24,627/Paul”

  1. Paul B says:

    Thanks Andrew. Agree 9 24, where the wording helps the surface enormously, and is otherwise superfluous: but since the description of the cryptic elements is indisputably accurate (IN+BOLT *is* ‘AFTER’ USA), it can’t be faulted.

    Usual brilliance from Cryptica’s finest. Or only.

  2. Derek Lazenby says:

    I don’t know what it is about Paul but I keep struggling. But I can see why others might say this one was easy because when I see the answers I largely think that’s fine, so I’m not sure why I can’t get his wavelength before hand.

    Glad the dictionary was mentioned re 11, it totally kills the theory of any of them being regarded as the bible.

    9,24 I would never have got, having dutifully ignored the Olympics. I was pleased we did well, but had no interest as to how.

    Only one question for my future reference, in 19 what specifically says drop pat from path?

  3. manehi says:

    Derek – “close to path” = h (its last letter).

    Really enjoyed the puzzle.

  4. Fletch says:

    ‘Close to path’ indicates the last letter of path.

  5. Andrew says:

    Hi Derek – in 19d it’s “close to path”, i.e. the “closing” or final letter (read “close” to rhyme with “doze”, not “dose”).

  6. don says:

    Groaned when I saw it was Paul, but thought this offering enjoyable. I forgot ‘old’ = ‘ex’ and there was no indication that we were in French lessons (or even more obscurely, heraldry) so missed out on 22 down.

  7. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ah, well in that case I guess one of the nitpickers will say it, so I’ll save them the trouble, it should be close of.

  8. don says:

    ‘Close of play’, Derek?

  9. Tom Hutton says:

    My only niggle is that via means by way of, not travelling by way of.

    This was a good puzzle which I found very hard to complete but with very fair and sometimes entertaining clues. Who could ask for anything more?

  10. Chris says:

    Great fun stuff as usual from the one of the finest setters in the business. I was slightly held up by originally misspelling it “Gujurati”, justifying it by the fact that “Jura” is a type of whisky, but soon saw my error.

    For 10/18a, I see no reason to frown at the use of commas – surely it’s absolutely standard that they (and hyphens, colons etc) can be used in pretty much any way the setter fancies in order to misdirect or confuse (without breaching the rules of grammar, anyway)?

  11. Andrew says:

    Chris: many people do take the view on punctuation that you describe. Others think that punctuation is as much part of the clue as the
    words. In this case the definition is “improper, arrangement”, where to my mind the comma spoils the clue.

    It’s the same with things like whether “indeed” can mean “in deed”. Some approve, some disapprove; most probably don’t give it a moment’s thought ;)

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    That’s what I said Don, did you mentally switch words? “It’s Derek so it must be wrong without needing to read his actual words too closely”. ROFLMAO

  13. Brian Harris says:

    Lovely crossword today. All good stuff. Nice to see “Obamamania” in there.

    All enjoyable, not too difficult, nothing too obscure, creative definitions. Nothing not to like!

  14. owenjonesuk says:

    How is a vertex a top? As a mathematician I would say that a vertex was any corner of a shape and the apex was the top one.

  15. Andrew says:

    Owen, as a former mathematician (is there such a thing?) I would tend to agree with you, but several sources give various kinds of “top” as a definition of “vertex”.

  16. muck says:

    I found this tough, and gave up only half completed after about 1 hr.

    11ac: OBAMAMANIA. Unfair!
    5dn: GUJARATI. I had to try 2 atlasses to find Gandhinagara, tho’ it did sound Indian.
    12dn: TREE-HUGGER. Got the answer but not the wordplay.

  17. Ralph G says:

    22d VERTEX (14 above et seq): It is true that VERTEX can refer to any point in a triangle or polygon. Useful to know in case Paul is listening and uses it that way in future, but VERTEX has been used in geometry for the angle opposite the base since 1570 at least (see OED, available on-line through your library.)

  18. Anon says:

    Like Muck I found this really hard -on my first run through I got 2d & 10a -and on my second run though I didn’t get anymore. I take my hat off to those who
    8a see that water =rain rather anything else
    11a spot that you need ba + ma + Ma
    12a Go for scotch rather than any number of other drinks
    20a realise that case =chest
    23a Realise that arena =ring
    5d get tug for pull and jar for drink
    13d get rugger for game given the numerous games and eh for pardon
    19d get teal for duck instead of zero or bend down
    22d realise that green = vert rather than inexperienced

    How do you do it?

  19. stiofain_x says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one loved greensleeves, nice mental image, viagra made me laugh, dynasty had a great surface and despite Shakespearian objections i would say scotch is a completely acceptable modern synonym for finish off.
    I enjoyed Ringo Starr but thought Usain Bolt too simple and a bit of a missed opportunity.
    Also I have no problem with obamamania as it follows the ximenean principle that neologisms or very obscure words should be tightly clued which this was unlike the recent nainsook.
    Not as witty as usual but a very enjoyable Paul nonetheless.

  20. Andrew says:

    Stiofain – I wasn’t objecting to the definition of SCOTCH: as you say it’s now a well-established usage. I was just showing off, really, as Macbeth is one of the embarrassingly few Shakespeare plays I know reasonably well.

    I agree with you that the USAIN BOLT clue was a bit of a damp squib, with lightning=BOLT being easy to spot and giving away the rest.

    Anon – the short answer is “because I’ve been doing it a long time”. For a longer answer, this article is a fascinating description of the thought processes of solving by the winner of the 2008 Times Crossword Championship.

  21. smutchin says:

    Fair or not, OBAMAMANIA and USAIN BOLT were the first two solutions I filled in! I had to look up where Ghandinagar was but finding it in Wikipedia meant I didn’t have to solve the clue to get the answer…

    Generally found this tough but very fair and enjoyable.

  22. Paul B says:

    Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. Exactly how is the USAIN BOLT clue a missed chance? There can’t be too many better SI splits to clue a fast athlete who whizzed past the Americans on his way to gold. Sure it’s an easy clue, but it’s also great.

  23. stiofain_x says:

    I didnt say USAIN BOLT was a bad clue just too simple with the indicators “streak of lightning” and “olympic gold” giving the game away too quickly, and a missed opportunity that Paul didnt inject the clue with a bit of trademark smut about streakers getting away or some such.
    If you want to be pedantic Paul B he led from the start so didnt whizz past anyone american or otherwise.

  24. Paul B says:

    Okay friend. Have another Budvar and relax.

    I can indeed be quite pedantic sometimes, whereupon I might say that (a) I didn’t say you’d called the clue ‘bad’, as you appear to imply, and (b) they were all in a line *right* at the start, otherwise it wouldn’t have been a fair race, and so, even in some fleeting moment possibly only identifiable via Romantic poetry, Usain Bolt did pass all his rivals.


  25. Duncan says:

    Found this tough, and messed up the top half with ‘choker’ instead of ‘brooch’ at 3dn. Trying to start Obamamania with a K was, shall we say, a non-starter!

  26. mhl says:

    Thanks for that link, Andrew – very interesting. (Also, it’s good to know that the way I think about clues isn’t too far away from that.)

    “beating one of four” for RINGO STARR is just brilliant. I think 6 down is a nice reference to season 7 of “The West Wing”…

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