Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,802 / Puck

Posted by Eileen on September 11th, 2009


Well, I’m not complaining about lack of humour today – nor that the puzzle was too easy! I found this quite a challenge, not least in the parsing, but very rewarding, thanks to the characteristic puckish cluing and number of ‘aha’ moments. Although quite tough, there was nothing that I thought unfair, although the devices used in 1, 2 and 5dn may not please everyone.

7   DOWNSIDES: [County] DOWN SIDES [teams]
8   ANTIC: [b]AN[k] + TIC [sounds like ‘tick’ – ‘reported credit’]
9   OBSESSION: anagram of IS ONE BOSS – I liked the surface here
10  LITHO[graph]: LI[e] [short story] + THO[ugh] [‘however’ short]
12  LESION: LE [foreign article] + ‘starts’ to S[eriously] I[nfect] + ON [leg, in cricket] [Edited, thanks Neil]
13  STOP WORK: double / cryptic definition – reference to organ stops
14  PREFABS: anagram of FABERS P[age]
17  LE HAVRE: anagram of HER VEAL
20  HITS HOME: anagram of THIS + HOME [in]
22  ELIXIR: ELI [what would setters do without this priest?] + X [kiss] + I[nland] R[evenue] [‘taxmen once’ because it’s now HM Revenue and Customs]
24  IRISH: hidden in haIR I SHave. I loved this one – thinking of both dogs and Brendan!
25  STAGE DOOR: double definition: a 1937 Katharine Hepburn / Ginger Rogers film
26  NAILS: I’m not sure what to call this: ‘fixes’ = nails and ‘tacks’ sounds like ‘tax’ [‘tax account’] Very clever, anyway
27  GRANDADDY: GRAN [‘great’ in Italian] + DADDY [Pa]

1   FOIBLE: FO [for endless] + even letters of MISBELIEF
2   UNBELIEF: anagram of BLUE + E [whale’s ‘tail’] + FIN
3   NILSEN; anagram of NINE L[ive]S: Dennis Nilsen, serial killer in the 70s and 80s
4   GENOESE: GEESE around NO [on rising]
5   IN VIEW: INVITE [ask] minus T[ime] + W [Why’s ‘head’]
6   EITHER/OR: HERO [leading man] in anagram of RITE: Either/Or is a two-volume work by Soren Kirkegaard, Danish philosopher, ‘Father of Existentialism’
15  RAILROAD: RAIL [bar] + ROD [gun] ‘holding’ A
16,11 BLOWHOLE: BLOW [pot, cannabis] + HOLE [opening]
18  A BIG DEAL: anagram of BADINAGE minus N [‘name-dropping’] + L[earner]
19  WESTERN: WES[ley] [little boy] + TERN [bird]
21  SESELI: two pieces of wordplay to lead to this less familiar [to me, at least] plant, so perfectly fair, I thought: anagram of IE [that is] + LESS and part of GenoeSES ELIxir
22  EDGING: double definition
23  ISOLDE: “I SOLD E” – lovely! [I wanted to say yesterday, in the discussion re C = Cocaine, etc, that E is usually clued as simply ‘drug’, as here, rather than ‘Ecstasy’]

29 Responses to “Guardian 24,802 / Puck”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Did you notice a nina?

  2. The trafites says:

    Well, I didn’t understand the ‘gun’ part in 15dn (i.e. I had A in ROD for the bar part).

    25ac held me up a tad as at first I entered ‘stage left’ here – i.e. if an actor in now in films, he/she has ‘left the stage’.

    19dn !! I put in kestrel here – film little boy with bird – kes.


  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen.

    After a fine run of completions, I was brought down to earth with this one and I’m now rather puckered out as you might say.

    21d SESELI was my downfall and even though with hindsight it was well signposted, I’d never heard of it.

    I then compounded my problem by opting for BOREHOLE and RING TRUE.

    So, three failures but this was better than I had hoped for at one stage.

    All credit to Puck for some great clues.

  4. Eileen says:

    Darn it, no, Ian – and I thought I’d covered everything! I don’t expect to have to look for Ninas in the Guardian – and I thought this puzzle was clever enough without that. But thank you very much for that. :-)

  5. IanN14 says:

    No, I’d never heard of Fungi (also spelled Fungie on some sites) either…
    Google’s a wonderful thing.
    Obviously some themed Irish/dolphin clues and answers too (eg. 16/11d., 24ac.)

  6. liz says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I have actually seen Fungie at Dingle. But I didn’t spot him (her?) today!

    I found this very hard. Missed a few down in the bottom left corner, including the ha at 24, which really annoys me because I don’t usually have trouble with ha’s. Didn’t get 26ac either, but I do have a lot of trouble with homophones. Had the right idea with SESELI but forgot about the extra ‘s’.

    Like you, I though the surface of 9ac was brilliant and 23dn was another one that made me smile. Lots to enjoy if tough for me.

  7. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I think something gone a bit wrong in your explanation of 12ac – starts to S(eriously) I(nfect) in LE+ON.

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Neil. I’ve no idea how that happened – I know what I wanted to say! Corrected now.

  9. mark says:

    Great crossword. I couldn’t finish it but the clues are witty and fair even if hard and, as many said in yesterday’s responses, that’s all we ask!

    I belatedly note the Irish/dolphin themes around the edges of the completed grid after Eileen and Ian’s slightly cryptic reference – thanks for pointing it out – but what/who is Nina?

  10. The trafites says:

    See HERE. Albert “Al” Hirschfeld was a caricaturist and his daughter’s name, nina, appears hidden in a lot of his drawings – hence a ‘nina’ is a hidden message.


  11. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Nick. You just beat me to it.

    Mark, ninas are fairly common in the Indy crossword and bloggers on that side are used to looking out for them, but, I’ll say in self-defence, they don’t always spot them there, either! As I said earlier, they’re pretty rare in the Gusrdian but I’ll be a bit more wary in future!

  12. The trafites says:

    There is a good example of nina here:

    Boob Hope

    Look at the bottom of his sideburn…


  13. mark says:

    Thanks – learnt something today!

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Ian #44 from yesterday; I’m afraid I don’t see the distinction you were making.

    How do you feel about today’s “bar the odd” in 1d? I think this was pushing it a bit, but having seen it now, I could (if I remember) recognise it in future. I was for a long time trying to make an anagram of “bar the” (breath), but it led me nowhere.

    My firt one today was 8a.

  15. IanN14 says:

    Actually, Dave,
    I can see you have a point. I’m not a huge fan of this clue, either.
    However, I think it’s just about defensible, in the way that “bar the first” or “bar the centre” could work.

    BUT I still reckon the P for first post is never going to be right.
    Notice 5d. and the clever use of the apostrophe; without it (ie. “why is”) the clue would be unsound, I think.

  16. IanN14 says:

    …or even (although it makes no sense to the surface, but you know what I mean) “why head”.

  17. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Very good crossword, and what a relief after yesterday’s one.

    Not that easy, we couldn’t find PREFABS (though not that hard, I admit) which prevented us from finding BLOWHOLE. At one point we tried CAKEHOLE, thinking of space cake – so clearly in the right direction. And we had LOOPHOLE (LOO for ‘pot’ + P as the ‘opening’ of it, but then ‘opening’ would have had double duty, which of course couldn’t be right)
    FOIBLE was another one that we missed. Because ‘doubt’ (in 2dn) was the (doubtful) definition of UNBELIEF, we thought, maybe in 1dn ‘misbelief’ was DOUBT, and having the O and the B on the right spot, we couldn’t see something else from that moment on – how wrong it was!

    We found LITHO, but with a different explanation.
    We saw ‘short story’ as LIT[erature] and then ‘however short’ as HO[wever].
    But indeed, the explanation in the blog seems to be a better one.

    So, an excellent puzzle, with only two questions to be left unanswered.

    The word ‘by’ in 3dn, isn’t that a bit out of place?
    In the construction of the clue it shouldn’t be there.

    And ‘holding a gun’ in 15dn is a bit dubious for RO[A]D.
    We got it and ultimately you cán read it like that, but even so.
    And why has this clue a question mark?

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi Ian and Dave

    I’m extremely hesitant to butt in here but, at risk of opening a can of worms, I’ll say I couldn’t yesterday see where all the discussion about ‘first post’ came from, since Ian seemed to be using that as a hypothetical example, whereas the clue in Rover’s puzzle was actually ‘first place’, giving I PL, which, to me, was far less defensible, and yet it didn’t get a mention – I thought I’d said enough!

    However, it’s today’s crossword we’re here to discuss and I’m a bit surprised that there hasn’t been more positive reaction to what I thought was a really great puzzle – even though [or, perhaps, especially as] I didn’t spot the nina! As I indicated in the blog, I thought some people might not like 1dn but I didn’t think you’d be one of them, Dave, because yesterday you said [Comment 40] “I am all for innovation and originality in clueing; I was uncomfortable with “oddly” at first, but I am quite accepting of it now.” Is ‘bar the odd’ so very different?

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I’m glad you enjoyed it more than yesterday’s. I certainly did!

    Re 3dn: I see what you mean but ‘by’ is needed as a connecting word, isn’t it?

    I didn’t really have a problem with 15dn, having ascertained [from Chambers] to my surprise, that rod = gun. I think the question mark is there as an acknowledgment that the order is rather dodgy!

    I like your explanation of LITHO but can imagine the howls of protest if that appeared as an Araucaria clue – three letters out of ten + two out of seven! :-)

  20. IanN14 says:

    Hello again.
    I did actually mention the awful I PL in comment 26 yesterday.
    (Please also see comment 50. Yes, 50! And there’s more..).
    I’m still not 100% sure about 1d. It’s “the odd” (the odd what?) that’s niggling. Would “the odds” be better?
    Oh, I don’t know….

    I need to take a weekend break…

  21. IanN14 says:

    …I agree the rest was terrific, though.

  22. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Ian, so you did. I didn’t look carefully enough – but everyone got so hung up on ‘first post’. I don’t understand how I PL escaped so easily!

    Re 1dn: you’re right, ‘the odds’ would be better. In solving, I just took it as ‘the odd [letters]’ and was happy to do that.

    I do realise that I make more allowances for setters with whom I feel on the same wavelength and am more picky with others – but I don’t think I’m alone!

    Enjoy your weekend :-)

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #19:
    Eileen, of course, I see that ‘by’ (3dn) is needed to make it proper English, but I still think that this clue should have been un-by-ed (is this proper English?) in one way or another.
    And, re 15dn, ‘holding a gun’ is absolutely not the same as ‘gun holding a’. I can understand that Puck wants to have the ‘holding a gun’ combination, then thinks this is not completely right and subsequently adds a question mark.
    But is it right? I don’t think so.

    Re 10ac:
    LIT is often given as an abbreviation of ‘literature’, so I don’t think saying 3-out-of-10 is fair.
    I know, HO for ‘however brief’ is silly, but it’s just as silly as LI for short ‘lie’.
    En principe.

    Why is PA in 27ac written in capitals?
    I saw immediately that it could be ‘pa’ (when in lower case, not unimportant), but my partner in crime thought the uppercase was unfair.

    Even so, a very good crossword!!!

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say that I especially liked 17ac.
    Because, as some people know by now, I don’t like pointless anagrams. And this one was – although simple – rather clever.
    Veal can indeed be cooked in port.
    And that port isn’t the port we’re looking for.
    Just great.

  25. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Hmmm…I didn’t think it was that great and perversely, I didn’t think yesterday’s was that bad.

    Maybe just too hard for me.

    I especially thought the capitalisation of PA was unfair.

  26. Eileen says:

    Good morning, Sil, if you’re still there.

    Of course I agree with you about ‘by’ and ‘holding a gun’.

    I know you weren’t really serious about the parsing of LITHO but, yes, students do always talk of studying English [sorry!] Lit., rather than Literature – but literature is not ‘a story’, whereas practically every week, in crosswords, LIE is.

    What I really wanted to say is that you reminded me that I meant to say something about the LE HAVRE anagram – as you say, a particularly appropriate one and I would add that a French port is an appropriate place for veal to be cooked!

  27. Craig Jones says:

    Eileen # 18: Sorry, I’m afraid I am the guilty party for starting off the “First Post” debate yesterday (it wasn’t meant to be a debate, honest!)

  28. Eileen says:


    No, you asked a perfectly reasonable question about an example that had been put forward.

    Welcome to the site – and please keep asking questions about things you’re not sure about: that’s what it’s here for – and, anyway, we enjoy these ‘debates’! :-)

  29. IanN14 says:

    Hello Craig,
    Don’t worry; it’s not you, it’s me…
    Just happened to mention in passing (or so I thought) a personal bugbear, perhaps not the time or the place, as Rover wasn’t actually guilty this time.

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