Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,826 – Paul

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on October 9th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

An interesting Paul puzzle today with some tricks up its sleeve.


1. WARM-UP.  WAR(MU)P.  Mu is a greek character, so used in the Cyclades.
10. AFLOAT. A FL(0)AT.
13. MENU. ME ‘N’ U.
18. IBEX. I BE + X.
20. QUESTION MARK. QU(SOMETIN*)ARK. Interesting to have a trade name in the clue, and having the definition be the punctuation mark at the end of the clue is quite cheeky!
23. EVER SO. (renegad)E + VERSO.
26. EFFETE. E(lection) + F(inds) + FETE.


2. ALAS. SALA(d)<.  Not sure if I’ve seen ‘de-tailed’ before.
3. MENOPAUSE. MEN + OP(A)US + (regrettabl)E.
5. EXCLAMATION MARK. M(X)ARCIANOANDME*.  Similar to 20ac of course.
6. REALISTS. RE(ALI)STS. Mohammed Ali.
7. NYLON. N + Y(L)ON.
8. REARRANGES. I think “Rear Ranges” is meant to sound like “Rear Lists”?
12. SEMIQUAVER. S(E + ME + QU(id))AVER.  ’50p?’ as ‘half a quid’ is pushing things!
15. MEIN KAMPF. ME + INK + A + M.P. + F(ascist).  Works as an &lit.  The title of Hitlers autobiography, which translates as ‘My Struggle’.
16. MANITOBA. MA(NIT)OBA.  MAOBA is OBAMA with MA ‘promoted’.
22. SCUT. (rabbit)S + CUT.

28 Responses to “Guardian 24,826 – Paul”

  1. Rob says:

    8d I think the idea is that ‘rearrange’ is ‘re-list’ which sounds like ‘realist’.

  2. Mitch says:

    Could somebody please explain 10ac. Thanks

  3. Neil says:

    Mitch … ‘A flat’ is the next note up from ‘G’ in the musical scale. Insert O = nothing, If you’re in business, you’re afloat.

  4. Tom Hutton says:

    A flat is next to G in the chromatic scale. Afloat presumably means in business.

  5. Mitch says:

    Thank you all. I would never have got that in a million years.

  6. liz says:

    Thanks, Ciaran. AFLOAT was the one that eluded me. I found this pretty hard and had to resort to the check button often. Quite a bit of the wordplay passed me by. Not complaining, tho, especially after the easy ones this week.

  7. Berny says:

    Still don’t see the wordplay for 7 down. Can someone help


  8. Neil says:

    Berny … I think ‘N’ stands for ‘new’. ‘Yon’ is ‘that’ (as in “over by yon tree”. ‘L’ stands for ‘length’ (as in W=width and H=height) and is the lining for yon.

    Any advance on that?

  9. AndyB says:

    I thought this was a real mixture of very clever clues and some that I struggled to decipher even after I’d worked out what the solution was. I’m frustrated when that happens.
    An example of that was 7 down, Berny. I could see that the answer was probably NYLON but I’m not sure why. The best I can suggest is N and L for ‘new’ and ‘length’ with YON for ‘that’ However I can’t see that the N and L are ‘lining that’ as that would suggest N as the first letter and L as the last going around YON

  10. Ciaran McNulty says:

    AndyB – I think 7dn works fine:

    N = New
    Yon = ‘that’
    L = Length

    Lenth lining that = Y(L)on because lining goes on the inside.

  11. sidey says:

    The more of Paul’s clues I see the more I imagine an expression of ineffable smugness, rather like the Cheshire cat’s grin. I will say no more.

  12. John says:

    I can just about live with the “cleverness” as long as I can eventually live with the wordplay once worked out. I thought Mein Kampf was excellent. But I found REARRANGES unsatisfactory since I can’t see the “soundly” connection even if I accept the dubious link between “range” and “list”.

  13. Steve says:

    4d would certainly be ‘under discussion’ by those of us from Scotland. In our house we often have to revert to saying the clues and answers aloud in outrageously bad English upper-class or Mockney accents in order to try and get the homophonic clues!

  14. Rob says:


    “even if I accept the dubious link between “range” and “list”.”

    Isn’t it ‘arrange’ = ‘list’ (put in order), so
    ‘rearrange=re-list’, which sounds like ‘realist’

  15. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Ciaran

    I really enjoyed this which I attempted during a 60-minute train journey – even though I didn’t get four: 1a, 23a, 2d and 4d.

    They were perfectly good clues, now that you’ve explained them.

    Paul at his trickiest and without any obscure words.

  16. John says:

    I’ve posted this once but it didn’t appear. Finger trouble maybe, but here’s another stab.

    I hear you Rob, but “re-list” doesn’t sound like “realist”. For it to work as a “sounds like”, the “a” must surely be common to both, ergo re-a-list = re-a-rrange which tries to make “list” = “range” which doesn’t work.

  17. muck says:

    Good puzzle, which I almost finished.
    I was trying ‘hypnotic’ for 9ac, but it didn’t fit with 2dn ALAS, alas.

  18. Rob says:

    John: re-list vs realist. They sound very similar the
    way I pronounce them…I’ve generally worked on the
    assumption that homophones are approximate (and depend
    a lot on accent). Pattern for Patton is a much bigger
    stretch for me.

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    It took us quite a while today to almost-solve it (4dn was the one we didn’t get).
    Once we got the ! and the ? (the use of punctuation marks gave me a pleasant kind of deja vu) things really started off.
    Throughout a lot of very good constructions, like 2dn (where one reads ‘mixed up’ but which should be seen separated).
    In our opinion 17ac, 15dn and 16dn were probably the best.
    And, of course, 20ac (of which we don’t see that there would be ‘a trademark in the clue’ – quark is just a kind of cheese).

    Two minor quibbles:
    In 11ac there’s the (in)famous ‘first’ situation again.
    Some people would prefer ‘first of’. I am one of them, but my partner is not.
    So, let’s call it a draw.
    In 19dn the use of the two words “a” is inconsistent. In “a number” we have to make use of it, but then, not in “a hundred”. Slightly misleading.

    Great fun, and although, in our opinion, yesterday’s Orlando had better surface reading, this crossword was altogether of a different category, due to the clever constructions.

  20. Al Streatfield says:

    Rob says:

    “I’ve generally worked on the assumption that homophones are approximate…”

    Why should they be approximate? Part of the skill of writing a homophone-based clue is that the homophones are precise. Their precision can easily checked by looking up the phonetic spelling of the word in Chambers…

  21. Al Streatfield says:

    Sorry, I mean “can easily be checked”

  22. Mick H says:

    I think 8 down is only a partial homophone – REAR sounds like REA + RANGE = list.
    I like the idea of Steve’s family saying clues and answers out loud in outrageous southern accents, and am very happy to do the equivalent with any regional, Scots, Welsh or Irish homophones our geographically diverse teams of setters want to chuck at us – bring ’em on!
    To me, a homophone is a pun, and if solvers get it, it works, whether or not it matches one’s own pronunciation or the Chambers pronunciation guide.
    As for “ineffable smugness” and the Cheshire Cat, you can decide for yourselves at, which helpfully has a photo. I think it’s more of a cheeky grin.

  23. Rob says:

    Al says (about homophones): “Why should they be approximate?”

    Because accent varies so much around the nation, and the
    phonetic spelling given in Chambers only provides one way
    (well, ok, one or sometimes two ways) of pronouncing a word.

    With my pronunciation (NE Scotland), ‘realist’ sounds like ‘reel-ist';
    but ‘Patton’ sounds very unlike ‘pattern’.

    But, new though I am to this game, I suspect that the
    precision of homophone clues is the root of a perennial
    argument amongst crossword solvers. I doubt I could add anything
    that hasn’t been said before, so I’ll refrain from trying.

  24. Paul B says:

    If someone (with the full regional accent) in the NE says ‘birds’ it comes out as ‘boards’.

    But isn’t the so-called Queen’s English assumed for crossword puzzles, inc. homonyms? For example, if we wanted to use birds for boards as cited above, we’d have to say ‘Women in Newcastle’ to get it past our editors wouldn’t we? And yet that requirement for extra indication is more than half the fun in writing a good soundalike clue, AFAIK.

  25. Ann says:

    Regarding 7down. We thought it was N=new, Y=yard (length), LON=longitude(lines of). Chambers has “lon” as an abbreviation for longitude.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #25:
    Sometimes I think it would be nice if the setter himself (or herself, of course) gives us the final explanation to solutions that we, the solvers, do not completely understand.
    I am pretty sure that mr Paul is reading this blog at a regular basis, so … who knows.
    (we’ve seen contributions by Rufus, Pasquale and Shed, to name a few)

    By the way, dear Ann, my first thought was also new+yard+something else.

  27. rfb says:

    Very delayed response, due to not seeing this until it was published in the Guardian Weekly. I found this extremely difficult, probably the toughest Guardian Weekly crossword I’ve seen in years (and no, they don’t select just the easy ones for us colonials). I only managed about 10 answers before giving up and checking the answers here.

    Some comments:
    Firstly, the explanations for 5dn and 12d are obviously typos. 12d should be S(E + MI + QU(id))AVER, and 5d should be M(X)ARCIANOMETALK*. And in the latter, I’m not convinced that “where the treasure’s hidden” has much to do with either the definition or the cryptic part of the clue.

    Also, along with several others above, I have a problem with the REALISTS/REARRANGES combo. I just don’t think it’s a fair clue.

    Overall, a very clever crossword, but not an enjoyable one for me.

  28. rfb says:

    Just a comment on my own #27 above – of course, “where the treasure’s hidden” is the clue for the X. Ooops …

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