Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24883 – Puck The Magic Dragon

Posted by Uncle Yap on December 15th, 2009

Uncle Yap.

What a fantastic puzzle this turned out to be. A dash of risque, some fun with numbers and a potpourri of some creative and clever devices and the whole thing, extremely entertaining. One of the best I have tackled. Indeed, Puck, the magic dragon.

9 TWO AND TWO Ins of W (women) in *(want to do) Arithmetic formula for getting four
10 ASTOR Alternate letters of eAtS aT fOuR
11 ANXIOUS Ins of U (united) in *(soixan; first half of the answer to 2,22)
12,21 SEVENTY-EIGHT Ins of VENT (what happens or EVENT minus first letter) in *(EYESIGHT) and I well remember the old gramophone that my uncle used to have. To save on having to buy new needles (styluses) I had to sharpen old needles for re-use. What fun I had, listening to Pat Boone’s Bernadine and April Love and Marty Robbins singing The Story of My Life. Nostalgia! It isn’t what it used to be (sigh)
13 GONAD ha which should be at home in one of Cyclops’s puzzles
14 FINALISTS Ins of N (new) ALI (the Greatest boxer) in FISTS (strikes)
16 TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN Twenty by fours is the arithmetic formula to get 80 and even numbers are all divisible by 2. The 24/7 is a shorthand for 24 hours, seven days a week (aka for all times)
19 PORTRAYAL Cha of PORT (left in nautical terms) RAY & AL (two little boys)
22 NAUTILI Sound like naughty lie (bad story)
24,7 UNDERSTANDS UN & DER (French and German articles) + ins of A N (a name) in STDS (answer to 4Down)
25 TROMBONES Trom (rev of mort, a flourish sounded at the death of a buck, etc in hunting) Bones (skeleton) 12 is seventy ; taking away 6 will leave you 64 trombones which sounds like something that I must have seen in a film but I just can’t remember exactly. PostScript : There is possibly an error with the clue. It should be 20 + 6 to give Seventy Six Trombones, the signature song from the 1957 musical play The Music Man, written by Meredith Willson. (Thanks to Lanson and NeilW)

1 STRAIGHT UP Sounds like STRAYED (lost) TUP (sheep)
2,22 SOIXANTE-NEUF Ins of O (love) and E (Ecstasy) in *(sex ain’t fun) and of course, we all know the French for 69 and for the uninitiated, Chambers defines it as a sexual position in which both partners simultaneously orally stimulate each other’s genitalia.
4 STDS Sexually Transmitted Disease’S from STUDS (sexually active males) minus U (turn off)
5 CONSENSUAL Cha of C (caught) ON SEN’S (State Enrolled NurseS) UAL (first letters of uniformed, at least)
6 VALVULES *(vulva) + LES (Frenh definite article)
8 ORLY O (circle) RLY (Railway lines)
15 SONG THRUSH *(shorn thugs)
17 TERTIARY Ins of T IA (rev of AI, motorway or road and T-junction) in TERRY (man probably named Terence) and we have primary, secondary and tertiary education.
18 VIGILANT What a clever charade of VI (six or 6 in Roman numeral) and the ins of L (50 in Roman numeral) in GI (American soldier) & ANT (insect soldier)
20 ROUNDS dd
21 ENROBE *(Borneo) p/s Thanks to Radley this is a rha
23,23A WOOD WARBLER *(bow arrow led, half of killed)

Key to abbreviations used
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram
(rearrangement to provide a short visible summary of the blog)

30 Responses to “Guardian 24883 – Puck The Magic Dragon”

  1. Lanson says:

    Got to agree, wonderful puzzle, 25a refers to ‘seventy-six trombones’ a number in The Music Man by Meredith Wilson (1957)

  2. NeilW says:

    I thought you’d like this one, Uncle Yap!

    4ac I think you have to add the explanation of U(turn) being removed from STUDS.

    1dn I guess is stray not strayed

  3. Eileen says:

    Surely the ‘-‘ in the clue for 25ac is a hyphen, [as in 12,21ac, SEVENTY-EIGHT], not a minus sign – hence ‘SEVENTY-SIX’.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap, this was far too difficult for me to finish. The three I couldn’t handle were 2, 22d; 4d and 11a.

    Obviously, I have led a very sheltered life and I certainly hope that no lady puzzlers are able to solve these either. Naughty Puck!

    Lanson @1: Meredith Willson’s surname has two Ls.

    What the L!

  5. Eileen says:

    Bryan – yes, I’m very thankful it wasn’t my blog! :-)

  6. IanN14 says:

    Has nobody pointed out that the answer for 24/7 (understands) is used as part of the clue for 16ac.?

  7. DaveEllison says:

    One of the best I’ve completed for a long time. I couldn’t quite see the HERE part of 16a, just thought it meant “in this clue”, so thanks IanN14 for clearing this up.

    I had trouble with 4d, because the first clue I got was 10a (ASTOR) and thought the OR must come from 4d: _O_R. I tried to fit BOAR in which kind of fitted but that screwed up ANXIOUS and the TL corner for a while

  8. Andrew says:

    Well spotted Ian, I hadn’t noticed that. I still don’t really understand where “one way of making 80 divisible by 2″ comes into it.

    Apart from that – altogether a brilliant and hilarious puzzle.

  9. Radler says:

    A very entertaining puzzle!
    One correction Uncle Yap – 21 down is a reverse hidden answer, not an anagram

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. Fantastic puzzle and very entertaining. The last one I got was 4dn.

  11. NeilW says:

    Andrew: One way of making 80 = TWENTY FOURS divisible by 2 = EVEN

  12. DannyBoy says:

    I loved this puzzle!
    Virtuoso stuff, laughs aplenty and extremely well constructed. Hats off to Puck!
    Personal favourites the birds and the number play.
    Normally not a homophone fan either, but these were good.
    And even a reference to yesterday’s Rufus discussion at 21d :)

  13. rrc says:

    21d is both reversal and anagram …. which takes precedence?

  14. DannyBoy says:

    Not anag of Borneo – two ‘e’s in ENROBE (2 ‘o’s in BORNEO)

  15. Conrad Cork says:

    21d is a reverse hidden.

  16. Martin Searle says:

    I really enjoyed that one. However, one may have got carried away with looking for sexual references, as once the search starts, answers like (partial answer) ‘thrush’, (partial) ‘wood’, ‘stands’, ‘straight up’ (and even, in the context of these last three, ‘anxious’) and of course, the ‘tup’ itself appear to dirty minds.

  17. Tom_I says:

    Excellent stuff!

    And while we’re continuing the theme, let’s not forget that at 17d, as well as education, you can have TERTIARY syphilis, which fits in neatly with 4d.

  18. FLS says:

    An excellent crossword. One of my favourites of recent times. We didn’t get 2,22, of course, since we don’t have filthy minds. Actually, that just isn’t true – we just assumed that Puck doesn’t have a filthy mind. We’ll know better for next time.

    I’m still not sure I like the suggestion that ‘STDS’ is a four letter word, but this sort of thing has happened before, so I suppose there is a precedent, at least.

  19. Tom_I says:

    STDS – the clue does say “complaints initially”.

  20. C & J says:

    Made more difficult by the fact that one of us (the female one!) put in 4d first of all as
    ‘clap’, but we got there in the end.

    Great fun!

  21. Benington says:

    To continue the sex theme, ‘tup’ in 1d is also what a ram does to a ewe…

  22. rfb says:

    Excuse the completely OT post, but it’s the only way I can see of getting a point across. Back on Dec 2, diagacht says (among other things):
    Today’s reaction has led me to wonder if there is anyone who reads this blog as a means of learning. Are all, or most, readers people who have a long a distinguished career in solving. If so, why do we need to blog in this way, why not just have a discussion board? Why not solve together using Google Wave?

    I am a Guardian Weekly reader. We get our crossword a couple of weeks or so after it’s published in the Grauniad. I’m a long-time solver who usually takes a few hours (spread over a few days) to solve the cryptic, and often has questions. This is the best (only?) site that has explanations of the answers. So, please, continue to publish if only for the sake of those in the GW community (of course, from our POV, whether the answers are posted early in the morning or late in the evening is irrelevant).

    The above also explains this OT post – I could have posted in the blog for December 2nd – but to what end???

  23. Lanson says:

    ….so why wasn’t 8d orgy, numbers copulating, could tie the mini-themes together…..back to pondering

  24. Benington says:

    Forgot to add that for 1d, it is STRAY + TUP which sounds a lot more like ‘straight up’ than STRAYED + TUP.

  25. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Not convinced 4d is entirely fair but after everything else, it should have dropped into place easier than it did.

    A hard puzzle but plenty to amuse. 13ac had me laugh out loud on the bus.

    And 11ac was impossible without 2d – again not entirely fair as it made it impossible to achieve on of the crossing letters in a tricky anagram

  26. medici says:

    Could 6d be an anagram of “as vulva” plus l’ (“the” French with a vowel) as “valvula” is an alternative to “valvule”?
    I don’t expect any one to read this as I complete my attempts just as tomorrow’s puzzle is about to hit the internet.

  27. Brian Harris says:

    Great stuff today. Loved all the smut.

  28. Ian says:

    To echo all other comments, this was a corker and one begins to wonder if this will encourage Brummie to go one step further!!

  29. Trench Adviser says:

    I’m a bit behind this week, but this was absolutely superb.

    There is a partial answer at 14ac too that could fit in with the risque theme…

  30. beermagnet says:

    Bromide required apparently:

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