Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24931 / Paul

Posted by mhl on February 11th, 2010


A very enjoyable crossword from Paul, with nothing too tricky, I think, unless the few themed answers were unfamiliar to you. (They helped a lot in our case.)

1. CHOWDER CHOW = “Food” + RED = “wine” reversed
5. PARFAIT PAR = “Standard” + FIT = “size” around A
9. DRIER DRI[v]ER = “wood”
10. CHEWBACCA CHEW = “Munch” + BACC[y] = “shag endlessly” + A; the first themed clue: Chewbacca is the Wookiee in Star Wars. There is more than you could possibly want to know about Chewbacca at the wonderfully named Wookieepedia
11. FLASHINESS SHINES = “excels” in FLAS[k] = “endless bottle”
12,25. LUKE SKYWALKER (RULES WE KKK LAY)* – another Star Wars character (Wikipedia / Wookieepedia)
14. JABBA THE HUTT JAB = “inoculation” + BATHE = “wash” + HUTT = sounds like “hut” or “Shed”; this was the clue that gave us the theme, guessing that “inoculation” was JAB (Wikipedia / Wookieepedia)
18. LEASEHOLDERS [rac]E in LEASH = “lead” + OLDER = “senior” + [citizen]S
21,24. STAR WARS A bit outrageous: RAW RATS = “what the cooking connoisseur would never serve up?” reversed + S[loppy]
22. ATMOSPHERE HERE = “present” by (POST MA)*
26. LYONS (ONLY)* + S = “Saturdays”; not sure why “opens” should be an anagram indicator? Oops, it’s a hidden answer – thanks, Andrew
27. TREASON T = “time” + REASON = “partner of rhyme”
28. DESTINY D[u]E = “Expected to lose heart” + S = “second” + TINY = “minute”
1. CODIFY [pupp]Y + FIDO = “dog” + C = “caught” all reversed
2,19. OBI-WAN KENOBI WAN = “Pale” + KEN = “red politician” (“Red Ken”) in OBI OBI = “sashes”; Alec Guinness’s part in Star Wars (Wikipedia / Wookieepedia)
3. DARTH VADER DART = “Flash” + (HEARD)* around V = “against” for the villain in Star Wars (Wikipedia / Wookieepedia)
4. RICIN [ame]RI[can] + [fren]C[hman] + [amer]IN[dian]
5. PRESS STUD The cryptic part plays on STUD = “lothario” and PRESS = “the news”
6. RUBY A reference to Ruby Tuesday by The Rolling Stones
7. ARCTURUS (URSA [minor]R CUT)*
8. TRAVESTY TRAY = “Carrier” around VEST = “something worn”
13. NECROPOLIS CROP = “Cut” into (LESION)*
15. BOOK TOKEN BOON = “gift” around [beatni]K + TOKE = “puff on spliff”
16. CLOSE-SET CLOT = “Fool” around SE SE = “London area seen twice”
17. PARALYSE PARA = “soldier” + LYE = “solution” around S[upplies]
20. JERSEY Triple definition: “lower” being a cow
23. OARED [s]OARED = “flew”

50 Responses to “Guardian 24931 / Paul”

  1. molonglo says:

    Far more satisfying than yesterday’s, doable (as soon as the theme twinkled) straphanging on the tube, with ahas and chuckles aplenty including 1,3, 13, 15, 17 and 20d. But maybe raises again the question of the setters’ difficulty rankings.

  2. Simon G says:

    Unlike Molongo, I enjoyed yesterday’s far more than this as my knowledge of, and interest in, Star Wars is nil… The whole thing then compounded by the absolute pig’s ear of the new Grauniad online puzzle where I spent as much time reading and adding to readers’ comments as I did trying to solve the non Star Wars related clues…

  3. PaulG says:

    Thanks, mhl, but sadly I think you’ve blogged a puzzle that almost nobody working online will have been able even to see, let alone solve, thanks to the utter incompetence of the Guardian crossword people. A ‘printable version’ which does not produce an intelligible grid, and a ‘standard’ version which sets new standards in user-unfriendliness.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl. I think I enjoyed this (I’m not a Star Wars junkie, but the characters are familiar enough), but annoyance at the “improved” website rather got in the way. I managed to do it on the light grey printed version, but it was hard work. Give us back our PDFs!

  5. Andrew says:

    I think 26ac is hidden, not an anagram.

  6. mhl says:

    Andrew: oops – thanks, I’ve changed that.

    I miss the PDFs as well – it’s just not the same reading the clues when they’re not in Guardian Egyptian. The Javascript interface needs a bit of work still, but I’m certainly not sorry to see the Java applet go – I can’t remember the last time I used it and it didn’t crash at some point.

  7. Colin says:

    The online interface works fine for me, so I can’t see what anyone’s problem is with it.

    And, hey, Star Wars nerd (amongst many other things). Once CHEWBACCA gave it to me, there wasn’t any problem.

  8. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog mhl.

    Quick solve today despite the awful* gateway clue reversal. Even for someone like me, with little or no interest in this particular film genre, it was very straighforward.

    Because the surface readings are invariably reliable with Paul, everything went as smooth as silk, pace the succession of inserts as represented by 8 13 and 15dn.

    * an unsettling image

  9. sidey says:

    A solution to the printing problems ‘over there’. Install Doro PDF Writer, it appears as an alternative printer when you ‘Print’. The whole thing appears on one page legibly. You can now commit it to paper.

    Not my cup of tea today, once the theme became obvious (very early on) there was very little to do.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks mhl. Paul G has it right, I think, certainly in my case. Never mind the grid with no lines, in the printable version the font size is so small I can barely read it, so I gave up trying. Until things with the printable version improve I’m going to have to stick to the Indy for my daily fix.

  11. sandra says:

    think i’m in danger of becoming much more grumpy than grumpy andrew. it took some considerable time trying, and failing, to find an easier way to do this puzzle. can it be done the old way? split screen and i lose the ends of the down clues. (though thanks due to derek lazenby for the suggestion).
    i have a few disabilities and have to use the keyboard sparingly. i am now in some considerable pain. doubt i will be able to do this when recovering from my op. i mention this because i would like to know if there are any others out there in the same position?

    i have never complained about an unfamiliar theme, but i feel this was the wrong day for the changeover.

    having said that, there were some i liked – destiny, and codify come to mind. i am not going to look for the others.

    i am probably on the wrong site for this post – could someone direct me to an appropriate one?

  12. sandra says:

    ps i don’t have a working printer.

  13. IanN14 says:

    Can I point you in the direction of Gaufrid’s recently added stream about the redesign here?
    Also the ONLY improvement I can see on the new Guardian page (scroll down from the crossword) is that there’s a place to leave comments…
    (129 so far this morning).

  14. sandra says:

    many thanks ian – that is really much appreciated. i will have a look at those.

    my apologies for the above – i didn’t know where else to post. grumpy andrew – not so grumpy after all?!

  15. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I enjoyed this and got the theme fairly quickly. The main problem was making sure I spelled all the names right. Got held up a bit in the top left corner by putting ONE for WAN. That taught me not to be so hasty and really check the wordplay properly.

    I usually solve the crossword these days by printing off from the site, so I am not best pleased by the lack of grid lines, the change of typeface and the general illegibility. Just over to the Grauniad to leave my two cents’ worth!

  16. John H says:

    Why not stop moaning about the download version and buy the paper.

  17. John Appleton says:

    It took me foolishly long time to get the theme here (after being convinced that the film may have been Duck Soup somehow), given that I was watching The Empire Strikes Back last night.

  18. Gaufrid says:

    A pdf version of today’s puzzle has now been added to the Guardian website:

    There is also a statement in one of the comments posted by a Guardian employee – “Our technical team is working on a fix to automate the appearance of PDFs” – hopefully this will come to fruition!

  19. IanN14 says:

    Because, John H, some people (due to geographical reasons, for example) don’t have access to the paper.
    Also, why should everybody start buying the paper every day when they’ve been used to doing it online?
    A cynic might think that’s what “they” want you to do.
    That, or go back to subscription for a site that works.
    It’s all about advertising, which it seems nobody else has mentioned.
    The Indy has managed to advertise for ages, and still make clues visible without scrolling…

  20. liz says:

    John H — I do buy the paper, I just prefer to print the crossword off. It means other people can read the paper while I’m busy puzzling over the clues :-)

    Plus it was a really bad bit of re-design.

  21. Gaufrid says:

    Please restrict further comments in this post to those relevant to Paul’s puzzle. If you want to express your views about the new Guardian website format you can do so here:

  22. Will Mc says:

    IanNI4. “why should everybody start buying the paper every day when they’ve been used to doing it online?
    A cynic might think that’s what “they” want you to do.”
    Wow, imagine if that was the case. A newspaper wanting you to pay for it instead of just being happy that people can read all their hard work for free. Some people, eh?
    Obviously they’ve just cocked up a bit, I’m sure they didn’t do it just so a load of people would act as if their human rights had been infringed.

  23. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Re. 21,24, the key clue. So it was a reveral of words not included in the clue.
    This way madness lies. How many things are there that a cooking connoisseur would not serve?
    Chips? Ready meals? Silage? Last week’s taramasalata? Where’s the indication that raw rats was the answer?
    By the way, I buy the paper so feel entitled to be grumpy, though I’m tempted now to follow the example of others here and print out the crossword.
    Might be less grumpy if all I’ve wasted is a sheet of A4 and not a quid.

  24. Chris says:

    Well said, Will. Some people seem to think one of our basic human rights is for the Guardian to provide us with a crossword for free every day. God forbid that “they” might hope we buy the paper or otherwise help to keep the whole enterprise going.

  25. IanN14 says:

    Will and Chris,
    I personally never complained about paying a subscription in the old days when it was good.
    I’d do so again if they revert to the original…

  26. rrc says:


  27. Chris says:

    …whereas turning your Caps Lock off takes a mere fraction of a second.

  28. Jim says:

    I knew most of the Star Wars Characters. I made one incorrect guess – JABBA THE M(o)ULT

  29. Jerb says:


  30. Martin H says:

    Er….about the crossword: a 70’s film theme and a clue reference to a 1966 pop song. What’s with all the outdated trivia? If we must have themes can’t they be a bit more current, serious, stimulating? At least yesterday’s effort got it right on that score.

  31. sandra coleman says:

    john H #16 i do buy the paper, but it comes a day late, occasionally not at all, whichever, that effectively stops me posting on fifteensquared.

    can’t get a comment on the guardian feedback page – there is something wrong there. what worries me is that the g will take all these complaints to mean that only printing is a problem. i have no working printer and i can’t be the only person here to have found it easier, for physical reasons, to complete online. i use the past tense – no need to explain why. what happened to the g’s equality code? every time i use my left arm, there is something else i cannot do, as it is painful. if it comes to a choice between eating and the crossword, which do you think it will be? the old site was as near perfect as it could be for me.

    i am utterly disappointed in this change. i can’t really cope with all the scrolling involved and, like others, i want to be able to see the grid and the clue at the same time. i also miss the divisions when there is more than one word in a solution. am i asking too much? can anyone tell me why the format had to be changed?

  32. NealH says:

    I enjoyed this one a lot and found it fairly easy. I’m not a Star Wars obsessive, but I have seen all the films and therefore found the theme quickly (getting the o_i in 1 down instantly gave it away). The raw rats thing was a bit weird (I was expecting something like TV dinner or ready meal), but it was amusing and Paul had to make that clue a bit more difficult to avoid giving the theme away too easily.

    The Star Wars names do lend themselves quite well to making cryptic clues. I always thought you could make quite a nice cryptic definition for Obi Wan by using something like (borrowing Paul’s idea) “Force man to find pale red politician wearing sashes”.

  33. sandra coleman says:

    sorry gaufrid. i posted my last comment here by mistake.

  34. ilan says:

    Probably late to this party, but what an unfortunate redesign of the interactive puzzle. Hopefully we are just the beta testers of this experiment and the power to be will consider our feedback:
    – arrows should move naturally (e.g. to the next entry when at the end of the current entry)
    – a scrollable clue list next to the answer grid was very nice thank-you-very-much in the olden days (it allowed you to have the whole puzzle on screen without having to mouse around… in fact, it could be somewhat minimized, freeing up real-estate for less important things like work).

    Other than that, great puzzle!

  35. Brian Harris says:

    I liked yesterday’s. I liked today’s too. I’m obviously easily pleased.

    At one point, I thought the connector clue was DUCK SOUP (for no other reason than it fit the 4-4 pattern). So I was quite relieved when it turned out to be Star Wars, as I actually know all those characters, compared to precisely zero in Duck Soup. This puzzle then turned into “Think of a Star Wars character, find a clue with the right number of letters, fill in answer, retro-fit the “bits”. It may not be for the purist, solving a third or more of a grid this way, but it makes a change from the norm, so I quite enjoy the variety.

  36. jetdoc says:

    No problems with the puzzle, despite the fact that I have never seen a Star Wars film, nor do I ever much want to.

    About the astonishingly misguided ‘update’ of the Guardian website — I solve puzzles on paper, not on screen. I want to print out a copy of the puzzle as it appears in the newspaper, onto nice 90 gsm paper, which I can put on my overloaded clipboard and on which I can write in pencil. If I buy a paper, I prefer either to photocopy the puzzle or to scan it in and print it out in what is for me a usable format. I was perfectly happy to pay the Guardian £25 a year to have this available online, and would be again if only I could simply have the PDF (or even something I can easily reformat for myself, as I do with a lot of other puzzles).

  37. Tom Hutton says:

    Cor lumme, what a world of pain people live in. I buy the paper to read it. The crossword is a bonus. This one wasn’t though. I didn’t enjoy it all. Too many dubious definitions. For example, there were plenty of living people in the necropolis when I went there last (including me of course). I like a book token as it opens up all sorts of possibilities of buying exciting books which I would probably not have looked at otherwise.The cooking clue has already been alluded to…and so on and so on.

  38. stiofain says:

    I too didnt think this was up to Pauls usual standard the themed answers were too easily guessible from the word lengths. Though 8 down TRAVESTY was extremely apt considering the online update.

  39. Kate W says:

    Nothing beats reading the Guardian then folding the paper into the right thickness and then doing the crossword. The font is the right size, and there’s just enough scribbling room – printing from the website doesn’t compare. Can’t believe how many people are getting their knickers in a twist rather than just buy the paper.

  40. Dave Ellison says:

    I got the theme by false pretences from 2d: PALE RED suggested WAN BEN (as in Tony) from which I got KENABI. I knew all this wasn’t quite right (the spelling and word order etc), but it was sufficient to suggest STAR WARS.

    I had a repeat of yesterday’s problem, a word that seemed to fit but was the wrong one. This was 11a, for which I had BRASHINESS (BRASS being BOTTLE). So the only one I didn’t get today was 1d as a consequence. Unless you count 20d as well, for which I had SELSEY! I knew it was going to be a warmer in the sense of hot water bottle, but just couldn’t spot it.

    BRASHINESS apparently means brittle, after all.

  41. Ian says:

    To the writers of #16, #22, #24 and #39.

    Well said!

    Some people need to get a life!!

  42. Davy says:

    Thanks mhl for the blog. Yes we should all buy the Guardian and keep people in work but actually I only buy the Saturday paper and print off the daily crosswords.

    For those who don’t know there is now a PDF link on the selected crossword page just above the SPOILER ALERT
    as folows :

    Click here for the PDF of cryptic crossword No 24,931

    Back to Paul. It was not difficult today and I just had a little struggle with the SE corner. An enjoyable puzzle and a good laugh from RAW RATS. I thought the sneakiest cluue was 22a.

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, well, what a day!
    [I agree with 95% of you, was #2 in the comments today at the Guardian site, so I must have been very angry inside]
    We used a new format today.
    Because our workplace has a subscription to the paper, we just, um, made a photocopy of the crossword …. [strangly enough, the “old” pfd’s were just thát little bit better]
    A lot of comments around midnight were saying that the puzzle was rubbish anyway,
    so I thought, my God, are we going to have an inferior Paul?
    Well, in a way I agree with Stiofain (#38) that this was certainly not his best.

    The problem with a theme (and I don’t think ány theme) like Star Wars is that you either go blank(ish) or you know all the characters just guessing them from the numeration (without even having seen the clue).
    We found LUKE SKYWALKER rather quickly (but only because my PinC saw the anagram and heard bells ringing), so there we were: Star Wars.
    Unfortunately both of us hadn’t seen the film(s) – actually, we are completely not interested in these US !#@&*%?$ (which inspired some presidents over there to turn it into a real thing – would have been nice if Paul would have made a reference to that (but we already had our share yesterday in that fantastic Brendan crossword).
    So, the result was: no answer for 10ac, not for 2,19d either nor for the last part of 14ac.

    We found that the cluing was very contrived at places.
    Like in the Across trilogy 12,25 – 14 – 18.
    The first we got was RUBY, very very easy (has nothing to do with just 1966, so many others have covered this song), but it was a poor clue, we thought.
    We weren’t pleased by 4d either: taking the “guts” out of these three – first 2 letters, than 1, then 2 again – don’t know, just think that Paul can do better than that (certainly when he uses a word like the unusual Amerindian to reach his goal).
    In 9ac we were misled by the use of ‘ensures’ which might suggest that the V should be taken into something for ‘Towel’.

    As to LYONS we were not sure if ‘opens’ is a good hidden indicator.
    And I, in particular, was very surprised by the S at the end. As a Continental, I had never heard of LYON+S. For me Lyon is Lyon. Lyons does ring a bell, but it has something to do with food. I think, the French wouldn’t know what you are talking about. It’s like LONDON transformed into LONDONS. Anyway, it is apparently the anglification of the city’s name.

    Finally, some remarks about the last two Across clues.
    27ac: the answer was found very quickly, but if you read the clue well, the order of ‘given time’ and ‘partner of rhyme’ is disputable – that is, I would have tried to avoid it.
    28ac: ‘Expected to lose heart’ being ‘due’ without the ‘u’ is a bit unusual. The ‘losing heart’-technique is normally applied to the actual word , and not to a synonym. It’s OK, but just wanted to mention it.

    But we, and at least I, liked the ratty 21,24 – the only real :) today.

    Our conclusion: a bit uninspiring, not Paul on top form.
    [it can’t be fun all the time – in last Saturday’s (very easy) Mudd he even made a mistake, but then we all do]

  44. sidey says:

    “Some people need to get a life!!”


  45. Derek Lazenby says:

    In case anyone missed it, they have now changed the online layout to put the tools buttons under the grid and the currently selected clue appears to the right of the grid. This is not perfect, but a good workable bodge.

    Hope sandra sees this, moderator, send her an e-mail, she needs to know.

  46. IanN14 says:

    Well done Derek.
    I left a message on the other blog, where she last appeared. Hope she gets to see it.

    Glad to see so many people aren’t bothered by the changes (well maybe not so many compared with the complaints on the Guardian site).
    Clearly none of these live abroad, or are too busy (with lives) to read newspapers every day…

  47. IanN14 says:

    The point is that a lot of us are used to doing it online.
    Everybody who did it online before yesterday was happy with the set-up. Why did they change it?

    Kate W @39, what if they started to print the crossword in the centre of the page, to make folding more difficult?
    With no scribbling room.
    With a tiny, narrow font for the clues. (Which are printed on a different page)?
    I do buy the paper occasionally, and always at weekends, but I don’t want to have to get it every day. (As I said, I’d willingly pay a subscription, as before). Don’t have time. Don’t like wasting paper. That’s my choice.
    Besides, it’s advertising revenue that keeps papers going more than circulation (and I know it’s partly dependent on that).
    But please let the people who it affects have their say without considering their opinions.
    Thank you.

  48. sandra coleman says:

    thank you so much, derek #45 and ianN14 #46 for your concern. i now feel a bit churlish in being somewhat less than satisfied cf my post on gaufrid’s site. but i was delighted to find that change this morning – it has made all the difference. i can still do tg crossword!

  49. beermagnet says:

    This crossword 24,931 had new lease of life in a free cut-down small-size Guardian being handed out as a promotion at Waterloo yesterday evening (Monday 24th May). Just as well because the trains were all up the loop and I needed extra reading matter as it took 2 hours before I got a train home (well, I did retire to the pub for an hour to let the crowds settle).
    It was a great pleasure to re-solve this.
    I felt a bit silly that the penny didn’t drop for a few minutes – I sort of knew I must’ve solved it before, but it took till I looked at the CHEWBACCA clue, after reading about half the clues, for the memory cell to spark.

  50. mhl says:

    beermagnet: Oh, that’s nice to hear – it was certainly one of the more fun blog posts I’ve had to write :)

    The version of the Guardian that you get over here costs £3.60, so I’m also rather jealous of free newspapers of any kind…

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