Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,127 / Paul

Posted by Uncle Yap on September 28th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

Another mastery offering from one of my favourite setters who is a deft hand at combining devilry and humour with a touch of risque in most of his puzzles. However challenging his clues may be, he always provides the occasions when you cannot help but laugh aloud.

1 CRUISER Cha of CRU (wine) IS ER (posh granny for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II aka Elizabeth Regina or ER :-)
5 UTRECHT Ins of TRECH (Rev of Hot + CERT, certainty or favourite) in UT (rev of ToUr)
9,7 AT THE COALFACE 27 is to DIG DEEP and “at the coalface” is to be employed in physical or practical work or directly involved with production, as opposed to administrative or managerial work; working in an exposed, difficult or dangerous situation. It may be timely to remember the Chilean miners who have been trapped underground for nearly two months now.
10 DATE STAMP Ins of A TEST (an exam) in DAMP (moist)
11 A FLAT MINOR A piano (answer to 26) being dropped to the coalface will result in a flat miner, which sounds like A Flat Minor, a musical key. The imagery of this clue, my COD, is priceless.
12 AFAR A FARm (grange) truncated in the distance
14 ARMED FORCES *(COMRADES + REF) with USED (conjointed with REF in refused) as anagrin. This cheeky device got a grimace from me
18 SMARTY-PANTS A clever clogs is a smarty-pants (brains in his trousers)
21 OMEN ha
26 PIANO cd
27 DIG DEEP Ins of G (first letter of great) DEE (British river) in DIP (swim)
28 NARRATE NARRA (rev of ARRAN, Scottish island) TE (TalE)

1 CRAVAT Ins of R (right) in CAVA (a white sparkling wine, similar to champagne, produced mainly in the Pened*s region of NE Spain) + T (last letter of jackeT)
2 UNTOLD Untold is very great (as in wealth) and great stories shouldn’t be untold
4 RADII RAD (sounds like raid, attack) II (two) What a lovely def, more than one spoke, misleading us to think of a public meeting whereas we should just look at a bicycle wheel.
5 UNTRODDEN *(TURNED ON D, last letter of fielD)
6 ROSE dd
8 TOP BRASS Ins of BRA’S (underwear) in TOPS (garments) Bra’s for big knobs? Carry on, Barbara Windsor
13 GOBSTOPPER Cha of GOB (spit) STOPPER (goalkeeper)
15 MOPPING UP Rev of PUG (dog) NIP (bite) POM (slang Down Under for Englishman abroad, an immigrant from the British Isles; a British (esp English) person in general. [Origin obscure; perhaps from pomegranate, alluding to the colour of the immigrants’ cheeks, or rhyming slang for jimmygrant, immigrant, or from the abbrev POME (Prisoner of Mother England) stamped on the shirts of early convict-settlers]
17,24 WATERING HOLE *(THE REGIONAL W, third letter of neWs)
19 HAVANA dd the Cuban cigar is too well-known but not so the straw hat
20 MYSORE Ins of YSOR (rev of ROSY, optimistic) in ME (setter)
23 TYSON Rev of NOSY (curious) T (time)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,127 / Paul”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    Glad to see Paul back to his puerile best – A FLAT MINOR is a very old schoolboy joke, plus all the rest.

    I don’t think there is a Havana hat so the answer to 19dn is probably PANAMA – they are reasonably well known for their cigars as well as the hats.

  2. NeilW says:

    I’ll leave your Australian audience to have the last word on the origin of POM – though I’d always heard it came from POHM “Prisoner of Her/His Majesty”.

  3. NeilW says:

    Sorry, UY, just googled Havana hats and you’re right. Curious clue as either answer could be right…

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. PANAMA for 19d occurred to me at once, as most of the answers. But there were some splendid ones that did take a little while, in the top left corner.

  5. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap, for your excellent blog. I had PANAMA for 19d; wasn’t aware of Havana hats. Thanks, also for the explaining Utrecht which I got but didn’t understand.


  6. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. Nice to have the blog up early. I really enjoyed this as is usually the case with Paul’s puzzles. Also pleased to have the risque references back.

    I must have gone to the wrong school because the Flat Miner pun was new to me. I admire the way Paul built COALFACE and PIANO into the answers and then brought them together. My COD as well.

    UTRECHT was my first in, probably because I visited 20+ times in the 80’s.

    I entered HAVANA first but then opted for PANAMA. I think Panama cigars are better known than Havana hats…

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Like you, I opted for HAVANA but, according to the online Solution. PANAMA is correct.

    GOBSTOPPER was my favourite.

  8. Brian (with an eye) says:

    I loved “posh granny” – that’s how I shall think of her from now! I confess to cheating on HAVANA/PANAMA, as I couldn’t see that either had a conclusive claim.

  9. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Uncle Yap. I enjoyed this – lots of top clues today, but frustratingly ended up not getting 19d. It’s a weak clue in an otherwise excellent puzzle, I think.

    “comrades ref used” raised a smile rather than a grimace from me, but I can see it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste :)

  10. Bryan says:

    I had heard of HAVANA cigars and PANAMA hats but not their other meanings (apart from the canal) – until now.

    In any event, does anyone still smoke cigars?

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, UY. Needed your explanation for the island in 28a.

    In 5a, I think the CERT is a HOT FAVOURITE (there are two HOTs in the clue).

    PANAMA for me, too.

    Chuckluved 11a.

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Paul

    A very good blog for an amusingly teasing puzzle.

    1a and 4d were very nicely misleading clues.

    11a not part of my schooldays either and raised a suprised chuckle.

    I was slightly disappointed by the pants repetition, but this is a small point in an clever and fun puzzle.

    I too had havana. It is not a very satisfactory clue really. Havana hats are less well known, as are Panama cigars, but either answer is perfectly possible as NeilW says..

    I must confess to have missed the ‘ref used’ idea and simply took ‘ref’ as a not wholly satisfying abbreviation! Shame on me, though I sometimes wonder if it is good for one to see such things all the time!

  13. Stella Heath says:


    Many thanks, Uncle Yap and Paul for a chuckling start to the day!

    I plumped for Panama at 19d, my last in, which was then confirmed by checking. I’ve never heard of a Havana hat.

    As I have accents on my keyboard, I’d just like to inform bloggers that the cava region is Penedés, in Cataluña. It’s a better drink than all but the most expensive champagnes, IMO :)

    1ac and 9/10, 26, 27 and 11 – Priceless!

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. Very amusing puzzle from Paul — I liked the linked clues! I held myself up by assuming 28ac ended in ABLE (backwards island) but eventually resorted to the check button which finally put me on the right track. Also put HAVANA at 19dn, corrected to PANAMA, again after using the check button. LIke others here, I didn’t know the Havana hat or the Panama cigar.

    Was slightly, but only very slightly, disappointed to see PANTS twice in the puzzle.

  15. Thomas99 says:

    I made the Havana mistake too. Let’s not pretend we were right. It’s true someone has labelled a range of hats “Havana” but it’s clearly not what Paul had in mind. I reserve the right to go on kicking myself.

    Panama cigars were actually quite well known 30 years ago (there were TV ads I think) – though they aren’t any more and I’m sure they were awful.

  16. NeilW says:

    Liz et al – I find nothing wrong with a pair of pants in a Paul puzzle! :)

  17. NeilW says:

    Thomas99 – if you google “Havana hats”, no4 is an Amazon ad for “Unique Havana Fedora Panama Hat Snap Brim”!! Even more interchangeable than I supposed…

  18. Coffee says:

    Had to cheat on 19D & was still baffled till Thomas99 – yes, I think my dad smoked them for while, now you mention it. Ugh… never heard of 16D, but the rest was fun. Big nobs indeed, ooh er matron!

  19. JS says:

    Panama cigars – remember them well though not sure if I ever smoked one. Anyone remember this TV advert from 1980?

  20. Thomas99 says:

    Good God! Yes I do remember that “Six Appeal” advert, now I see it again. Not a great work of art. No wonder I stayed a non-smoker.

  21. sidey says:

    You will be pleased to know that smoking corrugated card was preferable to Panamas.

  22. tupu says:

    Hi Uncle Yap

    I believe the ‘cru’ in ‘cruiser’ is ‘location of wine’ and not simply ‘wine’ itself.

  23. Colin Greenland says:

    I finished it, but would never have understood 1a or 5a without your explanations, Uncle Yap. 22a detained me for ages, though once it’s done it looks like a pretty simple clue. Clever stuff.

  24. Daniel Miller says:

    Splendid. My joint COD being 1 across (posh granny – ER) a great clue with a U in the answer to throw you a little bit – Aand the magnificent 15 d MOPPING UP.

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    No doubt that we are joining The Choir today.
    With so much Lightness & Wit, yet clever clueing too, we’ll forgive Paul the unelegant double use of ‘pants’ [in words that cross each other!]. For a moment we thought there would be a theme going on [having read the clue of 8d], but alas.
    And we’ll forgive Paul the rather unfortunate 19d, too.

    My personal Clue of the Day must of course be UTRECHT (5ac), as it is the (university) city in which I spent more than 35 years of my life before coming to England.

    Happy crossword, even though it was very easy (in our opinion) – but it’s only Tuesday.

  26. Sara says:

    Only new to this so relying on fifteen sq to work out how the clues work. How on earth is Arran an island from the east? Its pretty much west from everywhere in GB or is Paul an “Irish Setter?”

  27. FranTom Menace says:

    Sara, it’s Arran from the east, ie from east to west (right to left) = NARRA.
    We were really chuffed to complete this bar one, we both somehow got stumped by 17, 24, which was annoying considering we completed all the other clues. Like lots of others our favourite was referring to the Q-Monster as a posh granny. Brilliant stuff!

  28. tupu says:

    Further re ref + used. This is a little like Orlando’s 15 Sept. use of leg + ends though these were both part of the definition of ‘plates of meat’ whereas here one (ref)is part of the anagram and the other (used) a partial explanation of it. As I noted at 12 I have genuinely mixed feelings about the fact that I still often see such words for what they are in ordinary language. I am sure I could teach myself to do it, but I am personally not wholly confident about how easily I could ‘switch back to reality’ if I got very used to reading words as the sum of their component syllables. At the same time, I suppose the ability readily to parse most other forms of cryptic crossword clue is already an odd talent.

  29. Dad'sLad says:

    Hi Sara. Not entirely sure but I assume ‘from east’ is like reading from right(east) to left(west). So backwards.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi tupu.
    It seems to be a new trend in cryptics (at least in the Guardian) to break up words in quite an unconventional way.
    Though some might say, it’s time for new blood.

    We are used to ‘indeed’ for putting something in ‘deed’.
    And I’ve seen plenty of other examples in which prepositions are used.
    But I think ‘refused’ is a different matter.
    The word is split up more or less randomly, without looking at the etymological origins of the word that’s broken up.

    You mention Orlando’s ‘leg/ends’ as another one [even though it is even a bit of a chestnut].
    But what about Puck’s ‘w/inter’ for WESTBURY?

    I am not sure whether all this is something that I like, even though I am certainly not a crypto-conservative [as opposed to a crypto-communist :)].
    In a way I like it, in another way I don’t (due to the fact that I am not sure where this is leading to or even worse, is going to end).

    However, nowadays I am alert on situations like this, so it won’t catch me anymore.

  31. tupu says:

    Thanks Sil

    A very useful comment. I am aware that my own thoughts have been rather introspective – I’m not sure I want to learn automatically to see words in this way. But more objectively, it is certainly stretching the gap between the surface and solution pretty far as you seem to suggest when you wonder where it’s leading. At the same time is it really any worse than anagrams – though admittedly we do demand an ‘anagrind’ of one sort or another – or some charades? I am not seriously grumbling – more like ruminating – and it’s probably more a wish to keep at least a minimal grip on reality as I get older than anything else! :)

    Thanks too for your and others’ ‘welcome back’ yesterday. Much appreciated.

    p.s. I don’t know why, but Utrecht came very quickly to mind for 5a though I took some time to sort out how it works. I had a lovely half day there once, stopping there and wandering round the streets on my way back from a conference in Wageningen. It’s a beautiful city!!

  32. MadLogician says:

    I think 14 is a stretch twice over. Attaching the ‘used’ part of refused to mark an anagram in a separate word as well, and I don’t think that members of the armed forces regard those who won’t fight as ‘comrades’. Both of these in one clue is overdoing it in my book.

  33. tupu says:

    Hi MadLogician
    Thanks for highlighting late night confusion in my question @31 ‘is it worse than anagrams’. I should have asked is it much ‘worse’ than more ordinary anagrams, and the answer must be ‘yes’ because, as you bring out, (and as I myself note @ 28 and then forget) the anagrind and part of the anagram are contained in the same word.

  34. Martin H says:

    I see no problem with ref-used. Words are broken up regardless of their etymology, Sil, in charades, as tupu points out. The only issue here is that we have content and function combined in the one word. A stretch, as MadLogician says? Well it’s rather unusual, but surely the only question is: is it fair? Yes, I’d say – it’s staring the solver in the face, as all fair devices should, however devious, and indeed more obviously than some.

    Suppose the surface had been different and we’d been given this: ‘…..comrades and refused…..’ for the same anagram? ‘And’ is frequently used like that. Still fair? I’m just ruminating too, tupu, and I suppose there must be a point, perhaps to do with the complexity of the surface, where we say, “too far”. Puck’s w/inter was fine, I think, because the surface was simple and the device was clearly there for the seeing. (I didn’t see it at the time myself, but that was my fault, not Puck’s).

  35. Roger says:

    An interesting discussion, tupu, Sil and others, regarding ‘refused’. Have to say I welcome this evolution (is that what it is ?) in the way clues are being constructed and just about any trick works for me (need I mention the , !). It all helps to keep the brainbox ticking over. Perhaps some new catch-word for the hidden anagrind is needed (hanagrind is a bit boring, but might do !).

    An enjoyable puzzle, and definitely not pants, despite those two answers …

  36. Paul B says:

    Clue surfaces are entirely arbitrary, unless the clue is a CD (in which case it doesn’t have a surface in the usual sense) so, as a setter or a solver, all you have to do to establish fairness is make up your mind as to whether or not what’s being said (at the cryptic level) is what is meant.

    On this, it should be noted that few editors would allow anagrind and fodder to be run together as one word. Why? Because there’s an unindicated operation solvers must perform (or infer, or deduce) in order to solve the clue.

  37. tupu says:

    Hi Paul B

    Thanks for further clarification.

  38. crosser says:

    Stella Heath @ 13 “As I have accents on my keyboard, I’d just like to inform bloggers that the cava region is Penedés, in Cataluña. It’s a better drink than all but the most expensive champagnes, IMO”

    Stella, since the Catalan language is now used officially again in Catalonia, we should write “Catalunya”. :) And I agree that cava can be delicious.

  39. Sil van den Hoek says:

    The fact that ‘refused’ is a combination of fodder and indicator, was [I would say, of course] a key point, although indeed I didn’t mention it in my post #30.
    In #36 Paul B made clear how editors look at this – fair enough, I think.

    But for me personally, not every single ‘breakdown’ is one of a kind.
    Martin H says in #34, “Words are broken up regardless of their etymology in charades”.
    Well, I am not so sure if that happens so very often in CLUES.
    And the word ‘charade’ is definitely more linked to a type of SOLUTION.
    I don’t think I would call a thing like ‘legends’ or ‘winter’ in a clue a ‘reverse charade’.

    For me, breaking down ‘in/deed’, ‘after/math’ or ‘over/grown’ have a different feel than splitting up ‘leg/ends’ or ‘w/inter’.
    One may say, breaking down is breaking down, and it’s Crosswordland, so why bother?
    My intuition tells me that breaking down ‘in/duction’ or ’round/about’ [to give a few more examples] is more natural (because perhaps related to the etymological origins of the word) than breaking down ‘w/inter’ or ‘eg/g-man’ [goo goo g’joob :)] in a CLUE (!!).

    It’s not about what’s acceptable [when looking at the rules of Crosswordland] – one can say yes or no anyway – but about the fact that perhaps one is more ‘acceptable’ than the other, due to the nature of the breakdown.

    I don’t mind seeing these relatively new devices in (Guardian?) crosswords nowadays – as long as there is no overdose, they make me smile.
    At the same time I fear that there will be anarchy if we allow every single part of a clue to be broken down in random parts.

    Especially with regard to incorporating the device into one of such parts, we should be rather careful.
    ‘Refused’ is near the limit, I think.
    If we allow these things, then we should also allow, for example, ‘The underground’ for DEER HUNT.
    Some may find this clever, but I am not sure whether we should want this (as a common thing).
    Allowing these kind of devices looks fun, but it has huge consequences for crosswords, in my opinion.

  40. Huw Powell says:

    Fun puzzle. Thanks Rude Paul, and Uncle Yap.

    I managed to finish this all on my own, which is always fun. I even figured out most of the tricky cryptic parts after getting the solution.

    I’m not counting HAVANA as wrong, especially since up above the blog gives that answer. Now, along the way, I never popped up Panama, which would have forced me to research – yes, one is definitely a hat, and the other a smoke, but which is both? And research would not have resolved it, would it now? This raises an issue I have had in the back of my mind for ages while solving these – obviously in many places, several or even many words would “fit” (banana, sahara, la-la-la, cabana, papaya, here for instance), but of course only one fits the clue properly – either the def. or the crypt. doesn’t match the “wrong” answers. Finally we have an example where two different words are both technically correct. Whichever Paul meant (PANAMA?), it probably never occurred to him (naughty naughty Paul!) or his editor that there was an alternate solution. Someone should definitely be sacked, and perhaps flogged in public as well.

    I slid right over the REF/used controversy, didn’t bother me at all. Once I guessed ARMED FORCES, I looked at the slue and saw it was an anagram of COMRADE REF. Then I thought, “why only part of the word and where’s the anagrind? Oh, yes, I see – ‘used’. Fair enough.”

    I really really loved the interacting clues, the style was very unique, in my opinion. I like that Paul didn’t try to drag POISON GAS into the party.

    I didn’t even notice the “pair of pants” (must have solved them hours apart, I take little cracks at these things over days, sometimes), but I think it was a pretty sparkle having seen it pointed out here.

    Again, thanks, and please email me when the public flogging will be on television.

  41. Huw Powell says:

    PS, I really wanted HAVANA to be Spanish for heaven, but that wasn’t happening.

  42. Uncle Yap says:

    The PANAMA / HAVANA dilemma is not a common mistake. Ximenean rules dictate that each clue in a puzzle should have one and only one unique solution but mere mortals like Paul & Uncle Yap will, once in a blue moon, make such a boo-boo. I once clued a cd
    Prepare for take-off (5) with ?N?I? in a competition puzzle and was forced to accept

  43. Dawn says:

    The printed solution in the paper had Panama for 19d, as did I.

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