Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,181 Paul for Autumnal Treat

Posted by Uncle Yap on November 30th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

I might have guessed that on the day of the first Meet The Guardian Team that the featured setter would have his puzzle published. Well, I have travelled some 7,000 miles to a bitterly cold London (it even started snowing last night or this morning) to attend and I know a treat awaits tonight.

The puzzle is peripherally themed on a device which allows for a choice of definitions, like KILL or CURE. As always, Paul’s clueing is very precise and fair and of course, a Paul puzzle would be incomplete without something mildly risque like 22Down, without doubt, my COD.

9 PROFITEER Ins of ROFIT (ins of FI, rev of IF in ROT, cobblers) in PEER (aristo) A spiv is a black-market dealer of say, hard-to-come-by ticket for a Wimbledon final between Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal
10 INANE *(A NINE presented as 9)
11 TROLL T (sounds like tea) ROLL (bread)
13 CLEARER Ins of LE (first and last letter of LigaturE) in CARER (nurse)
14 TREACLE Ins of R (last letter of sugaR) in TEA (drink) +*(ECLair)
17 SNAFU Reversal of Ins of FAN, supporter in US (America) US military slang from situation normal all fouled (or fucked) up
19 CON dd CONservative Party & TRICK or treat (answer to 22,20)
21 DRIVE-IN DRIP (intravenous device) minus P + VEIN (its target) Neat!
22 TRICK OR TREAT Ins of RICK (boy) in TORT (civil wrong) RE (about) A T (time) Trick-or-treating is a customary practice for children on Halloween seen in many countries. Children in costumes, either in large groups or accompanied by an adult, travel from house to house in order to ask for treats such as candy
24 HEARTBEAT Cha of HEAR (catch) TB (tuberculosis, disease) EAT (scoff) and of course you are ALIVE (answer to 26) with it
28 ARENA Ins of N (north pole) in AREA (zone)
29 PRICELESS P (power) RICELESS (without rice and paddy is rice in the husk)

1,8 SPITHEAD Ins of PITH (essence) in SEA (water) D (last letter of England) Spithead is an area of the Solent and a roadstead off Gilkicker Point in Hampshire, England. It is protected from all winds, except those from the southeast.
2 NO MORE *(MONROE) DEAD OR ALIVE in this clue gave us a choice of opting for DEAD as the def
3 KILL OR CURE Ins of L (pound) in KILO (weight) R (right) + ins of R (last letter of slimmeR) in CUE (signal)
4 DEAD OR ALIVE *(avoid leader)
5 BRIGHTON B (first letter of Blackpool) Right On (continuing straight)
6 GIFT Ins of F (female) in GIT (unpleasant type) for TREAT
7 MASSACRE Cha of MASS (the lot) ACRE (area) for KILL
13 CASED dd a joint is usually cased
15 EXTRICATED EX (Old) + *(CAT TRIED) oops, thanks for pointing out the oversight, Gaufrid
16 ESTER ha
18 ANIMATED Ins of I MATE (single friend) in AND (conjunction or joiner)
19 CONTEMPT Ins of ON (regarding) & TEMP (interim worker) in CT (court)
22 TITBIT Fantastic dd what children get when they go trick-or-treating and of course that delectable part of the female human breast. What a TREAT !
23 KAISER Ins of IS in K (King) and A ER (a Queen, Elizabeth)
24 HEAL sounds like HEEL (scoundrel) CURE, rather than kill is the def
25 TRAP I have been staring at this answer and clue for many minutes now and no inspiration except that TRAP & TRICK can be synonymous; GOT IT, to go is to PART, reverse that to get TRAP… Phew! Last one in.
27 EAST FEAST (meal) minus F

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

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,181 Paul for Autumnal Treat”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for another superb blog – nothing much to add to it. 25d was my last, too. I didn’t have trouble with this as the clueing was so good, nor needed aids except to verify 1,8 – it was all just a lot of good quite clean fun.

  2. Frank says:

    Thanks, UY, for another fine blog, though I would have thought 17 (which you coyly don’t spell out in full) rather more risque than the clever 22d – both clues that have the real Paul hallmark!

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap

    I enjoyed this but I was undone by 4 in the SW corner, having convinced myself that 24a was AVAILMENT which is even better than the required solution although it’s no help elsewhere.

    I never even though of TITBIT which shows what a good, clean-living lad I am.

    Enjoy yourself tonight!

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap – I’m glad the cold weather hasn’t dulled your blogging skills. This was tremendously good fun, even by Paul’s standards, and clever too, with all the linkages.

    See you (and maybe other readers?) tonight!

  5. Martin H says:

    Some head-scratching here – didn’t cotton on to the alternative solutions, so was aptly tricked.

    I read ‘paddy’ as a rice-field, which I think is how it is commonly understood in Britain (and perhaps makes more sense of the clue), rather than as rice in the husk – thanks for that definition UY.

    One or two uncomfortable surfaces here (9, 21 for instance) though for the device used in the latter I’d go further than you UY, and say very neat.

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Uncle Yap
    I think in 15dn you meant to say EX (old) *(CAT TRIED), or even EX CAT in TRIED, rather than *(Old CAT TRIED).

  7. Paisley says:

    So,TITBIT (22 down) is “mildly risque” according to Uncle Yap, yet SNAFU (17 across) passes without comment! Filth, pure filth.

    Admin: This comment has been posted by someone who uses multiple usernames when s/he wishes to be critical. To set the record straight, none of the usual references (Collins, Chambers and COED) lists 17ac as anything other than informal.

  8. scarpia says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.
    Another great puzzle from Paul
    Lots of fun with no ambiguity in the clues(or mistakes,like last week!).
    I liked the ‘linked alternative definitions’ device – took a bit of thought for me to work that out.
    SNAFU is often bowdlerised to ‘…all fouled up’ which I’m sure is what Paul meant. :)

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Paul

    An enjoyable puzzle. I managed all the ‘alternative’ clues and saw how they worked, but was less happy than previous commentators about the idea of simply having to choose. It is interesting that Paul eschews this mechanism in 24a (but not in 2d or 18d where he has a question mark). Then there is no Q mark in 7d.

    I imagine there is a reason I am missing for these variations and apparent inconsistencies?

    Lots of fun though including the construction itself of 24. Others for me included 29, 3, 4 26, 13d, 15, 22d and 27.

    re snafu, I have no problem. It is acc to Wikipedia sometimes bowdlerized to situation normal all fouled up.
    This seems as acceptable to me as ‘blinking heck’ would be.

    The only parsing point I missed was oddly the explanation of ‘d’ in Spit Head. Blind spots seem able to strike at any moment.

  10. retired pleb says:

    Long time with no comments from me, but an enjoyable puzzle while watching the snow. No probs apart from 25d, last in when the penny finally dropped !

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Feeling slightly chuffed because I finished it, which is rarely the case with a Paul. I think I’m starting to see why the fan club is so big: although I found it hard and only really understood the theme towards the end, I was entertained enough to keep plugging away, and like others, TRAP was my last to go in.

    Lots of clever clueing and a good sprinkling of wit to boot.

    Have fun and try not to freeze your 22 downs off tonight or tomorrow. I’m glad it’s not the Derby get-together, because we’d be struggling!

  12. tupu says:

    Hi Scarpia
    We overlapped re snafu as I broke off in the middle of writing my comment.

  13. Paisley says:

    Hello Admin (@7) It’s an attempt at humour. Look at the name, PAISLEY; check the unbowdlerised version of SNAFU; then consider the comment, “Filth. Pure filth”. And don’t rely on Collins, Chambers and the COED for the meanings of 2nd World War acronyms, or you’ll miss some wonderful treats.

  14. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for your informative blog, and to Paul for a bit of fun.

    I have very little to add to what goes before, except that I’d never thought of trolls as giants. Perhaps I’m influenced by the ugly little dolls that were in fashion when I was a kid :)

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. This was good fun. 29ac made me smile, as did 22dn.

    25dn was also the last one I got.

    Stella@14. I thought the same about TROLL as you did — had to check it to make sure.

  16. Kate says:

    Wonderful puzzle – for me, Paul will be inheriting Araucaria’s crown on the sad day when he leaves us. 25d was also the last one I got, like so many others.
    Wish I had managed to get tickets for tonight – I was away when they went on sale, and by the time I tried it was too late :(

  17. JimC says:

    Admin’s intervention regarding Paisley’s comment on SNAFU seems FU to me…

    Liked this crossword. Got very little on the first pass (On the first pass I ignore clues that reference other clues), but once I put the effort in it came together.

    I couldn’t quite work out why SPITHEAD, CONTEMPT, and DRIVE-IN were right, and never got TRAP.

  18. muck says:

    Thanks UY for your excellent, as always, blog
    And to Paul for a great puzzle

  19. tupu says:

    Hi all
    Can some sharp parser please comment on my worry @9 re consistency of Q marks etc. since it does not seem to fit with UY’s comment re precision. Is there a logic I am missing?

  20. Uncle Yap says:

    What a day ! At 4.30 I started off to Sydenham Hill station to get to Victoria and then to King’s Cross. I waited and waited in the freezing conditions and for two hours not a single train passed by (except for a non-stopping express train). My fellow sufferers asked where I was going and I told them. Unanimously, they said I should walk home and have a hot chocolate. If I do manage to eventually get to King’s Cross (no promise of time) the return journey would be just as hazardously uncertain. And in these wintry conditions, only mad dogs and Englishmen ….. (now where have I read this before?)

    So, with great disappointment, I walked back. Paul aka John Halpern, I will have to meet you another day. Andrew, Ivan and other bloggers/setters, hope tomorrow’s meet-up at Leicester Square will not be so cruelly disrupted.

    A very dejected Uncle Yap

  21. tupu says:

    Dear Uncle Yap
    I am extremely sorry and can appreciate your dejection after all your travels and travails.

  22. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks for the blog UY.

    Re your post at 20 – SNAFU – how horribly ironic.

    Tackle your very understandable dejection with a stiff brandy and think of the potentially horrendous return journey you are not having to make.

    I’m sure other attendees will share the highlights here or elsewhere on the site.

  23. Martin H says:

    Hi tupu @19 – Neither of the 3 down-referenced solutions has a question mark; of the other two sets, some have and some haven’t, as you note. I don’t claim to be a sharper parser than you or anyone else, but I can’t see any logic there either. Irrelevant, perhaps, simply an element of the surface? In the case of TRAP: trick-or-treat is itself a trap, and so the solution doesn’t necessarily refer only to ‘trick’, and there is no need to make a choice, but that has no bearing on the question-mark question. Paul is busy elsewhere – unless he’s suffered the same fate as Uncle Yap – so I don’t think we can expect enlightenment from him tonight.

  24. Graham H says:

    UY – you weren’t the only one who failed to get to King’s Place because of the weather and train mishaps. I’m afraid I had to give up too. Maybe another day…

  25. Dynamic says:

    Like most of your, 25d was my last in. Very enjoyable puzzle, thanks Paul and Uncle Yap. Sorry to hear you couldn’t make it to London, UY.

    Tupu, re your question @9 & @19, I’ve taken a look through. Wouldn’t say I’m a sharp parser, but I’d say that if the choice (e.g. TRICK or TREAT) is at the end it can make marginally more sense to phrase it as a question (i.e. which?)

    I think punctuation is somewhat optional and should often be ignored, especially in the Guardian, where it might be used to break up and disguise hidden word or anagram fodder or to suit surface reading. I believe the Times, for example, has rather prescriptive rules.

    Below are all the cross-reference clues and any others with punctuation

    19 ? Party trick or treat? [asks which?, but also could mislead as cryptic double def party-trick or a treat?)
    21 ? Drive-in [not an either-or clue, but ? indicates either def by example (cinema isn’t the only kind of drive-in entity) or is simply there for surface reading].
    24 ! [straight reference] the definition part “you’re alive with it!” is a somewhat cryptic defn-by-example and the surface indicates an exclamation “you’re alive with disease!”
    29 ! [quirky definition of riceless, surface reading refers obliquely to Paddy Power bookmakers and sounds like an exclamation]

    2 ? Monroe could be dead or alive? [asks which? of these definitions it is]
    3 ? kill or cure (extreme remedy – ? indicates ‘perhaps’)
    4,26 ? Dead or Alive (“WANTED” choice (example definition referring to Wanted poster, perhaps?)
    6 ? asks which: trick or treat? and suits surface reading
    7 [no punctuation, perhaps because definition at the start]
    13 ? surface is a question, enclosed is straight def, “might joint be…?” is a cryptic def/def by example, the whole clue is something of a cryptic/whimsical definition. I wasn’t entirely convinced my answer was correct with this clue and waited for checking letters and then used the CHECK button.
    18 ? Animated – asks which of dead or alive?
    22 ? (cryptic definition part, as in might you call a nipple a tit-bit? perhaps?)
    24 [no punctuation – choice or definition is at start of clue, ? would mislead away from straight homophone wordplay]
    25 [no punctuation – don’t know why it could not have a ‘which?’ question mark except that the surface reading suggests the imperative case, as in ‘Go up to the door and trick or treat’, but that could be phrased as a question too]

    My assumption is that there’s no blanket policy and each clue is considered individually by setter and editor hence the lack of total consistency for those looking for it. Certainly the quirky definitions and definitions by example would require an ! or ? as appropriate.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the punctuation, and having just seen Martin’s parsing, that seems to be sensible.

  26. tupu says:

    Many thanks as usual Martin H. I have been genuinely puzzled and have looked again in vain. It does not matter much to me as far as the puzzle is concerned, but it was UY’s ref. to ‘precise’ that raised it for me.

    Of course it is not an auspicious day to raise such issues when people have been busy enjoying the wit and imagination of the solver – if unlike poor UY they got there!

    Incidentally I wonder if this device was the innovation we heard about before Paul’s previous puzzle. It is quite clever but seems a little hard to handle. I don’t remember one emerging from the last one.

  27. tupu says:

    Hi Dynamic

    Many thanks. We crossed. It’s kind of you to take so much trouble. :)I’m not sure if our analyses exhaust the possibilities or simply us analysts!

    We still seem left with some small problems, but at this stage I suspect we just have to leave it at that and deem it a very witty and enjoyable puzzle!

  28. tupu says:

    ps :) Freud is at it again. For ‘solver’ please read ‘setter’ in 26!

  29. otter says:

    Haven’t posted here for some time for health reasons. Really enjoyed this puzzle today. Came back to it a few times, and have just squeezed in TRAP at 25d, having been TRICKed by it for some time. Thanks, Paul, for a lot of fun, and thanks to Uncle Yap for the blog. And UY, so sorry to hear your plans have been frustrated, To have come 6993 miles and have your journey end 7 miles from its destination is cruel indeed.

  30. Carrots says:

    So sorry that you didn`t make it to the Grauniad Crossword Fest. It had sold out by the time I heard of it, but a 7,000 mile pilgrimage on your part will probably prompt another one at some point in the future!

    Paul`s puzzle today took a whole snow-bound afternoon to complete, so no time in which for cabin-fever to develop. He`s a very clever and wily lad and I too would like to meet him one day.

  31. Paul says:

    Uncle Yap, I am so sad to have missed you, as I was really looking forward to saying hello. Thank you so much for the extraordinary effort you made to be here tonight. Thank you, and do take care. There will be another time soon. And do drop me a line and say hello via my website at

    Thank you also to all those who were there.

  32. Andrew says:

    Sorry about your transport problems, Uncle Yap – we missed you! Better luck tonight…

    Paul – thanks for dropping by: we had a very enjoyable evening and it was a pleasure to meet you.

  33. Colin Greenland says:

    Thanks, Uncle, for an excellent post. I finished easily enough but until I read this blog didn’t appreciate how many I’d failed to understand.

  34. Gwhite says:

    I had tittie for 22down. Same reasoning as Uncle Yap.

  35. Paul says:

    Andrew – thank you too! Glad you enjoyed it. All the best,


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