Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25214 by Paul

Posted by bridgesong on January 15th, 2011


Solving time : about two hours, and it was some hours later that I finally understood a couple of the solutions. A very enjoyable challenge with all the liberties we have come to expect from Paul. I attach a link to the pdf of the puzzle, although of course the annotated solution should be available soon after this post appears.

1 TOP SPOT A palindrome
5 PINHEAD P IN HEAD. I suppose the question mark in
the clue just about validates this very libertarian clue (P for pillock?).
10 BREATHING This was the last clue I solved, and the analysis of the structure only occurred to me some hours later. The definition is “Stiff won’t be” and the word play is (flexibl)E in BRA THING. Again the question mark draws attention to what is a very libertarian piece of cluing.
11 HOMOEROTIC *ROMEO in HOT IC(e). A clever surface reading.
12,5d VICE PRESIDENT The puzzle’s theme, and a well-constructed anagram.
18 NECROMANTIC NEC + ROMANTIC. My favourite clue; I had been searching for a word beginning with IN (the centre of BirmINgham).
21 LIDO LID + O.
22 CLOSE SHAVE C (third letter of MICE) + LOSES + HAVE.
26 IOTAS Hidden in “lothario tasting”.
28 OVERRAN OV (a Russian ending) + ERRAN(d).
2 PANAMA NA in PA and MA.
4 TABOO A BOOT, with the last letter taken to the front.
6 NUTS Double definition.
7 ELIGIBLE Brilliantly hidden and reversed in “wheel, big, I levered up”.
8 DOGBERRY ERR in BY after DOG (a setter is a type of dog). Dogberry is the confused constable in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
15 CHARLOTTE Double definition.
16 UNCLE SAM *NUCLEA(r) + M(issile)S. SAM can mean a surface to air missile, but I don’t think Paul is making use of that here.
19,27 WALTER MONDALE ALTER + N in MOD, all in WALE(s). Walter Mondale was vice-president to Jimmy Carter.
20,14 NELSON ROCKEFELLER NELSON (columnist!) + ROCK + E FELLER. Vice-president under Gerald Ford.
23,9 SPIRO AGNEW *(GAINS POWER). Vice-president to Richard Nixon, before being compelled to resign. As I’m sure Paul is well aware, there is another well-known anagram of this name which he must have been tempted to use.
24 WHOA WHO + A.

48 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25214 by Paul”

  1. Jan says:

    Thank you for the blog, bridgesong. I was a bit surprised to see it, I haddn’t realise it is past midnight!

    I read 5a as P being the HEAD of PIN.

  2. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Last Saturday I thought, let’s write a comment today (which was last Saturday).
    The reason?
    Well, I was/we were so enthusiastic about this puzzle that I wanted the world to know that Paul really deserved the 1 Across.

    There is so much right in this puzzle, Paul’s “humour” (plus state-of-the-art constructions) in 10ac,11ac and 3d – great surfaces in clues like 16d and 18ac.

    But then, last Tuesday, a colleague came to me, saying “Did you do last Saturday’s crossword?”
    “Yes, I did, enjoyed it very much”
    “That NUTS clue, it’s just awful”
    “Nuts don’t secure crews, they secure bolts. That Paul is surely nót a practical man”
    “And ‘P for pillock’ – that’s just crap”

    Bloody hell, I/we thought this was Paul at his very best, and then this.
    ‘P for pillock’ – for us it was clear that it had to PINHEAD.
    P is the head of Pin [as Jan confirms], and ‘pillock’ is the definition.
    P is also the head of a lot of other things, isn’t it?
    In his November lecture Paul referred to these kind of clues and he said that he wasn’t that keen on them nowadays – but: there he was ……

    Apart from my colleague’s opinion on this crossword, we thought this was sheer quality!
    Great stuff.

    And thank you, bridgesong!!

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Bridgesong and Welcome!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this after having had to dig deep to recall all the Vice Presidents. If Paul had included any more I am sure I could have floundered.

    As it was I tried in vain to make Lyndon Johnson work rather than Walter Mondale.

    Well done Paul and many more of the same please.

  4. Dynamic says:

    Got to agree this was excellent. I’d tend to say that screws being secured by nuts is OK in my book, given the humour, and bolts contain screws in the sense that a screw can be any helical groove or thread. Failing that, a bawdier interpretation of NUTS being “Items securing screws” might work!

    I just enjoyed the clue and moved on. I thought 5a was an acceptable clue and thought only of PINHEAD, but waited for checking letters before putting it in – I enjoy this type of clue, but it does usually leave doubt in one’s mind.

    Also thought 25 was rather nice and enjoyed the thematic answers. I had to rely on wordplay to get the forename Nelson in 20d, which I thought was very clever once I ruled out Jenson and the like. Also thought 11a had a great surface and lovely misdirection that forced me to carefully parse the wordplay to rule out answers implying the opposite sense (though I probably would’ve got it sooner if I had checking letters near the end of the word at the time). And agree that 18a was excellent.

    The one I really struggled with was 8d, which I have come across before but had almost forgotten. I had Dog, but By and Err were clever but the word was outside my comfortable vocabulary. Ended up doing a pattern search to finish the puzzle.

    Many thanks to Paul, whose humour and invention always works for me, and Bridgesong.

  5. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Paul and bridgesong. I enjoyed this one and echo previous comments. I had to resort to the internet to confirm that the National Exhibition Centre was in Birmingham and it took a while to realise ‘ov’ was the Russian equivalent of ‘son’ in surnames.

  6. Coffee says:

    Thanks for this- had given up on the NE corner & forgot about it till today. Shame, because I enjoyed the rest , especially the veeps.

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong, and Paul for one that tested while needing no aids. 11a totally typical of the setter and so immediately gettable – but then so was 10a, and that was second last in, just before 4d, a neat clue. Likeable also 22a, and 18a which tested dim Brum memories. Ditto the almost-forgotten US VPs: the theme popped up before any of the incumbents.

  8. bridgesong says:

    Thanks, all, for your comments.

    Has anyone else had a look at today’s prize puzzle? The one printed in my copy of the paper appears to be a repeat of a puzzle published in December, and completely different from the (presumably correct) one on the website.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, I was just about to comment on this, bridgesong; I had a feeling of deja vu, and fairly quickly found the original. I still was stuggling to do it though!

  10. Robi says:

    Thanks Paul and bridgesong for an entertaining puzzle and blog.

    As I didn’t understand 28, I finished with OVERRUN, rather than overrAn; thanks for the explanation. I thought 5a was actually quite clever, although it took me ages to solve.

  11. Mr Beaver says:

    We struggled over 5a, it was one of the last to go in. This type of clue, IMO, you either get straight away or have to wait until crossing letters make it clear. I guess that’s why some don’t like them, but I think unconventional clues add to the gaiety of the puzzling nations, as long as they’re used in moderation.
    And BRA THING was very Paul :) One is almost disappointed to see one of his puzzles without a ration of mild smut!

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Paul

    An excellent puzzle that took some well-spent time to solve.

    Some very clever and entertaining clu(e)ing as listed above. 10a and 18a were probably my favourites. Even after I had seen 18 and understood ‘nec’, I was momentarily toying with ‘roman’ (candle) before the proper parsing ‘clicked’.

    5a is a bit confusing. The step is from
    ‘pin head’ to ‘pinhead’. But can one ask what is the definition? A case can be made for both ‘p’ and ‘pillock’, each in its own way (p = pin head and pillock = pinhead) but in the end both are needed – so the whole clue defines the answer and makes the above step plausible. Heavy weather????

    I notice that my paper has another Paul today but I have not looked hard at it nor checked it against a December issue.

  13. paul8hours says:

    Thanks bridgesong for clarifying a few answers that I put in gratefully and moved on from. Thanks to Paul for another great puzzle and also for a very jovial appearance on the radio yesterday which hopefully will have enthused a few more people about the joys of cryptic crosswords. He does still seem a wee bit paranoid about people hating him !

  14. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, bridgesong and Paul.

    Re today’s puzzle: when you do look at it, tupu, you’ll find there are no clues for 1, 5 and 9ac. I went online to find them – and found a completely different puzzle, from 15th December. I was equally shocked to discover, like Dave E, that I remembered very little of it – and it was I who blogged it, less than a month ago. Oh dear. :-(

  15. Carrots says:

    For me, this is as good as it gets: many, many thanks P & B/S.

    Unfortunately I was busy having a collision in my car just before P was due to be interviewed on the radio….does anyone know if the programme is on i-player and, if it is, how I find it?

  16. Rog says:

    The first 3 across clues are there in the paper edition, but above the prize books. Bad day for the Guardian. I’m glad I’m not the only one who had no recollection of many of the clues, and struggled to re-solve a few of them!

  17. John H says:

    A bit of a screw up in the processed wood version i think. Seen the clues before and they bear little relationship to the grid. Ah – just seen where 1 to 9 across are. Shum mishtake shurly croshwurd shupremo – thatsh Shatterday shcrud up. It should be number 25,220 not 194. Pity deja vu is not one of the answers. Have to slum it with the Times now.

  18. paul8hours says:

    Carrots at 15. Try this when seated safely in your armchair at home.

    John Halpern’s piece starts around 5 minutes in

  19. John H says:

    however, on the plus side i won £10 from Mrs JH as she bet that the unsettling animal picture of the week would be the cross eyed opussum and i said it would be the fuzzy baby gorilla. On the down side she took a tenner out of my wallet to pay her gambling debt. Is one of the answers “zero sum game” ?

  20. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Roger – I’m even more scatty than I thought!

    It’s a fortunate ‘accident’, though: if I hadn’t thought the clues were missing, I wouldn’t have gone online and discovered the duplication, which might have caused me mega embarrassment, since I’m down to blog today’s puzzle!

  21. Carrots says:

    Paul8hours: Many thanks for the web-link. I`ve just listened to it. I thought Paul`s “I torture people for a living” is the understatement of the year. “Torture” is relatively benign compared with what the lad sometimes subjects us to!

  22. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen (et al)
    As you say ( :) or meant to I suspect) the Paul puzzle in hard copy is from 15 December. The puzzle online , which I have now printed off is by Araucaria and is correctly numbered 25,220. I used to think it was only Sudoko that I forgot with goldfish-like rapidity, but it has become much the same with crosswords I now find. A goood thing probably that the brain has some ability to dispose of excess baggage – especially when it comes in such large quantities!

  23. tupu says:

    :) Goood is very good, gooood is brilliant, god perhaps deserves marks for trying in a pretty terrible world. I should learn to type!

  24. Stella Heath says:

    😆 tupu!

    Thanks for the blog, Bridgesong.

    I tried this last Saturday, but only got anywhere in the SW corner, then got stuck on what for many was a great clue, 18ac, having no idea of Birmingham other than that its inhabitants tend to pronounce it with a hard ‘g’, and no idea what Nec is – this has now been cleared up. So my first thought turned out to be correct, but I didn’t enter it as I was unable to parse it, and didn’t want to mess up the SE.

    Another stumbling block was the theme clue, which however occurred to me at first glance this morning, grr! After that, things went pretty well. I liked 5ac once I saw it, as well as too many others to mention.

    Thanks, Paul, for a great puzzle. It’s not your fault I was feeling thick at the beginning of the week :)

  25. Carrots says:

    Having completed today`s Araucaria prize puzzle, I now find myself in the daft situation of being unable to complete the “paper” puzzle by Paul, which I`m pretty sure I did complete in December! Yet another manifestation of the “Silver-Tops Lethe Loopy Syndrome”….any other new members?!?

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots

    See my comment 14 – I’m much worse than you!

  27. Carrots says:

    Auntie E: your consoling message is dearly cherished…and it looks like tupu (among others) is also eligible to join the club. But, he`ll probably plead the Groucho caveat, along with other dwellers of the riverbank. Wait until I get my new Beep-Beep (pranged the existing one yesterday) then we can all have such fun!

  28. Coffee says:

    The only paper one I get at this side of the world is in The Guardian Weekly & the crossword’s usually from the past 7-10 days, so I’ve probably done them on-line (not like the old days when the Weekly was my big treat!) – but the one which arrived this Friday was the Paul one from Thursday’s web site, though the Weekly claimed it first appeared in The Guardian on 30th December, 2011. Yes, 2011 – I shall Tardis over there and check.

  29. NeilW says:

    If anyone is still paying attention… yesterday’s prize is still mildly messed up by the Grauniad online. Spent ages trying to get the long clue because the middle bit is highlighted as 22 down when it should be 22 across. It doesn’t indicate which is correct which doesn’t help. (I don’t think, Gaufrid, that this qualifies as unfair comment on a prize.)

  30. Eileen says:

    Hi Neil

    I wouldn’t call it ‘mildly’. It was bad enough that it was not specified in the puzzle which 22 belonged to the long clue [and 22dn seemed eminently possible as part of a quotation] but then to highlight the wrong one …!

    These ‘glitches’ are getting beyond a joke. This is the third Saturday in a row where the answers to the prize puzzle have been available on the day!

  31. Martin H says:

    Bit late – busy weekend. Just wanted to say what a fine puzzle I thought this was. ‘Pinhead’ is pretty straightforward really – it took me a while to get it, trying to find some valid wordplay for ‘pinball’ instead. I raised one eyebrow at nuts being for screws, but otherwise full of terrific clues – Paul at his best.

    Thanks for the radio link paul8hours. I thought Paul could hardly get a word in sometimes, but was glad to hear him say he tried not to repeat clues, and that he can spend eight hours compiling a puzzle. That sort of care shows. Thanks Paul.

  32. tupu says:

    Hi Neil W and Eileen

    I also got yesterday’s 25,220 on line because of the mix up. The printable version which I used for a hard copy contains no problems, so I was fortunately unaffected by the highlighting idiocy or the over printing which I notice now on checking the interactive version. No wonder you are both so irritated. Quite unacceptable!

  33. tupu says:

    Hi Martin H

    Screws surely include both the tapering variety and ‘bolts’. The key thing is that they are threaded. OED defines a screw as follows ‘I. The general name for that kind of mechanical appliance of which the operative portion is a helical groove or ridge (or two or more parallel helical grooves or ridges) cut either on the exterior surface of a cylinder ( male screw) or on the interior surface of a cylindrical cavity (female screw).

    Despite the regular combination of ‘nuts and bolts’, a bolt is not necessarily threaded at all, so many of them cannot be combined with a ‘nut’.

    And of course the clue contains two definitions of the answer in any case.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Oh, how glad I am that we used the pdf version, which was perfectly alright!
    I prefer them anyway [even if I buy the newspaper every Saturday, while the other days of the week my workplace provides a copy] – you can blow them up to a size even clearer than the paper version.
    I find it so much nicer to solve a puzzle on a piece of paper rather than staring in front of a screen. [And I’m not thát old-fashioned, don’t worry :) ]

    But, of course, it’s unacceptable that online 22d is indicated (in yellow) where it should be 22ac.
    I think, though, when the (long) across clue says 23,25,26,22,11,7,10 , the fourth number (22) does indicate that it’s across. When like here the number cán be both across and down, there will only be an indication when the direction is different from the first one (23). So, it will say “22” when it’s across and “22down” when it’s down.

    But we’re going off-topic now, although looking at the number of posts dealing with Saturday’s puzzle, I’m not to blame.

    With a lot less words, Martin H (#31) expresses exactly the same feeling I had about this fantastic crossword.

    “Thanks for the radio link paul8hours. I thought Paul could hardly get a word in sometimes”.
    Yes, Martin, you’re right, but then John Halpern is the kind of friendly man that doesn’t put himself too much at the forefront [an opinion only based on what I saw of him last November – and although I am a somewhat different type, I dó like that]. It wasn’t really an in depth interview, was it? But then, although very enjoyable, his ‘lecture’ in London wasn’t either. And there were some things on the radio that he also told us on that occasion, like, for example, that he isn’t a good (or fast) solver himself – something that I do understand: compiling a crossword is a great job (when you’re good at it like he is) but completely different from solving crosswords eventually – in a way, I feel more or less the same difference, be it on a much lower level.

    Just one more thing.
    Eileen (#30), what do you exactly mean by “This is the third Saturday in a row where the answers to the prize puzzle have been available on the day!” ?
    Just out of curiosity.

  35. Martin H says:

    Hi tupu – Chambers too makes all screws cylindrical – conical or tapering doesn’t get a mention – so I have a number of woodscrews which are not screws at all, it seems. However, you’re right of course, bolts do come under ‘screw'; I probably knew this unconsciously, which is why I raised only one eyebrow. But yes, please delete ‘but otherwise’ from my entry above.

  36. Martin H says:

    Hi Sil – we crossed a while ago, but I’ve only just noticed. Glad we agree about the quality of this one. The difference between setting and solving is, although in some aspects obvious, an interesting (and not simple) one. It would be interesting to know how setters generally find solving. What constitutes ‘quick’ is of course very different for the two activities, at least for a quality setter like Paul.

  37. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    Do you remember over the Christmas week the Guardian puzzles were accessible a day early each day? This meant that, in some versions, the Prize puzzle for 1st January came with the ‘cheat’ button enabled.

    I couldn’t remember the details about last weekend but I’ve just found this comment on the Guardian’s comment column:

    “I wanted to access the Prize just after midnight, the list on the left was still ‘pointing’ to 25,213 (for some reason this link on the left often doesn’t get updated for some time after midnight) so I typed 25214 into the search box. This led to a screen with 2 links displayed:

    Cryptic Crossword 25,214 by Paul
    Prize Crossword 25,214 by Paul

    Obviously both links led to the same crossword – the Prize – but the link to the ‘Cryptic’ displayed the crossword with the Cheat & Solution buttons enabled.”

    Then yesterday, of course, people doing the ‘Prize’ Paul puzzle printed in the paper could access the solution either in the Guardian archive or on this site.

    What a mess.

    I see they awarded prizes for the 1st January puzzle but not, apparently, for the 8th. [But, as usual, no explanation / apology given.]

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    tupu (#33), this is what Wikipedia says about screws:

    “A screw, or bolt, is a type of fastener characterized by a helical ridge, known as an external thread or just thread, wrapped around a cylinder. Some screw threads are designed to mate with a complementary thread, known as an internal thread, often in the form of a nut or an object that has the internal thread formed into it.”

    There is a picture going along it, but I have never seen any of them going into a nut.
    So, I am still inclined to believe my colleague (see #2) who is quite a handyman [especially since Wiki says “a screw, or bolt” which is, I think, dubious].

    But I also see the neatness of the clue otherwise, which doesn’t make it a real issue within this, I repeat, fantastic crossword.

  39. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, Eileen, I wasn’t here during the Festive Season, and couldn’t access the Guardian site from where I was.
    Therefore, luckily, it all passed me by completely.
    But I will be in Derby, where – I hope – things won’t pass me by ….. :)

  40. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    Many thanks for the wikipedia ref. I’m afraid I think it is wrong (or at least incomplete). Though not all screws are bolts, not all bolts are threaded and as such screws – take the sort that slides into a rounded slot to hold a door shut. Also note that cyclinders do not of themselves have points.

    OED lists the following for bolt under the general heading of ‘A stout pin for fastening’.
    ‘A stout metal pin with a head, used for holding things fast together. It may be permanently fixed, secured by riveting or by a nut, as the bolts of a ship; or movable, passing through a hole, as the bolts of a shutter’. As far as I can see none of the OED entries lists ‘threading’ as an intrinsic part of the idea.

    Do you have any experience of Meccano or similar construction toys based on ‘nut and bolt’ fastening? There the threaded bolts are often spoken of simply as screws.

    Incidentally, what is the Dutch word for a headed cylindrical threaded bolt? As I’m sure you know, German has Schraube (surely cognate with ‘screw’). [It also interestingly has the explicitly gendered form ‘mutter’ for a nut].

    I naturally agree with you that it is not an issue for the excellent quality of the crossword.

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Martin

    :) I did register, after writing, that it was only one eyebrow! So I must confess to you and Sil that I seem to have got carried away and resorted to a hammer, if not quite to ‘crack a nut’, at least to serve as what we used to call (no doubt unjustly) an American screw-driver. Of course it’s all a matter of the unsystematically overlapping meanings of words (both single and in pairs) in natural language that we have noted before.

  42. mike says:

    I was so pleased to finish a prize crossword quite quickly, then I find it was not the real one which is an Araucaria number 25,220 and mine was a Paul numbered 25194 from last week and printed again in error. Oh well, the grauniad lives and breathes.

  43. Carrots says:

    Tupu: thanks indeed for your chat-up line (I don`t think I`ve ever used one so subtle before): “Hello Dearie….have you got an interior surface of a cylindrical cavity going spare???” Can`t fail…I`ll let you know how I get on once they let me out of A & E.

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, tupu (#40), if you really want to know [despite the fact that I should go to bed by now], there is a word for ‘screw’ in Holland and it is called ‘schroef’. The confusing thing is, though, that many people consider a ‘schroef’ to be something what should be called a ’bout’ [= ‘a bolt’].
    So, in the end, well … I don’t know.

    BTW, enjoyed this crossword?
    Then take a look at yesterday’s FT Prize puzzle, where Mudd (Paul’s alter ego) has one of his better offerings as, yes, of course, Mudd.

  45. Coffee says:

    @paul8hours – thanks for the link, very entertaining.
    @ Sil – did the right side of Mudd very quickly then ground to a halt- left side is blank! Will try again…

  46. REGALIZE says:

    We sat in the pub
    We drank it all up -the clues, the words and Araucaria
    Then someone came in with the PAPER and then – it was all
    gone awry when we saw it was Paul.
    With strange bits into the aetheria.
    What do we do? Oh, damn,just do the clue,
    let someone else do the work of sorting it out.
    Have we seen this before? Well of course,
    But who would remember, twas weeks ago love
    So enjoy what you get, whether paper or net,
    It don’t really matter when push comes to shove

  47. Maxine says:

    I wondered why nobody seemed to be remarking about 2d. The 2d clue printed here in Australia reads ‘(Smoke overhead?)’ until I looked up the Guardian version of this crossword.

    BTW the brackets in the clue were squared not rounded as I have typed.

    Why would your clue ‘Land in North America squandered by parents’ be changed to ‘(Smoke Overhead?)’ for the Aussie version ???

    Needless to say I couldn’t solve the clue.

    Thanks for all the comments.

  48. timon says:

    Never mind what the references say about screws and bolts, here’s the real difference.
    Both are “threaded fasteners”, either may take a nut or fit a hole with the corresponding thread cut (tapped) into it. In the case of a machine screw (as distinct to, say, a wood screw) the thread goes all the way up to the head. A bolt only has roughly half of the shaft threaded, the section below the head is not. Useful, eg. if you are using it to close a link and something will be running over it where a thread would damage or be damaged.
    Hope this helps.
    I only wish I was as good at solving as understanding this arcane stuff (or my pal bridgesong).

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