Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,261 / Paul

Posted by mhl on March 4th, 2011


A fun crossword from Paul with a nice theme – not too difficult for a Friday. There are some excellent clues here – enough that I won’t try to list all my favourites here :)

The theme is that of positions in Rugby Union; I’ve put those in italics in the post. There are some other rugby allusions as well, such as TACKLE and “goalpost” for H in 11a. (Thanks to my partner for explaining LEFT WING and NUMBER EIGHT to me, which for some reason escaped me…)

1. POOL TABLE POTABLE = “Describing an easy ball” around [h]OL[e] = “middle of hole”; Definition: “this?”
8. LEFT WING LEG = “cricket side” around F[ootball] = “start of football” + TWIN = “match”; Definition: ” Position”
9. DIRECT DI RECT sounds like “Dai Wrecked” or “Welshman fuddled”; Definition: “outspoken”
10. TYPIST The second of this nice pair of homophones: TY PIST sounds like “Thai pissed” or “Asian fuddled”; Definition: “key worker”
11. HARRUMPH A + R = “right” + BACK = “rump” between H and H = “the goalposts” (in Rugby); Definition: “Disapprove”
12. AS WELL A + SWELL = “balloon”; Definition: “to boot”
15. TWOPENNY (T NEW PONY)*; Definition: “Not worth much”
16. HALF-LOAF A great surface reading in this clue: F[ascist] in HALL follwed by OAF = “twit”; Definition: “Bit of a bloomer”
19,23. NUMBER EIGHT UMBER = “Shade” + [visibl]E = “visible, finally” in NIGHT = “dark”; Definition: “position”
21. ORNATELY (TYROLEAN)*; Definition: “in baroque style”
22. HOOKER Double definition: “Position” and “she’s bought for favours”
24. TACKLE ELK and CAT reversed = “animals from behind”; Definition: “Get stuck into”
25. ANTS EGGS ANTS = “Soldiers” + EGGS = “what are they dipped in?”; Definition: “Fish food!” – apparently?
26. REAR The last letters of “Under the sea, four”; Definition: “one [bottom]?”
27. DIFFERENT IF = “condition” + REF = “judge” reversed in DENT = “hole”; Definition: “Unusual”
1. PIETY PITY = “Shame” around E = “English”; Definition: “holiness”
2,17. OUTSIDE FLANKER (ON FIELD TRUE ASK)*; Definition: “Position”
3. TWIST Double definition: “Dance” and “surprising end”
4. BAGSHOT BAGS = “luggage” + HOT = “stolen”; Definition: “Surrey town”
5. EIDERDOWN (I WONDERED)*; Definition: “something for the night”
6. PERFUME F = “strong” in RUM = “spirit”, all in PEE = “leak”; Definition: “Smell”
7. OCCUPANCE CO = “Company” reversed + CUE = “stick” around PAN = “blast” + C = “a hundred”; Definition: “residence”
13. STAIRCASE STAIR sounds like “stare” = “look” + CASE = “patient”; Definition: “Steps”
14,6across. LOOSEHEAD PROP (DOOR HAS PEOPLE)*; Definition: “position”
18. FLY HALF A reverse clue: “gn?” might be half of GN[at] or a FLY HALF; Definition: “Position”
20. MIOCENE (COME IN)* + E[xplode] = “beginning to explode”; Definition: “Old age”
22. HYTHE [w]HY THE[y] = “Why they stripped”; Definition: “Kentish Town”

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,261 / Paul”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, mhl, for a helpful blog.

    I don’t normally manage Paul, but once I saw the RU theme that helped to fill the grid. I did enjoy this one and appreciated the humour of the drunken Welshman and Asian clues. But there was plenty of other good stuff as well.

    Needed your explanation of two letter H’s as the goalposts. Despite the theme, I was thinking in round ball mode, trying to work ‘sticks’ into the answer somehow.

    I’ll be encouraged to have a good crack at the next Paul daily cryptic puzzle after this.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl – lots of good stuff here, as you say, and not too hard even if you’re not intimately familiar with rugby positions. My only quibble would be that a potable ball isn’t necessarily an easy one, just one that is possible to pot.

    I remember feeding food called “ants’ eggs” to goldfish when I was a child. Whether the description was accurate (it was before the Trades Descriptions Act!) I can’t say..

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl. I enjoyed this, especially the elliptical clues, which went in first.

    [It’s not really a quibble [I’m all for inventive cluing!] but I just have to say that ‘potable’ means ‘fit to drink’ and if you’re going to make up a word for a ball that’s easy to pot it really ought to be ‘pottable’ – which, of course, would ruin everything and is why this is in brackets and not really a quibble!]

  4. Martin H says:

    Today was shaping up not to be a good one, but I’m in a much better frame of mind after this, despite the opacity of the theme. Ants’ eggs was first in, just from the numeration; when that clicked things started looking up, and HarrumpH put the seal on it. All lovely stuff – thanks Paul.

    …and thanks mhl for explaining ‘tackle’, which for some reason I didn’t see.

  5. Eileen says:

    I meant to mention TACKLE, too. It’s amazing that it hasn’t been used before – at least, I’m sure I’ve never seen it.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Eileen, I was going to mention POTABLE too (honest). On the pattern of if something’s easy to get then it’s GETTABLE, then your spelling is surely right. But if that’s the only thing we can quasi-quibble about then we’ve not had a bad offering from Paul today.

  7. mhl says:

    Eileen: yes, I had the same thought about “potable” / “pottable”, but didn’t have any dictionaries to hand to see whether it’s given in that sense. Google suggests that the latter is rather more common in a snooker context… TACKLE is excellent, indeed :)

  8. jim says:

    Very enjoyable, but I think pottable is a quibble. Chambers gives pottable as a snooker reference.

  9. duncan says:

    I enjoyed it, despite knowing next-to-nowt about egg-chasing (league or union), & managed it in about an hour without recourse to chambers (see what I did there?) or google. a textbook cryptic, I’d say, in that some of the parsing was done after the grid was filled, with a few “ah” moments (18d being one such).

    I’d be inclined to forgive the missing consonant in 1ac on the basis that “describing” could be read as “sounds like” or “broadcast” or “to an audience”…. if “potable” had itself been the solution, I’d feel wronged, though.


  10. duncan says:

    ah- there’s been some wiki-pedantry over at the grid itself regarding 2d/17d & whether this technical term actually exists in the modern game; I’d say (here, rather than fuel more of the flaming there) that paul’s excused himself by placing a question-mark within the clue. actually inside the anagram.


  11. Geoff says:

    Thanks to mhl and Paul.

    Good fun, with some clever clues and several smiles as usual and solvable despite my hazy knowledge of RU terminology

    I’m with Duncan on the potable/pottable question – the latter is indubitably correct (a golf ball is not ‘hitable’) but Paul covers his shame with the all-purpose question mark. Useful little symbol!

  12. bertandjoyce says:

    We always enjoy Paul’s crosswords and this was no exception. Lots of smiles as we solved this over a cup of coffee!

    Thanks Paul and mhl.

  13. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. Another great Paul puzzle, with a couple of magnificent anagrams for awkward rugby positions, in 2,17 and 14,6. Guffaws (a couple of times delayed when reflecting on why/how these answers) for 10a, 24a, 26a and 6d.

  14. Robi says:

    My brain hurts a bit after Boatman and then Paul, but an entertaining puzzle.

    Thanks mhl for a good blog. I failed to spot the CAT and ELK, and also that OUTSIDE FLANKER was an anagram.

    HALF-LOAF was the last in; clever clue, as was HARRUMPH. Like Duncan @9, I thought the ‘describing’ in 1a allowed ‘pottable’ to be clued as ‘potable.’

    When I used to play rugby as a wing three-quarter I had to throw the ball in the lineout (now done by the hooker), which just shows how long ago that was.

  15. Keithbuch says:

    Enjoyed this one from Paul, particularly typist and direct,. I think we have had a couple of relatively easy Paul’s recently.I was glad this was straightforward as I was having to do the online version rather than my preferred pen and the actual Guardian. I had the additional complication of completing it on an IPAD. not for the dexterously challenged, I can assure you. If I had needed to google anything I think I would have given up.

  16. Scarpia says:

    Thanks mhl.
    Excellent puzzle from Paul with plenty of chuckles along the way.
    I found it fairly easy,but I suppose it would be difficult if you have no knowledge of “the game played by men with oval balls”
    I remember Paul using ‘goalposts’ for H before,don’t remember any other setter using that device.
    Too many super clues to pick favourites but 10 across is just classic Paul!
    Nearly entered ARSE for 26 across – anagram of SEA and (FOU)R,the definition fitted!

  17. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Paul

    I found this rather hard, but enjoyed many of the clues once I got the answers. I ticked the following as I went (slowly) along:8a, 10a, 11a, 16a, 25a, 27a, 4d, 6d, 18d, 21a, 20d.

    Thanks duncan and Geoff re the ? in 2,17 which I got but wondered about. I had to guess and check 14d having early realised that 6a was ‘prop’. Also ‘number eight’.

    Thanks too mhl re 7d. I saw the answer early on but had difficulty parsing it because I thought the stick must be ‘cane’ and the whole word was then an anagram of co + up + cane + c. The real ‘solution’ is very much better.

  18. Martin says:

    Outside centre, outside half, openside flanker, yes, but in 50 years’ involvement in rugby, I’ve never come across an outside flanker. And don’t tell me it’s a Rugby League term, because they don’t have any flankers at all in that game. Another case of Paul pulling a flanker…..

  19. Roger says:

    Thanks mhl.
    I too wondered about ants eggs (never having owned a fish long enough for them to need feeding) but they do seem to be the real thing. Paul on top form today with plenty of smiles to be had and sniggering to be done (24, rather you than me, sir … ).
    HARRUMPH possibly my favourite for no better reason than it’s a lovely word !

  20. Angstony says:

    Thanks mhl and Paul.

    A very enjoyable and amusing puzzle. I too failed to see the animals in 24a — I think the surface reading was responsible for making us not want to think about it too much… well that’s my excuse anyway.

  21. muck says:

    Thanks mhl and Paul
    Initially I found it tough, but finding the theme made it easier
    My favourite answer was ANTS EGGS, but DIRECT and TYPIST came close

  22. cholecyst says:

    Thanks mhl. A very witty puzzle – and one that seems mighty appropriate for users of this site – 15×15!

  23. walruss says:

    Enjoyable. I hope England continue to perform well in the Six Nations!

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sigh. Two days running of just too hard for the class dummy. But I thought I’d look in to say that despite a life time of playing games with balls on tables, I’ve never actually seen the word for a gettable shot written down! Used it countless times of course, but I’ve never actually seen it, and if I’d had to guess I would have gone for pot-able, which has the virtue of having the correct number of t’s for the clue!

    Never heard of an outside flanker either.

    As for that pair of fuddling homophones, OMG, they are awful, in the same sense as awful puns, i.e. hilarious.

  25. mark says:

    Hooray, a full house which is rare for me when Paul is setter.

    Much more enjoyable than yesterday’s impossible jumble.

    As an avid sports person I do agree though with an earlier post – “outside flanker”…hmmmmm.

  26. Robi says:

    Martin @18; maybe it’s an antipodean thing: ‘Duane Monkley played outside flanker for the Waikato team in New Zealand. He really inspired me. His defence and play around the field were pretty outstanding.’

    From: here and other mentions.

  27. MikeC says:

    I usually reckon to “get there”, more or less, with Paul. It’s often a bit of a struggle but invariably worth it for the “aha”s. Today’s I found quite tricky, even with the rugby theme, but I think it may be because my morale was low after the battle with yesterday’s Boatman. Does anyone else find that the perceived difficulty of a puzzle can often be more about their own state of mind than the puzzle itself?

    Thanks to mhl and to Paul for many excellent clues. Flankers, however, are only nearside and openside in my experience. Perhaps Paul had a bit of a tight head (prop) at this point?

  28. MikeC says:

    Thanks, Robi. Our messages crossed. Paul is off the hook(er) and I’m in the sin bin.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Very enjoyable. No complaints.
    I was held up by 24a; I assumed plural animals was ELKS (rev) giving me S–KLE. Which led nowhere.

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    A delight!

    Scarpia @16. Brendan used 2 Hs in one of his a couple of years ago now, I think. The Hs were two of the blocks in the grid, but I can’t remember for sure if they referred to goals – I rather think they did. Unfortunately I hadn’t seen them until the blogger pointed them out

  31. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks mhl and Paul. Slow-going until I saw the rugby theme. Love 11ac. Learned a new word: Dai. Now I can return to Boatman.


  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Let’s start with Andrew (#2): “not too hard even if you’re not intimately familiar with rugby positions”.
    He is right: we even found LOOSEHEAD PROP from the wordplay, although we haven’t got a clue what he/she/it might be.

    But Andrew also said: “My only quibble would be that a potable ball isn’t necessarily an easy one, just one that is possible to pot” supported by Eileen et al.
    Some commenters above (like Duncan @9 and robi @14) like/try to justify the missing T – probably because they do not want to harm Our Hero that much.
    But let’s face it: it is a mistake.
    No problem with that, because we all make mistakes.
    Therefore I don’t see the point in trying to find a justification for that.

    We did like the crossword.
    My PinC more than I did, maybe due to the theme [I’m more, just like the much missed Rightback, “into round than into oval”] but perhaps also because I found the clueing less ‘open’ than usual with a Paul – whatever that means :).

    Unlike Eileen (and others) I háve seen the reversal of two animals in TACKLE before – so after the K was in place, I got it.

    And even if I do not like clues like 18d (with the ‘gn’) at all [although my PinC found it Araucarian], the overall verdict is as always positive.

    My favourite clue is probably HALF-LOAF – great surface.
    And HYTHE is a very good one too.

    Not so enthusiastic about the smuttiness of 10ac and 6d.
    I am beyond that nowadays.
    It does raise a smile, but …

    Thanks Paul & mhl.

  33. ray says:

    Loved 18a when the penny dropped. Position tse? might have been a more ‘accurate’ version though.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, ray, I agree with you.
    ‘tse’ would indeed have been better.
    Much better – and I would have liked it, too.
    Unlike ‘gn’, unfortunately.

  35. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Position gn was one of the first that I got…which just goes to show.

    Failed to get half-loaf which isn’t an expression that I know unless it is utterly literal, in which case I’m being a bit dense.

    Paul is still consistently my favourite and rewards plugging away when it gets tough.

  36. Carrots says:

    Hie thee to tupu`s nunnery, where, apparently, friars and monks are admitted. If I can get the address out of him, I`ll book in for an adventure holiday. My pathetic performance on this puzzle (about half done) is a sad reflection, not on me, but my erstwhile games master, who was a cross between Torquemada and The Sad Marquis.

    Oddly enough, I do like watching Rugby, although with the sound off because the commentators remind me of that awful monster who, all those years ago, insisted that I play it. So I never learnt the positions which formed the key theme of this puzzle. So, sorry Paul, I`ve let you down: from mhl`s blog, I`m sure that it was every bit as wicked, clever and devious as your arcane self. Keep `em coming, kid, I`ll murder the next one!

  37. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots
    Sorry if my comment raised expectations but I regret bookings are now closed!. :) ‘Down upsy!’ as one of old radio comics used to say!

  38. Huw Powell says:

    Very interesting puzzle – and let me say first, over time I have grown to look forward to Paul more with each of his offerings, and this was yet another in that trend.

    However. Some kinds of themed puzzles straddle a dangerous divide between “very easy” and “very difficult”. The very easy is partly if one is quite familiar with the topic – as some above seemed to be in this case – and partly if one is terribly unfamiliar (as I), but figures out what to research. Once I had noticed “position” all over the place, I figured it wasn’t an anagrind but a theme, and made a “note to self” to dig out the WP diagram of cricket positions. Then either the Hs in HARRUMPH or LEFT WING made me look up RU, and right there was a diagram with five answers laid out for all to see. Then I could almost solve clues by matching letter counts!

    Very hard of course is if one is unfamiliar and does not have resources available (or prefers to work without them). The last obviously comparable puzzle I remember was the one filled with WW2 airplanes (I found a list that included all but one on the ‘net, of course).

    But I must say this for Paul – provided one was willing to enter some rather strange solutions, I do believe in hindsight, and with some light analysis, that all the themed clues were truly possible to solve correctly from the wordplay and checked letters.

    Combining the above with some fairly easy clues and some hilariously devious and creative ones made for a very admirable puzzle, in my final opinion.

    So thanks for the blog, mhl, although I didn’t “need” it in the sense that I managed parse all the wordplays along the way, and for the puzzle, Paul, please keep straining for the boundaries!

  39. Dynamic says:

    Very late to this having had a busy time with little crosswording. I usually breeze through midweek Paul crosswords surprisingly quickly but found this hard going though still enjoyable. Knowing little about the game played by men with odd shaped balls, or fish food, I struggled after a promising start with the “fuddled” duo, feeling like a fluent non-native or perhaps one of BigDave’s Telegraph regulars who doesn’t ‘get’ cricket, though I felt I’d heard of all the terms without much idea what many of them mean. Found enough checking letters to get me to most of the positions, once the hooker had got me started, and had enough wordplay to unravel the rest. Half-loaf – now common on the supermarket shelves – took me ages and I never understood REAR until I came here, having dismissed bottom=last letter in an across clue when ARSE didn’t work out. I did find it amusing, however, but more of a struggle than I expected – probably my frame of mind.

  40. Davy says:

    Not many people know this but a half-loaf is the time it takes for a loaf to reduce to half its size. Was this worth saying…probably not. Good puzzle by the way which I finished yesterday. Had a good laugh at TYPIST which is typical Paul. Now to finish off that Araucaria from about two weeks ago.

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