Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,283 – Enigmatist

Posted by Andrew on March 30th, 2011


It’s been a while since we had an Enigmatist puzzle, but he’s back with a vengeance with this one. I found it very hard to get started, with the large number of cross-references, and even after getting some of the key answers I still struggled to finish it, but was pleased to get there in the end. Some of the wordplay is pretty devious, with 12ac and 14dn causing me the most trouble.

5. SINGLE “One”, and half the answer to 9ac – “run” (as in cricket)
6. SEVERN R (Reading is one of the three Rs) in SEVEN
9. DRY RUN DRY (TT=teetotal) + RUN (race)
10. ANTONYMY TONY M in ANY (some). Tony Montana and Manny Ribera are characters in the film Scarface
11. HAND Double definition – clusters of growing bananas are called hands, and hand = pass as in “pass/hand me the butter”
12. DICKCISSEL This took me a while to work out – reverse of LES SICK (“franglais patients”) + CID (police) – It’s a bird that I had never heard of.
13. ERIC CLAPTON (NARCOLEPTIC)*. Slow hand (21ac 11ac) is Eric Clapton‘s nickname, and this is one of the famous “anagrams of famous people” (another being USAIN BOLT = ABLUTIONS). It came up in a Paul puzzle last year.
18. GRIM REAPER E in MR A, all in GRIPER, with “death” as the definition.
21. SLOW Homophone (“delivery”) of “sloe”, as used in sloe gin.
22. APRES SKI A (one) + PRESS (reporters) + KI (King and I – Yul Brynner and Virginia McKenna were the stars of the original stage production 1970s London revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical)
23. NEARBY BARNEY* – and “close at hand”
24. ELEVEN “Legs eleven” is a bingo call, and 11 with “double number” would make 13 (at least I think that’s how it works)…
25. TWELVE .. and 11 + 1 is 12, the number of Apostles.
2. CLONED LONE (single) in CD; definition “with a double”
3. DEATH CAP DATE* + H[ot] + CAP. (I’m not sure why cap=guy, but don’t have a dictionary to hand to check). A better explanation that several people have pointed out: the hot-headed guy is a CHAP with the H moved to the top. The Death Cap mushroom looks like some edible species, making it the commonest cause of fatal mushroom poisoning.
4. TENNIS TEN + N (double number?) + IS. Tennis matches can be singles or doubles, but not triples.
5,7. SERIAL NUMBER SERIAL (for expats- Holby City is a TV hospital drama) + NUMBER = anaesthetic: again! (Did you spot it this time, Kathryn’s Dad? :))
8. NARCOLEPTIC N + POLE* in ARCTIC – with “North Pole” being rather cleverly used twice over. The definition is “Prone to go out for some time”, narcolepsy being a condition whose sufferers suddenly fall asleep at inapproriate time. The actor Arthur Lowe (aka Captain Mainwaring) was a narcoleptic in his later years.
14. CHESSMEN Very devious, this one. Chessmen are pieces, and the NUMBER of them on the board is 32, or DOUBLE 16
16. TRIPLE A triple is a kind of bet, and it’s “single + double”
17. DOUBLE You might see double if you have lots of SINGLEs or TRIPLEs (i.e. drinks)
19. MEETER Double definition
20. RENOWN [E]RE NOW (“thus far” with its head removed) + N

110 Responses to “Guardian 25,283 – Enigmatist”

  1. Shirley says:

    Thanks for the explanations Andrew.
    Are we alone in thinking that the editor really needs to try a bit harder to distinguish prize puzzles from daily ones?
    This was so hard – and the last couple of Prize crosswords have been a doddle by comparison.
    Sorry to start the day with a moan! Some lovely clues here but just a bit overwhelming for a weekday.

  2. Uncle Yap says:

    Thank you Andrew for the blog. I found this so difficult (stared at the clues for a full five minutes before getting any answer)

    Psst I think you have left out an S for 10Across Manny R’s friend = TONY M’S

  3. Uncle Yap says:

    oops I retract
    sheesh I inked in antonyms

  4. Eileen says:

    Phew, Andrew, well done – rather you than me! Even after cheating to get the answer, there were one or two cases where I couldn’t explain them.

    I agree with Shirley: this is one for a lazy Saturday – or weekend.

    I’d never heard of the bird [I wonder if anyone has?] or Manny R and his friend, I’m afraid.

    I did like the way that ERIC CLAPTON and NARCOLEPTIC intersected.

  5. EB says:

    Thanks Andrew and, of course, Enigmatist(!!)

    I found this very “patchy” and like you, Shirley and Uncle Yap very difficult in parts.
    3d – Can’t help with GUY=CAP sorry even though I do have a dictionary to hand (only COED so maybe Chambers is required)- I got DEATH easily enough and then thought perhaps RAY (Guy’s name) but that didn’t make sense with the clue; 13ac put an end to that. had all the crossers for 12ac except ‘C’ of CAP, assumed definition was ‘bird’ and had to resort to looking it up – never heard of it – but then I could workout the clue!
    10ac With all the crossers A?T?N?M? I did same as Uncle Yap and went for ANTONYMS; tried to use an anagram of Manny but couldn’t – so thanks for your explanation, I’ve seen Scarface numerous times, knew Pacino’s eponymous character was Tony Montana – but even now can’t remember Manny Ribera so wouldn’t have understood this in a month of Sundays!
    13ac – Liked this but was then able to write in 8d without any other letters or bothering with the wordplay – the anagram is so well known (at least to fans I guess.)
    There were of course with this setter lots of v. good clues but I found some of the numeric ones a bit odd. Got 24ac from ‘LEGS’ as you but I can’t see how the ’13’ fits in with 25ac assuming ellipses are relevant. Think I must be missing something here.
    25ac – Thought this was weak unless “5 across 7″ is meant to clue “5 + 7″ (ie a cross looks like a plus sign) giving 12.

  6. Ian Payn says:

    22ac. Brynner and Mckenna weren’t the stars of the original stage production of The King and I, they were the stars of the 1970s London Palladium revival. That’s why I think it’s a bit of an odd clue – the film would have been a more reasonable effort – i.e. Brynner and (Deborah) Kerr.

    The original Broadway production starred Gertrude Lawrence – indeed, she was very much the star and Brynner the co-star. I think clueing “Brynner and Lawrence” would have been a bit optimistic, as well!

  7. EB says:


    I didn’t leave your name off my list – it took me so long to type my “tome” plus answering the phone that I started typing it before your post appeared!

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks, Ian, you are quite right – I did know it was Gertie L in the original, honest (and Deborah Kerr in the film), so I don’t know what I was thinking there!

  9. Eileen says:

    No offence, EB. I had a similar interruption and time lag, so didn’t refer to Uncle Yap’s difficulty!

  10. EB says:

    Second thoughts re 24ac & 25ac
    Guess it’s just 11 + 1 + 1 (2 numbers) = 13 … same as 12 + 1 (1 number) = 13 – which is what you said in the first place!
    Still think some of the uses of Single/Double Number was forcing it a bit because of the theme.

  11. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew

    What a horrible puzzle!

    I hate starting a crossword puzzle & seeing numbers at the beginning of every other clue.

    Entered 3d as DEATH RAY because it seemed to fit in with the name of a man but it just got me deeper into trouble.

    Bad start to my day. Hi.

  12. EB says:

    Another thought!
    RE 3d = DEAT obviously but could HCAP be an anagram of CHAP (ie guy)?

  13. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew

    This was easily the worst Grauniad puzzle that I have ever attempted and, even after seeing the solutions, several clues still left me totally bewildered.

    I’m delighted that you have now supplied the necessary enlightenment.

    Above all, puzzles should be a pleasure, not an ordeal.

  14. james G says:

    this was awfull hard, and seems to demand quite a bit of specialist knowledge (eg Brynner and McK in King and I; Manny R and Tony M). But I loved Barney Rubble misleading towards the Flintstones (I was looking for a cartoon character theme!) and I got the bird from the wordplay, even though it was new to me. Just seems a shame to have a crossword that needs Google, and can’t be done (by me!) on the train

  15. Martin H says:

    Started with the rather nice DRY RUN, and then it was hard going for a while working from definitions and numeration, a bit like doing a slow Quick, until there were enough crossing letters to start making occasional sense of the wordplay.

    I wasn’t keen on the double North Pole in 8; is ‘appropriately’ supposed to signal this?

    ‘Gin’ to give ‘sloe’ is like ‘wine’ to give ‘rhubarb’.

    The ‘guy’ in 3d I took to be ‘chap’ with H(ot) moved to the head – not very convincing. Also ‘Cap’ is given in Chambers as ‘to perplex, mystify (US)’, perhaps similar to ‘guy’ as ‘make fun of’? No better really – perhaps someone will come up with something more satisfactory.

    Film and TV stuff rather obscure – but on the whole quite an enjoyable puzzle.

    Well commented Andrew, you sorted out one or two I’d failed to parse.

  16. jim says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    I too think this was horrible.
    I don’t mind seeing numbers in a crossword, but some of the clues were so forced as to be meaningless.
    I didn’t get 16 because I thought the bet was a treble, which in turn meant I couldn’t get 22. In 22, surely ‘meet’ doesn’t mean ‘insert’?
    And in 21, I had sloe because it wasn’t clear which word was the homophone: a poor clue I think. It only became clear when I got 13.
    A pity, because there were a few good clues.

  17. james G says:

    re 3 down. Could it be Chap hot-headed (ie head of it stewed)?

  18. Ian says:

    Thanks Andrew and thank you Enigmatist for providing me with a real challenge.

    As has been already mentioned, this puzzle ranks as in the difficult to fiendish category. Although I normally derive tremendous satisfaction when pitting my wits against Mr Henderson, I found the overuse of references linking to other (assumed) solutions tiresome. Reading the clues in full before attempting the solve made my heart sink.

    Nonetheless I set off and found it very hard going. It took the best part of 30 minutes to complete the Nw corner and a few easy added bits like SLOW, HAND and ERIC (Slow Hand) CLAPTON.

    An hour passed before the theme clicked in and eventually everything fell into place – even DICKCISSEL (after a good deal of googling).

    EB @5 Cap is indeed a synonym for head.

    The good things on view was the cross anagramiizing of NARCOLEPTIC with ERIC CLAPTON, The Barney anagram having Rubble as the indicator for NEARBY and the mind bending solution to 16dn for CHESSMEN.

    So, all in all, an untidy looking affair that delivered a real test worthy of Enigmatist (a setter I admire) but one that I will not remember for all the right reasons.

  19. Pat says:

    I assumed that in 3dn “hot-headed guy” was CHAP with the H (hot) moved to the head, i.e. HCAP.

  20. Stella Heath says:

    Wow, this was tough!

    I got 20d. and the first part of 3d., then got so stuck I started putting ‘e’s in what looked like key clues and hitting the check button, until something clicked.

    In the end, it’s taken me over an hour, with the bird being the last in, thanks to Wiki.

    I took mean 12+1=13, as in the trick question “How many people were at the Last Supper” – possibly the origin of “unlucky thirteen”?

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew – rather you than me! (BTW, you’re missing the last letter in 10ac. :))

  21. dialrib says:

    The blog has a question mark in the expanation of 4d.
    I took this to be: TEN (a double (of five)) + N (number) + IS

  22. Ian Payn says:

    Time to get even more into pedantic git mode. The King and I revival at the Palladium wasn’t in 1970, it was in the seventies. I can’t remember when, but it was towrds the end of the decade.

    I’ll shut up now!

  23. Martin H says:

    4d: TEN is a number; N = number – hence ‘double number’.

  24. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I needed your explanations for many of these. This was really hard and I have to say I admired it rather than enjoyed it! Heavy use of the check button, and resorted to the cheat button at 12ac when it became clear that I wasn’t going to know the word. Also didn’t know the Scarface references in 10ac and only the check button saved me from putting ANTONYMS.

    TWELVE was the first numerical clue I got, although I suspected 7dn was going to be our old friend NUMBER.

    Like others, I parsed 3dn as CHAP with the H moved to the front.

    Forgot the ERIC CLAPTON/NARCOLEPTIC anagram…and so it goes.

    V tough for a weekday!

  25. Geoff says:

    Bravo, Andrew

    I am hugely relieved to learn that most other correspondents found this a toughie, as I certainly did. Definitely a prize puzzle rather than a mid-week stroll. Some extraordinarily long clues that were difficult to parse didn’t help.

    NUMBER leapt out at me (although it was a while before I managed to couple it with SERIAL), which led to SINGLE, DOUBLE and erroneously TREBLE – an equally acceptable answer for 16d without the crossing letters. 3d also looked like DEATH RAY to me, as RAY = ‘guy’ although I couldn’t work out the definition. But ‘it may look harmless’ must rank as one of the vaguest possible defs for Amanita phalloides!

    Also, I don’t remember having come across the ERIC CLAPTON -NARCOLEPTIC anagrammatic pairing before (squeezed out by PRESBYTERIANS, perhaps?), so a word finder had to be brought in to give me ANTONYMY, NARCOLEPTIC and DICKCISSEL (the last of which I did recognise as a bird, although it was not exactly on the tip of my tongue).

    Even then, the rest of the puzzle was not straightforward but at last I came into port, rather bedraggled.

  26. Bryan says:

    According to Wiki – which isn’t always right – Virginia McKenna appeared in the 1979 London West End Revival:

    And that production was the 5th of 10 to date:

    I have met Virginia but I never knew that she had featured.

    What a TERRIBLE clue!

  27. Conrad Cork says:

    For what it is worth, Eric Clapton is 66 today.

  28. stiofain says:

    I agree the crossword editor is slipping up and , while enjoyable and challenging, this belonged as a prize crossword.
    I think Sil may have something to say about the first appearance of the Clapton anagram being in a Paul puzzle!

  29. Robi says:

    Thanks Enigmatist for the torture. I wouldn’t have got very far without word-searching.

    Well done, Andrew for the blog. The Franglais in DICKCISSEL completely passed me by – quite amusing in retrospect. I agree with the others that this would have been better as a prize crossword. I dislike these ones where nearly every clue refers to another, but I suppose there is a sense of satisfaction in eventually completing it. Didn’t see the KI connection either – I was thinking of Paul McKenna!

    I parsed 10 as Andrew but with TEN being a double (in darts) + N + IS. Nice to see old slow hand in the puzzle instead of the ubiquitous operas. See the Clapton is God poster.

  30. smutchin says:

    I’ve only skim read the comments and avoided looking at any of the solutions because I’ve not made a dent in this one yet. I just wanted to check in to see if it really was that difficult or if it’s just me having a slow day… Not just me then. That’s a relief.

  31. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    A sentence featuring ‘straw’ and ‘short’ is forming in my mind….

    I agree with the gist of comments so far.

    I note that there is a popular piece on the BBC News website today about how many words you need to get by.

    Susie Dent – of Countdown’s Dictionary Corner – is quoted talking about 20,000 active and 40,000 passive words in the average vocabulary. Assuming this puzzle was aimed at the average solver perhaps she might like to revise those estimates – upwards and steeply so!

  32. Stella Heath says:

    Very amusing article for a teacher of EFL, thanks Dad’s Lad. I find Susie Dent’s estimate extremely optimistic – most people use between 500 and 1,000 words in their everyday life (active language), according to estimates, though the number of words you can conjure up on demand or understand in context is considerably higher.

    Crossword solvers (and some language students) are a breed apart, their interest being words in themselves, not their communicative function, so their vocabulary can be extremely vast.

  33. hughr says:

    I approached this in confident mood….but soon realised that doing well with one crossword doesn’t constitute being on a roll (a slide perhaps). I got dry run, (largely as we had TT yesterday) but was soon left feeling like reaching for the bottle!

  34. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Andrew for what must have been a very difficult puzzle to blog – it was certainly very difficult to solve!
    There were plenty of very clever clues here and one or two which were probably a bit too clever for their own good.
    10 across I only got from the definition and crossing letters,I think that kind of film reference is a little obscure to be fair.
    12 across I got from Chambers Crossword lists,again,I wonder if it is fair to clue a pretty obscure American bird with a reverse Franglais pun.
    22 down – I think Brynner/Kerr would have been a better and fairer clue.
    Other than that I thought it was a very satisfying solve.
    BTW Eric Clapton(Slowhand) is 66 today.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Quite tricky yes. Dipped out on two, but I was pleased to get that far all things considered.

    I agree with the other reservations above and would like to add 16d to the list.

    This is bilge. There is no such bet in this country and most others called a TRIPLE. I sympathise with those who entered TREBLE because that is the only correct name, I had a crossing P which stopped me. I don’t care what idiots in ivory towers put into dictionaries, they should get out more, specifically into a bookies. I just checked with the owner of a string of 10 bookmakers shops, i.e. someone who economically lives and dies by being an expert in his field, and he’d never heard the term either. Anyone dumb enough to argue with an expert in the field?

    Even if there was such a bet, you couldn’t make it by combining a single bet with a double bet, that totally misunderstands the nature of those terms too. OK, so it makes sense in other fields, but we are talking about bets.

    I did manage to find a truly obscure usage of TRIPLE. It is a barely used American alternative name to the bet they call a Trifecta and which we call a Tricast. Again, you can’t make those from a single and a double because a double is constrained to be made on separate races, whereas a Tricast is a bet on a single race. But that doesn’t matter as obscure American betting slang shouldn’t be in an English daily crossword in the first place.

    Case proved, bilge.

  36. Eileen says:

    Re comments 31 and 31: there’s an amusing item in today’s Guardian:

  37. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Enigmatist

    Wow! Very tricky. A bit like free association with references to other clues all over the place.
    Mainly finished in the morning after a lot of pondering.
    Returned mid-afternoon and after vain dictionary browse on the basis of mistaken notions, I hit on dick and got 12a. I only saw the parsing afterwards.
    I wrongly decided that 10a was ‘antinomy’ = a contradiction. I could not parse this (Manny* + tio? tinom in any? Did not know Manny R so couldn’t have parsed antonymy either!)

    14d was clearly chessmen. I think Andrew’s explanation is probably right. However, purists say their are 16 pieces and 16 pawns and I tried to work from this, coming to the conclusion that 16 was 2X8 and 8 is 3 cubed (a sort of triple?)!

    I got apres-ski but did not know that Mckenna was in a stage version of the King and I, googled the two stars and then parsed the clue OK.

    Re 13a and 8d, yes Sil’s comments may well be of interest.

    I remember being told it is all too easy to set an exam no one can answer. Not quite that hard but on the way! Some enjoyable clues nonetheless, and nice aha moments.

  38. Robi says:

    Derek @35; wow, I didn’t realise that we had a bookie expert on hand. However, this is crosswordland. I was told at the beginning that the reference sources were usually Chambers and Collins. Chambers gives for ‘triple:’ a betting system requiring that the horses which finish first, second and third in a race are selected in correct order.’ And maybe the single + double doesn’t refer to the bet but just single, double, triple/treble, quadruple etc….

    Anyway, perhaps we shouldn’t give the setter the third degree for using the dictionary definition, even if it is incorrect (or am I being too soft?)

  39. DinP says:

    This blog has conclusively confirmed what I always thought.
    You so-called experts have no real solving ability whatsoever!

    This was a brilliant fair puzzle that should have taken a competent person with no access to any reference whatsoever about 40 minutes to an hour to complete.Every single clue could be perfectly parsed and aside from 2 exceptions were everyday words.
    As for Derek with his extensive knowledge of the betting industry,he doesn’t get the basic element of crosswords thatthe definition and wordplay are separate – the definition is bet, the wordplay is single plus double.
    Chambers is quite clear that forecasting the 1,2,3 in a race is a triple.
    Tricast is a product name which doesn’t appear in Chambers.

  40. Robi says:

    DinP @39. There may be experts on this site, but there are others like me who are beginners and just like to contribute to the discussion. I think this site caters for all levels and I get enjoyment from solving the puzzles even if I have to use reference aids. So, don’t assume we are all experts!

  41. tupu says:

    As robi says, we come here to express ideas about a puzzle and learn from others’ experience. We tend pretty honestly to note our failures. I do not consider myself an expert solver – I’m too slow for that.
    You are clearly a remarkable expert if you solved this puzzle within the time and conditions you stipulate.
    Beyond this, however you seem better at invective than at logic. Some experts participate, others like you don’t. Some non-experts participate, others don’t. Some of us hope that our solving and parsing skills will improve in addition to enjoying ourselves. You clearly have no room for improvement and seem to be happy as an acerbic loner.
    As you say, most of the ‘words’ were everyday. Parsing them was another matter. Also the knowledge required for correctly understanding some of them was not ‘everyday’ for some people. I did not know ‘slowhand’ or much else about EC, for example, but I happened to have seen the anagrams before.

  42. Daniel Miller says:

    Some of this was beautifully constructed – some of it was messy. Agree it was a slow burner but for the most part it was excellent.

  43. Derek Lazenby says:

    And Chamber’s are the worlds leading experts on the gambling industry are they? Don’t be stupid. Admit they make mistakes. They are not religious works with a divine right of correctness. How dumb to think so.

    The definition they give is the obscure one for America only. In the UK, which is where we are in case you forgot, that bet is ALWAYS called a Tricast. No English bookie would understand Triple as being that, they would presume you meant Treble. I know because I’ve asked! Have you?

    As I explained, you can’t, in betting terms, make that addition, only the ignorant would use the terminology as though it applied to another subject. The concepts are too different to even be poetic license. If you don’t understand betting, think of a dartboard, single 20 plus double 20 scores the same as treble 20, BUT it is most definitely not the same as the number of darts used is different, score a treble 20 and you still have 2 more darts to score with, as against one for doing it the other way. Let me guess, do the dictionary idiots think a dartboard has a triple ring when everyone else says treble?

    But anyway, being all that as it may, basically the clue refers to an American obscurity that most won’t have heard of. That kills it regardless of any other consideration.

  44. Tom Hutton says:

    Apart from Dinp, who is almost too good to be true, many people found this hard not just because of the complicated cluing but also because of the obscure words and cultural references. Is the problem that too many people do the crosswords these days with access to the internet at hand so that the compiler feels he/she has to put in obscurities to make it hard for the connected ones? It’s a bit tough on those of us who try to do it over breakfast with the newspaper in our hand. With this one, I had to get up in the end and turn the computer on or I would never have got Dickcissel and this is not right for a crossword through the week. I had never heard of Manny R so I would have had to Google that too if I had had the energy.

    As for Brynner and McKenna as a clue for KI, I am speechless. Is tennis an exhibition? I thought it was a sport or pastime and so on and on. Congratulations to those who finished it without the use of aids and in a good frame of mind.

  45. John H says:

    Don’t you mean “licence”, Derek? Where’s that spelling from, then?

  46. John H says:

    And, incidentally, on my betting slip for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, I wrote:

    “Long Run (1st), Denman (2nd), Kauto Star (3rd) – triple forecast”. I admit I don’t bet often, but…

    …no problem with the guy taking the bet, nor paying out.

  47. muck says:

    Thanks Andrew for what must have been a tough blog
    As others, I found the first pass pretty awful – only DRY RUN and HAND
    Even after I worked out the numerical theme, it was still awful
    However, I did enjoy the crossing ERIC CLAPTON and NARCOLEPTIC anagrams

  48. RCWhiting says:

    I found this very difficult. I am a newspaper solver although an occasional Google is allowed.
    I do not mind a few cross-references but this was just OTT.
    I did not help myself by falling for every trap going (well done setter): ray for cap, treble for triple, Yul+Paul for apres-ski.
    Although I have been solving the G. for 50 years with I guess a completion rate of 90% discovering this MB, very recently, has changed my attitude and not for the better. Pre-MB if I was stuck I would come back, often in the small hours, and complete it. Now by lunchtime I give up if it’s still missing one or two and come here.
    Do you think this habit will reduce the dementia-delaying properties of the crossword?

  49. Robi says:

    Derek @43; I hate to prolong this but…… I don’t know who wrote this but this is a quote about darts from Wikipedia: ‘Circular wires within the outer wire subdivide each section into single, double and triple areas. The dartboard featured on the “Indoor League” television show of the 1970s did not feature a triple section, and according to host Fred Trueman during the first episode, this is the traditional Yorkshire board.’

    Well, OK, I would say “treble twenty” but perhaps some others do not.

  50. Dad'sLad says:

    Hi Sil,

    If you log on tonight did you see the further birthday tribute attempts to anagramise (ok fellow bloggers I know it’s not a real word!) your name in the blog for 25,281 (Rufus) on Tuesday? Posts 28-31, I think, in addition to Tupu’s initial post.

  51. Smithy says:

    Hi all, not posted before; doing so now from Seattle, so I guess it’s a bit late for everyone back in the UK. I just felt compelled to defend Enigmatist here. I think this is a wonderful and expertly crafted puzzle. As far as I can see (apologies if I just haven’t read the comments carefully enough), no one has pointed out the famous anagrams TWELVE PLUS ONE and ELEVEN PLUS TWO, which I think makes the bottom two across clues/solutions much fairer/cleverer than they have been given credit for.

  52. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew for your sterling work in unravelling this one. Somewhat surprised though at the number of negative comments that have been posted; I’ve been dipping into it today as time allowed and thought it was brilliant. Thanks Enigmatist … it’s probably good to have a mid-week workout occasionally !

    In the end I needed a crossword solver to flush out the dickcissel and your explanations Andrew for 10 and 14. Rather liked renown and apres ski was clever (Yul Brynner says to me either The Magnificent Seven or The King and I … this time the former, albeit with its numerical connection, didn’t work whereas the latter did … KI indeed !)

  53. REGALIZE says:

    This has taken me most of today to complete – but the time spent was worth it. I agree with Smithy – those last two across clues were brilliant. Also, I liked 14d though this caused me the most problems. This was NOT ‘awful’ at all, but it was more difficult than the usual Guardian cryptics and I for one am grateful for it. The ‘Mitcham Uncut’ reactionaries have decreed this was an excellent puzzle.

  54. Derek Lazenby says:

    Robi, pity you don’t know, because that was the point, people writing without being involved and therefore getting it wrong. We’d need to know the source. The strange thing about the treble ring is that despite that being it’s name, individual trebles do get called triples. So it’s easy to see how people might get it wrong.

  55. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, some of you (#28, #37) are apparently waiting for me to comment on the ERIC CLAPTON anagram. Not sure why. It is indeed a well-known one, but I liked the link with ‘slow hand’ while at the same time 8d wasn’t bad either.

    Before we did this crossword (as ever after work with a cup of coffee), I had a quick look at Andrew’s preamble and feared the worst after he had a slow start.
    However, we were surprised to find some words very quickly (DRY RUN, SERIAL NUMBER, NEARBY, HAND, also SINGLE, DOUBLE ánd TRIPLE (which, for me, is a type of Belgian beer)).
    I am not going to say that you are all wrong by saying this was an extremely difficult puzzle, but to be honest, we did manage it in about the same time as an average Araucaria [for us appr. 1hr].
    Only 2d and 12ac were lacking, but once at home The Books made it all clear very quickly.

    A puzzle full of twists and turns, worth a Prize indeed, but manageable for a weekday (we thought, I haste to say). There were times that I couldn’t make anything sensible of an Enigmatist (let alone an IO), but times have changed. Maybe, I have changed too in Crosswordland.

    I do agree with the last speaker (Smithy #51) that this was ” a wonderful and expertly crafted puzzle”. My PinC used the word ‘distinctive’.

    That said, we needed Andrew’s blog for understanding KI (one of these twists and turns).
    Some numbered clues gave rise to discussion, esp. 4d and the ellipsis.
    We saw 4d (TENNIS) just like Martin H @23: ‘double number’=’number+number’.
    In 24ac (ELEVEN) we took ‘double number’ this time as the number that doubles, the factor 2. Or if you want, the number for a ‘double’ (like in tennis). And therefore in 25ac TWELVE) ‘single number’ as the factor 1. Or if you want, the number needed for a ‘single’.

    I am a big fan of the use of names etc as part of the construction, so ‘Barney Rubble’ and ‘Mr Active’ were right up my street.

    All in all, an excellent puzzle.
    I clearly remember his last Saturday offering which took a lot more energy and time than this one, so maybe the Enigmatist Crossword Timescale is a bit shifted to the right (in the positive x-direction, when having a graph in mind) compared to that of fellow setters.

    Clever puzzle.

    PS, Dad’s Lad @50, I did see the posts.
    Many thanks (and I still haven’t parsed tupu’s brainchild).

  56. morpheus says:

    Have the Grauniad upped their piece rates for crossword setters? This seems to be the work of someone with too much time on their hands! Seriously though a tough puzzle which as others have said would be more at home on a Saturday and a little too demanding for a weekday. Dinp, welcome but such a shame Rightback isn’t here to take you on!

  57. DinP says:

    You still don’t get it!!!!
    Adding a single to a double makes a triple (whisky for example) THAT IS THE WORDPLAY. The definition is BET. A triple is a type of bet, whether known to you and your mates or not. The two ARE NOT LINKED

  58. Derek Lazenby says:

    DinP, you are the one not getting it, Triple is NOT a type of bet, except in the overheated imaginations of the dictionary writers and very few Americans.

    Try reading any UK bookies terms and conditions. Triple is never mentioned as a bet. Go on do some real first hand research instead of relying on the spurious ramblings of uninvolved third parties.

  59. DinP says:


    Well what do you think a tricast is if not a contraction of ‘triple forecast’

  60. DinP says:


    I’m delighted to have encountered someone who knows the English language better than Chambers

    (but who still can’t do the Guardian crossword)

  61. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, well.
    I don’t know anything about betting (and I don’t want to know either), and therefore I should probably stop writing from this point onwards, but.
    The construction is crystal clear, as DinP pointed out.
    When we thought it could be TRIPLE, we thóught it could be right.
    And then we thought: it múst be right.
    Sometimes you solve clues that way.
    Checking it in Chambers led to confirmation: “A betting system requiring that the horses which finish first, second and third in a race are selected in correct order”.
    You can’t blame a setter for using a definition given by Chambers (even if you think it’s not right, Derek).
    Moreover, the setter himself has made it all clear in #46.

    I would say, let’s stop making a fuss about this.

  62. Eileen says:

    That’s very good counsel, Sil.

    DinP’s first comment on 15² was at 5.30 pm

    At 5.33 pm, the following comment appeared on the Guardian crossword column from ‘David in Penarth’, who has made a number of disparaging comments there about 15²:

    ‘Have just popped in to 225 and lit blue touch-paper :-)

    Let’s not give him any more satisfaction. :-)

  63. DinP says:


    I made that comment in response to someone who had remarked that an excellent puzzle was getting harshly criticised here.
    On reading the comments myself I felt compelled to counter them.
    If you read my previous comments properly you will note that I do not disparage this site but merely say that there is no point in duplicating it on the paper’s own one.

  64. stiofain says:

    Also horse (or dog) racing wasnt mentioned in the clue “triple crown” ? “triple vodka” ? “triple pseudonym” ? “triple point” name for goal in hurling and gaelic football “triple h” champion in the unsullied professional sport of american wrestling. (ive run out now)
    Id no problem with it even though i put treble in first the crossword was a tour de force Id just rather Id had it to do on a saturday.

  65. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    Sorry about that. For what it’s worth the clue was


    It parses as an a anagram of ‘he loves (hum = smell)an kind’. ‘That churns him up’ was an attempt at an anagram indicator.

    As I said I would have liked to have personalised it more e.g. ‘If that churns him up, I’m (no he’s) a Dutchhman!’

    But of course such attempts look even worse when the surprise has gone.

    For the record I though Scarpia’s anagram was very good!

    Happy birthday next week.

  66. Martin H says:

    What’s all this about horses anyway? Triples: roulette, football, blackjack etc etc (apparently)

  67. Paul B says:

    Where does a comment appear in any ‘Guardian crossword column’ by the way? I’d thought all their Talk stuff dead and 6 down.

  68. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi tupu, I said ‘haven’t parsed your clue yet’, which doesn’t mean I didn’t want to.
    But now it’s too late anyway.
    You’re a spoiler :).

    Yes, Scarpia’s was perhaps very good, but one that was unfortunately not thát new as Jacq wrote on Nov 28th 2009 at 15^2: “Novel Skinhead bullied Cambridge clue crafter”.

    Martin H @66:
    They shoot horses, don’t they?
    [as I said before for me a ‘triple’ is a beer, a very nice beer (like Leffe) :)]

  69. Scarpia says:

    Just got back and,as a betting man,have followed the TRIPLE controversy with great interest.
    My initial reaction to the clue was the same as Derek’s but on reflection I realised,as Martin H correctly points out,there is no mention of horseracing in the clue.

  70. Tilsit says:

    Perhaps someone could remind me what ELEVEN PLUS TWO anagrammatises out as………..

  71. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    As you see, it wasn’t worth waiting for.

    Re Clapton etc., I can’t speak for others, but I was just sympathetically remembering your earlier discussion (last May) of these anagrams and some other clues.

  72. EB says:


    … TWELVE LOSE PUN for a start.

  73. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Tilsit, someone said this before (Smithy @51) (ánd something inside me tells me that I have seen it before), but I admit: I missed it.
    But how clever it is! (or is it recycling, just like Eric Clapton?)
    The puzzle wás clever though.

  74. stiofain says:

    ELEVEN PLUS TWO is an anagram of TWELVE PLUS ONE
    70 comments WOW we havent seen this much action since the bankers played about with numbers.

  75. Derek Lazenby says:

    Who mentioned racing? Racing (of some sort) is specifically mentioned by Chambers as part of it’s definition.

    One IS aware of what tricast is linguistically, and it it is not triple forecast, which would be something else entirely (close, good guess though). There is no easy expansion of the concept Forecast which involves two selections, to something that involves three, so tricast is an invented term, the prefix tri and the suffix cast, where tri stands for the more general “three” (as in three selections in one event) than the more specialised “triple” (which would indicate selections in three events (cf the usage of double), except we already call that a treble)(Except for that handful of Americans ofcourse, who are perfectly at liberty to do their own thing!).

    Umm, Martin? Would you care to give an example? In football, treble would be used, and I’m not aware of it in roulette or blackjack, though I’ve played the latter for years, the former I await enlightenment on.

    Nobody’s ability to solve crosswords in any way debars them from spotting mistakes in a dictionary. You would have to be seriously uncritical to be unaware of the many errors that creep in. 10 of 10 for dumb comments mate.

  76. taxi phil says:

    I didn’t like triple, any BRITISH regular punter or bookie will tell you that a bet involving three units is always a treble. If Mr.Henderson is reading this, I’ll be delighted to sidetrack him away from the boozer and into the bookies before this year’s Times Final in October (back a winner, John, and you’re buying afterwards !)

    I spent well over an hour over this, and eventually gave up without DICKCISSEL which sounds more like a nasty accident while frying bacon than any bird I’VE ever encountered.

  77. Andy Capulet says:

    I agree with Derek
    These southern Gits that set crosswords
    couldnt hit a dartboard never mind a treble.
    They can stick their Chambers up their arses.
    If I hear another Juliet joke about my name Ill choke them with a well cooked pud
    Screw Shakespeare
    If it is fair to have a theme railways, wigs and midgets would be a good one.
    keep up the good work Derek.

  78. bogeyman says:

    This crossword was obscure, impenetrable rubbish.

  79. otter says:

    Blimey, a lot of action on the blog today. I found much of this a real struggle, and in the end gave up with a few unsolved. As usual for Enigmatist, I found much of the clueing obscure, and impenetrable without a lot of work. This is not exactly a criticism of Enigmatist, but it’s a form of crossword I enjoy less.

    There also seemed to be a bit of Enigmatist’s personal life coming in here, eg [his favourite?] guitarist’s nickname, a play he saw in the 70s, references to which I didn’t know, and so on. Perhaps I’m being unfair, but they seemed instances of info which is not really in the general domain, reserved for fans of those things. Eric Clapton is well known, but how many people outside of rock afficianados of a certain age know his nickname? The King and I is well known, but how many people know the cast of the 70s revival? I thought of the musical when I saw Brynner but was turned away from it by McKenna, whom I knew wasn’t Anna in the film (Deborah Kerr, of course). Anyway, can’t really complain, but much of this was too much blood-out-of-stone work for me to find it really satisfying when I got answers. (And, like some others here, I filled in some answers without having a scooby as to why they were the answers.)

  80. MadLogician says:

    I thought a lot of these clues were hard because they were vague or unsound. I’ve been solving Ximenes and later Azed crosswords for decades so I had no problem with the level of obscurity, but some of these clues failed on of X’s basic tests: when a solver has thought of the answer he/she should be able to be fairly sure it was the right answer.

    The construction of 25 doesn’t work, the words do not equate to adding one to eleven.

  81. Mark says:

    In 12, I had _ _ C _ C _ _ _ E _. Being completely stuck, I thought “patients” might give “sick”, so tried “K” between the “C”s and hit “Check”. OK! Then I tried “I” in second place – “Check” – OK! Tried “S” in first place – “Check” No???? Got 4 as next-to-last answer, thus D I C K C _ S _ E _, but still couldn’t solve. Tried “D” in first place – isn’t “Dick” slang for detective = “policeman”? “Check”. OK. Now very puzzled. Tried various last letters, eventually “L”, finally dragged answer out of brain as name of bird. Didn’t know the real explanation until I consulted this site.

  82. tupu says:

    HI Madlogician

    re 24 and 25: I read 24a as eleven plus 2 (2 = double number) = 13, and in 25a, 5 + (a cross) 7 = 12 (cf EB above). ‘Same as’ I read as ‘just like’ (i.e. by addition).

  83. Robi says:

    Hi tupu; just read Enigmatist’s comment on the Guardian site, viz: ‘Nobody has even thought to comment properly on the connection between the last two acrosses, which exemplify a beautiful coincidence in the English language rather than a simple arithmetical sum.


    So, I guess stiofain @74 was on the right track.

  84. Robi says:

    P.S. …… and alluded to by Tilsit @70.

  85. tupu says:

    Hi robi
    Thanks. So ‘same as’ refers to the anagram which like many others I regret I never noticed.

  86. John H says:

    NOTES on Enigmatist puzzle, March 30th


    5 One = SINGLE = half of 9(ac) = (dry) run
    6 Reading, say = R (one of the 3 Rs) in SEVEN (single number) = SEVERN (a long runner)
    9 TT = DRY; race = RUN; practice = DRY RUN
    10 Tony M(ontana) Manny R(ibera)’s friend in Scarface, inside ANY(= some) = ANTONYMY (= opposition)
    11 HAND double definition pass/some bananas
    12 DIC + KCIS SEL all reversed (= about). Franglais patients = LES SICK (making) contact (with) CID = policemen
    13 “Slowhand”, nickname of ERIC CLAPTON, anag of (= badly) narcoleptic
    18 he keeps complaining = GRIPER about E (energy) in MR A(ctive) (i.e. MREA) = GRIM REAPER (death). ‘s = is = ‘=’
    21 Delay (definition) delivery of (said aloud) gin (= sloe)
    22 Evening do (definition) = APRES SKI, one (=A) at which reporters (PRESS) meet (stand next to, like “contact” above) K(ing) (and) I, say = for example – Brynner and McKenna were not the only double act in The King and I
    23 Rubble, perhaps (as nouns are not normally used as anag indicators) anag of Barney gives (definition) close at hand
    24 Legs (ELEVEN), bingo call, that with (plus) double number (TWO) could make the number 13, same as…
    25…Apostles (TWELVE) with (plus) single number (ONE). Arithmetically and anagrammatically ELEVEN + TWO = TWELVE + ONE

  87. tupu says:

    In retrospect, after today’s fairly routine puzzle, I wish my comments had acknowledged more clearly the complex wizardry and artistry of this offering from Enigmatist. The number of ‘hits’ has been the highest I remember.

  88. John H says:


    1 ‘INT (bit of ‘elp) given to (presented with) RUDER (comparatively unskilled) = INTRUDER (definition = burglar)
    2 CD (recording) goes around SOLE (single), making CLONED (definition = with a double)
    3 Anagram of (fancy) “date” (= DEAT) with H/C(h)AP (hot-headed) guy = CHAP. Definition = It may look harmless = DEATH CAP
    4 TEN + N, abbr for ‘number’, so Double number + IS (given) = TENNIS (definition = an exhibition of singles or doubles but not triples)
    5,7 ID (definition) = for one, Holby City (SERIAL) + NUMBER (= anaesthetic)
    8 Prone to go out (i.e. drop off) for some time (ref Captain Oates) = definition = N + anag of POLE (gets hammered) = OLEP in ARCTIC (appropriately, for N Pole)
    14 The number of pieces in a CHESS SET make (= add up to) double 16, i.e. 32
    15 New edition of (= anagram of) B(ook) LOCATES = reason for lack of progress (= definition of OBSTACLE)
    16 (Bet, definition of) TRIPLE = (made by = addition of) single and double e.g. in drinks…
    17 Repeated consumption of singles (or triples!) might make you see (DOUBLE = ) it (definition)
    19 Double definition: Better qualified (as = also) someone to provide a welcome
    20 Fame (= definition of RENOWN) = (e)RENOW = thus far, executed (minus its head) by (+) N(ame)

  89. tupu says:

    Many thanks John for taking this trouble. My late tribute at 87 crossed.

    I’m interested that in 25a, 5 + (a cross) 7 did not figure in your intentions.

  90. Davy says:

    Re DinP at 39. Looking through the comments on the Guardian website, it would seem that not many commenters liked the puzzle either. So why pick on the 225 community who are definitely not experts ?. I did enjoy this puzzle but agree with the main criticisms of others. Why didn’t you post the same comment on the Guardian, as the commenters seem to be the same kind of people as on 225 ?.

    So Mr DinP, please chill out and accept that others have different opinions to yourself.

  91. Robi says:

    Many thanks, JohnH for your contribution from the horse’s mouth. A fair, but challenging (at least for a beginner) puzzle, which most people enjoyed.

  92. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Just one more thing.
    In Andrew’s blog 14d is CHESSMEN.
    However, we had CHESS SET, but I didn’t mention it, because the enumeration was (8) and not (5,3), so we were happy with the ‘men’.
    Much to my surprise Enigmatist himself now gives CHESS SET as the solution …. !

    Well, well, that was fun.
    So much controversy, never seen before.
    Ranging from extreme dismissal @78 [words I refuse to repeat here] to our own positive verdict.
    A few more DinPs and we will reach 100 …. :) [or :(,of course]

  93. John H says:

    You’re correct Sil – CHESSMEN

  94. Robi says:

    Sil; the solution on the website is CHESSMEN, so maybe it was changed by the editor.

  95. Roger says:

    Hi Robi @83/84 … in his/her defence it’s perhaps worth noting that the anagrams were first mentioned by Smithy @51.

  96. Bryan says:

    Many thanks John H @ 86 & 88

    However, I had no idea who the characters were in SCARFACE, nor ERIC CLAPTON’s nickname, nor that Virginia McKenna had appeared in The King & I in 1979.

    Such obscurities made it very difficult for me as I always tackle puzzles offline.

  97. Tilsit says:

    Nice to see people rubbish something just because they can’t do it

    Why can’t we have harder puzzles – some of us get rather bored solving the same Gordius challenge week in week out?

  98. Robi says:

    Thanks Roger @95; you are right – I missed Smithy’s first comment @51.

  99. Roger says:

    Come on folks, lets get to 100 … I want my lunch !

  100. stiofain says:

    Yes Robi @98 wrt to Roger @95 i should have said @74 that Smithy mentioned the anagrams @51

  101. Mick H says:

    Yep, definitely at the harder end of the scale, but all fair and gettable in the end. (No, I did finish it yesterday, honest)

  102. ben says:

    It was more fun reading these posts than doing the crossword! I failed because of treble and dikcissel and apres ski but I enjoyed the heat here.

  103. Mark Hanley says:

    This must be near to a record number of comments. Unfortunately I agree with the majority here, I struggled to complete a quarter of this grid and still couldn’t fathom the remaining clues after reading the solving notes. There’s nothing wrong with “harder” puzzles, but this was just far too obtuse and contrived for my liking with its multiple cross-references, sorry Enigmatist

  104. EB says:

    I said in post #5:

    “Got 24ac from ‘LEGS’ as you but I can’t see how the ’13? fits in with 25ac assuming ellipses are relevant. Think I must be missing something here.
    25ac – Thought this was weak unless “5 across 7? is meant to clue “5 + 7? (ie a cross looks like a plus sign) giving 12.”

    Well at least I was right in saying “Think I must be missing something here.” And how!!

    Trying to be too clever obviously – but nowhere near as clever as Enigmatist. For “weak” in above post please read “brilliant” – thanks again Enigmatist for both the puzzle and the notes.

  105. mark says:

    An awful puzzle. Impossible on train with no computer references.
    John H’s many attempts to justify it only prove what a mess it was.

    And you never had the courtesy to reply to my email John about what happened in the end with that commissioned puzzle for my Dad. A huge let down.

  106. Richard says:

    Just finished this on the fourth day. Have had it on the go alongside subsequent Guardian crosswords for the last few days, and loved every minute of the challenge.

    Am I alone in not defining a good crossword as one I can easily solve?

  107. John H says:

    re 105: Mark, if there’s a commissioned puzzle outstanding, I’m afraid I have no recollection of it, nor of the e-mail you mention. Maybe you could contact me again, and we can sort it out?

    If it’s an oversight on my part, I’m very, very sorry. Look forward to hearing from you.

  108. Huw Powell says:

    Wow, this was a bruiser indeed, but I liked it and knew I wasn’t going to give up even when all I had was SLOW and DRY RUN. Been working on it now for V days, with breaks for Thursday’s, most of Friday’s, and a dabble at the Prize, and also the April Puzzlecrypt for good measure. Spent too much time looking for a hospital-related theme due to “Holby City” combined with a Manny Ruiz who is a character on General Hospital – a long-running American soap opera.

    Even after I beat on SINGLE until I solved it, giving me S_R_A_ it took another hour to kick myself over SERIAL NUMBER.

    After Googling bananas to catch HAND I went to sleep and it was quite late the next day I noticed the arrows pointing to 13A. (You should see the mess I make diagramming these interconnected puzzles!).

    But I kept at it, and slowly, one by one, I kept getting more answers, with much help from Google, Wikipedia, and OneLook (thank you, Hugh, for that tip!). APRES-SKI didn’t drop even though I had read the spoiler someone mentioned on I think 25,284’s blog!

    At 14 I played volleyball, basketball, checkers, and a bit of scrabble, before the 16 = sixteen not TRIPLE clicked for the game intended.

    Finally decided, foolishly, that somehow “legs” could mean a bunch of cricketers, letting me pencil in the consonants of ELEVEN.

    And then I came here to discover I had one incorrect penciled in letter with ANTONYMs, missing the point of “some” completely. So thanks Andrew for what must have been a difficult blog to publish on time, and Enigmatist for a worthy, challenging struggle.

    My favorite clue was “all of them”…

  109. Huw Powell says:

    Otter @ 79, “how many people outside of rock afficianados of a certain age know his nickname?”

    It’s also the title of his most popular/successful album ever. The clue was also workable from the anagram and checks, and then provable by a quick Google if necessary.

    I just don’t see how references to one of the most esteemed musicians in rock, or one of the best-known hit musicals’ star can be considered obscure or unfair.

    I also don’t mind having to research a bird I’ve never heard of (and never will again?) before seeing the very fair wordplay to get to it.

    But then, without aids I doubt I would finish more than one of these every month or two. I don’t mind being sent off to read several thousand words on, say, the Battle of Trafalgar. I have no idea how the competitive solvers, or the “newspaper on the train” people, manage to finish these. So my hat is off to them!

  110. maarvarq says:

    DICKCISSEL?! With an obscure parsing to boot? What garbage!

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