Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,328 / Enigmatist

Posted by Eileen on May 28th, 2011


Enigmatist kindly dropped in to give us a start the day before this puzzle came out, by telling us that it was solvable but we might need a diary.

This, together with the word ‘stop’ appearing throughout the puzzle, directed us towards the London Underground.  I defy anyone to read the tiny print on the map in the back of my diary, and, when my second ‘stop’ appeared to be unequivocally CYPRUS, which I’d never heard of in that context, I began to have doubts, which were, however, soon resolved after getting EPPING and MORDEN and then resorting to Wikipedia at the end to find that Cyprus is, indeed, a stop on the Docklands Light Railway.

This is a very cleverly constructed puzzle: all the six-letter clues are theme answers and therefore symmetrically positioned in the grid. Not only that but I think – I didn’t count too carefully! – there are only twelve single-name stops with six letters.

There were some very nice clues, with clever / amusing surfaces, my favourites being 14, 18, 23 and 24ac and  4, 7 and 16dn.

Many thanks, Enigmatist, for letting me down reasonably lightly after giving me a scare last Friday. ;-) I enjoyed the trip!


1 Difficult to get a glimpse, not complete show of frustration (4,4)
DEEP SIGH: DEEP [difficult to get] SIGH[t] [‘glimpse not complete’]: I was held up for a while here, thinking the second word must be ‘sign’ [‘show’]

5 Stop one fixing dress (6)
PINNER: double definition

9 “Perishing” is “icy”, but “snappy” (8)
BISCUITY: anagram [‘perishing’] of IS ICY BUT

10 Stop and sing about yen (6)
LEYTON: LET ON [sing] around Y[en]

11 Slippery Ernie Cox is escaping through a duct (8)
EXOCRINE: anagram of ERNIE COX: a new word for me but easily gettable from the straightforward anagram and familiarity with ‘endocrine’.

12 Having no heart in stop (6)
POPLAR: POPULAR [‘in’] without its middle letter [heart]

14 “Empty” socialists taking the Cameron view in subplots (10)
STORYLINES: TORY LINE [the Cameron View] in S[ocialist]S – a wonderful surface!

18 A condition of parole NYC’s rewritten (10)
NARCOLEPSY: anagram of PAROLE  NYC’S: I liked the ‘condition of parole’.

22 Stop bad smell being released from record table game (6)
EPPING: EP [record] + PING PONG [table game] minus PONG [bad smell]

23 Deny news smuggled back by Blunt (8)
ABNEGATE: NEG [reversal of GEN {news}] in ABATE [blunt]: I hadn’t come across ‘abate’ as a transitive verb but found it in Chambers – with the definition ‘blunt’! This is an excellent surface – especially the use of ‘smuggled back’, indicating a reverse insertion. There is a similar device in 7dn – ‘loading up’.

24 Stop spreading syrup on top of croissants (6)
CYPRUS: C[roissant] + anagram of SYRUP

25 Potential winner in doctor’s exciting work (4,4)
DROP SHOT: OP [work] in DR’S  HOT [exciting]: you have to read this as ‘in doctor’s exciting [is] work’.

26 Stop the lower classes during the first part of the day (6)
MORDEN: D E [lower classes] in MORN [first part of the day]

27 Stomach in way when other halves remarry (5,3)
INNER MAN: IN + a rearrangement of the two halves of MANNER [way]: this took a while to see.


1 Stop where seedy first-nighters perform (6)
DEBDEN: DEB DEN: cryptic definition, DEB being short for ‘debutant[e]’

2 A college environment may make us stop, with or without … (6)
EUSTON: US in ETON [college]

3 … boringly traditional figure (6)
SQUARE: double definition, nicely linked to the previous answer by the fact that Euston Square is also a stop.

4 Tie will need to go away! (3,7)
GET KNOTTED: amusing double definition

6 Money spotted under sparklers in cooler (3,5)
ICE LOLLY: LOLLY [money] under ICE [diamonds –  ‘sparklers’]

7 Stingy knight, perhaps, loading up nothing on wagon (8)
NETTLING: N [knight, chess notation] + reversal of NIL [nothing] + TT [‘on the wagon’] in  EG [perhaps]: the definition is ‘sting-y’,which made me laugh, once I got it, having played around for some time with ‘niggling’, even though I knew that it was ‘niggardly’ that meant ‘stingy’ with a soft ‘g’.

8 Gamble on revolutionary country exporting something 9 (3,1,4)
RUN A RISK: NARI [reversal [revolutionary] of IRAN [country] in RUSK [something biscuity] : interesting use of  ‘exporting’.

13 Forcibly put obstruction on Murdoch? (5,5)
PRESS BARON: PRESS [forcibly put] BAR [obstruction] ON

15 Advent’s wingless connection system? (8)
INTERCOM: this had me guessing for a while: ‘wingless’ usually means without the first and last letters but here it’s literally without ‘wing’, so [w]INTER COM[ing]: Advent is the liturgical period beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas,  so a winter coming in the Western hemisphere. Edit: of course [thanks, BigglesA,] I meant Northern hemisphere!

16 A cunning trap a basis for a picture? (3,5)
ART PAPER: A + RTPA [anagram of TRAP] + PER [a – as in 50p per / a pound]

17 Legal settling is routine to arrange under judge (8)
JOINTURE: J[udge] + anagram of ROUTINE: another new word for me [I’ve never received one!]: it’s ‘property settled by a husband on his wife at their marriage for her use after his death’.

19 Stop Liberal MP getting put forward in support (6)
TEMPLE: MP after L[iberal] in TEE [support] Edit: that should, of course, be MP before [put forward] L[iberal] – thank you, tupu

20 Stop touring workplace for operators of Bunsen burner and radio (6)
BALHAM: BAL [reversal {‘touring’} of LAB {workplace for operators of Bunsen burner} ] + HAM [operator of radio]. I can’t quite make the wordplay work here – suggestions welcome! It seems that ‘workplace’ should apply to operators of both Bunsen burner and radio …?

21 Know fashionable people stop (6)
KENTON: KEN [know – mostly Scottish and Northern English, as in ‘D’ye ken John Peel?’] + TON [people of fashion]: we’ve had ‘ton = fashion’ quite a lot recently; ‘people of fashion’ is another meaning.

62 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,328 / Enigmatist”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen for another very insightful analysis. I went through much the same process as you describe.

    I found this difficult and spent rather more time on it than usual. Looking back on it though the clues are well constructed and fair. The theme emerged quite early but as a non-resident I had to seek confirmation of many of the answers. I rather suspect that even Londoners might have needed some help. The NE corner held me up and 12 was my last, partly because I couldn’t find it on the Underground.

    15 refers to the Nothern Hemisphere of course and I guess WORKPLACE in 20 could refer only to the lab.

  2. Biggles A says:

    Wasn’t there another Underground themed Prize Cryptic not long ago?

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, BigglesA – that was a really silly slip, amended now.

  4. caretman says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for the blog. I can confirm your suspicion that Enigmatist got every 6-letter London Underground stop in (and, by using EUSTON and EUSTON SQUARE, getting a total of 12 which were symmetrically placed). A wonderful accomplishment.

    This puzzle was more or less perfect for me. Just hard enough but still solvable, and making me do research to confirm answers. I’ve never been on the Underground so knew no stops whatsoever, but after getting CYPRUS, EPPING, and TEMPLE, googling showed the theme. Like you, INNER MAN was the last one I understood (it had been in a while but figuring out the word play was a challenge). And I loved NETTLING; all of the pieces fitted so well together when I figured it out and the definition was inspired.

    Many thanks to Enigmatist for an extremely enjoyable puzzle!

  5. Coffee says:

    Like BigglesA, I thought we’d had this theme some time ago, so didn’t follow through as I was finding it quite torturous anyway. We got CYPRUS so started wondering if they were islands… looking at it now, I find most of it contrived rather than cryptic. No wonder my mother “shredded it in disgust”! I did like 13D though.

    Glad to see Araucaria back today – I think!

  6. utter says:

    What is it with crossword setters that they think that the majority of the population of the UK are intimate with the transportation system used by a tiny minority of the country?

    Clever construction, possibly. Ability to be solved without some sort of reference work, nil. The clues were too crap to make up for the parochial nature of it.

  7. Mystogre says:

    Thank you Eileen. Living in a different part of the world made this a more difficult exercise than most. It took a long time for the penny to drop that I should look at the train system!

    Even after that I got stuck on 7d – a word with which I was completely unfamiliar.

    But, the clues all worked nicely and I am impressed at the effort required to put the stops in one crossword. So, thanks Enigmatist too. This week’s one looks a little easier at first pass.

  8. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I delayed use of aids until the last ones in the NW corner, and even so couldn’t parse 12a. 10a still seemed iffy. As did the ‘spotted in 6d, and 27a’s clue for that matter. Still, it all got finished and for a prize puzzle was a fair test.

  9. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I found this one of those crosswords where, once you’d clicked on the theme, it was pretty straightforward. CYPRUS was my first stop and I wondered briefly if we were off on a Mediterranean cruise.. EPPING followed and then a quick Google revealed the theme and the rest was straightforward, even though we don’t have any underground system or even Light Railway in Indonesia!

    BALHAM – “ham radio” is a common enough phrase and I think that you are just supposed to take HAM as type of radio, isolated from the rest of the clue.

  10. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen but, for me, this was Niggy at his worst. Or possibly I am under-estimating him? A very dangerous thing to do.

    I took this with me on a 63-minute train journey to London and, although I am reasonably familiar with the London Underground, I had never heard of several stops while CYPRUS really threw me.

    There were the other obscurities (which you have identified) and I think Coffee @5 has hit the nail on the head by describing it as ‘contrived rather than cryptic’.

    Niggy also failed to include EVERY 6-letter stop!

    Take SLOANE SQUARE, for example.

    All in all, this was by far the worst puzzle in living memory.

  11. Biggles A says:

    NeilW @ 9. I think HAM in that context is a colloquialism for ‘amateur radio operator’ rather than a type of radio. Looking at it more carefully I share Eileen’s reservation and can only conclude the wordplay is in error.

  12. NeilW says:

    Hi Biggles A: If you Google “ham radio” the Wiki hit gives: “Amateur radio (ham radio) is the licensed and private use of designated radio bands….”

  13. snigger says:

    ” resort to aids”


    “telling us that it was solvable but we might need a diary.”

    And the point of this exercise?? To find some, but not all, of the six lettered stations on a train system.

    Advent = “winter coming” ???? Bollox !!!

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Enigmatist

    An excellent blog (again) of a difficult but emjoyable puzzle. I had to check some ‘stops’ but the cluing was generally immaculate and led one there.

    My only miss in that department was ‘poplar’. The answer was clear from the missing ‘u’ making popular but I missed the idea that ‘in’ defined the latter and kept worrying about ‘having’ instead.

    Eileen. Don’t you mean MP before L in 19d? Or have I misread you?

    I liked 9a, 27a, 7d!, 8d (when I eventually understood it – I first somehow failed to notice the 9), 24d.

    I did not realise the setter had been so thorough. Excellent prize crossword fare.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW @9 and Biggles A @11

    Re 20dn:I’ve just looked at the annotated solution, which gives: “Balham LAB(rev)/HAM [ham radio]” so thanks, Neil!

    [Thanks for pointing out my lapsus digiti, tupu – sorted now.]

  16. sheffield hatter says:

    On the underground map I looked at there were HOXTON and BUSHEY as well, so clearly not all six-letter stations make an appearance as has been asserted.

    I’m not really very keen on these list themed puzzles where you need to work through the list and find out where they fit into the grid. And the intersecting clues were far too difficult for me. For example, 27 requires us to find a synonym for WAY and then split that into two halves and rearrange them. Or 25, where the insertion instruction is entirely back to front. I gave up and went to do something interesting instead.

  17. superkiwigirl says:

    Yes, CYPRUS threatened to send me off on a Mediterranean excursion too, until TEMPLE, BALHAM and KENTON revealed the the theme and made me check on Google.

    I suppose it’s just a matter of personal preference but I quite appreciate these themed puzzles in general, so long as the solutions are reasonably accessible from the wordplay. Yesterday’s Indy was a case in point, and I learned the names of a number of Shakespearean characters of which I was previously unaware. I suppose that I have to find some way to justify all the time that I’m now spending on crosswords, and it helps if I can argue “self improvement”!

  18. superkiwigirl says:

    Sorry Eileen, I forgot to thank you for your excellent blog and Enigmatist for what I found to be a very enjoyable puzzle.

  19. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I found this very difficult but enjoyable in the end and I didn’t finish it till Tuesday. I’ve travelled a lot on the tube but found that this didn’t help me very much with this puzzle. I’d never heard of CYPRUS, DEBDEN, KENTON or MORDEN. I also didn’t know EPPING as a station. My favourite clue was probably DROP SHOT which took a while to break down. Amazingly ICE LOLLY had me fooled for a while until the light filtered through.
    Thanks Enigmatist for your deliberate infliction of pain. You have taken over from Bunthorne as my nemesis.

  20. Trebor says:

    I really liked this but did have to use a map having only been to London a handful of times, and never having visited most of the city.
    Get Knotted was my “in” having seen it in a recent Private Eye – you can probably guess how it was clued there!
    Spent a while with sign in 1 across as well.

  21. Stella Heath says:

    I gave up till today, with about six answers correctly entered, including CYPRUS and SQUARE. Unfortunately these failed to lead me anywhere near London, and the proliferation of stops made me do just that :)

    On returning this morning, however, I immediately saw EUSTON, and the theme was revealed. Not that that was much help, as most of the stations included were completely unknown to me, and others (EPPING, PINNER) were only familiar as place names, so I reluctantly had to resort to Google – it’s strenuous work looking up six-letter London Underground stations on a notepad!

    As I was finishing, my daughter phoned to call me out for a walk with the dogs, so I didn’t have time to sit back and appreciate Enigmatist’s cleverness. Thanks Eileen for a revealing blog.

  22. rrc says:

    I found this irritating, I spotted cyprus fairly early but had no idea it was a tube station – when I discovered that I really gave up – after all a crossword is supposed to be enjoyable- rather like today’s araucaria!

  23. Robi says:

    Despite some adverse comments, I thought this was very enjoyable, and a very clever construction.

    Even though I only live about 15 miles from central London I didn’t know most of the stations, but I don’t see the difference between this and not knowing Shakespeare characters. Most of the clues were cleverly written, I thought.

    Thanks, Eileen for a good blog. Like tupu @14, I missed that POPuLAR was referenced by ‘in.’

  24. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen — and thanks to other bloggers this week, when I’ve chiefly been lurking not posting!

    This seems to be shaping up as a Marmite puzzle. I’m in the pro camp, though overall I probably admired it more than I enjoyed it.

    I got EUSTON and SQUARE pretty early on, which opened up the theme. Even so, and despite having lived in London for more years than I would care to admit, I’d never heard of the CYPRUS stop before. Checking that gave me a few other six-letter candidates to play around with.

    I liked 14ac and 18ac very much. DROP SHOT caused me some trouble and it took a while before I got the LOLLY part of 6dn. Thanks for explaining the wordplay at 15dn and 27ac, which eluded me.

  25. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen for your excellent blog.
    Having spent 5 years in London, I found the theme quickly (from EUSTON and MORDEN, both on the Northern line) but only a *tube nerd* could solve this without Mr Google.
    If this is a Marmite puzzle (liz@24), I support the Danes.

  26. Carrots says:

    I`m sorry I missed this whilst flying home from foreign parts. I know I could have printed off a copy but I don`t know if anyone else suffers from this syndrome, but I simply can`t do yesterday`s puzzle. “Dead Meat” as the Americanos say.

    Enigmatist and Eileen are as good as it gets. I don`t know who will be blogging today`s Araucaria, but it was great to see the old boy on form again.

  27. g larsen says:

    I found this by a long way the hardest prize crossword for ages – an embarrassingly long time before I got even one solution. Like others I got into the theme via a mediterranean diversion to Cyprus.

    As a Londoner who has always been fascinated by Harry Beck’s famous Underground map and its history, I had no difficulty in getting the 6-letter stations from memory. Incidentally, the list does appear to be complete (on the basis that the Docklands Light Railway is part of the Underground). The two extra stations suggested by sheffield hatter @16 don’t count – Bushey because it is no longer served by the Bakerloo Line and Hoxton because it’s on the Overground, not Underground.So a clever piece of setting.

    To those non-metropolitan types who complain about this parochial theme, I would say that part of the peculiar pleasure of many themed crosswords is that they get us into other people’s specialist areas. I’d be very happy to tackle a puzzle themed on the Glasgow underground or the Paris Metro!

    Carrots @26 is right – Enigmatist and Eileen are as good as it gets.

  28. Roger says:

    Thanks E&E for your respective efforts … all good stuff. I’m still not sure what’s going on in BALHAM though, and tend to agree with Biggles A @11 and your original comments, Eileen.

    Operators (plural) must link Bunsen burner and radio, since operators/burner (only) doesn’t work (how many does it take !) Assuming no typos, the ‘workplace’ bit is then rather a muddle. And not convinced ham = radio, despite what the annotated solution would have us believe. A word from Enigmatist maybe ?

    Tried IRISh somethingorother for 13d … and 4d’s not bad.

    Hi Robi @23 . Also ~15 miles out … on the Met line.

  29. Dave Ellison says:

    Like g larsen it took me ages to get started – twice through all the clues! CYPRUS was also my shoe in. But it was hard, and I failed on 14a and 4d (I had GUN stuck in my mind for it and couldn’t shake it off).

    Incidentally, where are all the complaints from those who object to clues that have “in Spain” for “a place in Spain” wrt 6d? IN COOLER is not a definition of an ice lolly. “In Spain” I have no objection to, but I do to this one.

  30. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots

    I’m glad to know you were ‘only’ on holiday [again!]. We’ve missed you!

    I do know what you mean. Kind friends have given me books of Guardian and Times crosswords to take on holiday but it’s just not the same as doing the puzzles as they come out. [I have something of the same attitude to recorded TV programmes. There was something about the olden days, when you knew that most of the country was watching ‘The Forsyte Saga’ along with you!]

    Hi g larsen

    Thanks for confirming my count but, as for “I’d be very happy to tackle a puzzle themed on the Glasgow underground or the Paris Metro!” – don’t encourage them!

    Hi Roger

    “I’m still not sure what’s going on in BALHAM though..”

    Perhaps this might help ;-) :

    [I think I’m happy enough with the annotated solution, if ‘ham’ is a type of radio. I just hadn’t seen it as being separate from the rest of the clue – and ‘operatorS’ is nicely reminiscent of the light bulb jokes. I’m warming to this clue as I type!]

    Hi Dave Ellison

    I don’t think this is that type of clue. I took ‘cooler’ as the definition and ‘in’ simply as a linking word’.

    And finally, Muck, I’m glad my Copenhagen-based son doesn’t like Marmite!

  31. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen. Like a few people I guessed at some the tube stops, so thanks for looking them up for us!

  32. superkiwigirl says:

    Not all solvers are created equal …?

    The “marmite aspect” of this themed puzzle has started me thinking about the related question of crossword aids generally. No matter how fairly clued, most themed puzzles are likely to involve the use of some sort of external assistance at some point or other, more so than with other crosswords I think, and the extremes between which such aid can range are very wide indeed. On the one hand I’ve seen it suggested by a setter that a Chambers Dictionary will be of help (or, say, a Diary as here) whilst on the other there are the “Reveal” and “Cheat” buttons available for the online versions of the Indy and Guardian puzzles. My question, as a real newbie, concerns the ground rules under which we ought to be operating: is there an accepted view on what constitutes “fair play” and as to which aids are acceptable at which point? I realise that I’ve left this very late in the day with this particular puzzle , but I’d be grateful to hear what others think.

  33. ChrisU says:

    This was the toughest Guardian Prize for a long while, perhaps harder than the last three ‘Genius’ puzzles too. I got nowhere with this, the first prize puzzle I’ve failed to complete in three years, which I think was another Enigmatist; my Nemesis! That defeat, coupled with another failed entry to the Azed clue competition threw me into a bit of a fug . I considered giving up my somewhat escalating crossword fetish; I haven’t looked at a crossword until just completing (tentatively) today’s Araucaria ( though I’ve just downloaded the pdfs of this week’s Guardians to catch up ).
    This was a fair puzzle, no question, I just couldn’t crack it and though I suspected the “stop” to be stations the penny refused to drop. Congratulations to all successful solvers, and to Eileen for the solving it under pressure to produce this fine blog. I bet the Royal Mail are a little disgruntled though; surely the entries would have been down to Azedianly low levels!

  34. Martin H says:

    Cyprus was pretty obvious from the wordplay, but no idea why it was a ‘stop’. Then Morden seemed quite clear, and I knew that was a stop, so it was simply a question of looking up 6-letter underground stations and fitting them to the appropriate clues. Mildly amusing, standard list-theme stuff. Once that was done everything came together quickly, allowing for E’s occasionally throwaway clueing – ‘ham’ as has been mentioned, for instance, and ‘exocrine’, which means secreting, rather than escaping, through a duct; but Enigmatist has a tendency not to let that sort of consideration stand in the way of a nice surface. Some very inventive clues, but, as often with Enigmatist, the satisfaction at completing the puzzle is marred by a feeling that it came in spite of, rather than in collusion with the setter.

  35. snigger says:

    @32 superkiwigirl – a newbie like yourself and also puzzling over what the “ground rules” are and what is fair cluing.

    I read most of these blogs and occasionally some device is questioned by the longer serving. Though it may be necessary to introduce these “unfair” elements for the crossword to remain a challenge for those same long serving. Yes, i know – doesn’t help us much !! hey ho.

  36. molonglo says:

    Superkiwigirl @32. As these blogs show daily. it’s totally individual. My ideal is the raft situation: completing the thing in my head, no aids. Very very hard puzzles are not as much fun as hard ones, the easiest are the least fun. Resorting to Google etc in the end is not an admission of defeat,it can be a route to knowledge, often most satisfying.

  37. Biggles A says:

    Hi Roger @ 27. Thanks for the support and sorry Eileen @ 30, I still can’t accept that HAM is a type of radio but thanks for taking me back to Peter Sellers in his prime. I still have the vinyl somewhere.

    I’m encouraged that others found this hard but fair too. If time taken to solve a cryptic is any indication of its quality – and I know it is not quite that simple – then this is the best I have encountered for ages.

  38. Carrots says:

    Superkiwigirl….Afraid I haven`t much to add (but I just love typing in your chosen Avatar!) but cryptic crosswords are essentially ART…and they are really about recipe-creators rather than recipe-followers. i.e. the more intriguing setters not only define rules, they break them. Crosswordland was once dominated by the Ximean High Priesthood. Now, it isn`t….and better for it, in my view.

    Me and a few other Marmite Freedom Fighters are planning a return trip to Denmark in a Viking longboat to break the blockade of this breakfast spread. Feel up to joining us? Auntie Eileen hasn`t been asked yet, but it is not hard to imagine her, draped in a Union Jack, a la Delacroix`s “Leading The People”.

  39. anax says:

    Hi Carrots

    “Crosswordland was once dominated by the Ximean High Priesthood” – I’m not so sure about that. The early days of cryptics were very rudimentary and many, perhaps most, clues wouldn’t pass muster (among Libs or Xims) today. When Xim rules were introduced they ran alongside what had gone before rather than replace it, and that’s ideal. The two separate paths have developed alongside each other, and not in a conflicting sense as far as setters are concerned – naturally, among solvers there will be separate camps simply because as solvers we develop preferences.

    I like to think of clue-writing as a form of joke-telling. With Libertarian clues the joy is often the unexpected belly laugh of the risque punchline; Ximenean clues may not be quite so funny but solvers enjoy the way the joke is told.

  40. Carrots says:

    Hi Anax…and many thanks for your wisdom. I`m afraid my knowledge of crossword history is scant, so must accede to your perceptions. It would seem we have entered an era of fusion cuisine which flies in the face of Escoffier. This is more or less what I was trying to say…cramming a quart into a pint pot.

    Interesting you should draw the analogy with jokesmiths when clue-writing, for you have often made me smile…even though the jokes are of the “Otherwise did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?” variety!

  41. Roger says:

    Many thanks for the amusing link, Eileen @30 … another toothbrush mystery solved, then !

    Hi superkiwigirl @32 … I agree essentially with molonglo @36, apart from the bit about doing them in your head (blimey !). At the end of the day the puzzles are simply a entertainment, a diversion and not a test so you can set your own ground rules. My Pocket Oxford Dictionary and I only resort to electronic wizardry when utterly stumped … a process that often leads into all sorts of side turnings and dark alleyways. Interesting but educational. And half the fun is untangling the answers once you’ve got them anyway. Happy solving.

  42. Robi says:

    Superwikigirl @32; the main thing is to enjoy the solving experience (even if in a masochistic way, sometimes!) As a beginner myself, I use the Chambers Crossword Dictionary which is very helpful with lists etc and an insight sometimes into some rarified synonyms or abbreviations. If I am really stuck I use a word search programme, but this sometimes gives several hundred solutions so you still have to work out what is the answer.

    I don’t usually use the cheat or reveal buttons, but there is no penalty in doing so. You could still then try to understand the solution before coming here to find chapter and verse. Maybe in ten years’ time I’ll be a little better but I can usual still complete the prize crosswords using various aids (no cheat buttons there!)

  43. Robi says:

    …….. or even ‘usually.’

  44. Carrots says:

    Any excuse to type in “superkiwigirl” again is eagerly grasped at. I agree with you that themed crosswords generally often demand recourse to magic boxes etc. in view of the esoteric nature of the theme. This is OK by me, providing the “key” clue is gettable by conventional means…in my case usually a lunctime pinta and a pencil.

    But I must take up Roger@41 and his claim that crosswords are “simply an entertainment (or) diversion”. I believe them to be the cornerstone of civilization, second only to Cricket. The Art in them comes from the setters, the bloggers are the curators, and we, (with the other usual suspects), are the gallery-goers.

  45. Eileen says:

    Dear Carrots @44

    You’re beginning to sound like Bill Shankley! :-)

    Hi superkiwigirl

    I wrote a reply to you last night and somehow deleted it. I think I said that I’m no golfer myself but people I know who do play say that they’re playing not only their opponent but also themselves and I can identify with that, as far as crosswords are concerned. Our battle is with the setters, whose stated aim is to ‘lose gracefully’, but also with ourselves.I don’t think there are any ‘rules': it’s up too you to decide your own parameters.

    I’ve been solving cryptic crosswords for decades and have always been in the habit of consulting a dictionary if a seemingly impossible word [i.e one I hadn’t heard of] seemed to be the only possible solution. If it confirmed my solution, there were encyclopaedias and other reference books for further investigation.

    The internet has made that process rather quicker but I think the principle is the same. I’ve often said here that it’s a poor day when you learn nothing new, so I rarely complain about ‘obscure’ words and have certainly learned a lot from cryptic crosswords – and infinitely more since serendipitously discovering this site. I’m glad you seem as thrilled to have found it as I was / am!

    Hi Anax

    I totally agree with the analogy of crossword-setting with joke-telling – thanks for all the smiles [and laughs]. :-)

  46. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I’ve been quiet so far.
    When we tackled this crossword Saturday a week ago after having quite a slow start, we looked at each other, then reading out loud the clue for 1ac: “Dificult to get a glimpse, not complete show of frustration”.
    Followed by :) :) :) , thinking Enigmatist might have done this deliberately.

    To cut a long story short, it took us that Saturday just under two hours to solve 60% of it – which was the left hand side +.
    The penny dropped after entering EUSTON, but that was only after an hour, because we started – as ever, don’t know why – from the bottom.
    The day after we used a London Underground map to help us. Within only 15 minutes, we solved the remaining 40%.

    As others questioned, is this fair?
    There is surely a discrepancy between 60%/120m and 40%/15m.

    I don’t have problems using a dictionary or Wiki to confirm entries or to find the ones that are missing. Indeed, I learn from that.
    But it’s a different matter when an external source is really needed to finish a crossword.
    NeilW @9 says: “I found this one of those crosswords where, once you’d clicked on the theme, it was pretty straightforward”. Well, with the Underground map at hand , I would say.

    That said, I do admire Enigmatist’s craftsmanship.
    The construction of this crossword (including the underlying thoughts) is indeed a Piece of Art.

    Although we found it a challenging and rewarding puzzle eventually, it leaves us with the main question: is it fair to set a crossword that cannot be solved without external aides for the average solver (ie a non-Londoner)?

    I don’t know.

    In #45 Eileen said: “Our battle is with the setters, whose stated aim is to ‘lose gracefully’, but also with ourselves”.
    I am not sure about that. It should be a win-win situation.

    So, my verdict?
    As I am not reluctant to use dictionaries etc (given my background – trying to learn more and more about the UK), Enigmatist gets a clear Plus.
    The cluing as such was certainly fair, even though (as on other occasions) I am not happy with the order of things in 12ac’s clue “[“Having no heart in” meaning ‘in having no heart’]. But I know these things happen – yet, it is against my nature.
    The INNER MAN had a clever device, but we questioned the use of ‘other’, which was probably only there for the surface.

    Pro saldo (meaning: ‘in the end, considering everything’ – quite a normal expression in Holland, but not here apparently), we found this crossword fully appropriate for the Saturday spot.
    One that might be problematic for the Man in the Street though.
    [I won’t say the Man in the Tube this time, for obvious reasons :)]

    Many thanks to Eileen ánd the Artist.

    Oh, and BTW, is there any chance that we get up to 100 posts again? :)

  47. Carrots says:

    Thinking that Bill Shankley was a golfer, I googled some quotes and found that even footballers have a sense of wit and humour. This surprised me, because I cannot stand that ghastly game and have tended to dismiss all the participants in it as brain-dead morons who are paid far too much for doing far too little. Otherwise I don`t mind being compared to Mr Shankley who, at least, seems to have had his priorities right.

  48. Carrots says:

    superkiwigirl… look what you`ve done! Set the cat among the pigeons of a bunch of slightly mad English eccenrics!! Welcome to the club!!!!

  49. Biggles A says:

    Robi @ 42. There’s a difference between WIKI and KIWI even though New Zealanders are naturally creative. (That helps get us to the half century at least.)

  50. PaulG says:

    A challenging but enjoyable puzzle, and a clear blog – thanks, Eileen. Not an easy one to do when you’ve printed it out at home and are trying to solve it in a holiday cottage in rural Western Australia without Internet or a UK diary…..

  51. Robi says:

    Biggles @49; apologies to superkiwigirl; wikigirl probably does something else entirely, and I’m not even dylexsic.

  52. superkiwigirl says:

    Thank you all so much for sharing these marvellous insights, and for giving me so many great laughs into the bargain.

    Subliminal slip perhaps, Robi – wish I had thought of “superwikigirl” first though as it would have been so appropriate here (and would presumably have given you just as much pleasure with the typing, Carrots?)

  53. Bryan says:

    Hi Superkiwigirl

    Do you know what one English cricket team said after touring New Zealand?

    They said that, if they were shipwrecked 50 yards off the coast of New Zealand, they would swim to Australia.

  54. Samuel says:

    Despite some of the comments above, I enjoyed this. The presence of the word ‘stop’ in so many clues immediately made me think of the Underground, despite living 250 miles or so north of London. Great stuff by Enigmatist to fit all of the six-letter stations into the grid, and I see nothing wrong with a London-centric theme.

    This puzzle also reminded me that my family and I have lived in both areas of Leeds that carry the names of tube stations – Oakwood and Shadwell. Now THAT would be an unfair subject for a puzzle!

  55. superkiwigirl says:

    Hi Bryan,


    I expect that was in the days when you let us have 22 players? But who was it that made it into the semifinals of the World Cup this year?

  56. Roger says:

    Carrots @44 … you’re right, of course. Silly me. ‘Life’ is obviously a diversion from these more important things.

    Sil @46 … “To cut a long story short” … BH, how long was the original ! Sub-division into lots of little ones would go a long way to answering your final question, methinks ! (All said in good humour, you understand).

    Hi Robi (again) … also did the kiwi-wiki thing (new dance craze ?) before putting my glasses on properly.

  57. xeno says:

    Well this took me nine days on and off to complete and I still got one wrong . . .

    I share the annoyance of some about the London-centricness. I think there would be some howls if the theme was Manchester tram stops, or bus routes in rural Norfolk.

    Loved 14 across!

  58. superkiwigirl says:


    Having taken on board the helpful advice given (and ever mindful of the fact that one meddles with the second cornerstone of civilisation at one’s peril!) I decided to print off today’s Brendan and to do the puzzle armed simply with pen and paper. Not very green perhaps, but it removed the temptation to resort prematurely to wiki etc. or to use the “Check” button.

    The result – well, of course, it took me quite a bit longer than I’ve been taking of late but was ultimately a more satisfying solve (luckily it wasn’t a stinker of a puzzle) so I’m going to continue with the experiment. I’m also going to invest in a pocket Chambers or something similar p.d.q. because it surely won’t be long before I find a much harder puzzle and the weak flesh in face of all that temptation …

    Having the puzzles online is a great thing for people like me who can’t easily buy a daily paper, but I think that an “exclusively online solving experience” (even without recourse to the “Reveal” and “Cheat” buttons) brings a high risk of falling into bad habits, particularly if one is inclined to be a bit lazy anyway.

    So now for today’s Indy (how long before my resolve is broken I wonder?)

  59. Geoff Chapman says:

    @ Sil

    ‘Pro Saldo’ – why on Earth would we use this phrase in the UK when we have the ubiquitous ‘at the end of the day’.


  60. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I don’t know, Geoff.
    Did I say that you should?
    Since I live in the UK, I have noticed that some (for the Dutch) foreign phrases/expressions that are familiar to the Dutch, are not that familiar over here.
    ‘Pro saldo’ is indeed one of them.
    Another one is ‘beamer’.
    A word that is commonly used in Holland for what the people here call a ‘data projector’.
    Sounds English, doesn’t it?
    Quite hilarious, methinks.

  61. Geoff Chapman says:

    “I don’t know, Geoff.
    Did I say that you should?”

    I wish we would. Anything to rid us of the interminable ‘at the end of the day’.

  62. beermagnet says:

    Late here I know (back from hols) but while reconsidering this wonderful crossy I was reminded of the following and can’t resist putting up a link to it: The anagramtubemap

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