Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,346 / Pasquale

Posted by Eileen on June 18th, 2011


An entertaining puzzle from Pasquale, in which we were told that six solutions were undefined in their clues, with five lying within the bounds of the sixth.

I think non-UK residents might have had problems with this Shropshire theme  [and this UK resident had not heard of one of the answers] but, as we would expect from Mr Manley, the cluing throughout was impeccable and these locations are all worth a visit, even if it’s only a virtual one. Anyway, he always aims to extend our experience, in one way or another.

There is a good variety of clues in this puzzle, with the usual fine surfaces, several of which raised a smile. Thank you for the puzzle, Pasquale: I enjoyed it – and the nice tour of Shropshire, which I don’t know as well as I should like.

[Looking forward to seeing some of you next Saturday in Birmingham. 😉 ]


1 Written passages bringing doctrine into middle of lesson (7)
SCREEDS:  CREED [doctrine] in [le]SS[on]: a nice change from ‘on board’

5,24 A number of chessmen (7,6)
BISHOPS CASTLE:  at least three chessmen here, if you don’t have an apostrophe: the town’s own website seems to be in two minds about that!

10,29 Silly clown, he gets into mess (4,7)
MUCH WENLOCK:  anagram of CLOWN HE in MUCK [mess]: another Shropshire town

11 Small mammals hide in the ground (10)
SHREWSBURY :  SHREWS [small mammals] + BURY [hide in the ground]: this was my first theme answer and, as it’s the county town, it led immediately to 26ac.

12 Ring turning out vulgar and cheap (6)
LUDLOW: LOUD [vulgar] minus O [ring] + LOW [cheap]: it’s really ‘vulgar turning out ring’ or ‘ring turning out of vulgar’ but I think it just about works. [John Betjeman called Ludlow ‘the most perfect town in England’.]

13 Mammal from Simon’s territory, so we’ve heard (8)
SIRENIAN: sounds like CYRENEAN: Simon of Cyrene, according to the Synoptic Gospels, was forced to carry Christ’s cross.

Sirenians are also known as sea cows and, according to Wikipedia, ‘are also referred to by the common name sirens, deriving from the sirens of Greek mythology.This comes from a legend about their discovery, involving lonely sailors mistaking them for mermaids’.

14 Yankees in muddle following economist (9)
KEYNESIAN: anagram of YANKEES IN: following economist John Maynard Keynes

16 Prophet returning to power (5)
PREES: reversal of SEER [prophet] + P[ower]: the one location I hadn’t heard of [not really surprising, since it’s a village,  with a population of  just 2688!] but the wordplay is crystal clear.

17 Street containing little that’s appealing (5)
SWEET: WEE [little] in ST[reet]

19 What ’arbour did for female sailor, being more senior (9)
ELDERSHIP: [h]ELD [h]ER SHIP: this made me laugh but I resisted entering it for a moment or two, as I only knew the ‘church office’ meaning of this word.

23 English institute attracting a German physicist (8)
EINSTEIN: E[nglish] INST[itute] EIN [German ‘a’]

26 Retail outlets to rent across eg Reading? (10)
SHROPSHIRE:  R [‘Reading for example’ – one of the ‘three Rs’] in SHOPS [retail outlets] + HIRE [rent]: the other five theme answers lie within this county’s boundaries.

27 A source of inspiration (4)
PUMP: cryptic definition

28 Upper-class Bond actress not the first to strip (7)
UNDRESS: U [upper class] + [a]NDRESS: perhaps not quite &lit!  Ursula Andress – Bond girl Honey Ryder in ‘Dr No’ :  this is the second outing for this photograph on this site this year!


2 Designer’s work parish priest goes around in? The opposite! (7)
COUTURE: CURÉ [parish priest – in France] round OUT [opposite of ‘in’]

3 Locate the lady — cherchez la femme! (5)
ETHEL: hidden in locatE THE Lady

4 Turns one’s back on certain clues? Is stuck (7)
DISOWNS: IS [stuck] in DOWNS [certain clues]

6 Where hospital visitors may be private? (6)
INWARD: IN WARD: why just the visitors, I wonder?

7 Dances getting a prohibition in hard times (9)
HABANERAS: A BAN [a prohibition] in H[ard] ERAS [times]:

8 Replace damaged fabric (7)
PERCALE:  anagram of REPLACE

9 Bodily chemical for male comin’ down to earth (13)
PROSTAGLANDIN: PRO [for] STAG [male] LANDIN’ [comin’ down to earth]

15 Physicist is deferential, tedious fellow to listen to (5,4)
NEILS BOHR:  sounds like ‘kneels’ [is deferential] ‘bore’ [tedious fellow]: I’m ashamed to say I only knew this physicist from a crossword,  also by Mr Manley, with his Bradman cap on – but at least I remembered him! Edit: but then, by a slip of the finger,  spelt his name [NIELS] wrong here, though not, of course, in the grid – thanks, Pasquale!

18 Access said to be such a necessity before a fight (5-2)
WEIGH-IN: sounds like ‘way in’ [access]: I’m not sure why we need ‘such’?

20 Discharge direct from island (7)
EXCRETE: EX [direct from] CRETE [island]

21 Priest not totally in charge is at forefront of religion (7)
ISLAMIC: LAM[a] [priest not totally] IC [in charge] with IS at the forefront

22 Count blames soldiers doing a bunk (6)
CENSUS: Censures [rebukes] minus RE [soldiers]

25 Bit of a bloomer could be construed as “lapse” (5)
SEPAL: anagram of LAPSE

25 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,346 / Pasquale”

  1. Mystogre says:

    Many thanks Eileen. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Even though, as a non-resident, some of the locations required extensive internetting. The last one in was PREES as I worked it out and then had to search long and hard to find it. I was not sure where 13ac came from until I read your explanation, even though I was sure it would be from the Middle East somewhere.

    That meant I not only learned new words but new locations as well. 28ac raised a smile as I have been wondering if I would ever see that as a light using the actrtess. But the rest was very accessible and that meant a lot of smiles as I worked my way through.

    So thank you Pasquale as well for a good wet afternoon’s entertainment.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Cracked it with 10a: -U-H doesn’t leave much, does it? Even more than the Essex puzzle recently, this was pretty esoteric: I, too, had to guess PREES, then check. Same process for two other impossibilities outside the theme – 9d and 13a – but all fair enough, for a prize puzzle

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Thanks also to Pasquale, for saving us the usual level of torture!

    Like Mystogre and molonglo, other long-range solvers, PREES was last in as it doesn’t appear on the list of towns on the official SHROPSHIRE site. (A quick count of the towns made it easy enough to confirm though.)

    I don’t have any objection to these “parochial” themes in prize crosswords as there’s plenty of time to do a little research once the theme is understood; I do think it’s a lot less fair when they come up during the week, though.

    I suppose, regarding 6, the Don felt that “visitors” was fair enough as mild misdirection: if he’d said “patients” for instance, the answer would have been glaringly obvious.

  4. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    10.29. Who else found that CLOWN HE GETS is an anagram for SHOW NEGLECT? Which could easily enough equate to MESS. NEGLECT fits 29 but the NW corner becomes a bit of a problem. I got there eventually when I realised there was still another Shropshire town outstanding.

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen, Pasquale & Google

    This was a real toughie except maybe for Rufus who, I understand, lives in Shropshire. It’s not a county I’m familiar with although I have played golf at Hawkstone Park on occasions. Fond memories!

    I’d never heard of PERCALE, SIRENIAN or that unpronounceable chemical but good old Googly helped me to finish in glory.

    Very satisfying and an excellent Prize offering – if you’re up for the challenge and provided your Internet connection is working.

  6. Pasquale says:

    Thanks for the blog. This puzzle was inspired by a walking weekend based in Bishops Castle and the thought of a chess clue. I suppose I should have put in Rufus’s Ironbridge! Prees was an extra village squeezed in with help from friendly letters. It’s Niels not Neils by the way for that famous physicist.

  7. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks Eileen. You can probably guess that I enjoyed most of this and waded through the rest. I knew all the non-Shropshire words so had no great difficulty filling most of the grid and then with crossing letters and wordplay was able to postulate town names and Google to confirm. No great joy involved. So many English town names seem like random combinations of letters to a “foreigner”. Prees, Wenlock, Ludlow,…

    Favourite clue was 19ac. Very amusing.

  8. tupu says:

    Generally a good if testing puzzle with a relatively small gettable theme.

    I had to guess Bishops Castle from the letters (not very hard) and also Prees. :) Here the only and much less likely alternative seemed to be Arzep (Ezra rev + p). I am not sure that he was, strictly speaking a prophet, but some websites refer to him as such.

    The last to go in, by a long way, was Sirenian, despite having all the available letters, and ideas that a sea creature might be involved. In the end I sought a list of mammals and found Sirenian. But the reference to Simon still left me cold until I started to think harder about the pronunciation and tried checking out Cyrene.

    Re visitors, I suppose patients are also ‘visitors’ in a broad sense.

    Carefully clued as ever with this setter. I enjoyed 10, 29a, 11a, 27a, 7d, 9d, 22d.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen and Pasquale.

    I failed to finish this, missing LUDLOW, which left me with too many options for 4d.

    I enjoyed the theme, and it left me wishing to visit the county. Contrary to other solvers, though, my way in was via PREES, which I learned from Wiki was in SHROPSHIRE, so when that clue came up, I knew what I was looking for – except that, as I’d started with the village, my range of possible answers was rather wider than others’ :)

  10. David Roberts says:

    27 across

    I have a problem with PUMP, in that there is a town in Shropshire called PANT and this provides a far superior solution to the word play of “Source of Inspiration” than PUMP.

    If you got PANT early doors, you had a bit of a problem.

  11. Robi says:

    Thanks Pasquale; as with all themed crosswords, it’s not difficult to Google a list of possibles, although, like others, I solved PREES from the wordplay and checked again. I don’t think it would have been much more difficult as a non-UK resident as I didn’t know the majority of the towns (even as a Southerner I had heard of SHREWSBURY though!)

    Thanks Eileen, and for your picture where UNDRESS is a good description. Just to even things up, I’ll give you and other females a Bond treat here; hope you appreciate it!

    Back to the crossword – I did like ELDERSHIP, and nice to see NIELS BOHR and EINSTEIN given an airing (when are we going to get a scientically themed puzzle?) EXCRETE reminded me of what you have to do with used loo paper in Crete. I pity the job of the room maids! I didn’t really understand the ‘such’ in 18 either, but maybe the surface reads slightly more naturally with it in. I got SI=simon but no further until I read the blog – thanks Eileen.

  12. don says:

    Remember, Colin #7, these are borderline names and are not necessarily ‘English’!
    Prees, ‘grove, shrubbery’;
    Wenlock, “white monastery”;
    Much Wenlock, “great white monastery”

  13. Carrots says:

    Thank you, Auntie E, for an eloquent and elegant blog. And Thank You, Pasquale, for such a well-crafted puzzle.

    But, I got one wrong. As David Roberts @ 10 has already pointed out, anyone who put in PANT for PUMP created a bit of a problem for themselves. It was only when I realised that I had potentially 7 “Shropshire” answers, instead of six, that I realised something was amiss. Needless to say, I double-checked ALL the other answers before finding the culprit! I also share DR`s view that PANT is a better solution than PUMP, which I dismissed earlier in the puzzle.

    We seem to have been spoilt this week, with some excellent offerings from our usual setters…and I`m sure Paul won`t disappoint us today. True, he might dismay our sensitive brethren if he manges to slip a risque one past the God of Grauniad Setters…here`s hoping…!

    Eileen: Glad to hear that you will be at the Anax event…then, Wot Larks!

  14. Carrots says:

    Pasquale @ 6: Good of you to drop in…welcome! Did you go to The Three Tuns in Bishop`s Castle to sample its home-brewed beer? I think it was the first establishment in the country to do this and I remember going on a pilgrimage there to help save us all from Watney`s ghastly Red Barrel fizzipiss.

  15. Pasquale says:

    Indeed we did — and the real ale was much appreciated! Food good too.

  16. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I quite enjoyed this but failed on PREES although the clue is so so obvious. I even thought of P for power and seer for prophet but somehow failed to put them together. I had also convinced myself that silly clown was a Shakespearean character called Much until I saw the correct interpretation. I think that there should be a character called Much in A Midsummer Night’s Dream but there isn’t.
    Strangely enough, there is a man in my village who has a middle name of Wenlock but I don’t know its derivation. Favourite clue was KEYNESIAN. Thanks Pasquale.

  17. Tokyo Colin says:

    To Don@7. Thank you for the enlightenment even though at first I had no idea what you meant. ‘Borderline name’ – is it not quite a name, or chosen by someone with a special personality, or ? But then I checked a map (Google maps of course) and discovered that Shropshire shares a border with Wales. From this distance it all seems like England/Britain/UK, but I am well aware that the Welsh have their own international rugby team and now know that they also have their own unusual way of naming towns.

    And if I seemed curmudgeonly before (not for the first time), then all is now forgiven. I just completed today’s Prize puzzle. You won’t hear any whinging from me next week.

  18. Tokyo Colin says:

    Sorry, that is Don@12. I was 7.

  19. Sylvia says:

    I got sirenian as an imagined monster from siMON’S TERritory rather than Simon of Cyrene! And Prees sprang to mind from a memory of my mum long ago talking about Prees Heath (does Prees have a heath, I wonder?)

  20. Geoff says:

    Thanks Eileen and Don M

    Marvellous crossword with just the right amount of difficulty (for me, at any rate). I knew all the non-geographical words, and all the Salop settlements apart from PREES, which was obvious from the crossing letters and easily checked online.

    This puzzle is a masterly example of how to set accurate clues with very realistic surface readings without having to use 12 words to do it (cf recent correspondence on this subject). I have always admired and enjoyed Pasquale’s crosswords, although sometimes I have found them a bit po-faced, without that lightness of touch which many of us so enjoy. However this one has plenty of subtle humour: 19a is my favourite. Bravo.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I enjoyed this very much. 11ac was my way into the theme and PREES was the last to go in. (Google was called for!)

    Spelling KEYNESIAN wrong held me up for a time. I also had PORE for a while at 27ac (I think I must have been thinking ‘perspiration’).

    19ac made me smile.

  22. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I had PANT as one of the first clues to go in, I used to go climbing at the quarry there many years ago. This made completing the puzzle hard as I was very reluctant to put the much inferior PUMP in its place. A very poor clue IMO. The rest was great though.

    Thanks for enlightening me on Simon of Cyrene, never heard of him.

  23. retired pleb says:

    Salop villages/towns familiar to roving campanologists who have rung the bells at all of these – and sampled the beers !
    Most enjoyable puzzle

  24. otter says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Eileen, and many thanks to Pasquale for an enjoyable and pleasantly testing puzzle.

    For now have just scanned the blog for answers to the two which defeated me: SIRENIAN and PREES, neither of which I have heard and didn’t manage to get from the wordplay, although as you say the wordplay is fair. (My best guess for 16 was AZREP – Ezra [prophet] reversed + P. Didn’t believe it was likely to be right, though.)

    Will read the blog properly later to pick up anything else I’ve missed.

  25. Geoff Chapman says:

    I don’t think it’s a particularly brilliant crossword if the majority of solvers all have the same two clues left to solve at the end (Prees and Sirenian).

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