Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,355 – Paul

Posted by Andrew on June 22nd, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I noted that I was blogging my first Araucaria puzzle for over six months; today I see that this is my first Paul for even longer: since 23rd September last year in fact. This is a typically enjoyable sample of his work, with a fishy theme (revealed in the clues, so I don’t think giving anything away).

I’m sorry I can’t make it to the meeting on Birmingham on Saturday, especially now as it would have meant adding Arachne to my list of Setters I Have Met, but I’m sure those that are there have a good time, and I look forward to hearing about it and seeing the photos.

1. DUMBASS Reverse of MUD + BASS. American definition (shmuck) for a mostly American word.
5. ORIFICE IF (provided) in 0 RICE
10. THUS [halibu]T + HUS[s]
11. SCRAP METAL P in SCRAM + reverse of LATE
12. GRILSE Anagram of [a]LGIERS. Grilse is “a young salmon on its first return from salt water”.
16. ANODE AN ODE. There have been discussions on here and in Hugh Stevenson’s column about whether anodes and cathodes are positive or negative: perhaps “can be positive” is Paul’s way of forestalling any criticism.
17. STANK S + TANK (fishes’ home)
23. SCHUBERT CHUB “IN SERT” – with one of those word-splits that I’m not keen on. As a non-angler I was a bit surprised to see the fish spelled this way rather than CHUBB (as in the locks). The trout in question is Schubert’s song and piano quintet.
27. PIKE Hidden in syruP I KEep
28. HADDOCK HAD (ate) + DOCK
29. ADORING A + DO (complete) + RING (token of love)
3,19. BASIL D’OLIVEIRA A SILD (fish – a young hering) + OLIVE (shade of green) + I (one) in BRA (cups). D’Oliveira is perhaps best known for the refusal of South Africa to accept him in an England test squad in 1968, because (as a native South African) he was classified as “coloured”, leading to the widespread boycotting of sport against South Africa.
4. SUSPEND [barrister]S + [yo]U + SPEND (use)
6. RAPIER PI in reverse of REAR
7. FREELANCE EEL (slippery fish) in FRANCE
9. CRUISE CONTROL (CUT CORNERS OIL)*. Nice anagram, but the definition is a bit of a giveaway.
18. TOCCATA AT in TOSCA with its middle letter changed to C
21. RAMEKIN ME (Paul) + K[ruger] in RAIN (requirement for garden). The word is also seen as “ramequin”, but Chambers prefers this version.
22. FERRIC ERR in reverse of CIF. Cif was originally (and is still in some countries) called Jif; the reason I heard given for the change of name was that J had various pronunciations in different languages; so they changed it to C – which has various pronunciations in different languages!

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,355 – Paul”

  1. caretman says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I’ll confess that fishy puzzle themes aren’t my favorites, since there’s such a vast number of names of fishes, most of which I don’t recognize. Thus, HUSS, GRILSE, and SILD were all unfamiliar to me, as was BASIL D’OLIVEIRA (my knowledge of old cricketers is exhausted after W.G. Grace), and in consequence I needed online help. That said, the puzzle was eminently fair (most of my checking was to confirm that a sequence of letters really did name a fish), and since from crossing letters I suspected the cricketer’s first name was Basil, googling ‘cricketer Basil’ got me the one answer I really could not have done without help. I agree with you about not being thrilled with the wordplay in 23a, but on the other hand there were a bunch of excellent clues (5a, 28a, 7d). All in all it was quite a good puzzle, even with the theme, so thanks to Paul as well.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Very straightforward for Paul, I thought but without much of his usual cheekiness. (I don’t really notice bras and rears much anymore with him!)

    If a horse can do the unhorsing, then I guess 2 is also an &lit.

    I think you’ve had a bit of late night cross-eyedness over 15… It should be OUNCE inside REND (split.)

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, especially for the parsing of 23a whose second half baffled me (I wondered if ‘quintet’ might be a fish). Ditto for do=complete, in 29a. I needed help just for the final two: 28a and 22d – I’d no idea CIF was a cleaner, and I overlooked the adjectival iron, FERRIC. It was a good puzzle, so thanks Paul.

  4. Andrew says:

    NeilW – thanks for the correction: late-night bleary eyes are a good excuse.

  5. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Like molonglo I had no idea about CIF, but otherwise this was all very gettable and a lot of fun. MASCARPONE was the pick of an entertaining bunch.

  6. Mystogre says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Like some of the others I knew nothing of CIF, so that one was a guess from my own chemical background. That same background made me appreciate ANODE a good deal. It isn’t often two (or more) chemical type references come up in one crossword. COD for me was probably MASCAPONE! As well.

    The rest seemed reasonable as the cluing was quiet tight in meaning so all was solvable, except that darned 22d which was a guess. The whole thing was what I needed after another long day away. Thanks Paul.

  7. Wanderer says:

    Brilliant. “Slippery poisson” and “insert fish” were my highlights, laugh-out-loud moments both. What a lot to admire here. I found it fiendishly difficult and so, so much fun. Thanks to Andrew and congratulations to Paul.

  8. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew and congratulations on analysing the puzzle so quickly.

    Me? I gave up after 3 in the SW corner defeated me.

    Luckily my cleaner is here at present and she tells me that I’ve got CIF in my house and that she uses it in the bath, etc. I would never have guessed.

    SCHUBERT and HADDOCK also fooled me.

    Otherwise very enjoyable and BASIL D’OLIVIERA was one of my first entries. I also liked CRUISE CONTROL.

    Many thanks Paul.

  9. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew, and Paul for a great puzzle. This and last Saturday’s prize are both classics.

    As I said on your Araucaria blog last week, re ‘infer’, I do like clues like 23ac: like Wanderer, I’d say it’s my joint favourite today with 7dn, which is of a similar type, so I’m surprised that Caretman likes one and not the other. 😉

    I might have struggled with some other ‘old cricketers’ but, as you say, D’Oliveira was a well-known name to more people than cricket enthusiasts.

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Another great one from Paul. I found this more difficult than his prize puzzle on Saturday, but got there in the end. As is often the case, some of the more unusual answers (FERRIC, GRILSE, BASIL D’OLIVEIRA) came more easily than some of the commoner words.

    Although I could see that 9d was an anagram, and had the fodder, it was a while before the answer came to me – not helped by my trying hard not to put CODOLOGY in as 13a. Beware the Ides of June!

    Kicked myself when I eventually saw the ‘in-joke’ in 23a – great clue. 7d is another good example of a type of clue (a cryptically indicated container) which is becoming a bit of a Paul trademark – there were two like this in Saturday’s crossword.

  11. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for your excellent analysis, Andrew.

    I wasted a little time in Wiki looking for a cricketer named Basil, but he didn’t step forward readily, so I continued with the puzzle and it wasn’t long before he peeped in with an olive branch :) – I remember the controversy and subsequent boycott, but didn’t remember his name.

    Plenty of unknown fish swimming about here, but when I found them I just assumed their identity, without bothering to look them up, so thanks for the elucidation. I particularly liked the words for young fish: GRILSE and SILD – sweet!

    My mum used to swear by Liquid Gumption, until it was replaced by Jif. Then when I came here, I found it was called Cif. No doubt the change is due to Spanish pronunciation on “j”, rather like Scottish “ch” as in “Loch”. It’s true the soft “c” is pronounced as a voiceless “th” in most of Spain, but in other Spanish-speaking countries its sound is “s”, as it is in English. In any case, the word doesn’t sound so bad to Spanish ears as “jif” does.

  12. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I enjoyed this – struggled with some, while some went in easily.

    Unlike you I don’t at all mind the ‘insert’ for ‘[in] “sert”‘ type of device. I have noticed it cropping up quite a lot in puzzles over the past two weeks, for some reason. Several puzzles have used this device – or a variant – more than once; eg elsewhere in this puzzle, ‘poisson’ is used for ‘[in] “France”‘.

    I have more of a problem with brand names being used, unless they are more or less synonymous with the product type (eg Hoover = vacuum cleaner) or are likely to be part of the universal consciousness of crossword solvers, eg Coke, Mars bar and so on. I don’t think Cif falls into that category, especially as until not many years ago it was known as Jif.

    My school chemistry taught me very clearly that an anode is a positive electrode, the cathode being the negative equivalent, so I was a bit miffed on seeing ‘may be’. Still, didn’t mislead me for long. I have missed the discussions of this here and on the editor’s blog, so perhaps my schooling was faulty (in yet one more way). Does anyone have a link to one of these discussions?

    Re the D’Oliveira affair, it’s worth noting that the England selectors did actually drop him from the squad at one point, seemingly in response to pressure from the apartheid SA regime, before he was finally reselected to replace an injured bowler, at which point the SA regime made it plain they would bar him from entering the country and the tour was called off. It was a very seedy affair all round, and very few people involved came out of it with much credit. Not that cricket has learned much, what with the hopeless behaviour around an England match in Zimbabwe 12 years ago, and a member of the Sri Lankan government, which has been condemned for human rights abuses and massacres of Tamils, being imposed on their cricket team for next week’s Twenty20 match……… oh well.

  13. Geoff says:

    Although they are both a type of ‘container’ clue, there is an important distinction between 23a and 7d.

    23a is an example of what I call the ‘in-joke’. Here the container indicator is plainly written in the clue, but requires the word boundaries to be ignored. This offends Ximeneans like Andrew, but I enjoy it: it’s only very mildly ‘libertarian’ in comparison with clues like ‘GEGS’ or ‘HIJKLMNO’.

    In 7d, on the other hand, there is nothing so obviously un-Ximenean about the clue. Here the indication that it is a container clue is not plainly written out, but is alluded to cryptically: ‘poisson’ = ‘fish in France’, so the subsidiary part of the clue has to be read as ‘slippery fish in France’, which would be perfectly kosher. The question mark is the flag to show that there is something hypothetical going on.

  14. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks for the blog on this fishy puzzle Andrew.

    I don’t think that using the brand name of a household cleaner in FERRIC is quite kosher. Had to think for a while on SCHUBERT, BEGRUDGED and DUMBASS but all in all an enjoyable crossword from Paul.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I find this ‘theme’mania a bit strange. I can see that it adds an extra challenge for the setters which is fine but I cannot see how, in this form, it adds anything to the solver’s enjoyment.
    Unless one gets enjoyment from gasping “Ooo, isn’t s/he clever” periodically.
    Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this puzzle especially 23ac.
    It does seem unfair to include obscure Dickens characters, whatever next. Soon we shall be confronted with unknown footballers like Lionel Messi.
    I thought Cif was very heavily advertised and there was an accompanying discussion of why global products have to take care about the names used. I can only assume that the above (male?) posters do not do any cleaning?

  16. anax says:

    Hi RCW
    The subject of the ‘validity’ of themes has come up before, but previous comments are worth re-making. Let’s just start by saying a themed puzzle is different to a non-themed one, so it’s immediately valid simply for the purposes of variety.
    Setters don’t use themes to seek “ooh, clever” responses. I know Paul reasonably well and I suspect his approach is akin to mine – a simple matter of “Wouldn’t it be fun if…?” And themes can useful to solvers too; if you begin to suspect that certain answers have something in common, or even that the grid design is pointing towards the chance of a Nina (hidden message), it can help to at least guide you towards entering certain sequences of letters, or even full answers, into the grid.
    As setters we do also regard themes as a technical challenge. Most often it effectively re-trains us in the grid-filling department, but sometimes – as in this puzzle with all those fishy inclusions – it’s a test of clue-writing adaptability. Fundamentally, themes just keep us sharp.

  17. otter says:

    In my experience, a theme in the puzzle (usually) simply adds another layer to the enjoyment of solving it. Can’t see that any other reason is needed to include one.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks anax.
    Your points about challenges and training for compilers are well made and I accept them fully.
    You will have noticed that in my criticism I included the words “in this form”. Some of the most enjoyable and admirable puzzles have been themed, especially those wonderful ones we used to get from Araucaria at holiday times. They were quite different to those like today’s because unravelling the theme was an inherent part of the solution.
    It was perfectly possibly (I did it) to completely ignore today’s theme.

  19. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew for the blog, and Paul for a fairly difficult puzzle.

    Favourites were 23A SCHUBERT, I’m one of those who appreciated the ‘in-joke’, and 3D BASIL DOLIVEIRA, though I had to Google the answer, the Paul-trademark “cups” gave a chuckle.

    Use of trademarks like CIF also presents a disadvantage to overseas solvers, eg. this cleaner is still sold as Jif where I go shopping, so Cif only meant Cost, Insurance and Freight to me.

    BTW here’s another fish for your collection: the tail-less fish in 10A THUS could as well be a HUSO – “A large European sturgeon, inhabiting the region of the Black and Caspian Seas. It sometimes attains a length of more than twelve feet, and a weight of two thousand pounds” – pretty impressive fish that!

  20. MattD says:

    Love Paul, love a theme like this, have no interest in fish (except in batter). 2/3 ain’t bad though.

    To jump into the theme debate, there seems to me to be 2 main types of theme. These are ones like this where a word is woven throughout the clues, but each clue and answer stands alone (and so is like a non-themed crossword) and one where answers to clues rely on you having worked out other answers first (like Paul’s on Saturday). (I know there are other types – Araubetical, Nina etc.) For me, the former has the theme as an additional level of interest, the second can be extremely frustrating until you get the theme with a “Hurrah!” and then the answers generally fall out quickly. I think I marginally prefer the latter as long as I don’t get the theme too quickly (but do get it eventually).

    Thank you for the blog Andrew, and for the Crossword Paul.

  21. anax says:

    Hi MattD

    Interesting point. On my blog I tried, unsuccessfully, to start a discussion on what terms we use to describe themed puzzles, and you’ve highlighted a fundamental difference between two types. Inventing my own interpretation of language, as is my wont, I think of this type of puzzle (where the theme is incidental and unnecessary as part of the solving process) THEMED. Ones where use of the theme is integral to solving I call THEMATIC.

    The distinction won’t make me famous, but I do wonder if there’s a case for giving the two types these set names. Perhaps not – there may be enough instances of puzzles blurring the boundaries between the two to perhaps make distinct names a bit irrelevant.

  22. PeterO says:

    Otter @12 – One link for the anode/cathode question is to Hugh Stephenson’s column for July last,; that there is a question, look at the second paragraph of

  23. otter says:

    Many thanks, Peter. Will have a read of it now. I guess (as usual) what we were taught at school was somewhat simplistic. I remember my first A-level chemistry lesson, in which our teacher told us ‘Remember all the stuff you’ve learned up til now? Well it’s all rubbish.’ I felt rather cheated.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Unlike some others we didn’t find this the best of Pauls.
    Many surfaces were a bit clunky in the Araucarian way and the usual wit wasn’t really there.
    It was still a pretty good crossword though.

    We thought 1ac was rubbish, that is we thought that 1ac was RUBBISH …. :)
    ‘Bur’ (the reverse) of ‘rub’ can be boggy mossy soil, and we assumed (far away from resources) that ‘bish’ was perhaps good enough for ‘schmuck’, while the result was maybe ‘fish’ (as slang). It was not. Of course, it was not – but nicely tried!

    We had the same thoughts as others about ANODE (16ac), but I could accept it in the sense of AN ODE which you can make into ANODE (by linking it). However, the real reason was quite different.

    My PinC wasn’t happy with FERRIC (22d) for ‘iron’, not even after I said it should be seen as an adjective. Perhaps, ‘of iron’ or ‘relating to iron’ (what Chambers tells us) is indeed not fully the same.
    I also tried to persuade her to join me in Birmingham, but again alas. I told her that she is well-known at fifteensquared …. :)

    Andrew, thank you for your blog and your opinion on 23ac.
    I am used to it nowadays and I like it, but, and I say but, only when it helps to enhance the surface. Which it didn’t here. “Trout was his – insert fish?”, bit of a nonsense, isn’t it?

    The other special device (in 7d) is more my cup of tea.
    Indeed, there were a few last Saturday, even one more than Geoff @10 counted. It was very clever here, and one a puzzle is more effective than an overdose.

    Other clues we liked we: 26ac (MASCARPONE) and 28ac (HADDOCK).
    Also 21d (RAMEKIN) because – although the surface is a bit weird – Paul uses here twice a device that I mainly associate with Alberich and Anax et al: Paul/Kruger and … garden/pot.

    Funny, this perpetual discussion on the theme ‘theme’.
    Every now and then I set a crossword myself. It might be a plain one, but sometimes I have a spontaneous idea and then I just build a puzzle around it.
    I cannot be bothered if people call it a theme or whatever.
    It is just fun to design a puzzle like that.
    And when my friends like it: great, if they don’t: well, you can’t please everyone.
    Why should you want to define what a ‘theme’ is?

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Have you got the recipe for your lunch?

  26. FranTom Menace says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.
    I managed to do better than normal for a Paul, I often get stuck on half way through and need Fran’s help! Only three got the better of me, the Dickens reference (I really should read more Dickens), and ‘toccata’, which I was convinced was ‘Toscana’ after first rejecting ‘Toscata’. This then threw me for 21a.

    Overall I’m guessing it was an easier Paul given how well I did with no assistance.

    My one grumble has to be with 18d, I think it was a poor clue. Change of heart to what? This is the sort of grumble I normally only have with Araucaria. For me it was clear. Change of heart (AN) in opera (TOSCA) = TOSCANA. I’m really not one for woolly clues where a letter’s changed without any idea what it should be changed to. See also ‘some of’ where it’s two letters at random from a seven letter word. Even if I’d known Toccata I’d not have been happy with the answer.

    Despite that one clue I really enjoyed today’s puzzle with all its fishiness! My favourites were 6d and 21d.

  27. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for a very good blog and Paul for a fairly difficult puzzle

    I finished this in dribs and drabs in the course of an unusually busy day and evening.
    I was not much inspired by the ‘theme’, though it was well exploited in 23a and 25a.

    In fairness to the setter, I might well have liked it more on another, less demanding day.

  28. crosser says:

    Stella @11, if you see this.
    I don’t think the Spanish pronunciation of the letter J has anything to do with the name Cif because I live in France and that is its name here, too. Presumably, the “European” market uses that spelling. I was surprised on a visit to the UK to see that it’s now Cif there, too.

  29. Speckled Jim says:

    To elaborate on the Wikipedia article from a chemistry teacher’s point of view, the anode is where the electrons flow from in a cell; the cathode is where they flow to.

    When the cell is an electrolytic cell (that is, an external power source is used to effect a chemical change), the power source pulls electrons from the anode towards the cathode, making the anode positive. However, in an electrochemical cell (that is, where there is no external power source and the chemicals in the cell provide the current), electrons are produced at the anode, making it negative (relative to the cathode).

    Hope that helps?!

  30. Wendy says:

    Thanks for the blog and the many informative comments. I didn’t finish the puzzle but enjoyed the theme. I’d like to share a little experience with you regarding 12a. I immediately saw the anagram of Algiers (without the A), puzzled over it for a long time then decided to ask Mr. Chamber for help. One of the 3 suggestions was GLIRES and a quick search provided

    Anyone for lunch?

  31. Vince B says:

    I suspect that changing the name to ‘cif’ wasn’t about pronunciation, but about orthography: some european languages just don’t have the letter J (e.g. Italian), so the word ‘cif’ can be used without appearing too foreign to any market.

    P.S. How does 6d work then; in what sense can you substitute PI or possibly IP for good?

  32. FranTom Menace says:

    Vince B – I believe PI relates to pious. I had to think about this too, it’s one I’ve not seen for a while and had forgotten it myself!

  33. otter says:

    Sil, re FERRIC for ‘iron’ – it didn’t trouble me, because I think ‘ferric’ and ‘iron’ can be interchangeable in some chemical compounds, eg (example plucked out of the air, or out of the deepest recesses of what passes for my memory) iron chloride can be known as ferric chloride. (If that example isn’t correct, there may be another which is.)

    Anyway, I imagined that it’s this equivalence which Paul was thinking of.

  34. Huw Powell says:

    A fun ride this puzzle was! I actually finished it, with some aids and confirmations of fishy words I’d never heard of, and a final Aha! late in the game.

    First off, having noticed the cricketer clue, I knew I was going to be researching at some point, so I gave myself an early “bye” to use aids. The grid slowly yielded one answer at a time over many hours of effort, with many requiring some sort of research. I was proud to have built MASCARPONE, for instance, but had to look it up. Once I had 3 checks in 19, I used OneLook to find the cricketer and some nice checks for my empty NW corner.

    Eventually, I hit the point where I thought I was done, and came here, skimmed the blog so quickly I didn’t notice my one wrong answer, read the comments, then ran an errand, ironically to buy some fish for my tank.

    I had put MUDBASS in for 1 – using “back” to get the B and ASS = schmuck. But, as I was driving, it kept nagging me – mud bass is two words, not one. I didn’t like how I got my B based on parsing the clue, either, especially everything else in this puzzle, however cruel, parsed perfectly once understood. Then I got home and was looking the puzzle over again prior to leaving a comment here, and started to type out one saying MUDBASS was wrong… then thought to scroll up and see what Andrew had written. At this point the puzzle had become far too topical for the universe to have a flat topology, in fact my corner had turned into a triple-twisted Moebius strip…

    So much entertainment!

    Thanks for the romp, Paul, even though the theme was “superficial” (oh, on that, I don’t like themes that must be “cracked” to do the puzzle, but upon the cracking, they become easy to finish) it was still nice to see, and thanks for the blog, Andrew, and thanks to everyone else for the commentary.

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