Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,364 / Enigmatist

Posted by Eileen on July 9th, 2011


I had advance warning at the Birmingham Bash from the man himself that I had an Enigmatist to blog this week, so I was looking forward to it –  with just a little trepidation! I actually found it one of the easiest Enigmatist puzzles I’ve ever done but that may very well be because the theme simply couldn’t have been more up my street – and he even signposted the Nina!

It was a real delight to be reminded of that hugely talented quartet of  ‘Beyond the Fringe’ [‘over the edge’] and two of them in the uproariously funny ‘Not only … but also’, spelled out in  rows 2 and 14 in the grid. Once I’d seen ‘over the edge’, quite early on, four answers went in very rapidly – but that certainly didn’t spoil the fun!

The biggest job, once the wordplay of 27 had been worked out, was to decide which clips to provide links to for you to enjoy. This took ages, because I couldn’t not watch each one all the way through – and I laughed as much as every other time I have seen them. I actually used to have a record of the art gallery sketch and laughed every time I listened to it as I visualised Dud chortling into his sandwich.  Another favourite is the classic Peter Cook / E L Wisty sketch, explaining why he never became a judge.

The theme words were pretty straightforward, which was a kindness to solvers who might not have been so familiar with it. But, apart from those, there were some cracking clues: I particularly liked 12, 15, 22, 27ac and 3, 13, 14, 18 and 23dn.

Very many thanks, Enigmatist, for an exceedingly enjoyable puzzle – I loved it!


1 Enthusiastically welcome every second of farcical object (7)
ACCLAIM: every second letter of fArCiCaL + AIM [object]

5 Riot Centre Boy! (6)
HUBBUB: HUB [centre] + BUB [boy]: I initially entered HUBBOB, thinking this must be an alternative spelling that I hadn’t heard of, but then found ‘bub’ [I hadn’t heard of it, either] in Chambers, as a US term of address, which explains the explanation mark

9 Divers to do sign need oxygen for so long (6-2)
TOODLE-OO: TOOD [anagram – divers] of TO DO + LEO [zodiac sign] + O [oxygen]

10 Vegetable — eating much game? (6)
PELOTA: LOT [much] in PEA [vegetable]

12 In dialectics animatedly responsible for the demise of cricket? (12)

15 Going up to claim pay for unemployed teenager? (10)
ADOLESCENT: DOLE [pay for unemployed] in ASCENT [going up]: a beautifully constructed clue, I thought.

17,19 That piece on which control’s tight — that’s boring! (3,3)
THE BIT: double definition: ‘on the bit’ means ‘on a tight rein’ and it’s the boring piece of a drill

20 The writer’s depriving Labour of work burden (10)
IMPOSITION: I’M [the writer’s] + POSITION [opPOSITION – Labour – minus OP {work}]

22 Resident cloth rep hit edge of kerb before stop sign (12)
PREBENDARIES: PRE [anagram {hit} of REP] + B [edge of kerB] + END [stop] + ARIES [another zodiac sign]: a super definition – ‘resident cloth’ – a prebendary being a resident clergyman

26 One who went over the edge in 16, sick in the sea at Calais (6)
MILLER [Jonathan]: ILL [sick] in MER [French for sea]: the first of the theme answers, which didn’t mean anything at this stage, as I hadn’t seen the clue for 16 yet and the ‘over the edge’ penny hadn’t dropped. The Canterbury Tales sprang first to mind.

27 Staying cryptically rendered for this cutter (8)
CHAINSAW: this took a bit of staring at: it’s CHA [tea] IN SAW [saying], which is the same as T[ea] in SAYING – nice one!

28 Complain persistently to sweet potato farmer, perhaps? (6)
YAMMER: cryptic [?] definition, a yam being a sweet potato

29 One who went over the edge in 16, clear to see in criminal (7)
BENNETT [Alan]: NET [clear, as in wages] in BENT [criminal]


1 Not in favour of current soldier going over the top (4)
ANTI: ANT [soldier] on top of I [current]

2 (Grid row 14) one who went over the edge in 16, a captain of discovery (4)
COOK [Peter]: reference to Captain James Cook, the ‘discoverer’ of several Pacific and Atlantic islands

3 Male columnists displaying a variety of talents? (8)
ATLANTES: A + anagram of TALENTS: the plural of Atlas,  a column in the form of a man

4 (Grid row 2) one who went over the edge in 16, in addition having love in heart (5)
MOORE [Dudley]: O [love] in MORE [in addition]

6 Cultural agency out of tune with Scots? (6)
UNESCO: I tried to make something out of UNCO, that Scots word beloved of crossword setters, then realised that Enigmatist is asking us to take letters out of tUNE and [with] SCOts

7 Doctor obtains old sign of guilt (10)
BLOODSTAIN: anagram [doctor] of OBTAINS OLD

8 However certainly (2,3,5)
BY ALL MEANS: double definition

11 Strong liquor served by street bar no end (6)
STINGO: ST[reet] + INGO[t] [bar minus its last letter]

13 Feeble war baby repeatedly gutted about reversal of plan (5-5)
NAMBY-PAMBY: NAM [contraction of Vietnam War] + BY BY [baby repeatedly gutted!] round PAM [reversal of MAP – plan]

14 1919 or 1946, say, when a Brit’s absorbed a volley of bullets (4-6)
POST-BELLUM: anagram [volley] of BULLETS in POM [Brit]

16 Buffalo Bill lassoes me for amusement (6)
COMEDY: ME in [William] CODY: ‘lassoes’ is a great insertion indicator here!

18 Workmanlike milkman holds up baker (8)
LIMEKILN: cleverly hidden reversal in workmaNLIKE MILkman

21 Take out runner in Chester with permit to enter (6)
DELETE: LET [permit] in DEE [the river {runner} on which Chester stands]

23 Restoration of B. Cowen’s predecessor, not fully in ascendancy (5)
REHAB: reversal [in ascendancy] of B AHER[n]: B[ertie] Ahern was  B[rian] Cowen’s predecessor as Taoiseach of Ireland

24 Existential being gatecrashing Socrates’ seminar (4)
ESSE: hidden in socratES SEminar

25 Pulls up teacher’s pet (4)
SWOT: reversal of TOWS [pulls]

23 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,364 / Enigmatist”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Eileen, you made it all clear.

    This was indeed not very hard (apart from one or two (or three)), but what a fine bunch of clues! I/We put plusses to 9ac, 15ac, 6d, 11d and 18d, in particular.

    We needed Chambers for PREBENDARIES (22ac) – both of us had never heard of these men of the cloth. Another very well constructed clue.

    And we were not sure about THE BIT (even thought of ‘toe bit’). But it’s in Chambers and we should have looked it up. On hindsight, it’s rather simple, isn’t it?

    The surface of 9ac (with the divers) is already fine, but would have been even better by putting quotation marks around “need oxygen” (like a cry for help), we thought.

    We saw what Enigmatist did in UNESCO as a novelty device.
    The words ‘out of’ point in the direction of a hidden answer, and that’s in fact how it is, albeit with a linking word in between. Can’t remember having seen this before.
    Yes, we’ve seen it in anagrams (like for example (my own [sorry, just needed a quick example]) “Tools to disclose problems of Shed and Orlando”), but not in a hidden.
    Well, that’s how we see it: [t]UNE + SCO[t].
    [but who knows, perhaps he didn’t mean that at all – it wouldn’t be the first time we think Enigmatist does something that he actually didn’t do :)]

    Very entertaining crossword.
    Thanks Enigmatist!

  2. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Unlike you and Sil I found this to be rather a challenge but I’m not well informed about comedians and even more ignorant of Irish politicians. 23 was therefore my last and needed some internet research. I never really did see 27, thanks for the enlightenment.

  3. stiofain says:

    Very good
    xword and blog
    The only one i didnt fill in was THE BIT
    BLOODSTAIN is a classic

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I think you meant it but isn’t 28 really a double definition with a slightly cryptic element to the second def?

    As you say, not Enigmatist at his most scary but great fun. I particularly liked UNESCO and CHAINSAW.

  5. caretman says:

    Thanks, Eileen, particularly for the links to the sketches. Ripping stuff! Jonathan MILLER and Alan BENNETT were unfamiliar to me but as you say the clues were straightforward enough to solve them. And although I knew Peter COOK and Dudley MOORE, I hadn’t known either ‘Beyond the Fringe’ or ‘Not Only… But Also’, so those didn’t give anything away. The only answer I put in without knowing why it worked was CHAINSAW, so I really appreciate the explanation. I doubt I would ever have solved that without crossing letters! A fun puzzle overall, so regards to Enigmatist.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen but please tell me exactly where is the Nina that Niggy allegedly ‘signposted’. Are you sure that you didn’t mean a Nono?

    (I wouldn’t normally ‘argue’ with any blogger but Sil has given me his blessing.)

    Personally, I have no admiration for the so-called comedians of yesteryear nor have I any knowledge of Irish politicians so I give a Black Mark to Niggy for including one such.

    Otherwise, this was only OK in my book.

    Sorry to disagree.

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I struggled with 18d, last one in, trying every variation of manlike/likemilk/milkman to get LIMEKILN, sure that was it. Never heard of 3d (got it then then Googled) and missed the Irish connection in 23d (ditto). On 1d the I=current baffled. Full marks to Enigmatist for an enjoyable puzzle, with special mention for 20 and 27a, both ahas eventually.

  8. tupu says:

    Many thanks Eileen and Enigmatist

    A very clever and enjoyable puzzle. It took me some time to crack the parsing of ‘chainsaw’ but it was a good moment when I did. Also ‘anti’ puzzled me at first (I thought the ‘t’ might be ‘the top’ but what could ‘ani’ be?!).

    I knew prebendary from the verse by Harry Graham:

    ‘When Mrs Gorm (Aunt Eloise)
    Was stung to death by savage bees,
    Her husband (Prebendary Gorm)
    Put on his veil, and took the swarm.
    He’s publishing a book, next May,
    On “How to Make Bee-Keeping Pay.’

    I had to check the Irish politicians.

    Lots of ticks inc. 9a, 12a, 20a, 22a, 13d, 16d, 18d.

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW @4

    I wouldn’t say 28ac is a double definition, since the second ‘definition’ doesn’t exist, hence the question mark in the clue. I didn’t think it was very cryptic, either – hence my question mark – since I can’t think of an example of the name of any other kind of farmer being formed in that way.

    Hi Bryan @6

    I think you’re having me on but, just in case: as I said in the preamble, the Nina NOT ONLY BUT ALSO is to be seen in rows 2 and 14 and Enigmatist ‘signposted’ it in the clues to 2 and 4 dn.
    [I’m glad he did: I’m very bad – or rather good! – at missing them!]

    As for [not] arguing – isn’t that what this site’s for? :-) I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it, though.

    Thanks for the poem, tupu!

  10. NeilW says:

    Hi Eileen – fruiter? :)

  11. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen…

    …and well done for explaining CHAINSAW as it had baffled me. Like you, this was right up my street but it still took me a while to get the theme. I had MOORE and MILLER but still couldn’t see the connection. I was thinking of Patrick Moore and Arthur Miller. I’m sure there must be a playwright called MOORE. I didn’t see the connection until COOK came along. My favourite sketch of COOK/MOORE is two men who think that they’ve met before and finally realise they are complete strangers. Absolutely hilarious.

    A clever puzzle from Enigmatist which took me till Tuesday to complete but it was well worth it. I actually got two letters wrong : I misspelt SWOT as SWAT and put MAMBY instead of NAMBY without understanding the MAM bit. Somehow I also missed the grid references…what a plonker.

    Favourite clues were TOODLE OO, ADOLESCENT, BLOODSTAIN (clue of the puzzle) and LIMEKILN.

    Thanks Enigmatist.

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Neil – I knew you would!

    I hadn’t heard of that word – only ‘fruiterer’ as someone who sells fruit – but I see Chambers has!

  13. Carrots says:

    I was away on holiday by Kielder Water last week, with the nerest Grauniad or wi-fi-spot miles away, so I missed this quite exceptional crossword. However, armed with Eileen`s super blog (so I could cheat…or ” more fully appreciate the nuances of my research”) I`ve completed the puzzle and revelled in its parsings. Even without one solitary answer being provided by myself, this exercise has proved at least as enjoyable as some tamer puzzles I`ve done in the past.

    So, very many thanks Paul for your supreme efforts…and Auntie E for unravelling them.

    For those interested, the single Osprey chick on Kielder is alive and thriving on a diet of plump trout.

  14. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Like you and (some) others, I found this a lot easier than most Enigmatist puzzles. In fact, I trundled through it without needing the references to grid rows 2 and 14 and consequently missed the NINA entirely! (but I am congenitally NINA-blind anyway).

    CHAINSAW was my last entry, and I realised the parsing only when I had a word that fitted. I like the device of the clue, although it is a bit of a stretch in that the letter T is a homophone of ‘tea’ but not a recognised abbreviation for it, as far as I can ascertain. (That’s not a complaint, just an observation).

    Re YAMMER and NeilW’s suggestion of ‘fruiter': as the name of someone with an occupation, this is an old form of ‘fruiterer’ and means a person who deals in fruit, rather than someone who farms it. On the other hand, a tree can be described as a good ‘fruiter’ if its crop is plentiful. So ‘…sweet potato grower’ might have been better wording, since this could refer to a plant as well as a cultivator.

  15. nusquam says:

    Thanks,Eileen,especially for ‘by the bit’, which I did not know.

    2dn HMS Discovery was Cook’s ship.

    8dn How is ‘by all means’ the same as ‘however’? ‘By any means’ maybe, but…

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi nusquam

    I originally did put something in the blog about HMS Discovery, then discarded it, as it was actually Cook’s consort ship on his third voyage [he captained HMS Resolution] and, anyway, it wasn’t capitalised in the clue.

    I had some niggling doubts about ‘by all means’, then decided it was nit-picking!

  17. nusquam says:

    Good reason @16, Eileen, for excluding The Discovery. But surely the capitalisation is neither here nor there, and I wonder whether the setter shared my imprecision. Everyway (=anyway) …

  18. Jan says:

    Hi, Eileen – lovely blog and lovely puzzle.

    I didn’t see LIMEKILN at all, doh! But I loved CHAINSAW. Unlike tupu, I didn’t bother to check B.Cowen so I needed the parsing for that one.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi again, nusquam

    ‘But surely the capitalisation is neither here nor there…’ This discussion arises from time to time. I’ve always understood that ‘false capitalisation is acceptable – but the reverse is not. Pete Biddlecombe on ‘Times for the Times’ says:

    ‘Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, ‘deceptive capitalisation’ is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn’t necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter – so Joanna Strong’s instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE.’

    [BTW I’ve often wanted to say that a pseudonym like that will get you nowhere. :-) ]

  20. NeilW says:

    Hi Eileen

    Degenerating to the silly before bedtime, is that a grocer’s comma?

    Geoff, we’re all just playing a game with this clue – thus my smiley before. But the Chambers definition is, as Eileen mentioned, “a fruit-grower.” I guess your riposte would be, “Growers plant and farmers harvest!” Mine: “Farmers do both.” As I say, just playing on the edges of a great puzzle. :)

  21. Geoff says:

    Eileen and nusquam –

    ‘By all means’ can just about double for ‘however’ in certain circumstances: ‘The officers were ordered to get to the scene quickly by all means (= however) possible’. It seems to me that this doesn’t work if the sentence starts ‘The officer…'; in this case ‘any means’ would definitely be necessary – this wording could, of course, be used for the plural case as well. ‘All’ is a curious word: it has a distributive as well as a cumulative sense as it can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

  22. Robi says:

    Thanks Enigmatist and Eileen; a satisfying puzzle which wasn’t too bad once the theme unravelled.

    I wondered about ‘control’s tight’ in 17,19; thanks for the parsing – I had never heard the expression ‘on the bit.’ CHAINSAW had a great clue, which I can’t remember now whether I got or not.

  23. otter says:

    Morning, everyone, and thanks for the blog, Eileen.

    I found this quite a challenge, but not as unforgiving a challenge as I usually find Enigmatist’s puzzles. Some of the clues were (for Enigmatist) pretty simple, I thought. Much was enjoyable, and the mini-theme was quite fun (‘one who went over the edge in comedy’ was something I enjoyed rolling around my mind for a few minutes) – although it was of course one which gave away four answers as soon as the theme was identified.

    I ended up with three unsolved, and one incorrectly solved, it seems. Not having heard of ‘being on the bit’ I entered TIE BIT (ie one of those little plastic twisty things you can use to tightly tie – or control – things with), parsed (albeit a little unsatisfactorily) as T [initial letter of tight] + IE [that’s] + BIT [boring instrument].

    I failed to get IMPOSITION – and slapped my forehead when I read Eileen’s explanation; STINGO – never ‘eard of it, guv; and LIMEKILN – reverse run-ons being something I often miss.

    I also didn’t manage to parse ANTI properly, although I got it; didn’t think of I as current. (Physics lessons were many moons ago.)

    Thanks for the explanations. All in all, a puzzle I enjoyed struggling with.

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