Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,394 by Paul

Posted by bridgesong on August 13th, 2011


This was the hardest prize puzzle that I can remember for quite some time, made even harder by the schoolboy blunder at 20 down.   I see that the web version now has a note  (also in the printed paper’s corrections column on 9 August) explaining that there is “a grid error” at the intersection of 22 across and 20 down.   Answers giving the correct spelling of either solution will be accepted.  Forgive my cynicism, but it is hard to believe that this is anything other than a simple spelling error.  If Paul is back from his honeymoon, I look forward to reading his explanation!  Too much champagne at the wedding perhaps, as NeilW suggested last week. 

The puzzle was published on the first day of the football season in England (yes, I know how depressing that sounds) and marked the day that Brighton and Hove Albion first played in their new stadium in Falmer, outside Brighton, in their first season in the Championship.  As a Seagulls fan, Paul will have been delighted at the result (Brighton 2 – Doncaster 1).

I shall be in Norway when this blog appears, with uncertain internet access, so apologies if I am unable to respond to posts in a timely fashion, or at all.  There are a couple of clues which have partially defeated me, so contributions are welcome.



Hold mouse over clue number to see clue.

9 BEETHOVEN TEE (reversed) in B(righton), HOVE, (albio)N. I think that Hove here is used in the sense of “it hove into view”, thus “dawning”. I’m not sure how to explain the initial B. Any other suggestions? I liked “noted great” as the definition of a composer.
10 HALMA Hidden in “betrothal, marriage”.
14 DOCKLANDS DOCK, LANDS. I can’t adequately explain why LANDS should mean “gains”.
16,7 BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION * (High above London, Britain) less i. It’s appropriate that this blog should fall to me, as I was a Brighton supporter as a boy and remember standing on the terraces at the Goldstone Ground.
21 MOTEL M(edical) O(fficer), TEL(ephone).
22 SPINACH CAN in PINS HIPS (all reversed).  Another schoolboy howler!
23 FIDELIO OILED, IF (Kipling’s poem) (all reversed). I actually solved this (not much else will fit F…L.O) before getting 9 across, in fact it opened up the puzzle for me.
24 CACHE sounds like “cash”
25   See 8
1 OBSERVABLE * (BRAVE, L(ast) S(eason)) in OBE.
2 VESPUCCI Hidden in Charles Ives, Giacomo Puccini. In my view, this is only possible to deduce once you have the answer.
3 CHORAL H in CORAL (which can mean a colour, or shade).
4 AVER A REV (reversed)
7   See 16
8,25 MARK LAWRENSON * (workman learns). Although he’s better known as an ex-Liverpool player, Mark Lawrenson did enjoy a spell on the South coast.
14 DROSOPHILA * (aphis drool)
15 SPELLBOUND SPELL BOUND: a brilliant charade, Paul at his best.
17 HOT WATER Double definition
18 OUTCLASS Another clever charade. I wasted a lot of time here with variants of “optimist”, but I could make none of them fit the clue.
20 ERIOCA I in CORE (reversed). Oh dear, what can I say? I’m sure Professor Stephenson’s inbox is full of emails complaining about this error and perhaps his monthly newsletter will mention it. If only Paul had remembered that it’s eroica as in heroic, or perhaps erotica without the t…
21 MIDGET TEG, DIM (all reversed). I had mistakenly entered HOTEL for MOTEL, which meant that I was struggling with this answer and it was only on writing the blog that I realised my error.
22 SACK C in SAK(e).
23 FOWL sounds like “foul”.


29 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,394 by Paul”

  1. caretman says:

    Thanks, bridgesong, for the blog. Enjoy your time in Norway!

    When I first encountered the collision in 22a/20d, I checked the Internet to see if perhaps Beethoven had written the Erioca as well as the Eroica. In addition to finding that many people have misspelled ‘Eroica’, I found that Beethoven wrote some variations on the Eroica theme, called (naturally enough) the ‘Eroica Variations’. I decided to be generous to Paul and declare that Eroica is one of the lesser known Eroica Variations and declare his grid without error.

    Best wishes on your recent nuptials, Paul!

  2. caretman says:

    Oops, make that “…declare that Erioca is one of the lesser known Eroica Variations”. Boy, it’s hard to type those right.

  3. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, bridgesong.
    That was really a nasty mistake, wasn’t it?
    Perhaps, 22ac had to STOMACH, originally?

    Apart from that, I disagree with you about the level of difficulty of this puzzle. Just like in yesterday’s Paul everything fell quite quickly in place. But I hasten to say that this doesn’t mean that there is any correlation with the qulaity of cluing.

    For me FIDELIO (23ac) was the Gate to Kiev, the clue after which BEETHOVEN, CHORAL and EMPEROR (oh, and ERIOCA :)) weren’t that hard to find.

    However, parsing a clue is a different matter and I had to think about 9ac.
    I am quite sure it is the reversal of TEE plus: the dawning of (BRIGHTON AND HOVE) which is B(righton) AND HOVE, so B+HOVE – followed by [Albio]N.
    As you said, B&HA was Paul’s favourite club (see Cryptica, which I still would like to call defunct, even though there are a lot of Twitters around nowadays).

    I was not happy with CHORAL defined by “9’s”, because it’s the Choral Fantasy, not just Choral.

    I think 14ac is fine. To ‘land’ is given in the Chambers Thesaurus as to ‘obtain’ (and to ‘gain’), while the ODE gives as an example: “she landed the starring role in a new film”.

    All in all, a typical Paul, good stuff.
    But … yes, but …

  4. Sil van den Hoek says:

    BTW, perhaps Paul wants us ‘Choral’ to refer to Beethoven’s Ninth which many call the ‘Choral’ which is fine then.
    And sorry for some typos in my post @3.

  5. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And, sorry, another post.
    That would make (in 3d) “9’s” as a definition very clever.
    So I think: thát’s it!

  6. Biggles A says:

    Thanks bridgesong.

    I did wonder about the explanation for 9; HOVE is a verb and DAWNING is a noun so I think the connection is a tenuous one. I prefer Sil’s interpretation, B plus HOVE around TEE reversed.

  7. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Like Sil I didn’t find this one difficult. In fact it has been a very long time since the Prize puzzle has been the hardest of the week. I enjoyed it but not as much as yesterday’s wonderful Paul puzzle which was up with his best.

    No trouble with 14ac even without a dictionary. Land a job, land a contract, land a fish even. At 2dn, I think the only Giacomo I know is Puccini and Vespucci is one of those historical figures planted firmly in my schoolboy brain and still there today (unlike the name of the person I met yesterday), so that went straight in.

    I agree with Sil on the parsing of 9ac but don’t really like it.

  8. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Bridgesong & Paul, I found this most enjoyable – except for the mistake.

    Fortunately, I was tipped off in last Saturday’s blog by Molongo (@ 4) and NeilW (@ 6). So thanks guys for helping to preserve my sanity.

    My entry into the theme was via the NE corner when, after landing MARK LAWRENSON, ALBION came to mind. Living as I do in Hove, I then considered my local B&HA … After falling off my chair, I then sympathised with Eileen, Stella et al who presumably would lack my local knowledge.

    It then took me ages to unravel BEETHOVEN, etc. but I did enjoy the journey.

    My COD was VESPUCCI – Very Clever!

  9. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. The error in 20D was luckily too glaring for words, or delays. Everything else about the puzzle was good, especially the long central anagram. 2d’s explorer came quickly even though the Ives/Puccini link had to wait for google later, ditto the 8,25 footballer who had no possible alternative. BEETHOVEN fell into place with 11’s reference to 9: but the parsing of its middle bit eluded me, so thanks. Last in was 21d with sheep=teg, beloved by compilers.

  10. Paul says:

    Hi everyone. Thank you for your comments, as ever. My sincere apologies for the error. I don’t do alcohol, but weddings take some planning and work, if you want everyone to have a great time.

    Not sure how I ould have let this typo through, but will endeavour to be more thorough in future. Brighton played, and won, their inaugural match at the new Amex stadium on August 6. ‘Unfortunately’ I could not be there, as was on a boat off the Maldives on honeymoon.

    Much love.

    John (Paul)

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Paul for a fine puzzle and a short return from holiday to sort out the riots.

    The early alert to the error helped a lot. Beethoven was hard to parse but I took Sil’s line.
    Lots of nice surfaces, constructions and red herrings.
    I enjoyed 12a, 19a, 23a, 1d, 2d, 15d and 18d among others.

  12. cholecyst says:

    Tokyo Colin – the other well known Giacomo is Meyerbeer (a German)

  13. KeithW says:

    Shouldn’t 22ac read CAN in HIPS (all reversed)?

  14. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Bridgsong and Paul, and thanks for popping in with an explanation.

    Also to Bryan@8 for his sympathy, though in my case it was unnecessary for once – my paternal grandparents lived in Brighton, and we spent all our summer holidays there when I was young, and also often visited Hove, where an aunt lived with her family. That was where I went to my first wedding, and had my first schooner of sherry, which I’ll never forget – it was huge! :D

    The one I didn’t know was the footballer, but I had -A-K , so could guess the first name, and then his surname was gettable with the rest of the anagram fodder, and Wiki confirmed it.

    I parsed 9ac as Sil did, but needed the blog for the explanation of FIDELIO among others.

  15. Bryan says:

    KeithW @ 13

    You are right!

    So other people also make mistakes – even when they are not being harassed by their wedding obligations.

    Well spotted!

  16. Bryan says:

    I should have added to 15:

    Thank God I’m perfict!

  17. Wolfie says:

    Thank you for the blog Bridgesong. I didn’t find this too difficult, possibly because of my interest in both football and classical music. Courtesy of the alerts posted last week I didn’t have to rack my brain trying to resolve the Eroica/Erioca conundrum. Thank you, Monolongo and NeilW.

    Thanks also to Paul for dropping in. Even the finest setters can make a mistake, but I thought that is why the Guardian employs a crossword editor.

  18. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Bridgesong, and Paul for the puzzle. [I’m afraid my money was on a spelling mistake: I couldn’t believe you wouldn’t have used ‘erotica’ somehow to clue EROICA. ;-)]

    It’s a good job that I wasn’t blogging this one: I didn’t find it too difficult and, of course, I’ve heard of Brighton and Hove Albion but I wouldn’t have known [or cared] about their first match in the Championship or their new stadium, so I’m glad it fell to Bridgesong. I enjoyed the Beethoven bits, though!

  19. Tramp says:

    My puzzle, which appeared the previous day, also contained an error – at 20d too! An amazing coincidence – perhaps other setters would like to join the ’20d club’.

  20. Robi says:

    Thanks, Paul, despite your mea culpa it was a good solve.

    Although not an avid football fan, I did know MARK LAWRENSON and the club. Thanks bridgesong – I agree with you that SPELLBOUND was great!

    Stella @14; see a belated comment in yesterday’s blog about your ‘voth.’ :)

  21. scchua says:

    Thanks bridgesong, and Paul (naturally, you would have done some diving/snorkelling among the “9D without start of honeymoon” – beautiful as ever, I hope).

    A great prize puzzle, not the most difficult, but most enjoyable – a not so common mix of football and classical music and an error thrown in. Even though I’d forgotten about the start of the league, the many football references in the clues – referees, boot, headers, season, scorers… gave the first theme. Funnily enough, I was led to 16,7 by “Britain” = ALBION, which then led to BH&A, clearly remembering its glory days of yore. The other thematic answers were also cleverly clued. My favourites were 23A FIDELIO, 15D SPELLBOUND and 11A EMPEROR.

  22. Davy says:

    Thanks bridgesong,

    I enjoyed this and like others, I didn’t think it was that difficult. Some marvellous anagrams here as in B&HA and MARK L. I also liked WHISTLED (nice surface), SPELLBOUND and MIDGET (very misleading).

    Before Paul’s comment on this blog, I even thought he might be having a bit of fun with Erioca as an Eroica Variation but there again, the word isn’t valid is it !. Thanks Paul for an interesting puzzle.

  23. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks robi@20. So a ‘voth’ is a chameleon :) Is that a short ‘o’ or a diphthong?

  24. Robi says:

    Stella; this is a bit deep for me – you say chamæleon and I say chameleon; let’s call the whole thing off (with homage to Louis Armstrong.) :)

  25. Stella Heath says:

    Robi, :lol:

    Some other time then

  26. bridgesong says:

    Thanks all for your comments and apologies for my own schoolboy howler at 22 across, which I’ve now belatedly corrected.

  27. maarvarq says:

    Interesting. In the version published today in Australia (The Canberra Times), 20dn reads “Show clearly where Vincent is found”, with the obvious answer of EVINCE. Not a great clue, but presumably some subeditor knew about the problem with the original and decided to patch it.

  28. Pat O'Brien says:

    Hi bridgesong.

    Further to maarvarq at 27, this puzzle appeared in this mornings Brisbane Courier Mail. 20d was clued as “Show was incorporated into the night before”, the answer again being EVINCE. The on-line version now has 22a as “Bear shot, bizarrely, stealing computer”, the answer being STOMACH. This correction was made on August 16, of course well after you published your blog, but made for great confusion when I checked my answers with the on-line version. Thought you may be interested.

  29. Denis Twomey says:

    Yesterday’s Courier Mail (Brisbane) had the following clue for 20d : ‘Show was incorporated into the night before’, the answer being ‘evince’ (inc in eve).

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