Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,501 / Puck

Posted by Eileen on December 9th, 2011


I commented on the most recent Puck puzzle that it seemed to lack his characteristic playfulness. No such complaint with this one, which I found fun to solve. There is a range of imaginative clues – I only realised the cleverness of some of them while writing the blog – and several which raised a smile. Many thanks, Puck, for an enjoyable and entertaining start to the day.


1   CARD INDEX: DIN [loud noise] in CARDEX [sounds like [‘say’] CAR DECKS – parts of ferry]
6   OBIT: O BIT: a sad little epitaph for an angler who caught nothing at all, because no fish bit! OBIT can be taken as a ‘brief life’ because it’s an abbreviation of ‘obituary’ and also because an obituary is a brief ‘life’ [biography]
10  AUDIO: AUDI [car] + O[pen]: some may not like ‘top’ meaning ‘first letter’ in an across clue but I don’t mind it.
11  SHAREWARE: SHARE: anagram [about] of HEARS + WARE [Hertfordshire town]
12  SHIH-TZU: H [heroin – ‘horse’] in [amongst] anagram [odd] of THIS + ZU [sounds like – ‘reportedly – ZOO: collection of animals]. I couldn’t help thinking that Paul [or Puck, come to that] might have clued this differently: maybe the Editor stepped in.
13  TRAIPSE: anagram of TIRES PA – very nice surface
14  FOLIES BERGÈRE: anagram [supply] of SLIGO and FREE BEER: my favourite clue, I think, for the lovely picture conjured up by the surface and the fact that ‘supply’ has to be read as the adverb from ‘supple’, to supply the anagram indicator: very clever.
17  BOSWORTH FIELD: BOD [fellow] around [holding] anagram [running] of FLOWER HITS: a clever ‘lift and separate’ [running battle] clue for the 1485 battle in which Henry VII defeated Richard III, fought very close to me here – but they’ve recently had to create a new trail since it was proved that the battle was fought a mile south of what was thought to be the  site!
21  AURICLE: URIC [type of acid] in ALE [beer]
22  IN HASTE: hidden in spaIN HAS TErrorism: ‘Spain has terrorism’ has been reduced at both ends
24  CROWN LAND: NL [International Vehicle Registration for Holland] + AN [ditto Angola] in [amongst] CROWD [throng]
25  DELHI: anagram [revolutionary] of HID round [outside] EL [‘the’ Spanish]
26  NEST: hidden in viNE STreet
27  OVERGRAZE: OVER [no more] + GRAZE: sounds like [said] ‘Gray’s’ [a poet’s] – Thomas – author of ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’


1   CLASSIFY: I F [one female] in [‘with outfit’] CLASSY [stylish]
2   RADII: nothing to do with clues 10 and 11 but RADio [wireless, as we used to call it] minus [lacking] 10 + 11: a ‘Marmite’ clue, perhaps – I like it!
3   I WON’T BE A SECOND: double definition
4   DISTURB: DI [the girl we haven’t seen for a while] + anagram [out] of BURST: we need to take the ‘s as simply a link, I think
5   X FACTOR: X [vote] + ACT [turn] in FOR: strictly speaking, the programme is called ‘The X Factor’ but I’ve seen a number of similar omissions of the definite article in titles lately
7   BLASPHEME: anagram [afflicting] of SHEEP and LAMB
8   TEEPEE: TEE [peg] on PEE [letter P – first letter [top] of ‘pile’]: an opportunity for cross-reference to 19dn?
9   BEWARE OF THE DOG: anagram [‘awkwardly’] of GOOD FEW BREATHE, with the familiar exploitation of the two meanings of ‘setter’
15  LABORIOUS: a Russian doll of a clue – it’s L[arge] + BO [smell] in “RIO [city] in AUS[tralia]”
16  ADHESIVE: anagram [badly] of I SHAVED + [nicking] [on]E
18  OREGANO: A[lpert] + NO [number] after last letters of pianO playeR – + EG {say] – originally accidentally omitted: thanks, NeilW: another fine ‘lift and separate’ clue for those old enough to remember Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass – and another lovely surface
19  TWIDDLE: T[ime] + WIDDLE [wee]
20  CANCAN: CANada [country] minus ada [girl leaving] twice [repeatedly]
23  SALSA:  SAL Sa[l][girl repeatedly] minus L [one pound]

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,501 / Puck”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I, like you, really enjoyed this and agree with you about the alternative clue for 12!

    You seem to omitted the “say” in your parsing of 18, by the way.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Neil – sorted now.

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Puck

    An excellent puzzle with lots of cunning clues and wit.

    NB 14a There is no final ‘s’ for Bergere in the answer (6,7). This seems to be correct though I would instinctively have expected one.

    I liked 6a, 24a, 27a, 9d, 15d, 18d among several lively clues.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen re ‘supply’ in 14a. I missed this – it was my last in and I switched off once the answer became clear.

  5. tupu says:

    pps Re 14a I suppose it translates as The Shepherdess Follies.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, tupu – it was a careless error: it came instinctively to me, too, to add an S. I’ll take it out now!

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. This was quite breezy until the last couple: 15d was 15d, but, once got , shed the light needed for AURICLE. 12a seems not quite right: the tzu doesn’t zzz like zoo (the phonemes ought to approximate to sheet-zoo, or imaginably shed-zoo). Some droll moments (1a, 19d) and good surfaces.

  8. molonglo says:


  9. Blaise says:

    Just for info, the French don’t pluralize people’s names, so where we’d say “the Smiths” they’d say “les Dupont” without adding a final “s”. …all of which has nothing to do with the Folies Bergère, which was named after the nearby street Rue Bergère.

  10. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I had been quite unable to parse 17a but now I can see why I had the corect answer.

    On 21a: what is ‘hole’ doing? An auricle is one of the compartments of the heart so ‘in the heart’ is the definition. I spent an age trying to find some word for the medical condition ‘hole in the heart’ which we hear of occasionally.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Internet problems here, grrr. V entertaining puzzle from Puck, tho I needed your help to untangle 15dn.

  12. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Highly enjoyable puzzle from Puck. I’ll even forgive him the ‘apostrophe s’ in 4d, which is one of my bêtes noires (as regular posters will know).

    I’m comfortable with the homophone at 12a: to H in *(THIS) you have to add ZU (which sounds like ‘zoo’) – there is no implication that the full answer to the clue has to be homophonous.

    Ingenious of Eileen to suggest that ‘supply’ in 14a has to be read as ‘supple-ly’. I was perfectly comfortable with ‘supply’ simply as an indicator of anagram fodder. I wonder which sense Puck has in mind?

    The AURICLEs are compartments in the heart: compartment = cavity = ‘hole’ works for me, and certainly makes for a nice bit of misdirection and a good surface.

    Great surfaces and misdirections abound in this puzzle: 14a was my favourite, but only by a short head from 24a, 2d, 5d, 18d.

  13. tupu says:

    Re 14a Thanks Blaise. That makes good simple sense!

  14. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks to Puck and Eileen. Shih-tzu new to me, I’m afraid. Thanks also for the double meaning of ‘supply’. A most enjoyable puzzle.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This was redeemed by (again) the NW coner which gave me a good challenge before finishing.
    Who said recently that this was a phenomenon due to the compiler starting there? I do not quite see why this should lead to trickier clues,anyone else have a theory?
    I am with Gervase on ‘supply’ as a noun. ‘Sligo +free beer’is the supply of letters needed.
    I find fuss about surfaces to be superficial but am intrigued by the way those of you who do care seem to change your attitudes easily. The ‘s’ in 4d is swiftly excused, on other days a word will be condemned for the same extraneous use. Is there a rule I do not know about!

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Eileen.

    This was fun, with some smiles raised along the way. I thought IN HASTE was clever.

    If Arachne can’t get SHAM POOERS past the editor, I think there’s no chance of the alternative clue for 12ac appearing in the Grauniad any time soon.

  17. Mitz says:

    Thanks Puck and Eileen. Great fun today, with loads of mis-direction. 11 defeated me for a very long time (couldn’t get ‘Stevenage’ out of my head, which nearly fitted the cross letters).

    Re: RCW’s question @15: when putting a puzzle together, unless one makes a conscious decision not to, one will generally compile the clues in order, so in the NW the compiler is freshest and likely to be most devious. When compiling crosswords myself, I generally work on the clues in a random order for this reason, and definitely don’t leave the SE until last.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Why the mention of Heroin for 12? Surely H as an abbreviation of horse is adequate all by itself? In the days when I could afford to go racing (BC – before children) H M C and F were all used in racecards to indicate Horse, Mare, Colt and Filly respectively.

  19. apple granny says:

    We struggled a bit with 12a and 2d. We wrongly decided it was “radio” not “radii”, so found it hard to remember the exact name of the dog breed which we vaguely recalled. But satisfying when we finished early evening, after a day out and about.

  20. Roger says:

    Hi Gervase. 4d doesn’t need any forgiveness, surely, if “girl’s” is read as “girl has” … or is that your point ?

  21. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Puck for a tricky puzzle. I solved it but needed Eileen’s blog to explain a few of the answers.

  22. MarionH says:

    Those who don’t “like ‘top’ meaning ‘first letter’ in an across clue” may prefer to parse the letter O as ‘top’ with no ends, i.e. open.

  23. Puck says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen, and to others for comments.

    Gervase@12: In 14ac I intended ‘supply’ as supple-y, as per Eileen.

    RCWhiting@15 & Mitz@17: I don’t write clues in any particular order – it depends on the puzzle.

    Eileen: I decided to censor myself at 12ac, so it wasn ‘t down to the editor this time. And unfortunately I missed your lovely idea of cross-referencing 8d and 19dn (TeePee/TWiddle). Glad to hear you enjoyed the puzzle this time. I do agree that my last one didn’t quite hit the spot. I had to re-do almost half of it after the editor spotted that I had used an invalid phrase for one of the long answers. In the redoing I managed to lose the most playful clues and end up with a puzzle that felt contrived because it had lost its original spark. In hindsight I would’ve been better off scrapping it and starting again – which I’ll bear in mind if it happens again.

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Puck – thanks so much for dropping in. I hope you realise how chuffed we bloggers and commenters are when you setters do so.

    I’ll come clean now and admit that the ‘supply’ thing came to me literally just as I typed the blog – and subsequent comments made me reconsider – so I’m really glad to know that that was your intention.

    [I only mentioned your previous puzzle in order to point up how much more I enjoyed this one. I don’t remember the details, because it wasn’t my blog. That was the only one of yours that has [slightly] disappointed.]

    Many thanks again for the puzzle – it was lots of fun!

  25. RCWhiting says:

    The NW corner being more difficult was based on such a ridiculously small,non random sample as to be not worthy of consideration.

  26. Martin P says:

    I always smiled at the “Shepherdess’s Madnesses” and similar apparent constructions in French. However, they do at least sign their no-through roads “without issue”, and in French, rather than “arse of bag” in English, as would be symmetrical.

    A good solid work-through with gentle humour though, I thought.

  27. Gervase says:

    Puck: Thanks a lot for dropping by – and for answering my question! Great crossword.

    Roger (if you’re still there): Yes, that is my point. ‘Has’ is only usually contracted to ‘apostrophe s’ when it is an auxiliary verb, followed by a past participle (‘he’s answered my question’), and not when is means ‘owns’. In standard English we wouldn’t contract ‘Roger has a child’ to ‘Roger’s a child’ because it would be misinterpreted as ‘Roger IS a child’. (Instead, you could say Roger’s GOT a child’, which avoids the ambiguity. And ‘I’ve a child’ is acceptable, because the verb ending is different, so it doesn’t clash with ‘I’m a child’). But I do seem to be a lone voice on this one!

  28. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Puck for dropping in and Eileen for the blog, which was much needed this time.

    Belated thanks to Stella for yesterday’s link to Bo, the famous White House dog – problems with connecting to this site earlier.

    Giovanna x

  29. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Gervase @27 – you have a good point there. You have convinced me even if no-one else believes you.

  30. Roger says:

    Thanks for your comments Gervase @27 (hope you find this … sorry for the late reply). I agree with what you say regarding the use of {‘s = has} in standard English but I sometimes wonder what happens to the rulebook on entering Crosswordland !

    A pity Puck didn’t offer his thoughts …

  31. Huw Powell says:

    Lots of fun in this one! I found it solved in bits and pieces all over the grid, and I even think my last four words in went into separate quadrants.

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and thanks to Puck for the lovely workout and for dropping by to comment!

  32. ernie says:

    Thank you Eileen and Puck. Got there eventually (mid-day Sunday) without fully understanding one or two (12a 17a 27a). Good fun. Another Stevenage fan (Mitz @ 17): also thought ‘open top’ meant the ‘o’ in ‘top'(MarionH @ 22.

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