Never knowingly undersolved.

The Guardian No 25,511, by Pasquale

Posted by Stella on December 21st, 2011


I enjoy the Don’s puzzles and this one was no exception: precise cluing in well constructed surfaces made it much more straightforward than I at first feared. Thanks, Pasquale.

1. FACET E, vehicle registration for Spain, in FACT. I’m not sure why it should be “sparkling”. Thanks to the first two bloggers for pointing out the connection to gemstones.
4. PURCHASE U for non-conformist, + R(oman) C(atholic) Thanks to Eileen for a more plausible U(nited) R(eformed) C(hurch), in PHASE, for a word meaning a strong foothold.
10. ACIDHEAD ACID, = “sarcastic”, + HEAD
11. PELLET E’LL (“E(ssex) (wi)LL) in PET
12. DETERRING DE(B)T minus B(ank) + ERRING
15. INCUR INCUR(sions), with half missing
17. HYDRA H(enr)Y + (wicke)D + R (king = Rex) + A
19. POGROM OGR(e) in POM(p)
21. KNOTHOLE KNO(w) + THOLE. I didn’t know this Scots or archaic use of “tholeas “to endure”, but it might explain its present sense as a pin that supports the oar, therefore bearing the strain of rowing.
25. PLUGHOLE (Soa)P + LUGHOLE, slang for “ear”
26. PETAL P(ark) + ET AL. The plural form “bits” doesn’t agree with the singular answer, but rather with “others” in the surface reading.
1. FISH AND CHIPS I + SHAND(y) in FC + HIP, = “in”, + S(ome)
2). CONVICTED CON = “scam” + the short form of two men’s names, VIC(tor) and TED (Edward, Theodore etc.)
3. TRASH T(he) RASH minus “he”
4. PRIMARIES PRIM + ARIES, the constellation or group of “stars”
5. RENT Double definition
6. HELLENISM HELL = “torment” + *MINES
7. SISAL IS in SAL(e)
9. STORMY PETREL PRETTY MORSEL. I saw PETREL straight away and guessed the first part :)
14. GREENGAGE GAG = “censor”, in (Graham) GREENE
16. CONCORDAT ON = “attached to” + CORD = “ribbon” in CAT = “queen”? Apparently, an adult female cat – Thanks MarionH
20. GRUEL (C)RUEL, with G for C
22. TWERP WE in TR(i)P
23. UNDO Hidden in “groUND Obviously)

21 Responses to “The Guardian No 25,511, by Pasquale”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Stella.

    AS you say, not so many unfamiiar words as usual. I enjoyed this – and didn’t have to look up anything [the Scottish husband again being an advantage for ‘thole’]. ;-)

    Re 1ac: a facet is a surface of a cut gemstone, so ‘sparkling’.

    In 4ac, I think the Nonconformist church is the URC [United Reformed Church].

    Many thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Pasquale – and a very Happy Christmas!

  2. Rob Harries says:

    re FACET – “one of the small, polished plane surfaces of a cut gem”, hence “sparkling”


  3. MarionH says:

    re 16ac, a ‘queen’ is an adult female cat (cf Collins English Dictionary)

  4. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Stella. 21ac. I’d always thought that THOLE was a genteel West Riding word for door, as in “Put t’wood in thole, lad!” Happy Christmas!

  5. mistley says:

    Must be an easy one because it’s the first time I finished a Guardian Cryptic without any help!

    Can someone please explain where the “HIP” in 1D comes from?

    Thanks and Merry Xmas

  6. rrc says:

    Most enjoyable – even a fews ahs and smiles,

    and a blog which is easy to read, because on some days this is not now the case

  7. Stella says:

    Hi Mistley, HIP means “in fashion”, or “in” for short.

  8. mistley says:

    Forget my question at 5 above – I just got it.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    Agree with all above: ‘sparkling’ for the FACET of a gemstone in 1a, URC (United Reformed Church) in 4a, cats are either ‘toms’ or ‘queens’, as in 16d.

    Usual good and varied constructions from Pasquale: I particularly liked 4a for its unusual word fragmentation, and 25a for a bit of a smile.

    I felt that 26a should have had ‘bit’ rather than ‘bits’, as the answer to the clue is a singular noun – and the former fits the surface of the clue perfectly well. Most uncharacteristic slip from the Don.

  10. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, Stella for the explanation of KNOTHOLE. I was beginning to think the clue a bit abstruse, with “almost” doing duty not only to make KNO[w] but also HOL[d] (= bear) in gap in T[h]E and then the whole thing being a bit of an &lit. But that wouldn’t be Pasquale’s style – he’s scrupulously fair.

    Re 26a I can’t see why the clue shouldn’t refer to ‘flower bit’ (singular) – it wouldn’t affect the solvability.

  11. Allan_C says:

    Sorry, Gervase, we crossed.

  12. Pasquale says:

    I concede that a PETAL is a single part of a flower — alas alas! Merry Christmas everyone!

  13. Mitz says:

    Thanks Pasquale and Stella. Reasonably challenging today, and educational in parts. Guessed ‘knothole’ from the crossed letters – had never come across ‘thole’ before. ‘Concordat’ also went in without fully parsing – no excuse for me as there have been cats in my family forever (we currently have four). Last in for me was ‘pogrom’ – I read it as OG[re] in PROM, but I would concede that Stella’s version is better. Liked ‘fish and chips’ – is it me or is this and almost Araucarian charade?!

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    That was better.
    I was held up by ‘trash’ which I had as ‘heatrash’ but there was an ‘a’ left over!
    I guessed 1d almost immediately from the enumeration but delayed entering it for some time until I had sorted out the lengthy parsing.
    I liked 18ac and 24ac.

  15. bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Pasquale and Stella. Another enjoyable lunchtime solve! It took us a while to sort out ‘concordat’ and ‘purchase’ despite having a United Reformed Church just up the road!

    Anyway…. Happy Christmas.

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you for the blog, Stella.

    Good fun puzzle from Pasquale today, with FISH AND CHIPS and PLUGHOLE my favourites. I didn’t stop to think about PETAL, but I can see now that it doesn’t quite work. To err is human …

  17. tupu says:

    Thanks Stella and Pasquale

    I came to this after lunch and tired after a morning in the shops so it took a time to solve. A cat nap in the middle helped revive my mind and sense of enjoyment!

    Like others I was puzzled by ‘bits’.

    I ticked 8a, 25a, 6d, 9d along the way. I vaguely remembered and checked ‘thole’. All my cats have been Toms and I did not know (remember?) queen in this context but thought it might relate to one or other Catherine.

    :) I also liked 22d which reminded me of the old northern commedian, Norman Evans, and his monologue that went something like – He said ‘You’re a twerp’, I said ‘(Wh)o?’, he said ‘You’. I said ‘Me?’, he said ‘Aye’ I said ‘Ohh!’.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was unaware that 10a had changed from (4-4) or even (4,4). Anyone know when this happened?

  19. Wolfie says:

    Derek @ 18: The on-line OED gives it as two words ‘acid head’. My Encarta Dictionary of World English has ‘acidhead’. I suspect the latter is an Americanism.

    Thanks Stella for the blog and to Pasquale for the crossword – entertaining as ever.

  20. Davy says:

    Thanks Stella,

    This was on the easier side for the Don which I was quite grateful for. Last one in was POGROM which I interpreted exactly as you did Stella. It took me ages for some reason to get the anagram at 8a. I finally thought, yes it’s ‘sentimentalist’ but came unstuck crossing out the letters. Once I finally realised it may end in ‘ism’, the answer soon revealed itself.

    The word ‘twerp’ is a good word but one that it rarely heard these days. Its modern equivalent is probably something like numpty which is also very expressive. The TV series Merlin has some good examples of similar words which are still in the dictionary today such as clodpole or sometimes clotpole.

    My favourite clue was PLUGHOLE but I also liked JULIAN CALENDAR and TRASH which amazingly took me a while to work out.

    Thanks Pasquale and all the best Stella. We could do with some Spanish heat now although the weather isn’t as bad as it could be.

  21. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks for the blog, Stella, and for the pleasant workout (and for dropping by!), Pasquale.

    Put me down for one “bit” of a flower, too, not that it’s a big deal but it did make me nervous about inking in PETAL. Also, no one seems to have mentioned a minor glitch in the clue at 12a – the word “admitted” is doing nothing there – I get DEbt from everything through “initially”, followed by ERRING. “Admitted” would seem to imply putting one bit inside the other – “erring” being simply “going wrong”. Couldn’t have been anything else, though, so another “no big deal”.

    Thanks for the parsing on a few I couldn’t completely work out – the queen, the lughole, the thole…

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