Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,520 / Paul

Posted by mhl on January 7th, 2012


An enjoyable prize puzzle from Paul, which seemed mostly straightforward except for some general knowledge I was lacking with regard to the theme…

… which was Mexican people and things. I don’t quite understand 17d or 22d, so suggestions would be very welcome.

9. LINEARISE (ALIEN)* + RISE = “revolt”; Definition: “put straight”
10. MIAMI I + MAIM = “badly hurt” all reversed; Definition: “US city”
11. MEXICAN MEAN = “average” around XI = “this [clue’s] number” + C = “a hundred”; Definition: “National”
12. MALLARD RALL = “slowing” (from the musical notation RALL = “rallentando”) in DAM = “stop” all reversed; Definition: “Old fast train”
13,20. DIEGO RIVERA RIVER = “Orange, perhaps” (referring to the Orange River in South Africa), after DIE = “stop” + GO = “green light” all followed by A; Definition: “[MEXICAN] artist”
14. FIRE ALARM IF reversed = “If screwing back” + REAL = “proper” + ARM = “weapon”; Definition: “get out cue”
16. WATCH WITH MOTHER MOTH = “delicate creature” in WITHER = “decline” after WATCH = “ticker”; Definition: “Old show for the young”
19. SURFBOARD Sounds like “serf bored” = “agricultural worker hacked off”; Definition: “a long, tapering item” (!)
22. RAVENNA RAVEN = “Bird” + NA = “doesn’t apply” (“Not Applicable”); Definition: “Italian city”
23. TINY TOT (TOY)* in TINT = “shade”; Definition: “Infant”
24. RARER Hidden in “deeR ARE Ready”; Definition: “More red”
25. LACHRYMAL HR = “time” in LACY = “sexy” + MAL[e] = “chap, scratching rear”; Definition: “Teary”
1. CLIMBDOWNS In CLOWNS = “fools”, I’M = “setter’s” + B[i]D = “bid to appear vacant”; Definition: “acts of withdrawal”
2. INEXPERT I = “One” + NEXT = “following” around PER = “by”; Definition: “clumsy”
3,21across. PANCHO VILLA ANCHOV[y] = “fish almost” in PILLA[r] = “supporter (tail ignored)”; Definition: “[MEXICAN] fighter”
4. FINN Sounds like “fin” = “steering mechanism under discussion”; Definition: “European”
5. BESMIRCHED BED = “sheets on this” around RIMS reversed = “elevated edges” + CHE = “red”; Definition: “Soiled”
6,7. EMILIANO ZAPATA A1 = “Perfect” + LIME = “tree” revsersed + NO + ZAP = “shoot” + AT A; Definition: “[MEXICAN] revolutionary”
8. KIND The German for child is Kind, thus might be a son or daughter of Wagner (“Wagnerian issue perhaps?”); Definition: “Thoughtful”
14. FRIDA KAHLO F = “Female” + RID = “free” + O = “love” around AKA = “alias” + H[e]L[l] = “odd characters in hell”; Definition: “[MEXICAN] artist”
15. MERCANTILE (CENTRE MAIL)*; Definition: “Commercial”
17. HABANERA BANE = “poison” in HARA [kiri] = “honourable death, not half”; Definition: “Trip” – I don’t understand the definition, I’m afraid… Thanks to everyone (amulk being the first) for pointing out that “trip” can mean a dance – I note that this isn’t in Chambers, so I guess it must be either in Collins or the Oxford Dictionary of English…
18. HALF TIME Reverse clue HALF TIME = [ti]ME = “could it be me?”; Definition: “Traditionally when orange wedges served”
21. VINERY IN in VERY = “actual”; Definition: “Fruit grown here”
22. RO-RO I suspect a mistake here: I think the definition is “Ferry”, as in “Roll-On, Roll-Off”, and the cryptic reading looks like [p]OR[t] repeatedly, which would give OR-OR. Have I missed something? Thanks to amulk, who points out that this must be R[i]O R[i]O…
23. TACO O = “Old” + CAT = “man” reversed; Definition: “that’s [MEXICAN]” (which seems weak, so perhaps I’ve misunderstood)

15 Responses to “Guardian 25,520 / Paul”

  1. amulk says:

    Thanks for the blog MHL. I found this HARD and had to give up I am afraid. Oddly enough, I think I have the answers to the two you found some difficulty with:

    17dn: I think “trip” is used in to mean dance, but I am not sure as I do not have a good enough dictionary.
    22dn: I think the port referred to is Rio, and the clue then makes sense.

  2. nmsindy says:

    In 17D I think ‘trip’ = dance with HABANERA being a dance.

  3. sidey says:

    Thanks mhl, trip can mean to dance.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. The theme came pronto with 11a and I cantered along until with four remaining slowed to a halt, with 12a’s “slowing” an enigma and the answer a total unknown, as was the 17d dance. Then there were two clever clues, 9a (‘protean’ as anagrind!) and 19a – no alternative but to turn to aids. Thanks Paul.

  5. molonglo says:

    amulk @1: have you tried Webster’s on line, it’s brilliant (and it has ‘habanera’).

  6. mhl says:

    Thanks to everyone for the corrections – I’ve updated the post. I assumed that “trip” must be something like a dance, but the closest definition in Chambers was: “a light, short step or skip” and I don’t have either of the other two canonical Guardian crossword dictionaries here.

    Chambers lists a verb sense of “to trip” meaning “to dance trippingly; to trip or dance upon” (the latter strangely being recursive) but then it has no verb sense of Habanera.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Paul

    An enjoyable puzzle with some need for checking to complement limited Mexican knowledge esp. re Frida Kahlo, though the charade is clear enough.

    re Habanera, I took trip for dance remembering the old cliche ‘trip the light fantastic’.

    Ticked 14a, 19a!, 3d,15d.

  8. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for the blog. I was wondering how RO-RO was constructed from “from port” too: never considered RIO … Duh.

    Enjoyable puzzle. SURFBOARD and HABANERA were my favourites.

  9. Bamberger says:

    Foolishly ventured away from the FT crossword and found this anything but straightforward. Indeed I have to confess that I gave up with only 14a solved and looked forward to seeing the answers. Of course it doesn’t help if you can’t get the gateway clue.Can’t believe I didn’t spot the hidden word at 24a-I think I was just demoralised by the time I got there.

    9a I didn’t realise that protean meant “go and anagram”.
    11a I didn’t realise that this number was a reference to the clue number.
    12a Never come across rall
    13a I would never have guessed that orange perhaps meant the answer was river

    3d, 6d & 14d I’m afraid I had never heard of them.
    17d Not a word I’d ever come across .

    Thank you for the blog -and well done to anyone who solved that unaided.

  10. rrc says:

    Once climbdowns went in, mexican came very quickly, and then the need to look up various mexican references on the net – not sure I was familiar with any of them This was a crossword I really enjoyed.

  11. ChrisChunders says:

    A colourful puzzle to brighten up the post-festive gloom and divert to mind to perhaps a land we should understand better. Very enjoyable and rewarding to dredge out of one’s mind the likes of Frida Kahlo, Rivera. My partner’s the fine art enthusiast in this house, and it was nice to have the chance to recall these without the intermediary of the University Challenge picture round! A good puzzle like this, rewarding in itself but also providing a spur to further research or reading; that’s what we come to crosswords for, isn’t it?

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    I got MEXICAN early on but it didn’t help much with some of the Mexicans. I, too, thought I had never heard of FRIDA (though my wife knew her name, I went on believing it couldn’t be correct as I couldn’t parse the clue); however, I think I may have seen some of her work when I was in a museum in Mexico City in 1969.

    I didn’t find it too hard, with the help of some googling, but I thought it was a substandard Paul. The definitions to 23d TACO and 19a SURFBOARD were particularly weak. I take it, mhl, that your use of (!) is not as in chess?

    Thanks Paul and mhl – I needed you for the explanations to 2, 5 and 17d; and 22d apparently.

  13. mhl says:

    Dave Ellison: Doch, as they are usefully able to say here – my “(!)” meant “this is an outrageous definition”, although it did make me smile when we got it :)

  14. Biggles A says:

    Thanks mhl. I got there in the end with internet assistance but, like Dave Ellison, needed your help to understand 2, 5 and 17 – and 25. Funnily enough, 22d went in immediately.

  15. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Paul for a good brainteaser and mhl for his explanations.

    My heart sank when I saw a Mexican theme!

    However the one clue which held me up was 12a, as Mallard is a locomotive and not a train. Incidentally, as most of you will know, Mallard gained the world speed record for steam traction on Sunday 3rd July 1938 whilst taking part in a series of high speed braking trials for Westinghouse.126mph was achieved whilst descending Stoke bank at Essendine. This record remains unbroken.


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