Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,562 by Puck

Posted by bridgesong on February 25th, 2012


We don’t often see Puck in the prize slot and I wonder whether this puzzle was intended as a prize puzzle because it seemed to me to be very much on the easy side, with several friendly long anagrams to help  solvers get off to a quick start.   I didn’t keep a note of my solving time, but it was less than my usual hour (yes, I know many of you will have done it much more quickly).  I thought one or two of the clues were rather clever but I do have a few quibbles over some of the wordplay.  The only unfamiliar words were MACIES  (because it was wrong!) and COPAL, both of which were easy to deduce from the wordplay.


9 Tree providing cover in the middle of a kingdom (5,4)


10 Girl getting diamonds cut in time (5)

IC(e) in ERA

11 Didn’t rush boy about to tell a story before dinner starts (7)

LAD (rev), LIE, D(inner)

12 I reflected about girl being too old (7)

VERA in EGO (rev)

13 See 4
14 Most fastidious sort of diet — it’s not allowing for starters (9)

*(DIET, IT’S, N(ot) A(llowing)).  Took me a long time to work out the correct wordplay, and I’m not sure the clue is entirely sound since there is nothing to indicate which words are to be used for their initial letters as part of the anagram, although of course the enumeration does make it obvious.

16 Fiancee limit: one-off, never to be repeated? (4,2,1,8)


19,21down Where one is kept in for ENT observation (9,6)

I think the point of this clue is that ENT is the centre of DETENTION. Of course, the letters ENT also appear in CENTRE. I’m not sure it quite works.

21 Resin from joint buddy? (5)


22 Romanian readies animal to go around unknown city (7)

LEI (Romanian currency), Z (unknown quantity) in PIG.

23 Order some bananas with drink (5,2)

HAND, SUP. The definition is “order”.

24,8 Cat returns with secret source of sweetener (5,4)

GUS(rev), ARCANE. I think that this is a reference to Gus, the Theatre Cat in T S Eliot’sOld Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

25 One caring about lack of awareness (9)

*(ONE CARING). “About” is the anagrind.

1 Tree destroyed a lawn? So odd (10)


2 Greek girl in elegant style, topless (8)


3 Disease that is found in some Scotsmen? (6)

IE in MACS.  This word isn’t in Chambers except as a Latin word meaning “leanness” given as the root form of “emaciated”.  I don’t know if it’s in Collins, although it is in the OED, where it’s shown as obsolete 19th century medical jargon.   The question mark at the end of the clue seems justified.   Clearly I should have checked the annotated solution yesterday; I should have realised that MACIES was unlikely to be correct.  Thanks Neil.

4,13 Drug-free hell? Bad luck! (4,5)


H(e)LL. A bit of an outmoded phrase I would suggest. Ll is given in Chambers as an abbreviation for “lines”.

5 Puck’s set in place a punishing task (10)


6 Drug writer put in mostly lower case (8)

PEN in NETHE(r). I can’t find anything to support this usage of NETHER.

7 Vocal onslaught from Siamese? (6)

Sounds like “THAI RAID”. This one did make me smile.

8 See 24
14 Row about inexperienced doctor in item destined for noticeboard? (7,3)

RAW IN GP in DIN. For this clue to work properly, it would have to read something like “Row about inexperienced in doctor item…”  See Neil’s explanation @3

15 See 23

17 Air conditioning devices reordered — essentially wrong size, one’s admitted (8)

*((w)RON(g)), 1, SIZE). Although it was easy enough to guess this from the definition and crossing letters, the wordplay was harder to spot.

18 Making 5 grand (8)

Cryptic definition, and very easy once you’ve solved 5 down.

20 Time to complain, say it’s a pain (6)

T, W(h)INGE. The placing of the comma is misleading, but not unfair.

21 See 19

22 Stroke of luck — after seeing horseshoe, openings appear (4)

Initial letters (“openings”) of “Luck After Seeing Horsehoe”. Definition is “stroke”. I confess to not seeing this at first.

23,15 Help! Instep hurt playing game (4,3,7)


25 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,562 by Puck”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.

    3 should be RABIES.

  2. NeilW says:

    DETENTION CENTRE worked fine for me.

    Isn’t it just that NETHE(r) = “lower” with “case” a reference to the fact that it encases PEN?

  3. NeilW says:

    Finally, 14 I parsed as D(RAW)IN GP IN with the first IN relating to the “row” which makes it a straightforward charade.

  4. Biggles A says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I enjoyed this, some were straightforward but others required some research and thought.

    I’m with NeilW in 1,2 and 3.

  5. Biggles A says:

    In 13 I simply thought L = line, two Ls = lines.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Solving wasn’t the problem here, parsing was in 14a, 17d, 24,8 and 4,13 where the components to a neat fitting answer kept eluding me. As to 9a, Brendan had virtually the identical clue a year ago in 24,901. Agree with NeilW on 3d, but not happy with it, either.

  7. NeilW says:

    For the record, I agree with molonglo – You can have RAB or RABBIE or, I suppose perhaps, RABBY but I don’t see that any are useable to arrive at RABIES. It was my last entry, in fact, but I couldn’t see it being anything else. (I’ll bow to anyone who can tell me that there’s a variant spelling of RABY. If not, the Grauniad strikes again.)

  8. sidey says:

    3d is IE, that is, in RABS, a plurality of Rab as in C. Nesbit.

    I thought it rather good, makes a change from Mac, Jock and Ian (no offence).

  9. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, bridgesong. I really enjoyed this puzzle, and didn’t have any problems with the wordplay. (Although perhaps “ENT observation” should have had a question mark.) I’ve never heard the suggestion before that a clue might be unsound for the reason you give in DAINTIEST!

    NeilW: I don’t understand the problem with RABIES – it’s just IE = “that is” in RABS = “some Scotsmen” (i.e. some men called RAB) isn’t it? I agree with you about NEPENTHE, incidentally, although it took us a while to see that “in … case” was the containment indicator, not just “in”.

  10. NeilW says:

    sidey and mhl – doh! I should have gone back and looked at the clue again! (I even think I might have seen it at the time…) :(

  11. crosser says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.
    I agree with NeilW @ 1,2 and 3, and sidey @ 8.
    Could someone please give me a fuller explanation for the parsing of 4d 13a. Thanks.

  12. bridgesong says:

    Thanks all for your comments, and apologies for my blunder over RABIES. I also now see that my comment about NEPENTHE was unjustified. I still have a difficulty with 3 down where it seems to me that “inexperienced doctor” needs the letters RAWGP to be unseparated; I must be missing something obvious.

  13. bridgesong says:

    Crosser @11: remove a drug (E) from HELL, which gives you H(ard) LL(ines). You could of course remove H(eroin) but then the clue wouldn’t work.

  14. bridgesong says:

    Neil (and others): I’ve gone back to 3 and now see what you meant. Doh!

  15. sidey says:

    bridgesong, you and me both, my eyes have been going funny over it all week (not really).

  16. crosser says:

    Thanks (again) Bridgesong for the explanation about 4d 13a. Sorry to have been slow on the uptake!

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi Bridgesong

    I had MACIES, too, to begin with, because I knew the Latin word! Thanks for the blog.

  18. Robi says:

    Enjoyable enough.

    Thanks bridgesong; I never did parse hard lines. I just thought it must be a reference to the intravenous lines that addicts can use. :(

  19. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I didn’t get the parsing of HARD LINES either. TIRADE was last for me since I pronounce it t’raid and spent a while wondering how CAT or TWIN was connected.

    Otherwise, I agree, this was on the easy side for a prize.

  20. tupu says:

    Thanks Bridgesong and Puck

    I enjoyed this. It was rather nice to get a pleasant, not too devious puzzle, though some clues do seem to have caught some high class solvers out. For once I properly understood all the clues in question with the exception of 4,13 which, like Robi, I did not parse (a shame because it’s pretty straightforward but the answer was obvious and I thought it must be some sort of dd).

    I ticked 9,21, 22a, 23a!,6d, 17d, and 23,15.

  21. Robi says:

    P.S. I had no trouble with RABIES as I had never heard of macies. Here’s a bit more about it, which I’m sure Eileen will know: ‘In Latin poetry various aspects of pestilence and disease were personified, including Morbus (Disease), Pestis and Lues (Pestilence), Macies (Wasting, Emaciation), and Tabes (Corruption). They are presumably equivalent to the Greek Nosoi.’

    Hope this is correct!

  22. Andy D says:

    I too have never heard of macies so had no problems with 3.

    However I got caught out by 10 which I had as the (admittedly rather obscure, according to google) girl’s name EDIRA – DI(amonds) in ERA. ERICA is clearly a better answer.

    Couldn’t parse 4,13 or 17 (although I didn’t try for very long) so thanks for help with those.

    Otherwise I agree it was relatively simple for a Prize. Is it just me or hasn’t it been the case for a while that the Prizes are often easier than many Tue-Fri Cryptics?

  23. Tardius says:

    I rather enjoyed this one. In particular I thought DETENTION CENTRE very elegant but agree it ought really to have had a question mark after ‘observation’.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I thought ‘detention centre’ was superb.I cannot see what a ? would add to it. Sometimes I think folk do make a lot from nothing, this was a very straightforward clue.

  25. Dennis Elbow says:

    Is it just me or has the quality of the ‘Saturday Prize Puzzle’ been somewhat erratic recently? Nothing per se against Puck although the inclusion of IMPOSITION and IMPOSING in the same grid seems a tad lazy, no?

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