Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25,586 by Paul

Posted by bridgesong on March 24th, 2012


An enjoyable challenge this week, with much of Paul’s characteristic wit on display.  I had expected something of an Irish theme, for a puzzle published on St Patrick’s Day, but apart from a couple of references to horse racing, there was no discernible theme at all, Irish or otherwise.  22,26 across was my personal favourite but there was much else to admire.

Who might dress Tom Cruise? (9)
* Tom Cruise. I don’t remember seeing this anagram before, and Paul turns it into a very nice & lit.

Panda, perhaps, I smothered in lard (4)
I in FAT.

All these letters used, treble score primarily basic requirement to bag fifty? (8,5)
*(TREBLE, BASIC) with S(core) and L (fifty) included. I guessed this almost immediately from the Scrabble references in the clue (you score an additional 50 points if you use all seven letters in your rack), but it took me much longer to work out the wordplay.

Want to see Tom Hanks’ initialled letter-opener? (6)
DEAR (as in the opening phrase of a letter), T(om) H(anks). “Want” is the definition here.

Block question that’s material (6)

Did you say there are no West London gardens better ___ for cheers? (5,3)
Sounds like “Than Kew”. Well, to be pedantic, it doesn’t: the “th” in “than” is voiced, but not in “thank”. But it’s close enough, and the clue is of a kind we don’t often see nowadays.  Kew Gardens, in Richmond, are well worth a visit at any time of year but are particularly lovely just now.

See 24

A piano recording in balletic movement that’s fruity (5,3)
P, EP in A PLIE.

Left — red, if unstated? (8)
MAINE in RED. Very subtle, this: I hadn’t come across “unstated” before.

King Edward, say, squeezing first of lovelies, an upper-class issue (6)
L(ovelies) in TATER. The Tatler is a magazine targeted at the upper classes.

Fixed rate treatment, primarily, for medical condition (4,4)
FLAT FEE, T(reatment).

State novel by cont­rary author — men seem unable to put it down! (6,4)
(T.S.) ELIOT (rev), *TASTE. A real laugh-out-loud moment, when the penny dropped (sorry about that) on this one. Made more difficult by the reversal of the two elements of the wordplay.

Saxon folly evidently inferior to this funny little chap (6,6)
Cryptic definition.

As some heaters are possibly my reference, I left wood in it (3-5)
I, L(eft), FIR in OED.

See 22

Pickler in row requiring more liquid (9)
(Damien) HIRST in TIER.  Damien Hirst is famous (among other things) for his pickled shark.

Poisoner doubles up over a drink (5)
CO = carbon monoxide.

Off to the main Home Counties settlement? (7)

Native of central Asia, the last character to live in Britain (5)
Z BE in UK.

Lack of movement in time holds it up (7)
T in IN ERA (rev).  IT(rev) in IN ERA.  Thanks, Neil.

Racecourse favourite, the Queen seen on it? (3,6)
REDCAR, PET. I thought at first that Red Rum was going to feature again, especially as this puzzle appeared on St Patrick’s Day and just after the Cheltenham festival.

Jockey taken for ride, it deviating (7,7)
*(TAKEN FOR RIDE, IT). This proved to be the only other clue with a horse-racing reference.

A god I placed in employment, proving OK (9)
THOR, I in A USE. I’m not entirely happy with the definition “proving OK”.

Perfect place to have made hole, I suspect (5,4)
*(MADE HOLE, I). Took me far too long to see that “suspect” was an anagram indicator.

Seed taking on essential nitrogen in stomach upset (6,3)
ON KEY N(itrogen) in TUM(rev).

Shot a couple of times, then cut free (7)
A TT(imes), EMPT(y). The last one in for me; I kept wondering how AUTOMAT could be derived from the clue.

See 6

Georgian city, one place to host party, travelling north (7)
LIB in I SIT (all rev).

See 8

Islamic ruler always protecting me (5)
ME in EER. A more usual spelling is “emir”.

25 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25,586 by Paul”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks bridgesong, you haven’t left much for further comment! Proving OK seemed OK to me if ‘proving’ is interpreted as ‘turning out’. I’m not sure about ‘essential’ = ‘on key’ but I wouldn’t care to argue the point with RCW!

  2. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Very enjoyable, as always for me with this setter. But over too quickly for a Prize I thought. “Unstated” was new to me too, and a clever new device. I expect we will see it again.

    I agree with Biggles A that ‘authorise’ is just ‘OK’. But similarly ‘essential’ is just ‘KEY’. The ‘ON’ is from the clue.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I failed to work out 16a (retained and regained were candidates, too)and needed you to explain 17d. Damien Hirst has failed to make it onto my radar, but 27a’s answer had to be that. Some splendid clues, like 22,26, TATLER and the carbon monoxide in 1d.

  4. Miche says:

    Thanks, Bridgesong. Very easy for a Saturday, I thought, but fun. I harrumphed at “than Kew” but was tickled by “pickler” for HIRST. 1a and 9a excellent, too.

    6a reminds me of an anecdote in Sandy Balfour’s Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8):

    Araucaria met him at Peterborough station and together they went out to Araucaria’s car.
    ‘My heart sank,’ Paul recalls, ‘because in that moment I knew that as a crossword setter I was always going to be poor. Here was the best setter in the country and he was driving a Fiat Panda!’

  5. drago says:

    Thanks Bridgesong and Paul.
    Not happy with ’empt’ for ‘cut free’ in 17d – but I did think maybe it was ‘exempt’=’free’ (as in ‘tax exempt’) with the head cut off.

  6. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.

    I thought, in 7, “proving” was a link word in the sense of “demonstrating” and that the def was just “OK.”

    Your parsing of two of the easier ones is a bit squiffy, by the way – 15ac and 4dn – but I guess no one will be coming here for explanations of those clues! 😉

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Bridgesong & Paul.

    Knowing next to nothing about Horse Racing, I first opted for Freddie Dettori until the truth emerged.

    For all those who found this too easy, why not make one or two mistakes to add to your enjoyment?

  8. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul and Bridesong
    Agree that for a start this looked an easier version of Paul – but some self inflicted grief with COSTUMIST instead of COSTUMIER for a start didn’t help and struggled finding the comedian at 24,12 for a while (very clever clue when it twigged though).

    Also did not get TATLER – instead with Paul’s wicked humour in mind, I had confidently put in TITLED (upper class issue / children) … with King E being tit-led away from the throne :). I did struggle finding the other L though.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Paul

    I shared the fun of this with my son. I enjoyed 11a (despite voiced/unvoiced shift), 16a, 22,26!, 24,12.

    On returning to look this morning I noticed that Fiat and Seat (Spanish Fiat as was) face each other diagonally.

  10. bridgesong says:

    Thanks, all for your comments. I’ve corrected my careless slip at 4 down, but can’t see that 15 across is in any way inaccurate. I agree with Biggles and others about OK being the definition in 7 down.

  11. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, a little on the easier side than some of the Prize ones.

    Thanks bridgesong; I did like the clue for NORMAN WISDOM, and of course the Paulian TOILET SEAT. Is Paul embedding messages? THANK YOU Ririr (apparently a name.) APPLE PIE WISDOM is a book, and what is ‘does’ doing in the centre of the puzzle? Conspiracy theory or coincidence? I also noted the FIAT/SEAT opposition.

  12. nametab says:

    I always enjoy mischievous Paul, and this was no exception.

    Glad to have explanation (and solution) for 19ac. I had TITLES – ie alluding to an upper-class ‘issue’ (obsession), but knew that was a poor intepretation, and moreso because it couldn’t be parsed.
    Mind you, the printed version presents ‘love-lies’ not ‘lovelies’. Although that compound still begins with ‘l’, I was locked into imagery of an unfaithful Edward.
    It’s usually obvious, of course, when a word is split for the compositor’s convenience (eg see 22ac, 24ac etc), but I never saw it here.

  13. crypticsue says:

    A lovely fun Paul but as everyone has already said, over far too soon.

  14. g larsen says:

    Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle and blog.

    Like brucew_aus I thought for a long time that 19 was TITLED. I’m impressed at his brave attempt to parse it on Pauline lines – I could only think of TED embracing L, which left me with a meaningless TI.

    24,12 brings to mind the well-worn story of a debate in one of the EU institutions during which a French speaker said that we could rely on ‘la sagesse normande’ to resolve some European problem. The interpreter translated this as calling on Norman Wisdom to step in. Collapse of all Brits present.

  15. NeilW says:

    Hi bridgesong. I just thought that anyone needing help with such a straightforward clue might find something like A P + EP in PLIE easier to follow.

  16. Greg S says:

    re Drago’s comment at 5.

    I parsed ‘cut free’ = EMPT as Bridgesong does: EMPTY meaning ‘free’ with the Y ‘cut’.

    First time post but a regular reader, always in need of help with the last few each week.

    Many thanks

  17. tupu says:

    Hi bridgesong

    FWIW isn’t 15a most accurately A + P(iano) + PL-EP-IE?

  18. tupu says:

    Sorry NeilW
    We crossed

  19. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Good to see I wasn’t the only one left scratching my head with REMAINED or RETAINED pencilled in – seems so obvious now you point it out.

    I always find Paul quite tough, which is probably why he has become my favourite setter.

    Lots to like here – slightly embarrassed to admit that TOILET SEAT was my winner.

  20. rrc says:

    As already said a great puzzle but over far too quickly – too many clues to highlight although I think fiat was perhaps by favourite

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Last in and a favourite was ‘remained’.
    I liked the ‘Hirst’ = ‘pickler’ for vagueness.
    Another one I liked was ‘attempt’.
    My obvious difference of opinion to the majority on this MB is nicely summed up by rrc@20. To me ‘a great puzzle’ can never be reconciled with ‘over far too quickly’.

  22. bridgesong says:

    Tupu @17: yes, you’re right, that is more precise. As NeilW surmises, I perhaps didn’t feel the need to spend too much time explaining such a relatively easy clue.

  23. Giovanna says:

    Thank ew, Paul, for a witty and clever puzzle and bridgesong for the explanations.

    Like others, I expected Red Rum and groaned at thank you! Kew did not readily spring to mind but with the crossing letters it was likely to be thank and then you fell into place.

    Emeer was quite gettable but like bridgesong, I am more used to emir or ameer from a poem.

    22/26 all you naughty boys out there Put it down!!

    Giovanna x

  24. RCWhiting says:

    That reminds me of Azed’s annoying habit.In his ‘solution and notes’
    he selects which answers to explain which frequently means the omission of the one I was puzzled by.

  25. Chris C says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this – I’d have Paul do the prize puzzle *at least* every second week.

    By the way, I rather fancy that the author Eliot in 22,26 was GEORGE rather than TS, who was more of a poet.

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