Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,615 / Puck

Posted by Eileen on April 20th, 2012


I thought this puzzle was great fun – lots of smiles and ‘aha’ moments along the way. Many thanks, Puck, for a very enjoyable and entertaining end to a wet week.



PS 4.30pm: It’s a good job that the rest of the puzzle was of such a high standard and it didn’t rest on the delightful twist in the tail [or curl in the middle], which I missed [almost] entirely. I can’t believe I actually mentioned an armadillo! I might have said something less than positive in this preamble and ended up with even more egg on my face. It’s a comfort to know that I was not entirely alone!

Apologies again, Puck, and renewed thanks for what turned out to be an absolute gem of a puzzle.


1   STRANGLER: STR [initial letters of Spared The Rod] + ANGLER [one who may use it]
9   TAHRIR SQUARE:  QU [Queen] inside [‘wearing’] anagram [improper] of SARI RATHER
10  ROOMMATES: anagram [poor] of THOMAS MORE minus H [Henry] – an excellent surface [but poor Thomas More didn’t have any roommates in the Tower!]
11  HIDDEN TALENT: cryptic definition? Edit: No, hidden in fronTAL ENTertainment  – thanks, jvh, comment 2
12  VACUUMIMG: VAC [holiday] + UU [double U – ‘wife primarily’] + MING [china]
13,30 MORRIS DANCER: anagram [getting upset] of IS DR CAMERON R[ight]:
for non-residents of the UK, who may not be familiar with our quainter custooms, here’s an example of a hobby horse dance [the idea of Dr Finlay’s dour but lovable boss getting involved is hilarious]
17  ARM: A [area] R [right] M [male]: a rather Pauline clue!
19  ALCOHOL: AL[l] [nearly everybody] + COOL [calm] around [drinking] H [hot]
20  AVIGNON: anagram [drunk] of GIN in AVON [water] – lovely surface
21  LID: I instead of [after heart transplant] s in LsD [drug]
27  RETAILERS: anagram [hit] of LATE RISER
29  ERUDITION: EDITION [publication] round RU [Rugby Union – sport]
31  GRANDDADS: GRAND [piano] + D [died] + anagram [awfully] of SAD – yes, isn’t it?


2,26 THOMAS ARNOLD:  HO [house] M.A.’S [master’s] in TARN [mountain lake] + OLD [former]:  another excellent surface – Thomas Arnold was Headmaster of Rugby School 1828-41
3,25  ARMOUR-PLATED: anagram [badly] of RAPTOR MAULED: I think I’m being a bit dim here: I’ve tried playing around with the letters of 5 and 22 down and got nowhere, apart from seeing a reversal of IRON in there – is it just a reference to an armadillo? – I don’t think so! Edit: well, I was right there! See comments 1 and 7
4,24  GRAEME GARDEN: G [last letter [finally] of recordinG] + anagram [abandoned] of GAME RE[f] + ARDEN [forest] : Graeme Garden was one of the Goodies and is now perhaps best-known as a panellist on one of my favourite radio programmes, ‘I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue’
ELEANOR: LEAN [t]O [shed minus T [model] in ER [emergency room] – this conjures up an amusing picture of Puck’s fellow-setter!
HALITOSIS: anagram [new] of HOSPITALS minus P [no parking] around [put in] I
GRIDIRONS: GR [Georgius Rex – king] + reversal [taking up] of DI [the crossword princess] + IRONS [clubs]; a gridiron is an American football field
8   GRANDSONS: GR [the king again] + AND [with] + SONS [his princes] – a nice tie-in with 31ac.
14  LASSITUDE: LASSI[e] [wee girl almost] + anagram [collapsed] of DUE T[o]
15  SCRUBLAND: SCRUB [take axe to] LAND [country]
16  PHARYNXES: [l]YNX [headless cat] in anagram [about] of PHRASE
17  ALL: homophone [broadcast] of awl [boring item]
18  MAD: M AD [1000 AD]
22  IN ERROR: I [one] + anagram [confused] of ON + E [last letter of thE] + RRR

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,615 / Puck”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    Re 3,25 – curled up in the middle of this puzzle (17a, 18d, 21a, 17d) is “ARMADILLA”! Lovely touch; I’m assuming the -a ending (or “Armadill”) still refers to the same creature?

    Thanks for the blog. I thought this was a brilliant puzzle. Another favourite was 9,23 – looked impossible, but of course we all recognise it now.

  2. jvh says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    In 11A, “talent” is hidden in “full-frontal entertainment”.

  3. Thomas99 says:

    PS. I think it’s also possible that the Armadillo’s tail (O) is curled up under its head.

  4. Manu says:

    Thanks Eileen, as usual, for your explanations.

    I would just add this about 3,25. I’m sure you meant it but made a slight mistake when blogging :)
    3,25 : HO MAS inside TARN + OLD (former)

  5. Blaise says:

    Surely 2,26 is HO for HOuse, then, MA’S from “master’s”, all inside TARN, followed by OLD for “former”

  6. Manu says:

    2,26, not 3,25 indeed :)

  7. jvh says:

    Isn’t the Armadillo’s tail the second “o” in “alcohol”?

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Of course – I thought I was making rather heavy weather of it. That must be right – just about the right shape for an Armadillo too; brilliant.

  9. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Thomas and jvh – talk about not seeing the wood for the trees! [That’s after missing Puck’s Ls celebrating his 50th Guardian crossword the last time I blogged his puzzle – I;m sorry, Puck. ;-( ]

    I can’t explain the error in transcribing 2,26. Thanks, Manu and blaise; of course that’s what I meant: corrected now.

  10. Blaise says:

    Thomas99, Kipling has an explanation of the hub-trick here, although it’s clear from the final illustration that it must be the Stickly-Prickly armadillo that has its tail curled into the center.

  11. William says:

    Thank you, Eileen, nice blog.

    He’s a cunning little elf isn’t he, our Puck? This is normally a horrid grid as it has only 4 intersections that link the 4 corners. This normally makes it quite frustrating but his use of clues that yield answers which have a part in 2 different corners rendered it do-able and great fun.

    Completely missed the ARMADILLA gag – brilliant.

    Thank you.

  12. crypticsue says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Puck. Loved the brilliantly hidden armadillo. Any significance in the 31a/8d???

  13. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Loved the 6 x 6,6 clues so neatly spread around the (far easier) 4×3 bullseye. Those,like last in 9,23 were pretty puckish. Not sure about the anagrind in 16d, but it was all good.

  14. Tramp says:

    Thanks Eileen. Super puzzle.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Have been a little too busy to comment lately, but today is a great example of why this site is so brilliant.
    I came on expecting to have various bits of wordplay cleared up — which you did splendidly — and then got the added bonus of
    discovering the curled up armadillo in the centre of the puzzle, which I completely missed. Also missed the fact that 11,28 was
    a hidden and it’s just the sort of clue I love!

    Thanks, Puck, for a wonderful puzzle!

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi liz

    It makes me feel slightly better to know that you missed the same things as I did! 😉

  17. liz says:

    Hi Eileen. Ditto!

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks Puck; brilliant armadillo! [which of course I missed] – see more at Kill The Armadill.

    Thanks Eileen for explaining one or two. I found this quite difficult as I couldn’t get to grips with the NE and SW linked clues for a while. As Puck was born in 1952, perhaps there is some significance to his GRANDADS and GRANDSONS.

    1 didn’t seem to be connected to ‘Dr. Stangler Herodež Š., Assistant Professor, laughter yoga leader’ after all {2nd International Congress of Laughter!}

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Quite an enjoyable exercise with some clever touches.
    The many (6,6)s didn’t add or detract from the whole.
    There has been a rash of grid comments recently on this MB.
    In my many years of solving I had never considered whether these were significant, I am still not sure that they are! It is what is there in front of you and that was the compiler’s choice, just as is everything else in the crossword.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    I am a Grandad and always sign myself thus (as does Robi @18).
    I know that Granddad is given in Chambers but it does look clumsy.

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks Eil;een, Puck et al

    I only got back to the blog now after solving this this morning.

    One of those puzzles where several solutions are more obvious than their ‘parsing’. At the same time the explanations of a couple I missed – hidden ‘talent’ and ‘armadillo’ really enhance the puzzle. The only clue I was not particularly taken by is 22 – a bit heavy I thought.

    I ticked 9,23, 12a, 13,30, 15d (I think we’ve seen this word before. I found it hard to believe until I realised queen was not ER).

  22. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    tupu, I too needed the U from SCRUBLAND to stop trying to put the ER+ anagram together – the only word I was seeing in the fodder was sierra. (I suspect I might not be alone on that particular odyssey.)

    I also have to admit that the anagram in 3,25 was so obvious that I didn’t pay too much attention to the rest of the clue and so didn’t go looking for the Nina.

    I don’t live in RCW’s rather joyless land and thought the whole construction of this crossword, when I came here and had the Nina revealed, a thing of beauty.

  23. tupu says:

    Hi NeilW

    I too contemplated sierra but the only African case I could think of was as the first part of S. Leone. I also kept wondering about safari. An interestingly misleading clue I t5hink.

  24. David Travis says:

    I’m going to start a campaign to have ‘about’ banned as an anagram indicator (16d). Who wants to join me?

  25. Ashley says:

    Graeme Garden (@GraemeGarden1)
    20/04/2012 14:39
    Guardian cryptic crossword: 4,24 down. It’s like getting a Blue Plaque – right?

    The man himself!

  26. William says:

    NeilW @22 lovely comment, my thoughts entirely. Does Nina stand for anything or does it simply refer to something hidden?

  27. Gaufrid says:

    For an explanation of why it’s called a Nina see the FAQ.

  28. Puck says:

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

    William @ 11: I agree that this grid is perhaps a bit unfriendly to solvers in having the four corner areas only linked together via the square of 3-letter lights in the centre. I think however that what makes it a tougher grid to solve than some is the fact that there are twelve 9-letter lights with more than half the letters unchecked and each with an unchecked first letter.

    I like to use the unusual grids from time to time for a change, and to see how I can make them more interesting and solver-friendly. With this puzzle, I stumbled upon the possibility of the centrally curled-up ARMADILLO and couldn’t resist using it. Then the grid considerately gave me the 6-letter lights to accommodate ARMOUR-PLATED. It’s that sort of serendipity that I love about the art of grid-filling. On the other hand, I sometimes struggle to find one of the set of Guardian grids to fit a particular theme and have to lose choice theme-words, somehow adapt the theme or scrap the idea altogether.

    Blaise @ 10: Thanks for the link to the Kipling Just-So Stories. I see he does shorten Armadillo to Armadill in his verse at the end of the story, but my intention was for my ARMADILLO to have his tail dipping into the ALCOHOL.

    David @ 24: A big ‘no’ to that campaign from me. It’s part of my setter’s misdirection kit to have ‘about’ available as anagram indicator as well as container and reversal indicator – and of course it can also be used for ‘c’ or ‘ca’ or ‘re’. I love it just as it is!!

  29. RCWhiting says:

    “I don’t live in RCW’s rather joyless land and thought the whole construction of this crossword, when I came here and had the Nina revealed, a thing of beauty.”
    Please explain how this is related in any way to my comment @ 19.

  30. William says:

    Puck @28 Thank you for dropping in and, yes, I see what you mean – that certainly adds to the difficulty. How did you chance upon your curled-up armadillo? – Not an everyday meeting you’ll agree? I love the fact that his tail is in alcohol!

  31. William says:

    Gaufrid @27 Thank you. Al Herschfeld eh? Would never have guessed that.

  32. apple granny says:

    Thanks Puck and Eileen. Great crossword and blog. We enjoyed the 6×6-6 theme, which must be hard to construct. Luckily for solvers, some of the 9 letter answers were fairly straightforward, so we got a few letters in the 6x6s. We totally missed the armadillo, like many others. Nina is now a new word in my vocabulary – thenks for the advice to look in FAQs, which I had never entered before, and is interesting.

  33. Puck says:

    Eileen, I’ve just spotted your PS from 4.30pm. Many thanks for the kind comments, and no need to be hard on yourself for not visibly locating the armadillo that you had so brilliantly intuited by some other means!

    William @ 30: Well, I didn’t completely stumble on the curled-up alligator by accident. I was intentionally looking for a word that would curl up around the middle of the grid, and then suddenly there it was staring me in the face.

  34. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Eileen, Joyce worked out Thomas Arnold bur not why! Bert noticed the reference in 3d but then forgot to check it later! Thank goodness for 225.

    Thanks Puck for an amusing and ingenious puzzle in a very restricted grid.

  35. tupu says:

    Armadillos, like African pangolins which look superficially similar, are hard to find in the wild. Indeed pangolins are named according to this trait in Swahili and some other African languages e.g. SW. kakakuona – hard to see. Members of both groups roll themselves into a ball when threated so the armadillo seems to be very well chosen by Puck for a curled up, difficult to see nina.

    Thanks Puck for the visit.

  36. Robi says:

    RCW @20; not sure I understand your comment. I’m a grandpa and leave grandads to others.

  37. Robi says:

    …….. sorry, I see what you mean in terms of the spelling……..

  38. RCWhiting says:

    That’s alright, old chap, we grandfathers do have our blind spots now and again. I do, at least that’s what my grandchildren think and tell me.

  39. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Punk, for dropping in @28n and particularly @33. I shall sleep a little easier now – but will continue to kick myself!! 😉

  40. Eileen says:

    Oops! I’m not sure whether my last comment was a typo or a Freudian slip – profuse apologies to both esteemed setters!

  41. nametab says:

    Others have said it all, but the curled-up ARMADILLO (which I missed too), plus its other allusions in the puzzle is simply delightful. Thank you Puck, and lovely to find others who share the admiration.

  42. Paul B says:

    David Travis @ 24: about means, or can mean, ‘active’ (Collins 15), so you’re going to be up against it.

    I really hated your radio show, by the way.

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