Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25610 by Paul

Posted by bridgesong on April 21st, 2012


This is the second prize puzzle by Paul that has fallen to me to blog in succession, and there are no complaints from me, although I do have a couple of quibbles.  This puzzle featured an animal theme, with every clue (and many solutions) having a reference to an animal of some kind, some very ingeniously.  I am bothered by 2 down (assuming that I’ve got it right), which strikes me as a very weak clue by Pauline standards.

8 Dirty animal having to go off among vile waste (5,3)


9 Incarnation putting a tax on skinned hare (6)

A VAT (h)AR(e)

10 Show off 24 across (4)

Cryptic definition – 24 across is BIRD

11 Study of The Beast done with gloomy cryptic (10)


12 Predatory mammal, paws taking in rivers (6)

RR in FEET (paws).

14 Those tending mules, say — or 24 down? (8)

Cryptic definition, with a nice use of the word “mules” to refer to a type of shoe. 24 down is BULL, which gives another meaning.

15 Caught by bat, hear this, fundamentally (2,5)

Hidden in “bat,hear this”. One of the best-concealed hidden clues I’ve seen for a long time.

17 Cat reserving books by Conservative elder statesman (7)

NT in LION, preceded by C. Presumably the clue refers to Bill, not Hillary.

20 Mongrel can live west of a European city (8)

*(CAN LIVE) west of – i.e. to the left of, A.

22 24 across — pig (6)

Cryptic definition again – both a gannet and a pig are synonmous with greed.

23 Product of a chicken may be blest with food, I suspect (4-6)

*(BLEST FOOD I). “Suspect” was the anagram indicator.

24 Creature’s time in cage (4)

Cryptic definition, referring to a slang term for time in prison.

25 Champion, popular horse (6)

HERO, IN. Horse is an old slang term for heroin.

26 Live more like a savage fox (8)

BE WILDER. Fox is used here in a subtly misleading way.

1 Cow drinking last of lager set off for drinking event (8)

R in BEEF, *SET. The only problem is that this compound doesn’t appear in Chambers; it’s also not in the online version of Collins.  It was the title of a film in 2006.

2 Comment from cat, or setter — something bit me? (4)

ME, OW? I can’t really explain this clue, which seems very weak, especially as “me” appears in the clue, but nothing else fits.

3 Swallow etc, 24 across less black, perhaps (6)

*ETC, (b)IRD.

4 Bear put cat in bag with tail of fish (7)

TOM in SAC, (fis)H.

5 Originally Hurt, obsessively tidy, screening writer’s part for The Elephant Man (8)

H(urt), NIB in ANAL. The reference is to David Lynch’s film in which John Hurt starred. Hannibal famously defeated the Romans by taking elephants over the Alps.

6 Tell 9 bats about sailor getting material on board (5,5)


7 Animal (hound) (6)

Definition and cryptic definition

13 Members may seek this angling equipment — notice fishy on the end (2-8)


16 Animals finding company in fruit, moving right to the surface (8)

CO in ACORNS, with the R moved to the front.

18 Duck close to the sea, a limb short (3-5)


19 Animal, ass eating headless fish (7)

(d)AB in WALLY.

21 Time to support one entertaining very old 24 across (6)

V(ery) O(ld) in ACE, T.

22 Dog now barking, seeing drop (2,4)


24 Animal’s hogwash (4)

Double definition

17 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25610 by Paul”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Paul and bridgesong. Enjoyed this puzzle. Re 2d: ME is the setter and OW is something bit me. Maybe that is what you were saying. Agree that it seems weak.


  2. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I am not sure why you should pick on 2d as being weak.
    Very disappointing for a Saturday puzzle.

  3. sidey says:

    The prize puzzle is a bit easier than it used to be. Good job they are free or there could be something to complain about.

  4. Jim says:

    Kind of screwed myself on this one as I had GUINEA for 22 across. (Guinea Fowl, Guinea Pig), which means I had no hope of getting the Table Linen and in fact most of the top right of the puzzle.

    I often find myself on a different wavelength to Paul. Also failed to fill in AVOCET, even though I knew that’s what it was. Just couldn’t fathom the wordplay. Didn’t think ME-OW was too bad though.

  5. Biggles A says:

    Thanks bridgesong. The reference to John Hurt in 5 went right over my head though I should have been alerted by the capitalisation. Speaking of which, I think ‘statesman’ would have been more appropriately capitalised in 17. In the lower case is it not defined as ‘dead politican’?

  6. Coffee says:

    I also thought this was quite easy for a Saturday, though I did like John Hurt- quite a nice misdirection, had me googling the movie.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Paul

    This suited me well enough since I had a busy Saturday last week and I don’t enter the prize competition. I suspect the odds against winning are far higher than those against solving even the more difficult puzzles (is this the case?), and I don’t see much harm in making them accessible to a wider audience of wannabee winners.

    The puzzle itself was entertaining without being sparkling. I didn’t especially mind meow (simple though it was). I particularly liked 14a, 26a, and 5d.

    I vaguely remember Champion the Wonder Horse (25a) –

  8. bridgesong says:

    I should perhaps explain that my objection to 2 down is two-fold: partly it’s just too simple, but I mainly object to the word “me” appearing in both the clue and the solution, when it would have been relatively easy to construct a clue which didn’t use the word. Grandpuzzler’s parsing of the wordplay is of course correct.

  9. nametab says:

    Whimsical more than challenging Paul. Some nice double meanings and misdirections, but once you got the theme it was straightforward.
    Agree with sentiments of Tupu @7. No harm in having range of difficulty even for prize puzzle. (One from Custos that was several degrees easier than the rest used to crop up about every four weeks).
    I, too, stopped submitting for the competition years back, but it would be interesting to know various statistics.

  10. Robi says:

    Not as entertaining as some of Paul’s, but still enjoyable, although I took some time to see the key BIRD.

    I agree with bridgesong about 2d, which seems to be a rather lazy clue. ‘Painful comment from cat, or setter’ would surely have sufficed and would IMO have been better.

    I did particularly like COBBLERS and BEWILDER. No particular criticism of BEERFEST, which I think is in common parlance.

  11. JoannaM says:

    I too went down the guinea route for 22a for ages. Also had trouble with 17a. Can someone please explain why “reserving books” yields NT? thanks.

  12. Robi says:

    NT=New Testament or ‘books.’

  13. aztobesed says:

    2d? Paul should bear in mind for the future the schoolyard joke about the man who gets back to his flat and finds he’s locked himself out. Peering through the letter box he sees the cat on the stairs and tries to get the cat to open the latch from the inside – to which the cat replies “Me? ‘ow?”

    Though this might have been difficult to phrase in a clue and may well have been even more objectionable.

  14. JoannaM says:

    Many thanks Robi. I was having a senior moment, I fear.

  15. Andy D says:

    Enjoyed this one, but then I usually enjoy Paul’s puzzles. I like the type of theme where you’ve no temptation/need to search through lists online looking for possible answers. I didn’t get 24A for some time but that wasn’t a great hindrance.

    Last in 19D and 14A. Favourites 5D 23A 17A 6D.

    Prize puzzles seem to me to be rarely the most difficult of the week.

  16. apple granny says:

    This was fun, but rather too easy for Paul and the weekend prize. But no complaints – more time for gardening and other things. I thought “Meow” was OK – quite amusing really. I like the schoolyard joke too, aztobesed @13. It’s some time since we submitted prize puzzles. Over the years we have won a Chambers, a Collins and a Thesaurus from Guardian or Observer. All are now very tatty, and need replacing/updating, but the Guardian prizes don’t seem so useful at present.

  17. bruce_aus says:

    Thanks all

    Agree that this was an easier version of Paul, especially for a Saturday Prize! Notwithstanding, it was an enjoyable solve with some standout clues – 26a,5d and 14a. Wasn’t able to parse 8a for some reason … so thanks for the help with that bridesong.

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