Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,663 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on June 15th, 2012


I found this a bit of a struggle, but richly rewarding – Paul at his best and worthy of a Prize puzzle. There are some real gems here, in a cleverly-woven mini-theme – or themes. No more to be said, really, except many thanks, Paul, for a very satisfying work-out.


1   IMPLANT: I + PLAN [intend] in MT [mount]
5   ARAPAHO: reversal [will retreat] of OH [I’m surprised] + A PARA [a soldier] for this tribe of braves
10 ANNE: ANNE[x]: to attach, ‘detailed’
11  SPOONERISM: for ‘read a book’, Dr Spooner might say, ‘bed a rook’ [take a bird upstairs]: regular readers will know that I’m not keen on Spoonerisms but I loved this one – brilliant!
12  ARTHUR: R [king] after A + THUR[sday]
13  DIOCESAN: anagram [after conversion] of IS DEACON – diocesan as a noun here
14  CHECKMATE: sounds like ‘Czech mate’, ‘ally in Havel’, the Czech writer and politician: definition: [in chess] ‘there’s no more moving’
16  QUEEN: there are four queens in a pack of cards – but there must be more to it than that?
17  CHEAT: E [last letter – ultimately – of larvaE] in CHAT [bird] : the second appearance of ‘rook’, with a different meaning
18  SOVEREIGN: SIGN [clue] round [concealing] OVER [complete] and E [last letter [in conclusion] of liE
23  SMALLISH: SMASH [accident] round [nursing]  reversal [back] of ILL [bad]
24  CASTLE: I think this is cattle [herd] with the third letter changed to the one before it in the alphabet: the third meaning of rook and another reference to chess
26  VIETNAMESE: VIET [soVIET [government council ‘not so’] + NAME’S [title’s] + E [English]
27  OCHE: hidden in nO CHeap – the line behind which darts players stand
28  MEANDER: ME AND ER – which could, of course, be read as ME AND ‘ER or ‘The Queen and I’, as Sue Townsend called her book. I thought this was quite wonderful! [It reminded me, of course, of Araucaria’s ‘Royal couple are flirting’ for PHILANDER’]
29  TESTUDO: TEST [trial] + jUDO [Japanese fighting]: please forgive the spelling and punctuation in this link [I don’t know where it comes from] but the picture’s good – and I love the last sentence!


2   MONARCH: ON [leg, in cricket – for once, I remembered] in MARCH [walk]
3   LEECH: reversal [comes up] of C [cold] EEL [fish] + H [hot] – leech = sponge as a noun or verb
4   NOSTRUM: S [first letter – initially – of Sucker] in [swallowed] NO RUM [anything but alcohol]
6   RANDOM: RAND [money] + OM [Order of Merit]
7   PERSECUTE: PER SE [intrinsically]  + CUTE [charming]
8   HOSTAGE: STAG [male only] in [entertained by] HOE [tool]
9   GOODY TWO SHOES: anagram [out] of WHO STOOD round [biting] Y [last letter – bottom – of boY]  in [during] GOES [functions] for this prude – a typically amusing surface from Paul
15  CHARLATAN: CHARL [CHARLes – king for the most part] + A TAN [a shade]
18  HEMLINE: HEME [tHEME – subject minus the first letter {opener dismissed}] round [bagging] reversal [on the rise] of NIL [duck]
20  EXCRETE: EX [old] + CRETE [island] – definition: ‘pass’. Typical Paul again!
21  GALAHAD: GALA [competition] + HAD [cheated – answer to 17ac]
22  PIRATE: PI [good] + RATE [price]: PI = good sometimes raises a query: it’s an abbreviation of ‘pious’, now listed in Chambers as a word in its own right; in the main = at sea
25  SHORT: triple definition, neatly concluding the mini-theme[s] of chess, royalty and rooks. The chess player is Nigel Short

41 Responses to “Guardian 25,663 / Paul”

  1. greyfox says:

    16 ac. It’s ‘Queen’ the group eileen.

    A superb offering from Paul.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Wonderful stuff, both puzzle and blog. :)

    Tiny point: you’re missing an A in 5.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, greyfox, of course it is! [But I didn’t think they were called groups any more?]

    And thanks, Neil – corrected now.

  4. Barry McNorton says:

    Re: 16ac – Queen is (or was) the name of a group

  5. greyfox says:

    Chambers has ‘a pop group’ for ‘group’.

    Forgetting my manners – a customarily fine blog too Eileen.

  6. Paul says:

    Thanks all – just disappointed that ‘testudo’ couldn’t have been Sicilian defence, rather than ‘Roman’… thought this was pushing it.

    Have a great weekend.


  7. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Paul: you wouldn’t have got away with that one – a great pity, but you can’t have everything. Thanks again.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    An excellent testing puzzle with lots of relief as pennies eventually dropped.

    Enjoyable theme and variations as Eileen says.

    I ticked 11a, 26a, 7d, 9d, 18d from among many fine clues.

    Thanks Eileen for the reminder re 28a. I thought I’d seen something similar before. My only slight worry about this clue was the apparent separateness of the definition from the rest of the surface (am I missing something there?).

  9. tupu says:

    re 5a – an ethnographic footnote

    I remembered, on solving this, that the Arapaho were one of a number of Native American peoples who recognised an institutionalised and respected ‘third gender’ group of men (commonly spoken of in the literature as Berdache) who typically performed tasks normally allotted to women, such as basket-making, rather than more typical male hunting and warrior roles. However, it seems that some of them may also have involved themselves in such activities at least to some degree.

  10. rhotician says:

    tupu @8: I think in the surface reading ‘wind’ rhymes with ‘sinned’, as opposed rhyming with ‘find’ in the definition.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I agree that this would have made a good Prize puzzle — I needed the check button rather too often for my liking! 18dn was the first one I got and I finished in the NE corner. ARAPAHO was new to me. Although I struggled a fair bit, I did manage to see the wordplay in all cases — once I got there!

    Thanks, Paul, for a Friday challenge!

  12. John Appleton says:

    Struggle for me too – Cheers Eileen.

  13. crypticsue says:

    Definitely at the challenging end of the Paul spectrum but with all the usual entertainment. Thanks to him for making me work hard (when I should have been working hard!) and to Eileen for the blog.

  14. tupu says:

    Hi rhotician @10

    Thanks. I realise that, but I am still unclear about the connection to the rest of the surface. The clue seems simply to fall into two unrelated parts – construction and definition, whereas others, e.g. 13a and 23a have a unified surface that makes (some imaginable) sense as a whole. Am I missing a connection between ‘wind’ (pronounced ‘winned’) and Prince P. (e.g Wind(sor)) or am I simply asking too much?

  15. Robi says:

    I liked the chess and royalty themes; excellent but difficult puzzle.

    I got to the second meaning of PIRATE via ‘getting good price’ as in pirate DVD’s etc. (I think I may have made a similar comment before when I missed the PI=good)

    tupu @14; apart from the obvious wind=MEANDER, I took a reference to PP’s blunders in the sense of ’empty, insignificant words.’ [Chambers]

    Thanks Eileen; I failed to parse PERSECUTE. I liked the SPOONERISM.

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks Robi

    Just about, I suppose.

  17. Paul B says:

    That’s what it’s intended to mean tupu: that the old boy is a possibly bit of a blatherer. Usage of wind in the surface is not the same as in the cryptic reading, so that’s the clever bit. In an otherwise very clever puzzle, I think, one I enjoyed immensely.

    Bravo, Mr Naughty!

  18. Bertandjoyce says:

    We don’t quite know why but this didn’t grab us as much as we had expected. We’re not sure why as there were some smiley moments (28ac) and some clever clueing. Was it because we found it a struggle? The theme took quite a while for example to sort out but that hasn’t influenced us before in appreciating a good puzzle. Perhaps it would have been better as a prize one. Whatever – it certainly got the grey matter stirring which is partly why we are hooked on crosswords!

    Thanks anyway Paul – we’re still kooking forward to your next one!

    Thanks also to Eileen – not long to Bastille Day!

  19. tupu says:

    Hi Paul B

    Thanks. If you say so. The thought had vaguely crossed my mind, and while I may sympathise with it, it still doesn’t seem very clear or clever to me.
    I must confess I can’t immediately see a better way of using me + and + ER to make ‘meander’ (which is clear and clever and funny) but I see it as a very good idea that stalled.

    It will be clear from 8 that I also greatly admire the rest of the puzzle.

  20. Trailman says:

    Absolutely dazzling, and a fine example of Paul’s skills, but very hard work, needing several visits and a fair bit of checking. SE corner particularly challenging I found; too much time convinced that 20d was an island ending in O for old, hence the Roman at 29 must be Romulus, is there a martial art (beheaded) that fits. And the chess player must be Tal …

  21. kenj says:

    Too difficult for 90% of readers I’d say

  22. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul for a brilliant puzzle.

    Took me a long time to complete with so many difficult clues. Liked ARAPAHO, CHECKMATE and VIETNAMESE but SPOONERISM was last in as it took me quite a while to see it.

  23. Mick H says:

    Marvellous – esp MEANDER, SPOONERISM and EXCRETE. A tough endgame though.

  24. rhotician says:

    Re 16a – queen. Is ‘group’ doing double duty?

  25. Paul B says:

    Don’t think so. Queen = one of the four queens in a standard pack.

  26. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul for a terrific puzzle with lots of laughs – and Eileen, as ever. I enjoyed the links.

    I don’t like spoonerisms, either but this was a cracker @ 11a.

    5a was a change from the apache or the sioux and I managed to dredge it up from memories of old westerns. All gettable from the clueing anyway.

    A great start to the weekend.

    Giovanna xx

  27. Eileen says:

    Comment from Paul on the Guardian website this morning:

    “Funny thing, I considered this one of the dullest puzzles of mine for a long time!”

    I’ve been trying all day to think of a witty response – over to you!

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I thought this was a belter. The NE corner gave me plenty of food for thought and I never did parse ‘Spoonerism'; I couldn’t believe it was as rude as I thought.(spoon her upstairs?).

    rho@24 Yes, Queen is a rock group (Freddy Mercury etc).

    kenj @21 What exactly does that mean? You could say suitably challenging for 90%.

    Last in was 8d and among many favourites were 24ac and 21d.

    This and last Saturday’s are starting to change my view of this compiler.

  29. claire says:

    Loved this. I cannot think of a better way to end the week’s toil than with a Friday evening pint and a puzzle of this calibre. There was some hard slog and plenty of ah-ha’s (followed by more hard slog to work out why it was what it was), but it completely refreshed my brain. I hope tomorrow’s prize puzzle can at least match this.

  30. dtd says:

    I have to thank my love of the Ian Dury song (Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick) for Arapaho eventually popping into my head. First two in, albeit tentatively were Queen (do I remember another puzzle that suggested they were a favourite of Paul’s) and Castle, because I had spotted their absence from the chess set. A hugely satisfying solve – thanks Paul!

  31. dtd says:

    Any grammatical errors above were alcohol-induced, or so I’m claiming.

  32. Thomas99 says:

    rhotician @24-
    No, “group” isn’t doing double duty. It refers to Queen as a pop group, not to the queen as a card. The clue’s a double definition; One of four cards = Queen and group = Queen. It took me a long time to solve, but it’s a conventionally constructed clue.

  33. rhotician says:

    Paul, Eileen, PaulB @25, RCW @28 and Thomas99 @32:

    I began by solving 1ac which told me that 2dn began with M. I then, without really looking at 16, decided that the rest of the 2dn clue could only lead to ‘monarch’ for which the solution to 16 must be the definition. Sure enough ‘queen’ fitted the bill. The clue at 16 was therefore a simple Cryptic Definition, albeit, how shall I say, a bit feeble. Proceeding slowly and unsurely I completed the puzzle.

    Turning to the blog I was gratified to see that the estimable Eileen seemed to agree about 16. “But there must be more to it than that” she said. Then looking at QUEEN on the screen the penny dropped. I scrolled forward to make a comment only to find that some foxy person had beaten me to it by some way.

    Later it occurred to me that if I thought that 16 as a simple CD was a bit feeble then without ‘in a group’ it just couldn’t stand up. Hence my suggestion that ‘group’ might be doing double duty (as the definition and as part of the CD).

    Clearly my three respondents don’t agree and I assume that Paul would deny it. Fair enough.

    I agree with everyone on the general excellence of the puzzle. 11ac is superb. A definition by example and a CD, both very witty.

  34. AndrewC says:

    Maybe my brain wasn’t working but I was one of the 90%

  35. MikeC says:

    I came late to this one. Very little success on first visit but made rapid headway second time around. An excellent puzzle, ingenious and amusing: thanks to both Paul and Eileen.

  36. r_c_a_d says:

    Great puzzle. I don’t often venture into the midweek crosswords but I might start doing the Friday ones now instead of the Saturdays (which have been a bit dull recently).

  37. Bodgel says:

    Definitely one of the 90% on this one – I got stuck at 11 right and one wrong (too embarassing to give details since it wasn’t even spelt correctly, but it certainly didn’t help with the rest). But I don’t think it’s just defensiveness that leads me to point out that a prude is someone who disapproves of someone else’s behaviour, while a goody two shoes is someone who seeks approval by his or her own behaviour. About as close in meaning as day and night, in fact?

  38. Bodgel says:

    I see I have embarRassed myself further.

  39. Jackie Holt says:

    Bodgel, that was my understanding of prude too, but –

    – has the form used in the crossword as the first definition!

    I’m really glad to have found this blog as I could not work out the reason for 11a (Spoonerism), despite much head-scratching. Thanks Eileen for supplying the (hilarious!) answer.

    And thanks too to Paul for creating a such a superb puzzle, I was thrilled to have completed it. It wasn’t exactly a quick solve, but I enjoyed it immensely.

  40. Bodgel says:

    Jackie, you’re right! And my old Chambers agrees with you. One of those wandering words, I suppose.

    A belated thanks to Eileen and all for explaining some fiendish cluing.

  41. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul and Eileen

    Didn’t start this one to mid July and it took quite a few sittings to finally get it out. Spent another week trying to work out why SPOONERISM fitted and finally gave up and came here to find out – hilarious !!

    What a brilliant puzzle for a Friday and whilst seeing the royalty theme did not twig on to the chess one as much.

    Great fun.

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