Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,669 by Tramp

Posted by PeterO on June 22nd, 2012


I found this quite difficult.

One clue eludes me altogether, and several others I cannot explain completely. Tramp seems to make a point of going for the unusual, and the result (even where I can follow him) strikes me as somewhat forced. Also, note has been made before of creeping commercialism in crosswords; this one is littered with product placements. All told, not the happiest outing for me. As usual, definitions are underlined (but 9A does not quite cooperate)

8. Essentially need to have installed Windows version change to make quicker (8)
EXPEDITE An envelope (‘to have installed’) of XP (‘Windows version’) + EDIT (‘change’) in [n]EE[d] (‘essentially need’).
9. Breadheads spaced out? (6)
LOAVES Double definition: ‘bread’ and ‘heads’, with ‘spaced out’ indicating that the two parts should be separated. My first reaction was “Who put them together in the first place?”, but I learn that a breadhead is a person for whom money is of prime importance. Still, I cannot work up much enthusiasm for the clue.
10. Nearest shop (4)
NEXT Double definition; Next is a chain of stores in the UK.
11. Drug supplier: “Ring private investigator” (with hesitation) “like Coke”? (5,5)
OPIUM POPPY A charade of O (‘ring’) + PI (‘private investigator’) + UM (‘hesitation’) + POPPY (‘like Coke’, soda pop)
12. Sport might get 23 (6)
DIVING In soccer, diving (going to ground to fake an infraction by an opponent) will earn a yellow card (23A) – if the ref spots it.
14. Sport might get 23 (8)
HANDBALL … likewise, a handball (unless you are Maradonna, and the hand was God’s).
15. Coffee bean ground by Nestlé is ascertainable (7)
ARABICA An anagram of ARABICA (the answer) + ‘Nestle’ is ‘ascertainable’.
17. Lines cut care of British actor (7)
COCAINE A charade of CO (‘care of’) + CAINE (Michael, ‘British actor’), with reference to the practice of snorting lines of cocaine.
20. Complete picture — orphans have neither a _____ (8)
PANORAMA The blank is PA NOR A MA.
22. Outline of heads in shower’s killing — film characters in bathroom (6)
SKETCH A charade of SK (‘heads of Shower’s Killing’) + ET (‘film’) + CH (cold and hot taps, ‘characters in bathroom’).
23. Booking weak comedian (6,4)
YELLOW CARD A charade of YELLOW (‘weak’) + CARD (‘comedian’).
24. Le Tissier’s finish? (4)
MATT Matthew Le Tissier was a soccer player for Southampton and England.
25. Fourth’s oddly written down thus: “mattresses“? (6)
FUTONS I do not quite get this: we have FoUrTh’s odd letters, and we have the letters ONS available, but I cannot see how to get them together in the right order. The consensus seems to be that this is the odd letters of FoUrThS, interpreted as FUT on S, with ‘thus’ repeating ‘oddly’.
26. One grips boring bit in good casting (8)
CHUCKING A charade of CHUCK (‘one grips boring bit’ of a drill) + ‘in’ + G (‘good’). The definition is ‘casting’ in the sense of throwing.
1. Morse writer and designer topless outside (8)
EXTERIOR A charade of [d]EXTER (‘Morse writer'; Colin Dexter, crossword enthusiast and creator of Inspector Morse) + [d]IOR (‘designer’) both ‘topless’.
2. In phone box he changes part of broken telephone (4)
KENT An answer hidden (‘part of’) in ‘broKEN Telephone’, for Clark Kent, Superman in mufti.
3. BBC programme’s award for meditation technique (6)
QIGONG A charade of QI (‘BBC program’) + GONG (medal, ‘award’).
4. Joy at knight’s line of advance in black queen’s opening position (7)
DELIGHT The ‘black queen’s opening position’ is D EIGHT (d8 in the standard chess notation), and I take it that L, rather than being just ‘line’, is the shape of a knight’s move (‘line of advance’).
5. Dance company following foxtrot with short, sad number (8)
FLAMENCO A charade of F (‘foxtrot’, Nato phonetic alphabet) + LAME (‘short, sad'; does the ‘short’ indicate LAME[ntable] – which would be very short?) + N (‘number’) + CO (‘company’). NeilW provides the better parsing of LAMEN[t] (‘short, sad number’)
6. It’s sharp to read about taking Greek over Latin (5,5)
RAZOR BLADE A double envelope (‘taking’ and ‘over’) of L (‘Latin’) in ZORBA (‘Greek’, referencing Nikos Kasantzakis’ novel), all in RADE, an anagram (‘about’) of ‘read’.
7. One corresponds on punishment — “clamping” sign on road (3,3)
PEN PAL An envelope (‘clamping’) of P (parking, ‘sign on road’) in PENAL (‘on punishment’).
13. Spread round mob — girl is to provide sandwich and pickles (10)
IMBROGLIOS An anagram (‘spread’) of O (’round’) + ‘mob girl is’. I am not sure of the purpose of ‘to provide sandwich’. An envelope (‘to provide sandwich’) of an anagram (‘spread’) of O (’round’) + ‘mob girl’ in ‘is’. Thanks to NeilW for this correction,
16. Occasionally cars at BMW did skew sideways (8)
CRABWISE Alternate letters (‘occasionally’) of ‘CaRs At BmW dId SkEw’.
18. Skating on thin ice having taken heroin — it’s addictive (8)
NICOTINE An anagram (‘skating’) of ‘on t[h]in ice’. with the H removed (‘having taken heroin’). Here we have a description rather than a definition.
19. Opening sequence of Jaws — a maiden’s attacker is circling Amity Island (7)
JAMAICA Initial letters (‘opening sequence’) of ‘Jaws A Maiden’s Attacker Is Circling Amity’.
21. Long way in 9 (6)
AVENUE Beats me.
22. Start to turn off dim-outs — switch element (6)
SODIUM An anagram (‘switch’) of ‘dim-ou[t]s’ with the T removed (‘start to Turn off’).
24. Shark attack’s case interrupts doctor (4)
MAKO An envelope (‘interrupts’) of AK (‘AttacK‘s case) in MO (‘doctor’).

53 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,669 by Tramp”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Tramp and PeterO. Agree with your degree of difficulty assessment. RE 21d: AVE is in LOAVES at 9ac. I lengthened it to make AVENUE. Maybe there is more to it than that.


  2. JollySwagman says:

    Fantastic puzzle. Those management gurus should use stuff like this to encourage “out of the box” [yuk] thinking.

    Sorry I know you come here to escape all that.

    I’ve been round all the houses on 25a. “Ons” is Dutch for US – “written down” might mean “ON Sale”.

    Eventually I think it’s just FUT on S.

    Thanks for the blog PO – needed you for a couple of others.

  3. sidey says:

    Thank you Peter. I have to agree with the ‘forced’ comment. But Tramp is newish and is trying new stuff like the compound anagram in 15a, a device much more common in barred puzzles.

    I think 25a is FoUrTh’s oddly [written down thus:] = F+U+T written ON [the apostrophe] S. Quite clever, but not quite there I feel.

    9a could be a cheeky comment on the habit of some setters who run words together without indicating that there should be a space.

    Keep it up Tramp, I think there’s potential for brilliance in your cluing.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Peter. I rather think this should have been “something for the weekend.” A real tussle – I can’t remember when I last “reverse engineered” so many clues. Good fun and very clever but I think Tramp probably needs to work a bit on the surfaces which are often a little bumpy

    I agree with the above on AVENUE and FUTONS.

    Tramp likes to do things in spades: it’s a pangram too, which actually did help me get QIGONG at the end since I was looking for the elusive Q.

    In 5, the “short, sad number” I took to be LAMEN(t)

    13: IS sandwiches *OMOBGIRL.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. I got there in the end but it was a slog, and I had exactly your reservations and those above, re 9, 25 and 21, and the surfaces. The bottom half went in quite quickly. I liked RAZOR BLADE, one of the last in.

  6. ArtieFufkin says:

    Thanks Peter and Tramp. I found this hard but definitely worth the effort. Favourite clues were 19d and 15a. The latter is one of the best clues I’ve seen in ages!

    I don’t really care about product placement in crosswords. It bothes me in film and tv, like the blatant Sony and Ford placement in the recent Bond films. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s a brand that’s known to the vast majority of Guardian readers and is used in a clue like 15a, then what’s the issue?

    Also liked the Jaws surface reading on a couple of clues. Very timely given it’s current cinematic re-release.

    Nice work Tramp!

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks PeterO – I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this!

    It was certainly tough going: I found it perhaps Tramp’s toughest yet but I’m lucky enough usually to be sufficiently on his wavelength for the ‘aha’ moments to come, if not thick and fast, at least steadily enough to keep me completely absorbed. I was absolutely determined not to cheat on this, so the satisfaction on finishing it was total – but it’s a good job I didn’t have a busy morning! Bravo once again, Tramp, and many thanks.

    As always, it’s almost impossible to pick out favourite clues but I have to mention 15ac, 20ac, 18dn and 19dn. And just watch this again: and then re-read the whole clue to 22ac – brilliant!

  8. Scylla says:

    This is my first time on this blog and I must admit that I am going to time travel back to Brummie (25646) in which an answer was STRATUM where TUM equated to ‘corporation’. Although I knew the answer had to be stratum I could not find any reference (even using trusty Google) to connect the two words. My isolated life Down Under? I don’t know but would appreciate any input on why TUM = CORPORATION. Thanks.
    PS Many thanx to the contributors on this blog. Has been a help on many occassions.

  9. Andreas61 says:

    Thanks PeterO, I needed you to explain 15a. I found solving this a slog, but the longer I look at the puzzle, the more i like it. At least four references to football, four to films, four addictive substances, lots of interesting cluing devices AND a pangram…Wow! Very often, interest in a puzzle immediately evaporates once you’ve solved it. Not so with Tramp’s. They usually develop their full aroma AFTER solving. Most satisfactory. Thanks a lot!

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi Scylla @8 – welcome to 15²!

    The Brummie was my blog, so here goes: TUM is shurt for ‘tummy’ and one meaning of ‘corporation’ is [Chambers] ‘a belly, esp a pot-belly'; [Collins]: ‘a large paunch’.
    It’s worth filing away because it does come up quite often in crosswords.

  11. ArtieFufkin says:

    Great clip Eileen. Seems apt that Jaws has been given a re-release and Hitchcocks films are being shown by the BFI as part of the Olympic/London festival.

    The shower scene shows the most famous use of chocolate sauce in movie history. Think I’m also correct in saying that Psycho was the first ever film to show a flushing toilet.

    Right. Must get back to work now.

  12. Eileen says:

    Or even ‘short for tummy’. ;-)

  13. rhotician says:

    Sidey @3; You’re right. Tramp is trying.

  14. rhotician says:

    I think 9 is brilliant…despite being an oxymoron.

  15. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I also found this extremely difficult.

    I’m baffled by QI=BBC programme. What’s the connection here?

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi chas

    See here:

  17. PeterO says:

    Thanks to NeilW @4 for the correction to 13D and the better parsing of 45D – I was fixated on ‘number’ being N.

    Chas @ 15 – it seems you missed the hyperlink on QI, so here it is again:

  18. aztobesed says:

    I took 21d to be a simple h.a. using 9 as a further ‘hidden’ part of the clue. Quite clever but ‘in’ as a h.a. indicator is slightly short-changing the solver, especially as 9 itself is a touch whacky. I struggled with this puzzle but it really grows on you when you begin to see where he’s coming from with many of the clues. Some highly original takes dotted about. Tough fun.

  19. Mitz says:

    Thanks all.

    I agree with Peter that this was tough, but not that it was forced. I think Andreas61 at #9 sums Tramp up beautifully – with his puzzles you see more of the setter’s art the more you look at it, even after completion.

    4 was, well, a delight.

  20. aztobesed says:

    Sorry, grandpuzzler, I overlooked your # 1 comment about 9a for some reason.

  21. PeterO says:

    aztobesed – Welcome here from your usual haunt in the Guardian blog.Your comment @18 led me to see the full point of what grandpuzzler said @1: the answer to 9 is LOAVES, ‘in’ which you will find AVE, a common abbreviation, which is, in its ‘long’ form, AVENUE. Makes sense, but “simple” is not the first epithet that springs to my mind for the process.

  22. PeterO says:

    .. in which case the definition is just ‘way’.

  23. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO and Tramp.

    I managed most of this without fully understanding, but 3d eluded me through lack of familiarity with either the programme or the meditation method. It might have helped had I realised, like NeilW@4, that this was a pangram :)

    I think the connection between 21d and 9ac is slightly more complex than has been suggested: the former is the long form of the “way” which, as an abbreviation, forms part of the latter.

    This interpretation also reconciles me with the definition – as far as I know, an avenue is a wide, tree-lined road, but not necessarily a long one.

  24. Stella Heath says:

    Sorry, PeterO, we crossed :)

  25. Tramp says:

    Thanks for the blog PeterO — sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I thought it had some decent ideas, maybe, on reflection, it’s forced in places (FUTONS etc).

    Here’s some comments, for what they’re worth:
    For 9a I wanted to put “Breadheads (when spaced out)”. I think the clue for AVENUE is weak. I like the surfaces decribing the opening to Jaws and Psycho.

    We’ve been on holiday in Northumberland all week and my wireless connection has decided to play up today. Packing the car up now to go home. Have a good weekend.


  26. Robi says:

    Definitely tough; I thought some of the surfaces were a bit clunky (like 11,) but as others have said the puzzle grows on you with time.

    Thanks PeterO; I was thinking that the DELIGHTful clue had a superfluous knight until I read your blog – makes the clue even better!

    I particularly liked ARABICA, PANORAMA and FUTONS, once it had been explained to me. I must remember QIGONG for Scrabble (one more product placement, although I’m not getting paid for it!)

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Never mind the surfaces, this was full of excellent foundations.
    A real struggle with lots of fine clues, many unusual to me.
    I note the historical progress of oddly (or evenly), regular and now ‘occasionally’ (16d) – well done compiler – that keeps us on our toes.
    I thought the ‘yellow card’ and adjuncts were lovely.
    The only one I failed to parse was ‘futons’ but now I have seen sidey’s post I think it was a very good clue.
    Others I enjoyed were 22ac, 19d and 22d. Last in was 1d even though I had spotted Dexter immediately the cunning definition had fooled me.
    Great puzzle.

  28. Tramp says: the way, if you look up BREADHEAD in Chambers it can mean a drug dealer (I think)

  29. crypticsue says:

    I had to fit this in between bursts of work but I did enjoy myself Quite impressed with myself that I remembered the footballer in 24a. Thanks to Tramp and Peter too

  30. Miche says:

    Thanks, PeterO. And thanks, Tramp.

    I did think AVENUE was a bit weak, and I wasn’t crazy about LOAVES. I liked FUT ON S. A good variation of clue types.

    Wouldn’t have been out of place on a Saturday. Took me longer than usual, but I had fun getting there.

  31. PeterO says:


    Thanks for dropping in. There is a world of difference between solving a puzzle and blogging it before I get too tired to think straight (I get the puzzle at 7pm our time), and reflecting on it at leisure the following day. I can only echo Robi’s summation @26.

    I often pay scant attention to surfaces, going straight (or as straight as I can) for the cryptic interpretation. The two film thumbnails were too good to miss, and I might have commented in the blog on 22A; but it is only now that I can savour 8A, for example. In view of this, I am a little surprised at the number of comments focussing on the weaker surfaces.

    Scylla @8 Welcome. Possibly if you had been more persistent with Google you might have found an explanation, although Google can give different results in different times and places. In any case, in my search this morning, somewhere around the 25th entry was a link to The Google entry picks out the appropriate section, about halfway down the page. It is hardly surprising you did not find it.

  32. Berny B says:

    We like a challenge but there were too many unusual devices in the word play – they went far too far for both of us – especially on a Friday with babies bawling in the coffee shop!

  33. chas says:

    I have tried repeatedly to submit this comment. Every time I press ‘Submit Comment’ my broadband breaks down. I will try again!

    Thanks to Eileen and PeterO for clarifying QI.
    Peter: I did miss the link in your blog and I now see it is there.

    The programme QI sounds like one that I would enjoy – if I had not got rid of the TV years ago!

  34. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, PeterO for the necessary blog and Tramp for the puzzle and for dropping in.Hope you enjoyed the beautiful Northumberland countryside and beaches.

    As others have said, a good work-out that would make a good prize puzzle.

    Like RCW @27, I spotted Dexter straight away and Dior but it was a while before I realized that they were both topless!
    Thought the yellow card clues were good.

    Giovanna x

  35. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Tramp

    Like others, I found this hard but (like exercise?) good when it was over :). I understood the DD in ‘loaves’ but missed the ‘spaced out’ idea.

    I got stuck a bit in the SE (nicotine and cocaine were last in) but it fell out in the end.

    I liked the yellow card etc. and thought futons clever. I also liked 2d, 4d and 6d, and 15a which took a long time to become clear.

  36. NeilW says:

    Stella @23, seems like you always miss the pangrams! :) As soon as a Z appears in puzzles from our more devious setters like Tramp or Arachne, I’m looking for the added flourish.

  37. Cosafina says:

    Thanks Tramp and Peter O. I found this really tough (and I did Qigong for years, but still didn’t get 3d, perhaps because I couldn’t get 12a and didn’t spot the pangram).

    I decided there had to be a chess player called Le Tissier, and put in MATE, but then I don’t have a clue about football!

  38. RCWhiting says:

    Matt Le Tissier, the most famous and skilful footballer ever produced by Guernsey!

  39. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO and thanks to Tramp for the puzzle and for dropping in. (I envy you your Northumberland holiday — one of my favourite parts of the world rain or shine :-) )

    I did find this tough, certainly prize-level in terms of difficulty. Missed the pangram (again) and quite a bit of the wordplay. Loved the ‘yellow card’ clues.

    19dn was a gem and 20ac made me smile!

  40. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO and Tramp

    This one was too difficult for me. Long time since I had half a dozen clues that I could make no sense of. I would never have got QIGONG in a month of Sundays.

  41. Paul B says:

    Ah yes, good old Matt Le Tiss: 47 pens scored from 48 taken, the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premiership, utterly brilliant, and more or less neglected by the national team. But, to be fair, they did win all those trophies without MLT. Didn’t they.

    Anyway, if that might have been a puzzle, this certainly was. Nice one Tramp!

  42. Brian Harris says:

    Well, we struggled too, but finished it and found most of the clues enjoyable devious.

    Use of “D-EIGHT” was nice.

    And I personally loved the surface for KENT. Beautifully written clue. Theming was very nice too, with the two references to cheating at football – very topical!

    So thanks, Tramp. Hard, but enjoyed the unusual devices as something of a change. And of course, a pangram to boot.

  43. Brian Harris says:

    That should be enjoyablY devious. Or perhaps even deviously enjoyable. (In a kind of masochistic way, though).

  44. rhotician says:

    The Times today has pirogue – clued as Tartuffe’s craft?
    Didn’t think what I learned yesterday would come in handy so soon.

  45. Dave Ellison says:

    Agree this was hard and with the comments PeterO made. Tramp seems to have got progressively harder for me. I found myself often having the correct answer, but having no idea why.

    Whilst I welcome innovation, I didn’t like the L for knight’s advance; it is more knight’s retreat. I also thought the “sign in road” for P in 7d PENPAL was weak. This was one of the clues I got on first run through but didn’t put it in because I wasn’t convinced I was correct, not being able to parse it.

  46. yogdaws says:

    Really look forward to Tramp puzzles even though I know skewed thinking will be required…

    This was no exception but I ballsed it up by entering LOADED for 9ac. Got it into my head that breadheads are not just money-obsessed folk (which is correct) but also wealthy (‘loaded’) and interpreted ‘spaced out’ as another kind of loaded.

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

    Keep ‘em coming Tramp!

  47. rhotician says:

    The real point of the breadhead clue can be found in Chambers, where someone motivated by money alone is the second meaning given. The first meaning given is a drug dealer who is not an an addict. That is why spaced out is so appropriate.

  48. sidey says:

    chas, QI is available on the BBC’s iplayer quite often You don’t need a licence for this.

  49. PeeDee says:

    Thanks PeterO.

    I really liked this one. I agree with the various comments about the rough edges but I really don’t care about that. There are hundreds of well polished crosswords out there but it is very rare to get one that innovates. Keep it up Tramp!

    It was certainly difficult, took several days to finish completely.

    My favourite was 2dn which made me laugh out loud.

  50. Martin P says:

    A late one because it took me two evenings in the pub to solve :)

    Well worth it, one of the freshest I’ve done.

    Sincere thanks, Tramp.

  51. RCWhiting says:

    See sidey @48 or Dave (Freeview ch19) on almost any evening it seems.

  52. jane says:

    isn’t 9ac loaded -means wealthy and drugged/drunk (spaced out) ?

  53. Huw Powell says:

    I loved this puzzle. Started late (last night, with one solution, KENT) and came back to it on and off all day today. So many odd and interesting clues, a few of which I wasn’t certain of, one I had to use onelook to bust open (IMBROGLIO – embarrassed not to get this simple anagram!), and one of which I sort of guessed at but didn’t research (NEXT – transatlantic incognizance). The QI was easy, the GONG was pushing it, and required research. I starred 9, 4, and 19. I rarely star even ONE clue, let alone three. While 4 and 19 were not so hard, they were so delightful! And 9 came late, but when it did I smiled.

    This puzzle game would get boring if setters didn’t try to add to the canon of how clues work.

    Back to 19. Easy? Yes. But brilliant for the seamless surface.

    Jane @ 52 and Yogdaws @ 46 on 9, very interesting indeed. I think you may very well be right, and it’s a better clue/answer combination. Too bad that LOAVES also works, leaving us in a quandary (though surely by now the “correct” solutions have been online for days?).

    And a pangram to boot? Not that I noticed or care, but it is now part of the lexicon of what setters can try to accomplish. This may explain the interesting range from very easy to very strange in the cluing. OH, and it proves that 9 is LOAVES! Fascinating.

    Come back soon Tramp with your brain twizzlers and PeterO hopefully with a puzzle that hits your groove better.

    PS I only skimmed the comments sorry.

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