Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,718 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on August 25th, 2012


An entertaining and enjoyable Prize puzzle from Paul, with a mixture of straightforward and more complicated clues, with some interesting wordplay. Many thanks for the fun, Paul.


8 Covering back, a politician given to stalling (8)
reversal [back] of LID [covering] + A TORY [a politician]

9,19,20 I am changing plan, spiel being incomprehensible, as people asking for its clarity? (5,7,8)
anagram [being incomprehensible] of I AM CHANGING PLAN SPIEL

11 Last of vile smell behind wind sensor disappearing (10)
E [last letter of vilE] + VANE [wind sensor] + SCENT [smell]

12,14 Party members needing permission to travel without limo, London’s conclusion: Olympic site not for backing (6,3,5)
VISA [permission to travel] round [without] CAR [limo] + N [last letter – conclusion – of londoN + reversal [backing] of STRAT[for]D [Olympic site not for]
I’m not sure whether these fancy-dress parties are exclusively British – here’s an instance of one that turned out unexpectedly – or, rather, not to be one

15,18 Put in meat processor, shame brought on old crone, as busybody (7-8)
TAINT [shame] + WITCH [old crone] in CURER [meat processor]

17 Bishop, say, adding page to report (7)
P [page] + RELATE [report]

22,3 Old car drives, finding mystery man (6,6)
AUSTIN [old car] + POWERS [drives]

23 Film director provides the ultimate in comedy, then everyone’s lumbering about (5,5)
WOODEN [lumbering] round Y [last letter of comedY] + ALL [everyone]
I really liked the play on wood / lumber, wooden / lumbering

24,5 Farmer’s assistant, filthy gossipmonger? (4,8)
double / cryptic definition

25,2 Step on people, passing first of stars — in this competitive exploration? (5,4)
S [first letter of Stars] + PACE [step] + RACE [people]

26 Great Greek, Greek island recoiling at tax (8)
Reversal [recoiling] of COS [Greek island] + RATES [tax]


1 Sweet Irish author interrupting tour, regularly (8)
IR [Irish] + AMIS [as always, take your pick of Kingsley or Martin, author] in [interrupting] alternate letters [regularly] of ToUr

4 Casual habits causing leader in police force to break state up (7)
P [first letter – leader – of Police] + JAM [force] in reversal [up] of SAY [state]

6 Cash rarely jazz y — his genre soul (3,7)
anagram [jazzy] of CASH RARELY

7 Heading off to bed, never once being loose (6)
[b]UNK [heading off {to} bed] + NOT [never once] – or it could be ‘once being loose’, UNKNOT being archaic?

13 An oceanic movement to screen Teletubby before an Australian, say? (10)
AN TIDE [an oceanic movement] round PO  [Teletubby] + AN

16 Topless operatic heroine said to have no top taken off (8)
[m]IMI ‘topless’ operatic heroine of ‘La Bohème’ + [s]TATED [said to have no top]

21 Stimulate a ploy to ensnare love (6)
A RUSE [a ploy] round [to ensnare] O [love]

22 Plant no cost to country importing necklaces, primarily (6)
costA RICA [no cost to country] round [importing] N [first letter – primarily] of Necklaces]

24,10 Mum eats a feast, eating store of food (4,4)
well-hidden [well, it took me a few minutes to see it] in muM EATS A FEast

19 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,718 / Paul”

  1. Boggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen. I agree, an enjoyable puzzle which was not too much of an ordeal. 22,3 was my last and I had made it hard for myself by carelessly reading it as 3,22. I knew 22 had to be Austin but couldn’t come to terms with it. I may be missing something but I can’t quite see the connection between WOODEN and LUMBERING. Is it that something wooden is a product of lumbering or is there a connotation of ungainliness?

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Very enjoyable crossword from Paul except that I failed on 7dn.

    I initially put UNKNOT but then changed to UNKNiT. (I’ve checked the annotated solution and you are right.) Why UNKNiT? “Never once” = NOT seemed fairly weak and why not no = N one = I time = T? Indirect, I know but why not?

    For me UNKNOT is the equivalent of looseN and the clincher for me was Chambers: UNKNOT is not defined directly as “loose” but just “to untie” whereas UNKNiT (adjective) = “loose!”

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Being a 13d it’s an extra struggle to get the homebrand clues like 9,19,20 and 12, 14 but this was not especially difficult, ideal for a Saturday lunch. I liked COSTA RICA most.

  4. molonglo says:

    Well, I mean ARNICA, from that country

  5. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A decent enough run out for a Saturday.
    I was held up early on by reading ‘party members’ as ‘rank and file’ or ‘grass roots’ which, of course, do not fit. I must get out more.
    Last in was ‘imitated’ although it is quite straightforward.
    ‘Unknot’was an early solve which I never reconsidered. The verb ‘unknot’seems a very precise definitionfor ‘loose’.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    I plumped for ‘unknot’ but felt some doubt it and ‘unknit’. I could not see a logic for the latter’s ‘nit’. Like Eileen, I was a bit puzzled by ‘once’.

    Predictably skilful and enjoyable overall. My favopurite clue was 22d.

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi Biggles A @1

    I apologise for my misleading remark re 23ac. There isn’t any ‘play’, on Paul’s part. My initial thought was that the wordplay depended on wood = lumber = timber, then realised that that didn’t work and that it was the metaphorical use of WOODEN [‘heavy, stupid; lacking animation or grace of manner or execution’ – Chambers] and the second entry for the verb to lumber in Chambers: ‘to move heavily and clumsily’, [from a different root, it seems], that we were looking for. So, yes, it’s the ungainliness, rather than the lumberjacking connotation. What I should have said is that I found the two distinct meanings interesting!

    Sorry, Neil @2, I can’t unknot you! I’m still puzzled myself. Once again, I forgot that there’s an annotated solution – but I hadn’t thought of UNKNIT anyway.

  8. PeeDee says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I was hoping for a challenging themed puzzle when I saw it was Paul and there were many double word solutions. In the end it felt a bit of a let-down. A shame, because as people say it is a pleasant puzzle (damned by faint praise?).

    NEVER = ‘not once’ seems pretty clear and unabiguous to me.

    I too liked the wooden/lumbering connection. As well as the roots being different, I wonder if the metaphors are on different grounds too, wooden being stiff and lubering being moving/falling heavily (like a felled tree).

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi PeeDee

    ‘NEVER = ‘not once’ seems pretty clear and unambiguous to me.’

    I agree absolutely – but the clue leads to NOT = ‘never once’!

  10. PeeDee says:

    Sorry Eileen, I meant NOT=’never once’.

    The example that sprang to mind when I was solving the clue was “I have not been to Blackpool” / “I have never once been to Blackpool”.

    I have been to Blackpool many times, so its a bit odd why I would think this anyway.

  11. Eileen says:

    Thanks, PeeDee – yes, that works. In fact, I think I thought along those lines myself last Saturday [it seems a long time ago!] but then thought, “Why ‘once’?”. It works just as well without it. [I didn’t like the ‘to’ either – it’s not the best of clues all round! 😉 ]

  12. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    i enjoyed this puzzle, though I don’t consider it to be one of Paul’s best. His surface readings are usually much better – they’re all over the place in this one.

    Some fun wordplay, nevertheless – but (author) AMIS has become more of a crossword cliché than (Princess) DI.

  13. NeilW says:

    Just to be clear, @2 I wasn’t intending to suggest my reasoning was sound but just illustrating the problem with prize puzzles where you have too much time to reflect on any clue that doesn’t seem quite “right.”

  14. Eileen says:

    I know what you mean, Neil. There is a similar problem with blogging: I do the puzzle on Saturday and like to write the blog straightaway – and then I spend the rest of the week ‘reflecting’ and making amendments to it!

  15. Paul B says:

    ‘Never’ means ‘not ever’ in its most basic form, so the ‘not’ is fine. We then look to Collins under ‘once’, and find that (at 4) it can equate to ‘ever’. Simples.

    Well done shag, btw.

  16. Biggles A says:

    Eileen @ 7. Thanks again and no need for any apology. I’m still not entirely happy though. Even if the adjective ‘heavy’ can be applied to both WOODEN and LUMBERING I doubt that makes them synonymous. Indeed, since WOODEN conveys a sense of immobility (lacking animation!) and since LUMBERING entails movement they can express very different meanings.

    I know this is another quibble but I have a reputation as a pedant to uphold.

  17. PeeDee says:

    Hi Biggles A,

    Wooden and lumbering both indicate an actor is bad. The literal meanings are not synonymous (as you say) but as metaphors they can mean the same thing. Given the context is strongly indicated in the surface reading of the clue, is this not enough to provide a clear unambiguous definition?

  18. Biggles A says:

    Thanks PeeDee. You are right of course and no other answer is possible but I do like to be confident of the reasoning. I wonder if the final clause might not have been better as ‘then everyone lumbers about’ but then I suppose somebody like me would complain about a missing apostrophe.

  19. Paul B says:

    Ah, if only people, or identities, or whatever they should rightly or accurately be called here, would look in a dictionary occasionally. That’s clearly what the compiler has done, as we are able to confirm when we look for and compare the available definitions for WOODEN and LUMBERING in Collins. Gor lumme, there’s no need even to progress to the thesauri. You lot should be strung up by the Congalese.

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