Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25,730 by Picaroon

Posted by bridgesong on September 8th, 2012


The first puzzle by Picaroon that I’ve seen in the prize slot, and the first one of his (hers?) that I’ve had the pleasure to blog.   I had previously encountered one of this setter’s puzzles as Picaroon was also responsible for August’s Genius puzzle. Some really lovely surfaces here and although it took me a while to get started, there were many pleasures along the way.

Hover mouse over clue number to read clues.

1 FRIEDRICH ENGELS RICH in *(RED FEELINGS).  A quite brilliant & lit (Engels was independently wealthy, but assisted Marx in writing The Communist Manifesto).
9 REGALIA A1 LAGER all reversed.
10 PASTIME EMIT SAP reversed.  Thanks to Timon for helping me parse this one.
11 DUO Sounds like “due” O.
12 DECOLLETAGE CO in DELL, EG ATE (rev).  This use of “ate” to mean “worried”, is sanctioned by Chambers.
13 CONTRABASS CONTRABA(nd)S(uspiciou)S.  It’s another name for a double bass.  Another lovely surface.
15 HESS HE SS.  Rudolf Hess was the leading Nazi who flew to Scotland in 1941in a vain attempt to negotiate a peace between Germany and Britain.
18 SODA ADO S(on) reversed.
20 BIG SOCIETY *(BY EGOISTIC).  A reference to Prime Minister Cameron’s “big idea”.
23 RESTORATIVE TAR (Territorial Army Reserve) O(ther) TA OR reversed in RESTIVE.
25 OBI 0 BI.  This may be a reference to the Japanese word for a sash or band, although Wikipedia also has a reference to a British indie band of the same name.
26 CROUTON ROUT in CON.  A simple clue, but it defeated me for longer than I care to admit.
28 PITHECANTHROPUS *(CHAPTER HOTS UP IN).  Described in Chambers as a former genus of primitive man.
1 FOREDECKS Sounds like “four decks” (of cards).
3 DELUDERS ELUDE in DRS.  I’m not entirely happy with “fudge” being used to mean “elude” but I can see why Picaroon was tempted to use it in the context of the clue.
4 ISAAC ISA A C.  An ISA is an Individual Savings Account, but why is C “designated”?  In Genesis, Isaac is selected as a sacrificial victim by his father Abraham, but is saved by the intervention of an angel.
5 HIP FLASKS HIP, L in F ASKS.  Another lovely surface.
6 NOSHED NO SHED.  The last one in for me.
7 EMIRATE EMI RATE.  EMI was an iconic name in the British recording industry.
14 BRITANNIA B *(IN A TRAIN).  A reference to the anthem “Rule Britannia”.
17 SCREAMER S(un) CREAM (h)ER.  Apparently a screamer can mean a sensational headline, so this ranks as an & lit.
21 EGO TRIP *GOITRE + P(icaroon).  Yet another lovely clue.
22 GOITRE GO (IT) RE.  Appeal here is used to refer to sex appeal or “it”.
23 RECAP RE (Royal Engineers) CAP.
24 IDIOT D 10 in IT.


58 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25,730 by Picaroon”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong. A real prize, this one!

    I think that 23 is RESTIVE around OR (Other Ranks) + TA (Territorial Army) reversed.

  2. Biggles A says:

    I think this is the first I have tackled from Picaroon (rogue, vagabond, corsair, pirate?) too. I found this a good, fair and enjoyable test even if some clues (4, 12, 21) rather stretched the imagination. If I were a more sensitive soul I might bridle at 24; I for one needed computer technology to comprehend all of it.

    In 23 I think the soldiers are OR (other ranks) and TA (Territorial Army).

  3. NeilW says:

    ISAAC is just ISA A/C – a common use tautology: an ISA account.

  4. NeilW says:

    22 and 24 are both &lit. A total of three, including 1ac, for the puzzle – excellent.

  5. Biggles A says:

    Why DESIGNATED then?

  6. NeilW says:

    Sorry – four, including HESS as well.

  7. NeilW says:

    Hi Biggles A @5. Designated is just part of the def. Isaac was originally designated but, ultimately, wasn’t actually the victim.

  8. Biggles A says:

    Thanks NeilW. Yes, I can now see he did not actually become a victim.

  9. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This deserves the title ‘Prize Puzzle’.
    It was a solid struggle, especially the top half.
    I thought 11ac was a brilliant clue,especially for a three-letter word.
    I missed the parsing of ‘Isaac’ but now I rate it highly.

  10. rhotician says:

    I thought 11ac was a brilliant clue,especially for a three-letter word.

  11. rhotician says:

    NeilW and the four &lits – I assume you mean 21 rather than 22.

    ENGELS, as birdsong says, is quite brilliant.

    IDIOT is a bit semi. I think ‘one’ could be removed.

    EGOTRIP is extraordinary. It’s not a straight definition, but a definition by example. I would call it a meta-&lit but there would be no point because I can’t imagine it’s like occurring again. Very clever.

  12. NeilW says:

    rhotician @11, yes, you’re right that I meant 21.

    By the way, since Araucaria today is fairly straightforward, for those who solve online, today’s (last week’s in the paper) Indy prize is Tramp’s alter ego Jambazi – well worth a look, although not his best.

  13. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Picaroon and bridesong
    Found this a challenge that took several sessions to get it out and parsed. Find this setter very innovative with well constructed and in depth clues. Last in was 12 which was a word that I was not familiar with – but when parsed was beautifully crafted with a clever and “diverting” surface.
    Bravo Picaroon

  14. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong, and Picaroon. Only quibble is setter=shed yet again, an issue given a full airing only yesterday – but Picaroon’s is a deft use. I struggled with 28a, reckoning at once that the anagram must begin with anthro- and not knowing the correct answer: reluctant resort to reference material. IDIOT, aha.

  15. bridgesong says:

    Thanks all for your comments. I’ve corrected 23 to reflect Neil W’s (correct) parsing. Thanks to Neil also for his explanation of the C in ISAAC.

  16. Gervase says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.

    Wonderful puzzle from Picaroon, with some cracking clues. Favourites were 1ac (splendid &lit, which took me quite a while), 11ac (as RCW says, a great clue for a 3-letter word), 12ac (!). I was sure that the first word of 5dn was ICE, then I spotted FLASKS and became doubtful – the crossing P brought HIP and a guffaw.

    Last in for me was ISAAC. I agree that this is ISA + A/C = ‘designated victim’. Clever construction, but tautologous: ISA is ‘Individual Savings Account’, so ISA AC is ‘Individual Savings Account Account’ (cf ‘PIN number’!)

  17. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Picaroon

    A fine, inventive puzzle. I particularly liked 1a, 11a, 28a, 2d, and 4d.

    Isaac was designated by God to be Abraham’s sacrificial victim but sn sngel let him off the hook.

    Thanks Gervase re the tautology and the similarity to Pin number. I had not noticed this but it is common usage – one is always being asked by Bank staff whether one has an ISA account.

  18. Paul B says:

    I think some of you are being a bit generous with the &lit tag. If Engels was himself rich, why would he have his feelings stirred up about possessing wealth? I still like it, and for sure it is intended as &lit, but I suppose it ought really to be factually correct too.

    HE/ SS also is intended as &lit, but while the clue inexorably leads to the one man (who joined in 1934), in fact thousands of men enrolled in the SS. So again, for me the whole-clue-as-def doesn’t really do enough.

    The others mentioned I can’t see as &lits, so no comment on those, while top clue, sitting there quietly, was C(ROUT)ON: misleading def, tightly clued, what more could you want? A belter.

  19. NeilW says:

    Paul B, reluctantly… I’m not sure that just because a definition is loose, that makes it any less the definition in the clue.

    On reflection, I agree with you, though, that IDIOT isn’t an &lit as the “one needing” isn’t used in the wordplay and I’m with rhotician @11 on EGO TRIP (although the annotated solution says it’s &lit!)

  20. rrc says:

    At the end of 45 minutes I had managed three answers 28, 14 and 23, after a break 13 and then 5, then the crossword opened up. Very precise clueing an enjoyable struggle

  21. sidey says:

    Nice to have a decent challenge on a weekend for a change.

  22. Giles says:

    Indeed a challenge. As a bridge playing sailor, I thought FOREDECKS escellent. Where does the RE in Goitre come from? I had GO for TRY then IT for appeal

  23. Thomas99 says:

    Paul B –
    Not again!
    “If Engels was himself rich, why would he have his feelings stirred up about possessing wealth?”
    Er, because he was Friedrich Engels?? Surely the two things everyone knows about Engels are a) he was incredibly rich and b) his entire career was devoted to the analysis of the possession of wealth (another way of saying “Capital”). With the exception of Marx he was probably more obviously excercised about this than anyone in history. The clue of course works as an &lit without the allusion to Engels’ personal wealth, but that surely adds to it.

    Re Hess, just as you wouldn’t dream of complaining about “Actor” as a crossword clue definition of Al Pacino, you can’t very persuasively do so about “Man joining Nazis” for Hess. “Nazi” on its own would be a bit clearer, so if anything the definition does a bit much, not too little. But either way it’s clear that the whole clue is the definition and also the wordplay so it’s a full &lit.

    Idiot is a partial &lit – the whole clue defines the answer, but the wordplay doesn’t use one of the words.

    You seem to write as if there is something subtle about deciding whether a clue is an & lit or not but there really isn’t. It just means that the definition is the whole clue. You keep getting it wrong.

  24. rhotician says:

    Paul B, I can’t agree.

    Just because ENGELS was rich doesn’t mean he couldn’t have feelings about wealth. On the contrary he seems to have expressed his feelings quite strongly in his writings.

    As for HESS and thousands of others, “plant” adequately (if annoyingly) defines thousands of things.

    I have said, like Gervase, that “one” doesn’t contribute to the wordplay for IDIOT and could be removed. “needing” is often used as a link or introduction to wordplay and does need to be retained.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Thomas,take care, doubting the expert ……..

  26. rhotician says:

    Bloody hell, Thomas. Give me a chance. I’ll have to put this crossing down to my poor keyboard skills and your hot-headedness. (No offence meant.)

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Giles @22
    The ‘re’ is touching. As in ‘with reference to’, touching upon that subject.

  28. Giles says:

    Thanks to RCWhiting for explaining (comments 22 and 27) – still seems pretty tenuous to me but at least I now know!

  29. DuncT says:

    Really enjoyed this one. Has anyone come across “Dives” being used to clue a rich man before? It was new to me, despite knowing of the parable it comes from.

    Thanks to all on the blog – I’ve been reading it regularly for some time now, though this is my first post.

  30. bridgesong says:

    DuncT @ 29: welcome to the site and thanks for your comment. I have come across Dives in this sense fairly recently – I think it was in an Azed puzzle.

  31. Paul B says:

    If those ‘&lits’ are good enough for you Thomas99, then so mote it be: you can have it just the way you like it, and with a cherry on the top. Nevertheless, I invite you, and anyone else who wishes to study the practice in question, to familiarise yourself with some of the &lits I (and, perhaps more importantly) others think are really good at this page:

    You may still prefer to disagree with me – I couldn’t care less to be honest! – but at least you’ll have had some fun, and hopefully you’ll have been impressed. I’m off now for a few pints and a gig, but I leave you with this, plucked at random:

    Item gran arranged family slides in? (5,7)

    As you’ll see, the definition here is unarguably good: no debate.


  32. NeilW says:

    DuncT @29, Dives was on these pages only recently – funnily enough the blogger was none other than bridgesong! Araucaria’s prize no 25,682, which was themed on the biblical saying about the rich man entering the Kingdom of Heaven.

  33. otter says:

    Hi, and thanks bridgesong for the blog (haven’t been here for a while, so haven’t met you before).

    I’m certain that 25 is a reference to the Japanese word ‘obi’ for a sash (or band, eg the paper band wrapped around Japanese LPs). I’m not certain though where the ‘bi’ comes from – my best guess is that AC/DC was known as ‘bi-current’ or something similar – can someone confirm for someone who’s to young to have been around in those days?

    Also, I still don’t understand 19d (DISTORT) from the parsing in the blog. Apart from ‘TORT’ for ‘wrong’, I can’t see what relation the clue has to the solution. Would be grateful for some clarification.

    Not sure whether I’ve come across Picaroon before. Suspect I have once or twice, can’t remember what the previous puzzles were like but this one defeated me with only about half the clues solved. No complaints in that – apart from a possible couple of loose definitions, but that’s OK in a trickier puzzle. 1a was a corker of an &lit, and too clever by half for me. (I’d forgotten that Engels was wealthy, and probably wouldn’t have got it in any case, although I assumed ‘RICH’ at the end of the first word and was playing with the anagram.

  34. otter says:

    Um, I’m not sure why there’s an argument about &lits. My understanding is that an &lit is a clue in which there is no separate definition: the entirety of the clue is both the wordplay and the definition. Thus in 1a, Engels was a ‘red’ whose feelings were stirred up about possessing wealth, the wordplay is anag (RED FEELINGS) around RICH (possessing wealth), Hess was a man who joined the Nazis, while the wordplay is HE (man) joining SS (Nazis), and so on. These are therefore good &lit clues, as far as I’m concerned.

  35. bridgesong says:

    Otter @ 34, thanks for your contribution. I think that AC/DC is or used to be slang for bi-sexual (Chambers confirms this). In 34 DIS is also explained in Chambers as a name for the god Pluto, hence the infernal underworld or hell.

    I’m staying out of the &lit argument, but, as I said in the blog, 1 across is an excellent one in my opinion.

  36. RCWhiting says:

    There is a famous heavy metal group known as AC/DC.
    Were they displaying their sexuality or describing their electric instruments: or both?

  37. Mary says:

    What does &lit mean?

    Finished it after hours & hours & the only thing I could see the reason for was re in goitre.

    Thanks to RCWhiting for telling me.

  38. nmsindy says:

    &lit means “and literally” ie the clue as a whole defines the answer.

  39. rhotician says:

    Otter, in case RCW was not explicit enough for you, AC/DC is slang for bisexual. It’s in Chambers, and others no doubt.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Perhaps, we should stop talking about &lits and change the subject.
    Let’s talk about Picaroon.
    After only four dailies (the one on March 16 was his, I guess, “first ever”) he, I guess, was given the Saturday spot. Plus a recent Genius. The editor must love his work. And, if so, I can see why – a style of cluing that appeals very much to me (and others at 15^2, eg Bridgesong (thx!), too).

    Whether you call some of them &lits or not, 1ac, 11ac and 26ac are just three of those superclues that lift a crossword to a higher level. While I am not fully convinced by the definition-by-example of EGO TRIP (21d), I like the playfulness and imagination of this clue. IDIOT (24d) and 19d (DISTORT) belong in the same category (to be clear, no complaints about the definitions here).

    Picaroon’s a setter whose style reminds me of the elegance of, say, Dac and Neo/Tees, and may perhaps be called a shooting star not unlike Tramp.
    His, I guess, crosswords are clearly the work of someone with past experience, so perhaps he, I guess, is fooling us (perhaps already being around in a another disguise).

    Enough about Picaroon now, let’s talk about &lits ….. :)

  41. rhotician says:

    Paul B, Thanks for the link. Most interesting.

    My visit revealed at once that your example of an &lit was not “plucked at random”. The name of the author and the award of first prize suggested otherwise. This was confirmed when a quick scan of some other clues showed that, for reasons of brevity, the designation of the “tag” needed to be generously bestowed. I found among the true &lits several semis and quite a few that could really only be said to be &litish. Of course all the clues were meritorious, usually in more than one way.

    The language and tone of your remarks I did not find helpful. Any more than your original criticism of our generosity and, by implication, of Picaroon’s clues. You are just wrong about HESS and ENGELS.

    I was rather hoping that the young rogue would respond in person. He usually does.

    By the way, it could be argued that most slide storage facilities would have been separate from the MAGIC LANTERN itself. However I would not wish to do so. The clue is undeniably brilliant. As is Picaroon’s for ENGELS.

    Thanks again for the link. I’ve bookmarked it.

  42. RCWhiting says:

    rho @39
    See @35.

  43. rhotician says:

    You know, when I saw your moniker on 36 I was so eager to read it that I just passed over 35. Careless of me.

  44. rhotician says:

    And apologies to birdsong. And belated thanks for the blog.

  45. Paul B says:

    Please stop pretending to be more than one person, there’s a good chap.

  46. ToniL says:

    optician @44


  47. ToniL says:

    bridgesong @30

    ‘Dives’ was in a Prize, only a couple of months ago.

    The Araucaria one about Camels, The Kingdom of Heaven and ‘Rich Man’.

    (you blogged it!!)

  48. NeilW says:

    ToniL, see my comment @32.

  49. Picaroon says:

    Greetings all,

    Thanks, Bridgesong, for the really thorough blog, and to everyone dropping in to comment (particularly DuncT – we need some new blood here!)

    I can’t see any meaningful “debate” whatsoever here about & lits. They are what they are. Paul B has one opinion, everyone else who has posted so far has another. I think that all the relevant points have already been made and clearly explained and it would be fruitless to reiterate them.

  50. Paul B says:

    “I found among the true &lits several semis and quite a few that could really only be said to be &litish”.

    Strange kind of logic you deploy, ‘optician’. I like it!

  51. RCWhiting says:

    Don’t spend a moment thinking about these utter irrelevancies regarding &lits.
    Just continue to concentrate on what you do best: set further challenging puzzles.

  52. rowland says:

    Yes, that one was illogical, Rhotician, and fell straight into someone’s lap. But I really hope we can discuss &lits properly at some point, maybe not on a fast-moving thread where the puzzle is ‘live’, perhaps in ‘general discussion’, and without a slanging match, which I don’t like, because these clever clues are really fascinating. I liked the examples in Picaroon’s puzzle the other week too, but after having explored the given link, see the additional points made. It’s fertile ground, as I hope you all agtee.

    Thanks all, thanks Paul B for the link.


  53. rhotician says:

    “I found among the true &lits…”

    Among – of the number of, amid. Chambers.

    My statement is therefore ambiguous. In one case it is illogical, in the sense that it does not make sense. In the other case my statement makes sense, though that does not necessarily make it logical.

    Therefore, I should have “amid”, so as not to distract from the truth of my meaning.

    Language, Truth and Logic. Deep waters. But I haven’t done the Rufus yet.

  54. Paul B says:

    Hint: stop digging.

  55. rhotician says:

    I will, if you will.

  56. stiofain says:

    someone with posting permission should jump in with a basic blog of todays Rufus to ensure 15sqed 100 % record of daily Guardian xword blogs posted on the day

  57. Mary says:

    Sorry. In my comment (37) I should have put……the only thing I could NOT see the reason for………

  58. Mary says:

    To mnsindy (38)

    Thanks for explaining &lit. I am most grateful

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