Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,762 – Puck

Posted by Uncle Yap on October 9th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

It is always a joy to unravel Puck, the Magic Dragon from Ireland and today, he was in top form. Devious and cunning definitions abound but the aspect that I enjoyed most was the smoothness of the surface of his clues – as velvety rich as Guinness

Place cursor over clue number to read the clue

1 See 1 down
9 NISEI ha Japan is eighteen Thanks everybody for spotting my omission
10 WOODCHUCK Ins of D (day) in WOO (court) + CHUCK (Charlie) for a creature aka aardvark
11 UNTIDINESS Ins of NofI+ DINE (eat) + S (first letter of soup) in US (American). It occurred to me that starter in the plural might lead one to think Puck had made an inadvertent slip; but Chambers defines for starters thus – as the first course of a meal; in the first place, for a start.
12 BIRD Slang word for a prison sentence from bird-lime, rhyming slang for time. Also allusion to the common expression Time flies. and of course a bird usually flies
14 ARCHAEOLOGY Ins of *(GOOLE) in *(AHA CRY) I simply love the innocuous def as a result of this, finds
18 PERITONITIS Cha of PERI (fairy-like creature in certain mythology) TO NIT (fool) + first letters of involves Shakespeare for a painful inflammation
21 EACH REACH (a stretch or portion between defined limits, as of a stream between bends) minus R
22 DEFAMATORY Ins of A (article) in *(Female MADE) + TORY (Conservative, politician)
25 SEASHELLS What a lovely and clever way to remind us of that school-day tongue twister She sells sea shells by the sea shore My COD for memories of carefree days
26 LEITH ha for the port lying north of Edinburgh
27 PICKLED Ins of L (leg) in PICKED (chosen) I wonder how I should elaborate further – drunk, pickled and legless are all in the long list of words meaning under the influence of excessive alcohol
28 PEPPERS Ins of PP (first letters of pitch, preventing) in PEERS (Lord’s) Thanks mistley
1,1A TONGUE-TWISTER *(R U , are you IN TWEETS & GOT) Beautiful surface for the mini-theme in today’s puzzle. No doubt other solvers (like our ever-vigilant NeilW) will point out the other tongue-twisters
2 IN SITU *(I, one UNIT’S) Another very creative and clever clue. Yes to being out of place, therefore anagram indicator and No for the def of the answer.
3 THIRD PARTY A kind of insurance policy for vehicle owner covering damages done to others; and of course Nick Clegg is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third party after the Conservatives and Labour
4 ROWAN Ins of W (last letter or bottom of willow) in ROAN (shade, colour) Other than the tree, the more internationally famous Rowan must be Rowan Atkinson aka Mr Bean
5 CROISSANT Ins of I, one in CROSS (annoyed) + ANT (social worker) for the French ROLL (bread) which sounds like ROLE
6 PECK SPECK (spot) minus S
7 IN UNISON Ins of NUN (sister) in II (eleven) + SON (child)
8 NAKED EYE *(YANKEE EDitor) Another fantastic def Observer, unassisted
13 CODSWALLOP COD (fish) SWALLOW (eaten) minus W (Wednesday) plus P (first letter of pickled, answer to 27) Bravo for another smooth surface
15 CONGEALED C (first letter of cream) *(GONE) ALED (Jones, Welsh singer and a television and radio presenter; never heard of him, so thank you, Googles)
16 SPEEDS UP Ins of PEED (rev of DEEP, ocean) in SSUP (rev of PUSSy cat)
17 TROCHAIC *(CHAIR COT) from trochee, a foot of two syllables, a long followed by a short
19 POLICE Ins of O (first letter of offer) in SPLICE (joint) minus S (topless  joint, like the one we saw in Patpong, Bangkok recently; here the opening offer was a red 100 baht note which would secure the unsecuring of the bra clasp :-)
20 TYPHUS T (middle letter of pitch) + *(PUSHY)
23 AESOP Rev of PO (river) SEA (body of water) Aesop (c. 620–564 BC) was a fabulist or story teller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables
24 PHIL PHIAL (small bottle) minus A for a name like Phil Collins, singer & musician

Key to abbreviations

dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram

50 Responses to “Guardian 25,762 – Puck”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY.

    After yesterday’s remarkable vitriol, at least today’s should see the blog in calmer waters! A highly entertaining puzzle by Puck with just the right level of trickery, spiced up by a theme that amuses but is entirely unnecessary for the solve. (POLICE was my last entry and only afterwards did I see the significance, especially as it crossed with LEITH. Doh!)

    You don’t seem to have parsed NISEI – hidden answer.

    I think 13dn is SWALLO(wed)

  2. JollySwagman says:

    Very nice Pucker – top form.

    Thanks UY – didn’t know 17d – will probably forget it again.

    9a you write 18 as eighteen and get an embed with Japan also helping the def.

  3. NeilW says:

    By the way, you mention the SEASHELLS TONGUE TWISTER. There may be others but the ones I can see:

    Peter Piper picked a PECK of PICKLED PEPPERS etc.

    The LEITH POLICE dismisseth us,
    They thought we sought to stay etc.

  4. NeilW says:

    Oh yes:

    How much wood would a WOODCHUCK chuck
    If a WOODCHUCK could chuck wood?

  5. Fat Al says:

    Thanks UY,

    As a relative beginner, I assumed SEASHELLS would have been a chestnut. Glad to see it was also your COD, as I really enjoyed it.

    Last in was 12, without knowing why. Thanks for explaining it…hadn’t heard of that rhyming slang.

  6. mistley says:

    I had the two middle letters in 28A from the “openers” of “pitch, preventing”. Thanks for the blog UY.

  7. NeilW says:

    The trick of a TONGUE TWISTER is that it SPEEDS UP with each repetition – or am I trying to hard? ;)

    mistley’s right about 28ac, I think.

  8. Uncle Yap says:

    I am usually a bundle of nerves when I have to blog and of course, this leads to very elementary mistakes and slip-ups (e.g. SWALLOW for eaten). But thanks to the community, these are very quickly spotted and corrected.

  9. PeterO says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap – and to Puck for a sparkling crossword.

    I think you have been led astray by Chambers – the groundhog is a name for the woodchuck, and (apparently) for the aardvark, but the latter two are quite different animals – the woodchuck is an American marmot, and the aardvark an African anteater; they do both burrow, which would account for the common name groundhog.

  10. NeilW says:

    @7, trying too hard!

  11. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. This was delightful. You didn’t explain, and maybe someone could, “heroine” in 25a and “on the contrary” in 27a. I’m sorry you hadn’t previously heard of the 15d Jones, until now: when he was master rather than mister his singing was rightly compared with angels’.

  12. JollySwagman says:

    @M #11 – 25q – there was a film starring Ursula Andress called She – it was based on a Rider Haggard story – that’s what I read it to mean – it came out not long after her famous appearance in Dr No.

    15d “On the contrary” to legless – ie the L actually does go in.

  13. JollySwagman says:

    Not 15d – 27a.

  14. KeithW says:

    I worry about your musical taste, Uncle Y, if you’ve never heard of Aled Jones and the first Phil that springs to mind is Phil Collins!

  15. muffin says:

    Thanks Puck and Uncle Yap

    “She sells sea shells” celebrates the early fossil collector, Mary Anning, who collected from the Lyme Regis/Charmouth area.

  16. Mitz says:

    Thanks Puck and UY.

    Lovely stuff today, with deft touches all over the place. The tongue twister mini-theme had so many possibilities that it was not simply ticking off answers from a list, and like NeilW the Leith Police were last in for me. My COD (apart from ‘codswallop’) was 5a, which as well as being a nicely indicated anagram was very believable as a picture accompaniment.

    I wonder how long 3 will still be true?

  17. yvains says:

    Thanks, Puck, and Uncle Yap – I agree with everything you say about this gem of a crossword. Especially enjoyed UNTIDINESS, PERITONITIS, PICKLED, CODSWALLOP and POLICE, favourite PICKLED.

  18. John says:

    25a reminded me of the old joke :-

    Benefits Assessor “Does your wife work?”
    Claimant “Yes, she does”.
    B A “What does she do?”
    Claimant “It’s hard to say really”.
    B A “What do you mean?”
    Claimant “Well, she sells sea shells on the sea shore”.

  19. Sylvia says:

    Loved this tour de force! And 26a – Leith – is also a hidden answer. Think Aesop also belongs in a tongue-twister but struggling to recall it. Admiration and thanks to Puck.

  20. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Puck

    A clever and amusing puzzle.

    I ticked 5d, 13d, and 23d as I went along but it is much better than that with hindsight (I blinkeredly solved it without pursuing the very clearly signalled theme).

    I had to check 9a having worked it out from the wordplay. Quite often however I guessed the word from the definition and/or crossing letters and then parsed it.

    In 21a I decided that there must be a River Leach which in fact there is, but Scchua’s answer is clearly the correct one with ‘every’ as the definition. I note that Collins also defines ‘reach’ as a bar on the end of an axle.

    I was puzzled by ‘eponymous heroine’ in 25a – but as Jolly Swagman @11 makes clear it is the heroine who gives her name (eponymous) to the Rider Haggard novel. The character seems to be extremely loosely based on the ‘rain queens’ who traditionally reigned among the Lovedu people in South Africa.

  21. John Appleton says:

    Very nice work, Puck (and Uncle Yap). Always nice to find a hidden theme like this, and in a crossword that was about the right challenge (for me). On getting 17 down, I did wonder if this was part of the theme somehow, noticing that the Peter Piper tongue twister is trochaic itself (or the first line, at least) in terms of English poetry (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one).

  22. Robi says:

    Playful Puck at his best.

    Thanks UY; I’m afraid thickos like me need the explanation of the connection between TWISTER and CAPTION. Perhaps someone can spell it out for me.

    I particularly liked CODSWALLOP, WOODCHUCK, CROISSANT, THIRD PARTY & IN UNISON. Although the definition of ARCHAEOLOGY was good, I thought the rest of the clue was a bit clunky.

  23. tupu says:

    Hi robi

    I too was a bit puzzled by 5a but I came to the conclusion, perhaps wrongly, that the whole of the clue in inverted commas + say both defines the answer (caption), and with ‘twister’ as the anagram indicator and ‘Pontiac’ as the fodder tells us how to make it.

  24. NeilW says:

    Robi, “Pontiac hit by 1 across”, say: The “hit by TWISTER” is the anagrind, Pontiac the fodder, and the whole thing is the definition, the part in quotation marks being what you might read under a newspaper photo. Almost &lit. unless you accept to include “say” in the anagrind but it doesn’t really seem necessary.

  25. Mitz says:

    NeilW @24,

    I think the ‘say’ is necessary, indicating that ‘Pontiac hit by twister’ is an example of a caption. Without it, ‘Pontiac hit by twister’ would have to be a definition of ‘caption’, which it isn’t.

  26. liz says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Really enjoyed this — lots of fun and good surfaces as others have said. Thanks Puck!

  27. NeilW says:

    Mitz, sorry, I didn’t explain myself well: I meant the question was whether “say” was necessary for the anagrind bit, which I don’t think it is. No question the whole clue is the definition.

  28. Robi says:

    Thanks tupu and NeilW; I get the ” ” being the caption now. I was also a bit confused because ‘hit’ by itself can be used as an anagrind.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    5ac I thought that “Pontiac hit by twister” say might be more a definition of a headline. It would have been improved by some slight indication of ‘picture’.
    It was a quite enjoyable exercise but made too straightforward by 1d/1ac. ‘hard to say’ with each word having the same initial was a write-in.
    5d Although I am not very bothered I am surprised at the lack of comment on the cryptic definition (role/roll).

  30. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog. You explained a couple of cases where I was sure I had the right answer but could not say why.

    On 15d the only Mr Jones who came to mind was in Dad’s Army. I think the corporal was Mr Jones.

  31. rowland says:

    Well, there were quite a lot of Guardianisms in this one to make things unnecessarily hard, like the ‘role for roll’, using ’18’ where ‘eighteen’ is meant, etc etc, and I think without this kind of thing a good puzzle might have been great, or for sure a lot better. The PONTIAC one too seemed very contrived, and Puck to me really at his best when he ‘keeps it simple’.

    Good fun though, an enjoyable half-hour over coffee.

    Cheers all (and thanks for not being so aggressive today),

  32. Mitz says:

    It is interesting how different tastes pervade all aspects of life. All of the things that Rowly cites as being a slight mar on this crossword are, for me, the mischievous twists that make it all the more fun. Vive la difference, I say.

    I wasn’t around yesterday, but I have had a look at the contretemps. Good grief. Is it not possible for people to state an opinion without being jumped on? RCW likes ‘em hard, and doesn’t like Rufus’ style – this much we know. So what? As far as I’m aware I don’t think he has ever personally attacked anyone who feels differently, certainly not before being personally attacked himself.

  33. JollySwagman says:

    @Mitz #32 Couldn’t agree more (your first para). The Guardian’s a broad church and the variety of setting styles is one of the things that makes it the best. I think the DT Toughie series gives setters a reasonably free hand also but I don’t see that so often.

    @rowly #31 You regularly complain about Guardian cluing compared with The Times. Do you have a moniker on T4TT where you shower them with praise on an equally regular basis?

    I do The Times about once a week and with the odd exception it is the poor relative. The Sunday Times puzzle appears in the same edition and generally outdoes it easily for entertainment value and solving satisfaction – not always for difficulty. But then all that’s a matter of individual taste no doubt.

  34. Robi says:

    RCW @29; ‘5d Although I am not very bothered I am surprised at the lack of comment on the cryptic definition (role/roll).’

    I can’t see the problem, the ‘say’ acts as a homophone indicator, doesn’t it?

  35. tupu says:

    Hi robi

    I was not completely convinced about this one but didn’t comment. For me, at least, the question was not so much the homophone as whether a ‘croissant’ is a ‘roll’. Checking Collins, however, I see they define it as ‘a flaky crescent shaped bread roll made of a yeast dough similar to puff pastry’. I think the ‘say’ also refers to croissant = cross-ant, btw.

  36. muffin says:

    tupu @35
    The clue does say “annoyed about one” which would give “croiss” … the “sounds like” not required here, I think?

  37. Paul B says:

    Well, you’ve commented now.

    I’m only disappointed we didn’t get ‘I wonder what the pedants would think of …': I can really get my teeth into those.

  38. Lloyde says:

    Thanks Puck and UY. I hope that the inclusion of Goole at 14a was a nod to the Guardian letters page where the appearance of the town in songs/poems etc has been a regular feature recently.

  39. tupu says:


    You are of course right. I forgot about that when replying to robi. As I said, it was the croissant/roll that vaguely worried me.

  40. RCWhiting says:

    Robi @34
    Yes, it is a homophone (say) but definitions are not usually cryptic.

    PB @37
    But there aren’t any pedants on this MB, surely.

  41. Paul B says:

    If you say so, RCW.

    I don’t really understand what you mean about definitions (presumably in clues that include subsidiary indication) ‘not usually being cryptic’, or what you mean when you describe today’s 5D as having a ‘cryptic definition’.

    Can you enlighten me? (Normally Swagman does that, I know, but just for today, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous.)

  42. rhotician says:

    RCW @29: I was going to comment on role,say/roll but domestic duties called.

    It is not a cryptic definition. It is something I cannot recall having encountered before. I would describe it as a ‘two-step’, rather like the indirect anagram. The clue does not provide a definition, cryptic or otherwise. It provides a clue to a definition.

    Paul B @39: Are you trying to get us closed down again?

  43. tupu says:

    Hi rhotician

    Thanks for your clarification. The definition itself is by homophonic implication ‘roll’ (which may not be all that good, but is pretty plain and simple). A cryptic definition (cd in UY’s abbreviations) somewhat ‘reluctantly’ reveals the answer, whereas in this case the definition itself rather than the answer is ‘disguised’. Perhaps ‘hidden’ or ‘implicit’ definition describes this.

    ps :) I hope you mean PaulB @37 rather than tupu @39.

  44. Paul B says:

    Not sure I see what you mean, optician.

    Thanks for commenting on the ‘cryptic definition’.

  45. Martin P says:

    RCWhiting says:

    “…5ac I thought that “Pontiac hit by twister” say might be more a definition of a headline…”


    I thought so too, but then isn’t the etymology of “caption” pretty well that?

  46. tupu says:

    Hi Martin P

    Not just the etymology. Collins gives “(2) a heading, title, or headline of a chapter, article etc”.

  47. JollySwagman says:

    @rho #42. You are presumably alluding to the slogan “a precise definition; a fair subsidiary indication; nothing else”. Much as some love to be guided by a simple set of “rules” I think this should be regarded as nothing more than a rough generalisation. Whilst most good clues conform to that many of the most celebrated clues ever written are differently constructed.

    It’s remarkable how over the years many of the most capable setters have written complete tosh attempting to formalise theories on clue-writing or have others conform to their own individual viewpoint.

  48. Paul B says:

    Well, hmm, yes, well, quite.

    But is this a hint? May we now look forward to something more definitive? ‘The Jolly Swagman Guide to Cryptic Crosswords’? ‘The Jolly Crossword Swag-manual’?

    Let’s hope so!

  49. Uncle Yap says:

    What a nice end to a lovely puzzle and hopefully, a fair blog. The strongest language today was someone’s oblique critique of my musical taste. Let’s keep it civil and entertaining; after all, this is a pursuit for fun and amusement with a bot of mental challenge thrown in.

    By the way, I am trapped in the musical time warp of the 60’s and 70’s; anything from the Beatles, Elvis, Cliff Richard, Rolling Stones, Tremelos, Hollies, CCR, Animals, Procol Harum, Petula Clark to Queens, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, Carole King, Don McLean to even Benny Hill and his Fastest Milkman in the West! Is there any hope for me?

  50. don says:

    “Is there any hope for me?”


    Seek help from ROWAN Williams.

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