Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,764 / Picaroon

Posted by Eileen on October 11th, 2012


Such goings-on for a Thursday morning – but what a lot of fun! It took a while to get into but, fortunately, there were a few easy clues to help the solving along. There is stunningly wicked [or wickedly stunning] exploitation of the theme here and I would have loved to have longer to savour it: this is a puzzle truly worthy of the Prize slot, I think, simply bursting with excellent clues, wonderful surfaces and ‘aha’ moments – far too many to mention.  I’ll leave you to name your own favourites. Just take my plaudits as read. I loved it – huge thanks, Picaroon!

Suggested theme tune here  ;-)


8 Extremely uncongenial bird’s embraced at last (8)
U[ncongenia]L + TIME [bird – prison sentence] round [‘s embraced] AT

9 Actor’s denied leading part in films (6)
[p]LAYERS: player [actor] minus first letter [leading] of Part

10,24 Old swinger who scored with temptress — it ends in remorse (4,4)
BABE [temptress] + RUTH [remorse]

11 Swinger professionally and privately has row about German swingers’ clubs (5,5)
TIER [row] round G [German] + WOODS [golf [swingers’] clubs]

12 Swinger going on record shows what’s grand in French Resistance (6)
MILLE  thousand [grand] in French + R [resistance]
[Glen] Miller, going on record here

14 Gin reportedly reduces discomfort in swingers’ bars (8)
TRAP [gin] + EZES : sounds like [reportedly] eases – reduces discomfort]

15 The Ottoman commander most admired by his peers produces middlebrow novel (3,4)

17 Swinger’s flat out here having food to scoff (7)
HAM [food] + MOCK [scoff]
[It’s hard to be ‘flat out’ in a hammock!]

20 Worker taken in by PM has silly illusion (8)
ANT [worker] in anagram [silly] of PM HAS

22 Trojan horse’s outside Caribbean country (6)
H[ors]E [horse’s outside] + CUBA [Caribbean country] for the wife of Priam, king of Troy

23 Actress admits whisky’s knocked back for illumination (6,4)
STREEP [Meryl, actress] round [admits] reversal [knocked back] of MALT [whisky]



1,25 Swingers seduced by parties love gin — start of frolics! (8,6)
anagram [frolics] of LOVE GIN START OF
[Picaroon seems to love gin, too!]

2,26 Swinger’s activity with one fellow, say, accepting hands going up leg (4,8)
W [with] I F [one fellow] + EG [say] round [accepting] reversal [going up] of PAWS [hands] + PIN [leg]

3 Swinger like 10 24 across’s beat (6)
double definition

4 Top for woman with figure of a voluminous nature (7)
W [top {first letter} for woman] + EIGHTY [figure]

5 Long aria composed for this? (8)
anagram [composed] of LONG ARIA – &lit – opera by Benjamin Britten

6 Addict needs this endless buzz: too many drugs leading to crime, unfortunately (10)
HYP[e] [endless buzz] +OD [overdose – too many drugs] + anagram [unfortunately] of CRIME

7 Cross Irish girl wasting time (6)
BRIDGE[t] [Irish girl] minus [wasting] T [time]

13 Cinematic location fails to entertain patron of the theatre (3,7)
LOSES [fails] round [to entertain] ANGEL [patron of the theatre]

16 Large woman‘s uncontrolled eating leads to swollen stomach (8)
anagram [uncontrolled] of EATING + first letters [leads] of Swollen Stomach

18 Bishop caught in fling with joiner in pick-up location (3,5)
B [bishop] in CAST [fling] + AND [joiner]

19 Singer plugs TV award half-heartedly — it’s an important mission (7)
BASS [singer] in [plugs] EM[m]Y [TV award] minus one of its middle letters – half-heartedly

21 Legendary 3 building century (6)
HUT [building] + TON [century] – easy charade for the legendary England batsman Len Hutton

22 Swinger exercising no discrimination during arousal (6)
PC [politically correct – exercising no discrimination] in [during] HEAT [arousal]

24 After starter’s put away, beef’s ready (4)
[g]RIPE: complaint minus [put away] its first letter [starter]

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,764 / Picaroon”

  1. John Appleton says:

    Excellent puzzle. These kind normally put me off, where the puzzle plays on the different meanings of a word or phrase like this. However, this was a gem, and a challenging one at that. Love the definition of 11ac, very cheeky if it alludes to what I think it does. Last in, and favourite clue, was 12ac; the wordplay is excellent.

    Many thanks Picaroon and Eileen.

  2. sidey says:

    Should have been a prize puzzle.

  3. yvains says:

    I agree with you, Eileen, about the quality of the puzzle (with the single reservation that I’m not totally sure about ‘up’=reversal, in a horizontal light (26). Thanks to both setter and blogger – my own favourites were 14 and 16.

  4. Jeff says:

    Thanks Picaroon and Eileen. An engrossing puzzle. My favourites were 11ac, 6d and 22d.

  5. Mitz says:

    Thanks Picaroon and Eileen.

    Would it be dangerous to say that there was something for everyone here? A theme that even theme-haters would accept because of the diversity, playful, original and witty, eureka moments all over the place and flawlessly fair clueing throughout. One of the best crosswords for a long time, and I totally agree that it should have been a prize. My COD? 15 – genius. But many others were right up there. Bravo.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi yvains @3

    That thought struck me, too, while solving but by the time I wrote the blog, I was thinking of it as a down clue, so forgot to mention it.

    I’m quite sure that’s what it alludes to, John @1! [I’ve forced myself to be uncharacteristically succinct in my blog today: I could have elaborated on so many of the wonderful surfaces that you would have waited ages for the blog!]

  7. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. And thanks to Picaroon for a fabulous puzzle! I also struggled a bit to get started — my eventual way in was 6dn. But my enjoyment simply grew and grew. The wordplay was all scrupulously fair, I thought, and there was a good variety of devices.

    My favourites, for their definitions, were 11ac and 1,25 (which produced a real aha moment).

  8. rhotician says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    “what’s grand in French” for MILLE reminded me of “how to open French letter” for CHER in 25585. “Spanish king” for REY in 25660, “Frnchwoman’s distant” for LOIN in 25714 and “Victory in Berlin” for SIEG in 25730 might also be described as more recherche than usual.

    Picaroon has recently been added to Crossword Who’s Who. He is a language teacher. He also enjoys solving Serbian crosswords, which is a bit worrying.

  9. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Eileen, What a great puzzle?

    12ac. Did you mean Roger Miller (as yr link in preamble suggests)?

  10. Eileen says:

    I have to go out now: the way things are going, I shouldn’t be surprised if, by the time I get back this afternoon, you’ll between you have listed practically all the clues. As Mitz zays @5, there’s something for everyone [though probably right to suggest it’s dangerous to say so!].

    I might have mentioned the ‘lift and separate’ clues [‘French Resistance’, ‘Trojan horse’, that I like so much but some others don’t.

    [Genius solvers will know Picaroon as Lavatch.]

  11. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst @9 – no, I didn’t think of that!

  12. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Great puzzle – as you say, where would you start to pick a star clue?

    I guess 2,26 started out life on the back of envelope or similar and the L-shape of its final position got missed in the editing but it would have been a shame to ruin the surface by changing anything in the clue.

    Bravo, Picaroon!

  13. Poooom says:

    Hi Eileen, many thanks for this. Really enjoyed this puzzle – although some mixed reviews on the Guardian Forum.

    cholecyst @9 – Possibly the first recorded use of “IN-GER-LAND”, as much chanted by football fans!

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This brilliant effort might just have saved what has been a pretty poor week so far.
    I cannot beat Mitz’s view @5 so won’t try.
    Last in was ‘Miller’.

  15. William says:

    Eileen, you lucky girl to blog such a belter!

    The concept of an Aga’s Aga made me laugh out loud – no small achievement on such a miserable day.

    Don’t quite understand why the pirate felt the need to add ‘flat out’ to the HAMMOCK clue. Anyone who’s tried one will know it’s not really possible. Perhaps he’ll drop in and tell me. Incidentally, I always thought the word derived from the fact that early versions were woven from strips of bark from the hamack tree but Chambers seems to debunk that. Anyone know?

    To my shame, I didn’t know about theatre angels but wrote it in anyway.

    As you say, even the theme naysayers will find little to grouch about here.

    Thank you Pirate, more please.

  16. KeithW says:

    A very nice workout after I abandoned my conviction that 9ac was COSTAR being an anagram of ACTOR’S and someone who is denied the leading part. Thanks Eileen and Picaroon.

  17. William says:

    KeithW @16 Neat, but wouldn’t the numeration be (2-4)?

  18. orange says:

    I really wanted to put BUSTIER for 4d!
    It was only the knowledge that ULTIMATE was correct that stopped me.
    And I too thought it was worthy of a prize crossword.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi orange @18

    I like it! :-)

    And I liked the ‘girl’ @15 – thanks, William!

  20. Gervase says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I had a terrible struggle with this. Nothing at all for quite a while until it eventually started to yield. I had to leave it about two-thirds completed, but managed most of the rest on my return, though MILLER and HEPCAT eluded me.

    Stuffed full of excellent clues with ingenious constructions and wonderful surfaces, but my frustration with it meant that, for me, it was a puzzle to be greatly admired rather than loved.

  21. greyfox says:

    A superb puzzle that should have satisfied even the most demanding of solvers who cavil at the standard(s) of the Guardian crossword. Lavatch also compiles for the Spectator (he’s got a good ‘un in today) which provides my favourite crossword of the week. As a staunch Grauniad reader I wouldn’t dream of buying the magazine but you can access it online.

  22. Tramp says:

    Great blog Eileen and a wonderful puzzle. Too many excellent clues to mention but I did love 2, 26 and 16. I agree with Eileen that this would be a wonderful Prize puzzle: unfortunately, it’s one of mine on Sat and it’s not as good as this (I have a decent one in the Indy on Tue if anyone’s interested).

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi Tramp – great news!
    Re William’s ‘lucky girl’ comment: it’s my blog on Saturday, too. What have I done to deserve all this? :-)

  24. Picaroon says:


    Thanks so much for the blog – such kind remarks! Makes the whole compiling malarkey seem almost, well, worthwhile…

    Thanks, too, for the several very encouraging posts here.

    If I recall correctly, it was noticing that the on- and off-course antics of the indubitably energetic Tiger Woods could both be described as swinging that got the ball rolling here (which, I feel, makes him somehow obscurely responsible if some people didn’t enjoy the puzzle…)

    My apologies for the incorrect use of “up” – because the clue started with a down answer I listed it along with the downs when writing the clues and failed to notice the change of direction.

    (Oh, and Tramp, now that you’ve told us you’re in the Saturday slot, I will definitely have to clear some space – looking forward to it already!)

  25. Paul says:

    Picaroon, hello. Super puzzle – you’re having fun, and it shows!

    All the best,

    Paul (John)

  26. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Picaroon and Eileen.(Thanks for the links, too.)

    What a cracker!! Couldn’t fail to please with great clues and I didn’t find a dud. Mitz @ 5: spot on.

    Nice to see Los Angeles in the full rather than the usual LA.

    Keep them coming.

    Giovanna x

  27. Picaroon says:

    Hi Paul @25,

    How nice of you to drop by!

    Your comment is a most generous one, for which much thanks.

    (Hmmm, encouragement first from Tramp and now from Paul – this is turning into a better than average day at the office…)

  28. nametab says:

    Thanks to Picaroon & Eileen. First class

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi Picaroon

    And very nice indeed of you to drop by, too!

    “My apologies for the incorrect use of “up” – because the clue started with a down answer I listed it along with the downs when writing the clues and failed to notice the change of direction.”]

    I’m so glad to know I was in such good company in my bamboozlement – see my comment 6!

    “a better than average day at the office” – yes, for us, too! Is it too early, I wonder, to offer a hostage to fortune in noting that there have, so far, been no adverse comments?

    Paul [if you’re still there] – I thought, as I solved and blogged, that you’d have been proud of some of these!

    I think I’ve commented before on the generous camaraderie of our setters – what a wonderful exchange we’ve just had!

  30. Martin P says:

    I saw the repetition of “swinger” and my heart sank.

    Having done it I think it was as near perfect a puzzle as we’re likely to get.

    Sincere thanks, Picaroon.

  31. tupu says:

    Many thanks Eileen for a great blog and Picaroon for a lovely puzzle

    I came to this fine puzzle late in the day and rather tired, but it eventually yielded up its many treasures. A great pleasure to have solved it despite at times feeling intellectuallyt challenged in both senses of the phrase. It has also been a pleasure to read the well-deserved bevy of approving comments. Given the varying qualities of prize puzzles, it can only be with reference to a Platonic ideal of one that it should be be said to be worthy of that status.

    Masses of great cluing amusingly exploiting the ’50 shades’ of swinging.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Didn’t like this crossword at all! :(
    No, I am joking.
    Everything’s already been said – this is just a stunningly good puzzle. If there were a Guardian Crossword Book of the Year, this crossword would certainly be included.

    There are always minor criticisms that can be made, but I keep them to myself today.

    16d (GIANTESS) is a clue that makes clear why I think Picaroon has become a giant in Crosswordland himself.
    There is the beautiful surface in which we have an ideal fodder/indicator combination (“uncontrolled eating”).
    But there is also the misdirection of that word “eating” as it could be a container indicator: in this case, when looking [like I did] for a word for “uncontrolled” around SS.

    Talking about misdirection, another example can be found in the superb 1,25: “start of frolics” isn’t F.

    There are quite a few clues in which one has to separate things that seem to belong together.
    8ac: at/last
    12ac: French resistance
    20ac: silly/illusion
    22ac: Trojan/horse

    And how good is 2,26? Very good!

    Poooom @ 13 says: “Really enjoyed this puzzle – although some mixed reviews on the Guardian Forum”.

    Thanks Eileen for blogging such a wonderful puzzle.
    You must have been a happy person today.
    Yes, boys & girls, I know, some will see this post as a bit OTT, but I can’t help: Picaroon’s style of cluing is really coming very close to my view on setting crosswords.

    OK, I will stop now.
    Didn’t like this crossword at all! :)

  33. ClaireS says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen – there were a few I couldn’t parse today – and to Picaroon for an excellent crossword, even if it was a bit beyond my capabilities.

    Re – mixed reviews on the Guardian forum. Really? I counted two slight negatives and one of those was retracted later (bad night’s sleep it seems). Other than that the crossword met with considerable approbation there too (it’s where I usually post). So, yes I agree (Sil van den Hoek @32) unbelievable because patently untrue!

  34. flashling says:

    I wrote at the top of this “what a pig” meant in a semi jocular sense. Ta Eileen and Picaroon whoever you are, I thought I found pirate references in Picaroon’s previous but seem to have managed to fail to on this one.

  35. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Great puzzle.

    Everythng’s been said. Last in was AGA SAGA as AGA KHAN was blocking my thought processes!!!

    Still waiting for TARZAN but he never arrived!

    Thanks to Eileen and Picaroon

  36. Huw Powell says:

    Late to the game here (but more caught up than recently!), and I agree this was a smashing ride.

    Much bafflement, but finally got rolling with a couple of easier clues, PHANTASM going in first.

    BABE RUTH stayed in pencil because I kept trying to make iT end in “remorse” = RUH. Left HAMMOCK in pencil over not seeing how “flat out here” was supposed to work; and GLORIANA because although I guessed it I didn’t know the work.

    Last in was 1,25, had to resort to OneLook with the checked letters, not a familiar phrase here in the US.

    The “up” in 2,26 didn’t bother me, since it is a “down” clue even though the second half ends up being an “across”.

    A marvelous puzzle with many treats and delights along the way – so many clues of my favorite kind, where they take me ages to solve and then when I get them I end up thinking “I bet RCW wrote that in four seconds, it was so obvious!”

    Thanks for the great blog, Eileen, and for the Thursday Prize puzzle – and dropping by, Picaroon!

  37. Pelham Barton says:

    Hi Eileen

    Just dropping in out of curiosity, but does not 9ac parse more simply if you take “leading part” to mean the first letter of PLAYER’S?

  38. Eileen says:

    PB @37

    I did toss up between the two – I think either works. I thought someone might comment.

  39. Paul B says:

    If ‘leading part’ means ‘the first letter of PART’ then so be it, but I prefer PLAYER’S minus its leading part (P) and the apostrophe ignored (as seems to be customary in crossies).

  40. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Picaroon and Eileen
    Just finished this one whilst sitting in a hospital with my daughter post op – what an excellent challenge and a whole lot of fun!

    I started off on the wrong foot by confidently writing in COSTAR at 9 – which gave a heads up to the level of misdirection that was going to come.

    Thought that the TIGER was an absolute gem and chuckled for way too long! Finished up with the excellent HEPCAT after wrestling with HEPTAD for ages – but the thought of a swinging group of seven with PT (physical training) left an arousal that was just too far right of risqué to fit in here!!!

    Bravo Picaroon and look forward to your next.

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