Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25770 Paul

Posted by scchua on October 18th, 2012


I had a very pleasant time solving this – a witty and clever puzzle.  My favourites were the clues with the mathematical signs, the setter managing to include the 4 most common.  Thanks to Paul.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  [[The pictures at the bottom have unidentified links to the puzzle.  As usual, please double-bracket any comments on them.  Thank you.]]

1 Reversing vehicle, man — doing this? (7)

BACKING : Reversal of(reversing) CAB(a vehicle) + KING(a piece,man in a chess game).

Answer: “This?” refering to the first word in the clue.

5 Chemical element + 1 across, 21 – 50 (7)

SULPHUR : Reversal of(backing,the answer to 1 across) PLUS(the “+” sign) + “hurl”(to toss,the answer to 21across) minus(the “” sign) “L”(Roman numeral for 50).

9 Run time for England batsman (5)

TROTT : TROT(to run, like a horse, say) + T(abbrev. for “time“).

Answer: Jonathan, English cricketer.

10 Former UN leader squeezing daughter behind priest, the worm (9)

ANNELIDAN : ANNAN(Koffee, former UN Secretary-General,leader) containing(squeezing) {D(abbrev. for “daughter“) placed after(behind) ELI(Biblical priest, a favourite amongst setters)}.

11 Roman poet about to make a mistake, study being disregarded (10)

OVERRIDDEN : {OVID(Roman poet) containing(about) ERR(to make a mistake)} + DEN(a room to retreat into for some peace,a study).

12 Queen’s comment cut, first of expletives smothered (4)

MEOW : MOW(to cut, eg. the lawn) containing(smothered) E{initial letter of(first of) “expletives”}.

Answer: The sound,comment from a queen,an adult female cat.

14 1 down x C = pillow talk? (7,5)

BEDTIME STORY : BED{bottom(the answer to 1 down), as in the sea bed}+ TIMES( “x“, the sign for multiplication) + TORY(short for a Conservative, given by the abbrev. “C“). A clever defn.

18 Carrier bigger than rocks found by middle of cove (9,3)

OVERNIGHT BAG : Anagram of(rocks) BIGGER THAN placed after(found by) OV(middle letters of cove“).

21 Bung stops, no power circulating (4)

TOSS : Anagram of(circulating) “stopsminus(no) “p”(abbrev. for “power“,especially in physics).

Defn: To throw.

22 Issue for arm stuck in shoe (10)

PROMULGATE : PRO(in favour of,for and not against) + {GAT(short for the Gatling gun,a weapon,an arm) contained in(stuck in) MULE(a backless shoe,slipper)}

25 Journalist capturing relative in drawing (3-3-3)

PEN-AND-INK : {ED(abbrev. for editor,a journalist) containing(capturing) NAN(a child’s word for “grandmother”,a relative)} contained in(in) PINK(a colour).

26 Beat time, having raised orchestral baton, initially (5)

THROB : Initial letters of(initially) “time, having raised orchestral baton“.

27 Dry figure ÷ 5 across (7)

THIRSTY : THIRTY(a number,figure) containing(÷,the sign for divided by) S{the chemical symbol for sulphur(the answer to 5 across)}.

28 Stocktaker‘s loss, for a start, in something corroding (7)

RUSTLER : L{initial letter of(for a start) “loss“} contained in(in) RUSTER(something corroding,causing rust might be called a “ruster”).

Defn: Someone who takes, illegally, cattle or stock.

1 A total — or partial — ass? (6)

BOTTOM : Cryptic defn: Nick, the character in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a foolish and clumsy trouper,a total ass, and whose head is transformed in the play into that of an ass, making him a partial ass. Nicely cryptic.

2 Dove embracing peace, primarily, for 19 23 (6)

COOPER : COOER(what one might call a dove, since it makes cooing sounds) containing(embracing) P{the initial letter of(primarily) “peace”}.

Answer: A term for “barrel maker” (the answer to 19down 23down).

3 Bury intense emotion, upset in periods lacking leadership (10)

INTERREGNA : INTER(to bury, into a grave or tomb) + reversal of(upset) ANGER(an intense emotion).

Answer: Those periods when a state has no ruler or sovereign,lacking leadership.

4 Piano for a couple of monkeys (5)

GRAND : A “monkey” is British slang for £500, so a couple of monkeys would be a “grand”, informal term for £1000.

Answer: Short for the grand piano, one whose strings are arranged horizontally.

5 Lean’s ultimate director in fat hat (3,6)

SUN HELMET : [N{last letter of(ultimate) “Lean”} + HELM(position that controls,a director)] contained in(in) SUET(cooking fat made from fatty tissue of sheep, cattle, etc.). Nice surface: An assertion that David Lean is the ultimate director who might have worn a fat hat while filming “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, and “A Passage to India”.

6 Opera singer (4)

LULU : Double defn: 1st: An opera by Alban Berg; and 2nd: Stage name of the Scottish singer (and actress and TV personality) who first started out in the 60s.

7 Animal ending in both two corners? (8)

HEDGEHOG : H{last letter of(ending in) “both”} + EDGE(the line where 2 surfaces meet,a corner) + HOG(to appropriate selfishly more than one’s reasonable share, which someone in business does in order to corner,monopolise and control the market.

8 Fugitives wary as unprepared? (8)

RUNAWAYS : Anagram of(prepared) WARY AS UN….

13 As it is, reel off Jacob’s descendants (10)

ISRAELITES : Anagram of(off) AS IT IS, REEL.

15 Savage going after wild animal, a bloomer (5,4)

TIGER LILY : LILY(first name of Savage, the drag queen alter ego of Paul O’Grady) placed after(going after) TIGER(a wild animal).

16 Thing frequently aboard ship, vessel (4,4)

SOFT SPOT : OFT(frequently,often) contained in(aboard) SS(abbrev. for “steamship“) + POT(a vessel).

Answer: As in “He has a thing for older women”.

17 Gas (um, no) about to decline capital (8)

HELSINKI : HELI{the gas “helium” minus(no) “um “} containing(about) SINK(to decline).

19,23 Tidier rings round wood by pub craftsman (6,5)

BARREL MAKER : {RAKER(a tidier, one who tidies the garden by using a rake) containing(rings round) ELM(wood from the elm tree)} placed after(by) BAR(a pub).

20 Possibly arm one with a club (6)

MEMBER : Double defn: 1st: What an arm could possibly be; and 2nd: one who belongs to,with a club.

23 See 19

24 Responsibility not yours, then? (4)

ONUS : If the responsibility is not yours, then it falls on us. Can also be in the context of friends treating each other: if it’s not your round, then the treat is on us.

= ================================================================


39 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25770 Paul”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks scchua.

    Found this quite tough but fair – Paul in serious mode. I wasn’t quite convinced that a “thing” was really synonymous with a SOFT SPOT but I could see what Paul was getting at.

    Struggled with the parsing of THIRSTY because, on my monitor, I was seeing a plus sign rather than division… :(

  2. muffin says:

    Thanks to Paul and scchua
    Great fun.

    Pedant’s corner. The Royal Society of Chemistry now recommend the US spelling “sulfur” – however this is still generally ignored in Britain!

  3. Rick says:

    Many thanks for the excellent blog scchua. It was particularly appreciated as some of the parsing defeated me and I really needed your help to understand everything!

    Having said that, I agree with NeilW: the puzzle was quite tough but fair. Being a mathematician myself I’m with scchua in liking the clues with the mathematical signs. A nice touch by Paul in a fine puzzle! (-:

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks scchua, and for parsing 7d for me. It was good fun cracking the trickier clues, including the two misleading linked “+” clues 27 and 5a, the first with no insert indicator. The “thing” definition in 16d was another aha. Thanks, Paul.

  5. togo says:

    Thanks scchua

    Just have to say that I thought this was great fun and superbly clued. So even more thanks to Paul!

  6. scchua says:

    Hi molonglo, I suspect you might be seeing the same illusion as NeilW in 27ac. It’s a division sign (not +), with “divided by” as the insertion/containment indicator.

  7. liz says:

    Thanks scchua. Good workout from Paul this morning! I mostly got the parsing, but couldn[‘t see the second part of 5ac because 21ac was my last one in. In my printout the dividing sign in 27ac looked like a plus sign, so that mystified me a bit.

    [[ In the pictures, I suppose Wendy might refer to Peter Pan as a bedtime story? The cyclist is Laura TROTT, of Olympic fame]]

  8. ClaireS says:

    Thanks very much for the blog – HEDGEHOG was my parsing blindspot today.

    I agree with others, this was tough but fair. My initial thought with all the arithmetic signs was “yikes” but it all yielded very satisfyingly in the end. Very clever and I liked the links between clues. Great fun. Thanks Paul.

    [[ Please excuse this outrageous liberty from an infrequent poster, but this is the first time I’ve been able to work out some of the picture links.
    1 – Sidney Poitier starred in To Sir With Love with Lulu
    2 – Wendy from Peter Pan, as is Tiger Lily
    3 – Laura Trott cyclist and double gold medal winner in 2012 olympics
    4 – Desmond Dekker and The Aces wrote & sang the song The Israelits.]]

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Paul

    A challenging puzzle fairly clued as has been said. I found a few of the surface ‘stories’ a bit ‘unlikely’ (this was bound to be the case with the clever maths ones of course, but the scenarios of 18a, 7d, and 17d seemed a bit odd).

    Nonetheless quite enjoyable with some good solving moments. I ticked 3d, 15d, 16d and 20d.

  10. aztobesed says:

    [[Sidney Poitier was also in The Defiant Ones (with Tony Curtis) which was about two runaway convicts.]]

    (Thanks for the blog)

  11. Miche says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    My tired and presbyopic eyes saw a plus sign in27a, too.

    I liked “thing” as an unobtrusive definition for SOFT SPOT. I hadn’t heard of Mr Trott.

    Here’s Michael Quinion on SULPHUR/sulfur.

    [[Poitier was in To Sir With Love with 6a; The Aces were 1a singers for Desmond Dekker.]]

  12. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Timewise this wasn’t very difficult and yet it seemed quite tricky as I worked through.The top half provided much more of a challenge to me and last in was ‘meow’ following ‘hedgehog’.
    ‘meow’, like several others, contained some excellent misdirection.
    Favourites included ‘bedtime….’,’throb’, ‘bottom’ and ‘soft spot’. I thought the definition in the latter was superb.
    ……Oh, and those mathematical operators …..what an unusual and welcome surprise.

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Miche @11
    Thanks for the link…..interesting.
    Spelling I don’t mind, it is when they change all the names that I get lost (organic chemistry mostly).

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, schuua, needed several clues explaining.

    Agreed it is quite tough, but almost all fair. The one query is an “edge” is not a “corner” (7d), though no doubt someone will tell me Chamber says otherwise.

  15. Sylvia says:

    Thanks to Paul and Schua. I enjoyed this, finding it easier than some of Paul’s classics but missing the giggle factor.

  16. crypticsue says:

    I found this quite hard going but my cryptic grey matter had probably been exhausted by Mr Manley’s beast of a DT Toughie this morning. I enjoyed the mathematical sign clues particularly but there are lots of other excellent clues in there too. Thanks to Paul and scchua.

  17. rowland says:

    Not really at his best here, for me. I didn’t like the mathematical operators at all, which seemed a cop-out to me. I know it is GOOD to be original, but some things work and other things just don’t. BEDTIME STORY for example, just not great with one of RCW’s ‘sloppy definitions’? For me though, I must stress.

    Agree about the missing ‘giggle factor’ too. That’s somehow become essential to my appreciation of this wonderful setter, and I was miffed not to see it today!

    What a lovely blof by scchua.

    Thanking you,

  18. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul and schuua

    Found this one not as hard as some of Paul’s but probably more fun – it did take a little while to parse the 1a, 14a and 1d. I parsed BOTTOM slightly differently – Nick was the partial one because of his head … the total BOTTOM more in line with Paul as the anatomical ass – :)

    Last one in was the new word INTERREGNA and my favourite was the very clever MEMBER.

  19. Trailman says:

    I enjoyed this too. Must agree with Tupu @9 though about some of the weird surfaces – a shame.
    It was good to get the unknown ANNELIDAN purely from the just-hard-enough clueing; that’s how it should be with unfamiliar words, rather than eg asking Google to help.

  20. rhotician says:

    Dave @14:
    I doubt very much that ‘edge’ for ‘corner’ can be justified by Chambers or anything else.
    I didn’t like ‘both two’ in the surface, either.
    “Animal ending in both side and corner?” works better.

  21. Wolfie says:

    Thanks scchua. I was another who enjoyed this offering from Paul – the arithmetical signs (which were fine in the print version) added a little bit of novelty to the parsing. Am I the only one who thought that in 10d ‘ass’ was the definition of BOTTOM? It would not be Paul without a bit of smut!

  22. crosser says:

    Thank you scchua and Paul.
    Could somebody please explain why in 12a “Queen’s comment” is meow?

  23. NeilW says:

    Hi crosser. As scchua said, a queen is a name for an adult female cat. Queen’s comment = What the cat “said” = MEOW.

  24. KhanivorUS says:

    First time with this compiler. Maybe he’ll grow on me. Or maybe I’ll just not bother with the next one.

  25. crosser says:

    Thanks, NeilW, and sorry – I must have skipped that line in the blog.

  26. John Appleton says:

    Entertaining and a challenge in equal measure. 14ac my favourite of a good bunch.

  27. scchua says:

    brucew_aus@18 and Wolfie@21- I thought about “ass”=BOTTOM too, but I reckoned that being English, Paul would not be using the American “ass”, if anything he’d be using the British “arse”. Though like sulphur/sulfur, the Americans seem to be gaining the upper hand.

    Dave Ellison@14 and rhotician@20, I had doubts too about “edge”=”corner” but the online Collins gives corner as “the place, position, or angle formed by the meeting of two converging lines or surfaces”. I then thought of these examples: the corners in the boxing ring, the corner where naughty children are sent to, and the street corner, or around the corner.

    [[ClaireS@8, by no means an outrageous liberty! On the other hand, you did very well, all spot on. Also well done to liz@7, aztobesed@10 and Miche@11, for your answers and connections I hadn’t thought of.]]

  28. Median says:

    Yep, a good one even though I needed help with a few. Thanks, Paul and scchua.

    brucew_aus @18 – interesting that INTERREGNA was your last in. It was my first!

  29. RCWhiting says:

    I apologise if someone has already said this but I have only just read the parse given in the blog for 1d.
    I think the — are part of the clue. ‘A total’ is the ‘bottom line(-)’. Then partial (ie part of bottom line).
    Definition = ‘ass’.

  30. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul and scchua – always enjoy both of you.

    1d Bottom was my favourite and I hoped for a Shakespearean theme – my favourite. Unusual to see interregna rather than the singular form and I actually appreciated the mathematical symbols for once! No sulfur for me, thanks.

    Giovanna x

  31. scchua says:

    Thanks to all – and goodnight.

  32. harhop says:

    Enjoyed this and the blog – but I cant fathom the parsing of 18a – can anyone help at this late time?

  33. Neill91 says:

    18a is an anagram, signalled by “rocks” of [bigger than] with the middle two letters of [cOVe].

  34. tupu says:

    Hi harhop

    The definition is ‘carrier’ and it is made up of ‘ernight bag’ (an anagram of ‘bigger than’) following ‘ov’ (middle letters of cove).

    As I said, I did not much take to the surface.

  35. tupu says:

    Sorry NeilW we crossed.

  36. Paul B says:

    Well, in solving this fine puzzle I had no trouble at all understanding 1dn. Mind you, a simpler clue would be hard to compose!

  37. scchua says:

    Apologies to all, especially harhop@32. I seem to have missed out a chunk of anagram fodder for 18a. Blog now corrected.

  38. samui pete says:

    Thanks all!! Brilliant.

  39. Tramp says:

    Excellent puzzle

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