Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,766 / Tramp

Posted by Eileen on October 20th, 2012



Following recent Prize puzzles from relative newcomers Qaos and Picaroon, here’s Tramp’s welcome first appearance in the Saturday slot [although he has written some excellent Genius puzzles]. We were expecting it, because Tramp had told us a couple of days earlier and I, for one, wasn’t disappointed.

For once, in a Tramp puzzle, no ‘ghost’ theme [at least, I hope not!] but a rather spooky one for ophidiophobes – and an amusing mini-theme of bad singers! The theme word at 25dn was cleverly disguised, racer being a snake I hadn’t heard of: in fact, the only ones I had heard of were ADDER and BOA, so discovering the theme did not result in a quick series of write-ins, which I hope will suit those who don’t like themes. The unfamiliar snakes were helpfully clued, allowing a reasonable guess, rather than immediate recourse to Wikipedia. It was obvious we were looking for some kind of VIPER and COBRA and it was fun working out the anagrams and getting the surprising answers. [Click on the red links to see the pictures.]

There was a nice variety of clues, including some rather easy ones, and other more characteristically intricate constructions, like 11ac and 15 and 21dn. As always with Tramp, there were some wonderfully misleading surfaces, notably 13ac and 4dn, which made me laugh out loud when I saw it.

Many thanks, Tramp, as ever, for a lot of fun and enjoyment!



1 England’s captain, once  one of several scorers
multiple / cryptic definition: Andrew Strauss, former England cricket captain, and several composers [scorers] – Johann and his family or Richard: ‘once’ could be read with either half

5,17 Leave his prey to perish in 25
anagram [to perish] of LEAVE HIS PREY

10,22 Former president getting head from Monica — a second short spell in White House 25
BUSH [former president – probably not the one you immediately thought of 😉 ] + M [first letter – head – of Monica] + A S [a second] + TER[m] shortened spell in White House

11 Sign forms — how final couple to hotel are written down in evenings?
if EL [final couple of letters of hotEL] were written downwards [as in some neon lights] they would be E ON L – which we have to put inside NIGHTS [evenings] – an ingenious construction

12 Run large 25
L [large] ADDER [snake]

13 Patent protecting firm — origin of Apple Mac?
OVERT [patent] round [protecting] CO [firm] + A [first letter – origin – of Apple] – excellent misleading surface and  ‘lift and separate’ construction

14 Tricks 16 artist
CONS [tricks] + TABLE [board]  simple – and not unfamiliar – charade for artist John

16 25 to drive over playing surface featuring 25s and 12s?
BOA [snake – example of 25] + reversal [over] of DR [drive] for the playing area of the board game Snakes and Ladders

19 One doing routine work round large-sized breasts — plastic surgery piece
O [round] + DD [large bra size] + JOB [plastic surgery, as in ‘nose job’] + MAN [chess piece]

23 Co-star at bad singer
anagram [bad] of  CO-STAR AT

24 Function pictures, having airbrushed mother, capturing Oscars
CINE[ma] [pictures] minus [having airbrushed] ma [mother] round [capturing] OS [Oscars]

26 Bad US singer at musical introductions
anagram [bad] of US SINGER AT

27 Friend is friendly — not initially

28 Fears tense mistakes
T [tense] + ERRORS [mistakes – two very easy clues in a row]

29 Makes beloved Kennedy et al rise regularly
alternate letters [regularly] of kEnNeDy Et Al RiSe




2 Visit Bill Oddie’s top bird
TOUR [visit] + AC [bill] + O [first letter – top – of Oddie] – a very nice [and appropriate] ‘lift and separate’ clue for a bird I wasn’t familiar with but the link shows what beautiful creatures they are

3 Needed top card holding hearts and diamonds
ACE [top card] round [holding] H [hearts] + D [diamonds]

4 Turning over while American’s boxing — wrestling ring punch
reversal [turning over] of AS [while] + A [American] round [boxing] anagram [wrestling] of RING – a beautifully disguised definition!

6 “Yes, ’70s prog rock band Queen”, one cries
Y [yes] + ELP [Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 70s prog rock band] + ER [Queen] – super surface!

7 Record dovetailing IBM company with British type of computer virus
LOG [record] + I C B O M  [‘dovetailing’ IBM and CO {company}] + B [British]

8 What I try to do  should be OK?
double definition
Ah, bless! You do, Tramp, you do! – and, pedant that I am, I’ll forgive the missing ‘ly’,  in return for the smile you gave me, especially as my grandma’s barometer, despite all the rainy outcomes, seemed always optimistically to indicate ‘set fair’! 😉 ]

9 25 dished out more cold bacon
anagram [dished out] of MORE COLD BACON

15 Sugar’s replacement upset on news, outside, hot from The Apprentice’s final
reversal [upset] of RE [on] + NEWS round [outside] T[h]E [‘hot from the’] + E [final letter of apprenticE – another excellent surface

18 Independent supplement dropping extreme characters for picture
I [independent] + MAG[az]INE [supplement] minus A and Z [extreme characters] – and yet another!

20 Bad singer
cryptic definition, referring to Michael Jackson’s album, ‘Bad

21 Ring-shaped forms unreasonable — not unusually obese
anagram [forms] of UNR[e]A[so]NA[b]L[e] minus anagram [unusually] of obese
I always have to check the spelling of this word, as the Latin for ring is anulus – strange.
{I wrote this blog before solving and blogging the Wednesday Brendan puzzle,  [qv 5dn] where I made a similar comment – a weird coincidence}

25 Racer, perhaps, briefly exposed following its profile?
NAKE[d] [briefly exposed] following S [the shape – profile [serpentine] of a snake]
a racer is a type of snake   – yet another one that I didn’t know, so, for me, at least, a nicely disguised key word – but the wordplay was scrupulously fair

48 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,766 / Tramp”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Great blog for a great puzzle.

  2. ToniL says:

    Simply lovely crossword from one of my favourites.

    Nothing to add, thanks Tramp and Eileen.

    Oh! to have one of these every week.

  3. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Nothing much to add; I particularly liked 21d but I have become quite attached to compound anagrams since Azed started using them. This was a very neat one.
    My last in was ‘yelper’ because I had settled on ELO early on.
    Were ELP ever known as such?
    A good Saturday workout.

  4. Paul B says:

    Re 21 dn, I want Swagman’s opinion.

  5. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, RCW, they were.
    Just go to Wikipedia – they just can’t enough get of the abbreviation.
    And btw, ELO wasn’t a prog rock band.

    As to this puzzle, we found it one of the easiest Tramps we’ve had so far – time to gear up a bit?
    Despite the fact that 20d is not really nice, the crossword is full of good surfaces – something that we really appreciate.
    Favourite: 15d (SWEETENER).

  6. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, PB, me too. :)

    Re my post @5:
    ‘Just go to Wikipedia – they just can’t get enough of the abbreviation’.

  7. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen. It was a good workout and I had to think hard about E on L and plastic surgery = job.

  8. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I didn’t realise this was Tramp’s Saturday debut. The first of many, I hope. I had fun and learned a little about snakes. I liked the mini-theme, too, and enjoyed a groan at 20d.

    11a: I like your image of the vertical neon sign. I read “written down” more prosaically, as “if this were a down clue.”

    8d: Pedant that I am (too), I must point out that FAIR is an adverb.

    I particularly liked the “dovetailing” in 7d. I don’t recall seeing that device before.

  9. Jim says:

    I have to say this was one of the worst crosswords I’ve ever encountered in the Guardian. I got two clues, which turned out to be correct, but I couldn’t see how the answer had been arrived at. An hour later I was no wiser. I then sought out some of the cheatier areas of the internet to see what was going on. I found another 4 or 5 clues which were parsed for me, and even then I could barely make out how they’d been arrived at. I filled those in, tried for another half an hour without success, and then gave up. Disappointing, in a word.
    Maybe I’m just not on the same wavelength as this setter. I can generally get through an Araucaria in about an hour for comparison.

  10. Fat Al says:

    That’s interesting Jim @9. As a countering opinion, this was the first prize puzzle I’ve managed to finish. All parsed as well, except for 21d (couldn’t see the compound anagram). With Aracuria and Paul (on Thursday in particular), I often have less than half the grid solved before having to look for help. I enjoyed yesterday’s surprizingly easy Friday offering too.

    Thanks Eileen and Tramp.

  11. Fat Al says:

    One of these days I’ll check before hitting submit. Yesterday’s was surprisingly easy.

  12. tupu says:

    Many thanks Eileen and Tramp

    An enjoyable puzzle and an excellent blog! I liked the mixture of obscure real venom and the children’s board game reference. Racer, eyelash viper, and monocled (I remembered the biopic ‘spectacled’) cobra were new to me.

    The parsing of ‘neon lights’ troubled me for a time, and in my ignorance of prog bands I first wondered if 6d might be ‘yeller’.

  13. Trench Adviser says:

    A brilliant prize puzzle. I finished it but failed to fully work out why ‘neon lights’ was right. This is what I want from a prize puzzle – a decent challenge (I like a good theme) and the fair chance to learn some things (the types of cobra and viper and logic bomb were new to me). I mentioned logic bomb to a friend with that kind of knowledge and he said that technically logic bombs aren’t viruses but malware. I wondered whether it would be discussed on here…

    Yelper was great and my second clue in. It took me a while to get started and that makes it more satisfying when I finish. All the best.

  14. Matt says:

    Yes, good puzzle, plenty of fun clues.

    I thought it was a shame that the keystone clue for the theme was a definition by example, if only because working backwards to it from the thematic clues (as I did) means that it is already a clue of this kind.

    A minor quibble though.

    And now for Araucaria.

  15. Tramp says:

    Thanks Eileen for the very impressive blog. Not only does it read very well but it’s kind to me, very comprehensive and it looks amazing.

    This puzzle was written last October. Our eldest daughter, aged three at the time, was into watching the BBC TV programme, Deadly 60. For those that haven’t heard of this show, it’s aimed at children and features the excellent Steve Backshall as he travels the world looking for the deadliest creatures on the planet. Anyway, our daughter’s particular favourite episode featured the eyelash viper. I got the idea to set a snake-themed puzzle and went about the internet finding some unusual types of snake that wouldn’t be too intractable to solve. I discovered that the eyelash viper took its name from the raised scales above its eyes giving the impression of eyelashes (everyday’s a school day). I discovered the monocled cobra (named due to the annular shape on its hood) and remembered seeing this on a TV programme so decided to include this in the grid. I also discovered the bushmaster and immediately saw clueing potential. I filled a grid and started the process of thinking up clues. I am quite pleased with the result.

    I must apologise for the lack of the adverb in 8d; I really should have paid more attention in school.

    When I looked at the puzzle a few days before it was due to go live I had my usual panic in thinking it wasn’t good enough. I’m so pleased that many of you seem to like and I’m sorry Jim at #9 didn’t enjoy it.

    Thanks folks


  16. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Nice crossword although I always have a small reservation about themed crosswords where the subject is a little abstruse. I had never heard of most of these snakes but have no qualms in these circumstances using Google. Or perhaps I’m just a bit thick!

    RCW @3
    I agree about Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I was an avid “Nice” fan during the late 60s and early 70s so I natutally followed Keith Emerson’s career.

    I can’t ever remember them commonly being referred to as ELP in the early years. Perhaps this came later when I had given up on them as their output was so disappointing! (Too commercial I think we all agreed. :-)) However this was all a long time ago and as I stated earlier I am probably a bit thick.

    Thanks to Eileen and Tramp

  17. muck says:

    Thanks Tramp and Eileen

    I had the right idea for 5,17 and first tried Healey’s viper but it didn’t fit the crossing letters. Finally settled, incorrectly, for Hyalese viper which did. I could have Googled ‘viper’ but have just tried it and it didn’t come up with EYELASH VIPER

  18. muck says:

    PS Googling ‘viper species’ finds a long list, but not including EYELASH VIPER

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi muck

    I said the other day that it was odd how some anagrams leap out at you, while others are much more stubborn. I saw EYELASH immediately and smiled at the unlikeliness of it but googled anyway and was astonished to find it existed. Now that you mention it, HYALESE looks much more likely – but I didn’t see that!

  20. rhotician says:

    Miche @8 has already pointed out that ‘fair’ is an adverb.
    Chambers – in a fair manner (in all senses).
    Play fair.

    Fair play.

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Despite Wiki and Sil @5 I have never heard the group referred to as ELP on the radio. Although to be fair to Tramp and Sil I did realise that prog rock was a poor definition for ELO.
    I must resist this single clue quibbling;very bad for my soul.

  22. Paul B says:

    You have a soul? Then it should be nourished:

  23. Tramp says:

    I don’t remember Emerson, Lake and Palmer and the only thing I know about them is they did a version of Fanfare for the Common Man. Now, as soon as I saw ELP in YELPER, I thought of the band and wrote that clue without looking at any references etc. If they weren’t known by those initials, how the hell did I come up with that? I couldn’t make something like that up?

    I’ve now done some research and just typed ELP into Google and the second entry, in the items returned, is a link to; the third item in the list is the band’s entry on Wikipedia which in the Google preview of the page says “Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are a sporadically active English progressive rock supergroup. They found success in the 1970s and have sold …” Looks like I didn’t make it up.


  24. nametab says:

    As usual, I find others have said all. I really enjoyed this one. For me, the theme fell into place retrospectively, which, provided all can be solved, seems more satisfying. A week is a long time ago, so I can’t recall which snake I worked out first, but it wasn’t ‘snake’. As Eileen’s fluent blog says, there were some lovely well-rooted surfaces.
    Thank you Tramp.

  25. Eileen says:

    I plead ignorance re ELP but Tramp’s clue unfailingly led me to YELLER or YELPER. Googling ELL, of course, yielded nothing, [kudos to him for not choosing the obvious one] and when I saw the Google preview of the Wikipedia page that he mentions, I didn’t bother to go any further.

    Come on folks – this is a crossword-solving site, not a forum for music critics! 😉

  26. Paul B says:

    Hey, but it’s all Culture:

  27. yvains says:

    Thank you, Tramp and Eileen – particularly enjoyed SANGRIA, JACKSON, OVERCOAT, and TOURACO :)

  28. Galeraman says:

    Smashing crossword, smashing blog, thanks both. Agree with RCW about 21dn, but my favourite clues were 20dn and 24ac. At last, all those years studying trigonometry have come in handy.

  29. rhotician says:

    Hey PB – I like the capital C. Didn’t somebody say “How do you you spell pretentious? ELP.”?

  30. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Rhotician @29

    It’s definitely shit but at least it’s not (c)RAP!!!

  31. RCWhiting says:

    For real pretentiousness you need ELPY.
    Have you seen his new autobiography?

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Crosswords and music.
    For me, quite an attractive combination.

    Alberich/Klingsor (FT/Indy) is a setter who regularly refers to classical music in his clues.
    Just over a year ago Tramp built a puzzle around Queen.
    And I clearly remember him having a clue about Supertramp (which caught the eye of one of the band members).
    And what about that magnificent Blur/Oasis crossword by Anax in the Independent, some time ago?

    Yes, rhotician, perhaps bands like ELP were pretentious, but we liked them in the early seventies.
    And do not start a discussion on this kind of music with Paul B because you will surely lose that battle. :) [he’s an expert]

    When, some time ago, I had the courage to bring one of my own puzzles to a Sloggers & Betters meeting [recommended – there’s one next month in Derby], this puzzle had at 11ac: “Hard rock band from the 70s is back (4)”. Nobody got it (including Peter Biddlecombe), all because of … yes, ELP.

    Crosswords and music.
    For me, quite an attractive combination.

  33. rhotician says:

    Sil, I’m sure if I were to start a discussion on any kind of music with Paul B he would not be so uncivilized as to treat it as a battle to be won or lost.

    More to the point is the fact that some of us had never heard of ELP, even though we had heard of Emerson & Co. Eileen and I had to resort to Google to solve the clue. I see from Wiki that ELP’s first break-up was in 1978, some twenty years before the birth of Google. Fortunately when I was solving Guardian puzzles in 1978 no-one with a special interest in the sub-genres of rock music was setting them.

  34. Andy D says:

    Enjoyed this Tramp – thanks!

    Wasn’t convinced by my parsing of 11 so only wrote it in lightly.

    15 had me going for a while – couldn’t get saccharine out of my head, even though it’s too many letters.

    Liked the theme, hadn’t heard of any of the 25s so a bit of googling required for checking purposes.

    As a great cricket fan I was mortified it took me so long to get 1A :(

    I like the type of subtractive anagram in 21D.

  35. Paul B says:

    Oh, Andy, I love that you like something. And also that musical posts invite so much opinion. Here is a thing of inestimable beauty. In my opinion, at least:

  36. Jim T says:

    Smashing puzzle. Loved the BUSHMASTER clue.

  37. roger hand says:

    What about YELLER for 6d ? Wasnn’t there a rock band called ELL ?

  38. roger hand says:

    What about YELLER for 6d? Wasn’t there a rock band called ELL?

  39. Eileen says:

    Not that I can find – see my comment 25.

  40. Paul B says:

    It’s getting boring now.

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re Paul @35:
    Typical Prog Rock sound of a band I have not heard of before (which is quite extraordinary as I have heard of (and seen) many many bands before). This piece of music by Echolyn, dating from 1995, has clearly some King Crimson influences, the singer being a bit Greg Lake Like.
    Thanks PB, while it’s perhaps getting boring now, it has made me curious now.

  42. Paul B says:

    As The World is the Echolyn album to light upon really. They were dropped by Sony after it, which knocked the stuffing out of them. But it’s brilliant from start to finish.

  43. JollySwagman says:

    @Sil #6 – Put all the smileys you want but what on earth you are after is beyond me. There has been much more intelligent (and polite) debate on this subject on the G threads than here and most folk there are pretty well of one mind, accepting all versions as valid. The troll seems to think he scored some sort of point over me and thinks that if he keeps repeating it long enough and loud enough everyone will believe him.

    The varying views of setters, solvers and crossword editors on subtraction anagrams are perfectly easy to track down, define and understand. Even the people the troll has referred to in the past as “pond life” should be able to understand.

  44. Paul B says:

    Ooh, touchy.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    JS, it might look like I am PB’s Little Servant, but I am not.
    That said, I do think that PB has a clear vision on crossword grammar, one that has influenced my look at solving and setting crosswords.

    While “the troll” can be offensive to other posters (like when denying the existence of One (capital O, in his interpretation possibly capital Nothing) called RC Whiting), he does actually say sensible things on what is (in my opinion) essential to crosswords.

    In the meantime, my smileys are just there to ease down what’s going on at this place. Take things with a smile. I do.

    I am – just like you – very interested in learning more and more about what is going on in Crosswordland, but I will never write a book about that (as I am not Mr Know-it-all). Your ‘problem’ is perhaps that you are too sure about your statements being correct – at least in your posts.

    Perhaps, you should do a thing like I do on a regular basis.
    Put a :) to your post – :) (oops, one too many?)

  46. JollySwagman says:

    @Sil #45

    Here’s Anax on the previously debated topic.

    “Setters and editors are split over what is and is not acceptable when it comes to a slightly different procedure – the subtraction anagram. This involves a word or phrase in the clue from which a number of letters must be removed before the anagram is formed. Take the following example:

    Soiled underpants nuns refused to take off (6)

    The answer is DEPART (to take off), which is arrived at by rearranging the letters of UNDERPANTS (the anagram indicator here is “soiled”) but without the letters of NUNS – “refused” is offered as the subtraction indicator. In some publications this clue would be accepted as fair. In others, the editor may point out that the letters of NUNS have themselves been rearranged within the letters of UNDERPANTS, and that the setter should indicate this:

    Soiled underpants nuns stubbornly refused to take off (6)

    Here, “stubbornly” is used as the anagram indicator. Whether solving or writing clues, it is worth looking out for editorial preferences such as this. In turn, these preferences should be consistent within your chosen publication – if they are not, you have every right to complain!”


    Please take your arguments to him.

    I share the same view as that expressed by Boatman here:

    Others (including yourself I think) take a position somewhere between the two.

    My original comment was merely to welcome the appearance of an example of the above in a daily puzzle since it is well known that the various crossword editors have views, not necessarily based on correctness, of the extent to which such clues should appear.

    Before the troll started attacking me and later appearing with his “lance” (per-lease) it seemed a fairly innocuous thing to say.

    The way you talk about “grammar” makes it sound as though you’ve fallen hook line and sinker for the troll’s propaganda (which is shared by others), which is of course designed to promote the idea that there is only one valid “cryptic grammar” (their own of course) thus enabling them to make ex cathedra pronouncements on the work of their colleagues – which can sometimes amount to a thinly disguised case of workplace bullying.

    BTW I don’t agree with this at all:

    “In turn, these preferences should be consistent within your chosen publication – if they are not, you have every right to complain!”

    Exactly why? The G and now also the Telegraph Toughie series are renowned for their variety and long may they continue to be – after all Araucaria and Pasquale both appear in the G. In fact if Boatman wanted to put a secondary jumblicator in that would be OK by me, provided of course that the letters weren’t already in the necessary order. Redundancy is OK – superfluity is not. :-)

    Sorry – I dunno how to do those coloured smileys. :-(

    Oh – I just saw the preview – it turns out that I do. :-)

    It doesn’t work with curly brackets. :-{

  47. JollySwagman says:

    Actually that superfluity is wrong – it would be “just plain wrong” – which would make at least one person happy.

  48. Tom Willis says:

    I won! :)

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