Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,818 – Paul

Posted by Andrew on December 13th, 2012


Yes, it’s me for the second time this week, standing in for scchua, who is away. It was a bit of a surprise to get Paul today after Araucaria yesterday, but a pleasant one, of course. I found this quite tricky to get going on, with a lot of interconnected clues involving 15,17 and the initially mysterious 10,3, but I got there in the end.

The use of a chemical symbol as definition appears in three clues (and as wordplay in another) – I should have been alert to it after finding the second, but even so 7d was my last one in. Nice one, Paul.

8. CONVEYOR [pigeo]N in COVE (niche) + YOR[k] (contracted royal house). I first mistakenly thought that conveyances (as used in house sales) might be involved here
10,3. FOUR-BY-FOUR Double definition! A Chelsea Tractor is a 4×4, and 4 times 4 is 16
11. OPERA SERIA P ERASER in OI (call for attention) + A (article)
12. RINGER Double definition – ringer = one making a phone call, and a [dead] ringer is a double
15,17. CHELSEA TRACTOR [portobell]O in (CAR CAR THE S[ize] LET)*. Chelsea Tractor is slang for the kind of oversized pseudo-offroad vehicles favoured in rich suburbs
20. SHOE TREE (SO THERE)*, and a kind of &lit definition, but I think there must be more to it – “misshapen toe in brogue” could be TOE in SHREE, except that there’s no such word as SHREE . Any suggestions? Yes, I was missing an E in the anagram, which comes from the “toe” of [brogu]E.
22. PRETTY Double definition
23. GAS GUZZLER S[econd] in GAG + [p]UZZLER
24. TOOL Reverse of LOOT
25. NEWTON WENT* + ON – the newton is the SI unit of force
26. ASTATINE (SEA TITAN)*, and At is the chemical symbol of this element. One of three uses of the chemical symbol trick in this puzzle, or four if you count 21d.
1. MONOLITH [s]OLI[d] “walled in by” MONTH (one of twelve)
2. OVER [r]OVER – an over being “some balls” in cricket
4. ARSENIC ARSE NIC[e]. and As is the chemical symbol for arsenic
7. IODINE ODIN in alternate letters of [L]I[K]E, and I = Iodine
13. GOLDEN GATE OLDEN GAT in G[renad]E. More familiar in the name of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is the strait that links the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
16. EUROZONE Reverse of RUE (French street or road) + OZONE (which is critical for our survival in the ozone layer), definition “nations spending the same money”
18. OUTBOUND OUT (dismissed, as in cricket) + BOUND (sure)
19. HELLCAT LL in virtually all of HECAT[e] , Greek goddess of witchcraft, who also briefly appears as a character in Macbeth
21. HOAXER XE (xenon) “guzzled by” HOAR (frost)
24. TUTU The ballet-dancer’s skirt, and homophone of “2-2” which is a tieing score

27 Responses to “Guardian 25,818 – Paul”

  1. morphiamonet says:

    I think you’ve missed a ‘Let’ from Chelsea Tractor.

    Also I parsed Shoe Tree as ‘So There’ plus E (‘Toe’ of Brogue)

    A big thankyou to Paul and Andrew for the blog

  2. ToniL says:

    Yes, we toyed for a while with anagrams for the elements, including (or not) Xe plus O2 (Ozone) to no avail, unless anyone has a better suggestion.

    Fairly typical Paul, a stern test with a little naughtiness,
    and Thanks Andrew for the Blog.

  3. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Highly entertaining crossword, which I found a lot trickier than most recent Pauls. When I eventually saw the themes – the Z in EUROZONE gave me GAS GUZZLER, and although ARSENIC popped out immediately, the other elements proved more elusive to this chemist – the rest fell out nicely.

    I agree with morphiamonet @1 about the parsing of SHOE TREE, though I also wondered about (TOE)* in SHREE to start with.

    Some clever clues here: I particularly enjoyed 10,3, 11a, 1d, 24d, and of course the elemental ones.

  4. .molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. This could have been a prize puzzle. Only 15 eluded me, and I wasn’t sure about 17. Loved the element mini-theme with the misleading AT, AS & I. TUTU another lovely, tricky one. Beauty, Paul.

  5. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    When I first came onto this MB I found many posters who rated this compiler very highly but I found several of his puzzles rather weak.
    More recently I have enjoyed his efforts more and more and this one was gorgeous.
    Some delightfullt hidden definitions. Like Gervase,I am originally a chemist, but was still fooled by I,As and At for some time.
    Last in was ‘tool’ although I had considered it doubtfully earlier.
    It was clinched when I got the delightful ‘tutu’ when I saw the 2-2 = tie (I had tried linking to’pretty’!)
    I liked lots including 20ac (I also fell for shree),21d and big favourite 26ac,quite brilliant.
    I have just noticed the blog has ‘outbound’ for 18d,I guess I will have to concede but I had ‘outgoing’ (it is going to rain, it is sure to rain).

  6. RCWhiting says:

    Chambers gives hecat as an alternative spelling for hecate so the curtailment was redundant.

  7. Andrew says:

    Thanks to morphiamonet for pointing out my careless missing E in 20A,and LET in 15,17 (that one was just a typo, honest).

    RCW – I also pencilled in OUTGOING at first in 18d, but OUTBOUND was much more convincing when I saw it.

  8. crypticsue says:

    An enjoyable lunchtime diversion. Thanks to Paul and Andrew too.

    So if it was Araucaria yesterday and Paul today, who will we get on Saturday??

  9. Robi says:

    Some stonking clues here; very enjoyable. There were, however, a few strange surfaces, like those for 8 & 16, unless I have missed something (quite possible!)

    Thanks Andrew; especially for parsing OPERA SERIA – I thought OPIA must have been some sort of attention-seeker in the literature. :(

    I did parse SHOE TREE as SH(toe*)REE. There is a word SHREE, which apparently is an alternative spelling of ‘sri,’ used in the Indian subcontinent as a polite form of address equivalent to the English ‘Mr.’ Could loosely be thought of as a brogue, I suppose, although I am sure that Andrew’s/morphiamonet’s explanation is correct.

    I also wondered whether RINGER was a type of &lit, as in bell-ringer. Apparently, ‘calling a double’ is mentioned in Sayers ‘The Nine Tailors!’

    I especially liked the elements, SHOE TREE, HOAXER and MONOLITH.

  10. Gervase says:

    RCW @5: I also had OUTGOING for 18d. It works well, IMHO, if perhaps not quite as well as OUTBOUND.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Great puzzle from Paul, v tough for me in places and I needed the blog to understand the wordplay in a number of places — the penny finally dropped re AS and I as definitions, but I had never heard of ASTATINE, and didn’t look the word up when I eventually got the answer (via a liberal use of the check button!)

    On Saturday Paul tweeted that he and his wife have just had a baby boy — Aram Paul. Many congratulations!

  12. RCWhiting says:

    As someone who frequently criticises facile definitions which obviate any need to even read the cryptic element (and often gets criticised for doing so) I really should not have omitted mention of 9ac (crayon). Hands up all who were looking for a human writer starting with C (or Ch).
    These sort of definitions obviously involve more work and thought by the setter; a good one is sufficiently misleading as to be almost a second cryptic element. This is praiseworthy and I praise them.

  13. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul for a super puzzle and congratulations to you both. Thanks also to Andrew for the explanations.

    First in was OPERA SERIA – a very neat and amusing clue. On the whole I found it harder than the prize puzzle but rewarding once I got into it.

    Giovanna x

  14. Robi says:

    RCW @12; although ‘requiring’ is not really a containment indicator, I was looking for a C—-H writer before the penny dropped.

  15. Gervase says:

    RCW @12: I was certainly looking for an author at 9a, which was consequently one of my last entries. Paul is rather good at misleading definitions.

  16. MikeC says:

    Thanks Andrew and Paul. This was indeed a “cracker”. My last in was 19, for which I needed some aid. CoD ARSENIC, of course, because it’s so beautifully cheeky (sorry!).

  17. RCWhiting says:

    @14 & @15 made me think more about thia excellent clue.
    It all comes down to the inclusion of the word ‘children’s’ which could have been omitted and it would still have been a perfectly good clue. However, I am sure I would have immediately started to consider both meanings of ‘writer’ and solved it much more easily.
    It is a very satisfying feeling when a compiler, quite unknown to you, can direct your thoughts so thoroughly and yet so apparently simply.

  18. hammock says:

    Tabernacle (6d) not really a portable box. Derives from latin for tent or hut. Really a religious building or shrine as used by the hebrews to house the holy of holies.

  19. RCWhiting says:

    You look in Chambers and you pyx your favourite definition.

  20. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Paul

    I finished this correctly after a busy morning and afternoon and only got into the spirit of it towards the end. I found it clever and quite testing but, unlike most of you, I was not greatly thrilled by it while solving. I am well aware that I might have felt differently on another day, and I am already likeing it more in retrospect as I write this. I did like the element abbreviations which I became conscious of after ‘iodine’.

    It took me a long time to see 15,17 for some reason.

    My favourite clues were 9a, 10,3, 1d, and 21d.

  21. Dave Ellison says:

    I found this very hard, only managing to complete about half of it. I had several that I didn’t put in as I wasn’t convinced they were correct, not being able to explain them, so thanks Andrew. They were CONVEYOR, ERASER in 11a, SHOE TREE, MONOLITH and TUTU. Ah, well!

  22. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Great puzzle with lots of misdirection. All of which I seemed to follow!

    The chemical symbols fooled me each time? One would have thought that after being tripped up twice I would have been on the lookout!!!

    First in was 12A with a tentative BIDDER. Consequently last in was GOLDEN GATE when I finally remembered that BIDDER was dodgy and put in RINGER. Although BIDDER has some merit and unfortunately has the correctly placed I and R.

    Thanks Andrew and Paul.

  23. fearsome says:

    Thanks Andrew and Paul, really enjoyed it even though a few clues defeated me.

  24. Sylvia says:

    I started with ‘enough’ at 22a and then nothing for ages until tabernacle was obviously better than the ‘o’ of enough, followed by opera seria. The rest took a day to complete.

  25. Huw Powell says:

    What a wonderful delight. The elemental clues – which as for many of you, tripped me up all three times – the lovely theme (which did require reading up on SUVs in wikipedia for 15/17), and nobody really mentioned them directly, but the many clues with repeated words – spider, witch, at sea, bottom… very nice.

    Loads of misdirection, and I think I was fooled by every single one.

    On day one I got OPERA SERIA. And nothing else. Day two brought about four or five more, some in pencil (4 x 4, RINGER). Day three started with the thrill of IODINE – I just happened to think of Odin, followed by a synaptic explosion and a big smile. A few hours later, with some assistance from OneLook, everything was in place, although SHOE TREE was still in pencil. For the fourth time in three days.

    For quite a while, the intricate and clever constructions led me to think this might also have a Nina somewhere. I still think it does, I just can’t find it.

    I had the wikipedia “British children’s authors” category open for research for about half an hour, before somehow I guessed at TABERNACLE (which can be a box containing holy texts of course, making the core of a church “portable”). My only regret is that I did not use a crayon to write in CRAYON.

    “Yesterday” there was mention and admiration of Araucaria using Skype and double-click; today, in 5, for the “crawler” part of the clue to be exactly accurate, it must be mentioned that web-crawler and spider are fairly synonymous terms for automated search engine robots, since the arachnids scurry, leap, run, and dart as much as they crawl.

    Oh and finally even though I inked in 4 x 4 – and even wrote it that way next to the clue while it was in pencil, then erased, then pencilled back in again – I never parsed why a Chelsea Tractor would be just a FOUR-BY-FOUR in Europe…

    So let me recap. We have humo(u)r, massive successful misdirection, an incredibly intricate triplet of inter-related clues, allusions to at least three scientific disciplines (the chemistry, of course, the NEWTON which was so droll, and the maths in 10,3), Greek and Norse mythology and perhaps even a reference to Easter Island.

    What a tour de force.

    So thank you, Paul, for an excellent weeks’ work, and Andrew and the rest of you lot for a great blog.

    PS – RCWhiting – I do think I remember when you arrived on this blog, and some of the early chafing as styles and opinions clashed. Your comment at 12 is my “blog post of the day”. Very nice, though it’s a pity you will probably never see this comment (and have probably never seen any of mine, since they are always at least 36 hours late!).

    Best regards,


  26. Huw Powell says:

    A bit more… as I was looking over this puzzle while reading the blog posts, and while composing mine, almost every word seemed like an old friend – just about every answer/clue combination had a story, if I wanted to tell it.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    “Very nice, though it’s a pity you will probably never see this comment ”
    I did and thanks.
    I always flick back a few days to read the late posts- sometimes they are the most interesting.

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