Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,814 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on December 15th, 2012


A quick skim through the clues made me think I might not enjoy this theme much, because I didn’t expect to know some of the answers.  ‘North American food’ didn’t sound like my cup of tea!

However, although some of the answers [1ac and 6,25 dn] were totally unknown to me, the cluing was so precise that I was able to get within googling distance of the answers and learned something on the way.

As for the rest of the clues, there was lots to admire and smile at. I seemed to be even more than usually tuned in to Paul’s wavelength, so the solve turned out to be quicker and easier than I expected – and / but very enjoyable. Many thanks, Paul – and congratulations! [see later].

[Definitions are underlined.]


1 Large flat round burger — ultimately good North American food
CONDO [large flat] round R [last letter – ultimately – of burgeR] + G [good] – an excellent surface for this snack

10 “Danke” translated almost as “German vehicle”
MERC[i] – almost a French translation of German ‘thank you’, to give the abbreviation of Mercedes, the German vehicle: I enjoyed that one

11 That which controls temperature by a few switches about right?
THAT around reversal [switches] of SOME [a few] around R [right]: I’m not entirely happy about this: the question mark, I think, takes care of the double duty of ‘that’ but I can’t see an indication that we have to put it round the rest of the wordplay: it’s well on the way to being an &lit, I think – perhaps I’ve missed something, so help would be welcome: and help duly came – from a predictable source! Thanks, NeilW @4 😉

12 Swan in prison, no finale for Shakespearean actor
COB [male swan] in JAI[l] [prison without final letter] for the Shakespearean actor, Sir Derek Jacobi, who is currently delighting many of us in ‘Last Tango in Halifax’

13 Chinese food
double definition

14 Cheap rope, funny in knots
anagram [in knots] of ROPE FUNNY
I haven’t actually come across ‘fourpenny = cheap’ :  ‘twopenny’, yes, but I suppose that’s inflation for you, although I’d be hard put to it to name anything you can get now for even fourpence [in either old or ‘new’ money] – so that just proves the validity of the clue!

17 Baby son on show
S [son] + PROG[ramme] [show]
I prepared this blog immediately after solving the puzzle last Saturday and had this down as one of my favourite clues. I’m not a twitterer and so I’m indebted to liz, who told us on Thursday that Paul had announced,  a week ago, the arrival of a baby son [at about the time many of us were doing this puzzle, I guess] – which turns the clue into a rather wonderful kind of &lit. Many congratulations to Paul and Taline – and welcome to Aram Paul! :-)

19 Personnel not quite catching on, journalist incapable in the end, picking nothing up?
STAF[f] [personnel not quite] round [catching] ON ED [journalist] E [last letter of incapablE]

23,16,5 Here crunchiest kind of battered North American food
clever anagram [battered] of HERE CRUNCHIEST KIND OF

24 Writer munching food so unnatural? A North American food
BIC [writer] round [munching] GM [genetically modified – food so unnatural] + A

26 Rejecting dog, gourmet after milky mixture including eggs for a start, as North American food
E PIE [EPI[cur]E – gourmet rejecting cur [dog] after anagram [mixture] of MILKY round [including] E [first letter of Eggs]
I’m not sure where this came from but the crossing letters I had somehow helped me to dredge up some fuzzy recollection from the back of the mind, as Bamber Gascoigne used to say, and the impeccable wordplay confirmed it

27 Nation formerly in my command?
I RAN – I rather liked this one

28 Revolutionary, for example, with report to carry
reversal [revolutionary] of EG [for example] + STATE [report]

29 Virtuous type has a drop hidden away
ST [saint – virtuous type] + A + SHED [drop] – this surface made me smile


2 Herb taking North American food, gobbling horse up
OREO [North American food] round [gobbling] reversal [up] of NAG [horse]
I only had the final O when I came to this one: there are not many herbs ending in O and the NAG was obvious, so, with little confidence, I googled OREO and – bingo! – there it was:  don’t you just love it when that happens? – great cluing! [I see from this Wikipedia entry that it’s available here in the UK – but I’ve never heard of it. Paul calls it North American food, so maybe I’m not alone]

3 North American food, bit chipped off?
NA [North American] + CHO[w] – or CHO[p] – take your pick  [food, bit chipped off] – definitely &lit, I think

4 Cricketers back in the pavilion, or in the field, perhaps?
double? / cryptic definition: I know enough about cricket to be aware that the SIDE who are OUT are back in the pavilion

6,25 Hash is on my right, North American food
anagram [hash] of IS ON MY RIGHT
my last entry: it was obviously an anagram but I had to try several combinations to come up with a googlable conclusion, to find that it is a kind of porridge, so I didn’t want to learn any more!

7 Island with something black, another colour featured prominently as well
charade of COS [island] + TAR [something black] + RED [another colour]

8 Cut up Paul’s check
reversal [up] of AXE [cut] + MINE [Paul’s]

9 Many captivated by new image, plan for English town
TONS [many] in [captured by] anagram [new] of IMAGE PLAN
my first entry, from the enumeration – and it’s not far away from me

15 Tenant wanted agent to include Turkish capital in search
MOLE [agent] round [to include] T [Turkish capital] in ROOT [search]

18 Language unit — I await your call?
I’ve always thought that this word is a gift to crossword compilers – and I don’t see the need for the question mark

20 Certainly not confirmed as most imperial
NO [certainly not] + BLEST [confirmed –  received into full religious communion]
I’m not very enthusiastic about the definition here: noble = imperial?

21 Quickly found an expert like Fred Astaire?
Fred Astaire was A TAP ACE – and how! Have a look at this

22 Frog‘s uphill walk about 880 yards?
reversal [uphill] of TREK [walk] round MI [half of MI[le] = 880 yards]: I love this kind of clue – same device as Paul’s FO = 6 inches on 30th November – and a great surface!

30 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,814 / Paul”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen

    Even though I have often visited North America, their so-called food was mainly outside my ken.

    Consequently, I opted for RED LIME PIE which, to me, sounds very much tastier.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Entertaining theme, out to the edge of my knowledge: 26a just within it, CORN DOG (last in) beyond it. 1a was a testing clue for other reasons, given that eg ‘large’ could have been L, ’round’ could have been O, ‘ultimately good’ could have been D etc – and words like ‘moon’ were tempting, as was ‘corn cob.’ Ticks for BIG MAC among many, question mark for 20d. A Saturday hour well spent.

  3. Bertandjoyce says:

    Loved this one!

    Congratulations to Paul and thanks Eileen for the great blog!

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. We expats have no choice but to be exposed to a lot of American influences so the theme didn’t present any problem.

    re THERMOSTAT: you’ve left T for temperature out of your parsing which explains how you’ve not seen that “which controls” is the inclusion indicator. Having said that, I totally missed your otherwise entirely correct parsing: I thought THE MOST AT was a sort of opposite (switch) to “by a few”!! :(

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    I found this one hard and did not take much to the theme, but you can’t win them all and I admired its skillful construction. My wife and daughter immediately offered 26a when I told them the theme. It was unknown to me, but at least subsequently parsing it was fun – a clever clue. On the other hand, its 11a ‘sister clue’ (positionally) was obvious but I did not manage to parse it, and don’t like it all that much when it’s explained, I’m afraid.

    I guessed 6d was hominy and thought 25d might be grist but a look on google put me right. I should have waited for 29a which I rather liked, as 28a too.
    27a and 4d were very neat.

    I too enjoyed the anagram of 23,16,5.

  6. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul.I share your reservations about 20d. After all, was Brutus -the noblest Roman of them all- also the most imperial?
    Did anyone else like me foolishly put KENTUCKY fried chicken for SOUTHERN fc?

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst

    I had the same thought about Brutus – and, fleetingly, Kentucky!

  8. Aztobesed says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen.

    To ‘stick a fourpenny on someone’ was familiar northern slang – to punch someone suddenly on the nose – which was a cheap shot. Chambers confirms the blow but not the sneakiness. It was also a derisive adjective of something not dirt cheap but not exactly top shelf and I liked it a lot.

  9. Stella says:

    Thanks Eileen, especially for the parsing of 11ac (with a little help from Nick :-)), which completely escaped me, and congratulations to Paul and Taline.

    I scuppered myself in the SW by confidently writing in KENTUCKY, and, never having heard of 26ac, didn’t correct the former until nothing would fit the latter, and the penny finally dropped.

    I had heard of Oreos, though. They make so much of them over here that I once bought a packet for my kids, who found them as awful as I did, aagh!

  10. muffin says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Paul
    Very enjoyable – I too found it easier to find the North American foods than I expected.
    Eileen – you are not quite there on your cricket! A batsman who is OUT returns to the pavilion, but when all the side are out (OUTSIDE) they return to the field and the other side bat.

  11. EllisB says:

    Thanks Eileen – thanks and congratulations Paul & Taline.

    Very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Paul – your description of solving 2d Oregano mirrored mine exactly – “knew” it had to be the answer but hadn’t heard of Oreo so did the same as you!

    Seeing ‘swan/cob’ and ‘bic’ in this puzzle reminded me of this clip from ‘Only Fools and Horses.’

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks, muffin – doh!

    And thanks for the clip, EllisB – wonderfully apt!

  13. crypticsue says:

    I did know that the 17d was due about now and did smile at that clue as I solved it. Many congratulations to Paul and Taline and welcome to Aram.

    I thoroughly enjoyed solving this one and enjoyed reading Eileen’s blog too.

  14. crypticsue says:

    Sorry – i mean 17a

  15. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul for the fun and Eileen for the great blog.

    I got CORN DOG straight away but took ages to parse it.(My husband calls corned beef corned dog)! LEAMINGTON SPA was a bit of a gift as we had been through there the same day, so it was fresh in the mind.
    HOMINY GRITS rang a bell from an early TV series set in the southern states. The name stuck as it is so unusual.

    Aztobesed @8, to give someone a fourpenny one was familiar to me in the same context as yours.I thought that the expression came from the radio and note that Chambers gives it as a blow or a punch.

    Lots of fun all round.

    Giovanna x

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. My North American childhood made this a bit easier for me, but very enjoyable. I still managed to get 1ac wrong however — I decided it must be CORN COB without taking a proper look at the wordplay :-(

    I was another one who initially put KENTUCKY at 23ac, until LEAMINGTON SPA showed me it couldn’t be that.

    Oreo cookies were extremely popular when I was a kid. Later ‘Oreo’ became a derogatory term used by African Americans for someone considered to have betrayed their roots — ‘black on the outside, white on the inside’.

  17. liz says:

    Oh and congratulations again to Paul and Taline :-)

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi Liz @16

    Thanks for the interesting extra information re Oreos – very apt!

    They don’t seem to have caught on here – or is it just me?

  19. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul (& congrats) for the great puzzle and Eileen for the enjoyable blog.

    This one took me a number of sittings with CORN DOG finally dawning – hadn’t heard of it and had to derive it from the parsing – after not being able to resolve CORN COB for quite a while.

    Was only able to parse the (MILKY E) part of 26 – so thanks Eileen. Held myself up in SW by entering an unconvincing PROVERB (whilst Malaprop-riately thinking PRONOUN!)

    A challenging but enjoyable task.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A quite satisfactory Saturday puzzle.
    I struggled with the SW corner mainly as most of you I was not familiar with ‘key limes’ (still not,what are they, grown on The Keys?)
    Last in was ‘sprog’ although I now know it is out.
    I think Eileen’s original parse of 4d was correct. I don’t think that ‘in the field, perhaps’ is related to cricket (except as a witticism?) but is one possible definition of ‘outside’, hence ‘perhaps?’

  21. tupu says:

    Hi RCW

    I too read 4d as you and Eileen did. The second cricketing reference seems to me a nice addiitonal twist (a witticism as you put it) rather than ‘the’ correct reading.

  22. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen. Put me down as another who made it hard by carelessly entering KENTUCKY.

    I see the annotated solution for 11 is in accord with your original explanation though I’m still not quite sure there isn’t still a T to be properly accounted for. I had seen it NeilW’s way but wasn’t very happy.

    Weren’t the fourpenny seats in the cinema the cheap ones?

  23. Biggles A says:

    Thinking about 11 more carefully – THAT around T (temperature) and SOME both reversed about R seems to work. Definition – that which controls.

  24. NeilW says:

    Hi Biggles A. @23 was the parsing I was supporting, although I think I would go with Eileen’s decision to call it &lit. @22, I think you’ve misread the annotated solution, though, as the T is there (although why “part” rev?)

    I only mentioned the THE MOST AT to show how dumb I’d been, missing the correct construction.

  25. Biggles A says:

    Hello NeilW. Yes, sorry, I misinterpreted Eileen’s amendment to her blog but at least we are all now in agreement. I saw the T was there in the annotated solution but thought it might need more explanation

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Biggles A and NeilW

    Thanks for your help. As I’ve said before, I always forget that there’s an annotated solution but the blog’s always done long before that’s available, anyway. [I can’t remember now whether I originally saw the missing T and left it out by accident – or not!

  27. Ian Payn says:

    You don’t have to go to the USA to find out what a Key Lime Pie is. A trip to the supermarket will do. Try it – you’ll like it (which was an American advertising slogan for something, but I can’t remember what. It wasn’t Key Lime Pie).

  28. rhotician says:

    Wiki confirms RCW’s guess about Key Lime Pie. It requires less skill to make than Lemon Meringue Pie and persian limes do well enough.

    The in’s and out’s of cricket can also be accessed via Google.

    I must learn how do links. Maybe next year.

  29. James says:

    Ian (@27)- the advert was for Dr Pepper!

  30. Ian Payn says:

    James (@29), so it was. I did, and I didn’t.

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