Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,846 by Paul

Posted by PeterO on January 16th, 2013


The crossword may be found at for as long as it is archived.

I had quite a struggle with Paul’s wit and ingenuity in this one. It was not made any the easier by what is, unless I am missing something, a slip in 12D.

1. A number work very hard (6)
STRAIN Double definition (strain – a tune or ‘number’).
5. Big brains, say, Shed, Arachne and Gordius, each only beginning to appear addled (8)
EGGHEADS A charade of EG (‘say’) plus an anagram (‘addled’) of ‘Shed’ plus A and G (‘Arachne and Gordius, each only beginning’)
9. Uncle Sam’s duck and young dog biting Miliband, held by teeth (6,2)
ZIPPED UP A charade of ZIP (American term for nothing, ‘Uncle Sam’s duck’) plus an envelope (‘biting’) of ED (‘Miliband’) in PUP (‘young dog’), with a cryptic definition.
10. Sport that’s practised by cheating footballers (6)
DIVING Double definition.
11. Montezuma’s revenge, as three times we cope, desperate to contain unknown quantity (5,3-4)
AZTEC TWO-STEP An envelope (‘to contain’) of Z (‘unknown quantity’) in ATECTWOSTEP, an anagram (‘desperate’) of ‘as’ plus TTT (‘three times’) plus ‘we cope’.
13. Ancient vessel avoiding the banks (4)
INCA [t]INCA[n] (‘vessel’) with the ends removed (‘avoiding the banks’). The definition is ‘ancient’ as a noun.
14. An addiction to lager, might one say, not entirely capital? (3,5)
ABU DHABI A BUD HABI[t] (‘an addiction to lager, might one say’) cut short (‘not entirely’), fot the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
17. Demonstrated as cadet suggested? (5,3)
ACTED OUT An anagram (OUT, in the answer) of ‘cadet’.
18. Reserve suggesting no need for deodorant? (4)
20,22. Kaleidoscopic expression coming up now certainly — ouch, that’s horrible! (12,4)
TECHNICOLOUR YAWN An anagram (‘that’s horrible’) of ‘now certainly ouch’, with a semi-&lit definition. It seems we are indebted to Barry Humphries for the phrase.
23. Plan with fury to go after poisoner (6)
ASPIRE A charade of ASP (‘poisoner’) plus IRE (‘fury’).
24. Will lover melt heart of snake in the grass? (8)
HATHAWAY An envelope (‘in’) of THAW (‘melt’) plus A (‘heart of snAke’) in HAY (‘grass’), for Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway.
25. Don having loose skin, temperature picked up by doctor? (8)
LECTURER A charade of LE (‘LoosE skin’) plus an envelope (‘picked up by’) of T (‘temperature’) in CURER (‘doctor’).
26. River boat not launching, they all leave the stage (6)
EXEUNT A charade of EXE (‘river’) plus [p]UNT (‘boat’) without its first letter (‘not launchng’).
2. See 19
See 19
3. Mountain meat and drink for man on top? (5,4)
ALPHA MALE A charade of ALP (‘mountain’) plus HAM (‘meat’) plus ALE (‘drink’).
4. Natural condition in horse that’s mounted, shame non-starter (6)
NUDITY A charade of NUD, a reversal (‘mounted’ in a down clue) of DUN (‘horse’) plus [p]ITY (‘shame’) ‘non-starter’.
5. Old, doddering man? Protect the woman with child (9,6)
EXPECTANT MOTHER A charade of EX (‘old’) plus PECTANTMOTHER, an anagram (‘doddering’) of ‘man protect the’.
6. Monstrous party on the up through Gulf War not all bad (8)
GODAWFUL An envelope (‘through’) of OD, a reversal (‘on the up’) of DO (‘party’) in GAWFUL, an anagram (‘bad’) of ‘Gulf Wa[r]’ cut short (‘not all’).
7. The King, last of the Georges, detailed other guards (5)
ELVIS An envelope (‘guards’) of VI (‘last of the Georges’ so far) in ELS[e] (‘other’) ‘de-tailed’.
8. Office with something to do overly upset to discover wheel clamp (6,4)
DENVER BOOT A charade of DEN (‘office’) plus VERB (‘something to do’) plus OOT, a reversal (‘upset’) of TOO (‘overly’). In the US, wheel clamps were first used in Denver, Colorado.
12. With marathon over, cruciate damage ends in the knife (10)
SNICKERSEE Oh dear. It seems to me that this is a charade of SNICKERS ( the chocolate bar that used to be sold in the UK under the name ‘Marathon’) plus EE (‘cruciatE damagE ends’). But a ‘knife’ is a SNICKERSNEE.
15. Swiss city seen during break, abandoning American and English winter (9)
HIBERNATE An envelope (‘seen during’) of BERN (‘swiss city’) in HIAT[us] (‘break’) with US removed (‘abandoning American’) plus E (‘English’). The definition is ‘winter’ as a verb.
16. Bully runs from hunter, travelling north always (8)
DOMINEER A charade of DOMIN, a reversal (‘travelling north’) of NIM[r]OD (a great-grandson of Noah, and “a mighty hunter before the Lord” – Genesis 10:9) with the R removed (‘runs from’) plus EER (‘always’).
19,2. Die in ghetto with whip-round (3,3,4)
HOP THE TWIG An anagram (‘rounf’) of ‘ghetto’ plus ‘whip’. An expression new to me, although it seems that it has been around for a while (like, 1797)
21. Lifting mechanism that’s stolen, is nicked (5)
HOIST An envelope (‘nicked’) of ‘is’ in HOT (‘stolen’).
22. See 20
See 20

28 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,846 by Paul”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. I found this harder than yesterday’s Bonxie, which was pretty tough itself!

    The southwest was last to complete – I’ve had a look around but there doesn’t seem to be this variant spelling of snickersnee so I’m afraid you’re right that it’s a mistake. That apart, a great puzzle from Paul.

    I picked up the expression HOP THE TWIG from a crossword not that long ago but it may not have been the Guardian…

    By the way, your blog is not listing under “Guardian” – perhaps because you’ve titled it wrongly?

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. My enjoyment of this drained away after such good early progress: too many that were beyond my ken. i did get some of these – the Montezuma thing and 19,2 but plumped for ‘donkey boot’ and absolutely failed on 12d. Time ran out.

  3. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Peter

    Another very tricky one: HOP THE TWIG and DENVER BOOT were new to me, and I failed completely with INCA (—A didn’t give much of a purchase) and SNICKERSEE (the idea behind the latter is great – pity the word is mangled). On the other hand, AZTEC TWO-STEP was one of my first entries. They’re easier when you know them…

    A lot of ingenious clues here: I especially liked 14a, 17a, 20,22, 24a, 3d, 7d.

  4. Robi says:

    Difficult stuff, only soluble by me with my trusty computer help as I didn’t know the Aztec dance or the twiggy thing. I think it would have been better as a Saturday puzzle.

    Thanks PeterO; maybe Paul got SNICKERSEE from here but it is a mistake as the Scrabble Checker says ‘nil point.’ Yes, it should be SNICKERSNEE, I think. Shame that the lights ran out! 😉

    I did like ZIPPED UP and DENVER BOOT.

  5. Median says:

    Too tough for me, I’m sorry to say. I did about half before resorting to TEA. Even then I had to come here to finish it off. Like NeilW @1, I found this harder than Bonxie’s toughie yesterday. Disappointing. :(

  6. David Mop says:

    I’ll put in my usual protest at 14a, where the wordplay is a comment on the solution, not a means of reaching it.

  7. NeilW says:

    Hi David – I’m not sure I get your objection. “A Bud habit” seems perfectly reasonable as wordplay for “an addiction to lager”, in this case Budweiser.

  8. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul and PeterO.

    I agree with Robi@4 that this was like a Saturday puzzle.

    Didn’t know the knife and thought nethergarments were about to be revealed @12d!

    Liked EGGHEADS and HOP THE TWIG, which was only vaguely familiar but a good expression.

    Median @ 5, Fruity Tea helped despite family derision of the brew as air freshener!

    Giovanna x

  9. izzythedram says:

    I do hope there’s a nice easy one tomorrow.

  10. RobbieJM says:

    Does David Mop mean 17a not 14a?

  11. David Mop says:

    @ NeilW 7

    That’s my point. When I got the solution from the definition and the crossing letters I could see that “a bud [or bad] habit” was wordplay for “an addiction to lager, might one say”. But it doesn’t work the other way.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks, Peter O. A tough one. I started well, but got v held up in the SW and failed on INCA :-(

    Pity about the error in SNICKERSNEE.

  13. NeilW says:

    David @11, ah, I see what you mean now. I suppose it’s a question of taste. From my side of the fence, I particularly admire this kind of lateral thinking clue and, in fact, it was one of my favourites in today’s puzzle. It’s also why the Guardian is my preferred puzzle, because it allows this latitude. But, each to his own.

  14. Mark says:

    14a was the first I got (indeed one of the only ones I got in what I found an unusually difficult puzzle), so I don’t think it was unfair.

    I do appreciate David’s point: if it’s something where the definition is really obscure, then a wordplay that doesn’t help you isn’t fair, but in this case Abu Dhabi isn’t that obscure and I think it’s perfectly OK here, and indeed a very nice clue.

  15. Thomas99 says:

    To be fair to 14a, what David Mop says is not right. “a bud habit” couldn’t in fact be wordplay for “an addiction to lager, might one say”, since “bud” cannot give “lager” (“bud, for instance” could, though). But it works perfectly well as it stands: there is absolutely nothing to stop a solver getting “a bud habi(t)” from the wordplay without any crossers (but with the definition and letter count, of course). I certainly did. As NeilW says, all that is needed is some lateral thinking. I don’t think any setter would regard the “addiction to lager” bit as controversial. The mechanics of the clue are conventional.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I am reluctant to criticise this one because it gave me a tough and generally interesting workout.
    However, it is not the best way to up the difficulty level by errors and obscurity.
    I liked 14a, 20,22 and 25ac.
    I was puzzled (not in a good way) by 24ac (spotted WS but not Ms Hathaway)8d (never heard that expression,is there another ‘boot’ used?), and of course 12d.
    I actually failed completely to solve ‘Inca’, both ‘ancient’ and ‘vessel’ seemed rather vague, in the same clue, even for me.

  17. Brendan (not that one) says:

    A very tough workout.

    I got there in the end barring INCA!!!!

    I assumed SNICKERSEE was an esoteric alternative spelling. But the SW corner did take as long as the rest of the crossword.

    First in was bizarrely techicolour yawn as I was a great fan of the strip at university. (Such a callow youth!)

    I still enjoyed it, warts and all.

    Thanks to PeterO and Paul

  18. wolfie says:

    This one tied me up for ages and left me feeling a bit cross. I knew SNICKERSNEE from the pirates in ‘Peter Pan’ and was eventually persuaded to enter the misspelling because of the parsing. How did this get past the crossword editor? I agree entirely with RCW about the vague clueing of INCA, which I entered last – and only then because I suspected some kind of link with Montezuma.

    Thanks Peter O for your blog.

  19. Morpheus says:

    Don’t mind a tough workout but can we have more of them on Saturdays please? For some reason Saturdays have been fairly unchallenging of late. Maybe the thinking is that Saturday sees more occasional solvers so shouldn’t be too hard or maybe it’s just random editing?…

  20. plotinus3 says:

    Agree with Wolfie @ 18. Some great clues but too many that are too clever by three quarters. And so to bed, irritable.

  21. nametab says:

    I enjoy the level of difficulty, but if its midweek, then it gets too late because am unable to start before 10pm.
    Nonetheless, it’s addictive, but have had to stop, having failed on INCA & 12d (never heard of answer, and no word-checker availed owing to error). Only got 19,2 at very last because that was all that would fit the crossers. COD 24a. Thanks to Peter O. Goodnight all

  22. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Paul

    I struggled with this on and off for much of the day. I was convinced it must be because of a cold, but am glad not to have been alone.

    I saw snickersee and very reluctantly plumped for it in the end. I eventually got everything except ‘hop the twig’. I saw that 8d might be ‘denver…’ but the wordplay was a step too far for me at that stage. I only saw boot and the correct parsing on looking in the dictionary. I realise I had seen the expression before.

    I was amused re 10a to see a hint in the adjacent picture of Zaha being booked for the offence.

    Some very clever cluing as others have pointed out. I guessed 11a and 20a from the wordplay.

    I quite liked 13a and 24a. 12a could have been a great clue – a pity.

  23. sidey says:

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the misspelling of Technicolor yawn.

  24. Brendan (not that one) says:

    sidey @23

    Nobody has mentioned it because you are the first person to do it.

    Technicolor is a trade name. The adjective modelled on it is technicolour. (see Chambers) Which was correctly used in the Bazza Mckenzie Private Eye strip.

  25. Paul B says:

    A crossword to celebrate the Norovirus, it would seem. And why not.

  26. sidey says:

    Brendan @24 the first quote in the OED is 1964 B. Humphries in Nice Night’s Entertainment (1981) 77 When I’d swallowed the last prawn I had a Technicolor yawn.

  27. Bob says:

    I did the crossword late and enjoyed it, until a real struggle with 12d and 13a – couldn’t think of an appropriate vessel to begin with. Snickersee finally dawned on me and I wondered if it was a variant spelling but Chambers put paid to that. G & S meant I was familiar with the real word.

    I can forgive Paul, but I thought there was a crossword editor at the Guardian who really ought to pick up this sort of thing: I had an email exchange with the then editor a few years ago when I inquired ironically about one clue that seemed to contain a mistake and got a very bad-tempered reply in which he claimed to solve all the crosswords himself before they were printed. I didn’t believe him then and haven’t since – which is a shame because the Guardian is easily the most fun of the daily efforts.

  28. Alan says:

    Living in France I have to rely on somewhat erratic postal deliveries (especially over the Christmas holiday period) and I am therefore very behind with the Guardian puzzle. Did anyone ever resolve the SNICKERSNEE/SNICKERSEE business, or was it just an error?

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