Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,885 / Puck

Posted by Eileen on March 8th, 2013


A lovely puzzle from Puck, with a great variety of witty cluing and amusing surfaces and a mini ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme. It took me a little while to get into it but I really enjoyed the challenge. Many thanks, Puck, for the fun.

Definitions are underlined.


1 Staffs man employed in counting sheep, originally
ROOK [chess man] in C S [first letters – originally – of Counting Sheep]
I’d like to call this &lit, as this interesting article suggests that a shepherd might have used notches on his crook to keep a tally of his sheep: I knew that ‘Yan tan tethera…’ was a system of counting sheep [and stitches in knitting] but didn’t realise, until reading this, that there were quite so many [very] local variations, including one from my beloved Wensleydale

9 Bacchanalian celebration beginning after giro blown on wine
C [first letter of Celebration] after anagram [blown] of GIRO + ASTI [wine] – I just loved this surface!
[Note to Robi re his comment on Wednesday on my failure re bunga-bunga parties: I could do this one!]

10 Film on cross-dressers seen here?
TVS [transvestites – cross-dressers] + ET [film]

11 Extremely uneven unlit B-road
odd [uneven] letters of UnLiTbRoAd

12,4 Barbarian taking crude photo? He managed to undergo ordeal, as must 1 down 24 repeatedly
GOTH [barbarian] + ROUGH [crude] + anagram [managed] of PHOTO HE – and the aim of croquet [much more complicated than I imagined, see here] is to get the ball through the hoops

13 Offensive article about two females going after adult material
TET [offensive – a military campaign during the Vietnam War] + A [article] round FF [two females] after A [adult]

15 Disease vet identified initially in a pair of horses?
V I [initial letters of Vet Identified] in SPAN [pair of horses]
This is really spooky: I read my Guardian immediately before doing the crossword and, in Simon Hoggart’s column, came across ‘spavined’ [referring to the world economy], a word I wasn’t familiar with and so I was moved to look it up. I was astonished when it turned up minutes later in this clue,  since I didn’t know, either, that a span was a pair of horses: huge thanks to Simon, who, I know, is a cruciverbalist!  An impressive clue, as SPAVIN is a disease that horses get.
17 Capital from turnover of work unit in Barry
Reversal [turnover] of ERG [work unit] in BAZ [Barry]

19 Maintained Welsh boy’s eaten a bit of chicken
ALED [Welsh boy] round [has eaten] LEG [a bit of chicken]
I think perhaps it’s clued as ‘boy’ rather than ‘man’ because the Aled who most readily springs to mind [for me, anyway] is the one-time boy soprano, Aled Jones  [here’s something to enjoy]

22 Huge bird unhappy over new location for zoo
anagram [unhappy] of HUGE BIRD round N [new]
This reminded me of Bannsider’s quirky definition some time ago of LEICESTER as ‘fifteen’, which tickled me, as a Tigers fan, no end, but Edinburgh really is rather famous for its zoo with its giant pandas, as well as its castle and rock

24 Bottle bank’s half full? That’s half empty, son
BA [half of BAnk] + LL [half of fuLL] + S [son]

26 Ape tucking its tail inside vital body part
ORANG [ape] with its last letter [tail] moved to the middle

27 Row of bushes has more than its share of 1 down 24?
HEDGE [row of bushes] + HOGS [has more than its share]
In ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the croquet game is played with live hedgehogs for balls and live flamingos [see 14dn] for mallets

28 Fought with unruly youth about Soviets finally changing sides
TED [unruly youth – Teddy Boy] round USSL [USSR with right changed for left]

29 Artificial stimulant once put in port
EX [once] in SAID [port]




1 Cheese’s left out for after start of chess game
C [start of Chess] + ROQUE[for]T [cheese with ‘for’ left out]

2 Auxiliary indicating one should 12 4across, centrally
middle [nearly] letters of go thrOUGH The hoop – ought is an auxiliary verb

3 Animal found swimming in a lake or a bay, primarily
anagram [swimming] of A LAKE OR A B[ay]

4 Roman sporting catsuit
anagram [sporting] of CATSUIT
I laughed out loud at this image of the Roman historian!

5 Become member of board
double definition

6 Hiding given by wielding short scourge in first of beatings
anagram [wielding] of SCOURG[e] IN + B[eatings]

7 Yacht with power supply that’s irregular
anagram [supply – as an adverb] of YACHT + P [power]

8 Mark fools about to a degree
reversal [about] of GITS [fools] + MA [degree]

14 Ruddy huge game birds used to hit 27
FLAMING [ruddy] + OS [huge]

16 Knocked up some satire, verbal lampooning in double quick time
hidden reversal [knocked up] in satirE VERBAL LAmpooning – very clever surface

18 Beaten in game, not having doubled spades in time
CHE[ss] [game without double S {spades}] in BIRD [time – prison sentence]

19 Bugs concealed by soprano under a piano
HID [concealed] + S [soprano] under A P [piano]

20 Olympic event not initially covered — journalist no longer working
DIS[c]US [Olympic event minus first letter of covered] + ED [journalist]

21 I moved into place to finish at 1 down
EGO [I] in PUT [place]
I’m not a croquet player but apparently that’s what happens at the end of a game – one to file away with ‘no side’ for rugby, another crossword favourite

23 Commonplace name held by god
N [name] in BAAL [god]

25 Liberal party having a little party with a naturally occurring drug
L [liberal] + DO [party] + P [a little party] + A
I’d never heard of this drug  but, fortunately, the crossing letters were very helpful

21 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,885 / Puck”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for a great blog of a puzzle that I thoroughly enjoyed.

    Since it was Puck, I looked hard afterwards for a Nina or something more than the FLAMINGOS/HEDGEHOGS theme but I think, this time, the rest was just a set of fine Puckish clues!

  2. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen. This took me some time and I had to seek confirmation of my recollections of Alice’s adventures and of croquet terminology. 6 and 10 were my last; I had convinced myself that 10 had to be CD SET which got me nowhere of course.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I, too, was surprised the croquet theme was so mini: the hedgehogs ref standing practically alone is a bit iffy. And ORANG alone isn’t actually ape. Still, I enjoyed the puzzle, and learned L-DOPA.

  4. NeilW says:

    molonglo @3, knowing that ORANG translates as “man” and only becomes “ape” when you add the utan, woods, always irks me when I see it, too, but it’s in Chambers…

    Plus, men are apes too! 😉

  5. michelle says:

    It also took me a while to get going on this puzzle (first in was 19d, so I was quite worried at that stage!) but I did find it very enjoyable and challenging.

    I got 10a wrong (I put in TO SET even though I could not parse it).

    I solved but could not parse 18d & 28a and I incorrectly parsed 2d, 21d & 15a.


    New words that I learnt were L-DOPA, SPAVIN and now after reading this blog ‘bird’ = ‘time/prison sentence’ and ‘span’ = ‘pair of horses’.

    Thanks for a great blog as always, Eileen.

  6. michelle says:

    molonglo@3 and NeilW@4 are both correct, in Bahasa Indonesia / Indonesian language, the orangutan / ape would never be abbreviated to simply ‘orang’ which means ‘person’. This is just a sort of Anglicised version of Indonesian.

    I also found it strange that the clue referrred to ‘ape’ = ‘man’ but I was pleased to solve it anyway!

    I’ll post some notes “On Malay-Indonesian Loan Words” into the General Discussion section.

  7. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Michelle: I know I’ve said it before, but I’m constantly surprised at the depths of 225’s contributors.
    “Malay-Indonesian Loan Words” indeed!

  8. cholecyst says:

    …225?s contributors’ knowledge I meant!

  9. george says:

    I have played croquet and early on had SHRUBBERY for 27ac as that is where a lot of balls could end up. The game is not necessarily a polite, carefully mannered affair, but is most fun when played aggressively, shooting your opponent’s ball way off the grass, where the hoops and peg are, across the path and in to the bushes!

  10. Eileen says:

    I was very relieved to get up this morning to find that none of the early birds had discerned a further theme or Nina. It’s early days yet of course – and this is a Puck puzzle – but at least, like yesterday, I shall not be alone.

    I am going ourt shortly, so shall not be able to respond to any revelations until later this afternoon.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Puck

    An enjoyable solve. I particularly liked 9a, 27a, 28a, 29a,1d, 2d and 14d.

    I missed the correct parsing of 13a.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I don’t normally do the Saturday Guardian puzzle, but I spent last weekend with friends, one of whom is a big Araucaria fan. So when she discovered that it was Puck and not the Reverend, I did manage to persuade her to have a crack at it.

    Good fun, although we put in SPAVIE rather than SPAVIN because we couldn’t understand what was going on. I thought SEX AID was the best clue, and my solving partner, being a chemist, put in L-DOPA straightaway.

    Puck should know that KOALA BEARS don’t exist, though: they are simply KOALAS. On ORANG, I bow to others’ superior knowledge.

  13. Aztobesed says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    Been something of a PG Wodehouse week – Bertie’s horses are always subject to spavin and the botts when he has a flutter, so I got it easily. I lazily stuck in hedgerows and wondered what he was talking about – and I must have read The Annotated Alice backwards. Always a treat solving a Puck.

  14. michelle says:

    K’s Dad@12
    good point – of course, there is no such thing as a “KOALA BEAR”!

  15. tupu says:

    Hi K’s dad
    I’m not sure if your point is simply linguistic or zoological as well. ‘Abolishing’ ‘Koala bears’ – the term is incidentally in Collins – and their like, does of course fit the fact that their genetic link to placental mammals was broken about 100 million years ago. At the same time, it tends to direct attention away from the intriguing fact that a number of marsupial and placental species, including also ‘mice’, ‘wolves’ and ‘tigers’, have evolved as similar phenotypes. I understand that these similarities are not simply dismissed as curiosities but have been a focus of lively recent interest and debate among evolutionary scientists.

  16. colin says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Puck.

    Chambers states that a koala is also known as a koala bear or native bear so I think Puck is perfectly justified. I don’t know how intelligent these creatures are but the following suggests they have good taste!

    Koala Chlamydia: One Direction Boy Band Members Fear Infection

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    It was mainly linguistic, tupu, although zoologically and evolution-wise they are clearly not ‘bears’ in the commonly accepted sense. It was just a muse, really: Puck is on sound ground since as you say, it’s in dictionaries. I guess it’s the same kind of debate about clueing NI as Ulster, and vice-versa. They’re not strictly the same, but in common usage they often are, so setters will continue to use the device. And if we get going on that debate, we’ll still be here this time next week …

  18. Brianjp says:

    I found this easy except for tv set which stumped me.
    Also, though I realised 5 down was “enter” I do not see how it is “board member”.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Brianjp

    Re 5dn Become member of board

    It isn’t ‘board member’- it’s a double definition:

    1. Become member of – as in enter a school
    2. board – as in enter a bus

  20. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen re 5d
    I had thought that there might be a reference to the ‘enter’ key on a ‘(key)board’ as well as the idea of becoming a member of a school etc, but that seems to demand double duty for ‘member’ and is not wholly satisfactory in any case.

  21. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Puck and Eileen

    Found this an entertaining prize puzzle that had some grist in it – unlike the easier offering the last time that he set a prize one.

    Thought the clues were slightly more complex than normal for him – but typically fair and well constructed. The CROQUET theme was pretty well disguised with a nice Carroll touch in 14d and 27a.

    Liked 2d which was similar to the two rha in the Beatles puzzle during the week and with a meaning of AUXILLIARY that I either slept through in English classes or was just never taught. COD would have to be TAFFETA – very busy to deconstruct but with a wonderfully misdirected surface. Was happy to figure out TV SET after not seeing TV = transvestite / cross dresser in another puzzle not all that long ago.

    Interesting to see a few Paulesque clues as well …

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

2 − = zero