Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Crossword No 25,897 by Enigmatist

Posted by bridgesong on March 23rd, 2013


As might be expected from a puzzle set by Enigmatist , this proved to be a challenge  and although I did eventually manage to solve it on the day of publication, it took some days before I could completely explain all my answers.  Some answers did require knowledge of sport or popular music, but I don’t think that’s unreasonable.  There were some unfamiliar words (to me, anyway) and overall the standard of the clues was very high, with some excellent surfaces.

1 THE HERE AND NOW Immediacy of presents (3,4,3,3)
  Definition and cryptic definition; very easy to get from the enumeration, misleading me into thinking that this puzzle would be a breeze!
10 ENDGAME Wearing electronic tag, BBC boss’s mate arriving here soon? (7)
  DG in E-NAME. A topical reference to chess with the Candidates Tournament under way in London.
11 IN PLENO One-nil, wobbling, power through fully! (2,5)
  * (ONE NIL, P). Not the most elegant of surfaces, and a phrase that was new to me, but the wordplay was perfectly fair.
12 TUBBY Well-rounded objection backing Times (5)
  BUT (rev), BY (where Times is to be understood in the multiplication sense). Some may feel that the capital letter is unfair, but I don’t suppose many people were seriously misled by it.
13 ASCLEPIUS Special cryptic crossword setters being granted the gift of healing (9)
  *SPECIAL, US. Asclepius is a mortal who became the Ancient Greek god of healing, so the definition here is “being granted the gift of healing”, with “being” meaning “human being”.
14 WAUGH Women wanting just about anything by author (5)
  W(omen) AUGH(t). One of the last ones in for me, made obvious once I had the crossing letters.
16 KAMA SUTRA Read all about technique America’s adopting — endless variety … “Read all about it” here! (4,5)
  ART USA MAK(e)(all rev) – an & lit clue.
18 RUDIMENTS ABC or D Terminus? There’s confusion here (9)
19 DRECK Rubbish pile accommodates last of timber (5)
  (timbe)R in DECK. Another word which was new to me.
20 EPIDERMIS Work out Hucknall’s band’s backing on old record I cover (9)
  EP I SIM(ply)RED(rev). A complex charade, which does depend on the solver’s knowing (or discovering) the name of Mick Hucknall’s band.
23 ROWAN Tree with horse secured (5)
  W(ith) in ROAN.
24 UNBLOCK Clear The Jam’s summer screening, though opening is missed (7)
25 RETINOL Regressive delay introducing new vitamin (7)
  N(ew) in LOITER(rev).
26 HECTOR BERLIOZ A French Romantic’s treble casseroles with chorizo (6,7)
  *(TREBLE CHORIZO). When I saw the Z go in the extreme southeast corner of the grid, with a Y immediately above it diagonally, I wondered if some pangram-like thing was going on. But perhaps it’s just a coincidence.
2 HIDEBOUND Bigoted scoundrel great Indian spinner turns in (9)
  BEDI(rev) in HOUND. Bishen Bedi’s name will not perhaps be familiar to everyone.
3 HEADY Exciting the lady, going topless (5)
  (t)HE (l)ADY. A simple device, but one which I don’t recall seeing before (with two consecutive words, I mean).
4 RUEDA Had misgivings about a dance (5)
  RUED A. Another unfamiliar word.
5 AS IT COMES Friends, maybe, trapped by rising water any way (2,2,5)
  SITCOM in SEA(rev).
6 DEPRESSED Blue act newspapers got hold of (9)
  PRESS in DEED. PRESS here is the object, not the subject as the surface might suggest.
7 OBELI Needing to believe, see printed signs (5)
  Cleverly hidden in “to believe”. Although Chambers defines an obelus as a hyphen or dagger mark, Wikipedia suggests it can also mean a division sign.
8 DEATH WARMED UP Having cut sideways through deep mud, sadly not a picture of health! (5,6,2)
  ATHWAR(t) (cut) in *(DEEP MUD).
9 GOBSMACKINGLY Square on the kisser the old girl’s caught sovereign, ___ ! (13)
  The wordplay here seems to be  GOB (kisser) S(quare) MA (old girl) C(aught) KINGLY (sovereign – as an adjective). The word itself does not appear in Chambers (although GOBSMACKED does).
15 HAMMER OUT Resolve “Allardyce Sacked” headline? (6,3)
  The first of two clues referring to London Premiership football clubs (and requiring the solver to know or be able to discover who Mr Allardyce is). Sam Allardyce is currently the manager of West Ham (“the Hammers”).
16 KINGMAKER Warwick was keg man rolling in dry white wine and cassis (9)
  *(KEG MAN) in KIR.
17 TAE KWON DO A little reading up of Hood, now Keats, a show of open-handedness and high kicks? (3,4,2)
  A brilliant reverse (“reading up”) hidden clue concealed in “Hood now Keats”.
21 IMBUE As the Chelsea manager might say before/after sacking, Lampard principally out to inspire (5)
  I’M B(l)UE. The second football reference. Chelsea are known as the Blues (from their strip) and Frank Lampard, their vice-captain and midfield star used to play for West Ham; by coincidence, as I write this blog, Chelsea are playing West Ham and Lampard has scored!
22 SURGE Man with knife amputating leg well up (5)
  SURGE(on). ON here is used in the cricketing sense (as is leg: both terms refer to the leg side of the field as it appears to the batsman at the crease).
23 RATEL Honey-eater subsequ­ently crossing wings (5)
  LATER with the first and last letters exchanged.


36 Responses to “Guardian Prize Crossword No 25,897 by Enigmatist”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong. This was an excellent prize after the rather tame puzzle of the week before. Not Enigmatist at his most fiendish but still a nice little challenge.

    Eileen predicted a Paul for today in yesterday’s blog and I see she’s got her wish…

  2. michelle says:

    Thanks, bridgesong. This excellent puzzle totally defeated me: I only managed to solve three clues.

    I think I may need to read this blog several times, very slowly, before I can understand all of the solving and parsing of the clues.

    I congratulate anyone who managed to solve this puzzle successfully!

  3. Bullhassocks says:

    Excellent blog, bridgesong, on an enjoyable puzzle. One of my minor niggles about cryptic conventions is the way that knowledge of cricket (and of the card game bridge), and their notation is often taken for granted. I know very little about either game, so it was good to see two such examples balanced by some pop and football references – which I did get!

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Needed help with this, mainly from TEA Evaluation. Got the Allardyce ref but not the Hucknall. Last two in were good and tough, 9d (thanks for the parsing) and TAEKWONDO. A fine test by Enigmatist

  5. stiofain says:

    Pretty tough.
    I thought the structure of EPIDERMIS was excellent.
    Great blog bridgesong but I still dont quite get GOBSMACKINGLY.

  6. HKColin says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I enjoyed this too and while it was definitely a challenge I managed it in one sitting and was able to parse all. I was fortunate to know most of the references (including the spinner whose first name was actually Bishan, a minor typo). What I appreciated was that in every clue there were at least two ways in, so if the definition wasn’t much help the wordplay would still get me there.

    To Stiofain@5, I think bridgesong’s parsing of the charade is spot on. I interpreted the dash at the end as a substitute for the word itself representing a definition of sorts, in an &lit style. I assume Enigmatist took that approach because it is hard to come up with a suitable synonym for GOBSMACKINGLY.

  7. sidey says:

    Not bad. I’m surprised no one has questioned RUED as a synonym for ‘had misgivings’, I had no doubts that was what was meant but regret E’s choice. I’m not completely convinced by DECK for pile either.

  8. Samui Pete says:

    Fiendish enough though Neill. Great, Paul today! Thanks all

  9. PeterO says:

    Indeed a tough one. I decided that 9D had to be GOBSMACKINGLY, and left the fine details of the parsing, so thanks, Bridgesong, for teasing it out, and for the rest of the blog.
    Sidey @7 – it may not make you much happier, but I read ‘had misgivings about’ for RUED; I think ‘pile’ for DECK (of cards) is OK.

  10. NeilW says:

    sidey @7, Chambers has meaning 3 of RUE (intransitive verb) as “To change one’s mind, contemplate backing out” which seems a fair match for having misgivings about something.

  11. bridgesong says:

    Thanks for the comments. I see from the annotated solution that my parsing of GOBSMACKINGLY is correct; what caused me difficulty was “sovereign”, which at first I thought must be KING, so I was left with LY. It took a long time before I realised that both “sovereign” and “kingly” could be adjectives. I agree with HKColin @6 about the structure of the clue.

    Michelle @2: don’t worry about not being able to complete it; Enigmatist is tough because his cluing style is both varied and ingenious, but he’s perfectly fair.

  12. Tramp says:

    Enjoyed this a lot. Super stuff as usual from Enigmatist. My favaourite was the brilliant ENDGAME.

  13. coltrane says:

    Lots to enjoy in this puzzle, well explained by Birdsong; many thanks. Can’t argue with Tramp ENGAME was brilliant, and I also liked HAMMER OUT. Paused for a while over 16a, thinking KAMA SUTRA was one word, but I’m sure, were I to look it up, I would find it correct as it stands. All in all this took a while but I was chuffed when I’d finished.

  14. colin says:

    Thanks to bridgesong and Enigmatist.

    I finally managed to chisel out a solution but for some reason found little joy in doing so. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood.

    I don’t really like GOBSMACKINGLY. “Gobsmacked” is the only version I’ve heard, usually uttered by the same people who litter their sentences with “like” and “obviously”. It’s also clumsily clued in my (admittedly inexperienced) opinion. As for a synonym (HKColin @6) wouldn’t “astoundingly” and stunningly” suffice?

  15. colin says:

    Sorry, meant “or” not “and”.

  16. Gervase says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.

    Typically entertaining Enigmatist – challenging as usual, with a good variety of clues – though not, for me, his most tricky.

    michelle @2: It can take a while to get the measure of a setter’s style. Enigmatist’s puzzles are quite distinctive, they don’t come up often, and they’re definitely at the tougher end of the Guardian spectrum. I’m sure you’ll get there!

    I put it GOBSMACKINGLY without a complete parsing, but I think I understood the rest. 10a, 18a and 8d were favourites for me.

    Re the comment about the capitalisation of Times in 12a, the Ximenean purists maintain that it is perfectly acceptable to give an initial capital letter to a common noun in order to mislead (as here) but that to demote a proper noun with a lower case initial is a crime of the first order. Personally, I don’t mind if setters do either – for me this is just a good example of the arbitrariness of the conventions.

  17. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Enigmatist

    Enjoyably testing with plenty of the clever cluing one has come to expect from this setter.

    I eventually arrived at the correct parsing of the somewhat clunky 9d -redeemed by ‘kingly’ which was a very cunning idea! Collins also does not have the word, but it feels OK on the tongue and there is plenty of it on google.

    I ticked 13a, 5d, 8d, 22d.

  18. PeeDee says:

    Very good puzzle, I enjoyed the varied and sometimes obscure words and refernences. Learning new stuff is one of the pleasures of crosswords for me.

    I had no problems with RUED=had misgivings. For ‘rue’ Chambers lists ‘to change ones mind, to contemplate backing out’, seems spot on to me.

    Thanks bridgesong and Enigmatist.

  19. Robi says:

    Very good puzzle, which I and my computer managed to solve.

    Thanks bridgesong, especially for parsing GOBSMACKINGLY for me. I think it is a fair word, even if it doesn’t appear in Chambers or Collins [it’s in Wiktionary.] My Oxford Dictionary of English does have gobsmacking, so the adverbial form should be OK. I was a bit confused by DEPRESSED, which seemed to me to be the wrong way round. Perhaps it is the way that Yoda would say it! :)

    I loved EPIDERMIS, which was a cracking clue. The hidden TAE KWON DO was brilliant.

  20. michelle says:

    bridgesong@12 and gervase@16, thanks for your encouragement. I thought i could just keep quiet and not say anything, but i am glad i made a comment.

  21. crypticsue says:

    A nice treat indeed – even though my sporting knowledge isn’t that great – helped no end once No 2 son returned from his shift at the pub and told me who Allardyce managed!! Lots of dots by favourite clues so I won’t list them.

    Thanks to Enigmatist and bridgesong too.

  22. Trailman says:

    There were celebrations in the Trailman household last week as I managed to complete a Guardian Enigmatist. He must be getting soft. A fair bit of Google etc checking needed eg re ASCLEPIUS, IN PLENO but both were perfectly fairly clued so no complaints there. Acquaintance with the wonderful HECTOR BERLIOZ led to an early write-in – the Z helped, cf IKE yesterday – as did fond memories of the remarkable Bishan BEDI, and the heartache of following the team alluded to in 15d.

    Michelle @2+20, don’t worry – you’ve made a fantastic start to your solving career, but it doesn’t always come easy – indeed, where would be the challenge if it did?

  23. Frank says:

    Every time I think I’m improving (and I’ve been tinkering with cryptic crosswords for 35 years now), a puzzle like this comes along to put me in my place. Quite right, too!
    I enjoyed it, but today’s (thanks, Paul) was a lot more to my liking.

  24. Paul B says:

    Great stuff. Haven’t seen Enigmatist or Nimrod for a while, so very good to get to grips again.

  25. Mr Beaver says:

    The Beavers nearly managed this – thought of ENDGAME and IMBUE but couldn’t parse them, so not entered. RUEDA briefly crossed my mind, but seemed too implausible to be bothered looking up!
    Enigmatist is certainly clever – perhaps too clever for us – but while one can admire his clues, I don’t enjoy them very much. His puzzles seem to lack the humour and relish that you generally get with Paul or Araucaria.
    Still, variety is the spice of the Grauniad, so I shouldn’t grumble.

  26. Brian says:

    Thanks to Michelle I do not feel too bad. I did 5 clues. I see from the above one or two more I should have got and maybe then it would have opened up for me. Having solved a few previous prize crosswords this definitely put me in my place!

  27. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Well this certainly made up for last week’s poor effort. A real Prize Crossword! Enigmatist on form.

    This one took me 2 sessions which of course meant I had a Guardian crossword to wrangle with on Sunday! (Keeps me out of trouble.)

    Lots of favourite clues but I’ll mention 16a, 17d & 26a.

    Last 2 in were “Hector Berlioz” (such an unlikely anagram) and “rueda” never heard of it but the wordplay meant it was the only possibility.

    Thanks to Bridgesong and Enigmatist.

  28. Martin P says:

    Thanks all.

    I must have been in an odd state of mind when I did this because quite a few of the complex ones just jumped out at me.

    “Gobsmackingly” was one like that.

    I struggled to get started today though, and even after getting the key there were plenty of hurdles.

  29. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Enigmatist and bridgesong.

    This took some getting in to after THE HERE AND NOW flew in. Lots of different clue types.

    DRECK and OBELI were new but for once I was glad to spot the hidden word!

    Back to Paul.

    Giovanna x

  30. Martin P says:

    With affection blogger, if you can’t explain your solutions then I don’t think you’ve really solved a cryptic crossword. I wouldn’t say I had anyway.

  31. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Martin P @30

    I’m afraid I don’t agree.

    The challenge is this. The setter has taken a grid and filled it with words. He has then removed them. Your challenge is to replicate that filled grid.

    As an aid he has provided optional clues to what they were.

    A good clue will give the solver 100% certainty that his guess is correct.

    So a completely correctly filled grid is solved.

    Whereas a 100% parsed filled grid is solved and the solver has a 100% certainty that it is correct.

    IMHO of course.

    What did Ximenes have to say on the matter? (I can’t afford his book! ;-) )

  32. Sam says:

    Mr Beaver @25

    I have to agree. We pretty much finished this (my entering LIPSMACKINGLY doomed us to incompletion), but most solutions were ground out under much protest. The were no moments of epiphany that one gets with Paul or Araucaria. Still two to finish from yesterday’s…

    Thank you bridgesong though for the solutions and especially the parsing. Weeklong niggles have been somewhat soothed.

  33. Rowland says:

    Martin P pops out of nowhere with a barrage!! How rude! Or RUED?

    Silly behavious, to me.


  34. coltrane says:

    Am I in error, or is the blog for todays Rufus a little late, Should anybody be notified or do these things all happen automatically??

  35. bridgesong says:

    Coltrane @34: it’s not automatic. The blogger on the rota has to solve the puzzle, write the blog and post it. Sometimes life gets in the way, or things go wrong. We’re all volunteers and all (I believe) human.

    Gaufrid will probably pick up your post and if he can’t contact the blogger, he’s quite likely to do the blog himself (something he’s been known to do before).

  36. coltrane says:

    birdsong @35. I sense a touch of frustration in your post and I apologise if I have been too forward. I am aware of all your points, and may I say as am avid reader and occasional; poster, how grateful I am for the efforts of all at fifteensquared to produce such a great site daily. I will shut up now and wait patiently for the blog to appear!!
    Best wishes,

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