Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,927 / Crucible

Posted by mhl on April 27th, 2013


Apologies for the late post – we didn’t complete this last Saturday morning, and I managed to forget that I was meant to be writing a post about it. Anyway, we found this difficult, but it’s a high quality crossword with lots of lovely clues. There’s a theme of the 60th anniversary of Crick and Watson’s discovery of the structure of DNA. The rubric, with clue answers substituted, reads:

Six solutions contain a discovery, announced 60 years ago this month, by WATSON and CRICK, which is not further indicated in their clues.

The intention of this is that six answers contain the letters DNA (together, and in order) which aren’t clued by the cryptic part of their clues. (As a small point of pedantry, Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA (the double helix) rather than DNA itself.) Anyway, it’s a clevely constructed crossword, with quite a few nice references to biology (ADNATE, MAXILLAE, DARWIN, BIOSCIENCE) and the hidden DNAs were tough to spot. I wonder if Crucible considered including FRANKLIN in the grid as well?


1. US tip: party is at hotel over the weekend (8)
BASH = “party” + IS around [wee]K = “weekend”
Definition: “US tip” – I guess this is an American spelling of “baksheesh” (which has many variant spellings anyway) meaning “a gratuity”

5. Having grown attached, had a meal (6)
ATE = “had a meal”
Definition: “Having grown attached” – a new word for me: Chambers defines it as “attached (esp by they whole length) to a different kind of organ”, and here’s the Wikipedia page on Adnation

9. Artillery formerly suppressed resistance (8)
ONCE = “formerly” around R = “resistance”
Definition: “Artillery formerly”

10. Literary doctor’s agenda ignores hospital (6)
WHAT’S ON = “agenda” without H = “hospital”
Definition: “Literary doctor” (referring to Doctor Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories)

12. After tea, engineer got on at a station in Tennessee (11)
CHA = “tea” + (GOT ON AT A)*
Definition: “station in Tennessee” – apparently this town is widely known (not by me, but Jenny knew it) from the song Chattanooga Choo Choo

15. Kick out expert right away, then lecturer (5)
EXPE[rt] = “expert right away” + L = “lecturer”
Definition: “Kick out”

17. Run into it in need of refreshing food (9)
Definition: “food”

18. Philip, say, gets excellent backing for business groups (9)
CONSORT = “Philip, say” + A1 = “excellent” reversed
Definition: “business groups”

19. Dame Elisabeth started with indistinct sound (5)
The first letters of SCHWA[rzkopf], referring to Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Definition: “indistinct sound” – Wikipedia has some nice examples of schwas

20. Irish socialist usurps my credit? It couldn’t be simpler (11)
IR = “Irish” + RED = “socialist” + [cr]UCIBLE = “usurps my credit?” (CRUCIBLE without CR), worthy of a question mark :)
Definition: “It couldn’t be simpler”

24. Challenge inconclusive victory somewhere in Australia (6)
DAR[e] = “Challenge inconclusive” + WIN = “victory”
Definition: “somewhere in Australia”, referring to the city of Darwin – the reference to Charles Darwin fits nicely with the theme

25. Jaws writer clutches armpit (8)
A tough clue, requiring you to know two Latin anatomical terms: ME = “writer” around AXILLA = “armpit”
Definition: “Jaws”

26. On holiday, say, and just up out of bed (6)
Sounds like “away” = “On holiday”
Definition: “just up out of bed” – Chambers defines “aweigh” as “in the process of being raised, as an anchor just raised from the bottom”, so the “bed” in this case is the sea bed. This word seems to be best know in the phrase “Anchors aweigh!”

27. Least reliable butcher likes wrapping article in paper (8)
(LIKES)* around A = “article” in FT (Financial Times) = “paper”
Definition: “Least reliable”


1. 10 and 21’s field, where being concise is silly, when no good comes from it (10)
(BEI[ng] CONCISE)* – the anagram fodder is BEING CONCISE without NG = “no good”
Definition: “[WATSON] and [CRICK]’s field”

2. Taking a snooze after a ransom? (10)
KIPPING = “Taking a snooze”
Definition: “after a ransom?” (although wouldn’t a kidnapping happen before the ransom, or around it? Perhaps there’s a better reading…) Update: thanks to Eileen, who points out that this works if you think of “after” in its sense of “wanting”

3. Where deer stores energy? (5)
HART = “deer” around E = “energy”
Definition: “Where deer stores energy?” I’m not very keen on this – I suppose the heart could be said to hold store energy in a metaphorical sense, but not a scientific one

4. One’s bent perhaps, not broken, kept in safe (6,6)
(NOT)* in SECURE = “safe”
Definition: “One’s bent perhaps” – one of the meanings of bent is “tendency” or “natural inclination of the mind” (Chambers)

6. Drastic changes suppress mother’s tantrums (9)
(DRASTIC)* around MA = “mother”
Definition: “tantrums”

7. Part of church a priest should enter first (4)
First letters of “a priest should enter” – I’m not sure about “first” to indicate the first letters of multiple words, but that’s probably being very picky
Definition: “Part of church”

8. Wise to avoid independent Irish banker (4)
ERNIE = “Wise” (the comedian) without I = “independent”
Definition: “Irish banker” – this is the common crossword joke / device that something that “banks” (e.g. a river) would be a “banker”

11. Furiously parp to call over last of taximen (5,3,4)
TOOT = “parp” + HAIL = “call” around [taxime]N = “last of taximen”
Definition: “Furiously”

13. State of beauty with power to captivate the Italian? (10)
DISH = “beauty” + ABLE = “with power” around IL = “the Italian” (“il” is masculine definite article in Italian)
Definition: the whole clue, I think, given the question mark and that DISHABILLE means “a state of undress”: “State of beauty with power to captivate the Italian?” –

14. English males get sandwiches after a fight (10)
ENG = “English” followed by MEN = “males” in GET (with “sandwiches” indicating the insertion) after A
Definition: “fight”

16. Treatment of celeb left clearing the air? (9)
L = “left” + IONISING = “clearing the air” (one can get ionising air purifiers)
Definition: “Treatment of celeb”

21. Neck problem – Kent’s regulars don’t finish game (5)
CRICKET = “game” without [k]E[n]T = “Kent’s regulars” at the end
Definition: “Neck problem”

22. Dame’s premature end (4)
[prematur]E = “premature end”
Definition: “Dame”, referring to the Barry Humphries character “Dame Edna Everage”

23. Slow down bypassing Kelvin Hill in Glasgow (4)
BRAKE = “Slow down” without K = “Kelvin”
Definition: “Hill in Glasgow” (a Scots word for a hill)

21 Responses to “Guardian 25,927 / Crucible”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl & Crucible, this was great fun!

    All puzzles should be this good.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Crucible

    An enjoyable puzzle overall. I was surprised to find a second 60th anniversary DNA puzzle (the earlier one was by Brummie last month) but I quickly realised the construction style of the present one was rather different, with some neat hidden inclusions of the abbreviation.

    I had to check the meaning of ‘parp’ in order to parse 11d and I got 19a by accident. I was on the right track and was exploring the possibilities of Elizabeth Schumann in Chambers when I came across ‘schwar’ and with it the idea of Schwarzkopf. I was annoyed with myself since I should have remembered her in this context and could only think of Irmgard Seefried instead.

    Many attractive clues – I ticked 20a, 27a, 11d, 13d, 14d and 15d.

  3. Ian SW3 says:

    What a pity the gateway clue 10a wasn’t more elusive. It rather leapt out, and it was then scarcely necessary to read the clue to 21d. The DNA gimmick, which might otherwise have provided a diverting challenge, instead made most of the answers write-ins.

  4. nametab says:

    A really clear and thorough blog mhl, thank you.
    I enjoyed it too; fairly soluble, but needed application.
    The Oldie magazine’s Genius crossword had a celebration of this anniversary theme recently, so I was tuned in to its liklihood from the off, but unearthing the dna was nicely obscure.
    I rarely contribute on Saturday because I’ve usually forgotten anything that might have been worth mentioning, so I’ll just greet everyone today too :)

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    Bryan @1, unfortunately Brummie’s on the 19th of March was pretty good too, which made for a flying start. For once, I won’t blame the editor who clearly felt that both merited inclusion despite the duplication of the theme.

  6. cholecyst says:

    Thanks mhl and Crucible. I enjoyed completing this. One slight objection: 23d BRAE is surely not a hill – it’s the side of a hill or valley, or at least it is here in Northumberland.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl [and Jenny] for a great blog.

    It was a pity that the preamble made the theme leap out so quickly, after the Brummie puzzle last month but, as you say, the DNA clues were no write-ins. I think EDNA was my favourite one.

    My other favourite clue was the very clever BRAE – cholecyst, Collins has ‘Scot. a hill or hillside’.

    In 2dn, I think ‘after’ means [Collins again] ‘in search or pursuit of’ – with the example ‘he’s only after money’.

    Many thanks, as ever, to Crucible – it was a fun solve.

  8. NeilW says:

    Eileen @7, yes, that’s how I read 2dn too – I hadn’t noticed mhl’s query.

  9. Ian SW3 says:

    OK, you’re right, Eileen — the DNA clues were not all write-ins, but it didn’t take very long for the penny to drop, and enough of the other answers were write-ins that I found this a disappointing quick solve. I suppose themed crosswords tend to be either fiendish or facile, but for a Saturday “prize” puzzle, the theme could have been better hidden.

  10. george says:

    Thanks mhi. I had forgotten about this too. It seems an age ago I solved it. Was it really last Saturday?

    I kept expecting Crucible’s crossword to be themed like Brummie’s so completely missed DNA in six of the solutions as I was being lazy about parsing. I got to the end and then twigged. Silly me. I had thought of 2d as KID NAPPING – after the ransom had been paid.

    I didn’t like the rubric. I think someone pointed out in March, Crick and Watson did NOT discover DNA, but rather elucidated its structure.

  11. Robi says:

    Thanks Crucible; on reading the preamble, CRICK and WATSON were obvious write-ins. I then looked for the 6,5 of double helix but didn’t find it!

    Thanks mhl; I found this quite tough and didn’t notice the DNA until late in the puzzle – nice idea though.

    Pity that one of the puzzles could not have been given on April 25th, the date of the publications in Nature.

  12. Meic says:

    Pity the preamble was inaccurate. DNA was not discovered 60 years ago. The discovery was the double helix structure.

  13. jeff Cumberbatch says:

    Thanks, Crucible, for a true prize puzzle and thanks, mhl, for a most helpful and learned blog. One query -is dishabille Franglais for deshabille, properly “acuted”, of course? I am familiar with the latter.

  14. nmsindy says:

    Re comment #13, DISHABILLE is in English dicts, eg Collins and Oxford.

  15. Martin P says:

    Och, the Electric Brae is nae working, Janet…

  16. michelle says:

    I really enjoy this puzzle by Crucible. I liked all of the clues with ‘DNA’ in them as well as BAKSHISH, DISHABILLE, FLAKIEST, AWEIGH, BRAE.

    New words for me were ‘parp’, ‘maxillae’, (as well as ‘axilla’ = armpit’), the river ERNE.

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I needed your help to parse 20a.

  17. Donald says:

    Thanks mhl for the very clear notes and the diverting me to read the interesting history surrounding Rosalind Franklin which was new to me.

    I enjoyed this puzzle. I also felt it was unnecessary to identify precisely where the scientists Watson and Crick were in the grid but it still took me a while to realize how the DNA theme worked. I was looking for double helix etc.

    The word BIOSCIENCE struck me as possibly anachronistic in this context. To me, it doesn’t seem to really convey meaning beyond the traditional word for the study of life: biology.

  18. mhl says:

    Eileen: thanks for your explanation of “after a ransom?” – I’ve updated the post with that.

    george, Meic: I had made the point about the nature of their discovery in the preamble to my post!

  19. Robi says:

    Donald @17; a biochemist or molecular biologist is more likely to be called a bioscientist than a biologist. Biologist is often reserved for someone working with animals, although the strict definition is broader.

  20. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Crucible and mhl

    Didn’t get a chance to look at the puzzle until this week and enjoyed it a lot. Tended to overlook the instructions for most of the puzzle – so did have to go the slow path to finding Watson and Crick again – didn’t see the DNA trick until final parsing run and many clues with ? in my mind.

    Somehow recalled ‘parp’ from the Noddy books …

    Many very good clues with DISHABILLE my favorite with the apt surface reading as well. Thought that the S/Z options in a blocked off position wasn’t right.

    Wonder if the position of where the E in HEART was a pictorial representation of where the heart might be in a hart.

  21. brucew_aus says:

    The S/Z in LIONISING – IONIZING that is.

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