Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 69 / Lavatch

Posted by mhl on April 6th, 2009


I found this to be the toughest Genius in a while, but very satisfying to solve. In each of the clues which must be changed, I have listed the clued answer first and then the version which should be entered into the grid. The changed letters spell out THE METAMOROPHOSIS and the letters across the middle line spell out GREGOR, so the question was whether to change that to BEETLE or INSECT. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has “insect” in its translation of the first line.

Obviously, it’s a remarkable achievement to construct this grid at all (all forms of the answers are words) and there are many excellent clues as well.

1. BATS / BAAS BAT = “Willow” + ’S = “has”; it took me a while to see that BAAS is from the noise a sheep makes, as in “bleats”
3. SHATTERS / SMATTERS HATTER = “fruitcake” in SS = “fascists”
9. ENLACES / UNLACES LA = “city” in [f]ENCES = “barriers”
11. MAUNDER / LAUNDER MA = “old lady” + UNDER = “knocked out”
12. CALORIE / CALORIC OR = “soldiers” (Other Ranks) + IE = “that is” after CAL[m]
13. INDITES / INDICES IN = “popular” + DIT[ti]ES = “songs leaving out note”
14. SMALLS / SMELLS SMALL (in the verb sense) = “Shrink” + [fetishise]S
15. MERGE / SERGE ME = “Lavatch” around ER = “ruler” + G = “bit of Gold”
18. ANOAS / ANTAS AS = “like” around NOA = “animal conservationist, we hear” (sounds like “Noah”); an anoa is a type of wild ox from Indonesia according to Chambers
20. BREACH / BLEACH BACH = “Composer” around RE = “touching”
24. BLEEPER / BLEEDER Under the standard crossword “East London” convention, you might BLEEP ‘ER to obscure swearing
26. HAILING / NAILING HAIG = “old soldier” around NIL = “zip” reversed
27. STOWING / STEWING STING = “deception” around O = “old” + W = “women”
28. INGENUS / INGENUE IN = “during” + GENUS = “class”
29. FAILINGS / FATLINGS FLINGS = “Tries” around AI = “dilatory creature” – I didn’t realise before looking it up that “dilatory” meant “given to procrastination”, so it’s a rather nice cryptic description of the sloth
1. BOUNCE O = “love” in BUNCE = “profit”
2. ALLELES (SELLA[fi]EL[d])*
4. MUSICALE / MUSICALS (A CLUE SIM[on])*, “Rattle” being the anagram indicator
5. TALKIE [pit]T + ALKIE = “lush”
6. EQUID E = “narcotic” + QUID = “substance”, as in “quid pro quo”, I suppose
7. SIDECAR IDE = “fish” in SCAR = “reef”
8. BRISKER / BRISKET BR = “British” + ISKER = “skier” with “heart transplant”
10. CAREERS / CAREENS A nice &lit: RE = “about” inside (RACES)*
15. SOAPING / SCAPING SO = “well” + APING = “doing”
16. GAMBIST / IAMBIST S = “soprano” in GAMBIT = “move”
17. GLANCING / ELANCING L = “Liberal” + ANC = “party” in GIN = “spirit” + G = “government”
19. THEREOF THE REF = “A particular official” around O = “nothing”
21. HAIRNET (THE RAIN)*; a nice sense of “Top Gear” :)
22. GRIGRI GR I = “Anne’s successor” (George I) followed by GRI[n]
23. EGGERS An egger is a type of moth, and someone who might “egg you on”

5 Responses to “Guardian Genius 69 / Lavatch”

  1. mhl says:

    No comments at all? I thought this would have been a popular one.

    The official annotated solutions are now available here:,,2297492,00.html

  2. dialrib says:

    Thanks for the blog. I agree there were excellent clues but it was the awesome construction of the puzzle that most drew my admiration. Pity it was beyond me but I learned a lot.

  3. Jayphid says:

    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask this, but has anybody else had trouble submitting their Genius solutions online. On the rare occasions that I complete the Genius on time, when I submit I just get a ‘Sorry’ page telling me the URL is not found.

    I have emailed both the crossword editor and the user help address about this but never received any reply.

    Any ideas?

  4. mhl says:

    Jayphid: sorry, but I don’t think I’ve seen that problem before. I think that the error you get if you try to submit solutions without being logged in used to be rather surprising, but I thought that they had fixed that…

  5. Jayphid says:

    Thanks, Mhl. Once I logged it, it worked. Simple, really, but it doesn’t seem to say anywhere that you have to be logged in, which would be helpful!

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