Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,944 / Bonxie

Posted by Eileen on February 26th, 2010


A quite quick second appearance  for  Bonxie this year,  considering we had only four of his / her puzzles last year [thanks, Andrew!]. There was nothing too taxing – some ingenious clues and a few niggles.


DUGOUT: a nice double definition with a good surface
6   ENOUGH: ENO [English National Opera] + UGH [expression of disgust]
10  NAPOLEON: NAP [sleep] + O [nothing] + LE[m]ON: I hadn’t heard of this name for a ‘small rich iced cake with layers of puff pastry filled with cream, custard or jam’ [Chambers]. I thought it sounded like what I would call a vanilla / cream / custard slice, which was confirmed by Wikipedia.
11  LOVE: [p]LOVE[r]
13  PERFORATION: F[rench] in PERORATION [the conclusion of a speech]
18  HINDERANCE: anagram of INCHED NEAR: I had something of a hindrance here, never having seen it spelt this way, so couldn’t believe it wasn’t a mistake. Of my dictionaries, only Chambers has this spelling.
21 LOOK: LOO [John = lavatory] + K[ing]: a ‘butcher’s [hook]’ is Cockney rhyming slang for a look. A neat surface.
22 STEPSONS: STEPS ON S[mall]: an old favourite in a slightly different guise
23 PALLID: P[ersonal] A[ssistant] [aide] + LLID [reverse of DILL [herb]: nice surface
24  RESIGN: S[econd] in REIGN
25  ROMCOM: M[ilitary] C[ross] [medal] in ROOM [space]; I can’t see why ‘movies’ is plural.


1   AGGRIEVE: AG [silver] + GRIEVE: I’m not happy with this one: a greave is a piece of leg armour but I can’t find it with this spelling and there’s no homophone indicator, as there would have been had ‘for example’ been ‘say’. And a greave is an example of armour, not vice versa.
SUNDER: SUN [paper] + DER [reversal of RED [Left]: another niggle: why ‘to the’? – which doesn’t really work – and the grammar of ‘after’ is rather inelegant.
3   ANAPAEST: anagram of SPA A NEAT: a metrical foot consisting of two short / unstressed syllables followed by one long / stressed syllable. I liked the surface.
4   OUTLET: another neat double definition
5   DOLLOP: DO [bash] – which can be taken two ways:  DO = bash = party or DO = bash = beat up! + reversal of POLL [head]
7   HOOPOE: HOOP [ring] + O[n]E: I vaguely remembered having heard of this bird: the cluing was faultless.
8   ANACHRONISM: a fairly obvious anagram of ANCHORMAN IS
14 FURLOUGH: FUR [coat] + LOUGH [Irish lake]
15 OIL SLICK: OILS [{painting} medium] + LICK [wash – as in ‘a lick and a promise’]
17  PODIUM: POD [school – of whales, etc.] + I [one] + UM [hesitation]
19  DEPOSE: EP [record] in DOSE [measure]: like 2dn, this appears to be the wrong way round but does [just] work if you think of it as ‘measure [with] record found in [it]’
20 EMPLOY: ‘EM [them] + PLOY [subterfuge]. I don’t remember seeing anything like this before. Dropped aitches, for instance, are always indicated. “Recruit ’em” would, admittedly, have weakened the clue considerably, but I don’t think that the clue, as it stands, is fair. [I might have forgiven it if there had been some humour there!]

37 Responses to “Guardian 24,944 / Bonxie”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Unlike you I found this quite hard going, though looking back there’s nothing too obscure (I knew ANAPAEST, so got that quickly from the anagram, and HOOPOE was vaguely familiar.)

    A couple of quibbles to add to yours:
    6ac – not happy about “singers” as a definition of ENO: an opera company has other people as well!
    9ac – Florid = Red? Is that in any dictionary? The literal meaning is “flowery”, of course.

    Some nice clues though – I liked 14dn and 15dn

    In 2dn, I think “to the left” defines RED.

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    Re ‘florid': yes, Latin ‘floridus’ means ‘flowery’and it’s given that meaning in both Collins and Chambers as the second definition [figuratively, of rhetoric, architecture] the first being ‘having a red or flushed complexion’ [Collins] and ‘bright in colour, flushed with red’ [Chambers].

    Re 2dn; yes, thanks, I think that works now.

  3. Jobs says:

    Is it just me, or is Bonxie a great name?

  4. Uncle Yap says:

    Nice puzzle, nice blog

    Chambers has this for FLORID adj flowery; bright in colour; flushed with red; (of a complexion) ruddy, often unhealthily so; characterized by flowery rhetoric, melodic figures, or other ornament; over-adorned; richly ornamental; having many flowers

    ROMCOM is romantic comedies; hence the plural for movies. I am totally with Eileen on 1Down … not a very satisfactory clue.

  5. Ian says:

    An entertaining puxxle from Bonxie with three quibbles and thanks for the blog Eileen.

    I agree, the use of the plural (movies) appears wrong to enable the solver to arrive at ‘romcom’. Florid/Red is disingenuous. 1dn is clunky too – but easily solvable nevertheless.

    Those apart, a good workout for a Friday morning. 56′ solving time.

  6. Ian says:

    Uncle Yap, ‘Romcon’ (a horrible word) is romantic comedy, not romantic comedies.

  7. Eileen says:

    Uncle Yap

    I thought initially that maybe ROMCOM was a generic word, as you suggest, so checked in Chambers, which gives ‘a romantic comedy’.

  8. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Ian!

  9. Jim says:

    Perhaps the ENO in 6ac is from TENORS?

  10. Jim says:

    Just checked OED online for definition of CRYPTIC and nowhere can I find “confusing” or “devious” or “obscure”.
    Or am I being picky??

  11. molonglo says:

    Raced through this guessing at 6a ENO being some UK mob, 10a cake and 25a ROMCOM, on the sitcom analogy. Baulked at 1d but assumed a greave alternative and didn’t like 2d with its ‘to the’ and ‘after’. So basically thanks Eileen, I agree with you throughout.

  12. Bill Taylor says:

    Only my second Bonxie but I’m not impressed so far. This hasn’t been a great week — three disappointments in a row.

  13. Martin H says:

    Not an easy one, made harder by the rare spelling of ‘hindrance’ and the mis-clueing of ‘aggrieved’. That, and my finding INDIAN(a) for 9a (for indian red, not Red Indian) made for a frustrating corner. I agree with Ian, ‘romcom’ is a horrid word, and the only definitions I’ve seen are singular.

    Some nice clues though, 3, 5, 10, 17, in particular.

    I think you are being picky, Jim. Collins gives ‘obscure in meaning’, as well as ‘secret’ and ‘occult'; but in any case isn’t it the art of the setter to camouflage and mislead, by being confusing, devious, and occasionally obscure?

  14. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    I had a slightly different parsing for 10ac – LE[mon] in NAP O ON

    I think both options can be justified depending on how one reads the clue.

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. I think you’re probably right. 😉

  16. crikey says:

    Agree with Eileen’s comments above. Like Andrew at comment 1, I found this very hard-going and gave up in the end. Once I’d established that 1d had to be AGGRIEVE (but didn’t make sense), I thought I’d save my energy.

    As Eileen says, some wit would have saved some of the weaker clues perhaps.

  17. Jobs says:

    Thanks Eileen! I now see why I gave up on this: I had three wrong entries that blocked any chance of progress (and of those I had right two were for the wrong reasons).

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I found this hard-going and didn’t get ROMCOM or PODIUM. Agree with your niggles, especially 1dn and I also was put off by the unusual spelling of ‘hindrance’.

    I liked 21ac and 14dn.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Liz [and Andrew]

    Re 14dn: it’s a nice surface but I didn’t think ‘beside’ really worked here, in a down clue.

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard work and for the class dummy would have been insoluble without web gadgets. Having spotted the anagram for 3, I was pleased I used a solver for it ‘cos it was a new word for me. I regard the spotting as the intelligent bit, acually doing the anagrams is just mechanical letter shuffling and rather boring, so sorry purists, no guilty feelings.

    ROMCOM, unknown not only to me, but to a host of word-aid gadgets. One finally came up with it, and of the several on-line dictionaries I then tried to check it with at, only one had it and that one gave it as plural! So different dictionaries give different answers as to singular/plural. To me that would suggest it is valid as either. However, I then went on to check it in Wiktionary, that gives ROMCOM and ROMCOMS! So you pay your money and take your choice, but there would seem to be sufficient doubt as to be not too critical of the clue.

    Maybe it’s my accent, but it didn’t occur to me that hindrance was unusual, either way would fit how I say it, with that vowel very short but not quite hindr’nce.

  21. Andrew says:

    “Hindrance” reminds me of the booming declaration at the front of my passport, where Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs requests and requires all those it may concern to let me pass “without let or hindrance”. I’m pretty sure it’s spelt without the extra E there..

    (Actually of course the greatest amount of let & hindrance most passport-holders get is when entering the UK..)

  22. liz says:

    Eileen — you’re probably right about the ‘beside’, which didn’t really occur to me!

  23. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I agree with your criticisms. I found this hardgoing.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for another great (and detailed) blog – so let’s call it a blo …
    A bit of an uninspiring puzzle today, but not too bad either.

    I fully agree with all of your quibbles.
    In fact, 1d is a plain mistake – that’s what I call it.
    Being one of the reasons that we got lost completely in the NW.
    LOVE is very hard to find when you don’t have anything to stick too
    (just like in real life :) ).
    And 9ac is a clue that can be read in various ways, for example: a state + the letter a or the last letter of premature. Again, when you don’t have any crossing letters, it’s a hard clue.

    Re 10ac (NAPOLEON) we agree with Gaufrid (#14) – in fact, we think that the other explanation isn’t right, because the word ‘on’ shouldn’t be there then.
    Eileen, you’re quite right with your critical notes on 19d.
    But even Rufus does things like that every now and then – we don’t like it because it is avoidable.
    While we did have a problem with the ‘after’ in 2d (you can’t do everything just for the surface), we saw ROMCOM as a genre (so singular) that stands for certain ‘movies’ (so plural).
    Not sure whether EM for ‘them’ in 20d should have been indicated or not.

    And there’s a thing nobody mentioned so far.
    In 7d there is a HOOP with ONE missing the N.
    N for ‘number’?
    Bradford doesn’t say so.
    And Chambers gives us: “an indefinite or large number”.
    I think “number” as such is not enough.
    When we talk about “indefinite number”, we are using the N as a kind of variable, just like X or Y, but not like, for example, C or M (for 100 and 1000). More or less the same for “large number”. I think – in this case – you can’t separate the word “number” from its adjective.
    So I have objections against this clue.
    It is a missed chance anyway because the alternative spelling of HOOPOE is “hoopoo”, which could have been clued as ‘Three rings’ (HOOP+O+O).

    So why, after all this, did I say ‘this puzzle was not too bad’.
    Well, because of something that Eileen made clear at several places in her blog: the very nice surfaces that Bonxie created (especially 15d).
    It saved the crossword, we thought.

  25. stiofain says:

    I agree this was a patchy affair mostly very good surfaces but perhaps some strictness was sacrificed for this. Good blog Eileen and lol @ Sil ( as the kids say ) for blo.

  26. Eileen says:


    Thanks for the mathematical input. I’ve several times lately seen N as ‘indefinite number’ in crosswords and almost commented on the redundancy of ‘indefinite’- what a good job I didn’t! I’m by no means a Mathematician – but I can cope with the Roman numbers!

    Gaufrid is quite right re 10ac, of course. I read the ON [necessary for the surface, of course] as the usual crosswordese for ‘added on’ and I quite liked the idea of a ‘slice’ off each end of ‘lemon’ – but I am quite persuaded. :-)

    And, as stiofain says, thanks for the ‘blo…’!

  27. john goldthorpe says:

    N is a standard abbreviation for ‘number’ in statistics: e.g. for the number of individuals in a sample.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    John, of course, I know that the letter N can stand (and often does stand) for ‘number’ in e.g. statistics, but it is used as a variable (or parameter) rather than a symbol for a certain number. Thát was my point.
    In statistics this ‘number’ of objects is indeed called N because of the first letter of the word ‘number’, but for me not enough to define N as ‘number’ in a crossword.
    I don’t want to argue about it, but my intuition says so.

    If we want to allow this, then F might be ‘Function’, r be ‘ratio’ and P be ‘probability’, to name a few.
    I am not sure if we should want this.
    [Well, I am sure I don’t want this in Cryptic Land – but who am I?]

  29. hoffi says:

    I thought it was great!

  30. Paul (not Paul) says:

    My least favourite for some time. Unfamiliar words, misspellings, dodgy cluing and general obscurity. Too much for me. Give me Rover any day.

  31. Stuart says:

    1 Down: perhaps

    “for example” =say = sounds like

  32. Sylvia says:

    Didn’t get into this at all – my worst effort for a long time. Only got 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23 and 25 and didn’t like some of them anyway. Obviously not on Bonxie’s wavelength.

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Stuart, as Eileen already suggested in her blo(g): that might indeed have been Bonxie’s way of thinking.

    “For example” can be “say” , so A=B.
    And “say” can be a homophone indicator, so B=C.
    But, unfortunately, the laws of Mathematics – giving us A=C – don’t work here.
    According to cryptic rules, “for example” is not a homophone indicator.
    Therefore – although I see you point – I still think that it’s a (basic) mistake.

  34. Mr Beaver says:

    Just finished this ! But then we didn’t start it until bedtime last night after a marathon with Paul’s Thursday effort :(.
    Agreed with all the cavils, but I still don’t get 5a. DUGOUT is a type of canoe, but how is it in place of a sub ??

    In fact, we were led astray by this as we’d originally written OCEANA =(A canoe)*, and had also tentatively put RESIGN for 6a (SINGERs)* – and some people resign in disgust… Not very good, I know, but no worse than 1d turned out !

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi Mr Beaver

    Re 5ac: I can’t believe I know this and someone else doesn’t – which is an observation on my areas of ignorance, not yours! :-)
    A dugout is also “a [usu. sunken] shelter or covered bench area beside a sports pitch in which players, etc wait when not in the game.” [Chambers]

  36. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks Eileen. That does ring a faint bell now, though I yield to none in my level of ignorance when it comes to sporting matters!

  37. Paul B says:

    ‘Any number’ = N, shurely.

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