Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 84: elastic despair

Posted by bridgesong on July 6th, 2010


This month’s theme involved removing words from a number of across clues and then putting anagrams of them in some of the down clues. Two further unclued entries were to be found by taking the initial letters of the missing or redundant words. I found the easiest way to start was by looking for words that didn’t appear to belong, and seeing if they could form anagrams.

Apologies for any errors, but I wasn’t expecting to blog this puzzle, which is why it is a little late and I have had to do the blog some time after I solved the puzzle.

8 ENQUIRER QUIR(e) inside RENE (rev); the reference is to Rene MAGRITTE, the answer to 20 across.
9 ODOUR The clue should read: “Determined to go after Orwell’s top pen and ink” although mysteriously the annotated solution on the Guardian website suggests that the missing word is OPT, which makes no sense at all. As amended, the clue gives O (Orwell’s “top” letter), plus DOUR. Pen and ink is apparently rhyming slang for stink.
10 WEEK This clue could read: “Time said Dicky”. This would have meant that either WEEK or WEAK would be correct, and therefore the clue should read “Time Dicky said“, to which only WEEK can be the answer. Unfortunately I, along with others, failed to see this and am now duly rebuked.
11 BRUSH ASIDE The word ALTERED was omitted from this fairly obvious anagram.
12 BRAINY This clue should read: “Downfall inside nigh – brilliant!” which would have produced an odd surface reading.
14 HABANERA Anagram of H (Planck’s constant) and E and AN ARAB.
15 ELASTIC Anagram of the initial letters of the missing words (which is why OPT is wrong: see 9 across).
17 ISOLATE I (symbol for electric current) + SO + LATE. Lovely surface reading.
20 MAGRITTE The word CONTAINS (*SANCTION) has been omitted. GRIT in MATE (China is old slang for mate).
24 BAIT This clue should read “Lure of speed that enthrals one”. I still don’t see how BAT = SPEED.
26 ISLAMITE The word EASTERN (*EARNEST) should appear somewhere in this clue. IS + LAM + IT + E.
2 FUNK Two definitions.
3 CRABBY Refers to the Crab Nebula.
4 WROUGHT INDIES had to be removed from this clue so that INSIDE could be added to 12 across. W + R + OUGHT.
5 SOTHEBYS Here RULE had to be removed to provide LURE at 24 across.   *THE BOYS + S. “House with lots” is a nice definition.
6 BOYS IN BLUE ALERTED had to go, to become ALTERED in 11 across. *NOISY B in BLUE (or down).
7 TRADER EARNEST was an obvious candidate to go here, but the problem was that it could form more than one anagram. I wasted some time trying to insert NEAREST in an across clue. RED + ART (all rev.)
13 INSTRUMENT SANCTIONS was the extra word here, forming CONTAINS in 20 across. *UN + INSERT + M, + T. Without the missing word, the surface reading is poor.
16 INTREPID POT had to go from this clue, to form TOP in 9 across. *TRIPE IN + D.
18 TOURISTY R inside UIST inside TOY. In this clue “circles” is a verb meaning to encompass, not a noun.
19 DESPAIR Anagram of the initial letters of the words removed.
21 AGHAST Hidden in “Jag has to”. “Wings drop off” is a subtle indication of a hidden word.
22 RATTLE Remove DAIS for SAID in 10 across, and the answer is the eponymous conductor.
24 BUMF BUM + F(olio).

4 Responses to “Guardian Genius 84: elastic despair”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Bridgesong

    I am impressed. I think this is the third Genius I have managed to finish, which made me very chuffed [and I had WEEK!] but if I had been unexpectedly asked to blog it, one month on, I’d have been really floundering. So much water [and so many puzzles] under so many bridges in the meantime!

    I do remember really enjoying it, though, but it took time – therefore congratulations once again to Ian N14 for being first up. But still, bless him, the £100 eludes him! :-(

    My approach was the same as yours – look for the words that don’t appear to belong – but I think your preamble has the task the wrong way round.

    I remember enjoying this hugely but being just mildly surprised that the unclued words didn’t have any relevance to each other nor to the puzzle – but that would be asking too much, I think.

    Many thanks for the blog. Not for the first time, I think a month between solving and solution / blog is slightly too long for someone my age! – and it’s a bit much when you can’t rely on the annotated solution. :-(

    Re24ac: I had no problem with bat = speed: I thought I’d heard ‘go off at a great bat’ and Chambers gives ‘speed, rate’.

  2. beermagnet says:

    I’m so glad this blog if here to remind us of this puzzle.

    Looking at the scribble on the print I have, I recall that what I particularly liked about this puzzle was the fiddling around with the letters of the unclued answers.
    I found the crossing answers to 15A and 19D were some of the slightly easier answers. But spotting, and being sure about, the words to pick out of the Down clues and finding the correct thing to do with them was quite hard.
    So I had 15A -L-S-I- and 19D -E-P(?)-I- at the side of the grid foir some time, and struggled trying to make CLASSIC fit – and when I abandoned that started on PLASTIC, before I got to ELASTIC. AS for 19D – I’m sure that was the last thing I wrote in.

    I find I am a WEAK solver. I can see the argument for WEEK as the “correct” answer, so I’m glad they allowed WEAK as a valid answer, even though I know I didn’t give it a second thought when I put it in – I thought it was the “obvious” answer and didn’t see the ambiguity.

  3. Philip M says:

    I noticed the ambiguity of WEAK / WEEK and assumed that the quotation marks around “tricky” were to tell us which one of the words was being said.

    I know that punctuation normally means nothing, but (not having thought of the clever-clever reasoning given by Hugh Stephenson) I couldn’t see any other way of deciding between the two options, so I went for WEAK.

  4. Jan says:

    Thank you, bridgesong, for your excellent blog.

    I was a wea/ek person who entered ‘inquirer’ instead of ‘enquirer’. Doh! I blame the pronunciation of Rene as Reni.

    I also had problems when I altered alerted to related instead of altered.

    All in all, all credit to Brummie – not weak at all.

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