Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 87 by Lavatch

Posted by duncanshiell on October 3rd, 2010


Six months have passed, so it must be my turn to blog a Guardian Genius again.  

I have solved one or two Lavatch puzzles in The Listener so I knew this would be fairly tough.

In the end is wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be.

The preamble told us that “eight solutions with a common theme need to be encrypted before entry, using a simple substitution code.  The four-letter word that defines each of these eight solutions suggests how to encrypt one letter of the alphabet.  The other letters of the alphabet should be treated in a way that follows logically from this initial suggestion.  No two encrypted entries intersect in the grid.”

My initial assumption was that the word defining the theme would be of the form xTOy, e.g. ATOM or STOP.  In the event, the generic word was of the from xISy, namely FISH, meaning that each letter in the solution had to be advanced by two, as follows:





It was useful knowing that the FISH did not intersect as that helped identify which solutions would be entered normally.

The eight FISH, in normal clue order were:









I readily admit that I did not recognise very many of these as FISH without reference to a dictionary.

It took me a while to get going, and I kept coming back to it throughout the month as there was no pressing deadline.

As usual, I learnt a few new words and phrases.  Also, I learnt more about art and literature which are not my strong subjects  Give me science and sport anytime, but I know there are many solvers who will not share my views.  Crossword solving is a wonderful voyage of discovery.

No. Wordplay Solution Entry
1 RES (reservation) reversed (about) + anagram of (travelling) AGENT + MAJOR (reference John Major, former leader of the Conservative party) SERGEANT MAJOR (a fairly senior non-commissioned officer; also a boldly-striped fish of warm seas) UGTIGCPVOCLQT
9 (SCAR [traumatise] + CROW [native American {people}]), containing (taking in) the last letter of (end of) MOVIE SCARECROW (one that’s terrifying the birds) SCARECROW
10 WOE (misfortune) reversed (receded) containing (having pocketed) LB (pound) ELBOW (crook, in the sense of ‘bend’)) ELBOW
11 INRI (Latin abbreviation for Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum, INRI is often seen on a cross) containing (about) D (dead) INDRI (a short tailed lemur; animal) INDRI
12 Anagram of (criminal) MENDS containing (stashing) anagram of (forged) OPAL ENDOPLASM (part of a cell) ENDOPLASM
13 DEMO (rally) + (IE [that is] containing [gathering] SELL [flog]) DEMOISELLE (a young lady; also a fish of the genus Pomacentrus) FGOQKUGNNG
15 MIST (a variation of the theme, instructing us that M is T, hence MUM is TUT) MIST (light rain) MIST
18 JACK (a card in a deck of cards) JACK (mariner; also any of a number of tropical and subtropical carangid fishes) LCEM
19 LONGED (desired) containing (restrict) (LE ([the’ in French; foreign] + GG [good, twice; goods]) LONG-LEGGED (Edward I was known as ‘long shanks’ or long legs) LONG-LEGGED
22 STAR (one who’s really good) + GAZER (one who’s looking), run together to get a cryptic definition of ‘one who’s really good looking’) STARGAZER (Mystic Meg was an astrologist wheeled out by the BBC in the very early days of the National Lottery; also any fish of the family Uranoscopidae with upward looking eyes) UVCTICBGT
25 GI ([American] soldier) reversed (returned) containing (clothe) NCO (non-commissioned officer; soldier) INCOG (short for incognito; disguised) INCOG
26 Hidden word (there is some) in PIANISM ELTON SMELT (funky [funk is a strong unpleasant smell]; also a fish of the family Osmeridae, related to the salmon family) UOGNV
27 Anagram of (must be reformed) ADMIT KIDS TSADDIKIM (a Hasidic leader in Judaism) TSADDIKIM
28 Anagram of (rewriting) LETTER IS AN ART TRANSLITERATE (to write a word in letters of another alphabet or language) TRANSLITERATE


No. Wordplay Solution Entry
2 GR (king) + AND + IO (priestess in Greek mythology) plus first two letters of (not half) SEEM GRANDIOSE (majestic) GRANDIOSE
3 ICE (diamond[s]) + PICK (a diamond in cards), taken together, add an S to make plural, diamonds ICE PICKS (tools for breaking apart) ICE PICKS
4 COR (a Hebrew measure, the homer) + (RIO [foreign city] containing [stopped by] EGG (encourage]) CORREGGIO (Italian painter [1489-1534]) CORREGGIO
5 VD (venereal disease; gonorrhoea, colloquially ‘clap’) containing (receiving) (O [old] + WE [crossword compilers]) VOWED (promised) VOWED
6 CRY (screech) containing (covering) PEE (urinate; colloquially, ‘tinkle’) reversed (up) CREEPY (eldritch) CREEPY
7 IQ (intelligence) reversed (turned) + (BA [graduate] containing [maintaining] L [liberal]) QIBLA (the direction of Mecca, the holy city of Islam, very appropriate as I will probably be in Saudi Arabia when this blog is published)) QIBLA
8 SUCKER (one who has been had by a  conman) SUCKER (sweet, double definition; also a freshwater fish related to the carp) UWEMGT
9 (S [I think we are using the S after the apostrophe of vessel’s] + F [fine]) containing (containing) KIF (marijuana, also refrred to as ‘tea’) SKIFF (vessel) SKIFF
14 N (name) + E (eastern) + (GIANT [monster] containing (sheltering) [O [round] + T [Thailand]) NEGOTIANT (one conferring) NEGOTIANT
16 NADIR (bottom, excluding the final [right away] R) contained by (pinched by) GREER (reference Germaine Greer, feminist) GRENADIER (soldier trained in the use of grenades, combatant; also a deep sea fish of the Macrouridae family) ITGPCFKGT
17 BE WILDER (exhortation to get more savage) BEWILDER (buffalo, in its North American sense of ‘to bewilder’) BEWILDER
18 LAURA (Apparently the Italian poet Petrarch [304-1374] penned poems to his lady love, one Laura, excluding the last letter [cut] A) + US (country) LAURUS (genus of laural trees) LAURUS
20 BEAK (magistrate; justice) containing (introduced) first letter of (initially) LYCURGUS (the legendary lawgiver of Sparta) BLEAK (spartan; also a small silvery river fish) DNGCM
21 SILVER (money, excluding final two letters [reduced by a third] ER) + AN (first and last letters of [gutted] ALLEN) SILVAN (woody; a recent Inquisiitor included SILVAS as an answer) SILVAN
23 C (Cuba) + first letter of (beginning to) ILLUMINATED + (RAG [a low quality tabloid newspaper, The Sun possibly]  reversed [rising]) CIGAR (Havana cigar) CIGAR
24 BET (lay [a bet]) + EL (railway line) BETEL (leaf of the betel pepper) BETEL

3 Responses to “Guardian Genius 87 by Lavatch”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Duncan. I had got nowhere with this earlier in the month, but decided to have a final go at it this evening before the deadline, and to my surprise managed to finish it off quite quickly. I was convinced for a long time that MIST (M is T) was the key to the code, but I should have read the instructions more carefully! It was nice misdirection that all the fish had other meanings.

    BEWILDER for “buffalo” in 17dn reminds me of the strange sentence that contains eight occurrences of “buffalo” and nothing else.

  2. Jan says:

    Duncan, what a superb analysis: thank you! :-D

    I made the mistake of assuming that only the crossing letters were coded by the F is H rule and entered the other letters in the solution normally. I don’t think the need to encrypt the entire solution was made clear in the preamble and I emailed Hugh Stevenson to ask if both interpretations would be accepted. He did not reply and no mention of this is made in his newsletter.

    e.g. 1a – SERGEANT MAJOR. I entered SGRIECNV MCJQR; only encrypting the crossing letters.

    Like Andrew, I was befogged by MIST before I got 26, SMELT, giving me the theme. Unfortunately I entered UMGLV instead of UOGNV.

    I had to use Google to check TSADDIKIM.

    Overall it was not a taxing puzzle. I enjoyed SCARECROW at 9, but little else. In fact, I have enjoyed Duncan’s Blog more!

  3. Mr Beaver says:

    We worked out that there was a two-letter shift going on (and didn’t find the instructions ambiguous), but never found the theme. Having made the mistake of putting 1a in plain, rather than coded, we struggled for ages. Even when this was corrected, we only managed about half the crossword – I thought even the ‘plain’ clues were tough, then you were often unable to enter a solution without knowing whether it was ‘themed’ or not.
    Can’t complain, though, one doesn’t expect the Genius to be easy!

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