Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,255 / Bonxie

Posted by Eileen on February 25th, 2011


We don’t see enough of Bonxie, I think, so this was very welcome: a witty and entertaining puzzle, with ingenious cluing, some excellent surfaces, several penny-dropping moments and a few smiles to end the week.

Bonxie quite often has a theme. I can’t spot one today: I hope I shan’t emerge with egg on my face.


1   STAGE-STRUCK: anagram of GREATS in STUCK [fast]
9   ANYTIME: reversed in extrEMITY NAture
10  FAST ONE: double definition: to pull a fast one is to cheat and the cheetah is the fastest land animal
11  DROP SCONE: anagram [foreign] of COPS in DRONE [layabout]: drop scones are also called Scotch pancakes.
12  TOKEN: double definition
13 MOOT: MOO [low] + T [centre of counTries]: we’ve had moo = low several times lately but this is a particularly nice treatment.
14  MEDALLIONS: MEDAL [prize] + LIONS [British and Irish Lions Rugby Union touring team]: they don’t seem to have made it to the dictionary but a medallion is a small, round cut of meat, usually pork, veal, or beef.
16  COMMISSION: double definition
19  ANON: [c]ANON
21  ALEPH: ALE [porter] + PH [public house]: aleph is the first letter of the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets
22  INTERDICT: INT [international] + anagram of CREDIT: a superb surface and probably my favourite clue
24  CONCERT: CON [swindle] + CERT [banker] – nice to see this not as a clue for ‘river’
25  RENEGUE: anagram of EU GREEN
26  TISSUE PAPER: ISSUE [young] + P[lants] in TAPER [lighter]: ingenious wordplay


1   STYROFOAM PEANUT: anagram [indicator ‘train’] of FOREMAN PUTS A TOY: another lovely construction. I’d no idea that’s what these things were called:  STYROFOAM emerged from the anagram but it made me laugh when the remaining letters gave only ‘peanut’. I had to google to make sure. [A nice link to the preceding clue.]
2   ALIAS: A + reversal of SAIL: strictly speaking, a sheet is a rope controlling the position of a sail relative to the wind but Chambers gives ‘sail’ as a poetic use.
EYESORE: reversal of ROSE [flower] in EYE [hole – as in a needle]: this time ‘flower’ does mean ‘flower’ and I was relieved not to see ‘eyesore = stye': nice clue
4   TAFFETA: reversal of FAT [large] + FETA [Greek cheese]
5   UNSETTLE: anagram of STEEL NUT
6   KNOCK  DOWN GINGER: double / cryptic definition [KNOCKDOWN [cheap] GINGER [spice] and this game, played all round the world, it seems, under various names [apparently ‘Bell-fast’ in Northern Ireland!]. Another great clue, I thought, which I got from the first part of the wordplay, rather than knowing that name for the game.
7   RANDOM: RAND [international [?] money] + OM [Order of Merit]
8   TENNIS: reversal of INN [pub] in SET [crowd]: another lovely surface
15  HIGHNESS: double definition, I think: the state of being ‘high’ [on kicks?] – but  then  why ‘overhead’, apart from for the surface? and Prince [His Royal Highness]. I think I might be missing something here.  Edit: I was: it’s HIGH [kick] ‘over head’ [NESS] – see first few comments.
17  SHIATSU: S[mall] + anagram of HIATUS: what about ‘hernia’ as an indicator? The surface is superb! Shiatsu is ‘a Japanee healing and health-producing therapy using massage with fingers, palms, etc.’
18  OUTCROP: OUT [forbidden] + CROP: Chambers: ‘outcrop: an exposed edge of rock or of a mineral vein at ground level’.
20  NETHER: N [number] + ETHER [the other crossword ‘number’] – another excellent clue that made me smile
23 RUN UP: double definition

47 Responses to “Guardian 25,255 / Bonxie”

  1. Shirley says:

    15D Thanks Eileen – we enjoyed this one too. I think a ness is a head of land so it’s high ness

  2. Rishi says:

    15a I think NESS comes from ‘head’. So HIGH + NESS gives the solution.

  3. Rishi says:

    Sorry, that should have been 15d.

  4. Sean McCarthy says:

    15 down – “ness” = head(land) high = kick; therefore high over ness = prince.

    But thanks for the explanations of the other clues – I had difficulty rationalising them.

  5. Rishi says:

    I know that it’s just that the explanation did not occur to you at the time of writing.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Shirley and Rishi – and Sean for finally unravelling ‘over head’.

    I’m really kicking myself, because that’s my kind of clue!

  7. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen – and Bonxie, for the greatest challenge of the week so far.

    Although familiar with both things, I had never come across the terms STYROFOAM PEANUT (an Americanism, surely – we Brits usually call the stuff from which the beads are made expanded polystyrene) or KNOCK DOWN GINGER, which didn’t make this puzzle any easier.

    I had CONTEST (TEST = river, ie banker!) for 24a until I had checked with all my dictionaries that there was no way that this meant ‘agreement’.

    Some great clues here – my favourites are 9a and 17d.

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen. I agree, there were some excellent surfaces here, and a truly enjoyable solve, where my thought processes were along the same lines as yours.

  9. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Bonxie for a fine puzzle. Despite several newies, this was all eventually gettable. Last three all caused increasing chagrin – 15d, 20d and finally 24a – had all the letters but still found them vexing, esp the possibilities of CONSENT, CONTEST and then CONCERT, spotting the dead cert/banker possibility in the end. Nice

  10. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I agree that it would be good to see more of this setter! It took me quite a while to get started and the NW corner caused me the most head-scratching, until I finally saw STYROFOAM and worked out PEANUT. That was a new term for me, as was the name of game at 6dn.

    Fell into the trap at 24ac :-( and put CONSENT.

    Lots of great surfaces, which I always like, 16ac especially. 20ac made me smile.

  11. Wanderer says:

    Thanks Eileen and Bonxie. I found this difficult but very rewarding as it gradually (and slowly) fell into place. Although I got NETHER from the definition and crossing letters, I still don’t understand how ETHER is a “crossword ‘number'” — any explanations gratefully received!

  12. Pat says:

    Ether is an anaesthetic, i.e something which numbs, and thus a “number”. An old crossword chestnut.

  13. Wanderer says:

    Of course! Thank you Pat. How did I not see that…

  14. liz says:

    @10 — I got my clues in a twist. I meant to say I liked 26ac especially — and 20dn made me smile. (Must pay more attention…)

  15. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen,
    As you say,we don’t see enough of Bonxie,because this was a super puzzle.
    The 2 long down clues were both new to me and eventually solved from the wordplay.
    I first entered ‘punnet’instead of ‘peanut’ and it was only when I actually wrote out the anagram letters that I saw the light.One of those everyday items we’ve all encountered but I doubt if many could name.
    I thought 6 down may have been a campanological term,rather boringly, we just called it ‘knock and run’ when we were kids.
    Also liked banker/cert instead of the usual ‘river’ meaning.

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi Scarpia

    Re 6dn: I’m sure that’s the route Bonxie meant us to go down! :-) Having got practically all the crossing letters, I googled and found the likes of Kent Treble Bob Major, Grandsire Caters, Erin Triples, Chartres Delight Royal, Percy’s Tea Strainer Treble Place Major, Titanic Cinques, etc, which got me nowhere – that’s when I decided to go back to the wordplay in the first half of the clue, which, as has been said, was actually quite straightforward!

  17. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, I thought this was excellent, too, enjoyed immensely and I found it just the right degree of toughness. I was a CONSENTEr, but explain why; I may be being thick but why is CERT Banker?

  18. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Bonxie

    I came to this late morning and found it pretty hard.

    I realised that 1d was styro-something and checked Chambers and found styrofoam. I then got peanut from remaining letters. I am only used to ‘polystyrene’.

    6d. also caused me trouble but eventually the penny dropped. I had to check the answer on google – I could not find it in Chambers.

    ‘Drop scone’ took a long time to see as did ‘alias’. To my shame I only got ‘eyesore’ after checking eye-words in Chambers. It was the last to go in and I wanted to get finished.

    16d also held me up. I wondered if it could be ‘transe’ which on checking turned out to be a Scottish word for ‘a through passage’! But ‘commission’ set me right eventually.

    Nicer and wittier in retrospect than in some parts of the actual solving. I feel my mind has had a thorough work-out.

    ‘Highness’ was probably my favourite answer. ‘Shiatsu’ also pleased. As Eileen partly suggests, ‘massage’ rather than ‘hernia’ seemed likely to be the anagram instructor.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave E

    Chambers: ‘banker: a certainty, something that can be banked or betted on’.

  20. Wolfie says:

    A lovely puzzle to finish the week – my only reservation being ‘hiatus’ as the anagrind in 17d. When I saw ‘slag heap’ in 3d I half expected another sexist clue but my fears were unfounded!

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Wolfie @20
    :) I suspect you mean ‘hernia’! I’m glad your ‘half expectancies’ were unfounded. That reading really would have been quite unacceptable!

    re your query yesterday: Arachne and Audreus come to my mind. There is a comprehensive list of setters on the ‘Bestfor puzzles’ website.

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu and Wolfie

    Coincidentally, I have only just posted a note on Arachne under ‘General Discussion’, where, also coincidentally, there has recently been discussion about the dearth of women setters / solvers.

  23. John says:

    Eileen, the reason you can’t find 14 ac in a dictionary is because they’re actually called MEDAILLONS in cookery I believe

  24. Gaufrid says:

    In which case it is in Chambers because under ‘medallion’ def.4 is “a médaillon”.

  25. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, John! Found it in both Chambers and Collins – only inches away from where I was looking.

    I obviously go to down-market pubs! There were plenty of Google references to pork, etc. medallions – and in my recipe books too, I’m sure, including the sainted Delia, as here:

  26. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid [sorry for the cross]. I didn’t look that far in Chambers this morning!

  27. Rishi says:

    22 Eileen
    I visited Archives where most of the topics appear to have been ‘closed’ and they don’t have any fresh posts that I have not seen aleady. So where exactly is ‘General Discussion’ you mention above?

  28. Eileen says:

    At the top ofthis page, Rishi. :-)

  29. Rishi says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Gaufrid, why can’t we have it under Categories in the panel on left?

  30. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen & Bonxie
    I enjoyed the 2 long down clues, both new phrases for me
    As others did, I was trying to put ‘contest’ at 24ac

  31. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Rishi
    When I did some tidying up of the site towards the end of December I made the General Discussion a page rather than a post, but that means it can only appear in the header bar and not under categories.

    The reason for this change is the amount of spam the site receives, which has increased dramatically during recent months. For example there were 4240 spam comments in a single day just over a month ago. If this trend continues I will have to automatically close posts to further comments after say a week in order to reduce a) the number of comments in the spam folder that I have to wade through each day to check that a valid comment hasn’t been intercepted in error and b) the number spam comments that are missed by the spam filter and so appear in the RSS feed, and on the site until I delete them manually.

    As the General Discussion needs to remain open, and I have not found a satisfactory way to keep some posts open whilst the majority are closed automatically, I have made it a page instead.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you once more, Eileen, for blogging an excellent crossword, one that was surely the most challenging Guardian puzzle this week

    I have not really something to add to what’s been said already, yet we had a similar feeling as tupu @18 when he spoke the wise words: “Nicer and wittier in retrospect than in some parts of the actual solving”.
    At one point my PinC [back after a week of spending some time in Cheshire] said “the crossword isn’t singing”.

    Recent Bonxie puzzles were all very clever.
    I’d even tend to say that he’s probably the hardest Guardian setter at the moment.

    I am, however, not sure whether I like this kind of cleverness or not. A lot of words were more Thesaurus words than Dictionary words, and mainly there to make the surface better. Like eg fast/struck, both meanings of ‘token’, nether/bottom, young/issue and opening/chance.
    There is not really anything against it, but in a way it doesn’t click with me [like today’s Alberich did have that click, a different kind of cleverness that apparently suits me better].

    But as I said, all very well clued, very precise etc etc.
    Very concise, too. I have noticed that Bonxie doesn’t need many words to make challenging clues.

    Excellent stuff, for sure.

  33. Leroy says:

    I didn’t think of hernia as being an anagrind so much as a word that functions like the phrase “back to front” sometimes does. In medicine it usually indicates a vein being pushed out through other tissue. In this case the letter U is pushed out of “hiatus” without any other rearrangement going on.

  34. Eileen says:

    I really enjoy blogging but the pressure is always on to post as early as possible, so I often miss commenting on the things that occur when I’m solving in a more leisurely fashion [eg 15dn, to my shame].

    The picture which came to me later re 1dn [nothing to do with the solution] was the picture of the Fat Controller putting Thomas the Tank Engine in styrofoam peanuts! :-)

    Foreman puts a toy train in packaging material

  35. morpheus says:

    Sil @32 I think you’re spot on here. I don’t mind the thesaural clues but they do take a bit of getting used to in such abundance.

  36. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen

    Testing puzzle from Bonxie. Got the STYROFOAM part of 1d and pondered for ages till I realised it was an anagram.

    KNOCK DOWN GINGER was the only answer that made sense to me for 6d. Couldn’t find any reference in Chambers and my thoughts of campanology were way off the mark.

    You always learn something new.

  37. Carrots says:

    How I envy those clever solvers who cracked this…and how wretched I feel for barely completing two-thirds. I did have a couple of guesses lined up as a last resort (or last ditch stand), but didn`t put them in, although Auntie E (bless her) explained them beautifully once I had thrown in the towel.

    I`ve had trouble with Bonxie before (who hasn`t?) but however hard I try to find flaws in his clue-ing to blame this on, I`ve never been able to find any. So I`ll retire to bed and dream of Bonxies gone by…….

  38. MikeC says:

    Thanks Eileen for an excellent blog, and Bonxie for a stiff but fair puzzle. Carrots, I was licked as well (and not by fluorescent/flourescent golfers) – for some reason 24a, cert as banker, passed me by (and there were others I guessed but could not explain adequately). Not enough pints . . . or too many??

  39. RCWhiting says:

    I agree this was the toughest this week.
    Very enjoyable, I was defeated only by 2d where Bonxie enveigled me into the usual I or me rather than ‘alias’.
    I was dubious about ‘a percentage’ as a definition for ‘commission’ but it is in Chambers.(16a)

  40. Robi says:

    Didn’t have time yesterday for this. I found it a struggle, making me more bad-tempered as I proceeded. Half the time I solved the clue without properly parsing it, so thanks Eileen for a nice blog.

    I obviously need more experience as ether=number was new to me, and made me groan out loud when I saw Pat@12’s comment.

    Still not sure I understand TOKEN=clue; perhaps someone can give me an appropriate phrase to show the meaning.

  41. Roger says:

    Hi Robi, if by any chance you’re still there. I too was hoping for some clarification wrt 12a. The on-line OD has:

    TOKEN: noun(archaic) a badge or favour worn to indicate allegiance to a particular person or party .

    In this sense I guess you could say that a rosette worn at election time acts as a clue to a candidate’s political persuasion.

    However, there may well be another explanation and some kind soul may well yet enlighten us !

  42. Gaufrid says:

    Robi & Roger
    You need to think of ‘token’ and ‘clue’ in the sense of ‘an indication’.

  43. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi and Roger

    Apologies for any vagueness – and thanks, Gaufrid.

    My reading was:

    a: noun: ‘indication’, as in ‘a token of my affection’
    b: adjective [Chambers]: ‘serving as a symbol; done or given as a token and therefeore of no real value, nominal’
    – as in ‘token woman’!

  44. Roger says:

    Got it now. {Perfunctory = token … & … clue = indication = token}. Thanks both of you.

  45. Robi says:

    Rather late in the day, but thanks to Gaufrid and Eileen.

  46. Huw Powell says:

    Leroy, that’s a very interesting way to make “hernia” work, and it makes sense. I was comfortable with it as a simple (?) anagrind, in that a hernia is also commonly called a “rupture”.

    This was a brutally enjoyable puzzle – I spent some time with it 2/25 evening and left with nothing more than ALIAS in ink and ANON in pencil next to the clue. Worked on it 2/26 and got most of the bottom half, though with some penciled answers (and a lot of research, follow my edit pattern on Wikipedia!). Today I was grim. The top and bottom are only connected by two words – the two 15 letter phrases, which I didn’t have yet, and the only word placed in the top was still ALIAS.

    I had noted, though, that no matter how hard a clue was to solve, they all parsed well in the end, so I kept slogging away. When ANYTIME popped I was embarrassed not to be looking for hidden words… but it dragged me slowly towards the PEANUT (aka popcorn) and I just kept banging away.

    I’ve seen CERT before, but it didn’t click, so I was one more CONSENTer. Which would have worked if the clue was “agreement to swindle the raptured”…

    As far as a theme, while there really isn’t one, the puzzle is very “themey” – the cuts, the packing material and fabric, the food items (one in each corner), several legal-ish terms, RANDOM CHANCE, and any I missed?

    So thanks for (too) many hours of entertainment, Bonxie, and the explanations for a few I didn’t understand, Eileen!

  47. Andy Dix says:

    Finished this last night after starting earlier in the evening and not getting very far at first.

    Found it quite hard but fair – a bit like Paul, though not in the same way. I was able to parse everything – which is always nice :-)

    Hadn’t heard of 6D, though worked it out from the word play.

    Hadn’t heard of 1D either – I jokingly suggested peanut as the only thing which fitted the second word, then realised it’s an anagram and found it must be peanut!

    Got medallions but couldn’t see why they are cuts until I googled.

    Last to fill in was 3D – a flower which is not a river!

    Enjoyed it, though the Thesaurus-like definitions I found a bit stretched at times.

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