Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 92 – Brummie

Posted by Andrew on March 7th, 2011


(Sorry for the late posting – last minute delays writing this up due to work commitments etc) Maybe it’s just me, but I think the Genius puzzles are getting generally harder. Number 91 was very tricky, and I found this tough going too, needing several sessions to finish; even then it was difficult to identify all the intended missing and added letters in the clues to confirm the unclued phrase at 16dn. I guessed the phrase quite early on, but it wasn’t much help! I’ve shown the clues below: these are show the eleven modified versions (clue numbers asterisked), with added letters like this and letters to be removed like this. The added letters (in clue order) are ND OON ASS F MEA FA ID (the last misprinted as just D in the annotated solution), and those removed MA ADI E SS, leaving NDOONFAF for an anagram of OFF AND ON.

1* Mason of Ur building traveller’s access to light and air (7)
5* A sender sounds like a synonym for this plant (7)
  CLIMBER “A sender” sounds like “ascender”, which is a synonym of “climber”; and a climber is a climbing plant
9 What to do with Laurel and Hardy to leave Laurel very absorbed by Hardy (5)
  HALVE V in HALE. To leave Laurel you’d have to HALVE “Laurel and Hardy”
10 Come upon a single direction for this type of clue (3,6)
  RUN ACROSS RUN (single, in cricket) + ACROSS (this is an across clue)
11* Radium grows inert, being responsible for composition of air (10)
  SONGWRITER (GROWS INERT)*, anagram indicator “Rum”
12 It occupies part of America in about a half-hour (4)
  UTAH Hidden in aboUT A Half-hour
14 “Rocky”, a film about a northern male getting fit – easily excited (11)
  INFLAMMABLE A in (A FILM)* (anag indicator “Rocky”) + M + ABLE. The annotated solution says: “the ‘a’ in ‘a northern’ is unnecessary and unhelpful: apologies!” Unhelpful indeed – I was convinced this was one of the modified clues for a long time.
18 Cheap drink once helped fill out a woman’s skirts (11)
21 Mild, embracing love is succulent (4)
22 Odd service switches rumbled (10)
25* Rigid, somehow I breathe after swallowing large balloon (9)
  DIRIGIBLE RIGID* + I + L[arge] in BE (=breathe)
26 Group foundation has nothing for bishop (5)
  OASIS BASIS with O (nothing) instead of B[ishop]
27 Untrue representation about the end of Doctor Foster (7)
28* Without delay grabs ass poet (7)
  SASSOON ASS (the extra 3 letters) in SOON
1 Is married after school break (6)
2 Hose winds only between opposite points (6)
3* Public about to carefully consider fate (10)
  OVERWEIGHT WEIGH in OVERT. I don’t much like the double use of weigh[t] here, but the transformation of “fate” to “fat” makes up for it to some extent
4*  Tongue twisting fairs (5)
5 Resort of Menorca (around north) with a breed of pony (9)
6* Squeeze top off for measure (4)
  INCH PINCH = Squeeze with its “top” removed, and a “measure”
7* Disapprove of, but weaving Bess a skimpy garment (4,4)
8 Deplored stocking fancy shoe that’s pinkish (4-4)
13* Unaffected, profane to hug Rev Wild (10)
15 Balance fiddled with if attractive (9)
16 See special instructions (8)
  OFF AND ON The appropriate phrase made from the “surplus” letters
17 Protective clothing manufacturer’s right to enter affair with English resistance (8)
19 New, but not hot, number: “Somewhere in USA” (6)
20* Early sound recorder one’s id restored (6)
23 One has to exit cuddle for a garnish (5)
24 Secret police elated: work on the rise (4)
  OGPU UP + GO, all reversed

7 Responses to “Guardian Genius 92 – Brummie”

  1. Robi says:

    Thanks Brummie – nice idea!

    Thanks Andrew for a good blog. Not sure how I managed this, but my tally of letters didn’t quite add up to the phrase; but it couldn’t be anything else.

    I liked FARTHINGALE.

  2. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the blog – we’d put in a few (14a, 26a, 24d) without understanding how they worked.
    Don’t know about getting harder, I’m always pleasantly surprised to finish a Genius at all, which we did for this, in under two weeks! :)
    I think the main difficulty with this was working out which clues were straight and which ‘special’. Most of the actual clues weren’t particularly hard once the devilish accretions had been stripped away.
    That Mr Edison’s a frequent visitor to crossword-land lately!

  3. Mr Beaver says:

    PS – I meant to say that I like how you’ve done the blog – it can’t have been easy!

  4. Jan says:

    What a superb blog, Andrew – very clearly laid out out – thank you. These are the notes which I made on completion …

    I really enjoy Brummie’s puzzles but I thought this one may defeat me when I read the instructions. However, it proved to be a cryptic delight once I got going, with enough straighforward clues to help with crossing letters.

    I was slightly disappointed by the appearance of ‘ale’ in consecutive solutions and had to check that ALOE is a succulent.

    It took a while to determine the missing letters in 5a and 13 and by the time I completed the puzzle (OFF AND ON being a reasonable bet) I had only identified 10 of the special clues and realised that I should have added NOO, ONO or OON, somewhere. I re-read the clues, carefully, four times, before I saw the obvious! I had been quite happy with the definition in 25 as ‘large ball’ (shaped as a rugby ball), with ‘large’ doing double duty.

    28 caused a chuckle when read with the missing word and I wasn’t totally sure where the ID or DI for 20 should fit in the clue.

  5. Ian W. says:

    Actually, I’ve been thinking the Genius puzzles were getting easier, and this was one of the easiest I’ve seen in a long while. It is probably a matter of perception, though. When I first started doing them a couple of years ago, each one would happily occupy me for a few weeks. Then they started falling faster and faster, often under an hour. Desperate to find more difficult crosswords from before this apparent dumbing down, I went back to the earliest archived Geniuses for the first time but was able to do the entire first two years’ worth in idle moments over one weekend. So perceptions of getting easier or harder seem very susceptible to subjective factors. And if they seem impenetrable, don’t give up hope – keep slogging, and eventually what seemed impossible will seem easier and easier.

    Ian W. (of SW3)

  6. Andrew says:

    Ian – I agree it’s very subjective, and congratulations on being the first entry and giving Ian of N14 a run for his money.

    As a counterexample to my assertion, I rattled off the latest Genius puzzle (by Paul) very quickly. At the “meet the setter” evening at the Guardian a couple of months ago, John Halpern said that the rough guidelines for the Genius were (as I remember) that it should be more than twice as hard as a daily, but not ten times as hard.

  7. Huw Powell says:

    Hi Andrew, thanks for the blog. I twigged all of this except for OGPU, which I suppose might have fallen to some research on secret police outfits. FARTHINGALE required some research too.

    I started off on the wrong foot, thinking the answers were to be modified, by the time I had noticed that all the word lengths were correct I re-read the instructions and “got” it, since I was having trouble making OVERWEIGHT = “fate”.

    There is a typo in the parsing of 14 above; “A in (A FILM)*” should read “N in (A FILM)*”, by the way.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle, I always like when there is “something else” that has to be done to solve them, so thanks for the hours of pleasure, Brummie!

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