Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,277 by Bonxie

Posted by PeterO on March 23rd, 2011


A brief offering, mainly because I started out with yesterday’s crossword by mistake!

1,23. Pick off reptile hiding in French 9 (6,5)
CULLEN SKINK Charade of CULL (‘pick off’) + EN (‘in French’) + SKINK (‘reptile’). A Scottish soup.
4. Tea is after 9 (6)
BREWIS Charade of BREW (‘tea’) + ‘is’.
9. Very excited, for starters (4)
SOUP SO UP (‘very excited’). The keystone clue.
10. Make home in space station with 1 9 (10)
MINESTRONE Charade of envelope of NEST (‘home’) in MIR (‘space station’) + ONE (‘1′).
11. They’re scaled by companions, but not at first (6)
ADDERS [l]ADDERS (‘companions, but not at first’). A companion or companion-ladder is aboard ship.
12. Lively hostel accommodating public, almost packed (8)
YOUTHFUL Charade of envelope (‘accommodating’) of OUT (‘public’) in YH (‘lively hostel’, Youth Hostel) + FUL[l] (‘almost packed’).
13. Kind of 9 adult leaves ahead of schedule (9)
BROTHERLY Charade of BROTH (‘kind of 9′, soup) + E[a]rly (‘ahead of schedule’) with the a removed (‘adult leaves’).
15. Dirty money, mostly (4)
MEAN MEAN[s] (‘money, mostly’)
16. No money in one’s chest (4)
BUST Double definition.
17. Tempera is mixed at leisure (5,4)
SPARE TIME Anagram (‘mixed’) of ‘tempera is’.
21. 9 a month is about right (8)
JULIENNE Envelope (‘about’) of LIEN (‘right’) in JUNE (‘month’). I knew julienne as finely shredded vegetables or whatever, but not that the term came from the soup with such a garnish.
22. Twice left food back at bar (6)
BISTRO Charade of BIS (‘twice’) + a reversal (‘back’) of ORT (‘left food’).
24. Exposed a member after sheepskin top removed (3,2,1,4)
OUT ON A LIMB Charade of [m]OUTON (‘sheepskin top removed’) + A LIMB (‘a member’).
25. Some auxiliary bones (4)
ILIA Hidden answer in ‘auxILIAry’.
26. Appointments to hear Tory leader aboard ship (6)
TRYSTS Charade of TRY (‘hear’) + T (‘Tory leader’) in SS (‘aboard ship’).
27. Biscuit company, one from Oklahoma (6)
COOKIE Charade of CO (‘company’) + OKIE (‘one from Oklahoma’).
1. Dog race lost by 9 (7)
CHOWDER This one escapes me: I take it that CHOW is the dog.
2. Slip, keel over, pass away (5)
LAPSE Triple definition; or perhaps better described as three shades of meaning of one word.
3. Drunken seamen take first shower all together (2,5)
EN MASSE Anagram (‘drunken’) of ‘seamen’ + S (‘first Shower’).
5. Spicy 9? Recipe for book trade (6)
RISQUE [b]ISQUE (‘9′, soup) with R (‘recipe’) replacing B (‘book’).
6. Best time to hurry when caught in crush? (9)
WORTHIEST An envelope of T (‘time’) + HIE (‘hurry’) in WORST (‘crush’, as a verb).
7. Hide irritation after lengthy exposure (7)
SUNBURN Cryptic definition; ‘hide’ as skin.
8. Distribute a licenced copy full of information (13)
ENCYCLOPAEDIC Anagram (‘distribute’) of ‘a licenced copy’.
14. It notes my criminal statement (9)
TESTIMONY Anagram (‘criminal’) of ‘it notes my’.
16. After short fight I leave inoffensive scent (7)
BOUQUET Charade of BOU[t] (‘short fight’) + QU[i]ET (‘inoffensive’) with the I removed (‘I leave’).
18. Indian gentleman goes after game 9 (7)
RUBABOO Charade of RU (‘game’, Rugby Union) + BABOO (‘Indian gentleman’). The soup is new to me, but it does not sound as if I have been missing much.
19. Pot holding 9 — love it or hate it! (7)
MARMITE Double definition – the soup pot, and the proprietary spread.
20. Perfect degree subject for a diplomat? (6)
INTACT IN TACT (‘degree subject for a diplomat?’).

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,277 by Bonxie”

  1. EB says:

    Thanks PeterO and Bonxie.

    I do like Bonxie’s crosswords – found this one quite difficult; in several cases I managed to get the answer and then had to work out the clue!!

    RE 1d – Yes “Chow” is the dog and “Der” is “Derby” the famous horse race losing the “by”.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeterO. I slogged over this, partly due to soup-ignorance: amazingly I knew 1a, but 4a, 18d and 21d were impossible sans Google. I can’t say any of the clues (except 7d) delighted me: 15a and 2d were some of the duller ones. What is ORT in the 22a BISTRO clue? In 13a, isn’t ‘kind’ the definition (but then what’s the ‘of’ doing?)?

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Peter. This was hard – I would have been in the soup without Google.

    molongolo – Chambers gives ORT=”(usually in plural) a fragment, esp. one left from a meal”. Rather obscure for a daily puzzle, I think. I agree that “kind” is the definition in 13ac, with “of” as a fairly innocuous linking word (= “made of”?)

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeterO

    This was too hard for me with so many obscure soups that, as far as I know, neither Baxters nor Heinz have brought to market.

    Moreover, there were cases where, even though I had guessed the correct solutions, I was unable to understand the clue.

    I regret that I shall not be inviting Bonxie to dine with me at my local soup kitchen.

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Peter, especially in view of the circumstances!

    I agree about ‘kind’ in 13ac and, in 12ac, ‘youthful’ is the definition.

    Like molonglo, I’d heard of CULLEN SKINK and have even made it – delicious! – but not BREWIS or RUBABOO. I didn’t know the Indian gentleman, either – at least not spelt that way – which made that clue particularly difficult.

    I must admit to not having enjoyed this puzzle so much as Bonxie’s previous offerings. It was a bit of a slog and, again like molonglo, I missed the usual Bonxie ‘ahas’, although 5 and 7dn raised a wry smile.

  6. PeterO says:

    Thanks all for the corrections. 1D sat squarely in my blind spot – obvious once it is pointed out. Then not once but twice I dragged the definition into the wordplay; give me a mark for consistency.

  7. Geoff says:

    Thanks, PeterO, and bravo – this one was a short straw for the blogger!

    Definitely a struggle, this one. I knew a lot of the soups but BREWIS and RUBABOO were completely new to me – I guessed the former from the crossing letters and the charade but had to use a wordfinder for the latter. Disappointed not to see vichyssoise, mulligatawny or tom yam…

    Relatively few easy clues in this puzzle, which made it difficult to get a toehold. Some are very obscure or vague (ORT in 22a, 15a took me a long time), very few gave a smile (5d and 16a). 12a is rather unsatisfactory: although ‘public’ for OUT is quite nice (if not entirely novel) it is rather spoiled by YOUTH being the first word from the abbreviation YH. ‘Lively’ is the definition, BTW.

    However I did enjoy 13a and 21a.

  8. Ian says:

    Thanks Peter.

    This Bonxie was a curate’s egg of a puzzle – at times clever and at other times seemingly wilfully obscure.

    I did like the gateway clue and it took a long time for some of the pennies to drop especially on 5th and 13 AC. Clever in places but overall not as satisfying as the previous Bonxies in the recent past.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Bonxie

    I got the theme word very early but found Rubaboo, cullen skink, and brewis from the word play as I did not know them (no great harm!).

    NB 2 down is collapse (keel over) without col = pass. Slip is the definition.

    I liked 13a, 21a, 6d, 7d 8d, 19d.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Peter. Though I completed it, with minimal cheating (BREWIS, RUBABOO), I needed you for several explanations.

    I agree with most of the views expressed so far, that it was hard in parts, and not Bronxien quality.

    Took me a long time to see 26a TRYSTS, though we had it just yesterday.

    Cullen skink is popular in this part of the world (NE Scotland) and delicious, as Eileen says.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Peter.

    Couldn’t really get anywhere with this one, which is more to do with my solving ability than Bonxie’s clueing, no doubt. But if I may say: the gateway clue is not exactly a gimme, and the fact that one of the clues containing a crossing letter for it also referenced the gateway clue wasn’t a help.

    So without 9ac, nearly a third of the remaining clues remain more or less inaccessible.

  12. jvh says:

    Thank you, Peter.

    I think 11ac probably refers to the game “Snakes and Ladders”.

  13. Scarpia says:

    Thanks PeterO.

    I found this tough and for a while I thought I was going to be ‘skewered’ by this one.
    BREWIS and RUBABOO were unknown to me as was the spelling of BABU/BABOO.More of a barred puzzle clue that one!
    Not as much fun as usual for a Bonxie puzzle but there was still plenty of good stuff here,I particularly liked 5,8,14 and 16 down and also 13 across with KIND being both definition and part of the wordplay.

  14. BrigC says:

    I thought 11 was related to snakes and l/adders, adders being scaly, beheaded ladders and snakes and ladders being such companions.

  15. walruss says:

    Yes a bit of a struggle if only because some of the answers are so obscure. And somehow I just couldn’t really see the point of the theme today. Just me I suppose!

  16. Roger says:

    Thanks Peter.
    22a might also be Bi with the usually plural orts reversed … not that it makes much difference. Read lapse as did tupu @9.
    Hard going, wasn’t it … am now away to the allotment to work off all that soup !

  17. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO for the explanations I didn’t find in Wiki – a must today as, though I like anything foodie, some of these soups were quite obscure. I got ‘cullen’ from the wordplay, and found it was an African bean, which threw me off for a time. The only Scottish foods I know are haggis and things like napes and tatties.

    No doubt ‘brewis’ is as delicious as ‘Cullen skink’, but the description given in Wiki isn’t exactly appetising. Perhaps Newfoundlanders would feel the same if I described some excellent Spanish dishes :)

    You always learn something in crosswordland. Thanks for the culinary expedition, Bonxie.

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks Bonxie for a clever puzzle, which got me in a bit of a stew. Got delayed by the Budget.

    Nice blog, PeterO, which helped with a couple of solutions. Lots of new words for me: BREWIS,ORT, HIE, RUBABOO, BABOO, SKINK. I didn’t know MARMITE was a pot either. I think tupu @9 nailed LAPSE – I couldn’t see previously how ‘keel over’ was parsed; a clever clue.

    I puzzled over CHOWDER for a while, although as I live in Epsom, I eventually realised what the race referred to. I particularly liked INTACT, SUNBURN and RISQUE.

  19. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Robi, next time you have a jar of Marmite in your hand, have a look at the picture on the label. Or perhaps if you’re in the hate it rather than love it contingent, you’ll never have this opportunity. It’s a French word.

  20. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO. As others have said, quite a difficult one, with a number of new and obscure words. I didn’t know BREWIS, ORT, RUBABOO or the soup sense of JULIENNE, so it was quite a challenge to finish, even with the check button. I thought 1dn was very neatly clued. But basically, I was just pleased to finish.

  21. Tom Hutton says:

    Ridiculously obscure for a weekday in my opinion. I ended up not even trying to finish it, which is very rare for me. Well done to those who managed it.

  22. Median says:

    A definite thumbs-down for this one. Far too difficult. Guardian crossword editor, please take note.

  23. Chas says:

    I agree with Tom @21 and Median @22 – even though I spotted 9A early on it was still hard work and no pleasure. I gave up in the end.

    I also have a gripe about the clue for 8D. Licence / license is like advice / advise: the noun ends with ce and the verb ends with se. It follows that licenced is not a legal English word. However, I am not going to strain my brain trying to find an alternative clue in place of the anagram actually there in 8D!

  24. PeterO says:

    … and thanks to Tupu for the wordplay in 2D. It makes for a far better clue than I had thought.
    Chas: it seems that the licence/license bit is not as clear-cut as you make out. The following is from

    No etymological justification for the spelling with -s- ; attempts to confine license to verbal use and licence to noun use (cf. advise/advice , devise/device ) seem to have failed.

    Just to muddy the waters a little further, my spellchecker (which seems to be US based) questions the -c- version altogether.

  25. Robi says:

    Chas @23; I noticed the spelling also. Chambers, however, gives ‘license’ or ‘licence’ as a transitive verb, so Bonxie’s use was allowable.

  26. Chris U says:

    Very tough one this, felt like the Sunday trawl through Azed territory. I accept that the odd Scotticism is relevant though given the setter’s (presumed) background.
    I think there has been a slight changing of gears on the Guardian Cryptic, perhaps shifting up since the message board appeared under the online version. I always print off the PDF myself, but online there has seemed to be the race to get up and post how easy the puzzle has been before more general bragging ensues.
    I suspect the Prof in his wisdom has responded in kind and asked for tougher puzzles to sate the masses. With this one though, I couldn’t have finished without cheating with a word-finder, plus extensive Chambers work! 4a, 18d, the hie in 6d, the orts in 22a; there would have been a few blanks without A-Z!

  27. muck says:

    This was tough for a daily – thanks PeterO and others for explanations
    BREWIS and ORT are at least in Chambers, tho’ I didn’t find them
    RUBABOO is really impossible without Google/Wiki

  28. Chas says:

    PeterO @24 I am a little puzzled by your statement that your spell-checker is US based since they usually use practice as both noun and verb.

  29. muck says:

    5dn RISQUE is lovely
    I would probably have found the answer if I’d had the R from 4ac
    Just about sums up the puzzle for me

  30. John says:

    I also agree with Tom and Median.
    The rest of you are way too kind to the setter as usual.
    All obscure and the cluing doesn’t even facilitate an intelligent guess.
    No marks for this sorry.

  31. Carrots says:

    GRUELLING! (I`ve done a pun, tupu: did you spot it?) Bonxie is hard, very hard usually, but this went beyond what my poor brain could encompass…and, without google or reference books, un-do-able by most. I struggled and, with guesses, came within 3: BREWIS, RUBABOO and BISTRO. The former are ghastly concoctions of animal fats or fishes heads. There are plenty of mouthwatering gruels with lovely names: why on earth did Bonxie go for these?

    Thanks for the blog PeterO: I needed it!

    Bonxie: Can I have some more please, sir?

  32. Martin H says:

    Needed the dictionary to check that ‘brewis’, ‘baboo’ and ‘ort’ really exist (my spell-checker underlines them all). I felt 12 was a bit clumsy, but 3, 26, 5 and 13 were really excellent, the last two showing lovely handling of the theme. Despite that, I found the puzzle as a whole a heck of a slog and resorted to the cheat button for two which turned out to be relatively simple ones, INTACT and CHOWDER, mainly because I wasn’t really enjoying it – too many intelligent guesses needed – (but most of them worked, John).

    ‘at’ in 11 is surplus to all but surface requirements. Annoying in a hard puzzle.

    I was held up on WORTHIEST by the thought, the W, R and final T being already in, that ‘best’ wasn’t the definition, but should lead to ‘worst’, as both can have the same meaning: to get the better of someone (‘crush’ of course did the same job).

  33. Martin P says:

    I’m told it’s easier to compile a difficult crossword than a simpler one.

    If so Bonxie must try harder.

    Too many unheard-ofs and stretched meanings for me.

  34. Angstony says:

    Thank you PeterO and Bonxie.

    Whew, that was tough! I got 8d fairly quickly, which I thought was a very nice anagram — questions about spelling notwithstanding — but it all went downhill after that… not the puzzle, but my ability to solve it. I would definitely have failed miserably without Chambers, Wikipedia and OneLook (for wildcard searching). That said, having found the more difficult solutions that way, I rather enjoyed working out the clever wordplay elements. The only one I failed to parse was 19d — it never occurred to me that the word ‘marmite’ could have a meaning other than that [disgusting] proprietary spread.

  35. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks PeterO,

    Phew! Not just me then. This was the first time in at least 6 months that I have started and not finished a weekday puzzle before leaving for work. I note ‘slog’ has been mentioned a few times and that’s what it felt like for me. More positively I really liked 7d.

    And Carrots@31, I liked your pun. Thankfully Lionel Bart was not au fait with 22d otherwise it would have been ” Ort, Glorious Ort” which somehow seems less poetic…….

  36. PeterO says:

    Chas @28 – Yup, I get a squiggly red line under licence, and it likewise objects, for example, to haemorrhoids and hæmorrhoids, but not hemorrhoids. I always feel that simplifying the -ae- and retaining the -rrh- is straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Which is particularly ill-advised with haemorrhoids.

  37. Paul B says:

    Perhaps it was supposed to be ‘gruelling’ in that literal sense. Great joke if so, but … bit of a risk.

  38. tupu says:

    Hi carrots @31

    Thanks. I too enjoyed your pun. I’m glad that you at least seem to have read my attempt at a discussion (Rufus @51 and 52). One feels a bit let down when someone ‘asks for help’ and then ignores it when it’s offered. But at least it has clarified my own mind a bit.

  39. Martin H says:

    tupu – see Monday’s Rufus @ 55

  40. Radchenko says:

    I flunked out on this well before I even flunked the Rufus on Monday. I made heavy work of yesterday’s puzzle too. Bad week at the office.

    Still, thanks mightily for the blog and the explanations, congrats to those who solved it, and to everyone else who didn’t, thanks, I don’t feel (quite) so bad now.

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Martin

  42. Stella Heath says:

    A bit late in the day – it being the next day now – but I’d just like to add a note on the ‘license/licence’ debate:

    The analogy with ‘advise/advice; devise/device’ in incorrect, since here, as often happens, an unvoiced sound in the noun becomes voiced in the verb.

    As for ‘practice/practise’, I think the only axplanation is analogy with the above, just because of the similar spelling, nothing to do with etymology. The case of ‘licence’ is different, because of the preceding ‘n’. One could argue for ‘licent’ as easily as for ‘license’

  43. Huw Powell says:

    One more vote for a bit too tough for the few sweet moments yielded. Some truly obscure SOUPs making it even less fun.

    Somehow I banged out MINESTRONE, giving me the way into 9A, at which point 80% of the non-themed clues were done, and I thought it would be smooth sailing from there. Turned out not to be.

    ORT, amusingly, is a very common non-cryptic puzzle word.

    MEAN for dirty left and still leaves me cold.

    I liked the twisted clue for ADDERS, and RISQUE did nice work with the theme. It’s always nice to see a theme get twisted in a couple of places, although I would have liked at least one to play on “nine” rather than “soup”.

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO, and the rather difficult puzzle, Bonxie!

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