Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 96 / Araucaria – A Masochist’s Delight

Posted by Gaufrid on July 3rd, 2011


To say that I struggled with this one would be an understatement. I can usually finish a Genius in under an hour but this time it was nearly that long per clue. Perseverance paid off however and on the fourth day I had a completed grid.

This was not so much a cryptic crossword (no definitions or wordplay) more a case of guesswork and trying to think what Araucaria might have had in his mind for ‘each passage when complete makes sense (of a sort)’. Not really my cup of tea at all and if I hadn’t been scheduled to blog this puzzle I would probably have given up after the first couple of sessions and done something more productive instead.

Having said that, there was a sense of satisfaction (or relief!) at the end but this did not compensate for the hours spent searching through word lists generated by a wildcard search of Chambers and a couple of on-line resources (Quinapalus and OneLook) trying to find a word that could be inserted into the ‘clue’, but of course this was only an option when the grid was already partially filled. At this stage progress became a little more rapid but it was still slower than I would have liked, particularly for the last two or three entries.

At the end of day one I had three entries in the grid. Three more followed on day two and then day three was the most productive with about two thirds of the grid being filled by the end of it. Day four saw the remaining third entered and the grid complete. I held myself up for a while by entering O RING at 11ac on the assumption that this was one of the clues containing a misprint and that the passage was ‘I expect Kat to ring, being grounded’. This of course made finding an entry for 1dn and 3dn impossible so I had to have a rethink.

My usual approach with Printer’s Devilry clues is to remove/ignore all punctuation, look for any words that can be formed by ignoring spaces and inserting new ones elsewhere and then seeing if there is any obvious point at which something could be inserted. This worked for a few clues, including my first half dozen entries, but in others it was far more difficult to determine the insertion point yet alone the word to be inserted.

Congratulations to those who managed to complete this difficult puzzle, and also to those who decided to give up early on, or not even start, thus ensuring that your time was better spent on other things.

1 HAMISH The lad on baby calf tight
    The lad on babycham is half tight
4 MANIPLE Give his the faint
    Give him a nip lest he faint
9 PEA-SOUPER I wouldn’t give anyone of this Tyson ally
    I wouldn’t give anyone of this type a sou personally
10 SALAD Sadie way
    Sadie was a lady
    A book and song title.
11 I WISH I expect Kate, being grounded
    I expect kiwis hate being grounded
12 RIMINGTON This will raise pump pew levels
    This will raise pump priming to new levels
13 ESPARTO Stags had a feast and the rook
    Stags had a feast and the roes partook
15 EPHEBE Watch out for the slacks: heat all criminal records
    Watch out for the black sheep, he beat all criminal records
17 HORDES Got OBE, a cert for band
    Go to beach or desert for sand
19 CHIMERA I don’t want this on my pat: sing it
    I don’t want this on my patch, I’m erasing it
22 REFECTORY Paris pork, sheriff? Which is better?
    Paris prefect or York sheriff, which is better?
24 DUPLE I’m Hart: me go steerage
    I’m hard up, let me go steerage
26 SHEEN A blue last year – hate red this year
    A blue last year. Has he entered this year?
27 CHORISTER Can Ferdinand make them a try, captain?
    Can Ferdinand make the match or is Terry captain?
28 OLD CHAP Girl’s folk – herring missing – heron responsible
    Girl’s folk, her ring missing, hold chaperon responsible
29 ERRAND Sprint is gracefully slowly
    Sprinter ran disgracefully slowly
1 HOPLITE Key to Close’s rally
    Key to close shop literally
2 MIAMI Aston? Astor? Mink in gleam
    As Tom I am in a storm in King Lear
    A reference to Edgar dressed as Tom o’Bedlam in the play King Lear.
3 SMOTHERED Blend a peg” denied rank coffee
    Glenda Pegden’s mother Edie drank coffee
    A reference to characters in Last of the Summer Wine.
4 MÉRIMÉE Old tit in the pub
    Old timer I meet in the pub
    A reference to Prosper Mérimée.
5 NISAN I don’t think your play good
    I don’t think your plan is any good
6 PALATABLE I’d feel positively passing so ceremonious
    I’d feel positively papal at a blessing so ceremonious
7 ENDING Law-abiding people of food causes
    Law-abiding people offend in good causes
8 OPORTO Turn: try our numbers up
    Turn to port or your numbers up
14 PROOFREAD Make the buss, toy for a solar panel
    Make the bus stop roof ready for a solar panel
16 HAIRDRIER If in din, the Scots fake: (I) Tait – Handel – gin
    I find in the Scots FA Keith, Airdrie, Raith and Elgin
18 SNOWCAP My Bisto liable? Off I ring!
    My pistol is now capable of firing!
19 CEYLON Olivier soon succeeded it: May takes pager
    Olivier soon succeeded. It may take Spacey longer
    A reference to Lord Olivier and Kevin Spacey.
20 AVERRED Get this, Cade: sign at Edam Ale
    Get this cadaver redesignated a male
21 ARISTO This Bono is: your place is elsewhere
    This bar is too noisy, our place is elsewhere
23 CONCH Maya Dear is 10-1?
    May a deacon christen one?
25 PETRA Bloomer’s fools? Pertelot’s!
    Bloomers? Fools perpetrate lots!

12 Responses to “Guardian Genius 96 / Araucaria – A Masochist’s Delight”

  1. liz says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. Rather you than me. I do have a shot at the Genius puzzles, and have occasionally finished, but this one I consigned to the bin after getting absolutely nowhere. Just couldn’t see a way in at all. Way, way over my head.

  2. matt says:

    wow. Didn’t really give this much of a try, and I’m thankful. This brick wall would have proven too strong for my head.

  3. Mr Beaver says:

    Gaufrid – I take my hat off to you for finishing this thing – and in only 4 days !
    I don’t know how many hours over the month we spent in frustrated head-scratching.
    Our final tally was only 9 answers, one of them wrong (4d – MERISSA – old timer is sat in the pub – well, it could have been a name…)

    It would have been hard enough without the uncertainty of the 5 ‘misprints’.

    We spent ages thinking about 2d having spotted the King Lear connection, but I still don’t see how it makes much sense.

    Likewise with 20d – felt quite smug to see ‘redesignated a male’ but who would have guessed it was a cadaver ? (Well, you did, obviously :))


    I wonder how many successful entries were sent in ?

  4. Thomas99 says:

    …and have you seen the latest Azed?! I’m not sure a month is enough time to recover from this and do another one! This one took me four days too, but the relief at finishing it was almost ecstatic. I’ve never done a Printer’s Devilry before but I do think he managed to inject an amazing amount of wit and imagination into it. 10-1 (23d) was obviously naughty, but the Last of the Summer Wine one (3d)(I had to google Pegden) was inspired. And of course Spacey (19d) has just opened in possibly Olivier’s most famous role, at the theatre he made legendary, the Old Vic which adds a nice context to that one. Most extraordinary was the Scottish football one (16d), even if the starting surface is a little strained – generating 3 Scottish towns out of a hairdrier!

  5. Norman L in France says:

    A bit surprised to see this posted today and not tomorrow, but since it’s up…
    I submitted my entry after several days of brain-racking for Smothered: not being familiar with Last of the Summer Wine I knew it couldn’t be anything else but didn’t know why. I was underwhelmed by the quality of several clues which just seemed a bit lazy, before and after the devilry, and even shared a moan with HUGH. It will indeed be interesting to see how many (correct) entries there were. Just printed Azed off and will get to it as soon as possible.

  6. sidey says:

    I have a feeling that the PD clue was invented for barred puzzles, I’m not sure a blocked puzzle is the place for them.

    Gaufrid, your dedication to the cause is admirable.

  7. stumper says:

    Thanks to Araucaria for a marvellous puzzle and to Gaufrid for an excellent blog. Difficult yes, but such satisfaction when pennies dropped! A relative and I put in the last two answers on Friday evening, I WISH and SMOTHERED (though like Norman L we couldn’t parse the latter).

    CHORISTER was brilliant (though its topicality might be difficult for any future solvers), HORDES cleverly misleading (nothing to do with music), and CONCH devilish. Many others were merely splendid.

    A few minor qubbles: “is better” in 22ac is unnecessarily vague; “blue” in 26ac is misleading, because people do not enter to get a blue, they are selected; and in 19 ac “on my patch” is usually metaphorical whereas “erase” is usually concrete, so the sentence doesn’t really make sense. Given the obscurity of Rimington (Stella or a place?) it would have helped to have been told in the instructions how many solutions were proper nouns. But none of that spoiled the enjoyment in any way.

    Has there been any other Printer’s Devilry in the Genius series?

  8. Tom_I says:

    I also take my hat off to anyone who could finish this in four days. After two days I still had an empty grid, but the breakthrough came with the Scottish towns.

    I did eventually submit an entry, but it took me over a week to complete the puzzle. I should add that I wasn’t working on it continuously. 😉

  9. fearsome says:

    This puzzle wasted a lot of my time last month. I managed to finish with only a few days to go. Having spent so much time on this I felt I have to finish it. It was a real slog, but perhaps I was the slowest to complete it!

  10. Jan says:

    Well done, Gaufrid, and anybody else who completed this fiendish thing on their own.

    I looked at it on and off for a week – during which time I only saw the King Lear passage. I actually read the storm scene three times – to no avail. :(

    I gave in and turned to the Crossword Solver help forum where a very lively hintfest was taking place between a handful of solvers. Using their hints I did complete the durned thing but I didn’t really enjoy it and couldn’t possibly submit it.

    Thanks for the warning, Thomas99, I won’t even bother printing this week’s Azed.

  11. mhl says:

    Congratulations, Gaufrid, on finishing this fiendish puzzle and an excellent post. I gave up after getting about 6 answers, since the time it was taking was quite extraordinary for me as well. I think sidey’s point about how much more difficult it is to do a Printer’s Devilry puzzle in a blocked rather than barred grid is very well made – I don’t remember any of Azed’s PD puzzles being nearly this hard.

    That, said, the clues here are exceptionally good, I think – fantastic stuff from Araucaria. Looking down the answers in your post is a real pleasure; with such cunning insertions and rewriting, no wonder I found it hard…

  12. Katherine says:

    I don’t understand how this could be considered a cryptic crossword. A puzzle, yes; A crossword grid, yes. Clues, yes. That is about all that resembles a normal cryptic crossword. I don’t understand why the Guardian would produce this sort of puzzle.
    It was unsatisfying to do [I manged 6 ‘clues’] and unenjoyable. Araucaria should stick to what he is best at.

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