Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius No 97 by Tramp

Posted by bridgesong on August 1st, 2011


It was my privilege to blog Tramp’s first published puzzle (I think) which appeared in this series six months ago (Genius 91).  Since then he has published non-prize cryptics in the Guardian (and possibly elsewhere).  That first puzzle was of a high standard, one which has been more than maintained with this offering.  I say that despite some criticisms of individual clues because I have to admire and applaud the skill with which Tramp has constructed this grid.  The theme is Cluedo (which appears as a nina at the very bottom of the grid) and the victim, Dr Black, appears in the third line.  If that was not enough, the letters removed from each answer (shown in red below) spell out the message: “Colonel Mustard lead piping in the stud…”  The missing letter y “remains unsolved” according to the preamble.  I can only wonder how long it took Tramp to compose the puzzle.

Unlike Gaufrid last month it normally takes me a few days to solve a Genius and this one was no exception.  I am compiling this blog on the Friday, having downloaded the puzzle on the Monday.  I thought it was exactly the right level of difficulty.

For the purposes of the blog I have shown the full solutions;  explanations refer to the wordplay of the entries as they actually appeared.

7 PEACOCK PE, AOK. A reference to the theme, perhaps?
8 LITTLE ROCK IT in final letters of “Bill left”, *CLERK.  A reference to President Clinton, who hailed from Little Rock.
10 NELUMBO A compound anagram; take the letters from “BUY MONET” and remove Y(ankee) T(empted) and then scramble them to get the answer. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a compound anagram in a blocked puzzle before, although they’re common in barred puzzles such as Azed. The s at the end of Monet was a weakness, I thought.
11 SMOTHERED SM (kinky sex), THERE, D(ate).
13 SET-TO ST, OT(rev).
17 DEMERARA Last letters (“finally”). A clever reference to the classic Jagger song.
20 JUICE J(amesons), ICE
25 BOMBASTIC BO, M(icrosoft), BASIC
27 DINING ROOM *(IN DOING), O(ld) M(cDonalds). Not sure about using McDonalds to represent M; the golden arches may be universally recognised, but I think that there should have been some indication of the use of an initial letter here.
28 PEDANT PEAN(u)T(s). Am I being pedantic if I suggest that a perfectionist is not necessarily a pedant (and vice versa)?
2 FORMATIVE F or M, A(nswer), 1 in TV. Took me a long time to see this one.
3 TAILSPIN TIL(l)S PIN. It may be true that some people find their PIN hard to remember but I question whether this is acceptable wordplay.
5 RECEIPT TIE, C, ER (all rev)
9 BO-PEEP Odd letters from “obsolete”.
14 GRAND PIANO GRAND PAN, O. I do have doubts about this, as I can’t adequately explain “grand”; I’ve heard of deep pan pizza and stuffed crust, but grand pan is new to me.
16 GREASE GUN *(US REGGAE). Another quibble, as “smoother” seems a bit loose as a definition.
18 GREEN-EYED Alternate letters in “urge – seen sexy lead”. A similar device to 9 down.
19 PARCLOSE PA, RC LO(ok) (aisl)E. The fact that the word “close” appears in the clue seemed a weakness to me.
21 INBUILT B(eckham) U(nited) in 1 – NIL.

14 Responses to “Guardian Genius No 97 by Tramp”

  1. Matthew says:

    Thanks Tramp and bridgesong for the puzzle and the blog.

    I enjoyed this puzzle very much. It certainly became much easier once I had worked out what the missing letters spelled out.

    I don’t think CLUEDO in the bottom row is a nina, unless I have missed a better choice for “where [Dr Black] is to be found” hidden in the grid.

    I think the point of the missing Y is that like the winner of a game of Cluedo we have the answers to “who?”, “with what?”, and “where?” but not “why?”.

  2. sidey says:

    This Tramp chap is rather good. A really enjoyable solve.

  3. Norman L in France says:

    A very good puzzle and fairly difficult until the theme revealed itself. Same quibble as you about “smoother” and I have no idea about Pizza Hut’s menu but it had to be “grand piano”. McDonald’s and Pizza Hut – do they use grease guns in their kitchens? Therapy needed.

  4. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, bridgesong.

    I thought this was a super puzzle – only the third [I think] Genius that I’ve finished. It took a day or two but it was a delight to keep coming back to and, in a way, I didn’t want to finish it!

    Re your reservations: I’d never heard of Grand Pan pizza, but I found this: which made it clear.

    I’ve seen M = MacDonalds several times in crosswords now [I think Paul started it] and it’s fine by me.

    [As well as Miss Peacock at 7ac, there’s also DINING ROOM at 27.]

    Very many thanks for the entertainment, Tramp. I’ve blogged your first two Cryptic puzzles and, like bridgesong, I considered it a privilege. I look forward to more!

  5. Artie Fufkin says:

    Yet another thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Took me a while to solve but that’s what I want from a Genius. Really good clue construction and very entertaining.

    As for Grand Pan, Pizza Hut relaunched their Pan Pizza as Grand Pan in 1998. I’ve eaten a few Grand Pans in my time but had to Google to find the date.

    Well done Tramp!

  6. bridgesong says:

    Matthew @ 1, I take your point about the missing “y”, but disagree with you about CLUEDO. Why don’t you tnink it’s a nina?

    Eileen, your research is more thorough than mine was, thanks for the link. And I’d missed DINING ROOM as a Cluedo reference.

  7. Jan says:

    Thanks for the blog, bridgesong.

    I made these notes on completion …

    Wow! This was even better than Tramp’s February puzzle. What an amazing construction! We even had peacock, green and dining room in the solutions as well as Dr Black and Cluedo in the completed grid.

    Using the omitted letters I noticed ‘mustard’ first and the rest began to fall into place.

    NELUMBO and PARCLOSE are new to me and I had to visit Pizza Hut websites to confirm the phrase Grand Pan. I got quite hungry researching that one!

    I was held up by 4d. I looked at ‘steamiest’ with a ‘d’ and had, _ _ _ T _ S _ E. Aha! I thought – demitasse – that could be used for a shot of coffee in the US. But could T = member rather than the M? Still I entered EMITASSE only to realise that nothing sensible would fit 8a. When I managed to solve 8a the penny dropped.

    After writing ‘dining oom’, I couldn’t get Mr Tumnus and ‘spare oom’ out of my head.

    All in all, a true tour de force. Thank you, Tramp, for several hours of puzzle joy.

  8. Tramp says:

    Thanks bridgesong for the excellent blog.

    Admittedly, GRAND PAN is a tad esoteric. When I was writing the clue I was struggling to make anything I liked using the breakdown GRANDPA+NO. I then noticed GRANDPAN and recognised it as a pizza. After a bit of research on th’internet, I discerned (like Artie Fufkin @#5) that it was a speciality pizza introduced by Pizza Hut in 1998 and was formerly called Pan Pizza. I deliberated for ages over this but figured people would have heard of a Pan pizza and could probably guess Grand Pan from checking letters so decided to go with it – I’m still glad I did but it is perhaps a little unfair.

    As for using M for McDonalds, it isn’t Ximenean but I think it’s a fun device that I’ve seen a few times in crosswords. You won’t find it in Chambers as an abbreviation but in my view I think it’s acceptable.

    I find the use of compound anagrams in puzzles quite interesting. At work, most days, I help a group of colleagues do the Daily Mail (spits on floor) cryptic at break time. The puzzle is not of a particularly high standard, but, I’d say on average, a compound anagram appears in there every other day. If Daily Mail solvers are used to them, why do they seldom appear in broadsheet cryptics? I think compound anagrams are a great device but solvers aren’t used to them – I decided to use one here. Admittedly, the ‘s’ after Monet is a bit weak.

    The ‘close’ in the clue for PARCLO(s)E is also weak. I hadn’t spotted this. I suppose I was too blinkered in writing a clue for PARCLOE that I forgot it was for PARCLOSE!

    Eileen and Jan are right, I deliberately included PEACOCK, GREEN and DINING ROOM. Ideally, I wanted to get a Nina in there but my attempts proved futile. I suppose, technically, Cluedo isn’t a Nina as it’s mentioned in the preamble.

    As Matthew says (@#1) the missing ‘Y’ relates to the motive remaining unsolved in Cluedo. I have to confess that this ‘feature’ was a mistake on my part. After spending hours filling the grid and writing some of the clues, I was aghast when I realised that my message was short of the final letter! I was about to delete the whole thing when I thought I could make use of the fact that it was a Y that was missing; a bit of serendipity coming to my rescue.

    Thanks for the comments.

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Jan

    I should have done as you did and made notes: it’s so hard to remember after a month, with so many puzzles intervening.

    You’ve reminded me that I, too, went down the demitasse route for a while [which gave me two reasons to chuckle when I got 8ac!] and, as far as I remember, ‘mustard’ was my way in to the theme, too.

    I got NELUMBO [only because it had been in a Bonxie puzzle a couple of weeks before] but couldn’t see the wordplay and PARCLOSE was a new word for me, too.

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi Tramp – just crossed.

    Well, if the missing Y was a mistake, it was serendipity indeed! What a good job you didn’t scrap the whole thing!

  11. Wanderer says:

    Thank you Tramp and bridgesong. I can’t remember when I last enjoyed a crossword as much as this one. Favourite clue was LITTLE ROCK, but the whole thing was a delight.

    I started this on a Tuesday and finished it the same Friday but spent more time on it on some days than on others. My best guess is that it took a total of 6-8 hours, time thoroughly well spent.

  12. bridgesong says:

    Tramp, thank you very much for your considered response. I was particularly interested in what you had to say about compound anagrams and agree that they are a useful addition to a setter’s armoury and should be more widely deployed. Nobody has complained that the clue was unfair.

  13. Trebor says:

    Some really tricky and interesting omissions – the double letter ones in particular led to often confusing getting into a weird situation where I was confusing the word play and the definition when validating answers.
    All the extra touches (other rooms, characters etc) I did spot but the “Dr Black” alluded me until reading here and increases my admiration further still.
    Not a regular commentator, and Genius solves are very rare but feel compelled to write here (since Tramp is looking in) because this was simply awesome.

  14. Tramp says:

    Thanks again everyone

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