Never knowingly undersolved.

Genius 99

Posted by duncanshiell on October 2nd, 2011


Enigmatist is one of the most prolific crossword setters and has a knack of introducing new ideas and twists into his puzzles.  I think this was probably one of the more offbeat of his creations.

The preamble told us that each clue, presented in the form of a 10, contains a definition and a jumble of the letters of the solution.  The jumble always starts at the start or ends at the end of a word in the clue.  Seven of these jumbles contain one superfluous letter.  These lead in clue order to the puzzle’s theme.

Each clue takes the form of a question and the whole set of clues can be seen as being presented as a QUIZ, the entry at 10..  On first glance many of the clues seem to form perfectly reasonable questions which can lead to sensible answers.  Closer inspection however shows that only a few of them lead to to the entries in the grid (RENO, DOE and ELEPHANT), many of them contain some items of relevance beyond just the definition (e.g. clues to HYENAS, DRUG BARON, HUGHES, EGGHEADS and DE MOOI) but some of them are complete gobbledygook (e.g. clues to EMANATION, STENOSIS, BEQUEATH and ARGUABLE).  My first three entries were RENO, DOE and ELEPHANT.

There were a lot of references to TV programmes in the clues, so it was no surprise to find that the theme was also a TV programme – EGGHEADS.  This programme is a quiz, hence the nature of the clues.  

EGGHEADS has seven regular participants, all of whom have a strong track record in radio, television or competitive quizzing.    

The puzzle featured EGGHEADS as an entry (16 down) and the singular form EGGHEAD, describing each of the seven regulars, was formed from the superfluous letters in the seven special clues.  In six of the superfluous letter clues, the extra letter was within the full jumble.  One one occasion, for ASHMAN at 2 down it was the first letter of the group.  I think setters usually try to get the extra letter within the jumble, so I looked for other possibilities for the location of the first G, but couldn’t find one (ROLLING STONES SINGLE got close but didn’t work) . 

Some of the individual EGGHEADS were defined as themselves (ASHMAN [but see my doubts below], KEPPEL,  and DE MOOI) but others were clued by reference to namesakes (HUGHES, SIMMONS, FOWLER and GIBSON).

The full names of the seven EGGHEADS are:



Judith KEPPEL;



Daphne FOWLER; and


Full details of their talents, in as accurate a fashion as Wikipedia can provide, can be found at

If HUGHES was placed at 3 down instead of MASTER, we would have had a symmetric placement of the surnames of the seven EGGHEADS.  I wonder if Enigmatist tried for this symmetry but had to admit defeat in fitting words that could cross?   I also wondered a bit about the need for the inclusion of the two three letter entries at 5 down and 26 down as neither are used to clue an EGGHEAD or generate a superfluous letter.

In the table below, I have tried to indicate which clues have more than a hint of logic behind them.

I enjoyed this puzzle but it did help to have knowledge of the programme.  It was the theme that helped me get DE MOOI as an entry.

Finally, now that Mrs Enigmatist (Jane Teather) is featuring as a member of The Listeners team on Only Connect can we look forward to a crossword based on the format of that BBC 4 game show?



No. Clue Jumbled letters

Extra Letter

1 Who allegedly planted the oak tree outside Ampleforth College? (4) AMPLEFORTH


PALM (tree) I don’t know whether there is an oak tree outside Ampleforth College.
4 Which vegetable of the genus Phaseolus was first described in Kenya in 2001? (6,4) DESCRIBED IN KENYA


KIDNEY BEAN (a vegetable of the genus Phaseolus)
9 The King‘s Speech is celebratory of which king? (10) SPEECH IS CELEBRATORY


CHESSPIECE (a/the king is a chesspiece) As I’m sure most people know, the recent film, The King’s Speech was focused on King George VI.
10 See special instructions (4)  


QUIZ (the clues are presented in the form of a QUIZ. EGGHEADS is a QUIZ)
11 Who plays the title role in the 2007 Peter Spears film Hairdresser Alec? (8) HAIRDRESSER ALEC


CARELESS (2007 film directed by Peter Spears)
13 They may be laughing at Melvyn Hayes in which TV series set in India? (6) MELVYN HAYES


HYENAS (reference ‘laughing hyenas’) Melvyn Hayes appeared in "It Aint ‘Arf Hot Mum, a TV sitcom set in India".
14 Which Old Etonian masterminded the first issue of Beano? (9) ETONIAN MASTERMINDED


EMANATION (issue) Research tells me that the first editor of the Beano was George Moonie, born in Dundee and educated at Harris Academy, not quite the same as Eton.
18 "The Kingpin" is a member of which pharmaceutical brand/group? (4,5) BRAND/GROUP


DRUG BARON (kingpin; the most important person in a group or undertaking)
22 Siouxsie and the Banshees hug which aviator at the end of Hong Kong Garden? (6) BANSHEES HUG


HUGHES (reference Howard Hughes [aviator, amongst other things]) Hong Kong Garden was the first single released by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
23 The constriction of what led to a top 10 UK Rolling Stones single of 1969? (8) STONES SINGLE


STENOSIS (constriction)  The only single I can find for the Rolling Stones in 1969 is Honky Tonk Women, but I can’t see a correlation with STENOSIS.
24 Who were the actor members of the fatherly group in Three Men and a Baby? (4) A BABY


ABBA (Swedish pop group.  ABBA also means ‘father’ so a cryptic definition could be ‘fatherly group’)  There were a number of music tracks in the film, but I can’t see ABBA mentioned.
25 Why was John Thaw as Inspector Morse so relaxed about his "Strange" relationship? (4,2,4) MORSE SO RELAXED


MORE OR LESS (relationship) Chief Superintendent Strange was Inspector Morse’s boss.  Morse and Strange had a somewhat prickly relationship I think.
27 On A Question of Sport recently which showgirl eclipsed Sue Barker? (5,5) SHOWGIRL ECLIPSED


WELSH CORGI (breed of dog; barker)  Sue Barker is the presenter of ‘A Question of Sport’.
28 If one were a shotgun bride to which city in Nevada would one run? (4) ONE RUN


RENO (City in Nevada) I thinmk RENO has a history of being one of the easiest places in America to get married as it is less insistent on pre-marriage administration and bureaucracy, and allows weddings almost 24 hours a day.


2 Which scientific paradigm has an intellectual origin in the Arts? (6) PARADIGM HAS AN


ASHMAN (intellectual; reference Kevin ASHMAN, one of the EGGHEADS)  I am not sure if I have got the right definition here, but I can’t see anything else.  I can’t find an ASHMAN paradigm or any reference to an ASHMAN in the annals of intellectuals, philosophers or thinkers.  Clearly Kevin ASHMAN is at the forefront of British, and even world quizzing having won Fifteen to One, Mastermind, Brain of Britain and many other domestic and international quizzes, but I have some difficulty relating quizzing to intellectualism.
3 Which one of the Doctor’s arch-enemies comes from the planet Mars? (6) PLANET MARS


MASTER (reference The MASTER, one of the arch enemies of Doctor Who.  The MASTER is a rogue timelord from Galifrey [not Mars unfortunately])
4 Which rich woman, the first of her kind, studied seaweeds, eg kelp, proving their richness in iodine? (6) EG KELP P


KEPPEL (reference Judith KEPPEL, first winner of £1m on the UK version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ and one of the EGGHEADS)  Wikipedia reports that Judith KEPPEL took A Levels and completed a secretarial course, but doesn’t state whether any of the A Level subjects involved the study of seaweeds.
5 According the the COED, what is a female deer or rabbit called? (3) COED


DOE (female of the smaller deer, now extended to the female of antelope, kangaroo, rabbit, hare and some other animals)

6 What is the largest land animal on the planet? (8) THE PLANET


ELEPHANT (the African bull elephant is the largest land animal on Earth)
7 What will (a) the Quebecers do and (b) the rest of the Canadian nation not do in the next election? (8) (A) THE QUEBECERS


BEQUEATH (to leave by will) I think this qualifies as the most obscure/surreal of all the ‘questions’ in the quiz’.
8 The Panorama intro takes its name from which National Park? (8) PANORAMA INTRO


ANIMATOR (reference Nick Park of Aardman Animations, the creator of Wallace and Gromit and other animated characters)
12 The NHS is momentarily sponsoring which Israeli-American singer? (7) NHS IS MOMENTARILY


SIMMONS (reference Gene SIMMONS, an Israeli-American rock bassist, singer, songwriter, musician, actor, lead singer and bassist of Kiss)  Another fairly unlikely question

15 Why is Aurora, beluga superstar, controversial in the week’s news? (8) AURORA BELUGA


ARGUABLE (controversial) I can’t find a strong reference between Aurora, beluga and superstar but I did find a Star Trek animation called Aurora.  Belugacan refer to both a sturgeon and a whale.
16 Dermot Vine appears in which TV show as Ed Heggarty? (8) AS ED HEGGARTY


EGGHEADS (TV quiz show, also the theme of this puzzle) The two presenters of the show have been Dermot Murnaghan and Jeremy Vine

At their most basic almonds provide the flavouring for which type of vinegar? (8)



BALSAMIC (type of vinegar; made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano grape juice and not a vinegar in the usual sense)

Io, Oedema and Mudd compile model crosswords for which newspaper? (2,4)



DE MOOI (reference C J DE MOOI, another of the EGGHEADS.  Apparently DE MOOI was a male model for four and a half years at an early stage of his career.  His web site features some of his poses, should you be interested.  IO and MUDD are pseudonyms of crossword setters for the Financial Times – IO being John Henderson (Enigmatist, Nimrod [Independent] and Elgar [Daily Telegraph]) and MUDD being John Halpern (Paul [Guardian], Punk [Independent], Dada [Telegraph Toughie]).  Both Johns also set for The Times.  I can’t find an Oedema as a setter, but given what Oedema means I’m not that surprised, even though it does look like a name from Greek Mythology and therefore sounds suitable for a pseudonym)

20 Which notorious practitioner of law was also a literary style guru? (6) PRACTITIONER OF LAW


FOWLER (reference Henry Watson FOWLER, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage [1926])

21 Which Man U player is Bond girl Vesper Lynd currently dating? (6) IS BOND GIRL


GIBSON (reference Darron Gibson, Manchester United football player)  Vesper Lynd, is, of course, a fictional character.
26 Raymond Burr played which role in the robotic science fiction play that debuted on Broadway in 1922? (3) BURR


R. U. R. (robotic science fiction play written in Czech by Karel Capek.  The play premiered in Prague in 1921, and opened at the Garrick in New York in October 1922).  Raymond Burr would have been 5 years old in October 1922.

15 Responses to “Genius 99”

  1. Trebor says:

    I got “Bequeath” and thus guessed “Quiz” pretty early on, and if memory serves “Keppel” was my way in to the main theme, with entry of the other Eggheads quickly following suit.
    I liked the inclusion of superfluous details (4ac in particular with its arbitrary (?) “in 2001″) as they do make the clues seem more “quizzy” and distracted me on a few occasions; no doubt Enigmatist’s intention.
    Overall I did very much enjoy this puzzle.

  2. bridgesong says:

    Thanks, Duncan, for the comprehensive blog. I’d come across DLM (definition and letter mixture) puzzles before, but the added twist of presenting all the clues as quiz questions was new, and very appropriate. I wasn’t familiar with all the members of the Eggheads team and it took me a long time to realise that some of the clues which I had solved (e.g. Fowler)were in fact related to the theme. Can I add that Vesper Lynd is a character in the James Bond novel Casino Royale?

  3. Jan says:

    What an excellent blog, Duncan, and all that research too. Thank you.

    These are the notes I made on completion …

    Could it be called a reverse Printer’s Devilry with printer’s errors thrown in? I managed 19 solutions and lost interest. It wasn’t enthusing me. I had I, G, A and D as superfluous letters and they weren’t lighting any bulbs. The I came from 13a, HAYESIN rather than NHAYES – that didn’t help. Nor did it help spelling KEPPEL wrong at first.

    Several days later I decided to have another go. By then I had completely forgotten about the superfluous letters – big mistake. I spent ages on 19d because I ignored the M in OEDEMA. I was tring to make something with IOOEDE or OMPILE and thought I must be looking for a foreign newspaper. However, when I remembered, and solved DE MOOI, verifying that he had been a model, all sorts of light bulbs lit up.

    EGGHEAD became obvious and I could see where I was wrong in 13a. Having a G from 4d, I couldn’t find the other superfluous G.

    I had struggled with 2d and 12d but now they dropped in easily as did 16d. The significance of the 5 already completed Eggheads had failed to register.

    My admiration for Enigmatist’s compilation is high but my enjoyment was low.

  4. Katherine says:

    Hi Duncan

    My husband finished it and he wants to add the following for you. He does have his own registration for this site but was not at his own computer. His name is John Gordon Roy.

    Hi Duncan [greetings from the USA]. Great blog and your thinking virtually mirrored mine. I enjoyed this Genius as much as any I’ve done this year. My last clue in was De Mooi and it was only then that I realised the connection and theme – believe it or not. I had until then mistakenly selected the letter ‘I’ from 14A, as I first took the letter jumble to be “Hayes In”. With 19D I was stuck for a very long time trying to make the solution LE MOCI, which is actually a well respected magazine and not a newspaper, however that game me another [eighth letter] ‘P’, so I was unhappy with that until I tried answers beginning with DE.

    I put the puzzle aside for a few days and forgot about it until mid-afternoon yesterday. I finally got 19D, worked out the theme, found the alternative jumble for 14A and submitted my solution with just about 90 minutes to spare. I believe mine must have been the final entry received.

    1. I think Enigmatist made a mistake with the first ‘G’. All the superfluous letters are from the clues that result in the answers for the 7 eggheads, so it has to be that the first ‘G’ was from 2D. It cannot have been from any other clue. I simply believe that Enigmatist mistakenly calculated the G as being in the jumble – it is not as you point out.
    2. I too was stumped by many of the supposed ‘clues’ until I decided that the grid entry refers sometimes to just one word from the clue. I believe the 1969 Rolling Stones bit is a complete misdirection, as is the case with much of other clues, as pointed out by Trebor [he of the mint].
    3. I agree with you about 2D. There is an Ashman who was a scientist, giving name to the Ashman Phenomenon, but I do not believe the clue is referring to him.
    4. You put the wrong answer down for 8D. It is ANIMATOR, not Park. I’m sure you knew that.
    5. You are correct about good quality Balsamic ‘Vinegar’ being a reduction, not a vinegar, but 99.9% of what you can buy in stores is actually cheaper vinegar based, that takes about 1% of the time to make as the real stuff. My advice is don’t buy it! Anything under $100 a bottle here in the USA is a fraud. Only buy bottles marked as “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” – which must be matured at least 12 years and often longer than 25 – usually depending upon the cap colour. Also there are no almonds ever in Balsamic vinegar so that is another mis-direction.

    I’ll be interested to read other comments as they come in.

    Best wishes.

  5. duncanshiell says:

    Thanks to all for the comments on the blog so far. I hadn’t noticed that the superfluous letters were all from the individual EGGHEAD answers, so particular thanks to Katherine/John Gordon for pointing that out.

    I have changed PARK to ANIMATOR; I’m not sure how that error got through my proof reading – it shouldn’t have done.

    I have to confess to not being an expert on balsamic vinegar. I often quote Wikipedia in my blogs knowing that Wikipedia cannot be considered to be 100% accurate. I was once shown how easy it is to change the wording of entries in Wikipedia. I was told that some entries change on a regular basis depending on which point of view is taken by the most recent ‘editor’.

  6. John H says:

    Thanks Duncan, fantastic blog, and many thanks for the comments, folks.

    To clear up 2dn (ASHMAN), the definition is ‘intellectual’ and does refer to Kevin himself – I can think of very few more intellectual human beings. The G of ‘paradigm’ is the superfluous letter and GM HAS AN is the anagram group. Given the instruction ‘starts at the start or ends at the end of a word in the clue’, this word is AN – clearly you can’t tread on the definition, (the next word) – so the key letter is G.



  7. John H says:

    Incidentally, the question marks in the clues to CHESSPIECE and ANIMATOR are part of the definition.

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. It was enjoyable reliving a bit of the fun from this unique puzzle.

    Since Only Connect has already been mentioned, I hope it’s ok to to tell the Victoria Coren joke I’ve already quoted (some time ago) on the Guardian site. Once on OC she said, “…and remember the losers today have to go on to meet the Eggheads. They don’t have to compete with them, they just have to meet them…”

    Well it made me laugh. (And of course she doesn’t mean it.)

  9. Katherine says:

    Thanks Enigmatist for responding, but I still do not see that the superfluous ‘G’ in 2D is treated the same as with the other 6 ‘Egghead’ clues. In all the other clues you have to include the superfluous letter in the jumble as it is contained within the group of letters itself, not just tagged on at the start or end. In this case the letters for ASHMAN do not need to include the ‘G’ in the jumble. The jumble could simply be M HAS AN. It is therefore not obvious that ‘G’ is a superfluous letter. You can only deduce this once you realise that the suerfluous letters from the other 6 clues require 2D to have a superfluous ‘G’. I still think that Emigmatist made a mistake therefore, as surely the intent should be to force a letter to be superfluous. Haven’t we all made mistakes though at some point!

    I still liked this Genius better than any other this year. Truly great.

    Best wishes


  10. Thomas99 says:

    I honestly don’t think that G can conceivably represent any kind of mistake. It fits precisely with the instructions (see Enigmatist’s explanation at 6 above) and cleverly exploits them to make the puzzle more difficult. You have to realise that the jumble includes the G. As you say, it’s not obvious, which is a good thing, not a bad one. The setters job isn’t to make things easy!

  11. Gordon says:

    Hi Thomas

    I really disagree.

    I could engineer 20 other ‘superfluous letters’ from the other clues, simply by tacking on another letter to the existing jumble. That is not what I take to be superfluous. As you must agree, the letter ‘G’ is not superfluous unless you add it on to begin with. How can you state something is superfluous if you are forced to add it to make it so?

    I doubt Enigmatist will agree with me, and it was merely frustrating as I knew what letter was required, but surely you must agree it is a bit disingenuous to have to add something first before you decide it isn’t needed.

    As I say, the same logic would make ‘S’ superfluous from 14A for example. I just don’t buy this as being consistent.

    Thanks for winding me up again though!!

  12. John H says:

    Hmmm. I can see both sides of this.

    As an editor, I’ve entered into discussion with Chalicea about two of her clues on a similar point. Protagonists might wish to view and maybe add their own comments to the message board thread on Alternate Letters on

    As a compiler, I stand by my clue, but can understand Gordon’s frustrations with the likes of 14ac.



  13. Gordon says:

    Hi Enigmatist

    There is an old saying ‘Runs with the foxes and hunts with the hounds’ to show a lack of consistency in arguments or stances! It must be hard for you wearing two hats at once!

    How about this as a ‘genuine’ ‘superfluous letter clue’ for 2D:

    “Intellectual one of fifteeN HAS GAMely studied Martin Luther King.”

    Not only do we get a TRUE superfluous ‘G’, but two references to Kevin Ashman’s past glories and that he is in game shows. I like it anyway.

    Thanks again for a great crossword.

    ps today is my 60th birthday, so you have to be nice to me.

  14. John H says:

    Many Happy Returns Gordon!

    ….but your clue doesn’t work with the rubric and neither is it a question. Apart from that, it’s jolly good.

  15. Huw Powell says:

    I have recently taken, very gingerly, to printing out older Graun “Genius” puzzles, since I am a fan of really obscure rules for solving puzzles (see!).

    The rules of this one were just up my alley – missing or extra letters, having to ignore most of the clue to get the answer, etc. In the end I “failed”, since I just wasn’t familiar enough with the show to have everything drop into place, but I got everything but ASHMAN, and messed up KEPPEL with “Koppel” (it works, but wrecks the extra letter thing. Not in ink, at least.).

    I had so much fun doing this over many many days between dailies! I got in via the “easier” clues (HYENAS, MASTER (in first), RENO, ELEPHANT, then came strategy and tactics. I knew I had to work on clues with a checked letter or two, that only turned up in one or two places in the clue, and then use all my wiles to figure out what might be going on.

    I think I did pretty well, as an ex-pat having no familiarity with the show.

    Thanks Duncan for a very nice introduction and well-parsed series of solutions. And thanks to Enigmatist, obviously, for all those hours I am not worried about getting back!

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