Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 104 – Tramp

Posted by Andrew on March 4th, 2012


I made rather heavy weather of this one, needing several sessions over the month to finish it. Even with some lucky guessing it took me a while to get the full “ennobling instruction” spelt out by the first letters of the superfluous words. So, hard work but rewarding to finish.

The instruction finally revealed itself as CHANGE FIFTH ROW AFTER TWENTY-FOUR D. The letters in the fifth row of the grid sell out KERMITS (frogs – can you have more than Kermit?) which in a fairy-tale might be changed by a KISS to PRINCES.

The superfluous words are shown in red below, and the modified grid entries are in brackets after the answers in the six affected clues. There were two minor typos in the clues, but I don’t think they should have caused any problems.

7 . Hard hole – Els redesigned part of Carnoustie golf club (5)
HOSEL H + O + ELS*, for “the socket for the shaft in the head of a golf club”
9 . Go through exercise halving take-home pay? (9)
11 . Most adaptors behind plug hole with three points (7)
SLOWEST W E S in SLOT. The definition is “most behind”
12 . Amazon nature film – no intro to aerial shot? (1-6)
ETAILER ET + ([a]ERIAL)*. This really needs a “say” or “for example” after “Amazon” – cf 18ac, which has one
13 . Writer of 1970s’ band Genesis covering single – intro from T. Rex (5)
ELIOT I in ELO + T. George or T. S. Eliot, as you wish
14 . Clumsily type, in Excel, large order (7)
16 . Artist and composer missing a green forest (2,5)
18 . For example BA (first class) in English covering King Lear’s leading ideology? (7)
AIRLINE RL in AI IN E. BA being an example of an airline
20 . Forbidden bar for swingers? (7)
TRAPEZE Cryptic definition – not very cryptic once you remove the extra word, but the surface of the original is nice
21 . Ford model Torino cast destroyed … (5)
KAPUT KA (a Ford car model) + PUT (cast)
23 . … model Henry’s current car almost in plastic (7)
FORMICA FORM (model) + I (symbol for electric current)+ CA[r]
24 . Inert element of Superman’s risking planet (7)
KRYPTON Double definition
25 . Ordinarily, when taken out, insurance covers against weather (9)
UMBRELLAS Cryptic definition – not very cryptic even in the original: in fact I spent ages trying to find a more complex parsing
26 . From the white nose they made shuttles large (5)
NASAL NASA (they made the space shuttle) + L
1. Balls, perhaps, trodden on by one beating around like a cat (9)
WHISKER + ED [Balls, politician]
2. Watch chain from fire alarm ringing, first to bell (6)
B in alert
3. Show disgust over Tramp’s clues (4)
SPIT TIPS reversed
4. Pure ecstasy smuggled in regurgitated sweet – are Met nicking? (10)
Hidden in reverse of sweET ARE MET NIcking. A ‘rare’ word meaning pure or undefiled, from Latin temerare = to violate. The grid entry INTENERATE is equally obscure – it means ‘to make tender’.
5. Farcical hotelier reads paper American women left inside at end of day (6)
A + W + L in FT + Y. “Farcical hotelier” is rather a giveaway definition. The grid entry FAWLEY is the proper noun mentioned in the preamble. It’s a village in Hampshire, but it’s surely not a coincidence that it was also the pseudonyum under which the late Mike Laws set puzzles for the Guardian.
6. Equals those slashing taxes (5)
PEERS Double def. To “have/go for a slash” is slang for to urinate, so “one slashing” is a PEE[e]R. I’ve never seen “slash” used as a verb in this sense, but Chambers gives it.
8. Farrier’s worst job – second job in the garden (7)
10. “No bottoms exposed in school”, Conservative defector (7)
TRAI[n] + TOR[y]
14. Where you”ll hear classical music – Nutcracker ballet, oddly no need for theatre (10)
15. Figure on tennis court – director’s cut (9)
RECTANGLE RE (about, on) CT + ANGLE Thanks to Tramp for pointing out that this is film director ANG LEE “cut”
17. Vet cut up on motorway yesterday – where she was heading? (7)
EXAMINE Reverse of AXE + M1 + NE (where the M1 goes, sort of). This was my last entry, after I’d spent a long time trying to justify EVALINE (VE[t] reversed, A-LINE = motorway?). The “she” is an Arachne-like red herring – there’s no reason why a vet shouldn’t be female (in fact I have a niece who is one).
19. Works out formula -writer’s configuration is not written down (7)
IMPUTES I’M + (SET-UP)<. The clue confusingly has a space before the hyphen – just a typo I assume.
20. Pounds off – head to bargains with short supply (6)
21. Preparing surface to decorate trifle, finally, cutting jelly at home using string (6)
KEYING E in KY [jelly – medical and sexual lubricant] + IN + G [string]. One of the many definitions of “key” is to prepare a surface for plastering, wallpapering or other decoration, usually by roughening it.
22. A UFO flying low ran initially into state of confusion (5)
24. Daft brush goes down hill, top to bottom (4) (4)
KISS SKIS with the first letter moved to the end. Another typo here – the enumeration (4) is given twice.

8 Responses to “Guardian Genius 104 – Tramp”

  1. Jan says:

    Thanks for the splendid blog, Andrew, and thank you for posting so early/late? I’ve been waiting to post my appreciation.

    (Your numbering of the down clues got a bit out of phase but it does nothing to detract from the clarity of the blog.)

    My notes on completion …

    Tramp, you lovely boy, you’ve done it again! I got so much enjoyment from this puzzle, I couldn’t possibly 3d, but I offer an e – 24d.

    Having found several letters of the cryptic instruction, I was able to guess the first four words and that helped to solve the in-between clues, but the full message did not become clear until every clue was cracked (as Andrew implied) – and what crackers they were!

    6d stood out for me above all the others. The answer was immediately obvious from the definition and the letter count, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in trying to make peers = taxes. I genuinely laughed out loud when the penny (was spent) dropped.

    Again, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in trying the code, K is S, from KISS, especially as the first letter in the fifth row was K. I have 3 scribbled alphabets at the bottom of my print-out.

    I can’t quite believe it took me so long to do the obvious – i.e read the fifth row! Another LOL moment.

    Thank you for another fun-filled mental workout.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Jan: I’ve corrected the numbers for the downs.

  3. Eileen says:

    I could echo just about everything Jan says, though it turns out I didn’t do as well as she did. Very many thanks to Andrew for an excellent blog and to Tramp for a month’s [on and off] worth of enjoyment.

    I could count the number of Geniuses I’ve attempted, let alone finished, on little more than the fingers of one hand but I enjoyed Tramp’s Cluedo one so much that, seeing his name on this one, I had to at least give it a try.

    I was held up in seeing the special instructions by initially having the wrong letters from some of the last few clues but, like Jan, it took until the very end for it to become clear – a real laugh-out-loud moment. [I had the same thought about FAWLEY.]

    It was only when I read the blog that I discovered I had two answers completely wrong – although I’d omitted the correct word in the clue. I hadn’t been able to parse them satisfactorily – and no wonder! – : CORTINA for 23 across, which left SCRUM [state of confusion] as the only possible answer for 22dn but totally inexplicable, of course. I don’t think I’ve ever met AFOUL – but I suppose you might get one in a scrum!

    I think it will be a while before I tackle a Genius again – but huge thanks, Tramp, ‘you lovely boy’, for all the fun.

  4. Tramp says:

    Thanks Andrew for the excellent, comprehensive blog.

    Many thanks to Eileen and Jan for those lovely comments – you’ve made my day.

    Sincere apologies for the extra space and the enumeration errors. I’m not sure how I introduced either of those into the puzzle. I must try harder.

    The superfluous word in 1d is ‘around’ not ‘a’. I suppose the ‘Amazon’ clue does need a ‘perhaps’ in there; I was using a question mark at the end to attempt to indicate the ‘for example’, but, I admit, some folk think this could only work if the ‘Amazon’ were at the end of the clue. On reflection, I think I tend to agree with them.

    The ‘giveaway definition’ for FAWLTY and the cryptic definition of UMBRELLAS were designed to be an easy way into the puzzle. I figured people might struggle with this one and so I felt I had to give a few easier ones. As you state correctly, FAWLEY was my little attempt to remember the late, great Mike Laws whom I never had the privilege of meeting.

    My original preamble said something like:

    Each of the clues contains a superfluous word. These words, when taken in clue order, spell out an instruction to be performed on a section of the completed grid (apart from the last element) prior to submission.”

    Hugh thought it inelegant that the instruction related to the fifth row but I only wanted KERMIT changed to PRINCE. As a result, he rewrote the preamble and in my opinion improved the puzzle.

    I’m not sure when I’m next in but I’m about to start work on my twenty seventh puzzle and I think it should be decent. I’m learning all the time.

    Thanks again folks.


  5. Tramp says:

    For 15d “director’s cut” = ANG LE(e)

  6. Trebor says:

    Another cracking puzzle from Tramp. At the easier end of the Genius scale perhaps (I shouldn’t imagine many would disagree here, and in particular all the words are fairly common) but certainly amongst the most enjoyable.
    As for solving notes, I seem to recall having something like “F_F_H__W” for the message, at which point I was able to infer it and hence remove the superfluous words.

    Thanks again.

  7. Gordon says:

    Thanks Andrew and Tramp

    I managed, unlike last month, to finish this and get it all correct. As with 4 of my last 6 entries I was probably the last to submit again, beating the deadline by about 5 hours. That does not mean I understood everything though.

    I completely missed the ANG LE[E]explanation for 15d; I interpreted ANGLE as the different content and or message that the Director wanted to get across from the “Director’s cut” of the film. This being a well known version of some films.

    I also knew THROBS for 20d, but until I saw this blog, had no idea how to parse it. It is amazing how I missed that.

    I am still slightly confused about 25a, which I put in very early on. In USA where I now live there is a type of insurance coverage called “Umbrella” which is a sort of catch-all to cover against being sued, etc. and covers what is not included in house or motor insurance. I did not recall that this was a type of insurance used in Britain and was therefore unsure Umbrella was correct, until it became obvious that it could not be anything else. If Tramp was aware of this type of US insurance then it makes the clue all the better for me, but probably more confusing for people back home.

    I also had PEERS with the correct parsing, but could not believe that the reference to Slashing could ever be allowed by the editor. I thought that even PAUL would have had trouble getting that through!

    My favourite clue was 18a, AIRLINE.

    Lovely stuff TRAMP

  8. ArtieFufkin says:

    I only usually give the Genius a bit of my attention, having a 14 month old son means I just don’t get the time. I normally have to be content with the odd broadsheet cryptic. Knowing this was set by Tramp though gave me a bit more incentive to stick at it and try and finish it. Only the third Genius I have ever managed to complete. I have to say it was well worth the effort! A thoroughly entertaining puzzle and a great moment when the instruction was revealed. Thank you Tramp!

    I must admit to struggling with Ang Lee too but a great penny dropping moment when I wrote that one in.

    A really clever puzzle with some great clues.

    Thanks again!

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