Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,690 – Bonxie

Posted by Uncle Yap on July 17th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

What a cracker of a puzzle. Some easy clues but many challenging devices mixed in as well to titillate and bemuse. I even had to contact two good friends, NeilW and Dr G for help over some blind spots. No, the two London grandchildren were of no help as they were happily engrossed in Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and largely left Ah Kong to solve and blog this. What struck me most today is the adroit way Bonxie has been able to string some complicated devices into a smooth surface. Very neat ….

… and toniL @ 1 is about one of the most observant solvers. I did not notice the bottom line of the grid reading BEETLES although I did wonder to myself some connections such as stag and scarab beetles. As for the qualified pangram (a grid that contains all the letters of the alphabet minus the themed Beetle, the Volkwagen or VW) I salute you, ToniL for spotting it and Bonxie for creating it :-)

P/S I have just done an “audit” of the letters and found the grid has all the letters except W and Y

 Place cursor over clue number to read the clue

8 PAGO PAGO Cha of PA (personal assistant, aide) GOP (Grand Old Party, the US Republican party) AGO (previously) for the capital of American Samoa
9 LOOTER Rev of RETOOL (provide new machinery) for LOOTER defined as one taking … lovely surface
10 ADZE DAZE (confuse) with first letter D (leader) moving to second for a cutting tool with an arched blade which is set at right angles to the handle.
11 EXACERBATE Cha of EX (old) ACER (tree) BATE (same as BAIT, slang for rage … see Chambers 4)
12 ANODES Ins of NOD (sign of an agreement) in rev of SEA (water)
14 CLEARING dd In UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), there is a device after the A level results are out and before term starts for last-minute placements called CLEARING, also a bare patch in a forest
17 GOLIATH Ins of LIAT (rev of TAIL, dog) in GOH (rev of HOG, pig) for the giant slain by David with a sling
20 ISOLATED *(DOES TAIL) Yes, if it belonged to a lizard
22 SPRING Ins of N (first letter of Nationalist) in SPRIG (shoot, part of a plant) to jump, bound or vault
23 HARD LIQUOR HARD (complex as in a mathematical problem) LIQUORICE (sweet) minus ICE
24 STAG Ins of T (first letter of trade) in SAG (slump)
25 FABRIC ha
26 COLORADO CO (company, business) + ins of RAD (radius or a line in a circle, Circle Line, indeed!) in LOO (ladies)  for the US river (and state)
1 CARDINAL CARD (e.g queen of hearts) FINAL (last) minus F
2 ROVE ROVER (dog) minus last R
3 CAPERS dd thorny S European shrub (Capparis spinosa), with edible flower-buds (also caper-bush); a flower-bud of this shrub, pickled and used in cooking as a flavouring or garnish … new to my Asian diet
4 TOBACCO Ins of AC (aircraftsman) + C (caught in cricket usage) in *(BOOT) and Virginia is a species of this foul weed that has enslaved millions to its narcotic effects
5 ALTER EGO Cha of ALT (key on the keyboard next to spacebar) ERE (before) GO (move) Most of us know the word as one’s second self (e.g. Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde) but a second meaning is a trusted, intimate friend, a confidant.
6 BOMBARDIER BOM (rev of MOB, crowd) BAR (pub) + *(RIDE)
13 DUMBLEDORE Ins of LED in DUMBO (elephant `a la Walt Disney) + RE (religious education, lesson) Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a major character of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. He is the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts; hence, top speller
16 SET PIECE SET (team) PIECE (work of art, say)
18 TANKARDS *(SAT DRANK) My COD for the imagery of our misspent student days savouring a lovely British tradition of drinking in pubs
19 ADJUNCT Ins of DJ (dinner jacket or smart dress) + UN (one in French, a foreign) in ACT (pretend)
21 SCARAB Ins of A R (a red) in SCAB (crust formed over a wound which one might pick) for a gem carved in the form of a beetle, used by the ancient Egyptians as an amulet, seal, etc
22 STROLL SCROLL (paper) with the second letter C amended to T. Constitutional is slang for a walk for the benefit of one’s health but this clue is no stroll in the park
24 SORE Ins of R (ring leader) in SOE (Special Operations Executive, army unit once)


Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

33 Responses to “Guardian 25,690 – Bonxie”

  1. ToniL says:

    Amazing comments on Guardian thread unravelling lately.

    The bottom line reads BEETLES, there are countless references to beetles in other clues PLUS it’s a pangram excluding VW….Beetle???

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap: I needed your explanation for loo and rad in 26a, and 22d’s second amendment. I madly thought first of Karl Rove for 8a, but when ROVE was 2d I worked out the real answer, which is pronounced pango pango. Fine puzzle, thanks Bonxie.

  3. JollySwagman says:

    Amazing puzzle for a Tuesday – a bit tough but great cluing – thanks Bonxie – and UY – especially for nailing down the bits of 26a for me.

    @Tonil Thanks for pointing out the Beetles, which, as usual, I completely failed to notice, but what about the V in 2d ROVE (ie re the missing VW)?

    Right – now what were all those other things I was originally planning to do today?

  4. ToniL says:

    JS@3 Whoops, you know when you so want something to be so…..

  5. Miche says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. I was at a loss to parse 11a – got it into my head that the definition was “provoke rage” and couldn’t work out where he van came in – and overlooked the university admission sense of CLEARING.

    I’m not mad about clues of the 22d type: think of a word, then alter one or more letters in an unspecified way.

    COD: 9a for excellent misdirection.

  6. rrc says:

    I do not share the gushing enthusiasm today – obviously wave lengths are different, for I just found this a slog, with no eureka moments.

  7. beermagnet says:

    Let’s list those beetles in full (I hope). I can see:


    And then after a bit of checking:


    Any more?

    I vaguely registered Stag, Scarab, Bombardier and finally Sexton (last one in), as beetles but didn’t twig that there was a theme, let alone spotting the bottom row before coming here.

    Pangram: If Bonxie was really trying to get a pangram then, e.g. CAPERS could’ve been changed to WAFERS. Does that mean the Pangram-1 is by chance?

    [Insert paean of praise of choice for compiler here.]

  8. Stella Heath says:

    No eureka moment for me either, until I looked in here, so thanks for all the enlightenment which has greatly increased my enjoyment of the puzzle.

    Just one query: what’s the “free kick” in 16d?

  9. Uncle Yap says:

    In football, a free kick such as a corner or a kick awarded for a foul is also called a set piece; where the team will put into effect a series of planned moves with a view to scoring a goal.

  10. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Bonxie and UY – a tough one for me. ‘Bate’ brought back happy memories of Jennings and Derbyshire. Mr Wilkins was the irascible master – always ‘in a bate’ about something or other, and balanced by the experienced sage, Mr Carter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word anywhere else.

  11. Robi says:

    Impossible for me without computer help; I can’t really get on Bonxie’s wavelength although the clues parse eventually.

    Thanks UY; I failed to see the beetles staring at me in the face after I checked the top line and found nothing. In terms of the pangram, I think the W and Y are missing.

    After previous moans about why R=red was not allowed, it was nice to see it used, although it doesn’t seem to be in most of the ‘classic’ dictionaries [RBC, red blood cells; RGB, red, green, blue monitors etc]

    I tried EXASPERATE for 11 at first, although it only partially parsed.

    LOOTER and CLEARING were very clever, I thought. 8)

  12. Robi says:

    P.S. At a push the giant Totem sculpture in Leuven might be referred to as a FLEMISH beetle.

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The suffering we had to udergo yesterday was worth it if this is our reward. An excellent challenge.
    Some wonderful tricky clues: I picked out 8ac,9ac,25ac (clever ha)and 26ac (took me a long time to parse that one).
    I never parsed ‘stroll’ although I had both stroll and scroll in mind. I was too obsessed with second = s.
    I did not see beetles or unpangrams, but then I wasn’t looking.
    Happy day.

  14. star-system says:

    Certainly not the most finessed set of clues I have ever seen, even where most of the constructions are very good. Just pushing on from that halfway-house seems a problem for some Guardian compilers.

    What some call a ghost-theme is here, which is encouraging, though as ToniL observes it’s a shame about the missed VW lipogram.

    On the whole a good effort from Bonxie, and thanks to Uncle Yap.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    ‘very good constructions’ – yes please, all the time.

    ‘finesse’ – go and read Will Self or whatever – this is a crossword puzzle.

  16. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    I found this tough but fun. Expected a pangram after finding Z, X and Q fairly early; the fact that it wasn’t didn’t help. Missed the beetles, as per usual; I almost never do spot an unannounced theme or a Nina. Bravo, Bonxie – cleverly done.

    I couldn’t parse COLORADO – thanks for that. I wasn’t happy about the grammar of 12ac until I realised that NOD has to be read as a verb: ‘sign (i.e. demonstrate) agreement’.

    A lot of ingenious clues with (generally) good surface readings. The only one that doesn’t really work for me is 25ac: I feel that the container indicator should really be ‘bridges’, but this wouldn’t work with the rest of the clue. ( I wasn’t happy with ‘texture’ = FABRIC either, though I discovered that the dictionaries do list this meaning).

  17. JollySwagman says:

    Welcome to the site star-system – I see your first post was only a few days ago and nobody’s welcomed you yet.

    Can’t say I agree with you but it’s great to see you continuing to post.

    You seem to have quite a vocabulary of cruciverbal technical terms. I wonder – do you do any setting yourself?

  18. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. Well, I found this tough and had to put it to one side half-completed before returning to it and eventually finishing it, with the exception of 24dn. I used the check button and semi-cheated on 13dn.

    Missed the beetles — and my failure at 24dn meant I missed the nina too :-(

    I had the feeling throughout of not being on the setter’s wavelength, though I did appreciate the construction of many of the clues.

  19. Frank says:

    re 22d:
    when growing up, we referred to our morning visits to the outside WC as our “constitutional”, and I still put “T-roll” on shopping lists.

  20. star-system says:

    Hello Swagman. Nice of you. I thought I’d somehow managed to twist your tail, and that you wouldn’t want to talk to me.

    I have to go now, but if ever you fancy a trip on my great big starship, I really would be delighted.

  21. Richard says:

    Hi, sorry. 11A – I don’t understand how VAN fits in ?

  22. RCWhiting says:

    A meaning of ‘van’is ‘front’ (in the vanguard?).
    The ‘old tree’ (ex acer) is placed in front of ‘bate’.

  23. Richard says:

    Wonderful :) Many thanks.

  24. Wolfie says:

    Richard – VAN is an instruction to put EX-ACER (old tree) in front of (in the van) BATE

    Nice crossword from Bonxie that took me much of the day to complete in instalments.

    Thanks for blog UY.

  25. Wolfie says:

    RCW we just crossed – twin souls again?

  26. Martin P says:

    I found this very hard, but finished, with little sense of satisfaction or pleasure I’m afraid, though.

  27. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Bonxie

    I came to this late in the day and too tired to it justice.

    I missed ‘beetles’, and did not get 9a and 24d. Could not parse ‘alter ego’ and ‘colorado’ and missed part of the sense of ‘clearing’.

    Liked several clues such as 8a, 23a, 6d.

    The wrong puzzle on the wrong day for me, I’m afraid but that’s not Bonxie’s fault.

  28. rhotician says:

    Is it too late to ask how ‘red’ means R, in the clue to SCARAB?

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Well,yes,but only in the sense that it has been chewed over thoroughly on previous MBs.
    Someone like Eileen will give you references, I recall one solution was the colour TV use RGB.
    Others thought it outrageous!

  30. Eileen says:

    I’m replying only because I’ve been quoted: I don’t remember ever seeing / commenting on R = red

  31. RCWhiting says:

    Sorry if I overstepped the mark. I wasn’t recalling a personal comment from you – just treating you as our archivist supreme.

  32. rhotician says:

    RCW @29: Thanks for replying. I have since read Robi properly, @11. He talks of previous moans, welcomes the return of red=R, and also alludes to RGB. This suggests that he would approve green=G. It also suggests that here is a sleeping dog that I should let lie.

  33. Huw Powell says:

    What a brutal puzzle. I know there were moments of joy scattered over the last 3 or 4 days, but whew!

    I think this grid made things a LOT harder. Having every single answer lack either the first or last – especially first – letter slows things down a lot. Heck, I blew through yesterday’s prize in an hour this morning before settling down to try to bulldoze through the last half of this.

    “R” for “red” surely can’t be controversial – ROY G BIV, for example.

    I missed CARDINAL in favor of NATIONAL, which is weaker in its application to the definition, but close enough, and it parses just fine – “queeN the last” and “to be beheaded” = “rATIONAL”. Meaning I couldn’t get the lovely ADZE.

    I really wanted the “move” in 5 to be “OO”, but it was not to be.

    My favorite was TANKARDS. Completely missed the theme, but that’s partially because the solving was spread out over so much time.

    Thanks for the puzzle, Bonxie, and all the clarifications in the blog, Uncle Yap!

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