Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 112 by Tramp

Posted by mc_rapper67 on November 4th, 2012


Wow – thank goodness we get a month to do these – I take my hat off to those mentioned in the Grauniad’s dispatches with entries submitted in the early hours of the morning after publication… Anyway, this is my first Genius blog – and something of a payback, as I have been lucky enough to pick up the £100 prize on a couple of occasions in the previous 111. The preamble tells us that the answer to a ‘megaclue’ –  “Get a credible Marx line of beauty – evokes a countenance, if girl a top model” (16 words) – needs to be entered ‘wherever it will go’ – which looks like mainly round the outside – and there are 10 corrected misprints to be arranged into a ‘condition for winning the prize’.

The first 20 minutes or so were spent staring blankly at the megaclue, and the rest, with no blinding light of revelation. I then picked it up on the train to London next day, and eked out ten or so of the ‘normal’ clues in 45 minutes, including the stunning initial letters of CYCLOPS at 2D… 30 minutes on the train home yielded another 7 or 8 clues, and then 30 minutes the next day a further three – the law of diminishing returns setting in!

First schoolboy error was in not doing some basic counting – there were 56 unclued spots, around the edge and 22D, and that megaclue looked like it could be an anagram (Araucarian, perhaps(?), although I have got myself in trouble before by making such comparisons). So a simple letter count might have helped on that. This was compounded by guessing that the presence of ‘Marx’ in the clue might be a pointer, and not making the most of a quick check in ODQ on the Karl and Groucho etc. pearls of wisdom therein.

Eventually I had almost all the ‘normal’ clues sussed, and most of the corrected misprints – which seemed to be leading to ‘ALL LETTERS’ – and which seemed fairly obvious for a crossword – unless there was some number/letter substitution going on?

And on Day 11 – yes, eleven! – I finally twigged that those 56 letters – using ‘model’ as the anagram indicator – gave the famous Groucho Marx quotation: ‘I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception’, which I had glossed over in my ODQ checks much earlier. And just to complicate things, instead of starting nice and cleanly at the top left, the quotation started clockwise at bottom left, in the square numbered 26, and then diverted inwards and upwards to fill 22D.

My last entry was ROSEATE at 14A – with that incredibly diverting surface reading, and the expectation that there must be a misprint SOMEWHERE in there, making it – at sixteen days – probably the longest I have ever taken to solve a cryptic clue!

And those corrected misprints turned out to spell ‘ALL CORRECT’ – which makes more sense, and which I hope the below explanations will be…

Something of a tour-de-force from Tramp, although I made it harder for myself by not concentrating harder on the anagram and the Marx link. Many excellent clues and surface readings – an ‘eurgh’ moment with FECAL for ‘business’ at 23A; the rabbit’s backside going up and down at 25A; and the very topical image of a young couple and the paparazzi at 2D. And those cheeky misprints just added an edge of uncertainty to the solving.

There won’t be any forgetting of this exceptional puzzle for a while – top Marx to Tramp from me!

Clue No Corrected
Entry Definition (with occasional embellishments) Clue /
1A ACE BUT IN YOUR C Thematic deduction See special instructions (13) /
Thematic deduction – anag (i.e. ‘model’) of those 56 letters!
10A ASCERTAIN Make out Make out, like film classified as adult, at home (9) /
AS (like) CERT (film classification) + A (adult) + IN (at home)
11A cop show CHIPS double defn. Children’s favourite ’70s pop show (5) /
double def, CHIPS are (some) children’s favourite food; and Chips was a 70’s cop show
12A EBONY Wood Online auction’s working to replace ultimate character from Victoria Wood (5) /
E-B(A)Y (online auction site) with ON (working) replacing A (last letter of Victoria)
13A It might top… PEPPERONI It might top an Italian (pizza) It might tip an Italian pope – Prince Charlie having gone off (9) /
anag (i.e. off) of POPE PRIN(C)E – without C – Charlie, ‘having gone’
14A …Floyd’s core… ROSEATE Pink Pink Floyd’s More, Waters losing head around drug (7) /
anag (i.e. around) of O (Floyd’s middle letter, core) + ATERS (Waters, losing head), plus E (Esctasy, drug)
16A NATURAL without make-up Lana Turner’s half dressed, without make-up (7) /
anag (i.e. dressed) of LANA + TUR (half of TURner)
17A FLYTRAP E.g. Sundew (Drosera, insectivorous plant) Eg Sundew, Florida returning Republican? (7) /
FL (Florida) + YTRAP (party, e.g. Republicans, returning)
19A ABALONE ear shell Sailor, without crew, finding ear shell (7) /
AB (Able Bodied seaman) + ALONE (without crew!)
21A …Lennon losing wings… ENNOBLING Making aristocratic Making aristocratic, Lennon posing, wings with jewellery that could be rattled (9) /
ENNO – (L)ENNO(N), losing left and right ‘wings’ – plus BLING (rattle-able jewellery)
23A Fine city… FECAL relating to business (excrement) in the US (‘proper’ English spelling = faecal) “Find city” – Gore relating to business in the US (5) /
F (fine) + EC (City of London, postcode) + AL (Al Gore)
24A EDICT Order Order online crossword helper? (5) /
E (online, general prefix for anything online) + DICT (abbreviation, dictionary, or crossword helper)
25A BOBTAILED like a rabbit’s backside Recalling TV chef’s “temperature to go up and down like a rabbit’s backside”? (9) /
DELIA (Delia Smith, TV chef) + T (temperature) + BOB (go up and down) – all reversed, or recalled.
26A I PECXE NA EKAM O Thematic deduction See special instructions (13) /
Thematic deduction
Clue No Corrected misprint Entry Definition (with occasional embellishments) Clue /
2D …starts to… CYCLOPS One with single lens (mythical one-eyed giant) One with single lens stares to capture young couple’s love-making on paparazzi shoot (7) /
First letters of ‘Capture Young Couple’s’…etc.
3D BARMY Nuts (not very PC!) British soldiers will get Nuts (5) /
B (British) + ARMY (soldiers)
4D TRAMPLE (&lit-ish) – run over Sounds like I’ll run over … (7) /
homophonic double defn/&lit – TRAMPLE – run over – sounds like TRAMP’LL, contraction of TRAMP WILL
5D NINEPIN cryptic definition? … something knocked down in alley? (7) /
CD? – NINEPIN might be knocked over in a skittle alley
6D ORCHESTRA musicians Alternative charts made up to cover European musicians (9) /
OR (alternative) + anag (made up) of CHARTS around (covering) E (European)
7D RHINO charger Resistance to current inside badly stripped phone charger (5) /
R (resistance) + anag (badly) of (P)HON(E) – stripped, around I (current)
8D F A TEGROF REVEN Thematic deduction See special instructions (13) /
Thematic deduction
9D ASE ILL BE GLAD T Thematic deduction See special instructions (13) /
Thematic deduction
15D rip off… ACROBATIC Requiring balance Requiring balance in account – tip off American Express credit (9) /
AC (account) + ROB (rip off) + A (American) + TIC (sounds like spoken, or expressed, TICK, credit)
18D …parking PLIABLE It could be bent It could be bent open after packing (7) /
P (parking) + LIABLE (open)
19D Where letters… ALGEBRA Where letters stand for quantities Where betters stand for quantities of time around Ladbrokes, primarily, men struggle with eyes on this? (7) /
AGE (time) around L (Ladbrokes, initially) + BRA (something men struggle to undo the hooks and eyes of?!)
20D OSCULUM Primitive opening (exhalant aperture in a sponge) Primitive opening in giant copper chimney (7) /
OS (outize, giant) + CU (copper) + LUM (chimney)
22D NOITP Thematic deduction See special instructions (5) /
Thematic deduction
23D …stamp FRANK double defn. Straight stump (5) /
double defn – FRANK can mean candid, or straight; and also to stamp

10 Responses to “Guardian Genius 112 by Tramp”

  1. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the blog – I agree, we found this tough going, if I’d had to blog this my heart would have sunk.
    Although the Marxist quote was (more-or-less) familiar, it took a long time for the penny to drop.
    The last one in for us was 11a, mainly because I’d miscounted the correction letters and was looking for a pop show.
    As you say, a phenomenal offering from Tramp – who also seems to be competing for Paul’s position of smutmeister. Not that I’m complaining, clues like 23a and 25a provoke a fnarr-fnarr chuckle 😀

  2. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks, Mr Beaver – fortunately there is a large pool of bloggers for this, so we only have to do one every 6 months!

    I would say that the true SmutMeister is Cyclops, from Private Eye – and 2D is a truly Cyclops-ian clue in every sense.

    If Paul is Finbarr Saunders (from Viz, with his double-entendres, snicker-snicker, fnarr-fnarr) then Cyclops is a full-on live performance from Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown!…

  3. Norman L in France says:

    As someone else once said on the Guardian blog, I’ve been practising my technique for getting drawn out of an electronic hat at random for years now, and still haven’t succeeded. Twice, eh? Very suspicious :-)

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mc_rapper67, for the blog – and well done!

    I rarely get very far with a Genius puzzle but, so far, I’ve managed to finish all of Tramp’s – eventually.

    I saw the quotation fairly early on, but, although bits of it were appearing tantalisingly in the perimeter, I couldn’t fit it in, because somehow I’d stupidly failed to see that 22dn was included in the special instructions.

    It was hard work, of course, but such a lot of fun: the clues, as always from Tramp, were brilliantly clever and witty – perhaps especially those involving the misprints – and I couldn’t begin to list favourites. Stunning stuff all round – I enjoyed it immensely, so huge thanks, as ever, to Tramp.

  5. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog mc_rapper67.

    A very frustrating Genius puzzle for me! After a lot of struggle, I got all the clues except the quotation and mostly worked out the wordplay, enough to get ALL CORRECT.

    But I missed the Groucho quotation, despite thinking that it was probably him and not Karl and after counting the letters in the megaclue and discovering it couldn’t be an anagram. I also guessed that the words would be split up.

    Kicking myself :-(

  6. liz says:

    Oh and I must say a big thanks to Tramp. It was v enjoyable even if I didn’t get there in the end!

  7. Jan says:

    Thanks, mc_rapper67 for the blog with your most interesting preamble.

    I can’t add to the praise except to repeat …

    Tramp, you lovely boy, you’ve done it again! :)

  8. Tramp says:

    Thanks mc_rapper for a brilliant blog and thanks for the very kind words. Thanks too, to those who’ve commented; it really does it make it worth while.

    I wrote the Marx clue years ago; I was going to enter it in Paul’s weekly clue-writing competition but the site folded before I got to use it. The clue came about when I was reading the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, looking for potential inspiration. I thought this line was interesting and I noticed that the letters of MARX are contained in the quote. I tried to make the clue semi-& lit recognising that ‘countenance’ can mean ‘face’ and ‘beauty’, ‘Marx’ and ‘evokes’ are all in there. The clue sat on my hard drive until I got my lucky break at the Guardian and I decided to put it into a puzzle. After a bit of effort, the only way I could force it into a grid was to write it clockwise around the perimeter and then continue it into one of the entries. The original crossword was not written as a Genius puzzle and had the clue for the quote with the full enumeration in the preamble; the other clues were normal, that is, they contained no misprints. Naively, I figured it could be used as a possible Prize puzzle.

    Hugh got back several months later and said he would have a think how to turn it into a Genius puzzle. I decided to have a go myself so I introduced some misprints into the existing clues. I changed eight words in the puzzle almost without thinking. I then thought it would be good if these misprints spelt something out. When I wrote down the ‘correct’ letters that I’d changed, I was surprised that they nearly spelt out ALL CORRECT; I needed another C and some other letter, which I can’t recall. Amazingly, I recalled that Pink Floyd did a Soundtrack album for a film called More and so I changed the Pink Floyd clue to contain More instead of Core and I was nearly there.

    When I look at the puzzle now I think it’s decent but my biggest concern is that the misprints are there purely to make the puzzle harder. Ideally, the misprints should have spelt out something to do with the quote, or Marx, but that was beyond me. Having said that, I do quite like some of the clues. The ENNOBLING one was trying to evoke the image of John Lennon when he made his quote at the Royal Variety Performance about “those in the cheap seats, clap: those in the dear seats rattle your jewellery”, or something.

    Anyway, enough waffle from me. Thanks again folks


  9. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks for all the feedback/comments – especially Tramp at #8 for the enlightening ‘waffle’ (;+>) on the background to this puzzle.

    I think that as a ‘normal’ prize puzzle with the full enumeration on the ‘megaclue’, it would PROBABLY have been a bit more get-able…

    As something that had hung around in your imagination for years, it was probably more fitting as a monthly Genius – and the timescales involved certainly make me feel better about taking 16 days to get to the end of it!

    To ‘Norman L in France’ at #3 – I suspect the Genius entry ‘hat’ has a lot fewer names to choose from than the average weekly prize entry – and those were a long time ago before I became a blogger…so hopefully no suspicious circumstances, just a bit of luck. And remember – ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’…

  10. Norman L in France says:

    I’ve been in it since the start, except for 2 early on and the one with Petiole. Maybe tomorrow … :-(

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