Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 113 / Crucible

Posted by mhl on December 2nd, 2012


We hadn’t done a Guardian Genius for a while, but did this one since I was down on the rota for doing a blog post on it. I’m very glad about this in retrospect – there was a lot to enjoy in this smart puzzle from Crucible. We thought this was slightly above the usual difficulty for a Genius, just because getting one pairing gave you no help with any of the others – there was no clear breakthrough point as you sometimes get with themed puzzles. Anyway, this was a very good puzzle, not even spoiled by by the final three clues being mangled on publication nor the mistake in 2 down.

1. LIES / SECRETS (The answer refers to the Mike Leigh film .) LI[k]ES = “Prefers” without K = “kid’s starter”
5. REUSE / RECYCLE [chart]REUSE = “Greenish” without CHART = “pie, perhaps”
10. DOGS / CATS (As in “it’s raining CATS and DOGS”.) DO = “Perform” + G & S = “Gilbert & Sullivan”
11. MAD DOGS / ENGLISHMEN (The answer refers to the Noël Coward song.) MAD = “Bats” + DOGS = “No 10″ (the answer to clue 10)
12. TRINIDAD / TOBAGO (The country of Trinidad and Tobago.) DIN = “Row” reversed in TRIAD = “threesome”
13. IDLE AWAY I = “one” + D = “day” followed by E = “drug” in LAW = “rule”; Definition: “Waste”
14. BED / BREAKFAST DEB (debutant) = “She used to come out” reversed
16. POSH / BECKS (The answer refers to the nicknames of Victoria and David Beckham.) Compound anagram: (POSH OUT)* = HOT SOUP
17. ALPHA / OMEGA ALP = “Mount” + HA-[ha] = half of “concealed boundary”
19. PORT / STARBOARD TROP = “Hollande’s too” (“trop” is the french for “too”) reversed
23. EXIT / ENTRANCE TIE = “Union” reversed around X = “No 10″
24. DEFAME DE[vout] FA[mily] ME[mbers]; Definition: “Throw mud”
26. IMMACULATE I’M = “setter’s” + MA = “mum” followed by (A CLUE)* around T = “time”; Definition: “Flawless”
27. CHAIN / BALL CHA[pl]IN = “Charlie” without PL = “place”
28. SMASHED (SHE’S MAD)*; Definition: “under the table”
29. TSARIST Hidden in “scoTS ARISTocrats”; Definition: “royal supporter”
2. ENAMOUR I think there must be an error in this clue – it looks as if it should be ROUÉ = “Rake” around MAN = “guy” all reversed (“all about”) but that would give you the U and O in the wrong order; Definition: “charm”
3. RASTA A + TSAR = “[TSARIST]’s idol” all reversed; Definition: “admired highly, I’d say” – this is a homophonic definition (which I’m not wild about in general, I have to say) “highly” sounds like Haile (Selassie) – Haile Selassie is revered as the messiah by Rastafarians
4. PETER / THE WOLF (The answer refers to the piece by Prokofiev”.) PR = “Priest” around ÉTÉ = “Summer in Provence”
6. EDIBLE [cr]EDIBLE = “Trustworthy” without CR = “councillor”; Definition: “fit to serve” [as food]
7. YO-HEAVE-HO HEAVE[n] = “Nirvana mostly” in O = “old” + HOY = “barge” reversed; Definition: “Bargees’ chant”
8. LIE BACK / THINK OF ENGLAND (A possible origin of the expression can be found here.) THIN = “Weak” + KO = “punch” followed by G = “(primarily gin)” in FENLAND = “the Broads”
9. AGAINST THE LAW GAINS = “profits” in AT = “by” followed by (WEALTH)*; Definition: “Illegal”
15. ALGERIANS A + L = “lost” + GERI (Halliwell) = “mate of [POSH]’s” (a reference to The Spice Girls) + ANS = “answer”; Definition: “people of North Africa”
18. MAXIMUM / MINIMUM A + XI = “team” (a cricket eleven) + MU = “Man Utd” in MM = “2000”
20. HART / RODGERS (Richard Rodgers is perhaps more famous for his partnership with Oscar Hammerstein, but he also wrote songs with Lorenz Hart.) H[irst] = “Hirst’s original” + ART = “work?”
21. REMUS / ROMULUS (The answer refers to the mythical founders of Rome.) EMU = “Hull bird” (referring to Rod Hull and Emu) in RS = “Royal Society”
22. ENDURE Double definition: “Last” and “stand”
25. FABER / FABER (This could be a normal clue, but since the rubric says there are 17 pairings, this must be the publisher Faber and Faber.) FABERGÉ = “[TSARIST] egg supplier” without EG = “say” reversed

5 Responses to “Guardian Genius 113 / Crucible”

  1. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the explanations, mhl.
    I agree – this was hard. The pairings make it tricky as you have no crossing letters for the actual answer to the clue, nor any idea as to its length. In addition, some of wordplay was quite convoluted.
    So anyway, we only managed about three-quarters of this despite spending many frustrated hours on it!
    Kicking myself over 4d – we guessed ETE was in it, but didn’t make the connection (and didn’t think of priest=PR – I thought FR was more usual).
    Also spent a long time on 5a without CHARTREUSE coming to mind, even so pie=CHART might have eluded me.
    And as for 8d… Perhaps with more crossing letters, LIE BACK might have suggested itself…. Ah well, this month’s lucky winner of the £100 will have thoroughly deserved it!

  2. Wanderer says:

    Thank you for putting me out of my misery at 27, which has been quietly driving me mad for a month. The crossing letters B_L_ gave so many possibilities which had pairings, not one of which I could parse. I tried BILL & BEN, BILL & COO, BULL & BEAR, BULL/CHINA SHOP, BELL & WHISTLE (ok, normally bells and whistles), BELT & BRACES, BALL & CHAIN… but I dared not enter it unparsed. The explanation is now very simple, but I couldn’t see it for the life of me.

    I thought this a wonderful crossword, with every one of the partnerships giving real pleasure when the penny dropped. Favourites BED/BREAKFAST, REUSE/RECYCLE (my last in apart from my failure at 27), LIE BACK, and the splendidly deceptive FABER/FABER.

    Many thanks to Crucible for a lot of fun, and to mhl for the blog.

  3. Paul T says:

    Maybe it’s sour grapes because I couldn’t do it, but I can’t say I’m a fan of this flavour of Genius. Seems to me that it’s made too arbitraily difficult. Wordplay-only clues make a puzzle harder, the grid entry not being the clue answer makes a puzzle harder, and this puzzle has both piled on top of each other, in more than half the clues, with nothing making it easier to mitigate. Maybe other people found it less of a slog than me though?

    I think I’d like to see (say) half the clues being of the ‘pairing’ type, with the other half each having an extra word that gives a hint to one of the pairings.

    Anyway. Sorry to moan.

  4. starburst says:

    I agree with Paul T. There’s a difference between a puzzle being hard but fair on the one hand, and puzzles like this that seem determined to annoy the solver rather than entertain

  5. Eileen says:

    It’s a pity to have so few comments on such a great puzzle. I think it’s probably because of the time-lapse – it’s bad enough trying to remember one’s thought processes from the Saturday Prize to the next week. I should write notes as I go, as I know some people do.

    What I do know is that my reaction to this puzzle was far more in line with Wanderer’s than Paul T’s and starburst’s. The puzzle is not called Genius for nothing and surely we should expect a real tussle – which is not the same as a slog. I admit that I do give up on some puzzles, when they offer no interest or humour, but I was determined to do my damnedest with this one. I was rewarded by the joy of getting [or, rather, finally justifying, since it had to be that] LIE BACK, which really made me laugh and encouraged me to soldier on.

    I went through practically all the same hoops as Wanderer with B?L? but got there in the end – and the great thing was that it made such perfect sense and could only be that, after all.

    Huge thanks, Crucible for all the enjoyment – you and Tramp have proved to me that I can do Genius puzzles but then I do reckon to be on your wavelengths. I haven’t had time to look at this month’s yet!

    [Many thanks for the great blog, mhl.]

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