Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius No 115 by Puck

Posted by bridgesong on February 3rd, 2013


The preamble read as follows:

Ten solutions can also be 30, initially. Any secondary definition or wordplay in their clues leads to the solution as it might appear if it were, indeed, 30 of any 26 12 before 22 down 22 across. With one of these cases, where proverbially the solution cannot be 30, a palatable alternative (carrying the smallest possible 26 14) is required.

Translated, this reads as follows:

Ten solutions can also be FREE, initially (i.e. they can be preceded by the word “free”).  Wordplay in their clues leads to the solution as it might appear if it were FREE of any CHARGE LEGAL before DECIMAL DAY.  With one of these cases, where proverbially the solution cannot be FREE, a palatable alternative (carrying the smallest possible CHARGE NOW) is required.

What this meant in practice was that the letters LSD needed to be omitted from the 10 solutions in question.  The exception was 23 across (there’s no such thing as a free lunch) where the L needed to be replaced by a P (the lowest denominated coin).

Luckily, I got 30 down pretty quickly, and I also knew that “All Right Now” was by Free (I have it on vinyl somewhere).  However I spent quite a while wondering if there was some esoteric pattern to the letters which seemed to be required to be omitted before I noticed that they were all D, L or S.  Once I had put them in the right order I was able to guess 22 down/across.

For the purposes of the blog I have underlined the ten clues where the letters L, S and D are to be omitted and the explanations for the wordplay in those clues accordingly ignore those letters.  I have failed to come up with a complete explanation for 10 down,  so suggestions are more than welcome.   My other quibbles are mostly pretty minor, and overall I found it an ingenious puzzle which presented a satisfying challenge. I was certainly not one of those who managed to submit an answer within a few hours of its appearance on the website (some of us have to work for a living!) but great respect to those who did.


8,16,14   30 record everyone’s throwing out (3,5,3)
ALL, *THROWING.  The hit record from 1970 for the theme band, Free.

9 Discontentedly 5 and 30? You’d not be 30 in these (5)
F(iv)E, F(re)E.  With “discontentedly” having a literal meaning, we end up with Fe, the chemical symbol for iron, twice.

11 Snake periodically seen in tree (5)
ASP, (s)E(e)N.

12 The foreign prisoner turned 16 (5)
LE LAG(rev).

13 A man would have essentially male name (5)
M in A HE’D.

14 See 8

15 Taurus conflicted with Libra, so involved in stitch-up? (7)

17 Very good cleaning fluid removing stain in the end (7)
*CLEANING less (stai)N.  I thought “fluid” was an excellent anagram indicator.

20 Getting on a horse outside pub, say (5)
IN(sounds like inn) inside A G(ee)G(ee).  There are two homophones here, both indicated by “say”.

22 See 22 down

23 Pint served topless in the Queen Vic? It may be packed (5)
‘UNCH, with P(ence) for L.  “Pint served topless” gives you ‘int, and the reference to the Queen Vic (from BBC’s EastEnders) tells you this is a Cockney pronunciation.

24 Able to return quickly to former 15 down cell, all but sozzled after drinking wine (7)
ASTI in CEL(l).

25 Regular bits of spend – butcher’s gets ready for it? (7)
SpEnDbUtChErS.  Not the most smooth of surfaces.

27 Spend a penny in West End emporium, for starters (3)
Initial letters (starters) of West End Emporium.

28 Paper in pub used on bottom (5)

29 Banter initially heard in diner … (5)
H in CAFF.

31 … on account of piles? (5)

32 European going after places to 27 across 30 (5)
LOOS, E.  You have to read the clue as meaning “places to wee”, with 30 (i.e. FREE) as the definition.

33 My half of 20′s horse (3)
“My” is the definition here.


1 Yield nothing (4)
FA (as in Sweet FA…).  I’m not very happy with “fall” being equated with “yield”; Chambers does give “yield to temptation” as one meaning of “fall”, but that isn’t quite a direct synonym.

2 Escape from box? 30 4, perhaps (6)

3 Leave the West End shortly (4)
W1 is the postal code associated with London’s West End.

4 Universal places to meet some grief or arguments? (3,3)
Hidden in “grief or arguments”.

5 Chinese worker (4)

6 30 design, 30 of inner 27 downs? (4-4)
Just a cryptic definition (free of inner walls) once you’ve deciphered the cross-references.

7 Design a well-filled sandwich to 29 down (4)
Hidden in “design a well-filled”, with “sandwich” the ingenious indicator.

10 Short report saying it’s pleasantly warm, given an R in the month after 8 (7)
Sounds like “summery”; the rest of the clue eludes me.  The month after “now” is either February, or “prox”, both of which have an R already.  As Neil points out @1, 8 is ALL, not NOW.

15 A Catherine or Sharon, say (5)
Both Catherine and Sharon Tate are/were actresses.

16 See 8

18 Opened wide? Good – dentist to start on filling with a drill (5)
G(ood), A PE (physical exercise or drill) D(entist).

19 Fish found swimming in 25 down, briefly (5)
*SCHOO(l).  The coho is a Pacific salmon.

21 Princess taking years off, as my supposition may have it? (1,4,3)

22 ,22across Ready for change then, as litmus paper initially showed up acid disappearing? (7,3)
The wordplay here simply refers to the date (15 February 1971) when the UK switched from imperial coinage (pounds, shillings, pence or LSD) to decimal (pounds and pence).  So L(itmus) P(aper) replaced LSD (or lysergic acid).  The problem with this formulation is that pence are abbreviated to D, for denarii in the imperial usage, but abbreviated to P(ence) in the decimal usage.  However, L for libra is used in both cases, which seems inconsistent.

25 Train? Not half, Jimmy! (6)
CHOO(-CHOO); referring to Jimmy Choo, shoe designer.

26 30? Not 16 for this (6)

27 Snout’s part in a line of defence? (4)
Referring to the character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Snout is a tinker who plays the wall in the play within a play put on by the “mechanicals”.

28 Corrupt British company (4)
BAE or BAe, as it prefers to be known.

29 A quid, perhaps, for contents of 25 down’s report? (4)
Sounds like “choo”.

30 Group of brass monkeys lacking vitality (4)


3 Responses to “Guardian Genius No 115 by Puck”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong. About 10, I think you may have been barking up the wrong tree – 8 is ALL, not NOW. That just gives R in MAY following SUM.

  2. NormanLinFrance says:

    (Thanks for the blog, and the site in general.
    When I found the first unamended answer (Haile Selassie)almost immediately I spent some long minutes looking at ways for £sd to replace £s and p’s or vice versa (ex-change)before the old and the new pennies dropped simultaneously)

    Thanks for the blog. The bit above in brackets is what I posted here a month ago for Paul’s Genius, before Puck’s piece of whimsy came up. Not quite up there with Peter the Octopus, I admit, but still…

  3. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the explanations – particularly of 23a and 17a, which we put in without really understanding the wordplay.
    Although I well remember ‘Orrriiiight now’ by Free, I thought this would have been hard for solvers under a certain age. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a Great Rock Classic that everyone should be familiar with!

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