Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 117 / Brummie

Posted by duncanshiell on April 1st, 2013


The Genius lulls you into a false sense of security.  You know you have a month to complete it so you keep putting off starting it. Then when you do you start, you realise it  is quite hard  and you ask yourself ‘why didn’t I start it earlier’?



I came to this quite late in the month and struggled to get a foothold.  Eventually, a bit of discipline in linking definitions to clues helped and the second half of the puzzle went in quite quickly.

The preamble told us that "Seven clues contain anagrams of their definitions for their solutions.  Eight more clues have had their definitions removed and added, superfluously, to eight different clues.  The remaining seven clues have had their definitions shuffled randomly".

Part of my early difficulty related to the fact that two entries could share a definition.  ALIENATE (16 across) and SEQUESTER (5 down) can both mean ‘isolate’ the redundant word in the clue to 24 across.  I also had ‘blazing’ in the clue for 22 across earmarked as a definition for ENRAGED at 18d.  Eventually, I realised that ‘sergeant’  in 16 across was an anagram of ESTRANGE and ‘hopping’ in 25 d was the definition for ENRAGED.  For me, it was the anagrams that took the longest time to identify.  The anagrams of writhe and rams were identified quickly, but the others took a while.

In the end I deduced the anagram clues as 6 across, 9 across, 10 across, 16 across, 27 across, 4 down and 22 down.

The penny dropped about half way though that there were 8 clues without a definition of any kind, either for themselves or other clues.  These were 1 across, 21 across, 22 across, 2 down, 5 down, 13 down, 18 down and 23 down.  Their definitions were in 12 across, 7 down, 26 down, 8 across, 24 a cross, 15 across, 25 across and 6 down respectively.  These latter eight clues therefore contained two definitions (their own and another’s)

Finally the shuffled clues, which contained definitions to another clue, but not their own, were 11 across, 19 across, 1 down, 3 down, 14 down, 17 down and 20 down.

Full details are given in the table below.

Brummie writes entertaining clues and these were doubly so in some case where the clue with the superfluous words often read very smoothly as did the actual clue.  I liked ‘Went before noble and wrinkly dog overlapped’, the original clue at 17 down and CD repaired with deeper piece of cotton wool at 11 across.

This was a good entertaining challenge.  certainly not too easy, but not impossible either.



No. Clue (definitions for other clues in magenta or dark green) Anagrams – definitions

Definiton (clue no)

Wordplay Entry



There’s 100, fool, in brief U-turn (9)




Scottish wooded valley (12a)


([C {Roman numeral for 100} + ASS {fool}] contained in [in] SHORT [brief]) all reversed (U-turn)


TROSSACHS (Scottish wooded valley – now used to describe a wider area of Scotland for tourist purposes)




European city recipes (4)






NICE (European city in the South of France)


NICE (precise) double definition




Our TV is set to get Love Master sketch (8)






Anagram of (set) OUR TV IS + O (love [zero score in tennis])


VIRTUOSO (musician or other artist of the highest technical skill; master)




Pyre made of prestige vehicle in wharf (6)






RR (Rolls-Royce; prestige vehicle) contained in (in) QUAY (wharf)


QUARRY (prey)




"Psychiatrists’s writhe" (6)






SHRINK (colloquial name for a psychiatrist)


SHRINK (wither) double definition




CD repaired with deeper piece of cotton wool? (8)




Went before (17d)


Anagram of (repaired with) CD and DEEPER


PRECEDED (went before)




Scottish wooded valley country habits getting pretty low marks (6)






TWEE (small and sweet; pretty) + DS (a grade of D in an examination is a low mark [well it used to be considered as such])


TWEEDS (country clothes; country habits)




Resolve to tarry anew, keeping love in a whirl (8)






Anagram of (anew) TO TARRY containing (keeping) O (love [zero score in tennis])

ROTAT (O) RY – either O could be the one contained

ROTATORY (turning like a wheel; in a whirl)




Sergeant having a legal right to hold property (blended tea) (8)






A + LIEN (a right to retain possession of another’s property until the owner pays a debt or fulfils a contract) + an anagram of (blended) TEA


ALIENATE (estrange)




U trap, I’d say containing a mass of hair (6)




fast flow (1d)


RAPIDS (hidden word in [containing] U TRAP I’D SAY)


RAPIDS (swift flowing part of a river)




Muriel who wrote on the French King (8)




Diamond (7d)


SPARK (reference Murial SPARK, author; Muriel who wrote) + LE (one of the French forms of ‘the’) + R (Rex; king)


SPARKLER (a diamond is an example of a SPARKLER)




Blazing round London’s East End (6)




Sunday best (26a)


FIERY (blazing) containing (around) N (letter at the right or east end of LONDON)


FINERY (sunday best clothing is an example of FINERY)




Isolate number from time the Guardian has divided by 50 (6)






T (time) + (WE’VE [we {The Guardian} have] containing [divided by] L [Roman numeral for 50])


TWELVE (number)




Cotton fibre separator spirit and gracious hopping game (3,5)






GIN (cotton fibre separator) + RUM (spirit) + MY (gosh!; gracious!)


GIN RUMMY ([card] game)




Sunday best for recycling good belt attachment? (4)






Anagram of (recycling) FOR + G (good)


FROG (an attachment to a belt for carrying a weapon)


27 Rams, angry looking with level temperature (3,6) ramsmars   RED (angry looking) + PLANE (level) + T (temperature) RED PLANET (Mars is known as the RED PLANET)


No. Clue Anagrams – definitions

Definition (clue no)

Wordplay Entry



Nameless object with hot fast flow (5)




Source of ham (20d)


THING (object) excluding (less) N (name) + H (hot)


THIGH (source of ham which comes from the back of the THIGH of a pig)




Imbibing nitrogen, be the greatest fibber? (7)




sketch (8a)


OUT LIE (LIE [fib] more than anyone else) containing (imbibing) N (nitrogen)



OUTLINE (sketch)




Small drink? It doesn’t matter much (5)




mass of hair (19a)


S (small) + HOCK (wine; drink)


SHOCK (mass of thick shaggy hair)




C-cricket? Where? (7)






C + HOPPER (cricket, an insect that hops)


CHOPPER  (hewer)




Prophet restricts search (9)




Isolate (24a)


SEER (prophet) containing (restricts) QUEST (search)


SEQUESTER (set apart; isolate




Lug to be put in retreat, send the first one you come to (7)






EAR (lug) contained in (put in) NEST (place of retreat)


NEAREST (the first one you come to)




Diamond saloon, possible favourite bar which secures a flight covering (6,3)






CAR (a saloon is a type of CAR; saloon possible)  + PET (favourite) + ROD (bar)


CARPET ROD (one of the RODs used to keep a stair CARPET in place.  Reference flight of stairs)




Tungsten pill popping debtor (9)




Resolve (15a)


W (chemical symbol for the element tungsten; wolfram) + an anagram of (popping) PILL + OWER (debtor)


WILLPOWER (resolve to control one’s emotions or impulses)




Batman’s foe relocated Elgin marbles (no trap) (5,4)




It doesn’t matter much (3d)


Anagram of (relocated) ELGIN MARBLES excluding (no) GIN (trap)


SMALL BEER (something trifling or unimportant; it doesn’t matter much)




Went before noble and wrinkly dog overlapped (7)




piece of cotton wool (11a)


EARL (noble) intermingling with (overlapping) PUG (a small short-haired dog with a wrinkled face; wrinkly dog) – the P of PUG geos before the L of EARL


EARPLUG (a piece of cotton wool can serve as an EARPLUG)




Aim to restrict tabloid energy (7)




hopping (25a)


END (aim) containing (to restrct) (RAG [tabloid newpaper] + E [energy])


ENRAGED (extremely angry; hopping [mad])




Source of ham writer, one entering piece (7)




Batman’s foe (14d)


PEN (writer) + (I [one] contained in [entering] GUN [piece])


PENGUIN (one of Batman’s foes)



Mutilate not one gable ornament (5)






FINIAL (a decoration on the top of a gable) excluding (not) I(one)


FINAL (ulrimate)




Lifting watch, say (5)




send (6d)


TIMER (watch) reversed (lifting; down clue)


REMIT (send)


3 Responses to “Guardian Genius 117 / Brummie”

  1. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the very thorough blog, Duncan. It occurred to me that it would be tricky to explain clearly: you have succeeded admirably!
    I was interested to see that you waited until today to post it – a dilemma as the closing date was shown as Sat 31st March :)

    This was indeed tough as one had to decide which group a clue fell into before having any idea on how to parse it – and then hunt down a definition elsewhere for many. So we found it a slow start, but eventually got there with a couple of days to spare…
    Our stumbling block was to put in SPARKLES early on for 21a, taking ‘the French’ to be LES, leaving ‘king’ to be a definition in another clue (which of course we never found, though I spent some time looking for ELVIS as an answer). We had down ‘Blazing’ from 22a as the definition, which almost works. Much later, when the clue count in the different groups didn’t add up, I realised my mistake.

    We’re currently wrestling with Araucaria’s Easter special – it’s like having two genius puzzles in a month – especially for opera-ignorami!

  2. colin says:

    Thanks Duncan, this wasn’t an easy puzzle to blog and you have done a masterful job.

    Thanks also to Brummie for a very challenging and rewarding puzzle. These must be so much harder to set than a standard puzzle but must be very satisfying as well.

    It took me several sessions to solve but it was worth it.

  3. Gordon says:

    Thanks Duncan for laying everything out so clearly.
    I am always fascinated by who finds certain crosswords hard yet others find them easy. I was quite hesitant when I saw that this puzzle was from Brummie as I always find his puzzles challenging but very delightful to do. I often take a couple of days to finish one of his regular puzzles, let alone a Genius.
    Imagine my surprise then when I waltzed through this crossword in quite quick time, by my standards anyhow, in just 2-3 days when I usually struggle to finish these on time, if at all. Other puzzles blogged by Duncan in the past that he found ‘not too challenging’ I barely got into at all. I think this is what makes Guardian crosswords such a joy.
    The difficulty to me this month was not the clues themselves, which when the superfluous or missing definitions were resolved were quite straightforward I think. The more interesting challenge was working out which clues linked together, or which were just anagrams etc. Perhaps my mind is more suited to that.
    Good work, Brumnmie.

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