Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,912 / Bonxie

Posted by Eileen on April 3rd, 2013


It’s a while since we saw a Bonxie puzzle, so I was glad to see his name today. Some interesting cluing, including one [8dn] where I thought I was going to have to ask for help but, mercifully, it came to me as I wrote the blog. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, so many thanks, Bonxie.


1 Free admission is not included for cycling event
anagram [free] of ADMisSION minus [not included] ‘is’  for this cycling event

5 It stores information about retail costs, primarily in black lines
first letters [primarily] of About Retail Costs in B [black] ODE [lines]: &lit, I think

9 Less likely to bite fiddle with no piano
TAM[p]ER [fiddle] minus P [piano]

10 Actor always open to comeback
reversal [comeback] of EVER [always] OVERT [open] for the actor best known, to me, at least, as Eddie Shoestring

11 Unlawfully accessed spreadsheets he left unlocked
anagram [unlocked] of SPREADS[he]ETS minus ‘he’

12 Co-ordinate accommodation in timeshare
hidden in tiMESHare

14 Sophisticated means of transport minister, say (not here, in France)
METRO [means of transport] + POLIT[ici]AN [minister, say] minus ‘ici’, French for ‘here’

18 Omit to join search for exercise equipment
SKIP [omit] + PIN [join] + GROPE [search]

21 State misfortune thus
cryptic definition

22 Prejudice domain name contract
COM [domain name] + PROMISE [contract]

25 Childish behaviour practised by footballers?
double definition

26 Vessel returned with cargo of gold to a country in the Pacific
reversal [returned] of URN [vessel] round AU [gold]

27 Upright type caught sweetheart in love affair
ROMAN [upright type] + C [caught] + E [middle letter of swEet]

28 Obey monarch with special powers, shocking treatment ensues
R [monarch – rex or regina] + ESP [extrasensory perception – special powers] + ECT [electroconvulsive therapy – shocking treatment]


1 Doctor turned up “Let It Be” choral pieces
MO [medical officer – doctor] + reversal [turned up] of STET [‘Let it be’]

2 Smother beastly parents
DAM [mother of horse] + PEN [mother of cygnet]

3 Tips sherpa’s cap off
anagram [off] of SHERPA’S CAP

4 Upstanding Irishman pinches Tory leader’s bottom
reversal [ upstanding] of SEAN [Irishman] round T [Tory leader]

5 23 accepts alarm call from one working in the colonies
BEEPER [answer to 23 is PAGER] round EEK [alarm call in comic strips] – cryptic definition

6 Children lose head, being cross
[b]ROOD [children minus first letter]

7 Averse to broadcasting “Pigs out!”
Anagram [broadcasting] of AVERSE TO

8 Footballer’s revolutionary workers’ song offends trumpeter
reversal [revolutonary] of PELE [footballer] + [s]HANT[y] [workers’ song with both ends off] – very neat!

13 Where customers ripped off fasteners around ankle
CLIPS [fasteners] round JOINT [ankle] [I think this needs a ‘say’]

15 Mix up explosive? Marines do
anagram [explosive] of MARINES DO

16 First person to vilify one from 26
I [first person] + SLANDER [vilify]

17 It symbolises a metal when spinning
TI [‘it spinning’] is the chemical symbol for titanium

19 Drives in reverse over instrument, lacking concentration
reversal of ID [primitive instincts – ‘drives’] + LUTE [instrument]

20 Fruit spider on table around mid-July
REST [a spider is a rest on a snooker table] round jULy

23 Signalling device for train attendant at railhead
PAGE [trainbearer at a wedding] + R [first letter – head – of Rail] – nice surface

24 Scottish town where anything goes?
O BAN – where there’s no ban, anything goes

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,912 / Bonxie”

  1. William says:

    Thank you Eileen, fine blog.

    Do you not think there is something more going on with ALAS at 21a? The state ALASKA without ka? Don’t know, really.

    Liked the fruit spider misdirect at 20d.

    Nice job, Bonxie.

  2. NormanLinFrance says:

    Thanks Eileen
    Ka is some sort of fortune or fate in Egyptian mythology, so it’s missing from Alaska.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, both. ‘Alaska’ did cross my mind when solving but i forgot to pursue it.

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Eileen and Bonxie, a reasonably tough one today, I thought.

    8d – I was trying PELE and ANT, so couldn’t see the H.

    There seemed to be a number of “subtraction” clues today (where you have to subtract a few letters en rout to the answer, such as in 1a, 9a, 11a etc) so I thought 14a must be something to do with SOPHSTATED, but of course it wasn’t.

    I wondered about ALASKA, too; if no connection, a weak clue then.

  5. NormanLinFrance says:

    Upon checking I see Ka has more to do with spirits and souls than fortune or fate, so it’s a bit loose, and there may be an even better explanation. Whatever, it’s very useful for Scrabble, especially in French where K is a ten-pointer.

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    NormanLinFrance @2. Ah, so that elevates 21a, then. Another subtraction one as well.

  7. William says:

    NormaninFrance above – that’s interesting about the Scrabble letter values in French…is it just K or are the others different from ours too?

  8. michelle says:

    I was not really on Bonxie’s wavelength today so this was hard-going for me, and I failed to finish this puzzle as I gave up on 21a.

    I solved but could not parse 5, 18, 20, 17 & 8.

    New words for me were MADISON, OBAN & NATES, and now reading the blog, REST = ‘a spider on a snooker table’. Clearly, football and snooker are not my strong points!

    I liked BEEKEEPER, ROMANCE, METROPOLITAN, ISLANDER & TREVOR EVE (although I had never heard of this actor and only found him via google).

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

  9. NormanLinFrance says:

    K, W, X, Y, Z = 10 points, J, Q = 8 points, won’t bore you with the rest. The distribution/frequency of letters in French words, plus conjugations, means that putting all 7 letters down in one go for 50 extra points is quite a bit easier than in English, since you can often make several 7 or more-letter words out of one hand, which is rarely the case in English.

  10. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks Bonxie and Eileen. I took ALAS to be an abbreviation of Alaska, as used before the two-letter postal abbreviations became ubiquitous — cf. Calif., Penna., Fla., etc.

  11. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen (and Bonxie for the entertainment.) I had assumed it was AL for Alabama + AS “thus” although I wasn’t 100% enthusiastic with tying the whole thing together. :)

  12. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, including for parsing 5a which seemed otherwise barely cryptic, and 8d: I had ‘chants’ without ends. It it was u satisfactory. Loved BEEKEPER and the fruit spider.

  13. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Nice one from Bonxie; no themes, Ninas or other features that I can discover, but plenty of clever clues with ingenious definitions, misdirections and constructions.

    I particularly enjoyed the &lit at 5a, the amusing construction of 5d and the wonderful ‘off ends’ in 8d.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Quite a tough puzzle for me, with the NE corner proving the trickiest.

    I particularly liked 5dn, 7dn and 8dn (although I missed the ‘offends’ bit of the parsing!).

    I did wonder whether there was more going on with ALAS. AL for ‘Alaska’, plus AS for ‘thus’?

  15. liz says:

    Sorry — missed NeilW’s comment @11. Of course, Alaska is AK, so AL would have to be Alabama.

  16. Ian SW3 says:

    I really do think it’s just state = Alas., and the &lit. “state misfortune thus.” The Alabama + as reading would need “state thus misfortune.”

  17. NeilW says:

    Ian @16, as I said, I wasn’t wild about shoe-horning the “AL thus” into the clue but, equally, in a British puzzle, doesn’t there have to be some indication that an antiquated American abbreviation is being used? Maybe Eileen’s instincts were correct and it’s just a CD. I don’t think Bonxie’s one for dropping in so we may never know!

  18. NeilW says:

    Actually, scratch the above. I’ve just checked, belatedly, and Alas. is in my (current) copy of Chambers so that’s good enough for me!

  19. Ian SW3 says:

    I didn’t mean to characterise the longer form abbreviations as antiquated, though they predate the two-capital-letter official postal abbreviations (adopted by the US Postal Service I would guess in the ’70s because they were machine-readable). I would call the longer abbreviations “traditional” rather than “antiquated.”

  20. NeilW says:

    hmmm.. Hiding out here in Indonesia, who am I to complain if the Guardian puzzle is becoming less parochial? 😉

  21. PJ says:

    I’ve been looking in for a while here and am a great admirer of the site, as well as the mighty crossword brains frequenting it.

    I couldn’t parse the H in 8D either so thanks to Bonxie and to Eileen for a fun puzzle, and the elegant explanations, respectively.

  22. Ian SW3 says:

    Like it or not, U.S. state capitals/mottoes/mascots/abbreviations etc. seem to have been absorbed into the sphere of general knowledge in Old Blighty, judging from many pub quizzes I’ve seen. You’d have no luck expecting most Americans to know what “Hants.” meant, though.

  23. NeilW says:

    Pub quizzes… you have the advantage over me there. Best I can hope for is illegally (please, BBC, let me pay for it) downloaded QI!

  24. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Bonxie and Eileen.

    I enjoyed the variety in this puzzle. ELEPHANT made me smile and RESULT took a bit of getting as I don’t watch the snooker.
    PAGER was splendidly misleading as my first thought was railways. In railway circles,the arm of a semaphore signal is known as a peg.

    Giovanna x

  25. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Bonxie and Eileen

    Usually Bonxie causes me all sorts of trouble – but not today – as soon as TRESPASSED went in straight off the bat, we were away with NW filled quite quickly notwithstanding having to check that NATES was a bottom ! Also had to check that TREVOR EVE was in fact an actor – don’t watch too much telly. Finished off an enjoyable puzzle with the clever RESULT.

    Numerous clever clue types as we expect from this setter with fine surfaces in many of them – thought that 23 would be among the best. Didn’t see any more to 21 than the a clever cd – and think that it stands up quite well as that.

    Nice puzzle and good to be right on his wavelength for a change.

  26. Mitz says:

    Thanks Bonxie and Eileen, and a belated happy Easter to all.

    Slow but steady won the race for me today. None of the clues in particular held me up except for SCRAPHEAPS – don’t know why as I spotted it was an anagram very early on – and the whole just gradually unravelled in a most un-Bonxie-like straightforward manner. Reminded me of Orlando’s smoothness – a big compliment.

    Particularly liked BEEKEEPER, and the (definitely, Eileen) &Lit BARCODE. Like Dave Ellison I couldn’t help but notice the preponderance of ‘subtraction’ clues – they seem quite de rigeur these days, although it isn’t all that long ago that they were unheard of and bitterly complained about when they appeared!

    The main trouble with ALAS as far as I can see is that it is a quick crossword clue that you have to crowbar some cryptic meaning into.

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    There was a time that I was anxious to tackle Bonxie’s crosswords – a wavelength thing.
    But in the last year or so I find them quite doable.
    Today’s was no exception.

    There is a lot to admire here.
    I especially liked the natural surface annex construction in 1ac (MADISON) and our friend TREVOR EVE (who not only was Shoestring way back when, but in recent years famous for ‘Waking The Dead’).

    I couldn’t make much of RESULT (my last entry), but I see it now – clever!
    Also had to think deeply about “Upright type” for ‘Roman’ – didn’t see ‘type’ as in ‘typeface’.

    For the Paul Bs of this world ( :) ), Bonxie may perhaps deserve criticism for ‘Tory leader’ and ‘railhead’.
    Personally, I still cannot be bothered too much by it, even if nowadays I would like to find a way around it if possible.

    Gervase loved ‘offends’. I fear, I have become less Libertarian through the years. The one here is a Guardianism that I am not very keen on, but I can see why others find it ‘clever’.

    All in all, an enjoyable puzzle.
    Many thanks to Eileen for the blog.

  28. yogdaws says:

    I really like Bonxie’s neat and elegant way of doing things.

    Eddie Shoestring must be feeling very proud today.

    Thanks to Eileen too.

  29. jeceris says:

    I’m not sure whether there is a collective term for URL suffixes like .com, but they’re not as far as I know called domain names.

  30. Kathryn's Dad says:

    All said, really, but I just wanted to say I enjoyed it too. Some ingenious stuff – must have been in the zone this morning because it all went in pretty well.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  31. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Bonxie

    I progressed well with this this morning but left it with 17d still to go until this late afternoon. Titanium was all I could think of, but I failed to make sense of it and I don’t really like it.

    I took ‘Alas’ as simply the way one states that one has some misfortune.

    Much of the cluing was impressive. I ticked 5qa, 11a, 27a, 3d, 8d, 20d, and 23d. Like Dave Ellison, I noted the slight surfeit of ‘substractions’.

  32. Eileen says:

    I’ve been out for most of the day: thanks for all the comments about ALAS.

    It’s still rather inconclusive, isn’t it? It’s a pity Bonxie is not one off those who occasionally drop in.

  33. Eileen says:

    Not even on a one-off basis!

  34. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Eileen for rhe blog. We weren’t that sure about ALAS either and were somewhat puzzled by 8d. We had wondered about CHANTS but they are more football songs rather than workers and they are in the plural.

    Thanks Bonxie – kept us puzzling during our breaks today.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I do actually not see a problem with ALAS.
    For me, Ian SW3 (later supported by NeilW’s Chambers) is surely right.
    “Alas.” is in Chambers, in Oxford and in Collins for “Alaska”.
    What more do you want?
    It’s similar to taking Cal. for California, which one comes across ever so often (and also clued as ‘state’)
    So, for me, without doubt a double definition.

    But I admit, I’m not Bonxie (so I can’t look inside his head) … :)

  36. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Sil: I hadn’t read the comments carefully enough. Apologies all round – and especially to Bonxie.

  37. Dave Ellison says:

    jeceris @29

    com is apparently an example of a top level domain

  38. Dave Ellison says:

    Apologies, got the syntax wrong for the link:

    com is apparently an example of a top level domain

  39. NormanLinFrance says:

    Quite happy to concede that my take on Alas early this morning isn’t right. I wasn’t aware of the longer abbreviations, although having a four-letter abbreviation for a six-letter word seems a bit odd. Bit like Thos. Cook, I suppose.

  40. Paul B says:

    Re Sil and ‘off-ends’ there’s a reason such devices are considered unfair: people can’t solve clues that use them. We might find it clever in retrospect (though I don’t by reason of cryptic grammar), but how on earth a solver is expected to deduce what to do in a cold-solve without visiting Delphi is quite beyond me.

    But that’s your Grauniad, in-deed.

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Sil and eileen

    I am not yet wholly satisfied with 21a if the parsing simply takes ‘state’ as referring to Alaska. I take the point, which I missed, about Alas. = Alaska (state) but unless ‘state’ is doing double duty, I am left wondering what the ‘thus’ is about. Alas alone does not = misfortune but it is a verbal expression (state-ment) that one is suffering misfortune.

  42. martin says:

    Hasn’t Bonxie confused ‘metropolitan’ with ‘cosmopolitan’ (14a)?
    My dictionary (Collins English) includes ‘sophisticated’ as a meaning of ‘cosmopolitan’, but nothing resembling that for ‘metropolitan’.
    Those of you who live in a metropolis may think otherwise!

  43. Eileen says:

    Hi martin

    I had the same thought myself but left it to someone else to comment. People got preoccupied with other things and I forgot to go back to it.

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