Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23948/Brendan – The I’s have it!

Posted by loonapick on December 13th, 2006


(If I were clever enough, I’d write this entry using only one vowel, but I ain’t, so here goes.)   Solving time – 7 mins

Given the restriction that the setter has imposed upon himself in creating this crossword, it is an excellent effort. He has had to use some rarer words, but that’s fine – a crossword should educate as well as entertain, and Brendan has ensured that the wordplay means that you can make a good guess at a couple of the entries, even if the answer is unfamiliar.


6  IRVING – refers to actor Henry Irving (1838-1905) and to songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989)

10 PINCH HIT – PIN CH(H)IT where H = husband.  In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter.

12 PHILIPPICS – PHILIPPI(C)’S where C = Conservative.  Philippi was the scene of a battle following the assassination of Julius Caesar (Octavian and Mark Antony defeated Brutus), and a philippic is a damning political speech (new word to me!)

13 – MISSISSIPPI – very clever, and very easy

22 – NIHILIST – another clever, but fairly easy clue, especially once you work out the “theme” of the crossword.

24 – DRIFTS – the definition here is imports, and could have been very misleading in a more difficult clue.  Import (as in importance) equates roughly to drift (as in “Get my drift”).  Not quite sure that the two are synonymous.


1 – DIVI-DIVI – a tropical shrub that can be guessed at from the rest of the clue.

3 – BRINDISI – anagram of “bird is in” – strange is a very common anagrind, and I wonder if another indicator and leaving out “Mediterranean” might have made the clue a little more challenging.

4 – HIP HIP – not sure how “hip” equals “member” as a member is normally a protruding body part.

7 – GLITCH – G-LITCH(i) where G = good and the incomplete fruit is “litchi”.  Surface doesn’t read very well.

8 – SPLIT SHIFTS – good wordplay

14 – SKI LIFTS – S(KIL(IF)TS) where S = second.  I like second gear for S-KILTS.

6 Responses to “Guardian 23948/Brendan – The I’s have it!”

  1. says:

    I’m wondering what you make of 5A “eg gin bottle” as SPIRIT? Is this an &lit with gin=”JINN” and “eg” indicating the homophone? if so, not a bad clue.

  2. says:

    “bottle” = pluck, courage, spirit etc. in Brit slang – ep. in phrases like “he’s lost his bottle”. As “bottom” has a similar colloquial “firmness of resolve” meaning, I’ve wondered whether this kind of “bottle” comes from rhyming slang “bottle (and glass)” = arse. But I can’t find any confirmation. And I suspect Brian Greer would be horrified by the use of “e.g.” to indicate a homophone.

  3. says:

    oh how disappointing. Just a double definition.

  4. says:

    22ac – About the 2nd or 3rd clue I got, I put in NATURIST at first “…nothing would suit him…”. I then noticed the fact that all the other answers only had I’s in them and realised that “rule” was the key word, not “suit”.

  5. says:

    I think 22ac is a bit too ambiguous – I had OPTIMIST, which messed up 16 down… noticed a lot of i’s in passing, but didn’t notice the theme – I’m still getting used to looking out for these non-flagged themes.

  6. says:

    Interestingly enough, the term PINCH HITTER has entered the lexicon of cricket recently, thanks to the one day game. A pinch hitter in cricket is “Someone [promoted up the order] to increase the rate of scoring. Often these players aren’t expected to be there for too long, [just there to score some quick runs and relieve the pressure.]”

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