Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,561 – Brummie

Posted by Uncle Yap on December 2nd, 2008

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

Another superb day! True to his reputation for never being boring or routine, Brummie served up a most challenging puzzle with many strange and unusual devices including 23D. It would become obvious that the nine linked answers (marked * below) are all musicals.

*1 CHICAGO Ins of ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in CH (church) GO (split)
5 CARAVAN Ins of  A in Car & Van (both means of transport) and a caravan is indeed a line of travellers in the desert
9 ALPHA Cha of ALP (Swiss mountain) HA (hectares
*10 ON THE TOWN *(He won’t not)
11 PROPULSION *(US pop Lion + R for rex or king)
*12 FAME Rev of The Mafia minus a hit
*14 ANYTHING GOES I suppose you can call this a dd
18 LANDING PARTY Cha of Landing (top of the stairs) Party (celebrating)
*21 HAIR (c) hair
22 ERIC AMBLER Rice *(rice) + ins of L (Latin) in AMBER (orange)
25 MET OFFICE Met (encountered) Off ice
*26 EVITA EVI (Rev of I’ve, apparently for one’s – my only spot of misgiving in this excellent puzzle) TA (thanks or appreciative word)
*27 COMPANY Ins of MP (rev of PM, prime minister or political leader) & AN (one) in COY (reticent)
28 SHAWNEE Try saying “It’s your knee” when you are very drunk and you will get the name of this American Indian tribe

1 CHAPPY C (first letter of circus) Happy (one of Snow White’s 7) I am surprised that Chambers does not support this word spelt with y at the end (only ie at the end)
2 IMPROV Improv (e) short for improvisation
3 AMANUENSIS cd for a literary assistant, esp one who writes to dictation or copies from manuscript… new word for me
4 OBOES (h) oboes
5 CATTOLICA *(c tailcoat), an Italian resort
6 ROEG Cha of RO (half of Ro-Ro or roll-on, roll=off car ferry) EG (for example or say)
7 VIOLATOR Cha of VIOL (instrument) ATOR (rev of rota, routine)
8 NONSENSE Ins of NS (Poles) + EN (measure) in NOSE (hooter)
13 EGG TEMPERA *(reggae tempo minus o)
15 TIGER LILY Ins of LI (lithium) in tigerly (like a tiger, cat)
16 ALCHEMIC Ins of M (male) in *(chalice)
17 ANTIETAM Cha of anti (against) ET (extra-terrestrial) AM (American) battleground in 1862 during Ameerican Civil War
19 ALBION Ins of B (book) in A Lion (a member of the British and Irish team that tours Australia, New Zealand or South Africa once every 4 years)
*20 GREASE Cha of GR (George Rex or monarch) EASE (comfort)
*23 CHESS (du) CHESS (es) removal of DUES (rights) from duchesses; very well disguised device; took me a long time to parse this most devious clue
24 OFFA sounds like Offer (tender) a Mercian king

37 Responses to “Guardian 24,561 – Brummie”

  1. Eileen says:

    Good morning, Uncle Yap

    Did your online version not have the special instructions: ‘Nine of the answers share a connection’? – or are you deliberately keeping quiet about that?

  2. Eileen says:

    This was, indeed, very entertaining.

    1ac was one of the last to go in, as I was misled by ‘capital’ [was this necessary?] but it was the ninth of the set, so had to be. I wasn’t very keen on ‘split’ for ‘go’.

    I loved the misdirection of ‘Nancy’ in 10ac. and 25ac made me smile.

    Re 26ac: we had some controversy a week or so ago, relating to ‘he’s’ = ‘he has’. In this case, there’s no ambiguity with the first part [I’ve] but I suppose some may object to ‘one’s’ = ‘one has’. I’ve no problem with it.

    I’m familiar with amanuensis particularly in an exam context, where an injured or disabled candidate may have someone else write his / her script.

    I’d never heard of Antietam but the wordplay was absolutely straightforward but, yes, 23dn did take rather longer.

  3. Andrew says:

    Phew, that was a toughie, but good fun, as you’ve both said. 10ac was my first answer, and I guessed the “connection” from that, though actually it wasn’t much help, as most of the linked answers were well concealed as “normal” words.

    Eileen, I thought you might have mentioned the non-rhotic homophone in 24dn, or have you given up on that issue? ;)

    Chicago isn’t the state capital of Illinois (useful pub-quiz knowledge – it’s actually Springfield), but the ICA is an “art venue in [the] capital”.

  4. Andrew says:

    PS: “split” = “leave” = “go” seems fine to me.

  5. Eileen says:

    Andrew; I didn’t know ICA, either, which didn’t help, so between that and capital and ‘go’…

    I think the homophone thing has been done to death, don’t you? [I ignored ‘sore / saw’ [a classic example] in Friday’s FT.]

  6. C.G. Rishikesh says:


    Amanuensis: The first time I came across the word was as a student of Eng. Lit. decades ago when I read that Milton used the services of one. In fact, he had different amanuenses.

  7. Shirley says:

    Has no-one else noticed the 9 linked clues which are all musicals?
    This helped us with a couple of clues notably 10 and 14AC.
    Ref 3D the composer Delius also used an amanuensis to write down his scores after he lost his sight.

  8. Andrew says:

    Shirley – the musicals theme has been hinted at by Eileen and me but not explicity stated…

    I was going to mention Delius too: the first time I heard of an amanuensis was in Ken Russell’s film about him: “Song of Summer”.

  9. smutchin says:

    OK, I got the solution to 10ac but I didn’t get the wordplay… Is Nancy a cryptic reference to the French town? Even if it is, I still don’t really understand it.

    23dn is quite brilliant. Again, I got the solution but not the wordplay. Thanks for the explanation Uncle Yap – I do understand that one.

    There were several others I didn’t get the solution to – I thought this a tough one today, but enjoyably so.

  10. beermagnet says:

    I think the online version didn’t have the one line preamble early on (it has now).
    I had a look at it over breakfast and was struggling, but after I got the paper I made much more progress on the train aided by the 9 musicals connection and finished it (one wrong – I slapped in REED instead of ROEG without checking the wordplay) but I didn’t get the wordplay on some of those musical answers (e.g. CHESS) and would’ve doubted them were it not for the preamble.
    I think it’s worth naming Eric Fenby OBE as Delius’s amanuensis. Himself a decent composer, he does seem to have been pigeonholed as the archetypal amauensis and widely credited as the vehicle for the creation of some of Delius’s greatest works – it’s considered they wouldn’t exist without his dedication. He advised Ken Russell on Song of Summer.

  11. John says:

    Geography lesson. Chicago isn’t the capital of Illinois, Springfield is.

  12. John says:

    Sorry Andrew, missed your geography lesson, and art venue in capital might well have been the intention. So I’ll shut up.

  13. Tom Hutton says:

    I enjoyed this a lot except for 23 down which I had put in long before I got round to working out the clue. I never think that is good. Is it fair to remove dues from duchesses without indicating that rights did not refer to a consecutive string of letters? (“lacking intermittent rights” or some such for example”)

  14. JimboNWUK says:

    Musicals Schmusicals…. yet another cryptic thinly veiled as a General Knowledge puzzle -sigh- and who the hell is Eric Ambler? I filled him in from the crypto but have no idea who he is and insufficinet interest in knowing to Google for the answer. Nor am I a film buff so singularly unimpressed with 6dn – more general knowledge… if I wanted to partake in “Eggheads” I would read up on all this trivia but I just want a bit of a challenge vocabulary-wise NOT contemporary arty-fartyness-wise thank you very much. I am as incensed by this guff as I was by the Turner Prize cobblers some time ago… some of us live in the REAL world rather than swanning around amongst the pseuds of the London West End.

    On a final note, I thought 1ac stunk but 28ac made me larf.

  15. Dave Ellison says:

    yes, I liked Shawnee, too. And 3 down; I was trying to fit Hitler and Il Duce etc in for a while, until the penny dropped.

    As a “hobo”, I used to sweep the streets of Springfield, at 5 o’clock in the morning. Well, a slight hyperbole. I was hitch-hiking to Mexico, January 1969, when the police (taking pity on me in the minus 30 degree centigrade temperature) allowed me to stay overnight in the local doss house. One condition (there were several others) was to do a task in the morning, and mine was sweeping the front outside the doss house.

  16. Ian Hinds says:

    I didn’t realise Eric Ambler was Latin. That said, a very entertaining puzzle, typically throwing in the usual Brummie curveballs.

    An embarrassingly long solving time.

  17. Tom Hutton says:

    Eric Ambler is a very fine writer of detective and noir stories generally but I agree that using writers from the fifties and sixties does handicap the younger or illiterate solver. However, as I live in the deep country (indeed another country) far from the metropolis and had heard of all the listed shows through the print and TV media, I take badly to being characterised as a swanning arty farty pseud. Especially as in this case, with the exception of 23 dn all the show answers were adequately clued and could be done without recourse to general knowledge.

  18. Geoff says:

    I found this one much easier than the recent Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs puzzle from Brummie (did anyone notice that HAPPY crept in from that crossword – at 1dn). Perhaps that was because there were rather a lot of fairly well flagged anagrams in this one.

    Spotted the musicals theme about halfway through, but it didn’t help much, being an ‘open’ rather than a ‘closed set’ theme, and not being a great aficionado of the genre, I wasn’t entirely sure that there were no obscure musicals called PROPULSION or MET OFFICE… However, it enabled me to insert CHESS without understanding the word play. Thanks for the explanation.

    Some very ingenious clues, as ever from this compiler. 1ac was a stinker, with several deceptively ambiguous words – but entirely fair.

  19. Testy says:


    Sometimes crossword themes expect too much knowledge in certain niche areas. In some cases there may be an explicitly stated theme but the only definition in each theme clue is the theme itself (e.g. “opera” and if you’re not an opera buff you’re stuffed). In even worse cases the theme is sometimes even left to the solver to deduce (e.g. the “answers to some clues are of a kind and lack definition” types of crossword). In either of these cases I would have sympathy with your comments.

    However, in this case, as Tom Hutton says, none of the clues relied on you knowing that they were musicals. It would have helped if you did but doesn’t detract from the puzzle if you didn’t. I even did this on-line without spotting the pre-amble and would never have noticed the theme if I hadn’t come to this site.

    I did struggle with ROEG and ERIC AMBLER but, as with all things, you either know it or you don’t and if you don’t, you should just learn from it and move on. One of the many advantages that crosswords have over sudokus is their ability to teach you something new.

  20. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Eric Ambler: The first novel that I read was ‘The Mask of Dimitrios’. I liked it so much that I read almost all of his novels one after the other. I was lucky in getting some rare ones from a lending library near my home. Ambler’s early books were already difficult to obtain when I got to read the author in the Seventies.

    That library is actually a wastepaper mart that has grown into a repository of secondhand books and new arrivals lent out to readers for a fee.

  21. Ralph G says:

    Yes, like the location (indeed the existence)of Cattolica 5d, not far down the coast from Rimini, apparently. Especially recommended is the 4th of 5 main sights; “Watchtower (now included in a closed disco)”. Reminiscent of the 7th of 10 ‘sights’ in the N. Lincs tourist brochure: “350 yards of disused railway line”. Honest.
    It seems everybody else knows their film directors; ROEG 6d was new to me as well but you didn’t need to have heard of him to solve the clue, which is always nice.
    Great puzzle. Being a simple soul, I liked 5a, 32a.

  22. smutchin says:

    22ac, 25ac, 28ac, 5dn, 6dn, 15dn, 17dn and 24dn all rely on “general knowledge” at least as much as any of the “themed” clues – which, as has been pointed out, don’t require knowledge of the theme anyway. It’s a non-complaint.

    That said, I’m growing to love Jimbo’s rants – most entertaining.

  23. Judy Bentley says:

    As usual at this time of day I have to get the dinner ready. Having struggled with the crossword on and off throughout the day I would just like to say that I thought it was great, as were the comments, and I would like it known that in a previous life I was an amanuensis for pupils with dyslexia.

  24. C & J says:

    Some of the delights of doing crosswords are digging into one’s distant memory for half-forgotten knowledge (Eric Ambler), and learning something new (Antietam), as well as dealing with the word-play – all of which were catered for in this puzzle. We are helped by being near-octogenarians, but had the same delight (and more to learn) as teen-agers, when puzzles were less sophisticated.

  25. Jim says:

    If you’re an American, Antietam jumps out at you. It was “victory” in this bloody battle of our Civil War that led Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.

  26. Ralph G says:

    Considering the frequency of LEE clued ‘general’, time we had Antietam. Jim refers to a Union “victory” in quotes and Collins records it as a defeat for the Confederates under Lee. Hugh Brogan’s (1985) account p.137 reads more like a Pyrrhic victory for Lee “left in possession of the field” but with a shattered army that dictated a retreat into Virginia. Is that a fair picture, Jim, or do I need to read it up in Wikipedia?

  27. Chunter says:

    19dn: in rugby a Lion is a member of the British and Irish team that tours Australia, New Zealand or South Africa once every 4 years.

  28. Jim says:

    Quite accurate Ralph. I live in Washington DC not too far from the battlefield, which is nicely kept up by our National Park Service.
    The Confederates called the battle Sharpsburg from a nearby town. Antietam is a creek running through the site.
    Unlike you Brits, I found Met Office a problem.

  29. davidoff says:

    My only complaint is with the ratings in the “setters” part of this website – I think Brummie is at least “Medium” difficulty, certainly judging by this one and the Dwarfy one.

    I suppose the cluing of themes or Ninas in a grid necessitates a wider (and weirder) vocabulary elsewhere, but this added difficulty is offset by the solving help given by that theme. I love themes because they turn the whole puzzle into a proper composition (- show me a Sudoku with a theme…)

  30. mark says:

    Totally agree with Tom Hutton; no, I don’t think that’s fair.

    And as Chunter alludes, a Lion is certainly not likely to be an English rugby player on current form!

  31. Uncle Yap says:

    Ooops, totally missed that preamble about the musical theme and yet I was able to solve and explain … which goes to show that you do not need special knowledge about musical to solve this little beauty.

    Chunter, thanks for the refinement of the definition for a Lion. I will shortly incorporate all these in the main blog.

    p/s Due to time difference (I am GMT + 8), I was out the wwhole day running the hash and drinking beer afterwards to correct that serious medical condition called dehydration due to excessive sweating during the hash run :-)
    That should explain why it takes such an inordinately long time for me to respond.

  32. Chunter says:

    Mark: indeed. Watching England’s 8 recent rugby and cricket defeats while suffering from a nasty cold is an experience I want to forget.

  33. ChrisW says:

    I got CHESS as a game but I think the clue is unfair. Should have been “aristocrat’s lacking rights”. Some flexibility with punctuation is acceptable but not with the possessive apostrophe.

  34. Andrew says:

    Hi Uncle Yap,

    I see you’ve now marked the musicals, but I disagree slightly with your list: I don’t think CARAVAN is one (though there is a song of that name), but there is one (by Sondheim) called COMPANY.

  35. Eileen says:

    Chris, sorry to argue but the clue is correct: it’s DUCHESSES [plural] lacking DUES. The possessive case of ‘duchess’ is ‘duchess’s’.

    Thanks for that, Andrew: yet more evidence that a knowledge of musicals was not essential for the solving of this excellent puzzle!

  36. John says:

    Ian, just to put the record straight, Eric Ambler isn’t Latin. The cluing is “l” for Latin in “amber” for orange.

  37. ChrisW says:

    About DUCHESSES: this is one of those occasions where as soon as I had walked out of the door I realised how foolish I had been (and could not get back home for a few hours). Of course it is quite correct, as Eileen points out. Better to pause before rushing into print (so easy these days). Apologies all round.

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