Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24656 / Brendan

Posted by mhl on March 25th, 2009


A fun puzzle from Brendan with a theme of name changes. I’m afraid I’m not likely to be able to update this post with any corrections until much later today.

8. SIDE DISH SIDE = “players collectively” + DISH = “demolish” (Chambers gives “to ruin” as a meaning for DISH)
9. OHENRY O + HENRY; the pen name of William Sidney Porter
10. LEON NOEL reversed; LEON is another man’s name and León is a Spanish city Update: apologies for accenting the wrong letter in the original post…
12,24d. MUMBAI DUCK MUM + BAI = homophone of “buy” + DUCK = “dear”, both terms of affection; another name for Bombay Duck, a fish
14. ELIGIBLE I + BIG reversed in EL = “the Spanish” and LE = “the French”
15,17. NOMINAL CHANGES All of the mentioned clues refer to a change of name
23. FRIGHTENER F = “fellow” + RIGHT = “conservative” + RENE reversed
24. DIBS Initial leters of “deposited in bank safe”
25. THESIS THE = “article” + SIS = “informal relative”
26. ABDUCTED DUCT in A BED = “one part of garden”, i.e. a flower bed
1. RITENUTO (TUNE TRIO)*; a musical direction to slow down
2. JEAN Move E in “Jane”
3. DIWALI I + LAW + I’D all reversed
6. PETITIONED I + ON = “leg” in PETITE + D = “daughter”
7. ORWELL OR = “before” + WELL = “spring” (as in a water source); Eric Blair is George Orwell. Chambers gives an old meaning of OR as “before”
13. BEIJINGESE (I SEE BEING)* around J = “judge”
16. ACID TEST AC = “bill” (“account”) + ID EST = “that is” (“i.e.”) over T = “time”
18. ENNOBLED BONNE = “Maid of Orleans” reversed + LED; “bonne” is the French for “maid”
21. EARTHY (THEY AR[e])*
22. NERUDA (UNREAD)*; Pablo Neruda is another literary pseudonym

51 Responses to “Guardian 24656 / Brendan”

  1. Monica M says:

    Good Grief mhl … what time did you get up this morning !!!!

    Thanks for the post, I was completely unsure on a few and you’ve cleared them up.

    Once I got the theme … I was on a roll.

    8ac Demolish = dish … a completely new definition for me.
    14ac Big – reversed … D’oh
    18dn I always thought bonne meant good (but it has been nearly 30 years since I studied French …aaah)

  2. Barbara says:

    24ac. Dibs
    Given the wordplay is:
    D(eposited) I(n) B(ank) S(afe),
    in what sense does that mean ‘money’?

  3. Monica M says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Dibs is also a slang term for money … not sure of its derivation tho.

  4. Eileen says:

    Great value from Brendan, as usual. This was very enjoyable.

    I have a niggle with the enumeration of 9ac: I’m used to apostrophes being ignored – but full stops?

    OR = before was a new one but it’s in SOED as well as Chambers. [It’s surprising that it’s not more often seen in crosswords.] It was a great clue, I thought

  5. Derek Lazenby says:

    I suppose demolish somehow relates to something like dish the dirt?

    on=leg? eh?

    I didn’t get the esoteric literary stuff either. You merely need to be intellgent to be interested in crosswords, to presume that interest implies what one’s other interests may be is wrong. Who cares what authors call themselves? “Did you enjoy the book?” is the prime question. I sometimes think people lose sight of that.

    Which reastaurant? I’d like to try it! But none of the many Indian’s I’ve eaten in have had that on the menu. So rightly or wrongly, that also seemed too obscure.

  6. Monica M says:

    I agree with your 9ac niggle, Eileen. OR is one I learned at the beginning of my cryptic journey and have safely filed it away.

    I always find Brendan challenging … but generally solveable (even if I don’t always know why)

  7. Mick h says:

    I think Brendan’s having a little fun with city name changes in particular – I’m not sure I’ve ever come across Chicken Chennai, Mumbai Duck or Beijingese (at least not as a dog), but he seems to be suggesting these are ‘nominal’ changes that do not affect the fundamentals of the place. But perhaps I’m reading too much into it. Rishi, from Madras that is Chennai, I thought of you immediately – what do you think?

  8. Monica M says:


    Chicken Madras, Madras was Chennai … or vice-versa … but I’ll leave that to Rishi.

    The author names stuff is just something I know … don’t ask me about computer stuff tho.

  9. Mick h says:

    I didn’t get O’Henry. But leg=on is another crossword convention, this one from cricket, where the side of the batsman that’s not ‘off’ can be called ‘leg’ or ‘on’. Just a useful way to clue a common letter pair.

  10. Ian says:

    Good crossword. Mumbai Duck etc were, I think, Brendan’s little joke rather than usage.

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    Amazin’ what yer learn here. Ta all.

  12. Monica M says:

    Mick, O is commonly used as an abbrev of old + Henry is an old king.

  13. Eileen says:

    Mick H: re comment 9: the pseudonym is O. Henry, not O’Henry, hence my niggle at comment 4.

    I’ve seen ‘on’ = ‘leg’ many times before.

  14. smutchin says:

    Well, I thought this was all hugely entertaining. Brendan does it again! I was particularly amused by the ersatz Indian dishes (Chicken Chennai had me scratching my head for a few moments before making me laugh out loud), and “Beijingese”.

    Derek – you don’t need to have read any O.Henry books to be able to solve 9a. It’s a neat, pithy and perfectly fair clue (Eileen’s complaint notwithstanding).

    Monica – “bonne” is indeed French for “good” (feminine form of “bon”), and I’d agree that it’s a little unfair to expect anglophone solvers to know that it also means “maid”. That aside, “Maid of Orleans” is a brilliantly devious way of clueing the word. By the way, it also means “voucher” or “coupon” – so now you know what to put if “French voucher” or somesuch ever crops up in a clue.

  15. Geoff says:

    I found this a real struggle, as I usually do with Brendan, for some reason. Consequently, I didn’t really enjoy it much – and O.HENRY’s misenumeration and the three bogus toponymic terms left me annoyed rather than amused.

    Some great clues, though.

  16. Monica M says:

    Smutchin … I’ll be filing that away in the memory banks. I’m not sure you mean’t to … but you made me laugh. Thanks.

  17. Monica M says:

    Geoff … I might be the opposite of lots of people here, but I delight in the struggle, and savour the time … like a good book. If I could solve the puzzles in no time, they would lose their charm for me, and I’d be off to a new hobby.

  18. smutchin says:

    Geoff – de gustibus etc – I always find Brendan a joy. Sorry you don’t feel the same! And to be fair to Brendan, it’s ultimately the editor’s responsibility to ensure there are no errors in numeration.

    Monica – 😉

  19. Monica M says:

    Now for an “obscurity” gripe … crikey, I learned music for years … ritenuto … I remember it as ritardando … rit.

    Thanks Smutchin

  20. Mick h says:

    O well. I put O’LEARY, spuriously justifying LEAR-Y as ‘king’s’ (ouch) and reasoning that someone some time might have used O’Leary as a pseudonym.

  21. Geoff says:

    Monica, Smutchin et al: It isn’t the struggle, as such – I’m not a lightning solver, and I expect many of the regulars here knock off most puzzles in half the time it takes me – but it’s the cost/benefit ratio. In the case of most compilers’ crosswords, the eventual solution of a clue that I have been stuck on would be greeted with ‘now I see it… ha ha!… how clever!’, but with Brendan my reaction tends to be ‘why the *@$* didn’t I see that before?’.

    But this is clearly my problem; my gustus are obviously rather wayward here, and I don’t expect anyone to disputare them!

  22. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    As Ian says (#10) Mumbai duck and Chennai chicken are all for fun. I can’t imagine a Madras handkerchief becoming a Chennai handkerchief after the alteration of the city’s name.

    As for these name changes that are happening constantly in India, politicians will do anything to preserve their votebanks.

    For me and so many of my generation, Madras is Madras!

    There is an old Tamil film song that begins Madras nalla Madras, where nalla means ‘good’.

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    Mick H: I reasoned the same.

    I didn’t think this was a classic B. today. I was unsure, unconvinced most of the way through.

    I was trying to get Bangladesh or similar into 13d. 22d Neruda? Never heard of he/she/it – no comment by mhl or anyone else – is this just my ignorance?

  24. Tom Hutton says:

    Good crossword. With jokes. But I don’t see how anyone can justify O Henry as being one word. I was just reading him this morning before I did the crossword and the short stories have not aged well in general.

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    him/her/it, sorry. Just googled Neruda: Czech poet, and also Chilean writer who took his name.

  26. liz says:

    If you Google ‘chicken chennai’, which I did, you get recipes! I enjoyed this, but didn’t get 2dn or 10ac because I was concentrating on finding pen names. Kept expecting Bronte/Bell to crop up.

    Eileen — I also thought it was unfair to leave out the full stop in 9ac.

  27. Monica Muller says:


    I’m a slug too, when it comes to the time solver’s take. And, yes , when I try to work out the word play, I often have gawd strewth moments . That’s why I come here … Explanations and amusement. (It’s a winner, in my opinion)

    I’m godsmacked that mhl managed to get this post up at 5.30 am. I wasn’t even home from work (Oz time)

  28. Mart says:

    I’m a rare contributor but I’ve been moved today to say that this was a great crossword, but slightly spoiled by or=before and bonne =maid of orleans. Surely these are just too obscure to expect anyone to get? I’m sure I could come up with equally obscure cryptic definitions in my specialist subject that would be next to impossible to get, but be neither entertaining nor clever.
    I will reiterate that I did like the crossie generally though.

  29. Dave Ellison says:

    Actually, that turns 22d into a brilliant clue.

  30. JamieC says:

    Lots of fun here. Monica – rit. can be ritardando or ritenuto. The subtle difference between them is lost on me. Actually, I’m surprised more use of musical notation isn’t made in crosswords. Everybody knows f and p, but there’s an opportunity to clue lots of useful groups of letters like cresc, rall, rit etc. Perhaps it wouldn’t be considered fair, because they’re abbreviations, but then so are f and p.

  31. smutchin says:

    Ritenuto is “change to a slower tempo immediately”. Ritardando (or rallentando) is “slow down gradually”. I’m sure I’ve seen “rall” in crosswords before. I suppose whether or not it’s fair to use these terms is always a question of balance – I believe Azed has the rule that more obscure words should have easier clues, and common words should have harder clues.

  32. mhl says:

    Monica M: I had to get a very early plane this morning, so did the crossword when it was available at midnight and wrote most of the post while Ryanair’s bizarre plane-boarding ritual was going on around me… It would be quite possible to get the daily crossword post up by 00:30, if one really tried :)

    In the big list of crossword abbreviations, “before” for OR is marked as being typically only used in advanced cryptics.

    I’ve certainly seen Chicken Chennai on menus in restaurants before.

  33. Chris says:

    Yep, my local Indian takeaway has Chicken Chennai on the menu too.

    The idea that any of the literary references were especially esoteric is way off the mark, in my opinion. Especially when followed up with “Who cares what authors call themselves?” (!)

    Er, quite a lot of people do, I’d say.

  34. Brian Harris says:

    @ Dave and Mick – same thought process here, guessed that “Leary” might be a rather awkward reference to “King’s”.

    Otherwise, all enjoyable stuff, although the key clue (15,17) wasn’t quite as clever as I thought it was going to be.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    smutchin, sorry for delay, too busy playing poker. that clue was NOT gettable, I had thought of O, I had thought of Henry, but there is no such word or name as OHENRY so I rejected that. And yes I know what the editor thinks about enumerations, this is exactly why he’s wrong, it spoilt a puzzle I was enjoying and could have solved. The idea that you never have an enumertion (1,x) is bad. I can see the point just about with well known items such as e-mail, but not in this case, that was seriously wrong.

  36. JimboNWUK says:

    DIBS never has been, is not now, and never will be, a synonym for “money”. It means “choice” as in “first dibs on that one”. Not even Chambers offers “money” as a possible, therefore that clue is condemned even by our universal arbiter.

    O Henry?? O dear — never heard of him (her?)– no desire to and could not care less… crosswords are supposed to be a challenge of VOCABULARY not obscure pen-names of authors that no-one knows or cares about. Screwed up and thrown away in disgust 2/3 of the way through.

    4/10, Must try harder

  37. Chris says:

    I love the way people see their ignorance as an indictment of the setter, and not of themselves.

    And I’m not criticising the ignorance – every one of us is ignorant to a greater or lesser extent. But surely the beauty and enjoyment of crosswords lies not only in the challenge of the word play, but in the opportunity they afford us to learn about subjects that we’d otherwise probably never dabble in?

    Take away that aspect and you take away one of the things that make crosswords so brilliant, and so vastly superior to the likes of sudoku.

    Should setters also be banned from including the names of countries, cities, rivers etc because they are a test of one’s geography rather than purely being a test of vocabulary? I hope no one would suggest that.

    Besides, O’Henry really isn’t that obscure, so those solvers who haven’t heard of him have been given a great chance to rectify that gap in their knowledge.

  38. Geoff Moss says:

    Chambers: dib² – (in pl) money (also dibbs; sl)

    COED: dibs – money

    Collins: dibs – (a slang word for) money

  39. smutchin says:

    Derek – your earlier complaint was about “esoteric literary stuff”. If your complaint is now about the enumeration, then I’d have to agree it’s a valid gripe. But I’d still disagree that it prevents you solving the clue – as others seem to have managed.

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    All these weeks and you ain’t been listening smutchin, of course some people got it, we have different interests, but those interests can be delved into beyond the point of general knowledge. Hence, I couldn’t solve the clue from general knowledge because it wasn’t, it was specific interest knowledge. You then said I should have been able to get it from the word play. Can I not answer your assertion without you accusing me of shifting my ground? I am merely responding to your precice points, it’s not my fault that you widened it out, that was your doing.

  41. liz says:

    re 38

    Chris — I couldn’t agree more. I’ve learned a lot from crosswords over the years. That’s half the fun.

  42. smutchin says:

    Derek – your earlier complaint was about “esoteric literary stuff”. I’m not making that up or twisting your words – it’s a direct and accurate quote. You didn’t mention the enumeration error as being the cause of your difficulty until your later post, though others did mention it and I agreed with them that it was a valid complaint while still finding it a good clue otherwise.

    To quote you again, this time from your later post: “that clue was NOT gettable.” I disagree. That’s all. Not a big deal.

  43. ray says:

    Found this a struggle, but got most by plodding on. FAiled on 6d where I was convinced the ‘one leg’=’pinion’ in the middle.

  44. Chatmeister says:

    Off-topic comments relating to the works of O. Henry have been moved to General Chat where any further discussion on these should take place.

  45. Pumpkin says:

    mhl & monica

    Think you might be making 8ac too difficult. The outside (i.e. extra) letters of demolish are ‘dish’. Bit of an overlap of the surface but not too obscure and fits with the secondary theme of chicken chennai and mumbai duck does it not?

  46. Colin Blackburn says:

    Pumpkin: the interpretation by mhl of 8ac is spot on. There is no indicator for the outside letters. Also, the letters, one from the front and three from the back would have to be indicated quite specifically. Reusing collectively isn’t good enough—this is Brendan not Araucaria. Finally, I don’t see why your interpretation fits the theme any more than mhl’s.

    For those who enjoy Brendan it is worth checking out the Tuesday puzzle of the Independent. Every couple of weeks it is by Virgilius aka Brendan and is of the same high quality and with a strong theme. The puzzle is always at:

    Independent Cryptic

    but there is no archive so you will need to look in on a Tuesday. Having said that the Independent puzzle is always of a high quality and worth looking at every day.

  47. Colin Blackburn says:

    Should be: Reusing collectively or extra isn’t good enough…

  48. Harley26 says:

    struggled with this one but liked a lot of the clues when I found out what they were.
    9ac is just wrong, however. I don’t have a problem with getting a famous writer like O Henry but there’s no way that it’s one word.

  49. Pumpkin says:

    Colin: took ‘extra’ to be a pointer to extraneous and therefore the outside letters of demolish which fitted fine for me since I was on the tube on the way home and therefore not toting an edition of Chambers with me so didn’t have your advantage.

  50. mhl says:

    Pumpkin: perhaps I’m just very tired, but the idea of staging a picture of oneself on the tube with the crossword, Chambers, Collins and a puzzled expression doesn’t seem like such a bad one :)

  51. Colin Blackburn says:

    Pumpkin: It’s not about having an advantage. mhl gave a good (and as it turns out correct) explanation of the clue and wasn’t “making 8ac too difficult”. I appreciate that not being able to check DISH while on the tube might mean not fully understanding a clue at the time—I fail to fully understand clues when solving puzzles all the time. But your comment was suggesting mhl might somehow be wrong. I was just trying to explain that because this is Brendan a device using ‘extra’ to mean some outside letters of a word just wouldn’t be used.

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