Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,692/Brendan

Posted by Andrew on May 6th, 2009


I was lucky enough to blog Brendan’s “note” puzzle a couple of weeks ago, and he produced an amazing puzzle yesterday in the Independent (as Virgilius); here he is again with a Pope-themed puzzle, with typically ingenious and sound clueing. I can only see 10 popes (shown in a suitably ecclesiatical purple font) in the grid, so I think JOHN PAUL must be the eleventh. Update: as Peter B points out, the 11th Pope is probably LEO NINE in 14ac.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

9. ALEXANDER A LEX AND ER. There were three King Alexanders in Scotland in the Middle Ages,
10. OVOLO O (old) + VOL + O (round shape).
11. LEANT A in LENT (“fast time”)
12. EXTENSIVE (EXIST EVEN)* The definition is “over large area”, with “scattered” being the anagram indicator.
13. CLEMENT Hidden in “artiCLE MEN Thought”
17. PETER T in PEER, and “peter” is slang for a safe
19. IVY dd
20. TROUT T (part of Thames) + ROUT (as the Battle of Waterloo was, I suppose)
21. STEPHEN STEP HEN. Boxing Day is St Stephen’s Day, hence “on the feast of Stephen” in “Good King Wenceslas”.
28. FELIX LIFE* + X (= times)
1. PAUL dd based on two famous Pauls
4. IDLEST L in ID EST (which is what i.e. stands for)
5. BRUTALLY R in BUT (save) + ALLY
6. JOHN Initial letters of “Jealous Of His Nobles”, &lit. I got this and 1dn first, and suspected a Beatles theme until I saw the clue for 8dn)
8. POPE dd – as a fish, another name for the Ruffe (I had to look this up for confirmation)
13. COPES dd. The Cope is a sort of cloak used in church ceremonies..
15. ON THE QUIET I think this is ON=playing, THE QUIET = “not just any old piano”
18. THERMALS dd – air-currents and underwear
23. ORBITS OR BITS – “round-the-world trips” is a nice definition
24. DOFF Hidden in heaD OFFice
25. NEXT X in NET
27. NODE NOD (a “signed” agreement) + E

24 Responses to “Guardian 24,692/Brendan”

  1. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Isn’t the other pope Leo IX at 14A? (An old xwd joke)

  2. Andrew says:

    Ahhhh, thanks Peter.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks Andrew – very enjoyable.

    I filled this in quite quickly, which is not to say there were no smiles or ‘ahas’ on the way, as always from Brendan. POPE was the last one to go in! [I’d never heard of a pope fish, so that was the ultimate ‘aha’.]

    Lots of lovely surfaces, especially 9, 21, 28ac and 1 and 6dn [& lit]

    I’ve seen LEO IX before – but I still like it!

    [I wondered whether ‘name of’ was strictly necessary in 19ac?]

  4. Monica M says:

    Thanks Andrew ….

    Aah, at long last a happy use for the correspondence catechism my mother subjected me to.

    I’m with Peter, I saw Leo-nine as one of the Popes.

    I really enjoyed this today … and for the first time ever, cracked a Brendan without resorting to cheating … hurrah.

  5. Ian W. says:

    Ah, I foolishly concluded early on that 8D was “sole” and that there must have been only one of each papal name. I didn’t think to check later names, and had I spotted Leo IX it would have been obvious I was barking up the wrong fish.

    Otherwise, this seemed very easy for a Wednesday, as was last Wednesday I believe. Is the pattern changing?

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    I, too, found this easier and quicker than the usual B., but also enjoyable.

    No negative comments today!

    For 7d I was convinced I was looking for a footballer called POLIFITO; doh!

  7. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. I enjoyed this, but stupidly put ‘relate’ for ‘legate’, even tho ‘legate’ crossed my mind earlier on. Lots of nice surfaces — I liked 28ac in particular.

  8. smutchin says:

    I found this harder than yesterday’s brilliant Virgilius (anyone who didn’t see it should dig out a copy of yesterday’s Indy) possibly because I took a long time to twig the theme.

    This wasn’t in the same league as a feat of grid engineering but it was still of the usual very high standard. Definitely my favourite setter at the moment.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Smutchin, do you have a link to yesterday’s Virgilius’?

  10. Colin Blackburn says:

    Dave, there is no link. The Indie only has a link to the current day’s puzzle (or the previous week’s competition puzzle on a Saturday). They don’t maintain an accessible archive. Best bet is to hope someone can send you a scan or pdf.

  11. Andrew says:

    The Virgilius puzzle was mentioned on the Crossword Centre message board, with an offer of emailed copies.

  12. Arthur says:

    I’m a fan of themed puzzles nd thought this was nice in that some of the non-theme clues or definitions were ecclesiastical too (like Dominican, Copes…). In fact, I was impressed that the theme words were not clued as such so we didn’t continually have “an 8″ or “for 8″ in all the clues and so finding a pope was a nice surprise!

    Anyway, all in all a nice puzzle and I did like head’s double duty in 24dn.

  13. JimboNWUK says:

    Agreed with Arthur both about the theme and 24Dn

  14. Tom Hutton says:

    Excellent puzzle

  15. Tom Hutton says:

    Alexander Pope, the poet

  16. don says:

    Thanks for the blog: enjoyed this one from Brendan, as usual, but surely, Andrew, Waterloo was ‘a damn close-run thing’, according to the Duke of Wellington, rather than a rout.

  17. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    According to the dictionaries, Waterloo=a decisive defeat. So whatever the Duke said, “rout” seems OK for xwd purposes. (My old Collins has “[…] routed the French under Napoleon” in the entry for the placename)

  18. Shirley says:

    In Abba too, a decisive win.

  19. Eileen says:

    Shirley: love it!

  20. muck says:

    Brendan brilliant as ever. I nearly finished before finding the pope theme and noticing the other ecclesiastial answers.

  21. Ian W. says:

    Re comment 16, I believe Wellington meant it was close-run in that it might have gone the other way had the Prussian cavalry not arrived in time. As they did, it ended in a rout.

  22. sandra coleman says:

    I visited this siteafter completing the crossword and had no idea of the theme until I saw your intro Andrew. Got one wrong – “sole” I put in reluctantly at the end for “pope”. Could not understand why there were only 2 fish!! What an idiot! Really enjoyed the puzzle though and I am sorry if this post is too late (I live abroad and get the papers a day late) to have a question answered, as I am a bit baffled.

    I have been doing the Guardian crossword for many years but I often do not understand some of the terms used on this blog, which I found only recently. The word “surface” is today’s. Is it the surface reading of the clue/its character? Could someone tell me if there is still anyone there? Thanks

  23. Andrew says:

    Hello and welcome, Sandra. It’s never too late to post a comment, as the author of the blog gets a copy by email, though other commenters may be unlikely to return after a day or so.

    The surface reading of a clue (often abbreviated to just “surface”) is what it appears to be saying when read as a piece of prose, rather than as a cryptic clue.

    For explanations of some of the terminology, see some of the sites listed on the “Links” page, particularly Peter Biddlecombe’s “Yet Another Guide to Cryptic Crosswords” at

  24. sandra coleman says:

    Many thanks Andrew and I forgot to say thanks for the blog. I’ll follow up on your advice. It’s great to see what others think, and I know nobody out here who does this type of crossword, although there are many expats. I also enjoy reading analyses of clues where I haven’t altogether unravelled it. It’s a great find.

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