Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,720 – Brendan

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on June 8th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

A very fun crossword today, themed around today’s 60th anniversary of the publication of 1984.  I particularly like how the puzzle takes in the book, Orwell himself, and the actual year.


5. CLERIC. C + L + ERIC. George Orwell was Eric Blair.
6. DIGITS. DIG(IT)S. There are four digits in 1984.
11. GONE. G + O + N + E.
12. SUBSTELLAR. LESSBRUTAL*.  ‘Under the stars’.
18. BIG BROTHER. dd. A reference to the book and G.W. Bush is the eldest of his siblings.
21. WARM. WAR + M. In 1984 the Ministry of Peace was in charge of waging war.
22. THIRTEEN. The even parts of 1984 are 9 and 4, 9+4=13.
23.  APPALS. A + P + PALS.
24. PLENTY. P + LENT + Y.
25. HARASS. HAR(A S.)S(-h).


1. LEAP YEAR. APLAYER* around E.
2. RIVERS. (d)RIVERS. The river Orwell is in Suffolk.
3. MINISTRY. d.d.
4. MISSAL. MISS + A + L.
8. DOUBLETHINK. c.d. The 1984 concept of thinking two contradictory things at once.
16. BISHOP. Bishop Desmond Tutu got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
20. REAGAN. ANGER* about A. Ronald Reagan was elected to his secont term as president in 1984.

24 Responses to “Guardian 24,720 – Brendan”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. A fun puzzle, as you say, though I didn’t know about the anniversary. Mostly an easy introduction to Brendan, though perhaps 16dn has rather too many levels of indirection, and 22ac was quite involved too. I guessed THIRTEEN from the crossing letters and wondered if there was a reference to the famous opening sentence of “1984”: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

    Name-drop time – Eric Blair fagged for one of my great-uncles at Eton.

  2. dialrib says:

    I enjoyed this, too.
    For 22A, your parsing seems more reasonable than mine – taking the even parts of 1984 as 8 and 4 -> 8, 4, one(1) must add = 8 + 4 + 1 = 13.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ciaran – lots of fun and a bit different for a Monday.

    [I did that, too, dialrib.]

  4. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Ciaran. This was a wonderful puzzle, I thought – every clue reads beautifully as part of the theme, looked at one way or the other…

  5. liz says:

    Thanks, Ciaran. A clever puzzle, which I found tough in places. I missed 6ac, even though ‘digs’ did occur to me for ‘quarters’.

    I read 22ac the same way as Eileen and dialrib. I agree that 9 + 4 is neater. Works either way, though!

  6. liz says:

    I agree, mhl. I can’t remember ever seeing a puzzle so completely themed.

  7. sidey says:

    Two slight quibbles for a Monday, who can remember the Peace Prize winner from any year, and is George Bush even remotely known as the eldest child?

    Other than that, lovely construction and some excellent clues.

  8. ray says:

    sidey – I recall his younger brother as governor of Florida in the “voting swindle”. I’m not sure that’s quite the same as GWB necessarily being the eldest though.

    I also went down the 8+4+1 route for 22a.

  9. Fred Dowson says:

    I rather think that the even parts of 1984 are 9 and 4; thus 9+4=13
    Fred the numerate

  10. Dagnabit says:

    Loved this! Overall, probably my favorite puzzle in ages, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the references to the novel I got despite not having read it since the eighth grade.

    Thanks for the blog, Ciaran. Can you, or Andrew, or anyone else explain the relevance of “man on board” 16d? (I must admit I didn’t understand all the “levels of indirection” here.)

    Usually there are far more responses by the time I arrive – were others underwhelmed by this, or perhaps there wasn’t enough to quibble about? I thought for sure there’d be a bevy of people complaining that knowledge of a particular book’s content is too specialized for a crossword, or that Orwell’s real name is too obscure…

  11. Mike says:

    Dagnabit: think chessboard

  12. Dagnabit says:

    D’OH! Thanks, Mike.

  13. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Super crossword today! I am slowly getting used to Brendan. More often than not I admire his clues retrospectively once I’ve cheated and looked the answers up here. I was more on home ground here than some of his usual themes.

    I thought it was great to have war clued with peace.

    My only quibble was whether or not prophesying was a word. Its not in my dictionary.

  14. Dagnabit says:

    Paul (not Paul) – “prophesying” is in both the online Chambers and the online Collins, if that’s any help.

  15. Mr Beaver says:

    4d had me confused: “Drop a line in a book about masses” clues MISSAL perfectly well – so I can’t understand what “..covering a particular year” is doing ?
    Apart from that, great puzzle, highly ingenious.

  16. brr says:

    Didn’t quite finish this one – just a few in the top right, which probably means it wasn’t too tricky. Glad to see some people liked it all the same.

  17. Paul (not Paul) says:

    No…you’re right. I failed to look past prophecy to prophesy.

    That just makes it a new word then.

  18. Agentzero says:

    Yet more evidence that, for me, Brendan is the best setter working today. I love how many different ways the puzzle uses the term “1984” itself: in 6a, 11a and 22a.

    Mr Beaver: I struggled with this too, at first thinking the answer somehow had to be “annual.” I think it is just that a missal sets out the masses for an entire ecclesiastical year, i.e., Easter, Pentecost, Advent, Christmas, etc.

  19. Mike Laws says:

    Mr Beaver – check out Chambers under MISSAL – I had to!

    A consummate example of how to set a themed blocked puzzle, but what else can you expect from Brendan?

  20. Brendan says:

    Brilliant puzzle, even though I say so myself.
    Brendan (not Brendan) to plagiarise another user name.

  21. Barnaby Page says:

    I agree that 22ac can be read either way to get the same, correct solution, but I think the 8+4+1 approach is more persuasive – otherwise “one to add” is a bit clumsy, uncharacteristically so for this crossword.

  22. Andy Cotgreave says:

    Last night, I sat down for a 20 minutes break from looking after our new daughter. In my hands was 1984, which I am currently reading, unaware of its anniversary. By the chair was the day’s Guardian. Unusually, I thought I’d have a really quick look at the cryptic (I normally don’t bother – too hard for me!). And it was this fantastic puzzle by Brendan! I managed six or seven of the clues, but thought it was a wonderfully crafter crossword.

  23. Dagnabit says:

    Andy, what a wonderful set of coincidences. I’m glad you were able to work out some of the clues.

  24. Brendan fan says:

    Re: 16dn, I quickly suspected “bishop” from “man on board”, but it took me ages to get past thinking it referred to a character in the book.
    Re: 12ac, how is “under influence from above” a definition of “substellar” unless one buys into astrology?
    Re: 4dn, I thought for a long time that I had to drop an “L” from “missal” and add an “A” to get a “particular year”.
    All in all though, another very enjoyable puzzle from the master of the themed crossword. :D

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