Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,854 / Brendan

Posted by Andrew on November 11th, 2009


A tour-de-force of linked clues and clever wordplay from Brendan that is exceptional even by his high standards. Unfortunately I’ve had to solve and blog this in rather a hurry before catching an early train (so also won’t be able to reply to comments until the evening): there’s lots here to savour.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

1. BOMBAY MOB< "before the horse", the horse being a BAY
9,22. CHANGE ENDS dd – the courts are for tennis, not law
10. WAGGONER GO (=pass) in WAGNER
11,21. PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE PUTTING (=presenting) + CHATTER* + BEFORE (=in front of) + (OTHERS HE)*. Just so this blog isn’t unqualified praise, I think it’s a small blemish that PUTTING has more or less the same meaning in both wordplay and answer.
14. YARD The clue expands to “Measure putting cart back to front”, so it’s DRAY<. Brilliant combination of two of the long answers.
16. NOTE ETON. The definition is “mark”, as in “mark my words”
23. ACOUSTIC (a)CCUSATIO(n)* – another amazing clue
25. RETRORSE (ERROR SET)* More clever cross-referencing. A biological word meaning “turned back or downward”
26. RECTOS SECTOR with a “change of ends”
1,17. BACK TO FRONT War “like this”, i.e. back to front, is “raw”, i.e. “painful”.
3. ANGSTROM ANGST + ROM (= romany). An angstrom is a tenth of a nanometer.
5. NEAR THE BONE N EARTH + EBON + (hol)E. “Almost blue” is a nice definition.
7. CANTATA CAN (“one way to preserve”) + TATA (goodbye).
12. NET CURTAINS NET = final (as in net profit etc) + CURTAINS (“it’s curtains for you, Bugsy”).
13. TONY BLAIR (I NOTABLY (majo)R)* &lit. The brilliance keeps on coming.
15. MONOTONE MO (= moment = second) + NOT ONE
20. PRESTO P + REST + O. It means “quickly” in a musical score.

22 Responses to “Guardian 24,854 / Brendan”

  1. Bryan says:

    Very many thanks, Andrew, this was a truly wonderful puzzle. The best of the week? Brendan was very tricky but that’s how I like them.

    25a RETRORSE was a new word for me but it was guessable.

    Also, many thanks Brendan. You are a tsar. Or should that be star?

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew – you must have been up very early!

    As you say, this was an excellent puzzle. I was, initially, rather disappointed at getting 11,21 immediately, from the enumeration, without having to think about it, but soon realised that there was much more to it than that. I should have known better, since it’s Brendan!

    There were some very ingenious clues [e.g. 23ac and 15dn] and great surfaces [e.g. 4ac,9,22, 8dn and, best of all, 13dn].

    Many thanks, Brendan, for a great start to the day!

  3. IanN14 says:

    Just brilliant.

  4. Ian says:

    This is unquestionably a contender for one of the best Guardian Cryptics of 2009.

    It had everything. Ingenuity, wit, stunning reversals.

    Thanks for the blog Andrew and Bravo Brendan!

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I could only manage about half of it, but having seen the final solution I can certainly see what Ian is saying – extremely clever and witty puzzle.

  6. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. The praise is entirely justified — this was a real tour de force! Like Eileen, I saw 11, 21 almost immediately and got about halfway through quite quickly. After that, I found it much harder-going, but always enjoyable.

    RETRORSE was new to me.

    I didn’t see all of the wordplay, so reading the blog only made me appreciate this puzzle more.

  7. Richard - Strasbourg says:

    I can only echo those sentiments. Public holiday here in France so a chance to get down to it reasonably early. Like Eileen I thought at first it was going to be easy but several twists at the end (and I’m still kicking myself over SOLEMN, having told myself that an MN ending wouldn’t go – our classicist Ralph would not be impressed). Well done Brendan.

  8. Tom says:

    I have to agree – an excellent puzzle. The only (slight) disappointment, as others have said, was getting 11,21 straight away from the definition and enumeration, and only fathoming the wordplay afterwards.

    Thanks, Andrew. I didn’t get the wordplay for MONOTONE myself, but see it now.

  9. Chunter says:

    The answer to 20dn provides a possible new nickname for Freddie Flintoff, who comes from Preston.

  10. BarryW says:

    A fine piece of work, but (re 3 down) is ROM a recognised abbreviation for Romany?

  11. Petero says:

    BarryW – no, ROM is a word in its own right, from the Romany for man.

  12. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew.
    Brendan never fails to please.
    13dn TONY BLAIR: brilliant!

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, another great Brendan. I only managed one answer on the way in (5 mins it took), as I stupidly forgot my pen and tried to do it in my head. On the way back, I also got 11a etc quite quickly, but, I wonder, if I hadn’t, how difficult it would have been. 53 minutes altogether, with 16 mins on the last 4 (26a, 25a, 20d [had PRONTO for a while] and then 23a).

  14. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Agree with everyone above.
    A nearly perfect crossword, not even that time consuming.
    (nearly, because I think, 6d is too simple (unworthy of this excellent Brendan),
    but then – you have to make a start sómewhere)

    So, why this post, when I have nothing to add?

    (a) Just to show my admiration for Brendan
    (b) To say some words to Kathryn’s Dad (after yesterday’s Rufus discussion): “that’s just great, and the right way to tackle crosswords (try the best you can, and then “read” the solutions)”

  15. Jacq says:

    Another class specimen. Went well with ale I thought. Will Thurs, Fri, Sat live up to these?

  16. Paul B says:

    Poor old Kathryn’s Dad! Poor old beginners everywhere, for that matter. Because without some sort of mentor it’s quite likely to be a losing battle with the likes of Brendan. I mean, you’ve hardly learned your vowels and along comes Finnegans Wake.

    Back in the day I had no such bother, with mighty Araucaria buff Jed, founder and lead (well, to be honest, only) trombonist of proto-legendary New Forest jazz-rockers Egg on Legs, to assist me. And Ringwood’s Old Thumper, of course.

    Another excellent puzzle from a really gifted thinker.

  17. hoffi says:

    I think these last two puzzles have been great. Both contained clues that allow the solver to feel clever when they crack them.

  18. brr says:

    Strangely as a beginner, I thought this one wasn’t too bad. A nice big easy clue to start with is always good. I didn’t quite finish it, but spent a long time enjoying the struggle.

  19. Peter says:

    I got stuck on 24 across which could easily have been SOMBRE as in S + (H)OMBRE (Heartless guy). I was so sure!

  20. croque says:

    Bloody fantastic stuff!

    I have been at a rather boring conference in Cardiff for the past two days and this, plus today’s Punk, helped relieve the tedium.

  21. smutchin says:

    I’ve just done this one on the train on the way home from work tonight (Thursday). So glad I saved it rather than chucking the paper out as I would normally have done. I can only repeat everyone else’s admiration – totally and utterly brilliant.

    13d has to be Clue Of The Year, surely? Hilarious!

  22. mhl says:

    Andrew: thanks for mentioning that this was such a good puzzle in your comment yesterday – I didn’t have time to do it on the day, and probably wouldn’t have gone back otherwise.

    I absolutely agree with the above comments: a really excellent puzzle, at a quite reasonable difficulty level for a weekday…

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