Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,930 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on February 10th, 2010

Eileen.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read comments like, ‘How does he [Brendan / Virgilius] keep doing it? I’m always afraid I’m going to miss the theme in a Brendan puzzle but today there was no danger: every single clue and / or solution referred to it and I think this was probably the best of his puzzles so far – and that’s saying something. The surfaces were stunningly witty and pertinent and  so many of them produced an ‘aha’ [and a couple proved too clever for me]. Sheer brilliance! Thank you, Brendan.

Across

9   NOBEL [Alfred]; ‘explosives expert and arms manufacturer’  but I’ve fallen at the first hurdle and can’t see the wordplay! The letters of NOBEL are in ‘responsible’ but not ‘oddly’.
10  AFFRONTED: FRONT [political group] in A FED [one FBI operative]
11 WHITEWASH: superb anagram of W[ar] + WHAT HE IS
12  OBAMA: cryptic definition, ref to NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
13  MAGICAL: MAGI [wise men] + CAL[ifornia]
15  NEAREST: ARES [Greek deity supporting war] in NET [clear – as in profit]
17,20  WAR IS PEACE: one of the political slogans in George Orwell’s 1984. Ref. to Tolstoy’s novel, ‘War and Peace’.
19  YES: reference to the brilliant satirical TV comedy series, ‘Yes, Minister’ [1980-84] and ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ [1986-88]. [I was quite amazed, when I looked them up, to see what short runs they had.]
22  DOSSIER: anagram of IE DROSS, with the wonderfully witty anagram indicator ‘dodgy’, the epithet applied to the 2003 Iraq Dossier: a real laugh out loud clue.
25  RANKLED: RANK [offensive] + LED [commanded]
26 BLAIR: George Orwell’s real name was Eric Arthur Blair. Tony Blair was first elected MP in June, 1983.
27  IGNORANCE: anagram of A NIGER CON: a reference to the legal principle ‘ignorantia juris non excusat’ [ignorance of the law does not excuse]
30 STRINGENT: T[orture] + R[esults] + IN + GEN [information] in ST [way]
31  PRIZE: homophone of ‘prise’ [force]: one of those where it’s not entirely clear from the wordplay which word is the solution but here it’s obvious, from the link to 12ac.

Down

KNOW: reversal of WONK: this was a new word for me – not in Collins but Chambers has ‘a serious or studious person, esp. one with an interest in a trivial or unfashionable subject’.
ABRIDGER: A + BRIDGE [link] + R[ing]
3   BLUE: triple definition: another wonderful surface.
4 MACAULAY: Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay [1800-1859] historian and essayist, who wrote,
“We have always thought it strange that, while the history of the Spanish empire in America is familiarly known to all the nations of Europe, the great actions of our countrymen in the East should, even among ourselves, excite little interest. Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled Atahualpa.” [I think he’d be shocked today.]
5   AFGHAN: double definition
6   GO FOR A SPIN: witty double definition
7   STRAFE: anagram of RAF SET
8   IDEA: hidden in miIDEAst
13  MOWED: anagram of O [nothing] + E[nglish] + WMD
14 CASHIERING: anagram of REACH GIS IN
16  TREND: TR [extremes of ‘terror’] + END [aim]
19  STRENGTH: ‘Ignorance is strength’ is another of the 1984 slogans
21  ATLANTIC: cryptic definition
23  STAIRS: hidden in worST AIR Strikes: my only tiny quibble : why ‘lots of’ flights [apart from the surface]?
24  REINED: hidden in disclosuRE IN EDitorials
26  BUSH: cryptic definition, which I can’t quite explain.
28  ROPY: nor this one, I’m afraid!
29 EDEN: centre of belatED ENquiry: Sir Anthony Eden, Prime Minister 1955-57 – not the former prime Minister at the centre of the belated Chilcott Enquiry! Another brilliant surface to end on.

78 Responses to “Guardian 24,930 / Brendan”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – as you say, another great one from Brendan.

    I thought 9ac was just a (not-very-)cryptic definition.

    28dn – last letters of “warmongeR tO droP diplomacY”

  2. Andrew says:

    ah, just worked out 26dn – “World leader” is “W”, which the ex-pres was known as.

  3. UncleAda says:

    1d here:- http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/policy_wonk?rdfrom=Policy_wonk

  4. Martin says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I enjoyed this one!

    3d: I don’t get why ‘blue’ is ‘squander money’? Unless is sounds like blew; but then shouldn’t the wording have been ‘squandered money’?

  5. Judy says:

    28 dn Definition “flawed” . Last letters of last 4 words of clue.
    Not so keen on this puzzle – missed Macaulay, and also don’t understand Bush. I don’t quite get clue for Obama, either – is it just a harsh political comment?

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew – many thanks indeed. It’s good to get the queries soerted out early on – but in 9ac, ‘oddly’ must surely be there for a reason?

    Martin, Collins: ‘blue: to spend extravagantly or wastefully; squander’.

  7. Andrew says:

    I thought it was just the idea that it was “surprising” that the inventor of dynamite should have created a Peace Prize..

  8. Orange says:

    Much as I admired the clues, I did feel this theme was hitting me in the face somewhat. And I felt that 5d was in bad taste, worse than Frogman several crosswords ago.

  9. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Andrew. Thanks again. :-)

  10. molonglo says:

    Lots not to like about this puzzle, even for a fan of 12a and disliker of 26d. Both those clues were poor, along with 5d. In 3d, squander should be in past tense. In 1d, wonks aren’t only political. In 4d, Macaulay was known for many things including his Horatius poem: on education however he stands and (mainly) falls on his work in India. 28d lost me completely, even though I had R-P- after five minutes. Brendan must have a thing about Orwell-1984: see the blogs for puzzle 24720 of 8.6.09 (almost all in high praise of it).

  11. mike says:

    Hi Orange. Now, whilst I was dubious about frogman I’m not unhappy about Afghan as I didn’t read it in any way as derogatory.

  12. Eileen says:

    molonglo: “In 3d, squander should be in past tense”: please see my comment 6: ‘blue’ here isn’t a homophone of ‘blew’.

  13. Tom Hutton says:

    4dn to me spoiled an otherwise brilliant crossword. I didn’t get 26dn but it’s a very smart clue indeed.

  14. Chunter says:

    27ac refers to documents that purported to show that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger.

  15. cholecyst says:

    RE 5dn. ..what every schoolboy knows…I was surprised to find this:
    “I always thought this phrase was a Macaulay original, but Mark Liberman at Language Log traced it all the way back to 1783, in Hugh Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres:

    ‘ I spoke formerly of a Climax in sound; a Climax in sense, when well carried on, is a figure which never fails to amplify strongly. The common example of this, is that noted passage in Cicero which every schoolboy knows: “Facinus est vincire civem Romanum; scelus verberare, prope parricidium, necare; quid dicam in crucem tollere.'”

    (It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is a wickedness; to put him to death is almost parricide. What shall I say of crucifying him?)

    How odd to find the Blair link (entirely fortuitous, I guess.)

  16. Will Mc says:

    That felt like George Galloway shouting at me for 10 minutes.

  17. Mick H says:

    Many laughs in this, with some wonderfully apposite wordplay. It’s clear from 5dn and 12ac that Brendan’s taking a pop at the continuing war in Afghanistan, as well as the spin over Iraq. Even the anagram fodder in 27ac is significant, referring to the dodgy claim in the dossier that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_uranium_forgeries). I agree that the clues for Nobel and Obama were a bit less subtle, but the whole thing was a delight.

  18. Eileen says:

    Re 4dn;

    see http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4809510-111581,00.html

    for an interesting article by Hugh Stephenson on the Macaulay quotation,

    [If I haven’t done it right, google ‘every schoolboy knows’ and look at entry 10 Guardian Rugby World Cup hero!]

  19. Eileen says:

    Wow – it did work! I’ve done a link! :-)

  20. Martin H says:

    This must be one of the most unsatisfactory Guardian crosswords I’ve seen in forty-odd years. Brendan’s feelings about his theme overpower what pride he has in his craft.

    NOBEL: No need for the cryptic part of the definition, particularly if you already have PEACE and PRIZE
    OBAMA: Personal opinion given as definition.
    MAGICAL: Tired conventional string.
    WAR AND PEACE: ‘tautological’, surely, not ‘redundant’?
    DOSSIER, IGNORANCE: blatantly obvious anagrams. Nobody would write ‘a Niger con’. If no attempt is made to disguise the anagram, what need of a signifier, however pertinent?
    BLAIR: Too obvious to be cryptic.
    AFGHAN as a definition for ‘victim of bombing’?
    GO FOR A SPIN: So obvious within the theme that any slight wit it might have had in another context just evaporates.
    STRENGTH: General knowledge clue, not cryptic.
    ATLANTIC: Pathetically obvious. (This meaning of ‘main’ should be off-limits for a few years)

    KNOW, BLUE, WHITEWASH and BUSH: Excellent clues which show Brendan has no excuse for the standard of the rest of this puzzle, ie dross.

  21. John Appleton says:

    Liked this, one, particularly 26ac.

  22. cholecyst says:

    #18. Thanks, Eileen. We don’t seem to have moved on very far since 2003, do we?

  23. Simon G says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Like most of the above, I enjoyed this a lot but do agree with Martin H (#20) that some of the clues were a tad obvious… On a different point, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a crossword where the setter’s own political viewpoint is so clearly reflected in some of the clues.

  24. Phil says:

    Wednesday – and a splendid combination of my favourite compiler and blogger. Eileen – I wouldn’t agree that this is his best ever – but I admire your knowledge of Lord Macaulay and being candid about 1 ac, 1 d, 26 d and 28 d.

    I did however enjoy this and would agree with whoever said this was a tad on the easy side. For me that was all to the good after a 4 week break in S Africa and Namibia – mostly out of range of the web and English newspapers. I took me a long time to arrive at yesterday’s party and Monday’s crypticisms. Today felt like I was getting back into it – thought whitewash was wonderful?

  25. Ian says:

    Cheers Eileen. A really excellent blog which cleared up a clue – KNOW/WONK.

    Superb from Brendan today. On initially scrutinizing the clues, my heart sank when there several interconnected clues.

    I needn’t have worried. The theme came along in no time after a quick solve of the SE corner.

    It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a theme that to many will seem politically biased/. What really matters is that it was a wonderfully constructed piece of work that was flawless clued, save 23 dn and 26 dn.

  26. sandra says:

    thanks eileen for a great blog.

    i enjoyed this up to a point – some answers were pretty obvious, which spoilt it somewhat.

    martin h is right about dossier, at least. but i did it on line and when i looked at the clue, the second line (ie dross) was hidden – i didn’t see it until i looked at the blog. in this case, the anagram was superfluous.

  27. pendrov says:

    i thought this crossword was different but great fun. i had boss for 28d, just a guess. cod 28d which defeated me but now looks relatively simple.

  28. mhl says:

    I’m a bit surprised that some people didn’t like this. I thought it was great stuff, and the consistent theme in the surface readings is astonishing.

    When people suggest that they find crosswords like this too easy, I’m reminded of whoever it was that said that crossword setters are playing a game where their aim should be to lose gracefully – I think Brendan / Virgilius does this brilliantly.

    The one thing that slightly bothered me was that there was no way into 4 down if you didn’t know of Lord Macaulay or the (now hilarious) quotation.

  29. Martin H says:

    Answering Ian (#25): Brendan’s political bias doesn’t bother me either. What I don’t like is the way it spoils the puzzle. In three ways: He gives definitions based solely on his opinions (OBAMA, AFGHAN). He forces the theme, the result a clumsy clue ( a Niger con*, for example); or, once the theme, and the strength of feeling, are established, the solutions are so obvious the cryptic angle is lost. Take BUSH – a lovely clue, but when you have: World leader, so called B-S-, given the tenor of the crossword, the solution more or less writes itself and you don’t bother to look for the subtlety. How much more tantalising a clue would it have been, and indeed how much more effective its political message, had it appeared in an unthemed puzzle?

  30. judy bentley says:

    I guessed Macaulay though I’d never heard of him or the quotation because it seemed the only thing that would fit. Got several others without knowing why. Many thanks for explanations.

  31. JimboNWUK says:

    Erm… people…. am I the ONLY person to fill in OSAMA (as in Bin Laden) for 5A? The clue being a sarcastic question of “One entitled to the Nobel Peace Prize if War IS peace”? (not war AND peace Martin, pay attention!)

    Good puzzle though, purely for the outrage that he must surely have know it would stir up!

    BTW…re Grumpy Andrew and Derek Lazenby from yesterday… “I’M (GRUMPY) SPARTACUS!!” [grin]

  32. JimboNWUK says:

    Sorry, OSAMA for 12A

  33. Martin H says:

    JimboNWUK (#31) My point was that War AND Peace (clued as Tolstoy’s work) would have been tautological if War IS Peace.
    OSAMA is interesting, but my feeling is that OBAMA was intended

  34. djm says:

    It’s obviously OBAMA, since he’s the Nobel Prize winner.

    The BUSH clue is remarkable.

  35. NealH says:

    I mostly enjoyed this, apart from 4 down (the only Macauley I’ve heard of is Macauley Culkin). My main criticism is that I missed the 1984 sub-theme and, not recognising the quotes, was a bit mystified by “Strength is Ignorance” and “War is Peace”. It would have been nice to have had some indicator of the source of these, although putting “26’s literary paradox..” would probably have given the game away because of the mention of Orwell in 26. I also wasn’t keen on Afghan as a bombing victim: in what sense specifically is an Afghan a bombing victim ? Yes, some of them have been killed in bombings, but so have people of virtually every other nationality at one time or another.

    The Obama clue does neatly capture the irony of Obama having the Nobel Peace prize while continuing to prosecute a war in Afghanistan.

  36. NealH says:

    Or Ignorance is Strength, even.

  37. Colin says:

    Yikes! Steady on, Brendan…

    There’s a time and a place for this level of heavy-handed political comment in a crossword, and it isn’t here.

  38. John says:

    I find the implied conflation of Obama and Bush in this to be odious. Crosswords are supposed to be playgrounds not soap boxes, aren’t they?

  39. Brian Harris says:

    Great stuff today from the True Master ;-)

    Only one that eluded us was 4dn. As others have said, no way into this if you haven’t heard of the guy.

    Otherwise, the fabulous mash up of Chilcot, 1984, and international politics was superb.

    “A Niger con” is a brilliant anagram, by the way – reference to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_Dossier#Uranium_from_Niger

  40. Brian Harris says:

    Oops, sorry, I see Mick at #17 had already made the same point about the Niger reference.

  41. Paul (not Paul) says:

    I thought that this would divide opinion. For what it’s worth…
    I enjoyed this more than your average Brendan because there some easy ins and because it was a theme I was on home ground with.

    The easy clues directed me towards the political opinions contained in the rest of the clues/solutions. So reading the clues through the partial opinions of the setter became part of the puzzle. In this sense, no different to the usual interpretation of a setter’s style.

    Didn’t like bomb victim as a definition of Afghan. Lazy.

    And lastly, if we can’t have a bolshy crossword like this in the Guardian, where can we have it?

  42. Jim says:

    Many not so subtle innuendoes in these clues which not all of us find amusing.

  43. Neil says:

    Sorry Eileen! Much as I respect and appreciate your contributions to this site, I’m with the malcontents on this one. Martin H @20 has it about right. I thought the muddled theme just got in the way and its self=imposed constraints on the setter produced some very trite clues. Of course, it wasn’t ALL bad.
    MACAULEY did me in. I had PARABLES, which didn’t help 18ac!. The theme, such as it was, I found an irritation, rather than an entertainment, and not because I disagreed with the underlying sentiments. I thought it was a mess.

  44. Lebon says:

    28d ropy, the conclusions of warmonger to drop diplomacy

  45. TC says:

    Agree with Martin H on this puzzle. Dross.

  46. molonglo says:

    Eileen – I should have thanked you for the good blog, which certainly explained Macaulay. I know the bloke, but had never heard his now-non-PC famous quote. 4d however had no link at all to the theme. On 3d, blue in that sense features in none of the five dictionaries I use when, absolute last resort, I check. The two clues that baffled you, I admit now, were very clever. I don’t mind being outfoxed. Still didn’t like it.

  47. DorothyS says:

    Absolutely brilliant.

    I always solve online, but this one I’m going to print out and treasure. It may even be suitable for framing.

  48. Dave Ellison says:

    Do I claim I finished this crossword if I put ROPY in but failed to understand it?

    Well, it doesn’t matter, as I had SNOW for 1d which I didn’t understand either, except it might have referred to Jon Snow.

  49. DorothyS says:

    By the way, I wonder if the ‘SS’ formed by the black squares in the middle of the grid is pertinent to the theme, as an allusion to another group of war criminals?

  50. Derek Lazenby says:

    Arg!!!!! I’d nearly finished when the on-line site crashed. This was due to THEM putting up the new format! It’s rubbish. You can’t see the grid and the clues in one window any more, at least not on a laptop. There are improvements, but jeez, it’s not rocket science that you need to see what you’re doing!

    Wasn’t fond of this one for the more sedate reasons given above. Can’t say the stronger stuff registered on me.

  51. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Reading all the above posts (even twice), one must conclude: this crossword was apparently a matter of War & Peace.

    I really don’t understand all these people talking about “bad taste” or “one of the worst Guardian crosswords in etc.”.
    Yes, some clues were biased (and Afghan people do get bombed).
    [and comparing this one to “Frogman” – what a nonsense]
    But I don’t care about that at all in crossword clues.
    [and I do care about those people in the real world]

    I fully agree with Ian (#25) and mhl (#28): unbelievable that a setter is capable of compiling a crossword with (nearly) every clue (i.e. not just the solution) themed.

    As to the technical aspects of the clues (a thing that we normally look at at this site), it was rather funny to see that there was again an overdose of hidden answers (just like in Brendan’s Wine & Cheese puzzle) – although, for instance, the easy 8d (IDEA) has just a brilliant surface, which I wouldn’t have been without.
    And, Ian (#25), I don’t see what’s wrong with the STAIRS of 23d.

    I thought, this Brendan was a STUNNING crossword!!

    [and Peace to you all :)]

  52. sandra says:

    hi derek lazenby

    i think the new format is dreadful too. i don’t have a printer, and this is going to be difficult. anyone else feel this way?

  53. Derek Lazenby says:

    sandra, I have thought of a temorary bodge which will work for browsers with a TAB bar for multiple windows as in IE8. Open the Xword twice in two tabs and scroll one to the clues. Switching between tabs is marginally less annoying than scrolling.

    There are already over 30 comments on the site saying the new layout is rubbish. But they do say the old way is still available, not sure I followed how, I’ll have to check again, but not tonight it is too late.

  54. stiofain says:

    I thought this was great. Amazing to have the whole xword linked though some are tenuous I admit and some clues were much easier than Brendans usual standard.
    Complaints that the theme is unsuitable are ridiculous.
    I have just looked at the new online layout, it is an absolute disaster.
    Professionally Im used to seeing web sites where the designer has not bothered thinking about different systems but this takes the biscuit. I have several computers running different systems, screen sizes, browsers etc maybe 20 diff combinations and this does not work decently on ANY!!!!!!
    Designed by incompetant computer geeks who have probably never did a crossword in their lives.

  55. Davy says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I’m afraid I cannot agree with your comment “The surfaces were stunningly witty”.
    I can’t recall a single laugh out of this crossword. I found it very disappointing after yesterday’s Araucaria.
    I thought Brendan’s clues were a mixture of too easy, very good or poorly defined. 4d was an oddity which I didn’t get as I had never heard of Macaulay or his quotation. I think this clue would be more at home in a general knowledge crossword.

  56. Richard says:

    Let’s hear it for bolshy. I thought this was brilliant and – something I never thought I would say of a crossword – moving.

  57. Eileen says:

    Thanks, everyone, for the comments. This was certainly a Marmite of a puzzle, with the divisions not entirely along the usual lines!

    I still stick by my ‘stunning’ verdict – I was practically reeling when I ‘finished’ it [in roughly the same boat as you, Dave Ellison!] – and, yes, Richard, I found it strangely moving, too, particularly 3dn.

    molonglo #46 4dn: ‘Lord revealing’ made me think of Lord Goldsmith and re 3dn, as I said before, ‘blue’ in that sense is in Collins – and it’s also in Chambers.

    Sil #51 23dn: I queried ‘lots of’ as being redundant: we talk of ‘a flight’ of stairs. But, as I said, that was only the tiniest quibble. I was afraid I might have been too fulsome in my enthusiasm but I needn’t have worried: there were others ready to redress the balance!

    I’m glad there were plenty of people who enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks again – and especially to Brendan.

  58. Chunter says:

    The new print format is an utter disaster. I think I’ll take a sabbatical until the many problems are resolved.

  59. Carolyn says:

    I’ll add my say. I’ve been floating around this site since I first posted around Christmas time. My introduction to cryptics was going swimmingly and I just needed a little help deciphering clues. I’ve kept in the background lately because I seemed to be going backwards, managing to solve just a handful of clues before giving up in disgust.

    At first sight this looked to be one of my nightmare crosswords. Clues that reference answers to other clues. It’s like being told you have to eat your sprouts before getting any pudding. The theme helped me and I managed to get all but 8 clues (though I did cheat by filling in the across answers I’d missed which helped me get some more down ones!

    My point is that, for every crossword you find easy because you’ve been doing them for so long, there is a relative beginner frantically filling in clues, grateful for the overwhelming theme that helps them solve them, who is, consequently, more likely to keep at it than give it up as ‘just another thing I’m no good at; it’s synchronised swimming all over again’. I didn’t have the stomach muscles for the oyster move.

  60. liz says:

    A little late to the party, but thanks for a great blog, Eileen! I didn’t get Macaulay, despite having heard of him. I also thought that 9ac was close to a straight def.

    Yes, some of the clues were easy. But the use of the theme and the mostly great surfaces added up to quite an achievement! I didn’t see the wordplay for 29dn, but now it’s been explained, I think it’s a fantastic clue!

    I voted for 12ac but even I don’t think he should have accepted the 9ac 20ac 31ac.

    DorothyS — I can see why you might think that about the two S’s in the middle of the grid, especially as they look like the lightning flashes that were on SS uniforms…

  61. liz says:

    Also wanted to say that I have no problem with Brendan expressing his views/anger…

  62. sandra says:

    derek lazenby #53
    thanks for that suggestion derek. i will have a go tomorrow – like you, i am past my best tonight! i really am disappointed with this and i hope the geeks get their act together soon.

    sounds like stiofain could teach them a thing or two. all i ask is to be able to see the clue, and its place in the grid at the same time. i can just see myself sitting at the keyboard with pen and paper!

  63. Bannsider says:

    Great stuff by my fellow countryman.

    Very easy, certainly, but Brendan’s gentle wit shone through, as always.

  64. Julian says:

    This is my first comment on this site, so I feel I should thank not only Eileen but all the bloggers and posters I’ve enjoyed while lurking. I’m moved to post by the brilliance of Brendan today; one of the best I’ve seen in more than thirty years of solving the Guardian crossword. I think those who complained about the easiness of some of the clues are missing the wood for the trees. Surely any fan of Araucaria will gratefully accept one or two clues being obvious, especially once the theme emerges, in exchange for a perfectly conceived and executed idea? And the puzzle as a whole was no walk in the park.

    For those that believe a coruscating and righteous political rage to be incompatible with setting a crossword, remember Araucaria’s commemoration, perhaps twenty years ago, of the martyrs of the struggle against apartheid.

  65. Neil says:

    Well! This has put Felix felix amongst the airborne vermin!

    Impeccable Eileen @ 57, para 4: now you HAVE surprised me! How do your dictionaries define “fulsome”? You might even start referring to a main meal taken at midday as “lunch” next!

  66. IanN14 says:

    I can’t believe this.
    Absolutely awful.
    Whose idea at the Guardian was it to put out stuff like this?
    I used to think the design and ease of use on here were fantastic. Compared to the Indy page it was different class, but now, especially since they’ve added the “check” option, I think it’s fallen behind. (At least you can see the clues together with the grid, and the highlighted clues stand out as opposed to being slightly bolder than the rest. Colouring the lights in orange is not enough to say it’s an improvement, sorry).
    I do some web design myself; if you’d like any advice?…

    And back on topic, I thought Brendan’s puzzle was brilliant, as always.

  67. GMJH says:

    Some very nice clues, but why are setters even allowed to have clues which are literally not possible to solve just through logic or skill? ‘Macauley’ I guessed at having had a vague recollection of there being a Lord of that name. But really, who knows about the ‘every schoolboy’ link? More importantly it is an unsolveable clue without some prior knowledge. And that is the worst kind of clue there is.

  68. PaulG says:

    The new format is the ultimate challenge – the print version produces an all-grey grid. Obviously impossible to do the crossword. Ah, it was so easy when some bits were black and some white…. I wonder if anyone at the Guardian actually LOOKS to see what rubbish they have put online before going home.

  69. Bryan says:

    This was total rubbish and the only thing in its favour was that it was printable – which is more than can be said for today’s helping of even more rubbish.

  70. Eileen says:

    Neil #65 = if you’re still there

    I used ‘fulsome’ to mean what I’ve always understood it to mean: ‘Of language, style. behaviour etc: offensive to good taste, esp. from excess or want of good measure, . Now chiefly of flattery, over-demonstrative affection , etc’ [SOED]

    When I read your comment, I imagined it must be one of those words which Chambers now defines differently, owing to usage. To my relief, I found: ‘sickeningly obsequious, nauseatingly affectionate, admiring or praiseful’. [‘praiseful?]

    For good measure [since you asked about the dictionaries I use, Collins has ‘excessive or insincere, esp. in an offensive or distasteful way’.

    Which is exactly what I meant. What do your dictionaries say?
    The only thing I would change is to omit the ‘too’, which I think is tautological. :-)

    Julian#54

    Welcome to the site – I agree entirely with your comment!

    IanN14 #66

    Although I said the divisions were not always along the usual lines, I was amazed by your opening comment – until I realised you were talking about the new format. Your closing comment restored my confidence in my own judgment!

  71. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Julian #64

  72. mhl says:

    Sorry, Eileen – I forgot to say “Thanks for the post” in my comment above.

    The grey grid in the new site interface was a much-requested feature, I seem to remember, so that people save on printer ink. I don’t get the grid lines when I print it, but I’m sure they’ll sort all these things out soon enough :)

  73. sidey says:

    “I’m sure they’ll sort all these things out soon enough :)”

    Optimist.

  74. Jobs says:

    Eileen,
    I can’t thank you enough. I wouldn’t have bought the paper yesterday had I not read your summary on this blog. Like you, I thoroughly enjoyed it (possibly helped by the fact that I completed it for once).
    As a novice solver it is a real encouragement to hear what the regulars think of the day’s criptic before investing 1-2 hours. I’m sure there are lots of others who rarely post but read this blog daily that would agree.
    Again, thanks. Now to see what is said about Paul today…

  75. Eileen says:

    Hi Jobs

    Thank you for the kind words – and welcone to the site. I still remember how nervous I was before hitting ‘Submit comment’ for the first time! Hope to hear from you again. :-)

  76. Neil says:

    Eileen @70, I’m so sorry. I misunderstood that your intended meaning of the word was exactly the definition I am familiar with, probably because it’s so often used incorrectly (like ‘lunch’). I really should have known better, as it was you.

  77. MartinB says:

    I think this is one of the best crosswords i’ve ever done. You have to admire the way each and every single clue worked. Obviously he has some opinions – i felt bomb victim was a cheap swipe – but you have to admire the way he did it.

  78. Sil van den Hoek says:

    What a perfect end to this series of posts!

    [let MartinB the last, and forget about me]

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