Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,970 (Brendan)

Posted by diagacht on March 29th, 2010


This has not been a good day for me: two clues I have not decoded and some others that I find unsatisfactory, which probably means I’ve missed something.

8 PRIORATE: PR (priest) + I ORATE
9 PLAZA: most of LAZ(y) in PA. Lazy as in loaf around.
10 SUMO: SUM (problem) + O (ring)
11 IRRESOLUTE: anagram of I (one) and LOSER TRUE
12 SATURN: SA (South America) + TURN (revolutionary movement)
14 FOREWENT: F (fine) + anagram of WERE NOT
15,17 CAPITAL LETTERS: yes, ‘I’ is a capital letter but don’t get the reference to a dozen other clues. Does this mean the decode is wrong throughout?
20 AGITATOR: IT in A GATOR (as in alligator)
22 ADRIFT: A (one) + DRIFT (in the sense of import – a bit of a stretch?)
23 CAFE AU LAIT: anagram of AT AA IF CLUE
24 MORE: is this a double definition?
25 UNITS: UN (multinational group) + ITS (entity’s)
26 ONE-LINER: ON (aboard) + E (English) + LINER (vessel)
1 BROUHAHA: BROU (homophone for ‘brew’) + HAHA (laughter)
2 SOLO: SO LO(w) without wife (w)
3 MALIAN: anagram of ANIMAL
4 TERRIFY: IF (provided) covered by TERRY (fabric)
5 UPAS TREE: anagram of AS REPUTE
6 TABLE WATER: a kind of cryptic definition (referring to still water)
7 HASTEN: HAS TEN (refers to ten little piggies, toes)
13 UP IN THE AIR: double definition
16 ALTRUISM: L (line) in A TRUISM
18 REFORMED: hidden in cuRE FOR ME Definitely
19 ORGANON: ORG (as in .org in email address) + ANON (shortly)
21 GEAR UP: anagram of A PURGE
22 ANTHER: take O (love) from AN(O)THER
24 MAIL: double definition

41 Responses to “Guardian 24,970 (Brendan)”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Thanks, diagacht,
    24ac. is simply M or E.
    15,17ac. refers to the fact that twelve answers are anagrams of Capitals (Rome, Rangoon, Oslo, Lima, etc).

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Diagacht.

    And many thanks IanN14 – 15,17 had me totally at a loss, too. I’m not used to Brendan’s fiendishness on a Monday morning!

    In 9ac, I think it’s laze = loaf and in 22ac, drift = import in the sense of the drift of an argument. Collins gives ‘meaning’ for both.

  3. Mick H says:

    Great theme. I only found half the capitals, but got Prague, manila and Athens in addition to those mentioned.

  4. diagacht says:

    Thanks to IanN14 – I did not spot those anagrams and I suspect, if I were sit here all day, I would not have spotted them. Thank you for that.

  5. IanN14 says:

    Right, here are the others not yet mentioned…
    Pretoria, Tunis, La Paz, Freetown, Tehran.
    Now, back to work.
    (Or at least when I’ve tried to decipher Mick’s over at the Indy)…

  6. Uncle Yap says:

    IanN14, do you have an extra eye? I merrily solved today’s puzzle, blissfully unaware that with Brendan, there is always an underlying theme. Today’s was so well hidden that I missed it altogether. Now at least, I can go back and savour the clues and answers again. ” …. was blind but now I see “

  7. beermagnet says:

    That was a fun game.
    Allow me to tabulate the list of twelve I can spot:

    9A PLAZA LA PAZ Bolivia
    14A FOREWENT FREETOWN Sierra Leone
    24A MORE ROME Italy
    25A UNITS TUNIS Tunisia
    2D SOLO OSLO Norway
    3D MALIAN MANILA Phillipines
    19D ORGANON RANGOON Burma / Union of Myanmar **
    21D GEAR UP PRAGUE Czech Republic
    24D MAIL LIMA Peru

    ** However, the military government relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006

  8. Ian says:

    Thanks diagacht for the rundown.

    Rufus on holiday?

    Nonetheless, I’m not one to complain when Brendan comes along. A good way to start the week.

    Luckily, there were enough opportunities with answers like ‘PRIORATE’, ‘ONE-LINER’, ‘UP IN THE AIR’ and the like to get things off to a rapid start. Quite a clever device to unravel the anagram for the non-alcoholic drink. Elsewhere, ‘UPAS TREE’ though a new species was easily gettable from the anagram.

    45′ solving time

  9. sidey says:

    There are some worryingly alert people about for a Monday morning 😉

  10. Pasquale says:

    A very clever idea beautifully executed and well admired by me. To fit in so may capitals is a great achievement.The puzzle was not a difficult solve and the clues were excellent (as one would expect) but is the sweetness of the theme wasted on the deaert air for many of us, I wonder?

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Ian N14’s obviously had his Weetabix this morning …

    I managed just over half before resorting to the cheat button, and the theme was certainly wasted on this solver. But I can see now that it’s very cleverly constructed. Of the ones I did solve, I liked 16dn best.

  12. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Diagacht.

    I didn’t get the anagrams but I discovered that, as well as the first letter in each clue, there were also 12 other capital letters scattered about.

    And I thought that was that.

    Very clever!

  13. rrc says:

    If there is going to be a theme can it please be a little more obvious like on Saturday which I thought was brilliant

  14. John Appleton says:

    The state capitals things escaped me entirely, apart from the fact that for 14ac, I noticed it was an anagram of Freetown. I assumed the setter hadn’t spotted this much better anagram.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, diagacht. Wonderful puzzle, but for the me the appreciation is in retrospect, as I missed 19dn, half of 6dn and got half of 5dn wrong. Needless to say, also missed the theme, despite thinking, ‘This is Brendan, there’s probably a theme’.

    Well done IanNW14 and others for spotting it and hats off to Brendan for setting it!

  16. Tom Hutton says:

    Very good crossword and that’s without seeing the theme at all. Perhaps if setters could take a hint from this, life would be wonderful. Good crosswords for us simple folk and wonderful but unnecessary complications for you wizards.

  17. Daniel Miller says:

    There must be a dozen other letter I’s in the frame! I suppose…

  18. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks diagacht and Brendan.

    TABLE WATER I took to be a dd&lit.

    The capital thing totally passed me by – put CAPITAL LETTERS in from checking letters. It looked like a thematic clue, and at that point the theme seemed to be driks after having solved CAFE AU LAIT, TABLE WATER and the homophone in BROUHAHA. Wrong as usual.. still, good fun.

  19. Daniel Miller says:

    Wow. Smart one. I missed the theme of the 12 Capital Cities. Excellent

  20. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Dismal start to the week. Didn’t get the theme and having seen some answers (organon, upas tree) I’m glad I gave up when I did because I would never have got these.
    Where’s Rufus?

  21. djm says:

    As several other posters have indicated, a completely wasted theme. I solved the puzzle without getting the theme at all. What a shame. The kind of thing that turns up on Saturdays (or even Genius). Genius-wise, you would have to enter the actual capital city rather than the answer derived from the clue. Great work by Brendan, but wasted one me.

  22. Alan Browne says:

    It seems nearly everyone enjoyed this one – so did I! However, 14A spoilt it a bit, and I’m surprised no-one has pointed this out yet. How can FOREWENT mean ‘gave up’? The word simply means ‘went before’. The answer has to be FORWENT, but of course it can’t be!

  23. Gaufrid says:

    Chambers, Collins and COED all give ‘forego’ (and its derivatives) as a variant spelling of ‘forgo’.

  24. FumbleFingers says:

    I’m feeling seriously humbled by this one.

    Without Diagacht’s help I wouldn’t even have got CAPITAL LETTERS, since I’d decoded “for me, definitely” in 18d as “I’m proved”.

    As for noticing the anagramticised capitals – never in a more of Sundays! I tip my hat to those of you that saw it.

  25. Alan Browne says:

    My thanks to Gaufrid. I normally use Collins but did not have it to hand. I checked one online dictionary before posting my comment, and it did not allow ‘forego': I won’t use that dictionary again. I much prefer ‘forgo’, because I find the the distinction useful, but I acknowledge what Gaufrid and the dictionaries say!

  26. Dave Ellison says:

    Enjoyed this immensely, and great to have a Rufus free Monday.

    There is always a theme with Brendan, and often the middle clues in the grid give some indication. When I couldn’t quite make sense of 15, 17a I suspected this was the one, and spotted Rio in 8a, and (alas, slightly wrongly) thought aha! I couldn’t explain 24a (MORE) either but saw it was an anagram and then the key made sense.

    19d last to go in. Tried URL, WWW, HTTP for a while, till the penny dropped, via a confirmation in my cheat book – never heard of ORGANON (nor has the spell checker!)

  27. muck says:

    Thanks to everyone for explaining this!
    Brendan is usually one of my favourite setters, but this one fooled me.
    I solved nearly all the clues without working out the theme at 15,17ac.
    My first thought was ‘cryptic setters’ but even after getting it right, and suspecting an anagram from ‘astray in a dozen other answers’ I still didn’t get it.
    Tough for Monday.

  28. Brendan says:

    I apologise for what was clearly a serious misjudgment. I had thought that the clue, plus the fact that there always is some kind of a theme, would be sufficient.

    You should know that my editor, Hugh Stephenson, suggested added some kind of heading that would help, but I could not come up with a form of words with which I was happy.

    I will be more careful in future. To those who were irritated in varying degrees, thankyou for expressing yourselves so politely.

  29. mike says:

    Brendan,please don’t apologise! For me this was one of the best xwords I have experienced in ages. A real delight. Thank you.

  30. muck says:

    No apology required Brendan.
    Solvers need challenges.

  31. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Absolutely, muck. Brendan, if there was a puzzle in the paper every day that I could solve, there’d be a lot of bored people out there.

  32. Bryan says:


    It was great of you to drop by.

    I never even thought that there was a theme and as I said @12 I discovered that, as well as the first letter in each clue, there were also 12 other capital letters scattered about. And I thought that was that.

    So was that just coincidence?

    Or sheer genius?

    More please!

  33. IanN14 says:

    I’d just like to add that I think everything here was fully justified.
    The clue for 15,17ac. was enough to explain the theme.
    (It would not have made much sense otherwise).
    Every experienced solver, surely, knows to look out for a theme in Brendan/Virgilius puzzles…
    Those who like to see the theme pointed out for them above the grid are catered for more often than not.
    Personally, I love it when it’s hinted more obliquely and would hate to see it discontinued…

  34. liz says:

    Thanks for commenting, Brendan. Absolutely no need to apologise! I thought it was a great puzzle even though I didn’t catch on.

  35. jmac says:

    IanN14 @ 33 just about says it all. The fact is that if you didn’t spot the theme the puzzle was still easily solvable (and enjoyable), and if you did spot the theme it was even better. Also, the theme subject was pretty uncontentious and didn’t require any specialist knowledge. Well done Brendan.

  36. Brendan says:

    Thanks for more kind words.

    However, fifteensquarites are not, by a long way, a random sample of solvers, and as Quixote pointed out there isn’t much point in being clever if most people miss it. Fair point.

    As for the 12 capital letters Bryan noticed, sheer coincidence.

  37. Eileen says:

    I don’t remember a puzzle fooling so many people with so few complaints – it’s a fair cop, Brendan. Many thanks.

  38. IanN14 says:

    Thanks, Brendan,
    I take your point about us not being a random sample, and “most” people might have missed it, but surely there’s room for a whole spectrum of puzzle types?
    Please don’t go changing…

  39. Lorcan says:

    look – I’m not a great solver, I need the cheat and this website … and being in NZ means I get the puzzle at lunch and have all day before the 15squared post comes out…..

    I loved this puzzle (as all Brendan’s) and got about half the clues before resorting to cheat – but the theme flew over my head until I read the post this morning, my jaw dropped in awe and I hawked the puzzle around my workplace saying “just look at this”.

    So us mortals love the “hard” puzzles as well albeit in retrospect. (The awe included IanN14 at getting the theme)

    right – back to lurking……

  40. Bullfrog says:

    I’d like to add my congratulations (belatedly) to Brendan for a superb and subtle crossword, the theme of which went straight over my head! I do however have one small cavil over the definition at 10ac — Sumo is the name of the sport. The wrestler is a sumotori.

  41. Jan says:

    I’m a new poster inspired by Brendan’s brilliance to add a belated comment. I print, I look, I think, I go to bed. :)

    Thank you diagacht. You did as well as me.

    You would probably believe how long I tried to rationalise the CAPITAL LETTERS. Wow! Well done those who saw the anagrams. I got as far as anagrammasationalising the first letters of all the clues.

    Brendan, it was a pearler – cast before (me for one) piggies.

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