Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,028 / Brendan

Posted by manehi on June 4th, 2010


Extremely clever as always from Brendan. 12 especially made me smile.

9 NASTINESS N[ew] + ASTI=an Italian wine region + NESS=head
11 WHITE WHIT=a little bit + E[uropean]
12 GARDENERS (enraged)* + R’S=queen’s
In Alice in Wonderland, Two, Five and Seven are gardeners desperate to disguise a white rose tree from the Queen of Hearts, likely a reference to…
13,10,16 THE WARS OF THE ROSES THESES=arguments, around rev(RAW=untried) + SOFT + HERO
14 BEEFIER BEER around F[ellow] + I.E.=”that is”
17 BURNS whose Luve’s like a red, red rose
19 RED “diamonds” as in the suit of cards
20 WINES can be WHITE, ROSE or RED. I=one inside WNES, all the points of the compass.
21 ROSE RED is SNOW WHITE’s sister in a fairy tale without seven dwarfs. Also refers to 28, see below.
22 REREDOS (red rose)*
24, 2dn HALF AS OLD AS TIME (demolish a flat as)*. See 28.
26 LOBBY LOB=(tennis) shot + BY=near
28 PETRA Feminine form of Peter (Greek, surely?). Also the historic site famously described as “a rose-red city half as old as time”
29 LANCASTER (ancestral)*, and of course the house opposed to 27dn in the Wars of the Roses.
1 SNOW S[mall] + NOW. Didn’t ring a bell as an author’s surname, possibly C P Snow
3 FIRE-RAISER i.e. “get rid of parent”
5 ASCRIBED AS=like + CRIB and BED overlapping each other
6 SORE (rose)*
7 ATHENIAN A, THE, AN=”all our articles” around N[orthern] I[reland]
8 MESS double def
13 TIBER B[arge] in TIER
15 EDWARD LEAR two kingly names.
18 RESOLUTE RE, SO =”notes” + LUTE
19 REDPOLLS RED=cardinal + POLLS=parrots
22 RODENT (not red)*
23 DEBATE DEBT=”the red” around A[rea] + E=note
25 ALAS rAiLwAyS
27 YORK reference to sneaking a yorker delivery under the bat in cricket.

39 Responses to “Guardian 25,028 / Brendan”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Manehi, for your lucid explanations.

    The allusions to Snow White and Alice left me totally bewildered making this my worst showing for some 80 years.

    Re 28a, PETRA is indeed a girl’s name and an ancient city. I can see its Greek origins but describing it as Latin only served to confuse.

    A great pity, I usually enjoy Brendan’s puzzles.

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks manehi and to Brendan.

    What another corker. Right up there with Paul yesterday. The way he managed to involve not only the war, the royal houses and their house colours whilst using ‘Red’ in several more clues resulted in another tour de force.

    Standout clues for me were ‘Athenian’, ‘Wines’ and Petra’.

    Bravo Brendan!


  3. Richard says:

    Thanks manehi.

    I found this enjoyable enough, but the PETRA clue went straight over my head, I’m afraid, as did the obscure reference to Alice in Wonderland in 12 – I got the answer as the anagram was obvious. I think the reference to a Yorker in 27 is a bit suspect – bowling a Yorker doesn’t mean the batsman ‘gets out’!

  4. TokyoColin says:

    Thank you Manehi, and a special thank you to Brendan for a very enjoyable puzzle. It took a while for me to piece together the interconnecting references to Red and Manehi’s explanation of Petra’s fame completed the puzzle. Very entertaining and absorbing. Favourite clue – 27dn, “Under the willow”, very droll (as long as one is a cricket fan I suppose.)

    The toing and froing between all the linked clues on the iPhone slowed me down quite a bit and it took most of lunch hour to complete, but worth every second. That is two excellent puzzles in a row. Hoping for another tomorrow.

  5. TokyoColin says:

    Sorry, Richard @3, but I have to defend Brendan on 27. Merely bowling a yorker is one thing, but a commentator’s cry of “Yorked him!” usually means the batsman is indeed out. Any further discussion of cricket belongs elsewhere I presume.

  6. Bogeyman says:

    What a wonderful puzzle, with all the interwoven themes beautifully stitched together.

    I agree with TokyoColin: in cricket, to york means to dismiss a batsman, by getting the ball underneath his bat

  7. Richard says:

    Thanks, Bogeyman. I understand now. I knew what a ‘Yorker’ is but had never heard the verb ‘to York’.

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, manehi, I was just about to check the explanation of 2, 5 and 7 in 12a in your blog when the reason popped out. I tried to fit COURTIERS here for a while.

    I thought it was an easier Brendan than usual (finished on the way in: 32′), but still immensely enjoyable.

    I noticed the answers for 21 and 22 are anagrams, but I think this must be happenstance.

  9. Martin H says:

    Petra is Latin, feminine form of Petrus.

    25 is a nice take on the ‘regularly’ indicator, showing the letters removed and thereby contriving a nice surface.

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks manehi for a very thorough blog and Brendan for quite a test. So many interlocking themes. Burgon’s poem was not very familiar (I had vague recollections of there being such a one and no memory of the author) but the answers on that theme were clearly available and then easily checked. Likewise the refs in 12 to the queen’s numbered gardeners in Alice (a cleverly hidden idea).
    As you say, Snow is C.P. – of The Masters and other novels of the academic and scientific world.
    My musty old dictionaries tell me Petra is ‘rock’ in both Latin and Greek (I knew they’d come in handy some day!).
    Dave @8. The link between 20 and 21 does not seem ‘happenstance’ when both are plays on ‘red rose’. Am I missing something in your comment?
    An excellent puzzle if not quite as amusing as yesterday’s. 27d came as a nice surprise. I had first toyed with Bat + h but it would not do of course.
    Several polished anagrams and other artful dodges along the way.

  11. Bill Taylor says:

    Am I the only one thinking that today’s emperor has no clothes? This was my fastest solve of the week and I hated it. 12a was hopelessly obscure until you backed into it. The only thing that gave me pause with several clues was in thinking that they surely couldn’t incorporate “red” or “rose” yet again. And then to have “red rose” in the clue for 22a — couldn’t the setter at least have made it “Variety of 21a that’s put at back of altar?” (I seem to have seen REREDOS several times in crosswords lately.)

    I criticized Brendan’s last cryptic, too, and then apologized for perhaps being too harsh. No apology this time.

  12. Martin H says:

    Yes, Bill, I too thought the red rose had become a weed, but I was called away before I had time to say so in my earlier post. Brendan does sometimes flog his themes to death. Otherwise though, I thought there were some excellent clues, and found the gardeners acceptable once I’d cottoned on to the misdirection. The one I found a bit feeble was ‘Edward Lear’.

  13. Mr. Jim says:

    This was a top-drawer crossword. Thanks to manehi and Brendan for giving me a thoroughly enjoyable lunchtime. I honestly didn’t think it was possible to cram this much cross-reference into one grid, but Brendan always surprises me with that.

    As to PETRA, there is a latin name PETRO, perhaps it is the female form of that? (Based on my dim recollection of the Cambridge Latin Course – Caecilius est in horto etc…)

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    tupu@10 I had in mind the comment that Bill Taylor at #10 made about 21 22a, that more of a connection could have been made. In fact, because I got these early on and remembering one of Brendan’s earlier crosswords, in which symmetrically placed answers were anagrams, I thought there might have been more of these in today’s but it turned out not so.

  15. tupu says:

    Thanks Dave. I took ‘happenstance’ to mean ‘accidental’/’happen by chance’ but you clearly meant more than that.

    I take Bill’s and Martin H’s point about overworking an idea (in the context of 12a, I was tempted to say ‘gilding the lily’ but I see G.K Chesterton contrasts this nicely with ‘gilding the weed’ which might be more apposite in the light of Martin’s comment!) In the end I suspect a lot depends on how you feel on the day after the effort of solving. In my case, I had missed a couple of hidden points in early puzzles and felt quite good at having unravelled all today’s.

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    What the gardeners were doing was actually more in keeping with Shakespeare’s original quotation (from King John) — in part: “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet.”

  17. tupu says:

    Bill. :) Yes, a nice point – I checked before my comment and saw the bard’s own lines but missed the better fit because of GKC’s quote which I saw at the same time. I imagine you wouldn’t have agreed with the original version either as a description of the puzzle rather than the gardeners’ activity. Also, the misquotation has become so standard (rose?!? boom boom! sorry!) that the original was liable to tiresome mis-correction if it appeared unannounced :)

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    True enough, tupu. I only use “paint the lily” myself when I’m feeling in a one-uppish mood!

    I’m wondering, meanwhile, if perhaps Brendan wasn’t channeling Gertrude Stein: A rose is a rose is a rose. And I can’t get that terrible song “Paper Roses” out of my head. Had this, heaven forbid, been tomorrow’s Prize Crossword, perhaps rightback, after taking all of 15 seconds to solve it, would have that as his music of the day.

  19. Speckled Jim says:

    No complaints about 19a??

    Diamonds as a suit is an obvious reference, but they can be black or red, so how does the clue indicate we should choose the red? Thumbs down.

  20. Bill Taylor says:

    I guess it’s because rubies have to be red, Jim, and black wouldn’t fit, anyway. That was the first clue I got.

  21. tupu says:

    Bill. If one wants to get literary, there is always Shakespeare again (by any other name etc (I can imagine you wish Brendan had thought of some) and Eco’s ‘Name of ..’ which makes the opposite point that ‘only the name remains’ and the rose may not even have existed.

    I have left a note on general chat. I value your comments and I hope it can be taken in a friendly way.

  22. tupu says:

    Bill Sorry – that should read ‘Gen. Xword discussion’.

  23. Derek Lazenby says:

    Took a while but got there in the end with the usual gadgetry reliance, but not that much.

    Crazy, really crazy, but the first to go in was 13 10 16 as a half guess which seemed right. Needed the blog to see why properly. I really should have been stuck on that, at least initially.

  24. Bill Taylor says:

    I’m there now, tupu, and yes, of course, absolutely in a friendly way.

    Meanwhile, I’m tempted to say, “Mary Rose sat on a thorn. Mary rose.” But I won’t!

  25. nmsindy says:

    Excellent puzzle and incredible how much interlocking material Brendan managed to fit in. Needed to come here to understand the 2,5, and 7 reference. Clues I esp liked were WINES, LOBBY, FIRE-RAISER and YORK.

  26. stiofain says:

    A great puzzle. I think Brendan is king of the themed xword and I like the way he doesnt flag up the theme. I notice every answer features at least one letter of rose
    maybe a coincidence but Brendan is so meticulous I suspect not.

  27. Daniel Miller says:

    Pretty tough.. slow burner, got going eventually but extremely well conceived and enjoyable. Just caught me out on a couple..

  28. Carrots says:

    I`d read through all Brendan`s clues without solving one and was fearing the worst (for me, a naked grid) before starting to make headway. But the afterburners must have kicked in and I finished well under the two-pinta limit. I still don`t quite see “SORE” as “pressing” (the nearest Chambers comes is “severely”) and the terminology in 27 could have been a bit less clumsy. Otherwise a superb offering from Brendan, who just gets better and better. Thanks!

  29. tupu says:

    Hi carrots. OED gives one meaning of sore as ‘Pressing hardly upon one; oppressively heavy or severe; difficult to bear or support’ though the examples it gives are not all clearly convincing. It goes on later under another heading to quote ‘Henry was now in sore want of money’. So just about.

  30. Carrots says:

    Thanks for the illumination tupu….the English Language is a truly wondrous thing!

  31. scarecrow says:

    I really enjoyed that one, not finding it overly difficult, but I’m a sucker for a well honed theme.

  32. ema says:

    Surely roses grow into hips? Not vice versa as the clue suggests.

  33. Mr Beaver says:

    ema: as with chickens and eggs, roses grow into hips, and hips into roses!

    The Beavers much enjoyed this one, the more so because we actually got it finished over tea (today – a bit behind with our crosswords !) which is pretty rare for us.
    Some of us (Bill @11) enjoy finishing a crossword in under 2 days 😉

  34. Carrots says:

    I`m with you Beavers: a crossword cherished over time is a pleasure relished like a favourite wine. Apart from the fact that this particular wrinkly sometimes doesn`t have a choice in the matter, I can`t help feeling that the Bill Taylor quaffing and gorging approach against the clock can offer little in the way of fulfilment. As, indeed, his comments suggest.

  35. FumbleFingers says:

    Well, my only criticism was that I too didn’t quite buy SORE as “pressing” at the time.

    Since childhood I’ve lazily interpreted “sore afraid” as “very afraid”. But OED’s “difficult to bear or support” is obviously the sense intended by King James Bible.

    I now feel slightly shamefaced that I should have suspected Brendan of playing fast & loose with our language (somewhat tempered, until I wrote this, by the relief of thinking “at least no-one else knows what a dork I am!”)

  36. Mike Laws says:

    It’s interesting to see how the most consummate puzzles attract attention to anything, however trivial and unjustifiably attacked, that could possibly be construed as a flaw.

  37. FumbleFingers says:

    Without wishing to stray too far off-topic, I think maybe it’s because most of us put quite some effort into “fighting” the compiler to crack his defenses that “guard” the solution we hope to uncover.

    Obviously we do occasionally get a clue which is genuinely flawed (as opposed to “not as good as it might have been”, which is the usual line of attack here). A part of me (which I’m not necessarily either proud or ashamed of) would quite like to correctly identify and call attention to any such lapses.

    For years I did the “code-word” puzzles (where numbers 1-26 correspond to a jumbled alphabet in a completed grid of scrabble-type words, and each letter occurs at least once). If, say, the only use of K and L come in a word known to be *A*E, that would be an error because it could be KALE or LAKE, making the puzzle ambiguous. I know that publishers of such errors routinely get strongly-worded letters from “Disgusted, of Tunbridge Wells”.

    I wouldn’t write a letter, but I’d certainly post about it if I still did code-words and there was the equivalent of fifteen-squared where I could vent my spleen!

  38. ema says:

    Thanks for the excellent explanation, Mr Beaver. I can see that now.

  39. D & G says:

    Just got back from Guardianless France (why, say we, Daily Mail everywhere!!!) Fantastic clues, poetry, wit, everything we like, well done Brendon.

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