Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,219 / Brendan

Posted by duncanshiell on January 14th, 2011


Seeing the word KING in every across clue made me think back to Bonxie’s rather difficult puzzle of last week when LEFT began all the Down clues and four of the Across clues.  Fortunately, for me at least , this puzzle was easier.


The Across entries to Brendan’s puzzle, gave us a good mix of royalty from across the world and across the ages, together with a couple of people whose surnames were KING.  However there were also clues where KING was used as a misdirection, or part of the wordplay so the puzzle was not just a trawl through history.  

I wonder if 5 down was the last word that Brendan put into the puzzle.  I couldn’t find the answer, OCTANGLE, in Chambers although OCTANGULAR is there.  I did however find OCTANGLE in both Collins and the Shorter Oxford so perhaps it is not as unusual a word as I first thought.

The grid is of a design where there is often a message hidden in the perimeter squares, but there is nothing there today.

This is a puzzle that tests ones knowledge of Greek mythology, birds, anatomy, literature, religion, agriculture, royal history, tennis, playing cards, chess, armed forces history, forestry, animals, ancient geography, geometry, London shopping areas, old words, horse-riding, advertising, food & drink, African geography and general knowledge of words.  All in all, a very pleasant start to the morning.

Wordplay Entry
8 MENUS (lists of options) containing (putting … in) (ALE [drink] reversed [back]) MENELAUS (in Greek mythology, a King of Sparta)
9 CROW (rooks are a gregarious species of crow) + N (knight, in one form of chess terminology) CROWN (make king)
10 Hidden word in (from) VICIOUS KING SKIN (hide)
11 OZ (ounce; little weight) + anagram of (foolishly) MANY SAID OZYMANDIAS (‘King of Kings’ in the poem ‘Ozymandias ‘by Shelley)
12 / 22 MARTIN LUTHER (Christian names of Martin Luther King)  I wonder if there were also a King Martin and a King Luther somewhere in history? Possibly, but in the time available, searching for ‘King Martin’ and ‘King Luther’ on the web brought up only the two people referenced here.  A quick look in Bradfords Lists doesn’t produce a King Martin or King Luther either, so perhaps the clue is just as a simple reference to the Christian names and the reformer.) MARTIN [LUTHER] (German priest, 1483 – 1546, who initiated the protestant Reformation.)
14 Hidden word (in part) KING AT HEREFORD  I started off thinking about Hereward the Wake.  I have since discovered he wasn’t a King anyway. INGATHER (collect harvest)
15 E (English) + D (duke) + (D [died] contained in [in] WARS [conflicts] ) EDWARDS (reference to the various King Edwards who have reigned in Britain over the years)
17 FED (dined) + ER (Edward Rex; king) + ER (Edward Rex again [repeatedly]; king)) FEDERER (reference Roger Federer, Swiss tennis player who has won just about everything more than once; court champion)
20 FACE (to brave, in the sense of confront) + CARD (a comical or eccentric person; jester) FACE CARD (the King is one of the face cards in a standard pack of cards)
22 See 12 / 22 above [MARTIN] LUTHER
23 BILLIE JEAN (reference Billie Jean King, American tennis player.  Her career spanned many years, but she was most dominant in the late 1960s and early 1970s winning many Grand Slam titles) BILLIE JEAN (cryptic definition with the references to tennis rackets and score of titles.  I am not sure whether there were 20 [score] specific important titles that she won)
24 MATE (reference ‘mate’ or ‘checkmate’ in chess which is the position where the King cannot escape from check by any legitimate move; hopeless position) MATE (friend)
25 HERD (rabble) containing (without; outside) O (love) HEROD (reference King Herod; cruel King of Judea, responsible for the massacre of babies in Bethlehem as described in stories of the Nativitiy)
26 SING (celebrate) containing (about) HILL (rise) SHILLING (reference ‘the King’s Shilling’ which was paid to recruits (willing or otherwise) into the armed forces many years ago)


Wordplay Entry
1 DECK HAND (cryptic definition of a hand of cards that comprises all the cards in the pack). See also Andrew’s more rigorous parsing at comment 1 below – DECK (all the cards) + HAND (the card’s of just one person) DECK HAND (an ordinary sailor; a person employed on deck)
2 Anagram of (rewritten) WHEN HEWN (cut)
3 BOON (blessing) containing (includes) (A + B [bishop]) BABOON (primate)
4 (Anagram of [somehow] AS I SAY) containing (crossing) R (river) ASSYRIA (an ancient Kingdom centred on the Upper Tigris River in present day Iraq)
5 (O [old] + TANGLE [muddle]) containing C (caught) OCTANGLE (described in Collins English Dictionary as a less common name for an octagon; a plane figure)
6 BOND (reference James Bond; spy) + anagram of (wandering) SETTER BOND STREET (a London shopping street, noted for jewellers of distinction, designer fashion and exclusive brands [according to Wikipedia])
7 IN CASE (in the event that; in order to make safe; precautionary phrase) INCASE (surround or cover; a common word in barred crosswords along with its more commonly used mate ‘encase’)  
13 TRAVELLERS (reference to the phrase ‘travel broadens the mind'; people who travel should therefore become less narrow-minded) TRAVELLERS (salesmen who travel for companies; representatives)
16 Anagram of (awful) DEEDS AND DEAD ENDS (passages closed at one end; blind alleys.  Technically they must offer a way out – i.e. the way you came in, but colloquially they are considered to offer no way out if some nasty person or evil thing is blocking the way you came in)
18 T (time) contained in EVENING (later part of the day) EVENTING (the sport of horse-riding in three-day events)
19 AD (advertisement) + VERSE (poetry) – an advertising jingle could be considered to be poetry using a fairly loose interpretation of the word ‘poetry”. ADVERSE (inauspicious)
21 ALIGHT (consumed by fire) ALIGHT (land, as a verb, to come down onto the ground or shore)
22 LENT (in the Christian religion, a period of fasting) + I (one) + L (fifty) LENTIL (seed of leguminous plant; pulse)
24 Hidden word in (part of) SOMALIA MALI ([another] country in Africa)

28 Responses to “Guardian 25,219 / Brendan”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Duncan – this was a great puzzle with lots of penny-dropping moments, especially MARTIN LUTHER (where, like you, I tried to think of kings M & L before realising the obvious) and MATE.

    1dn – I thought this was DECK (all the cards) + HAND (one person’s [cards]).

  2. Duncan Shiell says:

    Andrew @ 1

    I think you are right in your more rigorous parsing of 1 Down.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks duncanshiell, good blog. I had BEWARE for 7d, so that messed up the NE corner, stumbling also over 5d which I guessed was Triangle, without being able to fully parse it. I thought 13d was a bit rich, the Mark Twain quote not being all that widely known. But there were some good ones – OZYMANDIAS, SHILLING, ADVERSE.

  4. Duncan Shiell says:

    Molonglo @ 3

    My first thoughts for 5 Down and 7 Down were also TRIANGLE and BEWARE, but as I couldn’t make them fit the wordplay I held back until I got some more letters.

  5. Geoff Chapman says:

    Nice to see Brendan drag himself down to my level.

    Quite liked Edwards – and 8ac Menelaus because it was gettable without prior knowledge of the name. I guess I know more about potatoes than Greek mythology.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan and Brendan

    Much easier than the Bonxie, as you say, and many Brendans for that matter.

    I thought there might be a pangram going, but PQX missing.

    I got but was puzzled by 7d incase. The extra ‘in a word’?? Does this refer to case as something like a word in support of? Or perhaps to the grammatical inflexion of a ‘word’. Or is ‘case’ just a word? or what??

    I liked 13d. I came across a Spanish saying almost half a century ago in answer to the well known saying. ‘No matter how far a donkey travels, it does not become a horse!’.

    I liked Ozymandias (a favourite poem), and also 9a ‘crown’.

  7. tupu says:

    ps I now realise that ‘in a word’ refers to ‘in’ and ‘case’ joining up into a single word.

  8. pommers says:

    Excellent puzzle and excellent blog so thanks to Brendan and duncanshiell.
    Very imaginative use of the theme I though made for an interesting solve.
    Quite liked 13d as I was one for a few years – no I didn’t travel in ladies clothing, laboratory glassware! Can’t say it broadened my mind any.

  9. Swukker says:

    I usually find Brendan’s puzzles a little more difficult than I found this. Also I thought he theme a bit of a hiodge-podge without much focus. Not that I didn’t enjoy solving it, except 17A which took ages to get mainly because I had convinced myself, from the crosschecking letters, that the answer was ‘referee’ and so spent a long time tryign to fit my answer to the clue. Of course, when I actually reqad the clue closely, the answer was obvious.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Duncan for your excellent blog.

    Now that we don’t have Virgilius in the Indy any more, I’m always pleased to see Brendan on the oche here in the Guardian. I loved the theme in this one: it took you to a variety of places and made for a really interesting solve. Favourite clue today, for its clever surface reading, EDWARDS.

  11. Roger says:

    Thanks for your deliberations, duncanshiell, and Brendan for throwing a fun party ~ was hoping to run into Elvis but it seems he couldn’t make it …
    King Martin sounds a bit familiar but I can’t track him down either. King’s rather than Kings implies he evaded Brendan also. I wonder if 7 & 14 could have been constructed slightly differently so as to avoid using “in” for both the mechanics and the answer ?

  12. walruss says:

    Yes, it was much easier than the Bonxie, which probably tried too hard anyway. And, so, much better, in my opinion! Hard doesn’t always mean good.

  13. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog , Duncan, and to Brendan for an enjoyable and accessible puzzle. after the first run through I had practically filled in 3/4 of it, but the fourth, NE corner was lamentably blank. My lack of knowledge of Eng.Lit. has let me down again, leaving me to fiddle with the wordplay and the check button to come up with 11ac., which was the door to finishing in, for me, a very reasonable time.

    Incidentally, I took time off to read through Shelley’s sonnet, and that of his friend and rival Horace Smith, and can quite see why the former is so well known, even if heretofore not by me :)

    To molonglo@3, I wasn’t aware that 13d referred to Mark Twain, but I can assure you the quote is quite familiar, and I had no more trouble recognising it than that of the King’s shilling.

    Hi tupu, you wouldn’t happen to remember the original Spanish version of that phrase? I know many ‘refranes’, as they’re called, but I’ve never heard that one.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Duncan. I enjoyed both the theme and the variety of this puzzle. Some of it was quite easy, but a lot of surfaces were really good.

    INCASE caused me the most trouble.

  15. tupu says:

    Hi Molongolo
    ‘Travel broadens the mind’ is, I think, a well-known proverb in its own right, rather than a quotation from Twain. I don’t know how old it is, however. Chestertom has a nice rider ‘They say travel broadens the mind; but you must have the mind.
    [1929 G. K. Chesterton Poet & Lunatics iii.] and there are lots of others e.g. ‘broadens the mind and opens the bowels’ and ‘broadens the beam’.

    Hi Stella
    I’m afraid I don’t know the original Spanish. I was with a friend who spoke Spanish well and he translated it for me. Refranes sound interesting. I imagine they are responses to things, like the many to comments starting with ‘if’. My favourite of these was told me as a Mexican one ‘If my grandmother had wheels she’d be a bicycle’!

    Further re 13d. ‘Traveller’ appears in the first line of Shelley’s Ozymandias ‘ ‘I met a traveller from an antique land/ Who said etc.’.

  16. Stella Heath says:

    Actually, tupu, they’re idioms or proverbs. The only one I can think of off hand involving a donkey is ‘burro grande, ande o no ande’ – a donkey (should be) big, whether or not it can walk, or ‘the bigger the better’, which isn’t quite what yours is about :)

  17. LoriB says:

    Hi all,

    This is my first time commenting although I’ve been following the blog for some time–both the explanations and the give-and-take of the comments are often at least as entertaining as the puzzles themselves, and I thank you all and the setters as well. As a visitor from across the pond, I just wanted to point out that Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, a national holiday for us. A coincidence?

  18. Martin H says:

    As usual with Brendan, mostly straightforward, a couple of weak clues at 13 and 24d, but also some excellent constructions and surfaces at 1, 8 ,11 et al. Themes often narrow the range of a crossword, but this type, when well done, as here, can lead to richness and complexity. ‘Incase’ and ‘Octangle’ went clunk, but only through unfamiliarity – ignorance indeed – both nicely clued.

  19. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Duncan.

    Probably my fastest Brendan solve ever but no less enjoyable for that. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I did ‘Ozymandias’ for A level and thought the anagram was great, and liked the two tennis references.

    I’m afraid I never even thought of looking for King Martin or Luther!

    [Hi tupu – you contrived to link yesterday’s puzzle to your going to see ‘The King’s Speech. That’s where I have just as appropriately just been! 😉 ]

    Many thanks, Brendan, for an excellent puzzle.

  20. Roger says:

    Thanks tupu and Stella for nudging me into Googleland and the discovery of more travel quotes than I know what to do with !
    I rather like this from Robert Louis Stevenson: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.”
    A bit like solving crosswords sometimes, I guess. Happy wanderings !

  21. Robi says:

    Thanks Brendan and Duncan for an entertaining puzzle.

    Not sure I would ever use incase rather than encase or ingather rather than gather in.

    I thought the primate was bonobo at first until I saw the light. 19d raised a smile, although it took a while to get it.

    Rather late in the day due to many distractions.

  22. Daniel Miller says:

    Are you sure 20 across can not be Rave Band:

    King, for example, and brave jester (and brave – jester (?) – anagram) – King the band being a New Wave or perhaps Rave Band…

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    Daniel @22. I thought that, too, but wasn’t convinced; another anagram of “and brave” is “vane bard” which makes even less sense.

    The multitude of kings seemed much less jarring than the lefts of Bonxie last week.

  24. muck says:

    Thanks to Brendan for an entertaining solve, as always.
    And to Duncan for a stylish blog

  25. Carrots says:

    Very beguiling puzzle….and one I would have finished if my impulsiveness hadn`t shot me in the foot. BOND MARKET indeed instead of BOND STREET…which had the knock-on effect of trying every which way to get BECKKER (sic) (a la Boris) into 17 across instead of FEDERER. One of the driving convictions (got another today) was that I refused to believe INGATHER was a legitimate word.

    No complaints Brendan (and thanks Duncan): it wuz a fair cop!

  26. slipstream says:

    In 12 across and 22 across, I think “King’s names” refers to “Martin” and “Luther” as names for “Martin Luther King.”

  27. William says:

    Double thanks to you, Duncan. Firstly for the excellent blog, and secondly for the top tip you shared recently (Bonxie’s LEFT) for solving this sort of themed puzzle. I wrote a list and had BILLIE JEAN, HEROD & MARTIN LUTHER together with some chess references, before I read the clues.

    Good puzzle, Brendan.

  28. paul8hours says:

    An excellent & educating puzzle that I got to late in the day, which is probably why I was happy to put in Rave Band for 20A like one or two others. Many thanks to setter & blogger.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

+ six = 10