Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,290 / Brendan

Posted by mhl on April 7th, 2011


Another wonderful puzzle from Brendan, with precise and elegant cluing. (I found the bottom half much easier than the top here, but perhaps that was just me…)

1. POUNDS Double definition: “Strikes” and “money”
4. HALF-TERM (L FARM THE)* – the L is from “Finish off animal”, with “off” in the sense of “from”; Definition: “holiday”
9. DUE TO DUET = “couple’s act” + O = “love”; Definition: “As result of”
10. HOME-RULER HOMER = “Poet” around LURE = “appeal” reversed; Definition: “fighter for independence”
11. OVERLORDS OVER = “Part of test” (an over is a series of balls in cricket, e.g. a test match) + LORDS = “[the test’s] possible location”; Definition: “top men”
12. BRACE B = “British” + RACE = “people”; Definition: BRACE
13,17. KILL = “[MURDER] or [WASTE]” TWO BIRDS = “[BRACE] or [COCKCROW]” + WITH = “using” + ONE STONE = “[SOLITAIRE] or 14 [POUNDS]” (a “solitaire” is a single gemstone); Definition: “Achieve economic goals”, in the sense that killing two birds with one stone means achieving something in an economic way
20. WASTE A = “area” in (WEST)*; Definition: “Desolate”
21. AIR POCKET P = “Power” in A + I = “current” + ROCKET = “missile”; Definition: “that could bring plane down”
23. SOLITAIRE (TO ISRAELI)*; Definition: “Game one plays”
24. EUROS Hidden in “nEUROScience”; Definition: “New money”
25. STEERAGE E’ER = “Poet’s always” in STAGE = “coach”; Definition: “cheapest form of travel”
26. DARWIN Cryptic definition: DARWIN, like NEWTON is a scientist who appears on Bank of England bank notes (i.e. “noteworthy”) – Newton was on the old £1 note, and Darwin is on the current £10 note
1. PADDOCKS PAD = “Tread warily” + DOCKS = “weeds”; Definition: PADDOCKS
2. UNEVENLY Double definition: “Without regularity” and “oddly?” (a play on “odd” and “even”)
3. DROLL D = “Democrat” + ROLL + “revolutionary movement”; Definition: “odd”. I love ROLL for “revolutionary movement” :)
5. ADMISSION FREE FREE = “Released” after ADMISSION = “confession”; Definition: “without any charge”
6. FOREBODES RE = “about” + BOD = “bloke” in FOES = “enemy”; Definition: “Warns in advance” Thanks to Andrew and Shirley for picking up the typos here, now corrected
7. EOLIAN (ONE AIL)*; Definition: “Caused by wind”
8. MURDER RED = “some wine” + RUM = “spirit” all reversed; Definition: “Hell!” (as in “it was hell”)
10. HARD OF HEARING (HAD FOR)* + HEARING = “trial”; Definition: “Having a problem, in a sense?”
14. TRIMESTER TRIM = “Cut down” and (TREES)*; Definition: “quarter”
15. COCKCROW COCK = “Prepare to shoot” + CROW = “some Native Americans”; Definition: “when sun comes up”
16. JETTISON JET = “one of which” (referring to “aircraft”) + IS with NOT reversed arount it; Definition: “Throw out of aircraft”
18. TWISTS TWITS = “Silly types” around S = “small”; Definition: “mixed drinks” – I thought a “twist” was just a garnish for a cocktail rather than the whole drink? Thanks to Robi for letting us know that Chambers has “mixed drink (slang)” as on definition of “twist”
19. ISOLDE IE = “that is” around SOLD = “betrayed”; Definition: “Tragic heroine”
22. OPERA P = “Piano” in O = “old” + ERA = “time”; Definition: “musical entertainment”

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,290 / Brendan”

  1. Shirley says:

    6D surely Bod means bloke not block! Just a typo I’m sure.
    What a great crossword – thanks for the blog mhl.

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, mhl, for an excellent blog of another, as you say, wonderful puzzle from Brendan.

    I found it easier than some of his but certainly no less enjoyable for that.

    13,17 is superb: the definition is fittingly economical and the wordplay was highly entertaining to work out.

    I was a little put off by the spelling of 7dn [great surface!] as I’d only met it as ‘aeolian’, but only momentarily, as the wordplay was unequivocal and the alternative is perfectly logical.

    Many thanks to Brendan, as ever.

  3. Andrew says:

    Tnanks mhl – another cracker from Brendan.

    6dn – I agree with Shirley about “bloke”; also it’s RE BOD in FOES.

    My only niggle is with 5dn – “without any charge” doesn’t really seem a good definition of ADMISSION FREE, as it only applies to the FREE part.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    What a super puzzle. The long across clue referencing the other solutions looked a bit daunting at first, but once a few crossing letters were in the phrase became apparent. But I spent a good five minutes having finished trying to understand what it was all about, with no success – so thank you for your timely blog and explanation!

    I liked OVERLORDS for its cricketing theme; and DARWIN not just because it was a clever clue, but also because we don’t get enough scientists into puzzles imho. Slightly macabre surface to 15dn, I thought, but as Brendan said the other week, the insane world is on the outside of Crosswordland.

    TRIMESTER always confuses me – how can a word that means a quarter start with TRI for three?

    Most enjoyable, many thanks to setter and blogger (btw you have a tiny typo at 6dn – I think you mean ‘bloke’ and not ‘block’).

  5. Eileen says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad

    TRIMESTER is confusing: when applied to either pregnancy or the academic year, it seems to mean ‘a third’ but, in fact, it means ‘three months’, so perfectly logical, really! :-)

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl and Brendan

    This was very enjoyable but, although I opted for DARWIN, I didn’t know how the clue worked – until now.

    Re Kathryn’s Dad @ 4

    TRIMESTER = Three Months

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Brendan

    Pretty enjoyable and hardest so far this week for me.

    AS eileen says, 13,17 is very clever. I saw the answer fairly early but it took some time to see the way it all slotted together. Solitaire was my last to go in – it was only when I had ‘twists’ that I saw what the anagram was. By that time I had forgotten about 13,17 so I did not get as far as ‘a single stone’ though I know it well enough.

    In itself 23 is a nice clue since it is a game ONE plays as the wording specifies.

    Other clues that pleased were 4a, 11a, 21a, 3d, 15d.

    Returning briefly to 13,17 there was a nice red herring with ‘murder’ since I began to think we’d be getting another list of collective nouns for birds.

    Unlike with a cold shower, I was sorry when this one ended.

  8. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    As others have said, a great puzzle with elegant clueing, and not as tricky as many of Brendan’s.

    Favourite clues: 9a (effective clue for a simple phrase), 11a (good double use of the cricket metaphor), 25a (great surface).

    7d held me up until I had all the crossing letters because, like Eileen, I am more familiar with the word as ‘aeolian’. Perhaps Brendan has spent too much time in Oregon!

    The clue to the long answer is clever, but I’m not sure that I would have been able to go from clue to solution, rather than spotting the phrase from the crossing letters and then working back.

    The explanation for DARWIN had eluded me – thanks for this.

    Kathryn’s Dad: in the word TRIMESTER the ‘mester’ part refers to months, ie a three-month period.

  9. Ian says:

    Yes a great Brendan puzzle and superbly blogged mhl.

    I started in the NW corner with the low hanging fruit and went round the puzzle in an anti-clockwise direction.

    At nearly every turn you are confronted with Brendanesque cleverness and ingenuity. Particularly praiseworthy are 7dn for EOLIAN, 22dn for OPERA and 11ac for OVERLORDS.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks all for the TRIMESTER explanation. As you say, obvious (when you know …)

  11. Stella Heath says:

    A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, where the connections made in 13/17 mystified me increasingly as the relevant answers appeared, until the penny finally dropped and I solved the clue, leaving me only the NW corner to finish off.

    I needed your explanation to fully appreciate the cleverness of that clue, and to understand 26ac, being unfamiliar with the notes, so thanks for a clear and informative blog, mhl, and to Brendan for a good start to the day.

  12. Robi says:

    An enjoyable puzzle and thanks to mhl for explaining ‘noteworthy’ in 26, which passed me by. Once I had MURDER, 13,7 was fairly easy to guess with a few crossing letters.

    At the beginning, I thought 2 was ‘uncommon,’ which seemed to fit the clue quite well. Andrew @3, I imagined going into a museum ‘without any charge’ as ADMISSION FREE, but maybe that requires too much to infer from the wordplay.

    I would tend to write ‘drole’ rather than DROLL, but no doubt someone will tell me they are not interchangeable (?)

  13. Geoff says:

    Robi @12: DROLL is a word borrowed from French and ‘drole’ is the French spelling (give or take a circumflex).

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to mhl for the blog – I needed it for several cases of I’m sure the answer is xxx but why?
    On 26a I had totally forgotten about portraits on currency notes.

    I liked 11a and 23a.

    I also wonder about TWISTS?

  15. Robi says:

    mhl & chas @14: Chambers gives TWIST = a mixed drink (slang).

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    Just finished and nothing left to add. Must get up earlier. Oh well, off to the bookies (he said, demonstrating the practical exeperience implied last week!) :D

  17. James Droy says:

    You are all such a forgiving lot, to have, so politely, not mentioned that the plural of euro is, erm, euro and not EUROS. I know the European Commission are flexible on the matter but it is enshrined in law. I’m just going out to get a life…

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. Like Derek, I’ve nothing much to add, except that I really enjoyed this. Didn’t see the ‘noteworthy’ part of 26ac or fully parse 13, 17, but it was great fun all the same. I did wonder whether Brendan’s country of residence might have influenced the spelling of EOLIAN.

  19. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Brendan for the superbly crafted puzzle and mhl for the blog especially the DARWIN explanation. Also, was unaware of the TWISTS – must do some field research today!


  20. NeilW says:

    Thanks mhl

    Came here late in the day (for Indonesia) in hopes of seeing someone cleverer than I pointing out the hidden something.. It’s often been noted that, “There’s always a theme with Brendan.” There seemed to be at least one false start with currency but, apart from the central linked phrase, nothing unifying or am I still missing something?

  21. Stella Heath says:

    Hi James Droy@17. I don’t know about the English, who don’t use the currency, but as far as Spain, France, Portugal and no doubt some others who do use it are concerned, the the plural of euro is ‘euros’.

    As for EOLIAN, I had no trouble with the spelling, as Spanish always spells phonetically, so it was the only one I’m familiar with – though I did have a suspicion it’s not the correct form in English :)

  22. Geoff says:

    I seem to remember that the plural of ‘euro’ was originally mandated as ‘euro’ but this seemed so unnatural to native speakers in the eurozone that there has been backsliding. Certainly ‘euros’ is now commonly used in French, and it is the official plural in English, according to the EU style guide, so Brendan is correct.

    In Italian, which does not have plurals in ‘s’, the official plural is still the same as the singular. You do sometimes see ‘euri’ on market stalls, but it makes the linguistic purists wince…

  23. otter says:

    Super puzzle, plenty of enjoyable clues, and a very clever theme. As usual, with Brendan, I found the theme no help until I had finished, then re-read the theme clue again and gave a smile at the cleverness of the different meanings of the parts of that clue used in the linked clues (if that makes sense).

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW @20

    Isn’t the beautifully symmetrically-placed 13,17, with its six associated and inter-linked clues, enough of a theme for you? I certainly didn’t think to look further – but maybe I’m missing something, too!

    Hi Geoff @22

    You mean as do ‘potato’s, tomato’s, etc. on our market stalls? :-)

  25. mhl says:

    otter: Seeing your username reminded me that I didn’t reply to this comment of yours:

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I know I can get the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary online there – what I want is the proper Chambers dictionary, and I’m quite happy to pay for it if they’d let me. (As an example, today the former doesn’t give the “mixed drink” meaning of “twist” whereas apparently the latter does. Also, the former is useless for advanced cryptics.) It’s frustrating, because I registered online when I got my physical copy of the Chambers Dictionary, and had many months of happy use of the service. However, they offer no way of renewing the service – I guess if I bought another copy of the dictionary now that might work. They don’t respond to any contact about this via their online form. Much as I love the dictionary, it’s shambolic incompetence that they can’t run a simple paid-for web service. (A further point of irritation is that they don’t do a Kindle version, but that’s a whole different kettle of failure.)

  26. Andrew says:

    Eileen – I agree with you about the theme. As for potato’s etc, I once saw a sign on a stall on Cambridge market advertising Cactu’s Pear’s.

  27. Wolfie says:

    Another excellent puzzle from Brendan – though for me it still leaves Monday’s Rufus as the toughest Guardian cryptic this week. I was pleased that for once in Crosswordland the ‘support’ in 12ac was not a bra – even though the solution (BRACE)included one! Like everyone else apparently I worked out 13/17 from the definition and crossing letters, and parsed it afterwards. I don’t usually like this in a crytpic crossword but the wordplay was so witty that I am happy to forgive Brendan this time!

  28. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Andrew – lovely! :-) I know I’ve seen much more bizarre examples than the ones I gave but – as with jokes – I can only ever remember the less good ones.

  29. Cosafina says:

    Am I the only one who found the SE corner the hardest? Maybe because I had to bring it back to work after a short lunch, and try and finish it while I was meant to be working!

  30. mhl says:

    Andrew, Eileen: there are lots of nice examples at Apostrophe Abuse. On a related subject, there is great joy to be found in the “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks. (Although there’s at least one on the front page that’s actually valid, annoyingly…)

  31. yogdaws says:

    Thanks mhl and Brendan

    13, 17 fiercely, mind-warpingly ingenious.

    Plural/euro controversy highly entertaining in all its demented pedantry.

    Got Darwin but missed the monetary link…

  32. otter says:

    mhl: thanks for the reply. My apologies: I had assumed that the ’21st century dictionary’ was simply the name given to editions of Chambers’ dictionary released in the past few years; I didn’t realise it was a pared-down version.

    I’ve just had another look at the Chambers site, and although they have withdrawn their online subscription service, the full dictionary and thesaurus is available in electronic form through this site: Wordweb Pro. I see there are ipad and iphone versions, but not Kindle: war of the formats strikes again. Betamax, anyone?

    Hope that’s of some use: if not, please feel free to ignore.

  33. otter says:

    mhl: Thanks for your reply. I’ve replied to you a couple of times with a link to a place which sells Chambers in electronic form, but my reply won’t appear on my screen, even though I get a ‘duplicate post’ warning when I try again to post the message. Something is clearly awry. Would be grateful if you’d reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether you’ve received the message and link; if not, I’ll try again later. Thanks.

  34. liz says:

    mhl, Eileen and Andrew:

    I read this recently in a newsletter issued a firm of accountants: ‘Our clients range from global companies to author’s to inventor’s.’

    Greengrocer’s apostrophe is everywhere these days!

    Thanks for the link’s, mhl :-)

  35. mhl says:

    otter: sorry, I’m afraid that sometimes genuine comments with links are classified as spam, so I haven’t seen your reply. If you’re mentioning the mobipocket ebook, it won’t work on a Kindle due to DRM (despite Amazon actually owning mobipocket since 2005) and it’s too old an edition for Azed nowadays anyway. The CDROM version is Windows only, AFAIK.

    This is straying rather off-topic (entirely my fault – sorry, Gaufrid) so if you’re going to reply, perhaps you could do so here?

  36. Gaufrid says:

    Hi otter
    Your original comment was intercepted by the spam filter. I have now recovered it (#32).

  37. otter says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. My first attempt at a link (oops). No more off topic stuff from me today. Thanks, both of you.

  38. Monk says:

    Hi Eileen @24 and Andrew @26

    The details are hazy now, but some years ago (I’ll bet there’s a reader who has the reference and the exact details), Viz comic published in their (spoof) “Letters to the Editor” pages a picture of a (real, UK) shoe shop in whose window was written the caption “Slipper’s £5“. This photo elicited an entirely credible indignant letter from Mr X pointing out that “Clearly, the sign indicated that a pair of slippers in the shop were the owners of £5“. Immediately below that letter appeared (something like) the equally indignant reply “I wish to challenge the point made by Mr X (Letters Page, this issue), because clearly the location of the apostrophe reveals that only one slipper of the pair owns the £5“. At the time, my friends and I laughed heartily at this; when I recently related it to some undergraduates, they looked at me in the vein of goldfish waiting to be fed. Perhaps it’s because their App’s :) do it for them now …

  39. Geoff says:

    Hi Monk, Eileen, Andrew et al

    I little thought that a remark about the correct plural of ‘euro’ would initiate a correspondence about the greengrocer’s (greengrocers’?) apostrophe!

    Perhaps the original concept of the word being unchanged in the plural was following Italian practice. Italian words like ‘foto’ and ‘auto’ do not change in the plural because they are abbreviations. The full forms do change: fotografia – fotografie, automobile – automobili. ‘Euro’ is presumably an abbreviation of ‘European currency unit’, or its equivalent in other languages. ‘Ecu’ had already been used for a virtual precursor to the euro.

  40. Eileen says:

    Hi Geoff, Monk, Andrew, mhl and anyone else interested, since it’s surely now late enough to go a little off-topic

    Geoff: I meant to say as a preamble – and link – that market signs are not the best way to learn a foreign language!

    Monk: many thanks for the story! I have experienced the same blank stares from sixth form college students, who were often wanting to insert apostrophes in verbs, too: once we started on the apostrophe, they tended to sprinkle them around like confetti. [I have to confess to a rather similar cavalier attitude to Greek accents at University!]. I had a colleague who threatened to teach her students to abandon the apostrophe altogether, on the grounds that sins of commission were far more frequent – and worse – than sins of omission. I was often sorely tempted to take her up on it.

    Geoff, re the Italian connection, I think the most annoying / amusing thing at the moment, on both counts, is ‘pannini’s’ :-)

  41. Roger says:

    Thanks mhl … great puzzle, wasn’t it. Only knew the non-American aeolian, as in this harp. (Our overhead phone lines often whistle cheerily when the wind is right !) The alternative routes to 13,17 were very clever. Thanks for all the fun Brendan.

    Tupu @7 … we would have a murder of crows if 15d wasn’t a pointless cock-up, if you see what I mean !

  42. Roger says:

    Re @ 41 …If anyone is remotely interested, 15d could have been CROWS if it wasn’t pointless (= CROW) with a cock up (above) (= COCKCROW) … 17 hours of nothingness rather suggests that no one is. (Only trying to get tupu something to go with his ‘murder’ !)

  43. tupu says:

    Hi Roger

    Many thanks for the kind thoughts. Sounds a bit ominous though!

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