Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian No 25,320 by Brendan

Posted by PeterO on May 12th, 2011


An entertaining offering from Brendan.

The appearance of envelopes in almost every clue must be a theme of sorts; then there is the device indicated in 13A, for which this grid is particularly well suited.

5. Vessel crossing area, following a straight course (6)
LINEAR Envelope (‘crossing’) of A (‘area’) in LINER (‘vessel’).
6. Arrangement wherein you must come in behind, but not last (6)
LAYOUT Envelope (‘in’) of ‘you’ in LAT[e] (‘behind but not last’).
9. Kept in mind a banking conference in Africa (6)
INDABA Hidden answer (‘kept in’) in ‘mIND A BAnking’.
10. Messed around with English in ten poems (8)
RONDEAUX Envelope (‘with … in’) of E (‘English’) in RONDAU, an anagram (‘messed’) of ‘around'; + X (‘ten’)
11. Thomas, for example, holding clubs in card game (4)
LOCO Envelope (‘holding’) of C (‘clubs’) in LOO (‘card game’). The “definition” refers to Thomas the tank engine.
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine
12. With learner getting punishment at school in my isolated state (10)
LONELINESS Charade of L (‘learner’) + an envelope (‘in’) of LINES (‘punishment at school’) in ONES (‘my’).
13. Gets out of line, as today’s solution does in every other row (6,5)
BREAKS RANKS ‘Gets out of line’ as the straight definition, and reference to the ranks of various kinds (EARL, BARON, COLONEL, TENS, CORNET, and MATE) formed between the two lights in each of the other rows of the crossword.
18. Take the stuffing out of food devoured without resistance (10)
DISHEARTEN Charade of DISH (‘food’) + an envelope (‘without’) of R (‘resistance’) in EATEN (‘devoured’).
21. Warning evil’s masking good (4)
SIGN Envelope (‘masking’) of G (‘good’) in SIN (‘evil’).
22. Eccentric rector in old hat (8)
TRICORNE Anagram (‘eccentric’) of ‘rector in’.
23. Moderate or strong show of irritation (6)
TEMPER Double definition, with ‘moderate’ as a verb.
24. Altered image about me, finally, in this puzzle (6)
ENIGMA Envelope (‘about’) of [Brenda]N (‘me, finally’) in EIGMA, an anagram (‘altered’) of ‘image’.
25. Tips for trombone joining a kind of jazz quartet (6)
TETRAD Charade of TE (‘tips for TrombonE‘) + TRAD (‘a kind of jazz’).
1. Like supporter at home holding a kind of sign inside boundary (2,6)
IN FAVOUR Charade of IN (‘at home’) + an envelope (‘holding … inside’) of A V (‘a kind of sign’) in FOUR (‘boundary’, cricket).
2. Bachelor with one diamond, say, for movie actress (6)
BACALL Charade of B (‘batchelor’) + A CALL (‘one diamond’, a call or bid at bridge).
3. I am holding pine up over a shrub (8)
MAGNOLIA Envelope (‘holding’) of LONG (‘pine’) in IM (‘I am’), all reversed (‘up’) + ‘a’. I would describe most magnolias as trees rather than shrubs.


4. Take part in ruling over nation (6)
GOVERN Hidden answer (‘taking part in’) in ‘rulinG OVER Nation, with an &lit definition.
5. American author who chronicled abysmal conditions in this city (6)
LONDON Double definition / &lit, with reference to Jack London, who, although probably best known for White Fang and Call of the Wild, also wrote The People of the Abyss, about the poor in the East End of London (the city).
7. In charge, European is maximally loyal (6)
TRUEST Envelope (‘in’) of E (‘European’) in TRUST (‘charge’, as in “I trust you with this job”).
8. Person taking lead runs inside to take care of dog (11)
TRENDSETTER Charade of an envelope (‘inside’) of R (‘runs’) in TEND (‘to take care’) + SETTER (‘dog’).
14. Features of many crosswords, for example, reappear in two words (8)
ANAGRAMS Definition and cryptic definition, with reference to the fact that ‘reap’ and ‘pear’ are indeed anagrams.
15. Asian type somehow making his mark on India (8)
KASHMIRI KASHMIR, an anagram (‘somehow making’) of ‘his mark’ + I (‘India’).
16. Bishop or knight taking rook or queen to force a way through (6)
PIERCE At first, there seemed too much clue for the answer! An envelope (‘taking’) of R (‘rook’ or ‘queen’, the first abbreviation coming from chess, the second a regular royal queen) in PIECE (‘bishop or knight'; chess again).
17. A sin that’s done! (6)
AGREED Charade of A + GREED (‘a’ ‘sin’).
19. In a frenzy, check it out, with no end of work (6)
HECTIC An anagram of ‘chec[k] it’, removing the ‘k’ (‘end of worK‘).
20. Crazy name, say (6)
NUTTER Charade of N (‘name’) + UTTER (‘say’). Crazy as a noun, a crazy person.

37 Responses to “Guardian No 25,320 by Brendan”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    A lovely full blog for a very good puzzle – much appreciated.
    Re the ranks – Isn’t it ENSIGN, not TENS?

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Peter. The usual good value from Brendan. I thought the fourth rank was ENSIGN.

  3. Geoff says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Splendid puzzle from Brendan.

    Although I spotted some of the ‘broken’ words as I was filling in the grid, 13a was one of my last entries.

    Favourite clues were 25a, for its excellent surface, and 4d – a rare and rather wonderful &lit ‘hidden’ clue.

    I only demurred at MAGNOLIA = ‘shrub’, rather than tree, but this is just nit-picking of a high order in an otherwise great entertainment.

  4. deke says:

    Hi PeterO. Like you, I first though of “tens” as the 4th rank to appear, but on a second look I saw “ensign”, which must be the intention.

    I get fonder of Brendan’s puzzles with each successive appearance.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi PeterO
    Many thanks for standing in at the last minute. You saved me from having to do so. :)

  6. Median says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO. On my first run-through I solved just two clues, so I thought it was going to be really difficult. However, with a bit of persistence they started to come. In the end, I only needed technology for RONDEAUX and overall it felt fair. Nice one, Brendan!

  7. yogdaws says:

    Thanks PeterO,

    Clever stuff. Needed your explanation for 13a to make sense.

    Clue of the day, 20d for its cheeky economy…

  8. riccardo says:

    Thankyou, I had been driving myself mad trying to justify solo for 11ac, delighted to be wrong. I had breezily written in 13ac on the grounds that all the other rows (ranks) were broken, so missing the cleverest bit of the puzzle altogether :-(

  9. caretman says:

    Thanks, PeterO, an enjoyable puzzle from Brendan. Having no children, I needed an explanation for why Thomas was a locomotive. My only quibble was with 10a, where ‘in’ seemed to mean to add something, rather than insert it, but you explained well that it went with the previous ‘with'; very clever!

  10. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Ingenious and unusual theme. And the first appropriately difficult puzzle this week.
    Well done Brendan.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO.

    The late arrival of the blog meant that for once I managed to twig the broken ranks theme and find all the appropriate words. We’ve had this kind of device before, but I can’t remember who was the setter (someone will know!).

    Hugely enjoyable puzzle…I do like Brendan!

    Missed some of the wordplay, including the clever reap/pear in 14dn. And I somehow overlooked the fact that Thomas was the def in 11ac, despite getting the clue right and despite years of being forced to read Thomas the Tank Engine books to my little boy who was obsessed by them.

  12. PeterO says:

    Ensign indeed – though I still think that tens is a reasonable second best. I was standing in for this blog, and did not have as much time to ponder as I would have liked. Since we are up to 10 comments already, while I was frantically getting the blog to behave sensibly, it seems there was a need for the post!

  13. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeterO and Brendan

    This was very entertaining and quite challenging in places.

  14. Robi says:

    Very clever puzzle, which I found hard. Like riccardo, I completely missed the broken ranks (doh!)

    Thanks for a good blog, PeterO; your magnolia picture seems to have lost part of its URL – I think it might be here.

    I also missed the reap-pear ANAGRAMS and the ha in GOVERN. I’m feeling pretty stupid now! INDABA was a new word for me. I particularly liked LONELINESS and TETRAD.

    Perhaps I better go and lie down now (or have a glass of wine.)

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO and Brendan for another super puzzle.

    Hi liz @11

    I think the puzzle you’re thinking of is the one I blogged on 25th October [25,150] by – Brendan! The theme was ‘broken bones’ and I cracked this morning’s when I saw LOCO, which he linked in that puzzle with STATIONARY to give COSTA.

    Lots of fun and, again, a puzzle that’s free-standing even if you don’t see the theme. [I was hung up on chess for a bit after getting 13ac.]

  16. Ian says:

    Thank you Peter O.

    A pretty difficult crossword to blog and well done. Brendan on form with some terrific clueing.

    Similar to Geoff, I was well into the puzzle before inserting 13ac. I started in the NE corner and moved in a generally clockwise direction. At first I thought 4dn was a reference to our Education Secretary before the ingeniously embedded word presented itself to me.

    I too was unable to view your image of the shrub on my iPad. I put this down to a shortcoming of the tablet as the pic of Thomas the Tank Engine is perfectly fine.

  17. Gaufrid says:

    The broken link in 3dn has now been corrected.

  18. liz says:

    Hi Eileen @ 15. Thanks for tracking down the other Brendan ‘broken bones’ one. The device stuck in my mind because I failed to see it that time and I felt like kicking myself over it!

  19. Wolfie says:

    I struggled with this one – made a good start, got completely stuck and then finished it off quickly after a break and a glass of wine. An excellent puzzle I thought, though I was unhappy with 20d. The Guardian would not normally allow ‘Nutter’ to appear in the newspaper – this term of abuse is rightly regarded as highly offensive to people with psychiatric problems. Why should it be any more acceptable in the crossword as a synonym for ‘Crazy’?

    Thanks for the very helpful blog PeterO.

  20. Robi says:

    Wolfie @19; I have some sympathy with your point of view in that I think the term ‘nutter’ is pretty offensive. However, it is listed in Chambers as ‘a crazy person,’ so again I don’t think we can blame the setter for using it in a crossword.

    Gaufrid @17; the picture link still doesn’t seem to work.

  21. malc95 says:

    Wolfie @19

    Coincidentally, “NUTTY” (definition “mad”) appears in the FT crossie today. Abusive & offensive to many maybe, but unfortunately in general usage.

  22. malc95 says:

    Sorry Robi, we crossed.

    I should have said “common” not “general” usage.

  23. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Brendan for the wonderful puzzle and PeterO for filling in admirably on the blog. Thanks for the explanation regarding four as a boundary in 1dn. Will someday have to learn about cricket. Indaba was new to me but I like to learn new words. My COD was 14dn.


  24. Geoff says:

    Wolfie @19: ‘Crazy’ is not exactly a respectful term for the mentally ill either. In Brendan’s defence, can I point out that both words are often used somewhat affectionately to mean ‘eccentric person’, without any direct implication of psychosis.

    We get lots of sexism in Guardian crosswords as well, which sometimes gives rise to comment here, as well as a lot of general ribaldry from some of the setters.

    Brendan is a serious academic, of impeccable liberal credentials. I am sure that he sees a complete separation between the wordplay in his puzzles and the language that he would use in any other context.

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Peter.

    Was only able to get to the crossword this evening. I don’t normally do evening solves since my crossword brain shuts down after my third cup of coffee in the morning, but when I saw it was Brendan I decided to give it a go.

    Just defeated by a few at the finish and although I got BREAKS RANKS quite quickly, I couldn’t see what was going on. But that’s the mark of a good puzzle of this type – you can still enjoy it and then go D’oh! afterwards.

    Like liz, Thomas is etched into my subconscious after years of reading the stories to the children when they were little. My two boys would demand ‘again, again!’, but Kathryn and her sister were less impressed after they realised that all the important parts were played by men and that girls were relegated to being coaches like Henrietta. Since Kathryn’s just about to graduate in International Relations and Politics, I can say that her views about political correctness and sex-role stereotyping were obviously formed at an early age. And yes, she’s a daily Guardian reader (but is still stuck on the Quick Crossword).

    Thanks to Brendan for an enjoyable puzzle.

  26. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Brendan

    Good blog and lovely puzzle. I finished it this a.m. and then had to go out. Layout and the connected earl caused me most difficulty.

    Most enjoyable and hard enough to give a genuine sense of satisfaction on completion.

    Lots of goood clues and favourite possibly 25a.

  27. Wolfie says:

    Geoff: Exactly my point – ‘Crazy’ is just as offensive as ‘Nutter’, so to see one of the words used to define the other simply adds to the offence caused.

    I am sure you are right about Brendan’s liberal credentials; all the more surprising then that he should feel free to ignore the Guardian’s own style guide (available on the website), which advises its contributors to:

    “[t]ake care using language about mental health issues. In addition to such clearly offensive and unacceptable expressions as loony, maniac, nutter, psycho and schizo, terms to avoid – because they stereotype and stigmatise – include victim of, suffering from, and afflicted by; “a person with” is clear, accurate and preferable to “a person suffering from”.”

    I don’t accept the view that it is ok to use language in a crossword that would be unacceptable in any other part of the newspaper. If ‘Nutter’ is allowed, when can we look forward to ‘Spaz’, ‘Mong’ etc making their appearance?

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Another cracker from Brendan which we found a lot harder to complete than some of his recent puzzles.
    As for some reason we nearly always do, we started in the SE, where ‘Nutter’ was my first entry [and one that didn’t offend me – I am a liberal person and I do care for the ones at the wrong end of our society, but I am not thát sensitive as Wolfie (perhaps, wrongly so)].

    We had ENIGMA and TETRAD (a clever clue!) very early on and knowing from 13ac that there must be something going on here, I spotted MATE but found it not interesting enough at that stage.
    How right I was though, and after unravelling 13ac, I immediately had to think of the ‘broken bones’ puzzle – just like Eileen.
    After which some missing solutions like RONDEAUX, INDABA and ?OCO fell very quickly in place.

    My PinC’s last entry [I won this time, :)] was PIERCE (16d), which I thought was another very fine clue.

    Other winners: LAYOUT (6ac), LONELINESS (12ac) [took a while to understand that one], ANAGRAMS (14d) [which also took some time as my PinC opted for ACRONYMS at first] and HECTIC (19d).

    Thanks, PeterO, you really like the word ‘envelope’, don’t you? :)

    And many thanks Brendan for this great crossword.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    BTW, my PinC got that idea for ACRONYMS because it is an anagram of MANY CROS(swords), which was in the clues.

  30. PeterO says:

    I do not know what is wrong with wrong with the Magnolia picture, and my latest attempt to correct the problem has somehow caused the entire blog to vanish. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

  31. rrc says:

    there appears to be no explanations for the answers today is there a problem I ask my self

  32. Brendan says:

    I appreciate the various comments about using “nutter”. If I had thought about it, I would have found an alternative. The fact that we don’t think about it is itself highly significant. I tend to use the Concise Oxford, which has become quite responsible about labelling usages as derogatory or offensive, as a rough guide. It describes “nutter” as “informal”.

    I hate the term “politically correct”. I take this to be a matter of respect for others.

  33. Geoff says:

    Wolfie: It is rather late to reply, for which I apologise.

    I appreciate your concern, but I still believe that you are overreacting. ‘Sapz’ and ‘mong’ are words that have no connotation other than the very highly pejorative. ‘Crazy’ and ‘nutter’, on the other hand, are colloquially used to mean simply ‘eccentric’, without any such intense animus.

    Personally, I do not believe that we should taboo words simply because they can be very highly offensive in certain contexts provided that they have more innocent connotations in others. ‘Left-footer’ is unremarkable if referring to a sportsman, but offensive (or at least intended to be so) if used to refer to a Roman Catholic.

  34. PeterO says:

    We are back on the air, with a different Magnolia picture, not in Kew Gardens, but it looks like a soulangeana also, and it shows its non-shrubbiness equally well.

  35. Martin H says:

    Excellent crossword. Cunning and witty throughout, with a nice device woven in. (A slight quibble at ‘holding’ in 1 and 11 – it seemed surplus to requirements in each)

    And no theme!

    We’ve had some enjoyable quickly solved puzzles this week, and this more demanding solve came just at the right time. Well set and well edited – and a nice commentary, thanks PeterO.

  36. arfanarf says:

    I think there might be another problem with magnolia. But this time its the explanation of the solution. [MA [GNOL] I] A, uses the whole of ‘I am’ [IAM] not I’m [IM]. Probably just a typo.

  37. Mr Beaver says:

    Only just finished this ! A testament to its toughness (for us, anyway) and its entertainment – we couldn’t leave it!

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