Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,335 – Brendan

Posted by Andrew on May 30th, 2011


Apologies for a late and rather hurried Bank Holiday blog. It’s always a pleasure to see Brendan’s name, and this puzzle was enjoyable as ever. Regular readers will know that there’s always a theme in Brendan’s puzzles, but this one had me wondering where it was, and I didn’t spot it (or did I….?) until right at the end, when it was too late to be any help with solving some of the clues. I’ll say no more to avoid spoiling the fun, but if anyone missed it perhaps it will be mentioned in the comments.

8. DISAGREE SAG (flag, as in fade or weaken) in DIRE E
10. ROOK Double definition: bird, and the chess piece, which can’t move at the very start of a game because it’s blocked by other pieces.
11. SOAKING WET A KING + WE (the Royal “we”, or “one” as the Queen used to say a lot) in SOT.
14. ELEVENTH Hidden in hotEL EVEN THough.
15. WANNABE Reverse of BAN in WANE
20. SPLUTTER S + PL + UTTER (say)
22. MEGOHM G in HOME* + M[et]. It’s a million ohms, so “a lot of resistance”
24. DIME DIM (turn down, e.g. a light) + E
25. OAFISH O + A FISH (member of a school)
26. MACARONI Double definition. I think the “exquisite” meaning is as used in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” – “he put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni”
2. HACK Double definition – work as a drudge ,and put up with as in “can’t hack it”
3. ERASER Hidden in opERA SERia, and an eraser removes pencil lead.
4. RELATED R + ELATED. “Did recount” = “recounted”. No doubt a nod to the shenanigans of the 2000 presidential election
6. SNIGGERING E.G. GINS reversed + RING (band)
7. NICEST N + [hol]I[day] + C’EST (“that is” in French)
16. BETROTHS BET (speculation) + SHORT*
18. SCHUMANN C (key)) + HUMAN in SN (South & North – partners in Bridge). The composers are the married couple Robert and Clara (nee Wieck)
22. MUNICH NI (Northern Ireland) in MUCH ( a good deal)
24. DART More French – D’ART = “of paintings”

37 Responses to “Guardian 25,335 – Brendan”

  1. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan.

    An excellent puzzle with some nice misleading clues e.g. drunkard might have been soak but wasn’t.

    Got the theme message like Andrew at the end – very nice. So glad I didn’t just put the puzzle down!

    Much enjoyed 8a, 10a, 11a, 14a, 15a, 24,a 25a, 7d.

    Another first class piece of work from Brendan and excellent Bank Holiday fare.

  2. MatthewD says:

    Many thanks for the blog and crossword. Bit harder than usual Monday fare (it is a public holiday in the UK after all) and I have a quibble with 2d as I think “back” works as well as “hack” (to back someone is to put up (the money) and back work is drudgery I think) but enjoyable nonetheless.

    Can’t see any theme though. Care to elaborate anyone?

  3. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, for the blog, and Brendan for a most enjoyable puzzle, as ever.

    [As Andrew says, it’s strange to see there’s no theme in this crossword. :-) ]

    Favourite clues: 7dn, 13dn [great to see that spelling!] 18dn, a beautifully constructed clue, and 11ac for the wonderful surface, and, as tupu says, for ‘soak’ not being the drunkard

  4. Wanderer says:

    This was hilarious, and a real treat on a Monday. Naturally I only spotted the theme towards the very end, but it did help me with WANNABE which I was still missing at the time. Still somewhat puzzled by MACARONI.

    Lovely stuff, thanks to Andrew and Brendan.

  5. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I’m always glad to see Brendan, and enjoyed this very much.

    I spent ages trying to spot a theme, but only twigged when I read the blog and had another look…V clever and amusing!

    re Macaroni. This was the term for eighteenth-century dandies who had been on the Grand Tour.


  6. Wanderer says:

    Thanks for the link, liz! That’s my new piece of knowledge for today.

  7. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    As you say, there’s always a theme in Brendan’s puzzles… erm, except when it’s a Nina! The grid was the giveaway for me, lending itself to a message. I needed the Nina to get 2dn.

    Chambers gives MACARONI meaning 3. as “something fanciful and extravagant” which I guess is the justification for exquisite.

  8. NeilW says:

    Matthew D – I think my last comment probably gives you enough to work on and explains why 2dn is HACK!

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, I thought this was tougher than usual. I was looking out for a theme or similar from the start, and spotted the idea half way through, so it helped me with 6 or 7 answers. It rescued for me a slightly duller Brendan.

  10. MatthewD says:

    Thank you NeilW – just seen it. Don’t know what “Nina” refers to though.


  11. Dave Ellison says:

    18d I was pondering SCHUBERT (Key = HUB) and Schiller for a while, having S_H. I was a bit doubtful about the H because, whilst I knew mega-ohm I had not heard of MEGOHM.

  12. Robi says:

    Very good crossword. Thanks to Andrew for the blog and Eileen for ‘There’s no theme in this crossword,’ which, of course, I signally failed to spot.

    Failed again to get SN=partners in bridge – one day I’ll remember this. I liked the ROOK clue though; more my cup of tea than bridge. ERASER, NICEST, BETROTHS, PREWAR and DART were especially enjoyable.

    My usual rant about abbreviations, which I suppose I have to get used to: r=Republican but NOT r=red; I know which one I might use!

  13. NeilW says:

    MatthewD@10: Plagiarising the excellent, “A Nina is a special feature of the crossword grid: a word, words or phrase hidden within a pattern of cells in the completed grid.The word comes from Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003), American caricaturist, who was famous for hiding his daughter’s name “Nina” into his drawings.”

  14. Robi says:

    p.s. for those who do not know, there is a nice explanation of NINA in the FAQ tab on this site.

  15. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew. No Bank Holiday here, but it doesn’t matter, as I finished classes last week :)

    I needed your explanations for the composers, as I wasn’t aware they were a couple. My OH is the classical music expert, and only a little rubs off on me.

    I didn’t get the message until I read your introduction. I’m not used to looking for them, and I sure it’s not the first time I’ve said here that I shall have to remember next time I see Brendan’s name. The penny will drop eventually, I hope.

  16. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks Andrew. This was very enjoyable. Fairly quick solve but very enjoyable en route as others have mentioned. I too have been blind to themes and ninas but I remember a lesson from this site that “there is always a theme with Brendan”, so I was especially alert today. I noticed that the grid lent itself to a perimeter nina and noticed a promising first few letters but it was only when I finished that I read the pertinent message. Better than finding out about it here!

  17. chas says:

    Will somebody please say explicitly what the theme is.
    I have read all these comments that say “I did not see it” or “I only saw it at the end” but I have still not seen it.

  18. Robi says:

    chas @17; the (not!) theme is that THERES NO THEME IN THIS CROSSWORD spelt out in the edge letters reading anticlockwise starting at the NW corner as a Nina (see FAQ tab for explanation of Nina or NeilW @13.)

  19. greyfox says:

    Have a look around the perimeter chas. Perhaps, like me you’ll say “Doh!”

  20. Robi says:

    Sorry, meant clockwise!

  21. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew & Brendan

    I really enjoyed this and didn’t spot the Nina until after I thought that I’d completed the puzzle correctly: I didn’t have HACK until I then realised that it had to start with an ‘H’.

    I didn’t understand MACARONI because – to my mind – it could hardly be called ‘exquisite’ but now I know!

    All puzzles should be this good!

    (Rufus please watch your back.)

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Is it a theme?

  23. superkiwigirl says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan.

    Goodness – how clever is this (a whole added dimension to these puzzles that I never imagined existed!) Even when I started to read the blog and then to cross check with the completed grid I didn’t spot it until the last moment. I’ll be on the look out in future, though.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle- SCHUMANN and DART were among my favourites. I’m with the others who hadn’t come across MACARONI and MEG (rather than MEGA) OHM before, so they were among the last to go in.

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to Robi @18.
    From other comments here I thought it had to be something inside rather than at the edge so I found 8a,9a contains ‘green’ and 15a,17a contains ‘bet’ but I saw nothing else.

    Now that I have seen what Robi stated I am reminded of an Araubetical some time ago where the instructions said that the grid was symmetric so could be answered in one of two ways. I picked one orientation and after a while I found the letters down the right hand side spelled out B_T_OM which told me (a) I had the wrong way round and (b) two missing words ended in O and T.

  25. chas says:

    As for Macaroni: my reading of Georgette Heyer says that in late 18th century there were some men who adopted extremes of fashion. They were called exquisites or macaronis. I do not believe that having done the Grand Tour was a necessity.

  26. caretman says:

    This was a fun solve for a long weekend. Since I made steady progress on it, I didn’t look for the nina until it was completed. My favorite clue was 16d; I hardly felt short-changed with it.

    Chas@24, a conclusion I’ve drawn from my life of doing crosswords is that if the grid is set up so that there are two ways you can enter lights, whichever way you choose will always be the wrong way.

  27. Carrots says:

    I just about scraped up to the line (with HACK still to go in) when I saw the Nina….you could have knocked me over with a feather! This was a most memorable puzzled which helped to wile away a wet Monday. At least the crops are groaning with pleasure…along with me, dashing around the pub like a ten-year-old, explaining Brendan`s genius!!

    I didn`t need you this time Andrew, but I do think your blogs are always fine examples of succinctness. Thanks!

  28. Manu says:

    The PERIMETER. Dear me, I should have checked it earlier on, knowing it’s Brendan and the theme can come up anywhere ha ha.
    I was checking for broken words across and down, for anagrams, e-ve-ry-thing. Didn’t get it until the very end.
    Chapeau, Monsieur Brendan!

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Marvellous crossword.
    So extremely well clued that I really cannot choose any clues that stood out from the rest.

    Like many of ye all, we spotted the Nina only after solving.
    It had the ultimate effect on us.
    I looked at my PinC and literally said: “Strange, no theme? There must be one” after which she pointed at the perimeter.

    Chapeau, Brendan!

  30. muck says:

    Thanks Andrew & Brendan
    I spotted the nina early enough to help me with a few answers

  31. Brendan says:

    Thanks, everyone.

    I just want to acknowledge that I learned the idea of using unchecked letters for messages from Paul Henderson, though he was probably not the first to exploit this device — anyone know?

  32. chas says:

    Brendan – see my comment @24.
    Araucaria used some letters on the perimeter to pass a message.
    If my memory serves right he also had a bank holiday special some years ago where the whole perimeter was used – but explicitly.

  33. flashling says:

    Well as an Indy regular seeing grids like this sets warning bells off and Brendan used to set for us… so the Nina was expected, good stuff didn’t really get macaroni, so thanks folks & Brendan for the fun

  34. Martin P says:

    Quite a toughie I thought.

    Macaroni: I wondered about “macaron”, “confectionery”+ “i”, “Italian” but the fashionista explanation sounds most likely to me. Don’t the Italians call it “maccheroni”, though?

    2 down and 10 across were the last I got.

    Megohm, yes, not often the prefix precedes a vowel but OK for a techie.

    All in all a testing refresher after a twelve day crossword fast for me.

  35. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan.

    Failed to spot the theme completely, so thanks for pointing this out to us. I had ‘Jack’ for 2dn – ‘to lift up with work’ and ‘a servant’. Hack is better answer, regardless of the theme. Quite a difficult puzzle I thought.

  36. MikeC says:

    I completely missed the love affair with Nina (in the back of my Cortina), so thanks Andrew, Eileen and others. Brilliant crossword, Brendan.

  37. Huw Powell says:

    Oh so much fun! I noticed a vague theme in so many depressing clue words, but utterly failed to see the Nina until it was explained here. Surely a tiny clue as in a special instruction would have been a nice tease? Like “it’s all around” or something equally distracting.

    Lovely puzzle, Brendan, and great blog Andrew, I liked the coyness regarding potential spoilers for the theme!

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