Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,383 / Brendan

Posted by duncanshiell on July 25th, 2011


I am standing in this morning for Andrew who is unavailable.  I suppose I was expecting a puzzle from Rufus this morning, but as we see, this is an offering from Brendan.

It was not until I came to the Down clues that I got a proper foothold on this crossword.  I think I only got ISIS on the first trawl through the Acrosses.

It is interesting to compare the nature of Brendan’s clues with those of Rufus who I blogged last week.  Different setters, of course, have different styles.  Brendan’s favourite clue seems to Container & Contents with 13 of the 28 clues involving the use of this device, but he also employs many more compound clues than Rufus does in his standard Monday puzzles.  

The theme today was clearly pairs.  Apart from the two obvious ones at 1 Down (DAPHNIS AND CHLOE) and 8 Down (HANSEL AND GRETEL), directly referenced by 17 Down (TWO PAIRS), we had ALPHA & OMEGA at (10 Across and 26 Across [symmetrically balanced]) and BRIDE & GROOM (3 Down and 23 Down, again symmetrically balanced).  TWO PAIRS was also symmetrically located with respect to FOURSOME which is a game of golf for TWO PAIRS.

Further there were many entries with double letters, or double pairs of letters  – POSSESS, PEEL, ISIS, TRODDEN, AGAG, HOODOOS, TEEPEE and ASSESS

The clues also made a number of references to pairs (couple of sons, pair of islands and brace of ducks)

I learnt a few new words and phrases today.  If I have come across DAPHNIS AND CHLEO before it can only have been in a crossword.  King AGAG has not been on my list of well known Kings up till now and ARTERIOLE is not a word I use very often.

At 18 down I was fixated on PC as the computer for far too long even though I knew DOGMATIC was a synonym for doctrinaire.

The parsing is fairly clear and I have only a small query at 25 Across, ACREAGE

This puzzle was, for me, an enjoyable start to the week.  

Clue Wordplay Entry Clue Type
9 Vessel dispersing vital supplies later wrecked around Eastern port (9) Anagram of (wrecked) LATER containing (around) (E [Eastern] + RIO [reference Rio De Janiero, port city]) ARTERIOLE (a very small artery; a vessel dispersing vital supplies) Anagram and Container & Contents
10 Leader in Athens in initial phase (5) ALPHA (A, first letter of the Greek alphabet and first letter of [leader] ATHENS) ALPHA (beginning; the first phase of a project may be referred to as the ALPHA phase) Cryptic definition (?); Double definition
11 For whom it’s not easy having nothing stored (7) HARDER (not easy) containing (having ….. stored) O (zero; nothing) HOARDER (one who keeps things; he/she would not find it easy having nothing stored) Container & Contents; & Lit
12 Have another couple of sons added to law partnership (7) POSSE (a force or body of constables; a law partnership)  + (S [son] + S [son] – giving a couple of sons, to add to the two S [son] already in POSSE) POSSESS (have) Additive
13 Pair of islands in river (4) IS (island) + IS (island) – a pair of islands, to follow a couple of sons in the previous clue ISIS (The RiverThames, when it flows through Oxford is known as the Isis) Additive
14 Met beginner who later rose to the top politically (6,4) Sir ROBERT PEEL helped create (beginner of) the Metropolitan Police (Met) whilst Home Secretary ROBERT PEEL (he became Prime Minister [top politically] in 1834, but served only for a short time, before returning for a further 5 years from 1841 to 1846) Cryptic definition
16 Song with piece of lyric that uplifts and moves lots of people (7) AIR (song) + LINE (a piece of a lyric) AIRLINE (an organisation that uplifts and moves lots of people) Additive and Cryptic definition
17 Rum in a fashion, mostly used by hikers (7) ODD (rum) contained in (in) (TREND [fashion] excluding the last letter [mostly] D) TRODDEN  (used by hikers) Container & Contents and Takeaway
19 Destroyer turned back, having sunk vessel (10) ROTATED (turned) reversed (back) containing (having sunk) VAS (vessel, tube or duct) DEVASTATOR (destroyer) Container & Contents and Reversal
22 King mentioned by Samuel as a joke (4) A + GAG (joke) AGAG (King Agag is mentioned in the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament) Additive
24 Covers protecting another brace of ducks in unlucky experiences (7) HOODS contains (covers) (O [duck] + O [duck] – a brace of ducks) HOODOOS (bad luck[s]; unlucky experiences) Container & Contents
25 Amount of space about to be confined? (7) RE (about) contained in (confined) A CAGE (a CAGE would be an appropriate place of confinement)  I’m not sure that I have parsed this right but it seems to make sense.  I also thought of A = ‘about’ as part of the parsing. ACREAGE (amount of space) Container & Contents
26 In conclusion, returning stone set in a ring (5) GEM (stone) contaned in (set in) (A + O [ring]), all reversed (returning) OMEGA (conclusion) Container & Contents and Reversal
27 Emerson is oddly disposed to be preachy (9) Anagram of (oddly disposed) EMERSON IS SERMONISE (be preachy) Anagram


Clue Wordplay Entry Clue Type
1 Classic lovers in an epic hold hands excitedly (7,3,5) Anagram of (excitedly) AN EPIC HOLD HANDS DAPHNIS AND CHLOE (classic lovers described in novel by 2nd century Greek novelist Longus.  The lovers are also the subject of a ballet with music composed by Ravel in the early 20th century) Anagram
2 More reliable and direct about redistribution of aid (8) STEER (direct) containing (about) an anagram of [redistribution of] AID) STEADIER (more reliable) Container & Contents and Anagram
3 New partner’s stupid rebid (5) Anagram of (stupid) REBID BRIDE (new partner) Anagram
4 Competition for course not available to all round university (8) FOR SOME (not available to all) containing U (university) FOURSOME (a golf match [for course] played between two pairs of players) Container & Contents
5 Finally fought with European sword in Indian dwelling (6) T (last letter of [finally]) FOUGHT +  E (European) + ÉPÉE (sword) TEEPEE (Native American tent; Indian dwelling) Additive and Takeaway
6 Warn about small article that creates an effect (9) CAUTION (warn) containing (S [small] + A [indefinite article]) CAUSATION (the bringing about of an effect) Container & Contens and Additive
7 For each person one must include something easy (6) ACE (one) containing (must include) PIE (an easy thing; reference ‘easy as pie’) APIECE (for each person) Container & Contents
8 A shelter England organised for abandoned German children (6,3,6) Anagram of (organised) A SHELTER ENGLAND HANSEL AND GRETEL (reference the German fairy tale recorded by The Brothers Grimm) Anagram
15 Family member knows I am changing name (9) (Anagram of [changing] KNOWS I AM) + N (name) KINSWOMAN (family member) Anagram and Additive
17 Modest holding to gamble with, such as 1 and 8 (3,5) TWO PAIRS (The entries at 1 down and 8 down are both pairs [of people]) TWO PAIRS (a modest holding to gamble with as two pairs can be beaten by three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind and straight flush) Cryptic definition
18 Doctrinaire setter, perhaps, has it set up in computer (8) DOG (a setter is a breed of dog) + (MAC [reference Apple Mac computer] containing IT reversed [set up]) DOGMATIC (doctrinaire) Additive and Container & Contents
20 Flower girl’s savage, with no end of aggression (6) VIOLENT (savage) excluding (with no) last letter of (end of) N of AGGRESSION VIOLET (flower) Takeaway
21 Dunces succeeded in test (6) S (succeeded) contained in (in) ASSES (dunces) ASSESS (test) Container & Contents
23 Good part of building to adapt for office (5) G (good) + ROOM  (part of a building) GROOM (adapt for office) Additive

27 Responses to “Guardian 25,383 / Brendan”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Duncan

    I think you’ll find that 10 is just a hidden answer with ALPHA being the first letter of the Greek Alphabet which pairs it rather nicely with OMEGA’s definition.

  2. Mystogre says:

    Thank you for standing in Duncan. I enjoyed this in the heat of Singapore, although I must agree with you about the list of kings. AGAG was one I had no inkling of, until this morning. And as for the pair in 1d – that was trial and error until I ran out of letters. Given my inclinations, I was also thinking PC for the computer and could not get a word that started and ended that way and fitted. It took a while before I clicked on the pair theme and I noticed the Greek alphabet coming into play there too.

    Although I got DEVASTATOR, I did not know why until your explanation appeared. In that case there are two medical terms as well – ARTERIOLE and VAS? Don’t know if that means anything.

    But, an pleasant way to pass half an hour, so thanks to Brendan too.

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan, and Brendan.

    Pleasing theme. Was wondering if the 2 major pairs are Greek and German by coincidente, given most recent events. I think in 24A HOODOOS, Brendan uses “another brace”, in the same way as “another couple” in 12A POSSE. I agree with your parsing in 25A ACREAGE – an (unusual perhaps?) example of the explanation for the answer reflecting the clue itself – RE in A CAGE = “about to be confined”.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Duncan but this puzzle was too difficult for me.

    I’d never heard of AGAG, ARTERIOLE nor DAPHNIS AND CHLOE whilst a Mac is not a REAL computer, is it? Didn’t Shakespeare describe it as MacDuff?

    And, even though I guessed ROBERT PEEL correctly, I couldn’t fully figure out the clue.

    Happily, there is a Dante (aka Rufus) puzzle in today’s FT which – even though it’s a prize – has proved to be much more my kind of thing.

    Please somebody bring back Rufus to his Monday slot!

  5. Stella says:

    I have a reproduction of this over my bed. It was a gift from my father-in-law, so once I’d identified Daphnis, Chloe followed fairly quickly. I now learn the painting is called “The Storm”.

    As usual with Brendan, I failed to look for, and therefore identify, the theme, which is a pity, as it would have made the puzzle much more fun. Mea culpa :(

    Thanks Duncan for explaining DEVASTATOR. I didn’t know VAS, although now I see it I presume it’s the nominative form that leads to “vat”. Eileen will know more.

    I took even longer than you did to get started, my first one in being 27ac.

  6. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    Unlike Bryan, I was delighted to have a non-Rufus on a Monday.

    I managed this without recourse to artificial aid, though AGAG was new to me (but pretty obvious from the clue). I was slowed down a bit in the NE corner by mistakenly taking the enumeration of 14a as 4,6 rather than 6,4 – but this was much easier once I realised my mistake. (ROBERT PEEL has a particular resonance for me as I live in the borough of Bury, his birthplace, and can see his memorial, the Peel Tower, from my window).

    Lots of great clues here, as expected from Brendan; 25a has already been mentioned, but my favourite is the rather neat &lit at 11a. I concur with NeilW’s parsing of 10a.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan and Brendan

    A gentle theme (I failed to notice bride and groom but saw the rest).
    Generally a well-clued puzzle – particularly liked 14a, 19a (though did not know vas, 25a and 7d. Had to check Agag and arteriole but clear from the clues.

    For some reason it took me a long time to see 7d even though the ‘pie’ idea struck me early on.

  8. Geoff says:

    I’m surprised ‘vas’ is so unfamiliar, particularly to male posters. The ‘vas deferens’ is the duct which is severed in a ‘vasectomy’.

    Like tupu, I spotted the possibility of ‘pie’ in 7d long before I found the answer.

    I didn’t parse 21d as a container clue, although it can be construed that way. I assumed it was a simple charade: ‘Dunces’ (ASSES) ‘succeeded’ (S) ‘in’ (linker between parts of the clue) ‘test’ (ASSESS).

  9. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Duncan – and Brendan, as always.

    I admired all the clues mentioned above – and I loved the surface of 8dn!

    Hi Stella

    Re VAS: [I did know this anatomical term!]: it’s Latin vas, vasis, so it gives us the English ‘vase’, rather than ‘vat’.

  10. Stella says:

    Thanks for that, Eileen. I’m familiar with the etymological connection between ‘s’ and ‘t’ or ‘d’, but obviously my guesses are not always correct :)

  11. Ann Kittenplan says:

    Thanks to setter and blogger. Brendan’s themes add much to the crossword. Personally I prefer this level of challenge to a Monday Rufus. Re vas, I blithely took vessel to be vase, not noticing that there were too many es.

  12. crypticsue says:

    Having taken all of four minutes to solve Rufus in the DT today, I was pleased to have this very nice Brendan themed crossword to challenge the old grey matter. Thanks to him and to Duncan too.

  13. Robi says:

    Obviously not on Brendan’s wavelength. I found this largely an unrewarding struggle with, unlike Geoff @6, recourse to every aid available. If you didn’t know DAPHNIS AND CHLOE, you were a bit stuck. I hated s=succeeded (yes, it’s in Chambers,) and TRODDEN=used by hikers.

    Thanks duncanshiell for a great blog. I did like AIRLINE. After a grumpy start to Monday, I better try something easier.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Duncan and Brendan. I found the first half of this was quite easy and quick, but I slowed down for the second half of my clues. I knew all the answers with the exception of AGAG, but this was guessable and confirmed by the symmetry with ISIS.

    I think the pairs were always symmetrically placed, as you have mentioned for some. For the others, POSSESS is paired with HOODOOS (two sets of the same double letters); ISIS and AGAG (two letters repeated); ASSESS and TEEPEE (double letters repeated in the same positions in each word). PEEL and TRODDEN are then, I think, happenstance.

    Thanks for the explanation of 19a; this is a vas deferens from the usual vessel.

  15. Dave Ellison says:

    10a. I think it is more than just a hidden answer; I agree with Duncan’s interpretations, too and the way I saw it.

  16. molonglo says:

    Thanks Duncan. Nice surprise to have a Monday Brendan, with many good clues, including 14 a and 17d. Google only needed afterwards, for education – including the blood vessels, and Daphnis.

  17. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog Duncan.

    On 10a I had failed to spot the hidden answer in ‘initial phase’ so I was left thinking, sadly, it must be alpha but why?

    I liked 8d.

    I remembered that Brendan usually has a theme but utterly failed to spot it. Luckily it was not needed for solving the puzzle but it would have been nice to know it at the time.

  18. liz says:

    Thanks, Duncan. And thanks to Brendan for a lovely puzzle — a nice surprise for Monday! I remembered to look for a theme and gradually cottoned on to the idea of pairs as I solved more clues.

    All my favourites have already been singled out. I failed to make the connection between ‘vas’ and ‘vessel’ in the wordplay for 19ac, although I do know ‘vas deferens’.

  19. theminx says:

    Great blog Duncan…appreciate the time you put into explaining answers…and putting the original clue on…some times I dont look on here because maybe I want help with just one clue…and find the challenge gone when you see all the answers in capitals..its impossible not to read even though you are only looking for help with the one…have not finished yet, but just wanted to say nice one duncan…

  20. caretman says:

    Thanks, Duncan, for your usual excellent blog and parsing of the clues (although I agree that the main device in 10a was intended to be a hidden answer). Quite an enjoyable puzzle, made a little more challenging here since there was a problem with the Grauniad website that meant that the grid was not displayed, only the clues. However, deducing the grid was fairly easy. There were a lot of good clues, all of which others have pointed out.

    I really enjoy the type of theme incorporated into this puzzle; not a list of items in a common category (which always seem obscure to me, such as arias in German operas not by Wagner) but a common idea with variations arising from it. Thus, we had lights that were pure couples (1d and 8d), pairs of lights that were couples (10a/26a, 3d/23d), related wordplay method (12a/24a), etc. And all tied together with 4d/17d, lights that have the same definition and relate directly to the theme. It’s not needed to understand the theme to solve the puzzle, so the theme doesn’t intrude but adds to the depth of the puzzle by making it more than just a collection of words stuck together in a grid.

    Thanks Brendan for a well-constructed puzzle and theme!

  21. Carrots says:

    I finished this puzzle with gay abandon (i.e. SIX guesses!) none of which I had any great confidence in until I saw Duncan`s more than welcome blog. It turns out all six were correct and it wasn`t until I put GROOM in (the last one) that I realised Brendan had constructed a clever and diverting theme.

    Yes, not a Rufus, but a welcome substitution! Thanks to Brendan and Duncan for their sky-blue thinking: we didn`t have any, depite an optimistic forecast.

  22. Abby says:

    Who says “IS” is kosher for “island”? Everybody always tells me to check Chambers, so that’s what I do. It’s not there, is it? Says IS is good for Iceland, but, that doesn’t help.

    It is a (literal) pair of “ISlands”, but it doesn’t say “two pair of islands”, which, considering, maybe it should have.

    I figured ISIS had to be the answer, but all of Ilim, Iril, Iris, and Isis are rivers. I couldn’t make any of those work better, but considering how many ways I’ve seen ISIS clued in the past, I’m not impressed.

  23. caretman says:

    Re Abby @22: I had the same thought, but decided I could justify that if ‘island’ can clue I (and that is in Chambers), then ‘islands’ can clue IS, i.e., the plural of I. Thus, pair of islands could be ISIS.

  24. Duncan Shiell says:

    Thanks for the comments on the blog.

    I have been away from my PC since just after posting the blog and have only just got round to reading the comments.

    I agree that 10a is, at its its most basic, simply a hidden word which I failed to spot, but I think there are additional analyses making this a very clever clue.

    Abby @ 22, as far as IS for island goes, I don’t have access to my normal reference books this evening, but I have looked up IS in the reference books in the house I am staying in this evening, and can find IS as an abbreviation for Island in both Bradfords and Websters.

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    …. and in Chambers which gives for “Is.” : “Island(s) or Isle(s)” (as definition #2; #1 refers to the Bible: Isaiah).
    Oh, and the Oxford Dictionary of English tells us the same.

    Nice Brendan that took a lot more time than usual.
    We saw the pairs and the symmetry, but couldn’t explain TWO PAIRS – so, thank you Duncan for helping out.
    Best clues (for us): the &Lit of 11ac (HOARDER), its symmetrical counterpart ACREAGE (25ac) [we like these kind of devices: ‘to be confined’=’in a cage’], 1d (D&C, famously put to music by Debussy – great apt surface) and the other couple at 8d.

  26. Huw Powell says:

    Lots of fun here that I would have barely scratched without OneLook to fill in various blanks, like 1d. The theme slowly grew on me – I noticed the lovely symmetry of ALPHA and OMEGA when I got the latter, then a while later, GROOM paired with BRIDE. TWO PAIRS came slowly, since it’s actually a pretty good hand in real poker – but seeing it paired/mirrored with FOURSOME gave me quite a giggle. The other mirrored clues were just hilarious. I failed to parse ROBERT PEEL because the meaning of “Met” got past me (I was working with the tense of “meet” or the opera house). The only tiny flaw to me was ACREAGE – every other clue turns out to be dead fair once parsed, but the first “A” really has no good explanation I can see.

    Favorite clues were 11a’s &lit, 16a’s surface, and the wonderful anagram _and_ surface at 8 dn.

    Thanks for the blog, Duncan, and the lovely challenge, Brendan!

  27. Huw Powell says:

    Ah, now I read Sil’s comment on ACREAGE and I withdraw my objection, I just wasn’t going one step deep enough to get it right!

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