Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,398 – Brendan

Posted by Andrew on August 11th, 2011


In a world gone slightly mad, it was a delight (as always) to take some refuge in this puzzle, whose theme is a well-known play and an even better-known speech from it, part of which appears as a Nina. In addition to the main thematic elements there are numerous theatrical references in other clues and answers. Thank you, Brendan, for helping in a small way to make the world a better place: for this relief much thanks.

4. TOO TOO TO O (love), twice. I’m not entirely sure about TOO TOO = exquisite – I can picture someone affectedly describing something as “too too exquisite”, but the phrase itself is surely an adverb, not an adjective.
6. MISFIELD (IS FILMED)*. Contrary to the excellent surface reading, the player is a cricketer here.
9. BEEFED Reverse of FEE in BED (retirement)
10. QUESTION In Hamlet’s famuos soliloquy, the question is TO BE OR NOT TO BE, and those words appear at the start of the across answers on the left of the puzzle.
11. ORA ET LABORA (ABLE ORATOR)* + A. This Latin phrase, meaning “pray and work” is part of the Rule of Saint Benedict. I’ve also seen it used as a motto for schools.
17. DUELLER E (compass point) in DULLER. Laertes fights Hamlet with a poisoned sword in the final scene of the play, and they are both killed by it.
18. SOLILOQUIST L in SOIL (dishonour) + (QUIT SO)*
22. TORE INTO TORE (raced) + INTO (inside)
23. NO MORE If you’re “lacking parts for me then you have ” NO “M” OR “E”.
25. RECESS Double definition – a secluded spot, and the Parliamentary recess is time off for political parties (though they’ve been called back from for an emergency debate on the riots today)
1. MOMENT Double definition
2. SINUSOIDAL (SOUND I SAIL)*. The word means in the shape of a sine curve
3. OFFSTAGE OFF (cricket side) + STAGE[coach]
7. EXIT E + XI (cricket or football team) + T[our]
8. DANE AND* + [indecisiv]E, with the whole clue giving a good description of Hamlet’s character
13. ELSINORE E + SIN in LORE, giving the setting of Hamlet, known as Helsingør in modern Danish.
14. BROTHERS R in BOTHERS. The surface gives a brief description of the plot of the play, but the Hamlet referred to in the cryptic reading is actually Hamlet’s father, who appears in the play a ghost and was the brother of Claudius.
16. CAST IRON CAST (theatrical group) + IRON (press)
19. QUOTES QUOTES = estimates, as given by builders, car mechanics etc. All the answers referred in the clue to occur in Hamlet’s To be, or not to be soliloquy.
20. STAB Reverse of BATS
21. ARMS From the soliloquy: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take ARMS against a sea of troubles,/And by opposing end them? “

49 Responses to “Guardian 25,398 – Brendan”

  1. Eileen says:

    What a treat!

    Many thanks, Brendan, for a lovely puzzle and Andrew for a super blog.

    I had the same thoughts as you about TOO TOO [but really didn’t want to quibble at all about this puzzle] then thought that I had heard it used without an adjective and found that, sure enough, Chambers has ‘adj. exquisite’, as the first definition – so that’s all right then.

    So many times I say that there are too many good clues to pick out any and then go on to do so – but not today. I loved it all!

    [I was very chuffed to find how much of the speech I remembered!]

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew but this was too too obscure for me – even though I prayed for a glass of Benedictine.

    As soon as I had entered O*A in the first word of 11a my supersensitive nose smelt a rat – and a foreign one at that.

    I often go to the theatre and tonight I shall be seeing ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ but I only did Latin for 2 years at school and I hated it – so this was a Complete No No for me.

  3. Conrad Cork says:

    Too Too (as in solid flesh) is in another Hamlet soliloquy. Don’t know if you took it for granted Andrew, and if so forgive me for pointing out the obvious.

    Howsoever I fully endorse Eileen’s comment above.

  4. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan.

    Sorry, Bryan, but what’s the beef? The only Latin phrase is the one you mention, and the rest of the puzzle is basically the 18ac, with some amusing equivocation between the theatre and cricket.

    I was amazed at how quickly everything fell into place, and I didn’t even need to remember the speech – which is just as well, as I never actually learned it.

    Thanks for explaining 23ac, Andrew. It had to be that, but I couldn’t parse it, d’oh!

  5. Eileen says:

    Hi Conrad

    And, before I’d sussed the Nina and realised that the quotations [sic – we were taught never to say ‘quotes’!] were all from the same soliloquy, my initial thought for 23ac was

    ‘What is a man,
    If his chief good and market of his time
    Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.’

  6. Andrew says:

    Conrad- TOO TOO at 4ac is one of the answers referenced in 19dn, so I did implicitly mention it, though perhaps not clearly enough.

  7. Mystogre says:

    There was too too much ado about nothing here and there but it was a delight. I never had to learn such things, but thanks to the clueing, it all fell nicely not place. I had to dredge a long way back to get the Latin phrase though. It was the last thing I entered.

    Superlatives are well deserved for this, especially the way 10ac was put together. Great puzzle, great blog and some single malt still left. Rugby hasn’t finished either so the night has worked out nicely. Thanks Brendan and Andrew for the entertainment and explanation.

  8. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Brendan. I fondly thought Laertes in 17a was an anagram for ‘stealer’ (staler about E) and that fouled up the 2d anagram. At last I fiddled with its variants and on second Google go got SINUSOIDAL. All the Hamlet refs were good, if dimly remembered. 10a was obvious but exactly how it worked is only now clear thanks to this blog; same for 23 a.

  9. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    I’m not always the biggest fan of Brendan’s puzzles,but this was superb.
    Thanks Brendan.

  10. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew … what a wonderfully intertwined puzzle. At 23a I tried to get more out of ‘f(or me)*’ than perhaps I should have.

    And thanks Conrad @3 … was sure ‘too too’ = ‘to be or not to be’ can’t have been right !

    Plucked ORA ET LABORA out of thin air (well, the available letters) and was pleased to find it correct.

    Bryan @2 … that wouldn’t be at Pendley by any chance? We’re off to see it there tomorrow.

  11. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan. What a brilliant puzzle! 12dn ABSOLUTION reminded me of one of Hamlet Senior’s principal gripes:-

    Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand
    Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch’d:
    Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
    Unhousel’d, disappointed, unanel’d,
    No reckoning made, but sent to my account
    With all my imperfections on my head:

    i.e he was denied absolution,

  12. Bryan says:

    Roger @ 10

    It’s on at The Brighton Little Theatre this week and the same company are doing it next week in the open at Lewes Castle.

    I hope the weather stays nice.

  13. tupu says:

    Many thanks Andrew for an excellent blog and Brendan for another very fine puzzle.

    A classic composition that deserved more time and thought than I allowed it. I completed it correctly but was puzzled by 23a (thanks for that) and initially also by 14d (checked re old king after solving). I had to check ‘sinusoidal’ after realising the answer was about sine waves.

    I also missed the lovely Nina, having failed to understand the hint to it in 10a.

  14. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew and Brendan, both brilliant as always.

    The only to add to what’s already been said: 20 is not just a reversal of BATS but also a double definition is it not?

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst @11

    And, of course, Hamlet makes the same point in another soliloquy:

    “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
    And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven;
    And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d:
    A villain kills my father; and for that,
    I, his sole son, do this same villain send
    To heaven.
    O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
    He took my father grossly, full of bread;
    With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
    And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
    But in our circumstance and course of thought,
    ‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
    To take him in the purging of his soul,
    When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
    No! …”

  16. John Appleton says:

    Brendan’s excelled himself with this one, I think.

  17. Robi says:

    Thanks, Brendan and Andrew, although I missed the clever NINA. Thanks also to Conrad @3 for explaining the ‘too too’ quotation – I’m learning Eileen. :) I, of course, thought it must be something to do with ‘not a moment too long’ (doh!)

    I remember that when I was at university, I tried to memorise the soliloquy for some unaccountable reason (probably something to do with trying to impress women!) – I don’t know how actors remember their lines.

  18. Robi says:

    ….. or even ‘not a moment too soon.’

  19. Eileen says:

    Apologies to Conrad – my ‘the quotations … were all from the same soliloquy’ contradicted you and was nonsense!

  20. cholecyst says:

    Robi – I did Hamlet for A Level about 50 years ago and can still remember most of it. (So can Eileen, apparently!) At that time I had memorised it all, including stage directions. It’s not that difficult.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I thought this was a wonderful puzzle! Missed the nina, the clue to it in 10ac and the parsing of 23ac — but having these explained here made it all the more enjoyable in retrospect.

    ORA ET LABORA was new to me (I wish I had studied Latin!). Even so, it wasn’t too difficult to get from a combination of checking letters and the check button.

    I know the soliloquy pretty well and I was lucky enough to see Roy Kinnear in Hamlet last year (birthday present!). He was absolutely wonderful — like hearing the play for the first time!

  22. liz says:

    Oops. Of course I meant Rory Kinnear, son of Roy!

  23. liz says:

    And here’s a taste of the production:

  24. Disco says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    I generally like but struggle with Brendan so I was quite pleased to be so close to finishing this one off. I gave up on “too too” and I didn’t spot the Nina so the blog was a welcome escape from the misery of racking my brains in vain.

  25. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for that, liz – superb! [Yes, I think you were lucky.]

    Hi cholecyst @20

    True, it wasn’t that difficult then, but, as I’ve said here more than once, I wish I could remember things I heard last week as readily as that! 😉

  26. walruss says:

    Delightful. I always enjoy a Brendan puzzle, because he takes such care in filling the grid. Even here, with a theme, there are no difficult words! I thinkl some compilers could learn much from him! Well done Brendan and many thanks to Andrew for his knowledgeable blog.

  27. jackkt says:

    A tougher challenge for me today. I didn’t know SINUSOIDAL or the Latin phrase but both were clearly anagrams so one was left with relatively few choices. Thanks for the blog.

  28. Wolfie says:

    A lovely puzzle today – challenging but fair.

    Neil W @14 – I think 20 is a rare example of a triple definition, since a STAB is an attempt.

    Thank you for the blog Andrew, which parsed 23ac for me.

  29. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan

    I finished this one but needed the blog to explain 14d and 23a.

    Normally with me, if it isn’t Julius Caesar, I haven’t got a clue.

  30. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Brendan and Andrew.

    This is my crossword of the year!!

    Ora et Labora was my first one in and I thought there may be a Benedictine theme to come but what a lovely surprise to find my favourite play. Please keep them coming, Brendan!

    Incidentally, Rufus makes an enjoyable start to the week.xx


  31. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Liz, I’m glad you corrected that, as it left me perplex – also thanks for the link.

  32. Giovanna says:

    gm4hqf @29

    Julius Caesar would be very good, too! Brendan et al, please take note.


  33. NeilW says:

    Hi Wolfie

    Semantics, really. My point was its construction is reversal: double definition, not reversal: single definition. A reversal isn’t really a definition so I don’t think the clue makes it to a triple def.

    Anyway, we both know what we mean – no one else is paying attention anyway! :)

  34. caretman says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for the blog.

    After working my way into the southeast corner to 18a, I figured from the wordplay that the light must end in -OQUIST, and running through such 11-letter words in my mind came up with the needed SOLILOQUIST. So I had picked up the theme fairly early but admired how it all came together. And some of the longer lights I could work out–since my background is maths SINUSOIDAL was easy, while for 11a having crossing letters give me ‘O.A .T’ for its start I figured it was likely ‘ORA ET’ and I could guess the anagram of the remaining letters fairly readily.

    After I had finished the grid, I looked back at 10a. For a while I thought the ‘…starts on left here’ direction just referred to the BE at the beginning of BEEFED, but then noticed the BE at the beginning of BESTOWED at the bottom of the puzzle and suddenly saw the nina down the left side. It was like reaching the tonic at the end of a musical piece, the perfect conclusion of the solve! What a moment that was!

    Thanks, Brendan. I echo Giovanna @30, the puzzle of the year for me as well.

  35. superkiwigirl says:

    Many thanks for your blog, Andrew, and for another terrific puzzle, Brendan.

    I thought this was really clever, and am full of admiration for the way that the grid was used, as well as the manner in which Brendan “played” with the theme.

    Lots of favorite clues here. New word of the day, as for many of the non-scientists I suspect, was SINUSOIDAL (this was clued perfectly fairly but even with all the crossing letters entered it took a bit of time to crack the anagram).

    All in all a most enjoyable solve.

  36. Ann Kittenplan says:

    Thanks Brendan and Andrew. 34′. I thought this was nicely done. I now need to go away and find out what a Nina is.

  37. Valentine says:

    I think “too too” can be an adjective as well as an adverb — “Freddie’s a bit too too, don’t you find?” That makes him an exquisite in my book.

  38. Stella Heath says:

    What’s with Shakespeare today? Or is it just coincidence that he’s central to the Indy, too?

  39. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. You explained a couple of answers where I was correct without understanding why.

    Ann K @36: if you look at 4a, 9a, 11a, 15a, 20a and 24a (the start of each answer) you will see TO BE OR NOT TO BE which is the Nina.
    I cannot actually define Nina but I can show it.

  40. Wolfie says:

    Neil @ 33: you’re quite right! Anyway, a fine clue…

  41. Robi says:

    Ann @36; you just need to click the FAQ tab above where there is an explanation of a NINA.

  42. Disco says:

    A Nina is a hidden word within the grid.

    It’s so-called because some artist or other (marvel at my unbounded knowledge!) used to hide the name of his daughter (Nina) in his artwork.

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Another Brendan, so another Monday …. :)
    Oops, oh no, it’s Thursday.

    Marvellous crossword.
    For once ( :)) I have really nothing to add.

    That said, I must admit that the thematic context (ie Shakespeare), which probably plays a very important for many of the posters above, leaves me rather cold (it is not part of my educational background). Any theme would have done for me.
    It is the exceptionally fine cluing and the clever grid construction that makes this crossword – just like I said in the Radian blog two days ago – a true piece of art.

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    …. which probably plays a very important ROLE for many of the posters above …. (Sorry)

  45. superkiwigirl says:

    Hi Stella @38,

    I thought about replying to your post more than 4 hours ago, but wasn’t sure if we would both thereby risk being struck by lightning – at first sight, it looks so evident to make a connection between these 2 incredible puzzles today. Do we, though, thereby risk spoiling the solve for someone who wanted to do Brendan’s puzzle (and to check the result) before tackling Scorpion in the Indy, and thus contravening the Site Rules? I’m assuming in what follows that Gaufrid doesn’t see this as an issue (but if it is Gaufrid, please just ) delete this posting.

    So, two Shakespearean themed puzzles today (both brilliant in my view, and if Giovanni thinks that Brendan’s really is the “Crossword of the Year” I won’t necessarily disagree but would say nevertheless, please do have a look at what Scorpion gave us, breathtaking as it was in every way).

    My first thought was that today’s date must be the connection, but “the Eve of the Glorious Twelfth” clearly has nothing to do with “Twelfth Night” (or Epiphany as most sources would have it) and the 11 August looks equally unpromising per se (Google suggests that this was both the date when Shakespeare’s only son was buried, having (probably) died of the Plague, and also the date on which he purchased shares in some quite lucrative theatrical company or other – in either case, it doesn’t look like a fruitful line of enquiry.

    Thus, my conclusion is that this is simply yet another of the happy coincidences which seem, curiously, to occur from time to time in our “cryptic world” – it’s really quite remarkable how often the same(ish) clues seem to reappear, albeit in different guises.

  46. Ann Kittenplan says:

    Thanks for the explanations and examples of Nina’s. I Googled it and found this The artist was Al Hirschfield.

  47. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Superkiwigirl,

    I hesitated to add any more detail for the very reasons you’ve expressed. Thanks for looking it up. I’d hoped someone actually living in Britain might have an answer, but it seems you’re spot on and this is just coincidence.

    Sil, I understand you. Shakespeare may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we narive English speakers were all brought up on him, to the point that, at least here in Spain, English is referred to as “the language of Shakespeare”, just as Spanish is “the language of Cervantes” – but few Spaniards have ever actually read Don Quixote; here, we English have an advantage: it’s easier/shorter to read a play than a novel.

  48. paul8hours says:

    A very late post as I am just back from holiday.
    I was wondering which of the crosswords I missed to print off and thanks to the comments on 15 squared I found this very entertaining puzzle.
    Many thanks to Brendan for the excellent puzzle & 15 squared for drawing my attention to it.

  49. Katherine says:

    I just finished this from an old Guardian Weekly.
    Yes, the crossword was clever, but in some ways too clever, as I did not see the nina at all.
    While that didn’t cause any problems except for me not understanding why the answer to 10A was as it was, I did not like the puzzle as much as everyone else seemed to.
    Making a themed puzzle does not always make for a good puzzle and I can point to many other crosswords that have been far superior for me this year.
    I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the extraneous word ‘wavering’ in 8d. It might make the surface nicer but should not be allowed in the clue. If this were by most other compilers then this would have been ripped into.
    I also hated the grid shape.
    I know that we all have different opinions, but for once I seem to be in the minority, as this was not a Brendan that I liked, although I am usually a fan of his.

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