Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,406 / Brummie

Posted by Eileen on August 27th, 2011


I was away for the weekend and took my Guardian with me. I was, naturally, amazed and disappointed to find the previous day’s Araucaria’s puzzle when I opened it to solve the crossword!  – but the less said about that the better, so soon after the Eroica fiasco a couple of weeks ago – also, unfortunately, in a prize puzzle.

I turned to the Brummie with relief on my return home but I’m afraid that feeling was short-lived. Brummie puzzles always, I think, have a theme and I remember some extremely enjoyable ones – some of which I’ve had great fun blogging – on composers, artists, actors and comedians, where the answers were, impressively, all ‘normal’ words. With an increasingly heavy heart, having entered BROWSER, DELL, ACORN and APPLE – all ‘normal’ words! – I realised that this one followed the same pattern but that the theme was not up my street at all. :-( There were so many computer-related references that I soon suspected that all the answers were part of the theme and, as far as I can see, all the across clues and the majority – and it could even be all – of the down ones are. I am not well enough up on [or sufficiently interested in] the subject to have spotted them all, so you can have fun pointing out my omissions.

It’s by no means Brummie’s fault that I didn’t enjoy this puzzle as much as usual. It’s all perfectly well clued – with some lovely examples, as indicated – and I’m  sure many of you will find it highly entertaining. [I really do agree that we should have more science / technology-based puzzles – I’ve no problem with that at all.] This is one occasion when I would have been glad not to have realised that there was a theme and just appreciated each clue in its own right, which would have been perfectly possible. As it was, since it was my blog, I felt obliged to follow up links wherever I suspected there was one, so that it became something of a chore and this blog ended up sounding rather like an advertising site!


7 One not necessarily looking to buy a tanker without resistance (7)
BROWSER: BOWSER [tanker] around [‘without’] R[esistance]: bowser was a new word for me – a light tanker supplying fuel or water

8 Jar from pub, steeped in exotic aroma (7)
AMPHORA: PH [public house on Ordnance Survey maps] in anagram [exotic] of AROMA

9 0.25 of a yard by 1.25 yards, being hollow (4)
DELL: D [last letter, i.e 25% of ‘yard’ + ELL [old measurement equal to 1.25 yards]

10 First of the invading Mohicans changing into outer wear (9)
MACINTOSH: T [first [letter] of ‘the’] in [invading] anagram [changing] of MOHICANS: super clue, I thought.

12 Tree potentially provides answer — “hard growth” (5)
ACORN: A[nswer] + CORN [‘hard growth’] – definition: ‘tree potentially’

13 Local party takes Rouen — “alternative backed out” slur (8)
INNUENDO: UEN [Rouen minus ro [reversal of ‘or'{alternative}] in INN [local] DO [party]

15 Work round infected matter (4)
OPUS:  O [round] + PUS [infected matter]

16 One that descended to inspire a physicist to invest money in booze? (5)
APPLE:  PP [money] in ALE [booze]: nice definition: ‘one that descended to inspire physicist’

17 Chanel’s chief unfashionably fashionable flaw (4)
CHIP: C [first letter [chief] of CHANEL + HIP [fashionable] but it’s a rather outdated word  so ‘unfashionably’

18 Explosive heard burying fighting tanks, missiles etc (8)
HARDWARE: anagram [explosive] of HEARD round [burying] WAR [fighting] – another great surface

20 Utter failure, Jamie’s last dessert (5)
BOMBE:  BOMB [utter failure] + E [last letter of Jamie

21 Scruffy sitcom character wants new hospital department part (9)
COMPONENT: COMPO [scruffy sitcom character] +  N[ew] ENT [hospital department {Ear, nose and throat}]

22 Symbol, which a fraudster might own (4)
ICON: “I con”, a fraudster might admit [own]

24 Rocky argued about Penny being a better model? (7)
UPGRADE: anagram [rocky] of ARGUED around P[enny] – another great clue

25 Leave head’s unwelcome visitors outside NEC complex (7)
LICENCE: LICE [head’s unwelcome visitors!] round anagram [complex] of NEC – definition: ‘leave’. Another fine surface, which made me laugh.


1 Forfeit, not attack, fish (4)
ORFE: fORFEit minus FIT [attack]: I learned this word long ago, from crosswords, which is the only place I’ve met it. The same goes for ‘ide’, its other name!

2 Birds roll from side to side in swaying sycamore tops (8)
SWALLOWS: WALLOW [roll from side to side] in SS [first letters {tops} of swaying sycamores]: I only knew ‘wallow’ in terms of hippopotami and mud but found in Chambers that, of a ship, it means to roll from side to side, making little progress.

3 Broken arm nursed by blokes he’s tailed (6)
MERMAN: anagram [broken] in MEN [blokes]: oops, sorry – missed out the ARM. Thanks, Roger!

4 Controversial artist with little money, powerless to achieve distinction (8)
EMINENCE: EMIN [controversial artist] + pENCE [little money minus p[ower]

5 Plate showing Church of Rome losing half of its members, consecutively (6)
CHROME:  CH[urch of] ROME

6 Cheeky formality — no way (4)
ARCH: stARCH [formality] minus st[reet] way: I liked this one!

11 Crepe woven with article-free Milan fabric (9)
CRIMPLENE: anagram of CREPE and MIL[a]N

12 As a most radiant star might be pursued by male (5)
ALPHA: Alpha [Centauri] is the brightest star in the Southern constellation Centaurus and may be followed [pursued] by ‘male’ to give ‘Alpha male

14 Rubbish left out for chauffeur (5)
DRIVE: Drivel [rubbish] minus ‘l’

16 Moreover, securing a prisoner with a snake (8)
ANACONDA: AND [moreover] around [securing] A CON [a prisoner] + A

17 Crossword setter? Agreeable type switching two adjacent letters (8)
COMPILER: COMPLIER [agreeable type] with two adjacent letters switched

19 Affectedly modest object (English) (6)
DEMURE: DEMUR [object] + E[nglish]

20 Nevertheless, can interrupt (4,2)
BUTT IN: BUT [nevertheless] TIN [can] – I liked this one, too.

21 Elevated room without energy limits (4)
CAPS: reversal [‘elevated’, in a down clue, of SPAC[e] minus e[nergy]

23 Topless beefcake poser’s wear that hurt? (4)
OUCH: it has to be – ‘that hurt’ but the rest of the wordplay escapes me: I’ve tried putting one or two letters before it but nothing works for me. I can’t see any computer connection, either, so I’ve fallen at the last hurdle [and maybe others in between]. :-(  [Thanks in advance to Antipodean, Far-Eastern, Transatlantic and/or night-owl / insomniac / early-rising UK solvers who will have put me right on this one before I get up.  ;-) ]

And thanks, Brummie, for the puzzle!

26 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,406 / Brummie”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I’m ashamed to admit I completed this one happily in total ignorance of the theme- and now it is so obvious.

    23. As an Antipodean I couldn’t let your challenge in 23 go unanswered. BEEFCAKE = husky male model whose only garment is a pouch.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I did this in the stands watching footie and had no problem until the very end: what do beefcake poseurs wear, ending in OUCH? Same as you on that, applause to another antipodean above for getting it. Never heard of COMPO the character but he was guessable.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen, I am sorry that you didn’t enjoy this which I marked as ‘Good!’ Many thanks Brummie.

    The theme was irrelevant and only two of the clues made me struggle: CRIMPLENE and the reference to Compo. I hardly ever watch any tv but I eventually recalled his name from somewhere.

    Incidentally, the BOMBE was (arguably) the world’s first computer and it was rather larger than today’s models:

    Imagine carrying one of those around!

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brummie

    Like Biggles A, I missed the theme. I think I was just so relieved to find a puzzle at all eventually that I sat down and solved it clue by clue. I suppose this is a potential problem with well-clued ‘ordinary words’ themes.
    But of course I should have seen it (and been somewhat disappointed by it like Eileen).

    Like Biggles, I assumed it was ‘pouch’ in 23d.

    ‘All of the across clues’? I don’t see a clear theme link to amphora, innuendo or bombe or most of the down clues. Am I missing something there?

    I quite liked some clues – e.g.12a, 18a, 19d.

  5. Tony says:

    7A – if you’re a browser why are you “not necessarily” looking? Browsing can also mean reading or grazing but that seems to me like defining a human being as not necessarily a woman. Rather weak unless I’m missing something (probably). Why not say “just” looking? Or if he’s using necessarily to mean with purpose, that also seems weak.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Bryan re bombe – we crossed.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Biggles A – I thought I could rely on you!

    tupu, if you click on the links I’ve given, you’ll see the connections. This is probably a better one for AMPHORA:

    [I did say I didn’t understand them all!]

    Tony, the definition in 7ac is ‘one not necessarily looking to buy': Chambers: ‘browse – to look round a shop in a casual or haphazard way’.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen re ‘amphora’ – rather less obvious than Dell etc.

  9. Robi says:

    Thanks, Brummie. I found this easier than some of his earlier puzzles, but an enjoyable solve.

    Eileen, thanks for your struggles. While you may not be very interested in computers, you might just be interested in the war-time code-breaking at Bletchley Park. By coincidence, I visited this week and it is an exceptional day out.

    BTW, as was pointed out at Bletchley, the BOMBE was not a computer. The first semi-programmable computer was, however, constructed at Bletchley and was called Collosus (am I interesting you now, Eileen?) I was particularly interested in why the BOMBE was named thus. ‘Perhaps the most credible explanation is given by a Cipher Bureau technician, Czes?aw Betlewski: workers at B.S.-4, the Cipher Bureau’s German section, christened the machine a “bomb” (also, alternatively, a “washing machine” or a “mangle”) because of the characteristic muffled noise that it produced when operating.

    According to a top-secret U.S. Army report dated 15 June 1945,

    A machine called the “bombe” is used to expedite the solution. The first machine was built by the Poles and was a hand operated multiple enigma machine. When a possible solution was reached a part would fall off the machine onto the floor with a loud noise. Hence the name “bombe”.’

  10. Robi says:

    P.S. Amphora may alternatively refer to:

  11. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Robi.

    I’m feeling even more chastened this morning, after this item of news:

  12. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I’m another one who missed the theme completely. Looking at the grid now, it seems impossible to have missed it, as most of the answers are computer-related. There’s even DELL and MACINTOSH on the same line.

    I thought this puzzle was rather lacklustre by Brummie’s standards. I don’t know why but I just found it boring which is a first for Brummie. Maybe not seeing the theme contributed to this feeling but I haven’t ticked any of the clues either which is rare.

    Sorry Brummie.

  13. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen. What is it with themes, I wonder … they seem to posses a cloaking device which is only lifted once all the words are in ! Not a problem, just interesting.

    Got a bit tangled up with YELL for 9a (which, as it turns out, isn’t far off the theme … as in a hollow laugh (yell with laughter ?) but wasn’t convinced. Of the other three options, only DELL worked. Didn’t realise that HIP wasn’t groovy any more.

    {I think your comments at 3d might need rearming, btw !}

  14. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Roger! :-)

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and for all the hard work you must have put in to include the links! I’m no computer whiz but I know people who are and the theme jumped out at me after I finished the puzzle. Even so, I didn’t bother to check words like ‘amphora’ for possible computer connections, so my list of themed words only included 13 answers.

    I have to confess that 23dn made me smile with its reference to ‘posing pouch’ :-) I won’t lower the tone further by providing a link…

  16. Wolfie says:

    Roger @13 – yes, I thought it was ‘yell’ too, having completed this crossword very rapidly without noticing the theme. Had it not been for the theme, ‘yell’ would have been just as likely a candidate as ‘dell’, since one of the meanings of ‘hollow’ is a shout. (c.f the SOED). Words such as ‘holler’, ‘hulloa’ (beloved of fox-hunters) are just alternative spellings of ‘hollow’. I always feel slightly cheated when the wordplay and definition allow two equally plausible solutions.

    Thanks, as always, Eileen for the excellent blog.

  17. Biggles A says:

    Wolfie and Roger,

    I hadn’t noticed until now but I had entered YELL too, for exactly the same reason as Wolfie has advanced. Maybe this serves as a partial excuse for overlooking the theme.

  18. Jan says:

    Thanks, Eileen, and well done for researching the computing significance of the words.

    As a mathematician who also taught computer science when dinosaurs ruled the earth I missed the theme entirely!!! I just plodded through.

    Thanks also for the link to the article about Eric Schmidt’s lecture. Sadly, how right he is.

  19. Bamberger says:

    I usually do the FT puzzle on a Saturday but Araucaria in his Cinephile guise had come up with one of those themed puzzles that I can’t be bothered with so tried Brummie instead. Found this very enjoyable though like several others missed the theme entirely.

  20. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I missed the theme completely too, it looks like you were about the only one to actually spot it! Shame it upset you.

    DELL seemed clearly better than YELL to me, so no problem about deciding which one to enter.

    Well done to Brummie for the so obvious yet hard to spot theme. Is Brummie a master of disguise, or was it just chance?

  21. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen
    I hadn’t realised just how many of the answers were IT-related
    5dn CHROME is a browser

  22. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen
    I hadn’t realised just how many of the answers were IT-related
    5dn CHROME is a browser

  23. muck says:

    Sorry for botched link @21, #22 works

  24. Eileen says:

    Thanks, muck.

    I’ve said / implied [several times] that my IT knowledge is severely limited. :-) I’m afraid I just went for the first Google entry in each case that seemed to have any relation to computers. The CHROME link that I gave does, I find, give a link to the browser.

    I’m very grateful to be able to put this one to bed now. Many thanks to all for the added enlightenment. :-)

  25. muck says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    I hadn’t noticed your link from CHROME to the operating system, which is just as relevant as the better-known browser. My IT skills aren’t wonderful either – I need to remember to include the http:// prefix which most browsers no longer require, but 15sqd apparently does.

  26. Eileen says:

    Thanks again, muck. ;-)

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