Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,552 – Brendan

Posted by Uncle Yap on February 7th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

From Brendan, one has come to expect some kind of theme, usually intricately and seamlessly woven. This one is no exception.

After spotting the hidden answer in  12Across, the mini-theme became quite apparent as I raced through this challenging but entertaining set of clues. Thank you, Brendan for another delightful puzzle that I will describe as a tapestry of clever wordplay.

1 POLITICALLY Ins of IT (information technology, use of computers) + I (one) + CALL (term) in POLY (polytechnic or old college)
9 SILICON Ins of I L (left) in S (second) ICON (symbol on screen), a vital element in politically correct (1A,4) police constable (1D) or percent (25) in short. Of course, we know how vital silicon is in a personal computer (pc) that we call the geographical region in California which spawned many innovations as Silicon Vally
10 RECOUPS Ins of O (nothing) in *(PC USER)
11 RECOMPUTE Ins of COM (Communist) in REPUTE (general opinion)
12 STEVE ha for Steven Paul Jobs (1955 – October 5, 2011) an American businessman and inventor widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution. He was co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc.
13 MACS 15D is RAINCOAT or MAC (Macintosh waterproof wear) 19 is SCOT (or MAC) so 15 and 19 are MACS which is also the rev of SCAM (email from Nigeria) The mind boggles as to the gullibility of people who seem to forget that when something is too good to be true, it must be too good to be true (this after watching a documentary of Australian women sending tens and hundreds of thousand of dollars to internet sweethearts they have never met)
19 SCOT Ins of CO (company, business) in ST (stone) for an old kind of tax
21 PUTIN cd for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born 7 October 1952) the current Prime Minister of Russia who ran for and won two terms of office as President. Due to constitutional constraints, Dmitry Medvedev became a seat-warmer in 2008 and is supposed to make way for Putin to run for President again in 2012.
22 SEES SENSE Various points are S (south) E (east) and N (north)
24 EMBROIL Ins of BRO (brother) in EMIL (rev of LIME tree)
25 PERCENT % (creatively described as line drawn between circles) My COD for the sheer audacity

1 POLICE CONSTABLE Ins of L IC (left in charge) in Edgar Allan POE (1809–1849) an American author, plus John CONSTABLE (1776–1837), English painter
2 LOCUM *(COLUMn) for locum tenens, a substitute doctor
3 TONSURE TON (style) SURE (absolutely) for the bald patch on a RC priest’s head
5 LOCKSTEP Cha of LOCK (lock forward, one of the two players in the second row of the scrum in rugby) STEP (part of flight)
6 YOU NEVER CAN TELL cd for an 1897 four-act play by G. Bernard Shaw
7 ASHRAM A plus ins of R (rex, king) in SHAM (charlatan) for a Hindu spiritual retreat
8 ASPECT Ins of E (energy) in A S (small) PC (personal computer) + T (time)
16 APPLET APPLE (computer company) T (last letter of sent)
17 INSULIN INSULT (cut) minus T plus IN for the protein hormone that we all need
18 EXEMPTS Ins of M (minute) PT (part) in EXES (slang for expenses incurred in the pursuit of news by a journalist, perhaps)
20 TWEETS TWEE (excessively sentimental) TS (rev of ST, street, way)
23 SERAI Ins of ERA (time) in SI (silicon, answer to 9) for khan or caravanserai; a harem, a seraglio. If a traveller were to be invited into a harem or seraglio, I doubt he will have much rest :-)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
rha = reversed hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,552 – Brendan”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Brendan and Uncle Yap. Agree with your COD now that PERCENT has been parsed for me. Loved this puzzle.


  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY. Not too difficult but great fun. I was well into it before the full meaning of the references to PC in 9 dawned. At that point I thought there was going to be a PC or Mac in every clue, either the clue or the solution but, sadly, no.

    21 I’m not sure if you have explained “Elected” = PUT IN, although I’m sure that’s what you meant.

    There is a more respectable second meaning in Chambers for a caravanSERAI as just an inn for travellers in a caravan. ;)

  3. PeterO says:

    Thanks to Brendan for an entertaining puzzle, and to Uncle Yap for the thorough blog. 5D had to be LOCKSTEP, but I missed the LOCK forward bit, so thanks in particular for that. 23D: in your dreams, as the saying goes. To spoil your joke, you would be more likely to be invited into a khan or caravanserai, which is an inn.

  4. Alex in Oz says:

    Thanks Brendan for another great themed puzzle.

    Got through this quite quickly (for me) but stuck on a few explanations (missed LOCK forward in 5d and INSUL(t) in 17d) so thanks also to UY for the blog.

    13a reminded me of Bob Servant (aka Neil Forsyth), a comedian who responds to scam emails to try and turn the tables. There’s some examples in the Guardian review of his book “Delete This At Your Peril’ here:

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for a concise but comprehensive blog. 25a was a very fine clue, as you note. Last in was 18d after which I went in search of EXES: no trace in the dictionaries, and hard to find on Google though there it finally was in the glossary of Sally Adam’s book ‘Interviewing for Journalists.’

  6. Kayoz says:

    Thanks to Brendan and Uncle Yap

    Enjoyed this one. I originally had SCAM at 13a but saw the error of my ways. Last one in was 25a, as the printed version I got online showed it as two words (3,4), so that slowed me up. Having checked on google it appears that both options are okay.

    Thanks for welcoming me back yesterday.

  7. Kayoz says:

    PS Can non-UK residents enter in the prize puzzle from Saturday? If yes, is a fax best?

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Uncle Yap. This was indeed a well-woven puzzle, which for me had enough gettable clues to give you a good start, but then provided a tough challenge to finish. I could not see the theme at all, even though SILICON was my first clue in and there seemed to be computer-related stuff around the grid. The initial letters of the clues flagged up in 9ac just didn’t come to me.

    I agree about the outrageousness of PER CENT (but it’s good) and I also liked SEES SENSE. And of course at 19ac, SCOT for ‘tax’ is the basis of the expression ‘SCOT-FREE’.

    Thanks to Brendan.

  9. James G says:

    What a good puzzle and blog. Thanks.
    I’d never heard of Ton meaning fashion or vogue, but there it is in the dictionary. And I haven’t seen many a priest sporting a tonsure. I think it’s more of a monk’s thing!
    What a horrible word annualised is. Honestly!

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Brendan

    A very good puzzle well described as a ‘tapestry etc’ by UY.

    I had to check lockstep, exes (it’s in my Chambers molongolo under the plural form separate from ex) and serai. I have only just realised after many decades that caravanserai is caravan serai.

    It took some time to twig what the reference was in 9 despite having mention in this blog the link between 1a,4 and personal computer.

    I ticked quite a few – 9a, 13a, 25a, 3d, 5d.

    The name of the play did not trouble me despite my having never seen it. As a student, I was having a smoking break outside the Central Library in Manchester when an old man seemed to look directly at me and announced in an ominous voice ‘You never can tell’. It was only when I turned to go back in that I saw that he had been reading a poster for the play which was showing in the Library Theatre! The memory has stayed firmly with me ever since.

  11. Mitz says:

    Thanks Brendan, and Uncle Yap,

    Like all the best themed crosswords this one gradually unravelled, rather than having a single lightbulb moment followed by filling in three quarters of the grid in 30 seconds. I got ‘Steve’ and ‘silicon’ pretty early, but the three PCs were not obvious (at least to me) immediately. The light had dawned as I put in ‘per cent’ without really understanding the clue, but now I’ve got it I have to smile.

    I suspected a misprint at 3, thinking it ought to have been ‘tone’ (style) including ‘sur(e)’ – ‘ton’ is new for me.

    RE 22: I wonder what the longest word (or even phrase) using just the four points of the compass might be. Can anyone come up with a 15 letter effort?

    If anyone is yet to view the quite extraordinary documentary currently showing on the Beeb about 21 then I urge them to use iPlayer to catch up at their earliest convenience. Worth the license fee on its own.

  12. Kayoz says:

    Mitz@11 Newnesses only has nine letters, but I’ll throw it is in the mix

  13. Kayoz says:

    How about –

    Unfortunate moment suffering incontinence covers all points (3-3,4,5)

  14. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks UY and Brendan
    Always take extra care with Brendan … he can leave a sting that can easily lead to a wrong answer. Whilst there were no real road blocks in filling in the answers … was left with 3 or 4 that needed UY’s help to completely unravel the why – LOCK in rugby, the GBS play and the journo’s exes !
    A nice subtle theme, an excellent lateral piece of logic with 25a – and a work of art to reflect back on when it was all finished!

  15. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    Not bad from Brendan, with nicely braided theme. It looked as though I was going to finish it in record time, with quite a lot of rather straightforward clues, but the solve slowed down pleasingly. PER CENT took a while, but I saw the parsing as soon as the answer came to me. The device in 22a is perfectly kosher, but I don’t really like it, as it gives no indication about how many of each ‘point’ is in the anagram fodder.

    Although it doesn’t crop up often these days, ‘style’ = TON is an old crossword favourite. Very competent clueing, but few really stood out for me today. Favourite probably 2d for the misleadingly hidden definition. Why the ‘…we all need’ in 17d? This seems unnecessary.

    Last in were EXEMPT and LOCKSTEP, neither of which I could parse. Thanks for the illumination.

  16. Robi says:

    Good PC crossword.

    Thanks UY; forgot LOCK=forward, even though I watched the rugby at the weekend. I can’t believe anyone still writes PERCENT as two words (certainly not scientists,) even though it’s in Chambers and Collins as such. Didn’t much like the ‘measure of concentration’ either – but obviously that’s the first thing that a drinker thinks of.

    SERAI was new to me, although having all but one letter and ‘time’ in the clue made it fairly apparent.

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. And thanks to Brendan for a v enjoyable puzzle. A reasonably quick solve, held up at the end by 23dn.

    By my reckoning the letters P and C appear in four other clues as well as the three ‘theme’ ones: RECOUPS, RECOMPUTE, ASPECT and LOCKSTEP. Don’t know whether this was intentional!

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Threequarters done easily but a satisfying hold-up at the end mostly in the SE.
    This was partly caused by my entering ‘opal’ at 19ac. This seems to me to be an exaple of an ambiguous solution (not an ambiguous clue).
    Old = o, (pay)pal payment business opal = stone.
    This stopped me for quite a while from entering the play which I did know.
    Thanks for plenty to think about today.

  19. NeilW says:

    Gervase, strictly speaking, I think “we all need” can qualify as part of the definition. Very sadly, a large part of the therapy for certain cancers is involved in trying to obliterate the presence of some sex hormones and patients can survive, although certainly not thrive, without them. The same cannot be said of insulin.

  20. NeilW says:

    Oh dear! After the discussion the other day, I realise I should have said “certain diseases.” Apologies.

  21. AndrewW says:

    I was held up by 1ac (needed CORRECT for the penny to drop) and I also had 13ac as SCAM for a while. I think I prefer parsing 17d with INSUL resulting from slight (insult) being cut (losing the t) and then IN, but I needed help with SCOT and SERAI and had never heard of ‘exes’, so I’m just happy to be there or thereabouts.

  22. Innocent Abroad says:

    Well, I actually completed it – the first time I have since the 1970s I think :)

    (Apart from putting “mack” in 13 ac but I’ll let myself off that.) Just read Sandy Balfour’s wonderful book, that must be what did it.

  23. Paul B says:

    Well, since ‘insulin deficiency results in diabetes mellitus’ (Collins), I suppose ‘hormone we all need’ is fair enough as a definition. But like Gervase I don’t think it strictly necessary. Headlessness leads to death, AFAIK, and so in our clue for ‘head’ we might consider ‘body part we all need’ as a good definition, using similar reasoning.

    19ac I found unambiguous and clear throughout: I’m sorry, not to mention amazed, to see that anyone had trouble with it.

  24. PeterJohnN says:

    A bit late in the day, but thanks to Brendan for an enjoyable puzzle and Uncle Yap for parsing a few solutions I got, but didn’t quite know why. As a general comment to UY, I seem to be in a minority, but I would like to see the definition part of the clue more clearly identified for the benefit of less experienced puzzlers. For example, 1a “as parties are organised”, 9a “a vital element etc”, 10a “compensates”, etc.

    UY, I haven’t read thoroughly all the 23 comments above, so please forgive me if I repeat something already said, but
    re 9a SILICON, your 2nd sentence makes no sense, and you don’t point out that Silicon is a chemical element.
    re 13a MACS, you don’t mention the Apple Macintosh connection,and don’t explain the Nigerian scam, which not everyone might have heard about.
    re 21a PUTIN, you don’t explain “repeatedly”.
    re 22a SEES SENSE, the points could be SE, E, S, SE, N, SE.
    re 5d LOCKSTEP, you don’t explain how this relates to “formation of troops”.
    re 16a APPLET, you don’t explain how this relates to “simple program”.

    As a general point, for the purposes of the crossword, we don’t really need to know the birth and death dates of of all the relevant personalities, and we are not going to memorise them! OK, Steve Jobs died recently, but “late lamented” would have sufficed!

  25. Paul B says:

    I said this a while ago – and was shot down for it, but can’t remember why – that it might be a good idea to adopt the Duncan Shiell format, which lays everything out very neatly including the clue (with underlined definition) and parsing, for all blogs.

    It’s particularly good for people who haven’t bothered to solve the relevant puzzle, and for those who have, it eliminates the need to return to the paper or website to check how the clues were worded. Those in favour say ‘aye’.

  26. JoannaM says:


    As a relative beginner, I find it really helpful to have every word of the clue parsed and the definition highlighted in some way.

  27. Thomas99 says:

    I certainly like it when the clue is included, and when the parsing is clearly laid out etc., but it may be deliberate policy here to let bloggers do it their own way. We have to accept that they sometimes get things wrong too, which is bound to make things less clear. The best ones correct mistakes when they’re pointed out, but of course we can’t assume they see all the comments straight away.

  28. PeterJohnN says:

    Uncle Yap, re me @ 24, please ignore my comment re 22a PUTIN. My apologies! Going back to 9a SILICON, it might have been more relevant to mention silicon chips rather than Silicon Valley.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    I think you are all misunderstanding the purpose and function of the blog(ger)s.

  30. Mr Beaver says:

    RCW: Quite agree. I prefer the ‘traditional’ blog as exemplified here by the esteemed Uncle. Presumably people read this blog because they’ve attempted, and completed at least some of, the crossword in question – so it’s not necessary to spell out each and every clue from first principles.

    In my case, I didn’t get 16d – but this because I’d spelled 1d as CONSATBLE, hadn’t noticed and entered AGAIN for 21a (AGA IN – I think it works…). Doh!

  31. drago says:

    Thanks UY. I had an alternate parsing for 5d – STEP being ‘moving forward’ and LOCK as in ‘flight of locks’ (on a canal).

  32. Gordon says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap
    I had parsed 5d differently and I see it makes better sense what you wrote.
    I had STEP = Moving forward after part of flight = [F]LOCK. It worked for me anyhow!

    Thanks again

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