Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,673 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on June 27th, 2012


I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining puzzle from Brendan, with its mini-theme which leads us off in several directions, with a variety of witty cluing, as ever

I have a feeling that I’m missing something but that would be by no means a new experience. 😉


9   WILLOWISH: WILL [is going to] + WISH [experience desire] round [without] O [love]
10  CORAL: CO[r]RAL [put in pen] minus one of the middle letters [half-heartedly]: coral is a shade of pink
11  BLACK: I’ll have to leave someone else to explain the ‘one game': in ‘another’, snooker, the black ball is potted after the blue and the pink
12  MACEDOINE: MACE [spice] + DINE [eat] round [spread over] O [old]
13  ORIENTS: anagram [after reorganisation] of IN STORE
14  IAMBICS: anagram [variety] of I M [one metre] + BASIC – lovely surface
17  AZURE: sounds like [speaking] ‘as you’re': poetic word for the sky – but I wonder why there’s no reference to 8?
19  ERG: hidden [contributing to] in GREatER Good, both backwards and forwards [either way]
20  LIGHT: double definition
21  ATHLETE: anagram [revise] of THE TALE: A Blue is a sportsman who represents or has represented Cambridge [light blue – 20ac] or Oxford [dark blue – 27dn] University
22  CANASTA: AN [article] in [absorbed by] CAST [players] + A [another article]
24  SALTPETRE: anagram [shattering] of STEEL TRAP
26  HOUND: HU[sba]ND round [pinching] O [ring]
28  ALL IN: A L [a pound] + reversal [in return] of NIL [nothing]: the definition is ‘spent’ – great surface
29  INSULATOR: IN [at home] + anagram [resort] of OUR LAST


1   SWAB: S W [directions + AB [sailor]
  ALKALI: A L [a large] + KALI, Hindu goddess of destruction [violent goddess]: reacts with ACID [6dn]
3   HOOK AND EYE: sounds [unequivocally] like [to listeners] HOOKE [Robert, 1635-1703, scientist] AND [as well as] I [the writer]
4   LITMUS: hidden in finaL IT MUSt: the ‘up’, in a down clue, made me look for a reversal.: litmus. of course, is turned pink by an acid [6dn] and blue by an alkali [2dn] but again there’s no reference to the theme. In view of Brendan’s well-known ingenuity in his use of the grid, I looked for some significant placing of LITMUS and the various pinks and blues but I couldn’t see it. I think I am missing something!
5,25 SHOCKING PINK: SHOCK [hair] round [covering] KINGPIN [key person]
6   ACID: AID [something helpful] round [containing] C [cold] : slang name [so-called] for LSD [drug]
7   BRUISING: B [British] + U [first letter – leader –  of Union] in RISING [rebelling]
13  OMAHA: hidden in oklahOMA HAwaii
15  MELANCHOLY: anagram [adapted] of ONE CALMLY round [accepting] H [husband] for another meaning of blue
16  SUTRA: reversal [taken up] of ARTS [faculty] round [outside] U [university]
18  UNHOLILY: I [one] in UN [a French] HOLLY [tree]
19,8  ELECTRIC BLUE: ELECT [choose] + I E [id est, that is] round [holding] anagram [strange] of CLUB: a reference to the notion of  ‘pink for a girl, blue for a boy’
22  CHEESE: double / cryptic definition
23  SMUTTY: S [small] MUTT [dog] + Y [end – last letter – of daY] for another meaning of blue
24  STAB: reversal of BATS [crazy]
27 DARK:  D [last letter of coastguarD] + ARK [rescue vehicle] – an amusing surface to end with

54 Responses to “Guardian 25,673 / Brendan”

  1. Aoxomoxoa says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    I think 24 should read ‘reversal of BATS’ but I don’t understand the reference to 25. Like you, I also don’t understand the reference to ‘in one game’ at 11.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    A delightful puzzle from Brendan once you’d got over the ‘how on earth does this work’ moment. I just cracked on with the unthemed bits, which to be fair to the setter were mostly straightforward; then when the PINK and BLUE bits kicked in, the rest fell out nicely.

    I thought two of the short clues were very good today; ERG and ALL IN. Never heard of the STAB definition of ‘pink’, though.

    Is there more to the theme than you have outlined? You’re asking the wrong person …

  3. aztobesed says:

    In American pool the black and the blue are ‘solids’ while the pink (if there is one) is a ‘stripe’. In fact most pool sets don’t have a pink – it’s usually a purple. It’s the best I can come up with – and it seems something that Brendan might do – keeping the clue in the family, as it were.

  4. William says:

    Thank you Eileen. Sorry I can’t help with the other game at 11a.

    This was another belter from Brendan. I found it pretty hard to prise open but it unfolded like a flower.

    I too wondered why he chose not to link the LITMUS clue with ACID, ALKALI, PINK & BLUE? Not that the puzzle needed any more cross-linking!

    I took an age to spot the light and dark blue link to ATHLETE. Nicely done.

    Someone clever might see another link but, personally, I think it’s just like a satisfying jigsaw which one only truly enjoys when its complete and one stands back.

    Lovely, Brendan.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I can’t see any more than you have pointed out, in terms of a Nina, either – which means nothing of course!

  6. William says:

    K’s D @2 – I used (younger etc) to do a bit of fencing and one of the most excruciatingly painful wounds is a ‘pink’ to the kneecap. Often incurred as the leading knee meets the attacking point and the velocities are added. Most unpleasant.

  7. NeilW says:

    Aoxomoxoa @1, PINK means (Chambers) “to stab or pierce, especially with a sword or rapier.”

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, all – rushing off to go on a walk – BATS corrected now!

  9. Freddie says:

    Excellent puzzle and many thanks for the blog Eileen – I liked the ‘electric’ and ‘shocking’ as a micro-theme.

    In 11a, the first occurrence of 8 could refer to the score of the black in pool (8-ball) as a cute misdirection.

    So, ‘like 8′ = black score, not the pink score, which replaces the purple for televised games, counting either 4 (solid) or 12 (striped).

    to aztobsed@3: solids and stripes are the same colours in pool.

  10. Shirley Pritchard says:

    11Ac In croquet black and blue are the colours of the balls played by the players in the same team.
    A bit esoteric for a weekday!

  11. aztobesed says:

    Freddie # 9

    It is a mere bagatelle, perhaps? Normal pool sets don’t have a pink at all which is probably the interpretation. I can’t believe Brendan expects us to do all that scoring work in a weekday puzzle. I do like the ‘8’ being a reference to the black ball but again it seems to get too complicated. I had wondered about blue and pink being how you might order your meat (game?) but I think the chef might get the hump is you order it so well-done it comes out black.

  12. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I enjoyed this colourful puzzle, with the sole exception of AZURE and its iffy homonym. The OED and Shorter both insist that the middle sound is as in ‘vision’ and give the choice for the A sound as either the first or the second A in ‘maniac.’ This was argued out ad nauseam when a near-identical clue came up two years ago, here: azure

  13. molonglo says:

    That didn’t work. Here – Guardian 24,921 (Sat 31 Jan)/Araucaria – Urned respect
    Posted by rightback on February 6th, 2010

  14. Freddie says:


    I tend to agree: it’s a stretch to use pink to refer to pool, but there it is in the themed grid, with just enough overlap in the Venn diagram to give it a barely passing grade.

    I do believe that setters have their very clever moments, and 11a is a clever clue, so stretching the pool colour to pink preserves the brilliance of juggling 8 and 25 twice and to heck with the punters. He still gets paid whether we like it or not. Pure speculation of course.

  15. RobL says:

    in snooker the black ball is potted after the blue and pink
    I thought 17ac worked as acute – as you’re speaking = accent e.g French, and an acute accent goes above the vowel (just a thought!)

  16. JollySwagman says:

    Nice – and thanks for the blog E.

    I started out fearing that Brendan plus theme never makes me as happy as plain vanilla Brendan but the further I went the better it got as the cross-links tied everything together.

    Altogether very enjoyable.

  17. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Another sparkling crossword by Brendan.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it, had all the answers right, but was a bit lazy to turn to resources to check ‘Hooke’, ‘corral’ and ‘stab/pink’. I missed the athlete’s blue connection, too (shame on me, with the light ones around the corner). So, thank you Eileen for explaining them all, and others for giving it a go at 11ac.

    Only one comment: I think the parsing of IAMBICS (14ac) should be: I (one) + M (metre) inside (BASIC)*. In my opinion, it’s not one big anagram (if that’s what you meant).

    Excellent puzzle!

  18. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brendan

    An enjoyable puzzle with a relatively straightforward theme (apart from 11a Part 1). The croquet link while somewhat esoteric seems to fit acc. wikipedia on the game.

    I missed the simple m/f link to blue and pink and assumed they were the names of male and female bands that I did not know. In fact there do seem to be bands with those names, for what it’s worth.

    I nearly got stuck misspelling saltpetre but 22d sorted that out.

  19. rhotician says:

    JollySwagman @16:

    I can’t remember a plain vanilla Brendan puzzle, apart from the one that had “there’s no theme in this crossword” as a nina round the outside.

  20. William says:

    rhotician @19 I remember that one. Do you know why a nina is so called? Thanks in advance.

  21. bridgesong says:

    I don’t usually have time to complete a puzzle before lunch, but work has been sparse this morning and to my surprise I was able to complete this one at a sitting. I enjoyed the theme(s) very much and shared Eileeen’s surprise about Brendan’s apparent failure to include 17. It’s worth noting that pink has 8 separate entries in Chambers, giving lots of scope to compilers.

    I wondered whether 13 (OMAHA) was a subtle rebuke to those setters (see the blog to Azed 2089) who mistakenly assume that Omaha is one of the States of the Union. As someone who lives in the USA (I believe) Brendan can be relied on not to make that mistake.

    Now to find something to solve for the train journey home this evening…

  22. crypticsue says:

    My puzzle of the day – you always have fun with a Brendan. The connection with 22a and 24d is that pink can also mean to stab with a pointy weapon. You learn something new every day with this crossword business, don’t you.

    Thanks to Brendan for bringing such fun to my morning and to lucky Eileen who got to have fun twice over.

  23. Posterntoo says:

    @William #20
    An often-asked question. It’s a reference to the artist Al Hirshfield, whose charactatures (I hope I’ve spelled that right) of famous personalities had hidden inclusions of his daughter’s name.

  24. Robi says:

    Quite difficult to get started but worth perseverance.

    Thanks Eileen; I missed the AND EYE/and I in 3. I’m not sure about the ‘one game.’ I did think of judo where the black belt comes after the blue and there is no pink, but I doubt whether this could be regarded as a game.

    There seem to be some opposite links: BLUE/PINK; LIGHT/DARK; ACID/ALKALI and some other (coincidental?) links: BLUE/PINK/LITMUS; SHOCKING/ELECTRIC/INSULATOR; BLACK/BLUE/BRUISING. I couldn’t find the ‘kama’ to go with SUTRA, however. 😉

  25. norm says:

    What a great puzzle!

    On a roulette wheel 8 is on a black pocket, and 25 is on a red pocket. If this is the right explanation it’s a beautiful misdirection.

  26. Robi says:

    molonglo @13; try the British pronunciation at: : sounds like 17.

  27. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I had totally forgotten that MACE is a spice so 12a had me scratching my head.

    On 24d I started with NUTS reversing to give STUN which was all I could think of at the time but eventually spotted BATS -> STAB :(

  28. Cosafina says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle, and found it pretty easy.

    Am I the only one who hates the American “orients” instead of the English “orientates”? Nice article on the difference between the two here:

    Thanks to both Brendan and Eileen.

  29. William says:

    Posterntoo @23. Thank you – fascinating. According to his biographer, he started including his daughter’s name following her birth in November 1945 but then stopped after a couple of weeks thinking the gag had run its course. He was effectively pressed into restarting the practise due to popular clamour from his audience who loved trying to find them!

    Thanks for taking the trouble and apologies if this is a bit off-topic. (Incidentally, it’s caricature.)

  30. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Brendan and Eileen

    Really interesting crossword – surprisingly was able to finish it very quickly – I usually struggle a bit with him.

    Like others, I did not get the first game in 11 – but like norm@25, I think that the first game is roulette with the BLACK 8 and RED 25 – which is just brilliant !

    It was a puzzle that gave even more pleasure reviewing the finished product than in the journey getting there.

    Well done Brendan.

  31. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I loved this puzzle, with all its connections and links. Spelled SALTPETRE wrong for a while, which held me up
    in the SE corner. STAB was the last one I got.

  32. Giovanna says:

    Thanks to Brendan for a fun puzzle and Eileen for her explanations.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this with memories of science lessons and shocking pink gonks! Whatever became of them?

    More please, Brendan!

    Giovanna x

  33. Trailman says:

    Chas @ 27, you’re not alone with STUN, which I rationalised by linking to the snooker mini-theme. But the U made no sense with 28ac. STAB ended up as last in.
    An absolute joy. One thing leads to another, and the feared willful obscurities of the clue-set are instead a delicate examination of the two theme words. Yes, there could have been more linking (eg re LITMUS) but I guess Brendan wanted solvers to make their own connections too.

  34. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Very enjoyable and testing. Last in was ‘stab'; I was rather fixated on pinking in tailoring.
    Satisfactory, variable use of the theme.
    All the rest is just balls.

  35. rhotician says:

    I’m relieved that others were fooled by 24dn. The beauty of it is that without ‘to pink’ I think I would have got it quite quickly. Even when I resorted to Chambers it took me two scans of the eight(!) entries before I found stab buried in with the pinking shears meaning.

  36. Median says:

    Arriving here late, it seems I have plenty in common with others. Like Eileen, I thoroughly enjoyed doing this puzzle before rushing off to do a walk. Like several, I thought the use of the theme and the interlinking were clever, and I clearly wasn’t the only one for whom STAB was the last in (after consulting Chambers). The level was just right for my brain and mood today. Many thanks, Brendan, for an excellent offering.

  37. Eileen says:

    Thanks everyone. I’m used to my blogs having a lot of comments but it’s usually because so many of them are my own responses – not so today! [I’m glad I wasn’t the only one foxed by the ‘first game’ [and that Robi @15 agreed with me about the second] but I’m afraid I still don’t really understand any of the explanations. I did remember pink = stab [from a crossword, of course].

    Hi Sil @17 – absolutely right: another case of hastiness: I actually thought, ‘It isn’t I M in anagram of BASIC’!

    Hi Cosafina @28 – the short answer is ‘No’. [I forbore to comment on ‘pled’ in a recent Brendan puzzle on the grounds that he’s lived in the USA too long!]

    I was sorry to feel rather pushed for time this morning [crypticsue has mentioned several times that the blogger is lucky enough to enjoy the puzzle twice and I know what she means] and felt that I might have found more in the grid if I’d spent longer on the blog than the hour and a half I did spend on it after solving the puzzle but, like several other commenters, I think now that maybe Brendan deliberately left us to make some of the connections ourselves: after all, we often praise themes that are not so blatantly spelled out! This really was one of those puzzles that repay a revisit, which I’m enjoying now.

    [Hi Median – I hope you enjoyed your walk! We did – but the humidity made it really hard on the legs and the pub lunch at the end was even more welcome than usual! 😉 ]

    Finally, I omitted to thank Brendan for the excellent puzzle and lots of fun. It’s a long time since he made a comment here but perhaps he still reads ours. I hope so. 😉

  38. molonglo says:

    Robi @26 – AZURE’s pronunciations are fascinating and many, given inter alia the options for long/short A, Z/ZH, the introduction of a Y-ish sound, the final sound and even the stress. Only some are homonyms of “As you’re” however you speak it.

  39. brucew_aus says:

    Hi Eileen
    With the games – the first has no reference to 8=BLUE and 25=PINK – but rather that in roulette the answer BLACK is like the no 8 (which is on a black square where you put your chips) and not like the 25 (which is a red square on which you place your chips).

    Hope that helps.

  40. JollySwagman says:

    @Rhotician #19 – yes you’re right. I suppose what I was really thinking was puzzles that are heavily dependent on a theme and linkages between themed answers – as opposed to Brendan’s stealth-mode themers – where I frequently miss the theme until almost the end.

  41. rhotician says:

    JS @40
    I know what you mean.

  42. Edward says:

    I don’t think anyone has pointed out that 24D could be seen as a triple definition. BATS is “crazy” and STAB is both “attempt” and “to pink”.

  43. ChrisJobless says:

    Swagman, you’re a wanker

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Great comment, Mr Jobless @43!
    But do you mind if I don’t agree with you today?
    Either you hate JollySwagman for a personal reason (and shouldn’t therefore be here) or you don’t (and shouldn’t be here, with such a comment).
    This is a civilised place.
    Well, apparently sometimes it’s not.

  45. Ian SW3 says:

    Since today’s (June 28) blog is obviously delayed, can anyone explain 23d (“throb”)? The rest is very straightforward. Lovely long anagrams.

  46. RCWhiting says:

    Ian @45
    I am in the same situation so your post encouraged me to do a little Chambers mining.
    This is very unlikely and unsatisfactory but ‘beat’ is given a US meaning of ‘to swindle’ which might mean ‘rob’ – no – no, nor do I!

  47. ToniL says:

    Beat (throb) by (thro’) beat at the beginning (b)

  48. ToniL says:

    As in musical beat – pulse/throb.

  49. Wolfie says:

    Yes Toni – that was what I thought too. I was a bit dubious about THRO but Chambers allows it (without the apostrophe even) so who am I to query it?

    Pity there was no blog today – a most entertaining puzzle from Crucible with lots of potential talking points.

  50. Paul B says:

    It must indeed be frustrating.

  51. stiofain says:

    This is the first time in several years of reading here there hasnt been a Guardian blog in good time.
    Totally ignorant chrisjobless@43.
    I too thought thro=through/by.
    Did Crucible get bannned for his inaccuracy of NI/Ulster in his last 2 attempts? I thought it was going to become his signature and ran through the clues first to check.

  52. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Toni,that’s better.

    How out of place CJ seems.

  53. JollySwagman says:

    @52 – yes but he (Mr Jobless) reveals so much about himself in so few words.

    A career as a setter may beckon.

  54. Huw Powell says:

    Ian et al, thanks for partly spoiling a puzzle I haven’t started yet. Please don’t discuss the future…

    For my part, I kind of clunked through this, less than charmed, sadly. I had seven isolated answers before my first checked solution, this of course due to trying to get as many “unthemed” things in as I could so I could take a crack at the linked solutions. I think BRUISING was what opened it up for me.

    But I found too many clues/answers to be a bit lumpy to really enjoy the sublety buried within – like 14, for example. The foreign word at 12 (I know, it’s probably in my Chambers…). The awkward UNHOLILY.

    While there really is a lot of “fun” here, it didn’t feel like it as I labored my way through it.

    Except for ERG, which I starred. Lovely surface, sneaky double HA, very nice!

    For some reason the theme just left me flat. Oh well. Actually, it probably was fun, just not as much fun as the last Brendan or two.

    So cheers, and thanks Brendan, and Eileen, and everyone else who didn’t mention the next puzzle in my stack.

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