Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,749 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on September 24th, 2012


What a pick-me-up for a grim, wet and windy Monday morning! – I get my fifth Brendan blog in a row and [fortunately, after my discomfiture on Saturday] I saw the nina fairly early on [although there was momentary consternation when the first two unlikely letters of 4dn emerged –  but there wasn’t a mistake, after all].

A quick read through the clues established that there was something of a horticultural theme to the puzzle, in which Brendan took us on a delightful stroll 25,13, with all kinds of delights on the way. This is, as usual, a beautifully-crafted puzzle, with many smiles and aha moments, and the icing on the cake at 11,22. As far as I can see, there were no obscurities, which there could well have been, with such a theme. Many thanks, indeed, Brendan, for brightening the day.


8 Some issue about judge and our temporary residences
SONS [some issue] around J [judge] + OUR

9 Leaders coming from north, as usual, resting up in Pacific island
Initial letters [leaders] of North As Usual Resting Up

10 Man is one that’s insulted, being oddly selective
odd letters of InSuLtEd

11,22 Hard demand about barbecue, so arranged in part of garden (such as you’ll find here)
H ORDER [hard demand] round an anagram of BARBECUE SO
…  look again at the last four parenthesised words of the clue

12 Extended garden in new way
anagram [in new way] of GARDEN

14 Relatively slowly cut about half of bush that’s profuse
ANDANT[e] [relatively slowly, cut] round BU [half of BUsh]

15 Closely knit bunch batting, mature but losing wicket
IN [batting] + GRO[w] UP [mature] minus [losing] W [wicket]

17 Fatty acid must be emptied out, I submit
A[ci]D [emptied out] + I POSE [I submit]

20 Climber found in only one part of garden
double / cryptic definition: an ascender is  ‘the part of some lower-case letters that ascends above the body of the letter’ , as does ‘d’ in ‘garden': as in 12ac, another neat exploitation of the garden theme

23 Is intrepid, wildly encouraged
anagram [wildly]of IS INTREPID

24 Game that gets exciting at match point
cryptic definition of the game whose point is to spot matched cards

25,13 Where one’s led astray, not in bed
cryptic definition, with a play on [flower] bed

26 Spirit, French counterpart of whisky
literally ‘water of life’ – in French, a type of brandy, in Irish Gaelic ‘uisce beatha’ and Scottish Gaelic: ‘uisge beatha’, hence whiskey / whisky: [I really loved this clue – but I wonder why Brendan chose the Scottish spelling?]


1 Vote was rigged, splitting hard cash for director on board
X [vote] + anagram [rigged] of WAS in [splitting] COIN [hard cash]

2 Flower got from bed
double definition and another nice double use of ‘bed’

3 Ogre concealed in plant
ORC [ogre] + HID [concealed]

4 Artists turned up in record in form of dance music
reversal [turned up] of RAS [artists] in CD [record] + AS [in form of] for a Hungarian folk dance: you may be familiar with this one

5 Adventurously revised, eliminating parts of story considered worthless
anagram [revised] of ADVEN[t]U[ro]U[s]L[y] minus letters of story

6 Wonderful son, unusually pure — daughter likewise
S [son] + anagram [unusually] of PURE + D [daughter] – likewise!

7 Part of subscription mut­ually set up for season
hidden reversal [set up] in subscriptioN MUTUAlly

16 At sea endures a submarine
anagram [at sea] of ENDURES A

18 Envisaged sequence of events — oddly, no race is included
anagram [oddly] of NO RACE IS

19 In legal document he had manifested embarrassment
WRIT {legal document] + HE’D [he had]

21 All one can consume, no end of drink? That’s bad
S[k]INFUL [all one can consume] minus last letter [no end] of drink] – great surface!

22 Villain that might create problem in camp
double / cryptic definition, a guy being the rope that holds your tent up

24 Part of play got by audience and understood
sounds like [got by audience] of scene [part of play]

41 Responses to “Guardian 25,749 / Brendan”

  1. muffin says:

    Thanks, eileen – one or two I hadn’t parsed.
    I’m not sure I agree about the quality – I thought 16 dn was poor, having SEA in both the clue and the answer, and 26ac wouldn’t have been out of place in the Quick Crossword!

  2. yvains says:

    Thanks, Brendan, I thought this was really good – particularly enjoyed 1, 20, 26. I have to confess that I had to do it all without seeing the nina. Thank you, Eileen.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. The Nina, which I saw quite late, was useful as it gave me the first letter of 4dn, which I certainly needed!

    muffin, don’t forget that this is a Rufus replacement and thus is not meant to be too hard, so please don’t be too hard, in turn, on Brendan who I think has done a great job of constructing a highly entertaining but accessible puzzle to encourage the less experienced.

  4. John Appleton says:

    Missed the nina. Had I noticed it, I wouldn’t have got a couple of answers wrong after guessing them. As such, my PEONY quite literally went all P. TONG. (EAU DE VIT seemed crazy enough to work, and I had BED BUG in place of BAD GUY as it was the best that a Monday Morning brain could provide).

  5. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Like NeilW @3 I saw the Nina quite late, which immediately gave me 11,22 and also helped with the unlikely CS combination at the beginning of 4dn — which I had to cheat to get anyway :-(

    I also thought 26ac a bit of a write-in and found the two uses of ‘sea’ at 16dn a bit inelegant. But this is carping, because it was a lovely puzzle overall.

    Many thanks, Brendan!

  6. don says:

    I’m glad it’s you blogging Eileen, as I have to claim ‘Eileen’s dispensation’ on 4 down – “no obscurities” , indeed!

    It could have been ‘esarpas’ or ‘lsarpas’ as far as I, or anyone else without a dictionary, was concerned.

    I never think to look for Ninas and whatever they call all-letter crosswords, so I didn’t see the ‘c’, if you see what I mean.

    Did anyone else scratching over 22 down find a ‘bed bug’ fitted?

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen, I didn’t see the NINA till you mentioned it, and that allowed me to complete the crossword. Having finished most of it, I had a nagging feeling I was missing something about the herbaceous borders – it is a Brendan, after all – so the NINA explains it. Strangely, after looking for the NINA, I fitted gods: CRONUS, ASTERTE (surely not a variant on ASTARTE?), IRIS, until the penny dropped.


  8. ClaireS says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I like your new style of doing them – hope it doesn’t lead to too much extra work.

    I couldn’t parse ASCENDERS and resorted to a dictionary search for CSARDAS. Plus I completely failed to spot the nina until someone on GU hinted about it – which then explained what I didn’t understand about 11/22. A very enjoyable puzzle for a Monday, I particularly liked 1d, 6d & 21d. I agree with liz@6 re 16d.

    Overall, I thought this was SUPER-DUPER :-) Thanks Brendan.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brendan

    A fine puzzle, though I missed the nina till I saw you mention it. I then found it and this enabled me belatedly to correct ‘bed bug’ to ‘bad guy’ which makes more sense. Unfortunately I had googled ‘bed bug’ and ‘villain’ and found that ‘Bed Bug’ is indeed a villain in the Batman stories!

    I founhd many clues enjoyable – 11,22, 15a, 20a, 1d, 4d (got without the nina), 18d, 21d.

  10. tupu says:

    sc. ‘found’

  11. crypticsue says:

    A lovely start to a horrible dark wet Monday morning, thank you Brendan and Eileen too. I actually spotted the Ninca too which is a rare day indeed. My only problem was with the dance but it eventually staggered out from the dark recesses of my memory.

  12. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    As always the ‘crocus’ passed me by. Eileen didn’t spell it out so is there anymore to it?
    This was a great treat for a Monday. It also blows a hole in the ‘he is only following orders’ theory. Does Brendan have the spirit to stand up to authority or is there another explanation?
    My last in was ‘ascender’ which had been my choice much earlier but I did not know the typo reference until I read it above.
    4d was of course a new word to me and took a long struggle because I had not spotted the ‘in form of’ = ‘as’.
    I liked 8ac,15ac and ‘bad guy’ took a lot of thinking and was preceded by long consideration of ‘bed bug’!

  13. tupu says:

    Hi RCW

    As I mentioned, I too like others missed the nina.

    You ask ‘is there anymore to it?’ I imagine you have also seen ‘aster, peony, dahlia, iris’. It was peony that be;atedly allowed me to get rid of my bed bug. I have not seen anything beyond these.

  14. Robi says:

    Good puzzle; I was alerted to the NINA and 4d by Eileen’s paragraph on the home page.

    Thanks Eileen; at least warning of the NINA enabled me to finish it off. Entertaining and fabulous HERBACEOUS BORDER. Congratulations to Brendan for getting them all in.

    I started to put in BAD BOY, although it didn’t parse properly and avoided the bed bugs. I particularly enjoyed COXSWAIN and SINFUL.

  15. Eileen says:

    don @6

    That goes back a long way! [And we haven’t heard from you for a while, I think – forgive me if I’m wrong.] In fact, I can’t remember what the exact criteria were for what you dubbed ‘Eileen’s dispensation’!

    I grant that CSARDAS [alternative czardas] is an unusual-looking word but I didn’t think the dance itself was obscure – I just had to look up the spelling. I’m glad to see tupu had no problems with it.

    I don’t know the Batman films, so initially couldn’t see why BED BUG should be a possibility. By the time I came back to 22dn, I had the Y from the nina, so I wouldn’t have had that problem anyway.

    Hi ClaireS @8

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve been doing my blogs of Prize puzzles this way since the beginning of last year, because I have all week to do them. A couple of weeks ago, I promised to try to do it in a weekday puzzle, to see if it held up the blog significantly. [We UK Guardian bloggers [apart from Andrew, who sometimes stays up late to blog – and is far quicker than I am] can’t match the times of our Far-Eastern or Transatlantic bloggers, since the midnight online release of the puzzle comes at a more congenial time for them. And, in any case, I prefer to solve the puzzle in the folded-up paper, as I’ve been doing for decades, rather than on a print-out!]

    Robi @14

    Ninas and themes are so characteristic of Brendan’s puzzles that one of his most memorable ninas, for me, is THERE IS NO THEME IN THIS CROSSWORD! My sincere apologies if my opening remarks in any way proved a spoiler for you.

  16. Robi says:

    Eileen @15; no offence taken – I like a bit of help. :)

  17. Eileen says:

    Thanks, robi: it’s just that there has been discussion in the past about bloggers giving too much away in their preamble – and I’ve been one of those most outspoken against it! 😉

  18. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. You explained a couple where I had the right answer but failed to parse the thing.

    I find myself dubious about 6d: where in the clue does he say use ‘pure’ twice?

  19. RCWhiting says:


  20. chas says:

    I had thought of ‘likewise’ but its position in the clue looks as though it is daughter that is being doubled. Or possibly ‘pure’ and daughter together – certainly not just ‘pure’.

    As a separate matter I am one of those who missed the nina. While I was working on the puzzle I had some vague thought that Brendan often has a theme or something but did not think of nina.

  21. NeilW says:

    chas, as Eileen remarked, there’s a theme (gardens) and a Nina!

  22. Brendan says:

    First, my apologies to muffin and everyone else for the double sea in 16 dn, but not for the clue for 26ac — how else to clue it?

    Now for the advertisement. A Seattle company called Puzzazz has launched a series of puzzle books for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, with excellent interface, especially an exclusive feature that allows you to write the answer on the screen with your finger. For information, go to

    The puzzles in the initial diverse set of 26 books are mostly by American authors, but include “Across and Down the Guardian Path with Brendan”, a selection of 20 of my puzzles from the last four years. (The Guardian has a commendably enlightened policy of giving copyright to the setters after three months.)

  23. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Fine puzzle, which I really enjoyed. Apart from the Hungarian dance, maybe, nothing too obscure, and I was helped by getting HERBACEOUS BORDER and twigging the outlying nina. I’m not much of a gardener, but the plants selected were pretty well known, so once you had a couple you could have a stab at the others.

    I particularly liked the way the garden theme was loosely woven into bits of the rest of the crossword.

    Bravo, Brendan, and thanks to Eileen for blogging.

  24. CynicCure says:

    Brendan @22

    How else to clue eau de vie…

    “Eastern vaudeville omits verse and lines when strong liquor is served.”

    Decidedly lacking in elegance, I’m afraid. Anyway, excellent puzzle as usual from you, so thank you. (Must remember to look for the nina, must remember to look for the nina, must…)

  25. SeanDimly says:

    Thank you Brendan, and thank you Eileen for the blog. The parenthesis in 11,22 suggested the NINA, which greatly speeded things up – with ‘bad guy’, ‘sinful’ and ‘sojourns’ in particular, reading clockwise. Afraid ‘csardas’ and ‘in-group’ still beat me though. Thank you for explaining ‘ascender’, Eileen. Very nice clue. Competition was stiff, but think I enjoyed ‘snap’ the best.

  26. Dave Ellison says:

    How about:

    “ODV – sound, French Whiskey?”

  27. rhotician says:

    Eau de vie

    There is a site CrosswordGiant which has an archive of clues and solutions from several publications. It has already been updated with St Brendan’s effort.

    But beware. Throughout the archive there are many entries taken from the Irish Times. You might be tempted to investigate further and while the Wiki piece on Crossaire is interesting, Crossheir’s ongoing blogs are really quite frightening.

  28. rhotician says:

    Sorry, that should be Crosaire.

  29. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Brendan and Eileen as ever.

    I came to this late, tired and all set to relax with Rufus! Well it was good fun once I had spotted the horticultural theme and to my great joy, I spotted a nina for the first time ever before I came to fifteensquared!!I had, of course finished it, so it didn’t help me but was a big yes!! moment.

    Giovanna x

  30. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Thank God for a Rufus free Monday.

    Didn’t see the NINA of course and failed on the “not too obscure” CSARDAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Eileen, you’re stretching your credibility with such comments :-)) Thanks for the blog and thank you Guardian for an RFREE Monday. Such a pleasant surprise.

  31. Brendan (not that one) says:

    By the way, in years gone by I have in desperation on a Sunday attempted a “Crosaire” in the Irish Times having completed the Saturday Times and Guardian surprisingly early. (This being in Irish bars in Germany and Belgium) I finally declared the man insane and gave up!

  32. flashling says:

    Must agree CSARDAS is unlikely to be known by virtually the entire population (me included), I sympathise with Brendan (both of you!) but sometimes I guess nothing else will fit.

    A great little puzzle otherwise, many thanks to Eileen and setter.

  33. Sarah says:

    Please enlighten an inexperienced solver. What IS the nina? Thanks.

  34. Dave H says:

    I think everone else is now on today’s puzzle. The nina is the letters in the edge squares, starting at square 1, when read clockwise around the complete grid give the names of garden plants ie crocus, aster, peony, dahlia and iris and are part of the garden theme.
    I never spot these damn things either!!

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi Sarah @23

    Just for the record, it’s never too late to query a blog or comment, as the day’s blooger gets an email of all comments on his/her blog.

    To fill out the theme/nina completely, the answer to 11,22 is HERBACEOUS BORDER, which is what we have here, as stated in the clue.

  36. yvains says:

    Sarah @33 – Just in case you mean, “What exactly is a nina?”, it’s basically a word or words (not being the answer(s) to a specific clue or clues), hidden somewhere in the completed grid (i.e. not necessarily always, as in this case, around the border). It takes its name from the habit of US caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, of hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, somewhere in each of the drawings he did after her birth. This page provides an excellent example:

    Other common terms are quite well explained here:

  37. BillinAustin says:

    Thanks for the wonderful insights, all. I’ve been doing the Guardian cryptics for years here in the hinterlands of America. Only recently discovered Fifteensquared which has greatly added to my puzzle pleasure.

    The term “Nina” was unknown to me until this puzzle’s blog. Another fun twist to the enjoyable world of cryptic puzzles.

    By the way, I am the only person I know in this city who does these.

  38. Eileen says:

    Hi BillinAustin

    Welcome to 15² – I still remember my own delight when I discovered it!

    I hope we’ll hear more from you.

  39. Sarah says:

    Thank you, Dave H and yvains. I understand what was being discussed now.

  40. yvains says:

    @Sarah :)

  41. Huw Powell says:

    I’m a bit late to the party, since I have slowly fallen behind the Grauniad’s schedule. I’m actually further behind than this puzzle, but last night I was in the mood for something a bit lighter and more whimsical than the last couple I had worked on, and noticed a Brendan marked “Monday” in my little stack and thought it would be nice to play with.

    Got off to a slow start, with only a few answers in place by the time 26A had rendered my solving skills useless.

    Picked it back up today, by now having forgotten that it was a Brendan. Waged some battle in the SW corner, with every answer except ASCENDER and SINFUL staying in pencil. Gradually metastasized across the grid, entering “BORDER” in pencil long before solving the clue, which had me checking occasionally for the Nina. For a while I thought USA might be a part of it…

    Finally solved 11/22 completely, forgot to check for the Nina, and got a few more answers, when I saw CRO_US, to my great dismay. And ASTER was there, PEONY gave me SCENARIO and the wonderful SNAP, and there was a DAHLIA and an IRIS. I had to resort to using OneLook for the CS?R?A? word, after deciding that SOJOURNS simply *had* to be correct. A fair enough clue if a bit obscure, I just didn’t parse it to give me something to guess at and look up. Never heard of the island (9, not 10!), but the pencilled in answer held up so there was no need to research it.

    Favorite clues were 20 with its lovely abuse of the theme and 5, but many others raised a smile.

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen et. al.; and for the delightful traipse 25/13, and for dropping by, Brendan!

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