Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,816 by Brendan

Posted by flashling on December 11th, 2012


Uncle Yap is away, so it’s my pleasure to do a Guardian blog of a Brendan crossword.

Brendan has been reading his horoscope it appears, the signs of the Zodiac appear thoughout as the symbol rather than the name, with associated entries such as planet, astrologer and celestial.

9 RECTI Some muscles tire badly, absorbing cold (5)
  C(old) in TIRE*
10 CELESTIAL Like space that remains after various pieces removed from isosceles triangle (9)
  Partially hidden in isoCELES TrIAngLe unless someone can see something cleverer
11 BIRTH SIGN Bring this, having changed indication of delivery period (5,4)
12 RUGBY Origin of game’s inscribed in stone here (5)
  G(ame) in RUBY
13 TRIVIAL Frivolous sex among Romans revealed in hearing (7)
  SEX=SIX in Latin = VI in TRIAL
15 TILL NOW So far, won’t fully — having switched ends (4,3)
  WON’T fully = WILL NOT, switching ends gives TILL NOW
17 IONIC Charged, in a way, following a certain order (5)
  Double Definition
18 RAM Deliberately crash into vehicle, knocking piece off front (3)
20 GHOST Good party organiser, one whose work is bound to be misattributed (5)
  G(ood) HOST
22 STABLES Small pieces of furniture in homes of Arabs and others (7)
  S(mall) TABLES, cue arguments about S = small not being in the dictionary, I expect.
25 CARRIER Person spreading complaint about, namely in educational foundation? (7)
  CA (about) IE (namely) in RRR the three Rs
26 LYCRA Fitting material used in ugly cravat (5)
  Hidden in ugLY CRAvat
27 AD-LIBBING Line I inserted in big band composition, improvising (2-7)
  (L(ine) I) in [BIG BAND]*
30 OVEREXERT Excessively strain English king in public (9)
  (E REX) in OVERT
31 LIANA Climber in middle of Italian Alps (5)
  Hidden in itaLIAN Alps
1 CRAB Irritable person runs into vehicle (4)
  R(uns) in CAB
2 SCORPION Descendant covering up for raised whip (8)
  PRO (for) reversed in SCION
3 FISH They’re often in schools to seek information, say (4)
  Hom of PHISH – getting data fraudulently on line
4 SCHILLER Dramatist not so friendly after opening of show (8)
  S(how) CHILLER
5 PLANET Supposedly influential body putting energy into factory (6)
  E(nergy) in PLANT
6 ASTROLOGER One who predicts things in advance, up in complicated star lore (10)
  GO rev in [STAR LORE]*. Nicely done.
7 VIRGIN As opposed to one with ring, perhaps? (6)
  V (against) 1 RING*
8 PLAY Perform song, with piano introduction (4)
13 TWINS Pair usually sharing 11 — that could be this (5)
  Cryptic def
14 INCULCATES Repetitively teaches one way to ruin clues? I can’t (10)
16 WATER Capturing leaders of the enemy in conflict as basis for solution, often (5)
  (T(he) E(nemy)) in WAR
19 MACULATE Spotted initially mocking at a clue that’s absurd (8)
   M(ocking) + [AT A CLUE]*
21 ORIGINAL What can be said about one drink that’s not already said (8)
  (1 GIN) in ORAL
23 ARCHER Head off participant in moving protest that’s more shrewd (6)
24 SCALES Does some climbing, making lots of notes (6)
  Double definition
26 LION Male with pride put up new work of art (4)
  N OIL all reversed
28 BULL Kind of speculator that’s on target (4)
  Double definition
29 GOAT Vigorously attack lecherous type (4)


Thanks to PD for the software.

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,816 by Brendan”

  1. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Brendan and Flashling. The theme helped me and this didn’t take long. I don’t think we need ‘phish’ in 3 down (though it’s valid) as fishing (for info) is an idiom on its own, I think (TV barristers are forever on ‘fishing expeditions’) ‘Say’ does suggest a homophone, it’s true, but it could also indicate one example of an information-seeking style.

  2. muffin says:

    Thanks to flashling and Brendan.
    This was a very clever and enjoyable crossowrd, so it is a pity that a few of the clues are slightly flawed.
    I parsed CELESTIAL as you did, flashling, and don’t think it is quite satisfactory (though someone may come up with a better explanation, as you say).
    Doesn’t 22ac work more elegantly without the “and others”? I know that horses other than Arabs can be found in stables, but some stables will only have Arab inhabitants.
    17ac is “in a way” needed? IONIC is “charged” and an order of Greek architecture.
    SCORPION = WHIP is also a bit obscure. I solved it from the parsing, then used Google. There are “whip scorpions”, but, apart from one obscure reference that seemed to be about a computer game, all the on the first couple of pages were to snowmobiles – OK, so there is a connection, but a solver is unlikely to associate “whip” with “snowmobile” surely?
    Having said all that, it was still very enjoyable.

  3. DunsScotus says:

    Muffin @2; Chambers gives ‘scorpion’ as a scourge, the term dating back to biblical times.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, flashling.

    What a lovely puzzle! BIRTH SIGN was my first entry, so I was on the alert from the start but it was by no means a write-in, as the clues were nicely disguised. I really liked both parts of WATER CARRIER, for their construction, surfaces and wordplay.

    S = small is commonplace in garment labelling and I don’t think it usually causes controversy. [And I’ve just discovered that it is in Collins.] A lovely misleading clue, anyway.

    My favourite has to be 13ac, which made me laugh out loud.

    muffin @2 – strange the things that stick in your head: I remember, from primary school, the biblical quotation, ‘My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions’ [whyever did we learn that?] and both Collins and Chambers have ‘scorpion = a barbed scourge’.

    Many thanks, Brendan, for lots of fun.

  5. Eileen says:

    Sorry DunsScotus – I spent too long typing, so we crossed.

  6. muffin says:

    Thanks to dunsScotus and Eileen
    I should rely on Chambers rather than Google – trouble is the book is in a different room!

  7. Mitz says:

    Thanks Brendan and flashling.

    There was certainly no missing the theme today! My way in was via “crab” and “ram”. Then I got the rather nifty 5D – “supposedly influential…” eh? He couldn’t have got all 12 in could he? Well, yes, he could. It has often been a complaint from certain quarters that list themes of this sort make for an easy solve, and I have to admit that in terms of difficulty level this puzzle put up very little resistance. However, massive hats off to Brendan: to fit in all 12 zodiacal signs, plus “birth sign”, “planet”, “celestial” and “astrologer” without any of the rest of the grid feeling an any way forced is truly impressive.

    That said, I have to admit that the parsing of “scorpion” and “trivial” did escape me. I didn’t pause in writing them in: the former as it was the only place in the grid that my own 11 would fit and the latter because “frivolous” worked as the definition and it couldn’t be anything else given the crossing letters.

    With 10 I did wonder if the letters to be removed from “isosceles triangle” to leave “celestial” would be specifically indicated in some way, but they don’t seem to be.

    Some very nice definitions: “basis for solution”, “delivery period”, “person spreading complaint” – the last sadly very relevant, what with noro virus currently ripping through schools at a frightening rate.

    So, much easier than some recent puzzles (I struggled with Rufus yesterday and Gordius last week for the record) but thoroughly enjoyable and ten out of ten for construction.

  8. Gervase says:

    Thanks flashing.

    Fun puzzle, where the theme helped (me) a lot. I can’t say that I was particularly affronted by any of the clues, though I agree with muffin @2 that there is some extraneous verbiage in a few. I rather liked the clue for CELESTIAL, which I parsed exactly as all those above.

    Re flashling’s comment about 22a, S = ‘small’ doesn’t appear in Chambers – mystifyingly, since this abbreviation is widespread on clothing (or are other contributors XXL and therefore find it unfamiliar? :)).

    I enjoyed many of the clues, but my favourite is 13a.

  9. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Eileen – it’s 1 Kings 12:11 btw. I have no idea why this passage should have once been popular!

  10. postrophe says:

    I am inclined to agree with DunsScotus @1 re ‘fishing’. My late father was employed during and after “the late unpleasantness” in a branch of the so-called Intelligence Services and I remember him speaking of ‘fishing expeditions’ in that context.

  11. flashling says:

    Re Fish/Phish I agree it could go either way, it’s just how I saw it on the train this morning.

  12. muffin says:

    I believe that the contemporary usage “phishing” has evolved from the sense that postrophe refers to in post 10 – hence either interpretattion works, though I feel the “say” implies the “sounds like” of “ph”.

    It would be interesting to hear from Brendan on this – hope he drops in.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks flashling and Brendan

    Despite knowing that Brendan likes themes, I had solved a majority of the signs before I realised what was going on – a tribute to the cluing. An excellent puzzle. I was troubled at first re ‘water’ until I found ‘carrier’.

    I especially liked 13a, 15a, 20a, 30a, 13d and 21d.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Very enjoyable. Thanks flashling. In 10a (in addition to the obvious definition) I imagined removing all the sides of a triangle, and what was left was space (That’s almost the definition of transcendental: there’s a hole in a sandbank, the floods wash away the sand without disturbing the hole)

  15. Stella says:

    Thanks Flashling and Brendan.

    As you say, an accessible and enjoyable puzzle, though I hampered myself to start with by blindly writing in BIRTH DATE at 11ac, until the down clues made me rethink, by which time I already had several of the theme answers without realising :-)

  16. Mitz says:

    Happy to say you’re not alone, Stella – I toyed with “birth date” for a while, but it didn’t seem to fit so I didn’t write it in. And I didn’t even twig when I had spotted the theme (which was very early on). Felt like a right klutz when I finally spotted the answer – it was one of my last in.

  17. David Mop says:

    Thanks for the parsing of eg 6D and 25A. Sadly I couldn’t get 15A because I had 7D as “single”. I suppose I should have guessed “virgin” from the theme, but I think my answer fits the clue better! ;-)

  18. pjr says:

    Could someone explain 13d a little more clearly, please?

  19. muffin says:

    pjr @ 18
    Twins are born on the same day (usually), so have the same birth sign; “twins” is the Englsih version of the sign Gemini

  20. Mitz says:


    Two levels to the clue for 13D: a pair sharing a birth sign could have been born on the same day and so be twins (and if they are twins it would be very unusual for them to have different birth signs as they would have to be born either side of midnight on the cusp); the birth sign that they share could be Gemini, ie the twins.

  21. Robi says:

    Very well crafted puzzle; a joy to solve, although I was so busy putting in the answers (including BIRTH SIGN early on) that I missed most of the connections [GOAT was the last in!] :(

    Thanks flashling; I missed the correct parsing of OVEREXERT, wondering why overt had rex in backwards; oh dear. I thought the clue for CELESTIAL was fine and clever.

    I very much enjoyed the frivolous sex, although at one point I thought it might be bestial – you know the Romans got up to all sorts of things! STABLES and SCORPION were also especially good.

  22. crypticsue says:

    Lots of fun indeed, thank you Brendan and Flashling.

    Solved quite a bit of it before I actually noticed there was a theme.

    A great crossword.

  23. pjr says:

    Muffin, Mitz,

    11 = birthsign, not 10+1…

    Thanks for spelling out what should have been obvious.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A rather odd puzzle.
    I found six rather clever clues ( 12, 13, 15 22 ac; 6, 7 d), unfortunately I found most of them to be very easy too.
    However clever, a clue can never be highly rated if it fails to puzzle the solver,its prime purpose.
    Last in was 2d,my knowledge of biblical lore is as sparse as my interest in 6d’s rubbish,hence the theme almost passed me by.
    It did not quite which is why I was confused by 2d since there was no reference to it in the clue.
    Overall,a middling effort, but not up to this compiler’s usual standard.

  25. Rowland says:

    Yes, good stuff, but curiously for this setter there WERE a few small Qs about some clues, as we have discussed. I’m also slightly familiar with this theme for some reason. OR, I must be an avatar of Russell Grant or something!!!!

    Many thanks all
    Cheers Rowly.

  26. chas says:

    Thanks to flashling for the blog. You explained 7d for me because I had quite failed to explain it.

    I might have managed 7d if I had spotted that there was a theme here but did not know it until I came here :(

    On 12a I think the game was invented at that place so there’s an extra layer of meaning!

  27. Trebor says:

    I do really enjoy these 2for1 puzzles Brendan favours these days, and this was terrific.
    Utterly disagree with all of the comments @24 (you have excelled yourself today RCW…)

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Wow, you believe in astrology, Trebor! Congratulations.

  29. Brendan (not that one) says:

    A lovely puzzle from Brendan yet again.

    Of course I finished it without noticing the theme! (I must not want the help!)

    I particularly liked the fastidious cluing of 13d which was my COD whereas 13a just seemed normal to me! (Different strokes etc…..)

    Muffin – why not use or even

    Finally I don’t understand all this fuss about “phishing”? The term actually derives from the English meaning as in Chambers

    “4 intrans (usually fish for something) to seek information, compliments, etc by indirect means.”

    So no homophone required?

    Thanks to flashling and my illustrious namesake.

  30. RCWhiting says:

    Trebor @27
    Since you seem to have joined the ranks (actually not so many) of those who delight in criticising my comments I will attempt to correct your misleading post.
    Last week:
    Mon. too easy
    Tues. I enjoyed this
    Wed. Araucaria rarely does disappoint
    Thurs. Well done compiler
    Fri. An enjoyable toughie.
    Or is it that it is just considered beyond the pale for any mere solver (and purchaser of the paper) to dare to criticise those god-like figures who ean their livings by compiling crosswords.
    Some of you seem to read anything critical which I write and turn a blind eye to the many compliments I post.
    If you think I exaggerate, read rhotician’s kind detailing last week of what he thought it would be aceptable for me to post.

  31. Brendan (not that one) says:

    We’re right behind you RCW. NIC ;-)

  32. rhotician says:

    RCW @24 “… a clue can never be highly rated if it fails to puzzle the solver …”

    The Solver has spoken, “…thereof one must be silent.”

  33. RCWhiting says:

    Surely you do not expect me to use that utterly pointless abbreviation IMO (or worse IMHO).
    Whose else could it possibly be?

  34. stiofain says:

    But the rho for rhotician abbreviation is OK RCW iyho?

  35. rhotician says:

    RC, I have no right to expect anything of you. I’m pleased you don’t use IMO (or worse).

    “I cannot rate a clue highly if it fails to puzzle me” is less pompous. And quicker to type.

  36. Paul B says:

    Rho is Betty.

  37. Brendan (that one) says:

    My new copy of Chambers defines “fish” as “to seek information, compliments etc. by indirect means”. So “say” indicates that it’s not only information that can be fished (for). My old copy of Chambers has one of those Chambers jokes: ” to catch or try to catch or obtain fish, or anything that may be likened to a fish (such as seals, sponges, coral, compliments, information or husbands”.

  38. Brendan (that one) says:

    Me again.

    In 17 across, “in a way” is appropriate since something could be charged in various ways. In 3D, “say” is appropriate since things other than information may be fished for. In both cases, crossword cliches are suggested — S***T and homophone. I’m not sure when it became wrong in a cryptic crossword to (a) make a definition precise, (b) offer ambiguity.

  39. Brendan (that one) says:

    … and again.

    For 12 across, at Rugby (school), there is inscribed in stone (see Wikpedia entry on William Webb Ellis) the following:

    A.D. 1823

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Re @39 Why type all that here when, as also confirmed by that Wiki entry, there is no reliable evidence to support the claim. I’m confused now.

  41. flashling says:

    All I’ll say is I get 25 mins to solve, 30 or so to write it up, I’ll miss stuff – it’s your chance to shine. Flash

  42. RCWhiting says:

    Take as long as you want, flash, I am rarely up before 9.30 am.

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