Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23949/Araucaria

Posted by linxit on December 14th, 2006


Solving time – about 45 mins.

This was a real brute of a puzzle from Araucaria. I struggled all the way with it, but there were some obscure words and a couple of very dodgy clues. Just what I’ve come to expect from him, but a lot harder today for some reason.

5 WIPE OUT – “why pout?”
9 (CAME)* + HER – Michael Meacher is a Labour MP.
10 L, (GEAR)*, SS – I’ve always spelt this with a ‘e’ on the end, but apparently this form is just as valid.
11 LONG MARCH – which would delay April Fools’ Day if it happened. I suppose “China” is a mini-theme here, but only three clues are thematic if that’s the case.
15 “DI’S MANTLE” – I’m sure even the least fashion-conscious among us remember “that” wedding dress…
17 G, RE(A,PLATE*,FOR)WARD – I’d sort of heard of the Great Leap Forward, but knew nothing about it until I read the Wikipedia article.
19 NAB, OB=obiit=died
22 AIDA,N – founder of Lindisfarne
23 VERDI, GRIS – I don’t think I’ve ever seen this type of linked clue construction before, where part of the wordplay for one clue is linked and defined by part of the wordplay of another. It works for me though – I don’t think I’d have got 22 right without 23.
25 DO, RM, ANT – a jolly is a nickname for a Royal Marine. One to remember, as this comes up fairly regularly.

1 MIM(U,L)US – I admit I looked this up, being familiar with neither the answer nor Mimus, the hummingbird genus.
2 L,EARNER – L = a pound, which used to be worth twenty bob (shillings).
6 (ALE CROP) rev, IN
8 TOSCA,LE – great bit of misdirection. I was convinced I was looking for the name of an opera formed from LE or LA inside RATIO.
14 GET IN LANE – (inelegant)* – but where’s the anagram indicator?
17 GRAND,AD – no definition though. I suppose it’s meant to be “elderly” (18d), but that’s not adequate surely.
20 BAR,RAGE – plus a sort of cryptic definition involving the two meanings of the word.
24 X(ORB)I all reversed – I think this was the first clue I got this morning.

8 Responses to “Guardian 23949/Araucaria”

  1. says:

    Half of my review disappeared when I published it! And now I’ve got to type it all out again because it seems to have vanished into the ether. Rats! Watch this space…

  2. says:

    OK it’s all there now. I think the blog software may have interpreted the “less-than” symbol I used to indicate reversal in the comment for 6d, as that’s where the first attempt gave up.

  3. says:

    Linx – I think the definition for 17d is to found in 18d (ELDERLY) in the same way as 22a and 23a are closely interlinked.

  4. says:

    My argument is that “elderly” isn’t a definition for “grandad” though. I have a friend who has only just turned 40 and doesn’t consider himself elderly, but his daughter has a couple of kids. Nor are all elderly people grandads! That’s apart from the fact that an adjective is being used to define a noun…I know Araucaria likes to take a few liberties, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    22 and 23 however are very closely linked, as VERDI wrote AIDA, and it’s clued as “work of…composer”.

  5. says:

    …although you probably won’t find the Guardian editor clamping down too tightly on World Number One Araucaria’s liberty-taking – however outrageous it might seem to, say, big Times fans.

    Besides, as well as non-stop invention in crypticity (!) there’s always large measure of bobbing and weaving from the big man in definitions, and it’s something to which his considerable audience has become well-accustomed.

    I guess I mean, applying the slide-rule to this joyous type of work is futile, and smacks of desperation.

  6. says:

    Linx – I accept your point about grandads not being all elderly. But in terms of the crossword, I had no problem deducing ‘grandad’ once I had ‘elderly’ and I suppose that from that viewpoint, the clue is acceptable.

  7. says:

    You got me pegged Dennis – I am mainly a Times solver. However, it was a puzzle by Araucaria a few months ago that convinced me to broaden my horizons.

  8. says:

    I actually thought this was one of Araucaria’s easier puzzles, but you certainly have to be aware of the setter’s quirky style to make any sort of headway.
    MIMULUS was an outrageous guess on my part, and an intriguing choice of answer by the setter, as not only is it obscure, but it doesn’t seem as promising clue fodder as ,say, MUMBLES.

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