Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,945 / Araucaria – Alphabetical jigsaw

Posted by petebiddlecombe on December 16th, 2006


Solving time 21:35 when last answer (K) was looked up.

I think this is the first “alphajig” since we started the blog. They’re an old favourite of mine – before I started doing cryptic puzzles, I got the Puzzler magazine (still going strong) which has various puzzles with challenges like fitting a set of words into a grid. So when I discovered these in occasional Saturday Guardians, I was ready for the jigsaw part.

A paragraph of moans about the presentation: It’s a pity that the Guardian’s “Berliner” format doesn’t seem to allow the crossword to have a title any more – so the name “Alphabetical Jigsaw” no longer appears. And why the number and setter have to lurk under the grid, when there’s plenty of room next to the “Cryptic Crossword” caption, is one of those mysteries that my newspaper graphical design skills are too limited to understand. Ditto the point of printing any clue numbers in the grid. There could also be some instructions telling you that the clues labelled A start with A and so on, which I’m sure we used to get. Most of us know very well, but give the beginners a clue!

Enough moaning and on to the puzzle … Where across and down answers share starting points, one of two things can happen. A letter can simply have two clues, and you have to decide which goes where. Alternatively, one of the entries can be part of an answer using two grid entries. That’s what happens here – with both As and both Fs coming from the answer at that letter. Fitting answers into the grid is most easily done by solving all the clues of a length like 10 letters and finding that they can only fit the grid in one way. In this case, I’m pretty sure my starting point was the 14-letter answers and the fact that putting DRANK LIKE A FISH in the top one would give the L answer 11 letters instead of 9, so it had to go in the other slot. With U and Z you get a couple of chances to tell me what I’ve missed in the wordplay.

A A CHAP,TER OF = (forte)*,ACC(I.D.)ENTS – fairly straightforward charade once you ignore “whose”.
B BURG,L,ARISE – burg is US informal for “town or city”, though I just thought of places like Harrisburg when solving.
C CU(Y)P – Aelbert Jacobsz presumably.
F F(I’VE FAT Ho.)M – FM = Field Marshal
G GRAN= Great Italian,DADD = painter judged mad
H HORNS,WOGGLE – to cheat, trick, etc. A woggle is a neckerchief holder as worn by Boy Scouts.
K KAUFMANN – The clue seems to be about Konstantin K, and be based on the idea that the painter Angelica Kauffmann had a longer name and the Labour politican Gerald Kaufman has a shorter one. But many sources seem to have the general’s name with just one F. Apparently the general helped to extend the Russian empire by conquering Turkestan.
O OVER,TYPE – to revisit a row of printing
Q QUID – 2 meanings – one being “a piece of tobacco for chewing”
S SE(DATE)EL(b)Y – Selby is a town in Yorkshire.
U UNITED – from Man. United for “Manchester United Football Club”, but don’t understand the “change of heart is a reversal” bit
V VERGES – Character in Much Ado about Nothing
W WHIM,B.R.,EL – past lines = British Rail, high-level ones = the El.
X XANADU – reverse hidden, re. Kubla Khan. If you don’t know any of the poem, or the tale of the person from Porlock, read up now.
Z ZERO – but apart from a possible pun on “row” I didn’t understand the bit about the skint crew.

4 Responses to “Guardian 23,945 / Araucaria – Alphabetical jigsaw”

  1. says:

    This was the first time I could recall seeing an alpha jigsaw with clue nos. in the grid and it put me off a lot. I’ve read somewhere that they can’t prevent it with the online version so I was always happy I had the paper …. until now.

    Z Report of crew missing money? There isn’t any (4)

    Cruzeiro – yes I know, but don’t forget we had Roach/Roche recently.

  2. says:

    Oh, I missed the U query, change of heart is a reversal means united becomes untied.

  3. says:

    Well these don’t do much for me. When “crew missing money” really means “Crew missing from money” or “Money missing crew” I think the clue’s a dud, whoever wrote it – and that matters more to me the debatable homophone – I can imagine “crewzero” as close enough to the pronunciation even if that’s wrong. I did see that you could get UNTIED, but I can’t connect this word with anything in the clue so it didn’t feel like enough of an explanation. I guess that’s Araucaria for you sometimes. It matters less to me as a solver than as an alleged expert trying to explain how the trickier clues work.

  4. says:

    Just a note to say thanks for all the hard work – as a beginner, it’s nice to be told things like the rule that clue A begins with A and so on. I’d thought it was just a pleasing coincidence…

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