Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23971/Araucaria – Hello again Sherlock

Posted by linxit on January 11th, 2007


Solving time 16:10

Conan Doyle must be second only to Shakespeare in having his work used in thematic crosswords. This one contains four 15-letter Sherlock Holmes stories. I didn’t spot the theme right away – my first look at 14dn didn’t ring any bells so I just went through the non-thematic clues at first. The penny dropped when I got 24ac, so 14 ended in ?L?. …”love to see rising” was then obviously O,YLE and it was pretty much plain sailing after that, although I do admit to looking down the contents page of my Complete Sherlock Holmes to get 1dn (lucky for me I’m off sick today).

8 CHEST,NUT – An old chestnut from Araucaria? Surely not!
9 C(o)RE,(a)CHE – would have been a good surface reading until the definition was just tacked on the end
10 ASS,U(=turn),CH
12 BEVY (double def) – no need for the first “say” in this clue, as the drink can be spelt “bevvy” or “bevy”. I thought the collective noun for larks was “exaltation”, but Chambers gives the definition of bevy1 as “a company or flock (of larks, quails, swans, roes or ladies)”. I think that qualifies as one of Chambers’ humorous definitions, although it’s not on their webpage.
13 S(NOW, CHA)INS – what they put on car tyres in countries that have snow in winter.
15 SK(INF)UL(l) – INF is short for infra, Latin for “below”. I’m surprised this wasn’t linked with 12 in some way.
16 AN(GER,L)Y – straightforward wordplay, but why use such an obscure archaic word when ANNEALS fits the checking letters too?
18 PERCEPTION (prep notice)*
22 OVA,MBO(mob*) – The Ovambo are a Namibian people.

1 THES(eus),PECK,LED BAND – PECK is the actor Bob Peck [Explained by BenIngton, thanks]. I originally had THESP=actor,ECK=?,LED BAND. Apparently this was Conan Doyle’s favourite Holmes story.
2 A STUD,YIN,SCARLET – this was the first Sherlock Holmes novel, published in 1887. Scarlet=mini-trauma as droplet=mini-drop!
3 ON THE STUMP – a stump being a makeshift platform for an orator, hence “on the stump” means going on a political campaign. I don’t like the second part of the clue though – a straight delivery is on the stumps!
6 RED,HE,ADED(dead*),LEAGUE – and this was Conan Doyle’s second favourite story.
7 THE FINAL(thin leaf*) PROBLEM – “problem” being an anagram indicator for “the final” to get THIN LEAF. The rest of the clue refers to the fact that this was the story where Holmes fell over the Reichenbach Falls with Moriarty, as Conan Doyle wanted to kill him off. However, after a public outcry he eventually resurrected him and more stories appeared.
14 CON,AND,O,YLE(=ely rev.) – “see” is a very useful word for setters, as ELY (ending a lot of adverbs), but also watch out for LO or V.
17 P(INN)ACE – it always helps to know the names of different types of boat. A pinnace is a small rowing-boat.

7 Responses to “Guardian 23971/Araucaria – Hello again Sherlock”

  1. says:

    As a Sherlock Holmes fan, today’s puzzle was a treat with some wonderful clues.

    Re 1d , it is THES (part of Theseus) + PECK (Bob Peck the actor) + LED BAND (conductor).

    Great stuff, Araucaria!

  2. says:

    Ah, right! I’d never heard of Bob Peck (although I’ve just looked him up on Wikipedia and I recognise his face), and Thesp=actor just stood out. Maybe if he’d used Gregory instead I might have got it.

    I’ll edit the post above.

  3. says:

    At the risk of being drummed out of the fn club, I thought this was rather poor fare. There were several slipshod definitions and indications.

    A Study in Scarlet must be one of the most used 15 letter phrases in crossword puzzles. Invariably when I see the indications 1,5,2,7, I automatically think of it.

    Gregory might have led people quicker, but Bob Peck is a fine (although not so widely known) actor.

    23 across INTEND Can TEND mean “nursing”

    Having recently seen an old Guardian puzzle which had THE BLACK SABBATH, THE QUINTESSENCE, THE GRATEFUL DEAD and THE FLEETWOOD MAC in those four 15 letter slots and three of the bands were hardly if ever known by THAT PREFIX. tODAY WE HAVE TWO “THE’s” and yet it was omitted for THE Red-Headed League. Not essential I suppose for a daily puzzle, but it still stood out to me.

    It grieves me to say it, but I didn’t think it was one of the Rev’s best.

  4. says:

    Sorry Tilsit but I do not agree (as I suppose my previous post indicated!) :)

    I’m not sure which slipshod definitions and indications you are referring to but if you are saying:

    1) “A Study in Scarlet must be one of the most used 15 letter phrases in crossword puzzles” – it may be for an experienced cruciverbalist like you but, for a relative novice, do you think it springs to mind, especially if the theme is not known? When does a crossword solution become a cliche. paricularly if you are a beginner and do not know anything of past usage (leading to the question: where does a crossword setter pitch his/her level between experienced solvers or complete novices?)

    2) “TEND” has been synonymous with ‘Nurse’ for quite a few puzzles I’ve seen or am I missing something?

    3) If you are being strict, then more of the clues regarding Holme’s exploits are correct. For examples, it is “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”, rather than “The Speckled Band” and “The Adventure of the Final Problem” rather than “The Final Problem”. As you noted, not essential, so why spoil the fun for a missing ‘The’?

    I didn’t!


  5. says:

    Sorry – I meant ‘incorrect’ for ‘correct’.

  6. says:

    To tend is a verb meaning to nurse.

    There is no noun “tend” to mean “nursing”.

  7. says:

    IN TEND can mean ‘nursing’, if you really are a genuine fan.

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