Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24012/Araucaria – this is a really hard week!

Posted by linxit on February 28th, 2007


I was at a beer-tasting event last night, so was hoping for an easy puzzle today – no such luck! I groaned when I saw it was Araucaria, but after looking over the clues I saw the theme and relaxed a bit. As a former Ladbrokes betting-shop manager I’m very familiar with the racecourses and big races that make up today’s theme, and quickly found them all. As for the rest of it though… This would have been OK as a Saturday prize puzzle, when most solvers are at home and have access to dictionaries and reference books, but I certainly wouldn’t have finished it on the train! As it is I had to look up 4 or 5 answers in online dictionaries and/or Wikipedia. I’m half convinced 12ac is actually a made-up word! I couldn’t find it on

10 A,IN TREE – last racecourse I got, after getting its race (26ac).
11 TH(WAIT)E – straightforward wordplay, but I didn’t know the word itself and had to look it up to check.
12 FA(B,B)Y – is this really a word? Not in any online dictionaries I consulted, anyway. Obviously short for fabulous, but…
13 (be)D,ON,CASTER – took me a while to see how DON was indicated, as the whole clue appears to just be a definition of CASTER (apart from “of course” at the end).
14 EP’S,O.M.
16 STOCK,HOLM = “home” – another dodgy homophone, I certainly don’t pronounce them the same.
18 DI(SIN)VE,ST – tricky wordplay, but just about fair I think.
19 (Main)TENON – I’d heard of Madame de Maintenon and guessed it must be a place in France, so a tenon must be the bit that sticks out and a mortise is the hole it goes into. I never knew which way round they were before.
20 OVER,TIMER – strange word, don’t think I’ve ever seen it used before.
23 PE(T)AL – I’ve never been fond of model=T as in Ford. I think I’ve only seen it in the Guardian though.
24 ST LEGER – LEG inside (REST)*, first thematic race I got, which allowed me to quickly put in all the other thematic entries.
25 (be)GUINE,AS – well, I’d heard of the song “Begin the Beguine”, but didn’t know it was a dance.
26 G,R(AND,N)ATIONAL – only worked out the wordplay as I was typing this up.

3 DERBY – as in the Manchester Derby between United and City.
5 EATING OUT (tongue-ti)* – missing “ed”.
7 hidden in “gOD IS Taking” – surprisingly well hidden, I didn’t get it until I had all the checked letters.
8 HATFIELD HOUSE (used half the 10)*, with 10 just being used as IO. Actually in Herts, it’s the home of the Marquess of Salisbury.
9 DEC,RIMIN(i),A,LISE=isle* – definition is “permit”, which is very loose. Didn’t get this till I had all the checking letters either.
17 OENOTHERA – the evening primrose genus. I cheated with this one, looking it up on Quinapalus Word-Matcher when I had O?N???E?A. The wordplay is (ONE*),OTHER,A with “different one” being clued twice. Quite clever actually.
21 EULER (“oiler”) – ref. the phrase “pour oil on troubled waters“.
23 PRIM,O – guessed it from the name of the author, but didn’t figure out where 17 came in until I looked it up on Wikipedia.

8 Responses to “Guardian 24012/Araucaria – this is a really hard week!”

  1. says:

    Fabulously, Chambers has FABBY!

  2. says:

    Im rather new to this cryptic crossword business, and found this one tough but a lot of fun.

    A question though… 22D is RIGHT, yes? In which case the clue looks a little off – RIGHT obviously means “without mistake”, and the cryptic bit is “fix altitude”. However, the term RIGHT (as in righting an aircraft) is usually used to mean correcting its angle (roll, heave or pitch) rather than its altitude. However, the term “attitude” incorporates roll, heave and pitch, so I wonder if this is a Grauniad typo, and the clue should have read “Fix attitude without mistake”? (Or have I got the answer completely wrong??)

    Interestingly, the reference to Salisbury continues (perhaps inadvertently) the horse racing theme – the first race run at Newmarket was a contest between horses owned by Lord Salisbury and the Marquis of Buckingham. Cool.

    Hope tomorrow’s is easier, my brain hurts.

  3. says:

    Mike M., I think you’re right about RIGHT. I didn’t really think about it when I solved what looked like a straightforward double definition clue, not worth commenting on.

  4. says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this, to the extent I’ll forgive the use of the ghastly FABBY.

    Re 22d, I think there is there is no typo involved. Cryptic part is fix = RIG + altitude = HT (height), giving definition (‘no mistake’)

  5. says:

    “I think there is there is no typo involved.”

    I meant in the clue, not in my own erroneos sentence. I should have gone beer-drinking…

  6. says:


  7. says:

    PS great blog!

  8. says:

    linxit – what a coincidence! I too used to be a Ladbrokes betting-shop manager – wonder if there’s a link between the ability to do crosswords and the ability to decipher some of the weird combinations and spellings that drunk Saturday afternoon punters used to put on their lines??

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