Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,085 – Araucaria – always a pleasure

Posted by loonapick on May 24th, 2007


When I opened the Guardian website today to see whose puzzle I’d be blogging, I had that familair sense of unease that comes from seeing the name “Araucaria”. Don’t get me wrong – I love his puzzles, and I can forgive his non-Ximenean style because he is fun to solve. My unease comes form the fact that Araucaria puzzles tend to be that litle bit harder, and the last thing you want to do is admit defeat when you are blogging. Thankfully, with the help of on a couple of occasions and Google to check some of my answers, I did manage to complete it (took about 35 minutes).


1 JACK THE RIPPER – JACK-T(HER)IPPER – Tipper Gore is Al Gore’s wife, and almost as well known as her husband. The reference in the clue to 8 relates to 8dn (see below)

10 ACADEMY – A-CADE-MY – a very clever clue. Jack CADE led a rebellion against Henry VI in 1450. MY = “setter’s”

11 STRETTO – STRETTO(n) – there are various towns or areas called Stretton in England, and a STRETTO is a part of a fugue where subjects overlap – not being a musician, I hope that makes sense.

13 NEWSFLASH – NEW S(FL.)ASH – nice surface

16 MORE LIGHT – (mr goeth(e) L I)* – said to be Johann Goethe’s last words, and a supreme example of Araucasria’s skill.

18 IN THE WASH – “flowers in Beds” (i.e. rivers in Bedfordshire) would indeed end up flowing into The Wash. Slight piece of “nit-pickery” – the capitalisation of Beds, although necessary ruins the clue, and one wonders whether their may have been a way of starting the clue with “Beds” – can’t think of one myself…

19 OFLAG – OF LAG – another excellent clue; an OFLAG was a German POW camp for officers only.

20 KEYSTROKE – “one go at typing” and KEY = “crucial”, but I’m not sure of the relationship between STROKE and “Peterborough” (don’t know that there is any special link between Peterboroughand rowing or golf, for example)?

26 GLOSSECTOMIES – GLOSS-E.C.-TOM(m)IES – a glossectomy is the surgical removal of the tongue. E.C. is the postcode which covers most of the City of London, and a “tommy” was a colloquial name for a British soldier.


3 KNELL – K-NELL – as in a death knell – the NELL refers of course to Nell Gwynn (or Gwyn or Gwynne), “girlfriend” of Charles II.

4 HAYDN – (handy)*

5 RUSHWORTH – RUSH is “hurry”, but can’t see what WORTH has to do with “desert” – in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Rushworth is a wealthy man who becomes engaged to Julia.

6 PORTFOLIO – (<=oil of trop) – surface isn’t up to Araucaria’s normally high standards.

8 WALTER SICKERT – W(ALTER-SICKER)T – British painter whose name has been linked to Jack the Ripper. Some people even contend that he was an accomplice of the mass murderer.

9 NO PHOTOGRAPHY – (op op Hogarth)* in N.Y. – excellent surface

15 ELECTRICS – (set circle)* – slightly non-Ximenean, but fun.

16 MEADOW RUE – (we made our)*

17 GELIGNITE – GE-LIGNITE – GE is a variant of Gaea, the Greek personification of Earth.

8 Responses to “Guardian 24,085 – Araucaria – always a pleasure”

  1. says:

    Thanks for explaining GELIGNITE!

    I understood WORTH=desert as relating to “he got his just deserts”… according to Chambers, def #3 is “merit” so it makes some sense.

  2. says:

    Re 20 down, there is an area called the Soke of Peterborough. Thus s(tr)oke – tr being an abbreviation of transactions.

  3. says:

    9 Down takes the indirect anagram a step further – ‘Hogarth two works destroyed’ meaning Hogarth op op*. Can be justified in that work=op is very accepted shorthand, but I wouldn’t want to go too far down that road.
    I wondered about the wordplay to 24ac: RUDDIER. Research reveals a quatation from Ovid: “O ruddier than the cherry, O sweeter than the berry”, referring to the nymph Galatea.

  4. says:

    11 across – I think this refers specifically to Church Stretton in Shropshire.

  5. says:

    thanks Mick for the Ovid reference.

    I don’t understand/accept 23D – d(re)am

    How does re = starting again? Not in my dictionaries. I see it’s a ?prefix (don’t know grammatical term) but this seems like bending the ‘rules’ a lot to me.

    Also 3D – Knell

    Surely it has to be a ring for dead NOT ringer for dead. The knell is the peal of bells itself not the person pulling the ropes?!

    Finally, as a newcomer could someone explain “non-Ximenean” to me. I take it it means not strictly by the unwritten rules or something like that?


  6. says:


    23DN – Yes, you’re right – as I said in the intro, Araucaria does tend to bend the rules a bit.

    3DN – I think this one’s not so bad, as, although I haven’t been able to confirm this in dictionaries, you could imagine that a “ringer” could describe the bell as well as the person ringing it, but I suppose all doubt could have been removed by simply using “ring” – the clue would still have made sense.

    Ximenes was a very famous compiler, who first laid down the “rules” as to what constitutes a fair crossword. He wrote a book called “Ximenes and the Art of the Crossword”. Some setters “bend” these rules to gretaer and lesser extents.

  7. says:

    Chambers has “ringer” has “someone or something that rings” — we use it all the time e.g. to refer to the thing that rings on our phones…

  8. says:

    In his book I can’t actually find any rules, but certainly Ximenes was concerned enough about some setters (including his own hero Torquemada) being more or less insoluble to come up with the suggestions that, along with others added by post-Xim types, are now perceived by some as a set of Commandments.

    Notwithstanding, to say Araucaria is bending any of these so-called rules is to imply that he has taken them on board in the first place – and I’m not sure that he has, or ever did.

    And if Araucaria’s puzzles were so awfully difficult and ‘unfair’ (a word used by ‘Ximeneans’ to describe a non-‘Ximenean’ technique, rather than actual insolubility, it pains me to say) no-one would bother: but that’s not the case, as myriad solvers know.

    Ximenes’ book was first published in 1966: he passed away in 1971.

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