Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,225 (Sat 3 Nov)/Araucaria – Syracuse Problem

Posted by rightback on November 11th, 2007


Solving time: 18:07

Today’s theme is WASHINGTON (14ac), DISTRICT (1ac) of COLUMBIA (16dn). President GEORGE (21dn) is said to have told his FATHER (5ac) “[I] CANNOT TELL A LIE” (10/27ac) when asked if he had chopped down a CHERRY TREE (13dn).

If you solved this quickly and need something else to puzzle over, try the Syracuse Problem, courtesy of 23ac.

Music of the day (16dn): Columbia by Oasis.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

10/27 CANNOT TELL A LIE; (A LONE CAT LENTIL)* – see intro.
14 WASHINGTON – a town, but (since 1974) in Tyne and Wear, not County Durham.
22/1dn COUNTY + DURHAM (= ‘shorthorn’) – whose initials are the same as those of ‘Columbia’ and ‘District’. Tenuous wordplay inspired by the (flawed) ‘Washington’ link.
23 SYRACUSE; “SIR ACCUSE” – a slightly dubious homophone, and I wonder if Araucaria intended “SIRE ACCUSE”, though the ‘Y’ of ‘Syracuse’ is short according to Wikipedia. I don’t know which Syracuse is intended either; the city in New York dates from the 1600s so not sure that counts as ‘ancient’. I only knew the name from Shakespeare’s The Comedy Of Errors.
25 P + R(IS + ONE)R – very good clue.
26 MEASLY (double definition)
2 SICKLE (double definition) – but I’m not convinced by ‘unhealthy bits of cell’. In sickle cell disease, the production of abnormal haemoglobin affects red bllod cells, turning them into a sickle shape, so a ‘sickle cell’ is an affected cell, not just bits of one. I wonder if Araucaria is attempting some wordplay with SICK (= ‘unhealthy’) + L,E (= ‘bits of cell’)?
4 C + OM + PARABLE – very disjointed surface.
6 A + RA[b]BI + ANS[wer] – not keen on the abbreviation ‘ans.’ for ‘solution’.
13 C(HER)RY + TREE (= ‘father… etc’) – see intro.
15 I + SO + CHASM – apparently ‘a contour line of equal frequency of auroral displays’. How curious – does anyone know why this comes from the word ‘chasm’?
16 COLUMBIA – the first spaceworthy space shuttle which was destroyed on re-entry in 2003.
17 SENT IN EL[elevated railroad]
19 V(ASS)AL – my last entry, and only solved when I split ‘boy or girl’ into ‘Dependent boy’ (the definition) and ‘girl’.
20 TUNNEL; rev. of (LEN + NUT)
21 GEORGE – according to Chambers, this is RAF slang for ‘the automatic pilot of an aircraft’.

3 Responses to “Guardian 24,225 (Sat 3 Nov)/Araucaria – Syracuse Problem”

  1. Geoff says:

    23ac: Short i pronunciation of SYRACUSE is presumably the American way of saying the name of the city in upstate New York. Usual British English pronunciation of the ancient Greek city in Sicily (modern Siracusa), the home of Archimedes, is definitely SIRE-ACCUSE (confimed, at least for the adjective ‘Syracusan’, by the SOD). Araucaria’s insertion of ‘American’ in the clue was perhaps a bit unfortunate.

    2dn: I assumed the SICK + L,E (parts of ‘cell’) explanation was correct, with the allusion to sickle cell anaemia being just a clever additional bit of cryptic def.

  2. Susanna says:

    19dn: VASSAL means dependant, and VAL is the boy or girl – as in Val Doonican – so your first instinct was right. Note that the clue has dependant (a noun) not dependent (adjective), so it can’t be ‘dependant boy’.

  3. rightback says:

    19dn: Now that I think about it, Val Kilmer is another example, and I agree this is probably what the setter intended. But (according to Chambers, anyway) ‘dependant’ can also be an adjective (and ‘dependent’ a noun) – indeed it has to be or this clue’s surface reading doesn’t make sense.

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