Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,319 (Sat 16 Feb)/Araucaria – River dance

Posted by rightback on March 1st, 2008

rightback.

Solving time: 16:08, one mistake

The fourteen solutions “of a kind” were rivers hidden in clues, with no other indications. GANGES for the first one I spotted, but I wasn’t quite sure of the method until SEVERN and THAMES followed, and it felt a little untidy as the rest of each thematic clue wasn’t adding anything. All the rivers are given below, with the relevant words in the clue; WELLAND, WITHAM and MEUSE were new to me.

Music of the day: The outstandingly mellow At The River by Groove Armada, with apologies to Patti Page.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

Across
1 BE(REF)T – a good one to start off.
*4 WELLAND; “…is well and truly…” – I thought this was the weakest thematic clue, with the first and last letters coming at word breaks. The Welland is in eastern England.
9 F(ROB)ISHER – I think ‘royal bird?’ is a pun on ‘kingfisher’.
*10 INDUS; “Wind usually…”
*11 TWEED; “…but we educated…”
12 MAINE ROAD; “MAIN ROAD” – where Manchester City used to play.
13 POP + PINS
*15 GANGES; “Pagan gestures…”
*17 ROTHER; “…hero, the romantic…” – perhaps harder for southern solvers.
19 WAGTAIL (double definition) – Rover refers to a dog in the wordplay here, but the wording is unsatisfactory (‘Rover to display satisfaction…’).
22 SHORT LIST; (LOSS THIRT[y])*
*24 TAMAR; “Get a mark…” – this was the same clue as 2dn (qv); 8dn and 19dn are also identical. It would have made more sense to me if all the rivers had been paired like this, with identical clues for each of two rivers (i.e. two rivers per thematic clue), rather than having several superfluous words in each doing nothing more than creating a surface reading.
*26 RHINE; “…catarrh in early life…”
27 GRA(TITU[s])DE – ‘Arch emperor’ refers to the Arch of Titus.
28 MINUTE (= ‘small’) + D (= ‘number’).
*29 SEVERN; “…this ever noticed…”
Down
1 BUFF (= ‘Polish’) + TIP (= ‘money’) – not ‘buff-top’, as I put. I didn’t really think this one through; I knew I didn’t know the word (it’s a night moth) but should have looked more carefully at the wordplay.
2 RHONE; “…for honest…”
3 FRIED, RICH – as in Nietzsche.
4 WA(RN + IN)G
*5 LOIRE; “Hoi polloi relish…” – some of the thematic clues stuck out a mile, but this one not so much. I read it before twigging to the theme, and didn’t immediately smell a rat, or indeed suspect something amiss.
6 AND + ROME + DA (= rev. of AD)
7 DO(SI)DO
*8 THAMES; “…with a message…” – one of the second overlapping pairs of clues (with 19dn), although in this case even the relevant words in the clue are the same.
14 PRO + MOTION
16 NIGHTLIFE; NIGH + (I FELT)*
18 RAIN GOD; (GORDIAN)* – I should have spotted that this was an anagram much faster.
*19 WITHAM; “…with a message…” – this one’s in Lincolnshire. Thinking about it, I can’t really claim that I didn’t know it as I must have rowed on it!
20 L + ERNE + AN – I thought this was the hardest clue; unless you knew that the Hydra’s lair was in the Lake of Lerna, you were left looking for a bird to fit any of R?E?, ?R?E or R?E. ‘Rhea’ and ‘ree’ could have worked, as well as ‘erne’, but luckily I correctly discarded ‘Larhean’ and ‘Lareean’.
21 ASH + RAM
*23 TRENT; “…not rented”
*25 MEUSE; “…Some useful…” – another French river.

6 Responses to “Guardian 24,319 (Sat 16 Feb)/Araucaria – River dance”

  1. AlanR says:

    This was the first time an Araucaria has been a let-down for me. The odd hidden clue in a crossword is fine – and it’s often one of the last that I spot. But when you’ve twigged that there are another twelve hidden words, finding them becomes trivial. The Guardian’s weekend magazine used to have a puzzle of this sort, with a country hidden within a sentence every week, and the letters page was rightly filled with people ridiculing it.

  2. Comfy Settee says:

    Definitely one of the easier offerings from the Monkey Puzzler… and yes, it all got a bit handle-turning once the theme emerged. But you can’t please all the people all the time…..
    I liked FRIEDRICH.

  3. radchenko says:

    The curious thing about this puzzle was that I guessed the linked clues were hidden word clues even before I had got one.

    I thought having the same clue twice was quite clever, actually, and OK, once you’d seen through it, it did open up the puzzle, but it was by no means obvious and the other clues were hardly trivial. Perfectly reasonable challenge for a prize crossword, with plenty of wit and invention, and at least it was doable in a reasonable time.

    Unlike — and now, please don’t flame me for this, I know I am doing wrong but I have nowhere else to vent and don’t want to have to go kick the cats — this week’s Enigmatist, which I have finished just 5 minutes ago. The whole bleedin’ weekend that took.

    Ah well.

  4. Comfy Settee says:

    Radchenko – I too struggled with yesterday’s Enimatist. I *think* I’ve finished, but I still can’t figure out the wordplay for a couple of the clues. In particular, I still can’t fully explain 1ac and 10ac – you have any joy with these?

  5. radchenko says:

    Comfy Settee: I can explain 1ac. 10ac I have an answer but no full explanation.

    Not trying to be obstructive but I’m a bit concerned of extra breach of etiquette if first off-topic and then posting answers to the prize puzzle… Bit of guidance here, please.

  6. rightback says:

    Off-topic is fine by me. Discussion of prize puzzles, on the other hand, is probably best avoided until the solution is published.

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