Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,433 – Araucaria

Posted by Uncle Yap on July 12th, 2008

Uncle Yap.

From Guardian Prize Crossword Saturday 5 July 2008
Common abbreviations used
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
*(fodder) = anagram

The first time I tried to solve an alphabetic soup ala Araucaria many years ago, I was hopelessly lost. Since then, I have come to love this genre and have even compiled a couple for Malaysian solvers. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Most of the clues are not as libertarian as normal Araucaria clues (is there such a concept as “a normal Araucaria clue”?) and are capable of being individually solved without recourse to checking letters. This particular puzzle is not really that difficult once you get the hang of it … and therein hangs a tale …

After the solving came the filling and one has to be wary of the warning in the preamble. My first bash for 1Across was TUBIFORM but the clue had the fodder, TUB denoted by “but raised”, which was Araucaria’s way of telling you this was a down clue. Then came ZYMURGY with “some grumbles coming up” and I knew both these clues must be down clues. After that decision, the rest just fell into place. When I looked at the finished grid, lo and behold, the first three letters spelled out TOP !

I am presenting the answers in the usual order of a filled grid


8 QUANTITY I was so tempted to put in QUANTIFY until I checked and found Chambers has “length or shortness of duration of a sound or syllable” which fitted And is it long or short? The good Reverend was indeed most devious here as neither would affect other answers

9 REALLY re-ally (about friend)

10 JINX Homophone of jinks

11 DRUG ADDICT Ins of GAD (fly) in DRU(i)D (I leave priest) + I CT (caught

12 YORKIE Ins of KI (King first) in YORE (olden days)

14 GRIMALDI Grim (forbidding) + ALDI*(dial); Joseph Grimaldi (1778–1837), the most celebrated of English clowns

15 UMPIRES Ins of IRE (anger) in (m)UMPS, a disease

17 WHITING dd The non-fish whiting is the fine chalk used to mark the lines on clay/grass tennis courts

20 VIVERRID Ins of ERR (to go wrong) in VIVID

22 CHERRY Ins of HER in CRY

23 XENOPHANES *(Hoxne Snape)

24 LOOT Sounds like lieut (enant) a junior officer. I wonder how many remember Telly Savalas playing bald-headed, lollipop-sucking Loo-tenant Kojak in the 1970’s NY Police series

25 FLANGE Cha of F LANG (director) E (direction); Friedrich Christian Anton “Fritz” Lang (1890–1976) was an Austrian-German-American film director, screenwriter and occasional film producer

26 MAINTAIN MA (mum) ins of TA I (acknowledgement to one) in INN (pub)


1 TUBIFORM Cha of TUB (rev but) IF OR (gold) M (mine opens)

2 ONYX ON (attached) YX (unknowns as in algebra)

3 PIDDLE dd; River Piddle or Trent or North River is a small rural Dorset river

4 ZYMURGY Ins of MURG (rev grum) in Z (last) YY (years); the branch of chemistry that deals with wine-making, brewing, distilling, and similar processes involving fermentation. Amazing that I have never seen this word before; but then I do not make the stuff, just consume only :-)

5 BROADISH Cha of BRO (relative) A DISH (a handsome fellow)

6 HARDCASTLE What a corny way to describe as fortress of stone. I guess the play alluded to is She Stoops to Conquer, a comedy by the Irish author, Oliver Goldsmith

7 SLICED Ins of LICE (bugs) in SD (the old shilling and pence). An Araucaria alphabetic soup is the best thing since sliced bread. I did not fall for Araucaria’s wicked attempt at misdirection – “the best bread, they say” would normally point you towards “best-bred”

13 KNIFE-POINT *(often pink I)

16 EARTHMEN *(the R name) A delightful &lit clue

18 NARCOTIC Ins of RC (Catholic) in NAOTIC *(action)

19 ADENOMA Cha of ADEN (Yemen’s port) OM (Order of Merit) A

21 IDEALS Cha of I (one) DEALS (business)

22 CUSPID Cha of CUSP (point) ID (instincts) Cuspid is a tooth with a single point aka a canine. My grouse with this clue is the gibberish surface and 2/3 of the fodder and the definition are from the same source/derivation

24 LATE dd

9 Responses to “Guardian 24,433 – Araucaria”

  1. beermagnet says:

    Solving Z in the paper was made somewhat easier by the juxtaposition of the Z clue about as close as possible to Chris Maslanka’s Wordpool puzzle where ZYMURGY shines out in a large bold fonttype.

    Put me down as someone who couldn’t decide between QUANTITY or QUANTIFY and finally opted (incorrectly it appears) for the latter on the grounds that the clue seemed to be a kind of double definition for an imperative instruction, so a verb is required rather than a noun, i.e. “Quantify!”. Frankly, I’m still unclear about this and wonder if Araucaria is really alluding to that surprising “acoustic” definition in Chambers.

    I loved it when T O P appeared. I spotted the indications in the T and Z clues, but it was the “in row” in the CHERRY C clue that I suggest shows it to be an across answer and allowed it and then the 10-letter answers to go in place. I couldn’t see any other clue-based orientation pointers and was thinking it was a bit cheeky to describe 3 indications as “several” when the “TOP” appeared.

  2. Pat says:

    Hugely enjoyable, and an excellent blog. Like Beermagnet, I thought the word row in the CHERRY clue was a key indicator of across, but I didn’t spot TOP at all. But I did think the acoustic definition of QUANTITY was what was being sought.

    HARDCASTLE was indeed in She Stoops To Conquer, but the main reference here, I think, was in “old lover” (from memory, as I don’t have the original clue to hand).

    His line was “I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine; and I believe, Dorothy, you’ll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.”

  3. Barbara says:

    I completely missed the across and down hints in the above mentioned clues (tubiform, cherry and zymurgy), so when I entered tubiform at 8ac, I was able to fill in the entire grid and succeeded in reaching the alternate solution, which wasn’t the correct one. My hat’s off to Uncle Yap and everyone else who understood the hints.

  4. C G Rishikesh says:

    I must confess that I didn’t complete this but I placed most of the clues I solved correctly in the grid (as I have found from the blog above). The first to be placed were solutions starting with X,Z,G and T, besides the four four-letter words.

    However, I did complete the first similar puzzle that I ever came across. That was several years ago when I was new to computers and the Internet. It was an alphanumeric puzzle by David Stickley, the Australian composer.

    Ah, Hardcastle! Wasn’t he who assured his guests, “This is Liberty Hall, gentlemen!”?

  5. John Dean says:

    ‘quantity’ is a technical term used in classical verse where syllables were held to be either long or short. So I found in OED when I was racking my brains whether it was ‘quantity’ or ‘quantify’ and I was desperate for any clue as to which.

  6. Eoin Sharkey says:

    In the end I ‘guessed’ Quantity (I actually left ‘t or f ‘ square blank til just before posting). Still not completely sure what the answer will actually be when published on Mon !

    I did not agree that Cherry is a real indicator – I thought Onyx was (and agree about Tubiform and Zymurgy) and had not actually spotted the T – O – P : very clever.

    The x-word for me was kick-started by finding Zymurgy in the Word Pool right beside the x-word – spookily synchronous ?

  7. AlanR says:

    I love these alphabet puzzles – but although I saw TOP I couldn’t think for the life of me what the other ‘indicators’ were – kept hoping that ‘LEFT’ or ‘SIDE’ or something would appear in the grid! Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.

  8. Colin Blackburn says:

    Being out of the country I missed this one when it was published but, like others here, I love this Araucaria invention. As Uncle Yap says, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and to that effect my Listener puzzle of 1989 (was it really that long ago?) was Jigsaw Alphabetical by Imbricata.

  9. Nick Barnes says:

    Didn’t like QUANTITY, although I knew the definition – once very important in poetry; Tennyson claimed to know the quantity of every word in English except “scissors”. Didn’t spot “T-O-P”; took the orientation from TUBIFORM and ZYMURGY.
    And HARDCASTLE isn’t especially a lover in the play “She Stoops to Conquer”. I’m left imagining that there must be some other play.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

− seven = 1