Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,547 (Sat 15 Nov)/Araucaria – Playing Cat and Mouse

Posted by rightback on November 22nd, 2008


Solving time: 13:40

An enjoyable puzzle from Araucaria, with a couple of strange clues thrown in. Several clues refer to the Suffragette movement.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 CAT AND MOUSE ACT – this was an act of Parliament passed in 1913. I’d never heard of it but ‘Tom and Jerry’ was transparent.
8 NAUNT (hidden) – an old word for ‘aunt’. A slight weakness to have the redundant ‘recently’ at the end of the clue.
9 SOLIHULL – the best I can offer for this wordplay is SOL for Solent, followed by 1-HULL for ‘not with a catamaran’ (a monohull is distinct from a catamaran, which has two hulls, or a trimaran).
11 MCKENNA; (MAN NECK)* – this is Reginald McKenna, Home Secretary when the Cat and Mouse Act was introduced.
12 CAR + I + BOU[t]
13 VASCO; V (= ‘No 5′) + AS (= ‘when’) + CO – Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer.
15 DUSTPROOF; DU (= ‘of the French’) + ST + PROOF (= ‘Evidence’)
17 RIO GRANDE; (GAIN ORDER)* – which forms part of the US/Mexico border.
20 NADIA (hidden)
21 TITANIC (double definition) – the ‘A’ at the start of this clue means it can’t be read as a double definition, so probably requires a question mark.
23 REHOUSE; rev. of HER, + OUSE
25 BALLISTA; rev. of ILL in BASTA – I didn’t know ‘basta’ (meaning enough in Italian and Spanish and used by Shakespeare, according to Chambers) but I eventually remembered this word from a previous crossword in which I was introduced via this word to Lake Bala.
26 R(OB)OT
27 PLAY JACKSTRAWS – this held me up a lot: it would have helped if I could have remembered who the justice minister was (we have a justice minister?) or had heard of Jack Straws (the game where you throw a load of sticks down and have to extract them one by one without moving any others).
1 CINEMA VERITE; MAVERI[ck] in (ENTICE)* – dreadful clue: ‘maverick’s part’ for MAVERI is bad enough, but ‘director’ as an anagram indicator?!
2 TRUNK (2 defs)
4 MUSTARD; STAR in MUD – as in ‘Scott Carson’s name is mud’ and ‘keen as mustard’.
5 U.N. + LOCKS – ‘overheads’ for LOCKS made me smile.
6 E[i]THER – I liked this one too for its cleverly worked definition to fit wordplay ending in ‘either’.
7 COLD BLOOD; COD around (OLD + B + L + O)
10 SUFFRAGETTES; SUFF[olk] + RAGE + rev. of SETT
14 SHORT + FALL – ‘A little drop’ is nice.
16 PANKHURST, from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight and referring to Emmeline Pankhurst.
18 N.I. + COSI + A – the wordplay here seems to refer to the Mozart opera Così Fan Tutte. Unless I’ve misunderstood this clue, I think this very oblique reference is taking things too far, as a solver who had not heard of that opera would find it extremely difficult to untangle the clue, even having guessed the answer. I guess this fits the mini-theme: the opera’s title seems to be most commonly translated as “Women are like that”.
24 [d]UMB + RA – excellent clue to finish.

6 Responses to “Guardian 24,547 (Sat 15 Nov)/Araucaria – Playing Cat and Mouse”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    9a I eventually parsed this in the same way as you, having been unable to determine anything better. However, ‘Sol’ is not a recognised abbreviation for ‘Solent’ and ‘broaching’ would indicate an insertion rather than a truncation.

    18d ‘cosi fan tutte’ is defined in Chambers as ‘that is what all women do’ or ‘all women are like that’ so it was not strictly necessary to know that it is also the title of an opera (but it helped). ‘Cosi’ is the Italian for ‘thus’ but the ‘(as with fan)’ was not exactly a clear indicator for the need to translate ‘thus’.

    27a Jack Straw has been Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and the Secretary of State for Justice since June 2007.

  2. rightback says:

    Geoff, thanks very much for the clarification of 18dn: I didn’t realise the phrase was in Chambers, or that ‘cosi’ was the Italian for ‘thus’.

  3. smutchin says:

    5dn – I initially put UNVEILS until I realised it couldn’t be that from the across clues. Personally, I think my answer fits the clue better – both for the definition and the wordplay. Hmph!

  4. Ian Hinds says:

    One of the easiest Saturday puzzles for some time. Great stuff as ever.

  5. Ralph G says:

    9a. ‘Broaching’ certainly indicates piercing with a sharp object (derived, I see, from the French for ‘a spit’) but the Chambers’ definition goes on “to open up or begin”, a usage common, I think, in ‘broach a topic of conversation’.
    18d. re indication of thus > COSI. I agree that the wording on its own does not steer the solver towards translating ‘so’ into Italian, and perhaps that would not be fair anyway, but I suppose that the setter would count on solvers getting the first two letters NI, looking for a capital city and guessing NI COSI A. Then the connection with ‘Cosi _fan_ tutte’, confirming the guess, is fair enough; rather good, I thought.
    In 1d (an easy ‘opener’ that helped with six across clues) I took ‘director’ to be an anagram indicator at first reading but on reflection I can’t see how it works. Anagram indicators are more often adjectives or verbs. How does ‘director’ come to mean ‘re-arranged’ or ‘re-directed’?

  6. rightback says:

    How does ‘director’ come to mean ‘re-arranged’ or ‘re-directed’?

    Good question. I don’t mind the odd nounal anagram indicator in the Guardian, like ‘disaster’ or ‘confusion’, but ‘director’ is ridiculous. Perhaps we’ve just mis-interpreted the clue, but I can’t find a better reading.

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