Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,603/Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on January 22nd, 2009

Andrew.

A themed puzzle from Araucaria, with 13 wordplay-only clues for capital cities (highlighted in blue below). I caught on to the theme early on by a lucky guess at PRAGUE, but still found the puzzle reasonably hard going. There are a couple of clues I don’t understand, so I await enlightenment from my learned friends in the comments

Key:
dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

Across
5. MOSCOW MO (section of motor) + SCOW. “Motorboat” should be two words .. A common trick, but I don’t like it.
6. TIRANA IRAN in TA. And another, where you have to read “ingratitude” as “in gratitude”
9. ADORED A DO RED. “Do” as in do-re-mi.
10,21. TAKES THE WHIP dd
11. WIEN I (one) in WEN (London). This is Vienna “translated into its own language”
12. NOT KNOWING WONK< in NOTING. A wonk is “a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures” – often used in a political context in “policy wonk”
13. TEN THOUSAND HOU (45 mins = “three quarters of an hour”) in TENT (shelter) SAND (grains)
18. KARATE CHOP (HC in POET ARAK ). Arak is an aniseed-flavoured drink from the Middle East
22. BROKEN IN BRO KEN IN
23. AMOEBA AMO (Latin for “I love”) + BE< + A
24. BERLIN BE R NIL<
25. DUBLIN U BLIND with D moved to the front. This seems the wrong way round: it should be “last to first”, unless it means “if you move the first to last in the answer, you get U BLIND”)
Down
1. ESTRANGE EST (French for East) + RANGE
2. LONDON I don’t understand this, except for the reference to London Pride – which is either a flower, a beer or a Noel Coward song.
3. PICKINGS Another one I don’t get -“Perks” is the definition, and KING is there for the “royal” part, but what’s the rest?
4. WARSAW WAR + SAW
5. MADRID DR in MAID
7. ATHENS Unless you have a strange foreign keyboard, the middle row starts with A, THEN S
8. STATION HAND (HIT ON A)* in STAND. A “station” is an Australian ranch (one for Brisbanegirl to confirm)
14. TREE NAIL ELATERIN* I’m not sure what elaterin is, but it doesn’t really matter.
15. NEW WORLD L (end of April) in NEW WORD
16. ZAGREB ZA GREB(e) – the capital of Croatia
17. LISBON I suppose if a student (L) IS good (BON) then he’d get a good degree…
19. ANKARA Homephone of ANCHOR + A. As all trivia buffs know, the capital of Turkey is Ankara – not Istanbul, as some people think.
20. PRAGUE AG in PRUE

82 Responses to “Guardian 24,603/Araucaria”

  1. TwoPies says:

    Thanks Andrew. London is Lion minus one and don.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks TwoPies – I thought lions might be involved, but didn’t spot the obvious connection with pride. D’oh.

  3. TwoPies says:

    … and Pickings is King’s Pic inverted I think.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Andrew, Tough going, as you say, but a delight, as always.

    Thanks particularly for 18dn: I searched in vain for a drink called ‘tarak’, thinking that the poet was Poe! [couldn’t see the wood for the trees!]

  5. TwoPies says:

    I really enjoyed this one. Isn’t it amazing how many European capital cities have six letters? Wouldn’t it have been great to see Skopje in there!

  6. smutchin says:

    Haven’t looked at today’s crossword because I didn’t have time to pick up the paper on the way to the station this morning, but as it’s Araucaria I shall print it off to enjoy later (trying hard to avoid looking at the answers above).

    However, I did have one of Ian S’s crosswords (#1), which I’d printed off last night, so I was able to get my fix. Ian – an 18a effort! I particularly liked 23a (simple but neatly formed) and 1d (fiendishly misleading). Enjoyed 21/13 too, though perhaps the clue is a touch on the wordy side.

  7. Ian Stark says:

    Aha. I had LION for 11a, not thinking it to be part of the set. I was looking at the ‘pride’ reference in 2d. Not sure I understand WEN for London, though. I also took ZAGREB to be SAGREB, guessing it was the local way of spelling it, so I wasn’t expecting any more translated cities like WIEN.

    I’m also a bad counter as I thought the set was specifically six letter capital cities and that I had got them all!

    3a inversion of KINGS PIC.

    Thanks for explaining 17d. I got some of it (BON) but couldn’t figure out where the rest came from.

    Well, I did need to seek out some help from the books for this one, and I know I would have been frustrated if I had been on a long haul flight, but, all in all, a brilliantly constructed puzzle that took my eye off real work for a good hour.

  8. Uncle Yap says:

    I misread 11A and inserted I into Lon and then thought (wrongly, of course) that Pickings is that 13th capital, Beijing. Overall, very entertaining puzzle plus a most informative blog. Way to go, Andrew

  9. Colin Blackburn says:

    I too was impressed by the fact that so many are six-letter words even WIEN is Vienna! Skopje would have helped make the grid pangrammatic if he could have got a Q in there. I imagine he thought about it.

  10. brisbanegirl says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Strewth, I’m glad you lot are here … I really struggled with this one.

    Although, I was hampered by my own stupidity (“read the special instructions, read the special instructions”). Once I realised it was themed and then saw the instructions I was off, but couldn’t for the life of me explain my answers.

    This is the first time I’ve seen South Africa with the Africaans abbreviation

  11. manehi says:

    Ian: The Great Wen is/was a nickname for London

  12. Ian Stark says:

    Sorry for doubling up on some of the responses above – slow typist at work . . .

    Ah, Vienna! Of course! Phew . . .

    Thanks, Smutchin, you’re very kind. You’ll have recognised 20a from a discussion a week or so ago, I suspect!

  13. Ian Stark says:

    I am terribly ashamed to admit that I was born and bred in The Great Wen without knowing it . . .

  14. brisbanegirl says:

    Just to be picky … as a dinky-di Aussie, a cowboy here is known as a jackaroo, station hand usually refers to someone who just works on the property, which we generally refer to as a roust-about.

    As a result this held me up, not knowing if Oz referred to Australia or the fabled Oz …

  15. brisbanegirl says:

    Oh … and a cowgirl is a jillaroo.

    Sorry for the bad puctuation … I was rushing.

  16. brisbanegirl says:

    Also, arak is used in lots of south-east aisian countries as slang for their home made “rocket fuel”. No subtle aniseed in the varieties I’ve come across inmy travels, just a great big kick!!!

  17. don says:

    How do ‘pickings’ and ‘Warsaw’ fit in with ‘not working’?

    9 Across Why ‘do’? As Homer would say, it’s doh! – or it is according to John Curwen, whoever he was, vicar.

    25 Across What’s a U Blind?

    2 and 3 Down I got and do understand and don’t see the problems pic(ture)s = film, although I would have thought it should have been ‘royals’ not ‘royal’.

  18. Andrew says:

    Oops, 12ac should be NOT KNOWING. Sorry for the typo – I’ll correct the blog (the explanation of the wordplay is correct).

    25ac:U is a turn (U-turn); BLIND is something used to confuse, hence a red herring

  19. Ian Stark says:

    Don, I’m thinking ‘king’s pic’ not ‘kings pic’ (or ‘king pics’), and I think DO is also acceptable.

  20. don says:

    Yes, I suppose ‘king’s palace’ = ‘royal palace’.

    But me, John Curwen and Homer Simpson think it’s doh. And Homer Simpson invented the tonic sol-fa, didn’t he?

  21. Eileen says:

    This puzzle is all the more impressive in the light of Cinephile’s [Araucaria’s] Christmas crossword, the theme of which was world capitals – and no clue even remotely repeated!

  22. Geoff Moss says:

    Andrew
    You have a slight error in 8d. The container should be ‘stand’ not ‘hand’.

  23. Andrew says:

    Thanks Geoff – I’m really not with it today!

  24. brisbanegirl says:

    And we would never refer to a property as a ranch … such an awful americanism … station or property is the chosen vernacular … but most county folk will still call it the farm, whether it’s 1 hectare or 100,000 hectares … we’re a rather unasuming lot.

  25. brisbanegirl says:

    …who can’t spell…

  26. Ian Stark says:

    I think the jury’s out on do/doh/d’oh! Perhaps the 70’s band Hawkwind could have the last word with their album ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’.

  27. brisbanegirl says:

    With reference to Homer (Simpson that is)… who could forget the episode where the family run inot a deer in their car …. Doh a deer (homer) a female deer (marge) … I don’t watch them often but that was a stand out moment.

    PS I’m still up because it’s still about 27 degrees, but a billion percent humidity … and I forgot to put the air-con on in my bedroom … d’oh … the tropics.

  28. Andrew says:

    Ah well, that’s how things tend to be in the fabled merry old land of Oz.

  29. brisbanegirl says:

    It doesn’t feel fabled and merry old at the moment in the old colony, just stinkin’ hot!!!!

  30. brisbanegirl says:

    And don’t pick on it … at least it’s not cold miserable and wet…

  31. Tom Hutton says:

    Horrible crossword. Didn’t like at all with the exception of 7dn. Had Dublin and Lisbon with no idea why. Explanations are feasible but ridiculous. Everyone to his/her own taste. This was not mine in a big way.

  32. Paul G says:

    I’m with you Tom, I just don’t get the hero-worship for Araucaria. His crosswords seem really out of place with the other Guardian setters, they are a quantum leap in difficulty and no fun at all.

  33. Maskelyne says:

    I really enjoyed this one.

    Unusally for me, I was completing it on the tube, rather than at the PC. When I realised what the theme was, I thought to myself: where on earth can I find a list of European capitals?

    Of course, almost all were over the fold in the weather forecasts.

  34. mark says:

    Tom, Paul G

    Thank you so much for saying what I too feel. No doubt there will follow a large number of posts defending the ‘must only be worshipped’ Araucaria and we will be forced to apologise for blasphemy.

    From what Brisbane Girl says the Oz clue is plain wrong.

    Lived in London for 22 years and never heard of it as Wen.

    Ho hum

    Oh and can someone explain in

  35. mark says:

    Sorry, ignore the half sentence at the end…and I suppose it should read “feel too” not “too feel”.
    ;)

  36. Geoff Anderson says:

    At last, other people who think the Emperor’s clothes are wearing thin … certainly compared with the splendid robes he used to wear decades ago. Too many of his clues have poor surface meanings nowadays. And themed puzzles too often glorify the compiler’s art to the detriment of the solver’s pleasure, as one fills the rest in as soon as one has got the theme. I still enjoy his alphabet puzzles and thoroughly enjoyed his Christmas jumbo – though again perhaps solvers were too generously assisted by the themed message around the perimeter.

  37. John says:

    Hear hear Paul G. and Tom. Clever idea but deserves better cluing. What on earth is elaterin? I can’t find it anywhere. Making up words to provide anagrams is simply not on?
    And isn’t Tirana in its own language? Don’t we call it Tehran?

  38. Andrew says:

    Tirana is the capital of Albania, known as Tiranë in Albanian.

  39. smutchin says:

    John – Tirana is the capital of Bulgaria. I don’t know what elaterin is but Google returns 14,100 hits – seems to be some kind of medication.

    Agree with Geoff that Araucaria misses the mark occasionally with the surface readings – I’ve made the same complaint before – but please don’t write him off just yet. It’s taken me a while to get tuned in to his style but now that I “get” him, I enjoy his stuff. That said, today’s effort is nowhere near as good as the similarly themed one he did for the FT as Cinephile recently.

  40. smutchin says:

    Sorry, Andrew’s right – Albania, not Bulgaria. They’re all strange East European oddities to me.

  41. John says:

    Thanks for the correction Andrew. Never was any good at geography!

  42. Ian Stark says:

    Elaterin is a purgative.

  43. Geoff Moss says:

    John
    Re your comment #37 “What on earth is elaterin? I can’t find it anywhere.”

    It is in Chambers 11th Ed under ‘elater’. As Ian has said, it is a purgative. The full definition is ‘elaterium a substance contained in the juice of the fruit of the squirting cucumber, producing the purgative elaterin‘.

  44. Andrew says:

    John, in fact you were almost half-right, as there is a myth that Tirana was named after Tehran. See http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Tirana for the debunking of this together with some other possible explanations of the etymology.

  45. smutchin says:

    Re “The Great Wen” – it is, as Manehi correctly states at comment #11 an old nickname for London. I’ve certainly heard it used before but never knew its meaning or origin, so I’ve just looked it up.

    Apparently, it was coined by a 19th century radical called William Cobbett (the Countryside Alliance of his day, from the sound of it). “Wen” is an old word for a cyst and he was comparing the growth of the city to the growth of a cyst.

    So now you know!

  46. Dave Ellison says:

    A. seems to wax and wane in difficulty these days.

    I had given up (not having for sure found the set – though I had LONDON, and the correct explanation, albeit I wasn’t convinced of it) and was just going to check the answers on this blog when I saw Capital Cities. Eyes averted, I managed all the rest in another 5 minutes, save for two.

    The Xmas A. was easy; I finished the first day leaving nothing to do over Xmas.

    In view of todays, I have definitely promoted Brendan to my fave, now.

  47. Ian Stark says:

    Cleaner found dead in Ireland (8) ;-)

  48. Eileen says:

    re Cobbett’s ‘wen': it reminded me of Prince Charles’ ‘monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend’. I was tickled to find, in Chambers, that it has come into the language in the very same way, as ‘an architectural monstrosity or eyesore’.

  49. John says:

    Oh! the elaterin that comes from the squirting cucumber! Of course!
    Silly me.

  50. Ian Stark says:

    They’re quite common down our way, John . . .

  51. Tyro says:

    I’m afraid I’m with the detractors. Araucaria used to be my hero – got me interested in crosswords in the first place – but now I prefer Brendan, who’s always fair.

  52. Eileen says:

    It’s obvious by now that nothing divides the contributors to this site so clearly as an Araucaria puzzle – and nothing is going to reconcile them. However, despite the number of comments today, having trawled through them, I’ve found it difficult [for once] to find specific objections.

    Does the fact that you haven’t heard of the expression ‘the great wen’ mean that it’s unfair? We usually all agree that it’s a poor day when we don’t learn something.

    Brisbanegirl raised only one reservation – her subsequent comments, though interesting, were nothing to do with the clue.

    Elaterin [which, admittedly I’d never heard of] has been shown to be not simply a ‘made-up word to supply an anagram’.

    My children were encouraged not to describe a new food as ‘horrible’, simply because they didn’t like it.

    As a regularly self-confessed Araucaria ‘girl'[!] [a devotee of over thirty years] I hope I’ve usually expressed reservations about clues when I’ve had them. It’s certainly not blind ‘hero worship’.

    Can we just agree to differ?

  53. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, I would like to agree with you. You’ve been an A-addict for 30 years, I am a Dutchman who came to the UK not even two years ago, and – although I never ever in my life solved a British crossword before – immediately fell in love with the genre and its culture.
    Dutch people are Libertarians, so I liked the ‘ingratitude’ clue (unlike some of you). In fact Tirana was the first capital I found. Having said that, the ‘special instructions’ were very much like the ones in the FT, so I already had the feeling that I was on the right track.
    Although it was – of course – a high-quality puzzle, I felt a bit disappointed because we (my partner in crime, OBAMA’s B.B., and I) thought Araucaria shouldn’t be a person to repeat himself. When I saw ‘Be right back, love’ , I had a kind of déjà vu. I turned Be-r around, and saw: —reb. Zagreb! It wasn’t … But 16 down was, and there I had another déjà vu. I am pretty sure that he used the same (or similar) South African clue in the FT crossword. Sorry, Eileen.
    But then … all the capitals are six-letter words.
    That extra, that’s Araucaria. Cryptics with a smile!

  54. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Oops, except one …. (but that one wasn’t British)
    Maybe he should have left that one out.

  55. Ian Stark says:

    Eileen: Well spoke! Well spoke!

    I am, through laziness, or perhaps through having been brought up in Hounslow, a dullard who happens to possess a limited talent for thinking out of the box when it comes to crossword clues. I know little of classic literature and cricket, nor of flora and furniture makers, but I take great delight in picking up a new word every day and adding it to the list of things my neighbour doesn’t know. I thank people like Araucaria for that, because I am too lazy to do it unprompted.

    But as Eileen says, we really should agree to differ. I’m sure more people would miss his puzzles than not, added to which he will surely only continue for another thirty or so years . . . ;-)

  56. Sil van den Hoek says:

    But then the Man (with a capital M) would be 117 …
    Have you noticed the frequency in the FT and the Guardian?
    Really remarkable.
    I just see him sitting there in his home tonight, looking at all these comments that we’re making … I think the Man has a twinkle in his eyes – and that’s why is brilliant.
    (And by the way, Ian, I will surely have a go at your Mad ones)

  57. Eileen says:

    Sil: how lovely to hear from you, after I quoted you yesterday re Cryptica. [I loved your Shed/Orlando clue and would have given it more than a ‘commended’] I, too, like clues like MOSCOW and TIRANA but can quite see that others don’t.

    You’re quite right about Zagreb, I find. So perhaps a little toe is made of clay, after all… :-)

    Ian: I started on your puzzles today but my printer acted up [as it often does] but I’m enjoying them so far. Many thanks.

  58. Ian Stark says:

    117? A mere stripling! But, of course, you’re right – if I am that prolific (in any field) when I hit 87 I will be a very satisfied man! I’m not even 47 and already I’m exhausted . . .

    I hope you enjoy my juvenile efforts, Sil. I don’t think they will ever live up to Guardian standards!

  59. Ian Stark says:

    I am genuinely touched, Eileen. Thank you. I hope your printer let’s you get to The Realms Of Fantasy (#2) which carries a theme of which I am frighteningly passionate!

  60. Eileen says:

    Ian: that was the one I was working on. My computer chair is not the most comfortable in the house, which is why I prefer to work on a print-out but you inspired me to revisit it. I’m not such a devotee of the theme as you, or my late husband, but I quickly got on to it and greatly admire your treatment of it. Bravo!

  61. Ian Stark says:

    It was something I grew up with, Eileen, and I go to bed almost every night listening to one of the 67 radio episodes on my iPod (self-employed as I am, indeed as are many, I am battling with the current economic situation, so I need something to help me drop off, preferably smiling!). I am delighted to say that my two boys (16 and 13) are also able to raise a smile when I force them to enjoy it in the car! “I’m a pretty shrewd judge of these things” (G. Mainwaring, c. 1940). Thank you for trying out my puzzles.

  62. Tyro says:

    It’s not the new words I have a problem with. It’s the clues that don’t allow you to work out the words you don’t know. I have to admit I didn’t solve this particular puzzle – not a problem I hope, as very few comments here are about this puzzle – as I’ve taken to leafing through the papers in the newsagents and deciding which paper to buy when I see the setter’s name. Nestor in the Indie got my vote today. Very hard work, but ultimately rewarding. Tomorrow it may be the Guardian.

  63. muck says:

    62 comments – is this a record?

  64. gsgeorge says:

    I can’t find the 13th capital.
    Is it Peking?

  65. PaulH says:

    Araucaria to me is always hit and miss, and i usually accept that sometimes I’ll “get” a puzzle and sometimes not – but this puzzle seemed entirely and unfairly closed to me.

    I am not a regular solver, more a regular fail-to-solver. I normally attempt a Guardian crossword and expect to complete about half – in other cryptics (FT Indie) a little less.

    Today’s puzzle seemed unfair to a dullard like me, with no clue given about the non-defineds and no reasonable way in to discover the theme. I stuck after getting 10a/21a ; 23a and 15d. I had “ag” in the middle of 20d but whoever would name a girl “Prue” these days – i tried many others to make a word!

    Normally I don’t complain about failing to solve because it is usually down to my dullness, but even after reading the answers and explanations today, then referring back to this puzzle, i still can’t complete it.

    I don’t ask that cryptics are dumbed-down to take away the challenge, but the geniuses who post these blogs after solving a puzzle within the hour really should be taken as the exception, and some leeway granted to those of us who get joy out of seeing more letters than blanks in the grid.

  66. steven says:

    64 comments-is this a record?

  67. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Maybe,
    let’s add another one: +1.

    Try this city (not a capital):
    Placed at Costa’s before working in that French café (9)

    Or this (news of today):
    Loads of bullets from weapons overpowering Gaza in panic (9)

    Or (rejected by Paul, but – I think (how arrogant) – a brilliant anagram):
    French cyclist asassinated Hitler and Braun (7,7)

    My God, it’s 0:51 – Time to think of what’s tomorrow gonna be.

  68. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Sorry, assasssinated with double s twice.

  69. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, not with triple s …..

  70. stiofain_x says:

    Brilliant from Araucaria today 12 6 lettered european capitals and a fly 13teenth
    the record is 72
    stiofain

  71. Gary Howe says:

    I love Araucaria but…..

    BLIND = red herring?

    Surely not. That’s insane isn’t it?

    If anyone else has an alternative explanation we can equal the record amount of comments
    :)

  72. Andrew says:

    Gary – a blind can be “a subterfuge: something intended to misrepresent the true nature of an activity”, which is not exactly a red herring but not far off. (Just one more comment needed to break the record….)

  73. Dave Ellison says:

    mm, to say the least!

  74. Brian Harris says:

    I’m with the critics, I’m afraid. Some baffling and bizarre clues, and a puzzle that wasn’t enjoyable because it consisted mostly of running through all the European capitals to fit them into the grid and then struggling to back-construct them from the definitions, in some cases without any success. Generally, grids where a lot of clues “have no further definition” can just be a pain, as for every clue, you have to guess whether it comes into that category or is a standard clue.

  75. Ian says:

    Surely the fact that you have to guess how the clue fits the puzzle is the whole idea of a crossword! Personally, I enjoy a break from the strict routine with Auraucaria’s puzzles, but I would never describe them as difficult — in fact his usual tricks (themes, alphabetical answers, etc.) just provide more information to work with. Even if they’re relatively quick to solve, though, they’re a darn sight more clever and entertaining than those awful Rufus puzzles, which aren’t even cryptic for the most part.

  76. Tyro says:

    I’ve just found an Araucaria blog in December with 76 comments. Snap!

  77. Kamintone says:

    My partner and I are great fans of Araucaria, but struggled with this one and eventually gave up in disgust with five clues unsolved. We were rather hamstrung, though, by thinking that the theme was symphonies rather than cities – Prague was the first we got, then London, and of course the New World …

  78. Paul G says:

    To Eileen #52:

    # Eileen Says:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    “Does the fact that you haven’t heard of the expression ‘the great wen’ mean thatit’s unfair? We usually all agree that it’s a poor day when we don’t learn something.”

    Quite often I learn two or three new words when solving a cryptic, but they are usually in the answer rather than the clue :) And a good clue would usually allow me to hazard a guess even if I have never heard of the word (Wednesday’s “aitchbone” being a fine example) .

    “My children were encouraged not to describe a new food as ‘horrible’, simply because they didn’t like it.”

    Good. My point was not that Araucaria is “horrible”, rather that relative to the other Guardian setters his puzzles are out of place. Typically I can get 90-100% of most Guardian setters, with Araucaria I can barely get started. Admittedly, I’ve only been trying the cryptics for a year or so, but seeing Araucaria at the bottom of the grid makes my heart sink.

    “As a regularly self-confessed Araucaria ‘girl’[!] [a devotee of over thirty years] I hope I’ve usually expressed reservations about clues when I’ve had them. It’s certainly not blind ‘hero worship’.”

    Absolutely fair enough. I’ve just noticed that he seems to have an elevated status amongst the setters and the solvers, and I personally don’t see why. Perhaps one day it’ll click :)

    “Can we just agree to differ?”

    Of course! I suspect that Araucaria is the Marmite of setters :)

  79. Noel says:

    Just got round to checking the answers, and I must say I found this the most frustrating puzzle ofr weeks – just couldn’t get into the theme, and gave up with only 4 or 5 solutions.

    17d Lisbon! That’s a really terrible clue – bon isn’t even Portuguese for ‘good’ (it’s bom/boa).

    I do sometimes enjoy Araucaria, but often find the clues overstretch my vocabulary – and my idea of a good puzzle is one I can solve without using any reference books or resorting to Google.

    Still, moving on, I’m just about to start today’s…

  80. C & J says:

    It’s amazing what a large response Araucaria always raises. It must mean something and we think it is a very big something.

  81. Barnaby Page says:

    If I can just add my still small voice to the whingefest…

    I think Brian Harris hits the nail on the head. The problem with this one was the sheer number of incomplete clues (nearly 50%) combined with the fact that they weren’t identified.

    This made me unwilling to invest much time in any given clue because of the high chance that I was reading it incorrectly (looking for a literal definition where none existed, or assuming it was absent when it was actually there).

    For the same reason, I was wary of putting much confidence in those I did solve, as there was always the chance that I’d put the clue in the wrong category, and come up with an incorrect solution that worked purely by coincidence.

    If there had been fewer incompletes, or they’d been asterisked, I’d have been much happier. I see that today’s (Saturday’s) is along similar lines but I guess that’s rather more acceptable on a prize crossword.

  82. Neil says:

    They’re called crossword PUZZLES folks. They’re supposed to, um, be puzzling. Finished it with no complaints whatsoever and with enjoyment. I like those moments when you chuckle whilst wanting to give the setter a good clip round the ear.

    Sorry I’m so late, but I always read the paper a day behind, sometimes two days, so can’t really join in your blogfest, but thanks for the entertainment. I never look until I’m done.

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