Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,621 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on February 12th, 2009


Another treat of a puzzle from Araucaria, ingeniously celebrating the 200th ‘birthday’ of both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. There are a couple of answers where I look forward to clarification, which I’m confident I shall get.
[ ]* anagram
dd  double definition
[ ] < reversed
[ ] omitted


1   ORBITAL: OR +  BIT [coin, as in ‘threepenny bit’ – those were the days!] + A + L [sovereign]
5   SPECIES: EC in SPIES [agents] Homo sapiens is the one existing species of humans
10  GALAPAGOS: GALA [celebration] + PAGO[da]S
12  MERE: dd [This is more like Rufus than Araucaria!]
14  INSTITUTORS: INST. [the present month] + I + TUTORS
18  OPERATIONAL: I’m not sure about this: it means ‘ready for action’. Is it a reference to ‘1,2,3, go’ or to 3dn, operating theatre?
21  COOP: CO + OP
22,28 GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Lincoln’s famous speech of 1863: [J. Paul] GETTY’S [of the museum man] + ADDR [snake without ‘e’ {tail of ‘snake’}] inside BURGESS
25  BARBARIAN: BAR [lawyers] + BAR I [with one exception] + AN


1   ORIGIN: O + RIG + IN
2   BEAGLE: dd: Darwin’s ship and a small breed of hound, eg Snoopy
3   THEATRICAL: nice surface reading: Lincoln, of course, was shot in Ford’s Theatre, Washington, by John Wilkes Booth     
4   LAGER: L + R round AGE [= ‘long’?]
6   ESPY: E[xtra]S[ensory] P[erception] + Y[ou]
7   INGLETON: SINGLETON [in bridge, etc, a single card of its suit in a hand] minus S [spade] ; Ingleton, in the glorious Yorkshire Dales, is known especially for its waterfalls
8   SUSPENSE: S[upport] + US [PENS] E
13  BURLESQUED: [SEQUEL]*  inside BURD, which I’d never heard of. Chambers gives it as ‘maiden, lady’ – ‘obsolete’, hence ‘old’!
15  SPICE GIRL: [GERI CLIPS]* & lit? I was tickled by the fact that this immediately followed ‘burd’!
16  LOG CABIN: a nice linking of the two parts of the theme but I’m not absolutely sure of the parsing. LOG CABIN is an anagram [indicated by the question mark?] of GAB and INCOL [heart of LINCOLN] but where does the ‘large’ come in?
17  DEMOCRAT: [COME] < in DRAT! [bother!] Lincoln was a champion of democracy and the first Republican President
19  FUTILE: FU [homophone of ‘few’] + TILE
23 TONGA: TON + GA [me] Tonga is, actually, over 150 islands, also known as the Friendly Islands
24  PAIR: P + AIR

53 Responses to “Guardian 24,621 / Araucaria”

  1. Tyro says:

    Is Ingleton the new Pluckley?

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. A very nice puzzle: I’d been listening to an item on the radio about Darwin’s birthday so that bicentarian was easy, but it wasn’t till I got GETTYSBURG ADDRESS that I realised there were two of them.

    For 18ac I thought it was a dd with a cross-ref to 3dn – “Hospital-wise theatrical” is the first definition.

    Like you I was puzzled about AGE=”long” but didn’t bother to check Chambers for possible obscure definitions. (Unless it’s just something “an age” = “a long time”.)

    16ac: “large” heart because it’s almost all of Lincoln rather than just C or NCO, perhaps?

  3. Andrew says:

    Oops – “bicentenarian” I mean.

  4. brisbanegirl says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Well … I had a bit of trouble with this, given I didn’t get the 2 centennials. I was looking for ‘Darwinisms’, it took me ages to get the Lincoln theme … however, when I got log cabin, the theme opened up.

    I’ve never seen burlesque used in the past tense … or for that matter, as a verb.

    I’ve never heard of Ingleton, and couldn’t be bothered with google, so went for cheat button.

    And … when I saw teachers, I was looking for nuts ….

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I knew I could depend on you. Like you, I was only aware of the Darwin bicentenary until part-way throught the puzzle. It’s odd that more wasn’t made of it on the radio. [Maybe it was, before I woke up!]

    Nice one. Tyro! Because I know and love the Dales so well, this was a cinch for me.

    Good evening, Brisbanegirl. Sorry about yesterday’s red herring! You couldn’t be expected to have heard of Ingleton but I think it should be more accessible to those living south of Watford than Pluckley was for us ‘Northerners’. I know where I’d rather be, anyway!

  6. brisbanegirl says:

    Can I suggest a new rule for the blog … no apologies for typo’s and misspellings … we’re not here to be perfect linguists, grammatists, or typists … I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m here for a bit of intellectual stimulation.

  7. smutchin says:

    The Darwin bicentenary has been in the news a fair bit recently, but I didn’t know the actual date was today until I started on this puzzle – 2d was the giveaway clue for me. But I didn’t pick up on the other bicentenarian until I said to my wife, who was also born on 12 Feb, “Did you know you share a birthday with Darwin?” “Yes, and Abraham Lincoln too,” she replied.

    Penny dropped instantly, and suddenly 16d made a lot more sense…

    Really loved this puzzle, especially the Spice Girl clue. (Contemporary enough for you Brisbanegirl?)

    Forewarning: apparently, it’s Charles Dickens’s birthday tomorrow, though not a landmark anniversary this year for him.

  8. don says:

    Thank you Eileen for explaining a few obscure clues to answers I only managed to solve from crossing letters and guessing. Beagle’ gave me Darwin and I was happy with ‘go’ = ‘operational’, as in ‘all systems go’, and that gave me ‘theatrical’ and Lincoln.

    I didn’t understand the wordplay for 10, 22/28 across or 4 and 16 down until I read your explanations.

    Two comments by you, however, have caused me to be thrown: like others, I was was slowed down by ‘speed limit’ yesterday, expecting a ‘not just a Latin phrase’, and like the lady from the Sunshine State, I was looking for NUT in 14 across.

    Thanks for what must have been a not too easy blog.

  9. brisbanegirl says:


    15dh made me laugh, plenty contemporary … but slightly uncool these days … or were they ever cool … not my thing, I’m into more independent music.

    If we have Dickens tomorrow, I reckon I’ll be alright.

  10. David says:

    I’d probably have struggled if it hadn’t been for the double-spread ‘Eyewitness’, and then realising theat Darwin wasn’t born in a log cabin! (Thanks again, Google!)

    I had a glorious day in the Dales this week – blue sky, snow everywhere – and drove through Ingleton. Lucky me, sorry for those who couldn’t/didn’t!

  11. Andrew says:

    Dickens’s birthday is actually 7 Feb (1812) according to Wikipedia (and others).

  12. brisbanegirl says:

    Where would we be if we didn’t have the internet … for a start we wouldn’t be having this conversation … but I wouldn’t have a chanc of solving some clues without it, especially when the words are obscure.

    So, what’s so good about Ingleton???

  13. smutchin says:

    Andrew – well, that’s the last time I trust anything my wife tells me!

  14. brisbanegirl says:


    You ALWAYS believe what your wife tells you … haven;t you learned that yet!!!!

  15. Eileen says:

    Smutchin: wait until after her birthday before you berate her [Many happy returns, Mrs S!]

    Brisbanegirl – try Google Images for Ingleton or Yorkshire Dales.

    David – it would always be ‘couldn’t’, rather than ‘didn’t’. I had to give up my static caravan in Wensleydale and haven’t been up there for 18 months. I so envy you!!

    Don: apologies again! I did say I, too, was initially misled by SPEED LIMIT.

  16. Eileen says:


    PS: thanks for the ‘all systems go’. It makes complete sense now.

  17. David says:

    Eileen: poor you! If I don’t get to the Dales and/or the Lakes every month I get withdrawal symptoms! Fortunately, I live close enough to be able to do both in a day.

  18. Eileen says:

    David: please stop this right now! Don’t talk to me about withdrawal symptoms: at one time, we used to drive the 150 miles nearly every week!

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK you lot. Are you all sitting down? I finished this one! And whilst the time taken wasn’t impressive by the standards around these parts, it was still before the blog appeared!

    OK OK, I exaggerate slightly, I had 1 cheat, damn and blast. I had managed to find (and be seriously puzzled by) most of the Lincoln clues without realising there was a second theme! So I got stuck with just 5 to go (well 4 clues) in the SW corner. When the G.A. was revealed I finally got it! (Having googled the great man’s birthday just to check).

    There’s nothing in the rules about not having more than one theme, but I thought it was just a teensy bit on the sneaky side.

    I got 5a without the clue. Once you had Darwin and 1d then the reference to 5a in 27a/5d is a dead give away! That what comes of trying to be too clever in the setting, a redundant clue!

    Um? 9a? rate = class? I’m sure there must be some sense that my faulty memory isn’t bringing to the fore, there always is, but I still don’t get it. I only got the solution from Cross and having an I and that was the first word I thought of. (That was kinda similar to how I got most of the Lincoln clues, things that more or less fitted).

  20. Eileen says:

    Derek: Congratulations!! I don’t know what else to say – except ‘first rate’ = ‘first class’!

  21. brisbanegirl says:

    I think it’s interesting, what we think and believe is beautiful … I go fo the tropics every time … N Qld is (as far as I’m concerned) the most beautiful place in the world …

    Check this place out … I was there exactly 12 months ago …. for free (the ‘for free’ is a long story)—Winner-of-Australias-Best-Backyard/Page1.html

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    David/Eileen/Brisbane Girl

    Cries into beer, being similarly stuck down here.

  23. Eileen says:

    Derek: I don’t suppose it’s Black Sheep or Theakston’s?

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Grin, no! Poetic licence, I’m actually a cider drinker. That comes from having a TT father, so by the time I first hit a bar I had already grown out of any “impress my friends” desire to acquire an acquired taste. So I took the lazy way to drinking and asked what taste I would like straight away. Strangely that attitude was absent when it came to curries.

  25. brisbanegirl says:

    Bad Boy, Due the economy, I can’t espy a selection of lager I can afford …it’s futile …

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Very goog BG. LOL. But I prefer RacingDog. It was my CB handle and now it is my main nickname on poker sites.

    Eileen, BTW, ta for the memory jog. That’s what slows me up with crosswords, I just don’t have a free flowing recall. My talent was always the more esoteric bits real-time software. If my brain worked as well with other stuff as it did for that I’d be a freakin’ genius.

  27. noddie says:


    Presumably: LINCOLN’S heart is ‘C’
    Great heart is ‘INCOL’

  28. Ian says:

    Thank you Araucaria for your usual brainteaser.

    22,28a was brilliant!

  29. Eileen says:

    Noddie: unless I’m missing something, I think you’re saying the same as Andrew in comment 2. Actually, if the clue really had been ‘great’ rather than ‘large’, I’m pretty sure I would not have had a problem. As it was, I was seeing ‘large’ as signifying a superfluous ‘L’ [as on clothes labels].

    Apologies if I’m misunderstanding you.

  30. Agentzero says:

    Eileen, thanks for all the explanations.

    The dictionaries I consulted all said that a burd is a young woman, rather than an old woman … but it is of course an old word for a young woman!

    Some great clues in this puzzle. My only slight complaint is that I don’t think PAGOS should be clued as “a lot of” PAGODAS, any more than one would clue “FORT” as “a lot of forest.”

  31. Ian Stark says:

    I am so busy at the moment that I haven’t been able to sit for any length of time and really get stuck into a decent puzzle. Instead it’s been lots of two minute stabs here and there – very frustrating, especially for a puzzle like today’s! Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed this one – more so because I managed to work out the themed answers without having to look at a reference book. I did throw myself by entering ORBITER (with ER for sovereign) as my very first answer, which led to me looking for a drink in R***L! Then a further curve ball when I incorrectly marked the seperator in 16d as 5,3. With the N from NATURAL, I couldn’t get EARLY MAN out of my head! Grrr . . . Thank heaven for 22,28 which cleared up that little confusion!

    THank you for the blog, Eileen. This puzzle seems to have attracted a lot less of the Araucaria/Marmite comment than usual. I wonder what Saturday will bring . . .

  32. Eileen says:

    Agentzero: yes, as I indicated, I liked the ‘old’ in 13dn!

    We’ve been getting rather a lot of the ‘a lot of’, ‘most of’ type of clue lately, mostly, I think, but not exclusively, from Araucaria. It’s definitely his type of clue, though.

    Ian: my sympathies: this was the type of puzzle to sink into and enjoy. I certainly took time to savour it [sorry for keeping you waiting, Derek!] It’s really frustrating when you have what appears to you – and is! -a feasible answer and you can’t see beyond it. ORBITER is perfectly legitimate but there’s one little extra Araucarian twist: the less usual ‘L’ for sovereign fits nicely with the ‘bit’ for ‘coin’ from the old LSD days.

    Re your last comment: I was resisting giving any hostages to Fortune – there’s quite a long time to go. [And as for Saturday…!]

  33. Dave Ellison says:

    Well, like most others I didn’t realise there were two themes till late on. I did muse a bit about why Darwin wasn’t an answer somewhere, and why he was just referred to as the bicentarian -if I had mused a bit more I might have realised. As it was I spent a lot of time googling to find what Darwin had said about Richard Owen who was instrumental in setting up the British MUSEUM, and who was one of Darwin’s critics (cf 22a).

    I did discover that Richard Owen and I attended the same school (not contemporaneously), Lancaster Royal Grammar School, which was a bit of a surprise as I had never heard of him in this context. William Whewell was the one who was extolled.

    Living near Lancaster in my youth, Ingleton was a stones throw away. What’s good about it, BBG asks, is that there are two excellent fell races involving Ingleborough, the hill towering over Ingleton. Carnethy Five this weekend in the snow – great!

  34. Dave Ellison says:

    Well, how about that!

    ‘when Darwin was at the very start of The Origin of Species Darwin placed a citation from Whewell’s Bridgewater Treatise showing his ideas to be founded on a natural theology of a creator establishing laws:[4]

    “But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so far as this-we can perceive that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of Divine power, exerted in each particular case, but by the establishment of general laws.”‘

    (from wikipedia on Whewell) I am not sure it makes sense? Laws don’t cause events, nor even their establishment.

  35. Agentzero says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Just to be clear, I don’t mind the “most of” types of clues; my complaint is that PAGOS is not a set of consecutive letters from PAGODAS.

    Has there been a good explanation yet of why AGE=LONG?

  36. Eileen says:

    Agentzero: you’re quite right, of course, and I was only commenting that we’d had a spate of that kind of clue lately. Would you prefer the Independent clue, which, coincidentally, I was just looking at when you posted your comment:
    ‘Retch having a drink on big islands’. The theme there, too, was Darwin – but not Lincoln!

    Re AGE: well, I’m not satisfied. For me, it would have to be *an* age, as Andrew suggests, or ‘ages’.

    Tyro [Comment 1]: I think, by now, we can take that as a ‘No’. :-)

  37. Ian Stark says:

    You’re right of course, Eileen – so far so good! Let’s not tempt fate!

    Mildly interesting to note that Google has the Darwin bicentenary as it’s theme for today rather than Abe, given Google’s provenance. I looked on some of the international Google sites – all Darwin.

  38. Geoff says:

    Hello everyone. I only picked this puzzle up in mid afternoon, so there is nothing much left to say! I spotted the Darwin theme almost instantly, but the Lincoln one eluded me for a good while. This wasn’t helped by my confidently putting in TRUTH for 26 (anag of ‘hurt’ with the ‘t’ of ‘foot’ – ie ‘not head’) – which seemed entirely reasonable as something that Darwin fought for!

    For those of us that have become clue-length bores, this crossword has an average bang on the supposed limit of 6.5 words per clue. Incidentally, today’s Times puzzle comes in well over 6.5. Scandalous!

  39. Geoff Moss says:

    Coming back to the age-long question, Chambers and Collins both define ‘age’ (singular as well as plural) as ‘a long time’ and COED and Collins both have ‘a long time’ as a definition for ‘long’.

  40. Ben Cornwell says:

    Well after many visits to this site to get explanations (for which I thank you all) I finally feel bold enough to contribute having completed today’s with only two resorts to the crossword solver page. Although I did have to be told by my Dad that there were two bicentenarians (I also spent ages looking for quotes about Richard Owen).

    I got Ingleton straight away because I had the I and the G, and I knew that Ingle is a common element of place names in the North.

  41. Eileen says:

    Geoff: my impression was that this was one of Araucaria’s shorter word count puzzles, though I didn’t bother to do the Maths! Interesting, in view of yesterday’s discssion. I commented in the blog on the uncharacteristic succinctness of 12ac – and 9ac is another example. Then, of course, there’s 22,28 to bump up the average but that was a long answer. I liked your interpretation of 26ac [a rather long clue for a 5-letter answer!] See my response to Ian at comment 32.

    Geoff M: nice try but it still doesn’t work for me, I’m afraid.

    Ben: Welcome – hope to hear from you again!

  42. mark says:

    I agree with posts 35,36 and 41.

    It’s annoying that setters ( and I know this one is a god to many!) throw in these little ‘not quite right’ elements. Ok, ok, I usually think there are several and by the time I’ve read all the posts I’ve realised how stupid/slow I am but too often everyone seems to agree that there is still an ‘unsatisfactory’ answer or part.

    How many letters of a word should the setter be able (and still be fair to solvers) to discard by saying “a lot of” especially if not consecutive?
    And surely AGE just doesn’t = long. If someone can show me a sentence where they can be substituted then fair enough

  43. Derek Lazenby says:

    Word count? OK, tell the newbie here what the recommended value is please.

    But, um?, is average word count reliable as a metric? Surely someone like Araucaria skews this by having countless clues which say “See 17″ or such like?

  44. muck says:

    I did know that today was a double bicentenary – I think I heard it on BBC Radio4 – so it wasn’t too difficult a puzzle. And most enjoyable. Thanks, Araucaria.

  45. stiofain_x says:

    A very nice Auracaria today, I thought, with some lovely surfaces and some nice misdirection.
    I also googled to find what museum directors Darwin had contretemps with and wondered how Uncle Toms Cabin could be made to fit in with the rest until The Lincoln penny dropped.
    Re the clue length debate should the answer length be included in this incipient formula for the perfect clue in some way? And the grid used?

  46. stiofain_x says:

    Sacrilege, I spelt Araucaria wrong

  47. Eileen says:

    Hi Stiofain

    ‘Sacrilege’, eh? That’s the second time today tat Araucaria has been ‘deified’!

    Mark: I’m way up there with Araucaria’s admirers – have been for 30+ years – but to me he’s a hero, not a god, and it’s not blind hero-worship. I enjoy his puzzles so much that I put up with his quirky clues – and almost always delight in them – but the point about the age / long thing is that it’s not typical: Araucaria, Classicist that he is, has always been scrupulously grammatical.

    But, sticking my neck out now, all in all, it seems to have been a good day, with practically everyone having enjoyed a good puzzle. Thanks for all the comments.

  48. Derek Lazenby says:

    I just worked out the average length for my humble effort for my railway mag. Is 6.9 OK then?

    Careful what you say Eileen, somebody may say chop!

  49. Eileen says:

    Hi Derek

    I know – I did say earlier I was afraid to speak too soon but it’s nearly bedtime!

    Re word count; I’m not really into this – I was just picking up on yesterday’s discussion. Yours seems fine to me. :-)

  50. Tyro says:

    I don’t understand word count – a good clue is a good clue, but if a particular competition has its own rules then fair enough. e.g. Complete this phrase in less than fifteen words I love fifteensquared because ….

  51. smutchin says:

    Derek – I don’t know if word count is a reliable measure of quality but as an amateur setter, I find that aiming to keep the word count down is a good way of enforcing discipline in clue writing. It’s far too easy to be waffly in clues. In my earliest efforts, I was getting averages of nearly 8! So I went back and rewrote some of the clues to be a bit snappier and I’m much happier with the results.

    (By the way, for the purposes of analysis, where solutions are split over multiple lines in the grid, I count them as a single solution and a single clue. Don’t know what rules others apply.)

    Stiofain – for my own efforts, I have a general rule that the number of words in the clue should be no more than the number of letters in the solution, and I’ll generally impose an absolute limit of 12 words regardless of solution length. However, I’m happy to break these rules occasionally if it’s too difficult to make the clue shorter while still making sense and/or I’ve come up with a nice bit of wordplay that I think justifies a longer clue.

    But the occasional long clue is fine – it’s the average that matters. There was a recent Araucaria puzzle that included a 17-word clue but still kept the overall average down to well under 7. That’s class.

    Paul commented on his site that he thought it would be very hard to make a well-formed puzzle with an average under 6. Well, there was an FT puzzle recently that had an average of 5.5! And it was all pretty soundly clued, as far as I can recall. I might see if I can dig it out and post a link if anyone’s interested.

  52. smutchin says:

    I think it might have been 12,973 by Armonie – which, alas, is no longer available on the FT website. But you can still read the fifteensquared blog about it here

  53. smutchin says:

    OK, I suspect I shouldn’t really be doing this, but since I still have the gif on my hard disk, for today only, you can download it from here

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