Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,633 – Araucaria

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on February 26th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

An interesting theme today, and luckily for me something I managed to guess early on – I suspect it’d be somewhat impenetrable if you can’t guess what BG stands for (I’ve assumed British Game [It’s been pointed out in the comments that ‘ball game’ is more likely]), and there’s precious little else to help you along until you get there!

d.d. = double definition
* = anagram
< = reversed
(X) = inserted
(x) = removed


1. AUTOGENIC. AU + TOG + CINE<.  Autogenic means ‘from within’ and can apply to various taught relaxation techniques.
10. POOL. d.d.
11. FOOTBALL. You need a FOOT to dance + BALL.
15. NESTA. (marylebo)NE STA(tion).
16. GUSTY. GU(ST.)Y. I put in GU(ST)S initially, which made 12dn a bit harder.
18. CRITICISE. Spoonerised ‘City Cries’.
26. ERROR. E.R. + R + OR.
27. STEAMBOAT. STE(AM+BOA)T. Not seem AM for american before.  ‘Stet’ is proofreading jargon for ‘leave this as it was’.


2. TOPSOIL. T(OPS)OIL. Op. and Toil both mean ‘work’.
3. GOLF. FLOG<.  The first of the BG clues I got, which gave the theme.
4. NUMB. NUMB(ER).  ‘One or more’ as def for ‘number’ isn’t technically that correct.
5. CENSORSHIP. PINCHROSES*. Censors and editors in general traditionally used blue pencils.
7. GUITARS.  GUI(d) + TARS. Not sure about ‘guid’ (Scots for ‘good’), but it’s my best guess at the wordplay.
8. YES PLEASE. Guessed from the checked letters, I can’t see the wordplay. [Consensus in the comments seems to be YE + SP(elling) + LEASE, with ‘defective’ being a slightly unsatisfying indicator for spelling being cropped ].
12. CITY EDITOR. COYTRIEDIT*. Is coy an appreviation for company?
14. BAGATELLE. d.d.
17. SNOOKER. S(NO)OKE + R. The Soke of Peterborough is an historical area of England.
22. ONSET. d.d. ‘ON SET’.
23. BLUE. One can aquire a ‘blue’ at Oxbridge by competing in a varsity game.
24. SPAM. ‘Spam’ as ‘rubbish’ is fairly recent.

43 Responses to “Guardian 24,633 – Araucaria”

  1. Chris says:

    “Ball game” rather than “British game”, I think.

  2. Rob says:

    I agree with Chris, although it took me a while as the first of the BG clues I got was Cricketers which had me wondering if BG stood for Baggy Green.

    Guid to mean good in Scottish is how I read it as well

  3. Chris says:

    And ditto with putting in “Gusts” at 16A, and ditto for not being able to work out the wordplay for 8d.

  4. Susan says:

    Hi. The first time I’ve dared to contribute, though I enjoy reading this enormously.

    8d. I too had trouble with the word play. So far I’ve got ‘ye’ = solvers (you) + spl = defective ‘spelling’ (??) + ease =let

  5. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Susan – Ah, it’s YE + Sp. + LEASE maybe? Has ‘defective’ left over, though.

  6. JamesG says:

    Re 12d I think COY is prticularly an army abbreviation for company

    Quite agree about 8d. Can’t see it at all. If YE is solvers, and SP is spelling, lease for defective?? Can’t be right.

  7. Mick H says:

    I’ll go with ball game, though I briefly dallied with board game. 8dn is YE (solvers) + SP(elling) + LEASE (let), the last few words being the definition. But sp is an OK abbreviation for spelling, so I’m not sure why it needs ‘defective’ – surely if that was meant to indicate shortening it should be ‘deficient’.

  8. Andrew says:

    8dn – I think it’s YE (solvers) + SP(elling) + LEASE (=let, as in property)

  9. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Andrew – sure but what’s defective? Is it the fact Spelling is cropped?

  10. Andrew says:

    Yes, I suppose as in defective=abbreviated; or maybe just one of Araucaria’s “take some of the letters of a word”…

  11. Monica M says:

    Hi all,

    Defective can be a synonym for unfinished … that could work.

  12. Ciaran McNulty says:

    OK I’m convinced, I’ve updated the post.

    Well done Mick H and Andrew!

  13. Shirley says:

    14Ac – Can I be really picky and wonder about the apostrophe in the clue here? Poet’s indicates one poet whereas the answer (Ill + I) inside BARDS would indicate several poets.
    Anyway an enjoyable Auracaria as usual.

  14. Eileen says:

    As a teacher, I would put ‘sp’ in the margin of students’ work to indicate ‘spelling defective’!

  15. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Shirley – I think B(ILL I)ARD’S is acceptable, considering how often the reverse is done (i.e. the answer having an apostrophe or hyphen in that isn’t in the wordplay).

  16. JamieC says:

    Thanks for the blog. Like a lot of Araucaria’s themed puzzles, I found this very difficult until I cracked the theme and then very easy and somehow not very satisfying.

    Re 8d, I wonder if SP relates to “spelling defective?” i.e. with the question mark, on the basis that people write (sp?) after a word if they’re not sure how it’s spelt. If that’s not it, then I agree with earlier posters that “defective” seems to be redundant.

    Re 7d I was happy with GUID for “virtuous Scots” but not so sure about “less than” as a legitimate indicator to remove the last letter. If it had been “not quite virtuous Scots” I wouldn’t object. What do others think?

  17. Monica M says:


    Now that you’ve said that I recall many a red “sp” in the margins of my work.

    Ciaran, I agreed with your initial definition of BG as British Games … altho Ball Game sits better as I think Real Tennis is French in origin. Maybe it could have been British Ball Game (BBG) ;-)

    What is the game of Bagatelle? I’ve never heard of it?.

  18. Eileen says:

    Monica: yes, it wasn’t just me – it’s a standard way of indicating spelling mistakes!

    Bagatelle is a table game, where you hit balls to get them into holes or areas marked out by nails, using a stick – at least with the board we had when I was a child: the more sophisticated ones had a spring mechanism for releasing the ball.

  19. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Bagatelle is either a game a bit like pinball, but on a sort of vertical plane, where you try and get the ball to land on pins and go through holes, or a billiards game that involves pins standing on the surface of the table that you’re not to hit.

    It literally means ‘a trifle’, so is apt for silly games!

  20. Geoff says:

    I found this one pretty straightforward, getting GOLF very early on, like Ciaran. Tried unsuccessfully to put BADMINTON in as either 14ac or 14dn, but fortunately thought better of it! I also thought BG might be British Game – as so many of them are – but BILLIARDS is French in origin (I think).

    8ac: I interpreted ‘defective’ as simply meaning that less than one of the words in the clue had been incorporated into the charade (Araucaria often does this sort of thing), but Eileen rightly points out that a marginal “sp” one one’s returned homework indicates that a word has been misspelt. Not infrequently accompanied by “see me”!

    Yet another appearance for every compiler’s favourite astrological sign in 9ac – one of my first entries. Oh for a charade clue in which “sign” codes for CAPRICORN!

  21. Eileen says:

    Geoff – Rufus did give us GEMINI on Moday!

  22. Geoff says:

    Eileen – Yes, we do occasionally find other signs as complete solutions, but ARIES is almost invariably the charade component – although I think I recall seeing LEO once in this context.

    On another point, I did muse as to whether 24ac might be argued not to be cryptic at all – but decided that any gourmet with a very low opinion of SPAM would not consider it edible anyway, so the clue stands!

  23. Neil White says:

    First solution was “golf” giving ‘Ball Games’. Apart from also having “gusts” making 12d impossible until seeing “gusty” this puzzle was disappointingly unpuzzling. Though I didn’t know about Soke (17d) the cross letters made the solution inescapable. As others, above, remark “Sp’ is standard teacherese for a spelling mistake, hence ‘defective’ of coarse (Sp, see me).

    I usually do the crossword a day late so haven’t previously contributed here, but I’ve now discovered the online version. Not the same though is it as ploughing through the Paper before allowing oneself to embark on the puzzle?

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Pool was first, so thought Board Games; Polo next, so couldn’t see the B thing, for a while.

    27a had Speedboat, with 24d Spud, but couldn’t reason out either; no wonder!

  25. Ian Payn says:

    Like most people I spent a moment at the start trying to think of what BG might stand for.

    Bill Gates? No, couldn’t see anything there…
    Barry Gray? Surely the composer of the Thunderbirds theme (amongst others), although worthy, was not well-know enough to merit a crossword? Even if it is his birthday. Which it isn’t.
    Big game? Not in the pacifist Guardian.

  26. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Dave – Pool made you think board games?

  27. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Ian – for a while I had a nasty idea it was going to be the names of Brigadier Generals, and then I’d be truly stuffed!

  28. steven says:

    Thanks for blog Ciaran.
    I too thought ‘Bill Gates’, as well as ‘Brothers Grim’, but after getting ‘nesta’,I got ‘Real tennis’ and then opted for ‘ball games’.Being a bit of a novice ,I normally find Araucaria too difficult, but today I almost completed the puzzle.’Supplementaries’ and ‘City Editor’ I never got.I’d never heard of ‘City Editor’ but had to kick myself when I saw ‘Supplementaries’.Seems so obvious now.

  29. smutchin says:

    Did very poorly today. Tiredness due to a hard week at work to blame – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Most of it seems bleeding obvious now I’ve read the solutions. Thanks for putting me out of my misery, Ciaran.

    Several clues I got the idea of but didn’t solve – eg 5d was obviously an anagram of “pinch roses” but the definition foxed me, and as per Geoff’s comments I guessed that “sign”=ARIES in 9a but got no further than that. Didn’t get the theme either, which didn’t help.

    15a – this is one of the few I did get, but I hesitated to fill it in since Nesta is such an uncommon name these days. (Come to think of it, has it ever been a “common” name?) Is it “fair” to clue such a rarely heard first name without, for example, a reference to a famous Nesta? (Having said that, the only “famous” Nesta I can think of is the Italian footballer Alessandro Nesta.)

  30. Geoff says:

    Commiserations, Smutchin – that week off work has taken its toll. NESTA is a Celtic (Irish or Welsh) form of Agnes – I doubt whether it has ever been common. I agree with you that an obscure word of any sort should usually have some form of definition – the one (perhaps) allowable exception being ‘hidden’ clues, as this was.

  31. steven says:

    How about Robert Nesta Marley.

  32. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    I am not sure if the question ‘Is coy an appreviation for company?’ has been answered.

    Coy for Company is used in the names of military units. In India, National Cadet Corps has units with titles such as 4(TN) Engr Coy, where TN stands for the State (Tamil Nadu) and Coy for Company.

  33. smutchin says:

    Geoff – you may have a point. I think the fact that even I got the answer to that one indicates that perhaps the clue was quite easy enough. (The trouble with having a week off work is that they save up all the crap for when you get back…)

    COY for company crops up reasonably frequently in crosswords, in my experience. I think it’s OK.

  34. Eileen says:

    Both Collins and Chambers give COY as a *military* abbreviation for ‘company’, as suggested by JamesG in Comment 6 – and it was clued as “soldiers’ company”, after all, so no unfairness there.

    Despite the fact that we’ve had ARIES three times, I think, in the last couple of weeks, I thought 9ac was, in fact, a very good clue. Perhaps we should give extra credit for a clever use of a well-worn device!

  35. Ian Payn says:

    “Ian – for a while I had a nasty idea it was going to be the names of Brigadier Generals, and then I’d be truly stuffed!” – Ciaran McNulty

    ++++Yes, it’s amazing what bizarre things go through your mind. Is Brigadier Generals more or less ludicrous that Barry Gray? It has to be close…Brothers Grimm (as suggested by Steven) is a beacon of sanity by comparison.

  36. Geoff says:

    Although I was the one to point it out, I quite agree, Eileen – the use of this device fits the surface reading like a glove, which is not always the case with the great man!.

  37. Geoff Anderson says:

    Ball Games definitely.

    Bagatelle, Real Tennis, Billiards and so Pool, are French in origin, while Polo is thought to be Persian. Golf is Scottish and therefore truly British. Rugby and Football are sufficiently violent to be genuinely British. But I’m afraid the word ‘cricket’ derives from the Old French ‘criquet’ meaning ‘stick’, so it’s likely that our most English game is also secretly French.

  38. stiofain_x says:

    I thought this was a great puzzle with BG a nice indicator rather than having the theme as a subtitle. I liked ONSET a much clued word but i havent seen this incarnation of it before, and I liked the Spoonerism.
    I also liked the inclusion of SPAM again disproving the recent scurrilous article in the Guardian accusing us all of being stuck in a 1950s middle England rural idyll.
    My granny ( b. Belfast 1895 ) was called Nesta known as Nessie but I agree it is very uncommon and would not have been fair in any other type of clue than a hidden word.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was doing ok, then my mind went dead with just 5 to go. And having seen the blog 4 of them were easier than one’s I’d already got. My excuse is I’d spent too much time fighting a Text Adventure engine only to find it wasn’t my fault, the damn thing had bugs! So my poor brain hurt.

    But it was all less of a painful experience tha Araucaria used to be for me not that long ago, so something is clicking at last.

    My only query is 1ac. It’s not just that clue, but other setters as well, there seems to a trend to put the word play indicators in what looks like the wrong place. It didn’t stop me solving it, so its not that bad. But even when I now know how to parse it, my mind still wants to associate “back” with “garment” rather than “film”. The correct parse is with “of film” of course, but my mind still doesn’t want to read it like that.

  40. Dave Ellison says:

    Ciaran #26. Yes, I thought Board Games, just a quick flash really! I just couldn’t think of anything else for B at that stage, and I had this vision of a pool table having a board in it! But this was only for a second or two until I got polo.

  41. steven says:


    It is bizzare what goes thro your mind .One early flash thro mine was Brisbane Girl!!! The beacon dims.

  42. Garry says:

    AM for American has been used several times in recent months.

  43. Barnaby Page says:

    I wonder how many of our non-British solvers got CITY EDITOR – it’s a purely British term (in the sense of “financial editor”, referring of course to the capped City of London; in North America it’s used to mean “editor in charge of local news”).

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