Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,660/Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on March 30th, 2009


A rare Monday outing for Araucaria, and a puzzle that was mostly fairly easy, though with a couple of shaky definitions and some dubious wordplay. The grid is a bit strange, being almost cut in two horizontally, with only the two long Downs breaking it up.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
* = anagram
dd = double definition
< = reverse

1. COMING OF AGE (MEG F O CAN I GO)* – an easy definition and an obvious anagram to get us started
9. HOUDINI HO UDI NI. UDI is Unilateral Declaration of Independence, as declared by Ian Smith in the former Rhodesia.
10. LECTERN LECTER N – Hannibal Lecter as in The Silence of the Lambs.
12. DETER Part of “pommes DE TERre”. An “indirect hidden” clue: obvious as long as you know the French.
13. ONYX (p)ONY + X
14. GIRLS ALOUD (DOLLS I ARGU(e))*, and also a homophone of “girls allowed”.
16. BIOCHEMIST CHEMIS(e) in (mon)BIOT. George Monbiot writes for the Guardian on environmental matters
19. DYER Homophone of “dire”, plus a cd.
21. GOT AT  T in GOAT
22. HOME GUARD MEG + U (=upper class, so “of superior sort”) in HOARD
24. MEGATON (NOT A GEM)< The power of nuclear bombs can be measured in megatons (the mass of TNT needed to give the same effect).
25. REUNION dd – Réunion Island is near Mauritius and East of Madagascar
1. COUNTRY COTTAGES COUNT + RYCOTTA (a “slight misspelling” of “ricotta”) + GES(ture)
2. MAIZE I in MAZE. A very simple clue.
3. NAIROBI N + A1 + ROBI(n)
4. OIL WELL dd
5. ARCADIAN dd, with reference to an arcade of shops
15. WHITE TIE Rather a messy one – things can be “white hot”, a tie goes “around the collar” and WHITE TIE is “formal dress”
16. BIGAMY BIG AMY, with a rather unsatisfactory definition
17. MAHONIA H, O (hydrogen and oxygen) in MANIA
20. RIDING “inversion” – i.e. swapping the two halves – of INGRID

26 Responses to “Guardian 24,660/Araucaria”

  1. cholecyst says:

    I thought this was Araucaria doing his best to achieve the Monday standard, although I made life difficult for myself by putting in DEFER at12 ac. – Fr. de + FER = First Early Potatoes! I planted mine at the weekend.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I like it, Cholecyst!

    Isn’t 14ac an &lit? And is Araucaria being contemporary enough? :-)

  3. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    To fix a typo in 18d: A MURA(l) in SI.

  4. Andrew says:

    Indeed, I was wondering if I needed to explain to some who and what Girls Aloud and The Silence of the Lambs are (a popular combo of chanteuses and a cinematic entertainment, m’lud). But Hamlet’s in there too to redress the balance in favour of Culture.

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks Rishi, now corrected.

  6. liz says:

    I liked 26ac but this seemed a bit subdued for Araucaria overall. Perhaps it’s the Monday effect.

  7. smutchin says:

    Once I got over the shock of seeing Araucaria on a Monday, I quite enjoyed this.

    Some clues are rather loose – eg 15d, for which I guessed the correct solution straight away but hesitated to write it in because the clue is so vague. Libertarianism is fine, but this is just silly.

    On the other hand, 14a is great.

  8. Eileen says:

    My first Araucaria blog was a Monday [29th December] which was a shock for me, too. That one was rather less subdued, certainly in the comments that it roused!

    I agree with comments about 15dn but I liked 26ac, too, and I thought the juxtaposition of the two ‘inverted’ clues was quite neat.

  9. Geoff says:

    I thought this was great fun – certainly a lot simpler than the average Araucaria, but that was to the benefit of the surface readings, which are mostly very good.

    12a and 14a I particularly enjoyed. Big Amy raised a chuckle – pity about the def. Is there something subtle we are missing here?

  10. Monica Muller says:

    Hi all,

    16dn … 2 women (or 3 or 4 …) of any size are marriable if you are a bigamist (they’re obviously not fussy :-) )…this was my read and I had a great laugh.

    Thanks for the post and comments, a gift of sanity after my weekend.

  11. bat020 says:

    I suspect this crossword is actually a Rufus and the Araucaria attribution is a mistake.

  12. Brian Harris says:

    We have a theory where I work that Araucaria is now a franchise, and that different setters borrow the pseudonym on different days… It may be heresy, but it might explain why his crosswords are so varied in style and difficulty.

    Today’s was fun if a little easy, but with a few fun clues. Was convinced “COTTAGE cheese” was the soft cheese referred to in 1dn, so it’s nice to see that it was actually a little clever than that!

  13. smutchin says:

    Bat – interesting theory, but there are some tell-tale signs that it’s not Rufus: 12a is “very Araucaria”, and there are no obscure nautical terms.

    Brian – another very interesting theory!

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Bat020 says: I suspect this crossword is actually a Rufus and the Araucaria attribution is a mistake.

    Perhaps we should have a week of anonymity in the Guardian, where we solvers have to guess the setter – I wonder how correct we would be?

  15. Tyro says:

    Not enough CDs for a Rufus – not very Araucarian either, but I’m not sure anyone else would get away with rycotta.

  16. JimboNWUK says:

    Mr Monkeypuzzle has obviously been asked to “dumb it down” a bit which does not rest easy on his shoulders… presumably Rufus is in the Costa del Sol or somewhere.

  17. petero says:

    My first thought on seeing an Araucaria on Monday, and then reading 1ac., was that we were in for a themed puzzle based on some anniversary – Araucaria would surely have the clout to get it published on the right day. A case of a little knowledge getting me precisely nowhere.

  18. ray says:

    Nearly didn’t bother when I saw the setter, but it seemed to be one of the easiest from anyone for some time.

    Didn’t see any problem with 15d, but agree def for 16d is not very satisfactory. Also got slowed by DEFER instead of DETER for 12a.

  19. Geoff says:

    Although this is a lot easier than most (no theme or long anagrams), there are plenty of characteristically Araucarian features: 1a is his sort of anagram; 1d (RYCOTTA)* and 6d (SCI)ence are tricks that only he pulls; 14a and 16a are both very typical, as is the obliqueness of 15d and 16d.

    None of this disproves the franchise theory, of course… Rev John Graham is 85 this year – perhaps he is surrounded by a team of acolytes? ‘School of Araucaria’, as they say of paintings similar in style, but not positively attributable, to one of the masters.

  20. Ian says:

    I’m not complaining!

    This was the first Araucaria I have finished for three weeks!!

  21. Sidey says:

    Surely the real give-away is the grid. Does any other setter use it?

  22. liz says:

    I love the idea of a ‘School of Araucaria’. Perhaps the Master does the clues that seem to have his signature, and the apprentices do the drapery ie the clues that seem a bit looser.

  23. Derek Lazenby says:

    I remember seeing a very similar, if not identical grid, the other week. Can’t remember who used it, but it ain’t the best.

  24. Paul B says:

    It’s grid 52, if anyone cares.

    Not the worst one out there by a long chalk, with the long clues down joining things up fairly well. Proceeding from any other down light limits you to 50% of the total area however, as others have noted.

    I can say for sure that other setters *have* used it, and not just in the Anagruid.

  25. Arthur says:

    For me, the top half had all the fun. Girls Aloud was great. Personally, I doubt he was asked to dumb down, as I’m not sure that setters are asked to set for particular days; rather they send them to the editor who puts a mixture of easy and hard in each week (with easy Mon and hard Sat, although the last three weekends have seemed easier than Paul’s weekday ones for me). Perhaps this was just deemed too easy for Monday.

    According to the website, it’s going to be Paul tomorrow (the puzzle itself isn’t up yet) so I’m bracing myself…

  26. Paul B says:

    Most compilers produce to order a certain number of crosswords per month. With Araucaria, I am told, things are slightly different in that he is guaranteed so many per month (or per year even), with some slots – not surprisingly more than any other Guardian compiler – set aside for Prize puzzles.

    Paul’s getting a few more these days, but he’s been at it now for 14 extremely good years. For me there are 5 or 6 other very good compilers, and another 20 who blow a bit hot and cold.

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