Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,674 – Araucaria

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on April 15th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

It’s fun to tackle Araucaria on a wednesday, he’s a bit less vicious but still as inventive as ever. I particularly enjoyed the pair of tricky anagrams in 5ac/7dn, the triply-defined 11ac, and 1dn just because I’m a fan of the books.

Quite a few unfamilar words today (10ac, 19ac, 2dn, 19dn) but they joy of a well-constructed clue is that in most cases you can work out or have a good idea of what the answer might be, and check it against reference.  These don’t really work when you’re on the tube though.

(X) = inserted
(x) = removed
X* = anagram
“X” = homophone


1. MADISON. M.A.D. + IS ON.  Mutually Assured Destruction was a policy that assumed if a war would destroy both sides, neither would initiate it.  The acronym was pretty appropriate.
5. MEDICAL ETHICS. [CLI + MICEDEATHS]*. A kind of partial &lit.
10. THRASONIC. T(HR)A + SONIC. An unfamiliar word for me, got from the checked letters.  It means ‘boastful’.
11. PERFECT SQUARES. A complicated clue playing with different meanings of square. 9 and 16 are mathematical squares, MADISON and WENCESLAS are town or city squares, and ‘squares’ arent ‘with it’, i.e. cool.
14. LANDLINE. An angler wants to LAND fish with his LINE.
18. APERIENT. A PE(RIEN)T.  ‘Rien’ means ‘nothing’ in France (‘over the water’).
25. GREENER. G + RE + ENER(gy).  Interesting how two different types of note are used.


1. MORIARTY. (memento) MORI + ARTY. James Moriarty is nicknamed the Napoleon of Crime in the Sherlock Holmes books.
2. DANCE ATTENDANCE. DANCE + AT TEN + DANCE.  An idiom meaning ‘to wait on”.
4. NOTICE. NOT ICE. Roller skaters often skate on things that are not ice, of course.
8. LUCY STEELE. LU(CYST + EEL)E.  A cyst is a little sac, or bag.  Lucy Steele is a character from Sense and Sensibility, who I’m guessing marries one of the Ferrars.
12. SCRATCH-WIG. SCRA(WITCH*)G. A wig that only covers part of the head. Scrag is slang for ‘neck’ and is used as a verb meaning ‘to hang’.
15. MID-OCEAN. M(1 + DOC)EAN. Tristan da Cahuna is a remote archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic.
16. UNIPOLAR. [UP (s)AILOR + N]*
19. HAWSER. HAWS + E.R. Haws are the berries of the Hawthorn.

21 Responses to “Guardian 24,674 – Araucaria”

  1. Lanson says:

    Thanks for the post Ciaran, I was looking for an anagram in 14ac, that isnt mobile, filled in answer then realized the telephone reference, doh moment!!

  2. Ian says:

    This was a lovely crossword, and thanks for the post.

    At the risk of straying off topic, I posted the suggestion Monday that Rufus was too simple a setter to belong with the others in the Guardian, but most of the replies came to his defence. It occurred to me, however, that many of the users of this site who, like me, find Rufus too, too simple (and often not even cryptic) are not likely to have checked the Monday posts. So I’m making the same obsevation to see if any Wednesday solvers agree.

    For the record, I fully agree that less difficult crosswords are useful for beginners, but I feel that (1) the Everyman serves this purpose well, (2) Rufus is just too, too easy, and (3) those of us who like the general level of difficulty in the Guardian find it a bit rough going two whole days (Sunday and, usually, Monday) without a “proper” crossword. Am I still a minority of one?

  3. Chatmeister says:

    Your second two paragraphs are definitely off-topic. There were more than enough off-topic comments in Monday’s blog without having more today.

    If you wish to discuss this topic please do so in the appropriate place, i.e. the General Crossword Discussion post.

  4. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ian – Probably, but don’t let that worry you, it would be awfully boring if we all agreed.

    On to the crossword. Managed most of it. NE corner got me. But, just for once, no complaints about the ones I didn’t get, kicking myself for not seeing two of them actually. But I was glad for the electronic backup on some that I did get.

    Not being the world’s best at this game I’m always happy to get close with one of these.

  5. Monica M says:

    Crikey … another struggle for me, THRASONIC, SCRATCH-WIG, UNIPOLAR and HAWS were all new words for me.

    Yay … for literary references I knew straight off, without thinking (yes Ciaran, Lucy married Edward Farrars).

    I’ve never heard of Wenceslas square before, but didn’t need to in order to get 11ac.

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks for the blog, Ciaran. Whilst I finished, albeit with a bit of a struggle in the SE corner, I couldn’t explain 1ac MAD, 25 GREENER, 15d MID OCEAN (I thought it was MD about I, which didn’t help), 16d (I thought Turn was U).

    A much more vintage A today.

    I am a bit surprised you thought 2d, 19d unfamiliar, or have I misread your comment?

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    I couldn’t find a definiton of SCRATCH-WIG in my Collins. It just list’s the word without explanation.

  8. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Dave – I think you’ve read me correctly, I’d never heard of the phrase ‘dance attendance’ or of a ‘hawser’, but got both from the checked letters and the wordplay.

  9. liz says:

    I enjoyed this very much, especially 11ac and 23ac. I didn’t get 10ac or 16dn despite having all the checking letters. Thanks for the blog — I guessed SCRATCH-WIG (and confirmed it in Chambers, where it is defined) but didn’t see the wordplay.

  10. Maskelyne says:

    I imagine the MORI/ARTY split is acceptable given both halves work as words (ish) in their own right?

    Am never entirely sure about these.

  11. Eileen says:

    I thought the MORI/ARTY split was one of the best bits in this puzzle – that and the surfaces of 26ac and 6dn and the two anagrams already mentioned.

    Thanks for the blog, Ciaran. Did you deliberately omit INTERCITY [24,13]?

    A bit of trivia: THRASONIC comes from THRASO, the stock character braggart soldier in Terence’s play ‘Eunuchus’.

  12. Paul B says:

    Ian’s remarks are off-topic in only the narrowest sense, Chatmeister, relating clearly as they do to the perceived or alleged difficulty of today’s compiler as compared with Everyman and Rufus. I’m glad, therefore, that so far you have chosen not to delete them.

    In any case, the 15/2 hegemony was never bothered about such opinions – which are interesting in my view – until certain unknowable entities came along to encumber threads with endless remarks about ENTIRELY unrelated subjects, e.g. the weather or the cricket. I’d thought it only for these sorts of spoiling tactics the deletion option is called upon to counteract.

  13. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Eileen – I missed INTERCITY just via a transcription error on my part, thanks for pointing it out.

    The Guardian often allows split words as long as both fragments are words in their own rights, I do find the practice a bit strange though.

  14. Monica M says:

    Hey Paul B… We learned our lesson … and I like to think those of us that were out of line have corrected out ways … BTW, I still love cricket and the weather is unseasonable damp 😉 …. Sorry Chatmeister.

  15. Arthur says:

    I started with 5ac, 5dn, 6dn, 7nd, 8dn so was certain of “sonic”, but in fact the “thra” part didn’t click until the end (and it was still a guess from the wordplay).

    I’m also a fan of compound answers split across two slots (mori/arty and inter/city).

    If I have a complaint about the puzzle it would be that Moriarty and Lucy Steele were really easy if you knew the reference and difficult if not (particularly Lucy Steele who isn’t really a main character).

    Generally,I’d say this was a little less cheeky than he’s been in the past few weeks, but the use of numbers to mean different things in 11ac was really nice and the fact that 1ac was clued “1 across” made me sure they must all refer to the answers until all the checking letters were in.

  16. Paul B says:

    It sure does. GENERA (6) and LABILITY (8) appeared in one from Enigmatist way back when, clued with customary crypticity as something like

    Classes ‘tendency to fluctuate’ with ‘intelligence’ (7,7).

    I remember at the time thinking, ‘why not?’

  17. Paul B says:

    16 is addressed to 13 btw. SCRATCH-WIG lives in Chambers.

  18. dagnabit says:

    Whew, my head is still spinning. Still, I eventually got everything but THRASONIC – choosing instead to make up my own word (“terasonic,” on the shaky theory that the “era” part might something to do with “about time”).

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed the clever reference to Condoleezza Rice in 7d.

    Can anyone tell me why “what all should be” is part of the definition of GREENER? I would have been happier with “…energy is like others’ grass.”

    Thanks for the blog, Ciaran!

  19. Agentzero says:

    Dagnabit, I wondered about that too. My best guess is that it is a reference to environmentalism (just two weeks late for Earth Day) — we all should be “greener.” If that’s right, then it, like 11 across, is a three-part clue — one subsidiary indication and two definitions.

  20. petero says:

    Thanks, Dagnabit and Agentzero, I hadn’t noticed that “what all should be” is a separate definitionally oriented element in 25A (though I got on perfectly well ignoring that bit).
    Monica M: where are all the Janeites? Although the Dashwoods thought for a time that Lucy Steele had married Edward, it turned out that she was Mrs. Robert Ferrars.

  21. dagnabit says:

    Thank you, Agentzero. I feel I’ve just revealed a huge character flaw in myself not to have picked up on the environmentalism aspect. :) Luckily, since garbage pickup day in my neighborhood is tomorrow, I will be putting the curbside recycling bin out tonight in penance.

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