Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24687 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on April 30th, 2009


A typically difficult puzzle from Araucaria, but with some very pleasing clues.

5. THAMES HAM in SET reversed
9. MIA FARROW AIM reversed + FARROW, defined in Chambers as “to give birth to (pigs)”
11. GULES GLUES with a “little internal change”; I can’t remember hearing this word before, but apparently it’s a heraldic term for “red”
15,1down. OVERTIME I’m guessing that “clear to us in many cases” is OVERT IME, where IME abbreviates “in my experience”. That isn’t in Chambers or Collins, although the similar IMHO is… Thanks to Eileen for correcting this – it’s OVERT = “clear” + “us in many cases” being I and ME, two different cases of the first person pronoun
18. BEECH HEDGE BEE = “a busy” ___ (?) + CH = “companion (of honour)” + HEDGE = “not make decisions”
19. BRIE BRIE[f]
21. PANTECHNICON PAN = “God” + (ETC)* + H[eave]N + ICON = “picture”
24. IN-OFF INOFF[ensive]
25. PYGMALION PYG (sounds like “pig”) + M = “master” + A LION = “a predator”
26. EVENLY Move N = “name” in EVELYN; the diarist is John Evelyn
27. BRAND NEW BRAN = “Refuse” + WEND reversed
3. ELAINE Hidden reversed; ELAINE, who died of unrequited love for Lancelot, is known as the Lily Maid of Astolat
4. THREE-LINE WHIP TH[e] + REEL = “dance” + I + NEW HIP = “hip replacement”
6. HOGMANAY HOG = “swine” + MAN = “Homo sapiens” + A Y = “a year’s beginning”
7. MULTISTORY (SIMULT)* + TORY; the second “stor[e]y” in two days :)
8. SESAME SEED SESAME = “Opening word” + SEED = “selected player”
10. WEDDING FINGER WEDDING = “union” + (FRINGE)*; another name for the ring finger, fourth on the left hand (“Left 4, in digital terms”)
13. BOOBY PRIZE BOOZE = “Drink” around BY = “through” + (RIP)*
14. SEVERN BORE SEVER = “Cut” + N = “name” + BORE (sounds like “boar”)
17. CHEERFUL CH = “Church” + EERF = “Rise of Free” + U = “turn” + L = “left”
20. DOMAIN A nice clue: to commit matricide might be to DO MA IN
22. SIGN AWAY SAY = “for example” around I GNAW = “I’m like a rodent”
23. SNOW SOW about [precipitatio]N

26 Responses to “Guardian 24687 / Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    15ac, I think is OVERT + I [Nominative case] + ME [Accusative case].

    I loved 20dn!

  2. mhl says:

    Eileen: Ah, that makes much more sense – thanks!

  3. Eileen says:

    My immediate thought had been to look for more writings of Sir Thomas – last week, Araucaria gave us ‘More work’ for UTOPIA!

  4. Ian says:

    Was it just me, or was this puzzle a bit uninspiring?

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks (again!) Mhl – I actually found this quite easy for an Araucaria, and with mostly pretty sound clueing too.

    Is the “swine” mini-theme deliberately timed or an unfortunate coincidence, I wonder.

  6. Geoff says:

    I really enjoyed this one; I like this particular use of a thematically related words in charade clues.

    Like Eileen, my favourite was 20dn.

    Interesting to see GULES after the debate about ‘sinister’ = L earlier in the week. Heraldry is a fertile source of terminology potentially useful for crossword compilers, but OR (gold, or yellow) is the only heraldic colour word that pops up frequently.

  7. Gaufrid says:

    A most enjoyable puzzle. Andrew, I too wondered about the mini-theme particularly as one of the answers in his puzzle in yesterday’s FT was ‘swine fever’.

  8. Eileen says:

    And the clue was ‘bad news if for good’!

  9. Geoff Anderson says:

    Not just you, Ian. Half a dozen excellent clues but far too many meaningless surface readings, which I’m afraid is Araucaria’s tendency of late. Too satisfied with a decent build and novel definitions, but not going that extra mile to give the surface reading an overall meaning.

    And whether it’s the compiler or the editor, the ‘swine’ theme is in bad taste, surely.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks mhl. I enjoyed this, particularly 20dn which made me laugh.

    I noticed ‘swine fever’ in yesterday’s FT, too. I don’t find it in bad taste to have a ‘swine’ theme. Maybe I’m insensitive, but the humour cheered me up!

    I found it a little easier than usual for Araucaria — perhaps because as Geoff points out some of the surfaces were a little clunky, which made me spot the definitions quicker.

  11. Testy says:

    I think it’s in unbelievably poor taste. Would a bomb themed puzzle have been acceptable in July 2005?

    Just because the deaths have largely involved people a long way away doesn’t make the tragedy any less real.

  12. mhl says:

    I didn’t comment on the “swine” clues in the preamble because I thought it better to give the editor the benefit of the doubt – perhaps it was an unfortunate coincidence, and he didn’t notice the mini-theme. Carelessness is at least a more charitable explanation than tastelessness. Given how long in advance the crosswords are apparently submitted, it can hardly be the setter’s fault, of course.

  13. JimboNWUK says:

    Oh come on all you whiny whingers, making jokes about disasters is never about whether we should but how soon they will appear… it’s a human coping strategy that has been going for years. “My mate had to cancel his holiday in Mexico… he was sick as a pig”

    Kudos to ol’ monkeypuzzle for being so contemporary. (Incidentally I have always taken his nom-de-plume as being a veiled insult to us lot trying to solve a “monkey’s puzzle” but there y’go…)

  14. liz says:

    Yes, Jimbo, in the context of making jokes about disasters I was remembering the New Yorkistan cover of the New Yorker in December 01. Sorry to be off-topic, but the cover is well worth a google.

  15. Gaufrid says:

    Let’s keep the comments relevant to the puzzle itself not the unfortunate timing of its publication which was certainly not the fault of the setter, nor probably the crossword editor.

    Whilst you are entitled to your opinion, a number of comments above indicate that people do feel that the theme of this puzzle was inappropriate in the current circumstances and I do not think it was right for you to ignore this by including that rather tasteless joke. Please have more consideration for other visitors when you comment in future.

    The implication in your second paragraph that the theme was deliberately included by the setter because of the current outbreak is nonsense and, as has been pointed out previously, impossible so I think you should withdraw this unfounded allegation.

  16. smutchin says:

    Impossible? No, not based on my experience of working on a daily newspaper. Things often change right up to the last minute before the presses start rolling. Admittedly, the crossword is one thing that doesn’t usually change but there’s no technical reason why it can’t.

    For my money, it seems like too much of a coincidence that Araucaria should come up with a theme that just happens to be related to the biggest news story of the moment.

    My guess is that Araucaria picked up on the word “swine” (not a word that features much in everyday conversation, so it does leap out at you a bit when it’s in the news headlines) and saw the crossword possibilities. He was probably already booked in for today’s slot so had a word with Prof Stephenson to see if he might change the planned entry for something with a more topical flavour. And being Araucaria, he would have the clout to pull something like that.

    And as for bad taste… come off it! It’s just wordplay – I don’t see any evidence of bad taste jokes in any of the clues. Certainly nothing to match Jimbo’s crass effort.

  17. Arthur says:

    I very much enjoyed this – a bit harder than yesterday but not painfully so. Being particularly slow, swine didn’t even register as swine fever in my brain until I came on here, but I have to say I’m in the ‘it’s all a bit of fun’ camp. I think the Redgrave dynasty puzzle last month was in much poorer taste, and there was less of a fuss on here about that one…

    Anyway, back on topic I enjoyed the cryptic definitions of things (newhip as hip replacement, do ma in, left 4 in digital terms etc.) although gules and pantechnicon were new words for me.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    In case anyone was in any doubt, this by definition was one of his easier ones. The definition being it was only the second of his I finished. Yee hah!

    People, I’ll do you a swap, my surprise that heraldic terms are less generally well known, for yours wrt the classics!

    I even managed to smile at some of these!

  19. Geoff says:

    I hadn’t noticed the relevance of the theme to H1N1 until Andrew pointed it out. Whatever the explanation for the timing, Araucaria’s choice of the word ‘swine’ to link the clues is obvious: it is the only convenient generic word for the animal which doesn’t appear in any of the solutions (unlike ‘pig’, which is used as a homophone in 25ac – and ‘porker’s flesh’ would have sounded odd in 5ac), and has the advantage of being one of those animal names which doesn’t change in the plural (hence ‘to produce swine’ for FARROW in 9ac).

  20. Dave Ellison says:

    Liked 20d, too, made me chuckle. Easier than usual A. as I finished on the way in to work.

    “Throwing warm gules on Madeleine’s fair breast” was an (Keatsian – Eve of St Agnes) example in Lickes, translated into non-poesy as “making red marks on Jane’s chest”. So I knew this word from O – level English

  21. JohnR says:

    @20 – Dave, I remember with embarrassment giggling at the warm ghouls in English O-levels. Oh dear…

    On 10 dn – OED points out that a finger is “[o]ne of the five terminal members of the hand; in a restricted sense, one of the four excluding the thumb. In this latter sense, the fingers are commonly numbered first to fourth, starting from that next the thumb.” Which explains why I have always thought of the ring finger as third, whereas Araucaria, scrupulous as always, has included “digital” to make it clear that he is counting digits in the full sense, not just fingers.

  22. smutchin says:

    Geoff (#19) – “it is the only convenient generic word for the animal which doesn’t appear in any of the solutions”

    I like your thinking. Maybe it is just a coincidence after all. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

  23. Tim the Newbie says:

    I’m with Ian. Tough, clever (for the sake of it in parts) construction but often at the expense of elegance and with an unfavourably low slog:pleasure ratio. Like ‘Brie’ though.

  24. Barnaby Page says:

    I tend to agree with Tim (#23) – very few grins in this one. (And, incidentally, long wordy clues are difficult to work with when you do the crossword with a small group, as I tend to.)

    I didn’t notice the link of the theme with current events until it was pointed out here. If it were deliberate I’m sure Araucaria would have found it easy enough to include words like “pandemic”…and he didn’t.

  25. beermagnet says:

    I see the Guardian are giving us another opportunity to do this puzzle today .

  26. mhl says:

    Beermagnet: oh, was this the version printed in the paper today?

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