Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,703 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on May 19th, 2009


There were several laugh out loud moments in this entertaining puzzle from Araucaria, with a number of cleverly inter-connected  clues.


7   PRESS ON: PRESS ON[e]: a witty reference to the irritating options  offered when trying to get through to a human voice on the telephone
8   WELCOME: double definition [could be a reference to the previous clue]
9   THAI: homophone of ‘tie’
10  MAKE MERRY: [KREMER]* in MAY: a nice touch, since May is the traditional time for merry-making
12  TRACY: the human voice at last! [see 3dn]
13  TAMARISK: TAM + A RISK: TAM as in Robert Burns’ poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter, or the Scottish MP Tam Dalyell
17,15 STEPDAME: archaic ‘stepmother': PD in STEAM [source of power] + E[nergy]
18  CONFETTI: CONFE[r] + TT [races] +I: as so often, nothing to do with 2dn, but thrown over a [bridal] couple
22  KRIS: homophone of ‘crease’
25,12  SPENCER TRACY: SPEN [Valley] + CERT [sure to win] + RACY


1   ARCHIVES: [St] IVES after ARCH [spanner] There are two places in England called St Ives, in Cambridgeshire and Cornwall, where there is also St Ive, but I haven’t yet found the saint himself
2   ASPIRATE: AS PIRATE [Captain Hook in ‘Peter Pan’]
3   [“Tracy speaking … ] HOW MAY I HELP?”  [A HOMELY WHIP]* Sheer delight! [Is this more or less  exasperating than the ‘press one’ option?]
4   HELMSMAN: HELMS [archaic ‘helmets’] + MAN: John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island’ but, in crosswords, ‘island’  is very often ‘man’
5   SCORER: double [treble? +cryptic?] definition: the scorer is in the pavilion, keeping the score, a scorer makes runs and twenty is a score!
6   EMMY: [ME] < + MY
11  KATHARINE HEPBURN: [THINKER RAN A PUB HE]* : nice misdirection with ‘he’ and a  neat [unmentioned]  connection with 25,12, with whom she made nine films
12  THABO: hidden in wiTH A BOne but I don’t really follow the wordplay [Thabo Mbeki, President of Soth Africa] [Edit: thanks, Gaufrd:  WITH A BONE  without wine]
14  SHEEP: SHE + EP [record]
19  FLAMBE: LAMB inside FE
20  IRRUPT: [PURR] < inside IT – and no misleading hyphen!
21  BEEF: double definition

25 Responses to “Guardian 24,703 / Araucaria”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    12d ‘but no drink’ indicates remove ‘wine’ from ‘with a bone’ to leave THABO.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid!

  3. Tom Hutton says:

    Using South African as a clue for Thabo seems a little loose to me. Could you use Scot as a clue for Thomas? But 7ac, which I put in without understanding it, was very clever.

    And on top of that I learned how to pronounce Kris.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Tom Hutton: a note from Indonesia, home of the Kris (normally spelt Keris.) Here, the pronunciation is as in the name Chris, so 22 ac had me a little bemused!

    Another Indonesian connection: the Indonesian for “helmet” is “helm”!

  5. Eileen says:

    Tom, I don’t know how common a name Thabo is in South Africa but Mbeki is certainly the only one I’ve heard of – whereas I do know a number of Scottish Thomases. You didn’t mention ‘Scotsman = TAM’ – was that OK?

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, NeilW. I’d have thought it was pronounced as Chris, but Chambers gives it a long vowel and, interestingly, SOED has ‘crease’ as an alternative spelling!

  7. Eileen says:

    Sorry, that should have read,’ and, interestingly, along with SOED…]

  8. liz says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Didn’t get THABO or KRIS, but I enjoyed this a lot. 7ac is very funny.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, a vintage A. today, so enjoyed it. As often, only got one (16d) on first time through, but others then followed steadily. Then, got held up on 17a, 21a, 25a, 12d, 19d and 20d.

    I had TIES initially for 9a, but then remembered yesterday’s similar experience.

    I solved 3d without the definition, so thanks Eileen for prodding me to relook at it.

  10. William says:

    Nice blog, thank you Eileen. Failed on THABO – WITHABONE minus WINE was too clever for me.

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    I wasn’t going to comment today as there was much I didn’t get. But as it’s been mentioned, and sorry for being slightly off topic, but decades ago, our first whippet was named Kris, and was pronounced Chris, because somehow my better half knew what NeilW said. She also knew of the common mispronunciation.

    See? Who needs book learning? All you need is a wife who is in to whippets!

  12. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Eileen. Is the excellent Donne mnemonic of your own devising?

    I found this hard work, not helped by misspelling KATHARINE – should have checked the anagram fodder! IRRUPT, “sunsuit”, and TAMARISK were all new words to me, but at least the lattermost was quite gettable from the cryptic part and a couple of crossing letters…

  13. Geoff says:

    Wonderful example of Araucaria at his best, with some very ingenious and funny clues.

    The unmarked Tracy/Hepburn connection was clever, and I really liked the ‘Tracy speaking…’ link.

    I got stuck first time through after completing all except 17,15 , 2 and 7 (where I couldn’t decide between PRESS ON and CRACK ON) but coming back to the puzzle later I spotted STEPDAME (which had to be confirmed in a dictionary), suddenly saw ASPIRATE (lovely clue) and finally realised why 7ac was PRESS ON(e)!

    Difficult to choose a favourite clue, but 21ac just wins out for its clever charade and amusing surface.

  14. Eileen says:

    Hi mhl

    I didn’t think of it as a mnemonic: it just occurred to me as a facetious throwaway while doing the blog, so, yes, I suppose it is ‘mine':-)

    Re KATHARINE: when choosing a name for my daughter, my received wisdom was that the spelling was either KATHARINE or CATHERINE [or the eschewed [US?] KATHRYN]. Nowadays, any permutation seems possible!

    Re IRRUPT: apologies for two days of Latin lessons in a row but it’s interesting that this derivation [‘to break in’] of ‘rumpere’ is so little known, compared with ‘erupt = to break out’ and ‘interrupt = to break in between’. I suppose that it’s because it sounds exactly like ‘erupt’.

    Re ‘sunsuit': you’re just, alas, too young.:-)

    Geoff, I had he same thought processes as you, toying with CRACK ON, until seeing ASPIRATE.

  15. Eileen says:

    Sorry, re ‘irrupt: I should have said ‘little used’, not ‘little known’.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    No you should have said both.

  17. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Derek :-)

    [But – another erratum: I meant’derivative’, of course, not ‘derivation’.]

  18. liz says:

    Eileen — Katharine is my daughter’s name too! Apologies for going off topic.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Liz – mine’s Catherine! :-)

  20. Bryan says:

    I really struggled with this but I only gave up just before checking here.

    9a THAI jumped out at me as soon as I picked up the page from my printer which is always a bad omen with an Araucaria puzzle.

    I feared the worst and I was right: I usually manage to finish them.

    That said, I really enjoyed it.

    Many thanks Araucaria.

    (Does he read this, I wonder?)


  21. dagnabit says:

    Loved this. Araucaria is probably my favorite setter because his puzzles seem perfectly pitched to my abilities – enough decipherable clues to make me feel I know what’s going on, and *just* enough seemingly indecipherable clues to make me feel industrious and well rewarded for doing the work of figuring them out.

    Is “Tracy speaking” an English pop culture reference? I found several instances of it in Google, but none of them bothered to explain its provenance… My ultimate goal is to absorb enough of these references to one day pass as a native. :)

  22. Gaufrid says:

    “Is “Tracy speaking” an English pop culture reference?”

    I don’t think so. It is just a reference to ‘????? speaking, how may I help you’ when you eventually get past the automated answering system and speak to a real person.

  23. dagnabit says:

    Thank you again, Gaufrid. I’ve noticed that in the US they are making it more and more difficult to speak to real person at all anymore – but I will leave it at that so as not to let my frustration send me too far off topic!

  24. mhl says:

    Eileen: perhaps “mnemonic” is the wrong word, but I quite like any association that makes particular words jump out at me (e.g. as “flower”, “lines”, “banker”, “order”, “it”, “detailed”, “take”, etc. etc. already do…)

  25. Nicholas says:

    Only just done this today, managed to finish it BUT found top left corner really tricky- did anyone else get tied up by the following: 1) a possible word for “with hook” is “uncinate” which happened to fit without 7a; 2) I kept trying to take “stop” out of “first option” beacuase of “no end”! Unlike A to leave so many red herrings. Finally the pennies dropped however.

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