Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,773 (Sat 8 Aug)/Araucaria – Killer whale

Posted by rightback on August 15th, 2009


Solving time: 18:42, almost half of which on three clues.

I enjoyed this but got stuck on 16dn (ALFRESCO), 21dn (WHALE) and finally 8dn (FULMINATED). Other than the ‘bard’s friend’ in 21dn there weren’t too many literary obscurities in this puzzle. I think I liked the long answer at 5dn and 14ac (TRISTRAM) the most; not sure I’ve fully understood 9ac.

Music of the Day (14ac): Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 THE GAP; T[he], + HEAP around G[ood] – as in the classic London Underground phrase “Mind the gap”. A somewhat bizarre answer phrase, and using ‘Top of the’ for ‘T’ is a bit weak when the first word of the answer is also ‘the’.
5 IDENTIFY (2 defs) – really two versions of the same definition, the second in the sense of identifying with, or having sympathy with, someone’s problem or situation.
9 AGRICOLA – not sure about this one. It could be RICO inside AG (= ‘silver’) + LA (= ‘note’), but the Italian for ‘rich’ seems to be ricco, not rico, though I’m no expert (and anyway expecting solvers to have a grasp of Italian is a bit harsh!). I’m fairly sure ‘rico’ has no Latin meaning either, so would welcome an explanation for this clue. The wordplay aside, Agricola is certainly famous enough to appear as an answer but to clue him as ‘farmer’ (the literal translation) is a little strange; perhaps it’s really two definitions (‘Roman’ and ‘farmer’).
10 PI(M.P.)LE – very topical.
13,18 CARO + USER – the ‘sculptor’ Anthony Caro.
14 TR IS TRAM – this took me a while to see but it raised a smile when I did. Tristram is the same as Tristan, one of the Knights of the Round Table.
17 GIVE ALMS; G.I. + VEAL + M.S. – MS is an abbreviation for ‘manuscript’, hence ‘hand’.
20 OUTWARD BOUND – semi-cryptic definition to the Outward Bound organisation.
24 GOVE + RN + OR – the leading Conservative is shadow schools’ minister Michael Gove. I wasn’t familiar, but this provides an introduction.
25 WEREWOLF; W,E + rev. of FLOWER – I actually thought of ‘bloom’ = ‘flower’ here but dismissed its chances of producing a sensible reversal – whoops.
3 GOING HOME (2 defs) – because if something someone says ‘goes home’ it makes an impression.
4 PROZAC; OZ in PRAC[tice] – a ‘hmm’ for the PRAC part but a nice cricketing surface; antidepressants may well be needed this week. Bopara and Bell out, Tresco and Ramps in might give us half a chance.
5 IF, AND IT IS A BIG IF; I FAN, + IT in DISABI[lity] + GIF[t] – this key answer took me ages but I finally got there via ‘disability’.
6 EMPHATIC; (I MET CHAP)* – good clue.
7 TIMES (2 defs) – ‘triple or quadruple, say’ because music can be in ‘triple time’ (e.g. a waltz) or ‘quadruple time’ (e.g. most pop music).
8 FULMINATED; (ULM IN) in FATED – my doubtful last entry, as I didn’t really know either what this meant or what the definition was getting at, or whether Ulm was a German city (they don’t have much of a football team, after all). I’m not sure what ‘association with’ is doing in the clue; perhaps ‘in association with’ gives IN (though that’s a bit odd) and the definition is just ’15′ (‘thundered’)?
12 MANIPULATE; M (= 1000, = ‘number’) + ANTE around (I PULA) – the pula is the currency of Botswana.
15 TH UNDER ED, i.e. ‘ed’ over ‘th’ – I tried to split this ‘dingbat’-style clue in a few ways (‘dover’? ‘overt’?) before seeing the answer.
16 ALFRESCO; ALFRE[d] + SCO[tland] – I foolishly assumed that ‘not at home’ meant ‘remove IN from something’ here and got stuck. Nonetheless, ‘part of Scotland’ = SCO is outrageous.
19 QUIVER (2 defs) – not ‘quaver’, which I nearly blundered into.
21 WHALE; WH + ALE – the third one I struggled with, eventually getting there via ‘Prophet’s friend’ which refers to Jonah and the whale. The phrase ‘bard’s friend’ meant nothing to me, but Google helped me discover that Shakespeare’s sonnets were dedicated to a mysterious ‘Mr W. H.’.

31 Responses to “Guardian 24,773 (Sat 8 Aug)/Araucaria – Killer whale”

  1. Bryan says:

    I really enjoyed this because, despite the difficulties, I managed it reasonably quickly.

    I struggled with 14a and 15d but who wouldn’t?

    Many thanks Araucaria (for the pleasure you have provided) and Rightback (a) for the explanations which now give substance to my solutions and (b) for being so early with your posting.

  2. Chunter says:

    9ac: ‘rico’ is the Spanish for ‘rich’.

  3. Chunter says:

    There are a couple of errors in the Guardian’s annotated solutions (,,2299900,00.html).

    9ac: ‘rich in Italian’ should read ‘rich in Spanish’.

    13ac: Sir Anthony Caro was born in 1924, not 1824.

  4. sidey says:

    Thanks rightback. Although I found this reasonably easy to correctly complete I’m glad I wasn’t in your position having to explain some of these clues.

    I think “with a lot of money in Rome” could be “rich in Rome” which could be “Rich[ard] in Rome” which could be “Ric[ard]o”. Pick the bones out of that!

  5. rightback says:

    9ac – I think the error is with the clue here, not the solution per se: RICO has to be given by ‘rich in Rome’, so the Italian must have been (erroneously) intended. I like Sidey’s explanation though!

  6. sidey says:

    Re my #4, I now realise that Rico is short for Enrico, oh well.

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi Rightback. Thanks for the blog.

    My parsing of 9ac was exactly the same as yours – and then I discovered that ‘rico’ was Spanish, not Italian, for ‘rich’. However, it’s the ‘farmer’ that really mystifies me. As you say, it’s the literal translation of ‘agricola’ but it would be quite unreasonable to expect solvers to know that, whereas, in a prize puzzle, they could be expected to know, or find out, about the famous general, Agricola. ‘General’ would have made perfect sense in the clue.

    While we’re on Latin, I’m also unhappy about 17ac. ‘Manuscript’ does not mean ‘by hand’ [and, in any case, the clue read 'at hand'] but ‘written by hand’: ‘manu’ ['by hand'] + ‘script[um]‘ ['written'].

    I spent a while thinking of parts of Scotland with ‘in’ in them, too! I didn’t like this clue, because ‘alfresco’ doesn’t mean ‘not at home’. If you dined alfresco in your garden, you’d still be ‘at home’. It seems to be leaning heavily on the crossword convention that ‘home = in’! [I did also try to think of an animal with 'in' in it for 26ac!]

    [In spite of all these gripes, I still enjoyed it, of course!]

  8. Chunter says:

    5ac:In the print version of the puzzle the clue was ‘Roman farmer with a lot of money in Madrid in silver and note’.

    Did any of you have something different? I can’t understand the references to Italian!

    8dn: Ulm is famous as the birthplace of Einstein.

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Chunter

    The paper version had ‘with a lot of money in Rome’!

  10. Chunter says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I suspected as much. That is why my first 2 comments were so brief – I couldn’t see what the fuss was about.

  11. NeilW says:

    My online version had “prophet’s host” not “friend”, which made the clue much easier. Seems there were several versions of the crossword at the same time!

  12. The trafites says:

    Thanks for 21dn – I knew it had to be WHALE (ref. JONAH), but didn’t have a clue where the WH came from.


  13. Bryan says:

    I had assumed that 14a referred to Tristram Shandy:,_Gentleman

    Whatever … it worked for me.

  14. enitharmon says:

    Since ‘agricola’ is related to ‘agriculture’ I’d have thought it not unreasonable to know that it was the Latin for farmer, but then I suppose I’m of an age when a knowledge of basic Latin was a reasonable assumption. I’m fuddy-duddy enough to think that its decline is to be regretted. Similarly with literary references – it surprises me to know that the dedication of the Sonnets to ‘Mr W H’ is considered obscure, and I was brought up on tales of King Arthur and his knights – cf ‘Sir Bedivere’ in a recent puzzle.

  15. The trafites says:

    I see no comments on 15dn ‘edoverth’.

    This took me ages to get, and I only got it after getting all the checking letters in the grid – I was also in the same boat Rightback, trying to get ‘port’ (Dover) in something, and also tried everything to see if ‘edoverth’ was some obscure one word definition of something.

    Now, is this clue fair? Where is the definition? It would be impossible to solve correctly ‘cold’ as any charade of the letters could give [a] certain answer[s].


  16. Bryan says:

    Nick (The Trafites)

    Re 15d, THUNDERED – the definition was provided after solving 8d FULMINATED which means:

    1. To issue (a denunciation, for example) thunderously.

  17. RB says:

    25A: How does partners become WE?

  18. Eileen says:

    The Latin verb ‘fulminare’ means both ‘to hurl lightning’ and ‘to thunder’.


    As a former teacher of Latin, I share your sadness at its decline. I agree that, given the word ‘agricola’, an intelligent cryptic crossword solver would see the connection with ‘agriculture’ and guess its meaning – but it’s a different thing altogether to expect him / her to arrive at ‘agricola’ from ?G?I?O?A. It’s one of the ‘rules’ that a less well-known word is clued by straightforward wordplay but,in this case, knowledge of yet another language was required – and, even then it was wrong, at least in the paper version!

  19. Bryan says:


    25A: How does partners become WE?

    Partners in Bridge.

  20. RB says:

    Bridge! Of course! Thanks Bryan.

  21. NeilW says:

    Bryan, I sympathise with Nick: it’s not easy to deduce “thundered” from the clue to 8d, whose definition is 15d: seems a bit circular to me. I got “thundered” first by a fair bit of pondering; then, 8d was easy enough although I had to check on the existence of Ulm. I liked 15d as a clue exactly because, for me, it could stand on its own. rightback seems to think it fairly straightforward, but I’m often amazed by his abilities!

  22. liz says:

    Thanks, Rightback. Really hard wordplay in some of these and I’m very glad you did the explaining and not me! I had TRISTRAN for 14ac, although I did have a suspicion that it was not quite right. 16dn was the last one I got and 5dn caused me no end of trouble until I guessed it from the checking letters. Having once spent a stormy night at a campsite in Ulm — tent actually blew away — I’m always going to remember that city! I liked 15dn a lot.

  23. sidey says:

    A quick aside re Latin as general knowledge. When I was at school in the 60s Latin was taken by about 20% in my Grammar school. I think the school’s intake was around a tenth of the schools’ population as a whole. This gives about two in a hundred having any formal Latin education. Pretty un-general knowledge really. (smiley face)

    Sorry Gaufrid.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #8:
    In the print version (even now) it is still “rich in Rome”, but in the interactive version it is, indeed, “rich in Madrid”. But let’s be clear, it is a mistake – and Madrid doesn’t make the clue better (I presume Araucaria wanted Roman to be linked with Rome). He will be forgiven, as we forgave Paul recently.

    Re #18:
    I have no problems with AGRICOLA whatsoever.
    In fact, it was the first thing I thought of after I knew (almost for certain) that it started with AGRI.
    Very often I hear people complaining about influences from other languages (and finding it unfair), but as a person from Holland, I think this is quite typical for the English. Although I live and work (and enjoy it) here, the UK is an island within Europe.
    Compare Dutch newspapers with English ones, and you will see that Holland is more focused on “The World”, whereas England is just “England, plus the USA”.

    Re #15:
    I think, this is a silly clue.
    To be honest, we have/had no problem with it (solving it), but there is no such thing as a real definition, of course. Having said that, “Edoverth!” looks a bit like a swearword, and that is – what I think – Araucaria, with all his humour, could have meant. And therefore, being very Libertarian, I will accept it.

    Re the Blog:
    Thanks, Rightback, for it, and for (all) your musical choice(s).
    But I want to say this: Today we were in a Cambridge café to solve (a bit late) Thursday’s Araucaria. Then the waiter told us that, recently, he had a customer from New Zealand, who was doing a crossword whilst looking every one or two minutes on his watch.
    Is it important for us to know that you did it in 18:42 ?
    And, does this mean 18 hours and 42 minutes? I hope not.
    So, 18 minutes and 42 seconds?
    My God, did you measure it, 42 seconds?
    Sorry to say, but the quality of the clues of a crossword is far more important to me than the time to solve them. Only recently, one of the Guardian setters made a similar kind of remark (between the lines).
    But thank you for your brilliant musical choice – could also have been The Werewolves Of London by Warren Zevon).

  25. Chunter says:


    9ac: The print version (,,-24900,00.html) is correct. It’s the PDF version ( that is wrong.

  26. Bryan says:

    NeilW, clearly there are different ways of arriving at solutions.

    In my case, I solved all the clues fairly quickly except those for TRISTRAM and THUNDERED both of which I found challenging.

    TRISTRAM was actually my last.

    I found it very satisfying to solve these but I can understand the frustrations of those who didn’t.

  27. rightback says:

    Interesting that the print and online versions should differ! (And NeilW, I assure you I didn’t find 15dn straightforward!)

    8dn: Chunter, thanks for the Einstein info.

    Sil: Thanks for your comments, Sil – I look forward to listening to the Werewolves when I get the chance! For why solving times are included, please see comment 16 here (last paragraph, beginning “On solving times”). The bottom line: please feel free to ignore them!

  28. Paul B says:

    14ac’s probably a Sterne ref, esp. as Shandy is considered by many to be the earliest example of the novel form in English literature. OTOH the ‘Arthurian’ TRISTAN character might have derived from Pictish, Celtic French or Cornish sources. He’s definitely TRISTRAM in Swinburne, but that doesn’t mean to say it’s the first or only such example known.

    ‘Edoverth!’ = e.g. (more or less) ‘Ankoolger?’ or any among the (pretty much) visual jokes beloved of Paul, Enigmatist and other Sons of Araucaria – and as noted it IS defined at 8.

    HW = (the Earl of Southampton) Henry Wriothesley, and one theory proposes that, via a code present in the dedication (written most probably by Thomas Thorpe, Shak.’s publisher), the reader must reverse the initials to get the goodies. No? Well, there are a number of candidates for WH, including Mr W. (S)h. – or ‘Will Himself’ – and you can guess who that is.

    What a great puzzle, Rev on form, brilliant.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #25:
    Chunter, you are right. When I said “print version” I meant “pdf version”, because I always print off that one (much clearer).

    Re #27:
    OK, Rightback, I see your point now in mentioning solving times.
    But, nonetheless, 18:42 suggests a precision that’s not really relevant (or even measurable, except when you have a check clock standing next to you). Why not just 19min? That would be perfectly alright (for me).
    And an even better musical choice would have been: Mark Knopfler’s Going Home (Theme from Local Hero), referring to both 3dn and 14ac (its clue).

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Sorry, I meant chess clock, of course, ….

  31. Geoff Anderson says:

    A typically engrossing and enjoyable Araucaria puzzle. As a 1960s Grammar School boy, I too found the Roman farmer a snip, while for someone who regularly stuck up dingbats round the room as ice-breakers at youth group meetings, edoverth was standard fare. I accepted a while ago that dingbats were okay in crosswords as rare flights of word-puzzle fantasy, and at least Araucaria gave a definition to help those without the youth group experience.

    Re times taken, I would be disappointed if I ever solved a Guardian crossword in under (sic) an hour, except Rufus. I especially rely on the Saturday crossword to occupy my whole morning with much stretching of brain muscles and stimulation of grey cells over a leisurely breakfast. To do it in 20 minutes would be like swigging a glass of vintage wine. But I suspect such fast solvers also tackle the crosswords from other publications, and so fill their mornings that way – or maybe they even have other things to do with their time, such as working!

    Re Crossword clocks, the Los Angeles Times crossword has a digital timer ticking away the seconds, with a Pause facility for when you need a break. They are general knowledge but with some punning clues and occasionally, especially in their bumper Sunday versions, the longer answers will rely on your solving a thematic wordplay.

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