Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,827 (Sat 10 Oct)/Araucaria – Arial survey

Posted by rightback on October 17th, 2009


Solving time: 19 mins

I found this the hardest prize puzzle for some time (the recent Jumbo excepted) & really struggled to get started. The inclusion of three foreign language classical arias was one reason – I was familiar with just one of them – but I thought the clues in general were tough, especially in the top half.

Music of the day: Something I’ve always wanted to pick, Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot. As the theme tune to Italia ’90, this would definitely be one of my desert island discs; here’s the highlights of “that game“. If you prefer Mozart, there are links to the other arias below.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 SELF-LOVE; S,ELVE (from ELVES) around FLO (= ‘little girl’) – after ‘peri’ I was rewarded for trying ‘elf'; not sure where I’d have gone next.
5 GUNDOG; UNDO in “GG” – I considered ‘put off’ here for a while, but couldn’t see why ‘Retriever of horse reportedly’ should give ‘puff’ as the wordplay would have required.
9 MAL + VOL 10 – ‘mal’, the French for ‘sickness’, is in Chambers. I see the pictionary style logic that ‘ten’ = IO but am not a fan. I was lucky with this, guessing the name (the steward from Twelfth Night) from the O?I? ending, and that with ‘look’ rather than ‘loom’ at 3dn.
10 SILVIO; VI in SILO – ‘number’ for VI is a bit vague! This is presumably a reference to the hilarious Silvio Berlusconi.
12 TROLL (2 defs) – I didn’t know the first definition here: ‘to troll’ can mean to fish with a certain type of bait, and ‘troll’ as a noun can mean the fishing apparatus itself, of which a spinner (another angling term) must be one example. Perhaps an angling enthusiast can clarify?
13 HOOK NOSED – Captain Hook from 19dn’s Peter Pan.
18 HOM(O)E + O + PATH + I + C (= “see”)
21 WYANDOTTE; (TWO AND YET)* – a type of fowl. Luckily I remembered coming across this before – I think I got it wrong last time.
23,6 TRADE UNION; (NATURED)* + I + ON – the hyphenation of ‘Ill-natured’ is a bit naughty but this is Araucaria after all and I should have seen through it.
24 LOUVRE (2 defs) – excellent clue.
25 SE + AWARDS – ‘flowers’ as in ‘things that flow’, i.e. ‘rivers’. This same idea was used in another of Araucaria’s puzzles a couple of days ago – that one was possibly even harder than this.
26 GEEGAW; rev. of (WAGE + E.G.)
27 A DESSEIN; ESSE in A DIN – my French didn’t stretch to this expression (literally ‘by design’), but I got there from the wordplay.
1 SAM(IT)E – an explicit definition which led me astray into some wacky wordplay ideas.
2 LOLLOP; LO + rev. of POLL – ‘loosely bound’ is a lovely definition that totally fooled me.
3 LOOM LARGE (from LARGE LOOM) – liked the wording here.
4 VOI CHE SAPETE; (HE’S PET) in VOICE – superb clue to an awkward phrase. Luckily my Italian was assisted by knowing ‘voi che’, thanks to lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate (‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’, from Dante’s Inferno). This aria is from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and was apparently used in The Sopranos.
7 DOVE SONO; DOVES + ON + O – another aria from the same opera. Again, although I hadn’t heard of it I did know ‘dove’ (‘where’ in Italian) which was a big help.
8 GOOD DEED; GO ODD + rev. of DEE
11 ROUND THE BEND (1 straight def, 1 whimsical def)
15 TWIN TOWNS; (W,W IN NOTTS)* – a rather indirect anagram. Ephesus and Syracuse were the homes of the twins in A Comedy of Errors – this was the second Shakespeare reference I knew in this puzzle, which must be a record.
16 SHOW A LEG; W[ith] in SHOAL + E.G. (= ‘for example’)
17 IMMATURE; AT in IMMURE (= ‘Take prisoner’) – ‘immure’ is cognate with French mur, ‘wall’.
19 BARRIE[r]
20,22 NESSUN DORMA; NESS (= ‘head’) + U (= ‘turn’), + D in NORMA – see intro.

29 Responses to “Guardian 24,827 (Sat 10 Oct)/Araucaria – Arial survey”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, this was a real toughie.

    I thought that I’d completed it correctly but you’ve just given me a rude awakening.

    For 1a, I had CALF-LOVE; 1d COMITY; and 7d DOVE SONG.

    I actually prefer my solutions to yours but I now bow to your better judgement. I always fall asleep at operas.

    I’d never heard of 27a A DESSEIN but this was guessable. But is it in Chambers (the English version), I wonder?

  2. Chunter says:

    27ac: yes, A DESSEIN is in Chambers. ESSE is given as a philosophical term for ‘actual existence’ or ‘being’.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Righback. The fishing sense of TROLL in 12ac is the origin of the sense of causing trouble on Internet message boards etc by making provocative remarks – trailing your bait behind the boat and seeing who picks it up.

  4. gerardus says:

    Self-love is the better answer because of the Shakespeare connection.

    Oh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste
    with a distempered appetite.
    From Twelfth Night Act 1 Sc.5.

  5. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Imagine you are on the way to your Saturday job and you want to spend your 60 minutes train ride on an Araucaria brainchild. That would have been disastrous this time, I guess.
    Unless you had Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro coming out of your i-Pod, and a copy of the Encyclopedia of British Wildfowl in your bag.

    It took us two long sessions to not complete this crossword, having no idea what to enter at 27ac. Can’t remember spending so much time on one crossword.

    But then, how or why should we know VOI CHE SAPETE (although nicely clued) or DOVE SONO?
    And WYANDOTTE, and GEEGAW, and SAMITE (although, again, nicely clued), and 27AC?

    In 9ac: ‘sickness’ = ‘mal’? Maybe in France, but in the UK it is just a prefix: mal-
    In 10ac: ‘top Italian’ SILVIO? I think, nobody calls Mr Berlusconi that way in the media (but nice to see my name being a part of a clue …. ).
    In both 26ac (beginning) and 16dn (end) we have EG – and they cross !!
    In 3dn: ‘large’ the clothing size for ‘giants’ ? Well, I am not a giant, but I sometimes even wear XL.
    4dn, although – as I said before – nicely clued, “the way he sings” = “voice” ?
    And in 8dn: ‘when river rises’ – when? Better for the surface, but does it really belong there?

    We became really frustrated by lack of progress when trying to solve it.
    Time heals all wounds, so today we are somewhat milder than we were last weekend.

    However, most important to us, the usual amount of Araucarian humour was missing.
    This crossword didn’t let the sunshine in.

    But then, you can’t have it all in life.
    And one must have great admiration for Mr Graham’s fenomenal output.
    (two Araucarias within one week, and two Cinephiles even within only four days)

  6. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Of course, I mean phenominal output.

  7. Ian W. says:

    Actually, Voi che sapete fell into place first, suggesting the theme. Everything else followed pretty quickly. The few obscure terms were deducible from the word play, and I only needed to resort to the internet at the end to confirm that everything was correct. All in all, a typically enjoyable puzzle from Araucaria if not quite challenging enough for a Saturday — though much better than Paul’s weak effort today, half of which I solved in about 5 minutes on my BlackBerry before I even had access to the grid.

  8. The trafites says:

    I agree with Sil van den Hoek at #5 – although I got there in the end, I found this a tortuous puzzle, and if it wasn’t for the Internet, it would have been filed away in the bin after a few hours.


  9. Ian says:

    Extremely tough but somehow one that I managed to finish in just under 1½ hours.

  10. Colin says:

    Had to use Wikipedia to confirm the arias from their constructions, otherwise got everything except SILVIO and A DESSEIN.

    Not one of the nicer ones…

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, Rightback. I also thought this was tough and perhaps a little less rewarding for an Araucaria than usual. Didn’t get SILVIO and I thought of TROLL but didn’t enter it.

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, Liz, welcome to the club.
    And, dear IanW (#7), I think it is extraordinary that you’ve gone that quickly though this puzzle. So from your point of view it is probably right to say “not quite challenging enough for a Saturday”.
    Referring to today’s Paul, however, is in my opinion not quite right.
    And certainly telling the world that it was a “weak effort” is not very nice.
    We thought there was not much wrong with it.
    But then, some people have different standards, haven’t they.

  13. Ozzu says:

    English is not my first language – I’m Italian, and my solving times are usually around 3-4 days.
    So this time, for the first time, I thought I had a clear advantage!
    However, the crossword was so difficult to neutralise it completely.

    No way I could finish this without a dictionary, a thesaurus, google, wikipedia and a bunch of English friends. Most of them had never heard, let alone used many of the words clued here. Wyandotte? Geegaw? Louvre (for opening)? A dessein? How many languages do you need to speak to solve a crossword nowadays?

    Regarding 10ac, I would have preferred it clued as “shameful” or “mortifying Italian”.


  14. Dave Ellison says:

    I was in a hospital bed when I did this, so had no access to any cheats at all. I completed all but four: 21a, 27a, 4d and 7d (I also put DOVE SONG for this).

    GEEGAW I got, dragging it up from the far recesses.

  15. sidey says:

    Rather enjoyed this. Wouldn’t have been able to solve it without the interwebs though, despite my ridiculously large collection of reference books. I knew Wyandotte because H.G.Wells had a bit of a thing about them, named after an Native American tribe. The chickens that is.

  16. Chunter says:

    9ac: ‘mal’ is in Chambers, not just as a prefix.
    26a: on the other ‘geegaw’ isn’t. The spelling given is ‘gewgaw’.
    4d: for ‘voice’ one of the meanings is ‘the quality and range of musical sounds produced by a singer’.
    21ac: I’d never heard of ‘Wyandotte’ and had to do a wildcard search.
    27a took me ages.

  17. cholecyst says:

    Chunter: GEEGAW is in my Chambers (Ninth Edition)

  18. Chunter says:

    cholecyst: thanks. I’ve recently started using the iPod Touch edition, which I think is the same as the 11th printed edition.

  19. IanN14 says:

    If you’re still there.
    Geegaw isn’t in the Chambers app, as you say, but it IS in the WordWeb app I recommended a couple of weeks ago. It’s surprising how often I’ve found that happening, and it also includes a huge amount of proper nouns (with, unfortunately, quite an American bias).
    You can also cross-reference quite easily from Chambers…

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #16,17,18:
    I don’t possess a “real” Chambers, just use Internet sources.
    I wonder if “mal” is in there as an independent word for “sickness”, or in combination with ‘petit’ or ‘grand’ (which would be perfectly alright). Never heard anybody say: ‘I have a mal today’. But if it is in Chambers, then it’s ok.
    But the fact that we are discussing “mal”, “geegaw”, “a dessein” and “Wyandotte” is to me a confirmation that these aren’t very common words, making this crossword rather tough for the average solver.

    Re #16:
    Chunter, of course, I accept ‘the way he sings’ for “voice”.
    And the clue was constructed beautifully.
    But when you say, one of the meanings is “the quality and range of musical sounds etc” , I still wonder if that is the same as “the way he sings”.
    But let’s not discuss that anymore, since I feel sufficiently alright with it.

  21. Paul B says:

    I should imagine Sil actually means ‘phenomenal’, but a tough word to spell for sure. I dunno what Dutch is like, but English can be a real mare sometimes.

    Great blog from rightback as usual (demonstrative as it is of extraordinary prescience in covering points raised later in the thread), with an interesting juxtaposition between the characterization of this Prize puzzle as ‘the hardest for some time’ with an extremely quick solving time. I wonder if that reveals something about the perceived difficulty of any Araucaria offering? I’ve always thought, despite the numerous attacks on his clueing style here and elsewhere, that he must be getting something right to have become so popular.

    Anyway, I didn’t take all that long either over this, which seemed to me to be about right for The Hallowed One on a Saturday – when, I suspect, most people are surfing at home rather than travelling on a bus. Frankly, anything less would have been a disappointment to me: as it was I spent an enjoyable hou (45 mins?) on it, with but toast, coffee and Channel 80 as minor distractions.

  22. Chunter says:


    Interesting. I’d forgotten to download WordWeb. Thanks for the reminder.


    Yes, ‘mal’ has its own entry.

    I can’t disagree with your ‘rather tough’ assessment.

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Paul B (#21): see #6.

  24. Paul B says:

    And … ?

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Oh my God, I feel embarassed now.
    (please, don’t send me another one of your comments ….. :) )

  26. Bryan says:


    Now feel even more embarrassed (again note the spelling).

    Bent pijnlijk u?

    Tot ziens!

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Bryan, of course I know that it should be “embarrased” …. :)

  28. Paul B says:

    Don’t worry Sil – my maths is awful, and I think you have one over me there!

  29. Richard C. says:

    Hi all, been lurking for a while, really enjoy reading here. I found this quite hard by Araucaria standards: often I can (now, after a year’s practice) finish his Saturday ones, but I had “Hoomeopathic” so couldn’t get Immature. Didn’t finish that top-left-hand corner… though I got Malvolio. But the main reason for posting is to say that I got Voi Che Sapete from hearing it on Radio 3 while driving in the car, having just put down the paper in frustration :) I like coincidences like that. Previously I’d had Cha Pha Sapete, with my reasoning being “Chap Has A Pet”. Looks like I need to brush up my Italian!

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