Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,844 / Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on October 30th, 2009


I guessed the planetary theme almost immediately, knowing that “planet” means “wanderer”, from the fact that the planets move in the sky relative to the so-called “fixed stars”. It’s not a complete set: Uranus and Neptune are missing, but the slightly dubious Earth and Pluto are there instead.
dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

1. JOVIAL J (“Jack first”) + I in OVAL. It’s not mentioned in the clue but there’s an etymological link with 1dn.
4. DEARTH D (“end to enD”) + EARTH. Although the Earth is a planet, it’s a bit misleading to call it a “wanderer”.
10. STASIS STASI’S – from the former East German secret police.
12. TRAVIATA ART* + VIA + TA. As with GRADUATE yesterday , this is missing its definite article: the opera is La Traviata
14. YORKER K in YORE + R
15. HOWDAH HOW + HAD< – it's a seat for riding an elephant
18. TWO TERMS A clever clue that is also pretty much unclassifiable – “president” and “limit” are both “terms”, and the US president is limited to two terms in office by the 22nd amendment to the constitution.
24. TOCCATA AND FUGUE “To Carter” (I’ll pass over the problems with this homophone) + (UNDUE FAG)*. The expression usually refers to the piece known as J S Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor for organ, though according to some scholarship it’s probably not by Bach, and not originally for organ, nor in D minor.
25. SATURN SAT + URN – a very easy charade, especially after guessing the theme.
26. FELONY FE + l + (ir)ONY. “some irony” for ONY is a bit of a stretch, but typically Araucarian
2. VENUS V + E + NUS (National Union of Seamen)
8. TSAMBA T + SAMBA. I hadn’t heard of this Tibetan dish, but it was easy to guess from the wordplay and crossing letters.
13. VIDELICET (LIVE EDICT)*. This is the full version of the word usually abbreviated as “viz”
17. HAMSTER This took me a while to work out – it’s an anagram of both THE MARS and MS EARTH
18. TIN CAN INCA in TN. A”tin can” is a container, as are both “tin” and “can”.
20. MERCURY dd – as found in the tube of a thermometer
23. PLUTO P + LUTO(n). Another slightly dubious “wanderer”, in that it wasn’t discovered till 1930, and isn’t classified as a planet anymore.

19 Responses to “Guardian 24,844 / Araucaria”

  1. Ian says:

    A more than usually straightforward puzzle from Araucaria.

    I managed to link the wanderer clues from getting 25ac and 1dn having started off with 9ac and 10ac.

    The clue for 22ac was a tad rum I thought.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Like you, I’d never heard of 8d TSAMBA but it was easily guessed.

    17d HAMSTER was the last one I got but it now seems blindingly obvious. Surely the test of a great clue?

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Andrew.

    As you say, some typicaly Araucarian quirks, e.g. in 26ac – where I half expected the ‘irony’ to mean ‘like iron’ [cf Paul’s ‘apply’ – but, with ‘iron’ in the clue, I think it’s quite OK.

    I laughed at 17dn, once I’d worked it out, and, leaving aside Pluto’s demotion, I thought 23dn was a lovely clue.

    You’d expect me to make more allowances for Araucaria than some others but I’ve often heard the opera referred to as ‘Traviata’ but never the film as ‘Graduate’.

  4. Eileen says:


  5. Shirley says:

    Andrew – 24AC Bach actually wrote several Toccatas and Fugues (?) so even if the well known one isn’t by him its generally thought the others are

  6. mike says:

    And there I was wandering (sic) why I couldn’t fit ODOUROUS in.

  7. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I got the theme quite quickly, which helped a lot. 9ac made me smile.

    As others have said, TSAMBA was unknown to me, but easy to get from the wordplay.

    VIDELICET, NOBLEMAN and HAMSTER caused me the most trouble. Kicking myself for not seeing the wordplay of HAMSTER!

  8. IanN14 says:

    Sorry Andrew, but where does the I come from in 1ac.?
    I can only assume that it’s J = Jack (fair enough) and the dreaded I for 1st.
    Incidentally, he’s used Z for last before now, so shouldn’t it be A for first?
    1st of October’s good in 19d, and I liked P1 for first page in 1d, but….

  9. Andrew says:

    Ian, you’re right, it’s just J=Jack and I = 1 = first. Slightly dodgy, I agree.

  10. Gareth Rees says:

    The Tibetan dish is more usually spelled TSAMPA, but it was easy to guess that there might be an alternative spelling.

    In 17d my best attempt at an interpretation was that MARS was an anagram indicator, but the result was pretty awkward even for Araucaria.

    I think PLUTO can still be considered a planet for crossword purposes, even if it’s no longer a planet for astronomers. We’re allowed non-technical and traditional meanings in crosswords.

    This is not the first time that Araucaria has used the planets as a theme—I think he’s done so at least twice before.

  11. crikey says:

    I don’t see any problem with ‘I’ for first, ie George I, Charles I etc… And I wouldn’t normally defend “the master” as some call him here…

    For example, does anyone else think that ‘discovered’ is a bit of a vague anagram indicator?

    I struggle to think of 18ac as being THAT clever – seems far too vague for me. Could anyone have solved that without the checking letters?

    Otherwise good fun. PLUS, the possibility of a Saturday puzzle by Paul – hurrah…

  12. IanN14 says:

    Yes, this George I business has been mentioned before, and it was pointed out you’d never say “George First”, always “George THE First”…
    Where does the definite article go in the wordplay?

  13. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ian, having had many arguments in my time here there are three laws…..

    1) If it’s a crossword tradition it’s valid
    2) If it’s in a dictionary it’s valid
    3) If it’s totally incorrect English nobody here cares enough about the language if either of the above apply.

  14. Laurel Kornfeld says:

    Actually, Pluto IS still considered a planet by many astronomers. Only four percent of the International Astronomical Union voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto.

  15. IanN14 says:

    Derek, thanks, but…

    1). It’s Araucaria (and maybe a couple of others’) tradition, perhaps.
    2). It’s NOT in the dictionary.
    So 3). doesn’t apply.

    (Hope you’re feeling better, by the way).

  16. Mr Beaver says:

    The Tibetan dish is TSAMBA in the ‘New’ Imperial Reference Dictionary – a valuable resource for Araucaria puzzles – many of his definitions of obscure words appear to be lifted verbatim from there

  17. Mike Laws says:

    “The Tibetan dish is more usually spelled TSAMPA.” Chambers gives TSAMBA with no alternative spelling.

    Whether Pluto is now classified as a planet or not is irrelevant – it is still in orbit around the sun and as such, still “wanders” across the background of “fixed” stars.

    In my opinion, Araucaria is of such status, prolificacy and longevity (89 next year) as to warrant solvers’ approaching his puzzles on his terms, which aren’t inconsistent – ie, anything (that is unequivocally interpretable) goes.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ta Ian. Sort of. Main things improve slightly, then ya get something else wrong. I’m falling to bits. But it could all be a lot worse, so press on.

  19. Gareth Rees says:

    Yes, I was slightly surprised to see that Chambers has only TSAMBA. On the web TSAMPA is the more common spelling (Google hits for tibetan+tsampa: about 24,300; for tibetan+tsamba: about 2,680; also it’s the only spelling at Wikipedia), and it’s the only spelling I’ve seen in restaurants.

    On the “is Pluto a planet?” question, the IAU have the right idea. There are lots of Pluto-like trans-Neptunian objects, and Pluto isn’t even the biggest one we’ve found so far (that’s Eris). It makes sense to consider the large TNOs as a group of similar objects, not as a mixture of planets and non-planets.

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