Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,872 (Araucaria)

Posted by diagacht on December 2nd, 2009

diagacht.

I enjoyed this but then I always enjoy Araucaria.

Across
1 DROPLET: DR (debtor, one obligated) + OP (work) + LET (for hire)
9 ATHENAEUM: A + THE (articles) + anagram of A MENU
10 SADDO: (ODD (funny) + AS (when)) all reversed
12,5 THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: anagram of HES SOME NO MUCH FOOT
14 MOSAIC: double definition
15 MARINER: MARNER (Silas Marner, George Eliot novel) with I (one) inside
16 RECLUSE: RE (about) + S (society) in CLUE
18 TO DATE: TOD ATE (being TOD Fox from Disney’s The Fox and the Hound
20 COSA NOSTRA: SO AS (reversed and split) in CONTRA (against); refers to the Mafia
21 WIND: double definition. To wind is to go round. There is also a verse in Hosea (8.7): For they sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind. Clue links to 24.
24 WHIRL: double definition
25 ATONEMENT: A + TONE + MEN (a sound people) + T (time)
26 RETRACE: RET (return) + RACE (steps)
27 TIPSTER: PST (keep it quiet, dark) in TIER (row)
Down
1 DWARF: hidden in worlD WAR Figures
2 OTHELLO: TO (reversed) + HELLO (greeting)
3,11 LANDFILL: L (pound) + AND + FILL(e) (French girl dropping English (e))
4,5 THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST: THE CHIC (the smart) + KEN (know) + SHAVE COST(cut cost) with (HO (call) in between ME and ME (two setters) + TORO (call to bull) + O (ring)) all set in COST
6 MASQUERADE: anagram of AS QUEER MAD
7 OLD BEAN: cryptic definition
8 SCOFFER: S (schilling) + COFFER (box)
13 SATURNALIA: AS (reversed) + TURN (revolution) + ALIA (other things)
16 RACE WAR: RA (painter) + CE (church) + RAW (green, reversed)
17 CASUIST: (U (universal, for everyone) + IS) in CAST (players)
19 TRIDENT: RID (free) in TENT (temporary home)
22 DETER: some of pomme DE TERre
23 REAP: REP (agent) keeping A (head or first letter of agent)

59 Responses to “Guardian 24,872 (Araucaria)”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Diagacht, this was truly magnificent.

    Even though I finished it over an hour ago, I am still relishing the pleasure.

    It was comparable to the occasion some 30 years ago when I attended a Charity Ball and Princess Margaret couldn’t take her eyes off me.

  2. sidey says:

    Par for the course for A and certainly much better than the last two.

    Tod is certainly not down to Disney. It is a venerable northern and Scottish name going back to at least the twelfth century. Disney indeed! Harumph. ;)

  3. Andrew says:

    That’s more like it! A few niggles – 22dn is outrageous! – but well compensated for by the enjoyment. My main “complaint” is that the long phrase in 4/5dn was too easy to guess, but it was fun to work out the wordplay (which sometimes isn’t the case wityh this kind of clue).

  4. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Diagacht.

    Well, we’ve earned this, over the last few days. As always, I’ll forgive outrageous things for some humour at last!

    Hi Bryan. Nice to see you back. Have you had a dramatic conversion?

    The Saturnalia is, indeed, ‘coming up’ – 17th-19th December.

  5. cholecyst says:

    Thanks,Diagacht. I finished this in a personal record (short) time for an Araucaria, aided by a lucky guess at 4, 5dn. Witty and enjoyable as always. I hope we do not hear today from those who insist that crosswords in a British paper should only require knowledge of English in order to solve them. (3,11dn, 22dn and maybe 13dn and 20ac.)

  6. Mick H says:

    WIND was the last to fall into place for me, but the link to 24 was very nicely done. And I only realise now reading the blog that REAP the WHIRLWIND and CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST amount to an overall theme. Am I stretching too far to think the HOUSE OF COMMONS is linked too? Yes, probably. Great stuff anyway.

  7. Geoff Anderson says:

    Yes, an unusually easy but typically witty Araucaria. Like a breath of fresh air.

    I don’t get ‘race’ for ‘steps’ in 26ac. Isn’t the clue a double definition, since ‘to retrace one’s steps’ is a standard expression, and ‘retrace’ means to draw again.

  8. djm says:

    Geoff, I think RET + RACE is wrong. It’s more simply RETRACE, so it’s a double definition.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks, diagacht. This was good fun. 22dn made me gasp at the liberties taken, but it was so funny! It was easy enough to spot 4,5 but, as Andrew says, the wordplay made up for it.

    Geoff — That was my reading of 26ac too.

    Finally, some linked clues that actually link!

  10. Barbara says:

    12/5. The House of Commons
    I was able to work this out from the anagram, but what’s the definition? Does it have something to do with helium? (he)
    Second part of clue is: will he stand for it?

  11. Ian says:

    Thanks diagacht. An uncharacteristically easy Araucaria thanks, in part,to the long solutions.

    22dn struck me as having an uncontroversial wordplay and presents no problems. Quite typical I would say of his trademark playfulness.

    As everyone says, hugely enjoyable!

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Barbara

    Some people may not like this as a definition but it is implied in ‘Will he stand for it?’ [ie Parliament]. [I did wonder if we were supposed to read something into ‘Foot trouble’!

  13. Gareth Rees says:

    24A is not a straightforward double definition, but needs the link with 21A to work. “When the chickens come home to roost” doesn’t clue WHIRL, it clues WHIRLWIND. (Unless there’s a sense of WHIRL that I’m missing, but I did check.)

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    21a WIND was also my last to go in, and it was only then I could make full sense of it. Reminds me of a joke I once heard which one didn’t get until the last syllable of the last word – unfortunately I can’t remember it now!

    Agree with everone that it was very enjoyable today, and fairly easy – finished on the way in.

  15. Jobs says:

    diagacht, thank you, I was struggling with this one and this blog has eased the pain.
    I hate(/love) Araucaria’s hidden clues, I always miss them and kick myself that much harder. I even said ‘pomme de terre’ out loud several times… grrrr.

  16. Trench Adviser says:

    I really enjoyed this, and completed it without knowing the “reap the whirlwind” reference. What is the link between whirling and when the chickens come home to roost?

    I felt sorry for the recluse though who was labelled a saddo.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Good fun, but couldn’t quite finish it. Got stuck with SATURNALIA (not sure why, because I know the word and it’s clued perfectly reasonably). Tod for fox is a new one on me, and I coom from oop north.

  18. Uncle Yap says:

    I must join the chorus of approval for a lovely puzzle that was challenging as well as entertaining, compared to the last couple of days. The good Reverend certainly deserves my calling him The Master. 14A was such a laugh. Diagacht, well blogged.

  19. don says:

    Surely some psychological effect here: when the “leader” states an opinion, this sets the trend and few will demur? In this case adoration, unlike yesterday when few had a good word to say about Rover.

    However, all the anagram clues are so transparently obvious, seeming to yell out “I am an annie, rearrange me!” – ‘arranged’, ‘trouble’, ‘as queer and mad characters’, for example.

    The REP [along with his TENT] must be very tired.

    There were at least half a dozen incredibly obscure references and other questionable clues (e.g. athenaeum, tod, Saturnalia, Othello (jealous husband?), mariner (Silas who?), not to mention passages from unheard of books of the bible and foreign words – I had no Latin, French, Italian, Spanish dictionary to check.). The answers shouldn’t leave you scratching your head until someone points out that, as you suspected but had no way of finding out, alia means ‘other things’ … just didn’t know that ‘tod’ was a fox. Excuse me for not being up on twelfth century long-forgotten-and-in-fact-probably-never-remembered-in-the-first-place meaning of a northern/Scottish dialect. I don’t think “it’s in Chambers” is justification enough.

    Incidentally, I don’t care what any dictionary says, but “coffers” to most means “financial resources; funds”, not boxes – and why ‘the box’?.

    The main reason why I think this is not a good crossword is this:
    - in 11ac the clue and the solution have both ‘fill’ in it
    - in 1d (hidden) the clue and the solution have both ‘war’ in it (yes, I know, it is hidden, so it will be like that – but the prominent sound of ‘wart’ is in both).

    I don’t dislike Auracaria’s stuff, but it often has too many ‘hard for the sake of it’ definitions (that artificially increase the difficulty of the clues) and sub-standard (e.g. 4,5 down are mumbo jumbo), or at the very least questionable, word-plays (25 across).

    My own personal least favourite here is 1a. “debtor” = “dr”, eh?

    Having said that, I am not going to burn down the setter, just like many of us did with Rover. Tom Hutton was right when he says: “My sympathy goes to the setter who probably thought this was a pretty neat crossword.

  20. cholecyst says:

    Now Don, I know you’re being provocative – but surely you’ve heard of “The Tale of Mr Tod” by Beatrix Potter? BTW tod is Middle English.

  21. Geoff Anderson says:

    Leaders in all walks of life get given some leeway. It’s one of the perks earned through carrying the burden of leadership – in Araucaria’s case for decades, I think it must be by now. When I scan one of his ‘mumbo jumbo’ surface readings now, I smile as I recall the enormous pleasure his jumbo crosswords have given me for countless Christams and Easter holidays. The odd dubious clue I overlook as I would overlook my elderly grandfather spilling some soup on his jumper. I regard Araucaria as a very, very, very old compiling friend who sometimes can be irritating but who still can leave the young whipper-snapping setters standing in awe at his quirky brilliance.

    Silas Marner is one of George Eliot’s most admired novels.

    In its ‘funds’ sense, ‘coffer’ is only used in the plural, ‘coffers’. In the singular, as in this crossword, ‘coffer’ can only mean the box or chest where one keeps one’s coffers.

    Many of your other comments are reasonable but see above …

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi Don

    Gosh, you have been busy – Congratulations on a clever post! [New readers need to refer to yesterday's blog of the Rover puzzle]

    These two consecutive puzzles / blogs are an excellent illustration of how contributors to this site seem to be, effectively, divided into two camps – the afficianados of Rover, Gordius and Chifonie and us devotees of Araucaria, Paul, Pasquale, Enigmatist, Brendan, Shed … [and possibly all the rest.] Somehow, Rufus manages to gain supporters [and detractors] from both sides!]

    II’ll echo what liz said last night about the lack of ‘fun, wit and humour’ [which I’ve several times said myself – and that I’ll forgive an awful lot if it makes me laugh – but, there again, we all have our own sense of humour. Vive la difference! :-)

  23. John says:

    I know we’ll both be unpopular, but like Don, I don’t share in the general adulation, although I thought it was ok.
    A gets away with inaccuracies because he’s who he is and can do no wrong in the eyes of many.
    Some more:
    “Hire” isn’t the same as “let”.
    When does “pst” mean “keep it dark”? It’s a way of attracting attention,and is usually spelt “psst”.
    I have never heard a drink referred to as a “droplet”. Have you?
    “U” = universal = for everyone?
    Quite good fun though.

  24. liz says:

    Clever parody, Don, though perhaps you should acknowledge the sources with which you compiled your post! (And apologise?)

  25. Uncle Yap says:

    “the “leader” states an opinion, this sets the trend and few will demur?”

    You should have more respect for the community here to be able to form their own judgement and to like/hate without the blogger setting the tone.

    I remember some days back when I did not like some obscure reference to a tiny village in Cornwall and another place called Crayford. I used the word “parochial” and we then saw many Churchillians coming to the defence of the obscurity and before we knew it, Par and Crayford became the next best thing after sliced bread. The word “parochial” seemed to trigger a “we will fight on the beach, and we will never surrender” knee-jerk reaction.

    No, I respect this community for its ability to form its own judgement. Come on, surely a person who is capable of finishing a Guardian crossword has an IQ of more than two digits and should be able to think independently and not in herd-like fashion.

    This morning, I marvelled at the Master’s ability to devise new forms of wordplay e.g. linking mosaic tiles to the leader of the Israelites wandering in the desert. Even his hidden answer clue in 1D contained an apparent contradiction. It was truly enjoyable and I did not take my cue from Diagacht who only came on hours after I have completed and enjoyed the puzzle.

  26. John says:

    To save time, I take back my criticism of U, having realised it’s about film classifications.

    Uncle Yap, I think Don’s statement was aimed more at the uncritical way many accept weaknesses in Araucaria puzzles because he is who he is, rather than being a slur on anyone. Look no further than diagacht’s header – “I enjoyed this but then I always enjoy Araucaria” – with no further comment.

  27. don says:

    My point, Uncle Yap, is that poor old Rover and others get slated – and yesterday’s tirade was a disgrace – for ‘crimes’ much more acceptable in a crossword than some that are overlook, and even praised, when perpetrated by ‘those who must be admired’.

    I’m not anti-Auracaria, far from it, I enjoy his puzzles and admire much of his inventiveness. I just dislike the rubbishing of the likes of Rufus, Rover et alia :-).

  28. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Sack Auracaria. Give me more Rover and Rufus.
    Much as I appreciate this site, I can’t help feeling that it appeals to only a narrow band of Guardian crossword solvers. The more casual solver probably isn’t sufficiently interested to come here, so their voice goes unheard.
    Everyone I know in my office who attempts the Guardian crossword does not bother trying if it’s Auracaria. I only do because of this site. On Saturdays I won’t waste my time.
    I’d love to know how many entries the Guardian gets for its prize crossword compared to, say, the Saturday Telegraph. I don’t suppose there’s any way of finding out but I’d imagine that the Telegraph gets far more than even the difference in circulation can account for. That, I’d suggest, is because there are an awful lot of cryptic crossword solvers that can’t be doing with the horrible obscurity of Auracaria. I wish the Guardian would put a warning on its front page when he’s the compiler so I wouldn’t have to buy the paper. Not that I want to buy the Telegraph (dear heavens their columnists are awful) but I admit doing so now most Saturdays, just for a cryptic crossword that won’t give me a stroke.

  29. Mr Beaver says:

    Well, I liked it, and would have said so whatever the blogger had blogged.
    As Eileen says, the difference is the humour – many of Araucaria’s clues are technically inaccurate, but they (mostly …) have the key virtue of giving you the ‘aha!’ moment when the penny finally drops.
    OLD BEAN was my personal favourite, as well as MOSAIC.
    The two other puzzles this week, while being gratifyingly easy, just weren’t fun, and this was.

  30. Tom_I says:

    Grumpy Andrew, Araucaria is one of those setters you need to persevere with – it’s worth it in the end. I used to find him discouragingly difficult, but don’t now that I’m more ‘tuned in’.

    And are you deliberately misspelling the name? Look it up in a dictionary – it does mean something! :)

  31. bleudegex says:

    I’ll unlurk to say I liked this even if other comments suggest #19 is trolling. I managed ~75% before resorting to the cheat button and thought that an achievement for an Arucaria. I didn’t figure out the word play in 4/5down, though, so I appreciate for the explanation here, also for whirlwind which I realise now I didn’t fully understand.

  32. Dave Ellison says:

    Uncle Yap, #25, I think don is parodying my statement from yesterday, so he is not the originator. “You should have more respect for the community here to be able to form their own judgement”. Yes, you are quite right, and I apologise for my opening salvo yesterday, especially to liz whose rebuke has given me a few pangs. I regretted it as soon as I had pressed the Submit Comment button.

    Perhaps I had a fit of bile, because to this average solver, having struggled with a crossword for an hour or so to be told by the whizz kids it wasn’t worthwhile, is a bit of a kick in the teeth; we aren’t all experts.

  33. liz says:

    Sorry, Dave, I didn’t mean to give you pangs :-). And I would never want to suggest, either, that I am any kind of expert or that I don’t struggle too. I do and often. What I wanted to point out, and perhaps didn’t phrase properly, is that sometimes we struggle because the clues aren’t quite fair or properly constructed. That would never have occurred to me when I first started doing cryptics, when I was just basically permanently befuddled.

    But as Eileen says, I will forgive almost any liberties if I’m entertained and get a laugh.

    Like Geoff, my affection for Araucaria goes back to Christmas and Easter prize puzzles, which have given my sister, brother-in-law and I many happy hours. Anyone remember the Shipping Forecast one?

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hello Boys & Girls,

    Are we going to do this every day, from now on?

    We (my PinC & I) think this was just a good crossword, not very hard for an Araucaria, but like Geoff Anderson (#7) said “a breath of fresh air”. There was nothing too obscure, perhaps because this crossword was hardly about British Culture from The Times That We Weren’t Born Yet (let alone living in England – in my case).

    And Don, I don’t like all these references to my yesterday’s posts.
    Especially in #19, you use my words to say something similar but quite different.
    In 3,11 ‘fill’ is not part of the clue in the same way I talked about it yesterday.
    And putting my words to your ‘wart’ example is not on.
    Maybe, you are trying to be funny, but then please, use your own words.

    Yesterday there was a post saying that a clue should feel right.
    I agree with that – and it is that what, in my opinion, was missing in Rover’s x-word.
    At the same time, I think that Araucaria sometimes gets away with things that wouldn’t be accepted from other setters. But that’s because, I think, his crosswords have plenty of other merits to compensate this.

    But indeed, I refuse to burn down the setter, whoever it is.
    They are ‘professional’ compilers but it is normally not their real job (except for a few, like Paul). They do it just to please other people (and themselves, probably).
    Having said that, I have the right to express why something, in my opinion, is good or bad. It’s then just my way of looking at it, and if others disagree, fine by me.
    I am open to see things from a different angle, and I am willing to learn (and I did learn a lot!) from others (at this site).
    But I can’t accept setters to be trashed as Bad Men, just because of not liking their crosswords.

    This a very long post again, and I’ll promise everyone I will not going to start this discussion all over again.
    Or, well, maybe, tomorrow night … ? :)

  35. Davy says:

    Getting late now but thanks diagacht. I really enjoyed this puzzle and look forward to any by Araucaria, Paul
    or Shed (where art thou ?). I put ‘CHOP’ for 23d and it’s a valid answer to the clue but unfortunately wrong.
    I realised my error when I saw ATONEMENT as a correct answer.

    I think there is a lot of unnecessary nit-picking in this blog and no doubt soneone will say that nit-picking is not hyphenated. As far as I’m concerned, a clue is a clue and it’s up to the solver to establish the correct interpretation and meaning. If you can’t answer the clue, don’t blame the compiler, blame yourself. After all, this is not a science, it’s only a bit of fun and relaxation. It helps us all to forget momentarily about life’s more serious problems. So everyone, please lighten up.

  36. Martin Searle says:

    I found don’s post very clever indeed, but nicely (using the word correctly for once, I hope) illustrating that we have different tastes, and should not be vitriolic about tastes other than our own. I am myself firmly in the Araucaria, Paul etc. camp, and can find some others rather tedious, but each to their own, and there is always tomorrow. (Apart from on Saturday, of course).

  37. don says:

    Hi, Sil van den Hoek.

    Sorry, it should of course been ‘war’, not ‘wart’.

    You criticized Rover for ‘post’ in ‘riposte’ because it sounds the same and I thought ‘war’ in ‘dwarf’ was a fair example of how “Araucaria sometimes gets away with things that wouldn’t be accepted from other setters”.

    I enjoyed both Rover and Araucaria’s contributions.

  38. Velella says:

    I’m a long time A solver, but I find I’m more engaged by Paul these days, and I think today’s puzzle illustrates why. For me, A’s genius lies in making clues which when you first read them, make you think – surely that can’t be a clue? And we don’t seem to see as many of those now.

  39. stiofain says:

    A very entertaining xword followed by a very entertaining blog

  40. Geoff Anderson says:

    To be clear: When Don referred to the ‘leader’, I thought he meant Araucaria as the unspoken ‘leader’ of the setters, not Uncle Yap.

    Perhaps I need a blog about this blog, where people’s comments are explained to me :-)

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    To be honest, I don’t want to write this post.
    But I do.
    Dear Don, I really don’t agree with you.
    The ‘war’ in DWARF is absolutely not like the ‘post’ in RIPOSTE (ri-poste, if you get what I mean, the way you pronounce it). And yesterday’s STATIONS has it last five letters in common with ‘positions’, and HAYMAKERS has, for an anagram clue, too much in common with SHAKER.
    Of course, technically speaking there’s nothing against it, but a setter should want a bit more, in my opinion.
    Araucaria, Paul, Shed, Pasquale et al just wouldn’t have let this happen.

    Finally, I still don’t appreciate the fact that you (more or less literally) used my post (which was critical towards Rover, but mild as well) to make a statement that’s quite different from my ‘feel’, as far I can see it.
    I see it as ‘ridiculising’ my post, while my post was about the content of the crossword (rather than about the setter) and about compiling crosswords.

    I am not sure whether I have to put :) or :( now.

  42. Alex says:

    This blog seems to have got rather fractious over the last couple of days. It has rather drifted from the substance of the puzzles.

    I don’t always approach Araucaria with enthusiasm (but usually with some trepidation). I enjoyed today’s puzzle. There were some great clues, some rather pedestrian clues and some that really pushed the boundaries (22d in particular). Few puzzles are 100% great, whoever the setter.

    If it is possible to logically derive the answer from the clue then that seems to me to make a decent puzzle. The problem with some of the clues in the previous puzzles this week is that you were reduced to guessing quite a number of the answers and even if you guessed right there was frequently no way you could tie it to the clue with any great confidence.

    A number of people have mentioned that some setters are more enjoyable because there is more humour. I would agree, but that seems more of a bonus than an essential ingredient. I should imagine it is hard enough to clue the puzzle at all. To make sure it is always humorous as well seems a big ask, especially as a sense of humour cannot be assumed to be entirely shared – as illustrated by previous entries in this blog.

  43. don says:

    Dear Sil,

    I apologize unreservedly!

  44. diagacht says:

    When I blogged this morning, I thought to myself that this had been a good crossword (not in relation to what had gone before, not even in the knowledge of what had gone before, but just in and of itself).
    When writing the blog I did what I usually do – I tried to show how I came to answer a clue. Of course, my way of answering is not always going to find agreement. There will be others who find a more accurate or more clever way of solving a clue. The purpose of my blogging, however, is to parse; it is to assist learners. I guess that was first attracted me to this site.
    Today’s reaction has led me to wonder if there is anyone who reads this blog as a means of learning. Are all, or most, readers people who have a long a distinguished career in solving. If so, why do we need to blog in this way, why not just have a discussion board? Why not solve together using Google Wave?
    And so at the end of a long day, I sit here wondering why it is that I as a blogger (or any other) should bother to get up early to solve and then fill out the ‘paperwork’. What is the purpose? And could the purpose of today’s conversation not be met through other more efficient means?

  45. rrc says:

    I look forward to Aracaria because although he normally beats me I do get a feeling of satisfaction when working out the answer and the word play I managaed about 75% today coming down to London, but had to check the word that came after chickens and athough thought of recluse immediately did not realise the word play. I am not an expert solver but i ALWAYS think Aracaria is possible and fair.

  46. C G Rishikesh says:

    diagacht wrote: And so at the end of a long day, I sit here wondering why it is that I as a blogger (or any other) should bother to get up early to solve and then fill out the ‘paperwork’. What is the purpose? And could the purpose of today’s conversation not be met through other more efficient means?

    I quite agree.

    Blogs on FT and Everyman don’t seem to attract visitors who want to check how certain answers were derived.

    The blog on Guardian, which attracts most comments, are by visitors who have done the puzzle and don’t need any help but merely want to comment.

    So what is needed is not a blog where a person has to do so much typing after solving it early and determinedly but a place where all the solvers can jump in and talk.

  47. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #43:
    Don, accepted.
    End of story (has been going on for far too long)

    Re #46:
    Diagacht, thank you for the excellent blog.
    I did read your blog. I always read the blog first. Always curious if we missed something which needs further explanation.
    Certainly when we don’t finish a crossword, the blog is invaluable.

  48. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    It is not that we don’t read the blogs. We do.

    The point is most commenters under a Guardian crossword are those who have done most – if not all – of the crossword and don’t really need the kind of elaborate annotations a blogger puts out.

    A place for Comments and a place for an occasional query might be in order without the need for a bare-all blog laboriously written (and in time) by someone which acts as a mere platform for airing our views.

  49. sidey says:

    I strongly suspect that far more people use the blog than leave comments.

  50. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Achcha. I didn’t look at it that way!

  51. Bryan says:

    Achcha C. G.?

    That’s yet another new word for me!

    What with my Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic plus a few bits of English, I must now have around 10,000 words in my vocabulary.

    Inshallah

  52. Ian says:

    Re #19

    Don, you’re not a scientist are you?

  53. Tony Pay says:

    I — and I expect other people — read the blogs, not only in order to find out the answers to clues I haven’t been able to solve, but also to see explanations of why a particular solution IS a solution.

    If I’ve completely solved the crossword myself, I’m less interested in the comments — particularly if they amount to slagging off the compiler. I can do that myself.

  54. brr says:

    I read the blog almost every day to try and develop my solving skills, but hardly ever post. I find the explanations and general discussions invaluable.

    So, to all of the bloggers, keep up the good work.

  55. walruss says:

    What a lot of pathetic nonsense in this overlong blog. You could have something one-third its length and still keep all the relevant bits!

  56. Frugilegus says:

    For those wondering how people use the site, I’m one of those who read regularly but rarely comment. Primarily because I normally take the back page of my partner’s paper in the evening for the next morning’s commute, so am always a day behind and unlikely to be making any useful contribution to debate (or at least, a contribution that is read … rather like now.)

    The blog’s just fine as it is. By explaining all the clues, it is surely useful for the widest possible audience and I enjoy seeing others’ reactions to the puzzle, or the clues that stumped them, in the comments. C. G. Rishikesh: most blogs are read by far more than those who comment, so while many comments here may be from those who’ve completed the grid, I’m sure there are many more readers who appreciate the explanation.

    I admit to being slightly puzzled by those who complain this one is too obscure. Personally, I thought it was fine. Whirl and wind were my last, and I couldn’t explain them satisfactorily until I came here. But for me that’s part of the joy. Surely the object isn’t to *always* be able to fill in the grid in record time but instead, sometimes to need to dredge the recesses of one’s mind for dimly remembered references or scraps of other languages – hours of torture rewarded by a sharper enjoyment of realisation – or, alternatively, figure out from the clueing what you think the answer *should* be before going to look it up and learning something new. I’d be disappointed with a setter who never taught me something.

    Diagacht – I’m a day late now, but on the times when I’m not, and am being driven mad by being unable to explain an answer, early morning bloggers’ efforts are much appreciated!

  57. PeterS says:

    I’m sure there are many late lurkers like me who work from the Guardian Weekly, and so are a week or so late (more when we get behind, like now).

    I found fifteensquared by googling an Auraucaria clue, and always come here, whether finished or stuck, to clarify answers we are unsure of and to see whether others agree with our opinions.

    It make take my wife and me up to a week to complete some puzzles (for Araucaria it is usually quicker than that), so we stand in awe of diagacht and friends who complete theirs on the morning commute and then put up a blog by lunch-time.

    Be assured many of us are very grateful, and I hope this tradition continues!

  58. PeterS says:

    “make” >> “may”. Bah.

  59. DavidM says:

    Hi diagacht
    I’m posting this so late because I know it will come through to you, though everybody else has moved on…

    You wrote: >>Today’s reaction has led me to wonder if there is anyone who reads this blog as a means of learning.<<

    Absolutely there is! Since I discovered this site thanks to a comment by Hugh Stevenson, my understanding has improved immensely – and it's still improving. I doubt I'm the only one who rarely, if ever, manages to play with a crossword on the day that it's published [I get the Guardian Weekly], so it's not usually worth commenting on the blog – nonetheless, other people's comments as well as the blog itself are always interesting and usually useful. It's also entertaining to see how personalities interact, as in the comments above. This is a very useful site and I'm very grateful to all who contribute. One day I may be able to join in on the actual day! Many thanks for your blog[s]. David

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