Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,879 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on December 10th, 2009


I think we could call this a typical Araucaria puzzle, so I will say no more here. :-)


1   SPOKEN: POKE in SN [opposites]
5   GATSBY: GATS [guns] + BY [at hand]: ‘The Great Gatsby’, 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8   CARLTON: L in CARTON: the oldest Conservative club + ref to Ritz-Carlton hotels
9   GRESHAM: G[ood] + RE [about] +SHAM [fake]: refs. to Gresham’s Law, ‘Bad money drives out good’ and Gresham’s school in Holt, Norfolk
11  MAIN LINE TERMINI: IN LINE [dressed – like soldiers] in MATER [mother]  + MINI [little]
12 REEF: double definition: as well as a ridge of rock, the reef is ‘the part gathered in when sail area is reduced, as in a high wind’ [Collins]
13 PICKPOCKET: PICKET [strikers] around POCK [pit]
23  DIGITAL: GIT [fool] in DIAL [face]
24  RUTHENE: THE in RUNE [mystic symbol] – the Ruthenes are a branch of the Ukrainians – a new word for me
26,6,17,10 ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTOR CYCLE MAINTENANCE: it seems a while since we had one of these long composite clues which are one of the good Rev’s trademarks. I know some people loathe them, saying [with some justification] that there is no way of getting them from the wordplay alone and it’s a case of getting a few crossing letters and then making a guess from the enumeration. It certainly helped here to get the Z early on. Fathoming the
wordplay often takes as long as the rest of the puzzle! Here goes: ZENANA [harem] without A + DT [first and last letters of ‘doubt’] + HEART [centre] + ORC [killer] in anagram of COME FLY TO + MAINTENAN[t] [now endlessly in French] + CE [English church].  [1974 book by Robert M. Pirsig]


2   PERTINENT: PERT [forward] + IN + anagram of TEN
KETTLE: KETT [Robert, in 1549 led a rebellion against enclosures] + LE
4   NONENTITY: anagram of NINETY TON
5   GIGOT: G.I. + GOT
7   BAHAI: reversal of I + AHAB [husband of Jezebel]
8   COMPROMISED: double definition
14  KILOHERTZ: K[ing] + anagram of HITLER + O [love] [‘attacked’ as indicator?] + Z [at? last]
15 KENTIGERN: KEN [know] + TIGER [big cat] + N[ame]: the patron saint of Glasgow – the name means  ‘head lord’ but, apparently, his monks changed this to Mungo, ‘the beloved’, because of their affection for him.
16  GREEN TEA: anagram of GENERATE
21,22  ANGEL FALLS: double / cryptic definition

33 Responses to “Guardian 24,879 / Araucaria”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Oh, Eileen,
    I don’t blame you…
    Zenana? Kentigern? Ruthene?…

  2. IanN14 says:

    …and, yes, there it is, my old favourite, “at last” = Z?

  3. Radler says:

    Ian – Araucaria often uses “last” to define “z” (and “first” for “a”)but I think “at” is just a link word (like with, on etc.), i.e. the preceding letters are at “z”.

  4. IanN14 says:

    I know he does, Radler (and I take your point about “at”) but I just don’t think he should.

  5. Chunter says:

    21, 22dn: the print version had this as 22,21. No wonder I was confused.

  6. sidey says:

    Dear old Araucaria does love Norfolk-centric clues.

  7. DaveEllison says:

    Thanks Eileen for the explanations; I had put in Gresham, Ruthene and Kentigern (of the last two I had vaguely heard, had them somewhere at the back of my mind), but I was too lazy to look them up!

    I am not fond of the enormous ones such as at 26, but, like you, as soon as I had the Z, the rest followed instantly. I used to recommend this book to my Software Engineering students.

  8. Witchseason says:

    I got 26 6 17 10 just from ‘cult work of the 70s’ and the two long words at the end. Filled that in even before I’d finished marking the rest of the word separators so I had 18 shared letters – with a 9-letter word ending in Z – quite a head start. Piece of p**s from there on in.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks, Eileen. RUTHENE, KENTIGERN and GRESHAM were new to me. I was held up for a long time by putting MAIN LINE STATION at 11ac and eventually managed to get the long one when I had the initial Z. I would never have figured out the wordplay in a million years!

  10. walruss says:

    An excellent puzzle, because the eccentricities are expected in anything by Araucaria. ‘Last’ is not conventional for Z as far as I know!

  11. sandra says:

    celebrating today – now have xwd on computer again after a long break. live in france, so paper is too late for me to join in the blog. loved this one – as i do all araucaria’s puzzles. keentigern and ruthene i calculated from the wordplay and googled to make sure i was right. furious (with myself) as i had to hit cheat for kettle thought that might be the answer, but have never heard of kett. more googling methinks!

    thanks to all of you – the blog has been most entertaining and informative, even though i was unable to participate.

  12. DannyBoy says:

    Hi All
    My first visit to the site. What fun!
    I like Araucaria’s puzzles. Yes, it can go either way with a very long clue or theme, depending on whether you see it straight away or have to wrack your brains a bit (preferable to me), but variety is the spice of life when it comes to setters! No problem with ‘last’ for z either.
    Nice to know what others have to say and see these clever people who can complete the puzzle before they get out of bed!

  13. Eileen says:

    Sandra and DannyBoy

    Welcome to the site – hoping to hear more from you! :-)

  14. DannyBoy says:

    Thanks Eileen – no doubt you will!

  15. Phil says:

    I am old enough to have got zen and the art of …. straightaway – which is just as well since I’d never have known that zenana is/was a harem. I finished yesterday’s in the early hours of this morning and thought Brummie deserved a bit more credit for Barry (associated with hooter) Manilow? Just as well this site has bloggers like Eileen who put my standards of erudition to shame?

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi Phil

    I’d never heard of ZENANA, either – it’s just fortunate that there are only a handful of words beginning with ‘zen’ in Collins / Chambers!

    [And I did spend time yesteday trying to work ‘manilow’ into the clue…]

  17. Smutchin says:

    As one who normally sticks up for The Master, and to prove we’re not all blind sycophants, I’d just like to say I thought this was rubbish. The long clue was instantly gettable from the definition and word count – it was the first solution I filled in – and even if I could have fathomed the cryptic bits, the surface reading is utter nonsense, barely resembling English. And the rest of the puzzle is only mediocre by His standards.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Tricky, took both of us to finish. Zen etc was a guess that the check button confirmed! As the blog said, not everyone’s favourite type of clue. The rest was fine, if somewhat tricky at times.

    Re post 5, the on-line version confused the issue in the same way. The offending party has still not been fired, or nobody has had the sense to use a single input file to automatically feed all versions.

    Guess the Grauniad staff never read these things, otherwise something might have happened by now, given the high frequency. Maybe they look down their collective noses at mere blogs.

  19. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen for your sterling work. I steamed ahead with this one which is unusual for Araucaria and got the long clue early on. I think it would be nearly impossible to get this from the work play and I didn’t even try to fit the answer to the clue. I was two clues short of finishing the puzzle due to 5a being wrong. I put SATHAN which is a variant of satan and this is imbedded (with) guns at hand. No doubt some people think he’s a great guy but I didn’t even consider this being a wrong answer. Having looked at the correct answer, I now realise the error of my ways. Must try harder.

  20. DannyBoy says:

    Being new to the site I’m sure I’ve missed a fair amount of chat about this sort of thing, but what do people think makes a good puzzle then?
    On this page alone people are complaining that this puzzle was too easy, had too many words that they didn’t know, had a very easy long clue and had a long clue that they had to check with the solution. I suppose it just goes to show…
    But I take Smutchin’s point that the long clue wasn’t Araucaria’s most elegant! I have to admit I didn’t even bother to work it out from the cryptic definition. On the other hand I hadn’t got the z when I put it in – are the setters meant to know in which order we’ll complete the clues?
    I like something a little virtuosic and don’t mind a few rough edges (not misleading errors) if I learn a couple of words and it raises a smile.
    Not so many smiles today I admit.

  21. Eileen says:

    Oh DannyBoy!!

    “What do people think makes a good puzzle then?” You certainly have missed “a fair amount of chat about this sort of thing”! If you look back through the archives, you’ll see that there are as many ideas about that as there are contributors to the site. And you’ll see that Araucaria puzzles divide solvers perhaps more than any other.

    I’m one of the most ardent Araucaria fans and am well used to fielding criticisms but this morning I resolved to try not to rise to the bait quite so quickly – and, amazingly, the criticisms have been fewer. I must admit that I didn’t think that this was one of the good Rev’s best offerings – but neither was it one his most audacious, which is perhaps why there were fewer objections. I think you’ve summed it up when you say, ‘Not so many smiles today’, which is most unusual. I usually have at least one laugh out loud moment.

    Stick with us – you’ll soon get to know contributors’ own preferences!

    Davy – that’s a very inventive interpretation of 5ac: I didn’t know that variant of ‘Satan’.

  22. muck says:

    Hello Eileen, after my short absence from the blog. You got it right

  23. Eileen says:

    PS For the record: I alluded in the blog to Araucaria’s ‘trademark’ composite clues. I’m sure those devotees familiar with them won’t mind being reminded – and there just might be relatively new solvers who don’t know them. His two classic [and, I think, breathtaking] & lit anagrams are:

    1.”O hark the herald angels sing the boy’s descent which lifted up the world: 5,9,7,5,6,2,5,3,6,2,3,6″

    2.”Poetical scene has surprisingly chaste Lord Archer vegetating: 3,3,8,12″

    [Answers in Chat Room General Crossword discussion]

  24. DannyBoy says:

    Thanks Eileen for bearing with me!
    And for the response.
    I’ll read back. Watch, and doubtless learn how to contribute!

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Maybe not a special Araucaria, but after half an hour I said to my PinC:
    “My God, we made a mess of it so far”.
    Why? (You should have seen the paper version …)
    Because after a quick start – the easy EUSTON, the easy DIGITAL, the easy ANON and the inferior ALWAYS (that is, for an Araucaria) – we did it completely wrong in 11ac, where we put MAIN LINE STATION (in which we saw: MA-IN-LINEN, but then?) and in 14d, in which I had the brilliant idea of putting in ‘Lionheart’, because the word contains ‘Hitler’ and ‘O’ (love) and could be defined as ‘King’.
    (BTW, this sentence might beat 26ac etc. in length …)

    Talking about 26etc, I was cracking my mind to find a book that would perhaps spring to that mind, but – see above – didn’t get the Z of 14d. But when MOTORCYCLE became the only reasonable option for 17ac, the sky cleared up.

    For 20ac (STATE OF THE UNION) you didn’t even need the anagram – definition + (5,2,3,5) was enough.

    We think everything’s completely fair in this puzzle.
    And, to be honest, I felt quite relieved by finding hardly any cross references (I do not say I hate them, but I hate them).

    Finally, funny that nobody said anything about 21,22d.
    ‘What happened to Lucifer’ must surely be ‘Angel fell’.
    So, then ‘Reports of’?
    We thought it was referring to the way newspapers would report on it, in the present tense. Or?

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I’m regretting saying in the blog that this was a typical Araucaria. I agree it wasn’t special. What I was really saying, as indicated above, is that I hoped we wouldn’t get bogged down in “the usual discussion”.

    Agree with you about all the easy ones [and STATE OF THE UNION} – and I love your LIONHEART!

    Re 21,22: that’s exactly how I took it: that’s how it would be reported in a headline. I liked it!

  27. Radler says:

    Eileen, one of my favourite long answers was from Bunthorne, in a puzzle that co-incidentally used the same grid as today’s Araucaria.

    The clue was…

    Heroic lines newfangled:
    “The c-crew did a bunk, but he nobly held on to the hose”

    See Guardian cryptic 22119

  28. BrendanPG says:

    Eileen, you deserve a medal for your explanation of 26ac! It’s a great example of how useful this blog is. I solved the clue with the crossing letters, but never in a million years would I have understood how it worked, so thanks!

  29. Eileen says:


    Yes, another wonderful example! [Have you seen my comment re your puzzle?]

    And, BrendanPG, I must admit, my heart sinks somewhat when I see these clues but, even when I’m not blogging, I’m not satisfied until I’ve worked out the wordplay, however tortuous. That’s what this site is all about!

  30. liz says:

    Eileen, I agree re no. 28. Thanks very much for the blog and for steering us all away from nit-picking. :-)

  31. Sylvia says:

    I can’t resist an Araucaria, even when about to retire at 2.00 a.m. before finding it and it’s now 4.20 when I finally finished it :-)
    The long solution was almost my last, when I could see ‘motorcycle maintenance’ from the crossing letters,so didn’t have the z to help me. Araucaria and Paul – please don’t stop. I just love your style!

  32. DaveEllison says:

    Radler 27. Yup, looks like a good clue, but I instantly got the solution, so perhaps a bit of wasted effort, unfortunately, by the great B.

  33. sandra says:

    i am almost certainly too late now, but thank you eileen for your welcome. i always appreciate your insightful comments.

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