Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,924 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on February 3rd, 2010


An enjoyable puzzle from Araucaria today that was of the “just right” level of difficulty for me in a daily puzzle, and with not too many extreme liberties taken. The theme is words (highlighted below) that make a phrase when preceded by the word at 12 across, clued as “after 12″

8. MONROVIA MONRO[e] + VIA (by). Capital of Liberia, on the Atlantic coast of Africa.
9. PAPER Carbon paper was an awkward and messy way of typing onto multiple sheets of paper.
10,25. FOOTPRINT FOOT (Michael, Labour leader) + PRINT (put in paper)
12,15. CARBON DIOXIDE CAR + BONDI + OX [h]IDE. Rather a strange way to indicate the missing “h”, but at least it says “perhaps”. Dry ice is frozen CO2.
14. RAIN TREE R + AINTREE. The South American Rain Tree is so called because it gives off “a constant rain of juice ejected by cicadas”
20. WARRENER WAR (fighting) + RENE (French boy) + R
22. DATING “Walking out” is an old-fashioned expression for “dating” (in the romantic sense).
23. DRAWBRIDGE DRAW + BRIDGE (game). “Draw”=”tied” doesn’t seem right – “Tie” would have been better
24. COPY COP + Y – see also 9ac.
1. COTOPAXI COT + O + PAX + I – the volcano is in Ecuador.
2. FRET Double definition. Nice misdirection: the bar is as found on a guitar fingerboard, rather than in musical notation or a supplier of drink.
3. AVALON LO in A VAN, and “the place where King Arthur’s sword Caliburn (Excalibur) was forged and later where Arthur is taken to recover from his wounds after the Battle of Camlann”
5. OPPOSITE OPPO (friend) + SITE (place on line?). I’m not sure about this – if I’m right it’s a bit weak, as the slang use of “oppo” for friend is from “opposite number”. Thanks to Simon G for pointing out that a [web] site is a “place online”
6. OPERETTIST O (circle) + PRETTIEST with the second E misplaced.
7. TRIPLE L in TRIPE. The definition is “x 3″.
13. BOX BROWNIE BOX (fight) + BROWNIE (fairy). Old-style popular camera.
16. DENDRITE DEN + TIRED* – a dendrite, as the name implies, is tree-shaped, though not necessarily rain-tree-shaped.
19. TRADING DIN in TRAG[edy] – one of Araucaria’s characteristically loose uses of the idea of part of a word.
21. ABRUPT BAR* + UP + T
22. DREDGE DR + EDGE. Dredging could be described as tidying the bed of a river.
24. CUTE CUT + E

38 Responses to “Guardian 24,924 – Araucaria”

  1. Simon G says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    I enjoyed this a lot, particularly liked 22d and the image of dredging as tidying a river or sea bed…

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. This was good fun. The easy 24a unlocked 12: car was an obvious starter there, followed by that splendid beach we have. Many linked answers followed. The unknowns (20a and 16d) were gettable without reference. Too many good clues to mention, and 6d was pretty testing.

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks for the blog. A delight today, after yesterday’s (for me) disaster.

    5d I still can’t see the explanation: POSIT = PLACE is in there, leaving OPE??

    12, 15a was the first clue I solved, but it took me a while to spot the theme, as I thought it was just the letter C + something.

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    23a Yes, I wasn’t happy with this at first – I was trying to put DREW in there. However, perhaps A TIED GAME = a DRAW.

  5. Simon G says:

    Dave @3
    While you’re right about POSIT, I do think Andrew’s explanation is correct. I’m aware of OPPO as slang for friend and then SITE for a website (i.e. a place online)

  6. Andrew says:

    Ah, thanks Simon, I hadn’t twigged the website = “place online” connection.

  7. cholecyst says:

    Clever stuff, as usual. Except for clue to 12,15ac. Can “leat’er” be a word? Does anyone (even a Cockney or Yorkshireman) ever drop the H in leather?

  8. rrc says:

    Very enjoyable, although I suspect to have to be a certain age to remember 13ds

  9. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew.

    One of those where once one has cracked ‘the code’, everything should fall into place with relative ease.

    Except of course, it didn’t. I spent the best part of 10′ with Operettist. Doh.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. 12, 15 was the first clue I got, but I was also thinking along the lines of words beginning with ‘C’ for a while. I thought the theme was cleverly done.

    I agree that only Araucaria could get away with ‘leat’er’!

    ‘Warrener’ was new to me.

    8ac was the last one I got, after using the check button.

  11. Tom_I says:

    Hmmm. I found this a bit mixed. Some truly excellent clues, but I certainly wouldn’t rate 12,15 among them. In fact I’d nominate it for worst ever surface reading in a crossword clue. And “leat’er”? There would have been a riot if Gordius or Rover had come up with that.

    Then there’s 6d. Weren’t G&S’s works referred to as the Savoy Operas, rather than operettas? But leaving that aside, if an operettist is “a composer of operettas” (Chambers), then it should have been Sullivan’s name in the clue. Gilbert was the librettist, not the composer.

    I could go on, but perhaps I’d better just crawl back under my stone.

  12. Simon G says:

    As a relative newcomer to this site, please could someone explain “surface reading” as used in Tom_I’s first paragraph? I’ve come across “surface” a few times on the site but never in a context I recognise…


  13. Val says:

    It’s usual for me to hate Araucarias (putting me in a minority here I am well aware) and this just added to my dislike. Surely, in fairness, even the themed ones should have had definitions, which, apart from 9ac, they didn’t? Without having made the initial breakthrough of solving 12, 15 so much else was unavailable to me because of the dependencies and consequent lack of crossing letters for even the non-dependent clues. Back-solving 12 from all its dependent clues wasn’t even possible without a definition to work from.

    And, while I’m on the subject, using “14-like” in 16dn when he really meant “tree-like” was also, surely, tricksy without being clever? Using cross-referencing in clues is one thing but when not even done correctly it is a step too far.

    I’ll crawl off under a stone as well but am really looking forward to a different setter tomorrow.

  14. Andrew says:

    Simon, “surface reading” refers to what the clue appears to be saying if you read it as a piece of English prose rather than as a cryptic clue. Tom’s point is that the clue for 12/15 makes very little sense when read in this way. Many of the best clues have a misleading surface that distracts you from their cryptic structure.

  15. norm says:

    I got 12,15 and 24d quickly, but I didn’t twig the ‘after 12′ mechanism for a while. When I asked my colleagues for a four letter word for policeman beginning with C there was much giggling.

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    Fun and fairly straightforward, though 12/15ac was pushing it, even for Araucaria! I liked 22d, loved 3d. But I think I’m going to crawl under a stone, too — the fact that Andrew felt the need to explain the use of carbon paper REALLY makes me feel old!

  17. Simon G says:

    Andrew@14 – many thanks for the explanation. I can now better understand (and agree with!) Tom’s comment.

  18. Neil says:

    Or, I suppose, at 11ac, it could be (se)RAPH, whilst I agree that it’s an unwelcome and irritating device of this setter, and perhaps even worse at 19d.

    Tom_I @11, above: nice, dead-on-the-mark spot re G&S (6d). I’d like to think the mistake in the clue was what held me up with this one, but it’s more likely that my brain is turning into a cauliflower. Other than that one, this was a bit of a breeze for an Araucaria. Whilst I can’t disagree about the surface of 12/15, I loved the ‘leat’er’ device for ‘ox(H)ide’!

    Anyone agree that the old boy seems to have got rather less challenging lately (whilst still having his moments)?

  19. liz says:

    Neil — re Araucaria’s level of difficulty. I think he has got a bit easier — on the other hand, some of his Genius ones have been fiendish.

    We haven’t had an alphabetical one in ages, either. If I remember rightly, they used to appear about once a month. I do miss them!

  20. beermagnet says:

    A cockney writes:
    I jus’ walked up-n-daan Levver Lane an’ nevver faand a dropped Haitch h’anywhere.

  21. Bracoman says:

    Thanks for the blog. I really enjoyed this puzzle. In 17ac I thoght that the “witch” part of the answer was an anagram of “with c” – raving being the anagrind. Your explanation is more straightforward and am sure yours is the coreect one although I thought mine was a wee bit cunning.


  22. xanthoma says:

    About 3 down, Andrew: I’ve been playing the guitar – classical and jazz – for the past 52 years and I’ve never heard the fret called a bar. Never!

  23. Jerb says:

    It’s not called a bar. But it is one.

  24. sandra says:

    i really liked this. some fun clues and no complaints.

    however, i do agree with neil. i finished this in 15 minutes, and believe me, that ain’t normal!! i’m not that good.

    liz – i am longing for one of his that would keep me occupied for several hours! i wonder if the crossword editor reads this blog.

  25. Brian Harris says:

    Well, I learned something today. COTOPAXI is a stratovolcano in Ecuador. Who knew?

    I’m not the world’s biggest Araucaria fan, but actually, this was pretty damned good today. Lots of clever cluing, and a few minor niggles aside, enjoyable.

    I’m not convinced by arguments that Gilbert was a librettist rather than a composer. He was still someone who helped create operettas, and therefore an ‘operettist’.

    I assumed OPPO was some kind of Australianism…but according to Wiktionary it’s a British term. It rang a very dim bell.

  26. Rob says:

    Brian #25

    I knew!! As soon as I had ?????A?I for 1d I thought it must be Cotopaxi which was confirmed by the rest of the clue.
    My reason for knowing of Cotopaxi originally was that, a long time ago now, I had to learn a poem for school Eng. Lit. class called Romance by W. J. Turner an Australian poet/author.
    I loved the poem at the time and have done ever since. It starts:

    When I was but thirteen or so
    I went into a golden land,
    Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
    Took me by the hand.

    My father died, my brother too,
    They passed like fleeting dreams,
    I stood where Popocatapetl
    In the sunlight gleams.

    I enjoyed the crossword as usual for Araucaria, getting all but one – completely stumped by Operettist even though I had all crossing letters, thought of circle = o, energy = e & nicest to look at could be prettiest! Weird how that happens sometimes.

  27. Tom_I says:

    Brian @25, I don’t really want to labour the point, but Gilbert and Sullivan’s collaborative works were not billed as operettas in their day. Richard D’Oyly Carte founded the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company to perform them, and built the Savoy Theatre to present them, leading them to be known as the Savoy Operas. Whatever justifications there may be for calling them operettas, that doesn’t seem to be what their creators intended.

  28. Davy says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew and this was great fun today. I finished this one reasonably quickly and totally agree with Dave Ellison about yesterday’s Pasquale. I completed little more than half and was stumped by some
    fiendish clues.

    Back to Arry, there were lots of good clues today of which my favourites were 14a and 7d. I just hope that Mr Graham is in good health and can continue to entertain us for many years to come. Personally, I would knight him for services to crosswords.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ee by gum, I don’t drop Hs like that either!

    As one who has struggled with these, I was not surprised to have to hand it to the other half at just over halfway through. Not that I haven’t managed the full monty, having 4 Araucaria’s to my credit in the recent paat. So given the evidence that I can finish these on occasion, it would seem that these are not getting easier.

    Niggles as above, plus I needed a gadget to get the volcano, not having a gazateer of volcanos in my head. I mean, why would you? There are some wierd people on here. No doubt the feeling is mutual, grin.

    And yes, I used the gadget on some others to provide a list of words ‘cos my recall isn’t wonderful. It would be nice if expert purists made allowance for that problem before saying one shouldn’t.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #25 (Brian Harris, “COTOPAXI is a stratovolcano in Ecuador. Who knew?” and # 29 Derek Lazenby, “I needed a gadget to get the volcano, not having a gazateer of volcanos in my head. I mean, why would you?”.

    I sympathise with you both, as I wasn’t familiar with that Evil Mountain either (although my PinC had something in the back of her mind).
    But then, surfing, it turned out to be the world’s largest active volcano. Wow!
    Obscure? I don’t think so, we just don’t know enough of the Other World.
    But it could also be like this:
    I’m a setter, and “love” and “peace” are just a great combination for a clue’.
    Let’s see: O + PAX. Is there a word with OPAX in it? Yep, COTOPAXI.
    And not even thát obscure. Therefore, in a way, it is a fine clue.
    That is, from a setter’s point of view, which is not always the solver’s point of view.
    But I could be wrong.
    Araucaria knows quite a lot of trivia, ye know.

    Nice crossword (gentle Araucaria, but certainly Araucarian, and indeed not fiendish).
    And did You All Out There notice that there was just ONE real anagram (26ac)?
    Quite remarkable nowadays, isn’t it?
    BTW, some posts referred to the PAPER of 9ac (“Gosh, thát was long ago – what’s my age?”), but it was a bit of a poor clue, hardly cryptic, we thought.

    Still, a fine crossword, and so un-exciting that you would almost forget that there are SPLENDID clues as well (e.g 8ac, 3d, 7d and 18d).

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sil, I didn’t say it wasn’t a fine clue, I was more surprised at the ease others got it. But you’re right we really should pay more attention to that part of the world. Especially when it comes to the big things!

  32. sandra says:

    hi derek

    i don’t think anyone lays down rules for anyone else – if they do, they’re wrong. each to his own. my recall isn’t great either, and i don’t do as well as i used to.

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #31;
    Didn’t say that you didn’t say it wasn’t a fine clue.
    I was just trying to get inside a (The) setter’s mind.
    But then , talking about “the ease others got it”, well, that how we got it – by construction, not by knowledge.
    In a Rover or a Gordius this would have been an obscure clue (*&^%$#@),
    but – let’s face it – even if you don’t know the Mountain (like me), the answer is perfectly guessible.
    IMHO, not every answer needs to be “tubible”(= “can be found, while travelling on the London Underground”)
    [sorry Mr Chambers]

  34. Brian Harris says:

    @Rob – thanks for the poem. Such golden nuggets are why I love this site. I meant “who knew?” as a kind of rhetorical question. In my head I was grinning when asking this, but it’s hard to convey tone online. I’ve now learned all about a volcano (and a poem) today, so I’d say that’s pretty good. The construction of the clue was so solid – COT + O + PAX + I that my colleague and I were convinced of the correctness of Cotopaxi without either of us having heard of it before. We’ve made similar guesses in the past and occasionally been embarrassed, so we do quite enjoy these situations.

    @Sil – it didn’t occur to me that “love and peace” as O + PAX was quite so clever at the time, but now you’ve pointed it out, yes, that’s rather good.

    I don’t mind a crossword where say 90% is “tubible” and the odd one or two require a reference book or the internet. It’s how I expand my vocabulary and general knowledge.

    Night all.

  35. squidlet says:

    Hi – first time poster though long(ish) time browser, but thought I’d join in on the occasion of my first ever (solo) completed Araucaria. I have rejoined the Grauniad crossword fraternity / sorority late having vaguely worried at the puzzles for years – possibly spurred on by the fact that my now teenage daughters are getting better than me at them.

    Like Bracoman (#21) my biggest groan / delight moment was on 17ac where I also read it as BE plus anagram of WITH C, with ‘raving’ doing the business – appalling and delightful at the same time but probably me trying to be too clever by half.

  36. Neil says:

    I have the magically rhythmic ‘Cotopaxi’ (and ‘Popocatapetl’ too) still etched somewhere within my brain by an enthusiastic teacher from many years ago. Such a disaster that independent, imaginative enthusiam was excised from schools by the stupidly ill-judged National Curriculum. I speak as a once professional educationalist, persuaded then that if I couldn’t beat them, I most certainly wasn’t going to join them, and sought my living elsewhere. It’s not about Cotopaxi or such facts. Its about curiousity, and a critical appreciation, and learning how to learn (and how to look stuff up). It’s CRYPTIC CROSSWORD PUZZLES!

  37. Andy Russell says:

    Calling Dave Ellison! Did you by any chance attend Sussex University?
    Many many apologies to all other keen solvers but I’ve been trying to track him down for about 20 years . . .

  38. Colin Wood says:

    Re #12,15
    It’s not leat’er but ox’ide

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