Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,933 (Sat 13 Feb)/Araucaria – Zend sinister

Posted by rightback on February 20th, 2010


Solving time: 35 mins, 3 mistakes (ZEND, YAWL and COMPRADOR).

This was a tough and enjoyable ‘Araubetical’ with a well-constructed grid and about the right amount of obscurity for a prize puzzle. I found much of the right-hand side hard and eventually put in a couple of guesses which I suspected were wrong, and so it proved. Several of these clues were tough to justify and a few were rather dubious.

I would appreciate any input on clues I (IDEALISM) and R (RENDERED). (These answers may be wrong!)

Music of the day (courtesy of clue Q): Quixoticelixer by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, whose pronunciation agrees with Chambers et al.

Clues are given in normal grid order, with initial letters in lieu of clue numbers.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

P PIFFLE; (FP + LIFE)* – not easy, with ‘former pupil’ needing to be abbreviated prior to anagramming and ‘gives’ as the unsatisfactory anagram indicator. Also not sure what the ‘a’ is doing in the clue – it’s superfluous to the cryptic reading and doesn’t enhance the surface reading.
Q QUIXOTIC; QUIX + OTIC – ‘by ear’ gives OTIC and ‘some puzzles heard’ must be a homophone indicator, but I’m not sure of what; “QUIZ” seems most likely, but the several references I’ve checked are unanimous that ‘quixotic’ is pronounced as it sounds, not with some faux Spanish twang. Perhaps “QUICKS” was intended, in the sense of ‘quick crosswords’, but that’s a bit of a stretch.
G GRANGE; G[ood] + RANGE (= ‘spread’)
I IDEALISM; (MISLEAD I)* – no idea what ‘twixt life’s tough twists and bites’ is all about. When solving I assumed a literary reference but if it is, I can’t find it.
B BLACK MARKETEER; BLACK MARK (= ‘stigma’) + E (= ‘point’) + (TREE)*
J JUTLANDERS; JUT (= ‘stick out’) + LANDERS (= ‘good anglers’, in the sense that they would land fish) – ‘folk peninsular’ is a strange definition with the adjective after the noun (I believe this is called anastrophe); nothing wrong with that except that the surface reading is pretty meaningless.
Z ZEND; Z + END, ZEN + D – I thought of ‘last’ = Z, ‘religion’ = ZEN and ‘somewhat daft’ = D, and I knew ‘zend’ was a word (though not its meaning), yet was still defeated by the double wordplay here and guessed ‘zeds’. Not very sharp. The Zend is a sacred Zoroastrian text.
Y YAWL; YAW (= ‘Depart from course’) + L – initially I had ‘yawl’ in here but decided ‘port’ = L (via ‘left’) was too tenuous and opted for ‘yaws’ instead (thinking ‘Depart from course’ might give ‘sway’ and ‘to port’ might indicate a reversal). Whoops.
V VIEWFINDER; VIE (= ‘fight’) + N[ote] in WINDER (= ‘key to watch’) – I had this answer for a long time before putting it in because I couldn’t see the full wordplay, and still didn’t until I looked up ‘winder’ after solving.
A AS SAFE AS HOUSES; AS SAFE (= ‘like Peter’) + AS HOUSES – nice easy starter.
K KEEP AWAY; Spoonerism of “WEEP A KAY” – not keen on this one: ‘from afar’ doesn’t adequately define ‘keep away’ and Sir Kay was one of Arthur’s knights but that doesn’t mean ‘knighthood’ = ‘Kay’. Another possibility is that the abbreviation ‘K’ for ‘knight’ was intended, but that suffers from the same problem.
H [c]HANGED – a clever idea, although ‘hanged’ and ‘losing head’ really need to be the same part of speech for it to work. Still, I enjoyed seeing the logic.
R RENDERED – the definition could be ‘Made’ and ‘tear’ might be ‘rend’, but that’s all I can make of this.
N NEURON; rev. of RUE in NON – the wordplay might or might not indicate a reversal of NON here, but it makes no difference. I liked the misleading definition (‘Conductor’).
P PAGE (2 defs) – a reference to Mr Page in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
F FLAT LET – because a flat has more rooms than a flatlet.
L LOGICIAN; LO (= ‘See’) + [ma]GICIAN – some might argue that ‘orphaned’ should indicate the loss of both parents, not just one, while the definition (‘will have to think’) is the wrong part of speech.
U UNDERGROWTH (cryptic definition) – a pun on ‘brush’.
X X-RAYED; RAY (= ‘shaft’) in DEX – this requires ‘index’ to be split into ‘in dex’, a classic Araucarian trick.
T TRIREME; T + R (= recipe = ‘take’) + I (= ‘one’) + R.E.M.E. (= ‘army unit’)
C COMPRADOR; C.O. (= commanding officer = ‘boss’) + MR (= mister = ‘man’), all around PRADO – no gripes here, I didn’t know the word (a trading agent, especially in the far East) and couldn’t think of Prado for ‘scene of art’ (although I did consider RA (= ‘Royal Academy’) to no avail). My eventual guess was ‘compriser’ which had CO for boss and MISER for ‘man, grasping’ (i.e. a grasping man), but no explanation for the PR. Nice clue.
M MADEIRA CAKE; MAD (= ‘Wild’) + EKE (= ‘too’) around (CARIA)* – ‘eke’ is an archaic word meaning ‘in addition’. I’m not sure what ‘and drink’ adds to the clue, since as far as I can see that only refers to (the wine) ‘Madeira’.
J JAYWALKER; JAY + WALKER – another partial definition (‘won’t wait at the lights’).
S SIMULATE; SIMUL[taneous] (= ‘much at the same time’, i.e. much of a word for ‘at the same time’) + A + [no]TE
W WESTERN; WE (= ‘newspaper’) + STERN (= ‘aft’) – as in ‘country and western’.
D DREDGER; D (= ‘Germany’) = RED GER (= red Germany, i.e. communist East Germany) – very nice breakdown and good definition too (‘Bed cleaner’). Probably my favourite clue of this puzzle.
E EFFACE; rev. of CAFFE[ine] + E[ast]
O ODIN; O + DIN – Odin in Norse mythology was the counterpart of Zeus.

34 Responses to “Guardian 24,933 (Sat 13 Feb)/Araucaria – Zend sinister”

  1. Simon G says:

    Thanks for the blog rightback. H, K & N defeated me, and from your blog, a decade could have passed before I got KEEP AWAY. Haven’t we seen DREDGER in another puzzle recently? I seem to recall the image of cleaning a bed…

    Overall I enjoyed this far more than I usually do with A’s solve and fit puzzles…

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Rightback for your illuminations. I got all the answers in an hour but not the reasoning, baffled like you by IDEALISM and RENDERED. The first clue was easy, but I failed on Peter, too obvious now. I laughed over the Spoonerism, taking the K for a knighthood. WE=newspaper, why?

  3. Rob says:

    Thanks for the blog – waited a long time for an ‘Araubetical’ – thought this was worth the wait.
    RE: R – Rendered.
    At the time my thinking was:
    Definition is ‘made in translation’ (COED gives one meaning of to render as to translate.)

    Then the ‘?’ is, of course, important.
    Snuffed it after tear? Snuffed it of course is D(ied) and if ‘died after tear?’ then tear must be ‘before’ died. So REND – ERE – D.

    May be wrong but that’s how I saw it.
    Thanks again.

  4. Mr Beaver says:

    Isn’t ‘K’ how senior civil servants refer to the Knighthood they’re accustomed to getting on retirement ?

    As others, we put in IDEALISM without knowing why, but overall found it not too hard (ie managed to finish it on Saturday !)

  5. Bryan says:

    Thanks, Rightback, I opted for MADEIRA WINE which did me no favours and helped to prevent my getting KEEP AWAY.

    But very enjoyable!

  6. Bryan says:

    For those who don’t know already, The Grauniad provides an annotated solution:,,2303931,00.html

  7. Mr Beaver says:

    Bryan – still doesn’t explain IDEALISM though!

  8. rightback says:

    molonglo, ‘we’ gives ‘newspaper’ because from the setter’s point of view ‘we’ is The Guardian. Normally the indication would have been something like ‘this newspaper’ or ‘The Guardian’ but that wouldn’t have fit the surface reading. I don’t really think that ‘newspaper’ on its own is fair.

    Rob, thanks for parsing RENDERED. I was misled by trying to attach ‘in translation’ to ‘snuffed it’. ‘Snuffed it’ = D (via ‘died’) is too indirect for my liking.

    Mr Beaver, I suspect you are right about the ‘K’.

    Thanks for the link to the attotations, Bryan. I tend to post these blogs before the solution is published (as I often don’t have Internet access at weekends) and anyway I don’t look at them in case I am tempted to mask my shortcomings!

  9. IanN14 says:

    I, like (it seems) most people, enjoy these araubeticals, but I wish he’d pack it in with the rhyming clues.
    All very clever, but it makes the obscurity of some clues even worse (“drink” in the M clue, for example) just for the sake of it.

  10. sidey says:

    I found this fairly trivial to complete, certainly less than an hour. However, despite rightback’s exemplary blog I am still in doubt over nine clues, something I find more than a bit annoying.

  11. Max says:

    rightback (and others):
    Some of the surface readings (and apparently superfluous words) are demanded by the metre – the clues form rhyming couplets. That also explains the anastrophe in the J across – it wouldn’t rhyme otherwise.
    Try reading the clues aloud!

  12. Max says:

    IanN14@9 – I rather like the rhyming clues! (Our postings overlapped)

  13. Eileen says:

    I’d also written an appreciation of the rhyming couplets, only to find IanN14’s comment posted in the meantime. I’ve always been amazed at this additional self-imposed restraint and, for me, they’re one of the delights of the Araubetical – but then, I’m an unashamed Arauphile. :-)

    Re IDEALISM: I, too, had searched high and low for a quotation, in vain – and the annotated solution simply explains it as an anagram. I’ve concluded that it’s a [cryptic?] definition, written in alliteratively ‘poetic’ style, with ‘bites’ [seemingly strange choice of word] there simply for the rhyme.

    Similarly, I was puzzled by the need for ‘is it?’ in H but here, of course, it’s needed for the rhythm.

    I thought this was a good introduction to this kind of puzzle, for anyone who hasn’t tried one before. Having two words with both across and down clues, both with pretty straightforward clues and giving the initial letters of lots of other answers, and also making the placing of the two long answers, A and B obvious, made the fitting in of the answers a lot less complicated than is often the case.

  14. IanN14 says:

    Don’t get me wrong. I do think it’s extremely clever, but I just believe the quality of the clue should always come first.
    The clues for M and I, for example, would have no place in an ordinary crossword.

  15. Eileen says:

    I don’t think I was getting you wrong Ian – I was really only saying that I’d had to change my comment, because, as I started writing it, no one had mentioned the rhyming couplets. I do agree with you about the M and I clues – but then, this isn’t ‘an ordinary crossword’ – and a number of people have said how much they were looking forward to one of these.

    I meant to say that, while we were waiting, I almost said that the delay was probably due to Araucaria being unable to come up with any more clues beginning with X which would fit in a crossword, so I was amused to see the most obvious one of all – clued in a trademark stle!

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    I didn’t see the couplets till now! I read RENDERED as Bob at #3 did.

    Still not sure about ZEND, which I took to be ZEN + D. But is it fair to refer to Zend as “the bible” (“a bible” might be slightly better; however it is a lowercase b)?

    Very enjoyable otherwise.

  17. John Appleton says:

    The toughest prize puzzle there’s been in a while, to my mind.

  18. liz says:

    Thanks Rightback. I was really looking forward to one of these and I enjoyed it a lot. I got the two longest answers straight off and it was obvious where these had to go, which helped.

    The one I couldn’t get was COMPRADOR –eventually cheated once I had all the checking letters.

    I keep forgetting about the rhyming couplets aspect of these puzzles — and certainly failed to notice this time. It does help to explain some of the odder clues, such as the one for IDEALISM.

  19. Squeakle says:

    Please help me with T: why does “recipe” = “take”? And how would I know to reduce “recipe” to “r” (unless all words can simply be reduced to their initial letters whenever required)? Thanks!

  20. rightback says:

    ‘Recipe’ is the Latin word for ‘take’ (in the imperative sense). I believe it used to be used by doctors on prescriptions in the sense of ‘Take one pill twice a day’.

    The abbreviation ‘r’ for ‘recipe’ is given in Chambers, so it’s not the case that any word can be reduced to its initial letter (thought I can see why some solvers might think this, given some of the abbreviations that get used!).

    There’s actually a famous clue involving this one:

    Take in bachelor? It could do (3) [Answer below.]

    However, if you were to say that this abbreviation is chronically outdated and should be ‘retired’ from crosswords then I would have to agree with you! (Answer to clue: bra)

  21. Squeakle says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, for explaining the “r” for “recipe” mystery. But now I have to ask you to explain the definition of the famous clue … I can see the wordplay – but what is it exactly that a bra could do? (I’m so sorry – Saturday evening and you’re conversing with a moron … )

  22. Gareth Rees says:

    recipe is Latin for “take” (in the imperative: literally “receive [this]”). It’s abbreviated to r on medical prescriptions.

    Generally, a setter can use a word to clue its initial letter if that letter appears as an abbreviation of the word in dictionaries. (It’d be unfair to solvers to allow any word to clue its initial letter.) For example, in Chambers R can stand for Rand, Réaumur, rector, queen (Latin regina), king (Latin rex), river, Röntgen, rook, ruble, rupee, resistance, radius, take (Latin recipe), right, rule, run. You might see all of these in Guardian crosswords, but king, river, rook, radius, right and run are the ones you’re likely to see most often.

  23. rightback says:

    I think the clue is a kind of ‘semi-&lit’ (an ‘&lit’ being a clue where the whole clue as to read once to give the definition and again for the wordplay, and ‘semi’ because in this case the wordplay is just the first half but the definition is the whole thing).

    I guess the idea is along the lines that an eligible bachelor might be ‘taken in’ by a girl flashing a bit of bra… or something like that. I don’t know, if I understood girls I probably wouldn’t be able to solve crosswords!!

  24. Squeakle says:

    That’s really outdated! These days it seems to be de rigueur to flash more than a bit of underwear …

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    At last, an Araubetical.
    Was it worth the waiting? Looking at some of the posts (e.g. #3), yes.
    I fully agree with Eileen (#13) who thought ‘this was a good introduction to this kind of puzzle’ for reasons she very clearly explained.
    But was it a good crossword?

    Just like Dave Ellison (#16), we didn’t see the rhyming couplets when solving.
    And now we know, is there something like ‘value added’?
    I am not sure.
    Just like IanN14, I think ‘the clue should always come first’.
    But Mr Graham’s luminous idea explains some of the things we didn’t like in this crossword.

    Like Z, where “somewhat daft” became D (because we needed a word to match ‘craft’), but we disliked the overdose of this trick today anyway. Look at E and S, too.
    Talking about Z, again just like Dave, we didn’t see any justification/need for the use of “the bible” in this clue.

    How complicated can you make a simple anagram like “Mislead I”?
    I don’t want to think about ‘deeper things’, it’s just a silly clue.

    For K we had ‘KEPT AWAY’ , probably better for “from afar”.
    And so we didn’t get WESTERN, of which I thought “Sequel to country” is not really a good definition, if a definition at all. And “newspaper goes aft”? “Goes”?
    And please, do read J again. The flier is JAY, but even if WALKER is the ‘escort’, the word ‘for’ is not very precise.
    Some of you found D very nice, but we found ‘red Ger’ very very (yes, twice) contrived – sorry.

    And there’s another thing about it all.
    Rightback (in his splendid blog) mentioned already the superfluous ‘a’ in the PIFFLE clue, but the same can be said of the ‘a‘ in G, very annoying to see it there.
    And there’s a word ‘to’ in X that shouldn’t be there.
    We thought there was a rule in Cryptic Land that when something has normally a capital, you can’t write it in lower case (unlike the other way around).
    Therefore, we didn’t like the ‘don’ in Q.

    I have been doing crosswords now for not even two years, and when I started I immediately fell for Araucaria (and his wit, which was absent here). Recently I have been very critical about the Master’s impreciseness (him getting away with it unlike others). But who am I?
    Sometimes I wonder whether it was always like this (being his Strength) or not (then being his Weakness/Downfall).
    I know, I am walking on thin ice now [and Mr Graham, if you read this, sorry!], but it looks to me that things have changed.
    Or is it just me, discovering that I like other kinds of cluing styles more, like Cincinnus with his marvellous anagrams in the FT Prize Puzzle published on the same day as this one?

    Am I negative?
    Well, more a bit disappointed.
    BTW: L, V and H are great!!

  26. rightback says:

    Sil raises some interesting points.

    Q: I too wondered about the lack of a capital on ‘don’ and eventually persuaded myself it was (probably) ok. After all, it’s just a title rather than a name, so Don Quixote was a don (no capital). But I agree this isn’t ideal.

    W/J/G/X: I must admit I rather liked ‘Sequel to country’ as a Guardian-style definition of WESTERN, although if I’d seen this in The Times I’d have been scathing. But ‘goes’ is certainly redundant, and likewise ‘for’ in clue J, ‘a’ in clue G and ‘to’ in clue X, though these examples are typical of the way Araucaria often pads out clues with superfluous words to aid their surface readings. If you prefer logical clues with grammatical accuracy and sound surface readings, The Times is your best bet.

    I: Given that noone has offered a viable explanation I am willing to subscribe to the view that this is a silly clue.

    As far as the rhyming gimmick goes, I’m in agreement that the clues should take priority. I’m willing to be impressed by something like rhyming couplets – in fact one of my favourite ever puzzles, by Elgin (in The Magpie), did something even cleverer along those lines – but only if each clue is sound in its own right, which was not always the case here.

    Squeakle, thank you for the tip!

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Rightback, when you say “If you prefer logical clues with grammatical accuracy and sound surface readings, The Times is your best bet”, that’s not it for me.
    I do like playfulness (especially in a Paulish way) and I do like things like ‘index’ in X, but I don’t want (like you) the ‘a’ in P – that’s just it.
    Araucaria is slightly more inaccurate than other Guardian setters.
    It is His style (is it?), not the Newspapers’s style.
    I just wondered whether this impreciseness really is his style or not.
    If so, I am moving away from it, slowly but inevitably.

  28. Chunter says:

    I seem to remember first coming across the BRA clue in one of the Morse books or TV episodes – Last Bus to Woodstock, I think.

  29. Radler says:

    Variety adds spice to the puzzles. It’s a very long time since we were last presented with clues in rhyming couplets, and it feels a little churlish to grumble about them. Of course, the quality of the clue should (and does) come first usually, but it’s nice to get something a little different now and again.
    The constraint will have forced a slight change in Araucaria’s style – many of the ideas are probably quite different to those he’d have produced otherwise.
    As solvers, when we saw the couplets we should surely have expected some additional licence on behalf of the setter. After all, in this particular puzzle we are told the initial letter of every answer, so a bit of give and take seems reasonable.
    (Incidentally, I’m surprised that so many people appear not to have noticed the rhyming aspect of the clues. Perhaps if they had, their expectations and subsequent views would have been different.)

  30. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, rightback. I think I shared all of your concerns about the clues here, and we ended up doing the “well, it’s Araucaria” shrug quite a bit. If we’d noticed the rhyming couplets (genius!) I think it would just have encouraged me to put in wrong answers even more often than usual with Araucaria’s puzzles…

  31. Jobs says:

    Many thanks for the post rightback. I had no idea why I’d put in xrayed until this. In “dex”… so cheeky.
    I love these A-Zs, Araucaria (if you read this blog) more please!

  32. muck says:

    This was easier than most araubeticals, because the double P & J clues were fairly straightforward and indicated where to put the F, L, G, Y, A, K & R answers. I hadn’t noticed the rhyming couplets.

  33. Val says:

    I’m a little late to the party but could someone explain H to me? I get the word play (thanks for the blog, rightback) but what is the definition?

  34. rightback says:

    Hi Val,

    H: It’s not the same (is it?) as losing head (6)

    I think the idea here is that the words excluding the bracketed section give the wordplay ([c]HANGED) while the bracketed section points to the answer by suggesting that despite the wordplay, the answer is in fact similar to ‘losing head’ (in the sense of an execution). An unusual device, but it just about works.

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