Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,960 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on March 17th, 2010


Lots of ducks in today’s crossword – yet another rushed post from me in rather awkward circumstances, and I’m afraid I don’t get 12 across or 7 down

1. SCALE UP LE[vel] in SCAUP = “duck”
9. STEALING TEAL = “duck” in SING = “grass”
10. WEIRDO WEIR = “dam” + DO = “party”
12. BREAKING CAMP I don’t get the “many in 27″ bit, I’m afraid: “Packing up holiday home with many in 27 (8,4)”: Thanks to IanN14 and Gaufrid for explaining: BREAK = “holiday” + IN = “home” + C = “many” in GAMP = “umbrella”
15. ECCLES CAKE ECCLES[iasts] = “some churchmen” (?) + CAKE = “mass”
17. TAG (I think) Hidden in advanTAGes; referring to electronic tagging
19. IDA Sounds like “eider”, referring to Mount IDA
20. PLUM TOMATO MT = “Mount” + [w]OMA[n] in PLUTO = “planet”
22. SAM ALLARDYCE Presumably MALLARD = “duck” in SAYCE, but I’m not sure how that’s “attendant in India” Thanks to molonglo and C. G. Rishikesh: this is A MALLARD = “a duck” in SYCE = “attendant in India”
26. LETHAL LET = “handicap” + HAL = “prince”
27. UMBRELLA [n]UMB = “Not feeling topless” + ALLER = French for “to go” reversed
28. ROLLER A wave, a roller for curling hair and a steam-roller
29. SCOOTER O = “Love” in SCOTER = “a duck”
1. SASS Tentatively, I’ll suggest that this is referring to the “duck’s arse” which in the U.S. might be a “duck’s ass”, so “hairstyle after duck” is “‘s ass”; the definition is “American cheek”
2. ALEX ALE = “Drink” + X = “unknown”, referring to ALEX[andre] Dumas
4. PINTA PINTA[il] (i.e. without I = “one” + L = “left”) for one of Columbus’s ships
6. EMERGE EMERGE[ncy] = “considerable amount of crisis”
7. GARGANTUAN Not sure about this apart from the definition, I guess it’s made up of words I don’t know: “Enormous duck you get turned away by Malay sahib (10)” Thanks to IanN14, who explains this as: “Garganey (duck) with Ye turned and removed + Tuan (Malay sahib)”
8. WOOD PIGEON WIGEON = “Duck” around O = “nothing” + (POD)* = “podcast”
13. PENINSULAR PEAR = “fruit” around N = “new” + INSUL[t] = “affront being cut short”
14. SCRAP METAL SCRAP = “Fight” + METAL = “guns” (?)
16. CALLAS AS = “when” on CALL = “visit”
18. CONCERTO CON = “with” + CERT = “sure winner” + O = “love”
21. PLEASE L = “pupil” in PEASE = “pudding” (as in “pease pudding hot”)
23. DUMAS Double definition: plural novelists because there were two Alexandre Dumas; father and son
24. PLOT Double definition, I think – I can’t quite substitute “intriguing” for “plot” in a sentence, but I’m sure someone can give an example..
25,11. FAIR DINKUM Very nice clue: (IF I AM DRUNK)*

66 Responses to “Guardian 24,960 / Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. Araucaria’s good cluing means you can get without aids even ones never heard of (in my case 1a and 22a). 5a had to be GEWGAW, but Ari last October (in 24827) preferred the GEEGAW variant. But with him there’s always a bit of bafflement: like you, the 12a-27 link and the duck in 7d (tuan=malay sahib). In 22a its syce, a groom or attendant in India.

  2. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    12a: I think it is S(A M ALLARD)YCE
    A MALLARD in SYCE, where ‘syce’ is groom or ‘attendant in India’.

  3. IanN14 says:

    12ac. is Break (holiday) + In (home) + C (many) in Gamp (umbrella: 27ac.)
    And 7d. is Garganey (duck) with Ye turned and removed + Tuan (Malay sahib)
    Didn’t like WW for “worldwide”, but liked 22ac.

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Hi mhl
    12ac is BREAK (holiday) IN (home) C (many) in GAMP (27, umbrella)

  5. mhl says:

    Thanks to all of you for helping with those. Rather shamefully, I’d never heard of GAMP, GARGANEY or TUAN before…

  6. Terry says:

    Hi, 12 across Break (holiday) in (home) c (many) in gamp another name for umbrella (27).
    Another great start to the day.

  7. Mick H says:

    Good fun puzzle. I wonder whether the realisation that SAM ALLARDYCE contained MALLARD was the inspiration for the puzzle – it was a great spot anyway.
    I assume worldwide for ww is by extension (or reduction) from world wide web, which seems dubious but was certainly gettable – as was ‘some churchmen’ for ‘eccles’, despite its vagueness.
    Now if only all the thematic material had been in the acrosses, Araucaria would really have got all his ducks in a row!

  8. Shirley says:

    12AC a gamp is named after a Mrs Gamp in a Dickens novel (The old Curiosity Shop)?
    She is always carrying an umbrella.
    Brilliant crossword – we loved the Sam Allardyce clue too

  9. Susan says:

    24d. Plot. A plot is an intrigue, so I think he’s using ‘intriguing’ as a gerund ie a verbal noun.

  10. Martin H says:

    Thanks for teasing apart Id, mhl. It had to include the DA, but I couldn’t quite see how, also wondering if ‘cheek’ was doing double duty.

    26 – LET = handicap? Obstruction or infringement yes, but this usage is new to me.

    Araucaria is keen on using incomplete words, which is fine as part of a clue, as in ECCLESiastics, but it falls rather flat when it’s the whole answer, as EMERGEncy.

    Overall another fine puzzle – it’s been a good week so far – shame the explorer in 4d was Columbus and not Drake, though.

  11. Bullfrog says:

    I think that’s the quickest I’ve ever completed an Araucaria — 20 minutes with only one recourse to the dictionary (for Scaup). Sam Allardyce was my favourite.

  12. David says:

    Thanks, mhl: you cleared up several for me!

    Re 14d: in my Collins, one of the definitions of ‘metal’ is ‘the total weight or number of a ship’s guns’

  13. Bill Taylor says:

    Ducks as a theme — inspired! I wonder how many naysayers will cry “fowl” because they don’t know enough about aquatic birds?

    This must surely be the first time Sam Allardyce has found himself as the solution in a crossword. It’s rather appropriate that he manages Blackburn Rovers, whose motto “arte et labore” can be translated as “by skill and hard work.” As demanded by Araucaria.

  14. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    [There’s a wee typo in 8dn [WI[d]gEON / PI[d]GEON] which I noticed only because I’d been momentarily nonplussed by this less [to me] familiar spelling. I remember this having caused some discussion before.]

    I was also misled by GEWGAW – I only knew GEEGAW – but eventually fathomed it.

    Rev John seems currently fascinated by ducks: I’m still smarting from not getting his ‘ducklings on the menu’ a couple of weeks ago in the Saturday prize puzzle – and today, as Cincinnus in the FT, he has ‘Model walk like duck? Nonsense! [7]’

  15. mhl says:

    Eileen: thanks for pointing out the mistake – I’ve corrected it now.

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    TWADDLE — I like it, Eileen! But when I go to the FT site, it’s telling me today’s puzzle is set by Cinefile. Looks Araucarish, though…

  17. mhl says:

    Bill Taylor: Cinephile is, indeed, another pseudonym of Araucaria’s – it’s (CHILE PINE)*

    (I wonder how many other people will have replied in the time it takes me to type this :))

  18. Eileen says:

    How on earth could I have made that mistake?? I meant Cinephile, of course!

  19. mhl says:

    Bill Taylor: Sorry – I may have misunderstood your comment, having read what Eileen intended to write rather than what was actually there, if you see what I mean :)

  20. Bill Taylor says:

    No sweat, mhl, especially as I was wondering why he would call himself Cinephile. It hadn’t (and probably never would have) occurred to me that it’s an anagram for another name for the monkey puzzle. Thank you!

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I liked the duck theme here, but would never have finished without the check button. I guessed ECCLES CAKE for 15ac, for example, decided that ‘eccles’ was probably ‘short churchmen’ but wasn’t aware that ‘cake’ could be ‘mass’. As for 1dn!

    I liked 12ac and 25,11.

  22. Eileen says:

    … and, Bill, he is also something of a film buff! :-)

  23. Richard says:

    I got really excited when I got Sam Allardyce early on. I thought Araucaria had started using more up-to-date solutions!
    My pleasure was soon tempered by GEWGAW, SCAUP, GARGANEY, and GAMP none of which I have ever heard of. I’miffy about mass = CAKE too.

  24. Val says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    Could someone explain why ‘mass’ = CAKE (15ac) and why ‘with’ = CON (18dn)?

    I found that there is a Peking ship, feasibly used by an explorer, which led me astray on 4dn.

  25. liz says:

    Val — ‘con’ is Italian for ‘with’, as in musical annotations such as ‘con brio’.

  26. Martin H says:

    Chambers gives ‘cake’ as: 2, a flat thin mass of bread…..3, a shaped mass of dough…..4, a mass, slab or crust of a solidified or compressed substance, as of soap or ice.

  27. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    As someone who both does research into ducks, and doesn’t very often finish the crossword, today was a pleasant change! I wonder what proportion of the general public would know of Scaup, Garganey, Scoter and Wigeon though.

  28. ben says:

    Is 1 down anything to do with Sassoon. Hairsyle, ducks and name seem to be indicated? Just a thought

  29. Bill Taylor says:

    That, to me, is an essential part of the challenge, Mr. Jim. As a sort-of-apposite aside, I once took part in a pub quiz, one of the categories of which was “ductless glands.” Mind you, I did better with that than when the quiz moved on to American football!

  30. Daniel Miller says:

    A plot is “intrigue” – simple really..

  31. retired pleb says:

    DA from 1950’s teddy boy hairstyle known as duck'(s ass) !

  32. JimboNWUK says:

    Sam Allardyce might as well be the man in the moon AFAIAC… I have NO interest in who manages, boots around an inflated bladder, wins, loses, or where they do it so PLEASE dump the sports stuff one and all. Likewise with the obscure cricketing, rugby, tennis and any other so-called ‘sports’ involving a mobile spherical object — I DON’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF IT AND AM NOT INTERESTED — it’s not “knowledge” it’s just boring stats and naming of nonentities in the spherical object movement pastime of your choice.

    Where’s GrumpyAndrew when you need him… Hmph!

  33. Richard says:

    I don’t follow football either, but I’ve heard of Sam Allardice because he has been in the news in the last 12 months or so….
    …which is more than you can say about most of the names from literature ancient and modern which setters are often so keen to use.

  34. Bullfrog says:

    JimboNWUK — rather than The Guardian, perhaps you should be attempting the crossword in Paint Drying Weekly or some other publication featuring the subjects you areinterested in…

  35. Martin H says:

    I think we should have more baseball-related clues.

  36. Bill Taylor says:

    Or paint (dry or otherwise): enamel, eggshell, semi-gloss, primer, undercoat…. great scope for a themed puzzle

    As, for that matter, would ductless glands: endocrine, pineal, thymus, pituitary, thyroid, spleen, adrenal…. something for everyone!

  37. Grumpy Andrew says:

    JimboNWUK, entirely with you. This was awful. Just look at some of the words you need to know to crack this – scaup, for heaven’s sake, scoter, cake to mean mass.
    Bullfrog, I think you’re being unfair. I don’t think Jimbo wants a crossword on a subject that interests him, simply a broad crossword that does not feature any specialist subject, just interesting clues leading to gettable answers. That’s what I want, anyway, and this came nowhere near achieving it.
    Garganey? Tuan?

  38. John says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this was terrible.

  39. sidey says:

    Never mind the birds Andrew, what about “Put your foot on it” as a definition?

  40. sidey says:

    John, it’s always best to let the fanbois get the usual ridiculous superlatives out of their systems before pointing out the inadequacies of “The Master”.

  41. mhl says:

    Daniel Miller: certainly a plot could be an intrigue, but “intriguing” is different. I see what Susan’s saying in comment #9, but it still sounds unnatural to me under any substitution I can think of.

  42. Bill Taylor says:

    So far on today’s blog only one duck specialist, Mr. Jim, has emerged. These WERE interesting clues, leading — just ask the legion of people who completed the puzzle — to gettable answers. No, I hadn’t heard of all of these ducks, just as a couple of the composers in Paul’s puzzle yesterday were new to me. But I figured them out. It took time and mental effort but that’s what it’s all about.

    I think what Grumpy Andrew — if his constant caviling here is anything to go by — and JimboNWUK really want is an easier crossword. No harm in that but perhaps the Guardian is not the place to look.

  43. Kathryn's Dad says:

    As they say round here, ey oop me duck. So I quite liked this one, although I’m not a huge fan of Mr A from the puzzles of his I’ve attempted so far. But for the record, as normal I couldn’t finish it.

  44. Will Mc says:

    I’ve got no interest in dead classical composers or their music, which puts me at a greater disadvantage in crosswords than your not caring about sport. Saying that, just because I don’t like them, doesn’t mean I haven’t come across their names in the course of my 40 years.
    In other business, my relationship with Araucaria’s crosswords has changed immensely since I started doing the Guardian crossword about 25 years ago. I used to think he was the best, but gradually I’ve become more and more bemused by his clues. He at least used to put some effort into making the surfaces good, now they remind me of Noam Chomsky’s “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” It just seems to be random words next to each other.
    Then again, I still do them and at least he’s not as bad as Rover.

  45. Bill Taylor says:

    If I’m half as sharp as Araucaria when I reach his age, I shall be both well-satisfied and rather surprised. He may — just may — have passed his peak but he’s by no means yet on the slippery slopes. “At least he’s not as bad as Rover…” Araucaria is still as good as anyone and better than most. I breathe a sigh of relief each time I see a puzzle bearing his name. It means he’s still with us, still active, still giving us a damned good run for our money. Long may he remain so.

  46. don says:

    How the mighty have fallen – in some people’s eyes. To add to the clueless clues how does ‘when on visit’ become Callas?

  47. William says:

    Thanks for the blog mhl.

    Don #46 – I think ‘when’ is a synonym for ‘as’ and call likewise for visit.

    Loved this crozzie and finished it in record time if you’ll allow looking up gewgaw, scaup etc.

    As always with the Maestro, plenty to whinge about if you want to, but even more to rejoice in.

    FAIR DINKUM was a corker.

  48. Martin H says:

    don – call is visit, as is when – as is on call.

  49. Martin H says:

    Sorry, William, my contribution was on Preview for a while and so crossed with yours. Perhaps you asked yourself too, Why don’t people who have a problem with a clue at least read the blog?

  50. ixion says:

    I plumped for callat(variant of callet – gossip) rather than callas which was first thought – seems to make more sense

  51. Sil van den Hoek says:

    In the heat (or better: after the heat) of the n-th discussion about the Pros & Cons of Araucaria in the blog on his most recent Saturday crossword, Mr Beaver spoke the wise words:
    “I like his libertarian clues (….) However you get there, you nearly always know when you’ve got the right answer. With some other setters, you’re left thinking ‘well, it’s probably xyz, but I’m not sure’ “.

    I had to think of that when we tried to complete this crossword today, because at one point we found several words (EMERGE, GARGANTUAN, WOOD PIGEON and in a way SAM ALLARDYCE and SCRAP METAL) without exactly knowing how or what.

    SAM ALLARDYCE went in first, purely from the enumeration.
    But we could only suspect that SYCE was someone from India.
    We thought of WOOD PIGEON because of the Cooer! and the POD*, just intuitively, then concluding that ‘wigeon’ must be a ‘duck’.
    The GARGANTUAN construction was a bridge too far for us – and I must say, we find it still full of, um (have to be careful now), obscurish things.

    We couldn’t find some words in the NW: SASS (I don’t feel ashamed), PINTA (nor about this one) and SCALE UP (UP was clear, and the clue was perfectly alright).
    And 29ac: if you don’t know that a ‘scoter’ is a duck, well, then it could have been a SHOOTER as well. Or whatever thing with OO or OA in it.

    The clues we liked best were PLEASE (‘Please, teacher, may I jump myself into the pudding?’) and 25,11 (FAIR DINKUM) in which ‘drunk’ wasn’t an anagram indicator. Nicely misleading.

    There were some easy clues as well. Like PLOT (24ac).
    Or 3d (ENLARGED), of which we thought: the more you look at itand the deeper you think of it, the more you have the feeling that the construction is not completely right (because of the word ‘to’).

    Did we like it?
    Well, it was good enough.
    Let’s face it, the DUCK-theme was a bit obscure.
    Too many strange words.
    Some people might say (and did) that they didn’t know (m)any of yesterday’s composers, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two themes that way.

    Finally, when I saw all these ducks, I hoped to find a DONALD, but alas … :)

  52. morpheus says:

    I had at first sight thought Sam Allardyce might be Ron Greenwood. Now that would have given people something to complain about…

  53. Bullfrog says:

    I think the confusion over the ‘intriguing plot’ stems from its description in the blog as a double definition. Shouldn’t it be a cryptic definition?

  54. Bullfrog says:

    Grumpy Andrew, Jimbo’s complaint was specifically about references to ball sports, of which there was precisely one! Hardly a specialist subject.

  55. don says:

    William 47; Martin H 48

    Read the clue.

    When = as

    Visit = call

    When ON visit = Ascall, not Callas

  56. Martin H says:

    don – ‘on’ doesn’t have to mean ‘on top of.’ ‘On the end of’ – is that not on?

    Chambers, among many uses, gives: beside; applied to; just after; in continuance of; in connection, etc – looks OK to me.

  57. Sil van den Hoek says:

    don (#55):
    I see what you mean, but in the two years I’m doing crosswords now, I’ve discovered that setters use this kind of construction (X on Y) mostly in down-clues with Y+X as a result. The explanation for it is: Y ‘attached to’ X.

  58. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Sorry, of course I meant: X ‘attached to’ Y.

  59. don says:

    What’s all this quap about ducks, anyway.


  60. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Don’t know.
    Let’s ask Huey, Dewey and Louie.

  61. Brian Harris says:

    Ducks? Shucks. Sucks…

    Actually, not all that bad today, for Araucaria. Learned a few types of ducks that were new to me. Still a few clues whose construction proved mysterious, as is typical for the rev. Impressed by topical reference to a “podcast”. He must still be with it.

  62. Radchenko says:

    Thanks for the blog, and my hat off to those of you who completed this, and thereby getting GARGANTUAN…

    Garganey is a duck; Tuan is a Malay sahib, you get turned away = ye backwards and removed… I would never have got this, and would never have worked it out… thank you.

    Wanders off into the night, shaking his head in wonderment and bewilderment…

  63. Barkface says:

    I thought it was a brilliant puzzle!With Paul’s the previous day it is becoming quite a week.
    Sarah(Sarey) Gamp was a(hilariously funny) character in Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit.

  64. Derek P says:

    I know I’m late with this but I had 5ac as GEEGAW, as an indirect hidden answer (indicated by ‘hatched from’) from the letters GGAW, the first G being translated into GEE (the letter G). It seemed devious but suitably Araucarian so thought no more about it!

  65. Sylvia says:

    Knew all the ducks and composers, thanks to education, old age and many years’ crossword involvement, so loved the latest Araucaria.

  66. Huw Powell says:

    I’m with the whiners. I set down to this last night and today, and saw the theme (obviously) so I pulled up wikipedia’s “duck” article to help refresh me a bit.

    Gave up with entire SW corner empty. A football manager? I agree, some of the things we were supposed to know (or know how to research even) were just outlandish here. Oh well. Some go well, some don’t. These aren’t supposed to be “easy” after all. ~~~~

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