Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,963 (Sat 20 Mar)/Araucaria – Daysed and confused

Posted by rightback on March 27th, 2010


Solving time: 33 mins

This was hard, and I was grateful for a couple of hackneyed clues at 12ac (INCA) and 28ac (DETERGENT) to get me going. The theme (abbreviations for days of the week being unclued in wordplay to ten answers) jumped out early on from 16dn (FRICASSEE) and I expected that to open the floodgates, but no. Still, I got there in the end.

Unclued parts are shown in red below.

Music of the day: Days by The Kinks – a true classic.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 BUS DRIVER; (BUD’S)* + RIVER (= ‘flower’) – ‘root, so to speak’ in the clue implies ‘route’. ??S for the first word looked unusual enough that I felt I should be able to see the answer, but I couldn’t until I had the initial B.
6 WEDGE; WED + rev. of E.G. – a wedge being something that sticks, hence a ‘sticker’.
9 OATES; “OATS” – excellent clue. Lawrence ‘Titus’ Oates was the man who supposedly said “I’m just going outside and may be some time” before committing suicide during Scott’s fatal polar expedition.
10 RECLAIMED; (CIDER + MEAL)* – very good anagram.
11 MULTITUDES; MULES around (TITU[s] + D[ied]) – luckily I knew Oates’s nickname, which helped me to solve this clue and break a hiatus of some minutes.
12 INCA; IN + CA[lifornia]
14 CUIRASS; CUSS around I.R.A. – a word probably best not clued as a homophone. I believe ‘tinker’s cuss’ is a phrase, although I only saw that after seeing the answer from ‘nationalists’ = IRA and the solution which fortunately was a word I knew.
15 SNIFFLE; rev. of (ELF + FINS)
17 ONEROUS; U.S. (= ‘America’) after (O + NERO) – a botched wordplay.
19 BUG GINS – from the phrase ‘Buggins’s turn’, used to describe the award of something based on seniority or rotation rather than ability or merit (for example, Steve McLaren’s appointment as England manager).
20 SOBS (hidden) – but no hidden indicator, for no good reason.
22 SUNDERLAND; SUN + DER LAND (= ‘the + land’ in German) – not ‘the land’, since the German word ‘Land’ is neuter. I wasted time on words like ‘hinterland’ and ‘fatherland’ here.
25 ELSEWHERE; ELE[ven] around (SEW HER) – I don’t really understand the specificity of the definition here (‘in another column’), especially since this answer appears in a row which renders the phrase ‘another column’ meaningless. As Alice (almost) said, “I haven’t had any yet so I can’t very well take another”.
26 HASTE; HAS + T[h]E
27 MONAD; MON + A.D. (= anno domini) – this looked likely to be Sunad or Monad but I didn’t know which. The word means ‘God’ (in the Christian sense, I think) from the Greek word monas meaning ‘unit’. Once again, I suffer from knowing no Greek.
1 B + LOOM – I tried ‘second’ = S and MO but not B, for far too long.
3 RESPIRATOR; PIRAT[e] in RESOR[t] – nice wordplay. I’d heard of ‘Ruskington’ (which fit four checking letters) but couldn’t place it (it’s actually in Lincolnshire) and tried to make it work as a possible holiday destination.
4 VIRTUES; VI + [recove]R + TUES – I kicked myself over this, having thought of ‘virtue’ as Tuesday’s likely theme word but dismissed it when I saw there were no six letter answers in the grid.
5 RICKETS – a pun on ‘rick’ and the diminutive ending ‘-et’ as in… actually I can’t think of anything. ‘Streamlet’ is close but different. Any suggestions?
6 WRAP; W[ith] + RAP
7 DEMON; D,E + MON – ‘devilishly good’ as in ‘a demon bowler’.
8 ENDPAPERS; END (= ‘Stop’) + PAPERS (= ‘press’) – terrific wordplay.
13 KING ARTHUR; KIN + rev. of RAG, + THUR
14 CROSSBEAM; Spoonerism of “BOSS CREAM” – my last solve (other than putting in MONAD at 27ac); all I could see was ‘cloisters’, which I knew had a Spooneristic connection (I must have been thinking of “fighting a liar in the quadrangle”).
16 FRICASSEE; FRI, + SE (= south-east = ‘direction’) in CASE
18 SAUTEED; SAUD[i] around TEE (= ‘starter’)
19 BED REST; BE DREST – ‘drest’ is an old version of ‘dressed’, hence ‘be drest’ is complementary to ‘stay uncloth’d’.
21 BOSUN; B.O. + SUN
23 D + WELT – to ‘welt’ something apparently means to lash or beat it.
24 OWED; O + WED

23 Responses to “Guardian 24,963 (Sat 20 Mar)/Araucaria – Daysed and confused”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, I agree that it was hard and it took me ages to spot the theme. Nevertheless, I thought it was the best puzzle for a long time.

    I took it with me on my usual Saturday 1-hour train journey but failed to solve it until my return later in the day. It’s funny how I always seem to benefit from laying a puzzle down for a few hours.

    I didn’t get the theme until 13d KING ARTHUR struck me with a blinding flash.

    Absolutely superb!

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. Yes, it wasn’t easy to get into since word length was an initial mystery. For me the key was in the SE corner, with 22a followed by 16d, and that soon unlocked others. The Spoonerism flew open with just two cross-letters. 11a was a good clue, but it needed the Net for Titu(s) as a nickname for the Antarctic hero. I imagined 25a’s Elsewhere as a polite reference to another paper (or contributor), as in the parliamentary ‘other place.’

  3. William says:

    Thank you Rightback, I hope you struggled with this as much as I did.

    This was one of those puzzles that I read right through without getting a single clue. Finally, with huge relief came the old faithful DETERGENT and a chink was opened. But the rest just refused to yield until the very last. Took me about 2½ hours on & off.

    I thought SUNDERLAND was particularly elegant.

    To my disgrace, I enetered FRICASSEE because it fitted, thinking that the parsing would come later. I only got the theme from KING ARTHUR.

    One of his Reverence’s best I thought.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Rightback.

    This was huge fun. I started off with FRICASSEE and KING ARTHUR, too.

    Re 5dn: Collins gives ‘baronet’ as an example of ‘-et’ as a suffix. As you say, ‘-let’ is a different one.

    I agree with molonglo’s suggestion re ELSEWHERE.

    I didn’t know Lawrence Oates’ nickname, so got 11ac from the ‘real’ Titus Oates of the Popish Plot.

    I think this puzzle demonstrates that Araucaria is not past his prime. Just one surprising mistake: 1dn: a loom is a machine for weaving, not spinning!

  5. William says:

    Well spotted, Eileen, I thought the same about the loom. Most unusual for the Reverend.

  6. Mr Beaver says:

    I agree with Rightback that this was hard, though all things are relative – I’d be delighted to finish an easy Rufus in 33 minutes!
    It took us til Monday to really get into this, but it was fun once we got going.
    Re 22a, LAND in German refers to a region, not a direct equivalent to ‘land’ in English.

  7. Davy says:

    Thanks rightback and yes this was a stinker. I’m sure everyone went through your thought processes in solving this. On the Saturday I only got BOSUN and SOBS, but filled in half on the Sunday. KING ARTHUR was certainly a breakthrough. The rest I did in dribs and drabs and finally finished on Thursday. The last to go in was BED REST and I was certainly puzzled by the apostrophe in uncloth’d. My first thought was BAD FEET but these are definitely not prescribed.

    I agree Eileen that Arry is still at the top of his game, after all these years. This was a brilliant puzzle riddled with blind alleys. I didn’t understand ELSEWHERE apart from the word play but there are loads of references to ELSEWHERE in the Google index. Maybe one of these is the key or maybe not.

  8. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Rightback
    Re 5dn. You asked for examples of the suffix -et meaning small (or little). The -let suffix is far more common but there are some (and I wouldn’t include baronet, sorry Eileen), though -et more frequently denotes ‘young’ as in nymphet, owlet, lionet etc.

    dragonet – a little dragon
    casket – a little cask
    falconet – a little falcon (cannon)
    packet – a small package
    pocket – a little pock (pouch or bag)

    There are probably more but I have spent enough time with Chambers today.

  9. Martin H says:

    Nice blog rb. A tough one as you say. I got ‘sauteed’ early and that gave the U for ‘Sunderland’, and the theme clicked straight away. It was still no race to the finish though, and like you I wasted time on ‘bloom’ – my only excuse is that maybe ‘spinner’ sounded wrong, but I didn’t notice it until I read eileen’s post above.

    A packet is a small package according to Chambers, and ‘cornet’ comes from the same word in French, diminutive of ‘corne’.

  10. Biggles A says:

    I agree with the previous comments. I struggled with this one despite getting the theme early enough but it wasn’t a lot of help except in verifying answers which were otherwise reached. I didn’t like 14d and 19d.

  11. Eileen says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    I have no brief to hold for baronet – as I said, it came from Collins – but what have you got against it?

    Collins: “-et: suffix of nouns smaller or lesser: islet; baronet”
    “baronet: a commoner who holds the lowest hereditary title of honour, ranking below a baron” …

    …and Chambers, too, has “baronet … a lesser baron”

    Actually, my first thought when I did the puzzle, on the analogy of ‘rickets’ was ‘brickets’, which I thought I remembered as some sort of fuel, but I can’t find that spelling anywhere. They seem to have the more posh name of ‘briquettes’! :-)

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Rightback [indeed, a true classic, Days]

    There are themed crosswords and there are themed crosswords.
    I mean, this one was rather different.
    The first 30 minutes, it left us completely flabbergasted (in our favourite Cambridge café on King’s Parade), but after moving to Waitrose (no disruptive loud music) we all at once – like some of you – found KING ARTHUR and SUNDERLAND, after which the penny dropped.

    The good thing about this ‘theme’ (theme?) was that it helps the solver on his way to find other solutions.
    And for us, that was certainly part of the joy.
    For example, missing ‘tues’, I was looking for VIRTUES – yeah, there it was!
    And so the ball went rolling.

    A crossword full of very nice, rather lightish (whatever that is) Araucarian clues.
    Of which (only) three of them we thought: “well, um, …”

    In 20ac (our first entry), ‘for’ is apparently used as the hidden answer indicator.
    In our opinion, hardly acceptable.
    So, we agree with Rightback.
    As we do in SUNDERLAND [the separate cluing of ‘the’ and ‘land’ can be justified because it’s Crypticland, but as someone very familiar with the German language it looked a bit odd to me]

    In the themed clue 24d (OWED), only the O should be clued, which of course here is ‘nothing’.
    But Araucaria makes it part of the definition which is the clue as a whole (is it?).
    Somehow we felt, there’s something wrong/strange here.

    Nonetheless, satisfying puzzle – in therefore agree with all the others!

  13. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    The reason why I would not include baronet in the list is that we are looking for diminutives (something smaller) rather than something lesser or lower in rank. A baronet could be smaller in stature than a baron but this isn’t necessarily the case.

    If anything, I would prefer to include owlet etc because the young of a species are generally smaller than the adults.

  14. jmac says:

    A very entertaining puzzle. Just on the subject of looms, I found this Rose Macaulay quote on the internet:

    “Cranks live by theory, not by pure desire. They want votes, peace, nuts, liberty, and spinning-looms not because they love these things, as a child loves jam, but because they think they ought to have them. That is one element which makes the crank.”

  15. sandra says:

    thought this crossword was excellent. in fact, it was the best i had seen for a long time. the only slight hiccup was “spinner” for loom. i did not find it easy and it took me longer than most, but that is what i want in a saturday crossword. i even liked the spoonerism, and i usually find them very frustrating but this one was very witty.too many good ones to start singling them out but – bravo reverend!

  16. Ralph G says:

    24a OWED. Sil, 12 above, I read this as O + WED, definition ‘to pay’ and thought it would be a better clue without the initial ‘Had’.
    22a SUNDERLAND. You could also read it as ‘of the’ > DER, but a feminine singular genitive article with the neuter LAND (nom/acc.) is no improvement if you disapprove of clueing article and noun separately.

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Rightback. I also found this quite a toughie, but great fun. My entry into the theme was FRICASSEE, after I spent quite a while thinking about single letter definitions. Lots of really good misdirection in this puzzle and I needed on-line help to finish. Even so, didn’t see all the wordplay, especially at 11ac, so thanks for the explanation.

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Ralph G (#16), your way to look at OWED makes sense to me.
    And, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against SUNDERLAND as such, but just find it a bit odd to clue ‘the’ and ‘land’ separately in one and the same language in which these two words are nót used together.

  19. nmsindy says:

    Did not tackle the puzzle but the clue for SUNDERLAND and the commment caught my eye in the blog. I think it’s OK. DER is the article in German that solvers would be likely to know and crossword convention allows “the/region” to be considered separately in wordplay, giving DER LAND. It would have been totally unfair to expect solvers to know the gender of Land in German and I’d say this was never intended.

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    nmsindy (#19), although I did comment on SUNDERLAND, for the third time:
    I think it’s OK as well.

    Your last line “It would have been totally unfair to expect solvers to know the gender of Land in German”, though, is exactly my point.
    Since I live in this (beautiful) country I have heard people say many, many times
    that they have “the best educational system in the world”
    [a system I am part of nowadays].
    This frequently heard statement in combination with your remark are, for me, once more a reason to believe that this system is just nót the best in the world [and btw, it doesn’t have to be the bést in the world, it should be just as good as possible, and look beyond its borders].

    A while ago there was a discussion at fifteensquared on how British a crossword should be, but I do want to emphasise that I do not want to start this all over again [which would surely be off-topic].
    I do understand how it works in this country and I respect that.
    But if one or two people would take up my point and think ‘yeah, there’s something right about what he says’, then I’m a happy man.
    [don’t worry, I am happy anyway :) ]

  21. Bryan says:

    For me, a great merit of this puzzle was that I was able to solve it off-line and without recourse to any aids whatsoever.

    Obviously, I was at an enormous advantage by knowing all the Yorkshire towns.

    Without even mentioning yesterday’s puzzle, I have to admit that this does not always happen.

  22. rrc says:

    The right hand of this puzzle slipped in without any real difficulty but the left hand side refused to yield. Helped was needed with bus driver then the left hand went in quickly. Once I had seen the answer I kicked myself at not breakng the clue completely down into component parts and that is something I know I ought to do with araucaria’s clues!

  23. RB says:

    Very tough. Didn’t start it till a week ago and I’ve just finished it. Some clever clues, some elegant clues, and the theme added extra enjoyment. A few quibbles though, which no-one else has mentioned so perhaps I’m too picky:
    The theme: I was expecting Tue and Thu, not Tues and Thur.
    15a: “swimmer” = FIN. To me a fin steers, propels, balances; it doesn’t actually swim; the fish/boat does that.
    7d: I’ll buy “devilishly good” = DEMON, but not “devilishly good player”. It’s just too big a stretch for me.
    18d: starter = TEE. Surely “tee” is a starting point not a starter.

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