Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,979 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on April 8th, 2010


Annoyingly, I had to write this post without any internet access or reference books, so there are lots of guesses here that normally I would be able to quickly confirm. I may not be able to make corrections until much later, so please refer to the ever erudite comments below for better informed commentary :)

9. AIRER AIRE = “River of the Dales” + R = “river”; you might use an AIRER to dry your washing
10. SERENGETI R = “Right” in SEEN = “observed” + GET = “obtain” + I = “one”
11. EXTENSION (NEXT NOISE)*; I don’t understand “More room after 17, say” – I hope someone can explain
12. IMAGE I’M = “Setter’s” + AGE = “time”
13. BURNING RN = “sailors” + I = “first” in BUNG = “Bribe”; I get “On 8″ = “On FIRE”, but why “hence 17″?
15. STERNUM TERN = “bird” in SUM = “addition”
17,18. BRAND NEW (N END)* in BRAW = “Splendid” (in Scots)
20. IBSEN The author of “The Railway Children” was Nesbit, or IBSEN reversed with T = “model”; I guess Ibsen wrote a play called “Brand”?
22. EYEBALL “eye [the] ball” might be advice in a number of games and “to eyeball” someone is to confront them
25. LOYALTY ROYALTY = “princes” with L for R (the first letter changing sides)
26. HATCH Referring to the motor racing track Brands Hatch
27. AS IT COMES ‘What’s “Porridge”?’ = A SITCOM + E S = “directions”
30. DREAM TEAM Just having “rhyme” as the subsidiary to suggest the phrase rhymes seems like a similar device to that where you just have “both ways” to indicate that the answer is palindromic
31. SADLY (LADY’S)*; “anagram indicator” is the definition
1. NAME Double definition
3. IRON Double definition; refers to the golf club and a branding iron
4. A SMIDGEN AS = “like” + MIDGE = “an insect” + N = “pole”
5. PRUNUS RUN = “series” in PUS = “matter”
6. INFIDELITY (IDENTIFY)* around LI = “distance in China”
7. REGAIN EG = “say” in RAIN = “wet weather”
8. FIRE Double definition; refers to being a “firebrand”
13. BIBLE BILE = “peevishness” about B = “book”; the definition refers to “The Good Book”, meaning “The Bible”
14. INDIAN HEMP IN = “home” + D-IMP = “d-devil” around AN + HE = “explosive”
16. MONEY MO = “Little time” + YEN = “desire” reversed; the definition refers to the [b]RAND being a unit of currency in South Africa
19. WILLIAMS Triple definition: Tennessee WILLIAMS = “Playwright”, Rowan WILLIAMS = “prelate” + the ex-Chancellor of Germany, “Willy” BRAND[t] (?)
23. ENTREE As well as a course of a meal, I’m guessing that an ENTREE is a exam or qualification in France
24. LEADER LEA = “field” + RED = “left” reversed
26. HIDE Cryptic definition
28. CASH AS = “when” in CH = “church”
29. STYX Not sure about this – I guess “One more river” is the definition, although I’m not sure why it’s “One more” – perhaps because the STYX would be the last river you cross? I think the subsidiary refers to the property that you can add S, T, Y and X to BRAND to get another word, e.g. BRANDS, BRANDT, BRANDY and, um, BRAND X? (Perhaps as in washing powder commercials, comparing to a competitor’s brand?) I suspect that may all be completely wrong :)

49 Responses to “Guardian 24,979 / Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. The theme came fairly soon with 4d giving the N to start 18a and then it was fairly straightforward, but with a nice diversion in 29d: I assumed the letters were after the 17th in the alphabet (Q). There’s an error in 19d I think, since (as you point out) it’s Willy not Willi – followed by “a” and MS=text. The unfinished should be to Brandt. Can’t help you with 11a, or the hence in 13a. I note Ari had BRAND IMAGE (as well as 22a) in a puzzle last November.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, I enjoyed this but sorry I can’t help in explaining the tricky ones.

    However, I can point out a typo in your 6d: INFIDENLITY.

  3. IanN14 says:

    Thanks mhl,
    Bit convoluted all this, but I think Brand Extension is a well enough known phrase (at least in advertising). So Extension = More Room, + it can also follow Brand, just like Image and Fire (also undefined as phrases).
    And I think you’re right about Styx.

  4. mhl says:

    molonglo: thanks, for both 19d and 29d I think your interpretations make more sense

    Bryan: thanks – corrected now.

  5. mhl says:

    (well, 19d anyway – I’m not quite convinced either way with 29d :))

    IanN14: thanks, I’d never heard of “brand extension” before!

  6. IanN14 says:

    I think you’re being too modest.
    If it was “letters after the 17th”, why not 18th?
    And “Brand Extension”. Yes, it’s one of those awful advertising buzzwords.

  7. superdad says:

    What happened to brand 25a?

  8. IanP says:

    13a: If you brand cattle you burn them, I suppose.

    Whole puzzle struck me as being a bit drizzly.

  9. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    I agree with IanN14 re 29dn.

    Re 13ac: I think it might be a reference to this:
    Zechariah 3:2b “Is this not a brand snatched from the burning?”

    Roy Hattersley wrote a life of Wesley: ‘John Wesley: a Brand from the Burning’. Wesley referred to himself thus, because he was rescued from a fire as a young child.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. IBSEN was my route into the theme and googling confirmed that he did write a play called Brand. I found this hard-going in places and missed 29dn.

    My Chambers gives ‘a brand from the burning’ – ‘a person snatched out of a pressing danger (from Amos 4.11)’

    I’m also familiar with ‘brand extension’ as a marketing phrase.

    superdad – in addition to brand 25ac, also brand 24dn

  11. dialrib says:

    Minor point. 23d – Entree = the right of admission or entry eg entree into polite society

  12. IanP says:

    23d – That was my understanding of entree, as well.

    Brand is rarely performed because it’s long and not easy going. Michael Bryant had a go at it at the National in the seventies. Earlier, Patrick McGoohan had a personal success in it as a young actor. I don’t recall any major productions recently, but that’s not to say there hasn’t been one. I’ve not seen the play and don’t really harbour any great desire to do so!

  13. Bryan says:

    Regarding 19d, my take on the playwright was Emlyn Williams who was better known in Wales than Tennessee.

  14. retired pleb says:

    Did it OK, but not one of A’s better puzzles I think. 27a best clue imho !

  15. Dave Ellison says:

    This was a first for me – the first time I have got the theme straight away. 17a was my initial entry, but it didn’t lead to instant success as the coneected clues were quite varied.

    IBSEN third from last to go in, not heard of his play before

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    The Compact Oxford gives BRAND as “an identifying mark burned on livestock with a heated iron; a piece of burning or smouldering wood,” so no problem there, I don’t think.

    Perhaps, as retired pleb says, not one of Araucaria’s best but there’s still a certain panache and it beats yesterday’s and Tuesday’s puzzles into a cocked hat (whatever that means!). I thought 20a was quite good; liked 27a, 13d and 21d, too.

  17. Mr. Jim says:

    An interesting puzzle (thanks to araucaria and mhl) – lots of curious clues I didn’t understand. Had to make several guesses. My only real quibble is using “Anagram Indicator” as a definition. This setter uses just about anything for this purpose (factory?) Also not sure exactly how STYX works. No doubt it’s very clever.

  18. Bullfrog says:

    What happened to brand 25a?

    Good point, superdad, and the question might also be asked of 24d…

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Strange crossword.
    Agree with Mr Jim (#17) about ‘factory’ – apparently one can use anything as an anagrind nowadays [I fear someone at this site will stand up and justify it].

    I failed on STYX [that is, on the explanation of it] and I put in ‘make’ in 1d [which can be ‘brand’, but isn’t really ‘handle’, of course].

    What an ugly way of cluing SELF-MADE in 21d. That “d__” thing doesn’t make any sense to me. Or do I miss something?

    But there were lots of very fine clues as well.
    My favourites: 27ac (AS IT COMES), 24d (LEADER) and maybe 10ac (SERENGETI) – indeed, some of the well-constructed ‘lighter’ ones.

    What a mess Araucaria made of 19d (WILLIAMS)!
    No problem with the playwright (either Emlyn or Tennessee).
    Could even have been William S ….
    No problem with the prelate either, but then Willy Brandt.
    As molonglo says in #1, it’s Willy, not Willi.
    But then: “ex-Chancellor before 17 with no end”.
    I read this as ‘the part of ex-Cancellor coming before 17 (=Brand) with no end”.
    Brand with no end? Brand plús an extra T at the end.

    Thanks mhl for your admirable blog.

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re (my own comment) #19:
    I’ve just been out for a walk, still thinking about 19d.

    I convinced myself that “ex-Chancellor before 17 with no end” [possibly, possibly] cán be read as: ‘the first part of ex-Chancellor coming before something that would be 17 (=Brand) when it would have no end”.

    My problem is: I don’t want it to read like this.
    I am used to read lines of text from left to right and not zigzagging.
    Even in Crosswordland.
    Moreover, I prefer text in which 80% is said within this text and not between the lines [which would be the case here].

    I still find 19d – besides the mistake in Brandt’s first name – an example of clumsy cluing [and we didn’t need the prelate either].

    Wow, that’s a relief! :) [almost felt like G.A.]

  21. Dad's Lad says:

    Thanks mhl. Share reservations about 29. One actual river and the word river itself in 9ac so “one more” is fine. But the quotation marks are misleading unless – as is quite possible – I’m missing a subtlety….

  22. Bill Taylor says:

    If Araucaria is referring to the old spiritual “One More River to Cross,” then the quotation marks are fine. That river was, of course, the Styx.

  23. Mr Beaver says:

    Bill – I thought it was “One more river, and that’s the river of Jordan” – I don’t think the Styx fits into Christian spirituality, does it ?

  24. Martin H says:

    In the spiritual ‘One More River to Cross’ the river is the Jordan, not the Styx.

    I wasn’t all that keen on this one, although most of it was easy enough. Found the theme forced, and thought the stitching was coming out of some of the clues (19 particularly). Some of the simpler ones were very nice though – AIRER for instance. I thought the word order for 26 down ‘Keep skin covered’ was unusual: a dd with one definition coming in the middle of the other. Nice.

    Thanks for the blog mhl. I was puzzled like you about 23 (entree). I worked in education in France for some years, and don’t know of any exam called an entrée. You could stretch it to mean ‘right of access/entry’, but that’s hardly ‘qualification’, so I remain puzzled.

  25. Martin H says:

    Following my post @ 24, I’ve just been reminded about the ‘concours d’entrée’, (competitive entrance exam) which must be what Araucaria is referring to, although ‘entrée’ itself is not a qualification.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Martin, I’m completely with you. As I said in my (first) post, I found it a bit of a strange crossword, but there were a lot of good clues [and the crossword as a whole was not even that hard].
    I agree with you about AIRER and SKIN, nothing wrong with LOYALTY or STERNUM either, but I have to admit it was ‘compensated’ by rather poor ones like DREAM TEAM, EYEBALL and SADLY.

    The only one who could explain “One more river”, I fear, is the Rev himself. But where other setters make a contribution to this site (Pasquale, Crucible, Rufus, Boatman, Shed, Puck et al), I don’t expect Araucaria to do so [nor does Paul – a pity, I think], and therefore we will not get the answer to our problem.
    The Rev is a very well-educated man who knows his classics [more than you & I do], so I am quite sure he would be able to convince us, if, yes, if … that’s the point.
    In the meantime, my mind’s just being spoiled by that awful Boney M song “By the rivers of Babylon” …. :).

    As to ENTREE, the closest thing to “Qualification required” is ‘the right to join a group of people or enter a place’, which is just not the same. Let’s face it: another poor clue.

    Finally, there’s one more thing I want to say to mhl in particular.
    The fact that your blog wasn’t “perfect” was just perfect.

  27. Martin H says:

    Sil, if you get an earworm you should, please, not pass it on!

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Actually, since Easter Sunday my right ear’s deaf(ish) [which is true].
    Wish someone wouldn’t have given me ‘Boney M’s Greatest Hits’ as a present for my birthday [which is nót true].

  29. Bill Taylor says:

    Styx… Jordan… semantics! (In other words: Oops!)

  30. Dad's Lad says:

    Thanks chaps. Long shot but on reflection wondering if there is a sub theme on rivers. There is a Williams River, at least 2 Leader Rivers, plentiful references to river(s) of fire and money and the ‘burning river’ (the Cuyahoga). Wiki answers also refers to a Serengeti River in Kenya and Tanzania – erroneously I think. There’s a place called Iron River and the Jordan is sometimes referred to as the Bible River. Probably all co-incidental.

    But I still don’t like the quotation marks!

  31. Daniel Miller says:

    Tough lot this .. Nearly got Prunus, missed Entree, missed Eyeball. The rest after much effort. The usual high standard from A. Well done to anyone who completed it.

  32. Daniel Miller says:

    WILLI(E) BRAND(T) AND A-(S)MS I think? Or something akin to that.

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Dear Daniel (re #32),
    How many letters do you want to leave out (3?) and – particularly – why?

    [btw, your third one, the ‘s’ of ‘sms’ (the European version of ‘text message’ – very familiar to me), isn’t part of the game as ‘ms’ means ‘manuscript’ (= text)]

  34. Macca says:

    This was probably the worst Araucaria puzzle I’ve ever attempted (admittedly I’m not a big fan of him anyway). The combined might of respondents here can’t even agree or understand many clues. The theme is incomprehensible to many.

    30ac and 31ac were awful. 30 is dull. 31 has ‘sadly’ as ‘anagram indicator’. So any word can be ‘defined’ as some vague extension of something else.
    21dn is rubbish. 11ac is also rubbish – ‘”Next” noise factory’ ? What’s that ?
    14dn INDIAN HEMP has that stutter device thing that only shows laziness in finding something sensible.
    1dn NAME is virtually the same definition.
    26dn HIDE is lazy.

    This sort of puzzle makes me wonder how anyone can seriously call Araucaria ‘The Master’. He’s not The Master, he’s just a naughty compiler.

  35. Another Andrew says:

    Ugh. Finally given up with 7 still to do. How do you do these things so quickly ?

    Really didn’t enjoy this one with only 27a making me smile. Every clue was a struggle for me.

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    apart from HIDE (IMHO) and the INDIAN HEMP of 14d (ok construction – nonsense surface), I must admit you’re quite right about all this.
    Especially,'”Next” noise factory’ doesn’t seem to bother anyone (else).

    Today he wasn’t the Master [but he can be], but he isn’t just a naughty compiler’
    [1. there’s nothing naughty in this crossword 2. Paul = His Holy Naughtiness]

  37. Kate W says:

    I’m with you, another Andrew. I sometimes finish in the evening, but sometimes carry on the next day. If it took me only minutes as some posters say, I think I’d be disappointed. I like sitting staring at the clues and pondering. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind completing a few more than I do. And I thought this crossword was really hard and not satisfying at all.
    One of the sad things about fifteen squared is that all the discussions seem to be over by about midday!

  38. brr says:

    I agree it’s a bit of a shame … I often feel like one of those marathon runners that finishes after the crowd has gone home.

  39. Daniel Miller says:

    Sil (# 33) – Good point, so let’s have a look:

    Playwright, prelate (both Williams)
    Ex-Chancellor (before 17 with no end) Brandt – with no end becomes ’17’. – so this gives us WILLI.

    On reflection now we have .. to a text – suggests a – ms – manuscript. So I bow to your superior analysis.

  40. mhl says:

    Kate W / brr: I should say that people do read the comments for the next few days, and the person who did the blog for that day will get an email notification whenever the comment is left, so everything will get read, if not necessarily replied to! (There is an interesting effect that the comments about crosswords tend to get less positive as the day goes on, for obvious reasons.)

    Sil: thanks for your comments – I’ll use them as an excuse not to update the post, since I’m relying on very expensive roaming mobile internet access until we can get something else sorted out in Zurich :)

  41. Alberich says:

    Sil, the “d___” thing does make sense if you read it like an old English novel, where only the first letter of words like “damn” were printed to avoid offence. How times have changed.

    The hardest Guardian (for me) for weeks, even having spotted the theme. Is this not more Saturday prize material?

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, Alberich, you won’t be surprised that I didn’t know this.
    And so I have to rehabilitate this clue, which I hereby do.

    Still think that this crossword as a whole is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, it’s a bit messy [with a y, not an i … :)]
    An ideal Saturday prize puzzle? Not for me – but then we’re all different, aren’t we?

  43. snigger says:

    hmmm – “factory” – pah !

    with all the twisting and turning to make “brand” work in other clues i do believe the master finally disappeared up his own backside with 29d

    a most unpleasurable chore completing this turgid mess

  44. Macca says:

    if you read the whole set of clues as an absurdist mess then you can justify any of it. It is 2010 and we should be entitled to read the clues sensibly, not in the manner of some undefined, unknown, unreasonable style.

    The Messter was here. Not the other guy.

  45. irm says:

    I have just found 15 sq and am very happy to have somewhere to go when I haven’t got a clue. Strangely I was thinking of starting just such a blog but thankfully you have saved me the trouble and I found it in time.

    Like others here I take some time to do the Guardian (esp A) and I usually don’t finish one or two clues.

    Strangely I thought EYEBALL very good (Keep your eye on the ball is advice given in every ball game) and I also liked SADLY.

    Please can someone explain (D FEMALES)* the solution, notation etc?

    Also I am unfamiliar with the term “surface”. If there is somewhere I can go to find out please give me the link.

  46. mhl says:

    irm: I’m glad to hear that you’ve found the site and have found it useful. The notation (….)* means “anagram of whatever is in the parentheses”. Some bloggers add a key to the notation they use at the top of the post – I should probably start doing that. Different bloggers use slightly different conventions, but I think they’re all pretty clear.

    In the case of SELF-MADE, it’s a difficult one to classify – the definition is really the whole clue, with the anagram indicated by “requiring”, similarly to how you sometimes see “made from” or just “from” as an anagram indicator.

    “surface” refers to the “surface reading” of the clue, i.e. the one that would first strike you on reading it rather than the “cryptic reading” which leads you to the answer. I think the best reference for such terms is Don Manley’s “Chambers Crossword Manual”, but there are many similar books, hopefully using much the same terminology!

  47. Neil says:

    My long held fan-ship of Araucaria might be on the wane with Saturday’s prize, and now this. Finished both without much bother but there were too many disappointments in the clueing. Outrageous I like, even preposterous, but I agree with many above who found messiness rather than the elan I used to look forward to.

  48. Huw Powell says:

    never even got to 29d, though I appreciate the explanation. Found many clues, even ones I got, unsatisfactory. Puzzle was fun for a while, finally got 17/18a, got me some more answers of course, but left many sad blanks, about 9 in all :(

    PS, who is “lateral”?

  49. PeterS says:

    In the Guardian Weekly the setter was identified as “Audreus”, so we didn’t start with our minds tuned to the right station. Finished it, but without understanding some of the clues. Nice to come here to find the explanations.
    Never having heard of Brand Extension, I thought that the “17” might refer to the age one’s children reach when an extension is essential.

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