Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,033 / Araucaria

Posted by Handel on June 10th, 2010


This was quite a tough one for a before-work solve, especially as our knowledge of golf clubs is limited to those mentioned by Bertie Wooster, so there was a good deal of new vocabulary here for us. We enjoyed 5 down when it finally clicked. A couple of unresolved points, which we expect to be resolved within minutes of this being published!



5. RED-FACED (A.D.C. freed)*

9. GUERNSEY ‘guy’ with ‘ernes’ inside with a twisted tail, that is, the last two letters swapped

10. CLIQUE sounds like ‘cleek’ – recognised this device from a recent Azed

11. SHILLY-SHALLY sounds like a drunken person saying ‘silly Sally’

13. RUSE sounds like ‘roos’ as in kangaroos

14. N EGLI(se) GEE

17. BRASSICA which is a food plant, but not sure why ’22 2 nearly to call Scottish food plant’

18. N(ibl)ICK a bit vague, we felt


23. WEDGED dd


25. ADHERENT ‘head’ anagramised, then ‘rent’

26. T(A R)IFF


2. see 22

3. THRE(SH)E RS we liked this one


5. ROYAL AND ANCIENT dd – as in ‘Old King Cole’


7. cAN IMAgine

8. E BULL IENCE as in John Bull, then ‘niece’ anagramised


15. (s)INN(KEEP)ER


19. WIDGET makes a ‘head’ on a beer – ‘dig’ anagramised inside ‘wet’

21. EAGLE dd

22, 2 GOLF CLUB we can see that the first part is the definition, but why are they ‘here from days of old’?

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,033 / Araucaria”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Handel, I also enjoyed this.

    17a is an allusion to a Brassie (a golf club) cut short to Brassi + ca (Scottish call).

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks Handel

    Can only partially help with 17ac – a Brassie was another old name for a golf club – equivalent to a 2 wood.

  3. NeilW says:

    Beaten by Bryan – should have used the driver!

  4. NeilW says:

    “Here from days of old”, of course(!) refers to the fact that the clubs named in the other clues in the crossword are all the old names.

  5. Bryan says:

    Sorry, NeilW @3, I was simply trying to meet Handel’s expectations. However, you’ve definitely scored a Hole in One with your explanation of 22d 2d.

    The Committee have accordingly reduced your handicap to 1.

  6. rrc says:

    11a will have me smiling all day!

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Handels for a very good blog and Araucaria for an enjoyable ‘trip down memory lane’. I particularly enjoyed the misleading hints in 22,4 and 5d that we had a football theme. The golf club theme was clearly easier for a wrinkly, as the second part of 22,4 suggests. 18a seems pretty exact to me.

    Many pleasing features – e.g. the pairing of 19 and 25, and the construction in 12 d, and lots of pleasant wit as in 11, 13, 16 and 24 etc.

    I had to check ‘duck’s egg’ – the original of the more common ‘duck’ – here at least the egg definitely came first! – though it was clear enough that was the answer.

    Overall one to make one feel that bit happier in a gloomy world.

  8. rob lewis says:

    I think 18ac is Niblick minus ‘ibl’ of ‘part of sibling’ leaving ‘nick’ or slang for police station. Thoroughly enjoyed this as first ever set of clubs came engraved with the old names :-)

  9. TokyoColin says:

    Tupu, I don’t know if it is used where Araucaria hails from but ‘goose egg’ is used in many places to refer to a zero on the scoreboard. I solved the clue for 6dn with that reference in mind as well which amplified the aha moment for me.

  10. tupu says:

    Hi Handels
    Apologies, I think I missed your point re vagueness. I imagine you refer to the way the answer comes out the same whether you subtract ‘ibl’ or ‘bli’ from niblick.

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin
    Many thanks. I did not know that. The idea is exactly the same, though duck[‘s egg] has clearly caught on more. Written use of Duck (= zero) goes back to at least 1868 and of duck’s egg and goose-egg in this sense to at least 1863 and 1867, it seems. Though they are both mainly cricket terms, goose-egg is glossed to include misses at shooting as well as other sporting failures.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks, Handel. I was thinking football for a while, too, then after I got a few non-theme clues spotted Royal and Ancient and the penny dropped. (I’ve only heard of the club from a previous golf-themed crossword. Can’t remember — someone will — whether Araucaria set that one.)

    My knowledge of old golf club names, such as it is, also comes from crosswordland, so I needed google for ‘cleek’ and ‘spoon’.

    I loved 11ac and 16dn also made me smile. As a fan of A, I enjoyed this very much!

  13. Andrew says:

    Liz, there was an Araucaria puzzle that included R&A as an answer, and some other golfing references, just over a year ago.

    A nice puzzle, I thought, that started off looking difficult but yielded quite quickly after the penny dropped. Thanks to Handel for the blog.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    A very nice puzzle with one or two delightful touches — 5d, for instance, and 11a. As Andrew says, it started off looking difficult but then things started falling into place. But it was still a challenge and a lot of fun. I never knew until now that WIDGET had anything to do with beer. You live and learn.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew! I suspected it was Araucaria.

  16. The Architrave says:

    Someone has posted this query in the Guardian comments and I was wondering exactly the same thing:

    “I have learned only through doing crosswords that dis means underworld or underground, can anyone tell me why please?”

  17. The Architrave says:

    Aha, answered my own question!

    Dis Pater, or Dispater (cf. Skt. Dyaus Pitar), was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades. Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

    Dis Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dis (much like how Dyaus Pitar was also simply called Dyaus). This name has since become an alternate name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the Dis of The Divine Comedy.

  18. tupu says:

    Bill @14 Hi. As you probably know (by now), it is the little pull ring on top of cans of beer and other fizzy drinks. I gather it’s also been a general word for gadget. :) I hope this comment is worthwhile, having wandered all over the place with ‘tich’ the other day.

  19. RogerB says:

    When I was at prep school in the early fifties there was a card game lying around whose cards had all these wonderful names (cleek, spoon, mashie-niblick). Does anybody remember this enough to give me a reference to it? Golf meant nothing to me then, and little more now, but those words were spells to conjure with!

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Happy day! The class dummy finished another of his. I’m definitely loosing count now LOL

  21. Bill Taylor says:

    Thanks, tupu! Apparently, my computer has widgets, too, though I have no idea what they do or how I might make them do it! I’m looking now, just in case there’s a little tap that might produce beer….

    I wish I could remember where it appeared but some years ago I read a very funny whodunit spoof set in a golf club. The upper-class detective hero’s name was Mashie Niblick and Cleek was his Scottish manservant/sidekick, whose stock phrase was, “Aye, Meester Neeblick.”

  22. jack says:

    Tupu @18 & Bill @14 Hi!

    The ‘widget’ isn’t the ring-pull on top of a can of beer, it’s a device inside the can that opens when top is opened and it releases nitrogen into beer to give it a head more like a pint in a pub.

    Found the following on a website:

    “THE humble widget has been crowned the greatest technological invention of the past 40 years.

    While science has made dramatic and momentous advances, Britons chose the gadget which puts a head on their canned beer as the most important breakthrough, according to a survey.

    Computers, the internet, heart transplant surgery and genetics were all left trailing in the wake of the small, plastic device in the bottom of a can which introduces nitrogen into the liquid to create a pint like you get down the pub.

    It was first introduced by Guinness in 1989 after the brewer spent five years and £5 million developing it. … ”


  23. Coffee says:

    Thanks Jack, makes us proud to be British, ahem! Knowing nothing about the game in question, i really struggled today, tho I got the lovely 5D very early & thought I was on a roll. Since it’s bed time here, thank for 18, 19 and 24 – now I can sleep in peace.

  24. Bill Taylor says:

    Oh yeah, we have those in Canada, too, jack. Wonderful things — they transformed drinking at home — but I never knew they were called widgets.

  25. Stella Heath says:

    My only knowledge of golf clubs being for the short time I caddied, before the club authorities found out I was a girl – though the couple I caddied for didn’t seem to mind!, – I found this puzzle rather a struggle, but thoroughly enjoyable

  26. tupu says:


    Many thanks Jack – as Bill said earlier, one lives and learns. :) The idea of a widget as a device for ‘generating froth’ makes me wonder (if only self-critically) about the possibility of more figurative applications of the term!

  27. Ron says:

    Re Widget

    There are those of us who think the widget is a device of the devil – it makes flat, undrinkable beer into fizzy, undrinkable beer!

    Can I recommend some decent bottle-conditioned beers, e.g. Worthington White Shield, Hopback Summer Lightning …

  28. Bill Taylor says:

    I feel a beer-themed crossword coming on…..

    Bartender’s lawyer says, “Don’t drink this at home. Or anywhere!”

  29. George Foot says:

    RogerB. You may be thinking of “Kargo” a card game I played with great enthusiasm in those days!

  30. Daniel Miller says:

    A tremendous set from A full of wonderful clues and surprises. Enjoyed it thoroughly. 3 down was beautifully constructed with SH around three R’s – witty, intelligent – Sparkling. I could wax lyrical too about the “drunk” Silly-Sally.. and the delightful Eggspoon (‘to enter shell’)..

    Take a bow!

  31. tupu says:

    I’m trying to remember if it was Kipling who wrote:

    There are those who think widgets are great,
    And others who think they are dreadful.
    And some praise the head on their beer,
    And some talk as if they’ve a headful.
    But there’s always some froth to be found,
    Wherever keen bloggers abound!

    I may have got the words slightly wrong.

  32. Velella says:

    i agree with Daniel Miller, 3d is a superb clue. i was saying ‘threers’ over and over until it clicked.

    Particularly like in Auracaria’s themed puzzles how the timing of discovering the theme always seems to be arranged well. For me, getting the theme too quickly, or worse having to get the theme early in order to proceed, spoils the puzzle. I think this construction is no accident – has anyone ever analysed how many crossed letters are common vs uncommon ones in his puzzles relative to other setters? Not sure I have patience to do this but just interested in how/why they work so well from a techinical point of view.

  33. A_fan says:

    Greetings from “Down-under”! This may seem a bit late.. time zones and all that.
    Thanks to Handel(s) for the blog, the simplicity of explanations for which reflect the “neatness” of the clues in this classic from The Master. (I am a great fan of Araucaria – I have a file going back 30 years with his alphabetic jigsaws, themed puzzles, and ones which have anagrams with lengths over 50 letters! Re-reading them is an enjoyable pasttime.)
    In this one, like many others above, I thought 3d and 11a were superb. Getting the answer to 21d early helped identify the answer to 22, then the brilliant subtlety of 5d became apparent.
    I also enjoyed reading so many positive comments for a change. To those who regularly post negative comments, I wonder if you have ever tried to compose a crossword? (I also have a passion for programing computers, but my admiration is for those who design them!). Oh, yes, and Aussie beer doesn’t need “widgets”..:-) Cheers!

  34. Huw Powell says:

    Man, you people who solve these things in 12 minutes aren’t getting your money’s worth! This thing took me six hours of 2/3 concentration = 4 hours at least!

    Very slow going, especially until I finally twigged GOLF CLUB, in pencil at least. Then I had to start exploring the articles on wikipedia, the only one of these club names I already knew was mashie.

    Only one I ended up not getting was NICK, I never got as far as just removing part of “sibling”.

    Lots of fun though, thanks Araucaria, and Handel for the blog.

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