Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,064 / Araucaria

Posted by Gaufrid on July 16th, 2010


I thought that this was going to be relatively easy today having entered quite a few answers during the first pass through the clues. However, the remainder of the puzzle proved problematic in places and there are still some clues that I cannot adequately explain.

I am uncertain as to the intention in 23ac but cannot see an alternative. I think the first part of my explanation for 11dn is correct but I cannot be 100% sure (pun intended). I have been unable to come up with a rational explanation for 20dn, I’m hoping that someone will help me out here. Edit: 23ac has now been resolved thanks to molonglo’s comment #4.

For me, an enjoyable start but a degree of frustration at the end.

1 MUCILAGE  *(GUM ALICE) – ‘gum’ doing double duty as the definition and part of the anagram fodder.
5 ABLAZE  AB (sailor) LAZE (take no action)
10 DUGOUT  DUGO[ng] (marine beast mostly) UT (note)
12 WHOLE  W (with) HOLE (gap)
13 SHIPSHAPE  cd&d
14 DIVORCE COURT  *(REOCCUR) in DIVOT (piece of turf)
18 HEAVY POLLING  V (very) *(PLOY) in HEALING (therapy) – is there such a phrase?
21 ASPARAGUS  ASP (snake) SUGAR A reversed
23 TRACE  dd – at least I assume this was the intention. If the clue is split after ‘bit’ the ‘of horse’ makes no sense as a second definition. If it is split before ‘bit’ it is still inaccurate because a ‘trace’ is a strap attached to a horse’s collar or breast-strap, not the ‘bit’ that goes in its mouth. Or is ‘horse’ being used in its drug sense to give a simple, single definition? Edit: thanks to molonglo I now see that it is ‘a little bit’ and ‘horse’ as in trace-horse.
24 EMBARK  ME (setter) reversed BARK (his word)
25 DIABETIC  DI (princess) ABET (assist) IC[e] (a lot of diamonds)
26 ROYALS  dd – a reference to the Blues and Royals.
27 CEREBRAL  CERE (apply wax) BRA (support) L (student)

1 MOHAWK  MO (doctor) HAWK (belicose type)
2 CENSOR  CE (church) NS (partners) OR
3 LONGEVITY  ON (continuing) G (gravity) in LEVITY (lack of it {gravity})
4 GAINSBOROUGH  GAINS (wins) BOROUGH (urban seat) – a town in Lincolnshire (11).
6 BLUES  d&cd – Gainsborough’s painting ‘The Blue Boy’ and a censor’s blue pencil give two blues, hence the plural.
7 ABOMASUM  A BOM[b] (nearly a lot of money) A SUM (12 {whole}) – the fourth or true stomach of ruminants, lying close to the omasum.
8 ENTREATY  E N (directions) TREATY (agreement)
11 LINCOLNSHIRE  cd – Lincolnshire is divided into various ‘Ridings’ including the North, South and West Riding of Lindsey. The Ridings are further subdivided into several wapentakes or ‘hundreds’. The abbreviation for Lincolnshire is Lincs. which is a homophone of ‘links’, a seaside golf course which gives its name to a type of golf (as currently being played on the St Andrew’s Old Course), hence the ‘briefly golf, say’.
15 CONSTABLE  CON (study) STABLE (horses) – I assume that, apart from benefiting the surface, ‘force’ has been included as an allusion to a rank in the police force since I am not aware of Constable having painted a waterfall (are there any in Suffolk?).
16 WHEATEAR  HEAT (temperature) in WEAR (erosion)
17 PALPABLY  PAL (friend) PABL[o] (Picasso with no love) Y[our]
19 CASTER  d&cd – if ‘caster’ is ‘donned’ it becomes ‘Doncaster’, the Yorkshire racecourse where the Lincoln Handicap is run (‘home to the 11′). Until 1965 the race was known as the Lincolnshire Handicap.
20 PENCIL  ??? – I’m not sure. If ‘take’ had been ‘make’ I would have said that this was *(LINE PC) or even simply a dd. Alternatively it could be a multiple definition with ‘pencil’ being used in one or more of its following senses: “something long, fine and narrow in shape” (line?), “a fine paintbrush” (15 might take?), “the art of painting or drawing” or “an artist’s individual style or technique in drawing” (line 15 might take?).
22 RURAL  R (right) UR (old city) AL (others)

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,064 / Araucaria”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid.

    There were too many odd clues and solutions for my liking.

  2. harry says:

    Thanks Gaufrid,

    I agree, some clues here I don’t fully understand, but an interesting puzzle.
    18ac – was clear enough from the cluing, but it is hardly a common phrase
    I took the def. of 4dn. to be “seat in Lincolnshire”, which it is (MP – Edward Leigh). Uncle Yap has in the past complained of the parochialism of some clues – I think that this one definitely falls into that category.

  3. sidey says:

    Well if Gaufrid had problems…

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. This was fun and mostly plain sailing with the splendid 11d giving some sort of theme. 1a helped get 4d, and then 15d: but weren’t both of them Suffolk men who never painted in 11d? The NE corner proved tricky and checking was needed for the UT in 10a, and drudgery required to get the last, 7d. I wasn’t too bothered with TRACE – it’s a little bit, and a horse – or PENCIL – writer/chief inspector/line … or something like that. Araucaria has earned a lot of leeway.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi molonglo
    I now see 23ac thanks to your comment. I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as a trace-horse. However, I don’t follow your reference to ‘chief inspector’ for 20dn.

  6. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. You can well imagine that the parochialism harry@2 referred to caused me problems. “Hundreds into ridings”, Lincs, Royals and Blues etc. mean nothing to me. I was happy to accept PENCIL as *(Line PC) as you suggest and a trace is close enough to the bit and it makes a nice clue so I let that one slide as well. I liked the cluing for Doncaster, but wish I understood the connection to 11. (I thought it must have had something to do with a football team.) I agree with molonglo that Araucaria deserves some leeway and I enjoyed the puzzle overall.

  7. Myrvin says:

    7 definitely a dictionary word; and so, for its horse meaning was 23 – last to go in and I guessed it. 9 was naughty. I lived in 11 for a few years – in West Lindsey! – it didn’t help. It’s all Districts now. But it did help with 4, since I’ve been there. I also thought I’d been to Caster there – but I it turned out to be Caistor.

  8. Max says:

    Re 18ac – after long involvement with local elections, I have heard the term ‘Heavy Polling’ (usually in the context of queues at polling stations). But it’s hardly common parlance except among election geeks and us politicos.

  9. Max says:

    I forgot to add – and I didn’t get the answer!

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. I found this pretty difficult and didn’t understand the wordplay at 19dn, 20dn, 10ac and 23ac or the convolutions of 11dn. Much recourse to the check button!

  11. Ian W. says:

    I’m not a politico, but “heavy polling” was a perfectly familiar phrase to me. I didn’t make the “Lincs” connection so was mystified by the golf reference, but the solution was clear enough from the linked clues.

  12. otter says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid, for the explanations. I found this quite a toughie, and eventually gave up with 7d and 13a unsolved. I even thought of SHIPSHAPE for ‘neat’, but couldn’t see the cd. Very clever.

    I have heard ‘heavy polling’ during election coverage, so it is a known and used phrase, although in a specific context. Nothing wrong with that, though.

    I eventually got LINCOLNSHIRE for 11d, but with absolutely no idea why. Like 13a, it’s a cd of an unusual sort for cryptic crosswords. No complaints about that, although both defeated me today.

    Ref comment 2, I think in 4d BOROUGH is ‘urban seat’, so the def is ‘in 11d’ (which Gainsborough is).

    I had a suspicion that someone in literature had a horse famously called Trace, but can’t pin it down. Am satisfied with trace-horse though, although it’s a new term on me.

    Phew, need a brain shower now.

    (Can’t wait until we can discuss this month’s Genius, which was an absolute joy.)

  13. otter says:

    Oh, forgot to say that I took ‘Force painter’ in 15d to be two separate definitions to help the solver along. Not sure how valid this is.

  14. Gaufrid says:

    Hi harry @2 and otter @12
    The wordpay in 4dn has to be ‘urban seat’ = BOROUGH since ‘urban’ on its own is an adjective whereas ‘borough’ is a noun and the two do not equate. For ‘borough’ Chambers gives “a town that sends representatives to parliament” which, for me, is an ‘urban seat’.

  15. Mr. Jim says:

    This was extremely difficult for me, and I didn’t get very far (thanks to Gaufrid for explaining many things).

    Perhaps PENCIL is something to do with the “thin blue line”?

  16. Martin H says:

    Yes, quite a slog, but with some enjoyment along the way – HANGNAIL was very nice, and I liked North/South as partners. Having put CLOSE for 12a (which seemed suitably Araucarian), I was stymied in the NW, but MOHAWK forced my hand and the simpler WHOLE fell into place, which still failed to help with ABOMASUM – brain-dead by then I think. Shame about DI and BRA.

  17. Myrvin says:

    Ah yes. Forgot to mention the return of ‘support’.

  18. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Mr Jim @ 15
    “Perhaps PENCIL is something to do with the “thin blue line”?”

    The site seems to be experiencing problems today and the comment I added earlier has disappeared (the database must have been restored to an earlier version) so I will type it again.

    Interesting idea. I did check to see if a pencil-line might be manned by members of the Constabulary, even though I had never heard of one, but I could find nothing relevant.

    If the link you suggest had been intended then I would have expected a reference in the clue to 6dn or its wordplay, but I could still be missing something.

    On balance, I still favour a misprint for ‘take’. Had it been ‘make’ then there would have been at least a couple of valid parsings for the clue.

  19. Mister Sting says:

    This was a dog’s breakfast.
    I don’t want to be rude to the man – this was wholly unworthy of him. I do wonder about people who seem not to enjoy the head-scratching and bewilderment of cryptics, but this was a different thing altogether. There was barely a clue without some sort of failing.

  20. medici says:

    Isn’t 20d just a simple anagram of line and PC = constable = 15?

  21. Gaufrid says:

    Hi medici
    As indicated in my analysis, this is a possibility but how can ‘might take with’, or any part of it, be an anagram indicator? As I have said, if ‘take’ had been ‘make’ there would have been no problem.

  22. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Mister Sting @19
    “There was barely a clue without some sort of failing.”

    I think that is a gross exageration. The vast majority of clues were straightforward and fair (by Araucaria’s standards and many by normal standards), a couple needed a little thought to work out the wordplay, though it was possible in the end, and one (20dn) so far defies satisfactory (to me) explanation unless ‘take’ is a misprint.

  23. tupu says:

    Thanks Gaufrid, Araucaria et al.

    After briefly wondering if I could get going at all, this went pretty well for me until I got stuck on 10a. and 7d. These took a long time and some fruitless faffing about until I actually saw the answers for myself – ‘ut’ in 10a came to mind to give dugout (and dugong) and I was then able to construct 7 from the clue and check it. This was pleasing in retrospect – I had begun to feel this would be my first uncompleted puzzle for a long time – but by then ‘aha’ was not a sentiment I could immediately muster!

    Some nice clues. I assumed 9 is some reference to Ghana’s defeat in SA as a result of a Uruguyan handball foul – which led me astray looking for ‘hand’ words till I saw the anagram.

    14 was also good with ‘divot’ harking back to the golf ref.

    re 23. I felt like one or two others that ‘trace’ was close enough to ‘bit’ to do, and did not know trace-horse. I wonder if the ‘?’ after horse points at something less direct than an actual horse.

    re 20d The anagram of ‘line PC (constable)’ = pencil (writer) seems simplest and best to me. ‘Take’ seems OK, and I read the might as a sort of anagrind.

    24 ac. involves the idea of a shouted command I suppose.

    19d was a clever clue. I assumed in my blissful ignorance it was still ‘The Lincolnshire’.

    Heavy polling seems pretty standard to me, but I am not totally reliable on these things.

  24. Gaufrid says:

    Hi tupu
    “24 ac. involves the idea of a shouted command I suppose.”

    Though your supposition works, I had intended to include a note in my analysis to the effect that I interpreted ‘his word’ as the communication method of a (Red, Gordon or Irish) setter.

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Gaufrid
    Thanks – very nice, that went past me at the time. The exclamation mark led me to the command idea and inertia as usual set in.

  26. Andrew says:

    Coincidentally, the Lincolnshire/Doncaster connection has just come up in a question on tonight’s “Weakest Link”.

  27. shadow says:

    Thanx Gaufrid

  28. rrc says:

    The weekend is not looking so good as A has cropped up today

  29. gareth says:

    Pencil seems to have bothered people but being older I found that easy …
    The Censor used to take a blue pencil to anything improper in a book/play/film…

  30. Gwhite says:

    Re 20d In thé us anyway, to ‘Blue Pencil’ léans to censor.

  31. gareth says:

    … even odder that that explanation is under blues – but not under pencil ? :-(

  32. Gaufrid says:

    gareth and Gwhite
    The censor’s blue pencil is not in doubt as indicaled in my analysis of 6dn. What is in question is the wordplay for 20dn, and ‘censor’ and/or ‘blue does not come into it..

    The definition would appear to be ‘writer’ which leaves ‘Line 15 might take with’. As 15 is ‘Constable’ it could be an anagram of (LINE PC) but I do not see that ‘might take with’, or even part of this, can be an anagram indicator.

  33. Gwhite says:

    6 down is the link between censor censor and pencil

  34. tupu says:

    Hi Gaufrid
    Re 20d. Sorry to bother further, but it is frustrating not to understand a relatively short clue with a clear answer. I must ultimately bow to your knowledge and experience, but I am still not sure there is no sense in the wording as it stands.

    If one assumes that word order and punctuation are not sacrosanct in a clue, then one can generate something like
    ‘PC (15 constable) might take line with writer (pencil)’.
    I don’t like it all that much but ‘with’ might then be taken as ‘in the case of’ (or similar
    referential expression).

    At a greater stretch it might be taken as a kind of hanging adverb like ‘along’ – in which case there might be a stop or hyphen to mark off a pause followed by ‘writer’ as self-standing definition.

  35. Mr Beaver says:

    Would someone enlighten me as to why UT = note ?
    I put DUGOUT in, having twigged ‘dugong’, then decided it didn’t really work – I was expecting a note (one of A – G) in ‘dugon’. And anyway, a dugout is a boat, not a trench !

  36. Martin H says:

    Mr B – Ut is the old equivalent of ‘Do’ in solfege, relating to the notes of the scale in music. In Italian and French systems it represents the note C (useful for setters?), and in the English system the keynote of any major scale.

  37. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    I thought this was an excellent puzzle full of wit and invention and with a couple of Araucaria’s trademark “loose” clues – hence all the debate here.
    As usual a lot of answers were easier to guess than to parse,but working out the wordplay is a lot of the fun.
    I see your point re. 20 down but must admit that I spotted the anagram and didn’t think any deeper than that.
    15 down – Like Otter I think “force painter” was two definitions,but to try to mislead, rather than aid, the solver.
    I thought “heavy polling” was quite a familiar expression and the Lincoln Handicap is still known by punters as the Lincolnshire.
    “Trace horse” is often used in pre 20th century novels and is also to be found in most English translations of the Iliad.
    Favourite clues for me 13 and 14 across and 19 down.

  38. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks Martin – you live and learn !

  39. easy peasy not says:

    Have returned to these puzzles after many years absence – for me this was very difficult with 7 solutions missed. Much more problematic than Araucaria’s Prize puzzle last week which was easy by comparison. Hugely enjoyable though.

  40. tupu says:

    HI Scarpia
    re 20d. In the end I largely agree with you that it’s probably not worth trying to make too much sense – something about pig’s ears and silk purses I seem to remember.

  41. William says:

    Phew. Bit of a slog for me, I’m afraid. Finally gave up on ABOMASUM & TRACE.

    No one else seems bothered about 13ac. I’m happy that a ship can taper forwards and be blunt at the back, but how exactly does a ship taper downwards?

    Sorry to be dim.

  42. Gaufrid says:

    Hi William
    If you take a plan view of a ship’s hull it tapers towards the bow and is blunt at the stern. If you take a section through the hull, or view it in elevation, it tapers from the deck to the keel, ie \/ (but usually with curved sides).

  43. Roger says:

    Hi William ~ I guess the hull of a ship tapers from its beam to its keel.

  44. Roger says:

    oops! ~ messages crossed ~ should have refreshed the page before submitting. Sorry.

    wrt 27a, Gaufrid, can cere be a verb as in “to apply wax” as you suggest or does it mean CERE (noun, the wax-like patch on a birds beak) added/applied to BRA L. Can’t find any reference to the verb thing.

  45. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Roger
    Yes, ‘cere’ can be a transitive verb. Chambers gives “to cover with wax; to wrap (a dead body) in cerecloth”.

  46. El Stano says:

    Hmmm… took me longer to read all this than to do the puzzle 😉

  47. Roger says:

    Thanks for that, Gaufrid. Not in my on-line version, though.

    Bet Rufus wishes he’d thought of 13a. (But then perhaps he has, among his millions!).

  48. Gaufrid says:

    The on-line version is Chambers 21st Century Dictionary which is not as comprehensive as the full Chambers 11th edition.

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