Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,095 (Sat 21 Aug)/Araucaria – Any colour as long as it’s black and white

Posted by rightback on August 28th, 2010


Solving time: 8 mins

I found this the most enjoyable Araucaria I’ve done for a good while. The surface readings almost all made good sense and the cryptic indications were much more accurate and less padded out that usual. As so often, the two multi-word phrases might as well have been unclued as I left them at first and then built them up from the checking letters only, but at least their wordplays were accessible. My favourites were probably 13ac (EVIL) and 14ac (ORPHANAGES) but there were few I didn’t like in this.

Music of the day: Take your pick from Finlandia by 2dn (Sibelius) and Black Swan Song by 12ac (Athlete).

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

9 HAIR SHIRT; HART around (IRISH)* – ‘deerskin’ indicating that (word for) ‘deer’ is a container in the wordplay.
10 HO-HUM; HO[use] + HUM (= ‘sound of activity’)
11,1 THE HEAD THAT WEARS A CROWN; (HE HAD NO REST A W-WATCHER AT)* – “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” is a quotation from Henry IV Part II in which the king can’t sleep. It’s a reasonable anagram/&lit, but the second half doesn’t really make sense and ‘w-watcher’ is a bit of a fudge.
12 ATHLETE; A + T (= ‘Model’, as in the Ford Model T), + HE (= ‘one’, i.e. a man) around LET (= ‘handicap’)
13 EVIL; rev. of LIVE (= ‘to be’), &lit – an excellent &lit.
14 ORPHANAGES; HAN (= ‘Chinese’) in OR (= ‘yellow’, in heraldry) + PAGES – I thought ‘Chinese’ might give ‘Ch.’ or ‘Chi.’ and came up with ‘orchisides’ as a possibility before leaving this until near the end. ‘Yellow Pages’ is very good.
15 RESPOND; R.E.’S POND – the RE being the Royal Engineers, whose finest hour was probably in 1875 when they won the FA Cup, having reached the final twice in the three previous competitions.
17 MARCHER; M (= ‘number’) + ARCHER (= ‘sign’) – I think ‘in English’ is included to distinguish between ‘Sagittarius’ and ‘(the) Archer’, although I don’t think it’s really necessary.
22 SNUB (2 defs) – ‘turned up’ as an adjective, as in a nose.
23 [p]RUSSIAN – a suspect ‘by’ here…
24 IMPERI[a]L – …which is a shame, because it detracts from this clue which is very well worded (the ‘of’ is critical and forms part of the indicator ‘of empire’, giving ‘imperial’).
26/27 /6/7 WHICH CAME FIRST THE HEN OR THE EGG; WHICH (= ‘that’) + CAME FIRST (= ‘led’) + T (= ‘model’) + HE,HE (= ‘couple of men’) + NORTH (= ‘pole’) + EEGG (= ‘for example with repeated letters’) – although I didn’t use it to solve the clue, I really like this wordplay, which has a good surface reading and no superfluous words. I was slow to spot the answer because I’ve only seen it as ‘chicken’ before and thought ‘H??’ was probably ‘hat’. My only gripe is ‘model’ for T – it’s bad enough anyway, but twice in one crossword?!
2 SIBELIUS; SIB (= ‘brother’) + [d]ELIUS – a lucky spot for me.
4 HINDERED; (DEER)* after HIND – Chambers tells me that ‘hind’ can mean ‘the female of the red deer’, which I think explains ‘mate’ = HIND.
5 ATTACH; A (= ‘one’) + T.T. (= ‘race’) + A + C.H. (= Companion of Honour) – but the T.T. (Tourist Trophy) isn’t a race, it’s a series of races. Still, I suppose you could argue it’s used for a particular race in the series, and anyway I’d rather this than ‘models’!
8 IMMENSURABILITY; “IMMENSE YOUR ABILITY” – this means the same as ‘immeasurability’, which but for the clear wordplay (a nice homophone, I thought) I would have entered.
16 OUT RIGHT – because an umpire raises his finger to give a batsman out, although England cleverly circumvented this requirement last weekend at The Oval by mostly getting bowled by Saeed Ajmal. Curious really, because from my cheap(er) seat square of the wicket on Saturday I could pick his ‘doosra’ from 60 yards away – it’s the one where his arm bends/straightens by about three times the legal limit.
17 MACHISMO; MAC (= ‘son of’) + HIS + M.O. (= ‘doctor’) – I thought of ‘S’ for son which was not the case here but fortuitously helped me to see the answer.
18 HONORARY; NOR (= ‘and not’) in HOARY (= ‘white’) – another good clue in which the apparent ‘link words’ (e.g. ‘and’) are crucial to the wordplay.
20 MYSTIC; MY (= ‘setter’s’) + STIC[k] (= ‘criticism’ with the last letter taken off, i.e. ‘endless’)
25 PUFF[-puff]

16 Responses to “Guardian 25,095 (Sat 21 Aug)/Araucaria – Any colour as long as it’s black and white”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks rightback, I enjoyed it too – probably more than you because I spent rather more time on it. I might only take mild issue with 4; you can be ‘hindered’ without necessarily being ‘stopped’. ‘Held up’ or something similar might have been better.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Rightback.

    After getting some stinkers during the preceding week, I was fearful what The Prize Puzzle would hold in store.

    I need not have worried; everything quickly clicked into place and I enjoyed it immensely.

    My only complaint was the I finished it over breakfast and, yet again, I had to spend £1.50 on The Times to accompany me on my train journey.

    Araucaria it would really be appreciated if you could kindly reimburse me. Many thanks!

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks rightback and Araucaria

    An excellent blog for an excellent puzzle. It caused no problems but gave lots of amusement. I ticked pleasing clues as I went along and the page is just full of them.

    I too liked 14a and also 22, 17, 19, 20 (kept wanting to put in Muslim).

    I liked the link (albeit unnecessary) between 3d and 11, 1. (Uneasy lies 11, 1).

    I don’t see your problem with ‘by’ in 23a. Russian removes the head of Prussian.

    Araucaria at his best for me.

  4. Carrots says:

    A delightful puzzle which establishes a paradigm for what cryptic setting (and solving!) is all about.

    Thank you both…although, Rightback, I can barely read and digest the puzzle in eight minutes. Something about Lords and Mastery on the Agenda today: cricket from the former and a Jumbo from the latter. Happiest of Bank Hols to one and all.

  5. Stella says:

    I agree totally, tupu. Well spotted for 3d.

    I particularly liked 17, it made me :)

    I didn’t know ‘Han’ for Chinese, and had to check it in Chambers.

    Why is ‘delius’ ‘brother’?

  6. Chris says:

    Thanks very much, Rightback.

    Could someone explain why let = handicap?

    I don’t understand that.


  7. tupu says:

    Hi Stella

    Thanks. As I read 2d Duaghterless Delius is another composer.

    Hi Chris

    ‘Let’ is one of those teasing words like ‘cleave’ which seem to mean two opposite things. It most commonly appears in this sense in the expression ‘without let or hindrance’ and in the tennis expression ‘let’ or ‘let ball’ when the service has been impeded by the net. This last is confusing because it is easy to think of it as ‘allowing’ another service.

  8. tupu says:

    Hi Stella
    sc. Daughterless.

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, a good crossword – although I share some minor quibbles that rightback mentioned in his Brilliant Blog [being the repeated use of T, the dubious ‘by’ in 23ac].

    That said, I completed this puzzle a bit too quickly to my taste, probably because the two long ones fell in place almost rightaway. Add to this some rather easy clues [23ac, 3d, 5d (probably the only one I didn’t like very much because of all these abbreviations and single letters), 21d, 25d] and my ‘verdict’ had to be: an Araucaria Lite (but surely very well clued – like the fantastic EVIL and ORPHANAGES).

    For once, the Cinephile that Mr Graham produced that same Saturday in the FT [we’ll talk about that halfway the coming week] was, for me, the Araucaria of the Day.
    [and if you haven’t done it, take your chances while you can]

  10. Roger says:

    Thanks rightback,

    See what you mean regarding ‘by’ in 23a ~ the clue would seem to work ok without it. Although is there perhaps a sense in which Russia (neighbour) was partly instrumental (through its membership of the Allied Control Council) in the dissolution (killing-off/decapitating ?) of the Prussian state after WW2 .
    Clutching at straws, probably. I’m sure others with a better grasp of history will put me straight / shoot me down in flames.

    Thanks anyway, Araucaria. And now to tackle your monster offering today !

  11. tupu says:

    Hi rightback

    Re TT. OED supports your tolerance – “T.T., Tourist Trophy (freq. used ellipt. for Tourist Trophy Race)”

    I seem to remember it being used also as an abbreviation of Time Trial e.g. in cycle racing, but find no dictionary support for this.

  12. tupu says:

    Hi Roger et al
    I am puzzled by the criticism of ‘by’. It seems to me to make reasonable cryptic sense.
    I agree that without it the clue does read (cryptically misleadingly)
    German decapitated (passive) = neighbour.
    But it also seems to read well enough as
    the passive form of ‘neighbour decapitates German’.

  13. tupu says:

    Re 11 Time Trial
    For what it’s worth, Google supports this with several references.

  14. Chris says:

    Thanks tupu – it makes sense when you put it like that!

  15. Davy says:

    Thanks rightback,

    A great puzzle from the great man. I wonder if he knows of this site and reads the comments relating to his puzzles. I doubt it, he’s probably working on future creations.

    I loved ORPHANAGES which is a great answer to a great clue (must find another word for great, it’s starting to grate).

    Also, spent ages on 17d trying to make an anagram of ‘son of his’ (doctor) and eventually latched on to the correct interpretation. Very misleading.

    It must have taken me at least two hours to finish this puzzle. I only got 3 on the Saturday, finished most of the rest on Sunday evening and finally got the last three on Monday morning. I can’t see that there’s much fun in completing this in 8 minutes. If everything is so easy, then why bother. Maybe quantum physics would be a better pastime for you rightback.

  16. tupu says:

    :) I would like to be able to say it’s a case of ‘If the young only knew and the old only could!’. The trouble is that despite his modest self portrait in ‘Bloggers’, rigthback seems to ‘know’ as well!

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