Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,106 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on September 3rd, 2010


A very enjoyable puzzle from Araucaria, with some interestingly linked clues. Luckily I was familiar with most of the literary and other references, and found it not too hard. There were a few Araucarian liberties, which I’ve noted below, but not serious enough to detract from the fun.

1. TIGHTS Double definition, sort of: TIGHT is rather old-fashioned for “drunk”, but only (I think) as an adjective: hence I suppose the question mark.
4. DECIMAL C I’M (setter’s = setter is) in DEAL. Nicely misleading use of “10” in a puzzle with so many linked clues.
9. TOLERABLE (BEER TO ALL)* – the smooth surface conceals the structure of the clue well.
12. RECAPTURE E C (notes) in RAPTURE.
13. AZKABAN AZ (extremes) + K + A BAN. A prison island in the Harry Potter books.
15. THRUMS Double definition (or really a definition plus a hint) – a thrum is “The fringe of threads of warp left after cloth has been cut off of a loom” Not STRUMS, as I originally guessed. (I thought THRUM was familiar,and I see it came up recently in an Audreus puzzle that I blogged, where I quoted the same definition.)
17. ANGERS Double definition
22. ABSURDIST (SUITS BARD)*. The clue should really indicate that Beckett is an example of an absurdist, not a definition
24. PEDRO Hidden in stopPED ROt, though the hiding isn’t indicated unless “from” is doing double duty.
27. PROPRIETY Double definition
29. OSTMEN [P]OSTMEN. The Ostmen (“”east men”) were Danish settlers in Ireland. I liked “men of letters”.
1. TITANIA [W]ITAN in TIA (Spanish for “aunt”). Rather obscure wordplay, but easy to get from the definition if you know that Titania is the queen of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
2. GULAG GUL[ES} (red in heraldry) + AG. Again the definition is rather a giveaway here.
6,11. MIDSUMMER NIGHT Double definition – the “25” is a cross-reference to “dream”, but 24/6 refers to the 24th of June.
8. OBERON OBE + RON. King o the fairies in MSND
14. KING’S HEAD Double definition
16. ROSA PARKS SAP in ROAR + K’S (“of 14″=”of King’s Head”=”of K”)
18. SKIPPER Double definition
19. BOTTOM Double defintion – reference to Nick Bottom the Weaver in MSND
20. PROCYON CORP[ORAL]< + YON. I hadn't heard of the star, but the wordplay is clear
21,7. MARTIN LUTHER (TERMINAL HURT)*. Martin Luther King famously had a dream
25. DREAM TRAUM[A] is German for “dream”, so it’s how Martin Luther would say it..

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,106 – Araucaria”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew

    This was very enjoyable but decidedly tricky in places.

    I entered 25d correctly but failed to understand the allusion to trauma.

    Am I the only person who thinks Araucaria is becoming more devious?

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for an excellent blog, Andrew.

    I didn’t want this one to come to an end – a thoroughly enjoyable and absorbingpuzzle to coincide with the anniversary this week of the ‘Dream’ speech.

    Lots of clever stuff to admire – too much to highlight, really, but perhaps 6,11 was particularly good. I think Araucaria has themed MSND before but this was very ingenious treatment.

  3. Martin H says:

    I agree Andrew, an enjoyable puzzle which turned out to be easier than it looked at first. Thanks for 24/6. The / should have identified it as a date, but I always think of 21/6, the solstice, as Midsummer Night. The 24th is apparently the Quarter Day – bureaucratic not magical.
    A couple of quibbles:
    16 – Rosa Parks helped forward Martin Luther King’s dream, not Martin Luther’s as the clue ends up suggesting;
    23 – ‘repel’ doesn’t mean ‘off-putting’, so ‘be’ is doing double duty here – unless ‘being’ at the beginning of the clue has some bearing on it. It seems an odd construction altogether.
    Many good clues – I liked 19 particularly.

  4. Uncle Yap says:

    Excellent blog of an excellent puzzle

    25D Co-incidentally today in Times was this clue Be impervious to dance around piano (5)

    19A was a RIPPER of a clue … hilarious
    and 14D made me thirsty … Cheers

  5. duncandisorderly says:

    & didn’t we have repel/leper yesterday too? finished today’s in 45 minutes, without understanding exactly how… so thank heavens for 225….


  6. Rog says:

    How nice to find ecstasy pointing to something other than simply E (12a)

  7. Stella says:

    Hi Uncle Yap,

    I quite agree, but I think you mean 23d, not 25 :)

    I’d aleady decided 25d must be dream, so missed the ‘Traum’ reference. Very clever, thanks, Andrew.

    I got stuck for some time on 3d, and needed the blog to fully understand it, but three unknown answers came to me from the wordplay, with no need for research: Askaban, Procyon and Ostmen.

    Great fun as always!

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    yes, good fun, and I found the last half dozen reasonably tough. Thanks for the explanations, Andrew. I, too, was on the STRUMS route for a while; also thought I was looking for a pitched battle in 3d, and people of letters in 29a. Also toyed with Walter Mittie for 21d, 7d (couldn’t remember how to spell him)

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    A very good blog and an excellent puzzle with many teasing linked clues.

    Not being an HP aficionado I had to search out 13a and nearly, but not quite, got there on first principles as I should have done. Did manage to get 16d and 20d that way though.

    Lots of good clues inc. 10a, 12a (nice to have something other than e for ecstasy), 19 (hilarious), 29a (also funny), 6 11, and 18 (again raised a smile). I’d already got 25d from 21,7 so missed the shift to ML himself while remembering traum = dream.

    Having had an earlier conversation with Martin H on a comparable issue, I suspect he is, strictly speaking, right re 23. ‘Being quiet during dance will put off’ seems just about acceptable to me (with a bit of libertarian licence), and the stretch from ‘put off’ to ‘be off-putting’ isn’t all that far, and in any case the answer is quite clear. But I agree it’s a bit odd when you look hard at it.

  10. tupu says:

    Hi Rog and Stella

    :) Sorry. Took so long writing and making coffee in between that I managed to cross re ecstacy and traum.

  11. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew, and thanks to Araucaria for a most enjoyable puzzle. Struggled with this for a long time, wondered about giving up, when I finally got a couple more clues which gave me enough letters to guess TITANIA, which then allowed me to slot quite a few more in. Liked the fact that the theme was split – MSDN, with its own king, OBERON, and another KING with another DREAM – MARTIN LUTHER.

    I wondered why the link for 6,11 was styled 24/6 rather than 24 6; thanks for pointing out that it refers to 24 June, which is of course Midsummer’s Day (and Night). I’d completely missed that. Also missed the Traum reference. Exceedingly clever, both of them.

    I think this was a very satisfying combination of clever surfaces with not too complex wordplay, and obscure wordplay with simple definitions, so I didn’t finish with any answers in which I was thinking ‘How could I be expected to get that?’ Eg the last two to go in, PROCYON and then OSTMEN, I was able to get from the wordplay (loved ‘men of letters’) even though I didn’t know the solution words.

    10/10 for Rev Graham.

  12. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. Never heard of 4 down, but it came up when I checked it, my last one. You didn’t explain 27a – checking that, too, I see it derives from Latin proprius = own.

  13. Richard says:

    Thaks for the blog, Andrew.
    I’m afraid PROCYON, THRUMS, ROSA PARKS and OSTMEN were beyond me. As was TIA = Aunt in Spanish and Trauma is German for dream. A bit too much specialist knowledge required. I prefer cryptic crosswords which concentrate more on the cryptic and don’t double up as difficult knowledge contests.

  14. Richard says:

    Also, I don’t understand the purpose of “Something very pleasant” in 25. Also why does 4dn say reductions (plural) when the answer is singular. (I thought it ended with an ‘S’ because I’d put in STRING for 15.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi Richard

    I didn’t know PROCYON or OSTMEN, either but, as others have said, the cluing for both was perfectly clear.

    I am old enough to remember Rosa Parks’ famous BUS TRIP and THRUMS was something I did know – I don’t know how.

    Spanish and German are not among my languages but I’ve picked up smatterings of each along the way, by various means, so knew TRAUM from the lovely Liebestraum [Dream of Love]:

    and TIA from Tia Maria!

    Of course I love the cryptic [that’s why I’m here!] but if I can learn new things at the same time, that’s all the better!

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    The only one I didn’t know was OSTMEN.

    Procyon is a fine star, the seventh brightest in the sky, standing boldly by itself, in the constellation of Canis Minor. It precedes Sirius (rises before it), hence the name, from the Greek “before the dog”.

  17. Stella says:

    Thanks for that information, Dave. My astrological knowledge is limited to what crops up in crosswords :)

    Hi Richard,

    As Eileen implies, the construction and verification of unknown words is part of the fun of doing cryptics, as is learning new things. I’m assuming you knew Titania as the Fairy Queen in MSND, so not knowing the Spanish for aunt shouldn’t have been a hindrance.

    Regarding 25d. a dream is usually taken to be ‘something very pleasant’ especially when used in the figurative sense. So this is the definition, and the rest of the clue directs towards the answer. Again, even without knowing German (which I do, but didn’t realise the wordplay when doing the clue, as I said above), the reference to Martin Luther (King), and the cross-references to MSND will have led you to the correct answer.

    On the other hand, I, too, am in the dark regarding 4d. I can’t find it in Chambers, and don’t know where an army base comes in.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    For the class dummy end of the solving spectrum, this was trully awful. If experts are allowed to get away with critisism of the Monday puzzle, then everyone else should have the same right with respect to the Friday puzzle.

    I have a theory which states that anything surrounded by hype is rubbish, otherwise the hype would not be necessary. Hence my quite intentional ignorance of the world of celebrity, which includes Harry Potter. Which would I prefer, staying thus, or being able to solve 13a? I think I’ll stand pat thank you, life is too short for being sucked into that arena.

  19. Richard says:

    Stella, Eileen,

    Thanks for your replies. Stella – I do know that Deepcut is the name of a British Army base – I was just questioning the use of the plural in the clue which misdirected me.
    I’d worked out that 20dn started with PROC but could not see YON coming from anywhere.
    Your comments about being able to work out solutions which are words one has never heard of is valid up to a point, but when clues are also reliant upon references to other clues which one has yet to solve it is rather a tall order.
    The fact is that 5 dn could not be solved without solving 21,7, knowing that Trauma is German for dream AND making the leap of imagination that ‘Something very pleasant’ = DREAM. My dreams are rarely very pleasant – particularly after a difficult crossword day! – so I would never have made this connection.
    Added to this it was fiendishly difficult to solve 21,7 without solving 25.

  20. Richard says:


    Whilst I agree with your points about relative criticism, I really don’t think you are correct in asserting that Harry Potter is part of celebrity culture.
    The combined sales of the Potter books and DVDs and the size of the cinema audiences make Harry Potter unquestionably a very accessible and well established part of British popular culture. Thus even I would not feel I could complain about a Potter-related word I’d not heard of being used in a crossword.

  21. don says:

    “We are solving a puzzle in English”

    TIA (Spanish for “aunt”)
    TRAUM[A] is German for “dream”


  22. Richard says:

    In 19, I can see the obvious connection between BOTTOM and The Dream, but where does the Bed come in, please?

  23. sidey says:

    #21 WITAN (AngloSaxon for their council of England)

    #22 bed of a river/the sea Richard

  24. Stella says:

    Hi Derek and Don,

    I’ve only read the first Harry Potter, which I bought on the ferry over to England before all the hype, and I don’t remember coming across the prison, which I solved nevertheless, and quite easily, from the word-play. I enjoyed the book itself, and may some day read others in the series – I’m sure some of my nephews or nieces can lend me a copy :)

    You will often find ‘foreign’ words in crosswords, either as part of the clue or as the solution – ‘cojones’ appeared recently – and many Latin, Greek or French words are used, as are Spanish ‘tortilla’, ‘siesta’, ‘patio’. In today’s Indy we have German ‘mit’ as part of an answer…

    Need I continue?

    Thanks for explaining 4d. Richard, I think the ‘s’ just makes a little more sense in the surface reading.

    In 20d, ‘that’ =’yon’ yon – adj, literary or dialect that or those • Do you see yon fellow? (Chambers online)

  25. otter says:

    Richard, msg 19:

    I assume you meant to refer to 16d (ROSA PARKS) rather than 5d, which isn’t linked to anything. I got 16d on its own merits, from a few connecting letters and the BUS TRIP link, which led me to the solution for 21,7. I thus got DREAM without even making the Traum connection, or that it referred to Martin Luther rather than MLK. I also got 1d without realising that the Spanish TIA formed part of the clue.

    I’d say that ‘dream’ is (or at least was) commonly used for ‘something very pleasant’, as in ‘Today has been an absolute dream, darling’, ‘Life’s a dream (sha-boom, sha-boom)’ and so on.

    I think that, although there were many interconnections, which made it difficult to know where to start with them, there was probably at least one way in for most solvers, depending on their particular knowledge, or by working at the cryptics.

  26. retired pleb says:

    eg. ocean bed/bottom of the ocean

  27. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Stella

    The prison isn’t in the first book – but the third one is actually called ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ – so it’s been pretty widely publicised here.

  28. Stella says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Yes, now you mention it, I remember the title. The hype’s been world-wide, I think, but I lost interest when I saw the queues of hysterical kids awaiting their copy of the latest volume!

  29. Maure says:

    Thanks Andrew & Araucaria

    A very enjoyable puzzle, a DREAM into the past & to places, not all of them pleasant.

    I personally admire Cromwell as an idealist, I wonder how’s his standing in the minds of the average Briton ?

  30. tupu says:

    Hi Richard et al

    I too was puzzled by the s in 4d. I suppose deep-cut might be an adjective for reductions?

    Deepcut has been a particularly well-known
    army base, at least in the UK, because there was a series of worrying deaths among soldiers there.

    Of course this does not mean it is well-known elsewhere.

  31. Richard says:

    Otter @25

    In fact I meant 25dn not 5dn – sorry for the typo. Although I had got 19, I would never have got 16 with out knowing 25 and 21,7 first because I would not have got SAP = fool. SAP = liquid in tree, yes, SAP = large application software company, yes; but not SAP = fool.

  32. Daniel Miller says:

    Another beautifully constructed Araucaria – the (cheeky) monkey – puzzle with plenty of misdirection requiring some thought to crack. Once you get the code you are on the way. The MSND theme also served to slightly mislead in places.

    I particularly enjoyed the Martin Luther clue – searching as I was for a (royal) king.

    but also:

    4 across with the misdirection to ’10’ (clue 10!)

    The splendid Ostmen.

    The use of trauma to indicate dream – Martin Luther being German and Traum being Dream in German.

    The excellent clue for Rosa Parks….

    Oh and Tia is the name of my dog so I knew Tia is Spanish for Aunt (Tia Maria!!) – which made me smile..

  33. walruss says:

    Thankyou for your blog, Andrev, of this very good puzzle. I had been bored by his Prize of the Bank Holiday, but I’ll say nothing more until we comment at the weekend. ‘Men of letters’, yes please!!

  34. don says:


    Annwyl Stella,

    Mae Gaufrid wedi dweud: “Rydyn ni’n datrys yn Saesneg – dim Almaeneg, dim Sbaeneg. Dydw i ddim yn siarad Frangeg, neu Lladin.

    And I’m not alone: ““We are [supposed to be] solving a puzzle in English” Guafrid.

  35. JS says:

    Thanks Andrew & Araucaria.
    Really enjoyed this one (as always with Araucaria) with the themes and interplay of clues.
    Solved 6,11 but the clue was ‘doing my head in’ so thanks for the explanation.

    29ac – a particular delight – it reminded me of the old crossword joke:

    Man doing crossword says to his mate:
    “Mmm – stuck on this one, wonder if you can help?”
    “What’s the clue?”
    “A postman’s burden – 2 words.”
    Mate – thinks for a while and then asks:
    “How many letters?”
    Solver replies:
    “******* millions.”

  36. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Been out, so a little late to the discussion. I enjoyed this very much! Like others, I had STRUMS for a while, until I dimly remembered THRUMS from the crossword you refer to. I also wondered about the plural in 4dn…and it took me far too long to see 12ac, 4ac and 5dn.

    PROCYON and OSTMAN were new to me, but I eventually got them from the wordplay, confirmed with the check button. I thought OSTMEN was a great clue!

    No complaints from me about the Harry Potter reference. Both my kids loved the books and I confess that I enjoyed their inventiveness too. To be fair to JK Rowling and her publishers, the first in the series took off by word of mouth, not hype. The phenomenon kicked in later…

  37. Claire says:

    Thanks Andrew & Araucaria

    I thought this was a great puzzle – so many different cultural and historical themes, all appearing to be interlinked but with some devious ploys (eg the use of ’10’ and ’24/6′). I enjoyed it immensely, and only fell down on Deepcut because I had put in strums rather than thrums.

    It was very pleasing – particularly alone in the pub in East Cork with the post work pint, my crossword partner away, and Ireland -v- Armenia playing in the background. (Ireland won – and in my own mind, so did I)

  38. Stella says:

    Hi Don,

    Dywedais uchod, nid oeddwn yn gyfarwydd ag ynganiad Cymru, yr iaith. Nid wyf yn gwybod os ydych chi, ond i ddeall eich swydd roeddwn yn arfer Google chyfieithydd.

    For the benefit of others, I used Google translator to write the above.

    As for the topic in discussion, English is one of the most eclectic languages there are, if not the most, and while many of its native speakers are (at least by reputation) reluctant to learn another, it actually includes a host of ‘foreign’ phrases, both ancient and modern in origin, and even those mentioned above have come in contact with at least one other language (usually French), and know that ‘the’ in French, as used in crosswords, is usually ‘le’, and in Spanish ‘el’, etc.

    You don’t have to speak a language to know a few words – which of you doesn’t know that ‘latte’ is ‘milk’ in Italian?

    Also, the clue for 25 was clever, but knowledge of the German for dream in no way helped to solve it, it just added to the appreciation, once seen.

    IMHO, if we excluded ‘foreign’ words from the crosswords, they would lose in ingenuity and variety, and we would deprive setters of some important devices.

  39. Gerry says:

    I really liked this, though I nearly came unstuck (!) at 29ac.

    Some answers I got simply via getting the MSND theme, but right answers all count.

    Best crossword (that I’ve completed) in a while.

  40. don says:


    “… ‘latte’ is ‘milk’ in Italian?”

    I thought it was coffi!

  41. Huw Powell says:

    Very nice, and thanks for the blog for the couple I missed and the couple I didn’t fully understand but got anyway.

    At first as I scanned the clues I thought this was going to be really hard, but OBERON was one of my first solutions, opening the door for DREAM without understanding the German bit, and MIDSUMMER NIGHT, once more not really getting the wordplay. I bumbled along, having fun, and when I hit the second theme I smiled broadly (keep in mind the anniversary of the speech was last weekend!). Very cleverly assembled. I think the difficulty was impaired by trying to get all the themed words in, but so what, it was done very elegantly. I still have last week’s “bank holiday” to struggle with if I want difficult! Amusingly, it is a holiday weekend here in the Colonies as I write this.

    Thanks Araucaria and Andrew!

  42. RV says:

    Replace 19A with 19D in the clue for 16D (as I originally did due to a misreading) and it still works in a cheeky sort of way.

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