Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,137 (Sat 9 Oct)/Araucaria – Tier straits

Posted by rightback on October 16th, 2010


Solving time: 12 minutes

If you didn’t solve this puzzle and are confused by the title of this blog, you have probably fallen into the same trap as me. I spent three minutes at the end of this trying to work out why ‘tier’ should define TWINE and looking for an alternative answer. Only after looking up ‘tier’ did I twig that a tier is something that ties. Very much 1-0 to Araucaria.

My dullness aside, I thought this was a very good puzzle. The clues were concise and not over-complex, generally sound in wordplay and with mostly convincing surface readings. My only real doubt is at 21ac (APPLE).

Music of the day: You’re Not Alone, the only UK #1 for 2dn (Olive).

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

9 HUNTING; HUNG around TIN – I liked ‘shown up as a picture’ for HUNG.
10 FREIGHT; (HER GIFT)* – I actually dismissed this anagram on first look, which is ironic since there are actually two options (‘fighter’ being the other).
11 FREDERICA; [a]FRICA around REDE – ‘rede’ is an old word meaning ‘to advise’ or ‘advice’. I don’t know if it has survived in any form, or if there are any well-known literary examples. If not, this is perhaps a bit archaic for a blocked puzzle.
12 T + WINE – and to think that ‘He draws level (4)’ was a clue in a recent Listener. There’s no hope.
13 ROCK (2 defs) – as in ‘to be somebody’s rock’ and ‘rock and roll’.
14 LEADER + SHIP – an uninspired breakdown, but at least ‘leader’ was indicated in a very different sense (an editor’s article in a newspaper being a ‘leader’ or leading article).
21 APPLE (2 defs) – I’m not sure I understand this but can’t see an alternative. ‘Jobs here’ might refer to the company Apple, and ‘pupil’ has an optical connection via ‘apple of one’s eye’, but that phrase doesn’t (as far as I know) refer to an eye’s pupil in any way. Clarification welcome.
24 GROUCHO (cryptic definition)
25 IMPLANT; I’M + PLAN + T[ree] – an awkward ‘for’ in the middle of this.
26 FORTH + BRIDGE – which is notorious for constantly being painted, although perhaps not for much longer.
1 TEN PER CENT PROOF (one defintion, one literal interpretation) – should have been quicker on this!
2 OLIVE[r] – the cook is Jamie Oliver.
3 BEG + RIME – not ‘beseech’, which I spent a while on.
4 ELFLAND; EL + FLAND[ers] – ‘faerie’, as in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, means ‘the world of fairies’.
7 CHAFER (2 defs) – I wasn’t completely convinced that some who chafes is impatient, but then there was a question mark at the end of the clue.
15 SILENCER – not really sure what’s cryptic about this. I suppose ‘gun’ could be interpreted as ‘gunman’, in which case ‘Gag on gun’ might be something shoved in his mouth, but that seems more contrived that the actual reading.
16 CHARGE (2 defs)
18 TERRIER (2 defs) – another I didn’t understand while solving, but this was more excusable: a terrier is ‘a register or roll of a landed estate’ or an inventory. That being the case, I don’t know why this clue has a question mark since it’s a straight double definition.
23 TEPID; TED around PI – pi being a relationship between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. I liked the surface reading of this clue.

28 Responses to “Guardian 25,137 (Sat 9 Oct)/Araucaria – Tier straits”

  1. plutocrat says:

    Still don’t understand where ten per cent proof comes from. I filled it in, but can’t see it at all.

  2. Biggles A says:

    Thanks rightback. I had the same trouble with 21 but came to the same conclusion.

    1d raises an interesting point on the difference between ‘proof’ and alcohol by volume. As I understand it, a beer which is ten percent proof is about 5.8% alcohol and not awfully strong. if it were ten percent alcohol it would really be powerful and maybe fit the clue better.

  3. Biggles A says:

    Oh, and I imagine the Crown Prosecuting Service would very much like to have 100% proof of a crime before proceeding.

  4. Biggles A says:

    Delete ‘Prosecuting’ insert ‘Prosecution’.

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Rightback I thought this was great!

    Re 21a – This is an allusion to Steve Jobs who is the kingpin of Apple Computers.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. Not at all hard, especially the bottom half. FREDERICA jumped out but I never got round to fathoming the EDER bit (you’ve explained it now). 9a was last in, only because it took time to parse. Ahas for Steve Jobs (21a – apple is what the good pupil gives teacher) and Jamie Oliver (2d), and a sage nod for 12a’s Tier. SILENCER was in Puck’s Prize Puzzle last week.

  7. NeilW says:

    Thanks, rightback.

    I thought CHAFER was OK in the sense of “chafing at the bit”.

  8. sidey says:

    I enjoyed this. For some reason I always prefer Araucaria’s prize puzzles to his weekday efforts.

    Although 1d was fairly straightforward it is wrong. Proof is measured in degrees. Funny how so many get this wrong, proof hasn’t been used as a measure for rather a long time. And I can’t ever remember seeing it used for anything other than spirits. Drinking beer from an unfamiliar brewery could be a dangerous experience before %ABV became the norm.

  9. plutocrat says:

    Ah … betting odds. Now I get it. Not sure I like the clue though. Or the Apple one.

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks rightback.

    Re 11ac: I remember coming across ‘rede’ in Chaucer in A Level English but there’s a more familiar literary [because of the ‘primrose path’ image] instance of its use in Ophelia’s ‘Practise what you preach’ words to her brother in Act I Scene iii of Hamlet:

    Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
    Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
    Whilst, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,
    Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
    And recks not his own rede.

    [Reck meaning ‘take heed of': it was the two alliterative archaic words together that made it easier to remember.]

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks rightback and Araucaria

    Thanks also Bryan re 21a which comes out too in Google.

    Generally pretty straightforward. Elfland was favourite answer and twine amused.

    I had to check terrier though it had to be the answer. It must relate to ‘terre’ Fr. for land.

    8d Streep was nicely misleading because one could not make sense of the clicheed use of Tree in such contexts.

  12. tupu says:


    Wasn’t Ethelred the ‘redeless’?

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    Of course – the Unready! How could I have forgotten him?

    In fact, both definitions of TERRIER have the same root, as you say: French terre, Latin terra, a terrier being a dog trained to hunt animals living underground.

  14. Davy says:

    thanks rightback,

    12 minutes ?. You’re slipping. I enjoyed this puzzle and didn’t find it as easy as some. The last ones in were CHAFER and FREDERICA where I could see the [A]frica but didn’t understand the ‘eder’ bit. Lots of good clues here and APPLE raised a laugh. Also liked BAND (great surface), FORTH BRIDGE (very misleading), OVERTURN (simple but hard to get) and TEPID (another great surface).

    Just to digress, to define a puzzle as ‘Not at all hard’, then one should totally understand all the word play and not even need to visit this site. Fair comment ?.

  15. Trench Adviser says:

    I thought this was a really good puzzle and was happy to learn REDE and RIME. As for the APPLE clue, I thought it meant Steve Jobs works at Apple and was an allusion to the phrase “the apple of my eye”, possibly meaning the pupil.

  16. Carrots says:

    Thanxamillion Rightback (or “WILY WARPSPEED” as I fondly imagine you). I owe you an apology. I had always taken your solving times with the tiniest pinch of salt, but not any more. On the 16th of October, “THE WEEK” did a feature on the 2010 Times Cryptic Crossword Champion, Mark Goodliffe, whose benchmark solving time is 6.5 minutes per puzzle! He averaged 8 minutes in the harder finalists` puzzles.

    Araucaria, the wily old fox, has wrong-footed me once too often to cry “FOUL!” too precipitately about an unfathomable clue, but I do so now over “APPLE”. I only finished this puzzle aided by appeals on the Crossword Solver Help Forum….but nobody could explain “APPLE”. “Jobs here” was the stumbling block. Hardly gettable without Google or a library as big as The Ritz.

  17. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Rightback,

    I enjoyed this, and found it quite accessible.

    Thanks for the quote, Eileen. I’ve read Hamlet, but not studied it, and no doubt passed over “reck his own rede” without understanding it.

    Regarding ‘silencer’, ‘to put a gag on someone’ is to silence them, so I did understand it as a dd.

    Now on to see what today has to offer.

  18. Roger says:

    Regarding the connection between pupil and apple, this item may be of interest.

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Initially I didn’t want to say too much about this crossword, but having read all the positive comments above [glad you all liked it] – I fear I have to express my/our ‘different’ view on this puzzle.

    We really thought this was not even an Araucaria Lite.
    [just an hour ago my PinC called it an Araucaria Lite Lite :)]
    Several clues were extremely easy.
    5d (OVERTURN), 16d (CHARGE), 17d (IN SOOTH), 14ac (LEADERSHIP) [in which the much discussed (according to Pasquale’s information a while ago, “Times” rule on the use of ON) was ignored – although eventually not a problem], 20d (DEMOTE), 24ac (GROUCHO) and a few more.

    The main point is that the constructions were far below Araucarian standard.
    Just not fiendish enough, hardly tricky at all.
    Not challenging enough for a Saturday puzzle, and certainly no match for last week’s Puck.

    We didn’t like Araucaria using ‘without’ [as a device] twice and almost in a row (in 9ac and in 11ac).

    I don’t want to start a discussion on PI = ‘relation’ (which wouldn’t be the first time, probably), but I don’t like it.
    PI can be seen as a ‘ratio’ [within a circle], and a ‘ratio’ is a kind of ‘relation’, but A=B + B=C doesn’t necessarily lead to A=C – and I think this clue provides a valid counterexample.

    Finally, 2d.
    (Jamie) Oliver is indeed a ‘cook’, but that two-letter word ‘to’ spoils it all.
    It’s just not right in this clue – for the surface?
    We don’t think so – it can be an extremely powerful word in a crossword clue, but here it doesn’t even mean anything at all.

    I’m sorry, no stand-out clues for us today.
    We all have lesser days.
    [many of you will probably like to apply that to me at this very moment :) , but I really mean Araucaria]
    But it’s fair enough – you can’t please everyone.

  20. Trench Adviser says:

    I just used my library card number to access the online OED (tipped off by the Guardian crossword site) and found the definition of “the apple of my eye” meaning the pupil. So guys, a pretty simple double definition really. Jobs works there and it was the name for the pupil of the eye.

  21. Davy says:


    I think you are being rather hard on this puzzle as (I think) there were lots of good clues which weren’t obvious to me :-

    1. Clue : Away game was scene of painting (5,6) Answer : FORTH BRIDGE

    Is this obvious ?. Well not to me. I was thinking along the lines of : now where was Constable’s Haywain painted ?. I think it’s an excellent clue.

    2. Clue : Pray to be given frost for soil (7) Answer : BEGRIME

    Maybe not the best of surfaces but certainly not lite lite.

    3. Clue : Worrying book about money (11) Answer : TROUBLESOME

    A good surface and is it so obvious that the money had to be roubles and the book had to be tome. These are hardly words that you hear in everyday conversation. You don’t hear someone say “have you read the new tome on roubles”. So why is this so lite lite ?. Is it because the only obvious synonym for worrying is troublesome ?.

    4. Clue : Beetle who gets impatient (6) Answer : CHAFER

    I’d never heard of chafer as a beetle so why is this so lite lite ?.

    I could go on but I’ll stop there and ask a few questions about the clues that you considered easy and yes there were a few.

    Why is ‘IN SOOTH’ so easy when it’s an expression that is arcane and never heard in normal speech ?. Yes, it fits the anagram but that’s about it really.

    Why is LEADERSHIP so easy ?. I thought it was a good surface and did not see it immediately.

    Why is OVERTURN so obvious ?. It took me a while to get that one.

    Just a few of my thoughts Sil but don’t feel obliged to reply. It’s just a crossword and there are more important things to worry about.

  22. malc95 says:

    I’m new to this site – as entertaining as the crosswords themselves. Please forgive my ignorance, but what is meant by the “surface” of a clue?

  23. Gaufrid says:

    Hi malc95
    Welcome to 15². The surface of a clue is how it reads overall (without considering what is the definition, what is the wordplay etc), ie does it make sense, does it tell a tale, does it paint a picture? A clue with a good surface will do one or more of these things.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Davy, and probably others – #19 is just my/our opinion on the crossword, which was a fairly ordinary Araucaria.

    You mention several examples, but I think it’s no point to start a discussion on these.
    I didn’t say it was bad cluing, just that it’s far below Araucarian standard – and I still stick to that.

    Most clues [including many of the ones you mention] are from a construction point of view just simple charades, anagrams or dd’s.
    There was just not enough challenging stuff here (for us, that is).

    Me being rather hard on the puzzle? Well, so be it – that’s how I/we experienced the crossword.

    Btw, I am not dismissive towards Araucaria [who am I, anyway] but we badly missed the trickiness and the twinkle in his eyes.
    Today’s Paul was also not that hard, but there was a lot more going in that puzzle.

    Maybe, I’m the odd one out today.
    Then I’m genuinely happy that others did enjoy it.
    We didn’t, that is: not really.
    Can happen, can’t it?

  25. Carrots says:

    Davy @21: More important things to worry about?!?!! But what, pray, would they be? For those of us who only get as far as the Obituaries, before falling asleep after a heavy lunch, this amounts to heresy.

  26. Davy says:

    Indeed Carrots and we all know the fate of heretics.

  27. Carrots says:

    Davy Lad, I wouldn`t dream of burning you at the stake, but if you did want something extra to worry about, it can be found in the etymology of the word “heretic”. It is derived from HAIRETIKOS which is simply “the ability to choose”….or “express a point of view from within a belief system”. May your heresy(s) long delight us on 15-squared.

  28. malc95 says:

    Thanks Gaufrid, your explanation at #23 much appreciated.

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