Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,152 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on October 27th, 2010


A satisfying and fairly easy puzzle today from Araucaria, but with enough tricky bits to make writing the post a challenge :) (To give credit where it’s due, my partner filled in about half of the grid before I’d started looking at it, so perhaps it wasn’t all that easy after all…)

1. BLACKJACK BLACK = “Boycott” + JACK = “flag”; the former puzzled me, but the online Chambers 21st Century dictionary gives “said of a trade union: to forbid work to be done on or with (certain goods)” as one of the verb senses of BLACK. (This sense isn’t in the OED.)
6. POWYS Y[ear] in POWS = “Prisoners” (of War)
9. BEFORE MENTIONED BET = “Speculation” around FOREMEN = “supervisors” followed by I = “first” + ONE + D = “died”
10. EELS Sounds like “heals” = “cures”
11. ASCORBIC A SCORE[e] = “nearly 20″ follwed by I = “one” in BC = “earlier years”
14,24. CHALKHILL BLUE HALK = “hawk reportedly” in CHILL = “cold” followed by BLUE = “and looking it [cold]”; so I guess the definition is “Butterfly (in place of white horse)” – presumably the ground which is suitable for the huge white horses on chalk hillsides is also the habitat of this butterfly…
15. WARSI WAR = “Fighting” + IS = “back is”
16. RIGID [f]RIGID = “cold with top removed”
18. GREGORIAN (EARRING)* around GO = “attempt”
20. REASONED A SON = “an issue” in REED = “grass”
21. OPUS Sounds like “Oh, puss..” = “Address to cat”
25. DEPENDENT CLAUSE (DEEP END)* + NT = “books” + CLAUSE sounds like “claws” = “toenails, say, as for birds” – I think the DEPENDENT CLAUSE here is “as for birds”, which can’t stand on its own
26. EVENT E = “East” + VENT = “wind across the water” (the “water” being the English Channel – the French for “wind” is VENT; the definition (“as it happens”) is particular weak, I think
27. SURRENDER REND = “tear” with SURER = “less doubt” around the outside
2. ALFALFA ALF ALF = “Boy repeating” + A = “article”
3. KERB Sounds like “curb”; one of the meanings of “curb” is “a chain or strap passing under a horse’s jaw, attached at the sides to the bit; a bit with such a fitting” from Chambers 21st Century Dictionary
4. ALMS A + LMS = “way for schools to organise” – I’m guessing this is “Lower, Middle, Secondary”? Thanks to tupu for explaining this – Chambers defines LMS as “local management of schools, the system where a school’s board of governors is responsible for managing its allocated budget.”
5. KINGSOLVER “the top person at crosswords” might be the KING SOLVER
6,1. POISONWOOD BIBLE (OOPS NOW I)* + (LOBBIED)*; strictly speaking the title has “The” as well, I think
8. SEDUCTION DU = “of the French” in SECTION = “part”
13. SINGLENESS SIN = “Wrong” + GLEN = “valley” + ESS[ential] = “essential part”
14. CARTRIDGE CART = “wagon” + RIDGE = “high ground”
17. GRAPPLE GR = “King George” + APPLE = “fruit”
19. IMPOUND I = “one” + M = “thousand” + POUND = “quid”
22. SPEAR S = “society” + PEAR = “fruit”
23. STAR STAR with “board” would give you “starboard” = “right”; the definition is “body”, as in a heavenly body

36 Responses to “Guardian 25,152 / Araucaria”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl

    I found this a mixed bag with Baroness Whatzit prominent among other non-entities.

    Having guessed POISONWOOD BIBLE, I had then assumed that the surname of the author was KINGSETTER. This didn’t matter because the butterfly that intersected was also a complete unknown to me.

    I suspect that Araucaria had come under the baleful influence of his three colleagues when the Biggles team were having their conferences.

    In future, I do urge him to Be Strong!

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Araucaria

    I thought at first that I was going to get nowehere with this, but after solving one or two of the easier clues it fell into place quite quickly.

    4d was obvious enough from the definition and the letters. LMS = local management of schools according to Chambers. I did not know this.
    ‘A way’ on its own would have done for me, because I am old enough to remember the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.
    :) Though not living in Tunbridge Wells, I am disgusted to see that this is not in Chambers, while LNER (quite the wrong side of the Pennines) is.

    Some amusing clues/answers including ‘before mentioned’, ‘opus’, ‘singleness’.

  3. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, mhl. 14,24. Apparently, all this white horse carving business is called Leucippotomy. Is this word really needed?

  4. tupu says:

    Please forgive (temporary I hope) duplication above.

    14, 24 I should have said that, in the course of solving, I forgot the extra ‘chalk hill/white horse’ part of the definition in the clue which enhances and helps but is of course not strictly necessary for the solution.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. Every so often this setter tosses in an easy one (like puzzle no 25,129 on 30 September). That makes the unheard-ofs (for me 14 and 15a, and CURB=bit in 3d) readily gettable, and puts well within reach the really good clues like 9a and 11a. Had to guess 4d, but there was no alternative – LMS might mean learning management system (Google tells me)

  6. tupu says:


    Like Carrots yesterday, I have been puzzled by the reference to A’s three comments and perhaps others are too. Isee an explanation of this and of the team’s name is in


  7. tupu says:

    for comments above read colleagues.

  8. tupu says:

    Hi Molongolo

    Re LMS see Chambers

  9. mhl says:

    Thanks tupu – I’ve updated the post.

    Bryan: Baroness Warsi is certainly a well known public figure, I’d have said

    cholecyst: What an excellent word :) Tough to work into conversation, though…

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I was so shocked at your observation of the omission of the old LMS, on which my grandpa was a signalman, that I had to check – it’s in my Chambers as the last instance.

    [‘The Poisonwood Bible’ is an excellent book.]

    Many thanks, mhl and partner, for an excellent blog.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I also found this rather easy for an Araucaria, but no less enjoyable for that. Slight advantage in that I have read The Poisonwood Bible and am a fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s work. Random fact: she used to play keyboards in a rock and roll band with other writers, including Stephen King.

    ALMS was a guess on my part, so thanks to Tupu for clearing up the wordplay.

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen

    Well that’s something – glad to hear it’s been added!

  13. Noddy says:

    cholecyst: The Rev. W.C. Plenderleath will be spinning in his grave – shame on you.

  14. Noddy says:

    Just had a vision of Rev. W.C. Plenderleath having been murdered and his body outline being drawn in white chalk.

  15. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog and explanations. I found this pretty straightforward, although hadn’t managed to get the wordplay in ALMS, STAR (didn’t think of ‘starboard’) or SINGLENESS (was tripped up by thinking ‘Ah, yes, a ness is a valley’ – of course it’s a head, dur).

    Thanks to Tupu for the link to Biggles explanation – that clears it up.

  16. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks, mhl, for the blog. Found this pretty easy going except for the butterfly. Had to Google as I couldn’t find it in Chamber’s (don’t have latest edition). Kingsolver’s band is Rock Bottom Remainders which also includes Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Maya Angelou.


  17. Roger says:

    Yes, thank you tupu for the Biggles ‘gang of four’ link. It certainly explains a lot !
    Fairly plain sailing here today, though ~ and perhaps a little Rufusesque in places ? (21a, for starters).
    Thanks also, mhl. Could the definition in 26a be simply ‘it happens’, with ‘as’ just indicating what the answer should be ?

  18. Otherstuff says:

    So I am alone in not liking “before mentioned”, aforementioned is a much nicer phrase. Of course it is a letter short and would not do at all but sounds much more natural.

  19. Stella Heath says:

    I’m back online, and have just had a reward – first Paul then Araucaria in one day!

    I didn’t know any of the obscure answers, but a Wiki search for Barbara King.. yielded the author and the book; I found the butterfly guessable from the wordplay, and discovered the Baroness’s name in a similar way.

    The rest was plain sailing, and fun, as usual, though I do agree with Otherstuff@18 regarding ‘aforementioned’. This would be my word of choice.

  20. Joshua's mum says:

    Thank you all. I was so pleased to find Barbara Kingsolver recognised in an Araucaria crossword along with probably her best novel though once I got this answer I expected several others to turn up such as the Lacuna. Another time, perhaps.

  21. tupu says:

    re before mentioned

    NB Araucaria offers this as two words which seems perfectly reasonable.
    The OED only gives it with a ‘purely semantic’ hyphen but one would probably not expect to find it there as a two word phrase. It is well established. Aforementioned is also standard as a single word and as a hyphenated one. Forementioned with or without hyphen is also long established.

  22. malc95 says:

    Thanks cholecyst for #3.

    Apparently the chalk carving of human figures is Gigantotomy – well worth wiki-ing for the view of an unexpected guest at Cerne Abbas!

  23. Carrots says:

    Good on yer, Tupu. Your introduction to the BestofPuzzles site is much appreciated. I must get out (into cyberspace) more. I had no idea what Sil was on about!

    Today`s Araucaria forced me into googling in order to get KINGSOLVER & (the) POISONWOOD BIBLE. I`d never heard of either…perhaps because I find most holy tomes pretty poisonous.

    I stuck on VENT for a while, having guessed it, but was unable to fully explain it until I saw mhl`s blog. (Thanks, mhl). There is one other thing: how does he (Sil) know who the setter is going to be the following day???

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    The answer to that question, Carrots, is simple.
    When I said “enjoy the double bill” tomorrow, it was in fact today and both puzzles were already available on the websites of both papers.
    As simple as that.
    I’m not one from hyperspace … :)
    Re Biggles, I really thought that it was a well-known fact that they were the four Johns.
    And today’s puzzle?
    Well, pleasant enough – and everything’s already been said [although I wasn’t sure whether ‘chant’ is a perfect definition for GREGORIAN – but I can’t be bothered about it too much].

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    Late start due to yet another hospital visit. UCLH beat their previous record of 1.5 hours late, this was 2.25 hours late, plus 3 hours of trains etc etc. One of those days. So it was cheering to finish one of these, less so the number of times I needed to resort to software help.

    Add me to the list of those who thought 14/24 overly complex given that chalkhill could have come from just “place of white horse” and blue from “cold”.

    BTW. In preparation for my month in UCLH (high dose chemo) which starts on Monday, those of you who think I don’t read enough (all of you!) will be pleased to know I’ve found a freebie e-book reader (Mobipocket Reader) which handles most formats and works on both my laptop and windows phone. This should help with relieving the boredom. You’ll be equally pleased that I’ve downloaded 25 free e-books to go with it. Should see me through the month! Then I guess I spoil the air of virtuosity by admitting that 23 are S.F. (a genre which most setters seem oblivious of).

  26. cholecyst says:

    Good luck with the treatment , Derek. Noddy: thanks to you I now more about white horses and reverend archaeologists than I could shake a stick at.

  27. tupu says:

    Hi Derek

    Very best of luck!

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst @3

    I’ve been out quite a bit today, so have only just noticed your magical find. which was new to me.

    “Is this word really needed?” Very probably not – I’ve managed a lifetime without it – but it’s like the wordplay of a crossword clue in itself, intelligible to linguists and scientists alike, with a little thought:

    leuco: white, as in leucocyte
    [h]ippo: horse [hippopotamus – river horse]
    -tomy: surgical incision, as in tonsillectomy.

    Brilliant – how much neater than “the art of carving white horses in chalk upland areas”!

    Many thanks – you’ve made my day! :-)

    And all the very best to you, Derek.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Aww shucks, thank you all.

  30. Carrots says:

    Derek: a whole months` ICT ?!? You`ve obviously found some hot-shots who are truly serious about getting you well again. Bugger the Boredom….it`s better than Bognor!

  31. Shed says:

    Bryan #1

    Ouch! And there we were thinking we were under his influence.

  32. Bryan says:

    Many thanks John @ 31

    However, as you have undoubtably been left in the dark, I must warn you that The Grauniad’s so-called ‘Top Setter’ is planning to reveal ALL your secrets on 30 November:

    The Moment of Truth is nigh!

    Please let your mum know.

  33. Coffee says:

    @tupu – thanks for the link, Biggles indeed!
    @ Derek – all the best!

    Did enjoy the Kingsolver ref’s & Carrots, if you find holy tomes poisonous, I think you would actually enjoy this novel!

  34. eldee says:

    On 25a. I realise that much has changed (more often for the worse than the better) since I was taught English Grammar pre-WW2; but doesn’t a clause need a verb nowadays?

  35. eldee says:

    On DEPENDENT CLAUSE. I realise that much has changed (more often for the worse than the better) since I was taught English Grammar pre-WW2; but doesn’t a clause need a verb nowadays?

  36. eldee says:

    If 34 hadn’t ostensibly been rejected when I tried, three times, to submit it, I wouldn’t have resubmitted it with a slight change, whereupon the software simultaneously (as it seemed to me) added both versions.

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