Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25164 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on November 10th, 2010


Mostly very straightforward clueing from Araucaria, with just a bit of deviousness at 27ac and a mini-theme linked to 5dn. Unusually, there are no full anagram clues at all, just small partial anagrams in 2dn and 14dn.

1. COAL GAS ALGA in COS. Coal gas was used for domestic heating etc until it was replaced by “Natural” or North Sea gas in the 1960s (also promoted as “high-speed gas”).
5. BY SIGHT YS (unknowns) in BIGHT
9. COXCOMB COX (steer) + COMB (crest)
11. PRESENTLY SENT + L (number – Roman 50) in PREY
12. LOGAN LOG (record) + AN (article). Joins with 5dn to make one of three berries in the puzzle
13. TRY ON Double definition – to TRY ON clothes is (among other things) to see if they fit, and to TRY it ON is to see if you can get away with something.
15,17. ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK A “complete journey from midstream” would go all the way to the bank, and you can proverbially laugh or cry all the way to the bank.
19. STRAW Jack STRAW, former Home Secretary (etc), and another type of BERRY
22,23. CHIEF CONSTABLE I in CHEF + CONSTABLE (painter). The cleverly-disguised definition is “force runner”, i.e. one who runs a force.
25. TUMBLED You’d have an internal haemorrhage if your “TUM (stomach) BLED”
27. SPRAYER I think this is an oblique reference to the “lord’S PRAYER”; and an aerosol is a sprayer.
28. ALLENDE ALL + END + E (compass point). Salvador Allende, former president of Chile, ousted by General Pinochet, and writer Isabel (whose father was Salvador’s cousin).
1. COCKPIT Double definition
2. ANXIETY AN + XI (cricket team) + YET*
3,5. GOOSEBERRY GOOSE (fool) + ERR in BY
6. SQUELCHES QUEL (French “what”, or perhaps more accurately “which”) in SCHES – CHESS with the ending at the start
8. TIERNEY TIER + [Marshall] NEY. Araucaria shows his Cinephilia with a reference to this film star.
18. TRIMMER Just a (not-very-)cryptic definition, I think; or am I missing something?
20. RUBICON “Ruby” + CON (prisoner). To cross the Rubicon is to take a decisive and irreversible action, as Julius Caesar did in 49 BC (crying “alea iacta est” as he did so).
21. WHEEDLE HEED + L in WE (the Guardian)
23. CEDAR Hidden in abCEDARian
24. TOTAL TOT + A + L

51 Responses to “Guardian 25164 – Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, especially for the ASGARD ref in 7d which I couldn’t explain. As you note, much of this was run of the mill – 8d, 17d and probably 18d (trimmer in politics and hedge in economics hint at something deeper, but I can’t find it). Still, some neat twists like the yet in 2d and the by in 3d, and the opening to 22,23 was delightful.

  2. molonglo says:

    On reflection the political trimmer could be the deeper sense – that person might well be going to hedge bets/opinions.

  3. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for your blog. I also wondered about TRIMMER. Was this puzzle easy for an Araucaria? It is the first one I’ve completed in under 30′. Maybe the two beers helped?


  4. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks Andrew. I solved very few on the first pass but then picked up almost all on a second pass. Which suggests to me that the clues were all of similar, quite gentle, difficulty. That is a sign of a master setter and very appropriate for a midweek, lunchtime puzzle to my taste.

    A couple of comments. I was hoping your blog would explain the role of “third party” in 3d, but I Googled it and found the phrase that it comes from. Is this common in the UK? I have never heard it.

    And I was puzzled by the reference to “former” in 16d. My maps still show it as Lake Nyasa. It seems to be also called Lake Malawi but Lake Geneva also goes by other names, none of them “former”. Perhaps Araucaria is choosing sides?

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew this was very enjoyable.

    SUBSTRATA was my last one which. like so many of Araucaria’s clues, seemed obvious after it had been cracked.

    And cheers for the lovely GENE TIERNEY – one of my long time favourites – but will she be known to much younger generations?

    I’d never heard of ASGARD – not even in Scandinavia – but GLASGOW was easily gleaned thanks to the intersecting letters.

  6. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    This was straightforward once I got going. Loved 22,23a and 25a. Vintage stuff. Was also a wee bit puzzled by trimmer but it’s OK.

    TokyoColin, ‘playing gooseberry’ was a pretty common phrase for decades though I suspect there will be a ‘cooler’ equivalent amogst the current dating generation for an unwanted or self-appointed chaperone.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the very clear blog, Andrew.

    As Dad’sLad [almost] says, this would make a nice introduction to Araucaria’s style for newer solvers.

    Re 6dn: I spent a minute or two wondering where the L came from [I had French 'que'] then remembered ‘quel dommage’ [what a pity].

    Re 18dn, it’s a sort of double / cryptic definition, isn’t it? The surface – ‘going to’ – is rather odd – but I can’t think of a better way of putting it!

  8. nusquam says:

    Yes,18dn is surely going to the hedge with shears in hand, and also on the verge of wavering between commitments.

    For 27 sprayer, the exclamation mark at the end of the clue made me wonder if we should be thinking of a formation like “[god]‘s blood”, “streuth” or “zounds” – an oath.

    By the way, ‘an’ rather than ‘a’ is needed in 2dn.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    A very convoluted “explantion” for 18d (and I am pretty sure it isn’t the one really):

    “One going” – remove first letter from “hedge” to get “One going to edge”, that is a STRIMMER; remove its first letter giving TRIMMER.

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    A very enjoyable puzzle with lots of clever clues and amusing moments once I got going.

    Almost all said by now.

    Re 18d, Dave Ellison’s suggestion is ingenious but I feel there is a double person/machine def. here along the lines of molongolo’s suggestion.

    Did not know Asgard and had to check it but Glasgow clear enough.

    I also wondered about the young and Tierney.
    She was lovely – a real star!

    Re Lake Nyasa and ‘former’, there is a good wikipedia piece
    on the name. Very complicated:(a) Malawi is of course the newer (though contested) name and also replaced the colonial name Nyasaland for the country and (b) Nyasa simply means Lake in local languages (cf Nyanza in Victoria Nyanza) and Lake Lake is a bit odd.

    :) Whatever the answer re the name, the lake is still there as a present rather than a former geographical feature.

  11. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Andrew. I certainly agree with your last comment, Tupu.
    Lake Lake: But geographical tautologies are very, very common. I knew about the R Tyne and the R Avons, but not all these others!

  12. Thomas99 says:

    cholecyst (11)
    Yes, they do seem to be common. Mount Annapurna (in Nepal) apparently means “Mount Mountain”. In fact it’s a whole cluster of peaks, called Annapurna 1, Annapurna 2, Annapurna 3… Sheer poetry.

  13. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    A pleasant solve with a couple of :) ‘s

    Unfortunately, being unfamiliar with the idiom, I failed to get 3/5 until almost the end, as I was looking for a connection between the Greens and Jack Straw, having discarded Logan’s Run as the theme.

  14. tupu says:

    Hi Cholecyst

    Thanks for the interesting reference. It’s not suprising that many of the cases are colonial borrowings and accretions.

  15. walruss says:

    Very pleasant indeed, with ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK my pick. Great stuff from the greatest compiler of all.

  16. otter says:

    Thanks Andrew, and thanks Araucaria. A very enjoyable sunny morning tea-break solve, which required some thought but nothing too devious.

    Thanks for explaining ASG. I have heard of Asgard, but didn’t think of it.

    Being a great fan of Gene Tierney’s – especially in the wonderful Laura – that went in first. Next was KELP in COS giving me COKE …hang on, that can’t be right. Oh, ALGA. Then managed to put STRAT at the beginning of 4d giving STRATABUS … no…

    Anyway, got going a bit better after that. Particularly like ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK. Haven’t heard the phrase ‘Cry …’ before, but think it’s a lovely nod to the present economic situation.

    Think 3,5 is a sort of treble definition/&lit: ‘third party [when two is company]‘ = gooseberry; gooseberry fool; and someone included in an intimate soirée by mistake is also a gooseberry; in addition to the parsing given by Andrew.

    22,23 also a nicely disguised definition: ‘force runner’.

    TUM BLED made me giggle.

    ‘What’ for QUEL (rather than ‘which’) tripped me up momentarily as I entered QUE, but still saw the answer must be SQUELCHES and then worked backwards.

    Not sure of the crypticity (?) of TRIMMER. Could only think of it as something one might use on a hedge in the garden or the hedge on one’s head. Perhaps I was only led to that because I’m absolutely desperate for a hair cut. (Booked on Friday, wahey!)

    A fun puzzle. Thanks.

  17. otter says:

    Oh, meant to say ALLENDE was my last in and the one which caused me the most trouble. Was thinking of US presidents and tripped myself up.

  18. otter says:

    nusquam #8:

    I don’t agree. I think it’s perfectly right to use ‘a cricket team’ for ‘AN XI [an eleven]‘. Have I misread you?

  19. John says:

    Can someone help me out with ASGARD and “half of heaven”?
    It’s a fictional race or a mountain I gather.
    Wherefore the heaven reference?
    Glasgow is obvious but surely the wordplay should be understandable by a typical solver who isn’t a sci fi addict??

  20. Gaufrid says:

    From Chambers under Asgard: “The heaven of Norse mythology, abode of the twelve gods and twenty-six goddesses, and of heroes slain in battle”.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Not much to add to previous comments, except that I enjoyed this very much. I have a sneaking feeling that ASGARD has cropped up before, but I didn’t remember it. Thanks for the explanation of 27ac, which I didn’t see.

  22. Carrots says:

    Heading in calmer seas to Cabo St Vincenti now and have completed the Master`s puzzle over a single pinta. Is he being kind to us in order to lam us with a fifteen-pinta puzzle around the next corner?

    K`s D: Thanks. point taken.

  23. Manu says:

    phew, took me over an hour to complete this puzzle. But it reminded me why I love Araucaria’s puzzles so much: very entertaining, with clever clues. A few solutions were right under my nose, yet it took me some time to get them. (TUM BLED, ALLENDE, RUBICON). Thank you for explaining the ASG bit in GLASGOW. I see I wasn’t the only one to fill the answer without fully understanding the reference :)
    TRIMMER was the only letdown. I’ll just go with Andrew and call it a (not very) cryptic definition. I’ve given up looking for a ‘cryptic’ explanation…

  24. Stella Heath says:

    For those who thought of ‘que’ as French for what, my first idea was ‘quoi’.’Que’ would be ‘that’. ‘Ce que’ might do in relative phrases, but that’s beside the point :)

  25. wirricow says:

    Thanks for the great blog. As a relative novice, this is the first Araucaria I completed without using a dictionary; it was certainly easier than some of his. I can’t say I completely understood some of the answers, but that must be a sign of a good crossword when the clues direct you enough to dredge up some half learned knowledge from the back of your mind. After reading the blog and a bit of wiki/googling I really feel that I have learnt some things today. Very satisfying.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Stella

    Slightly off-topic, because it was wrong in the puzzle anyway and I only momentarily thought of ‘que’. It’s an awfully long time since my O Level French but I’ve been getting by with it in France for decades and always used ‘que’ for ‘what’, as in ‘Que voulez-vous?’.

  27. jmac says:

    Very much on the easy side but with some great clues. Loved SPRAYER, SUBSTRATA,and TUMBLED in particular.Thanks for the blog Andrew.

  28. Manu says:

    As a Frenchman, I agree that, strictly speaking, “what” = que and “which” = quel.
    (what do you want = que voulez-vous? / which US president…? = quel président américain…?). But I’m sure there are exceptions.

    Talking about exceptions, I hear people ask “WHAT year did the Titanic sink?”, which translates as “En QUELLE année le Titanic a-t-il coulé?”
    Now, this would be an example of an exception if the question “What year did the Titanic sink?” was correct. And that’s the question I’m asking you native speakers: is it a correct question?

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi Manu – and touché! :-)

    The correct question is, ‘In what year …?’

  30. Eileen says:


    More elegantly, ‘in which year…?

  31. Pilko says:

    I’m probably being obtuse, but I don’t understand why ‘by sight’ = ‘how strangers may be known’ (5 across)

  32. Manu says:

    Thank you Eileen,
    I thought that dropping the “in” at the start of the question was incorrect. Thank you for confirming.

    So, this actually is one instance of “what” = “quel”. Araucaria was right :)

    About that clue, what sent me in the wrong direction was the “ending at the start” bit. For minutes I thought the solution started in EQU- (last letter of QUE moved to the front).

    I forgot to mention my delight at solving the SUBSTRATA clue. Bravo monsieur Araucaria!

  33. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’m only lurking today, because I can never get near starting, never mind finishing, an Araucauria, but I can’t resist sticking my nose into the French discussion.

    Bonsoir, Manu! It’s not that simple for those of us who are teaching/learning your mother tongue. Quel est votre nom? What’s your name? Quelle est votre profession? What’s your job? So the clue works for me.

    I don’t have a TESOL qualification, but I imagine that the distinction between ‘which’ and ‘what’ is a tricky one to explain to English learners.

  34. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sorry, Manu, we crossed.

  35. Manu says:

    I agree with you. Translation is never a straightforward business (otherwise learning a foreign language would be much easier). There are and always will be exceptions. I can’t think of, or count, every instance of what = quel, but I’m sure there are plenty.

    And take “What’s your name?” : the common translation doesn’t even start with QUE or QUEL ! (“Comment t’appelles-tu?”). Literally, the French question means “How are you called?”

    Eh oui, les langues sont compliquées…

  36. Manu says:

    @ Pilko : someone who is not a stranger to you is known “by name”, while a stranger is recognized “by sight”. I’m not sure I understood that clue properly, but here’s my (attempt at an) explanation.

    I struggled with that one, especially (read my comment above) because I thought the word in 6d started with an E. When I realised that BY EIGHT didn’t mean anything, the penny dropped, and I got SQUELCHES and BY SIGHT.

  37. Manu says:

    erm I’ve just realised how stupid my previous post is. How can anybody “recognise” a stranger?
    Right, I’m going to bed :)

  38. Paul B says:

    If know you by sight, I’ve never actually spoken to you.

  39. Paul B says:

    There should be an extra ‘I’ in there somewhere. Apologies.

    God I hate cookery shows with a vengeance. I await the commencement of Beeb Two’s Ancient Worlds, which I must say I fancy immensely, but it better be good. After this summer pudding. I mean, it’s dreadful, and how relevant can you get in November?

    Burn them all at the steak.

  40. tupu says:

    Hi Manu and Eileen

    I think you are ending up being a bit harsh on simple ‘what’. I think ‘He went to Spain’ ‘Oh what year was that?’ is pretty idiomatic and certainly not ‘incorrect’.

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Good evening everyone – and especially all those new, er, faces!

    A good and very accessible Araucaria today.
    A nice mixture, from the “easy” (24d, TOTAL), “easy, but” (23d, CEDAR), “easy, because clear from the enumeration” (15,17) to the (according to Andrew – with many thanks) devious SPRAYER (27ac), which is apparently not devious enough to arouse a discussion. I do remember a similar thing (an answer starting with ‘S, meaning ‘is’ or ‘has’ – a long time ago, forgot the name of the setter), which caused a storm.
    What do you think, shall I cause one here? :)

    Araucaria is a setter whose priority is not really good surface reading. Construction is more important [and wit, and naughtiness, I know].
    A good example for that is 16d. I asked my PinC : “what does this mean?”. She could read it only in one way, a way that still didn’t make much sense.
    Although a good clue, the same applies to 22,23.
    But then 14d (NEEDFULLY).
    “Feud involved getting stuck into little girl in required style”.
    The cryptic construction is faultless, but we raised out eyebrows.

    17d (TACITUS) refers to Graham Greene’s novel “The Quiet American”, so this looks a nice surface. But.
    The word “The” is there for no reasons, which is a bit imprecise [or am I too critical?]. The clue could have done without, ánd without “” (Quite American historian), although at the expense of the Greene connection – true.

    Even though the imagery is not very uplifting, our Clue of the Day must surely be 25ac (TUMBLED).

    As I said, good puzzle [and a bit more than what I would call Lite].

    PS, another thing I learned today is that my dear “friends” Bryan and tupu must be of a different generation than I am. I had never heard of Gene Tierney. And, btw, can’t think of any other compiler than Araucaria that would incluede [ :) ] her.
    Yes, Araucaria – unique.

  42. Gerry says:

    I agree that this was easier than usual for Araucaria.

    My Blackie’s Concise Dictionary include for trimmer: ‘one who fluctuates between parties, especially political parties’…

  43. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    This was reasonably easy for Arry unlike last Thursday’s where I completed less than half before being totally stumped. Similarly, I found Arry’s last prize puzzle pretty easy so there’s isn’t really a yardstick for difficulty as we are all different and think in our own ways. However, I did enjoy today’s which was entertaining and amusing. I found the bottom half of the puzzle much easier than the top and it took me ages to get the long answer in the middle but it was a great clue.

    Ref KD at 33. It baffles me why you cannot start an Araucaria when you complete most of the other setters. There were a few easy clues today with probably 23d being the easiest so make sure you have a go at the next one. Most of the time, Araucaria is not that difficult.

  44. Dad'sLad says:

    KD 33 (and comment at 43)

    I’ve seen many posts from you that suggest you regularly solve clues with a wide range of difficulty. Have you ever tried tackling the puzzle without looking at the setter? Worked for me when I was starting out with ‘Alan Cash’ puzzles 30+ years ago.

  45. Gaufrid says:

    Paul B @ 39
    Please keep your comments on-topic. I watched the same programme earlier (I don’t know why) and I agree with your observation. However it is not relevant to this puzzle.

  46. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    I found your comments on surface versus construction generally very convincing e.g. re 16.
    I think you are a bit hard re Tacitus. My reading is that the ‘the’ goes with ‘historian’ and ‘quiet American is adjectival’.

  47. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu [# 40] [I've been out in the meantime]

    I didn’t say ‘what year’ was wrong – certainly not in your example – but ‘which’ in Manu’s sounds better. As Kathryn’s Dad says, the distinction between the two is a rather nice one – and Manu’s example raises another: I’ve never fully understand the distinction between ‘ans’ and ‘année’ but can somehow ‘feel’ the difference’ [most of the time].

    Hi again, Manu – I know you’ve gone to bed but perhaps you might see this in the morning. Was I not right in my first comment [7] that ‘quel dommage’ means ‘What a pity’?

    I’m very used to these linguistic discussions, because I have a French daughter-in-law, who is also fascinated by language. Actually, she’s my stepdaughter-in-law, so that makes me her ‘belle-mère’ twice over, n’est-ce pas? [Poor girl!] I don’t know how you French people get round that one.

    As for ‘knowing by sight’, a few years ago, I was firmly put in my place by my four-year old grandson, when I was trying to convince him that he did know some friends of mine. ‘You’d know them if you saw them’, I said. He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Grandma, I’d know everybody if I saw them’.

    To bring me back completely on topic: I’ve just seen tupu’s comment and I agree entirely. One of the best clues, I thought – but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

  48. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Davy and Dad’sLad

    Yes, I know what you’re saying – a crossword’s a crossword, but it’s just I seem to have a bit of a blind spot with the good reverend. Most of the other setters in the Guardian/Indy I can have a good crack at, but with Araucaria I never seem to be able to get sufficient clues on the first or second run throughs to be able to give myself a chance of completion.

    I shall have a concerted go at the next one and report back.

  49. tupu says:

    HI Eileen

    :) I better not say I remember Tacitus in case Sil realises how old I really am. I do remember his (T’s) comment about one of the emperors to the effect that ‘Everyone agreed he would have been a great emperor if he’d never ruled’. I see on checking it was Galba.

    re what.
    Apologies. What you actually said was “The correct question is, ‘In what year …?’” and Manu then pushed a bit further by replying “I thought that dropping the “in” at the start of the question was incorrect. Thank you for confirming.” I tried to encapsulate all that by suggesting that you ended up being a bit hard.

  50. Huw Powell says:

    Oh thank you thank you Araucaria for a relief from last week’s barely 1/4 solved offering. While an easy puzzle, what really struck me was the smoothness of the difficulty level – on a 1 to 10, all clues were in the 3-4 range. And thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    27) I think it is meant to be read as “(Hi)’s prayer” = SPRAYER, hence the exclamation point.

    18) TRIMMER to me is a straightforward DD – one going to a hedge to neaten it up is a trimmer, as is one who hedges their bets. A chance it’s more common in the USA?

  51. Denis Mollison says:

    I’d go further than Huw (#3): 18 down is an unusually elegant double definition, in that the whole clue applies for each meaning of trimmer: “One going to hedge” in the sense of (a) someone indecisive and (b) a gardener going to prune.
    And although the meanings are I suppose connected, it’s not very close; the “indecisive” meaning I think originates in trimming sails to the (political?) wind.

    A really nice crossword overall, from (in my case) 1a to 4d.

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