Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,185 (Sat 4 Dec)/Araucaria – Bony N.

Posted by rightback on December 11th, 2010


Solving time: 15 mins, three mistakes (23ac, 8dn, 20dn)

This wasn’t very easy and even after I’d (slightly fortuitously) spotted the mini-theme of Wellington, Napoleon and Waterloo it was tough to finish. I spent a while at the end on 4ac (MILCH-COW, which I guessed correctly) and 23ac (OAKWORTH, which I got wrong thanks to an incorrect checking letter) and also got the name at 8dn (WELLESLEY) wrong. A lot of the surface readings here were not exactly fluent.

Music of the day: Many thanks to the Kinks whose Waterloo Sunset allows me to sidestep Abba. (Ok, I admit it, I quite like Abba.)

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 HE + CUBA – wife of Priam, King of Troy, and mother of Hector.
4 MICLH-COW; MIL, + C[ash] in CHOW – a mil is 1/1000th of an inch. I guessed this via the German Milch, meaning ‘milk’, in the sense of milking something for money. In the clue, ‘goes’ is superfluous to the cryptic reading, the indication of C[ash] is questionable (‘its’ seems to refer to ‘Easy source of cash’ rather than just ‘cash’) and I can make no sense whatsoever of the surface reading which seems to require ‘its’ to be read as ‘it’s’, although that wouldn’t work in the cryptic reading. Not a good clue.
9,10 LITTLE CORPORAL; C[od] in (PROLE)*, all in LITTORAL – when solving I questioned ‘coastland’, but in fact ‘littoral’ can be a noun as well as a verb an adjective. I only spotted this once I had all the checking letters but had to smile at ‘Bony’, meaning [Napoleon] Bonaparte, to whom this nickname refers.
11 WATERLOO BRIDGE; WATER (= ‘drink’) + LOO + BRIDGE (= ‘card games’) – very slow on the first word here.
13 WELLINGTON – the Duke’s surname was Wellesley (8dn), so this is just a general knowledge clue, similar to last week’s clue for ‘King’ where knowledge of Gilbert & Sullivan lyrics was essential. I was fortunate to spot this early from a couple of checking letters, and by guessing that there was some kind of military action involved (although I didn’t yet have ‘Waterloo’).
14 ANIL; A (= ‘1’) + NIL (= ‘0)
18 STRIKINGLY; (IT’S)* around R (= ‘monarch’) + KINGLY – not keen on this: ‘R’ is an abbreviation for the specific words Rex and Regina, so ‘monarch’ = ‘R’ is too indirect for my liking, while ‘kingly’ means ‘with (or in) a regal manner’, not just ‘regal manner’.
21 FROM TIME TO TIME; (MMM + FEET TRIO TO I)* – another meaningless surface.
23 OAKWORTH; OAK (= ‘tree’) + WORTH (= ‘desert’, as in ‘just deserts’) – having ‘strewn’ instead of ‘strown’ at 20dn I went for ‘Oakheath’, but knowing that ‘desert’ = ‘heath’ was unlikely. This small village was apparently used in the filming of The Railway Children, but nonetheless it’s pretty obscure.
24 INDOOR; rev. of ROOD + N.I. – but Ulster is not the same as Northern Ireland: it consists of the six counties of Northern Ireland plus Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan. Perhaps this misuse is now sufficiently prevalent to justify ‘Ulster’ indicating NI.
25 THRENODY (hidden) – this word is nicely hidden but the cryptic indication is non-existent.
26 BEATEN; “BEETON” – referring to Mrs Beeton.
1 HELL; contraction of HE WILL – good clue.
2 CATCALL (2 defs)
5 ICONOLOGIST; (O + IT’S COOLING)* – ‘using’ isn’t really sufficient as an anagram indicator but otherwise this is nice.
6 CAPERS (1 def, 1 allusion) – referring to caper-sauce.
7 CARADON; CA[lcium] + RADON – Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon, was brother of former Labour leader Michael. I’d never heard of him but the wordplay was clear.
8 WELLESLEY; [Orson] Welles + LEY (= ‘meadow’) – strangely, I thought I knew this name and wrote in ‘Wolmesley’. If you can tell me of whom I was thinking, please do. Annoyingly, if I hadn’t thought I knew the name I’m sure I’d have got it from the wordplay.
12 LEGITIMATED; LEG IT + I MATED – fortunately the wordplay steered me away from ‘legitimised’/’legitimized’.
13 WIDE FRONT; (FIRED)* in WON’T (= ‘refusal’) – is this really a phrase?
15 DISTANCE; DIS (= ‘Hell’) + TAN + C.E.
17 KNOCKER (2 defs) – just couldn’t see this, being sidetracked by ‘knowall’.
19 GUMBOOT; GUMBO + O.T. – isn’t this ‘soup on books’ rather than ‘books on soup’?
20 STROWN; TROW in S,N (= ‘poles’) – knowing that ‘trew’ was a word I was confident about ‘strewn’ here. Unfortunately, ‘trew’ is an archaic adjective meaning ‘true’ while ‘trow’ is another obsolete word meaning ‘trust’. Again, this surface has no meaning (unless ‘trust’ has some non-abstract meaning which I don’t know).
22,16 IRON DUKE; ON + D[uty] + U.K, all in IRE – one of the best clues in this puzzle.

17 Responses to “Guardian 25,185 (Sat 4 Dec)/Araucaria – Bony N.”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, rightback. I agree that this, like his last daily, was not one of A’s finest. I didn’t have a problem with the phrase WIDE FRONT – I’ve seen it fairly often in the context of armies advancing/defending. I disliked 23ac where I thought the wordplay was too tricky for such an obscure place name – I had to resort to Google to confirm its existence.

  2. Biggles A says:

    Me too. I didn’t have much trouble with the theme but the bottom left hand corner (20 and 23) held me up for some time, for the same reasons as rightback and NeilW, before Google and the OED came to the rescue.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Rightback

    Like you, I opted for OAKHEATH and STREWN which proves once again that great minds think alike.

    Also, I’d never heard of Hugh Foot and hopefully never will again but CARADON was clearly clued.

    Otherwise, I found this very easy for a Prize Puzzle.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. Not difficult. 11a seemed likely to end in BRIDGE and the sense of 13a was a big win for somebody: and so quickly to the theme. A bit too quickly, because it delivered 9, 10 which was otherwise tricky. 18 and 21a were both gifts. Araucaria had GUMBO in May (25,017) when the clue was “Wellington’s starter, soup.”

  5. Tokyocolin says:

    Thanks rightback. I suspect most of us went for STREWN and then had to ponder HEATH for ‘desert’. I don’t think it is fair to clue an obscure word with an equally obscure word which crosses with an even more obscure place name. As NeilW said, not one of A’s finest.

  6. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Rightback.

    I also had STREWN. I agree entirely with Tokyocolin about 23 Across. On 8d my general knowledge did not extend to the Duke of Wellington’s surname and matters were further confused as there is a fairly recent, and very popular, kids movie ‘WALL E’ which fitted for tne beginning. 4a was poor and tortuous to work out; more of a “bl**dy h*ll” moment than ‘a-ha’.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks rightback and Araucaria

    As noted, quite a lot of ‘general knowledge’ which is likely to involve searching and checking.
    I had no problem with ‘milch-cow. Chambers gives ‘ready source of … money’. I read goes as in ‘this is how the song etc goes’ though this doesn’t work quite perfectly. The ‘its’ seems OK to me. It is cash’s ‘first’.

    Some good clues I thought – 9,10, 25 (lost seems to be an indicator here for buried), 17, 19 (‘on’ here seems OK to me).

    The Oakworth, strown connection took a bit of time to see and check.

  8. Mr Beaver says:

    Didn’t find this too bad, though I admit to entering STREWN first, but with a feeling that it wasn’t quite right. I always expect to do a bit of dictionary-hunting with Araucaria – I don’t think he’s wilfully obscure; it’s just that his ‘general’ knowledge covers a wider field than for most of us.
    When solvers have such a wide variety of backgrounds, it must be difficult for a setter to guess how widely a given word is known.

    I read the MIL in 4a as ‘mile’ contracted – this would have fitted ‘goes little way’ in the clue, but I couldn’t see what the ‘very’ was doing. rightback’s interpretation is much better!

  9. retired pleb says:

    just a problem with oakworth/strewn-strown like many others, otherwise all fell into place

  10. Carrots says:

    I must confess this was one Araucaria which I didn`t enjoy. It was like wading through treacle to the next obscure usage or (for me) unfathomable wordplay. I retired hurt with seven to go, but, unlike last week, I haven`t sulked or kicked the dog, because I did my best. Which, of course, was not good enough.

    Thanks anyway Araucaria and Rightback….for cracking it in fifteen minutes….I don`t know how you do it.

  11. Stella says:

    Thanks Rightback. I finished this with no mistakes, though with a little research, especially as I misunderstood 13ac as being entirely the name of a battle, until I realised that the two only actually fought face to face at one. Never mind, it was an opportunity to go over Wellington’s exploits in Spain.

    I didn’t know his surname, but worked it out from the wordplay, and this, with 9/10, led me into the theme. I had no problem with ‘littoral’, this being the normal Spanish word – and we have a lot of it -, though with only one ‘t’ :) I have a quibble with your blog, though: I can’t imagine a context in which this word could be a verb, unless it can be used to express “sail along the coastline”. Perhaps you meant adverb?

    Like most, I entered ‘strewn’ to start with, but wasn’t satisfied with ‘trew’=’trust’, so checked in Chambers that the alternative participle existed.

    As Mr. Beaver says, it must be hard for someone with such a wide field of knowledge to judge how much of it is ‘general’

  12. Carrots says:

    Preened my ruffled self-esteem with today`s prize puzzle (which is, of course, taboo to discuss until next Saturday). A bit like the apprentice out-doing the wizard: can`t wait to impart some thoughts….

    P.S. There is a chat room message waiting for those planning to attend the “bit of a do” kindly organised by K`s Dad on 29th January.

  13. sheffieldhatter says:

    It’s surprising that so many solvers went down the Oakheath/Strewn route. I considered strewn, but immediately saw that it wouldn’t do. I then remembered strowed from a hymn we used to sing at school around Easter time and went for strown. And as an honorary Yorkshireman I was familiar with Oakworth, so not much trouble there either. Where exactly is Oakheath? 😀

    I’m not sure to what extent Rightback “cracked” this in 15 minutes, as Carrots says @10. By his own admission he had three answers wrong: Wolmesley for Wellesley, Strewn for Strown, Oakheath for Oakworth and in addition he admits to having Knowall for Knocker (presumably until getting the crossing letters). While full of admiration for his amazingly quick completion times, I remain to be convinced that Rightback is really solving crosswords rather than simply filling in words that appear to fit together. 😉

  14. rightback says:

    Thanks to all commenters.

    sheffieldhatter (#13): Is is really surprising that STROWN/OAKWORTH stymied so many people? I knew none of ‘strown’, ‘trow’ or ‘Oakworth’, whereas I did know ‘strewn’ and at least knew that ‘trew’ was a valid word, while ‘Oakheath’ sounds just as plausible as ‘Oakworth’ to me. But you’re quite right that any mistakes write off the “completion” time, though in this case I don’t think extra time would have helped without using references.

    Stella (#11): Re littoral, I did of course mean ‘adjective’ rather than ‘verb’ – now corrected, thanks!

    tupu (#7): I agree a case can be made for the cryptic reading of 4ac, but what is the surface reading supposed to mean?

  15. maarvarq says:

    The only reason I didn’t get caught at 20dn by “strewn” was I Googled “trew trust” and this blog came up at number 4 with enough detail to confirm that that was wrong :)

  16. Huw Powell says:

    Not my favorite either. Half solved way back when, sort of finished tonight.

    I don’t see “hell” = “dis”, I had “PITTANCE” entered for 15d. Not satisfactory, but PIT = hell, TAN = beat and CE = church.

    Oh also, “Solving time: 15 mins, three mistakes”: it is not “solved” if there are three mistakes.

    Fun from Araucaria, and interesting commentary from Rightback.

    A bit repetitive, since we got a Waterloo puzzle on the anniversary of the battle.

    Oh well, nobody’s perfect, if they were life would be boring.

  17. Huw Powell says:

    Oh, sorry, Rightback, you were working without references, so my critique is unfair. Heck, I only got from “Sir Arthur” to “Wellesley” via wikipedia. And hence to “Wellington”. But then again, I am an ex-pat and it’s not fair to expect me to know all the Brit heroes and their entire stories off the top of my head…

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