Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,232 by Araucaria – a river runs through it

Posted by bridgesong on February 5th, 2011


Solving time: about an hour, although that left three clues unsolved. Many thanks to my neighbour and solving partner Timon, for his help with this and many other crosswords and for introducing me to fifteensquared in the first place.  Here, as usual, is a link to the pdf of the puzzle in case you’ve forgotten it since last Saturday.
The theme of this entertaining and challenging puzzle was that 10 British rivers were included in the solutions but not included in the subsidiary parts of the clues. I’ve highlighted them in the answers where they are to be found. There was also one other holy river, the river Alph. I stand to be corrected, but I think that in fact all the rivers except the Tweed (which is Scottish) are English.

1 PROLEPTIC PROLE + PT + I C. “Said” in the clue refers to “I see” as a homophone for IC.
8 KNOTWEED KNO(w). Japanese knotweed is seen as a particularly invasive species.
9 OSSIFY OSSI + F(air)Y. Ossi is self-referential slang for a citizen of the former East Germany.
12 PAIRED PD = police department, an American usage. Pairing is the system whereby 2 MPs of opposite parties are allowed by their whips to agree not to vote, on the basis that their votes, had they been cast, would cancel each other’s out.
16 TAMARISK A tamarisk is a xerophytic plant, one that thrives in dry conditions.
21 ALPHABET Alph is the “sacred river” referred to by Coleridge in his poem “Kubla Khan”.
22 CHOUGH Sounds like “chuff”.
24 OBLIGE Double definition.
27 SINGLETON SINGLET ON. In bridge, and other card games, a holding of only one card in a particular suit is known as a singleton.
1 PANDA P AND A(lbert).
2 OCTOBER Initial letters of the last seven words in the clue.
3 EXERT I wasn’t entirely happy with “apply engergetically” as a definition.
5 COOK’S TOUR. The phrase is not to be found in Chambers, but does appear in the OED and other dictionaries, and derives of course from the activities of Thomas CookThanks Tupu for pointing out my error.
7 SAFETY NET SAFE + T(he). Peter is old slang for a safe, rarely encountered nowadays outside crosswords.
14 DRIBBLERS Double definition.
17 ATHEIST A (the first letter) + T(ime) + HEIST. The reference is to the well-known scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins.
18 KITCHEN If you can’t stand the heat…
20 PROTEST Pro is short for professional, hence expert.
22 CRUEL RUE in CL (abbreviation for chlorine).
23 GRAIN Double definition, although “in salt or sand” doesn’t really define anything.

24 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,232 by Araucaria – a river runs through it”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Bridgesong for another brilliant analysis.

    This was very enjoyable even though I was defeated by PAIRED which now looks so easy and also provides the 10th British river that I was unable to find.

    However, I also searched in vain for the ‘holy one’, never having heard of ALPH.

    Also, many thanks Araucaria, I am sure that you can serve up another corker in a few days time on the occasion of your upcoming birthday.

  2. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This is the puzzle that Andrew and tupu were doing during our trainride to Derby last Saturday, while at the same time I tried to do my best not to see anything of it.
    But I heard them saying ‘Stour’ and ‘Ossie’, and Andrew said something about a Cinephile puzzle with a similar idea (FT 13,595 19 January 2011).
    Indeed, this crossword asked for rivers whereas the Cinephile wanted us to find body parts.

    Good puzzle, but just like two days ago, another Araucaria that we couldn’t finish (due to GAMBIT and PAIRED, although we thought the latter had to be the solution, without knowing why).

    We missed the ‘holy river’ (ALPH) but not ALPHABET.
    But that little word ‘on’ in the clue just doesn’t belong there.
    As ever Araucarians won’t be bothered, I fear.

    Like they probably can’t be bothered by ‘goals’ for SCORING.
    We cóuld, though.
    And in 13d ‘of no account’ meaning leaving out ‘AC’?

    In all these cases we know what Araucaria means, but ….

    HM (Her Majesty, I presume) clued by ‘sovereign’? Just about.
    P for ‘peninsular’? According to Chambers only as part of P&O [being Peninsular and Oriental] – thank you very much.

    Yet, don’t get me wrong, we did like solving this crossword.
    Let’s see what others think about it.

    Meanwhile, many thanks for the blog, bridgewater.

  3. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Sorry, bridgesong …

  4. Biggles A says:

    On is OK in 21 Sil if a=alpha.

    I wasn’t sure about 5; the clue is complete as it stands, STOUR is not disregarded in the subsidiary part.

  5. Coffee says:

    I had Alphabet for a couple of days & most of the rest & it was only when speaking to my mother about the rather empty looking NW corner that it fell into place – telling her there must be a lot of rivers still to go, and I couldn’t fit Ganges in anywhere, but I couldn’t “think of another sacred River… Alph… and walk the caves of ice” – light bulb moment! Sad to say I got it from growing up on the 1970s listening to the band Rush – it’s in a song called Xanadu, (nothing to do with Olivia Newton John!), though I did study Coleridge’s Kubla Khan at school & should have got it from there.
    Ah well, it always helps to have a variety of cultural reference with the Rev., as we saw with Lady Gaga this week!
    I never did finish the NW corner, either, so thanks, bridgesong.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Amazingly, I knew all eleven rivers, but none better than the Alph. Totally new, though were 1a, 6a, 15a and xerophytes: but they were gettable, as is usually the case with Ari and his clever clueing. Nothing too taxing – and we had DRIBBLERS just the other day (Paul, 16/1).

  7. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I finished this last Saturday after an enjoyable struggle and was quite pleased because I started with a significant handicap. Of the 10 British rivers, I have heard of two as rivers (Tweed and Tyne), one as a building in Hong Kong (HMS Tamar) and three from their frequent use in crosswords (Ouse, Exe and Test). (I was fooled recently when the first of these was clued as a homonym for “ooze”. I had always assumed it was pronounced as “(h)ouse”.) In fact I only found 8 on the day, missing the rivers in 5dn and 18dn. I agree with Biggles A@4, there doesn’t seem to be a missing subsidiary part in the clue for 5dn.

    When engaged in intense battle as this was for me, Sil’s objections were mere fleabytes, not even noticeable as long as another piece of the puzzle was in place.

    A very satisfying solve. (Today’s Prize was equally good.)

  8. bridgesong says:

    Biggles A @4 and Tokyo Colin @7

    I see what you mean about 5dn; the only way I can explain it is that “general inspection” is the definition, and “in the (kitchen)” is the subsidiary part, meaning COOK. Just about works, I think.

  9. malc95 says:

    Sil @2

    1d. I think it’s just the Rev’s little joke – a cross between P & O and V & A

  10. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Bridgesong. What a brilliant puzzle. I enjoyed completing it very much. Bridgesong: yes the Tweed is usually classed as a Scottish river but the last few miles flow entirely in England down to Berwick upon Tweed. I note that there is another river in the puzzle at 10ac – AM (Ambridge, anyone?)
    I thought at first that Araucaria was being a bit naughty with this one but then realised that this was just a normal clue.

  11. malc95 says:

    chole @ 10.

    Nice one! Desperately looked for PO without success, but the OB is there.

  12. MikeC says:

    Thanks for the blog, bridgesong. I thought this was a fine puzzle, which I was suitably pleased to have completed on my way to the Derby meet-up. As too often, sadly, I had the right letters but not the right reasoning – being an Archers fan, I thought the AM in GAMBIT was one of the rivers (so could not make sense of the clue), and I missed the river in 5d. Odd that COOK’S TOUR works (sort of) with or without the unclued river.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Bridgesong and Araucaria

    As Sil notes, I started this in Andrew’s company. I then finished most of it next day.

    Pretty enjoyable I thought with some good clues that were satisfying to solve e.g. 10 and 12. I got Alph and then a bet first.

    I was held up for a time with 15 – I wanted to make something with Severn and then thought 5d wouold involve oven, but a question to Andrew about the meaning of ‘I’ set me on the right road.

    ‘Cook’s tour’ is in my (slightly old) Chambers as a separate entry following cookie.

    Re scoring (see Sil above) I perhaps wrongly thought ‘among’ might be doing double duty as in ‘Teves was among the goals’. But by the time I’d got rid of Severn, I didn’t much care!

    Peter = safe is perhaps more common in ‘peterman’ = safe breaker.

    Also enjoyed 13, 14, 17. Had to guess ‘tamarisk’ (tend to mix it up a bit with tamarind till I think about it).

    1a kept me guessing for some time since ‘prophetic’ was superficially tempting at first, but the ‘pro’ helped in the end.

  14. Colin says:

    Glad it wasn’t just me that couldn’t finish this…

    I got “Alph”, though. I know my “Xanadu” :)

  15. Wolfie says:

    One of the meanings of ‘Cook’s tour’ given by the OED is:

    “Cook’s tour, a colloquial phrase for the customary tour round the trenches by officers and N.C.O.’s of relieving?units?, the ‘Cook’s Tourists’ being guided by the previous holders of the position.”

    So I think Bridgesong is correct about 5d – ‘General inspection’ (inspection of a military unit by a senior officer) is the definition; ‘in the the kitchen’ clues ‘cook’, leaving ‘stour’ as the unclued river.

  16. Wolfie says:

    Sorry about the intrusive question marks in the above..

  17. Roger says:

    Thanks bridgesong. This was a lot of fun. Alph is something of a crosswording chestnut when it comes to holy rivers, I think. Regarding the muddle that is 5d, I wonder if the special instructions should have read “these may be disregarded…”as they have often done in the past with Araucaria.

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks Araucaria and bridgesong for a useful blog.

    Managed to finish this with help from my computer. I thought 18 was fairly impossible until 5 was done. Still not sure why ‘K’ is £1,000 – K is used as a general indicator of one thousand in many places e.g. kilogram(me). Is there some significance to the ‘£’ in this clue?

    Quite interesting parsing the clues without the river part.

  19. tupu says:

    Hi Robi
    I’m no expert on contemporary usage, but K does seem regularly used to indicate pounds e.g. ‘That cost me 5K’ or ‘He must get about 60K a year in that job’.

  20. Carrots says:

    Excellent sport: a classic puzzle in the Araucarian mould. Finishing it lifted my spirits after nursing a hangover triggered by “Derby Day”.

    Although ALPHABET went in fairly early on, I wouldn`t know an “Alph” from a holy cow. Other pot-holes I fell into included SAFETY HAT for SAFETY NET and CHOUGH spelt as CHOUFF. If there`s a possible alternative to any answer (however daft) I can be sure to find it.

    Well now, let`s see what Brummie has in store for us…another hangover for me I suspect.

  21. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re my ‘fleabytes’ (as Tokyo Colin calls them), I’m with malc95 (#9) now – from that perspective typical Araucarian wit.
    Although I do not understand what Biggles A (#4) means with “if a=alpha”, I withdraw my comment on that one as it can be read as “on A [there’s a] stake (BET)” – the famous ‘A on B’ device again, this time done in a proper way.

    It is a very nice crossword, and we enjoyed it very much, but the fact that there is nearly always some (not much, though) iffy cluing going on in an Araucaria, does annoy us at times. Sorry, can’t help.

  22. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, bridgesong. I enjoyed this a lot. Can’t remember now which river was the first to alert me to the theme. I didn’t know ALPH and had to confirm it by Googling. Despite solving the clue, ‘Ribble’ was the river missing from my list. I also had ‘prophetic’ at 1ac for a time, until I realised that 5dn had to be ‘exert’.

  23. muck says:

    Thanks to Araucaria & bridgesong.

    “I think that in fact all the rivers except the Tweed (which is Scottish) are English”

    The source of the Tweed is in Scotland near Moffat, but then it forms the Scotland-England border from Peebles and finally enters England a mile or so before Berwick-upon-Tweed.

  24. Biggles A says:

    Sil @21,

    I think we are saying much the same thing. ALPHABET was one of my early entries, before the theme had emerged, and I explained it to myself that way then.

    Bridgesong @8 and Wolfie @15,

    Points taken but I still don’t much like it.

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