Fifteensquared

Guardian 25,247 / Enigmatist, Paul and Shed

Posted by mhl on February 16th, 2011

I’ll leave no spoilers in this paragraph since it appears on the front page and this is a really special puzzle…

This puzzle is a wonderful tribute to Araucaria, whose 90th birthday it is today. The theme is that of geniuses, and places John Graham among ALBERT EINSTEIN, THOMAS EDISON, OSCAR WILDE and STEPHEN HAWKING. Indeed, the middle line of the puzzle reads “OUR OWN EINSTEIN”  The preamble to the puzzle, once resolved, reads “NINETY today, hooray, hooray, for OUR OWN GENIUS, Mr GRAHAM (who appears step-wise in the grid from the middle of 14 down)”. The stepwise reading of his name appears as so:

In the index of the crossword page this is credited to Biggles: in case people weren’t aware of this joke, “Biggles” is actually a team of four of the Guardian setters called John: John Henderson (Enigmatist), John Halpern (Paul), John Young (Shed) and John Graham (Araucaria). (The joke is that the Biggles books were written by W. E. Johns.) This is Biggles without one of the Johns, however – the subject of this puzzle – so in the puzzle itself it’s credited to Engimatist, Paul and Shed.

The puzzle itself has many wonderful clues, and I’m sure there are plenty of in-jokes I’ve missed. Many congratulations to Araucaria, and the setters for such an amazing tribute!

Across
8. MUSCADET SUM = “problem” reversed followed by CADET = “one training for the police”; Definition: “Drink”
9. NINETY N = “New” + (IN YET)*; Definition: “Ten of these” – this is clue number 9, so 10 times 9 gives NINETY
10,3. THOMAS EDISON (O[perations] IN THE MOSSAD)*; Definition: “[GENIUS]”
12. PRUNELLA (RULE PLAN)*; Definition: “She” – Prunella Scales is famously a fan of Araucaria’s
13. OOH An entertaining clue: O = “nothing” + OH = “I see”; Definition: “I say”
14. OUR OWN (WORN OU[t])*; Definition: “the local community”
17. RAUCOUS (OSCAR UU)* (OSCAR is “half of [OSCAR WILDE]” and UU = “Ulster Unionist”); Definition: “Harsh”
20. MONKEYS MONEYS = “Sums” around K = 1000 = “grand”; Definition: “halves thereof” – a “monkey” is slang for £500
23. GLORIANA (ALONG)* around RIA = “water-filled valley”; Definition: “QE1″ – referring to Queen Elizabeth the First
24. GENIUS A lovely &lit: I[ntellects] in GENUS = “class”; Definition: “Foremost of intellects in class”
26. WAR RAW = “Green” reversed (“back”); Definition: “Mars?” – Mars is the Roman god of war
27. ANTI-TANK AN followed by TITAN = “imposing character” + K[afka] = “one of Kafka”; Definition: “type of missile”
28,16. ALBERT EINSTEIN (BLARE)*, TEN around I is “10 [divided by] 1″ – two of those are put around S = “second”; Definition: “[GENIUS]”
31. RIDDLE Double definition: “Pervade” and “conundrum”
32. NEATHERD (A H TENDER)*; Definition: “A horse tender? Strangely not!” – a NEATHERD would look after cattle (neat)
Down
1. MUCH MUNCH = “to eat” without the centre (“but no stomach for it”); Definition: “A lot”
2. SCAM Hidden in “Cameron’S CAMpaign”; Definition: “Swindle”
4,22. STEPHEN HAWKING STEPHEN KING = “Author” around HAW = “fruit”; Definition: “[GENIUS]”
5. INNUENDO (NUN DONE 1)*; Definition: “Funny nun done one (nudge nudge, wink wink …)”
6. UNDERTAKEN UNTAKEN = “Still available” around DER = “the German”; Definiton: “promised”
7. STULTIFY (LUSTY)* around FIT = “attack” reversed; Defintion: “dull mind” (“dull” as a verb here)
11. ORR OR = “Alternative” + R = “resistance”; Definition: “the Guardian columnist”, referring to Deborah Orr
15. OSCAR WILDE SCAR = “Mark” + [t]W[a]I[n] = “Twain’s odd characters ignored” + L = “line” in ODE = “composition”; Definition: “[GENIUS]”
18. ATLANTIS ANTIS = “Objectors” around TLA = “URL, say” (TLA is a tongue-in-cheek abbreviation for Three Letter Acronym); Definition: “Fantasy Island”
19. UNABATED U (you) = “Using mobile you” + NAB = “arrest” + TED = “unruly adolescent”; Definition: “with no subsidence” – I love “Using mobile you”
21. SOS SS = “ship” with O (a hole) inside = “holed”; Definition: “Possible message from holed ship?”
24. GRAHAM AHA = “Eureka!” in GRM = first letters of “Great Reverend Master”; definition: “Great Reverend Master” – a lovely reference to Araucaria, the Reverend John Galbraith Graham MBE, whose 90th birthday it is today
25. ICE IE = “that is” around C = “clubs”; Definition: ” Diamonds”
29. BOHR B.O. = “pong” on HR (hour) = “time”; Definition: “Danish physicist” (Niels Bohr)
30. RARE R = “right” + ERA reversed = “time to get up!”; Definition: “Bloody”

78 Responses to “Guardian 25,247 / Enigmatist, Paul and Shed”

Amazing puzzle indeed mhl, and a pretty wonderful and comprehensive blog too. Congratulations to all, and a deep bow of respect to the Rev. It doesn’t get much better.

2. Andrew says:

Thanks mhl – I was hoping for something special today, and this lived up to expectations.

There are also tributes in today’s Independent and FT, and on the Crossword Centre, where there’s a link to some photos of a celebration at the Guardian.

3. Andrew says:

Today’s Independent and FT crosswords, I should have said.

4. Eileen says:

Many thanks for a superb blog mhl [lucky you!] and many thanks to the other three Johns – I was really hoping it would be you today. And, of course, many congratulations and huge thanks for the decades of pleasure to the man of the moment.

As well as the lovely Simon Hoggart tribute that mhl has given a link to, there’s also one in the leader column:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/16/in-praise-of-araucaria?INTCMP=SRCH

Re 12ac, Prunella Scales wrote the foreword to the Chambers Book of Araucaria Crosswords, saying that she loved going to bed with him, and ending with: “Where will it all end, wonders confused Cruel Penal Lass (8,6).”

5. MikeC says:

A birthday cracker of a puzzle. Thanks to the three Johns for a most entertaining tribute, and to mhl for a splendid blog. And many happy returns to Araucaria, of course.

6. PaulG says:

Thanks for the blog, mhl, and for the excellent puzzle, YE Johns. Biggest thanks of all to Araucaria for all the challenges and smiles over the years. Long may they continue.
mhl – perhaps 20ac is a passing refernce to monkey puzzle trees?

7. Geoff says:

Thanks to mhl and the Johns – the three setters, and especially the blessed JGG. Many happy returns to him.

Wonderful puzzle with so many ingenious and amusing clues that it is difficult to choose just a few favourites.

8. duncan says:

wonderful tribute, & so much new data to absorb. I had a feeling there was a reason for “prunella” but all I could dredge up from my memory was the rev’s own tribute to alan plater last year.
an hour & a bit, with some checking in the sw corner.
happy ninetieth, sir.

d.

A most enjoyable and generous puzzle, and a lovely tribute. Well done to all four Johns.

10. Hamilton says:

A truly fitting puzzle for the occasion – many thanks to the three John’s, and to mhl for the blog.

I first encountered the wonders of Araucaria on a holiday with three friends in the Cotswolds in 1977. After dinner, we settled down with several bottles and a copy of that day’s prize crossword – no. 14842 – I’ve still got a copy of it! We started at around 8, and finally finished (the crossword and the drink) at 2 in the morning. I was hooked, and I’m profoundly grateful for the countless hours of enjoyment I’ve had as a result. Little did I realise then that one day I would be privileged enough to work alongside him, as it were, albeit in his FT guise.

Happy Birthday Rev. Graham; long may you continue to delight us all.

11. Nigel says:

Thanks for the explanations-great puzzle.
27 Across-the K may also refer to the subject of Kafka’s The Castle,known as K.

12. sidey says:

The man may be a very good crossword setter of a particular type, he’s hardly a genius, possibly closer to one than the over-hyped Edison though. I’ll shut up now.

13. liz says:

Thanks for the blog, mhl. A wonderful puzzle from the three Johns to mark a very special occasion. Too many good clues to single out, but 5dn, which has a Paul ring to it, made me laugh.

Happy Birthday Araucaria! You have given me many hours of pleasure (and puzzlement) over the years. Any day when one of your puzzles appears is a good day, but holidays are not complete without one!

14. Martin H says:

Many Happy Returns and congratulations to Araucaria, with thanks for the great pleasure he’s given over the years – long may it continue.

A fine and cheerful tribute crossword with some excellent clues – particularly liked OOH and WAR.

But where would this correspondence be without any quibbles? Here are two: not convinced by RIDDLE = pervade. Any image suggested by ‘riddled with’ has to be analogous to being full of holes, comprehensively damaged or corroded in some way, which ‘pervade’ does not suggest. The two anagram indicators in 12 (breaking, dodgy) would only be necessary if the two four-letter fodders led to distinct parts of the solution. Otherwise most enjoyable – thanks to the other three Johns.

15. Gaufrid says:

Hi Martin H @14

pervade: to diffuse or extend through the whole of, to permeate

16. Robi says:

Great birthday tribute and nice blog from mhl.

I eventually saw ARAUCARIA, but not after trying to make sense of alternate (step?) letters in the grid. I got ‘ANAT NEA BACLIO,’ which I thought must be some great Latin tribute! (hope there’s nothing rude there.)

At first, I thought that 11 had something to do with Ohm, (the unit of electrical resistance,) but On Her Majesty’s service did not seem to connect well with a Guardian columnist.

I did like OOH.

17. Martin H says:

Hi Gaufrid – I did check ‘riddle’ in both my, admittedly ageing, Chambers, and in Collins. Neither gives the sense you cite. Odd, as I can’t imagine it’s just a recent usage.

18. walruss says:

In the world of crossword puzzles surely Araucaria IS a genius. Of this I have no doubt, the Johns don’t even have to try to pass JG off as one. The inventor of so many ruses and guises that are now standard, Mr Graham to me really is the best. Happy Birthday sir!

19. togo says:

Great crossword, great blog, great man, to whom happy birthday. Sidey, I think there is room for reflection on what appears to be your narrow definition of genius at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genius. Rev Graham applies breathtakingly wide erudition, playful creativity, consummate skill, humour and hard labour to create beautifully crafted things that bring pleasure on many levels, from the technical to the aesthetic. Give him (and the Johns who so playfully extol him) a break! In any case, I doubt he’d accept the term without checking for warmth and wit – but hope he receives it as a loving birthday present, from three people who’s tongues are so often in their cheeks, but who recognise mastery.

(Agree about Edison though – more of a wheeler and dealer I would have thought..)

20. walruss says:

And a GREAT puzzle, that is truly fitting. Nice work gentlement!!

21. Stella Heath says:

Many thanks to the Biggles crew, and congratulations to the reverend.

This was indeed very enjoyable, though I needed your explanations for a couple of the answers, so thanks mhl, too.

The centre line actually reads ‘raucous monkeys’ – the reference to ‘our own genius’ is a line higher up -; I don’t know if the authors are signing their masterpiece, or if, as suggested @6, this is a reference to the birthday boy’s pseudonym

22. John Appleton says:

Happy Birthday, JGG. 24ac very apt.

23. Gaufrid says:

Martin H @17
That’s odd. Under ‘riddle’ my Collins has “to fill or pervade the report was riddled with errors“.

24. John H says:

Thank you all for the kind comments on the puzzle. I don’t often comment here, but would like to wish my mentor and friend John Graham all the very best on his birthday – a spectacular achievement!

5dn was Shed, by the way, not Paul!

JEnig

25. Martin H says:

Hi again Gaufrid – my Collins is from 1995, and Chambers from 1992. Perhaps that explains it. ‘Riddled with errors’ still seems analogous to being full of holes – it’s an interesting shift from there to being filled with, apparently, anything. It seems to me a weakening of the idiom, but of course it happens all the time.

26. Bryan says:

Many thanks mhl

I had been anticipating something special and I was not disappointed.

However, I’d never heard of Deborah Orr. Yes, although I do the Crossword, I NEVER read The Grauniad.

I’m still struggling with Gozo’s FT Tribute which I am finding much trickier.

Congratulations Reverend!

27. liz says:

Martin H @25. How about ‘riddled with corruption’? I think that has more of the sense of pervading than being holed.

Thanks, John H @24 for stopping by and for revealing who wrote the clue at 5dn!

28. crypticsue says:

Very entertaining birthday celebration. Thanks to the setters and Happy Birthday to ‘our own genius’.

29. Eileen says:

Re 13ac: I initially confidently put in EGO, thinking, ‘I’ve seen this before – but why, ‘I see’?’ and then the penny dropped and I saw!

I read somewhere that Enigmatist’s clue, ‘I say nothing’ for EGO is one of Araucaria’s favourite clues, so it was particularly nice to see the witty reference to it here. [The other is, apparently Bunthorne’s, ‘Amundsen’s forwarding address [4]’.]

30. John H (Not the Enigmatist JH) says:

Happy birthday to the maestro.

To paraphrase Woody Allen the Rev has given me the most fun I have had with all my clothes on.

My best ever monkey puzzle was a holiday special consisting of two vertical grids with the UK shipping areas arranged around the perimeters in the correct geographical order. That was pure genius.

Sidey must go down a storm at parties. I can see him/her at a christening commenting on how the baby looks like a monkey/Winston Churchill (although to be fair they usuallly do).

31. John Doe says:

Nice blog, thank you

As you have highlighted the geniuses in Blue, you might consider doing the same with (Neils) Bohr, the Danish Physicist who (with others) gave us the atomic structure we use today.

32. Robi says:

Eileen @29. Oh no, not more clues to solve….. luckily, the answer can be found at the Guardian site

33. Chas says:

1) Happy birthday to The Reverend – long may he continue to tease and amuse us
2) I did the same as Eileen @29 and put in EGO at first
3) I fondly remember (part of) one of Araucaria’s clues Definition=Needlewoman Answer=Cleopatra

34. liz says:

John H @30. The shipping forecast puzzle is probably my favourite, too. (I’ve commented about it on here before.) It was a Christmas puzzle in the early 90s, I think, well before Wiki etc and I remember the whole family getting involved in solving it, including my late father-in-law. The enjoyment we all got from it has really stuck in the mind all these years.

35. Coffee says:

Still missing a few top right (sorry, NE!) but it’s bed time here, so I shall sleep on them. Thoroughly enjoying this one, well done the setters & happy birthday Mr 24D! I hope if I get to 90, I can still attempt solving, never mind setting. If newspapers still exist then…

36. REGALIZE says:

Ooh a genius of a puzzle for a special day. Thanks to the Johns (all 4) for hours of bliss.

37. Qaos says:

An excellent puzzle and a fitting tribute – many happy returns indeed! Whatever your definition of genius, Araucaria is certainly an amazing, amazing man.

#29: 7ac was a lovely nod to the classic “I say nothing” clue – I also almost wrote in EGO on autopilot

38. Kate says:

Fabulous puzzle – thanks to the 3 Johns! And indeed a fitting tribute to the master – long may he reign

39. Scarpia says:

Thanks mhl.
Fantastic tribute to a fantastic setter.Enough easy(ish) clues to get started on the puzzle and,in fact,everything fairly clued.Plenty of wit in evidence,as you would expect from these setters.It seems like I’m going to have to learn text abbreviations!
Re. comment @12 – I think perhaps the letter N should have followed the S in the poster’s name
Congratulations Araucaria – long may you continue to delight us.

40. Tokyocolin says:

This is a conga line I feel I must join. A truly entertaining puzzle, and a fitting tribute to an extraordinary man. It feels good to be a small part of this special occasion. Thank you all.

41. Carrots says:

A very happy bithday indeed, Master….and a most fitting tribute from the three Johns, well blogged by mhl.

This is a very happy day in Crosswordland. May all raise a glass to Araucaria tonight. Few can equal and none surpass the pleasure he has provided for all. Long may he continue to do so.

42. Martin P says:

Terrific!

43. Derek Lazenby says:

Well, yes congrats all round, though as you might expect, the class dummy found it hard work and didn’t understand all my answers until I saw the blog. But it was obviously pleasing to finish this one in particular.

Umm, re 19. Sorry, but the blog only explains UNABTED!

44. yogdaws says:

Had the pleasure of a pub lunch with Mr Graham a few years back. A real gent. Modesty personified. And he showed me his famous scrabble tiles.

Touched that his 90th comes just a couple of weeks before my father’s.

Excellent homage from the three Johns.

45. Robi says:

Derek @43; yes, A TED for ‘an unruly adolescent’ – I well remember the ‘teds’ jiving in the cinema aisles to ‘Rock around the Clock.’ That was a different world ………

46. Robi says:

Yogdaws @44; I was puzzled by your Scrabble reference until I found this , which is a nice additional article about Arucaria that some might find interesting (if you haven’t already seen it!)

47. William says:

Couldn’t let the occasion pass without adding my birthday wishes to His Worship, and fervent hopes for many, many more.

I think it was the Reverend who gave us my favourite clue, “Bar of soap” (6,6)

Happy Birthday and thanks to The Johns for an excellent tribute.

48. Robi says:

William @47; for dummies like me, it would be nice to have the answer – is it ROVERS RETURN or somesuch (I’m not very conversant with soaps!)

49. Uncle Yap says:

Excellent day today, fantastic puzzles with great clues for the Master.
Love live Reverend John

50. tupu says:

Thanks mhl for an excellent blog and the 3Js for a lovely puzzle,

I came to this only this afternoon, hence my late comment. The puzzle is clearly a labour of love in honour of a great man, and solving it and understanding it was something of the same. I was pleased to have parsed everything correctly including the fiendish Oscar Wilde.

I missed the ‘our own Einstein’ juxtaposiition, but 14,24 says much the same.

Many pleasing clues including 13 (I did not know the earlier version), 23, 26, 32, and 19d.

I first wanted to put Born in 29 (but it of course made no sense in at least 3 ways!) and then Niels Bohr came to the rescue.

A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE MASTER

51. Eileen says:

Hi William

I’m sorry but, for the record, that one is [typically, I think] a Rufus clue. See comment 29 here:

52. Francesca says:

Thanks for this.

What a wonderful puzzle and a wonderful tribute. Moving and delightful. I join with others here in very deep gratitude to John Graham, who has given me very great pleasure for a long time. Thank you, and thanks to the other three Johns for their work also.

53. RCWhiting says:

After solving an Araucaria Easter or Christmas special I would sit back in utter admiration for the mind which could create such a thing.
Always precise, never a letter out of place,original and complex themes – definitely a genius.
Sorry, but I thought today’s effort was not quite up to the task of celebrating such an occasion. It seemed clumsy, perhaps inevitable as the product of three minds.

54. molonglo says:

Congratulations all round, especially to the great Araucaria. A grand puzzle, too. Thanks mhl for the blog, esp the URL-TLA novelty.

55. Paul B/ Tees/ Neo says:

A very happy birthday to the man who some people (include me among them) think is the finest ever exponent of our craft. Alphabetical jigsaws, perimetrical jigsaws, impossibly dense themed grids, all these and more from the great man, and they just keep a-coming. But could it be that the most important thing about Araucaria is his ability to inspire the rest of us? I wonder what the panels today would be like had budding compilers not fallen under his influence. Ooh, it makes you shiver.

Have a great day, John G, and thanks to the other Johns, Tom and Mike for their wonderful contributions to the day.

Cheers
P.

56. Handel says:

A wonderful puzzle to commemorate the birthday of an utterly incomparable setter. Thanks to Jane and others who posted photos of the day – very glad to see that the Guardian took the opportunity to recognise the enormous amount of joy Araucaria brings its readers week after week. We raise our glasses to you!

57. Alan Moore says:

I enjoyed today’s crossword. I failed on 23ac (Gloriana) despite having all the letters and knowing that Ria was a drowned river valley. I guessed 1dn was Much so was pleased to see the reasoning for it. I also needed the blog as to why 15dn was Oscar Wilde.

58. Dinsdale says:

Hate to be pedantic, Nigel (see comment above), but Joseph K is in The Trial.

59. stiofain says:

Will just add my endorsement of the comments above, a great puzzle fo a great man.

60. malc95 says:

Been busy all day so only just come to the party. Just wanted to say thanks to Biggles in toto, and in particular of course to Araucaria for so many hours of puzzled enjoyment. A very happy birthday to you; I look forward you to reaching three figures – more Don Bradman than Michael Slater, as it were!

61. Davy says:

Thanks mhl and thanks also to the three Johns for this marvellous tribute to the great man. He may be 90 today but I hope that he will continue to entertain us for many years to come. Who else could produce the great bank holiday puzzles ?. The younger compilers will have to start practising.

I just failed on UNABATED today and I still don’t understand “Using mobile you”. I will think about it if I wake up in the night.

Many happy returns Araucaria and thanks for so many years of crossword delight.

62. malc95 says:

Davy,
mobile texting shortcut “u” for “you” – coincidentally a similar partial clue appeared in the Indy tribute puzzle today.

63. Davy says:

Thanks malc,

So obvious but I still managed to miss it. I never was very good at texting anyway.

64. Sil van den Hoek says:

‘Where were you when Arauacaria turned 90?’
Well, at post #64 at Fifteensquared.
Quite unique – can’t remember ever have posted my first comment so late.

But what a lovely tribute, one I was hoping for (like many others, I presume).
‘Genius’ was an appropriate theme but adding ‘our own’ in the preamble made it just as it should be.

Many Happy Returns, dear John (if I may say so).

As to the crossword itself I have only three things to say.
Firstly, I liked the step-wise inclusion of Araucaria very very much.
Furthermore, I appreciated the lightness of clueing, making this puzzle accessible to anyone who would like to be part of the celebration. Even the less experienced must have felt the Joy.
But most importantly, this crossword – one that could have been so ostentatious – was just the opposite: modest.
This is the word I associate most with Mr Graham, although I have never met him.
He is actually the only Biggle I haven’t met so far, so hopefully when I buy a packet of crisps tomorrow, it will include the missing Biggle that makes it a perfect quartet ….
When I started doing crosswords in the Summer of 2008 [My Summer of Love :)] , Araucaria’s puzzles were the first British crosswords I encountered.
I tried and tried, failed and failed, but eventually learned what it is all about in Crosswordland.
Without Araucaria (and, to be fair, one of the other Biggles too) I would never have been the one I am now in Crosswordland.

Let’s drink a MUSCADET (8ac) to celebrate!!

PS,
Thank you Tom J. (Gozo) for what looks like an amazing tribute, in the FT.
Will surely do this crossword tomorrow (Arsenal and Barcelona took my time tonight, though).
And another thank you to eimi’s contribution in the Indy – an alphabetical, clearly spoiled by Crossword Compiler on the Indy website – but even so, much appreciated.

65. malc95 says:

Sorry Sil @64,

66. Sil van den Hoek says:

malc95 @65:
When you do the Indy puzzle online, it is like a normal crossword.
But in the newspaper today it is an Araucarian alphabetical: clues given from A to Z (being the first letter of the solution), to be entered wherever they will go in the grid.
A typical Araucarian jigsaw, which apparently the software used by the Indy can’t cope with.
I do understand the technical problems, but it does really spoil the party.

67. malc95 says:

Thanks Sil, but I think that may have been in the FT; Eimi’s crossword was fairly standard.

68. Roger says:

Hope I’m not too late to scribble my best wishes in the corner of Araucaria’s birthday card. Thank you Sir for past challenges and here’s to those in the future. And thanks mhl for nicely unpicking this one. I did wonder though whether the definition in 26 was in fact “from Mars?” (…Mars, the bringer of war). Only a small point and I expect everyone’s past caring now anyway !

69. Sil van den Hoek says:

Sorry, malc95, I do not really understand what you are saying.

When you go to the Indy online, the puzzle can be solved as a normal crossword, so with Across and Down clues – like “Song about gold vehicle and tree” given as 1 Down.

But in the Dead Tree version it is NOT indicated that this word should be entered at 1 Down. The puzzle is an (Araucarian) alphabetical like in the FT.

I have not visted the eimi blog at Fifteensquared, because I haven’t done the crossword yet, but I can imagine that some solvers might have commented on this.

70. Sylvia says:

Well, Sil, you aren’t the last! I was late in switching on too, but want to add my congratulations to the great and good Araucaria!

71. Shed says:

Thanks to mhl and all who commented. I’m glad so many of you thought it fitted the bill. It was quite a challenge.

Paul B/ Tees /Neo #55: spot on. I think I speak for all three Js (of whom, at 51, I’m the oldest) in saying that JG has been our biggest inspiration. We may not be quite in the same league but we wouldn’t have got as far as we have without him.

Pedant’s corner: Dinsdale #58: the protagonist of The Trial is indeed Josef K, but the protagonist of The Castle is referred to throughout merely as K. But since K is (by some strange coincidence) the first letter of ‘Kafka’, I figured people didn’t need to have read Kafka at all to solve the clue. (That was one of mine.)

72. Bannsider says:

Coming to this topic very late, but I’d like to add my own praise to the Johns for a puzzle which, I suspect, was designed to be done in the style of the great man himself.
All I’d say about geniuses is that if you can’t call the author of SURPRISINGLY CHASTE LORD ARCHER VEGETATING as a clue for THE OLD VICARAGE GRANTCHESTER a genius then your definition is indeed a narrow one.

73. Joshua's mum says:

This will probably be the latest tribute here. I only opened 15 squared because I didn’t get ‘much’ (thank you mhl) and am persuaded to add my gratitude for years and years of tackling Araucaria crosswords. Our children have grown up with them and now inculcate their own broods. Trying to have a sight of the clues when we all gather is a challenge. We look forward to the next decade of offerings.

74. Tramp says:

Wonderful tributes in yesterday’s papers to a brilliant setter. I seem to remember reading around the time of his 80th birthday that Araucaria was “the Tiger Woods of crossword setting”: Tiger’s reign didn’t last 53 years and he’s not number one anymore!

The man is one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

Here’s to his 100th!

75. beermagnet says:

It’s all been said above.

Thanks to everyone involved in this – all the Johns, and all the rest.
I had a brilliant time solving the 3 tribute crosswords

We must do this again sometime …

76. Huw Powell says:

Happy birthday indeed to the Master! Thanks to the 3 Johns and mhl for such a wonderful tribute and blog.

Sil, I agree that it was nice to have this puzzle be on the easier end of the scale, while still demanding some thought, of course. Letting everyone in on the fun by letting us all blow out all the candles, as it were.

One thing that impressed me was the relative lack of clunkiness considering what had to be worked into the grid. I really liked the way all the “theme” bits worked together to help with the solving – especially pencilling in ARAUCARIA which gave me RAUCOUS and OSCAR WILDE!

I suspect I would have had a much rougher time of it if it weren’t for reading 225 sometime in the last day or two, which included mention of the coming celebrations.

One little note about the discussion of RIDDLE (that has died down) – it certainly does mean “pervade” – consider “the house was riddled with vermin”. However, “riddled with holes” has become so common that “riddled” has become a convenient shorthand for the phrase. At least, that’s my thinking about the misunderstanding.

So thank you, once again, John, John, John, and John, for inviting us to the fabulous party!

77. Paul says:

Araucaria – we love you!

Paul

78. John says:

Enjoyed the puzzle thoroughly ! There couldn’t have been a better tribute to Araucaria other than this ! Ninety today hooray hooray!
I’m late but still I can wish , belated happy b’day sir!
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