Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,279 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on March 25th, 2011


There’s quite a bit of cross-referencing in this puzzle and there were two or three instances where it took me a while to see the parsing, so several real penny-dropping moments today. There’s more than a whiff of a bygone age in some of the clues / solutions.

I began to think that this time I wasn’t quite on Araucaria’s wavelength but it gradually all became clear – I think! A bit of a struggle but, as always, an absorbing and enjoyable one.


9   OVULATION: U [turn] L[eft] in OVATION [cheers] – nice definition!
10  ABELE: hidden in A BELEaguered
11  DECAPOD: DEC [month] A POD a case
12  OCTOPUS: OCT OPUS – a piece written in October – this took a while to see!
13,24: UNDERMINED: UN [a French] DD [Doctor of Divinity – theologian] round ERMINE [ceremonial robes]: ‘attacked by 3′ because one of a Sapper’s duties is to clear minefields?
14  ASH-BLONDE: anagram of OLD HAS-BEEN minus one E: I don’t like this, because ‘devoid of energy’ should mean that there are no Es.
16   BULLDOG DRUMMOND: BULLDOG [clip] DRUM [part of ear] MOND[ay]
19  ROADSTEAD: homophone of Rhodes Ted: I’ve seen ‘roads’ meaning ‘anchorage’ several times in crosswords but I don’t think I’ve come across this word before.
22,21  COMPASS POINT:  COMPASS [go round] POINT [spot]
23 SUPREME: SUP [drink] REME [Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers]
25  REFORMISM: FOR in anagram of SIMMER


1   GOOD NUMBER: double / cryptic definition: there have been calls only this week for the superannuation of this device – but we’re more used to seeing ‘number’ in the clue than the solution!
2   SUICIDAL: anagram of I CLAUDIUS minus U [turn]
3   SAPPER: I puzzled over this, first thinking it might simply be a reference to the fact that ‘Sapper’ is a pseudonym, but I think it’s ‘R.E. translation’ since the corps of the Royal Engineers is / are known as Sappers.
WIND: double definition
7   WEAPON: A P.O [postal order] in WEN [the fairly frequent crossword reference to William Cobbett’s description of London as ‘The Great Wen’]
8,21 NEWSPAPERS: N E W S [every cardinal point] + PAPERS [anagram of SAPPER, 3dn] – an impressive clue
14  AGGRESSORS: this took a bit of staring at, to see that it’s the first letters of the first ten words of thhe clue – and a sort of & lit.
17  DASTARDY: STARD [stardom minus OM – order] in DAY [time]
18  OLIVE OIL: OLIVE[r] [one of the twelve Paladins of Charlemagne] + OIL [anagram of OLI [his top half] – cooker as the definition?
20  ALMOND: [s]ALMON + D[ied]
22  CAMP: double / cryptic definition: hammer = one who hams? – but I thought that was a ham. Well, there is a question mark and this is Araucaria!
23  SAFE: double definition: surely this is another chestnut due to be put out to grass. I was about to say that was a mixed metaphor but I suppose it’s more of a pun – sorry!

33 Responses to “Guardian 25,279 / Araucaria”

  1. malc95 says:

    Thanks Eileen, and of course the Rev.

    I think sappers used to lay mines under the trenches rather than clear them.

    Thanks for parsing 18d, I just couldn’t see it.

  2. Shirley says:

    Thanks Eileen – any ideas for 15D please?

  3. Eileen says:

    Apologies, Shirley: careless omission.

    ENDOTHERMY: END [conclusion] OTHER [different] MY [setter’s]: ‘Endothermy is the ability of some creatures to control their body temperatures through internal means such as muscle shivering or increasing their metabolism.’

  4. malc95 says:

    Eileen –

    6d I think this is “TANT” (as in “tant pis”) + A LUM(p). I thought for a while it was ALUM but persuaded myself otherwise

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Malc – another careless omission.

    You’ll be thinking I deliberately missed out the ones I couldn’t do – but that’s what I made it, honestly! :-)

  6. Dave T says:

    3d Sapper is the pen name of the writer of Bulldog Drummond books – Herman McNeile

  7. Martin H says:

    Hi Eileen – sappers, among other duties like minefield clearance, used, during a seige, to dig under the walls of the enemy fort and lay explosives, hence ‘undermine’.

    I share your reservations about certain clues, but really enjoyed teasing this one out with the help of the cross references. Thanks for parsing OCTOPUS – favourites: WIND and NEWSPAPERS .

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Martin H. My father was one during the war, and he was in Bomb Disposal, so that’s what I was thinking of.

    Dave T: yes, that’s what I meant about my first thoughts about the parsing of 3dn.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen. I didn’t notice your omissions, as I’d had no difficulty parsing them – in fact, I wrote in 15d. straight from the clue, then stared at it to see what it might have to do with the definition :)

    After ‘sorb’ some weeks ago, I’ve now learned the English name for another tree which I often see around here – not surprisingly, as it appears it is native to Spain.

    Oddly enough, 12ac. was my first in: the ellipsis leading me to look for an earlier month, I immediately thought of October, which led not only to the answer to this clue, but also gave the beginning of the previous one.

    On another note, my thanks to tupu and Carrots for their amusing retake on History yesterday. I didn’t get to read it till this morning.

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I found that this puzzle had the Rev back to his old deviousness – I found it much harder than many of the recent ones.

    Couldn’t parse 18d, but there wasn’t anything else that would fit. Thanks again, Eileen! I hadn’t come across the nautical sense of ROADSTEAD, but again, this was pretty clear from the clue.

    Failed to get 17d. I have always thought ‘dastardly’ meant ‘wicked and devious'; I didn’t associate it with cowardice, per se, but all the dictionaries I have consulted place it firmly there. As well as teaching us new words, crosswords sometimes acquaint us properly with ones we thought we knew…

    I particularly enjoyed the linked clues 11a and 12a (seafood, anyone?) and the splendid 14a.

  11. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I needed your blog to explain no less than three of the answers.

    Araucaria showing his age with some of today’s clues but nonetheless much to enjoy, especially 14ac.

    10ac last to go in. A penny dropping moment!!

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    Some very nice connected clues. I failed to parse ‘sapper’ (I see it clearly now as a translation of RE – so thanks for that). kept wanting to see it as an ‘almost anagram’ of ‘perhaps’ in spite of knowing it was a nickname etc.

    I nearly gave up on parsing 17d. but got it just in time. Very nice with misleading hints of ‘cowardy custard’ on the way.

    ‘Undermine’ is a standard dictionary meaning of ‘sap’ (v). OED gives quotations of this sense from C17 so the RE nickname must come straightforwardly from this.

    I also liked 11 and 12a (including the ‘earlier’ idea), 22,21a, 4d, 14d, and 22d plus 8, 21d. Nice surface in 5d.

  13. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    :) Your chestnut-CRACKer has just sunk in!!

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    7d Is “aN order” ok for “A postal order”?
    I thought that 3d was an excellent clue except that the link to 16a made it too easy.
    Last in – 22d, I took a long time to convince myself that ‘ham’ actors are necessarily ‘camp’.
    Very enjoyable.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. A bit of a struggle for me, too. There were quite a few places where I got the answer before knowing why. Missed 7dn, because I overlooked the fact that I hadn’t solved it yet when I read the blog…

    Enjoyable and teasing, nonetheless.

  16. Jack Aubrey says:

    Thanks for a very helpful blog. A classic Araucarian experience. Complete darkness, then rosy-fingered dawn appearing through the distant Greek islands and finally a full warm noon that left me smiling broadly.

  17. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Tricky stuff today from the rev.
    I failed to parse 3 down,so thanks for that.Like Tupu I thought it was an anagram of ‘perhaps’ without the H but there is nothing in the clue to indicate any removal.A liberty too far even for Araucaria!
    OVULATION and SUICIDAL were my favourite clues.
    BTW I like your pun at 23 down! :)

  18. otter says:

    Thanks, Eileen, and Mr Graham. An enjoyable puzzle. There were a couple I put in from the wordplay alone (eg ABELE), and couldn’t parse OLIVE OIL (not knowing Oliver as a paladin) or WEAPON, so thanks for the explanations.

    I have a stash of old chestnuts, which are in my wardrobe in the hope to deterring moths &c, so I shall put them out to grass now the spring is here.

  19. Chas says:

    Once again it took me quite a long time to get started on this one – then answers started to flow. For me this is common with Araucaria. Other setters usually see me getting answers almost as soon as I start looking.

    I totally failed on 15d – tried to make an anagram of setters and got nowhere.

    I did at least remember that sappers dug tunnels under castle walls – hence the present day R[oyal] E[ngineers]

  20. Chas says:

    I ought to have started my previous post with thanks to Eileen for explaining those answers I had without knowing why.

  21. Peter says:

    Thankyou as ever for an illuminating blog! 3d still doesn’t quite click for me — “R.E. translation” seems closest, but still a little unsatisfactory, and the fact that it’s almost an anag. of PERHAPS is oddly confounding. With just a little alteration, it could work that way too: “Retranslating, perhaps, not hard for author of 16.”

  22. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen

    This is the first time I have had to give up on an Araucaria puzzle. In all honesty I couldn’t make sense of half of it. Entering a couple of wrong answers just compounded things.

  23. tupu says:

    Hi Peter

    Very nice!

  24. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    I needed your explanation of 18dn OLIVE OIL
    I had to Google BULLDOG DRUMMOND to get SAPPER (which I still don’t understand, tho’ there are numerous Xrefs).
    I was a little iffy about OCTOPUS being ‘more like a squid‘: they are both cephalopod molluscs, but the latter has two extra arms. It’s a bit like saying a spider is more like an insect.

  25. Eileen says:

    Hi muck

    I see what you mean but I think I took it, with the ellipsis, as meaning ‘more like a squid than a crab’.

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard work and got stuck on 10, never heard of it.

  27. Dave Ellison says:

    Strange isn’t it? Yesterday’s I found quite tough when many found it easy, but today’s I found easier and was pleased to finish in one sitting (though I couldn’t explain a couple of them, so thanks, Eileen, for the help).

  28. tupu says:

    Re Paladins


    Oliver’s best friend among the Paladins was Roland of the Song of Roland. They fought but neither vanquished the other, hence the expression ‘A Roland for an Oliver’ – two equally matched champions.

    The name Roland is another form of the name of our dear setter Orlando.

    Paladin is a close cognate of Palatine.

    The Paladins were celebrated in medieval song and their stories at one time apparently rivalled those of the Knights of the Round Table in popularity.

  29. Mij says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks for your excellent blog. Regarding the use of “roads” for anchorage in 18 ac, here in Cornwall we have the Carrick Roads – a large anchorage in the estuary of the river Fal. See for some pictures.

  30. Eileen says:

    Hi Mij

    Many thanks for the lovely pictures. Been there! My late husband, Harry, always loved the King Harry ferry! 😉

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, this was a nice Araucaria.
    Not very hard, but a bit more challenging than, for example, the puzzle that will be reviewed in two hours time (and in which things fell too quickly in place).

    Ian @11 had ABELE (10ac) as his last one – it was my first.
    ‘Abeel’ is a very common word in Dutch for a rattling tree.

    Some (for us, unknown) solutions were clear from the construction (DASTARDY, BULLDOG DRUMMOND), some were clear as a solution but needed explanation afterwards (like OLIVE OIL or SAPPER).
    Which made this puzzle a bit more ‘exciting’ than, let’s say, yesterday’s Chifonie.

    Great to see that Araucaria still takes his liberties (eg in ‘Retranslation’).

    Very un-Araucarian to use the same thing twice: U for ‘turn’ in 9ac ánd 2d, which was a nice anagram find.
    In the latter the dismissal of U could have been clued by ‘not suitable for everyone’ (or something like that) instead of ‘turn off’, making it, in my opinion, (even) better.

    We liked 14d (AGGRESSORS).
    While I saw AGG rightaway, I didn’t think of more capitals.
    When the penny dropped, I wasn’t happy with “we started it”.
    Maybe, Araucaria should have said “we started it all”.
    But then yours truly would probably have been grumpy about Araucaria using “it all” twice in this puzzle ….. :)

    Thank you, Eileen.
    Tahnk you, Araucaria, for a fine crossword.

  32. stiofain says:

    Sometimes the comments are as good as the crossword.

  33. William says:

    Thank you Eileen, finished but certainly needed your blog for explanations.

    Surprised no one else stumbled with “Peter is reliable” for which I enetered ROCK bearing in mind the setters ecumenical background.

    Another toughie in a tough week for me.

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