Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,274 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on March 26th, 2011


Something of a treat for me, to blog an Araucaria prize puzzle. It’s one of those with a long answer, this time only a partial anagram, together with some rather nifty wordplay.

I managed to get this pretty early on, having E?E?Y for the first word and the straightforward clues for 16, 17 and 22dn giving L?T?L? for the last.

There’s a mini-theme, with two references to old king Cole, the lack of a capital letter showing that it’s neither the nursery rhyme character nor the singer, Nat King Cole, but the song-writer, Cole Porter.

There were several penny-dropping moments [notably 5ac, which took a while] and a few wry smiles along the way. An enjoyable Saturday diversion, I thought.


1 A raptor or two produces ecstasy — we all go mad (5,3)
EAGLE OWL : anagram of E [ecstasy] + WE ALL GO

5 Call from the pink for return of some US unions in the blue (6)
YOICKS: CIO [some US unions] in SKY [the blue] all reversed.
I eventually dredged this hunting cry [‘call from the pink’] from the back of the mind, having met it just once before, in a Rufus crossword. Apparently it’s familiar to readers of P.G. Wodehouse, one of whom I am not. This obscure word is clued by a rather obscure reference to the CIO [Congress of Industrial Organisations] which amalgamated with the AFL [American Federation of Labor] in 1955 [!] to form the AFL-CIO – hence ‘some US unions’.

9 Cross between painting (with backing) and poetry (8)
TRAVERSE: reversal of ART [painting] + VERSE [poetry]

10 Ship’s company thus reported one who left it (6)
CRUSOE: sounds like CREW [ship’s company] SO [thus]

12 Vulgar and somewhat adhesive … (5)
TACKY: double definition

13 … doctor is possible criterion (9)
YARDSTICK: anagram of TACKY + DR + IS
Ellipses in Araucaria puzzles are always there for a purpose!

14 Unit of charge on first base at old solver among kings (8,4)
KILOWATT HOUR: K [king] + I [first] + LOW [base] + AT + THOU [old solver] + R [the second king]
For once, there need be no arguing about electrical charges: this is the other kind of charge: it’s the unit of energy by which you are charged on your electricity bill.

18 The last at first amid vulgar praise (12)

COMMENDATION: END [the last] + AT + I [first – again!] inside COMMON [vulgar]

21 Painter of light held by old king Cole (9)

25 Cubic man spoken and translated as red (8)
RUBICUND: RUBIC: homohone of RUBIK [‘cubic man spoken’]   + UND [German ‘and’]

26 Correctly positioned for the pull shot? (6)
ONSIDE: A pull shot is apparently a cricketing term and onside is a ‘correct’ position in football.
I’ll leave it to someone more knowledgeable in either or both to explain more fully.

27 Thank you initially for embracing embracer with brutal violence (8)
THUGGERY: HUGGER [embracer] in  T Y [thank you initially]


1 Houses in forest at Epping (6)
ESTATE: hidden in forEST AT Epping

2 Speedy butchers need good cutter (6)
GLANCE: G[ood] + LANCE [cutter]
I loved the ‘speedy butchers’ definition! For those still bemused by Cockney rhyming slang, it’s short for ‘butcher’s hook’ = ‘look’.

3,4,23,24 Film about light: one thousand sheep, for example, desirable extra concept in which I tell it afresh in old king Cole’s words (5,4,2,3,7,1,3,1,6)

: this became obvious when I’d got E?E?Y and L?T?L? – then there was the wordplay to work out: ET [film] around VERY [light – a Very light is ‘a signalling or illuminating coloured flare fired from a pistol': Chambers] + I M [one thousand] + EWE [sheep] + SAY [for example] + GOOD [desirable] + BYE [extra – cricket again!] +  IDIEA  [I in IDEA,  ‘concept in which I] + LITTLE [anagram of TELL IT – ‘afresh’]: excellent!
This is arguably the classic rendering of this song, whose title appears here [and elsewhere] as  ‘Ev’ry time we say goodbye’, but I’m not quibbling.

6 Topless dance has pleasant smell (5)
for non-UK residents, morris dancing is one of our quainter customs.

7 Unassailable study about being on the move (4-4)
CAST-IRON: CON [study] around ASTIR [on the move]

8 Grasses in footwear (8)
SNEAKERS: double definition, although I’m much more familiar with ‘sneak’ as the noun: ‘grass’ is slang for an informer.

11 Holiday finished with significant discovery (12)

15 Cheating couple with use of stopwatch? (3-6)
TWO-TIMING: TWO [couple] + TIMING [using stopwatch]

16 A majority of Juliet’s family have company in American resort (8)
ACAPULCO: A + CAPUL[et] [majority of Juliet’s family] + CO [company]

17 Ex-professor rues time wasted (8)
EMERITUS: anagram of  RUES TIME: a nice surface

19 24 (note time) (6)
MINUTE: triple definition, referring to 24ac [little]

20 Holiday appeal (6)
MAYDAY: double definition:
the Bank Holiday which may be moved to October
and the international distress signal

22 Dominated with lines (5)
RULED: double definition
[tupu, ‘I saw this and I thought of you.’ ;-) ]

38 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,274 / Araucaria”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen. I managed to get on to the long answer fairly soon too but made it difficult for myself by putting in CRY instead of DIE. This held up the southeast corner for a while.

    The on side in cricket is to the right handed batsman’s left or where a pull shot would go.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen this was very enjoyable.

    YOICKS and ORRIS were my last two and I have been nervously awaiting the answers to see if these were right.

    I do like Cole Porter which certainly boosted my chances.

    Many thanks Araucaria for yet another treat and also for your much easier Cinephile puzzle in the FT.

  3. taxi phil says:

    Like Biggles A, I wept instead of expiring. Consequently I’ve spent the entire week trying to figure out 19D ! I shall have to dig out my Denise’s “Best of Nat King Cole” and serve my penance.

  4. Coffee says:

    Another one who was crying, not dying… sigh… and never did get 5A – never heard of it.

  5. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Also initially ‘crying’ but I soon realised it couldn’t be right so I quickly opted to ‘DIE’. There is another reasonably well known version of the song by Natalie Cole (daughter of Nat) but in spite of the Rev’s eclectic knowledge I doubt if that was an intended link.

    Wasn’t too impressed by YOICKS, two obscurities – one in the clue, the other the answer itself – seems a bit tough even for a prize.

    Otherwise there were a few gentle chuckles such as 8, 15 and 20d, in a reasonably enjoyable puzzle.

  6. Chas says:

    Thanks to Araucaria and Eileen.

    My memory seems to have worked better than several other commenters: I did have DIE. However I needed Eileen’s blog to see the whole derivation of the long one.

    I am kicking myself over 5: I had the idea of CIO and I also had ‘return’ giving OIC but I still could not finish it!

    I kept on trying to fit King Cole in somewhere – without success. Eventually I got 21a which told me which Cole to use.

    I liked 25a Rubik/Rubic!

    I could not remember which family Juliet belonged to so I had to look at the play.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for an excellent blog and Araucaria for good Saturday entertainment

    Eileen re 22d. :) Snap!! Reciprocated.

    I’m afraid I didn’t take the trouble to check which king was meant in 3d having solved and parsed it correctly. Eileen’s note about capital K is very Miss Marple! Checking now I saw the reference to Nat’s daughter Natalie cited by Dad’s Lad – :) almost Dad’s Lass in this case. But I imagine she is wise enough ‘to know her own father’.

    5a I remember this as regularly paired with Tallyho! I liked the clue but had to check the Unions.

    14a Nice reversion to more usual kings.

    Also enjoyed 25a, 2d!!, 7d, and 15d.

    Orris went in last. I did not know the word.

    I notice that if one assumed ‘doctor = ‘a dr’, 13a could be an anagram with ‘sticky’. But it ain’t!

  8. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I adore Ella’s version of this song but still got the title wrong and was so sure that I didn’t even bother to check. So I was left with _R_U_E for 19d and couldn’t find anything to fit. That was my grouse anyway. The real answer MINUTE was actually quite straightforward but I couldn’t see past that ‘R’.
    Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle and particularly liked KILOWATT HOUR and RUBICUND. I needed your explanation for YARDSTICK and missed the significance of the dots.
    Thanks Arry and keep ‘em coming. Now for Paul.

  9. Wolfie says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen – very clear and comprehensive. I got lucky and guessed the the song title early on, so the rest fell into place quite easily. I could not be bothered to work out the wordplay for the song title, so thanks Eileen for your explanation. Does anyone else think that such convoluted wordplays for long solutions are tedious and unhelpful? I am prepared to bet that nobody who solved the puzzle worked out the song title solely from the clue – understanding the wordplay was a task to undertake after writing-in the answer. It seems to me that this type of clue subverts the principles and undermines the enjoyment of cryptic crosswords.

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen (& Araucaria, naturally)

    I found this one entertaining and not too difficult (this week’s was harder for me). As ever, in a puzzle with a very long answer, you get a lot of the way once this is solved – and this wasn’t too obscure.

    Eileen’s observation of the lower case ‘old king’ is interesting. It is slightly uncharacteristic of the Rev to be so precise in his signposting – he usually plays fast and loose with capitalisation and punctuation!

    The ‘speedy butchers’ at 2d was my LOL moment – very good surface reading to this one.

    YOICKS was my last entry, some time after fitting in ORRIS (a word I was familiar with, as it happens). I had spotted quite early that ‘pink’ could be a reference to hunting, but ‘tally-ho’ and ‘view halloo’ didn’t fit and it was quite a while before I saw the answer. The union part of the charade was lost on me, but the ‘sky’ was, so I left it there!

  11. Shirley says:

    Wolfie – you will be even more annoyed after today’s Prize from Paul! But I do agree with you – in today’s case half the crossword needs no clues apart from the number of letters in each word

  12. taxi phil says:

    Whilst I see where you’re coming from Wolfie, you have to remember that while we all enjoy solving the puzzles, the compilers have to have their fun too ! I more often than not solve clues like that without breaking down the wordplay, and then sit back later and admire the compiler’s artistry. Perhaps if I’d taken more time over last week’s wordplay I’d have finished the puzzle correctly !

  13. Stella says:

    Thanks for the entertainment Araucaria, last week, and Eileen with her links.

    ‘Yoicks’ was last in, and I had no idea of its relation to hunting. This didn’t really matter, as I had no idea what ‘pink’ was all about, either :)

    I remembered the song title correctly, arriving at it in much the same way Eileen did, and even took the trouble to parse about half of it; and I also noticed the lower case ‘k’, which made me smile.

    Thanks for the parsing of ‘yardstick’, which I failed to see, but otherwise a very enjoyable puzzle.

  14. Carrots says:

    A delightful puzzle which left me gaping at some of the wordplay long after finishing it. So, Auntie E, I have looked forward to your blog, which I`m sure enlightned all.

    Wolfie: I know what you mean, but crossword land would be a dreary place if setters played only by the rules. I`m sure that the likes of The Master, Paul and Bonxie et al. look for devilment in their settings and, as long as they are “fair”, power to their elbow! Today`s Paul will show you what I mean!!

    Off to La Belle France next week for a French “Foodie Fix”. The joyous reward for surviving another horrid winter.

  15. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    Here’s another one who got the song title rightaway having E?E?Y + the enumeration – it was our 5th entry.
    Just like Wolfie we couldn’t be bothered by the clue itself at that point. Araucaria must have gone through a lot of trouble composing this one, and then there are solvers who don’t even look at it …. such a shame.
    The solution was placed strategically in several ‘corners’ of the grid (except the NW, which was where we ended up – just like many – with YOICKS (the only one that needed a dictionary)).
    It felt like the grid was already half-filled, a bit unsatisfying.
    And not even the song itself could make our hearts beat faster.

    Didn’t we enjoy it then? Well, we did, but let’s say moderately.

    And shame on us, we still haven’t worked out the clue for 3etc.

  16. Sil van den Hoek says:

    BTW, we ended up in the NE (not the NW, of course).

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. I see I am far from alone in opting at first for CRY instead of DIE! Once I realised that 19dn had to be MINUTE, I was forced to go back to 3,4, 23, 24 and work out the wordplay properly. It took me a good while to get 25ac and I only got 5ac with a little electronic help and, again, working backwards to unpick the wordplay.

    Good fun.

  18. tupu says:

    Re 3d etc.

    Like Eileen, I enjoyed parsing this one, perhaps because it is almost wholly a clever charade rather than simply a long anagram.

  19. Jan says:

    Thanks, Eileen – especially for the explanation of OIC, I was too lazy to look it up.

    I’m yet another who was crying instead of dying! I even managed to parse the rest of the clue but have written CRY A ??? alongside. :(

  20. RCWhiting says:

    For some unfathomable reason ‘yoicks’ was very familiar to me although I have never hunted and I can’t stand PGW.
    I was also in the ‘cry’ group.
    Most importantly I agree absolutely with Wolfie about multiclues.
    I favour the concept of stripping away bit by bit (like the burlesque dancer) until finally all is revealed.The multi clues (and as someone remarked, there are three today) just lead to a sudden unerotic revelation without even the thrill of solving the whole clue.
    They should be banned, or at least heavily restricted.

  21. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen

    I got 3dn etc EVERY TIME etc fairly quickly but didn’t feel inclined to explore the wordplay.
    5ac YOICKS was obvious but thanks for explaining CIO.
    I had thought of saying 14ac KILOWATT HOUR is a unit of energy, not charge. You got your explanation in first – well done.

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi Jan

    I know what you mean. As I think I intimated in the blog, I agree with Dad’sLad @5 that two obscurities, in the clue and the solution, is stretching it a bit.

    For years, I, too, thought it was ‘cry a little’, then, somewhere along the line, discovered it wasn’t and that somehow stayed with me, otherwise I might easily have been bamboozled, too.

    Hi tupu @7 and Geoff@10

    My understanding of the ‘rules’, such as they are and inasmuch as they are adhered to, is, as Peter Biddlecombe says, on the ‘Times for the Times’ website:

    ‘Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, ‘deceptive capitalisation’ is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn’t necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter – so Joanna Strong’s instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE.’

    My impression [and I’m more than willing to be proved wrong] is that [even] Araucaria abides by this rule.

    Hi RCWhiting

    I know this is ambivalent, because I so admire the Rev’s composite clues, and I mustn’t say more than this, anyway, but I really disliked Paul’s puzzle today [I never expected ever to say that!]. Having three long clues is surely OTT! [apart from my hating the theme, which is rather beside the point.]

    Hi muck

    I must admit that my heart sank when I saw ‘charge’, remembering discussions about amps, ions etc, in the past. I was relieved to be reminded of my electricity bill!

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil@15

    “And shame on us, we still haven’t worked out the clue for 3etc.2

    I’m sorry, I can’t come up with an easier way of explaining it than I tried on the blog. ;-)

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Sil

    Lapsus digiti :-) : I meant, of course,

    “And shame on us, we still haven’t worked out the clue for 3etc.”

  25. muck says:

    For anyone interested, the coulomb is the unit of electrical charge.
    Eileen’s explanation, as the charge we pay for electricity, makes more sense.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, before I’ll take look at your parsing I will (at some point) give it a go myself. Bit late, isn’t it? The thing is, after a Saturday puzzle’s finished I put the pdf in a folder and go on to the next one (usually the FT Prize, or like today, Gervase’s crossword) – so that’s the reason that we didn’t revisit Araucaria’s clue for ‘that long one’.

    Today’s Paul crossword has been mentioned a few times as well so far, and I do want to say something about it in general too in connection with this Araucaria.
    [Don’t worry Gaufrid, there will be no spoilerism]

    In Araucaria’s puzzle was one long one, a solution that is so familiar to so many people (through all generations: some may know ETWSG only from Simply Red) that it filled the grid too quickly, I guess for many solvers – certainly for us.
    Paul’s offering has three long ones, and when you’re familiar with them, you will need only half a word to find them, spoiling the puzzle completely

    When you are, like us, (initially) nót familiar with them (although we saw the theme as such immediately) a big part of the grid stays too empty for too long – a feeling, exactly the opposite to what we felt in this Araucaria – but just as unsatisfactory.

    We managed to solve the Paul, but more about that next week.
    Please everyone, do not comment on the content of thát puzzle.
    I only used it to make clear what these kind of long clues can do to, in Wolfie’s words, ‘the enjoyment of cryptic crosswords’ .

  27. Eileen says:

    Hi muck

    ‘For this relief, much thanks’. [Hamlet I i]

    I really do deplore [but, in all honesty, have often had to be grateful for!] the Arts v Science ‘general knowledge’ bias!

    Hi Sil

    “Eileen, before I’ll take look at your parsing …”

    I thought this site was all about commenting on the puzzle and the blog!

  28. stiofain says:

    I too dislike the long clues though sometimes they can be worthwhile like the Araucaria classic Archer clue and I remember 2 others from a long time ago and believe they were by Paul “Id rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” and “trailer for sale or rent rooms to let fifty cents” but im a Tom Waits and Dean Martin fan.

  29. muck says:

    Hi Sil
    I thought spoilerism must be your neologism
    But it exists already

  30. muck says:

    Here: Spoilerism or Survival of the Spoilerist

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, I know.
    But an important factor in Araucaria’s puzzle was the influence of ‘that long one’ – at least for me, and as I have noticed for others too. Mentioning Paul’s crossword wasn’t about that puzzle as such, but about making clear once more that long clues cán spoil a crossword (in different ways) – which was unfortunately the case in this Araucaria, too.

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    It’s late and I’m conscious of the hour I’m about to lose.

    I’m not sure of the meaning of your last comment.

    My comment at 27 was questioning how you could comment on a blog without having read it!

    I’m going to bed now! :-)

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, I think this is probably one big misunderstanding.
    I háve read your blog and my post ís about this puzzle, but I have skipped reading your parsing of 3+, because on hindsight I wanted to take a closer look at the clue again (a thing I didn’t do after solving the crossword a week ago, and something that I haven’t done so far yet).

    Ah well, there’s no time be wasted in the next 24 hours …. :)

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    One more point, as nobody mentioned it so far.
    Is it really fair to clue ACAPULCO (16d) as ‘American resort’?
    The town’s in Mexico.
    I know, there’s North America, Central America a.s.o, but even so.

  35. Geoff says:

    Sil @34: This usage of ‘American’ is perfectly legitimate, and listed in all dictionaries. I gave a smile of satisfaction at this clue, and Araucaria’s wresting of the term from the imperialistic clutches of the USAnians.

    Eileen @22: My point was that Araucaria could have used deceptive capitalisation here without incurring the wrath of the Inquisition, but he didn’t!

  36. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Geoff. I totally agree re the use of ‘American’ – my reaction was the same as yours, viz: ;-)

    Re deceptive capitalisation: I know I’m sticking my neck out here but, as one of Araucaria’s self-confessed apologists on this site, I still maintain that, as far as I can remember, [even] he has not been ‘guilty’ of this ‘sin’. As I said, I’m more than willing to stand corrected.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hello again Geoff (and Eileen), I am still not sure about ‘American’
    But before I go on, I want to make clear that it’s not a major issue to me :).

    The dictionaries tell us that America is either the USA or North+Central+South America.
    But I am more interested in the adjective ‘American’.
    Chambers says just “Relating to America, esp to the United States”, while Oxford gives us a.o. “relating to the continents of America: the American continent south of the tropic of Cancer”.
    Especially the ODE example is interesting, because it tells us (or at least me) that ‘American’ is related to the American continent (as a whole).
    So probably, stricly speaking one might say: Acapulco is an American town.
    But who does?
    It is a Mexican town or a Central American town.
    Are Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro American cities.
    I don’t think so.
    But then, some Americans will think the town’s American …

    It all reminds of me a great Randy Newman song from his 1972 album ‘Sail Away’ called “Political Science”:

    But as next week there will come a point that I’m 60 (yep), I am more curious about who will be the setter that day.
    And whether my name will be in that puzzle in some way …. :)
    Fat chance!!

    Today my greatest achievement was, however, re-directing at least one solver from Everyman to Falcon. [and I do like that]

  38. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    It’s not a major issue with me, either, but thanks for the link. :-)

    I really came back to ask anyone still there to disregard the second part of my comment 36, which is nonsense, and to apologise to Geoff, who is quite right. The rule to which I was referring is the first one: ‘Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them.”

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