Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,326 / Araucaria

Posted by duncanshiell on May 19th, 2011


This was another eclectic offering from Araucaria, with its mix of literary allusions, foreign language, science and geography, all interwoven with the main theme. We were told that the four entries were unoficially shortlisted for thr 4 12 21 down. This was a rather cryptic message, until the discovery of the word entry in four of the clues

Some solvers may also say that the puzzle some frustrations among its gems of lateral thinking.  

I found some of the clues surprisingly easy, e.g. DIVERT, CARBINEER, VETO, and RUNWAY.  However, they were useful in helping to crack some of the more intractable clues.

The IVOR NOVELLO AWARDS  will be presented this evening, hence the appearance of this puzzle today.  I can admit to knowing 50% of the theme singers or bands – KYLIE MINOGUE and SCOUTING FOR GIRLS.  I had to do some research to learn something about PLAN B and EVERYTHING EVERYTHING, both of whom are double nominees at the Awards. I am not sure why the the preamble refers to an unoffical shortlist. The official shortlist was published in mid April. Perhaps the puzzle was compiled before then. I am not sure what the gestation time is for a national daily crossword these days.

My favourite clue was the one for DELINEATE, where the pronunciation of the components is completely different from the pronunciation of the entry.  I nearly put in GWENDOLIN at 25 across, as that is how I say it, but I struggled a bit with LIN as a boy’s name so flel the need to check the spelling of GWENDOLEN

Clue Wordplay Entry
9 Rider from the West finds water an almost unchanging material (9) LOCH (water) + INVAR (an alloy of  iron, nickel and carbon, very slightly expanded by heat, used in the manufacture of scientific instruments; an almost unchanging material) LOCHINVAR (reference the poem, Young Lochinvar by Sir Walter Scott, which begins ‘O young Lochinvar is come out of the west, through all the wide Border his steed was the best’)
10,22 Like you, I’m English turning to Australian entry (5,7) Anagram of (turning) LIKE YOU I’M ENG KYLIE [MINOGUE] (The Australian singer and actress, who is among the nominees in the Most Performed Work category at tonight’s Ivor Novello Awards for her song ‘All the Lovers’)’
11 Arrogance at the heart of the French writer (7) Middle letter of (the heart of) THE + AUTEUR (French word for author; French writer) HAUTEUR (arrogance)
12 See 4 Down   [IVOR] NOVELLO
13 Article dropped by revolutionary with some fluidity (5) MAOIST (revolutionary) excluding (dropped) A (article) MOIST (damp; watery; with some fluidity)
14 Draw from good food shop undiluted drug (9) DELI (food shop selling food that’s good for you, or alternatively a shop selling the highest quality or ‘good’ food) + NEAT (undiluted) + E (Ecstasy; drug) DELINEATE (draw)
16 Charge for putting name down for King’s – setting Tate on fire (12,3) REGIS (Kings (?).  I’m not a Latin scholar, but the dictionaries tell me that Rex is King, and reg- is a prefix for things kingly, e.g. regicide, but I am not convinced that REGIS is King’s (REG IS] or Kings [REGIS], but it is clear what is wanted. My lack of Latin knowledge was confirmed pretty quickly in the comments – REGIS is the genitive case of REX, so Araucaria 1, Duncan 0, not surprisingly) + an anagram of (setting) TATE ON FIRE REGISTRATION FEE  (charge for putting name down)
19 Rifleman’s progress through life outside rubbish dump (9) CAREER (progress through life) containing (outside) BIN (rubbish dump) CARBINEER (rifleman)
21 Cheer ‘eard to order? (5) ARRAY (sounds like hurray, hooray, hurrah [cheer] without the leading h (?).  Not the strongest homophone I have ever come across) ARRAY (order)
22 See 10 Across   [KYLIE] MINOGUE
23 Live author, hard to follow like the Jabberwock slayer (7) BE (live) + AMIS (author; Kingsley Amis; Martin Amis) + H (hard)

BEAMISH (reference Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky which has the lines ‘And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!'; like the Jabberwock slayer)

24 Back of a record: note – Tina doesn’t have one entry (4,1) ( A + LP [long playing record]) reversed (back of) + NB (nota bene; take notice; note).   PLAN B (Tina is an acronym for the phrase There Is No Alternative, i.e. there is no PLAN B.  For today’s theme we also have PLAN B as a double nominee in the Album Category for ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’, and in the  Most Performed Work category for the song ‘She Said’.  PLAN B, full name Benjamin Paul Balance-Drew is a British rap artist)
25 Girl to go, about to go to boy (9) (GO containing [about] WEND [depart; go]) +  LEN (boy’s name) GWENDOLEN (girl’s name)


Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Could be ARIA 1100 HELP (10) Anagram of (could be) ARIA and MC (1100 in Roman numerals) and  HELP ALPHAMERIC (a mathematical puzzle in which numbers are replaced by letters forming words)
2,18 Frog run logistics require guiding for entry (8,3,5) Anagram of (require guiding) FROG RUN LOGISTICS SCOUTING [FOR GIRLS] (reference Girl Guides [for guiding], but also a group that is another nominee in the Most Performed Work category for their song ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’)
3 One taking plunge has time to change course (6) DIVER (one taking plunge) + T (time) DIVERT (change course)
4,12 Student leaves Leghorn to the natives to be in love madly with composer of today (4,7) LIVORNO (Italian, [native], name for the town known in English as Leghorn) excluding the L (student) + anagram of (madly) LOVE containing (in) L (the student having left Livorno and got in love) IVOR NOVELLO (composer, reference to the award ceremony in IVOR NOVELLO‘s name to be held today'; today’s composer)
5 Time went quickly on strip, otherwise I should be bilingual (10) T (time) + RAN (went quickly) + SLAT (thin strip of wood) + OR (otherwise) TRANSLATOR (presumably a translator must be bilingual, at least, to translate from one language to another)
6 Authority for a vehicle to proceed by river to Southwest African border (8) OK (authority for) + A VAN (a vehicle) + GO (proceed) OKAVANGO (river in South West Africa forming part of the border between Angola and Namibia)
7 It leaves airline in speechless state (6) AL ITALIA (Italian Airline) excluding (leaves) IT   There was regular competition in the New Statesman in the late 60s, early 70s run by Arthur Marshall, and I always remember one of the tasks was to offer phrases for which Airlines were acronyms.  Al Italia came out as Aircraft Landing in Tokyo, All Luggage in Athens. [Before anyone thinks of suing, I am, of course, sure that the accusation is quite scurrilous.]  The idea has been re-used many times since.  If you ever find a copy of Marshall’s book of entries for the various competitions, ‘Never Rub Bottoms with a Porcupine’, it is worth reading. ALALIA (loss of speech)
8 Forbid check on love (4) VET (check) + O (love) VETO (forbid)
14 Get more black and grey perhaps to make 15 expand (4,6) DARKEN (get more black) + anagram of (perhaps) GREY DARK ENERGY (a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space [EVERYTHING, 15 down] and tends to increase the rate of expansion of the Universe)
15 Extremely emaciated in (say) repetition needed for entry (10) (VERY THIN [extremely emaciated]) in EG (for example; say) EVERYTHING (Our final nominee for an award is the British alternative rock Band EVERYTHING EVERYTHING [hence the use of the word repetition in the clue].  This Band is another double nominee, in Best Song Muscially and Lyrically for ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ [no, I don’t understand it either], and in the Album category for ‘Man Alive’)
17 Yorkshire village from New York – gee! bliss (8) Anagram of (from) NY (New York) and BLISS and G (gee) SLINGSBY (Yorkshire village)
18 See 2 Down   [SCOUTING] FOR GIRLS
20 Fugitive dropping article under aircraft? (6) RUNAWAY (fugitive) excluding (dropping) A (article) RUNWAY (ground under aircraft)
21 Struggle to fill commercial breaks with prizes (6) WAR (struggle) contained in (to fill) ADS (adverts, commerical breaks) AWARDS (prizes)
22 Setter holding piece reaches peak (4) ME (reference to the crossword setter as a person) containing (holding) OP (opus; work) MOPE (peak, in its meaning of ‘to look thin or sickly; to slink about)
23 Concoction of phrase and fable? (4) BREW (reference Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable) BREW (concoction)

38 Responses to “Guardian 25,326 / Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for an entertaining blog of a puzzle that I enjoyed more than I thought I would on seeing the theme.

    In 16ac, REGIS is the Latin genitive case of REX, so ‘KING’S’.

    Re 1dn: Chambers gives ALPHAMERIC as ‘consisting of or using both letters and numbers’, which makes this &lit.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Duncan

    This was topical – yes – but far too tough for this off-line solver.

    Ivor Novello, indeed, why he was even imprisoned during WWII!

    As a consequence, I hereby declare that Araucaria is no longer my favourite setter.

    Nominations for a worthy replacement will be welcome.

  3. Martin H says:

    Morning duncan – good to see your usual clear and thorough commentary.

    A motif I knew little about (and I’d hardly call Ivor Novello a ‘composer of today’, but there you are), so I needed some googling. There was a perhaps unintended reference to a great English musician though. Check out

    Apart from the bands this was quite tough, but very enjoyable none the less. Like you I appreciated DELINEATE, also the surface of the simple DIVER. REGIS is the Latin genitive of ‘rex’ so means ‘king’s’.

  4. Martin H says:

    Sorry Eileen, should have refreshed before posting.

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Martin.

    I think ‘composer of today’ refers to the fact that the Awards will be presented this evening, as Duncan says in his preamble.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Duncan. Found this tricky though perfectly doable without aids, despite my ignorance of the IN awards, of three of the entries and of various answers including 6, 7 and 17 down. So, praise for the setter for deft clueing. Googling afterwards filled the knowledge gaps, notably of 9a, last one in: this poem, according to the reference in Wikpedia, was “once memorized by every schoolchild in Britain and Ireland.”

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Duncan and A. I got there in the end, but a bit of an (enjoyable) struggle, with just one Google for PLAN B.

    I thought it was IVOR NOVELLO early one, but wasn’t sure as I couldn’t analyse the clue, and though I pencilled it in, it didn’t seem to help with the crossing clues.

    I also got temporarily held up in the BL corner, as I had DARK MATTER (DARKER with MATT inserted), but KYLIE put that to rights.

    I agree with Eileen about 1d; a new word for me, a contraction of ALPHANUMERIC which is very familiar.

  8. Ian says:

    Thank you Duncan. A very commendable blog of a particularly esoteric theme from Araucaria.

    I found this particularly tough having resolved to avoid googling the theme nominations.

    Thankfully I remembered the Leghorn/Livorno change of name. Looking back at an old Collins school atlas from the late 1950’s, I saw that the Tuscan port is still referred to as Leghorn in it.

    Full marks to the setter for proving his hip credentials as far as modern music is concerned. Having said that, neither Kylie Minogue and Scouting For Girls can hardly qualify for that description I suppose.

    Where 14 and 25 down illustrated just how good A can be, two others (1dn & 17dn) were uncharacteristically ugly surfaces.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Duncan for explaining those I got without parsing.

    I’d never heard of the awards, or of three of the nominees mentioned, the fourth, Miss Minogue, being familiar only by name. Fortunately, the clues to those three were gettable without specific knowledge, so I googled them together and the mystery revealed itself.

    There are some fine clues here, along with some very straightforward ones, and answers I’d never heard of – 1, 8 and 17d – but was able to work out the wordplay with the help of crossing letters. It took me a little longer than the last few puzzles, which was unfortunate, as I should have been getting a steak and kidney pie in the oven, so we’ll be eating a bit late today :), but it was great fun, so thanks to the monkey-puzzler.

    PS. as I wrote that, I skipped the ‘e’ in ‘monkey’ and thought “How appropriate!” :)

  10. Martin H says:

    Hi again Eileen @5

    I understand ‘composer of today’, but was just raising an eyebrow at IN as an icon of contemporary music. Appropriate perhaps for tonight’s shortlisted soft furnishings. Anyhow, the antidote is at 17d.

  11. Robi says:

    Another toughie, although once IVOR NOVELLO was revealed, Googling gave more answers (well done, molonglo @6, I don’t know how you did it without aids!) As Duncan said, a good mixture of music, literature and science.

    Thanks Duncan for the usual, good blog. As Dave @7, I was very familiar with ALPHAnuMERIC, but not this contraction, which I have never seen before. I didn’t much like peak=MOPE, which is given as obsolete in Chambers. I needed Duncan to explain the Brewer’s dictionary of Phrase and Fable. I parsed INVAR as almost invariable, invariant etc. The Google entry for the material, itself, gives: ‘The name, Invar, comes from the word invariable, referring to its lack of expansion or contraction with temperature changes,’ so well done Duncan for finding this.

    I was more familiar with carabinier than CARBINEER, althought the former was too long and the latter was well-clued. I also liked DELINEATE, DARK ENERGY and ALILIA, a new word for me.

  12. Robi says:

    P.S. It was so new to me that I misspelt it – correction ALALIA

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Enjoyable although perhaps a little too straightforward for Araucaria.
    I did have to check that alphameric was a short form of alphanumeric and mope (obtained from the cryptic) was a complete mystery since the obsolete meaning of peak was unknown to me. It did fleetingly pass that he was using ‘pique’ in some obscure way.

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan for an excellent blog of a relatively difficult but very good Araucaria offering.

    To my surprise I solved it without going on line, but needed some help from your and other comments and a couple of dictionary checks for fuller understanding. As for Eileen, it looked pretty daunting at first.

    I did not know TINA is an acronym, but solved 24 eventually from the wordplay. I first thought it might be ‘side B’ which turned out to have nothing to do with it.

    Like Duncan I thought Gwendolin (or Gwendolyn) might be the answer and the penny only dropped in checking this.

    Having seen the answer to 16a I got confused over the anagram fodder and missed the nice use of ‘regis’ having thought ‘r’ was enough. I should have worked harder at it.

    I enjoyed 9a (he ‘came out in his vest’ in one schooldays version!), 11a, 23a, 25a (but see above), 15d, 20d, 23d.

  15. tupu says:


    I eventually guessed at ‘peak’ from the fairly commonplace ‘peaky’.

  16. beermagnet says:

    What a brilliant puz from the great “chillin’ wiv Da Kidz in Da Hood” Big A.
    I hadn’t realized Manchester’s favourites Everything Everything were up for this Novello gong, but IMHO it’s well deserved. Man Alive is one of the few albums I’ve bothered to buy in the last few months, and I’m bopping with it on m’pod as I type. For those who don’t know what they’re missing: “My Kz Ur Bf” the best known track.

    Bah! I thought I had it all filled in correct (despite a few ill-understood wordplays, thanks Duncan et al.) but I’m with those who wrote in Gwendolin.

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Duncan. I needed your explanations for the wordplay in quite a few places — notably at 4,12, which I guessed and confirmed with the check button. (Guessing and confirming with the check button was largely how I got through this!)

    I have heard of the awards and all the featured entrants except Everything Everything, but that didn’t help as much as it ought to have done…

    After praising Puck yesterday for up-to-the-minute references, I must say Araucaria has again displayed an impressive familiarity with contemporary culture!

  18. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog Duncan.

    You explained several times why I had the correct answer even though I was unable to parse the clues.

    Ivor Novello died 50 years ago so to my mind he cannot be a ‘composer of today’. This just illustrates how much more Araucaria is in touch with the music world of today than I am!

    I have heard of Kylie Minogue but not the other three ‘entry’s.

    I particularly liked 14a once I had got over the totally different pronunciations – as noted by Duncan.

  19. Stella Heath says:

    Back from a quite lovely steak and kidney pie, just to inform Beermagnet his link doesn’t work, and ask you please to translate the title. I read it as ‘my kay’s your beef’, but that doesn’t mean very much to me :)

  20. liz says:

    Stella @19 — I think Bf must be boyfriend, but I can’t help with Kz :-)

  21. beermagnet says:

    Stella, Sorry about the link. I couldn’t test it as my hard-nosed employer doesn’t allow access to youtube but if you go on and search for “My Kz Ur Bf” (which translates to “My keys your boyfriend” so you were close) or “Everything Everything” then you’ll find it.
    Now I must go to a progress meeting where, unfortunately, polishing off A on the commute and Tees over a lunchtime pint will not count as progress …

  22. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Duncan

    Most difficult offering from Araucaria for a long time in my humble opinion. I finished it by Googling Ivor Novello Awards, composer of today(?), but I am too old to start having an interest in pop music.

    My new word for today, ALALIA

  23. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Duncan. I got through this with some googling and considerable use of the check button. Then I come here to find out what it all meant. Like tupu I opted originally for sideb at 24ac and Gwendolyn at 25ac. TINA was new to me also. I have heard of Ivor Novello and Kylie Minogue but the others were unknown to me. I am still enjoying the syrupy sounds of the Carpenters!

  24. Wolfie says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog Duncan. A thoroughly enjoyable crossword from Araucaria today – though I confess I had to Google the Ivor Novello Awards to check the ‘entries’.

    I had ‘Gwendolyn’, which is a common spelling of the name, and just as plausible a solution as ‘Gwendolen’ given that ‘Lyn’ can be a boy’s name. (I well remember watching the Cardiff City footballer Lyn Davies in the 1960s.)

    The print version in my copy does not credit the setter so I didn’t know it was an Araucaria until I logged in here, though I had my suspicions!

  25. walruss says:

    What a super puzzle from The Boss. Not that Araucaria is Bruce Springsteen hahaha!!! Great theme with bands that a man of so many years does well to set. Really good stuff.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Lyn Davies in the 60s was the British record holder for longjump. He also,I think, won a gold at the Olympics in Tokyo(?).
    I had no problem with 25a since my mother’s name is Gwendolen. She has spent most of her 91 years correcting other people’s misspelling.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Sorry, the athlete was Lynn. The rest is correct!

  28. Robi says:

    For tupu@14 & grandpuzzler @23, TINA was made famous by Margaret Thatcher.

  29. tupu says:

    Thanks Robi
    I should have guessed!

  30. Le Petomane says:

    ALITALIA was “All landed in Turin, all luggage in Alicante.”

  31. Jon Luke says:

    I enjoyed this very much. A challenging, but ‘doable’, puzzle which a colleague at work and I mostly completed in the lunch hour. Have to admit to looking up a couple of the Ivor Novello nominees, though, once we’d cracked the theme.

    BTW, there seems to have been some over-literal objection to “composer of today”: surely that is simply a reference to the fact that the Novello awards ceremony is today?

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So some of you thought Bob Marley & The Wailers (and/or The Pogues) to be ‘modern music’? Well, here’s Araucaria’s opinion on that! :)

    Given the preamble, 21d’s AWARDS was easy enough, so 1-0 in the first seconds of the game.
    Not even three minutes later I had a fantastic solo action scoring 2-0 out of nothing (ie ???????? ??? ?????) : SCOUTING FOR GIRLS (2d,18).
    And the third goal wasn’t far away: PLAN B (24ac) – an easy header.
    But …. we didn’t fully understand how I scored.
    And my first movement was a litle bit clumsy (‘Back of’ as a reversal indicator – Sir Alex would have liked to see more elegance).

    As the first half went on the game became somewhat slower.
    Well, you can’t have everything, although we did: 15d …….
    Just before half time I did a pointless attempt to score again, but ????? M?????? (10,22) didn’t lead to the great Laura Marling – alas.

    Half time – tea! [unfortunately, the theme wasn’t really my PinC’s cup of]

    Very quickly after the break, we scored again with a Messi/Silva-like combination: there he was: IVOR NOVELLO – what a beauty!
    Goal of the Month! (Ah well, Best Goal of the Day …)

    And our opponents?
    They were a bit strange sometimes.
    OKAVANGO (6d)? SLINGSBY (17d)? [I scored once with RAINOW (Cheshire village) – the crowd didn’t like it at all)]
    And you couldn’t be quite sure of them.
    An at first incomprehensible action led to a fantastic goal: ALPHAMERIC (1d).

    About GWENDOLEN (25ac) we weren’t sure.
    Was it off-side or not?
    As our commentator Wolfie (#24) said: it could have gone either way!

    In the 57th minute our opponents made a splendid goal: DARK ENERGY (14d).

    And? Did we win in the end?
    I fear not.
    We made a ridiculous mistake two minutes before time (9ac – I won’t tell how or why, it’s too unbelievable).
    So, Araucaria FC won – credits to them!

    No extra time needed.
    And a very fair referee (Duncanshiell) who I would like to thank.

    Btw, in the second half I spotted someone in the crowd with an incredible banner: Yes, Le Petomane (@30) – Fan of the Day!

  33. Stella Heath says:

    😆 😆 Brilliant, Sil!

    I actually came back to thank Beermagnet@21 for the illumination, and express my hope that they become known in Spain some time soon, as my audio reproduction is very deficient on this netbook.

  34. molonglo says:

    Le Petomane@30: ALITALIA = Always Late In Takeoff Always Late In Arrival.

  35. mark says:

    Like Nani Moretti I disagree with the majority but agree with the majority of the minority. (Nice obscure and slightly bumpy reference for this setter’s fans). In other words I’m in the group that hated this as usual.

    Infuriating, unfair and impossible to do without online reference and as such pointless in my book. If you don’t know even when you have got the right answer then there’s no lightbulb moment and where’s the fun!

    Gee=G – I wondered about it and rejected it as ridiculous and just too inelegant even for this setter.

    21A!!! So it’s ok that HARRAY doesn’t actually exist so long as it sounds almost like Hooray. Come off it!

    I simply don’t trust this setter to ever give me a fair chance to solve his puzzles and I will not be duped into trying them again.

  36. Duncan Shiell says:

    gee = G? – in Chambers, third definition, of six separate entries for gee – gee: the seventh letter of the modern English alphabet.

  37. Thomas99 says:

    mark (35)
    For what it’s worth your comment about 21a is completely accurate apart from “Come off it!” – except that “array” sounds exactly, not almost, like “hooray” without the h. The first vowel in both is a “shwah” (not an “oo” in one or an “a” in the other). “Homophones” in crosswords don’t have to be perfect in my opinion, but as it happens this one is.

    And as Duncan said, the “gee” thing is completely uncontroversial.

  38. Paul B says:

    The curious thing about Araucaria, and the thing ‘Mark’ might want to consider, is that this compiler alone seems to be able to command such a large following away from the intellectual furnace that is the Online Crosswording Community (OCC).

    How might that be? Swathes of eminently-qualified detractors are slagging the old boy right off week in, week out (and not without good reason on occasion, I would begrudgingly concede), but still they (The Others Out There, or TOOT) come running, as sucklings to the teat.

    Very strange. But true.

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