Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25322 by Araucaria

Posted by bridgesong on May 21st, 2011


A delight as ever to tackle another offering from the Master, and this time there is only one clue which, to my mind, offends Ximenean principles (12 across).   A couple of other clues have left me puzzled and I await elucidation, particularly to 8 down.

The theme of the puzzle was mythical beasts and their slayers;  Grendel was new to me so I am grateful to my solving partner Timon for enlightening me.  Together we solved the puzzle in just under an hour, which is about our norm and suggests to me a puzzle of appropriate rigour for a prize competition.


Hold mouse over clue number to see clue, click a coloured solution to see its definition or Wikipedia entry.

1 GEORGE Ge(chemical symbol) or Ge
9 COFFEE-TABLE BOOK OF FEET in CABLE, BOOK. Both feet and cables are measures, but I’m not sure that I understand “with capacity”; it needn’t relate to “book” as Chambers gives “to arrest” as an informal meaning in its own right. Suggestions please C, OF FEET, ABLE, BOOK.  Thanks, Tor and others for putting me right
12 PREMOLAR RE M in POLAR. I question “world’s end” as defining “polar”; although polar is a noun (in a strictly geometrical usage), it appears that here Araucaria is clearly using it in its adjectival sense, whereas “world’s end” unambiguously suggests a noun.
14 STAFFS Double definition
15 HYSSOP (trinit)Y in * SHOPS 
18 DOTTEREL OTTER in LED(reversed). This bird was new to me, so the answer was one of the last to go in. Chambers describes it as a type of plover, “named from its apparent stupidity in allowing itself to be approached and caught”
24 PARTHENOGENESIS * (GOAT, SINNER, SHEEP). A lovely surface reading 
26 TSETSE * SET (repeated) 
1 GROSSER sounds like “grocer”
2 OFFER More off? I think the question mark in the clue is certainly justified
5 ISLANDS (foo)D in * SNAILS 
6 ARBITRATE BIT in (n)ARRATE. Here the definition is “judge” (using it as a verb) so the apostrophe that follows it in the clue is definitely misleading; unfair? Possibly
7 BEOWULF B, FLU WOE (reversed)
8 HAMMER Well, a hammer is certainly a striker, and a yellow-hammer appears to need no explanation; but what is “fustian” doing in the clue? It’s a word with a variety of meanings, the main one being a type of cloth. Is this connected with the fact that a yellow-hammer is a kind of bunting, and bunting can also mean a kind of cloth? Seems rather far-fetched to me, but no doubt someone will be able to explain it
16 YARDARM MR A DRAY (all reversed). Sailors may well wish to point out that a yardarm is a beam, which is attached to a mast, rather than the mast itself, but of course the definition here is “on the mast”
19 THESEUS THE (SUE’S) (reversed)
23 PLEAT (shee)P LEA T

17 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25322 by Araucaria”

  1. tor says:

    9 is Number (C) of (OF) measures (FEET) with capacity (ABLE) to arrest (BOOK)

    12 “from world’s end” = polar

  2. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks Bridgesong. This was enjoyable and not too difficult. Favourite was 1ac.

    tor@1 has already explained the two that I could help with, but I would make a minor adjustment in 9 – with capacity to (ABLE)

    Sorry, I have no idea how to connect fustian with Yellowhammer.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks bridgesong.

    Meaning 2 in Chambers of fustian: A pompous and unnatural style of writing or speaking. So HAMMER is our old friend the ham actor.

  4. nusquam says:

    8d I thought maybe (ham) actors wore fustian. There’s a Shakespearian reference in the back of my mind which I cannot quite retrieve.

  5. Mystogre says:

    Thanks Bridgesong for a couple of explanations.

    I also have that fustian and actors reference somewhere in the back of my mind. But the one that sunk me was 6d. I wound up with ARBITRAGE on the principle that it belonged to the judge, so I also think the apostrophe was misleading.

    All in all, a pleasant way to spend the odd hour.

  6. Biggles A says:

    I agree with NeilW and can find no Shakespearean reference which provides a direct link between FUSTIAN and acting. This was my last and I am still not too happy about it; is a hammer really a ham actor? OED doesn’t think so.

  7. bridgesong says:

    I found this in the OED:

    1600 Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 2 ii. iv. 186 Thrust him downe stayres, I cannot indure such a fustian rascall.

    Perhaps that explains it. Still depends on hammer meaning a ham actor, which is just about acceptable in the context of the clue.

  8. bridgesong says:

    Further research shows that the quote in @7 above is by Doll Tearsheet, speaking to Falstaff, after Pistol has made a rather pretentious speech, so justifying the ham actor connection.

    Don’t we learn a lot by doing crosswords!

  9. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Bridgesong, I saw that one too but it is in the context of worthless, sorry, pretentious and I still have difficulty in understanding the connection.

  10. chas says:

    Thanks to Bridgesong for the blog – it explained a couple of cases where I could not parse the clue.

    I found the Greek thematic answers fairly quickly but (I’m sorry to say as an Englishman) George and the Dragon took me much longer.
    I had heard of Grendel but I did not remember where it fitted in so Beowulf was my last one.

    The anagram for 24a took me an age to work out but when I finally got it I looked back at the clue. I saw that Araucaria had been totally fair – just rather cryptic!

  11. Davy says:

    Thanks bridgesong,

    Another enjoyable puzzle from Arry that suprisingly I didn’t need any aids for. I didn’t know GRENDEL but the clue was plain enough. Similarly I had to check DOTTEREL and the long one but I knew they were right. I thought ‘DIY production’ was excellent in 24a. Even the related anagram soon fell into place once I had spelt THESEUS correctly. Credit to my better half also for coming straight up with HYSSOP which once again I hadn’t heard of. What have I heard of ?. Answer – very little.

    So many thanks to Arry for a very entertaining puzzle.

  12. Robi says:

    Thanks to Araucaria for an enjoyable puzzle that wasn’t too difficult once the special clues were unravelled.

    Like TC@2 my COD was GEORGE. Thanks bridgesong; I, too, failed to parse HAMMER correctly. I thought POLAR [region] was OK for world’s end.

  13. PeeDee says:

    Thanks bridgesong.

    I had no idea about fustian at all. Still think it is a bit of a stretch having had it explained to me. Otherwise, very enjoyable indeed!

  14. NeilW says:

    Thanks again, bridgesong. Just came back to this before bedtime. I’m amazed at the length to which everyone is going to find a better explanation of “fustian”, although I commend the effort. Sadly Araucaria never visits. I have finally visited the umpire: the annotated solution gives: “fustian=theatrically bombastic.” Chambers gives the verb “to ham”, from which it would seems reasonable to derive the noun HAMMER.

  15. NeilW says:

    …Even if it’s only in A’s dictionary!

  16. mismanager says:

    I’d like to claim that I was aware of the dotterel because of my years of membership of the RSPB but my knowledge predates that: there is a pub of that name at Reighton, near Filey on the Yorkshire coast. Its sign depicts the bird. My misspent youth at last pays a dividend!

  17. Tenniel says:

    The bird Emberiza citrinella has the common name “Yellowhammer”, so a HAMMER is MAYBE YELLOW.

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