Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,370 by Araucaria

Posted by PeeDee on July 16th, 2011


Araucaria in a solidly libertarian frame of mind for this puzzle.  Some people will complain, some won’t care, some won’t notice.  Personally, I’m in the ‘not care’ category, though I don’t think I would be so forgiving if it were another setter.  Araucaria has made a whole new category for himself, in which he makes the rules and then sticks to them.

The theme is capital cities of the republics constituting the former Yugoslavia, not words on the tip of everyone’s tongue but all of them quite guessable from the clues.  I didn’t know some of the literary references, so thank heaven for Wikipedia.

All in all, a rollicking good solve.

Hold mouse over clue number to read clue.

1 MELEE Definition is ‘confusion’, the cryptic part is who goes in the wind (you), and who gets the lee side (me). A somewhat confused clue.  Robi suggests definition may be “confusion over allocation of sides” which seems equally plausible to me.
4 SARAJEVO RAJ (kingdom) with VASE* going round it and O (round) – capital of Bosnia and Herzgovina
8 SOUTHERN LIGHTS OUT HER Name inside SLIGHTS (instances of disrespect) – the Aurora Australis
10 BELGRADE BADE (ordered, once=old fashioned usage) including ELGaR (‘a’ missing) – capital of Serbia
11 ZAGREB ZA (South Africa) with GREBe (tailless bird) – capital of Croatia
12 AT A GALLOP A TAG (label) ALL (the whole) OP (opus=piece of music)
15 CORFU Corfe Castle with last letter changed to U (given new finish)
17 DRAPE D (key,music) RAPE (crime)
18 SIDEBOARD sounds like “sighed bored”
19 SKOPJE JOKES* (made=anagram) around P (piano, musical notation) – capital of Macedonia
21 CONSERVE CON (prisoner) SERVE (to give someone a helping/portion at the dinner table)
24 CHANNEL ISLANDS Charlie CHAN (fictional Chinese detective) then IS inside NELL (girl) with AND Son
25 PRISTINA PRISTINe with last letter exchanged for A – the capital of Kosovo
26 ODEON ODE ON (poem commemorating = poem on the subject of) – common name for cinemas
1 MISS BLANDISH MISS (avoid) BISH (mistake, British slang) around LAND (country) – No Orchids For Miss Blandish is a crime novel by James Hadley Chase.
2 LJUBLJANA anagram (=organised) of John (initially) and BULL then Leos JANAcek (composer, missing the Czech sound) – capital of Slovenia
3 ETHER insidE THE Room – will make you unconscious, ie ‘out’
4 STRADDLES S (saint) and Tommy TRADDLES (character from David Copperfield)
5 ROLL Double definition
6 JAGUAR CUB JAGUAR (make of car) and CU (copper, chemical symbol) and Bottomed (top letter)
7 VOTER Cryptic definition.  jvh suggests that this may be a reference to the recent UK referendum where a proposal to change government elections to the Alternative Vote (AV) system was rejected, hence voters have ‘no alternative but…’.  Very clever, went right over everyone else’s heads I think.
9 ABSURD PERSON AB (able seaman, sailor) and (ROUND PRESS)* anagram=turning. Absurd Person Singular is a play by Alan Ayckbourn, odd=singular, odd=absurd and bod=person
13 ALED JONES ALE (a beer) with DJ (presenter of records) ONES (singles) – presenter of The Choir, a music program on UK Radio 3
14 PODGORICA Costa RICA following POD (group of dolphins) GO (depart) – capital of Montenegro
16 REARRANGE REAR (back) RANGE (cooker)
20 OTHER ETHER (3 down) with O (omissions) replacing E (errors) – definition ‘different’.  ‘E&O’ is an abbreviation for ‘Errors and Omissions’
22 SALVO Double definition
23 YETI YET (still) and I (1 Roman numeral)


32 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,370 by Araucaria”

  1. caretman says:

    Thanks, PeeDee, for the blog (it’s great to have copies of the clues to remind oneself of them) and for the notes, particularly for explaining CHANNEL ISLANDS, which I put in only from the crossing letters. LJUBLJANA was my first capital in and I was able to dredge those names from my mind as I combined wordplay and crossing letters. I actually hadn’t noticed they all came from the old Yugoslavia, I just thought they were some of those more obscure world capitals. I thought the cluing was generally solid and solvable; for example, I was able to come up with ALED JONES from wordplay and then confirm that that unlikely first name was actually correct. I was hung up for a bit on the right side until I got ABSURD PERSON, and then the rest fell out. I quite enjoyed the challenge from this puzzle.

  2. Biggles A says:

    I liked it too and 24 caused me some difficuty also. I had convinced myself that the girl was ANNE and I had to come back to it before realisation dawned.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeeDee. Got held up in the north so I googled BLANDISH, the only bit of help sought, and at once was given the missing bit and the novel title, and the rest soon followed. Not too happy with 8a – auroras aren’t only in the south; S for saint is a bit off, in 4d; and in totalitarian systems 7d doesn’t work. Otherwise it was masterly.

  4. molonglo says:

    4d: TRADDLES, in David Copperfield.

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks Peedee and Araucaria

    A good puzzle. All gettable – needed to check Podgorica (nice clue I thought. :( On digging my copy out today, I find annoyingly that I carelessly misentered Alen instead of Aled for no good reason in 13d and didn’t get round to a further check!

  6. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog PeeDee.

    I was similar to caretman @1: I had not really connected the capitals with old Yugoslavia – I simply thought of them as being in a similar part of the world.

    I am still troubled by 22d: where is the excuse?

  7. Robi says:

    A good prize puzzle from Aruacaria, facilitated by the capitals theme.

    Thanks PeeDee for a good blog. In 1a is not the definition, ‘confusion over allocation of sides?’ (Chambers: ‘a fight in which the combatants become intermingled.’) Not sure about molonglo @3’s points: the Southern Lights are an aurora and S=saint is in Chambers, so don’t they work? :)

    I particularly liked SOUTHERN LIGHTS and CHANNEL ISLANDS.

  8. Robi says:

    chas @6; salvo second meaning in Chambers=an excuse.

  9. PeeDee says:

    RADDLES/TRADDLES mix-up corrected, thanks to those who pointed it out.

  10. PeeDee says:

    Robi @7 – interesting idea about allocation of sides being part of the definition. I couldn’t say which Araucaria had in mind, the two interpretations seem on a par.

  11. Davy says:

    Thanks PeeDee,

    I enjoyed this and actually finished it on Sunday so it can’t have been that difficult. It was great fun though and the last two in were LJUBLJANA (never heard of it) and MELEE (I agree not a particularly good clue).
    Of many good clues, I liked SARAJEVO, SOUTHERN LIGHTS, REAR RANGE (excellent surface) and YETI (simple but effective). Thanks Arry.

  12. Wolfie says:

    Thanks PD for the blog – I got Channel Islands from the crossing letters and definition but missed the Charlie Chan reference so thanks for the explanation. I put in Sarajevo and Zagreb early on and guessed the theme, enabling me to enter the other four capital cities immediately and work out the word-play later. Altogether a straightforward solve – much easier than at least two of the midweek puzzles we have just had (Puck and Crucible). How does the Crossword Editor decide which cryptics he is going to make the prize offering? Does Araucaria tend to get them by virtue of seniority and reputation I wonder?

    For anyone who hasn’t been to Ljubljana, it’s a very interesting city in a beautiful country. Well worth a visit.

  13. Epee says:

    Thank you for explaining all of this so well. Got through bulk of clues in no time, then I got stuck by the NW corner, eventually guessed melee from the confusion definition and kind of worked out the You Weather, Me Lee thing. Not very satisying.

    The one that stumped me was 1D, and frankly I feel a bit let down having seen the solution. Seems really mean to have a character/part-title from such an obscure (and obscurely clued) book as a solution. I mean yes you have Traddles from DC elsewhere, but, and this is crucial, a) DC is directly referenced so you could go look if you wanted and b) you didn’t need to know Tommy Traddles, it was perfectly feasible to work out from the definition part. No such posibility with 1D, just plain unfair in my book.


  14. Biggles A says:

    Epee @ 13. My youth may have been misspent but I have to admit I was much more familiar with James Hadley Chase than I was with Charles Dickens.

  15. tupu says:

    Re 1a

    I too was puzzled by this. Having searched various websites I suspect the answer lies in common confusion between lee shore and wind or weather shore of say an island, and the lee side and wind or weather side of a boat. Cf the following:

    “An anchorage or land becomes dangerous and is referred to as a ‘lee shore’ when the wind blows onshore as viewed from the boat. It is the shore that is on the lee side of the boat but onto which the wind is blowing. If you are standing on the boat, lee means the side that is more protected and windward means the side onto which the wind blows”.

    Confusion apparently arises from this at first site contradictory usage.

  16. chas says:

    Robi @8: thanks for the reference. That meaning is one I have never come across.

  17. Geoff says:

    Thanks PeeDee.

    I spotted the ex-Yugoslav capitals theme as soon as I had worked out a couple of them, so the others went straight in and the rest of the puzzle was quite straightforward.

    For me also the NW corner was the last to yield. I don’t have a problem with the clue for MELEE – it’s un-Ximenean, to be sure, but less so than many of Araucaria’s. And I recalled (eventually) ‘No Orchids for 1d’, although I have never read it.

    The double meaning of SALVO is quite interesting. In the sense of ‘excuse’ it comes from the ablative of the latin ‘salvus’, ie safe or healthy, and is originally a preposition meaning ‘except'; note that we use the same idiom in English: ‘save (for)’ can mean ‘except’. In the sense of a volley of projectiles, it comes via Italian from the Latin greeting ‘Salve!’, so it is literally a ‘greeting’ (of bullets etc). As this is an imperative meaning ‘Be well!’, both meanings are etymologically related.

    Strangely, an alternative English word for a ‘salvo’ in this sense is a ‘hail’ (of bullets). The OED relates this to the word ‘hail’ meaning frozen rain, which has a lot of Germanic cognates. However, it could also be the greeting ‘Hail!’, which is a variant of the separate word ‘hale’ (= healthy). Who knows?

  18. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeeDee and Araucaria I really enjoyed this.

    I recall Miss Blandish from the distant past although I’ve never read the book or seen the movie.

    I needed Google’s help with some of the capitals but I don’t mind doing this with Prize Puzzles which I expect to take me longer than the weekday stuff.

  19. Martin H says:

    The definition in 1a I think reads best simply as ‘confusion’, because ‘allocation of sides’ tells you exactly what you have to do with the bit in inverted commas. But I agree that the sense suggested by Robi sort of leaks through. That happens not infrequently in Araucaria’s clues.

    I’m not keen on ‘list’ themes, unless, like this one, they are exhaustive; but the word ‘capital’ appearing in each of the theme clues seems uneconomical – a case for one of A’s preambles, maybe? (‘Seven clues have something in common, but are otherwise undefined.’) At least ZAGREB and PRISTINA were easy enough to solve for a way in to theme, but perhaps it was thought to be too obscure.

    I must admit I don’t really understand VOTER – the (cryptic) definition seems at the same time convoluted and incomplete. I’ve been trying to find some wordplay to make a sort of &lit, but without success.

    In all a very enjoyable puzzle – difficult enough to have to work with ‘what if’ solutions and unconfirmed crossing letters, but all fair and gettable.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Martin, I agree, I still do not understand VOTER.
    Molonglo’s ‘totalitarian’ comment @3 does nothing to help.

  21. tupu says:

    Hi MartinH

    Re Voter. The clue seems to be saying a voter may say ‘no’ and has a choice of yes, no, or abstain. Seems to work but not very neatly. The ‘but’ is not simply attached to ‘alternative’.

  22. Jan says:

    Thanks for the blog, peedee.

    The capitals kept coming, didn’t they? I had no problem solving the clues and I had heard of them all but never altogether. It had’nt dawned on me that there are now 7 new republics. That was a politico-geography lesson for me.

  23. don says:

    More of a pub quiz on capital cities than a Prize Crossword.

    Surely 11 Across is indeterminable. The initial letter is hidden, giving South Africa = SA + GREG = Sagreb (an alternative spelling of Zagreb) as an equally legitimate answer?

  24. jvh says:

    Thanks, PeeDee.

    I took 7d (voter) as a reference to the Alternative Vote system. Voters have no alternative because the AV system was recently rejected for the UK parliament. They are simply faced with a multiple choice question.

  25. Martin H says:

    Hi don – ZA is international vehicle code for South Africa (Zuid Afrika in Dutch), and as there is no capital called Sagreb……

    jvh – your explanation of VOTER is ingenious, if parochial. Thanks – I think it works.

  26. tupu says:

    Hi jvh

    I too like your reading of 7d given the recent rejection.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    jvh, thanks.
    Yes,I agree, that’s the best possibility, well done.

  28. PeeDee says:

    nice one jvh! I’m sure this is the right explanation.

  29. Carrots says:

    Another affirmation that Araucaria sill “RULES OK” in crosswordland (even if he does invent a few of his own as he goes along).

    Although I completed this puzzle correctly and without “aids”, I`ve had to wait for PD`s blog to throw light on some of the parsing, which, even now I perceive only through a glass darkly. Thanks, PD !

  30. Martin H says:

    So what’s in the glass, Carrots?

  31. Carrots says:

    Martin H @30. Usually Woodforde`s Wherry…a lovely, well-balanced brew, suitable for lunchtime slurping without fear of falling asleep with one`s head in the soup. Alternatively, The Olde Lions, brewed in The Old Lion at Wellow.

    Nothing to do with 1 Corinthians 13 I`m afraid, which seems to me to be an ecclesiastical con-trick perpretated to excuse the fact that they have no idea what The Kingdom of Heaven actually looks like.

    I missed most of Bergman`s eponymous movie (in 1961)due to fumbling about with `er indoors on the back row.

    There should, of course, be a “t” in “sill” @ 29

  32. Martin H says:

    Cheers Carrots

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