Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,400 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on August 20th, 2011


A fun and very devious prize crossword, which took us a couple of train journeys to complete. There’s a nice theme of film and television which linked six of the clues. Some points of note include two hidden answer clues where the hidden part could only be found indirectly, and a rather outrageous definition in 13d

1. BIG SCREEN GIB (Gibraltar) = “Rock” reversed + SCREE = “[Rock] turning to fragments” + N = “new”; Definition: “pictures”
6,9. HORSE OPERA (POOR HEARSE)*; Definition: “In which good shots come out with boodle and girl”. There’s not really an anagram indicator here, except for “with” loosely implying mixing. Chambers defines HORSE OPERA as “n (facetious) a Wild West film” – presumably “boodle” (meaning “money”) is a word that might be used in such a film
10,19. SPAGHETTI WESTERN SPAGHETTI = “Junction” + WE = “Brits” + STERN = “back”; Definition: “Italian [HORSE OPERA]”, referring to the fine Westerns made by Italians such as Sergio Leone
11. MINISERIES IN = “at home” in MISERIES = “sorrows”; Definition: “Short run on [BOX]”
12. URDU Hidden in “[foUR] DUe”; Definition: “tongue”
14. SNAFFLE Double definition: “Pinch” (as in steal) and “a bit” (Chamber says “a jointed bit for horses (less severe than the curb)”)
15. THEATRE Double definition: “Being larger than [BIG SCREEN]” (a cinema screen is typically in a movie theatre) and “room for cuts” – I wondered if this second part was a reference to cuts in arts funding, but Eileen kindly suggested that a more likely is to the cuts being made in an operating theatre
17. PREQUEL P = “Quiet” + (QUEER)* + L; Definition: “sort of flashback”
20. AMEN AN = “article” around ME = “myself”; Definition: “I agree”
22. BOX BROWNIE BOX = “Fight” + BROWNIE = “chocolate cake”; Definition: “picture maker”
25. DOCUDRAMA DOC = “Physician” + U = “posh” + DR = “one” (i.e. another physician) + A + MA = “degree”; Definition: “one for [BIG SCREEN] or [BOX]”
26. EVENT E = “English” + VENT = “blower” in French; Definition: “What happens”
27. COLON Double definition: “Stop” (one definition of “stop” in Chambers is “a punctuation mark”) and “inside” (if your intestines are your insides, then perhaps the colon is an inside, I suppose)
28. DRESSED UP An odd clue construction: (SUPERSEDD)* – “Ill” is the anagram indicator, and the anagram fodder is “superseded” without E (“without a bit of energy”); Definition: “and with nowhere to go?”, referring to the expression “all dressed up with nowhere to go”
1. BROOM Double definition: “Cleaner” and “shrub” – Chambers says that the twigs of this plant used to be used to make brooms
2. GREENGAGE G + RE-ENGAGE = “give job back”; Definition: “fruit”
3. CLAUSE FOUR CLAUS = “Father Christmas” followed by E and F = (musical) “notes” + OUR = “the Guardian’s”; Definition: “death warrant to privatisation”
4. ELSTREE EL = “Railway” (an ELevated railway, such as in Chicago) + STREE[t] = “cut short road”; Definition: “place of [BIG SCREEN]”, referring to Elstree Studios
5. NEAREST RES = “engineers” (RE standing for Royal Engineer) in NEAT = “kine” – “kine”, a new word for us, is an old word meaning “cows”; Definition: “Kin”
6. HA HA Double definition: “Defence?” (a “ha-ha” was a ditch that prevented livestock from straying onto the lawns of a country house) and “You must be joking!”
7. ROTOR OR = “gold”, so ROT OR = “make gold perish”; Definition: “moving part”
8. EPICUREAN NAE = “no Scots” reversed and put around PIC[t]URE = “heartless film”; Definition: “Pleasure-seeking”
13. PENSIONERS PEN = “Writer” followed by ONE in SIRS = “teachers”; Definition “to put another type of [OPERA] head to tail” – the other type of opera here is “soap”, and if you move head to tail, you get OAPs. I feel this is rather unfair as a definition, to be honest.
14. SEPHARDIC (SPICE)* around HARD = “tough”; Definition: “Jewish”
16. THE UNDEAD T = “time” + HEAD = “top” including (NUDE)* – “option” might raise some eyebrows as an anagram indicator; Definition: “Perturbed spirits”
18. LEOPARD (OPERA)* = “form of [OPERA]” in L (50) and D (500) = “5s with noughts”; Definition: “Spotted one”
19. WEB PAGE B = “born” in PEW = “seat” reversed + AGE = “time”; Definition: “Accessible file” – a nice, accurate definition :)
21. EXCEL EXCEL sounds like XL, which is 40 in Roman numerals; Definition: “Score more than”
23. ESTOP Hidden in “miniseriES TO Play”; Definition: “Don’t permit” (a legal term)
24. ODIN If there’s “zero din” (0DIN), that would be peaceful; Definition: “God” – a nice clue, since Odin was very far from being a God of peace :)

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,400 / Araucaria”

  1. superkiwigirl says:

    Many thanks for your great blog, mhl, and for a terrific (if ultimately frustrating!) puzzle, Araucaria.

    I started off slowly here, but warmed to the film and tv theme (once the penny dropped with BOX BROWNIE) thinking that thereafter it would be more or less plain sailing. Then I ground to a halt – everything else seemed ok, but it looked as though PENSIONERS was the only word that could fit at 13d: this, however, I rejected on the basis that (what I assumed to be ) the definition didn’t fit grammatically (I took the defn to be “Writer’s one” = “Pensioner”, most definitely in the singular). A week of reflection/cogitation didn’t get me any further …

    Not to worry, I found lots to enjoy here – I particularly liked CLAUSE FOUR (brilliant!); DRESSED UP; and WEB PAGE, but there were so many others to delight.

    All in all great fun, and if I didn’t “beat” the Setter this time then I hope I can do it next time around.

  2. Biggles A says:

    Thanks mhl. I guess in 6,9 the classic Western is one where the good guys in the white hats get the spoils and the bad guys in the black hats bite the dust.

    I wasn’t really convinced about EL = railway.

  3. Mystogre says:

    Thanks mhl. Although I got through this in time, I was unhappy with how I got here for a few.

    In 13d I eventually took writers to be PENNERS and looked for something to go inside that. I can then get the I from the one bit and the SO is short for soap opera.

    The rest seemed to fit nicely after I had the theme, although ELSTREE kept me unfinished for a long time. Too far away I guess. There were lots to like here and, of them, I think I like 10ac most. Caused me to think of many laughs watching them. Strangely, no new words for me this time. I did enjoy the whole thing.

  4. caretman says:

    Thanks, mhl, for the blog.

    As with superkiwigirl @1, I was left with just 13d and it seemed that PENSIONERS was the only word that fit. I even figured the wordplay correctly, but couldn’t figure out how the definition worked. So I left the puzzle page on my screen and would look at it now and then. Each time, after a few minutes, I would shake my head on again failing to understand it. And then today, after confessing online that I was stumped, I looked at it one more time and the penny dropped immediately. So my lesson is to admit failure early so that the pressure is off and my brain will start working again.

    On 5d, “kine” is part of the answer to a classic word puzzle–give a noun and its plural that have no letters in common (cow/kine). Now you’re ready for the next pub quiz.

    Definitely a fun puzzle, so thanks to Araucaria.

  5. Biggles A says:

    I struggled with 13 for a while too. I toyed with the idea that if OAP is old age pension then OAPer which is an anagram (another type) of 9 is PENSIONER but couldn’t explain the HEAD TO TAIL bit.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. This didn’t take long, due to getting 10a and 11a at once. But several answers bamboozled me until now: the boodle/girl aspect of 6,9; the 4 reference in 12a; and the film in 8d. On 13d I was like those above, surethe answer could only be that and unsure why: my thinking was like Biggles A’s. With EXCEL also in the previous day’s Paul, all in all this was not a great puzzle.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl & Araucaria this was very enjoyable even though I was completely foxed by 13d until today’s clear explanation.

    Accordingly, I found the SE corner the toughest.

    My COD was BOX CAMERA.

  8. Bryan says:



  9. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Araucaria

    Lots of enjoyable trickery. 13d frustrated me, like others, but it became clear reasonably quickly and left me feeling good.well-satisfied.

    I’m sure Eileen’s operating theatre suggestion is right.

    I took it that boodle etc was just a comic way of describing the horse operas. It sounded more Wodehouse than cowboy language. OED confirms it is an American word originally. It seems to be linked to ‘caboodle’.

    Given the diverse locations of ‘the solving community’, I was a bit doubtful about ‘Brits’ = ‘we’ in 10, 19.

    Others to please were 11a, 17a, 22a, 28a, and 18d.

  10. tupu says:

    or even just ‘well-satisfied’.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Enjoyed this. Thanks mhl, for explanations of the ones I couldn’t explain; unfortunately, I have forgotten which ones they were now!

    Smallish quibble – I didn’t like the “accessible file” for web page. Many (dynamic) pages are not files.

  12. Wolfie says:

    Thanks mhl for the blog. I eventually completed this after three or four goes but found it irritating rather than satisfying.

    I have just opened today’s Guardian to find that the prize crossword printed is a repeat of yesterday’s Araucaria! I’ll have to go to the website to see if the correct one is there. A fortnight ago the Prize contained a spelling mistake – even for the Guardian (my favouring paper) this is becoming incredibly sloppy. When is the crossword editor going to get a grip?

  13. chas says:

    Thanks to mhl for the blog. Like many others I was totally unable to find a reason why 13d should be PENSIONERS but that was the only word I could fit in there.

    I looked for a long time at 24d thinking that a god in ?D?N had to be ODIN but why. I laughed out loud when I spotted ‘zero din’ :)

  14. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks mhl. Took me a while, but another brilliant puzzle by Araucaria.

  15. Davy says:

    Thanks mhl,

    I thought this was the toughest Prize puzzle for a long while and it kept me occupied (in short bursts) for most of the week. I got BOX BROWNIE quite early on but my big breakthrough was getting BIG SCREEN although it certainly wasn’t plain sailing after that. I couldn’t explain PENSIONERS although ‘soap opera’ did occur to me.

    Among many excellent clues, my favourites were ODIN (very amusing), THE UNDEAD (loved the clue) and EPICUREAN.

    Thanks Arry for the marvellous entertainment.

  16. tupu says:

    Hi Wolfie

    Same experience. The right one is on the website. Those who buy the paper for the puzzle please beware!

  17. Dave Ellison says:

    Faulty goods – can we get our money back + cost of printing it?

  18. JohnH (not the setter) says:

    Overwhelming feeling of déjà vu on turning to the back of my Grauniad.

    For the first (and only) time ever I can solve the prize crossword in less than 60 seconds.

    Not even worth sending it off for the rubbishy prizes.

    Could they please take the sub-editor to the car park and shoot him/her in the head.

  19. Robi says:

    Good one; although I’m still not sure about ‘boodle and girl’ – maybe this is a bit deep, but boodle also means a stupid person, according to Chambers. TONTO means stupid in Spanish, and a sLOaNE RANGER is a girl – any connection? I thought not. But otherwise, where does the girl come in (or out?)

    I thought the ‘picture maker’ must be a film director, and actually looked up BOb BROWNIE before the penny dropped from a very high place.

    Thanks, mhl; like many others the parsing of PENSIONERS completely escaped me. GREENGAGE caused a bit of a HA-HA!

  20. Mr Beaver says:

    Biggles @2 – I took EL to be “Eastern Line” one of the old UK rail companies like GWR – but now I find there was no such thing! Ignorance can be useful sometimes!

    Is the repeat printing of an entire crossword a first ? The Grauniad is striving to live up to, nay exceed, its reputation for misrpints! Mind you, I would have been sorely vexed if I hadn’t got t’interweb for help.

  21. scchua says:

    Thanks mhl and Araucaria.

    Brilliant puzzle. Liked the film/TV theme and the trip back into time, from the present WEB PAGE, through DOCUDRAMA, MINISERIES to PREQUEL to SPAGHETTI WESTERNS to ELSTREE to THE UNDEAD (a 1957 horror film with a cult following) right to BOX BROWNIE.

    Very slow start, until HORSE OPERA, which opened up the theme, though thereafter, as with any Araucaria, there were few, if any, gimmes. Steady chipping got me there, and as with others, PENSIONER was the last one in. After having got the answer, ultimately got the (indirect) definition, after having at one time thought that “Writer’s one” stood for “Araucaria’s one”, ie. one of the PENSIONERS.

    I think it’s fair to say that all were favourites for this one.

  22. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I had BRUSH for a while at 1dn, which held things up in that corner. Got there in the end, and even managed to work out the def at 13dn, which made me laugh it was so outrageous (and like tupu @ 9 also made me pleased with myself!)

    ‘Boodle’ puzzled me at 6,9 but I assumed it was a version of caboodle. I think that the implication of the wordplay is ‘In which good shots come out with boodle and girl, and poor *come out* with hearse. So ‘come out’ is the anagram indicator, not ‘with’.

    Biggles A @ 2 ‘el’ for the Chicago El is really common in crosswords — as common as ‘di’ for princess.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Yes,liz, the elevated railway in Chicago has featured in some very dramatic scenes in US films. It is built on pillars and there is a roadway beneath it.

    Re: today’s prize puzzle:I spent an hour copying the grid and clues (no printer) and then a very disappointing half an hour solving it.
    I feel tempted to ruin it by giving the solutions here – but of course I won’t. Nevertheless, having paid £1.90 I do feel cheated.

  24. Davy says:

    Dear RCW,

    How many more times are you going to complain about the price of the newspaper ?. The Saturday Guardian does not consist of only the cryptic crossword, it consists of the main newspaper; the TV guide; the magazine; the sport, family and work sections; and today a 24 page guide to opera. I consider it excellent value for money.

    Please find something else to complain about.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Oh dear, Davy. Do take care.
    I notice you have not taken exception to wolfie’s comment @12.
    You should remember that some of us do not have a great deal of money.

  26. Wolfie says:

    I do think on this occasion you have a point RCWhiting.

    My theory is that Friday’s Araucaria was intended to be the Saturday prize and the Brummie that appears today on the website should have gone in yesterday. Certainly this would be consistent with their respective levels of difficulty. RCW – I congratulate you for going to the trouble of copying out the grid and clues today; sorry your efforts were not rewarded by a challenging solve.

    Fortunately I do have a printer!

  27. superkiwigirl says:

    I think that 6/9 is probably a better clue than any of us have suggested so far – yes, “poor hearse*” = HORSE OPERA, but I went off on yet another tack here with the “boodle and girl” elements of this clue (unfortunately, my limited solving skills haven’t got me a result for the moment, but as RCWhitingsays @ 23, today’s offering was really pretty disappointing, so I have time in hand to return to this present, terrific puzzle). And Robi @ 19 I thought your suggestion regarding the Lone Ranger and Tonto was absolutely inspired, not to say very funny.

    My researches indicated that a “boodle” is a cross between a bulldog and a poodle, thus giving us the possibility of playing with/mixing up the letters of the two breeds, or perhaps simply those of the word “dog” (most of the word “good”) as well as the fact that a “bull” is a “good shot”, and “girl” can mean give all sorts of further letter combinations. If Araucaria doesn’t pay us a visit and put me/us out of our misery then I’ll just have to stick at it – if 13d was difficult but entirely fair (as I accept) then 6/9 should be gettable too in its entirety.

  28. Davy says:

    Dear RCW,

    You say to me “Do take care”. That sounds rather threatening to me. Like “I know where you live”. I didn’t take exception to Wolfie’s comment because he wasn’t banging on about the price of the paper as you always do.

    I’m retired and also do not have a great deal of money but I do not begrudge the meagre amount of £1.90 .

  29. Biggles A says:

    liz @ 22,

    Thank you. Yes, I had seen it before but didn’t like it then either.

  30. timon says:

    seems many were stuck in the same SE corner (13D, 28A etc) as I, so thanks to mhl for the explanations. Though I’ve been doing cryptics for a long time, I’d never come across “neat” for Kine before. Trust Aruacaria to keep us rummaging in Chambers.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    It was just concern for your obviously high blood pressure.
    Your suggestion is just silly.
    I subscribe to The G. and take it that there is an implicit deal that the paper will provide me with a good standard daily cryptic crossword in return for my money and loyalty (50+ years).
    If they fail I consider that I am entitled to make a small criticism without somebody else objecting.

  32. Davy says:

    Dear RCW,

    I’ve never had a single problem with blood pressure.

    The point is that you are not paying just for the crossword but for the paper in its entirety. Of course, you can’t please everyone. Hope you enjoy Rufus tomorrow.

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