# Fifteensquared

## Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,412 by Araucaria

Posted by PeeDee on September 3rd, 2011

Apparently there is a Bank Holiday in the south of the country this weekend so that explains the double-size puzzle, it was a bit unexpected.  I just made myself a cup of tea and finished it in half an hour…

… though finishing the crossword unfortunately has taken a great deal longer.  Still, I got there in the end and what a great crossword it is!   The theme word is POTTER, which leads to a nice variety of thematic references both old and modern.  Araucaria is pretty libertarian in places, which may annoy the purists, but loads of super clues and a great lesson in general knowledge regardless.

Many of the clues are run together in the printed crossword but I have split them out into the component parts to make the blog clearer.  The asterisked clues indicate themed solutions which may be only partially defined.  You can remind yourself of the instructions and the double grid layout here.

I will be away all day on Saturday, so will not be able to respond to any comments until I get back.

*anagram

### 36 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,412 by Araucaria”

1. Gervase (the posater formerly known as Geoff) says:

Thanks, PeeDee, for an excellently comprehensive blog.

I was fortunate in solving ETRURIA and DUMBLEDORE very early. The only six-letter thing that I could think of that these two asterisked clues had in common was POTTER – so I got the keyword after only half a dozen entries. After that, the double puzzle was relatively straightforward: it only took me about three times as long as a more than averagely difficult Guardian crossword! I completed about half of the A puzzle with almost nothing in the B one, then managed a similar amount of B, and thereafter, slowly but steadily, filled in the blanks.

Too many points of interest to comment on in this most entertaining puzzle. I struggled with the parsing of 22d(A) and 22a(A) but got there via dialogue with fellow solvers.

25a(A) was tricky because this definition of the word was unfamiliar; I know EUTROPHIC as a term from ecology (water courses are thus described if they are polluted with agricultural fertiliser run-off, which causes detrimental algal blooms).

Most intricate is 24d, where the clue leads to both solutions together. These were my last entries.

(Parenthetically, I have decided to change my username as some of the regulars are confusing me with Gaufrid, who shares my given appellation).

2. caretman says:

Thanks, PeeDee, for the blog.

I bet no-one got the theme the way I did; the first theme clue I solved was 19/6(B). What was probably the easiest way in was the straightforward 18d but I blanked on that for a long time.

I enjoyed the multiple Potters involved in this puzzle, and particularly liked making the acquaintance of Stephen Potter through the grid.

Like Gervase, I also found that I could make substantial progress on one side while the other lagged. In my case, I had much of B solved while having over half of A empty, then A came on like gangbusters while I struggled with the last of B. But I got there in the end.

3. Gervase (formerly known as Geoff) says:

Sorry about the typo in my previous name flag. ‘Posater’ should obviously have been ‘poseur’.

4. Keeper says:

Thanks for the illumination, PeeDee.

I managed to get the theme after 11(A) and 2(A), but my lack of familiarity with Stephen * was a hindrance. 18d also stumped me, as I kept trying to find a way to fit the first part of the clue into grid (A) and the second into grid (B) (per the instructions).

I was disappointed not to encounter any reference to Stoke City F.C.

Also, I think you have a couple of typos in your solution: 22(A) should be FAHRENHEIT (the German word is “fahren”), while 28(A) should be the singular SIXTEENER.

5. molonglo says:

Thanks PeeDee. This was a bit like doing Everest and K2 in a weekend. Knew where I was going at once, with DUMBLEDORE and PUDDLEDUCK. I got the two unheard-of potters in 19,6 by guessing from the cross letters. Much of the rest was slipping and sliding, diverted by the setter’s usual quirks. 1a (B): woopie=glam? The toddy stuff in 23d (both)? And so on. Still, it was pleasant to get flags up on the twin peaks, on Sunday.

6. sidey says:

I don’t know about the newsprint version, but I found my eye drawn to 19d B as the first clue to look at. Bit of a give-away that but it didn’t spoil a very good puzzle.

The 24s are cluing at its best.

7. Bryan says:

Many thanks PeeDee, this was too tough for me and, having now seen the solutions, I am glad that I didn’t spend much time before consigning it to the waste basket.

Accordingly, I have now removed Araucaria from my list of favourite setters.

8. TheFSG says:

Quite a challenge, like others B took the lead then A caught up and overtook it, before completing B and leaving, for me at least, a very tricky bottom left corner of A.

Got BALT (because I’d worked out LATVIAN) but then it took ages to get CONY to confirm that HARRY and PETER were correct. Didn’t know (or probably had forgotten) that CONY is a rabbit.

9. cholecyst says:

Thanks, PeeDee. Along with others, I spotted the theme early on but initially thought the themed answers would all be Beatrix P characters – how boring that would have been! I was surprised that I had heard of all the Harry Potter references, even though I have never read the books or seen the films. I was also looking for Dennis Potter and snooker related answers but didn’t find them, except maybe 19B Stephen (Hendry?)

10. tupu says:

Thanks Peedee and Araucaria

A great Bank Holiday puzzle. I solved it in a desultory fashion mainly with my son who was visiting and we managed to combine our different packages of information to good effect.

Lots of good clues, perhaps especially the 24s. Thanks for the exact explanation of the ‘sphinx moth’ part of ‘death’s head’. I knew the moth but did not know the broader appellation and only saw the metaphor.

11. Mr Beaver says:

We enjoyed this, though were defeated by the 24s. I hadn’t realised you could spell CONY without an E, not that that would have helped – the cunning part of these run-together clues is that you don’t know which one ‘beast’ belongs to, in this instance.
Like cholecyst, we kept looking for Dennis P references, though I suppose most of his titles are quite long and tricky to fit in.
But I was pleased to see Stephen P, having thoroughly enjoyed Gamesmanship and Lifemanship in my youth.
As with Sidey, BEATRIX was our first themed clue, but it hardly gave it away, as there were so many varied Potter references. I thought it was great fun, and no more ‘Araucarian’ than usual, so I don’t know why Bryan (@7) found it so irksome – if I gave up attempting setters whom I couldn’t finish, I wouldn’t do many at all!

12. FlutterBy says:

Thanks, PeeDee.

One tweak needed: “try to follow” goes with 7(A)… IDOLA-TRY

Did anyone else find this heavy going? I’m a devoted fan of the Rev and his Bank Holiday specials are usually a huge treat. Somehow this one didn’t match his usual (immensely high) standard. Many of the surface readings didn’t make sense, which reduced the fun for me. There was a distinct scarcity of the “aha” smiley moments I expect from Araucaria.  Many of the solutions came from what I call “construction work”… diligently sticking possible components together then trying to work out if what you’ve made is the right answer.

Nevertheless, I maintain that the Rev Rocks!!!

13. r_c_a_d says:

took this on holiday with me and only got it half done, despite getting “potter” early on. having no Internet the range of knowledge required was far too great for an ordinary mortal.

thanks for the blog. it is some small comfort to know that others found this one tricky too.

14. RCWhiting says:

Thanks all
Wonderful. This reminded me of the A. double grid puzzles we used to get ten or twenty years ago at holiday times.
For those of you who seem fond of finding themes after the event in non-themed puzzles this is what a real themed puzzle should be.
Even though,like several of you, I found the ‘potter’ quickly, that was only the beginning. For each * one needed to decide which of the four interpretations to use.
I thoroughly enjoyed this,unlike today’s rather pathetic ‘prize’ puzzle.

15. Dave Ellison says:

Thanks, PeeDee. I failed on 24s, too.

First time through – nothing! Shortly after I had DUMBLEDORE and hence POTTER.

However, I also found it slower than the usual A’s Bank Holiday prize Xwords. I must say, I do prefer the double grid to the more recent single mega-grids.

16. RCWhiting says:

Dave E.
Your last para; I agree entirely. The blending of the clues adds a lot to the difficulty.

17. Davy says:

Thanks PeeDee,

I gave up on this one having completed about half equally in A and B. I had convinced myself that it was too difficult with obscure wordplay and answers such as METAPHASE, TENEBRISM (I’d put TENEBRIST), EUTROPHIC and ALMA TADEMA (which I got just from the wordplay, but had to check of course). I got Beatrix straight away as farceur is nearly always Rix, but didn’t know whether it was Potter or the Queen of the Netherlands. It soon became evident that it was Potter but that didn’t help very much.

When I saw the answers today, I was annoyed with myself for not trying harder, as there were loads of easy answers that I should have got and there were about ten guesses that I didn’t put in, that were correct. As these puzzles are infrequent, I should have made more effort but enough of the excuses.

My favourite clue (before giving up) was ‘* Made dash at Holywell’. Just brilliant and Araucaria at his very best. I was not keen on GRAND SLAM at all which I thought was particularly vague.

I would be very interested to know if anyone completed this puzzzle without the use of aids ie just using a dictionary and reference books !. Although, before the internet, this was all that was available.

Thanks Arry

18. Davy says:

Forgot to say …

I always print the puzzle off from the Guardian website and would have preferred a larger grid rather than squashing everything onto one page. It would have been nice to have the grids printed landscape on one page and the clues on another page. Come on Hugh, it can’t be that difficult !.

19. liz says:

Thanks for the blog, PeeDee. I worked out that Potter was the theme pretty early on, which helped. Like others, I kept expecting to see Dennis P crop up. Stephen P I remembered vaguely, so got there in the end. I really enjoyed this and didn’t find it too difficult — nearly completed A before getting a toehold in B. But was immensely frustrated not to finish — it was CONY that stumped me

20. chinny says:

I’m always pleased when I come across an otherwise unknown author, in this case Stephen Potter. Thanks to the man, the big A.

21. chas says:

Thanks to PeeDee for the blog; you explained why I was right in some cases and you answered those where I had failed.

It took me a while to get Potter; I think I got Dumbledore then Puddleduck but it took a long time to realise that there were several other Potters!

Once I had spotted BLEACH it took only a little googling to find Bernard Leach but Clarice Cliff defeated me totally

I think my favourite was 22a – once I had identified the splitting point in the clue!

22. chas says:

Once I had spotted Potter and Beatrix I then made a determined effort to find Rowling – But I could not fit her in anywhere!

23. RCWhiting says:

@18 Try buying the paper Davy!
Someone has to pay the setters’ wages.

24. Davy says:

Thanks for the advice RCW but I do buy the Guardian every Saturday. I do not buy it in the week, unlike your good self of course.

I prefer the extra thickness of A4 to the very thin newspaper pages and it also provides extra space for doodling.

25. RCWhiting says:

Well done!
I always use the front of the review for doodling.
I rarely visit the website but I gather that The G. has taken the brave and risky step of keeping it all free (unlike Murdoch) and relying on increased revenue from advertising.
Presumably print sales (reducing) still represent a significant part of total revenue.
At my age I am optimistic that The G. will see me out; I would certainly miss it.

26. Pete says:

Re no.7 I’m with Bryan on this. Unfortunately I wasted too much of my weekend on this before abandoning it. Araucaria has been my favorite for over 30 years but now I dont feel inclined to bother with him anymore.

27. chas says:

I disagree with a couple of the views shown here.

This was a tough puzzle – which is OK as it was for a Bank Holiday weekend. I would expect it to be harder than, say, the usual Saturday prize puzzle. In fact I was not able to finish it.

I still rate Araucaria as the best compiler and will cheerfully tackle his next one. I am also looking forward, with some misgivings, to what he will produce at Christmas!

28. sidey says:

FlutterBy said Many of the solutions came from what I call “construction work”… diligently sticking possible components together then trying to work out if what you’ve made is the right answer.. I always thought that was rather the point rather than spotting the definition and then trying to parse the rest which has become a bit usual with recent puzzles from Araucaria in my experience. This was much like his old (younger?) form.

It made it much more enjoyable for me at least.

29. RCWhiting says:

Yes, sidey. As I pointed out recently, when there were complaints about slightly inexact definitions. If the definitions are tooblatant then all the clever cryptics are wasted.
To me a good cryptic is all allusion (definition) and illusion (cryptic).

30. Roger Murray says:

Phew, got all but 24A. Spent several days pondering the whole thing, nearly gave up on the first day when I just could not get any! As usual putting the thing away and doing something else seems to unlock the brain. Great Fun.

31. Tokyo Colin says:

RCWhiting @14. If you are still checking here, I agree that yesterday’s Prize puzzle isn’t up to scratch, but there is a much better Prize puzzle (albeit not “Prize” difficulty) by the same setter on the FT site, and also available for download at no cost. Which is good for me as English newspapers are hard to come by here at any price.

32. matt says:

Decent puzzle, but I was really quite surprised when the ‘potter’ theme came up: it had been used so recently in a Crucible prize puzzle last year, and (to my mind) to better, more varied effect.

http://fifteensquared.net/2010/05/08/guardian-24999-sat-1-maycrucible-potty/

I always enjoy the double grids though. Thanks Araucaria, and to PeeDee for the blog.

33. blaise says:

For 5(A), I assumed the Potter reference was to Timothy W Potter, an archaeologist heavily involved in excavations in Etruria, who published two books on the subject. Fascinating that the Wedgewoods should have chosen the same name, for their residence and their factory.

34. PeeDee says:

Thanks to all for the corrections and suggestions, the blog has been updated.

35. RCWhiting says:

Thanks T Colin @31. I just cannot do non-print crosswords – just my foible I guess. I also cannot do crosswords in books! It has to be that wonderful, precisely timed, challenge between me and the setter.

36. Huw Powell says:

Whew, this was amazing. I didn’t really mess with it except to read the instructions (and pencil in LOBE) until 3/9 (since this is our “Bank Holiday” weekend!) and this was one of the most graceful cryptic experiences I have ever wrestled with.

Slow going at first, trying to solve unthemed clues to get enough checks to start to try to work the theme. I found my way in in an odd way as did another – STEPHEN was my first one, from checks and the typical lovely Rev. A. “aha”. But what, then, was the theme? Luckily now that Wikipedia’s search box autofills a dozen possibilities, there was an interesting looking “Stephen” – one Mr. Potter. Who turned out to be a British writer, so I thought I was on the right track. My first thoughts went to dear Beatrix, and I managed to beat down a few of her themed clues, when the light bulb went off. Pure genius, a theme mixing up two of the most successful childrens’ book writers, with the added caveat that the * might just be a last name, or a profession. I was only sad, in the end, that the use of * as a synonym to “putter (around)” was not used somewhere.

This took me hours and hours, but every five to fifteen minutes or so another penny would drop (I think my gas meter is full now!) and never once did I feel cheated by the Reverend’s cluing.

I got lucky on the 18s in that I have slowly developed a magic anagram generator in my brain, and had just enough awareness of Rowling’s work that DH popped into my mind. Had to double check, but it was right. Which leads me to what I did not get done – the 24s (and a parsing for the other interlocked clue pair). What could one expect from the libertarian master but a slight “cheat” on the rules? And done sublimely, indeed. The punctuation in 24 was perfect, once I saw how to solve them here.

I really enjoyed how the two grids do interact, in the sense that a properly parsed answer in one yields the exact remains to be used for the other. Well, except for those two or three “special” clues.

Of course, I had to do huge amounts of research while solving, but I think that’s part of the fun nowadays (using WP and google etc. as well as an atlas, dictionary, Bible, etc.) There were very few clues that I had to resort to brute force to solve – like 22B, where at least I picked the right option first out of the short list onelook gave me. At one point I think I had a dozen tabs open with various WP lists and articles to help with the two main theme subjects (not knowing HP very well and having forgotten everything I knew about BP’s works.

PeeDee, thanks for the parsing of the dozen or so answers I was vague to clueless on yet still got, and the lovely pair that never yielded.

Araucaria, I bow down to you. Not one clue left me feeling anything but pure joy as I solved them. I think you used every trick in the book, and about six new ones, on this true beauty of a puzzle. Thanks seem so black and white in contrast with the vividly colored universe that was this offering.

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