Never knowingly undersolved.

The Guardian No 25,477 by Araucaria

Posted by Stella on November 11th, 2011


I’d expected to find some reference to today’s peculiar date, and perhaps also to Armistice etc. Instead, I was faced with this tour de force by the Master at his most convoluted.

The theme is obvious, but I think there is also a sub-theme referring to worldly wealth and its pitfalls, hence the four precious metals, the casino town, as well as 19, 11, 24 and 26 across.


8. Part of Troilus accepted by lodger sometimes found in Royal Society (see 20) (8)
PILGRIMS The first part of the theme title, which as far as I can see is a small part of (Tro)IL(us) in PG, which I think must somehow stand for a “lodger” – a private guest, perhaps? = “paying guest”; thanks duncanshiell et al.- plus some of (t)IM(es) in RS (“Royal Society”). Other parts of the same words form the sister clue at 20ac.The reference to Troilus may be explained by this quote: “Troilus and Criseyde is a kind of amatory Everyman or Pilgrim’s Progress or, if one may say so with no blasphemous intent, the stations of the lover’s cross …” by Professor Ian Robinson.
9. One learning a song — with time it will catch (6)
LARIAT L + ARIA + T, definition “it will catch”, as a lasso is intended to do.
10. Trees sent back, asking to be punctured? (4)
SMUG <GUMS, with a cryptic definition – a smug person is “asking” for his ego to be deflated :)
11. Navy worried about communications etc with 22 down in 8 20 (6,4)
VANITY FAIR *NAVY around IT (Information Technology = “communications etc.”) + FAIR = “blonde” (see 22d.) The title of Thackeray’s novel is taken from this place in 8,20.
12. Glorious day for 24 down? Not so important (6)
JUNIOR Well, the definition is “not so important”, but “Glorious day for gold”? Any suggetions welcome. Thanks to Duncanshiell for this and other  explanations: it’s June 1st. Other posters have included links with information on the relevance of the date.
14. Roman date for London hospital is unique (8)
NONESUCH NONES, along with “ides” and “calends”, indicated the time of the month in Ancient Rome. Then it’s University College Hospital.
15. Wild ape challenged wolf for its companion in Cargoes? (7)
PEAFOWL *APE + *WOLF, the reference being a poem by John Masefield
17. Walking badly when topless on ecstasy, inducing trespass (7)
20. Part of Troilus accepted by lodger sometimes found in Royal Society after 8 by … (8)
PROGRESS This time it’s (T)RO(ilus) in PG + (tim)ES in RS.
22. … tinker who sounds footsore (6)
BUNYAN Homophone for “bunion”, for why “tinker”? I didn’t find this information when I looked him up in Wiki, but apparently Bunyan was the son of a tinker, and initially followed his father’s footsteps – probably literally :) – thanks to stumped for this gem.
23. Doctor on vaguely central round does a spot of speculation (5,5)
MONTE CARLO MO + *CENTRAL + O, with another cryptic definition.
24. Scandalous conclusion to entry (4)
GATE Definition and cryptic definition, GATE being used as a suffix nowadays since the Watergate scandal
25. Relative to the All Blacks, the English followed 24 down and 3 (6)
BRONZE BRO(ther) + NZ + E
26. Outsider gets sick on account of solid 24 down film vehicle (8)
CADILLAC CAD (“outsider”?) + ILL + AC, the reference being this film.
1. Tom, it may be, by custom identifying bird (8)
TITMOUSE *TOM IT + USE. Several contributors have provided links to the book.
2. Old Testament king was a joke (4)
3. Pirate repeated in 2 (6)
SILVER Ag, the chemical symbol, appears twice in the previous solution. The pirate, of course, is the one from Treasure Island.
4. Something wrong in taking drug? It’s stupid (7)
ASININE A + SIN + IN + E(cstasy)
5,22. 24 down girl, one not feeling capital on getting lost in picture (8,6)
PLATINUM BLONDE I + NUMB + LOND(on) in PLATE (= “picture”?). I always thought a platinum blonde was more white than golden, although (at the risk of getting told off by the scientists here) in Spanish platinum is often confused with white gold.
6. Stating what one believes is a job (10)
PROFESSION Double definition
7. Mother’s murderer turned up: he’s insane (6)
13. Trouble behind the scenes, funny thing after being dressed up when full (2-8)
IN-FIGHTING *THING after IN FIG, which I think might refer to an expression like “in figure” = “being dressed up”? Again, help welcome. My thanks to NeilW et al. for explaining that the expression is “in full fig”.
16. Miserable quarter heaved (8)
18. Allowance given to amateur in town (8)
19. Most of Austria’s self-styled bird (7)
OSTRICH ÖST(er)R(e)ICH, Austria in German.
21. Horrid characters put straight by Morgan (6)
RHODRI *HORRID. I thought I’d be looking for another pirate here, not being familiar with the Welsh politician.
22. See 5
- See 5
24. Guide leader aged something like 3 or 5 (4)
GOLD G(uide) + OLD.

61 Responses to “The Guardian No 25,477 by Araucaria”

  1. duncanshiell says:

    1ac – PG is paying guest

    12ac Jun 1 – First of June – Glorious June (+ OR [gold])

    22a – John Bunyan adopted the life of a tinker at some point in his life.

    1d – I think there were some childrens’ stories about Thomas Titmouse

    I thought this was Araucaria at his most liberal – the ‘Troilus’ and ‘sometimes’ references in particular were splendidly outrageous.

    I took a while to get going on this but it all fell into place after PILGRIMS PROGRESS

  2. Bear says:

    Great puzzle. PG is ‘paying guest’, in the B&B trade at least.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Stella. For me, this was the toughest of the week so far.

    13 – the expression is “IN full FIG”, thus the reference “when full.” I think all your other queries have already been addressed.

  4. stumped says:

    Very nice puzzle though, as always with Araucaria, some solutions came before the clue could be properly parsed.

    Thanks for the blog Stella.

    8a PG = Paying Guest for lodger. it died out in late 60’s I think.

    23a Bunyan like his father was for a time an itinerant brazier or tinker, mending pots & kettles.

    5,22 PLATE = picture – maybe from early photography glass plate negatives? Or fashion plate in magazines?

    13d IN FULL FIG was a slang expression for “being in one’s Sunday Best”, may even have military connotations.

    12a Baffling…

  5. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Stella – PG I couldn’t understand, and, whilst I knew it, I couldn’t recall Cargoes.

    A great Xword.

    I agree with duncanshiell about 1d, and it elevates this clue so it is slightly more than an anagram. I thought Tom Titmouse was by Beatrix Potter but it is by Samuel Goodrich

  6. stumped says:

    oops, crossed posts, sorry.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    I agree about the outrageousness, but he is good at doing it where it won’t do any harm – with “Troilus” and “sometimes” we had plenty of other help to get to the answers (via Vanity Fair, Bunyan) so he was able to have his fun in the clues themselves. I do wonder if he reads our comments, though, and is enjoying goading us with things like “some” – see also 19 (“most of Austria…” – made me laugh, I have to say). I can almost imagine him cheerfully listening for the howls…

    All in all enjoyable, funny and surprising – a fitting end to a very good week from the Guardian.

  8. molonglo says:

    Thanks Stella. I spent more time permuting the last two clues than all the others together. RHODRI was certainly recondite. 23a was a headache, brought on by ‘vaguely’ whose central part looked like ‘guess’ ( speculation) or the letter U, and whose role was otherwise perplexing: big groan when it fell into place. The earlier stuff slotted in all right, with the signal exception of 15a, when certainty about peacocks in Masefield’s poem went out the window. OSTRICH and JUNIOR among many fine clues.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    When I statred to read this book

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Stella.

    As you say, perhaps not quite what we were expecting – but then, with Araucaria, we know to expect the unexpected! I thought 8,20 was A at his most outrageous – but it made me laugh.

    I found this battle for the ‘Glorious First of June':

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    #9 Sorry, I pressed Submit instead of Preview.

    When I first started to read this book (Thomas Titmouse) I was surprised to see it was by Peter Parley – apparently a pseudonym for Goodrich

  12. PeterO says:

    Stella – Thank you for the blog, in particular for sorting out Araucaria’s wordplay on 8/20. In 13D, the reference is to the expression “in full fig”, which, as you say, probably derives from figure.

  13. Engineerb says:

    I have to disagree slightly with some of the comments here. I thought that this was the weakest of the crosswords since Tuesday. While many of the clues were enjoyable there were some that were below standard & a few that seemed to have been fitted in with a crow-bar. It’s a shame as I was looking forward to an enjoyable end to a 2nd very good week in a row.

  14. JeremyT says:

    A great crossword? Splendidly outrageous? Oh please. This was a bad crossword and certainly unsuitable for the overwhelming majority of its audience. If the blogger cannot understand the clues, what chance do the rest of us have? Araucaria is my favourite compiler but the clueing was arcane and flagrant. And if anyone else had produced it you wouldn’t have been so indulgent…..

  15. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks all for clearing up my doubts – stupid of me not to think of June 1st, I think my brain was addled by that time, as I spent about an hour trying to sort out 8,20. Your other apportations will now be added to the blog.

  16. Stella says:

    Hi JeremyT. This particular blogger doesn’t claim to have any special ability that sets her apart from the rest of contributors here – I just volunteered when help was needed.

    One of the reasons I did so was because I see we have no qualms about admitting the shortcomings in our understanding of a puzzle, and other posters are only too happy to fill in the blanks.

    This was a tough puzzle to blog, as it was to solve, but that doesn’t make it a bad puzzle, just a difficult one. The only real liberty here was the use of “Troilus” and “some’times'” in 8,20, as only two letters were taken from each word in each clue. Then again, in each case they were consecutive letters, and I found it an ingenious way of pointing out the similarity between the two words of the title, which makes in sungularly euphonic and probably contributes to its popularity.

  17. Stella says:

    “singularly” even :)

  18. apple granny says:

    We found this easier than Enigmatist and Boatman this week. Loads of lovely clues; but we needed the blog to understand Pilgrims Progress, and we didn’t know why Bunyan was a tinker. But both answers were obvious once we had several letters. We always love Araucaria crosswords.

  19. KeithW says:

    7d – Why the apostrophe S on mother’s?

  20. PeterJohnN says:

    1d Tomtit is another word for tit or titmouse.
    15a The actual quote from Cargoes is “apes and peacocks”.

  21. PaulieG says:

    I’m with the naysayers here, having spent 10 minutes staring at the puzzle and not being able to get *one* clue, I gave up. This is after quite happily completing 3 of the 4 other Guardian cryptics this week. I think there is something in my brain that makes his puzzles entirely unintelligible to me, despite me getting on quite well with all the other setters.

  22. yogdaws says:

    No disrespect to Araucaria but we’re with Jeremy T on this one.

    The Monkey Puzzle cultists are sometimes too indulgent…

  23. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for blogging this one.

    I don’t often make time for the daily crossword, but after just about managing Boatman yesterday I thought I’d have another go today. Ouch! Gave up I’m afraid. After reading your explanations here I think I could have spent a week on this and still not completed it.

    Bracing myself for the Prize tomorrow now… just when I thought I was getting the hang of these cryptics.

  24. Wolfie says:

    Thank you Stella for the blog.

    The grid filled up rapidly after solving 22ac – Bunyan – enable me to guess that 8,20 must be Pilgrim’s Progress. I was completely unable to parse the clues for this, and having seen the explanations in the blog and subsequent comments I am not surprised my failure. Outrageous cluing in my opinion

  25. Thomas99 says:

    For what it’s worth – at this point, of the commenters who expressed a view I count 8 for (including Eileen) and 5 against (with a late surge for the naysayers).

    “Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
    When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.” (Wilde)

  26. crypticsue says:

    I am with the ‘fors’ Yes, it’s an Araucaria and yes, 8/20 were tricky ones to get but I found the rest of it very user-friendly for an Araucaria and most enjoyable.

  27. J says:

    If I’d had to blog this, I’d have written “Astonishing obscurity, don’t bother.”

    – Didn’t know PG was “paying guest”.
    – Never heard of Professor Ian Robinson.
    – No idea why June 1st is “glorious”.
    – Never come across of “Cargoes” by John Masefield
    – Didn’t know that Bunyan was a tinker.
    – No idea why “cad” means “outsider”.
    – Didn’t know that a titmouse was a bird.
    – Never heard of King Agag.
    – Couldn’t spell asinine.
    – Never come across “in fig”.

    Now obviously I can be blamed for my own ignorance, but “platinum blonde” is definitely not “gold”. That’s just wrong.

  28. Robi says:

    Entertaining puzzle, although I had to make fairly liberal use of a word search program to solve it. I still found it satisfying, however, to complete.

    Thanks, Stella for the blog and the parsing of PILGRIMS PROGRESS, on which I failed miserably. I did get AGAG without any help but couldn’t be bothered to check him out at the time. I now find from Wiki that: ‘Samuel put Agag to death at Gilgal saying that “[a]s your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.” And so Samuel proceeded to personally cut Agag to pieces.’ Nice morality tale to bear in mind.

    I did like the surface of 17; nice picture, A. I see RHODRI Morgan and his wife are supporters of the British Humanist Association; fancy him being in the reverend’s crossword.

  29. MikeS says:

    Bafflled at first, but then sufficiently intrigued, so persevered and eventually solved the beast. I am often stumped by Enigmatist, but that is often due to my ignorance rather than that of the setter!

  30. Plotinus says:

    ‘He who would valiant be ‘gainst all disaster,
    Let him in constancy follow the Master…’
    (Bunyan, To Be A Pilgrim)

    It did require some constancy in the face of 8 and 20, and I began to think I would have to labour night and day.

  31. chas says:

    Thanks to Stella for the blog. I also totally failed to parse 8/20.

    In 15a I looked at the poem and saw “apes and peacocks” so deduced that peacock was the companion to ape. How then do you manage to get PEAFOWL?

  32. Chunders66 says:

    Excellent puzzle. Took me a while to get going, at times during that spell thinking it wasn’t going to crack. Then the deluge, and a cascade of answers after getting 24d, then 3 & 5,22. The latter led me to Grantham by way of Scargill’s Plutonium Blonde, and Vanity Fair finally yielded the generally puritanical feel of the puzzle.
    I had to check out ‘lariat’ in Chambers, and Bunyan’s biog. in the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopaedia, but I don’t mind an excuse to get the books out. An Araucaria is always an education without didacticiscm, and any apparent obscurity ought to make us wonder if we’re really as well-read as we imagine.
    So a full four days of entertainment from Guardian Crosswords, if low productivity away from the PDF or monitor. They just need to sort Mondays out……

  33. Stella Heath says:

    Hi J, I think you’ll find most of your queries are answered here, if not by me, by other posters, but I remain as baffled as you are re CAD = “outsider”.

    I did include a link to AGAG in the blog, but to know there is one you have to hold the mouse over the word – for some reason it doesn’t change colour in the solution the way it does in the explanation.

    To chas., the more generic PEAFOWL is deduced from the anagram fodder, and there is a ? at the end of the clue, to indicate it’s not exact.

    Bravo Plotinus! Magnificent comment :lol:

  34. Chunders66 says:

    I forgot to say thanks for this blog. I like the innovation of sticking the clue up too; makes things much clearer and visually it works too.

  35. Stella Heath says:

    And to Chunders, who I crossed with, the policy is for progressively more difficult puzzles as the week progresses, which is the reason for my forebodings yesterday – justified, as it turns out.

    I suggest you skip Mondays, as many of us thoroughly enjoy an accessible and usually instructive Rufus, as well as the puzzles that occasionally substitute his.

  36. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks for the blog and other help with parsing. I was just pleased to finish (Google assisted) having still got a chunk of yesterday’s to do. It’s been a tough week.

    I had a thought about platinum blondes, which I think all of American TV’s ‘gold-en girls’ were? Probably not what he had in mind, but there’s lots of cheekiness here. Personally, I loved it.

  37. Stella Heath says:

    Hi again Chunders. Thanks for the recognition, though the option you mention is not so much my doing as the result of a couple of co-bloggers’ work in producing user-friendly blogging programmes.

  38. Robi says:

    Stella; your link didn’t work because the URL is incorrect – it’s got two http’s and is blocked on my computer as a malicious site. The link you wanted, I think is: :)

  39. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Yet another good challenge which just about defeated me.
    I completed apart from 8,20.
    This was entirely due to my utter failure to read and note carefully the “by…..”.
    I had Bunyan quite early and even a literary ignoramus like me knows ‘Pilgrims Progress’ is his best seller. Instead I spent much unproductive time messing with Troilus et al.
    Well blogged S.
    Judged by Tuesday to Friday tomorrow’s should be a stinker (I hope).

    PS How did some posters know, yesterday, that today would be an Araucaria?

  40. Stella Heath says:

    Experienced guesswork?

  41. Andrew says:

    I haven’t got Chambers to hand, but the OED has this Eton/Oxford slang meaning as one of its definitions of CAD:

    ‘Cads, low fellows, who hang about the college to provide the Etonians with anything necessary to assist their sports’. So at Oxford, applied by collegians to town-lads of the same description, and contemptuously to townsmen generally.

    Alternatively maybe it’s just that a cad (in the dated but more familiar sense, often paired with “bounder”) is “not one of us”, and hence an outsider. Either way, the word seems to be derived from “cadet” and/or “caddie”.

  42. Cosafina says:

    Well I loved today’s puzzle. Totally unable to parse 8/20 (thank heavens for this blog) but knew that’s what it had to be once I’d got 11a.
    Had never heard of in full fig, or Agag, but still managed to get the answers.
    Personally, I believe Araucaria’s clueing to be the fairest I’ve ever come up against.

  43. John says:

    Cosafina @ 42. – “I believe Araucaria’s clueing to be the fairest I’ve ever come up against”.
    There’s enough evidence in this discussion to indicate the opposite, both from those for whom A. can do no wrong and the rest of us.
    Excruciating for me, despite solving it!

  44. stumped says:

    Araucaria does take some liberties but just this week Boatman and Enigmatist had some very weird devices.

    The fairest of all is Rufus and he seems to be somewhat patronised here and on Grauniad’s own coffee-club.

  45. cholecyst says:

    Well, if we’re having a vote, I’m FOR, even though I think A is getting a bit too fond of the “some of”, “mostly” device. And the Cadillac film – 1956!!

  46. stumped says:

    PG went out of use mid to late 60’s and surely the last time someone said Cad was in PG Wodehouse?

  47. tupu says:

    Thanks Stella and Araucaria

    I only got to this in mid-afternoon. I have mixed feelings since I was pleased to solve it and understand more difficult clues like 8,20 and I was also entertained by it. However, I think the comment that anyone other than Araucaria would not get away with it carries some weight. This said, I think the mix of opinions expressed brings out the merits and flaws pretty well.
    :) The sort of thing university examiners could spend all day on arguing about whether it was a first or a fail, especially in the days when candidates’ identities were known to the markers!

    My knowledge of Pilgrim’s Progress is poor and I had to check the references of some of the answers.

    Some clues were very good e.g. 23a, and 5,22 and I also enjoyed 24a and 16d

    I agree with Andrew re ‘cad’. It seems that it may be an abbreviation of caddie and this reminds me that golf has been a world with more outsiders including ‘the professional’ than most.

  48. stumped says:

    tupu @47 Disagree with you that “anyone other than Araucaria would not get away with it carries some weight”.

    Enigmatist this week had some very strained clues yet he was lauded for his “impeccable cluing”. Really?

    18 Gem? (4)

    18. TWIN I think the way this works is gem = half of Gemini = half of twins = (just one) TWIN


  49. tupu says:

    Hi stumped

    Thanks. You seem simply to want to expand my point, though the clue you quote is, of course, very different from, say, 8,20 here. I simply wonder whether one’s judgment would be quite the same if the name of the setter was not known. I should perhaps repeat that I enjoyed both puzzles.

  50. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well, I’ve been watching the posts this week and I’m not surprised to see the collected experts being tickled pink by the latter part of this week. But for some of us it’s been a week ruined, a pointless waste of time. Maybe some office junior mis-filed a load of prize puzzles in the daily file?

  51. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    I was only able to pick up today’s crossword late this afternoon (GMT).

    Consequently, not a lot to add, except that I am firmly on the ‘for’ side. I enjoyed this one very much and found it considerably easier than either the Enigmatist or the Boatman puzzles this week.

    The ‘some of’ device has become such a characteristic of Araucaria recently that, for me, at least, it has become quite transparent. I immediately recognised ‘lodger’ = PG, and ‘Royal Society’ had to be RS, so it only took a further crossing letter in each of 8a and 20a to find the appropriate fragments of ‘Troilus’ and ‘sometimes’ to insert and produce the answer Just as well, because I had confidently put PEDLAR in for 22a.

  52. stumped says:

    Derek @50 Good point. I found last Saturday’s “prize” much easier than this.

    tupu @49. One of 8,20 in isolation would have been ridiculously unfair, together, especially with the run on into 22a, they were gettable. I can picture A with a sly grin. I haven’t been back doing cryptics long enough to have any particular preferences so name of setter doesn’t sway me. Maybe it’s just that E’s puzzle baffled me :)

  53. LooseStool says:

    Bunyan was a tinker. See: Kipling’s “The Holy War”:
    A tinker out of Bedford,
    A vagrant oft in quod,
    A private under Fairfax,
    A minister of God–

    Two hundred years and thirty
    Ere Armageddon came
    His single hand portrayed it,
    And Bunyan was his name!

  54. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Stella, didn’t get to this one till this evening.
    I asked for an Araucaria puzzle yesterday thinking it might be a bit easier than the previous couple of days. Boy was I wrong.
    Thanks for the explanation of 8, 20. The answers were obviously PILGRIMS PROGRESS but I couldn’t work it out from the clues.
    Never heard of King Agag either, though again it was obvious. Starting to think that I am losing my touch and should take a long holiday!

  55. Davy says:

    Thanks Stella,

    I’m definitely on the ‘for Araucaria’ side as he’s always been the compiler that I’m most in tune with although I rarely understand all his wordplay. I knew that PILGRIM’S PROGRESS was right but I couldn’t for the life of me see why.

    This puzzle is also the first one that I’ve finished this week. I will hang on to Boatman and Enigmatist and finish them eventually.

    I think tomorrow’s puzzle will almost certainly be Paul or if not I would guess Pasquale. Either way I’ll be happy.

  56. Stella Heath says:

    For what it’s worth, I found this tougher than yesterday’s Boatman, but more accessible and enjoyable than Wednesday’s Enigmatist, and I am the first to have seen 8/20 without the slightest idea of how it worked – as I say above, it took me about an hour to come up with some sort of explanation, and even then PG escaped me, much though I like their Tips :)

  57. rrc says:

    i look forard to A’s puzzles, delighted to see the compiler after I managed to biy a paper, and then for the ndext couple of hours began to despair because nothing substantial was going in When I saw the answer was Pilgrims Progress I gave up
    hence a real disappointment

  58. RCWhiting says:

    Agreed that this was much harder than last Saturday’s.

  59. Pete says:

    Well we bought the Guardian on Friday to occupy a 2hr 30min journey to London on the train. So disappointed that we couldn’t even start the crossword apart from 3 solutions botton left.

    Really enjoyed reading these comments though now we’re back.

  60. Denis says:

    One of the best. The endless inventiveness in ways of clueing (which outrages some) is very enjoyable, though it can make for difficulty in starting – I wasn’t able to do anything the first time I went through this one. The linkages were varied and interesting too – better than a single theme which can make solving rather routine once one’s got it. The occasional joke (Oesterreich /Ostrich) and the wide general knowledge seem fair, and I don’t complain when there are a few I don’t know -with luck the cross-references will fill in. Agag I remembered from the name of a climb, Agag’s Groove, in Glencoe that requires balance climbing on small holds: “And Agag came unto him delicately” – a lovely choice of adjectiven; this is from the Authorized Version – look on Google and see how inferior all later english translations are!

  61. Huw Powell says:

    Whew. Put me down in the “for” column. A tour de force indeed. I started messing with this Friday night, I think, solving approximately zero clues, and gaining a rising trepidation due to the bizarre cluing at 8/20 and the complex interlinking of clues.

    Worked some more on the “simple” (unlinked etc.) clues Saturday, got a few written in, took a break and enjoyed Paul’s Prize for a couple of hours. Filed that and got back to the Reverend.

    Spent most of the afternoon, on and off, picking off a clue here, a clue there, slapping myself for ones that should have been easy… 11 and 22a both sent me in wrong directions, since I was thinking of the magazine and the lumberjack.

    Eventually after an inkless hour I used onelook to decipher 13d from one checking letter. I have different standards for different setters on how long I will struggle before using various tools – with anyone I’ll go to wikipedia to verify a person’s name I have worked out, say. And with heavily themed puzzles I don’t mind doing the research after an hour or two’s immersion – one that comes to mind was a Waterloo/Nelson themed puzzle a while ago – having the hard clues in mind, I had to spend a good hour or two reading encyclopedia articles on the topic, with the occasional “aha!” coming along the way. On the other hand, I’d always at least hope to finish a Rufus or an Everyman on my own.

    I got about half the parsing of 8/20 – tried to research “PG” and this meaning, sadly, is not on the wikipedia page.


    Peter @ 12, I suspect “in full fig” might be a Biblical derivation.

    Derek @ 50, while I feel your pain – yes, these three, Enigmatist (hated), Boatman (loved), and this one (loved) could all easily have been run on a Saturday – there is a delicate balance between providing fifteen minutes of scribbling in answers and 5 hours of delightful challenge. I might suggest that on tough days (especially runs of tough days) either hitting the archives or another paper like the Herald (on line or at the newsstand). And they were all harder than this week’s Prize (liked).

    So… Stella, thanks for the hard-working blog, and Duncan (and others) for filling in some of the blanks, and especially to Araucaria for continuing to come up with new ways to monkey up the structure of a puzzle.

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