# Fifteensquared

## Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,484 by Araucaria

Posted by PeeDee on November 26th, 2011

To me this is absolutely classic Araucaria – an alphabetical jigsaw with great clues cutting a swathe through general knowlegde, and taking some Araucarian liberties in the process.  Not an easy solve but a very satisfying one.  A real pleasure to solve and blog, thank you Araucaria.

A nice feature of this puzzle (that passed me by completely) is that the clues are in rhyming couplets.  Thanks to bridgesong for pointing this out.

For those new to alphabetical jigsaw puzzles they can be quite daunting so I have included some tips on how to get started at the end of this section.

### How to get started on alphabeticals jigsaws (for beginners, old hands skip straight to the comments)

The key to filling an alphabetic grid is getting the first few words in correctly.  We start by trying to place a single letter in the grid by looking for a place in the grid where two words start with the same letter: in this case we find the top middle square begins both an across solution and a down solution, which means both entries must start with the same letter.  A quick glance through the clues shows that only the ‘S’ clue can provide enough words of the correct length to go here, so we can write the letter ‘S’ into the grid.

Now we must solve the S clue to have any real chance of progressing.  If you can solve it straight off then great, but what if you need a bit more of a help from some crossing letters?  How do we progress?

We can start by grouping the solutions by their letter count as so:

12: C M 10: P E 8: A B G H I O T 6: J N Q V X Z  5: D L  4: F U Y K

We don’t know whether the S solution is entered across the grid then down, or down the grid then across, the 8,4,3,8 letter count will fit both ways.  Start by looking at the three letter word, the two possible positions mean that it either starts or ends with A,B,G,H,I,O or T.  From these letters make a guess the three letter word is either THE or AND.  The only way this fits is if we go down then across, otherwise the E or D of THE/AND would begin an 8 letter word, and we can see from our list above this is not possible.

Next, we see there not many 5 or 9 letter words, and the across solution cross two of these, so there are only two possibilities for these letters.   Similarly we can narrow down two more choices where the solution crosses 8 letter words, though with more options.

Hence we can guess/deduce the solution is of the form:

S _ _ _ _ _ * _ / _ _ _ _ / THE or AND / S _*_ L-D _ E-P _  where *=A,B,G,H,I,O or T

This is not a perfect start, but a hell of a lot better than nothing.   Playing with the possible combinations for the final word we guess at ‘shoulder’, and then the rest of the clue falls into place.

Once this is written in the grid  we now have places for more words as the first letters are now defined.  Note that we can also immediately write D and P into the grid, as there is now only one remaining place for them to go.  We now have definite places for eight solutions in the grid (S O L E H T D and P) and we are on our way…

### 68 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,484 by Araucaria”

1. stiofain says:

Thats a nice succinct starters guide PeeDee Gaufrid should put it in the FAQs.
I enjoyed this but i think with the extra effort required to solve an Araubetical ( © muck? )
the unspoken rule of making obscurities impeccably clued is even more important.
Enjoy yourseves at the meet up today have a guinness for me someone.

2. molonglo says:

Thanks PeeDee, including for explaining YARE whose archaic meaning was lost on me. I’m sure the E clue has a typo – ‘his’ instead of ‘this’ which makes sense. The puzzle was surprisingly easy, or I just got lucky with finding slots for the dozen or so I was sure of at the first read through. Only held up at the very end on Q, X and Z. Googling for confirmation and enlightenment on the ones that needed guesswork – A, L, W and Y – solved the problem. One error: ‘tenebral’ for the T, but I see the parsing now. An awful Spoonerism and many liberties as usual – but still enjoyable.

3. RCWhiting says:

Thanks all
I look forward to A’s alphabeticals and admire his ingenuity.
This one was a little disappointing because it was all over too quickly.
I think there was a very definite reason; there was only one double-header (S) and solving it quickly did give rather a lot away thereafter.

4. NeilW says:

Thanks, PeeDee. Great blog.

I took K to be a “double and a half” definition as you have to use the string as well.

One little point – you’ve left the love out of your parsing of XOANON.

5. Coffee says:

I really wanted to fit QUICK into sand.. got a bit delayed there! The beginner’s guide is a great, one of those “Wish they’d done it years ago” moments! Am already hoping for a nice juicy Xmas special… assume there’s a Christmas Eve edition? Will be in the UK so I can get a hard copy – for money!

6. Biggles A says:

What a comprehensive and informative blog PeeDee, thank you. I think you must have put more work into it than did Aracauria. I agree with molonglo that a typo is most likely in the E clue. It took me a while to figure out the J clue but it seems OK to me.

I never did reconcile the Alf in A other than as one example of a person, thanks for the explanation.

7. cholecyst says:

Brilliant blog, PeeDee. Even though I enumerated S the wrong way round from the outset, which meant it was the last letter to be completed, I found this easier than usual but enjoyable none the less.

8. dunsscotus says:

Thanks PeeDee and Araucaria for a lot of fun. Thanks in particular for ‘Nana’, whose place in literature I had forgotten. It’s actually just a couple of weeks since we had ‘zenana'; it was new to me then but a give away for the current puzzle.

9. tupu says:

Thanks Peedee and Araucaria

Hard in places but very enjoyable. For some reason I have never found fitting in the solutions very difficult but no doubt I will do next time! I’m sure the guide is useful.

Thanks for explaining ‘wight’.

Re Yare, I understand that the river itself, as part of the Broads,is ‘navigable’ so this word seems to be doing double duty.

10. bridgesong says:

Fantastic blog, Peedee; I agree that your beginner’s guide is worthy of wider publication.

Can I just point out that this alphabetical is constructed in rhyming couplets, which may help to explain some of the curious constructions in the clues? Araucaria doesn’t always do this and it must make the job even harder, so even more respect is due.

11. pangapilot says:

DIGIT: I think the whole-word definition turns on the comic rephrasing of the expression “Pull your finger out” as “extract your digit”. As parsed above, it seems a bit of a leap to say that digging is pulling something out – not the way I dig!

12. r_c_a_d says:

Thanks for explaining alf. I think I had reference fatigue by then so didn’t get past wight = person.

An enjoyable puzzle, mostly outside my general knowledge, as usual from A.

Maybe I was lucky with the solving order, but I did find the answers easier to fit into the grid than usual for an alphabetical.

13. PeterJohnN says:

In CONVINCINGLY, I took CON to mean “twist”, not “with”.

14. tupu says:

Hi Peter JohnN

Me too re con.

15. Stella Heath says:

Thanks for a brilliant blog, Peedee, and to Araucaria for an enjoyable and not too difficult jigsaw.

Like cholecyst, I got it into my head that S started horizontally, so my way into the puzzle was the two 10-letter answers, since I decided I didn’t want an X for the 2nd letter of a four-letter word, and anyway I had the answers by then to three of the four, F, K and U, which only left Y.

That said, your beautifully illustrated guide for beginners will, I’m sure, become a classic. Congratulations.

16. PeterJohnN says:

Further to BEGINNER, the concentric rings round the bull (bullseye) on a rifle range (and archery I think) target are known as the INNER, magpie, and outer.

17. Eileen says:

PJN and tupu ~13 and 14

Then where’s your anagram indicator – and what’s ‘with’ doing? [It adds little sense to the surface!]

I’m with PeeDee; fantastic blog – many thanks!

18. chas says:

Thanks to PeeDee for the blog. I never knew the details of Peter Pan so ‘Darling’ passed me by. I was left thinking it must be ZENANA but why?

I always think of a Spoonerism as exchanging the initial letters of two words (e.g. down train/town drain) but I have seen in the past that Araucaria uses it more widely by allowing ‘sounds like’ changes in the words as well as exchanging the initial letters. Here he is going even further! I feel let down by this extension.

On J I ask what language has a word JA meaning I?
When I first saw this clue I thought of French ‘JE – – – -‘ but could not make it work. Eventually I thought of jawbone and JAWOHL which is just one word. I concluded that (2,4) was a mistake.

19. PeterJohnN says:

Re DIGIT, as well as a figure, it means finger, which is something to pull out, as in “pull you finger out!” or “digitus extractum” as we used to say!

20. PeterJohnN says:

Re me @ 19, sorry pangapilot, I missed your comment at 11.

21. PeeDee says:

Hi PeterJonN and pangalot,

Thanks for the ideas on DIGIT, I have updated the blog.

In my opinion the alternative is an improvement over ‘dig’=’pull out’, but neither way is really that great. If the solution were ‘finger’. then the alternative version would work perfectly, but ‘pull your digit out’ is not a commonly recognised expression, and as it stands the clue requires a dose of Araucarian laisez-faire to make it work either way.

22. PeterJohnN says:

Eileen @ 17. I see your point! Oh well, I got there anyway!

Thanks PeeDee for the blog, and Araucaria for another very entertaining alphabetic puzzle. Re your hints on getting started, I find it helpful to write the length of each light round the perimeter of the grid.

I always look forward to Araucaria’s special bank holiday puzzles. I even won a prize once, six years ago, for a puzzle containing all the chapter headings from Alice in Wonderland!

I completed the grid this time, and sent it in, but failed to parse AARDWOLF. I should have googled “wight”! I’ll let you know if I win a prize.

23. RCWhiting says:

cholecyst
The third letter in the across part of S might be R or O.
But it is the initial of an 8 letter word and therefore must be O.
Hence ‘shoulder’ is across.
This explains my point @3.

24. cholecyst says:

Yes, RCWhiting, thank you. I proceed by intuition most of the time but in this case logic clearly wins.

25. tupu says:

Hi Eileen

Thanks. I take your point. I’m not sure though that there isn’t a kind of double duty there. Cf Yare where ‘navigable’ seems likely to refer to the river. Also see the ‘triple’ definition in lowan.

26. tupu says:

ps
I suppose ‘definition’ is the wrong word there but there is a definition and two further clues to the word.

27. PeeDee says:

Hi tupu, there ia a choice for the definition of YARE, either ‘swiftly’ or ‘swiftly but manageable’, both are in Chambers. I chose to interpret the clue with the latter meaniing: ‘swiftly though navigable’+’flows the stream’ rather than ‘swiftly’+though+’navigable flows the stream’. The latter version leaves ‘though’ stranded as a rather inelegant link word.

I think both ways work.

I had not noticed (until you pointed it out) that this clue is very nearly &lit, if only Norfolk were not so flat. Unfortunately I cannot imagine that the Yare is famous for for its speed.

28. tupu says:

Thanks Peedee

I suspect there is a mixture of things going on (see above @25). When I looked up Yare (to be sure it was right) its navigability seemed an important feature in the Broads context. I suspect Araucaria has felt fairly generous in his hints in this puzzle.

29. Robi says:

A very entertaining puzzle, made even more so by the rhyming couplets, which, of course, I missed (thanks bridgesong @10, and apologies to A. after all his hard work!)

Very good blog PeeDee, and I echo the thought that the guide should be placed somewhere appropriate on the site. I approached it a more haphazard fashion, but finished it eventually with my hit-or-miss technique (think I started with MAID OF HONOUR, which helped the SW corner.)

I didn’t get the ‘Spoonerism’ until I read the blog – not really what you expect for one of these. DIG IT Daddyo – as you say, sounds rather passé now. I couldn’t parse HOOKWORM; nice one!

30. PeterJohnN says:

As a relative newcomer to this blog, could somebody please explain the term “&lit”. I know that Azed uses the term in his explanations, but I can never be bothered to wait 3 or 4 weeks, or however long it is, to check my solutions. If I can complete the puzzle, which I normally do if I spend long enough, I can usually parse the solutions without assistance.

I hadn’t come across the term “surface” before, but I’m getting the gist now.

31. PeterJohnN says:

I didn’t spot the rhyming couplets either, I’m afraid. Araucaria loves making things difficult for himself, doesn’t he!

32. Gaufrid says:

PeterJohnN @30
&lit is short for ‘and literally true’ and refers to clues where the whole clue is both the wordplay and a definition of the answer.

33. PeterJohnN says:

On further reflection, the rhyming couplets do explain a lot of poetic licence! Loved the rhyming of wight and neophyte, please and portuguese, sustain and Fontain, stream and harem, in fact nearly all of them really. William McGonagall, eat your heart out!

34. PeterJohnN says:

Many thanks Gaufrid @ 30. I understand what you mean. I think.

35. PeterJohnN says:

Re me @ 33, I meant “sustain and Fonteyn” of course.

36. chas says:

For letter J: in what language does JA mean ‘I’?

37. Paul B says:

Chas, it means (in German, obviously) something like ‘yes – it is willed': ‘I obey’ is intended to be synonymous with that, rather than any attempt to translate.

38. PeeDee says:

My German is limited to that gained from watching WWII movies, but in those “Ja Wohl” seems to be a the direct equivalent of “Yes Sir!” in English

39. chas says:

PaulB@37 Google translate says wohl means probably
PeeDee@38 jawohl is one word: according to Google translate it means ‘yes’.

I have a German dictionary here somewhere but all my possessions are in a mess because of builders so I cannot say more.

I am left with the thought that the reverend has made a (very rare) mistake in numeration.

40. PeeDee says:

Hi chas, “yes probably” sounds a little understated, it would be amusing to hear the response from one’s senior officer if one tried that in English! Maybe the German army have a more developed sense of irony that the British.

41. Gaufrid says:

chas
I do have a German dictionary to hand and it gives:
wohl adv well, in good health; indeed

So the enumeration is correct and the translation is ‘yes indeed’.

42. chas says:

Thanks to Gaufrid – I thought it unlikely that A had made a mistake but that was all I could think of.

43. PeterJohnN says:

Re the JAWOHL debate, I was once a German scholar, passing O level in 1958! From memory, without reference to any dictionary etc, “javohl”, pronounced “ya vole”, with the emphasis on “vole”, is just an emphatic version of yes, as Gaufrid suggests @ 41.

I think Araucaria’s translation “I obey”, is a bit of poetic licence, to rhyme with “say” in the previous clue, but it is the equivalent of “Yes, sir!” in response to a military command.

44. PeterJohnN says:

….as suggested by PeeDee @ 38, but of course they would add a German equivalent of “sir” such as “Meinherr” or “Kapitan” or whatever.

45. dunsscotus says:

Hi Chas @ 18. Spooner’s neural pathway issues in fact extend a lot further than transposition of initial letters. One famous example arose when he preached a sermon in his college. He finished and started to descend the pulpit steps, then hesitated and went back up again, to face his rather bewildered looking congregation. ‘My dear friends,’ he said, ‘you have probably realised that every time I said ‘Socrates’ in my sermon, I of course meant ‘St. Paul”.

On one of the many occasions when the undergraduates stood outside his rooms, being rude to him,he came to the window and shouted, ‘Go away. You just want me to do one of … one of these …..THINGS!.’ Is it a logical truth, I wonder, that Spooner can’t call the ‘things’ Spoonerisms? (Cf. Was Kant a Kantian?, and so on.)

46. chas says:

dunsscotus@45 That is a new one to me – but please don’t tell Araucaria! I have enough trouble as it is with his use of Spoonerism. If you reveal that he transposed the names of two people with no connection at all between them or their spellings ….!

47. Dave Ellison says:

The DIGIT clue. I recall the Duke of Edinburgh using “Gentlemen, I think it is about time we pulled our fingers out” in 1961 (and get on with the job), and was surprised at this because as a school boy I could only think of one possible derivation of this. However, though not definitive, the Guardian’s Notes and Queries gives several alternative explanations, chiefly involving the RAF.

48. Martin P says:

chas says:

“…For letter J: in what language does JA mean ‘I’?…”

====

Hi chas: Polish is one of them as it happens, but I take issue with the definition here. The German “ja wohl” really means “yes indeed” and I think “I obey” is too specific. It could be any verb in answer to any question, such as “do you like…?” where it would mean “I really do like…”.

49. Huw Powell says:

I usually don’t remember to come check the blog on the weekly prize puzzles because I forget where I put the finished or unfinished printout… but this time I did want to pop in and say “hello” at least. And my copy was only a few sheets down in my “still one side to write on” stack of paper.

This one went very quickly for an Araubetical. I think that was partly due to luck and partly the grid itself. The luck factor was mostly getting 3 of the (4)s, both (5)s, and half the (6)s early on, deciding I very much liked using the U(4) to place the Q(6) in the top left in pencil. The way the 4,5, and 6s fit together allowed for quite a bit of pencilling in, I think in all four quadrants.

The interesting distribution of word lengths made it so pretty much each time I got a new word, it locked in another word location, which helped a lot.

Of course I had to use resources to verify or finish quite a few words.

As far as JA WOHL, all I had to do was find the correct spelling. I have watched many many reruns of Hogan’s Heroes here in the USA, and “Ja wohl, Kommandant!” was almost a stock phrase used by Sgt. Schultz. It is used in US English, if rarely, as an ironic way to acknowledge that one has been told to do something while hinting that the way the request was presented was a bit heavy-handed.

The tutorial was very nice, PeeDee. I would add that quite often there will be two “shared” first letters (top left and then the top left of the bottom right quadrant), but these will often have the same word length.

One thing I always do, as you did, is count up the word lengths, making a column of numbers, followed by the letters that start those words. This gives me a place to easily check checked letters against possibilities I already have worked out. It also speeds up finding the “other” clue if, say, I have located one (or all but one) of a given word length. I write the words in on that column, of course. I check them off (pen or pencil…) when I have at least located them (meaning I can’t use them again), and strikethrough them when they are solved and placed.

So anyway, thanks for the very detailed blog, PeeDee, and for another wonderful brain teaser, Araucaria!

PS, the only thing that bothers me about these is I have to use the .pdf version to print them, which lists the solution for the previous day’s puzzle, which I often haven’t started (or certainly haven’t sat down to finish) when I pull up “today’s” to print. Oh well, it’s easy enough to be aware of and careful of.
The S went in very late for me.

50. Stella Heath says:

Hi Martin P, and all those who’ve looked up “ja wohl”.

I think MP is the one who’s got closest to a translation, but it’s true “Jawohl, mein (insert rank)” is the standard acceptance of a command, therefore “Yes, sir” would be the equivalent; in this context, “I obey” is adequate, though not exact.

For the record, as it seems important, I have A level French, German and Spanish and a degree in Romance Philology from the University of Salamanca.

51. Stella Heath says:

… and I envy Eileen her knowledge of Latin, Greek and Eng. Lit., and bow down to the Reverend Graham for his superiority in everything under the sun

52. PeterJohnN says:

…..except that he thinks “Jawohl” is two words! Very impressed by the “Romance Philology” whatever that means!

53. dunsscotus says:

My sips are lealed.

54. PeeDee says:

PeterJohnN @52 – Chambers dictioanry has ‘ja wohl’ as two words, so Araucaria is correct with his enumerartion.

The problem with ‘jawohl’ is that it is the wrong answer. It is a six letter word that fits the wordplay and fits the definition, but it is still six letters, the clue requires 4 and 2, so it is clearly the wrong answer.

55. PeterJohnN says:

PeeDee or may I call you PD? Please call me PJN! My Chamber’s English dictionary also has “Ja wohl” as two words, but I have just googled “Jawohl” and Wikidictionary comes up with “JAWOHL: An emphatic yes, in a miltary context, yes sir.” I swear I hadn’t looked it up before my message at @ 43!

56. PeterJohnN says:

…..either way, JAWOHL is still the right answer! The space doesn’t appear in the solution!

57. Sil van den Hoek says:

Ah well, that bloody J in an Araubetical.
JA WOHL is in Chambers, defined by “yes indeed”, and yes indeed that’s what it is.
So, don’t shoot the setter because he’s only the piano player.
Of course, putting “yes indeed” equal to “I obey” is another matter. Like others said before, JAWOHL is used in the sense of “Yes Sir!”. In the Netherlands the expression is very much linked to “Befehl ist Befehl”, so I do understand “I obey”.
Despite all this, Chambers is just not right.
JAWOHL is in the German language a six-letter word.
And BTW, why is it in Chambers anyway?

The number of comments so far must be a World Record for a Saturday crossword – I am No 56 +.

Normally in an Araubetical some letters have two clues, but “today” there was only the S that went two ways.
Unfortunately for us, we decided 5d (which it would be in a normal crossword) should be (4,3,8) – wrong!

I have no problems with indirect anagrams when the components are clear enough. I/we think that in H, Araucaria goes one step too far [why “made” (past tense) in this clue], but he certainly does in J [OHL for a broken break].

Many thanks to you, PeeDee, for the blog.
But when you say that FARO should be seen as an adjective, I think B*&^^%\$S [never mind, er , them].

Nobody seems to be bothered about A and the use of “wight” (A) in lower case. False capitalisation is fine in Crosswordland, but the other way round is nót.
I like Araucaria very much (despite not finding this a great alphabetical) but why does he get away with it while others are crucified for a similar thing.

58. PeeDee says:

Hi Sil, re J, “ja wohl” is in Chambers because it has been adopted into the English language, like thousands of other foreign words and expressions, and got changed/misused a little along the way. This is an English language crossword quoting an English language phrase. It may well not be the correct spelling in the original German, but then this is not a German crossword!

59. Sil van den Hoek says:

Hi PeeDee, no mistake of this being an English crossword.
I just do not understand why “the English language” has adopted JA/WOHL (has it?) in a way that’s wrong. So, no blame on the setter nor the dictionary, but perhaps on the ones that converted JA/WOHL into something that you call “an English language phrase”. BTW, I have never heard a Brit saying JA/WOHL.

60. RCWhiting says:

Sil
“Unfortunately for us, we decided 5d (which it would be in a normal crossword) should be (4,3,8) – wrong!”

The method I gave @3 does not require any other solution.

61. PeeDee says:

Hi Sil, ‘ja wohl’ is used in English in a sarcastic or ironic way, either for comic effect or to be disrespectful to the person one is relpying to.

Since the irony relies on some rather questionable racial stereotyping, I am not surprised that the phrase would not be used in your presence, as you are a foreigner yourself and much too nice a person to risk offending by some remark made in poor taste.

62. norm says:

What great fun! Couldn’t have done it with online tools, of which my current favourite is http://www.onelook.com/

I parsed alf as an ancient variation on elf (hence wight) via http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/alf – though Old Saxon might be stretching even Araucaria’s assumptions of the breadth of his solvers’ knowledge.

63. PeterJohnN says:

I doubt whether anyone will read this, but these are my FINAL comments on JA WOHL, I promise! My copy of the “Shorter” (though it comprises two hefty volumes) OED, does not include either form of the phrase, nor, ironically, does my Collins concise edition, which was my prize for completing an Araucaria crossword back in 2005!

The Chambers definition is simply “yes indeed.”, with no mention of any military or ironic connotations, so does not really imply “I obey!”.

64. regalize says:

A bit late for the thread, but as has been said above, a ‘classic’ Araucaria, alphabetical with rhyming clues. This was the stuff that made me perservere with cryptic crosswords hundreds of years ago. I finished this one with a smile.
Thanks Araucaria and Peedee and all setters who make my life worth living with their humour.

65. Sylvia says:

Just done a long blog on my way of solving araubeticals, only for it to disappear before posting. Grr! But it’s worth pointing out that PeeDee’s admirable tutorial cites two 9-letter words (there are none) instead of 10, which may have confused new solvers.

66. PeeDee says:

Thanks Sylvia. When I get a minute I will go and correct it.

I’d be interested to read your own method too, if you have the heart to re-type it.

The method I describe here is not one I would neccessarily use myself, but one designed for beginners. My normal method would be first to solve as many of the clues as I can ‘blind’ (maybe half of them, including all the 12 and 10 letter words say), and then to start fitting them into the grid using a variety of techniques.

For beginners this may not be very useful advice since without any crossing letters to help they can’t solve enough clues to get started

67. Sylvia says:

Hi PeeDee, hope this isn’t too late to catch you.

I normally first read through the clues and solve any immediately apparent, helped of course by their initial letters. Then I create an alphabetical list (including any solutions) and, as you do, a list grouped numerically, which I then check against the squares to be filled. If you find that you have solved all or most of a numerical set you can generally start to fill the grid, noting the length of any spaces with crossing letters and comparing with remaining unsolved clues. So I don’t rely on solving and/or inserting the double letter solutions first. Does this make any kind of sense?

Regards, Sylvia

68. PeeDee says:

Hi Sylvia,

Yes, it makes perfect sense, I often do just the same myself. In some of the more difficult puzzles this may be the only way to start. I didn’t suggest this in the blog since being able to solve all of one set of numerical values with no help from crossing letters is a luxury not available to many beginners.

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