Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,580 by Araucaria

Posted by PeeDee on March 17th, 2012


Alphabetical jigsaws are my favourite puzzles, and Araucaria has made this form his own.

The was not as hard as some of his jigsaws, having two double headers (C and W) to give us an easy start on filling the grid and the clues were not too tricky (but just hard enough).  I especially liked the misleading ‘spaces’ plural on the C clues, this had me stumped for a while.  Unless I am mistaken there is something missing from the X clue, I can’t find any definition.  If anyone can explain what is going on I would be grateful.

All in all a very enjoyable solve indeed.  Thank you Araucaria.

Guardian Grid 25580

A Trouble and danger for my best beloved (6)
ADORED: ADO (trouble) and RED (danger signal)

B Timeless composer retaining new ties amounting to mouthfuls? (4-4)
BITE-SIZE: TIES* in BIZEt (composer missing T=time)

C Spaces: small rodent grips it … (6)
CAVITY: IT in CAVY (small rodent) – the first of the two spaces

… see about gripper (7)
CREVICE: C (see, name of the letter C) RE (about) VICE (something that grips) – second of the spaces

D Dyed in the wool suggests not an easy death (7)
DIEHARD: definition and cryptic(ish) definition

E One pound in costs for those in foreign parts (6)
EXILES: I (one, Roman numeral) L (pound) in EXES (expenses, costs)

F Fares badly on river, Canadian one, with Scots burgh (6)
FRASER: FARES*, the Fraser River and Fraserburgh

G,J Forenames of contemporaries whose merger has to be joking with far-reaching serenades (6,9;6,9)
GEORGE FREDERICK, JOHANN SEBASTIAN: Handel and Bach, which when put together give an anagram of TO BE JOKING with FAR REACHING SERENADES

H Protection from the rain? (7)

I Principally follows flooding in Clough’s poem (2,3,4)
IN THE MAIN: refernce to Arthur Hugh Clough’s poem Say not the Struggle Nought availaeth

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

J See G

K Third K includes beast turning to siren (6)
KLAXON: OX (beast) reversed in Klu Klux KLAN

L Smasher, diluted, is smashed (7)
LUDDITE: DILUTED* – a group of English 19th century weavers protesting against industrialisation, smashing mechanised looms

M Little time (6)
MINUTE: double definition

N A little room in the northeast for engine housing (7)
NACELLE: A CELL (little room) in NE (northeast) – a casing for a jet engine

O One skilled under water and more over the top? (5)
OTTER: animal and one OTT-ER (more over the top)

P Religious emperor who wrote plays (6)
PINERO: PI (pious, religious) NERO (Roman emperor) – Arthur Wing Pinero, playwright

Q Leave church to find weed (6)
QUITCH: QUIT (leave) CH (church) – another name for couch grass

R He could be near dry in earth (7)
REYNARD: (NEAR DRY)* – a fox, an earth is a fox’s burrow

S The parasite of Bleak House to remove top of shaft (8)
SKIMPOLE: SKIM (to remove top of) POLE (shaft) – Harold Skimpole, character from Dickens’ Bleak House notorious for sponging off his friends

T Chance to cling to man backing antique (7)
TOEHOLD: T’ (to) and HE (man) reversed in OLD (antique) – definition is ‘chance to cling’

U Correct dress for higher education class? (7)
UNIFORM: UNI FORM (a class at university, higher education)

V Wand on edge (5)
VERGE: double definition – the edge of a road and a rod or staff of office

W Weaponry carried by flightless bird in bundles (8)
WARHEADS: RHEA (flightless bird) in WADS (bundles)

W Little goes through water hole (6)
WEEPER: WEE (little) PER (through) – definition is ‘water hole’

X King backed by student, I hope, getting moving (9)
XEROPHILE: REX reversed and anagram (getting moving) of L (student) I HOPE – xerophile means ‘an organism tolerant of very dry environments’ but I can’t see the definition anywhere in this clue.

Y Farmers’ circle in Middle Eastern country (6)
YEOMEN: O (circle) in YEMEN (middle eastern country) – definition is ‘farmers’

Z Intelligence in listener after the last Indian landowner (8)
ZEMINDAR: MIND (intelligence) in EAR (listener) following Z (the last) – an Indian aristocrat and landowner


44 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,580 by Araucaria”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks PeeDee. I can’t help with a definition for XEROPHLIE and had concluded it must have slipped by the editor.

    I didn’t find the IN THE MAIN quotation and had dubiously settled for a connection with Clough’s IN THE DEPTHS so thanks again.

    I broadened my education with the other definition of VERGE; it had never occurred to me to wonder how vergers got their name.

  2. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks PeeDee and Araucaria for an entertaining puzzle – didn’t get a chance to look at it until yesterday ! I too enjoy this form of cryptic.

    Tenuously, could Xerophile be linked back to the previous clue – “little goes through water hole” – but would expect that there would be ellipses if so.

    Thought Klaxon was clever … with the third K. Hadn’t seen Zemindar before and last in was Nacelle.

  3. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I too love an Araucaria jigsaw. I usually get the double key solutions quite soon and then gradually build around them.
    This time W held me up for a long while by which time I had solved most of the rest. Thus when I finally got W the whole thing just flooded into place.
    I couldn’t see any definition for X either.
    Reference ‘verge': I used to work with a French woman who told me how amused she was the first time she saw,in Britain, the common sign “soft verges”. Hence the meaning in this puzzle.
    A pleasant challenge for a Saturday.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeeDee. As you say, this wasn’t hard, but my thinking that the two long names were G,J twice over threw me – near the end I cheated on the first and wrapped it up. The usual quibbles with this setter – the needless last three words in F, the obscurity of I, the X definition – all instantly forgiven.

  5. crosser says:

    Thanks, PeeDee.
    I agree with all the above. Great fun.
    I was also bemused by the lack of a definiton in X, and had never heard of Zemindar.
    A lot of smiles, particularly KLAXON.

  6. Rosmarinus says:

    Noticed a typo on the answer crossword, DIEHARD and YEOMEN. I really enjoy this alphabet type once I get started but wish I could do it online.

  7. Robi says:

    A very enjoyable puzzle that I found surprisingly easy, except I confidently put in WEEWEE instead of WEEPER [although of course that would be 3-3, not 6.] I thought the rev was having a bit of a laugh there.

    Thanks PeeDee for blog and the parsing of KLAXON, which escaped me. I assumed there was an editorail slip with XEROPHILE.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Peedee and Araucaria

    All pretty straight-forward and enjoyable except for the X clue.

    After searching on the web I thought ‘moving’ might be ‘defining’. The xerophiles include as a main group the aloes, and they and others are very commonly used medicinally as laxatives. I thought this was a stretch, but the link seems pretty firm.

  9. Robi says:

    ……. my own editorIAL slip………

  10. tupu says:

    re 8 see

  11. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for digging out the Clough quote Peedee.

    I too was stumped initially by the W clues and ended up solving them last instead of first. Unusually the X and Z clues were tricky, although the X probably due to a dodgy clue.

    Ended up having to solve about half the clues before I could fit in more than the Cs. Once they started fitting in it was plain sailing.

  12. chas says:

    Thanks to PeeDee for the blog. I am glad I was not the only one to say where is the X definition?
    I failed to spot that both C words were ‘spaces’ – I was just irritated by what seemed to be an error.

    On H: it took me an age to spot that my solution of HAIRNET was actually an anagram!

  13. Bryan says:

    PeeDee and Araucaria.

    On behalf of all the Cloughs we thank you!

    It is so nice to be remembered.

  14. cholecyst says:

    Thanks PeeDee and Araucaria. This seemed easier than usual. I enjoyed the G and J clues. Of course both composers were born in 1685, H in February and B in March. My only slight reservation is that Handel’s name should really be either Georg Friedrich Händel or George Frideric Handel but I’ll bet you’ll be able to find many examples of the Frederick spelling.

  15. Davy says:

    Thanks PeeDee,

    I too enjoy these alphabeticals and this was harder than it should have been due to the grid where not many first letters were available. I did half of it on the Saturday but could only write in the two ‘C’s and OTTER. I looked at it blankly for half an hour on Sunday before finally making a breakthrough and then finishing it. I missed the HAIRNET anagram and also guessed the composers without understanding the clue structure. I bet that not many people spotted the anagram here so well done PeeDee.

    Favourite clues were KLAXON (loved Third K), REYNARD (excellent surface) and SKIMPOLE (just love the names of Dickens’ characters). Thanks Arry.

  16. tupu says:

    The consensus re X seems to be that the clue is faulty and I assume that silence re my own isolated suggestion of a definiton and meaning @8 and 10 is essentially polite. For obvious reasons I am always unhappy to decide that there is an error, though this happens more often than one would like. I am a little bit more reluctant here when the setter is Araucaria who has demonstrated remarkably detailed knowledge of the natural world in the past e.g in a clue that recognised contested definitions of edentata some time ago. Is there someone who can elicit editorial comment more directly?

  17. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeeDee

    Like other posters, I always enjoy these alphabetical jigsaws. I found this one rather easier than some because of the grid: the entry points are always across and down clues which share an initial letter, and there is sometimes an ambiguity about which pair go where. Not the case here.

    The two masters of the late Baroque were a write-in for me after just a few crossing letters; I registered that this was an anagram, but didn’t check it, which caused a slight problem as I first put in SEBASTIEN. Error soon corrected.

    I could see the wordplay for XEROPHILE but assumed that the lack of a definition was an editorial oversight (tupu’s explanation is ingenious, but Occam’s Razor suggests error rather than Byzantine reasoning). Araucaria is such a well-loved and idiosyncratic setter that I suspect crossword editors accept his puzzles without checking them!

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Another interesting point about X: although it is present in the 11th edition of Chambers it is absent from the 1998 version. Only xerophily and xerophilous are there.

  19. PeeDee says:

    cholecyst@14 – quite! I had Frederich in myself until I double checked the anagram before posting the blog. Naughty of A, but I immediately forgive him because it is such a good double clue.

  20. sidey says:

    A welcome variation in the gridding department. Good fun as usual.

    Fans of jigsaw puzzles might like to try Azed’s 2070, it’really not as daunting as is first appears.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks, PeeDee. Another big fan of araubeticals here! I found it easier to fit the entries in than on previous occasions, as others have also noted. Bit disappointed that the definition for X remains unknown — I was hoping the blog would clear it up! Error must be the prime suspect.

  22. tupu says:

    Hi Gervase,
    On Occam’s Razor etc.
    I have been pondering your helpful response to my ‘ingenious’ but ‘byzantine’ suggestion that there may actually be a ‘definition’ lurking in the X clue. You suggest that Occam’s Razor would support the simpler explanation that there was simply a mistake in the clue. I do not discount this (it is quite possible to imagine a combination of the two suggestions) and I am not suggesting that the clue would be a genuinely satisfactory one if my suggestion proved correct.

    But I am not at all sure that it is definitely simpler to assume that there is ‘a mistake’. We have no idea in fact as to what exactly has happened or why, and the reasons for that last might be very complicated indeed. In the simpler cases where O R is applicable (e.g. heliocentric versus earth centred models of planetary movement) the choice facing one is clear enough. But when one chooses between an empty space and something complicated, there seems little or no ground for making any rational decision. A ‘mistake’ is simply a sort of deus ex machina and that is why I initially stated my reluctance to resort to such an explanation at least without some obvious suggestion. It is because one does not usually know what to do about them that mistakes ought to constitute the least rather than the most likely explanation of problem clues.

    This said, perhaps a missing adjective (e.g desert-loving) for king is a possibility.

  23. PeeDee says:

    tupu – as an individual I know just what you mean about assuming mistakes have been made. I have been caught out before by blogging that a clue was poor, or mistake had been made, only to be shown up by some clever explanation that I had overlooked.

    When no-one at all is able to come with a satisfactory explanation then this gives much greater weight to the mistake thoery. As individuals we might each only know 90% of the picture. As a community there is almost nothing that is not known by someone. The chances of everybody missing the solution is very small indeed.

  24. Pandean says:

    I have another suggestion regarding the possible explanation for the apparently missing definition in the X clue.

    If the word ‘King’ were to be doing double duty, then we could also have King=R. The clue for R (‘He could be near dry in earth’) then would provide the definition for Xerophile.

    Very libertarian, agreed, but this is Araucaria after all. And the rather odd wording of the R clue suggests it just may itself be doing double duty.

  25. Davy says:

    As no-one has mentioned it so far, the annotated solution gives :-

    X xerophile REX(rev) + L I HOPE (anag)

    So, no error and no further explanation.

  26. tupu says:

    Hi PeeDee

    Many thanks for getting back. I take your point re consensus which offers a further useful consideration in the use of Occam’s Razor. My main point at 22 was simply to note that choosing the simpler solution is not always as staight-forward as one might hope.

    I have been a little surprised in this case that – despite your initial plea – no one, apart from myself (and Gervase with his comment about possible editorial motivation) has even ventured to try to suggest what sort of mistake there might be.

    I am not by any means convinced about my own suggestion, though it did seem an intriguing coincidence of widespread xerophilic plant qualities and double entendre with ‘moving’. Ultimately, as noted, a missing adjective may well be the simplest solution.

  27. tupu says:

    Hi Davy and Pandean

    Thanks. We crossed.

    The annotated solution simply ignores the lack of a definition.

    I am not clear how the link to the R clue is to work (e.g. re ‘ex’), but it is true that it more or less defines ‘xerophile’.

    Peedee – do you have a link to the editor?

  28. Pandean says:

    Hi tupu,

    R is a common abbreviation for Rex=King, so linking the two clues would work via double duty of the word ‘King’ in the X clue. It does however require a bit of a two-step jump to get there, and it seems to have been too much of one for solvers to get, if it was intended. I may however be barking up completely the wrong monkey-puzzle tree.

  29. tupu says:

    Hi Pandean.

    Me too! I begin to wonder if the two clues have got a bit mixed up, though, somewhere along the line.

    The French anthropologist Levi-Strauss suggests that sacred stories (myths) may serve to remove anxieties about unpleasant ‘contradictions’ by engaging the reader/listener in a dialectic process of mediation/synthesis, new antithesis etc until the original impulse is ‘exhausted’. I suspect that’s where we are now getting :) and that perhaps the ‘silent majority’ were wise not to be too bothered in the first place.

    I suppose in my own case, a revision of Hamlet’s well-known line to ‘There are more things in google, tupu, than are dreamt of in your or anbody else’s philosophy’ might be an apt warning.

  30. PeeDee says:

    tupu@27, the crossword editor at the Guardian is Hugh Stephenson, his email is [email protected]

  31. tupu says:

    Hi PeeDee

    Many thanks. It may be worth a try.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    You could both be right:
    Could it be an omission, but of only an uppercase R from X.
    This could look rather strange to a proof reader who assumed it had wandered in from R and consequently erased it.

  33. SteveC says:

    Many thanks for this. Araucaria alphabeticals absolutely brighten up my whole weekend, especially when they contain clues of such elegance as J and G. There’s a unique satisfaction to be had from solving them.

    I too had weewee rather than weeper, knew it was wrong but it was the last clue and I couldn’t think it through further.

    Thanks to all who maintain this excellent site.

  34. tupu says:

    Hi PeeDee et al

    :) I emailed Hugh Stephenson to enquire about the X clue and got the following strange reply.

    ‘Xerophyte is a plant that can survive on very little water, such as a cactus. The definition is thus ‘cactus”

    I have so far not heard further after querying this.

  35. PeeDee says:

    Looks like another case of the moving cactus then, it must have left the crossword entirely by the time it got to the printers.

  36. Vince says:

    “Xerophyte is a plant that can survive on very little water, such as a cactus. The definition is thus ‘cactus””

    Brilliant response when the answer we’re all querying is xerophILE!

  37. tupu says:

    Hi PeeDee

    Thanks. :) I’m reminded of Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyam verse
    ‘The moving finger writes: and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
    Nor all thy tearswash out a word of it’.

    I begin too to think there might be possibilities of a clue involving King Caractacus!

  38. PeeDee says:

    Very nicely put tupu!

  39. Hugh Stephenson says:

    I have finally got to the bottom of the mystery.

    The corrected clue for X, published in the paper on 10 March, was:

    Cactus king backed by student, I hope, getting moving (9)

    Normally the PDF of a puzzle published online is taken from the final version for the paper. Unfortunately on this occasion the PDF for this jigsaw puzzle was uploaded early without my knowing and thus did not include the late change to the clue for X.

    My apologies. I am trying to get the correct PDF substituted now in the archive.

  40. tupu says:

    Thanks Hugh Stephenson

    In fact my copy of the Guardian did not have the correction included. I suspect the same is true of other bloggers’ copies (on paper and on line)too.

    Hi all

    Clearly the majority view, as Gervase sensibly suggested, was correct! I’m glad it’s (more or less) sorted.

  41. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I did like your suggestion, though. ;-)

    [My copy of the Guardian didn’t have the correction, either.]

  42. PeeDee says:

    Hugh – thank you very much for coming to fifteensquared and giving us the explanation.

  43. RCWhiting says:

    I received the same information from HS.
    It is,of course, quite incorrect as tupu says.
    I see only the print version and the word ‘cactus’ was absent.
    So, PeeDee, there is little to thank.

  44. RCWhiting says:

    It was a very strange error since ‘King’ was printed with an upper case K.

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