Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Easter Special 25,604 by Araucaria

Posted by PeeDee on April 14th, 2012


Great stuff!   After some easy puzzles during the week we have this really solid challenge for the Easter weekend.  I thought this one was harder than the usual holiday specials from Araucaria.  There were not that many obscure words or references, the general level was challening across the board.   There were a couple of easy starters, but after that it was thinking cap on all the way to the end.  Thank you Araucaria.

For the blog I have split the clues into their A and B parts.   The anagrams of the partially clued 10 letter words referred to in the preamble are:


Please note: I will be away over the weekend so won’t be able to make any updates until Monday.


1 A Fertility symbol giving order to cross… (5,3)
 GREEN MAN: Double definition – reference to traffic signal

1 B …words of bombast interrupting cautious assurance (8)
WARRANTY: RANT (words of bombast) in WARY (cautious) – definition is ‘assurance’

5 A Catholic outside Ulster with a means of treating… (6)
ARNICA: A NI (Ulster) in RC (Roman Catholic) with A – treatemnt for bruises etc

5 B …a bird, one above intelligence (6)
GODWIT: GOD (one above) WIT (intelligence) – wading bird like a curlew

9 A Play even higher card that’s obvious behind… (9)
OVERTRUMP: OVERT (obvious) RUMP (behind)

9 B …a different one – different to a flower (9)
OENOTHERA: ONE* OTHER (different) and A – the evening primrose genus

11 A Hold hard to a huge… (5)
AVAST: A VAST (huge) – definition is ‘hold hard to’

11 B …part of a royal house that raised a laugh (5)
GOTHA: GOT HA (raised a laugh) – part of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty

12 A Automatic guidelines for computer promise press centre to keep first of rules… (4,8)
WORD WRAPPING: WORD (promise) Rules (first letter of) in WAPPING (press centre, district of London) – definition is ‘automatic guidelines for computer’

12 B …second isn’t commonly a gland lacking energy with station (5,7)
SAINT PANCRAS: Second AINT (isn’t commonly) PANCReAS (gland) missing E=enegry

15 A Portray backward… (4)
DRAW: WARD reversed (back)

15 B …listener with indefinite number to work for (4)
EARN: EAR (listener) and N (indefinite number)

16 A Brief Yuletide speech,… (10)
DECORATION: DEC (December, the Christmas period, briefly) ORATION (speech) – lacking defintion

16 B …gentle sound, followed by nasty noise in speed to join up (10)
COORDINATE: COO (gentle sound) then DIN (nasty noise) in RATE (speed) – definition is ‘to join up’

18 A Party from the Antipodes…(10)
AUSTRALIAN: definition only (party=person)

18 B parties in ancient Rome (10)
SATURNALIA: definition only

19A Canal town turning to higher authority…
ZEUS: SUEZ (canal town) reversed – god, higher authority

19 B …grouping to prevent access for republican (4; 4)
BLOC: BLOCk (prevent access) without a K=king (for republican)

21 A Waiting at both ends of table in pub with ball… (2,10)
IN ATTENDANCE: AT TablE (both ends) in INN (pub) then DANCE (ball)

21 B …where it’s rolled by Leeward patron formerly loyal to field (7-5)
SKITTLE ALLEY: S. KITT (Saint Christopher, patron of St Kitts, one of the Leward Islands) LEAL (loyal, archaic) and LEY (field)

24 A Ripper in front along…(5)
TALON: in fronT ALONg

24 B …the line taken by some emigrants with fragrant resin (5)
ELEMI: EL (elevated railway, line) EMIgrants (only some of) – elemi is a fragrant resin.  I think ‘taken by emigrants’ is hinting that the elevated railway is American rather than British English.

25 A One taking all the blame fell, say into river, at… (9)
SCAPEGOAT: SCA (Sca Fell in the Lake District) then EG (say) in PO (Italian River) AT

25 B …awful bias against women? Touch wood! (5,4)
ABSIT OMEN: BIAS* then TO MEN (against Women) – definition is ‘touch wood’, Latin ‘may the evil omen be absent’

26 A Transport, magic and otherwise, takes favourite… (6)
CARPET: ‘magic carpet’ and CAR (transport) PET (favourite)

26 B …examiner to cover for bed (6)
TESTER: double definition

27 A It’s very good to be destructive… (8)
SMASHING: double definition

27 B …like a shark with American city of old notes (8)
USURIOUS: US (American) UR (old city) IOUS (promisory notes)


1 A&B Appreciation of bowler at the races (8)
GOODWOOD: race course near Chichester and woods are balls in bowling, so “good wood!” is “well bowled!”

2 A Once premier garden… (4)
EDEN: Anthony Eden, former UK Prime Minister and The Garden of Eden

2 B …made sound part of ladder (4)
RUNG: double definition

3 A People following 23A… (6)
NATION: definition is ‘people’ and can follow 23A in ‘stagnation’

3 B …stars at start of year get lost (6)
ASTRAY: ASTRA (hte stars, Latin) and Year (start of)

4 A Clue for crows to give punishment to schoolboy… (1,7,5)
A HUNDRED LINES: C (a hundred) ROWS (lines) – a possible clue for ‘crows’ and a school punishment

4 B …solver at temple (all old) kept by revolutionary and/or significant figure’s death? (3,3,2,2,3)
THE END OF AN ERA: THEE (you) FANE (temple) both old/archaic words in AND/OR* (revolutionary=anagram)

6 A Two forms of rape are seen again,… (8)

6 B …material and surrounded by endless bacchanalia (8)
ORGANDIE: AND in ORGIEs (bacchanalia, endless) – a type of material

7 A&B Forces, such as rain? (10; 10)
ITALICISED WATERFALLS: a force is a waterfall, rain is falling water, the clue is in italics

8 A Opponent to… (10)
ANTAGONIST: definition only, subsidiary part missing

8 B …15A without other 9s, not stopping (10)

10 A The “Elderly Button” for boy,a student of wings, in wave… (8,5)
PERSONAL ALARM: SON (boy) A L (learner, student) ALAR (of wings) in PERM (wave, hairdo)

10 B  …when girl’s first in danger and first in bereavement from fungal disease (13)
ASPERGILLOSIS: AS (when) Girl (first letter of) in PERIL (danger) I (first, eg Charles I) in LOSS (bereavement) – a fungal disease

13 A I give out cards and I nearly leave mine as they are… (10)
IDEALISTIC: I DEAL (give out cards) I STICk (choose to leave cards as they are, pontoon) unfinished – definition missing

13 B …keeping on fairy’s dwelling round Pole (10)
PERSISTENT: South (pole) in PERI’S (fairy’s) TENT (dwelling) – definition is ‘keeping on’

14 A Musician has what Mrs Sprat had to eat, commonly… (4,6)
FATS WALLER: sound like ‘fat swallow’ poorly pronounced (commonly) – “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean…”

14 B …chocolate box quality from alien can in cupboard (10)
PRETTINESS: ET (alien) TIN (can) in PRESS (a cupboard, bookcase etc)

17 A Greek island, holding on to new fabric… (8)
CRETONNE: ON and New in CRETE (Greek island) – type of fabric

17 B …to form partition in mine, races 1 in 2 (8)
BRATTICE: TT (races) I (one) in BRACE (two) – a ventilation partition in a mine

20 A Bill at pool giving right to enter… (6)
ACCESS: AC (account, bill) CESS (pool) – definition is ‘right to enter’

20 B …fruit with 23B made love to her, so to speak (6)
NECTAR: sounds like “necked her” (made love to her) – makes NECTARINES (fruit) when added to 23b

22 A Sunhat given to relation… (4)
TOPI: TO PI (relation, of diameter to circumference) – a type of colonial hat worn in the tropics

22 B …in the morning on doctor’s rounds (4)
AMMO: AM (in the morning) MO (doctor) – definition is ’rounds’

23 A&B Male and Spanish girl together almost amount to theatricality (4; 4)
STAG, INES: STAG (male) INES (Spanish girls name) – together make STAGINESs (thetricality) almost


35 Responses to “Guardian Easter Special 25,604 by Araucaria”

  1. sidey says:

    Spectacularly good, I have nothing more to say.

  2. Simon says:

    For 15A I had GU (Grand Union canal) + RU (town, Ur, turned) = GURU (higher authority), so was most surprised when I found Ur used in 27B. Anyone else get GURU?

  3. Miche says:

    Thanks, PeeDee. And many thanks, Araucaria, for an ingenious and challenging puzzle. Lots of lovely “oh, I see!” moments. If I had to single out one clue-pair it would be 7 down.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeeDee. This was a real work of art. The only criticism one might have would be that there were a fair number of old chestnuts scattered around but I was relieved to see them as a few signposts in the murk!

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeeDee. The clutter, brilliance and abstract quality of puzzle 25,604 reminded me of a Picasso studio. I got 75% within the hour and then needed aids, patience and PERSISTENCE. That part-answer to 13 down was typical, full of flair and disorder (the “mine”, inter alia), The bottom right corner of the second puzzle was trickiest: when Google finally revealed 10’s fungal disease that gave ABSIT OMEN, still leaving a “women touch wood” headache; USURIOUS was excellent. Second last in, BRATTICE, last BLOC.

  6. RJS says:

    FATS WALLER: What Mrs. Sprat had = FAT, To eat (commonly) = SWALLER. I don’t think FAT is intended as part of the homophone.

  7. nametab says:

    Pleased to have solved this in about three hours, since it looked quite intractable at first. Got both 5s early and ITALICISED at 7ac,B, and then the anagrams fell out. Almost to the end, though, I thought something was wrong because no place for anagrams NECTARINES & STAGNATION – I didn’t solve their ‘key’ at 23 until the very end. Resorted to dictionary to find ASPERGILLOSIS and OENOTHERA. Defeated by SUEZ grrr!
    Learned something new: ALAR (in 10d,A); ABSIT OMEN – and something old: LEAL (in 21ac, B); FANE (in 4d,B). Many thanks to A for decades of entertainment.

  8. Mr Beaver says:

    Yes, the Beaver family enjoyed this too – tough, but not too tough, and good fun throughout. Like nametab, we were thrown by not finding STAGNATION and NECTARINES until the penny finally dropped. BTW, I loved “Necked ‘er” – as groanworthy as Paul!

    Simon @2 – I think you mean 19A. No, SUEZ went straight in. A welcome return for the Old City in 27, though – I thought that had been banished to Old Chestnuttery in the sky …

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks PeeDee and Araucaria

    An excellent puzzle. Very clever, mixed cluing and lots of fun along the way. I was slightly disappointed by ‘commonly’ twice in ‘aint’ and ‘swaller’ but a tour de force. Many happy moments e.g re ‘overt rump’ and ‘nectar’. Though it took time to see the link with Ines as an anagram of ‘transcience’, I got this immediately,remembering an old radio comedy show (1950s?, Take it from Here perhaps) in which a version of a Greek myth goes something like ‘And Zeus gave her ambrosia and necked’er’.

    I had to hunt brattice, and absit omen.

    Best for some time.

  10. bagbird says:

    unlike nametab@7, it took me all three DAYS of the holiday! Unfortunately for me the first pairs I got were AUSTRALIAN-SATURNALIA and DECORATION-COORDINATE. So I struggled to make four more pairs fit tidily into corresponding places in each grid. Not so simple! Further confusion in that there were not six pairs, but seven of them. (PERSISTENT-PRETTINESS)

  11. fearsome says:

    Really enjoyed this puzzle so thanks both to Araucaria and PeeDee for a few needed explanations I entered Skittle Alley with a “what else, but why?”

  12. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Auracaria for a great crossword. We didn’t tackle it until a few days ago when we were short of a puzzle to complete and really enjoyed the afternoon solve. We needed a fair bit of electronic help but it didn’t detract from the pleasure!

    Thanks PeeDee for the blog!

  13. John Whitworth says:

    Surely it’s ZEUS that should be entered at 19A?

    An excellent crossword, great fun.

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to PeeDee for the blog.

    I found the preamble unusually helpful for Araucaria. The statement about 10-letter solutions was clear rather than cryptic and very useful. I was lucky in spotting the use of 23d fairly early on.

    I am reminded of one of A’s double puzzles some years ago. The preamble said in part “You may wonder why the grids are mirror images of each other” (my italics). After quite a long time I remembered that an older form of mirror is looking glass :)

  15. Robi says:

    Really great crossword. I nearly gave up on this but used PERISTENCE, as molonglo @5 said, to crack it eventually.

    Thanks, PeeDee; I gave up on parsing THE END OF AN ERA, although the solution was fairly obviously correct. I had no problem with ASPERGILLOSIS as I did my Ph.D. on the organism.

    Early on, I was convinced that 23B was ‘team;’ Tea is a Spanish girl’s name, so it seemed to fit the clue. I then thought that there would be names of teams in some of the 10-letter solutions; bit of a red herring. I also tried ’tiler’ at 24A before I saw the ha, which gave severe problems in solving 17A.

    Enormous admiration for Araucaria in devising such a fiendish plot, and a sense of achievement at completing it.

  16. Robi says:

    John @13; you are correct, I think.

  17. tupu says:

    I too missed the slip at 19a. A tiny blip in an excellent, marathon blog. I don’t know why but it took me ages to see the answer to this clue at the time.

  18. nametab says:

    Prompted by John & Robi @13 & @16, I find myself agreeing that the solution should be ZEUS not SUEZ. However, this type of ‘implied ambiguity’ clue is often equally correct whichever way you read it. For that reason, I find them irksome.

    PS: Does anyone recall a special Araucaria from about 25 years ago that was based on campanology? It had a long narrow grid with no black squares, and solutions travelling zig-zag downwards (a la ringing changes). I’d like to re-discover it.

  19. Mitch says:

    Thanks to Araucaria for lots of head-scratching fun, and to PeeDee for the blog. Took me ages to get going and there is absolutely no way I could have finished it without recourse to Google. I was so relieved when I solved both 7s – which gave me access to other 10-letter clues.

    Thanks again.

  20. Edward says:

    Enjoyed this – a fun solve for an Easter afternoon. The extra challenge from the dual grids was good as the rubric was simple. Required some electronic help though.

  21. Canberrob says:

    Brilliant workout and great fun! I did not get it all, but for quite a while I stared at it, convinced I would never get a single one. Cracking the anagram play was the breakthrough, and since I had NATION at the top left, I realised there had to be a STAG somewhere. Unfortunately I already had SKIN (rather than the more obvious TOPI) at A22 down, so that rather mucked up the bottom right corners, blocking the obvious SCAPEGOAT. (I thought SINSUCKER might work, an alternative to the sin-eater in one of the Jack Aubrey adventures.) How anybody managed to get STAG-INES is beyond me!

    Of course A19 across has to be ZEUS to fit the down answers.

  22. Tupu says:


  23. tupu says:

    Sorry about 22. I tried to write it on my granddaughter’s new ipod but it got scrambled.

    Of course it has to be Zeus to fit. There is no ambiguity, simply a minor slip in an excellent blog as noted earlier.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Firstly, it was a great solve and much above recent prize puzzles.
    It wasn’t quite up to the very best double Easters which A.gave us in his younger days. I couldn’t help thinking that then he would have had all the 10-letter solutions as mutual anagrams! Oh, how cruel can I be, but it was A., himself, who set the standard.
    I found the A grid quite easy but got my kicks from B and trying to solve the odd two 10-letter anagrams.
    Most enjoyed were 21ac, 20d both in B.
    The preamble was absolutely precise (as ever) although I was tempted for a while into the dangerous territory of suspecting Araucaria of making an error (as if).

  25. John Whitworth says:

    I hope my earlier comment @13 did not appear churlish – I was in a rush to leave the house to catch a train.

    I should have added a big thankyou to PeeDee for an excellent blog and providing explanations for the solutions I knew had to be right but couldn’t nail down such as 4B (fane is new to me).

    Somehow I managed to complete the A grid while still having 80% of the B grid unsolved. I think 7A is outrageous but it made me laugh!

    nametab @18: Yes, I recall that crossword. It was called ‘Bob Doubles’. If memory serves, the solutions were entered without vowels (or was it consonants?), and the pattern produced by the solutions followed the ‘blue line’ of one of the bells in the Bob Doubles method of change ringing. I think I came across it once in a book of collected crosswords, can’t remember exactly where though.

  26. nametab says:

    John @23: Many thanks. Yes, ‘Bob Doubles’ it was now that you remind me (rings a bell [groan]). I’m pretty certain it was entered without vowels. I didn’t finish it, but loved the tussle and A’s imagination.

  27. Matt says:

    Really enjoyable. Great mixture of outrageousness, wit, clue-style etc. The main reason that I wish we had more bank holidays is so we could have more of these special crosswords.

  28. Matt says:

    …although I somehow managed to put in protomalayans for 10dA. Not sure how that happened.

  29. PeeDee says:

    I’m back. Thanks to all who pointed out the error at 19A, now corrected.

  30. madman says:

    Am I missing something in 8(B): “15A without other 9s, not stopping”? Surely the word ‘not’ shouldn’t be there, since transience implies stopping?

  31. PeeDee says:

    madman @30, good observbation! I just looked transient up in Chambers and all the definitions imply short-lived or stopping soon.

    However, in the case of transient workers, one could describe them as not stopping, just working here for a while then moving on. I give Araucaria the benefit of the doubt (but only just!).

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi PeeDee

    That’s exactly the way I took it – in fact, I dodn’t think twice about it: I instantly thought of the comedian from my youth [but, of course, can’t remember who it was!] whose catchphrase was, ‘I won’t take me coat off – I’m not stopping!’

  33. madman says:

    Thanks to you both, my misunderstanding was but transient: should have thought a bit more, given the calibre of the rest of the x-word!

  34. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria … finally finished this one yesterday after just chipping away at it – what a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle !!! He has the ability to mix starter clues with some tougher ones, common words with obscure ones and never fails to give you many AHA moments.

    I find it very rare to not understand how he got to the answer once it is filled in … may take a bit longer than the rest of the participants here … but nonetheless no less satisfying.

    Thanks too for the blog Peewee – I had forgotten about the wood bowls and Anthony Eden.

    Eagerly look forward to his next holiday edition !!

  35. RobG says:

    Had GRAND CENTRAL for 12B, being an anagram of CENTRE R[ules] A GLAND lacking E[nergy], completely ignoring “second isn’t commonly”. Whoops but this rather scuppered most of the top half especially as three down clues fitted.

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