Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25,706 by Araucaria

Posted by bridgesong on August 11th, 2012


This puzzle took my solving partner Timon and I rather longer than our usual hour, but in our defence we were watching Andy Murray win his gold medal match at the time.  There were rather too many cryptic definitions and charades for my liking, with one indirect anagram (25 across) which may provoke some comment.  I have failed to explain 3 down satisfactorily, but I’m sure someone will quickly explain it (this post is prepared and uploaded before the Guardian annotation appears, and I may not have time on Friday to edit the post).  Not the most challenging of prize puzzles, but there were some good surfaces.

Hover mouse over clue number to read clue.

1 SQUEEZED MIDDLE Cryptic definition; the phrase was much in vogue a couple of years ago, I seem to recall.
9 EIDERDOWN EIDER, DOWN; thanks to Timon for spotting this one.
10 VASCO Hidden in “canvas cover”. Vasco Da Gama was the famous Portuguese explorer.
11 POACH Double definition.
12 OVERTHROW Double definition: although an overthrow in cricket doesn’t necessarily lead to an extra run being scored.
14 KISMET K IS MET. The last one in for me.
17 HOBART HO, BART (baronet). Hobart is the capital of Tasmania.
19 FORESTER FOR *TREES. An & lit, but I’m not entirely convinced by having to read “production of” as “for”.
22 SMALL BEER Ball smear is the Spoonerism.
25 NAKED This appears to be an example of an indirect anagram, which is not approved of by all setters. You have to know that “danke” is the German for thank you, and then find the anagram. In my view the clue is also defective in that “2-ed” would give “undrape-ed”, rather than “undraped”.
26 BLACK SPOT Double definition, with “problem” doing double duty.
27 STRANGE BUT TRUE ST RANGE BUTT RUE. You shoot at a rifle range, and archers shoot in butts.
1 STEEPLECHASING Cryptic definition, I think; but the clue only works if you accept that the phrase “church-crawling” exists (presumably by analogy with pub-crawling), and then “accelerated” imports the concept of it being a race.
2 UNDRAPE *(PURE AND). This gave me a surprising amount of trouble, as I first plumped for UNPARED. That was obviously wrong, but it seems to me that the definition is more than usually misleading. It’s the word “leave” which causes me difficulties, implying something passive, rather than an act of undraping. But on reflection I think it’s fair.
3 EARTH-STAR EARTH (planet) STAR (heavenly body) would seem to explain it, but that doesn’t account for the first line of the clue. Any suggestions?  And here’s a picture of one
4 ECONOMIC E, NO in COMIC. “Paying” is the definition, in the sense of “capable of yielding a profit”.
5 MONKEY K in MONEY; it’s old Cockney slang, but I don’t think it’s rhyming slang: can anyone explain its derivation?
7 LUSTRUM LUST, RUM. Chambers explains that a lustrum was a ceremonial purification of the Roman people made every five years, after the taking of the census, and hence a period of five years. I think I’ve come across it once before, in an Azed puzzle.
8 HOT-WATER BOTTLE Definition and cryptic definition.
15 IDENTIKIT (B)IDEN TIKI T. Joe Biden is the current Vice-President of the USA; a tiki can be an amulet or charm in some Polynesian cultures, and the model is Henry Ford’s Model T car.
18 See 13
20 THUMPER Thumper is a character from Bambi.
21 TEA BAG *BEAT, AG. “Leaves holder” is a beautifully misleading definition.
23 LYDIA A IDYL(L). Lydia was once a country in Asia Minor, now part of modern Turkey.

32 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25,706 by Araucaria”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Araucaria and bridgesong. I saw EARTHSTAR as an anagram of ART ART SHE. Can’t help you on 5d. Rhyming slang is my short suit.


  2. Biggles A says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I think in 3 the anagram is ‘art art she’. I agree that 2ed gives undrapeed and I wasn’t too keen on 1d. Why ‘sticks’? Unless that is the nature of jumps in a steeplechase.

  3. Biggles A says:

    It seems ‘monkey’ is not that old nor necessarily Cockney in origin. OED gives its first appearance in 1827 and it was a term used in upmarket gaming houses.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. I didn’t like FORESTER either,both before and after struggling with 20d’s THUMPER, going first for the logical lie=whopper but finding this lesser known option in the OED. Still, like yesterday’s puzzle, Araucaria always provides a fun test.

  5. Tardius says:

    I enjoyed this crossword and agree with 3dn comment – also cannot explain first part of clue.

    The cockney slang ‘Monkey’ for £500 is thought to derive from the image of a monkey on an old indian 500-rupee note, in the same way that ‘pony’ (£25) refers to the old 25-rupee note. There is also a monkey (orang-utan, to be precise) on the old indonesian 500 rupiah note. I think the idea is that British soldiers returning from service in India used the terms for British currency.

  6. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong. I thought FORESTER was the best clue of the puzzle. “One devoted to” = FOR. “Production of” is the anagrind, “trees” = ESTER the fodder and the whole thing &lit.

    Biggles A @2, I think the phrase racing “over the sticks” for STEEPLECHASING is common enough, as opposed to flat racing and Chambers gives stick: (pl) hurdles in STEEPLECHASING.

  7. sidey says:

    The cockney slang ‘Monkey’ for £500 is thought to derive from the image of a monkey on an old indian 500-rupee note, in the same way that ‘pony’ (£25) refers to the old 25-rupee note.

    Both terms pre-date any printed Indian banknotes.

  8. bridgesong says:

    Thanks, grandpuzzler and Biggles, for the explanation of 3 down. I think that I saw it when entering the answer, but had forgotten it when it came to writing the blog.

    NeilW @ 6: I see what you mean about FORESTER. I withdraw my comments!

    Does anyone else have any views about the soundness of 25 across?

  9. chas says:

    thanks to bridgesong for the blog. I had got IDENTIKIT as the only word that would fit but was utterly unable to explain it.

    Equally my thanks to those who explained that ‘arts she’ should be treated as ‘art art she’.

    I was happy with 25a. I got a German O-level (more years ago than I care to remember) and I still remember some words, including danke.

  10. Jerry says:

    Thank you, bridgesong.

    I think 25A is fair enuff – some foreign words are surely so well-known as to hardly require real linguistic knowledge.

  11. Samski says:

    Earthstar is a type of fungus.

  12. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, as ever, Araucaria – also bridgesong.

    No problem with 25 ac. I agree with Jerry @ 10. Danke is very well known.

    24ac held me up for a while as I struggled to get duomo out of my head for the cathedral. Silly, really because it had to contain RR!
    Needed the blog for an explanation of Identikit, although that was the only word that I could make fit!

    Giovanna x

  13. Tardius says:

    sidey @ 7: thanks for that. I take your point about timing of origins – ‘monkey’ seems to date early 1800s and ‘pony’ late 1700s whereas the first government rupee bank notes were issued in the 1860s. As Biggles A@3 says, OED describes them both as betting slang but that still doesn’t necessarily explain their origins!

    The money angle could still be valid bearing in mind that there were a lot of different issues of banknotes over the years with the first paper rupees being printed by the bank of Hindustan from 1770 onwards.

  14. Biggles A says:

    NeilW @ 6. Thank you. These exchanges further my education.

  15. NeilW says:

    Biggles A, I wouldn’t like you to get the wrong opinion of me – I’m no betting enthusiast – but I quite liked Dick Francis novels many years ago. ;)

  16. Gervase says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.

    I enjoyed this one; *(ART ART SHE) was lovely, and I liked the &lit FORESTER.

    Re 25, the issue is not the word DANKE (which is very well known) but that the letters have to be shuffled to give the solution. An indirect anagram, as bridgesong says – this is a device that even most libertarian setters studiously avoid. As for ’2-ed’ as a definition, this does strictly give ‘undrapeed’; ’2d’ would have been fine – and misleading, as it could just be taken as ’2 down’ (but fair, as there is no 2 across).

  17. bridgesong says:

    Gervase, thanks for responding to the indirect anagram point. I didn’t want to be prescriptive, but I do agree with your comments.

    Samski @ 11, I see that I failed to give an explanation, so I’ve added a picture!

  18. Paul B says:

    ’2d’ would be fair anyway, I rather think, as it’s a straightish synonym for the required word, but agree re the anagram: most people won’t have known what to do to get the answer.

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Pretty good prize puzzle.
    I thought 8d was another example of the curse of enumeration. It did open up the RHS rather too easily.

  20. Paul B says:

    EARTH-STAR, just in case anyone’s still bemused, has two sets of cryptic indication (anagram plus charade) plus the def, and that’s why it looks odd. Perfectly cool, though.

  21. Davy says:

    Thanks bridgesong,

    I quite enjoyed this but thought that the clue for STEEPLECHASING was pretty vague to say the least.
    Interestingly, according to, a steeplechase was so called because the course was kept
    by sighting a church steeple. So there you go !.

    I did like ‘unruly teen with cricket ball’ (great anagram) but don’t particularly wish to meet him.
    It would have to be a ‘him’ wouldn’t it !.

    I also have no problem with the anagram of danke as it’s a word that everyone should know.
    Thanks JGG.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    It’s the religious version of point-to-point.

  23. rhotician says:

    Well that’s better than A’s clue, which is poor in so many ways without being amusing.

    For a start pub-crawling involves more than one pub. The original steeplechasing required only one church. I could go on but you’ve distracted me.

    Could an Irish pub-crawl be desribed as a point-to-point? Shillelaghs optional.

  24. rhotician says:

    I was preparing a short essay on the subject of indirect anagrams, incorporating observations on such mattters as what is “fair”, what is “too easy”, where lines should be drawn, what is a homophone…

    I will confine myself to observing that the clue for TRURO has a partially indirect anagram and that the article Cryptic Crosswords in Wiki is worth reading.

  25. Paul B says:

    21, 22, 23, 24, I was bored when you once again began your multiple-posts. Even with just the three identities. But now sleep doth beckon. Yawn.

  26. rhotician says:

    So my efforts on behalf of insomniacs have not been in vain.

  27. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. I just wondered if people had missed something in 1d:

    I agree with NeilW @6 “Sticks” means horse racing over jumps, i.e. steeplechasing, providing a straight definition, and “accelerated church crawling?” is a cryptic definition (N.B. it is inherent to a good cryptic definition that it should not be familiar as a definition of the answer; so the unfamiliarity/novelty of “church crawling” cannot in my opinion count against the clue, regardless of its overall quality. I rather liked it.) I don’t see anything remotely vague about this clue if properly parsed (DD not CD).

    One could also see “with sticks?” as the straight definition, in which case we read the answer as an adjective (“a successful steeplechasing jockey”). I saw it as a noun though (e.g. “I like the flat racing but I’m not much into the sticks”).

    I’m not particularly into racing but there’s a major website called “” so I take it the expression is still current.

  28. Paul B says:

    I should cocoa.

    ‘Church crawling’, ‘church-crawling’ or ‘churchcrawling’ exists as a Nerdo-Goddist pursuit of architectural delights, and sticks are fences (in horse-racing). So ‘accelerated church crawling’, being synonymous, in its way, with steeple CHASING, gets ‘with sticks’ added (for a more complete description), and there you have it: cryptic definition.

  29. rhotician says:

    Well said, sir. The clue should indeed have a hyphen and strictly speaking sticks applies only to hurdle races so a for instance is required.

    But we shouldn’t quibble. I found the surface so nonsensical that I deferred thinking about it until I had sufficient crossers to solve it.

  30. Paul B says:

    The clue is fine as it stands, I rather think, and quite funny really.

    As I tried almost quite hard to imply, you would find the surface odd if you don’t know what church crawling is about. But, obviously, that doesn’t make the clue bad or unintelligible: it just makes you ignorant in that specific regard.

  31. rhotician says:

    Good grief. I’ve just googled churchcrawling and there it is. ‘Nerdo-Goddist’ made me think you were joking but it turns out that the joke was of A’s making. Typical.

    Still I can console myself that I am clearly not alone in lacking your breadth of knowledge.


  32. Paul B says:

    Sorry: did I imply that I’m au fait with that pastime? Tut!

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