Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,740 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on September 13th, 2012


I’m not very good at spotting ninas but these days the name of the game seems to be  ‘Spot the error’.  However, Araucaria is not noted for either and I found this an enjoyable puzzle which almost complied with its own mini-theme at 1ac, etc – with one or two clues to make you think a bit more: fun to do – many thanks, Araucaria.


1   A PIECE OF CAKE: APIECE [each] + O [round] + C [hundred – number] in FAKE [counterfeit]
  SACKFUL: double / cryptic definition, sack being the old word for sherry, praised here by Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff [Henry IV Part II]
9   TYRANNY: RAN [proceeded] in [between] TY [‘semi-ciTY’] and NY [New York – American city]
11  AQUINAS, St Thomas: A QUIN [one of five] + AS [when]
12  SILICON: sounds like [reportedly] ‘silly con’ [foolish trick]
14  EASY AS PIE: anagram of [treatment for] PAYEES IS A
16  NO PROBLEM: PRO [expert] in [probing] NOBLE [generous] + M [thousand – number]
19,13 CHILD’S PLAY: barely cryptic definition [drama of INFANCY [2] etc] but an interesting word split – perfectly legitimate, since both are actual words
21  THOMISM: anagram [falsely] of SMITH round [accepting] OM [Order of Merit – honour] – the ideas of St Thomas AQUINAS [11]
23  LUMBAGO: LUM [Scottish chimney] + B [first letter [opening] of Breast] + AGO [in the past]
24  DAILIES: DAI [Welshman] + LIES [is telling fibs]
25  CRANIAL: ALARIC: anagram [strangely] of ALARIC round [keeping] N [name]
26  MY DEAR WATSON: anagram [work] of DREAMY + WATSON [Sherlock Holmes’ doctor friend] – reference to the phrase, ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’, which never appeared in the books


1   ACCRUAL: sounds like [has … sound] ‘a cruel’
2   INFANCY: IN [trendy] + FANCY [dream]
3   COLD SPELL: anagram [unsteadily] of PLODS in CELL [prison, perhaps]
4   OATES: sounds like [say] oats – porridge: reference to the gallant explorer, Captain Lawrence Oates, nicknamed ‘Titus’, after the conspirator of The Popish Plot
  COROLLA: followed by [on] RY [railway – line] this would be COROLLAry [natural result]
6   KINGCUP: KIN [family] + GC [George Cross – award] + UP [raised] [I was initially vainly trying to find a use for G, thinking award = CUP]
7   ASSASSINATED: ASS ASS [fools] + anagram [folly] of DINE AT
10  YANKEE DOODLE: YANK [pull] + EE [‘ease, say’] + DOODLE [write aimlessly]
15  SIMULACRA: SIM [card] + anagram [wrongly] of A[c]CRUAL [1dn] minus C [number]
17  PROBITY: OBIT [obituary – final notice] in PRY [search]
18  ORIFICE: OR [gold] + IF [providing] + ICE [diamonds
19  COMPASS: double definition
20  ITALIAN: ALI [fourth caliph of Islam {656-61} – cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed] in [w]ITAN [Anglo-Saxon parliament minus first letter – lost leader]
22  MISER: MI’S [motorway is] ER [the queen]

44 Responses to “Guardian 25,740 / Araucaria”

  1. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Pleasant diversion – as you say, pretty much a 1ac. Some interesting words, though. AQUINAS I got from THOMISM (I was thinking ‘hands’ rather than multiple births, and I almost always miss _U as a possible Q); SIMULACRA and COROLLA are fun. Last in for me was ITALIAN.

    KINGCUPs (Caltha palustris) are also known as ‘marsh marigolds, but aren’t always found in marshes as such; by the side of rivers and streams is perhaps more common. Like many native British plants they have a lot of local dialectal names. My favourite is ‘mollyblobs’.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I’m not sure about your apostrophe in 22. I read it as Motorway IS rather than the M1 specifically.

    I think we have to account for the “has been cut” in 1ac. I supposed we could turn counterfeit into FAKEd… Otherwise it seems redundant as the insertion is already signalled.

  3. KeithW says:

    At first sight I thought I’d found today’s error in the numeration for 19, 13 but not so. Quite a doddle I thought, almost Rufous in places.

    Thanks Araurcaria and Eileen.

  4. Eileen says:

    NeilW @2

    I take your point about the motorway – I think it works either way.

    In 1ac I took ‘has been cut’ as a further definition.

  5. KeithW says:

    KeithW @3

    At least try and spell the good man’s name correctly!

  6. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria. Quite enjoyable, eve if on the easy side for an Araucaria.
    NeilW@2, agree with your comment about M1. Also saw the “has been cut” as a sort of defn/reference to a piece of cake cut out of a whole.

  7. scchua says:

    Sorry Eileen we crossed

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    An enjoyable puzzle.

    Tha answer to 1a was obvious but the parsing less so – so thanks Eileen. I missed the apiece = each.

    I thought 8a might be ‘skinful’ at first which held me up ove ‘accrual’.

    I had to guess then check then parse 5d.

    I liked 4d, and 6d and 21a among a good range of clues.

  9. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. A breezy, amusing solve this time.

    I had NeilW’s parsing for 22 but Eileen/scchua’s for 1a – it seems more Araucarian as part of the definition. That kind of definition, when you get a predicate to indicate a noun, seems to be getting less popular, which is a shame. It’s the difference between “Animal version of orchestra” and “Arrangement for orchestra might draw in the hundreds?” I prefer the second, but I suspect others would now disagree. (It’s “carthorse”, the famous anagram of orchestra, and hundreds meaning country areas.)

  10. John Appleton says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for explaining KINGCUP, which had me fooled in the same way as yourself. The surafec for LUMBAGO caused me problems, even though I could see that word fitting but I parsed it incorrectly. However, PROBITY proved elusive and I ended up putting PRODIGY in, more as a guess than anything else.

    However, after a couple of crosswords with errors, a pleasant change.

  11. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. The first four doddles, and the 10 down doodle, were all doddles but the last one. 26a , was pleasantly tricky.

  12. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen. A well-crafted puzzle from Araucaria – Lang may his lum reek.

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Since I discovered this MB I have seen the Great A.described with many adjectives but never ‘brave’.
    Yet it is brave to set a cryptic crossword with the theme ‘very easy’* and especially to make ‘a piece of cake’ the heading!
    Last in and cleverest (I ignored ‘when’ at my cost) was ‘corolla(ry)).

    * I hope not to be repeated any time soon.

  14. Robi says:

    I didn’t find it 1a, but then I rarely do with Aruacaria.

    Thanks Eileen; your comment about 26 prompted me to look up said phrase, which is discussed nicely here. Thanks for the explanation of TYRANNY, which I failed to parse properly.

    I did like YANKEE DOODLE; Wikiness about it can be found here. Last in was 26, which needed a bit of thought. I tried faceful for 8 at first, although no real connection to sherry unless you eat a faceful of trifle. ;)

  15. duncan says:

    only one small complaint, & no surprises, it’s about 19/13. I thought at first that we had another mechanical problem here, but since it was intended to split 5/5, I would have preferred some indication in the clue….
    I disagree with the contention I’ve seen elsewhere that the possessive “s” can be peeled off like this & stuck onto the beginning of the following noun, especially when in so doing it transforms that noun into another, & which is not alluded to in the clue.
    but apart from that… “holmes, why is this door painted bright-yellow?” :-)


    (“a lemon entry, my dear watson…”)

  16. crypticsue says:

    To borrow from Thomas99, breezy and amusing indeed. Not a huge fan of those clues like 19/13 although we seem to be getting more of them these days, making them easier to spot.

    Thanks to Eileen and Araucaria.

  17. rowland says:

    Hello Keith W, I really enjoyed your ‘Rufous’ back up the thread – a very funny coining! And I thin you’re right too, quite an easy one from The Great One today, great stuff, original clueing, nice level of solvability.

    Many thanks A and E (!)

  18. Col says:

    Stuck for 20d I’m afraid to say, so popped in to get the answer!

    Also could see Kingcup but struggled for why due to cup and looking for something to reverse!

  19. Thomas99 says:

    duncan @15
    I don’t understand your objection to 19/13. It’s intended to be divided 6,4, not 5,5, and it says so in the clue. Child’s play, not Child splay, is the solution. I’m sure you know that, but I can’t see why you said what you did. I think it’s a clever trick, one that Araucaria’s pulled off quite often. The fact that we know all the lights have to be filled with real words also gives us an additional clue, so the trick probably makes things easier, not harder.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    I think that if (19,13) were enumerated as (5,5) it would be very misleading and hence much more difficult to solve. The (5,5) is clearly evident by looking at the grid.

  21. RCWhiting says:

    I think that if (19,13) were enumerated as (5,5) it would be very misleading and hence much more difficult to solve. The (5,5) is clearly evident by looking at the grid .

  22. Thomas99 says:

    duncan @15
    The version of that joke I know is far, far ruder.

  23. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen

    Found this a bit easier than usual A, but still far from just write-ins – there is always a sting to at least the parsing in many clues.

    COROLLA was last in and took a bit longer to understand why, but eventually twigged.

    Was slightly askew with 9 – I had found a city called Ty Ty in Georgia, US and thought that was the semi-city.

    Enjoyable overall with a clever theme and sub-theme.

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I had identified COROLLA as petals but failed to see the meaning of ‘natural result’.

    On 3d I had spotted we had to make an anagram of plods and I had the initial C so I tried to force ‘cage’ in there somehow giving COLD SPAGE :( It took me an age to think of CELL – sigh.

  25. SeanDimly says:

    Thank you Araucaria and Eileen.
    But was anyone else a little troubled by C for ‘number’ in 1ac, and C for ‘number’ again in 15d? Not keen on ‘number’ representing any of V, X, L, C, D or M. Not keen either on ‘note’ or ‘key’ representing anything from A to G. Seems a little lazy – not too long a step from ‘letter’ representing anything from A to Z.
    Then again, the surface of 1ac is nice.
    And I particularly liked 5, 17, 19 and 22, so will stop my nitpicking now …

  26. John Appleton says:

    I personally have no problem with 19,13-type clues. As Thomas @19 says, it gives an extra little clue. Enumerating as 5,5 doesn’t work for me, as that would indicate the answer being “CHILD SPLAY”, which isn’t exactly a common term (nor does the definition point to it).

    We’ve often seen compound words such as “OVERTAKE” split over two four-letter lights, and possibly also non-compounds that can be split into two fours, such as “DISCOVER”. These don’t seem to generate too many complaints, so I don’t see why a multiple-word solution cannot be allowed the same treatment from time to time (as long as the two entries form proper words, of course).

  27. Paul B says:

    You have ten spaces in which to put ten letters, making up two words. That the two words entered into the grid are not the ones given by the clue is worthy of debate, since one can either say ‘why not?’ or ‘why?’, but as someone said it’s nothing new to Guardian solvers.

    We had something like

    Classes ‘tendency to fluctuate’ with ‘intelligence’ (7,7)

    from Enigmatist some years ago, while instead of the required phrase you actually entered GENERA and LABILITY, the two SI ‘blocks’. (It’s from LABILE, in case you’re wondering.)


  28. Maurice says:

    Must agree with Duncan:if there were some reference elsewhere in the puzzle to SPLAY it would be acceptable in my opinion.”Child splay” is certainly not an idea anyone is familiar with — or are they? Disappointed I got no reply to my query to the editor. I must be very naive. The other examples quoted are in my opinion far more defensible.

  29. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria and Eileen.

    Kingcup was first as it is one of my favourite plants, which grows in one of my past watery gardens.This was followed by Aquinas, helped by having just finished reading The Name of the Rose.

    For me it was quite varied and interesting.Some time was wasted by thinking anaesthetic for number! This thought comes first now as I have been caught out in the past.

    Giovanna x

  30. rhotician says:

    SeanD @25 – You’re not keen on the many uses of ‘number’ and ‘key’ to represent different single letters. I assume that’s because it makes clues harder to solve. Seems a little lazy.

  31. tones says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for the blog and, Araucaria, for a terrific puzzle. I took the two cities in 9 to be Tyre and New York.

  32. SeanDimly says:

    rhotician @30
    Fair point. I was a little tired today.

  33. rhotician says:

    RCW @13 – You refer, as you have before, to ‘this MB’. Today I decided to Google ‘MB abbr’.

    Thus was I introduced to Acronym Finder. I was offered 123(!) possibilities in alphabetical order. On sorting them by rank(!) of most used I found Message Board. (Please don’t tell me that’s not what you mean. I haven’t forgotten your uniform/URL jest.)

    Long-accustomed to ‘doctor’ as an indicator I decided to see what Chambers had to offer. Besides Doctor of Medicine I find Manitoba, megabyte and, wait for it, mark of the Beast!!

  34. rhotician says:

    Paul B @27 – What does SI stand for? I tried Acronym Finder to no avail.

  35. RCWhiting says:

    Systeme International (excuse lack of accents).

    Message Board it is. In the old days before the ‘cuts’ I used to be a regular on the BBC boards, everyone used the term. I was surprised when I came here and someone asked what it meant.
    That wasn’t, of course, the only thing which surprised me!

    9ac I assumed ‘Tyre’ too,I hadn’t realised anyone had used anything other. fond of classical references.

  36. flashling says:

    Not sure if it was as easy as pie, for solvers used to the Rev maybe it was. After my last battle with JG when I failed badly as understudy to Eileen, I finished it, but was left with several where I just didn’t really get why, just a feeling of that could be the answer.

    Still don’t think I’ll desperately search for A’s puzzles.

  37. flashling says:

    @ Rhotician 34 Subsidiary Indication, setter jargon I guess.

  38. Eileen says:

    RCW @35

    “9ac I assumed ‘Tyre’ too,I hadn’t realised anyone had used anything other.”

    I did – in the blog.

  39. Paul B says:

    Yeah, thanks Phil, you’re such a help these days. Subsidiary Indication in Don Manley’s book, Silly Idiot at 15^2. AFAIK.

  40. rhotician says:

    Very witty, Paul. (Trope employed: irony.)

  41. RCWhiting says:

    Yes,of course, but I hadn’t realised it because I had failed to read your blog fully.
    How foolish of me.

  42. RCWhiting says:

    I should add that I did go back and read it carefully (?) but only after seeing tones post @31.

  43. Rolf says:

    Ali — fourth caliph of Islam. Huh? An ordinary human being
    is supposed to know that?

    Also “lum” for chimney is ridiculously obscure.

    Also I get sick of these pretensious wankers saying how “easy”
    a (virtually impossible) puzzle was for them.

    OTHO 26 A was pretty obvious, as was the parsing of 1 A.

  44. KeithS says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Araucaria – and to the Guardian Weekly for putting in an Araucaria for what feels like the first time in ages.

    My almost total ignorance of botany held me back here, and I struggled with both corolla and kingcup (ironically, we own a Corolla, but I think of it as something you drive to the shops in). However, last in was Italian, which I guessed from the Aquinas reference but failed to parse. I spotted ‘Ali’ in the middle but failed completely to think of (W)itan. (Thinking about it, that clue requires three bits of somewhat esoteric general knowledge, which is part of the fun but you can understand some people’s irritation.)

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