Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,849 by Araucaria

Posted by bridgesong on January 26th, 2013


It’s an even greater pleasure than usual to blog an Araucaria puzzle on the day the Guardian published an interview with him.  Despite his recent revelation, there is no sign of any decline in his inventiveness, and this puzzle is as good as any he has produced in recent years.  It has references ranging from Greek mythology through Shakespeare to television and the internet.  Thanks to my solving partner Timon for the tea and cake (and for parsing 12 down).

1 HOMILETIC Very warm keeping distance, almost very cold being instructive (9)
MILE in HOT, IC(y).  A new word for me, but obvious from the wordplay.
6 IDIOM I faint without love, in a manner of speaking (5)
0 in I DIM.
9 DISTRICT VISITOR Exact number: is it held by Christian social worker? (8,7)
STRICT V IS IT in DIOR.  Here Christian refers both to Christian Dior (from the fashion house) and to the definition, a district visitor being a church volunteer.
10 PEEL Remove protection from 18 (4)
Double definition, Peel being a town on the Isle of Man.
11 ATALANTA Fast girl first in Georgian city (8)
A in ATLANTA.  The famously fleet-footed virgin huntress from Greek mythology.
14 FIDDLE-BOW Dishonesty at the front applied to string (6-3)
A simple charade.
15 TRESS Lock showing tension with top removed (5)
16 OSRIC Shakespearean character going round without error? About right (5)
O, R in SIC.  Osric is a minor character in Hamlet.
18 ISLE OF MAN Article follows lives by top cat and top soldier, where house has keys (4,2,3)
IS LEO FM AN.  The House of Keys is the directly elected chamber of the Tynwald, the island’s parliament.
20 ENVIABLE Quarters that can survive — that one wishes one had (8)
21,24 PLUM TART Dessert cooked by tramp last month (4,4)
25 BROADLY SPEAKING Having a strong local accent? More or less (7,8)
Cryptic double definition.  On reflection, NeilW @1 is right.
26 DRIER Dormice are oddly more dehydrated (5)
Odd letters in DoRmIcE aRe.
27 RURITANIA “Land of Hope” formed aria — run it (9)
*(ARIA RUN IT).  Anthony Hope was the author of three novels published in the 1890s in which Ruritania featured.
1 HAD UP Brought before the bench, end of which said to make sense (3,2)
(Benc)H, homophone of ADD UP.  “End of which” is doing double duty here, referring both to the last letter of “bench” and to the homophone.  Not so: thanks Neil W @1.
2 MISREAD Err in interpreting lost letter from novelist of village life (7)
MIS(S) READ was the pen-name of Dora Saint, who died last year and who wrote several novels set in an English village, some having the word “village” in the title.
3,23 LARKSPUR Then are cats heard to soar in 14 down? (8)
Sounds like LARKS PURR.  ”In 14 down” seems to be the definition; the question mark refers to the chiasmus in the wordplay.
4 TUCK Food for friar (4)
As in the Robin Hood character.
5,6 CAVITY WALL INSULATION Outlaw civil analyst in exchange for heating aid (6,4,10)
6 See 5
7 INTENSE Concentrated in Tennessee, so to speak (7)
8 MORTAL SIN One of seven Taliban leaders imprisoned by Egyptian leader at Pole (6,3)
TAL(iban) in (Mohamed) MORSI (currently President of Egypt) N(orth Pole).  More usually referred to as the seven deadly sins.  Some might take issue with TAL for “Taliban leaders” but it seems like a normal Araucarian liberty.
12 BLACKADDER Historical sitcom, possibly worse without something missing (10)
13 BBC IPLAYER Pray church leader with bible to give us another look (3,7)
*(PRAY BIBLE C(hurch)).  The last one in for me, mainly because there appears to be no anagram indicator, unless “to give us” (which isn’t the clearest anagrind) is doing double duty.
14 FLOWER BED Bottom of river at border? (6,3)
A simple piece of misdirection, with the classic piece of double meanlng in the answer rather than the clue.
17 RAVIOLI Meat wrapped by artist with most of 14 across, part 1 (7)
RA VIOLI(n).  Chambers defines this as “small, square pasta cases with a savoury filling of meat, cheese etc” so the definition of “meat wrapped” is just about acceptable.
19 MULLION Scottish island, one — nearly one — in part of window (7)
MULL, 1, ON(e).
22 MAGMA Volcanic stuff in periodical, most of it (5)
MAG, MA(gazine).
23 See 3
24 See 21


22 Responses to “Guardian Prize Puzzle No 25,849 by Araucaria”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong and to Araucaria for a fun prize. Last one in for me was OSRIC, which I needed to hunt down to confirm, although the construction was fair enough.

    Isn’t BROADLY SPEAKING a double rather than cryptic definition?

    I parsed HAD UP as Def: “Brought before the bench” H “end of which” AD UP “said to make sense” – no double duty.

    On the other hand, I agree that BBC IPLAYER is one of those rather whimsical constructions but the meaning was clear.

  2. muck says:

    Thanks B and A. No lack of inventiveness. 13dn had me searching for ?B? words

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. As always Araucaria astounds by being with it (13d, doable for me only via the anagram) and lateral in his thinking – 9a, 8d etc. As ever there were ones got with shrugs (the ‘at border’ in 14d), with guess-sos (2d) and, regretfully, with help: the esoteric OSRIC. A good way to spend an hour or so on Saturday.

  4. Miche says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.

    Not tough by Saturday standards, though I did myself no favours by confidently entering ROUGHLY SPEAKING at 25a. Soon fixed.

    I take your point about “meat wrapped” being an imprecise definition of RAVIOLI, but it did make me smile.

    In a comment on her own puzzle yesterday, Arachne talked of crosswords as a ludic pastime. I thought that hit the nail on the head. When I see her name, or Paul’s or Araucaria’s, on a puzzle, I know I’m not going to sit a test. I’m about to play a game. It’s always fun to play the game against Araucaria.

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Bridgesong, Timon & Araucaria. This was a joy.

    Sadly, I failed to get 16a OSRIC, having opted for ORRIC.

    It would be very helpful if, in future, Timon could also help me -even if it means my travelling to Athens every Saturday.

    Looking forward!

  6. Silkworm says:

    Many thanks for the blog, but there are a few points that seem just too minimal for beginners such as myself to follow.

    14ac, FIDDLE is clear, but whence BOW?

    3,23 a chiasmus in the word play?

    7 how do we get S E from ‘so to speak’?

    8 not a problem as such, but the indication that the final N comes from Pole might be added?

    22 If the end of the word comes from MA(gazine), where does the first MAG come from??

  7. bridgesong says:

    Silkworm @6: in 14 ac, BOW is the front of a boat. In 3,23 instead of cats who purr and larks who soar, we have them crossed over. Chambers defines chiasmus (a word I learned from an Azed puzzle some years ago: crosswords are so educational!) as “contrast by parallelism in reverse order”. In 7 the clue is inviting us to say aloud “IN TEN S E” – if you do, it sounds like Tennessee. In 8 you are right, and I will amend the blog. In 22 periodical is MAG (a reasonably common abbreviation) and MA is most of it.

  8. R_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for the blog. BTW the seven mortal sins are not the same as the seven deadly ones … They were only recently “invented” by the Vatican.

  9. bridgesong says:

    R_c_a_d @8: I didn’t know that there was a difference. Chambers defines “deadly sin” (under the entry for “dead”) as “a mortal sin”, although under the entry for “seven” it lists them without definition as “pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth”.

  10. Mr Beaver says:

    Silkworm @6: “22 If the end of the word comes from MA(gazine), where does the first MAG come from??”
    periodical=MAG, most of it[ie the periodical]=MA

    Miche @4: Glad we weren’t alone in ‘confidently entering ROUGHLY SPEAKING’ :)
    It did hold things up for a bit, though of course the right answer works better.

  11. Tricky Tree says:

    Got the rest but I’m still struggling with larkspur. I understand the definition. Is THEN + ? the chiasmus indicator?

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Tricky Tree @ 11. I took this to mean “If larks purr, then cats soar”

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Araucaria

    Plenty of fun here.

    I carelessly misparsed ‘mullion’ as Mull plus Ion(a).

    I particularly liked 21,24 and 5,6.

  14. timon says:

    Couple of teasers here, notably 13 down, which, like muck@2, initially stumped us (well me).
    I’d be happy to help, Bryan@5, but I admit to being something of an Osric to Bridgesong’s Hamlet – he saw 16a without missing a beat! Erudite or what?

  15. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. This wasn’t too hard (especially compared to recent puzzles in the Guardian – there have been some classics) but there was plenty of imagination and a few surprises. I liked 3,23 – very Araucarian.

    I agree 13d is an odd construction but I took it slightly differently. I took the anagrind to be “gives us another look” (“look” in the fashion sense or similar). If it gives us another look it changes its appearance, so that seems a good indicator. What that left me with was a sort of reverse partial &lit – the whole thing is wordplay, but only “gives us another look” is definition. Partial &lits the other way round are uncontroversial I think, but this is weirder.

  16. DunsScotus says:

    Many thanks Araucari and Bridgesong. I think that the deadly sins are mortal but not all mortal sins – e.g. missing Mass deliberately – are deadly. The latter category is defined by the well known list.

  17. Robi says:

    Another cracker, although I struggled in parts.

    Thanks bridgesong; having got RAVIOLI ealy on, I thought with the cross-reference that 14a was ‘violin bow,’ although I failed to parse it properly, which lead on to ‘valley bed’ for 14d and ‘highlander’ as the answer to 12d – all nicely messing up the SW corner. I eventually unravelled it and got stuck on the last OSRIC, but Google came to the rescue as she did with PEEL. I particularly liked ISLE OF MAN and DISTRICT VISITOR, the latter taking some time to parse.

  18. chas says:

    Thanks to bridgesong for the blog. You explained several cases where I had the right answer without understanding why.

  19. rhotician says:

    Thomas99 @15: I like your analysis of 13d.
    On 3,23 you are very succinct. I’ve seen the word ‘impressionistic’ used about some of his clues. In this case ‘surreal’ springs to mind. Araucarian. Ineffable.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Typically Araucarian for inventiveness although, as others have said, not one of his hardest.
    Last in was 13d. Like muck @3 I searched in vain for ?B? and was suitably impressed, when I bothered to do the anagram precisely, to discover A’s contemporary reference.

  21. Gervase says:

    Thanks, bridgesong

    Pleasing as ever. I was another who first plumped for ROUGHLY SPEAKING.

    One tiny amendment to the parsing: I thought at first that PLUM TART was *(TRAMP ULT), as bridgesong has indicated, which would have been an indirect anagram – a mortal sin even in the eyes of the most libertarian setter. However, the ULT appears unscrambled at the end of the word, so the parsing is *(TRAMP) + ULT. Entirely (?) virtuous.

  22. Gervase says:

    Ignore my last remark, which is total nonsense. This IS an indirect anagram. Mea culpa – but the maxima culpa was the good Rev’s!

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