Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,861 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on February 9th, 2013


Another beautifully cut and polished gem from Araucaria.

On Monday, Hugh Stephenson’s Crossword Update gave a link to this photograph, taken last week by Steve Caplin, of Araucaria ‘playing’ with his Scrabble tiles. I could just imagine him shuffling them around to come up with an anagram for GENERALISATION or devise the wordplay for PARENT-TEACHER ORGANISATION. The updated Wikipedia article on John Graham gives details of his ‘cancer’ puzzle and also has: “He is also credited with creating a new format of crossword, the “alphabetical jigsaw”…These puzzles have been christened ‘araubeticals’ by fans on the crossword website” – so congratulations, our Muck!


1 Dog’s breakfast was to become temporarily dormant
As a devoted Araucaria apologist, I’ve struggled a while over this [and amended the blog several times] but have finally decided that PUP ATE = ‘was dog’s breakfast’ does work for me [In his Tuesday night’s Newsnight puzzle, blogged here, if you’re interested, A had a similar clue for CURATE: ‘first church job was a dog’s breakfast’ and I think this wording is rather better.]

4 One appeal about drink that may be radioactive
I [one] + SOS [appeal] round TOPE [drink]

9 Make it all right to be old-fashioned
double definition

10 All food to be returned hot to airport head
SUM [all] + reversal [to be returned] of GRUB [food] + H [hot]
The wordplay is impeccable but I’m mystified as to how I knew the answer: ‘Sumburgh Head’ rang a bell and, as an insomniac who keeps the radio on throughout the night, I thought I had heard Sumburgh mentioned as a coastal station in the litany of the shipping forecast but I can’t find it as such. Be that as it may, Sumburgh Head is the most southerly point in the Shetlands – and it has an airport, so this must be classified as a double definition.
It must be pure coincidence but, on the day this puzzle was published, the Guardian’s centre spread included a pictiure of the Up Helly Aa ritual,  held near Sumburgh on the previous Tuesday – and we have VIKINGS at 19dn

11 New lino, reset again, may need sweeping
anagram [new] of LINO RESET AGAIN, which, with ‘sweeping’, would give us the well-known cliché

13 Dull? Reverse that sullen attitude during distribution of claret
reversal of SULK [that sullen attitude] in anagram [during distribution of] CLARET

16,1down Third party in tête-à-tête, where hanging takes place
double / cryptic definition, referring to the saying, ‘between you and me and the gatepost’, indicating a secret – and a gate is hung from a gatepost

18 Maybe curves around bad one? More likely bends for this one
anagram [maybe] of CURVES round BAD I [one] – referring to decompression sickness or ‘the bends’

21 Squashed? Accommodation urgently needed with an easy lot of pieces
FLAT [accommodation] + ASAP [as soon as possible – urgently needed] + AN + CAKE [something easy is ‘a piece of cake’] Nicely topical – looking forward to mine, with the classic lemon and sugar!

23 Olympians are Greek, skirting oxygen-free cavity
ATTIC [Greek] round [skirting] H[o]LE [cavity minus o – oxygen-free]

24 Drunk as a skunk product, nothing more
STINK [skunk product] + [more] O [nothing]

25 Voice of trio involved in mischief
anagram [involved] of TRIO in BANE [mischief]

26 End of game for rugby backs with inventive character
reversal [backs] of NO SIDE [end of game for rugby] – here’s to another cracking Six Nations weekend!


2 French composer‘s bird (part of it)
POULE [French chicken – bird] + [I think] NC [network computer – part of IT]

3 Venetian island with its bull taking over small room
TORO [Italian for bull] round [taking over] CELL [small room] – after the Frenchman’s bird, the Venetian’s bull

5 Second half listeners to song about sailor’s country
S [second] + AUDI[ence] [half listeners] + ARIA [song] round AB [sailor]

6 Liberian gentleman from Malaysia outside the British Museum
TUAN [gentleman from Malaysia] round BM [British Museum]
I thought initially that this definition was rather loose but Wikipedia identifies William Tubman  as the ‘father of modern Liberia’, so that’ll do me

7 Shakespearean heroine gets a rough ride in 20 17 12
anagram [rough] of RIDE in PTA [answer to 20 17 12]
My first entry, which immediately led to 20 17 12 and gave a very good start

8 Keeping quiet, christen characters with muscle
anagram [characters of] round [keeping] P [quiet]

13 Joint toy buildings almost set on fire
LEGO [toy buildings] + FLAMB[é] [almost set alight]

15 Taught to find old coin in rising river
DUCAT [old coin] in reversal [rising] of DEE [river]

19 Norse or English ones called George?
VI [six] KINGS of England called George

20,17,12 School friends‘ payment kept by head female in a church garment shortened, one with a tin with nothing in it
RENT [payment] in [kept by] PATE [head] + HER [female] in A CASSOC[k] [a church garment shortened] + I [one] + A TIN round O [with nothing in it]

22,14 Depressed county actors
DOWN [county] + CAST [actors] – a rather disappointing chestnut to finish with

20 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,861 / Araucaria”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks again Eileen for another comprehensive analysis.10 required a bit of research and I thought that 2 might be POULE + nc part of Fre(nc)h.

  2. vinyl1 says:

    I liked the puzzle, but ‘Sumburgh’ was very difficult for this US solver – I had to get it from the cryptic, and it was my last in. ‘Torcello’ also from the cryptic, but fairly self-evident.

    I thought ‘Vikings’ and ‘sphincter’ were really top clues, they kept me guessing for quite a while and then became obvious.

  3. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A lovely puzzle.
    I used Biggles method to parse ‘Poulenc’ but wouldn’t argue with Eileen’s.
    Lke Eileen I solved Sumburgh without any certainty and also thought there was a Shipping Forecast link. Those names seem to be engraved somewhere in the depths.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I’m sorry but I have to side with Biggles A on the parsing of POULENC – I would doubt it from any other setter but it’s just typical Araucarian cheek!

  5. HKColin says:

    Thanks Eileen for a typically excellent blog of an enjoyable puzzle. I too found 10ac difficult (I don’t listen to a shipping forecast:-)) and wondered what ‘head’ was doing in the clue, but I now see it is a second definition which you have indicated.

    I agree with Biggles and NeilW that Network Computer is unlikely, but If ‘NC’ is to be part French then surely Nouvelle Caledonie would be better. .nc is the Internet domain suffix.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Yes, another just-right offering from the master: doable within the hour like a testing circuit of intellectual apparatus. E.g 16, 1d, calling for very lateral thinking. Lots of good surfaces including for TUBMAN, a figure luckily familiar to me. The two don’t-knows, last in (2d and 10a) were guessable: Google thereafter shed the necessary light.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Araucaria & Eileen.

    This was too tough for me – with four failures – but it was still very enjoyable.

    I didn’t get 1a, 10a, 3d and 6d and my excuse is that I was coming down with a very heavy cold which typically affects my Crossword Solving ability.

    I’m feeling OK again now.

  8. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen

    The consistent experience with A, is that you always get a good battle with the clues and more often than not some new learning to go with it.

    The new words today were FRANCIS POULENC, TORCELLO, WILLIAM TUBMAN and SUMBURGH – but as has been said, they were all gettable from the cryptic parts of the clue.

    Did enjoy the constructions of 21, 5 and 20-17-12 and the genius behind 19 and 16-1.

    Used my Malaysian Airlines travel experience where they begin announcements with “Tuan-tuan, puan-puan” for Ladies and Gentlemen to help with the solving of 6.

  9. Leigh Hughes says:

    2 down is just badly clued.

  10. R_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    The annotated solution has freNCh for 2d, which is weak but better than network computer. I otherwise enjoyed this puzzle greatly – saved a midweek one in case it was easy … Didn’t need it :)

  11. Eileen says:

    Thanks, everyone, especially R_c_a_d [once again, I forgot that there’s an annotated solution] for your contributions re 2dn. I must say that my first thought was the freNCh one [as NeilW says, it couldn’t be more Araucarian!] but thought I’d better look for an alternative, so resorted to Chambers, to find an abbreviation I wasn’t familiar with, hence my ‘I think’. Well, at least it shows that I ‘do my own work’, even if I get it wrong. ;-)

  12. Robi says:

    Another very enjoyable offering from A.

    Thanks Eileen for your lovely blog; 2d had me scratching my head and I enjoyed your parsing as much as the ‘official’ one. :)

    SUMBURGH, TUBMAN and TORCELLO needed some Googling, but I got there in the end. I particularly liked the dog’s breakfast, GATEPOST and SAUDI ARABIA.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    An entertaining puzzle with typical surprises and predictable light touch. Like others I had to check Sumburgh (Musburgh sounded just as (un)likely)and I pondered over Poulench before coming to what seems to be the right conclusion.

    I ticked 16,1, 21a.

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    On 24a my first, very quick look, said 6-letter word ending in O meaning drunk must be BLOTTO which I entered in pencil. In due course I found a better word!

  15. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen for your acknowledgement in the preamble.
    Maybe my coinage will get in OED one day

  16. Eileen says:

    I’m glad you saw it, muck. I hope you know that I’ve always been careful to add ©muck to any of my mentions of ‘Araubeticals’. All the best with the court case if you do make the OED or Chambers!

  17. Vin says:

    Thanks, Eileen, especially for the link to that wonderful photo. The only query for me was the NC of POULENC, but I’m still not sure what Araucaria intended. By the way, this was puzzle no. 25,861.

  18. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria and Eileen for blog and link to the Master!

    Just got in but had to say how much I enjoyed solving it with a friend last weekend(not least because she knew SUMBURGH straight away!)
    It had to be POULENC and I was reminded of the huge metal outline of a poule near Bourg-en-Bresse which always raises a smile on the as we head for Italy.

    Glad you got an Araucaria to blog, Eileen.

    Giovanna x

  19. george says:

    Thanks for this Eileen. I started it last week and then brought my print out to my Mum’s today. We eventually finished it. I had been saying leg of lamb (rib of beef etc) and it took her to see why! She also got ‘you, me and the gatepost’ which was where neighbours got together for a good natter apparently, but it was a new saying for me. She also guessed Sumburgh as my sister has flown there.
    Took a long while to complete for us, but very satisfying.

  20. SuzeeMoon says:

    Tackled this one with friend and got there in the end but also didn’t get “head” bit of Sumburgh and dismissed “Tubman” as possibility until googled. Didn’t know I knew “stinko” until I said it – seems very Jeeves and Wooster!

    ps Anyone else keep getting sum wrong when trying to post? The shame…

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