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Letter boxes Jul 14

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I completed the daily Guardian cryptic crossword – all on my own, without a dictionary or Google, and before I’d even reached the station for the train journey home. I was suitably flushed. Even better, it was set by the crème de la crème of setters, Araucaria, and featured a signature Very Long Answer. This anagram – 8 words comprising 33 letters – once solved provided a useful hoard of checked letters, which enabled me to solve my favourite clue from the puzzle:

Mary’s third keeps dog in order — good news about her and another James? (4,5,4)

And the answer is…


The explanation: Mary Queen of Scots’ third husband was James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell; “dog in” order = doing; and “good news about her and another James?” refers to Mary and her son, James VI, and therefore an expression for mother and child.

2 Responses

  1. 1

    A great clue, and an example of why I don’t even attempt Araucaria. You’re out of my league. I’m happy if I can complete a Rufus.

  2. 2

    It depends so much on the puzzle. I didn’t come anywhere near to finishing Monday’s Rufus, even though you’d expect it to be easier.

    Sometimes Araucaria’s themes – as long as you can work out what the theme is – make a puzzle much easier. I remember a prize puzzle which featured the twelve signs of the zodiac. Once I’d worked that out, a quarter of the grid was filled with plenty of checked letters to help with the rest.