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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2002
This is the first collection of GUARDIAN crossword puzzles by one individual compiler to be published in book form. Araucaria has been compiling for the GUARDIAN for almost 45 years, and this collection is a splendid and fitting tribute to the prolific output of "Britain's master compiler" who is "an institution in his own right", as the blurb says.
All 100 puzzles have, of course, appeared in the GUARDIAN, but the collection goes right back to the very start. Araucaria's first puzzle to be published -- in 1958 -- appears as the first one in the collection.
It is a pity that no other dates of publication accompany the puzzles, as it would have been interesting for solvers to trace the development of Araucaria's cluing style, stunning word-play and originality of themes over the years.
There are nine Alphabetical Jigsaws in the collection. These puzzles (Araucaria's own invention, by the way) are set on grids with 26 solutions so that all the 26 letters of the alphabet are each used once as the initial letters of the solutions. One of these puzzles is based instead on the Greek alphabet; another includes a theme, so that when the solutions are entered correctly in the grid, all the Across words are thematic; and others have clues in rhyming couplets.
Many of the puzzles are thematic, and this approach to crossword compiling distinguishes Araucaria's work. The broad spectrum of themes and audacious approaches to their presentation are fully reflected in the collection. A few puzzles have peculiar titles such as "Bald-patch Bess", or cryptic preambles like "F has the same meaning throughout", whilst another is entitled "Hidden Anagram Pairs".
Within the puzzles, the clues themselves reveal Araucaria's devilry time and time again. Cross-references to an individual clue-number throughout a puzzle necessitate the solver first discovering a theme (see Puzzle 46); Puzzle 38 was compiled for Valentine's Day one year; Puzzle 34 has each Across clue beginning with the word "Sport"; whilst Puzzle 2 refers to the days of the week in each Across clue.
To make his puzzles even harder, Araucaria has developed his own cluing style which includes "Part-clues" -- mini-clues which cryptically define the solution without any indication of the definition of the answer.
Pride of place must go to the real tour-de-force at Puzzle 80. The preamble reads "A univocalic crossword; the solutions are like the clues". The sheer audacity demonstrated here makes Puzzle 83 seem "Plain" in comparison!!!
These 100 puzzles bear excellent testimony to Araucaria's creative genius. My only slight regret is that the collection lacks a preface in which Araucaria's contribution to, and eminence in, the crossword world could have been discussed at length. This is a golden opportunity sadly missed.
Nonetheless this collection is a fine tribute to the country's most inventive, adventurous and productive compiler. It is a privilege for solvers to be able to enjoy Araucaria's puzzles again in this collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2002
This is the first collection of GUARDIAN crossword puzzles by one individual compiler to be published in book form. Araucaria has been compiling for the GUARDIAN for 45 years, and the book is a splendid and fitting tribute to the prolific output of "Britain's master compiler" who is "an institution in his own right", as the blurb says.
All 100 puzzles have, of course, appeared in the "GUARDIAN", but the collection goes right back to the very start, as Araucaria's first puzzle to be published-- in 1958 -- appears as the first in the collection.
It is a pity that dates of publication do not accompany any other puzzles, as it would have been interesting for solvers to trace the deveelopment of Araucaia's cluing style and stunning word-play and originality of themes over the years.

There are nine Alphabetical Jigsaws in the collection, including one based on the Greek alphabet; another includes a theme to all the Across solutions, and others have clues in rhyming couplets.
Many of the other puzzles are thematic. The broad spectrum of themes and audacious approaches to their presentation are fully reflected in the collection. A few puzzles have peculiar titles, such as "Bald-patch Bess", or cryptic preambles like "F has the same meaning throughout", another is entitled "Hidden Anagram Pairs".
Within the puzzles, the clues themselves reveal Araucaria's devilry time and time again. Cross-references to an individual clue-number throughout the puzzle necessitate the solver first discovering a theme (Puzzle 46); puzzle 38 was compiled for Valentine's Day, one year; puzzle 34 has each Across clue beginning with the word "Sport"; whilst puzzle 2 refers to the days of the week in each Across clue.
Pride of place must be the real tour-de-force at puzzle 80. The preamble reads "A univocalic crossword; the solutions are like the clues". The sheer audacity demonstrated here makes puzzle 83 seem "Plain" in comparison!!!
These 100 puzzles bear excellent testimony to Araucaria's creative genius. My only slight regret is that the collection lacks a preface in which Araucaria's contribution to and eminence within the development and history of British cryptic puzzles could have been discussed at length. This is a golden opportunity missed, as no other crossword collection of GUARDIAN puzzles has ever been devoted to a single compiler.
Noentheless this collection is a fine tribute to the country's most inventive and productive compiler. It is a privilege for solvers to be able to enjoy Araucaria's puzzles again in this collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2012
I started doing Grauniad crosswords back in the early fifties. In the sixties a new phenomenally clever compiler had me and my friends gripped every morning; to the extent that our day's work started late and ended VERY late. I discovered this compilation in June 2011. Now working solo in retirement I find myself constantly amazed at the ingenuity of Araucaria. It is now February 2012 and I am about to start on #85. What other book could give such pleasure at so little cost? There are several puzzles which I have not completed; one or two clues having defeated me. The solutions are there, at the back of the book. It's tempting to take a peek but I'd rather not let Araucaria claim victory in this battle of minds. One word of warning - the puzzles are somewhat English. For Scots, and others possibly, one should note that "church" generally means the Church of England, not the Kirk or Chapel. Likewise there's quite a lot of cricket hidden in words like "deep" and "run". Have fun!
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on 17 December 2010
Not experienced or regular crossworders, these crosswords are too tricky for us to complete without referring to the solutions in the back (tried 12 so far) but it gets four stars as it is no doubt a good cryptic crossword book. Some of the crosswords are themed, e.g. birds, beasts, which helps. A good thing about this and other crossword books is that they work out cheaper than buying a newspaper every day to get previous days' solutions.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Difficulty ranges from hard to experts only.
Including his first ever puzzle is a nice touch. This proves to be a gentle introduction, a warm up, to the intellectual gymnastics to come.
It's a shame that this will appeal only to more experienced solvers, though. The book coould have been much more of a universal classic if the answer section was enlarged to provide a brief breakdown of how each answer is arrived at. This would have increased the books length, but would have made it an excellent learning tool.
It's a bit impersonal as well. Here I agree with the previous reviewer, it's a shame there's no commentary or foreward from the tormentor himself.
Still a fromidable collection, though. Worth getting if, like me, you're trying to build those crossword muscles.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2010
These are cryptic crosswords hard enough for people who don't like crosswords that rely on generally unknown words, like me, but too easy for those who do. Most buyers will know what to expect.
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