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QUESTION What aspects of Lord Archer's astrological chart make his life go up and down so much?

LORD ARCHER'S birth chart is based on one simple but powerful contradiction.

It contains a struggle to overcome difficulties: his Sun (personal identity), Jupiter (expanding opportunities) and Saturn (hard realism) line up in a T-square (a right-angled triangle indicating stress) to his Moon, close to Pluto (mass interest) and Nodal axis (confrontation with karma) at a very public part of his chart.

This means problems with his achievements are never far from the news.

Meanwhile, it also includes an irresistible tendency to be a dramatic public communicator. His Mercury (planet of communication) is at his highly public Mid Heaven in a trine to his Moon and Pluto (interest of the masses), which sit on his Ascendant (how he projects his personality).

These two factors mean the news about him is always moving dramatically between good and bad. However hard (or particularly when) he tries to be discreet, incidents become public.

On the day of the court verdict, July 19, 2001, transiting Saturn (hard reality) had just made a once-in-291/2-years crossing of his birth chart's Mars and Venus (which rule his public image and political commitment).

Also that day, the Sun was making its yearly crossing of his birth Moon, Ascendant (ability to project his personality and move freely) towards Pluto.

So a major down occurred in his fortunes.

Jupiter will be in his 12th House of Prisons until July 2002. So, although he is due to remain in prison for a minimum of two years, we may well find him returning to the news from late July next year.

Roy Gillett, Astrological Association of Great Britain, Tottenham Hale, North London.

QUESTION Why is a rugby score called a try?

ORIGINALLY that's what it was; it earned the scoring side an opportunity to 'try' for goal and had no value of its own.

Rugby matches were decided solely on the goal score, whether as a result of tries, penalties, drop goals or the now- obsolete 'goal from a mark' (a free kick awarded for making a fair catch).

It wasn't until 1875 that a try had any scoring value at all. Even then it was only if the scores were level, the side with most tries winning.

In 1886 the value of all goals (including a converted try) was fixed at three points and an unconverted try at one. Since then the try has increased in value relative to the various types of goal - though there was a time when a drop goal was worth four points to the try's three.

Strictly speaking, today, a 'goal' is a converted try and is worth seven points (in rugby union) but everyone speaks of the try and the conversion as separate entities, worth five and two points respectively. …