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Aims. We present a detailed analysis of the star HD 6286 = BE Psc from 16 years of spectroscopic observations and 18 seasons of photometric ones. The star is an evolved, chromospherically active, eclipsing binary, consisting of a K1 giant plus an F6 dwarf/subgiant in a circular orbit with a period of 35.671 days. A faint, close visual companion of spectral type G0 makes the system triple. The orbital inclination of the eclipsing pair is 818.

Methods. We have obtained simultaneous solutions with our extensive set of radial velocities and light curves that include the star spot variability of the K giant, the ellipticity of the K giant, and the eclipses of the spectroscopic binary system.

Results. Our spot solutions suggest persistent polar spots, one in each hemisphere, that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere by K over the timespan of our observations. The K giant and the F6 dwarf/subgiant have masses of 1.56 and 1.31 and mean radii of 12.0 and 1.9 , respectively. The masses have uncertainties of just 1.5%. No irradiation effect was detected. We compared our results to theoretical evolutionary tracks that suggest an age for the system of 2.7 Gyr. The modest logarithmic lithium abundance of the primary of 1.30 (upper limit) indicates that the star may have already experienced its first dredge up. The rotation period of the primary is days and appears to be synchronized with the orbital period of the eclipsing pair to within 0.5%. Our data are inconclusive as to whether the secondary is synchronized.

Conclusions. Circularization of the orbit has taken place, and we conclude that the rapid increase in the size of the K giant, as it evolved across the Hertzsprung gap and up the base of the giant branch, likely caused the orbit to become circular.