Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23962/Rufus – Racy motley crew of clues

Posted by ilancaron on January 1st, 2007


The things you learn: my basic knowledge of cricket and opera has increased significantly since I started doing cryptics regularly. A nice selection of Rufusian puns and cryptic definitions.

You’d think there’d be a reference to the new year… I can’t find it unless it’s BRAND-NEW at 9A.


5 OBSTACLE – hurdles are a kind of OBSTACLE in a race.
9 BRAND-N+E+W – “three quarters” of the compass can produce N, E and W. Not sure why “finished” is required unless it (redundantly) indicates that the “three quarters” finish the phrase.
13 STAR – a fine anag &lit: arts* with “performing” as the anagrind and the whole thing is a great def of a STAR: “Big name in the performing arts”.
17 ONCE MORE – I think “…but for the last time” refers to the answer we often give as parents.
18 SHED – double meaning: “slough” is a lovely versatile word isn’t it?
23 VIGO+[ho]UR – One of the unintended side-effects of following European soccer (OK, football) is getting to know various secondary towns – in this case VIGO in Spain.
24 LATITUDE – double meaning: the 2nd def is somewhat cryptic: “a matter of degree”.
25 ANCESTRY – (tyres can)*. Second appearance of “race” in this puzzle – the cute trick is that in 5A and this clue, “race” has opposite cryptic and direct meanings.


2 OG(R)E – rev(ego=”I”) contains R[ex] for “king”.
3 BONAPARTE – (one tap bar)* — I knew someone in high-school named BONAPARTE who claimed too that he was v. distantly related.
4 DON+A+TE – DON is a familiar TLB (three-letter boy). At first I was a bit mystified by the wordplay since (d, a note)* is also DONATE.
5 ON WITH THE MOTLEY – (Timothy, Helen, two)*. Turns out to be an aria from Pagliacci made famous by Caruso a century ago singing Vesti la guibba. Relatively easy to work out with crossing letters if you don’t know it (as I didn’t) given the common small words (ON, WITH, THE) and the fact that it’s an obvious anagram (proper names are dead giveaways).
6 SPOT CASH – nice charade: “place” and “money” for paying on the spot. Which I’m guessing is what bookies have to do when they pay out – not that I’ve ever bet on anything. Well, I did bet that Gore would win the 2000 election. But we know what happened to that one.
8 LEG SPINNER – For Rufus, a somewhat weak surface (dare I say “Araucarian”?). LEG is the “on” side in cricket and, again in cricket, a LEG SPINNER bowler “spins” the ball (anticlockwise or clockwise – probably depending on whether he’s south or north of the equator).
12 STENTORIAN – (A tenor isn’t)* — an intentional reference to Caruso’s rendition of 5D?
15 LAST RITES – cryptic def for a cobbler’s (he of lasting fame) funeral service.
16 HOLY=”wholly” WRIT – homophone for an archaic term for the “The Scriptures”.
22 ID+ES[t] – Remember the IDES of March? And “that is” was “id est” in Roman times.

4 Responses to “Guardian 23962/Rufus – Racy motley crew of clues”

  1. says:

    I’ll bet more people know Vesti la guibba than they think. Try some recordings here – Franco Corelli does it pretty well.

  2. says:

    The letters “TE” for note occurs often in crosswords. Can anyone tell me the connection? Thanks in advance.

  3. says:

    TE is the 7th note the scale — also TI. (My source: Julie Andrews in the “The Sound of Music”)

  4. says:

    All the tonic sol-fa note names (do, re, mi etc.) have variant spellings to watch out for (and the variant name Ut for Do in some countries). Note can also of course mean A/B/C/D/E/F/G, N.B. and in theory at least, breve, minim, crotchet, quaver etc.). The resulting range of possibilities means that some people don’t like “note”, for the same reasons as “state” and “man/woman” (Art, Bert, Les, Des, Vi, Di, etc. etc.). I sit on the fence a bit – I don’t mind these if the setter makes sure there’s enough other stuff to work off, and uses them in moderation. And if he uses “note” for something like the E-flat in DEFLATE, that’s fine as a crafty bit of novelty.

    For more on the musical stuff see . The “accidental” names like Di = “Do sharp” are not used in crosswords, probably because they’re not listed in the dictionaries used for reference.

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