Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24184/ Rufus Gentle start to the week.

Posted by neildubya on September 17th, 2007


I finished this more swiftly than any other Guardian crossword I have completed, taking 9 minutes. There didn’t seem much to stretch one’s mind, but maybe that’s a good thing for Monday morning. I believe the Times always starts the week with an easy one.
12 TORCHES anagram of escort around the end of watcH.
13 RI N SE
19 SHORT HEAD anagram of thrashed and o (nothing). A racing term for a narrow victory.
22 SANGRIA – anagram of ‘a grain’s’.
23 LORE LE I was one of the Rhine Maidens and is also a tall rock in the Rhine.
24 CHESS This seemed a very feeble literal clue, does anyone else know such clues as ‘Lafayettes’?


1 M ELODR AMAS – anagram of older surrounded by mama’s.
3 RISQUE – buried in the clue.
5 FEATHERBED – amusing clue, the down being feathers, and under meaning beneath, the phrase having nothing to do with Australia.
6 IMPROPER – another Lafayette.
7 PATH AN nomads who live in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
14 SEGREGATED – anagram of gets agreed.
18 ABSOLUTE – anagram bales out.
20 OUNCE – also known as the Snow Leopard.

18 Responses to “Guardian 24184/ Rufus Gentle start to the week.”

  1. Morph says:

    Er, no – what’s a Lafayette? Is 15 down one too?
    I took under 10 minutes too, which is rare for me. I liked FEATHERBED.

  2. Jim says:

    24A is a double-meaning clue; CHESS being both a board GAME and the title of a musical SHOW. Please elaborate on Lafayette!

  3. Simply_simon says:

    It seemed to me a very feeble double meaning – a musical about playing chess named after the game; that seems to me as weedy as “Musical Felines” answer – CATS. I always understood a Lafayette to be an immediately obvious answer. I am not sure of the origin, but I think it’s a derogatory term.

  4. Barbara says:

    According to the on-line version, puzzle #24184 was set by Quantum.
    Does the newspaper version list Rufus?

  5. Simply_simon says:

    Yes the newspaper says Rufus is the author.

  6. Rufus says:

    I agree that, were the clue solely about a musical “show” that was based on the “game” of Chess it would certainly be a Lafayette – a term I have never heard of before. I was hoping that, as a “game show” is defined in Chambers as “a television show with contestants competing for prizes”, it might mislead. Unfortunately, Simon isn’t that simple! Like the cryptic definitions mentioned in recent comments, if one misses the misleading element, they can be very easy, e.g. “A stiff examination” for POST-MORTEM, “Bar of soap” for THE ROVER’S RETURN.

  7. Stan says:

    Yes, Times was a walkover too. What’s the history of Dumb-Down Monday anyway ? I know I don’t feel materially more thick on a Monday than on a Tuesday – maybe the crossword editor are scared of breaking my spirit too early in the week ?

  8. Comfy Settee says:

    Poor old Rufus seems to cop flak from this site every Mon…! I hope he has a thick skin.

  9. muck says:

    The on-line puzzle Print version was billed as Quantum, but it seemed pretty much Rufus to me!

  10. Stan says:

    I wasn’t being rude to the setter – I know they are asked to be merciful on Mondays. The whole Monday thing just doesn’t make sense to me. And for the record, there were some very satisfying clues today.

  11. muck says:

    Thanks to Rufus for another enjoyable Monday puzzle – I checked in the paper which I bought later and it did have your name on it! I’m getting fed up with some of the really difficult setters later in the week.

  12. AlanR says:

    Am I the only one who finds Rufus’s puzzles harder than most of the other setters’? I didn’t get chess or parole, and still don’t know 4 down: ‘come to a party’.

  13. ilancaron says:

    I tend to a Rufus fan since I find his clues have satisfyingly meaningful surfaces (unlike someone else who sets for the Guardian whose name begins with A).

    I liked 4D: WAKE — economical double meaning with the division between the “to” and “a”.

  14. struggler says:

    AlanR — I certainly find Rufus’s harder than do those solvers who post on here and always feel obliged to tell the likes of you and me how thick we are for having to think about them for a bit longer.

    Ilancaron — thank you for the answer to 4D, which was the only one that I hadn’t solved.

    Rufus — Re. 24A, I have never heard of the musical, so your inclusion of ‘show’ in the clue wasn’t so much misleading as incomprehensible, given that the name of the game was the obvious solution for the grid.

  15. Testy says:

    I think that “Game show” is a good clue and has a suitably misleading surface as a common phrase. As opposed something like “Musical felines” where the surface, whilst it does make sense, does not mislead at all.

    Regarding easy Mondays, I don’t do Sudokus (spits over shoulder) myself but I understand that in some publications they often tend to start easy and end the week a bit harder. It’s clearly necessary to have different levels of difficulty to suit different levels of punters. Codifying this according to the days of the week allows people to find their level and know which days are likely to suit them. If they get progressively harder through the week it also helps to tempt them on to the next level.

    If it were completely random then someone who is tempted to try an easy one for the first time one week could have the wind taken out of their sails the next week.

    BTW I’ve never heard of Lafayette but quite like the idea of using it in the future!

  16. petebiddlecombe says:

    Testy: You’re bang on about ‘Game show’. In a similar vein, try an old favourite of mine from Azed: Tea shop (5)

    Grading systems work if people know about them. In the US, the NY Times has a progression from easy Monday to very tough Saturday and this is well known. But here, apart from ‘easy Monday’ and ‘quite possibly difficult Saturday’ in several papers, gradings are not attempted and it’s probably not worth it – we’ve heard here that not everyone finds Rufus easy. To Muck, I’d say ‘persevere – you will learn to solve the harder puzzles eventually, and will appreciate them’.

    Times easy on a Monday? The official line from Richard Browne, Times xwd editor, is that there is no deliberate attempt to make Monday easier. On an empirical basis, I think Mondays are a bit easier on average but not as consistently as say 10 years ago. There’s some evidence from a batch of puzzles about 18 months ago at: , and the unofficial contests at are gradually accumulating evidence that I may use for similar anorak analysis one day.

  17. Testy says:

    Would that be GRASS?

  18. Rufus says:

    Thanks for all the comments – many things to think about! Regarding starting with easy puzzles on Mondays, this is my brief for the Guardian; it was also the brief for The Times in the 10 years I set for the paper, through several editors from John Grant in 1995, and nearly always on Mondays until Mike Laws took over. I assume my alternate Mondays in the FT is for the same reason, and after appearing on most days of the week for the Telegraph I have ended up on Mondays there. There must be a reason!

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