Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24326/Rufus

Posted by Colin Blackburn on March 3rd, 2008

Colin Blackburn.

I always find it difficult to blog Rufus puzzles without sounding churlish. Rufus produces some cracking clues and his puzzles are usually at the easier end of the scale. However, I’m not a great fan of the cryptic definition and too many CDs spoil things for me especially when some are not that far from straight definitions. This puzzle had an example of a very good CD and, for me, a very bad one.

* anagram
< reversal
CD cryptic definition
DD double definition
5 PALAVERS PAL+AVERS the definition is ‘talks’, as in conferences, and as such is the root of the word that tends to be used differently.
10 STUMPS DD if you don’t know cricket then this clue might have had you stumped! One method of dismissing a batsman is stumping and the stumps are drawn (from the ground) at the end of a match.
11 ACHILLES HEEL CD ‘Vulnerable spot targeted by Paris’, I see nothing cryptic in this at all.
18 TATE DD ? not sure about this, is TATE an old music-hall comedian?
20 PUT ONE’S OAR IN DD &lit interesting clue this one. Read two ways the clue refers to the literal and metaphorical meaning of the answer.
23 COVERS DD very nice play on words here.
24 TIE BREAKS CD this, on the other hand, is a very good cryptic definition, ‘Struggle in which the services prove decisive’
25 ESPALIER (PEARS LIE)* after looking up the word I realised that this is a sort of semi-&lit. An ESPALIER is a lattice-work used to train fruit trees.
2 EBOR ROBE< the Archbishop of York signs himself EBOR, short for Eboracum the Roman name for York.
5 PESTLE AND MORTAR CD used to pound spices and other food.
6 LESSENED (NEEDLESS)* very concise but I’m not sure about ‘Another’ as an anagram indicator.
12 MIRACULOUS (OUR MUSICAL)* excellent anagram.
15 CUT AND RUN CD ? I’m not certain here either. I can see all the bits but I’m not sure if I’m reading a CD or something with more word play.
16 WATER SKI (RISK A WET)* not sure what role the question mark plays here, maybe it hints at the augmented definition?
19 GREENS DD a very clever cryptic second definition here refers to putting GREENS.
22 PAIR I in PAR nice little clue to end with.

20 Responses to “Guardian 24326/Rufus”

  1. tuck says:

    18ac Harry Tate music hall impressionist at the beginning of the last century

  2. Kieron says:

    15d – two synonyms for two different means of “operate”, no? CUT (“operate” surgically) and RUN (e.g., “operate”/”run” a machine).

    I quite liked that.

  3. Colin Blackburn says:

    Oh yes, old Harry Tate…why didn’t I remember him? Interesting that the clue is essentially the same surname defined twice. Thanks Tuck.

    Thanks Kieron. On re-reading it I see what you mean. I did see the two means of operation but then failed to see a full definition. I had assumed, incorrectly, that the definition of the term was more than simply ‘Get away!’ but after checking in Chambers that’s all that the term means.

  4. Chris says:

    I actually thought 15d was a really good clue, and I liked 20a a lot too. Agree about 11a, though – what is cryptic about it?

  5. Jill and Tamzin says:

    We have seen the GREENS before, for ‘putting on these vegetables’ or something.

    It was quite easy, and then you get a joke about EBOR!

    That is Rufus.

  6. Ron says:

    14a. Is it agencies? If so, why?

  7. Kieron says:

    Ron: 14a is another cryptic definition, I think…. albeit a very tortuous one.

    AGENCIES are the “instruments” of some larger, “principal” body/organisation/person, but they’re not themselves that principal body and so don’t do their work “as the principal parts” — they are mere proxies for the “principal parts”.

    It just about makes logical sense read that way, at least, and the surface reading (i.e., of musical instruments not playing the main sections of an orchestral piece) works too. Just about.

    11a (“Vulnerable spot targeted by Paris”) I just took to be another poor cryptic – based around the military defensive frailities of districts in the French capital. Admittedly, with a good classical education, the surface reading dissolves to nothing and The Iliad stares back at you. But let’s not be too hard on Rufus – after 66,000-odd compilations, it’s good to see Mr Squires still ready to embrace the current zeitgeist and mood of international hyper-fear and wars on terror.

  8. rightback says:

    AGENCIES took me over twice as long as the whole of the rest of this puzzle.

  9. Paul B says:

    In the film Troy – directed by Wolfgang Petersen, well-known for for ultra-tight acquaintance with literary inaccuracy and hysterical fact – Achilles is indeed slain by Paris, although the arrow to the heel is portrayed as debilitating rather than fatal, with subsequent arrow strikes to more vital parts causing the hero’s demise.

    But in The Iliad, composed 7th or 8th century BC, there is no mention of any vulnerability (or invulnerability) for Achilles, and he is not slain. The book kind of dwindles out after the death of Hector anyway, with Troy’s fate pretty much sealed at that point. Wolfgang’s version very sensibly takes care of any loose ends.

    We only come across the arrow (in some versions guided by a god – it’s unclear therefore whether the vulnerable spot is ever actually targeted by Paris) idea, complete with Styx mythology, around 900 years later in Statius: prior texts state that Achilles is whacked whilst visiting Polyxena (a princess of Troy), by Paris, though not with an arrow but a knife to the back.

    And that Orlando Bloom looks every inch the coward to me.

  10. muck says:

    Quite a few cricket answers, here. Apart from 10ac (STUMPS) we have 15dn CUT(and)RUN, 13ac KIWI, 23ac COVERS, 24ac (Tie)BREAK and 22dn PAIR.

  11. Clare says:

    So am I right in thiknking nobody has got 1A or 9A?


  12. Clare says:

    4D is SLIGHT, by the way.
    7D is VOUCH.
    21D is OPERA.
    13A is KIWI.
    17A is GAINSAID.
    26A is SENTRY.

    Apols for any repetition, have bath running so no time to check which answers already given in comments.

    We thought 2D was TUTU. If it’s EBOR, maybe that’ll make 1A and 9A easier… will go back for another look.

  13. radchenko says:

    Clare: REMISS and FORFEITS respectively, though I’m not sure about remiss for delinquent (though I’m still in a bit of a state of shock from Saturday’s Enigmatist, to be honest).

    Not every blog has every clue. Which can be a bit of a bother when someone else’s trivia is your bugbear, but there you go. Diversity keeps it interesting.

  14. Clare says:

    Hmph, lukewarm baths are no fun.

    Anyway, with 2D as EBOR, that gives us REMISS for 1A and FORFEITS for 9A. My work here is done.

  15. Clare says:

    Aha yes, as you’ll see I was good and went away to work them out for myself.

    “Not every blog has every clue”

    Does that mean I have broken some etiquette by providing the missing answers?

    “Which can be a bit of a bother when someone else’s trivia is your bugbear”

    Confused… what do you mean?

  16. hillclimber says:

    Well, am disappointed to have failed on 14a :-(

    Other than that, very enjoyable, 2d was a good bluff, as, like Clare, I had initally arrived at Tutu.

    I also didn’t spot the anagram in 25a, though I did solve the clue, as my father was a keen amateur fruit grower, so I knew the word.A very good clue therefore, I thought.

    Clare, FYI, I think that not every clue is defined, in order not to upset the providers of the Premium Rate phonelines that provide the answers to those who need them……….
    However, I’m not sure regarding the time limit, as Radchenko says, it’s very frustrating when everyone seems to know the answer but yourself…………… 😉

  17. struggler says:

    Muck: it is pushing it a bit to get cricket into 24ac, which is all about tennis!

  18. Colin Blackburn says:

    Crikey, 17 comments!

    Clare, as someone has pointed out a blog may not address every answer. This doesn’t mean the blogger didn’t get them. Bloggers tend to own up to answers they failed to get, I certainly do.

    The reason for not blogging all the answers are twofold. First the papers tend to have premium rate numbers to provide answers and fifteensquared doesn’t want to completely compromise that business. Second, bloggers have real lives and typing up a full blog can take a good deal of time. Competition puzzles after their closing dates will tend to have fuller or even complete blogs.

    If there are contentious or difficult answers that are not blogged then they usual come out in the discussion afterwards.

    Incidentally, if you regularly solve the puzzles and would like to contribute a blog yourself just get in touch with the site administrator—I’me sure his address is up there somewhere.

  19. Clare says:

    Ah yes, I see.

    Incidentally I understand the comment about trivia vs bugbears now, although I’m still interested to know… this implies bloggers will only post the answers they thought were difficult and leave out the trivial ones – but often bloggers get stuck and don’t get the answers to some… in which case it would be advantageous if their trivia was your bugbear, as you could get the ones they couldn’t…

    I’m not sure I solve them often enough to contribute to the blog – I tend to go through phases. Will think about it though.

  20. Colin Blackburn says:

    I can’t speak for all bloggers but I tend to blog those I thought difficult, those that use very parochial references, those that are outstanding in some way, those that are dreadful and those I didn’t get all within the constraints of blogging a selection of clues! The first four categories are always going to be subjective to some degree and it’s difficult to second guess the answers that others will have thought difficult.


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