Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,588/Rufus

Posted by Andrew on January 5th, 2009


My first day back at work after Christmas (boo!), and it’s back to traditional scheduling with a gentle Rufus puzzle. I’m unsure about my explanation of 19ac and unhappy about 26ac.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

5. RELIEF LIE in REF – see also 22dn
9. LARBOARD BOAR in LARD. Rufus likes his nautical terms.
17. ROC COR<. This mythical giant bird is best known to me from its appearance in the story of Sinbad the Sailor.
19. HAT cd – if “investment” can mean “clothing”, otherwise I don’t get it.
22. COMPACT DISCS COMPACT (=promise) + DISCUS (field event) less U
26. EXEUNT cd – not sure I like this: exeunt is a stage direction literally meaning “they leave”, so the tense is wrong.
28. KARATE RA (artist) in KATE = Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew (or Kiss Me, Kate).
1. IDLE dd – the “turn over” part referring to idling engines.
2. EURO RUE< O. I liked the way this misled me into expecting something like “mark” or “lira”.
3. TWO-TIMER dd – “jailed more than once?” = “doing time twice”.
4. AGREE Hidden
14. BOTTOM GEAR dd – shorts are clothes for the bottom (sort of), and youi might use a car or bike’s bottom gear to climb a hill
18. MEA CULPA (PAUL CAME)*. The Lartin phrase literally means “my fault”, and comes from the Roman Catholic confession.
21. MAGNET dd. The Greyfriars stories of Frank Richards, featuring Billy Bunter among others, appeared in The Magnet.And a magnet is an “attractive bar” – almost a Rufus cd on its own.
23. INFER IN (=”not out”) + REF<. The second time Judge=REF has been used in the puzzle.
24. TAXI TA (Territorial Army) + XI (=eleven, as in a cricket or football team).
25. ISLE I STOLE less TO

34 Responses to “Guardian 24,588/Rufus”

  1. Brian Harris says:

    We had exactly the same issues today as you, with 19 and 26… came to the same conclusion re “in vestment” as reference to clothing for 19 and grumbled about the wrong tense for 26.

    However, this was a fairly gentle, enjoyable crossword. Liked the anagram for 18ac and I quite liked 14ac too, although it’s perhaps a little awkward.

  2. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was dubious about the same 2 points.

    Maybe we are supposed to read 19ac as in-vestment? Dunno, but I was less than convinced.

    26ac) should lead to exeunted, the tense is indeed wrong. Also, given the word is somewhat obsolete, perhaps there should have been some word play. I had to press cheat on this one.

    Thanks for explaining the other one I had to cheat on, 21d). I had no idea where Bunter first appeared. I might have got the clue if I had.

    The rest was fine as far as I could see, and if a dummy like me says that then I guess it must have been easy LOL

  3. smutchin says:

    I didn’t get 26a… and I still don’t really get it. Hmm. I can’t help thinking there’s more to it than the suggested explanation.

    Elsewhere, “away to” in 25d seems a bit of a grammatical liberty but the answer was easy enough to deduce so I’m not complaining.

    I’m sure I’ve seen “capital investment” as a cryptic definition for hat before, but I don’t mind it at all – it works fine for me.

    The rest of it was all just fine – some very neat and elegant clueing as we expect from Rufus. 14d is particularly lovely and made me chuckle quietly to myself on the train.

  4. smutchin says:

    Just to clarify, I think the idea is that a hat is something into which you “invest” (ie insert) your “capital” (ie your head). Seems absolutely fine to me.

  5. Brian Harris says:

    Oops, yes, I meant 14dn rather 14ac. It was a nice clue. Rufus is always a pleasure to complete, and as I was saying to my colleague, I don’t mind slightly awkward clues when the overall puzzle is easy; it’s when the crossword as a whole is hard, and the constructions are problematic that I end up feeling somewhat cheated.

  6. TwoPies says:

    I started writing mine-sweeper for 12 and I’ve heard of a metal detector!

  7. Geoff Moss says:

    19a Chambers defines ‘investments’ as ‘clothes (archaic)’ so it is not too unreasonable to use ‘investment’ to indicate a single item of clothing. However, the grid would have allowed 17 and 19 to be four letter words so I think ‘capital investments’ to give ‘hats’ would have been a more accurate clue.

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks Geoff – I thought there might be an obscure definition of “investments” but haven’t got Chambers to hand.

    Re Billy Bunter and The Magnet: George Orwell wrote an essay on “Boys’ Weeklies”, which talks a lot about the Greyfriars stories and is well worth a read – I see it’s available at (fingers crossed that the link comes through…).

  9. Andrew says:

    oops – the link came through but is for the second half of the essay: try

  10. smutchin says:

    Just realised that I have a different solution for 12a – I wrote in WIRE DETECTOR (ie one of those devices you use to find where electrical cables run in walls). The checking letters don’t resolve the ambiguity and either answer could be valid depending on how you interpret “charge”.

  11. Geoff says:

    I put in MINE DETECTOR for 12ac, but Smutchin’s alternative is equally valid. This is sometimes a problem with cd clues- that, and the lack of a second line of approach to the solution, are the reasons why they are not my favourite type.

    The wrong tense in the clue for EXEUNT and the use of ‘ref’ in both 5ac and 23dn is unusual for Rufus, who is normally very neat and precise.

  12. Eileen says:

    I’m sure I’ve seen the investment clue before, too, Smutchin. My only query on the first run through was whether to put ‘hat’ or ‘cap’. [You set me wondering, Geoff, what Rufus could have used at 17ac, had he done as you suggest: ERIC would team up quite nicely with 1dn.]

    26ac bothers me, because it’s not like Rufus. I can’t see that there’s any other explanation but the tense is definitely wrong. ‘Leave on stage’
    wouldn’t be quite so snappy but it would still make sense.

    Some really elegant and smooth anagrams, as always, from Rufus. 13dn was rather a long clue for him but I really liked it!

    [I started to put ‘mine-sweeper’, too.]

  13. Eileen says:

    Sorry to have repeated your comments, rather, Geoff – took too long to type mine. and, of course, I meant Geoff Moss the first time.

  14. Andrew says:

    The online cheat facility confirms that MINE DETECTOR is the answer, but I agree that (as can happen with cds) there’s an ambiguity there.

  15. smutchin says:

    Geoff – re 12a/cryptic definitions: I’ve been reading Don Manley’s book, which I was given for Christmas, and I suspect his take on it would be that the clue requires a “straight” definition as well as the cryptic definition in order for it to adhere strictly to Ximenean principles and avoid such ambiguities.

    However, in this case, the ambiguity/wrong answer doesn’t lead you to inserting any wrong checked letters, so it doesn’t really matter – and the clue works equally well either way for me.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    amusing stuff re 12 ac). In the same vein, what about 22ac) and those poor unfortunates who spell it disk?

  17. don says:

    Thanks Rufus for an enjoyable start to the week. Some nice clues: 10 Across reads nicely as a whole, and I liked 7 Down, among others (or, inter alia, as Eileen et al. would say).

    I can’t believe the nit picking over dead language phrases. If you want to quibble, since when have changes in inertia been caused by inactivity?

    Derek, the discs used in the Compact Disc system produced by Philips, CBS/Sony, Sony and Polygram in 1982 are not spelled with a ‘k’, or shouldn’t be. Look on any CD for the words Compact Disc.

  18. Paul B says:

    Nit-picking? Dead language phrases? In a crosswords chatroom?

    Come off it, Don. We thrive on such issues – and it’s a *lot* worse on, ahem, another web site. And anyway, if anyone’s going to get a part of speech right it should probably be a crossword compiler of some standing.

    Ego vado.

  19. smutchin says:

    Don, “changes” is indicating an anagram – it has no relevance to the definition part of the clue. The definition is “due to inactivity” which is tenuous but makes a kind of sense.

  20. Geoff says:

    Don: My own remark about 26ac was more of an observation than a quibble. I wouldn’t have turned a hair had it been in a crossword by Araucaria or Paul, but we get used to particular setters’ styles and this seemed rather out of character for Rufus.

    In the clue for 1ac, “Changes” is the anagrind – the solution being an anagram of “in it are” – and the definition is “inactivity”, which is a reasonable synonym of INERTIA in the metaphorical rather than the scientific sense. This one isn’t a cd clue (unlike 22ac!)

  21. Geoff says:

    PS Last comment crossed with Smutchin’s. My interpretation is that “due to” is a linker between the two parts of the clue.

  22. Paul B says:

    I don’t think he likes the surface mutch, Smutch. I’m not sure about the cryptic reading, which equates to ‘anagrams (fodder) due to (answer)’. Does that work?

    Quite a few redundant words from Big R today ‘n’ all. Most untypical.

  23. Eileen says:

    Geoff.: libertarian though he may be, Araucaria is also a Classicist and therefore would never have written 25ac.

  24. Rufus says:

    Thanks for all the comments.
    “Investment” should be read as “in vestment” – vestment= garment for covering (Chambers), hence head cover for HAT.
    Never heard of WIRE DETECTOR! so apologies for that ambiguity.
    The clue for EXEUNT was one I used in The Times in the early 1990s when I submitted the clue “Leave in play”. The then editor changed it to “Left in play”. I was never good at Latin -I missed out on a scholarship to Dartmouth because of my poor Latin when I was 13 and had to join as a boy seaman before becoming an officer (everyone knows how important Latin is to a naval officer) – and I assumed it could also be translated “they have left”. I doubt whether one could use the word Exeunted. Apologies therefore to all, especially Eileen!

  25. Phaedrus says:

    What’s the odd imprecise tense amongst friends. Enjoyed this puzzle a lot – nice one Rufus!

  26. Paul B says:

    Or the odd redundant word. After all, there is a recession on.

  27. TwoPies says:

    Wow, what a website! We all quibble about an answer then the setter himself comes on and explains it. Fantastic!

  28. don says:

    Paul B, Is ‘Ego vado’ the answer to Brian’s 18 Across or Eileen’s 25 Across? I didn’t get either of those.

  29. Andrew says:

    Rufus, thanks for your explanations, and Happy New Year to you.

  30. Eileen says:

    Rufus: a delayed response, as I’ve been out. As you see, the only reason I commented on 25ac was that it was so unlike you – and you were right in the first place, so no apologies needed – the Editor should have known better!

    Thank you for the puzzle and the explanation – and Happy New Year!

  31. smutchin says:

    Rufus, many thanks for the explanations/clarifications and no apologies needed – or perhaps it’s the Times crossword editor who should be apologising to you? As for 12a, the “ambiguity” seems to be entirely of my own devising – everyone else got the correct answer, after all.

    Paul B, I’m usually the first to complain about nonsensical surface readings but I see no cause for complaint in 1a.

    Phaedrus, surely you know that crossword enthusiasts take having fun very seriously indeed? (When I worked on a daily newspaper, I soon learned that nothing provokes readers to write in and complain so much as a mistake in the crossword.)

  32. Derek Lazenby says:

    Don, mate, it is only a a c in disc here. The stats page indicates there are US users of this site. They presumably use the online version of the crossword. So I was just feeling sorry for them. But that has more to do with the season of goodwill, any other time I’d tell them to learn to spell.

    Rufus, don’t feel bad, nit picking is half the fun. Yours are the only ones I dig out of the archive!

  33. steven164 says:

    Fair enough,Rufus might have met Bunter in the “Magnet”but I’ve never heard of the”magnet”,and without the red herrings of Rufuses past I’d have got “magnet”not that I’m tart!

  34. Paul B says:

    Smutch! Re yr 31, nor do I. I went below the waterline for my quib.

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