Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,594 – Rufus

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on January 12th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

I sometimes get psyched out when I can’t get 1A easily, so I took a little while to get started today.  Ploughed through most of the puzzle once I got going but took a long time to finish off the top-left corner.

Overall quite fun with what seemed like a lot of cryptic definitions.  No real theme, although there are a couple of Old Testament references.

* = anagram
-x = removed
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
<< = reversed


7. ALBACORE. BARCELO(-n)A*.  Some sort of long-finned tuna, I had to resort to guessing ALB and looking it up.
10. MAIL. dd – ‘post’ and also armour (as in chainmail).
11. LARGE SCALE. dd.
12. VIABLE. VI(AB)LE.  Initially thought DOABLE and spent a while puzzling why DOLE=scurvy.
17. ALL TOLD. dd.
20. ACID RAIN. A + C.I. + DRAIN.
24. BOWS. cd.
25. BANNER. dd – a CND supporter wants to ban the bomb.
26. SHOVE OFF. dd.


2. BALL. dd.
6. PELLET. cd.
16. NOAH’S ARK. cd – took 2 of every animal.
18. LOT’S WIFE. cd – turned to salt when she looked back on Sodom and Gomorrah.
19. ANANAS. Hidden in bANANA Split.
21. CYMBAL. cd.
22. PILLOW. cd.
24. BOER. cd. Not that happy with ‘man’ as a clue for Boer.

46 Responses to “Guardian 24,594 – Rufus”

  1. beermagnet says:

    26A SHOVE OFF: I pondered SLOPE OFF at first and still wonder if it is a valid alternative – it is certainly depart, and I visualise boats being push out down a slope – but I put in SHOVE because of the “Push” aspect.
    ALBACORE is new one for me too. It couldn’t be much else from the checking letters and it was pleasing to find out about it when I got to work and looked it up.
    I liked the Noah’s Ark and Lot’s Wife CDs.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Ciaran.

    I hadn’t heard of ALBACORE, either, but it was the bottom right corner which was the last to go in for me. I didn’t like 24dn, although there’s no doubt that a Boer is a man.

    Apart from that, I thought there were some really great clues: elegant [I just keep on using that epithet for Rufus] surfaces for WEEKEND and ACID RAIN and the anagrams in IMPERSONAL and BAKED BEANS and I loved the cryptic LOT’S WIFE [particularly] NOAH’S ARK and PILLOW.

    Thanks once again, Rufus, for a lovely start to the week.

  3. brisbanegirl says:

    Good morning/evening all,

    I much prefer it when I’ve something to learn from a puzzle. This was pretty easy for a Monday evening.

    I also went with doable, but once I got flea bite it was obvious.

    I don’t know how you “bloggers” do it. It must still be dark and freezin’ cold.It’s just now dark here, but warm and humid. Another night for the air-conditioner … bad for the environment … good for me.

  4. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Beermagnet – Shove Off is the proper term with boats. Slope off sort of works though!

    Eileen – Yeah I’ve no problem with man=BOER, it’s more a problem with me being expected to guess ‘Boer’ from ‘Man’ in a million years! ‘National’ or something I’d have been happy with, as it’d narrow down the field a little. (As an aside I believe Boer literally means ‘farmer’).

  5. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Brisbanegirl – I don’t know how the other bloggers manage – some seem to have it all up and done before breakfast!

    Personally on a blogging day I tend to buy the paper on my way to work and see how much I can do in my 30 min commute, then pick a few clues off with it on my desk (on the sly, don’t tell my work!). On an ‘easy’ day I’ll finish it off this way, like today.

    Most days I have it about 60-75% done by the time my lunchtime starts, and I finish it + blog during lunch.

  6. Ian Stark says:

    I flew through this one, almost getting each answer in sequence (rare for me with The Guardian). That is until I reached the bottom right corner. I blame it on the BOER! It was my first thought but because it wasn’t particularly convincing I didn’t write it in until I got BOWS.

    I had to pause a moment before writing in LATE WIFE for 18d! Lovely clue – for me the best in the puzzle, when I’d worked it out. Also enjoyed 21d, 15a, 23a and 16d.

    17a it was a pleasant fifteen minutes, if a little undertaxing.

  7. brisbanegirl says:

    Beer ma (I think we could become friends),

    I always think that slope off refers to someone with his tail between his legs, which has no nautical theme. But I’m happy to slope off myself ….

  8. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Ciaran, I realise now my remark sounded patronising – it certainly wasn’t meant to be. I was really saying the same as you: OK, a Boer is a man but…

  9. brisbanegirl says:

    Beermagnet … I mean … My PC skips around within the fields, and somethimes I make no sense …. I blame the internet ( I checked this tiem … my joke..)

  10. smutchin says:

    I also put SLOPE OFF for 26a and DOABLE for 12a – glad to hear I’m not the only one.

    The bottom right corner foxed me and seeing the solutions, I have mixed feelings. Both 24a BOWS and 24d BOER are too vague for my liking. 22d PILLOW is a bit groansome but I like it, and I have to applaud the genius of 18d LOT’S WIFE. Brilliant!

    There were some other really lovely clues, too. I thought 1a ALBACORE (I’ve certainly heard of it), 15a WEEKEND, 20a ACID RAIN, 23a IMPERSONAL and 13d BAKED BEANS had excellent surfaces – very elegant, as Eileen says.

  11. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the blog Ciaran. Fairly straightforward so a nice start to the week. I’d put mail in due to the post part of the clue but wasn’t happy with it until I read your explanation.

    Boer was the last one I put in although I wasn’t sure it was right.

  12. brisbanegirl says:

    Maybe because I’m reading a South African author at the moment, I got Boer … but I think it’s a long stretch … when I think of a man-o-war, I think of jellyfish…

  13. brisbanegirl says:

    Good night ….after 10.30pm here …. bed time for me …

  14. Ian Stark says:

    Thinking about 7a – is ‘from’ a good anagram indicator?

  15. smutchin says:

    Ian – yes, it’s commonly used.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    When your anagram finder comes up with only one answer then 7ac wasn’t hard! Sitting on the train I would never have got it. I had to look up what it was to make sure it really was a fish.

    Boer, same as others.

    Really not convinced by VILE for SCURVY, I couldn’t get this and resorted to the cheat button. So then I checked SCURVY on several synonym finders. None of them came up with VILE. They came up with loads of words, but none of those came close to meaning VILE either. So I reckon you lot must be good guessers.

    Got to be honest, my mind wasn’t on this due the healing leg playing up. There’s a bone chip which is sticking up and keeps threatening to break the skin, and now it’s gone sore on me. The result was cheating on 2 more which my mind just didn’t get into gear with. You’ll be surprised that they were 1d and 10ac. I went up various avenues but didn’t come close the right ones. Too many oo ouches. Well that’s my story your honour and I plead diminished responsibilty!

    Umm, I haven’t started this weeks argument! Oh dear, I’m slipping with that too :(

  17. brisbanegirl says:

    Oh Derek.,

    You crack me up ….. chin up fella. Don’t worry about this lot of schmarty pants …. you’ll be fine.

  18. smutchin says:

    Never heard the expression “scurvy nave”, Derek?

  19. Ian Stark says:

    Yes, I’ve seen it used. Just not convinced that ‘from’ – on its own – is very strong (IMHO).

  20. Ian Stark says:

    19 was in response to 15, btw.

  21. Eileen says:

    Chambers: ‘scurvy: shabby, vile, contemptible’. I’ve only ever heard of it with knave [sic :-)]

    Ian: I must say that I didn’t think twice about 7ac being an anagram. I’ve no objections at all. Congratulations on your very honourable mention in Cryptica’s clue-writing competition!

  22. Geoff says:

    Smutchin – Isn’t the expression “scurvy knave” – or was it a deliberate pun? Great clue – wonderful surface reading.

    Being familiar with the very tasty tuna that is an ALBACORE, I had little difficulty with this puzzle. My last entry was 18dn. Although I agree that the wording is very clever, I groaned at yet another clue that consists only of a single cryptic definition. By my reckoning there are 5 in this crossword. Since there are a lot of agents of the Inquisition corresponding on this blog, I am surprised that there are not more grumbles about this non-Ximenean trick!

    Roger Squires produces huge numbers of immaculately tight and concise clues but (at least in his Rufus avatar for the Guardian) the large number of cd and dd clues (8 of the latter in this one) somewhat spoil the overall effect for me.

  23. smutchin says:

    nave/knave… oops! I’ve seen some dull churches in my time, but never vile ones.

    Like Eileen, I didn’t think twice about 7a being an anagram. I read it straight off as “A word for a type of fish taken from the letters of the word ‘Barcelona’ less the letter N.” It took me a bit longer to arrive at the solution.

    Eileen – if I might brag for a moment since you brought up the subject, I also got a mention from Paul for my clue for TYPESET, though you wouldn’t have known it was me since I didn’t use my pseudonym. Well done, Ian – very droll. The LILY THE PINK clue was a bit tortuous, I thought.

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    smutchin, I would have to say it is several decades since I heard or read that phrase. It’s parked in my obsolete, won’t ever need this again memory.

    Is the average age of crossword people rising? I wouldn’t think either of my two sons (22 & 18) have ever heard the phrase at all.

  25. JamieC says:

    Thanks for the blog. A fairly easy start to the week with some nice cd’s. However, can somebody please explain 24ac to me? Obviously BOWS are weapons, but why are they also something some people play with? Why could the answer not equally be GUNS?

  26. Geoff says:

    Jamie C: Violinists (for example) are players who use bows.

  27. smutchin says:

    Jamie, “some people” = “violinists” (or cellists, or whatever)

    As I said before, this is too vague for my liking.

  28. smutchin says:

    Derek, fair point. Unfortunately, that is the part of your memory you often need most when doing crosswords!

  29. JamieC says:

    D’oh! Of course that’s it. And I used to play the violin as well. Oh dear…

  30. Eileen says:

    Well, congratulations to you, too, Smutchin [I liked it] and to anyone else who goes under two or more names and thus may have been overlooked. [I didn’t even get the ‘Lily the Pink’ clue :-(]

  31. Geoff says:

    Derek: Not only is scurvy = disreputable rather old fashioned, but scurvy = vitamin C deficiency disease is probably not very well known amongst the young either. (The latter was historically an occupational disease of sailors, which is presumably the reason for its use as an insult particularly in maritime circles). I must ask my own sons (25 and 22) who, I suspect, often fall below their 5 daily portions.

    Good luck with the convalescence, or as thespians might say – break a leg!

  32. smutchin says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    You need to know that Lily The Pink was Christmas No.1 in 1968 for The Scaffold, while Pictures Of Lily was a chart hit for The Who and Pink is the name of a current chart star.

  33. smutchin says:

    As long as Romeo & Juliet is on the English syllabus at schools, the phrase “scurvy knave” will live on.

  34. Tom Hutton says:

    Re Derek’s last remark, one of the things I like about Rufus is that his crossword clues are generally solvable by people of any age and do not rely on obscure references to authors of the twenties and thirties.

    I put bows in because it had to be but didn’t get the playing part until I read the blog either. It’s a pretty smart clue.

    Man of war seems to be pretty good because apart from Jenkin’s Ear I can’t think of any other wars with a man of any sort in the title. (There are probably lots!)

  35. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Smutchin. I knew the first [or last, in the clue] third of that – which, I suppose, would have got me there, had I met it in a puzzle.

  36. Ian Stark says:

    I was delighted to have been a bronze winner, thanks for noticing, Eileen! I’ve recently started compiling my own crosswords and that was my pride and joy from the first one. Thanks, Smutchin, for explaining LILY THE PINK. I know of all three, but never made a connection! I suspect Paul’s comment about fewer entries might be more to do with the irregularity and lateness of the results rather than the festive period (when you’d think people would have more time). I was beginning to wonder whether it had all gone to the wall. Glad it hasn’t.

    Re the ‘from’ thing, I don’t really have any strong objection, and I certainly spotted it was an anagram straight off in 7a – my only point is that I don’t think it’s a very good indicator! But if the world thinks it is, I shall start using it myself if I need a quick’n’easy anagram sentence!

  37. Brian Harris says:

    Didn’t get 24 across or down.

    But really enjoyed 18dn – LOTS WIFE. Brilliant cryptic definition. One of my favourite clues for a while.

    The rest were all fairly easy, but enjoyable. Quite a few CDs, but I’m a fan of the CD, especially when it’s Rufus. And 13 down is a very entertaining anagram of BAKED BEANS.

  38. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sorry it’s taken a while to reply to the various replies I got. I was visisting the hospital. At long last they have decided the bone fragment is dangerous so the are trying to book me in for an op later this week, probably Thursday, and may keep me in overnight. So I shall probably only be here 2 more days this week. So anyone who fancies a good humoured verbal punch up had better get their orders in :)

    Forgive me declining the invitation to break a leg, been there, done that LOL.

    Apart from that, points taken.

  39. muck says:

    Ciaran said: “12ac Viable: Initially thought DOABLE and spent a while puzzling why DOLE=scurvy.”
    And me too. Good puzzle from Rufus, though it now seems sometimes to take longer to read and disentangle all the 15sqd comments than it did to solve the puzzle!

  40. steven says:

    I love EDNAS KEBABS.I can imagine Sid James saying it in a carry-on film.Saucy

  41. rightback says:

    I enjoyed this but agree with Ian that ‘from’ alone is a questionable anagram indicator; ‘that might come from’ is probably fairer and would have fit the surface reading of this clue.

    I didn’t know ‘Lot’s wife’ and spent a while confused over this before guessing ‘late wife’, so am pleased to have been educated here, thanks Ciaran!

  42. Ralph G says:

    For those interested in double cognates I’ve posted a note at #10 of 24,587 (Saturday’s blog). Don, and Latinists possibly, might be interested in an instance of yr elfen Ladin yn yr iaith Gymraeg.

  43. Hector says:

    I’m only familiar with “scurvy knave” thanks to Disney’s (amazing!) ‘Robin Hood’ — Lady Cluck delivers it with a gorgeous Scottish rolled ‘r’ in a game of badminton.

    I thought ‘Edna’s kebab’ was a lovely anagram for baked beans. Might have to start using it…

  44. don says:

    Ralph, diolch am hynny. Yn wir, mae llawer o geiriau Ladin yng Nghymraeg (e.e. meddyg = medic), ond nid yn croeseiriau Saesneg, os gwelwch yn dda!

  45. Barnaby Page says:


    Some friends had BREN instead BOER, which I think is a kind-of-justifiable alternative. (It’s a boy’s name, albeit an uncommon one, and a type of gun.)

    Still in gunnery vein, while I did opt for PELLET in the end, I thought BULLET was almost as good a solution for 6d – perhaps a bit too easy to go wrong there?

  46. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Some of you were discussing my LILY THE PINK clue.
    Smutchie’s explanation was correct, but I have to admit that Paul, I fear, made some minor changes to my original clue, which was: Who made pictures of her, the singer, topping the charts at Christmas 1968. So, pictures: plural (essential!), and without a question mark at the end (I think, essential as well).

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