Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24618 / Rufus

Posted by mhl on February 9th, 2009


A fun puzzle from Rufus to start the week. I particularly enjoyed 26a and 13 down.

7. DOWNCAST Double definition
9. IN LIEU IN = “Not out” + LIE + U
10. STOW South TO West
11. PERMISSION PER = “provided by” + MISSION = “embassy”
12. ANCHOR Double definition
15. EXPRESS Double definition
17. APPOINT A + P = “quiet” + POINT
22. IN KIND Double definition
24. EVEN Double definition
25. SEVERN EVER from S[out] to N[orth]
26. TRAPPIST A hilarious cryptic definition
1. FORT KNOX Homonyms of “fought” and “knocks”
2. ANEW A + N = “point” + WE reversed
3. CAMPER Cryptic definition; read “intent” as “in tent”
4. FINISH UP I read this as an &lit; – to “finish up” might be to end a game ahead of someone else (“End on top?”), and FINISH = “End” on UP = “top”
5. CLOSED BOOK Double definition
6. RECOIL Double definition, the second referring to recoil from a gun
8. THRASH TH[e] + RASH; there has been discussion in the past of the “party” meaning of THRASH
13. HARD-BOILED Cryptic definition; “soldiers” in the sense of bits of toast
18. NONSENSE NO = “Negative” + NS = “poles” + (SEEN)*
19. SECRET Cryptic definition
22. INDIAN I didn’t know this before, but apparently Indian Clubs are the clubs that jugglers use, and used to be swung around for exercise
24. ESPY P = “parking” in (YES)*

33 Responses to “Guardian 24618 / Rufus”

  1. TwoPies says:

    Thanks mhl. I got into a bit of a pickle in the top left at first. I had 7ac as DOWNBEAT, the down had been beat i.e. the feathers had lost. And 10ac as AJAR i.e. if the door is 180 degrees when it’s closed then it’s a bit more when open and a jar is a store. That gave me O and J so I thought 1dn must be DOW JONES and there’d been another printing mistake. But then I got EXPRESS, remembered FORT KNOX and it all fell into place. An enjoyable start to the week despite all that!

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Mhl. One of my fastest ever, I think, but no less enjoyable for that. Like you, I just loved 26ac and 13dn. Real laugh-out-loud ones. I liked 10ac, too.

  3. Smutchin says:

    Twopies, if it’s any consolation, I also put downbeat for 7a.

    Mhl, thanks for clearing up a couple of solutions that puzzled me – ie 11a (I read “by” as a link word and wondered at the definition of embassy) and 22d (have heard of Indian clubs before but my memory let me down). Agree that 26a and 13d are just wonderful. Also really liked 21d.

  4. brisbanegirl says:

    Hello all,

    Thanks mhl. I was also stuck on 10ac TwoPies, but for different reasons … thinking it had somethins to do with angles, the down letters set me right tho.

    A nice distraction, and like Eileen, I managed this in record time for me … competing it (and my sandwich) in my lunch half-hour … without needing to resort to any “cheating” … what a feat.

  5. Ian Stark says:

    Like you, Eileen, one of my fastest times ever, but still a fun puzzle. I thought 21d was brilliant! One initial slip up was to put in REPORT instead of RECOIL but that was soon sorted with SCHEDULE. My confidence has returned after a shaky end to last week! Still stuck on two from Saturday, though.

    Anyone else looking for further distractions today is welcome to have a crack at my efforts (click on my name, there are seven posted so far) and I recommend a stab at Smutchin’s excellent puzzles as well (links in previous posts).

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ian. You and Smutchin are doing a grand job! [I’m not very computer-clever, so it took me a bit longer to work out how to print yours, but I’ve got there now and looking forward to trying the rest.]

    I wonder if your ‘two from Saturday’ are the same two that foxed me for such a long time; again, I got there in the end – but what a cracker!

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Managed to finish this on the bus trip to work this morning, so an early comment from me.

    I’m also still stuck on a couple from Saturday. In confirming one of my suspected answers, google came across someone supplying the answer to it. I don’t know what the general opinion of this is, but I find it disappointing. If only google were not so swift in trawling the net!

    (It was at Guardian Araucaria in the Answer Bank, where Hammersgirl blatantly asks for the answer to the longest clue)

  8. Andrew says:

    Dave, I agree with you – I was very pleased with myself to get the answer you’re talking about, so it’s a pity to see it given away for nothing like that. I wonder who will be doing the Valentine’s day special next Saturday…

    Anyway, back on topic, a nice one from Rufus today. It just shows that a puzzle can be easy but still good fun.

  9. Eileen says:

    Dave / Andrew: I’m really shocked. That’s just not cricket! [I felt guilty even mentioning Saturday’s puzzle.]

  10. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Dave: that could be misconstrued. I was agreeing with you, not accusing you of foul play!!

  11. brisbanegirl says:

    Hey you lot,

    Some of us don’t do the weekend puzzle … not enough time to indulge in frivilous pastimes ;-), there’s chores to be done and people to see … back to the program.

  12. Ian Stark says:

    Well I suppose I shouldn’t specify which clues I had trouble with, Eileen – I believe people get upset at early discussion of the prize puzzles!

    All I will say is that one clue is the square root of the other, so that narrows it down a bit!

    Re my puzzles, sorry, it’s not that clear – you have to click the PDF button to get the printable version. I’ll spend some time sorting out the overall look and feel when I get a chance (some time in 2011).

    Back to today’s puzzle – 5d started nicely, but I thought it was a shame that the word ‘bookie’ was used given that ‘book’ was part of the answer. I just felt that to be too much of a giveaway. Still a great puzzle overall.

  13. brisbanegirl says:

    Re: 5dn, maybe SP or TAB (or your equivalent)could have been better.

    Not really alot to discuss in this one, fair, reasonably easy and fun, I really can’t ask for more … But, I was in the mood for some robust discussion … never mind … I’ll just have to wait.

  14. Ian says:

    Yes 13a was very clever! 10a too. 8d v. odd though.

  15. Eileen says:

    Enough said, Ian.

    Re your puzzles: it was just that I didn’t spot the PDF. No problem at all now – nothing wrong with the overall look.

  16. Stakhanovite says:

    I liked 25A -an “& not lit.”

  17. Geoff says:

    Rufus always provides an elegant puzzle with short, well-crafted clues (I’m sure there are fewer words in the sets of clues to his crosswords than in those of any other compiler).

    His cryptic definition clues (like 13dn, 19dn, 26ac) can be extremely clever and funny, but as un-Ximenean as anything that Araucaria turns out – the definition and the wordplay can be the same (&lit) but you need both to be kosher.

    My favourites are clever DOUBLE defs like 10ac, 24ac, 25ac. Not a dd, but splendid is the wonderful 21dn.

    (Found Saturday’s Araucaria tougher than last week’s, but it still yielded – in a couple of sittings – without recourse to artificial aid. The longest clue wasn’t my last entry!)

  18. smutchin says:

    Geoff, word count is something I’ve been paying a lot of attention to since taking up setting for myself. I’ve even done a wee bit of statistical analysis on a handful of FT and Guardian puzzles, and it seems the average clue length for a 28-32 word, 15×15 puzzle tends to fall in the range 6-7.5 words. And the figures back it up, Rufus is indeed one of the most concise clue writers around.

    I don’t know how deliberate this is – I suspect his vast experience means it probably comes naturally now. But I can only admire his craft – as a novice, I have to work quite hard at keeping the word count down.

  19. Chris says:

    It’s a long-running and well-worn complaint this, I know, but the issue doesn’t get any less annoying over time: in my accent, and in lots of other accents around the country, “fought” and “fort” aren’t even close to being homophones. It’s incredibly unfair and exclusive to have clues that only make sense to people from a particular part of England.

  20. Brian Harris says:

    Fun, easy, enjoyable puzzle. Like mhl, particularly liked 26 ac and 13 dn. Lovely dds. Originally, I had DOWNBEAT for 7 ac, but soon figured out that didn’t work.

    Chris, I’m intrigued by the fort/fought issue. I can’t imagine how those two words could ever sound different?

  21. Geoff says:

    Brian: The problem is that of rhotic and non-rhotic accents. In Scotland, the West Country and most of the USA, the letter ‘r’ is always pronounced (they are rhotic accents). Hence ‘fort’ and ‘fought’ differ in that the former has an ‘r’ – which also slightly changes the quality of the vowel.

    Smutchin: Rufus’s admirable terseness is largely due to his vast experience – he is reputed to have set more cryptics than any other compiler – but he also avoids themed crosswords, which often include words that are very difficult to clue concisely.

  22. Brian Harris says:

    @Geoff. Ah, I see. Apologies for what may have appeared as narrow-mindedness. I do have several Scottish friends, but as they all live in London, their accents are rather watered down.

    An interesting issue, though. Not one I’d considered before.

  23. steven says:

    I really enjoyed this one and will use it as an example for people new to cryptic crosswords.I got 4dn but being a decorator immediately took “finish” to mean a top coat of paint.A common question from the forman being”we finished up here then?”

  24. Geoff says:

    The case of fort/fought is even more fraught – in the richer Scots accents, the ‘gh’ of ‘fought’ is also pronounced as a guttural (as in loch)!

    The rhotic/non-rhotic problem often seems to crop up. It strikes me that a very large proportion of the homophones in non-rhotic English accents arise precisely because of the loss of ‘r’ after vowels in the middle of words.

  25. mhl says:

    smutchin: looking at word lengths in clues is a nice idea. It sounds as if this is very similar to your results:

    When I try to set crosswords, I tend to find that the hardest clues to write are elegant double definitions…

  26. smutchin says:

    Thanks, Mhl, that’s really interesting. Not to mention reassuring – I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s insanely obsessive enough to conduct that kind of survey!

    Following on from earlier comments, for those whose appetite for Rufus wasn’t fully satisfied by today’s Guardian puzzle, note that today’s FT prize puzzle is by Dante. I’m printing it off from the FT website for the train journey home.

  27. smutchin says:

    And talking of elegant double definitions, today’s 24a is a perfect example of the art.

  28. Geoff says:

    24ac is definitely the connoisseurs’ clue in today’s puzzle: two words and only nine letters, with a perfectly respectable but utterly misleading surface reading, is a triumph of the art.

    Two-word double defs, though not easy to come up with, are certainly the best way to get one’s word count down in crossword compilation. However, my personal preference as a solver is not for crosswords which have a high proportion of such clues. To solve them, you need to trawl through your mental thesaurus looking for coincident alternative meanings of the two parts. Then it comes! (Single crpytic defs are worse in this sense – they rely on a sudden flash of recognition). Other types of clue – anagrams, containers, charades – at least allow the solver to work the answer out by degrees.

  29. ray says:

    Worked through most of this fairly quickly (I think I must be getting tunned to Rufus) – but had to fill in 13d from the crossing letters. Then spent nearly an hour trying to work out why ? Eventually my better half (who hates cryptics) took one look and pointed out the blindingly obvious toast reference — doh!!

  30. Jim says:

    Toast reference not so obvious to us in the States. Never did work out the cryptic part.

  31. steven says:

    Jim, in the U.K when we have soft boiled eggs we cut bread into dip sized slices which we call soldiers .

  32. Phaedrus says:

    Nice to see Rufus work his trademark nautical clue in again, old sea dog that he is…!

  33. Derek Lazenby says:

    Late on parade and yes even the dunce of the class had his fastest ever finish. Entertaining fun rather than exhausting fun. I think we all agree on that. Just goes to show that it doesn’t have to be hard to be enjoyable.

    I was late ‘cos of visit to hospital. Bandages off, stitches out! The quack rather took the shine off it by saying that although it’s been 3 months, tibia’s usually take 6 and I’m on schedule. But at least I’m allowed to put a bit of weight on it now, still can’t drive though, wouldn’t be insured until I’m at full load bearing. Bye bye pub, sigh.

    Last week a query about the weekly online Quiptic produced the response “did I want to blog it”? There also was a warning that weekly blogs don’t really take off too. I don’t mind doing it if it’s wanted. I suspect, despite the rarified solving level on this blog, I’m not the only one here who does that puzzle. My e-mail is an ntlworld of the com variety and my first name is replaced by “d dot”. Send me some mails and if I get a few I’ll think more seriously about doing it.

    I have my bit of crossword software that I mentiond working, just doing the help file and installation wrapper. Watch this space for news.

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