Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,654 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on March 23rd, 2009


Another gentle start to the week from Rufus, with, typically, perhaps more cryptic [some rather more so than others!] and double definitions than some would like but some clever anagrams and nice surfaces.

[ ]*  anagram
dd   double definition
cd   cryptic definition
[ ] <  reversal


1   COLLARED: dd: a clergyman may wear a [dog] collar
9   PLYMOUTH: dd: my favourite clue, I think. Plymouth Rock is the spot in Massachusetts where the Pilgrim Fathers landed in 1620 and also a breed of American domestic fowl. Great surface!
13  ART MASTER: cd
23  ALLOT: A + L + LOT
24  BRAINY: B[lustery] RAINY
25  SET APART: dd SET A PART: I initially thought this didn’t quite work and that the second meaning ought to be A SET [regular] PART but then realised that SET = ‘given’ and makes perfect sense.
26  ELEVEN: dd: I must have seen this before!
27  ESOTERIC: [TOES]* ERIC; a nice surface


2   LAY LOW: dd
3   A GOOD TURN: dd: a  reference to the saying, ‘One good turn deserves another’
6   ARENA: [AN ERA] <
7   ABATTOIR: B[utchers] in [RIOT AT]*
11  STOREKEEPERS: presumably a ‘cryptic’ definition but I’m afraid I don’t find it so at all!
15  TERMAGANT: [MAN TARGET]*:  an &lit, I think
16  SCRAMBLE: dd: this was very easy but a nice surface, I thought
17  TABULATE: TABU [alternative spelling of taboo] + LATE
19  ALTAIR: A + LT. + AIR: Altair is a first-magnitude star in the constellation Aquila
20  STATIC: [CAT SIT]*: this raised a smile

36 Responses to “Guardian 24,654 / Rufus”

  1. David says:

    Morning and thanks, Eileen.

    7d though: there’s an ‘a’ missing. B RIOT AT is only 7 letters. I entered ABATTOIR, but can’t make it work without an error by Rufus and an oversight by the editor. Not very likely. Anyone?

    And, as has been asked before, is Rufus getting a little harder?

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen. I agree with you that 11dn is a bit weak, and I also didn’t like 10ac, but apart from those an enjoyable, if not-very-challenging, puzzle. I liked the way DENSE and BRAINY intersected – coincidence or design?

  3. Eileen says:

    You’re right, David. Presumably it should be ‘a slaughterhouse’. It just looked so obvious, I didn’t check.

    I personally think Rufus has been getting easier the past two or three weeks!

  4. smutchin says:

    18a – my first thought was to put in CROSS-DRESSERS. But luckily it didn’t fit.

  5. Monica M says:

    Hi All,

    My read of 11dn for what it’s worth(and it could be a bit of a stretch) … Storers = the warehouse business – they store things + insertion of keep = house. House doing double duty.

  6. smutchin says:

    15d – When I saw this I thought, hey, haven’t we seen this slightly obscure word quite recently? So I checked the archive and it was 11 Feb, when it attracted the following comment from Andrew, that day’s blogger: “A slightly obscure word, though quite often seen in crosswords…”

    Monica – that tallies with how I understood 11d.

  7. Eileen says:

    Re termagant: I’ve seen this ‘slightly obscure’ word so often in crosswords that I now don’t think twice about it, except to be careful how to spell it – I get it slightly confused with ‘ptarmigan’, another crossword favourite.

  8. Monica M says:

    Well they are both old birds … ;-)

    Did other people strike some peculiar characters in a couple of the clues in the online version?

  9. Andrew says:

    I have no trouble spelling either “termagant” or “ptarmigan”, but I always have to think about “abattoir” (as opposed to the plausible “abbatoir”). The trick, for what it’s worth, is to remember that it’s like “a battery”.

  10. Eileen says:

    I agree with you about ‘abattoir’, Andrew: it was because I was so busy checking the right number of ‘b’ and ‘t’s that I didn’t spot the missing ‘a’! [and that's my mnemonic, too, as in 'assault and battery']

  11. Paul B says:

    Up at farm big man beheaded bird – or so I seem to recall.

  12. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Eileen.

    I certainly made heavy weather of this, mispelling ABATTOIR, putting in the plausible STOREMASTER, writing in CROSS DRESS-oops, etc.

    Agreed, 9 is a lovely clue – also the toughest in this puzzle, I think.

  13. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Only this morning while I was chatting with a relative at a wedding I used the proverb Eileen cites in her blog. So no wonder that it was among the earliest clues that I cracked when I took up the puzzle after coming back home.

    And, by sheer coincidence, PLYMOUTH was a light in the 13×13 crossword set by Rufus and appearing in a local paper today. The clue “Work at opening port (8)” was quite easy, though.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Strangely, American egg producers are not high on my list of things to know, as in not there at all. So that clue was rubbish as far as I was concerned, though I can see how others may like it.

    Yes Monica, there were two clues with %u2019s and %u2014 in the middle. You may not have seen the actual paper over there, but we have traditionally known it as The Grauniad, due to the appalling level of proof reading it used to have. One can only presume those people now find work doing the online crossword.

    Termagant? Termagant? Something is niggling at my useless memory so over to you lot with the good memories, but aren’t we supposed to know it from The Taming of the Shrew, or at the very least a commentary thereon?

    Why is 27 a good surface? I can’t say I’ve ever thought of esoteric and secret in the same breathe, that which esoteric may not be widely known, but that is all. Secret implies actively withheld, an activity lacking in the concept esoteric. I know, I know, somebody is going to say that that source of inaccuracy Chamber’s has a definition.

  15. Dave Ellison says:

    I liked 20d, when I eventually solved it.

    7d I know how to spell abattoir, but foolishly put in abbatoir, as the clue starts “Butchers..”, and I was admiring this as a way of giving two bs. Given the correct spelling, I must now protest at “Butchers”; it should have been “Butcher”.

    1d I had captor early on but wasn’t convinced because of the misleading “a” before tor. And the c and p didn’t help at this stage for the across ones (and the p never; I agree with Derek on this one).

    I thought it a fairly standard, in terms of difficulty, for a Rufus.

  16. Monica M says:

    Derek etal,

    Please explain “The Grauniadn” … my new understranding means it’s a misspelling????

    In all the time I’ve played here I’ve never twigged … D’Oh …

  17. Monica M says:

    Oh … and “Please explain” (said with uber-strine) is a recent colloquialism here …

  18. Andrew says:

    Monica, the Guardian used to be (perhaps unfairly) famous for having lots of typos, hence the deliberate mis-spellilng as “Grauniad”. I suspect this was invented by Private Eye magazine.

  19. liz says:

    9ac stumped me and I’m an American. I have the same problem remembering how to spell ‘termagant’ and entered it wrongly which held me up for a time at 25ac.

  20. Eileen says:

    Derek, I think you know that I often share your scepticism re Chambers so I won’t direct you there [where, of course, the primary meaning of esoteric is 'secret!] but
    a) to Collins: ‘esoteric: restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority; … not openly admitted; private’;
    ‘secret: kept hidden or separate from the knowledge of others; known only to initiates.’

    and b) SOED: ‘esoteric: communicated to, or intelligible by, the initiated only’;
    ‘secret: kept from public knowledge or the knowledge of persons specified… kept from the knowledge of the uninitiated.’

    Dave E: I don’t understand your objection to ‘butchers’: ‘B’ is the initial letter of the word ‘butchers’. Are you saying that ‘butchers initially’ would suggest ‘BB’ [cf pp = pages]?

  21. JamieC says:

    My solution foundered on 9ac. 18ac raised a smile. I agree 11d isn’t really cryptic. I don’t think the more sophistacted suggestions above for the wordplay really work, I’m afraid.

    Slightly off topic, but RISALDAR/RESSALDAR is another word only ever found in crosswords and with suprising regularity.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Maybe it’s just me then, but those definitions look to me more like arcane than esoteric, but that would indeed appear to be what the dictionaries say.

    It’s strange then that nowadays a lot of people I know do actually use the two words differently, esoteric to both myself and to them seems to have lost the “secret” meaning, but kept the “obscure” meaning. In practical terms that is fair enough. Two similar words should be allowed to diverge over time otherwise one of them becomes redundant. Whether the one to change actually gets chosen correctly by the great unwashed is a separate issue.

    I would hate to think that calling something arcane and esoteric was a tautology, but it would seem that is. Oh well, never mind, thanks for the education.

  23. Art says:

    Apparently (this probably came from Wikipedia or hearsay, so I wouldn’t be sure of its veracity…) the Guardian was never any more prone to mistakes than the other papers, but it was typeset and printed in Manchester. This meant that the copies that made it to London were the first off the press, whereas the equivalent copies of the papers printed in London ended up in the North. As printing continued, mistakes were corrected, so later copies had fewer errors. Thus, while Londoners complained loudly about their “Grauniad”, northeners sat quietly reading the “Teims”, “Thalegrep”, “Indetepennd”…

  24. stiofain_x says:

    Typical Rufus I thought, good fun with some nice clues and surfaces.
    As for the Grauniadian errors they werent the only ones I did the online version just after midnight last night and it was a rather nice Orlando, so imagine my surprise to come here and find there was an extra Rufus for me to play with anyone else find this 2 for the price of one (free) offer?

  25. Eileen says:

    Derek, I’ll admit to being almost as surprised as you were when I looked up those words and found them so closely inter-related. Like you, I think I would tend to use ‘esoteric’ to mean ‘obscure’, rather than ‘secret’. But best not to go down the arcane road – the same dictionaries define that variously as ‘secret’ or ‘esoteric’!

    And that’s the problem, of course: the only way we have of defining a word is to use another – and also the beauty of the multiplicity of words in English: that so often we just *feel* which word is right in a given context

    That’s interesting, Stiofain: I’ve sometimes thought I might stay up and do the online version when it’s my blog – I’m very glad I waited for my paper version!

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Umm, not always needing another word, there used to be a programmer’s devil’s dictionary which had Recursive: See recursive!

  27. JimboNWUK says:

    I am amazed no-one has complained about the use of the tense in 2D — “Kept Low” translated to the answer should be “LAID low” not LAY…. and I agree 11D was cruddy.

  28. Eileen says:

    JimboNWUK: the alarm bells always ring with me when I see lie / lay. Here, the secondary meaning of ‘lay low’ is ‘defeat’ in the present tense – so perectly OK!

  29. Derek Lazenby says:


    1) we were too busy with the others or
    2) we were waiting to see who’s nerve broke first or
    3) we forgot or
    4) we missed it

    I was not on 4), so yes quite right it needed saying.

  30. Eileen says:

    Jimbo, I’ve looked at this again and think you may after all be talking about the first definition ‘kept quiet’: here, the verb is definitely lay [past tense of lie] rather than ‘laid’ [past tense of 'lay] so still perfectly [sic!] OK

  31. smutchin says:

    Eileen – your termagant/ptarmigan comment made me blow coffee out of my nose.

    Monica – on second thoughts, I misread what you wrote about 11d, so it’s not quite how I understood it. I like your way of thinking, but not sure it works.

    Derek – remember that there are no true synonyms, for that would imply redundancy. Esoteric=secret is close enough for crossword purposes, just as boxing ring=arena and tabulate=catalogue are close enough, but none of those words have precisely equivalent meanings.

  32. Dave Ellison says:

    Eileen #20. Yes I am saying ‘butchers initially’ would suggest ‘BB’ [cf pp = pages]. I am also saying, as far the surface reading went, butcher would suffice, so no need for butchers.

  33. Eileen says:

    Smutchin, I can’t understand such a violent reaction – I only really meant I had to think for a moment whether ‘termagant has ‘i’ or ‘a’ in the middle!

    Dave E: all my dictionaries say that ‘initial’ means the first letter of a word, so I don’t see that it matters really whether it’s ‘butcher’ or ‘butchers’.

  34. Brian Harris says:

    Not really impressed at all today. Too many poor clues, and a number of what appeared to be mistakes (eg ABATTOIR without enough letters in the surface).

    Plymouth? Would never have connected Rock with a bird of fowl of which I’ve never heard even if I spent the next million years trying to solve this puzzle. Didn’t get 1ac either, but was convinced for a while the solution was COTTAGER.

  35. GHD says:

    Monica, Andrew

    The weird characters in the online version come from the source code representations of the ‘ and – characters ie:-

    16 down %u2019 = the Unicode for single right quote ‘
    22 down %u2014 = the Unicode for the em-dash -

    Try “Googling” %u2014 and you’ll see what I mean.

  36. smutchin says:

    Eileen – sorry to alarm you. I was amused by the idea of mixing up termagant and ptarmigan, that’s all. And it’s unfortunate that I was taking a mouthful of coffee at the moment I read your comment!

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