Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,666 – Rufus

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on April 6th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

An auspicious puzzle number to start the week with.  Very satisfactory Monday fare, with a couple of puzzlers but no real complaints and a lot of enjoyment!  I especially liked 15ac, I’m not sure what these clues are called but like them when they come up.

* = anagram
< = reversed
c.d. = cryptic definition
d.d. = double definition


5. ALWAYS. LAWSAY*. The anagrind is separated from its fodder with ‘the’, which somehow makes it harder to spot (I think it’s perfectly valid, mind you).
10. ORATOR. c.d.
15. APRON STAGE. A pinafore is an apron, and it’s a type of stage that projects into the audience.
17. GUT. TUG<.  Gut is apparently a term for fishing line sometimes?
19. ERA. ARE<.  The surface hides this construction quite well (or I’m quite slow).
20. RESTRAINED. RE(STRAIN)ED. ‘checked’ in the less common sense of ‘stopped’.
27. FAREWELL. FARE + WELL. Water=well maybe is a bit weaker.
28. EARWAX. EAR + WAX.  Organ=ear seems to come up a lot in crosswords, I’m only really familiar with wax=swell in the instance of the cycles of the moon.
29. RESERVE. d.d.


1. AGED. AG + D + E.  Notes meaning ‘any letters from A-G’ tends to feel a bit unsatisfactory, but is OK with short clues and lots of checked letters in my opinion.
2. RAPE. d.d. A plant grown for its seeds/oil.
3. DRAGOONS. d.d. I wasn’t aware of it’s verb usage but it makes sense.
4. EYING. Hidden in (mon)EY IN G(ovnerment). Stocks is an intersting indicator.
6. LARVAE. c.d. LARVAS would also work, as it’s a valid plural.
8. SPRING TIDE. c.d. The spring tide is the highest tide of the year.
13. MAKES A PILE. d.d.
14. BREAK COVER. A ‘break’ is a turning ball and a ‘cover’ is a fielder, both cricket terms. Surprised to see the surface and the wordplay both referring to the same sport.
16. TREBLE. d.d.
21. AMANDA. A + MAN + DA(ys).
23. STAIR. STA(1)R.
24. BEAR. d.d.  I half-thought WEAR for a long time but it didn’t work for ‘stand’.  Bear means display in the sense of ‘carry visibly’.
25. FLEE. F(L)EE.

24 Responses to “Guardian 24,666 – Rufus”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Ciaran.

    I thought FAREWELL was quite nice! And I liked 12ac – a lovely picture!

    I had BEAR for 24dn and never thought of WEAR but it does actually work. We do say, ‘He wouldn’t wear it’, and Chambers gives ‘to tolerate, accept or believe’, which are all synonyms for ‘stand’.

  2. cholecyst says:

    I would have finished this in record time for me had I not put GLEN +(da)YS at 21.d which made 22 and 28 across rather troublesome.

  3. Mart says:

    6d – “take silk” confused me.Maybe “make silk” would have been better. What do people think?

  4. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Ciaran.

    I found this a bit harder than the usual Rufus, but perhaps I was just having an off day. 6dn gave me a lot of trouble – clever cd, but not all insect LARVAE/LARVAS ‘take silk’.

    Some excellent clues, as ever – I liked 12, 26, 27 particularly.

    Like Eileen, I had BEAR for 24dn – it seems as if either solution would work. Not entirely convinced by ‘severe’ as a def for ASTRINGENT, but I haven’t checked in the usual places…

  5. don says:

    Thanks Ciaran. Didn’t like “take silk” either, nor “well” = “water”. I think “wear” works better than “bear” for “display” (“to wear one’s colours”, “to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve”, etc.) and “he wouldn’t wear it” for “stand” is as equally valid as “bear”.
    I didn’t get either :-(

  6. Geoff says:

    ‘Bear’ = ‘display’ in expressions relating to designs or symbols – ‘armorial bearings’ in heraldry – and in senses such as ‘bearing a resemblance’.

  7. Sidey says:

    6d Is presumably a reference to members of The Caterpillar Club [ ] when all(?) parachutes were silk. The clue’s problem is that many larvae don’t produce silk or even if they do they don’t descend using it. The bee being an example of the former, the silkworm the latter. It should have been Some instead of They really.

  8. Geoff says:

    The surface reading of 6dn refers to the law: barristers are said to ‘take silk’ when they are promoted to QC – on the way to becoming high flyers in their profession.

  9. liz says:

    6dn tripped me up too. I found I solved quite a lot of the puzzle fast and easily, but then really had a hard time with the top right corner and didn’t finish. I liked 15ac.

  10. George Foot says:

    After some debate and studying the dictionary I decided on wear for 24d. Perhaps Rufus will let us know which he intended ( and probably hadn’t thought of the other).

    Did anyone else put in Library for 29A before getting checking letters?

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was in another of my totally blank moods today, every single clue I would normally expect to get but not today, so it would be unfair to comment, but FYI the online version says BEAR, so unless the usual gremlins apply I guess we believe it.

  12. Mr Beaver says:

    George – No, I wasn’t tempted by LIBRARY – though it would be ok for the Quick Crossword !

    Did anyone else put in MISSHAPE for 9a ? It’s also an anagram of ‘hip seams’ and could arguably be defined by ‘stress’. Of course, EMPHASIS works better but for a setter who thinks silkworms ‘take’ silk rather than ‘make’ it, misshape seemed entirely reasonable.
    What are the chances of double anag. solution popping up ??

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    Ciaran: 14d Break Cover doesn’t necessarily refer to cricket. An animal or bird can break cover when frightened from its hiding place, hence “Be clearly out”. This is what I took it to mean.

    Unfortunately I had Broke Cover, as I thought ball was orb, which we had recently. However, I couldn’t work out the KE, and ELK didn’t seem to fit 9a. No, you are not as slow as I!

  14. muck says:

    I am normally an enthusiast of Rufus, but some of today’s clues are ambiguous or unclear –
    6dn LARVAE/LARVAS: didn’t get it and don’t like it (see #6)
    10ac ORATOR: still don’t get it
    24dn BEAR/WEAR: saw both but it could be either

  15. muck says:

    Sorry Sidey: comment should have read “6dn LARVAE/LARVAS: didn’t get it and don’t like it (see #7)”

  16. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Dave – I didn’t mean that ‘break cover’ was a cricketing term, I meant that the overall surface reading was cricket-based, as were the double-meanings of ‘break’ and ‘cover’ in the wordplay. Often a setter will use a different sport, for instance, to throw you off the scent.

  17. JamieC says:

    I’m surprised there haven’t been any complaints about 23d as “seen in” is doing double duty as indicating that there is an I in STAR and as part of the definition. STAIR could be “seen in flight” but certainly isn’t synonymous with “flight”.

  18. Geoff Moss says:

    “STAIR could be “seen in flight” but certainly isn’t synonymous with “flight”.”

    Not necessarily. One of the definitions for ‘stair’ in Chambers is ‘a series of steps, usu in pl, a flight from landing to landing, but in Scotland, in sing, the whole series from floor to floor.

  19. Rufus says:

    Quite a few points to defend! BEAR as a definition for both “display” and “stand” both appear in all my thesauri, WEAR in the context given above seems to work as “stand” although the dictionary gives “accept” for this meaning, and “stand” for “wear” cannot be found as a synonym in my thesauri. Taking silk had nothing to do with the Caterpillar Club although I joined its companion club, the Goldfish Club in 1961, for survivors of aircraft ditchings, popping up from 60 feet under. I thought it fair to use “take” silk in a cryptic definition when trying to mislead solvers to think of barristers. Caterpillars are commonly known as larvae in their immature state and “take silk” before flying as butterflies. One definition of “stair” in Chambers is given as “a series of steps”, the same as for “flight”. Phew! Sorry for any ambiguous meanings – but I do gop out to find them! Must rush, the Wolves (my team) are about to play an important match!

  20. MartinR says:

    A most enjoyable start to the week, I thought.

    6d: they hatch into fliers (moths, etc), mostly, but “high” seems only to be helping the surface reading about barristers taking silk.

  21. JamieC says:

    Geoff and Rufus – point taken. I withdraw my complaint and consider myself suitably chastised :)

  22. mhl says:

    cholecyst: we had GLENDA instead of GLENYS or AMANDA :) I think all of them work OK…

  23. Rufus says:

    Yep, both cleverly fit the clue but, alas, don’t fit with the rest of the puzzle!

  24. treefernkate says:

    I read the Guardian weekly, so have only just had this puzzle. I’m interested to read the various ‘take silk’ comments … a silk moth imago ‘takes silk’ ie munches its way through its silk cocoon, before emerging as a silk moth. That’s why in silk production the larvae are killed before they emerge – waiting till they’d eaten their way out would leave lots of tiny threads of silk. Most caterpillars do not do this however, their pupae are not woven, they shed their final caterpillar skin and underneath is their pupal skin.

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