Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,934 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on February 15th, 2010


It’s Monday. A classic Rufus puzzle. No further preamble necessary.


1   CRUMBS: cryptic definition: ‘Crumbs’ and Crikey’ were two favourite expressions of Billy Bunter, the ‘Fat Owl of the Remove’, in the stories in ‘The Magnet’.
4   ASCRIBES: CRIB [berth] in anagram of SEAS
FABIAN: cryptic definition:  Fabian Society: an association of British Socialists, advocating the establishment of socialism by gradual reform, so called after the Roman general, Quintus Fabius Maximus, whose policy of following and harassing Hannibal, while refusing an engagement, earned him the surname Cunctator [‘the Delayer’].
10  HANDICAP: cryptic definition
11 MARKET RESEARCH: cryptic definition
13  ODD NUMBERS: ODD [unusual] + NUMBERS: the fourth book of the Old Testament
14  EMIR: reversal of RIME [of The Ancient Mariner] – poem by Coleridge
16  FADE: FAD [craze] + E[bb]
18  MEAGRENESS: anagram of GENERAL minus L[ong] in MESS [his eating place]
21  NINETEENTH HOLE: cryptic definition: the bar in a golf clubhouse
23  ANTIMONY: TIMON ‘encased’ in ANY: a brilliant containment indicator: ref. to Shakespeare’s ‘Timon of Athens’
24  TREPAN: gruesome cryptic definition!
25  HEDONIST: I had quite a journey with this one. I first thought it was DON in HEIST, which would have meant a new meaning for that word – but it wasn’t in any dictionary – then light partially dawned and I saw that it was DON IS in HET – as in ‘het up’, I thought, except that it only exists as a past participle. Then the penny finally dropped: an anagram of THE! A lovely surface and a great clue.
26 WYVERN: W and N [different points] around anagram of VERY: a heraldic beast with the head of a dragon and the tail of a serpent


1   CUFF: double definition
2   UPBRAID: double definition
3   BLACK OUT: LACK [what’s missing] in BOUT [fight]: this is usually written as one word, so I think it must be taken as a verb here.
5   STAGE FRIGHT: an excellent cryptic definition
6   RIDGES: RIDES around niGht – ‘saddle’ as in ‘a mountain col between two peaks’ [Chambers] – great surface
7   BUCKRAM: BUCK + RAM: a stiffened cotton or linen fabric used in bookbinding
12  TABLE TENNIS: anagram and semi &lit of BAT, NET and LINES
13  OFFENBACH: OFFEN [homophone of ‘often’] + BACH
15  LETHARGY: anagram of H[ead] and GREATLY
19  ELLIPSE: ELL [an obsolete measure of about 45 inches that we met not so long ago] + anagram of PIES
20  STAMEN: ST [good man] + AMEN [response in church
22  ANON: A + NON [French ‘no’]

37 Responses to “Guardian 24,934 / Rufus”

  1. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog and clearing up the Hedonist solution! I, too, pondered for a while over He(Don)ist

    Even by Rufus’s high standards, this was a treat. Really excellent surfaces, some more difficult to work out than is the norm.

    Highlights were 21ac, 23ac and 22dn. All very jolly Roger.

  2. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, a very good Rufus!

    It started off with (4 out of 5) cd’s, and even I liked them.
    In 1ac I knew the expression Crumbs!, but didn’t see the Bunter connection.
    Was just thinking of breadcrumbs which were hardly left by (a) ‘Bunter’ (what- or whoever that may be).
    Wasn’t pleased at all with TREPAN, I saw the ‘saw’ but didn’t find the rest of the clue, um, bloody brilliant.

    Splendid construction, indeed, in the HEDONIST of 25ac.
    My favourite clue perhaps was TABLE TENNIS. The kind of anagram I always like, words used in the anagram which are related to the solution – here even áll the words were relevant.
    And a special mentioning for the excellent concise 21ac!

    Good stuff.

  3. Dessie says:

    Quite easy xword apart from trepan as I always believed trepanning was more associated with drilling than sawing!

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi Dessie

    Re TREPAN: I’ve never liked to think about it too much at all! Collins says a trepan is an instrument resembling a carpenter’s brace and bit, from Mediaeval Latin ‘trepanum’ a rotary saw; Chambers has ‘an obsolete cylindrical saw for perforating the skull’.

  5. Ian says:

    Dessie, Try the Indy puzzle today by Quaiteaux. Quite a challenge with some inventive, witty clueing. Three are quite superb!

  6. John Appleton says:

    Some nice cryptic definitions today. Nice anagram at 12down.

  7. Jobs says:

    Thanks for the preamble Eileen, am not a huge fan of the Rufus Monday (not really sure why) so won’t bother buying the paper today and instead will battle on with Saturday’s A-Z.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Informative blog as always, Eileen – thank you. The thing I enjoy about Rufus is that if you keep going, you will get there eventually because the clueing is almost always pretty tight and the solutions gettable for the average solver. So I made it today, with 5dn my favourite (and not just because the village panto is imminent!)

  9. Eileen says:

    Break a leg, KD! [We’ve another month to go before ours.]

  10. sandra says:

    thank you for the excellent blog eileen. i thought “het” wasn’t quite right, even as i entered the answer. didn’t look in a dictionary, so it was only when i read this that i saw it was an anagram.

    i really liked this crossword. for me, the clue for “table tennis” was the highlight. 21a ran it very close. others also raised a smile -eg 7d, 11a, 8a and, in particular 5d. nice way to start the week.

    i wondered if there was something lacking in 15d. “put out” seems to be doing double duty. am i missing something here? anybody?

  11. Gareth Rees says:

    15d is “Head at first greatly put out by dullness”. The definition is just “dullness”, leaving “put out” for the anagram indicator.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi sandra

    In 15dn, ‘put out’ is the anagram indicator – but I can’t see how it might be doing double duty?

    The more I look at this puzzle, the better I think it is. I think perhaps I should have been more expansive in the preamble [to encourage Jobs to have a go] but I couldn’t think of another way of saying ‘witty’, ‘elegant’, ‘smooth surfaces’ etc, etc, which I’ve said so many times before. It really is a ‘classic’ – thank you, Rufus.

  13. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Gareth!

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    The best Rufus in a while — tight and bright and a good way to start the week after ending last week with Araucaria in superb form.
    Isn’t it a bit late for panto season? (Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!)

  15. sidey says:

    I always enjoy Rufus. Today’s was a very good one with a couple of laugh out loud moments.

    A slight aside (and a minor claim to fame), the lass who performed self-trephination dicussed here was my lodger for a short time.

  16. cholecyst says:

    #15 Thanks, Sidey! I had a quick look at this and wished I hadn’t.

  17. Eileen says:

    Me too!

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen, especially for the information on the Fabians!

    I thought this was a fantastic Rufus, very well clued. No complaints about the cds or dds today! 12ac was a gem of a clue and I liked 21ac very much.

    I held myself up in the bottom right corner by spelling ‘meagreness’ wrong for a while.

  19. Mr Beaver says:

    Hear, hear! I’m not usually a fan of Rufus, but this was good, having (almost) none of his trademark barely-cryptic definitions, and some clever clues as others have pointed out.
    Just 10a let it down slightly, I thought.

  20. mhl says:

    Thanks for the excellent post, Eileen – very interesting to hear out about the origins of the Fabian society…

    I guessed at CHUBBY for 1 across, not being familiar with Billy Bunter. I didn’t get TREPAN either, but I’m quite happy with that!

    Anyway, great stuff from Rufus, I though, with the exception of 1a.

  21. sandra says:

    gareth rees#11 and eileen#12
    oh dear. this was such a brilliant crossword and i don’t want to take away from that at all. i think i am probably nitpicking. i saw put out as the anagram indicator but at first assumed that h was the first letter. it didn’t take very long to spot it, but when i did, i was looking for something else to indicate that greatly, in some form, was around the h. sorry to rain on the parade.

    thanks sidey. i wasn’t at all repelled by your link, but i did reflect on how depression is so awful that sufferers will go to any lengths to get rid of it. don’t suffer from it myself but my mother did.

  22. Stella says:

    7d Chambers doesn’t mention bookbinding, just that it’s a “coarse, open-weave fabric… made very stiff with size(sic.)” Eh?

    Great fun! I agree with #2 about 21a – brilliant!

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi Stella

    But Collins does – and size is ‘a thin gelatinous mixture, made from glue, clay or wax, that is used as a sealer on paper or plaster surfaces’ [also Collins]

  24. Brian Harris says:

    Enjoyable stuff from Rufus today. Slightly more tricky than usual, but nothing too hard. Liked Wyvern and Trepan (as interesting words, I mean). Definitely one of his better efforts.

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #22 & #23:
    … and Chambers Online does: “cotton or linen stiffened with size^2, used to line clothes or cover books, etc. “.

  26. Jim T says:

    I am in the US so dealing with unfamiliar UK colloquialisms makes these a bit more challenging .. e.g., “crumbs” was a wild (lucky) guess for me, also had to remember UK spelling on “meagreness” which we spell “meagerness”. All in all a fun and rewarding puzzle, I consider myself a top-rate solver of US cryptics but am happy to finish three out of four of these Guardian puzzles (tho I think my percentage is slowly going up!).

  27. Kate W says:

    I’m with Jim T and Liz,if I’d spelt meagreness correctly I wouldn’t have been staring at 15d for so long. Great puzzle. Re trepan – I once saw an awful film someone had made of themselves trepanning their own head! With a drill. Still gives me the shivers.

  28. Julia says:

    Thanks Rufus.

  29. liz says:

    Jim T and Kate W — my original ‘meagerness’ was a rare lapse into American spelling after (hmm) more years in this country than my vanity will admit! Glad to know I’m in company!

  30. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Yes, a great puzzle from Rufus with 21a and 5d being particularly good.

    My better half got TREPAN immediately. She saw (sorry) the interpretation that I didn’t see.

  31. Martin H says:

    Better than the usual Rufus – LETHARGY and STAMEN good, and as for the cryptic defs: TREPAN very good, and STAGE FRIGHT nice; two out of five acceptable, that is unusual – but more than made up for by the awful HANDICAP and FABIAN, about as dumb as the same setter’s EJECTS last week. How long does Rufus spend composing his puzzles? It always feels like he has too many deadlines to meet.

  32. sandra says:

    liz, kate w and jim t

    if it is any consolation i sometimes get american papers here, eg international herald tribune, though there are others, and although i can do almost any crossword, i get very few in these!

  33. Bob says:

    I have to quibble with 6d – a saddle can be “a col between two peaks” as Chambers, or a significant dip in a ridge, but it is not itself a ridge. Those of us who climb could be quite thrown by this.

  34. Huw Powell says:

    Well now, isn’t this fun! I only found this site a few days ago, and as I started this puzzle last night (printed at 90% with background images “on” grrr) I realized that I could come here when I was “finished” and get answers to things like “45-inch”, and chat about the puzzle. This AM I managed to get all but FABIAN, although CRUMBS was a pencilled-in guess. Neither makes me feel bad, as an ex-pat 40 years in the States I wouldn’t expect to get the “deep British” stuff.

    I, too, “misspelled” meagreness until playing with the anagram produced lethargy and I realized what I’d done wrong. My Webster’s listed the book-binding under buckram (need to go to and get me a Chambers 2008 though!)

    A very enjoyable puzzle that slowly unfolded, so many answers leading to solvability of other clues.

    Oh, and “hello” everyone!

  35. Eileen says:

    And hello, Huw – and welcome to the site. Congratulations on finding it – I hope you will find it as much fun as I have!

  36. andy smith says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    1ac rang a distant bell – a quick Google on the 225 archive confirms – Rufus 24934 (15Feb2010) 7d “Two animals bound into cover (7)”, but I’m not complaining really.

  37. andy smith says:

    oops, wrong thread, sorry.

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