Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,952 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on March 8th, 2010


The usual gentle start to the week with Rufus. There are only five cryptic definitions in this puzzle, which I think is less than the average, though I was fooled for a while by thinking there was another one at 23dn. As always, lots of nice clues with smooth surfaces, though I have a couple of grammatical quibbles at 16dn and 21dn.

7. SCRAP HEAP SCRAP (squabble) + HEAP (a lot)
8. WATCH Double definition
9. SICK LEAVE Cryptic definition – if you’re on sick leave you’re “off” and “not well”.
10. BROOM R in BOOM (see also 22ac)
12. ENCORE Cryptic definition – unsatisfied audiences might shout for “more”.
13. REDOLENT ODER< + LENT (a fast)
14. SPANNER Double definition
20. MONA LISA (A MAN’S OLI)*. A very appropriate anagram.
22. SPARTA SPAR + TA[x]. SPAR=BOOM (in the nautical sense) is used the other way round in 10ac.
24. DIARY Cryptic definition, reference to The Diary of a Nobody.
26. RADIO A D in RIO
1. ACTION Double definition
2. BACK DOWN If the face is up, then (perhaps) the back is down.
3. CHEESE Cryptic definition – as said by photographers’ subjects.
5. BARREL Cryptic definition, though the refernce to parts of a gun was easy to spot.
6. SCHOONER CH in SOONER (=”rather”). A schooner is a large glass for sherry (UK) or beer (Australia), but I don’t think either of them is particularly “ornate”.
11. ADIT I’D< in AT. "Entrance to a mine" was a complete giveaway for me here.
16. EXIT E + XI (eleven, as in a footbal or cricket team) + T. I would have preferred “Player leaves” here for grammatical accuracy.
18. TEA PARTY Double definition, with the reference to the Boston Tea Party being slightly cryptic.
21. ADROIT ROAD* + IT. I’m not keen on “shows skill” as the definition, as it indicates the wrong part of speech.
23. THEORY OR in THEY. I was expecting this to be a cryptic definition – nice misdirection, Rufus!

36 Responses to “Guardian 24,952 – Rufus”

  1. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    I’m with you re 21dn and, as you would expect, 16dn.

    There was a related problem in puzzle 24,588 [which you also blogged] – but in this case with tense, not number. Rufus clued EXEUNT with, as far as I can make out from the comments, either ‘left on stage’ or ‘left in play’. He himself supplied this explanation:

    “The clue for EXEUNT was one I used in The Times in the early 1990s when I submitted the clue “Leave in play”. The then editor changed it to “Left in play”.”!

    When I looked up the Guardian archive to see what the clue was, I was interested to see that it has now been changed to ‘they walk out of play’!

  2. Martin H says:

    A nicely understated blog, Andrew. Not one of Rufus’s best.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew & Rufus.

    I loved it!

  4. rrc says:

    Would actors exit the stage? players leave

  5. Ian says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    A good quality puzzle that on this occasion was marred by two clumsy pieces of wordplay, 21 dn and 16 dn.

    However, three are worthy of being highlighted for positive reasons.
    ‘MEDITATES’ was clever and ‘MONA LISA’ & ‘PREDATORY’ fine examples in the art of setting anagrams.


  6. NeilW says:

    rrc: It’s a stage direction, as I remember from school plays too many years ago.

    Eileen, off topic, but thank you for your pointer to the location of Saturday’s puzzle. Today’s was only an hour or so late!

  7. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I’ve never heard of ADIT before, but the wordplay was straightforward. Agree with the comments re 21dn and 16dn. I was held up at 21dn by the grammar — was looking for a noun.

  8. Bill Taylor says:

    A VERY gentle start to the week. Nothing much to recommend this one. As for 16d, which I thought was iffy, let’s link it to 6d — exit, pursued by a beer!

  9. Paul B says:

    People called Romans, they go the house? ‘They go out’ is the stage direction shurely.

    Players’ or player’s leave would qualify as an exit I suppose, but the apostrophe in either case doesn’t help – no typo today, methinks.

  10. Bryan says:

    Come on, guys …

    Players EXIT or LEAVE the stage.

    There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with 16d!

  11. NeilW says:

    Yes – should have been “Player leaves” not “Players leave” but I think this is quibbling. This is Rufus – the clues are generally fair and occasionally he’s a bit vague on syntax but who cares? Is “shurely” a typo?

  12. Eileen says:

    Neil W

    The point is that Rufus is *not* normally vague on syntax. I know it’s pedantry but, as Andrew says, ‘player leaves’ would have been absolutely correct and would not have made the slightest difference to the quality of the surface.

  13. NeilW says:

    Eileen – yes you’re right.

  14. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew.
    Like Liz, I’d never heard of ADIT.
    I’m more unhappy about rather = SOONER in 6dn and the very obscure literary reference in 24ac than I am about 21dn.

  15. Bryan says:

    Eileen @12

    But Player LEAVES = Player EXITS.

    Therefore Players LEAVE = Players EXIT.

    So Rufus is 100% correct.

    Believe me: Rufus now has over 1,000 Puzzles to his credit.

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    The stage direction for one player to leave is EXIT; for more than one, it’s EXEUNT

  17. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Bill!

    Bryan: Roger Squires, aka here as Rufus, actually has well over 60,000 puzzles to his credit. He holds the Guinness record for compiling.

  18. greyfox says:

    Spooky, synchronicity or what? Today’s FT crossword by Dante has exactly the same clue as 3dn “What one may say when being shot?”

  19. Bryan says:

    Bill @16

    Yes EXEUNT is used but so is EXIT.

  20. Bill Taylor says:

    Perhap so, Bryan, but incorrectly.

  21. Bill Taylor says:

    Speaking of incorrectly, I meant, of course, perhaps!

  22. Gaufrid says:

    In an attempt to end the debate regarding exit/exeunt, here is an extract from ‘The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre':

    “The simplest examples of stage directions are such single words as ‘enters’ or ‘turns’, to which may be added the Latin word exit (‘he goes out’), now inflected as a normal English verb: ‘you exit, he exits, they exit’. The plural form exeunt is obsolete except in the conventional phrase exeunt omnes (‘all go out’).”

  23. Bill Taylor says:

    Which is probably something we all should do now! Thanks for the clarification, Gaufrid.

  24. Richard says:

    Interesting, Gaufrid.

    I wonder if other people consider exeunt (to mean they leave) any more obsolete that XI (to mean a soccer team)?

  25. Lanson says:

    Debate is good, if players refered to any one of the players and leave was used as a noun, as in leave of absence, the exeunt problem disappears.

  26. Bullfrog says:

    “the very obscure literary reference in 24ac” — only if you’ve never heard of it!

    I agree about 21d, although it didn’t slow me down. I wasted much more time trying to get an anagram out of ornate + ch/ce at 6d!

  27. Eileen says:

    Talking of 6dn – Richard [Comment 14] what’s the problem with rather = SOONER – as in ‘I’d rather / sooner have a Rufus than a Rover’?

  28. Richard says:

    Eileen. Thanks. Yes, the penny did drop eventually with rather = ‘SOONER’.

  29. noel says:

    At 2dn I think the reference is to playing cards – if the face of a card is up, the other side, the back, is down.

  30. Rufus says:

    Thanks Andrew for the comprehensive blog, and other comments.
    Re clue for EXIT. The crossword editor questioned this and I pointed out that Chambers gives EXIT=LEAVE, as Bryan mentions above, and my clue was left – (but not exited – ah the delights of the English language!).
    When I left the Navy and looking out for a proper job, I earned my bread from my hobbies – magic, acting and crosswords. I was not much of an actor, which may be shown by my “peak” being three months in Crossroads playing Amy Turtle’s nephew, but in the 250 small parts I had, I never saw “Exeunt” in the scripts, always EXIT and EXITS.
    “Ornate” for the schooner sherry glass came from a source I discovered when compiling, but which, of course, I can no longer find.
    Re ADROIT. I hoped, by mentioning “on a winding road”, it (the adroitness) would be coming from the driver, who “shows skill” and is “adroit”. Strangely, this is one of my very early clues and has appeared in 5 nationals and numerous syndicated puzzles over the last 45 years without comment.
    However, I am grateful, as usual, for your keeping me on my toes with your comments; I do take notice of them!
    Incidentally, I’ve never had a “proper” job.

  31. Bryan says:

    Very many thanks, Rufus, it was kind of you to drop by and leave your comments.

    Keep up the good work!

  32. Paul B says:

    RE: Players leave English football team before time (4).

    ‘Players leave’ – the deliberately dramatic definition for the clue presumably – does not equal EXIT, unless I’m missing something.

    Chambers gives, for EXIT (n), ‘the departure of a (one) player from the stage’. The L stage direction EXIT means ‘goes out’ whilst EXEUNT means ‘(they) go out’, or leave the stage. EXEUNT OMNES just means ‘all go out’. So I’m afraid I remain unconvinced by that one, even after the compiler’s kind interjections.

    Re 18 (Greyfox) I grin knowingly.

  33. Ian F says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus. As usual I found the puzzle very enjoyable and fair. Re 16d I respectfully concur with Bryan, gaufrid and indeed Rufus!

  34. greyfox says:

    Don’t be so esoteric Paul B[32]. Why ‘grin knowingly’?

  35. Paul B says:

    Send mail to surfcake at tiscali dot co dot uk and ye shall hear more.

  36. Rufus says:

    Hi Greyfox! I should be interested in Paul B’s information which he obviously doesn’t want to put on the blog. Paul B has been banned several times from the Guardian Chatline for making spurious and possibly libellous claims using over 40 aliases, and once on this chatline.

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