Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24962 – Rover

Posted by Andrew on March 19th, 2010


Perhaps those who disliked the three previous “thematic” puzzles this week will have enjoyed this one. I have to say my heart sank when I saw it was a Rover, and solving it didn’t change my feelings. One or two nice clues here, but far too many weak ones for my taste, particularly some of cryptic/double definitions.

10. INEPT NEP (catmint) in IT
11. PLEURAL Homophone of “plural”, and a reference to the pleural cavity and pleural wall (around the lungs)
12. SUCCUMB CUCUMBERS* less ER (hesitation)
13. FOBS FOB = Free On Board.
14. SCHOOLMATE Cryptic definition
15. TREASON SENATOR*. A very familiar anagram
17. TORNADO (TO AND FRO)* less F.
19. ESCALATORS Double definition (just about)
22. HEMP Hidden in tHEM Pay
27. PORTFOLIO Another weak double definition
1. KEEP OFF THE GRASS Double definition (an instant fill-in from the enumeration)
2. ASSEMBLE Double definition – as assemblé is a type of leap in ballet.
3. HEAR Homophone of “here”
4. ANGLICAN (A LANCING)*. Just about an &lit, as Lancing College has a High Anglican traidition
5. ARISTO Hidden in pARIS TOffs, &lit. Easy but quite a nice one
6. CIRCULAR Double definition
7. HECUBA HE + CUBA. Hecuba was the wife of King Priam.
8. STABLE COMPANION STABLE (fast) + COMPANION (friendly – hmm)
16. SOLDERER SOLD + ER twice
17. TERRIERS Double definition – dogs, and the Territorial Army
20. CANDLE CLEAN’D* &lit
21. TRUMPS Double definition (Donald Trump, American businessman)
25. GAFF Not sure – obviously a reference to “blowing the gaff”, and a foreman is a gaffer, but I can’t make it work to my satisfaction.

34 Responses to “Guardian 24962 – Rover”

  1. Mike says:


    Quite agree. No aha! or LOL moments . Shame


  2. Simon G says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    Do agree with you – felt it could have been improved with some references to sporting personalities and/or teams…

  3. Martin H says:

    Andrew, Mike – Yes. Dull.

  4. Dave H says:

    First Rover I have managed to complete for a long time and agree not as challenging as some. Got held up with 7d as I have never heard of Hecuba and trying to solve the Cucumbers anagram after removing the UM for hesitation did not help

  5. sidey says:

    Dreadful Not a good offering. Makes one wonder whether the editor actually solves these before allowing them into print.

  6. William says:

    I’ve felt like Goldilocks this week…one day to hot, one day too cold.

    This one was just a bit tepid, I thought.

    I liked PLEURAL though, always nice to find a new word with a root you vaguely know (pleurisy etc I presume).

    To my shame, I can’t quite fathom 8d. STABLE = FAST…hmm? No doubt someone will enlighten.

  7. Dave H says:


    Fast can mean firmly fixed ie stable

  8. William says:

    Of course, thank you, Dave H.

    A tad tenuous though, don’t you think?

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Finished this on the way in today, so quite easy, I thought. And I quite enjoyed it, too.

    14a was a good cd, better than most of Rufus’, while 19a and 27a were typical Rufus (sic) ones, so not so enjoyable.

    I wasn’t keen on 3d; what is the definition?

    4d vg.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    3d Of course, try as in trial, or hearing. Much keener on it now!

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I wouldn’t say this was dreadful but I did find it a little flat, with some of the clues overly familiar.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Andrew, thank you for blogging. Like Liz, I wouldn’t say it was dreadful, just three or four indifferent clues, and, okay, not mega-inspiring; but fine for post-breakfast coffee on a Friday morning.

    I’ve been contributing here for about six months now and I lurked a bit before that. I’ve tried really hard not to be influenced too much by bloggers’ and contributors’ views about different setters, but inevitably as a newbie you’re taking in what others say. I think Eileen said a bit ago that folk tend to be guided by the tone of the blog and the first few comments.

    So for me, an okay crossword, and if 14ac had been clued by another setter then we’d all be saying it was inspired.

  13. Jake says:

    Kathryn’s Dad,

    A time comes when you know what to expect from the setter once acclimated in the world of cryptics. I don’t believe the folk of this site follow each others views, imagine how many clues there usually are in a crossword, then multiply that per week then per month then year, plus if you do 2-3 papers! One does become rather fluent with a well written clue and knows a poor one when seen.

    We are all liked minded here and know that Rover of recent has not pulled his weight in his past few appearances.

    Anyway, you’ll see!

  14. liz says:

    Kathryn’s Dad — re 14ac. We’ve had something very similar before. This was one of the ones I thought was overly familiar!

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Liz and Jake, that’s all fair comment – I can only say that it’s the first time I’ve seen 14ac and I liked it. When I get to the stage where I think it’s hackneyed, then I’ll probably have got halfway good at cryptics! My point was just that for improvers like me there are still some enjoyable parts of crosswords that better solvers will judge – no doubt rightly – to be not so hot to trot.

  16. sidey says:

    Ahem, I didn’t say it was dreadful. 😉

  17. Ed H says:

    I don’t care what the rest of you say, I liked it (probably as I’ve actually completed one for a rare change). :) As per Kathryn’s Dad, some of the clues a few of you seem to think passé were new for me and lightbulb moments at which I smiled (14ac, 27ac).

    After the duck, composer and rugby themes (or obscurities…) of earlier in the week from more popular setters following the gentler Rufus intro on Monday, this was a relief.

  18. walruss says:

    That is fair if you are just starting out, Ed H. But there was precious little of interest to me, and I hope I wasn’t swayed by the blog, which I hadn’t read until after solving the puzzle. The word not used was ‘dreadful’ I think Sidey.

  19. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Thank you Rover for a puzzle with no theme.
    Didn’t know that terriers meant the TA, or the ballet definition of 2d, or that Lancing College is associated with the C of E (but still got that one). Don’t get gaff but guessed it.
    Almost finished it, so for me a big improvement on the last few days.
    Very happy with 1d, giving lots of first letters and hence encouragement to continue.
    Good boy, Rover.

  20. rrc says:

    the left hand side caused very few problems unlike the right hand side where I needed to use the check button to confirm too many answers.

  21. Bullfrog says:

    I was rattling through it, thinking that it was a bit easy for a Friday and then fell over at 7d — I just couldn’t see it, which is a bit annoying as it’s the first clue I’ve missed all week. Bring back the themes, I say!

  22. JimboNWUK says:

    19A wasn’t the only “just about” as regards DD’s, 6D was even more so.

    Perhaps Rover should rename him/herself as “Cocohorus”…

  23. Brian Harris says:

    Agree with others here that this was rather thin fare today. Polished it off pretty quickly, without being unduly taxed, and I’ve pretty much forgotten it already. Not a terrible crossword for beginners, though, which from time to time is no bad thing.

  24. Eileen says:

    Kathryn’s Dad #12

    Just for the record, as I remember it, some time ago, someone commented that commenters tended to follow the blogger and first few commenters. This was hotly disputed [quite rightly, I think] by others who said that contributors to this site have minds of their own and are not unduly influenced one way or the other. The next time I blogged, I said that I would not make too much comment – and I’ve a feeling it was a Rover puzzle! – since the above point had been made [but certainly not by me].

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Eileen at #24, sorry if I misquoted you; I just remember the discussion taking place and you contributing something to it over a Rover puzzle. But sometimes I get to the top of the stairs and can’t remember what I went up there for. So I am happy to concur that Grauniad solvers are independent thinkers – which is no bad thing and makes this blog enjoyable and educational for solvers at my level.

    Happy weekend to all setters, bloggers and contributors.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    To start with a fundamental question:
    Why does everyone think that a Friday crossword should be more challenging than a Monday or Tuesday one?
    [I work five days a week and don’t feel any different on different days]
    Would this crossword be OK when published on a Monday?

    We thought – like most of you – that this was pretty lightweight fare.
    But was is bad, dull or whatever? Don’t think so.
    Yes, of course, it is easy compared to the magistral Paul puzzle and The Other Two,
    but in our opinion well clued.

    We have hardly complaints about the precision or fairness of the crossword itself. Whether one likes a cd or dd or not, is another matter.
    Even if you get 1d right away “from the enumeration” (like Andrew w/thx), it doesn’t mean it is a poor clue. In fact I think, it’s a very nice one.
    And there were more nice ones, although people don’t want to see them in a Rover [BTW, we are nót Rover adepts].
    Like 22ac, with a fine (appropriate) hidden answer indicator.
    And good surfaces in, for example, 23ac, 4d and 5d.
    Neat construction in HECUBA (7d).

    Bit naughty to use King Edward for ER. Yes, it is legitimate, but one tends to think of Ed or something with a K in it (at least we did), while ER is more like the obligatory Queen (probably Rover thought there were already too many Queens in da house (23ac,7d)).
    We raised our eyebrows at 6d (CIRCULAR): ‘around’ (adverb) is not really ‘circular’ (adjective) – ’round’ would have been better, but reads not as well as it does now.

    So, not the Highlight of the Week (which was undoubtedly Paul), but not bad either.
    In fact, just as good as, say, a Gordius or a Rufus on an average (Mon)day.

  27. Alex says:

    Agreed that this wasn’t too challenging, but after a hectic week that was actually quite welcome. Some decent clues. It would be good if the senator/treason of 15a were given a rest for a bit.

  28. uncle-herman says:

    ive only got 8 answers but ive only been doing cryptic for about 2 weeks so im chuffed

  29. uncle-herman says:

    and two of those were wrong so six right then

  30. uncle-herman says:

    ANDREW you said about not liking gaff as an answerheres my train wreck of thought
    gaff a low slang term for some hidden trick or gimmick used as a cheating device in gambling.
    so my thinking is the scam is over because some one has told
    in this case the foreman or card dealer has called some one on useing a gaff so scam is over

    please note this is the same train of thought that has go about 20 answers all week

  31. Dave Ellison says:

    Eileen @24 and Kathryn’s Dad @ 25. It was I who made the comments to which you refer (and for which I later apologised, as I regretted it was rather rude as soon as I posted it – I’d still like a button to be able to withdraw a posting). My observation now is that, in general, the earlier commentators (who are clearly independent thinkers) tend to concur, and only later do those with contrary views arrive.

    Since I finished this Rover on the way in I tried the Indi on the way back – I saw not a single smile in that crossword, and I promise I shan’t stray again.

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave E

    Many thanks for clearing that up.

    I was out all day, so didn’t even look at the Indy, which I do if I have time. There have been several ‘defections’ that way lately, so it’s good to know that you’re staying this side – but you shouldn’t make rash promises, when there isn’t a ‘withdraw’ button. I’m certainly with you in wishing there were!

    And, Kathryn’s Dad, I know what you mean about those trips upstairs!

  33. ernie says:

    Thanks Andrew and others. Got it finished by fair means and foul. Got stuck in the mountains with Nepalese (Everester?) at first. Some interest but a bit run-of-the-mill.

  34. ernie says:

    Do some clues deliberately suggest others? 9a ‘Nepalese’ suggests the ‘nep’ in 10a ‘inept’. 4d ‘assembly’ almost answers 2a ‘assemble’. Maybe I’m paranoid. And #25 – I can’t even find the stairs!

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