Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,006 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on May 10th, 2010


Rufus on Monday – All’s right with the world! – as Browning didn’t say. The familiar start to the week, after two Rufusless Mondays in the last four. I said that the last Rufus I blogged, a month ago, rather lacked his usual sparkle. Not so this one – this is Rufus on top form: witty cryptic definitions; succinctly clever double [and one triple] definitions and anagrams; lovely smooth story-telling surfaces. Welcome back, Rufus!


7   ARROWHEAD: cryptic definition: a quarrel was an arrow with a four-edged head, fired from a crossbow.
8   AURIC: the [fairly large!] heart of mAURICe: a nice easy clue for a less familiar word.
9   DIAGNOSIS: anagram of DOSING IS A
10  SKIRL: anagram of RISK + L[earner]: we’d usually expect ‘heard’ to indicate a homophone but ‘skirl’ is literally the sound of the bagpipes.
12  SETTLE: double definition
13  FALL OVER: FAL LOVER: together with the Cam and the Exe, this river is probably better known to crossword solvers than to the wider public. This is a lovely use of it.
14  ASHAMED: anagram of HAS MADE
17 DRASTIC: DR [doctor] + ASTI [wine] + C[old]
20  HAND OVER: HAND [worker] + OVER [deliveries in cricket]
22 TREBLE: cryptic definition
24  SPASM: SPAS [health resorts] + M [thousand]:  superb surface!
25  PUNCHLINE: PUNCH [assault] + LINE [course]
26 ODEON: ODE [poem] + ON [being performed]: strictly, this is ‘water from the same well’, since an odeon was where odes were sung, hence its name, but it’s nice wordplay.
27 THRASHING: RASH [unrestrained] in THING [object]


1   ARRIVE: A + anagram of RIVER
2   GOLGOTHA: cryptic definition: Golgotha [the Place of the Skull], or Calvary, was where Christ was crucified, hence one of the Stations of the Cross.
4   SATISFY: double definition
5   CUCKOO: double definition
6   DISRAELI: anagram of L [fifty] + DIARIES: ‘novelist’ is not our first thought for Prime Minister Disraeli: his best-known novel, I think, is ‘Sybil’.
11 SLUR: double definition
15  STAMPEDE: cryptic definition
16 ENVY: ENV[o]Y [minister
18 STEALTHY: STEAL [pinch] THY [archaic ‘your’]
19 DRAUGHT: triple definition: ‘checker’ is the US / Canadian word for the piece used in the game of draughts; draught means the act of drawing, as in both drawing a breath or a load, and a preliminary sketch [more usually spelt ‘draft’ – although the person producing it, on this side of the Atlantic, is a draughtsman].
21  DESPOT: anagram of POSTED
22  TIC-TAC: cryptic definition: the sign language used by bookmakers at a race course to communicate their odds: [also spelt ‘tick-tack’ – I only knew tic-tacs as mints!]
23  LINING: another cryptic definition with a witty surface.

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,006 / Rufus”

  1. Ian says:

    Welcome back Rufus. Thanks Eileen.

    Cannot fault this. Splendid at 3ac with ‘fal lover’ whilst 7a was a smart cryptic clue. Generally easy with just some extra though needed for the SE corner. 28′

  2. sidey says:

    Ah! What a relief 😉

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for blogging, Eileen. I liked this one too, but needed copious amounts of caffeine and on-line help to complete it. Looking at the solution, not sure why – everything is clearly clued (except maybe ‘ron’ for ‘little boy’) so maybe it’s just me having a lethargic start to the week.

    Liked FALL OVER as well, and of many elegant surfaces, 24ac was the stand-out for me. And now I know that ‘quarrel’ is an arrow.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen. A nice puzzle to start the week, with some temporary sticking points to keep the ‘grey cells’ active. Thanks too re the gloss on ‘quarrel’ – I think I once knew that and had forgotten it along with so many other odds and ends of younger days.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    I wonder if there is something more going on in 22ac rather than it being a simple cd as you indicate. As well as the musical interpretation implied by the surface, a ‘treble’ could be considered to be a ‘high score’ in darts (assuming one hits, say, treble 15 or higher).

  6. Bill Taylor says:

    Right on, Eileen — a good-humoured start to the week; let’s hope it continues. High spots for me: 7a and 22d. I liked 6d, too.

  7. Bill Taylor says:

    P.S. — Gaufrid’s right, I think. Remember that annoying guy on TV darts (as I said last week, even more boring than televised snooker but marginally better than poker) who, whenever someone put three darts into treble 20, would announce: “One hundred and EEEIIIGHTY!”

  8. Eileen says:

    Hi Gaufrid and Bill Taylor

    I’m sure you’re both right. That was the way I read it, too, but didn’t know how else to describe it. I thought it was the two readings of ‘score’ that made it cryptic – cf ‘quarrel’ in 7ac and ‘stock’ in 15dn.

    [I do remember that irritating voice!]

  9. walruss says:

    Welcome return of Rufus, with a lovely puzzle.

  10. JimboNWUK says:

    Is it only me that thinks it odd that some things have their very own verb that is not applicable to anything else?

    Nothing else but bagpipes can be said to “skirl”…..and, to a lesser extent, only clouds and sailing boats are allowed to “scud”….

    Just a thought…

  11. Bill Taylor says:

    A fascinating thought, Jimbo.

    Sax Rohmer, author of the “Fu Manchu” novels, referred in one of them to the “skirl” of a police siren. But there’s sometimes not much different between that and bagpipes!

  12. FumbleFingers says:

    Excellent blog, thank you Eileen. Although I’d completed the whole puzzle, I needed your help to understand GOLGOTHA & DISRAELI.

    Lots of quality clues here. I particularly liked TIC-TAC, which was right at the margins of my knowledge (I knew there was a word for it, but needed some crossing letters before it came to me).

  13. tupu says:

    Hi JimboNWUK @ 10. Interesting point. Skirl seems to be Scandinavian in origin so it was presumably not always bagpipe-connected. Chambers also gives ‘skirl-in-the-pan’ (I haven’t encountered this otherwise) as ‘the noise of frying’ and also a fried dish. Both suggest the word is ‘imitative’ (presumably of that kind of sound). Slightly comparable again (‘slightly’ since the words that I know have other rather wider uses) are the special terms for collectivities (e.g. bevy of larks) but I don’t know if these are more formal literary inventions.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    Swedish bagpipes (säckpipa) date back there to medieval times.

  15. tupu says:

    Thanks Bill Taylor 14. I had thought of them as ‘Celtic fringe’. I now understand from a 1949 Swedish dictionary that the Swedish for bagpipe ‘skirl’ is säckpiplat – the latter ‘a’ should have a small ‘o’ above that I don’t know how to generate. This word ‘lat’ seems to be a general word for noise, din, tune, wail etc.

  16. FumbleFingers says:

    tupu, Bill, et al,

    I ate “skirlie” for the first time last Burns’ Night. It’s just fried oatmeal, nothing to write home about.

    OED says skirlie is also called “skirl-in-the-pan”, and that all these words originate from the same Scandinavian root which as Eileen says is is basically onomatopoeic (squeaky bagpipes, bubble & squeak in the pan, etc., all sound much of a muchness to me).

  17. Rufus says:

    Thank you Eileen for your kind blog. I managed to catch a glimpse of your last blog of my puzzle in N Zealand and was disappointed that you felt let down with some repetition in my clueing. Puzzles now appearing were all set beforehand so I’m pleased that you haven’t felt there are any in this one! I am watching out more in the hope of not repeating myself in the same puzzle.

  18. tupu says:

    ps to 15. I now discover that, with number lock,
    alt 134 produces å, and alt 143 gives Å!

  19. cholecyst says:

    Didn’t do this one, because I’ve been away. Interesting discussion on “skirl” reminds me that there is a farm in N Northumberland called “Skirl Naked”.

  20. Martin H says:

    A perfect example of how to set a Quiptic crossword.

    Since coming to this site I’ve tried to be more generous in my attitude to setters like Rufus, and to see the celebrated ‘sparkle’ and ‘elegance’. Well, maybe this is it, and it’s how some solvers see what I would call ‘surface gloss’. I can’t deny Rufus that quality, but it gives me scant satisfaction. There’s so little beneath the gloss to engage with.

  21. rrc says:

    thoroughly enjoyed this crossword. A year ago I would often do the crossword with colleagues at work and we could do most of rufus but then get totally stuck on a couple of clues. Recently Im not really of those couple of clues being around. I wonder whose changed!

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Was doing alright with this, then went brain dead on the SE corner. Having seen the answers I canonly think brain dead is an understatement. I don’t think I had my mind on this in fairness. Being more distracted by learning how an Interactive Fiction system that is new to me works.

    Tic-tac obscure? Unbelievable. I knew little about horse racing, as little as any of you. Thenmy wife corrupted me! BUT, I already knew tic-tac as the commonest of common knowledge. Hmm, I’m trying seriously hard to remember why I knew, but it’s lost in the mists. Sorry.

  23. Headteacher says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Martin H. How anyone can prefer this simplistic drivel to the wit and craft of such as Araucaria is beyond me.

  24. Bill Taylor says:

    It’s not a question of preferring one over the other, Headteacher; it’s simply a change of pace. Faced with Araucaria every day, I’m sure even his biggest fans — among whom I number myself — would eventually tire. And the man himself would be exhausted! Rufus may usually be simpler than Araucaria but he’s seldom simplistic. Nor does he produce drivel. Today’s crossword contains a good deal of quiet wit and charm — a very pleasant entry into the week.

  25. Eileen says:

    Hi FumbleFingers #16 [sorry – I’ve been out.]

    i didn’t actually intend my comment to mean that ‘skirl’ was onomatopoeic, although I can see now that it could be taken that way: I meant that the dictionary definition of ‘skirl’ is ‘the sound of the bagpipes’.

    Thanks for dropping in, Rufus. ‘Let down’ is perhaps a little strong! I’ve blogged a number of your puzzles now and I hope that you can see that my comment that the previous one was ‘rather lacking in the expected sparkle’ is a kind of back-handed compliment! :-)

    Bill Taylor #24

    I agree with every word!

  26. Martin H says:

    No, I don’t think it’s drivel either, Bill and Headteacher – it’s quite well-crafted in its simple, and yes, often simplistic way; but nor is it just a change of pace. It’s another level, not just of challenge, but of artistry. These puzzles are best described as slight. That’s why I put them with the Quiptic, which is where I think this level of puzzle belongs.

  27. Eileen says:

    Derek, I’ve been looking to see who thought ‘tic-tac’ was obscure and can’t find anyone, so I think you must have misunderstood my comment in the blog: it was only that spelling I hadn’t come across before.

  28. FumbleFingers says:

    Der – Eileen – I think it was ME that said TIC-TAC was at the limits of my knowledge (obviously it isn’t now!).

    Truth to tell, it was my ex-father-in-law ex-bookie who used to say it. I personally would never set foot in a bookie’s / buy a lottery ticket / go to the dogs, so I know little of their [subculture vernacular, whatever]. Maybe fifteensquared at large has more people with mis-spent youths than the average.

    We all know our particular veranacular, and some of us know some other people’s too, but obviously nobody knows everything that anyone might say – “lexicographer of last resort” is a nonsensical phrase.

    RUFUS – if you ever see this – thank you VERY much for an excellent puzzle, and damn all those who find fault!

  29. Brian Harris says:

    @Headteacher “How anyone can prefer this simplistic drivel to the wit and craft of such as Araucaria is beyond me.”

    Well, try harder.

    One of the joys of the Guardian crossword is the range of different setters, each with their own style. Personally, I find Rufus refreshingly straightforward, and I can generally breeze through his puzzles without difficulty. That doesn’t mean I find them unenjoyable. They’re perfect to start the week. Araucaria, on the other hand, I often find exasperatingly complex and obscure, and a bit of a chore. There are lots of setters inbetween, for example Paul and Brendan, whose wit and cleverness is very impressive.

    However, it very much depends on what floats your boat. I accept that there are lots of Araucaria fans out there, who prefer his tricksy, more devious clueing. A range of setters means the crossword is more likely to cater for a broader mix of solvers, and this seems to be the case. Certainly, novice solvers would be much more likely to get started with a Rufus than an Araucaria, for example. Not everyone has been doing these crosswords for 20 years, and can get inside the mind of some of the harder setters.

    Anyway, long may diversity and difference of opinions thrive.

  30. Wirricow says:

    I am moved to post my first ever reply by the supercilious comment made by Headteacher #23. I think to describe a crossword as ‘simplistic drivel’ because you happen to prefer another compilers style is offensive; especially as a glance at the other posts will show that Rufus has visited this blog. Cryptic crosswords in all their splendent forms appeal to a ‘broad church’ of solvers. The more fiendish puzzles offer the opportunity to ‘test your mettle’ but their purpose is surely not to bolster ones sense of intellectual superiority.

  31. Roger says:

    Hi Eileen ~~ I expect that everyone is on to the next challenge by now, but wrt 2d, isn’t Golgotha usually referred to as being outside the City ?

    In the clue’s defence, I suppose, from the Wikipedia entry it does seem to depend on which old Jerusalem you are talking about since the place expanded in ‘olden’ times ~ whereupon it would have become ‘inside’ !

    Perhaps ‘Station at old Jerusalem’ would cover it.

    Just a thought, you know …

    However, like many others, I thoroughly enjoyed this Rufusmonday.

  32. Eileen says:

    You’re absolutely right, of course, Roger: ‘without a city wall’.

    Glad you enjoyed it, anyway. :-)

    Welcome to the site, Wirricow. You’re quite right that we’re a ‘broad church’ but generally speaking, we manage to tolerate each other’s preferences without too much rancour. :-) It just happens that these two setters seem to arouse more discussion than most – but, as Bill Taylor says, it’s quite possible to admire both!

    I hope we’ll hear from you again.

  33. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

    I enjoyed all of the puzzle except for the four utterly unfair clues I did not get. (2, 4, and 22 d, 7 a)

    Main comment: this was a horridly uncrossed puzzle, with only 7 first letters checked. Ironically, when I finally tackled the empty SE corner, I filled in fairly fast, except for that utter cheat TIC-TAC. Whatever that means.

  34. Huw Powell says:

    @Martin @20, after coming to puzzles from the esteemed but tired, and now retired, setter Frank Lewis at The Nation (US), whose clues were often utter gibberish, I do enjoy a clue that “seems” to make literal sense on the surface. Not a big deal for me, but nice to see it generally respected.

  35. rob c says:

    thanks for the blog eileen and thanks to rufus for creating something which to me is a beautiful work of art.

    i suspect that the ‘headteacher’ comment may be a parody of all setter criticism rather than a sincere view. either way it made me laugh out loud.

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