Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25012 / Rufus

Posted by mhl on May 17th, 2010


Lots of excellent clues in today’s Rufus. I made quite heavy weather of this by getting 10a wrong, mispelling 23d and not knowing 12a, but I think it should have been straightforward.

1. AUTOMATIC I think this just refers to an automatic gun, which isn’t completely automatic: you still have to pull the trigger to start firing. Maybe I’ve missed something more subtle…
6. RAPS SPAR reversed
9. MOVIES MO = “Doctor” + VIES = “strives”
10. EXCISE Double definition; I was held up for a while by putting EXEMPT here, thinking it was just a cryptic definition
12. CRESTA Cryptic definition, I think, referring to the Cresta Run
15. TWO FACED TWO = “pair” + FACED = “confronted”
16. IMPROPER Double definition
21. USURPERS P = “Soft” in USURERS = “moneylenders”; “pretences” in the definition alludes to people “pretending to a position”
22. CARAFE “a service” = A RAF in CE = “church”
24. TIMBRE MB = “doctor” in TIRE = “fatigue”
25. GRENADES (RANGE)* + DES = “of French”
26. KNOT Double definition
27. DISCOVERY Double definition
1. ANNEX ANNE = “a girl” + X = “Kiss”
2. TALLIES Double definition
3. MASSÉ MASSEUSE = “manipulative female” without USE
4. TOSSPOT SOT = “One drunkard” reversed + SPOT = “see”
5. COMMODORE OR = “Gold” in COMMODE = “cabinet”
6. RIVIERA Cryptic definition
7. PRESIDENT P = “a minimal amount” (a penny) + RESIDENT = “occupant”
13. REMISSION Double definition
14. APPREHEND Double definition
18. RESIGNS S = “Son” in REIGNS = “rules”
22. CREDO RED = “Revolutionary” with CO = “firm” around the outside

32 Responses to “Guardian 25012 / Rufus”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, I really enjoyed this.

    A nice gentle start to the week.

    Well done, Rufus, yet again!

  2. William says:

    Thank you mhl, and thank you Rufus.

    Lasted just long enough to span morning tea in bed.

    If you can me me feel clever, it’s a real achievement.

    If only I could spell FIERY I’d still have some tea left.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    As you say, some excellent story-telling clues and, as usual, clever anagrams [17dn and 20dn particularly].

    My own spelling problem is always with EIGHTH, where the T is doing double duty. [Then again, it always seems strange to write ‘granddaughter’, so I’m not consistent.]

    Actually 19ac is almost an &lit, as HEIGHT is ‘adjusted’ only by a fraction – the moving of one letter.

    I didn’t know MASSÉ, but the wordplay was impeccable. I think we’ve probably seen something like ‘manipulative woman’ before but it still raises a smile.

    Thanks, Rufus, for a nice start to the week.

  4. Richard says:

    Thanks mhl and thanks Rufus.

    A nice start to the week. Didn’t know MASSE, though.

  5. rrc says:

    8 and 9 went in very quickly, then the bottom half filled in very nicely although it took a little longer to make the connections with 8 and 9 to complete the top. Some very nice clues as has been said a good start to the week

  6. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, MHL. I wondered about the E in whiskey in 23 dn. Does Rufus prefer the smoother Scotch whisky? Then I found this which probably told me more than I wished to know!

    “The word “whisky” is believed to have been coined by soldiers of King Henry II who invaded Ireland in the 12th century as they struggled to pronounce the native Irish words uisce beatha [??k?? b?ah?], meaning “water of life”. Over time, the pronunciation changed from “whishkeyba” (an approximation of how the Irish term sounds) to “whisky”. The name itself is a Gaelic calque of the Latin phrase aqua vitae, meaning “water of life”.[34]

    Much is made of the word’s two spellings, whisky and whiskey. Today, the spelling whisky (plural whiskies) is generally used for whiskies distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Japan, while whiskey (plural whiskeys) is used for the whiskeys distilled in Ireland and the United States. However, several prominent American brands, such as Maker’s Mark and George Dickel, use the ‘whisky’ spelling. When writing generally about this type of spirit, either spelling is correct.

    “Scotch” is the internationally recognized term for “Scotch whisky” however it is rarely used in Scotland, where the drink is called ‘whisky.'[35]

    In many Latin-American countries, whisky (wee-skee) is used as a photographer’s cue to smile, supplanting English “cheese”. The Uruguayan film Whisky got its name because of this. ” (Wikipedia)

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you mhl. Agree, a gentle but pleasant start to the week. Put in MASSE as a guess; hadn’t heard the term (obviously didn’t misspend a sufficiently large part of my youth in snooker halls). I liked the clue for CRESTA and never knew that TOSSPOT was a drunkard.

  8. cholecyst says:

    Sorry. Please ignore the garbage in the square brackets – forgot that this site isn’t too fond of phonetic alphabet.

  9. Ian says:

    Thanks mhl and to Rufus for a very fine piece of work.

    Not much to add other than to say that ‘Cresta’ had a lovely clue that tried hard to misdirect me. Typical of that flawless simplicity that makes him so popular and appreciated, not just by solvers, but also crossword editors at the broadsheets.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. This was a delight. 19ac was a textbook example of how to bring wit to a simple anagram! I didn’t know MASSE either, but confirmed it once I had solved the wordplay. All the surfaces were so good, I can’t pick a favourite.

  11. Rishi says:

    I too had come across MASSÉ only in a crossword but that was several decades ago.
    As for “manipulative female”, these cryptic clue writers believe in rubbing it on!

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl. An enjoyable puzzle well fulfilling Rufus’s stated aim of providing relatively undemanding but nonetheless entertaining exercise for Monday morning brains. Like mhl I got bogged down by trying ‘exempt’ in 10a, since I only got ‘massé’ later. Despite an ‘ill-spent youth’ I didn’t know this billiard term but it was of course nicely solvable. Re cholecyst on whiskey, Burns’ Tam o’ shanter line comes back to mind “Wi’ tippeny, we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!” – it’s amazing how much of school-learned stuff is still there so many decades later! Some nice anagrams perhaps esp. 17d.

  13. Rishi says:

    tupu @#12
    I am posting a follow-up comment under General Chat in Chat Room.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    A good start to the week, though 1a almost shot me down — a great clue.

  15. tupu says:

    Hi Rishi. Response there in GC.

  16. Daniel Miller says:

    Very gentle stuff – but enjoyable nonetheless.

  17. irp says:

    18d RESIGNS, not REIGNS

  18. walruss says:

    Rufus in his Monday slot again, with some more nice clues. Most fond of the commode used, if that isn’t too rude!

  19. mhl says:

    irp: Thanks – corrected now.

  20. Martin H says:

    One or two nice clues, 3d probably the best – if we must have cryptic definitions let’s have them like this, as part of the subsidiary element.

    liz, you give 19 as a ‘textbook example’ of a witty anagram. It has a neat surface, it works – is that what you mean? Doesn’t its taking half a second to solve rather cancel out any ‘textbook’ quality it might have? Crosswords are supposed, I think, to give pleasure in the unravelling of the clue, and a smooth surface should be part of the challenge. If the clue is so obvious, doesn’t any pleasure in the surface just evaporate?

    Also one or two groans and gripes: 27 is hardly a double definition; nor is 13d; what is ‘a reality’ doing in 21a? Of course someone has to pull the trigger of an automatic pistol: ‘automatic’ doesn’t refer to that – what’s the point of the clue? 1d: ‘Annex’ means ‘attach’ not ‘attached'; unless the definition is ‘is attached’, which is inadequate.

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Martin.
    Re 21. Pretences I guess relates to pretenders whose ambitions for a throne become reality through usurpation.
    Re annex. I understood this as a noun rather than a verb.

  22. John says:

    Martin: the The parsing for 1 dn is ANNE before X, and def is “one (i.e. an annex) is attached”.

  23. Derek Lazenby says:

    Masse? Misspent youth? Guilty as charged.

    Pleasant after dinner relax this one. Was too busy trying to less sedantary. 8 months since the colloapsed vertabrae restricted things and still 15 mins is all I can walk without a sit down. Getting bored with this. And nothing here to be grumpy about to get it out of the system, sigh.

  24. scarpia says:

    An excellent puzzle from Rufus.I found this quite a bit harder than usual,which is no bad thing.
    I’m not a big fan of the cryptic definition but Rufus does come up with some gems and the surfaces of his clues are always spot on.

  25. Martin H says:

    Thanks for that John. I’d read ‘one’ as referring back to ‘kiss’. So withdraw gripe on that one.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Although we found it a relatively easy puzzle in places, but with some nice smooth surfaces, we got a little bit stuck in the SW – so Rufus won again.
    We thought 21ac had to be USURPERS, but hesitated because the P was not really in the heart of ‘usurers’. And we couldn’t think of something else than REMISSION for 13d – not the best clue today.
    Therefore we didn’t find CRESTA.
    I remembered that it started with a C – remembered? Yes. Rufus used the same clue (or perhaps a slightly different variant of it) in the FT (13,241 – 3rd Dec 2009) as his alter ego Dante.
    [although both Dante and Rufus bear clearly Mr Squires’ signature, I always wonder why I find Dante more challenging than Rufus (which doesn’t mean that I don’t like Rufus)]
    So, I’ve seen CRESTA before, and I had another dejà vú when I saw 4d (TOSSTOP) – was too lazy too find out when and where.

    Clue of the Day must an anagram: maybe PHONETIC (11ac), though 8ac, 19ac and 20d came close.

  27. liz says:

    Martin H – My point was that Rufus brought wit to a *simple* anagram. OK, I solved it about as quickly as you did, but I was able to appreciate the elegance of the clue, which gave me a great deal of pleasure. I didn’t want to have to make the comparison with Rover’s lamentable ‘its terror’ last week, but I will do now :-)

    As I understand it, Rufus is supposed to provide a puzzle that eases us into the week and that is on the easy end of the cryptic scale. The fact that he manages to do this week on week with such humour and brilliant surfaces is astonishing.

  28. Jan says:

    Thank you for the blog, mhl.

    I’m not a fan of double definition clues although I appreciate the clever surfaces. ‘Bird nuts’ for ‘Cuckoo’ still has me chuckling and will do, next winter, when I next fill the peanut feeder. Consequently, I am not a Rufus fan. However, this puzzle was delightful in parts.

    Am I the only one to be mystified by the, to me, straight clue for 14d? Am I missing something? I cannot see the double definition.

  29. Brian Harris says:

    Slightly harder than usual for a Rufus, but all very enjoyable with some nice clues. 1ac had us stumped for a long time, until we had all the crossing letters. And I really didn’t know that TOSSPOT was a synonym for drunkard. I thought it was ruder.

    A lovely start to the week.

  30. Mister Sting says:

    Jan, if you’re still around, ‘suspect’ in 14d is a verb. I’m not convinced that suspecting something and apprehending it are the same, but I’ll let it pass.

    And, Martin @20
    Automatic literally means self-moving. It’s a sly ‘guns don’t kill people’ comment, I assume.

    13dn functions thusly:
    Pardon (n) = remission (of sins) + remission means prison sentence is cut. It’s not the best clue, admittedly.

    27dn is a dd/semi-&lit

    I liked 19ac because an eighth (of an inch) can be a measurement of height – I don’t find the pleasure of a clue is always proportionate to its difficulty.

    Here’s another: Silly, silly Annie (5)
    It takes about a second to solve, but it’s brilliant.

    “if we must have cryptic definitions”…
    yes, I think we must, all things considered.

  31. Martin H says:

    Mister Sting, very belatedly: I know how 13 and 27 work; I just think they’re not very good. They’re dull.

    Nor do I think the pleasure of a clue is directly proportionate to its difficulty. I do think that clues which can be solved very quickly have to have something pretty special about them, have to give you a moment of pleasurable revelation. your ‘Annie’ is pretty good, in large part because of its tone of voice. ‘Bird nuts’, mentioned above, is similar. I don’t think 19a here has that quality.

    My wish for the art of cryptic definition is that setters should be use it as one part of a clue, as here, very successfully, in the subsidiary element. The problem with cd’s with no other wordplay is that they rest solely on the sense of humour of the setter. Almost inevitably they are constructed around some sort of pun, and to base the whole clue on a pun risks alienating the solver. Puns are not reliably entertaining.

  32. Huw Powell says:

    For once, I liked the clues I didn’t get. All 7 of them. Nice work, Rufus, and thank you, mhl.

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