Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,030 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on June 7th, 2010


A characteristically straightforward yet stylish offering from Rufus, with the ingenious anagrams and seamless, story-telling surfaces that we know to expect, with not too many cryptic clues for those who dislike them. [Unfortunately, two of the clues appeared consecutively in Rufus’ ‘Dante’ puzzle in the FT only two weeks ago.]


1   REHEARSAL: HEARS [tries] in REAL [bona fide]
6   BAGS: cryptic definition, referring to the loose-fitting, baggy trousers worn by Oxford undergraduates in the 1920s
FLAMINGO: FLAMING [ruddy] + O [duck]: a lovely clue! [In recent years, there has been a controversial cull of the ruddy duck, which was introduced to the UK from North America fifty years ago and, after escaping from Slimbridge bird sanctuary, bred widely with the European white-headed duck – according to BBC news it was  ‘blasted for being over-sexed and over here’.]
9   QUILLS: cryptic definition
10  SCATTY: CAT [feline] in STY [enclosure]
11  FAIR GAME: double definition, referring to the fairground throwing game, still, apparently, played as a pub game in parts of England.
12  RED RAG: RE-DRAG, as in searching the bed of a river and a red rag is a proverbial source of provocation to a bull.
15 DIAMONDS: double definition
16  SADDLE UP: anagram of DUDE PALS, with a neat surface
19  EXHALE: EX [no longer] + HALE [fit] – another nice surface
21  COMMENCE:  C [hundred]  + anagram of MEN COME
22  BAMBOO: B.A. [scholar] + M[aster] + BOO [express disapproval of]
24  PRICEY: a beautifully clear clue, which tells you exactly what to do: ‘put IC [in charge] in PREY [quarry]’!
25  SEA FEVER: the title of John Masefield’s famous poem
26  IDOL: I’D + reversal of LO [behold]
27  DEPRESSED: PRESS [urge] in DEED [action. We’re rather more used to seeing ‘disheartened’ as part of the wordplay than as the definition.


1   RELIC: ELI [the hoary old crossword priest] in R[oman] C[atholic]
2   HAMSTER: anagram of THE ARMS
3   ANNOY: NO [refusal] in ANY
SCOFFED: double definition
5   LIQUIDATE: simple charade of LIQUID [something to drink + ATE [had a meal]
6   BRING TO: double definition: a signature nautical term from Rufus: to bring to means to bring a ship to a standstill.
GOLD MEDAL: anagram of MODEL GLAD, with fashion as the indicator, giving another great surface – worthy of a wider audience than the FT!
13  ENAMOURED: anagram of DEMEANOUR – yet another lovely surface
14  GREEN-EYED: cryptic definition, referring to jealousy, the monster that made Othello kill his wife, Desdemona – the second of the re-cycled clues.
17  DOMICIL: anagram of I’M COLD I: I’m not sure I’ve seen this word without a final E before.
18 PRESS-UP: cryptic definition
20  HAMMERS: double definition, referring to West Ham Football Club.
22  BRACE: BRA [support] + CE [Church of England]
23  ON END: ON [working] + END [finish] – as in the phrase ‘for days on end’.

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,030 / Rufus”

  1. William says:

    Good morning, Eileen, and thank you for the blog.

    Loved the ruddy duck!

    9 & 10 ac a trifle dodgy, don’t you think? Not sure what “top” is doing in 9ac and is SCATTY really “volatile”?

    Other than that a good solid 20-minute solve.

  2. Ian says:

    A remarkably straighforward Rufus. Excellent blog Eileen.

    The odd piece of clever wordplay here and there, notably ‘Bamboo’ at 22ac.


  3. Eileen says:

    Hi William

    I had the same thoughts about SCATTY, having in mind Collins definition of ’empty-headed or thoughtless; distracted’ but Chambers gives ‘unpredictable in conduct’, which, I think, equates to ‘volatile’, defined in Chambers as ‘subject to sudden changes in emotional state’.

    I’m not really sure about ‘top flight’, either!

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for a perfect blog and Rufus for yet another good start to the week. As usual he manages to trigger the mind into action without resorting to fiendish cunning. Good wordplay (e.g. 11 and 12) and some ‘aha’ anagrams. I had to check the nautical part of 6d though it couldn’t be anything else and ‘domicil’ slightly worried me but it does turn out to be OK. 9a a little spoilt by its inevitability once 5d was solved. Sorry to go on – you’ve said it all really!

  5. tupu says:

    Re top flight – could this refer to the fact that the feathers on darts are called flights?

  6. TokyoColin says:

    Or the fact that quill pens are made from ‘flight feathers’ also called ‘quill feathers’?

  7. Martin H says:

    Bamboo and Flamingo excellent; Bags awful; Green-eyed isn’t really cryptic; How does ‘worn’ fit into 15a?

    Scatty seems fine to me, and ‘top flight’ presumably refers the flight feathers used to make quill pens.

    Don’t be surprised at the duplication of clues, Eileen. When you’re determined to stay in the record books, you might have to cut a few corners now and again.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen. Gentle but enjoyable start to Monday morning. I know some solvers find him too easy, but I do enjoy Rufus for his variety of clueing and his clever surfaces. Liked BRACE in particular today.

  9. Eileen says:

    Martin H

    I didn’t say I was surprised. Rufus himself has explained how these things happen, with puzzles being submitted often months before publication – and to different newspapers. It was just that I particularly liked GOLD MEDAL and thought it was unfortunate that it came up again before I’d had time to forget it!

    I don’t see your problem with 15ac – wealthy people wear diamond jewellery.

  10. tupu says:

    Tokyo Colin and Martin H. Thanks re flights -of course, much more straightforward!

  11. Eileen says:

    Yes, thanks, Tokyo Colin and Martin H: that’s the way I had been thinking – but I still don’t see why ‘top’.

  12. Martin H says:

    Eileen – you just sounded disappointed, which I took to be a sort of unpleasant surprise.
    It’s simply that I don’t like the idea of recycled clues: rather like snowflakes – but with more patterns available of course – no two should be the same. If you can’t make new clues set fewer crosswords.

    No, I don’t see what my problem was with 15 either.

  13. TokyoColin says:

    Eileen, the only thing I can think of is that the clue could hardly begin with ‘Flight writers …’ and since quills are best made from the strongest, outer flight feathers, Rufus stretched it to ‘Top flight’. But I am a very forgiving solver, as long as the clue gets me there and I can see the connection it is fine with me.

  14. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Colin. That’s why I was originally happy to leave it as ‘cryptic definition’ until William raised the query! :-)

  15. Bill Taylor says:

    A quick solve but very entertaining. One good clue after another — 6a, 9a, 11a, 16a, 25a, 18d etc. etc. — and 8a was a classic! A genuine laugh among a lot of smiles. Doubt has been expressed recently about the importance of smile moments in a crossword. But this Rufusian tour-de-force was SO much more rewarding than some of the more dour efforts we’ve seen of late.

  16. William says:

    Re Tokyo Colin @13 et al, I’m inclined to agree. I think Rufus added “Top” to make the surface smoother. It doesn’t really work for me, but it is definitely in the ‘other minor offences’ category in the Book Of Setters’ Crimes.

  17. sidey says:

    There used to be a darts programme on the box called Top Flights. I think it’s a sort of “well done” in the sport.

  18. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Like KD @8, I particularly liked BRACE with “support” doing double duty, I thought, to give a double definition and the charade as well.

  19. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. I really enjoyed your info on the ruddy duck, which added to the pleasure of 8a! V enjoyable Rufus, lots of smiles and great surfaces.

  20. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Liz.

    I remembered all the fuss about the ruddy duck a few years ago, then found this item when I googled this morning:

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for that, Eileen!

  22. Daniel Miller says:

    Finished this one in less than 10 minutes sat waiting around at lunchtime – but nevertheless enjoyable fair.

  23. tupu says:

    Hi neilW
    :)A sort of female belt and braces?

  24. Colin says:

    I got “BRING TO” and “BAGS” but didn’t fill them in, as I missed the nautical reference. Otherwise, did the rest in about 10 minutes (or, by the way I measure it, less than a quarter of the way through my bus journey to work)

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Many thanks, Eileen, for blogging this nice Rufus.
    Some very fine ones like FLAMINGO [agree with Bill Taylor], COMMENCE (21ac), DOMICIL (17d) or the second coming of the splendid GOLD MEDAL [surely worth it …].

    A pity of these duplications, though.
    Indeed, GOLD MEDAL and GREEN-EYED [not a very good clue, btw] were in Dante, FT 13,387.
    And to make things even ‘worse’, in that same puzzle were also LIQUIDATE and DEPRESSED – similarly clued.
    So, that makes four.

  26. Richard says:

    Thanks for a super blog, Eileen.

    I thought 8ac was great, too. This was a gentle entertaining solve for me this evening tired after after 6 hours driving….

  27. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I hadn’t noticed the other two duplications – identically clued, as far as I can see.

    I remembered GOLD MEDAL because I thought it was so good – and GREEN-EYED because the FT had spelt ‘Desdemona’ wrongly.

    However, a nice Rufus, as you say.

  28. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    A typical RUFUS with loads of good surfaces. I don’t agree that 6a (BAGS) was cryptic, as it would be quite at home in a general knowledge quiz. I suppose that “widely” is the only word that makes it remotely cryptic.
    14d and 18d are also barely cryptic. Pleasant start to the week though.

  29. Carrots says:

    Rufus is always a welcome start to the week. He has an uncanny knack of making quite difficult clues seem easy….and this gives great confidence, especially to ab initio puzzlers. I usually try to keep a couple of (empty) Rufus puzzles with me on trains planes and omnibusomobiles to distract would-be “helpers” when I`m locking horns with Paul, Brendan or Araucaria. I`ve often wondered how many I`ve helped to turn into crossypuzzle junkies!

  30. Paul B says:

    Well, as others have noted this was a good puzzle – very easy, but well-written. Apart from the duplications, that is. And it’s nice to see others (a) noting this phenomenon, which occurs as a result of using a database of clues rather than writing fresh ones for each puzzle, and (b) disapproving of it. Sure, setters duplicate their own clues occasionally, or repeat an idea that’s been seen elsewhere (which happens either by accident, or because the word breaks down in a particularly obvious way), but in each case the frequency is vanishingly low. And in any case, aren’t audiences being ripped off if they don’t get new stuff each week?

    I don’t know what Rufus thinks of Martin H’s suggestion, which runs along the lines of ‘if you can’t write anew for each puzzle you do, you’re writing too many puzzles’, but this might be too much of a new trick for such an old dog.

  31. DavidM says:

    Paul B at #30 wrote:
    >>I don’t know what Rufus thinks of Martin H’s suggestion, which runs along the lines of ‘if you can’t write anew for each puzzle you do, you’re writing too many puzzles’, but this might be too much of a new trick for such an old dog.<<

    He might suggest that if you're spotting duplications in different publications, you're solving too many puzzles. :-)

  32. Carolyn says:


    That’s a good ploy! As a newcomer to cryptic crosswords it generally takes me the best part of an evening to solve them, with plenty of breaks to allow my brain to cool down. Today, fanfare please, was my first sub 1 hour solve.

    Thanks Rufus

  33. Coffee says:

    Fanfare indeed, well done Carolyn! One of my quickest ever solo solves too- was a little disappointed when it was over so quickly – some of us are never happy. @Carrots, I hope to sit next to you on a plane some day- I have a couple of long hauls coming up so will search out Rufus puzzles that I’ve never done. Good plan!

  34. Rufus says:

    Many thanks to Eileen for her usual excellent blog.

    I apologise for the appearance of replicated clues in this one and an FT puzzle recently. My records show that the FT puzzle was set over 18 months ago, but even then I am surprised that 2, or even 4, clues appeared similar to today’s Guardian.

    Incidentally, I am certainly no longer pushing for any records – at 78 I am not going to produce a third million clues! Once one has crossing solutions, each crossword becomes different, and sometimes few words fit the next space. If I am having trouble with clueing a particular solution I do occasionally see what clues I have used in the past in the hope they may evoke some inspiration. Sometimes, if I find have only used a clue that I liked in a different, not quite so popular crossword, I may use it again, as in this case, thinking I had at least 18 months in between. With the proliferation of crossword blogs now I shall have to reconsider so doing!

    Many thanks also for the kinder remarks! Much appreciated!

  35. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Rufus, for dropping by once again, and for the very enjoyable puzzle.

    Re your last paragraph: I decided last night not to tempt fate by commenting that the remarks had been kinder – perhaps this is another record! :-)

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