Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,060 / Rufus

Posted by mhl on July 12th, 2010


A very nice crossword, with Rufus’s usual wit and smooth surface readings. The only difficulty was one word (11a) that was unknown to me, and difficult to guess from the anagram fodder.

1. SCRATCH Double definition; playing off a zero handicap in golf is known as SCRATCH
5. MONOCLE Cryptic definition
10. APSE APE = “Primate” around S = “Sunday”
11. MEERSCHAUM A new word to me: (EACH SUMMER)*
12. FIDDLE Double definition
13. RESERVES Double definition
16. FIRST Double definition, which gives me a weak excuse to add a link to Wikipedia’s note about slang terms for degree classifications
17. SPASM SPA = “Resort” + SM = “sergeant major”
19. LOST HEART Double definition
23. BOUNCERS Cryptic definition
24. NEWTON NEW = “fresh” + TON = “weight” for Isaac Newton who described the laws of motion used in classical mechanics
26. VOL-AU-VENTS Very nice: (OVEN VAULTS)*
27. IOTA I + TO reversed + A
28. REVERSE Double definition
2. CAPSIZE Double defintion; the latter cryptically refer to CAP SIZE
3. AHEAD A + HEAD = “teacher”
4. COMPETE COME = “Enter” (as in what you might say in reponse to someone knocking on your door) around PET = “favourite”
8. LAURELS Cryptic definition; LAURELS are bay leaves
9. ZEBRA CROSSING Cryptic definition
15. INSINUATE Lovely surface: (ANNUITIES)*
18. PROPOSE Cryptic definition
21. ROOSTER ROSTER = “Roll” around O = “nothing”
22. LEAVES Double definition
25. WAIST Cryptic definition: apparently “vital statistics” are the combination of bust, waist and hip measurements, listed in that order, so WAIST is the “centre”

29 Responses to “Guardian 25,060 / Rufus”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, this was a typically gentle stroll to start the week.

    I already knew MEERSCHAUM and, as I entered it, I thought ‘I’ve never seen that word for ages’.

    Indeed, I hardly ever see anyone smoking a pipe these days.

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks to you mhl for the blog and to Rufus too for a pleasant start to the week.

    Meerschaum pipes were rare even when pipe smoking was commonplace decades ago.


  3. rrc says:

    I enjoyed this with plenty of dry smiles and aha moments

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl and Rufus. I particularly liked 23ac because it’s both a cryptic and a straight definition: a batsman might have to duck to avoid being hit by a bouncer, or he might be out to one and so score a duck. It also allows me to show off about the fact that I went to a wedding on Saturday where the reception was held in the Long Room at Lord’s.

  5. Martin H says:

    Monday, and it’s down to earth again with Rufus, overburdened as usual with dd’s/ cd’s (12 out of 29 clues) and transparent wordplay (for want of a better word), the only concession to a parachute provided by 2, 14 and 21. If Rufus can do clues as good as these, why do we have to put up with stuff like 3,5,9 10, 22 etc?

    I like your comment for 25, mhl; you weren’t in an earlier capacity that judge who is reputed to have said, “And who are The Beatles?”?

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks mhl. A gentle enough stroll but with some pleasing clues: FIDDLE AND RESIDENCE were good and the surface at 26ac was excellent. Thanks for the link to the slang terms for degrees – I’d heard of a Desmond before, but none of the others.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Rufus and mhl

    Thanks also for the interesting degree slang link – much of the content of which was surprisingly new to me. (I wonder a bit how much such terms are actually used).

    An enjoyable puzzle. I found 1, 17, 26 and 29
    and 2, 21, and 25 all amusing in different ways. 16 was well enough known to me but did not click for some minutes. It was the least satisfying surface in the puzzle for me – just a quibble though.

    I happened to know Meerschaum, having bought such a pipe for my father many years ago. I remember that he didn’t especially like it, which hurt a little at the time, but no great harm was done and it’s turned out useful in the end!

  8. Mark H says:

    Didn’t know meerschaum,mostly enjoyable and I got pretty much all the wordplay but didn’t like “residence” , how can “brought round” indicate an anagram? Similarly “otherwise” to me “provided” does not tell the solver to rearrange “white” and “rose”

  9. duncandisorderly says:

    very easy to get the wrong word as the first half of 9d &, in my view, the wrong word is equally valid; “barred” as in “not for the use of”.
    by the time of reaching 9d, the quality of the cluing elsewhere will doubtless lead others astray. not one of his best today.
    a bit surprised that meerschaum is not more widely known; isn’t this a sherlock holmes thing?


  10. Max says:

    I particularly liked 24a; The SI unit of weight (which is a force) is the Newton.

  11. Myrvin says:

    Lots of anagrams and what I call “Rufus clues”: clues with only one part to them. Above, I see they are called “cryptic definitions”, but I always feel a little cheated by them, even when I can get them. I guessed 23a because there were a couple of possibilities with the letters I had. But then I found 18d which crossed nicely. Took me ages to get the 1st part of 9d – another Rufus clue. I am intrigued as to what the ‘wrong / right’ answer is.
    I don’t think Holmes ever smoked a meerschaum in the stories, but he did on stage and films. I knew it from somewhere.

  12. otter says:

    Morning, Thanks for the solution. An easy one for me, this, didn’t time myself but think I would have got it in about 15 minutes were it not for 16a, which I couldn’t see for 5 minutes or so. As often with Rufus, this turns out to be because I’m thinking too complex for what is actually a blindingly simple clue.

    As usual, Rufus relies far too much on anagrams, double definitions and (barely) cryptic definitions for my liking. I prefer puzzles which mix things up more. He does, however, manage always to pull out a few very elegant surface readings and pleasing puns (eg 23a, which took a while to work out).

    I got MEERSCHAUM straight away. It’s a well known type of Dutch clay pipe, quite elite I think. I bought myself one in my early 20s when I went through an ironic pipe-smoking phase. I think, though I can’t remember for sure, that it was also the type of pipe smoked by Sherlock Holmes.

    I always think that ‘vol-au-vents’ should be ‘vols-au-vent’ as a French plural. Can anyone enlighten me?

  13. Mike M says:

    Just about the gentlest start to the week imaginable, but no less enjoyable for that.

    Rufus has the knack of making crosswords quick to solve without making them frustratingly/insultingly simple – well done that man. He even squeezed in a trademark nautical reference, with CAPSIZE.

    Bizarrely, my last solve was ZEBRA CROSSING, which was probably the easiest of the lot – a real mental block!

  14. Mike M says:

    PS Otter – are you also in the camp that thinks the plural of forget-me-not should be forget-us-not? ;o)

  15. Stella Heath says:

    Well, that was fun! Thanks for the link, mhl. I’d never heard of any of them, but then I didn’t finish my degree in England. Interesting how rhyming slang is still alive and kicking!

    I think ‘meerschaum’ has come up before, though I didn’t remember this until I had almost all the letters in place.

    As for the plural of ‘vol-au-vent’ (otter@12), it’s a complex noun, but the first element is actually a verb form, and only becomes a noun in this context. I think in this case the plural refers to the whole as a unit, so the ‘s’ goes at the end.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ha, all this discussion of 16, and it was the very one that I just couldn’t see for looking! Perhaps if I hadn’t been under the mishaprehension that I was taking a degree in Bridge, Nap, Three Card Brag, Canasta, Bar Billiards, Greyhound Racing, Partying, etc., the word First might have been further forward in my brain!

  17. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I liked many of the surfaces in this one, as usual, including 2dn and 7dn. Not so keen on the cds, though.

    Otter — the bowl of a meerschaum pipe is actually made out of a light stone, not clay, but it is supposed to be a very elite pipe :-)

    Mike M — me too re 9dn. I had LEVEL CROSSING for a while, until I got 13ac and realised my mistake.

  18. tupu says:

    Hi Otter, Mike M, Stella

    I have only schoolboy French, but I also have a copy of Robert, and access to Larousse on line. Both say to my surprise that ‘vol-au-vent’ in French is invariable, and an attempt online at translation of six vol-au-vents from English to French actually produces ‘six vol-au-vent’!
    I am inclined to believe it (this time) and, if its true, ‘vols-au-vent’ would be an over-correction.

  19. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Re vol-au-vent, tupu’s right, in French it is invariable, but I don’t have a problem with the anglicisation having a plural with s: everybody would say ‘Have you finished the vol-au-vents yet?’

    Culs-de-sac, on the other hand …

  20. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, mhl. As most have acknowledged – standard Monday fare. People are right about 11ac MEERSCHAUM. SH never smoked one, so far as is known. This and other myths are debunked at–the-truth-behind-the-stereotypes

  21. muck says:

    Thanks mhl & Rufus
    I was doubtful too (various comments) about vol-au-vents, but it doesn’t grate as much as ‘paninis’ or ‘the media is’.
    I did know Desmond for 2:2, but thanks mhl for the others I hadn’t heard of.
    24ac NEWTON is a force not a weight (Max#10). They’re not the same thing, but the clue works: a ton is a weight.

  22. William says:

    Hello Stella @#15.

    I rather think that, in French, the first element is a noun rather than a verb, meaning literally “A flight on the wind”. An illusion to the lightness of the pastry. In which case, wouldn’t a plateful become vols-au-vent? Mind you, with the devotion that language has to liaising nouns, perhaps L’Academie Francaise would insist upon “vols-aux-vents”?

    By the way, lovely tidy clueing by Rufus again – I really enjoy Mondays a little more with him around.


  23. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Afternoon muck at no 21. Be careful with that can opener, please, otherwise we’ll have worms all over the blog, examining the graffiti that is present on it and the data that is available to Gaufrid about our visits here.

    I fancy the battle about media taking a plural verb is pretty much lost, I’m afraid, even in the media.

    And since I’m in pedant corner at the minute, I’m sure, William at no 22, you meant to say allusion rather than illusion. Unless the vol-au-vent/vol-au-vents were so light that they flew away and weren’t really there at all.

  24. Carrots says:

    As usual, Rufus provides us with a nice soft cushion to ease the shock of Monday morning. He is clearly a popular setter (in spite of the fact that most of his puzzles can be cracked in less than 15 minutes or so).

    Taking Martin H@5`s comment about “good” clues, I`m intrigued to know what defines them. Is otter@12`s preference to (have) “things mixed up more” universally felt? Are varietal settings essential to the overall rating of the puzzle? Is Rufus too kind to us to be cruel to?

    Although Martin`s comment triggered these speculations, an earlier question (from someone rich as Creosus) has equally stumped me: “What is money for?” I still haven`t a clue!

  25. Bryan says:

    Carrots @ 24

    Money is an alternative to carrots: you can feed carrots to a donkey; and money to human donkeys.

  26. otter says:

    Thanks for the discussion of ‘vol[s]-au[x]-vent[s]’. I hadn’t been claiming ‘my’ version to be correct as such, more than whenever I see or hear ‘vol-au-vents’ something in my brain says ‘I’m sure that’s not right’ without really knowing why. I’ve assumed the literal translation to be ‘flight on the wind’ or similar, but don’t really know. Interesting comments, thanks.

    And of course meerschaum is made of stone, not clay, dur. Id I’d thought about it I’d have remembered there’s a structure in the material which wouldn’t be apparent in clay. Also good to be told that Holmes did not (in the books at least) smoke a meerschaum. I haven’t read any of the books since I was a child, so that (incorrect) detail had filtered in from somewhere, probably from Carry On Screaming or similar!

  27. tupu says:

    Hi Kathryn’s dad
    Yes Vol-au-vents is standard in English and that’s good enough for me too (when using that language).
    Hi Carrots
    :) I don’t know where “the earlier question” sprang from, but I think “Creosus” (sic) may have made his fortune out of creosote!

  28. Scarpia says:

    Thanks mhl.
    The usual Rufus Monday offering,plenty of nice surfaces,a couple of really good clues and some pretty ordinary “cryptic” definitions.Is 9 down cryptic?
    Top clue for me 2 down.

  29. Huw Powell says:

    Well, I got all the “downs”, except for misspelling LAURELS as LAUREEL, which sort of prevented me from getting FIRST (if I would have got it at all… I have TITLE pencilled in).

    Amusingly, regarding the blog’s opening comment, MEERSCHAUM was the first word I got.

    As I worked into this I was thinking “Oh, nice, an easier one for once”, but got stuck a few clues away from finishing. Missing RESIDENCE and REVERSE is embarrassing, but that pastry one I would never have figured out, being as unfamiliar with it as mhl was with the pipe.

    As usual, thanks to Rufus for the puzzle and mhl for the blog!

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