Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,066 – Rufus

Posted by Handel on July 19th, 2010


The usual bits and pieces from Rufus. A couple of o’er hasty entries slowed us down a bit, but overall this was much as one expects.


7. FOR BORE ‘a tedious man’ for ‘bore’ threw us a bit, as we were expecting a ‘he’ to pop up or a male-specific word. There are a number of female bores out there!


9. CAST dd

10. ALBATROSS which is a ‘ship’s follower’ and hangs about the neck of the Ancient Mariner in Coleridge’s poem: “Instead of the cross, the Albatross/
About my neck was hung.”

12. AGENT (get an)*

13. ASTERISK (rates ski)*

15. S(IF)T

16. RISER We put ‘stair’ originally, which just about works too

17. C(AG)E

18. LUCRETIA (article U)*

20. DUMPS dd this doesn’t quite work for us as depression. I can’t think of a sentence where you would replace ‘depression’ with ‘dumps’. Probably there’s a sense of the word that we’re not familiar with

21. FORBIDDEN (Bond fired)*

22. (t)OUCH

24. PAINTER dd we think, can anyone tell us why?

25. DRIED UP dd


1. R(O.T.)A


3. TRUANT cryptic definition

4. DICTATOR (Riot Act D)*

5. DEVOUR ‘dove’ anagramised, then ‘Ur’

6. IRIS dd

11. BRASS BAND As in ‘Top brass’ and sounds like ‘banned’

12. A(DIE)U

14. SAGAS a palindrome



19. RA(R.I.)NG

20. DINERS (rinsed)*

21. FLAG dd

23. CRUX though it doesn’t sound much like ‘crooks’ when we say it!

52 Responses to “Guardian 25,066 – Rufus”

  1. Jack says:

    Thanks Handel & Rufus

    24ac is a typical Rufus clue – very cleverly worded I thought; a painter is a rope attached to the bow of a boat to tie/secure it to a ship or a mooring etc.

  2. sidey says:

    24 is a very clever clue that not many setters could equal.

  3. Budsom says:

    Depressed = down in the dumps

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Handel and Rufus.

    The only operatic ladies that I’ve ever heard of are Aida, Mimi, Carmen and Madam Butterfly but I’m not sure whether any of these was ever a lady.

    Opera is not my thing: I always fall asleep.

  5. Bryan says:

    I now see that Lucretia was no lady either:

    As Lucretia sleeps, Tarquinius creeps into her bedroom and awakens her with a kiss. She begs him to go, but certain that she desires him, he rapes her.

    I claim a foul!

  6. walruss says:

    Not even so much as a Scarpia Trope, Bryan? Shame! Well, I’m back from a week stolen in sunny Tunis, away from the mugginess here, but also away from puzzles entirely for the whole period. So, happy to be back in some ways! Usual fare from Rufus to start me off again.

  7. Handel says:

    We saw the ‘down in the dumps’ connection, but I don’t think that ‘depression’ therefore directly correlates with ‘dumps’.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Handel. An excellent crossword for beginners, I would say, but plenty to enjoy for more experienced solvers too. I didn’t understand PAINTER, but now it’s been explained it is clueing at its best; ADIEU wasn’t half bad either.

    My Collins does give DUMPS as ‘a state of melancholy or depression’, so I guess it just about works.

    Did the tusks get sunburnt, Walruss?

  9. Myrvin says:

    I assumed that was what a painter was. Being Rufus, I was surprised he didn’t just put ‘bow tie’. Chambers suggests ‘dumps’ is OK for “dullness or gloominess of mind, ill-humour, low spirits. (now only used in the plural dumps)”. But still a bit odd. Smiled at ‘crux’, even though the pun may only really work in some accents. Took me ages to get 9.

  10. walruss says:

    Hello Kathryn’s Dad. I am blessed with a darkish skin, so no problems. Also staying with a cousin, so a veryu cheap excursion! What do you think of Rufu’s grid today?

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Walruss, I don’t really understand how or why setters use a particular pattern, but I thought this one seemed averagely generous with crossing letters – ones with two long down answers down the left-hand side make life easier, I think, because then you get a number of first letters of the acrosses, which I personally find a big help. Did I read somewhere that there is a convention for a minimum/maximum number of crossing letters?

  12. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Handel. 18ac. The Rape of Lucretia is a chamber opera by Ben Britten. Did anyone notice (checking 16dn RATLINES) that Chambers has 6 different spellings for this word?

  13. liz says:

    Thanks, Handel. A classic Rufus, I thought, with many nice surfaces. 24ac has already been mentioned, but I also liked 21ac, 12ac and 4dn. 23dn is not a homophone for me! I also toyed with ‘blues’ and ‘downs’ before settling on DUMPS. Last one was 9ac.

  14. walruss says:

    KD The Times I think has actual rules about this! You can’t have a five-letter word with only two crossing-points in it, for example. But I agree with you about having a longish answer on the left, it’s really helpful.

  15. Myrvin says:

    16a should be labelled dd.

  16. Carrots says:

    I met an inveterate Grauniad puzzler the other day who claimed that Rufus puzzles are more satisfyingly completed when done “in ones head”. I`m going to give it a try at lunchtime today and later I will let anyone remotely interested know how I got on.

  17. Stella Heath says:

    I had ‘stair’ for 16a, too, but the ‘check all’ button which I used after a first run through with a few doubts ruled it out.

    This was, as always with Rufus, quite pleasurable with a few challenges, though I failed to get ‘painter’ or ‘firearm’ – ouch! I must remember that company is not always ‘co’!

    Ironically, considering my mum’s lived on a boat since she retired, my nautical vocabulary is very limited, and I had to look up ‘ratlines’ so yes, cholecyst,I did notice the spellings, as I had to choose the right one :)

  18. tupu says:

    Thanks Handel and Rufus

    Pretty straightforward but some nice clues. I enjoyed 10, 18, 22 and 22 ac. and 2d. As for some others, 9a took some time to see before I said ‘aha’.

    Hi Bryan @5 At the risk of going off-track, you’re a bit hard on the lady. Of course we are dealing with a mixture of myth and history, and L’s subsequent suicide in the story has been the subject of speculation (e.g it seems by St. Augustine). But it does not need to imply any guilt on her part (rather that the possibility of such speculation was an unbearable stain on her and her family) and the point of the Roman story is not that ‘no’ meant ‘yes’ but that Tarquin’s violent hubris was the last straw in the behaviour of Roman royalty, leading directly to their banishment and the establishment of the republic.

  19. Myrvin says:

    Carrots. One of my dubious claims to fame was having done an FT crossword in my head – a looong time ago. Good luck.

  20. Martin H says:

    Not a typical Rufus to me: only two cd’s, and of those only one weak one (TRUANT), and the dd’s much crisper than usual – CAST, RISER, DRIED UP and PAINTER all good clueing. I also liked FIREARM and ABUTMENT, very nicely constructed. And a good Yorkshire homophone. Thanks Rufus.

  21. Myrvin says:

    What was the other cryptic def.?
    I thought there were two meanings (sort of) to 3d. Rufus may be saying WE didn’t play truant when we were at school (I did). And, of course, when we were actually AT school we were not playing truant. One of his better ones I thought – and I don’t like them at all.

  22. FumbleFingers says:

    Methinks Rufus must be a “bloody northerner” (intended to be read with northern accent!) if he rhymes CRUX with “crooks”.

    Incidentally, while doing Friday’s Araucaria with my mother, I happened to remark that so far as I could recall, “old city” = UR hadn’t been used for at least a year or two. Which was good, because I’ve become heartily sick of that particular crossword cliche over the years. And now here it is again, just a couple of days later. Grrrr!

  23. Myrvin says:

    Apparently, he’s a “bloody Midlander” like me.

  24. FumbleFingers says:

    Ah well, anywhere north of the Watford Gap is the wastelands (“here be giants, etc.) to me.

    btw – Google just confirmed my long-held suspicion that “bloody” is far more likely to be followed by “southerner” than “northerner”. But apparently you midlanders don’t irritate either of the main tribes enough to apply the word to you (perhaps we both claim you as camp-followers lol).

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Careful, Fumblefingers at no 22, otherwise we’ll be here till midnight … but if I may wade in, not all bloody northerners are the same, of course. If you support the third best football team in the north-east of England and live on the River Tyne, these two words will be homophones. Go 15 miles south and support a proper football team on the River Wear, and they’re not. For Geordies, the vowel sound in ‘crooks’ would be a monophthong; for Mackems, it’s a diphthong. But both tribes are northerners, and derbies in past years have certainly been known to be bloody …

  26. FumbleFingers says:

    So – does your midlands “bloody” rhyme with everyone’s “hoodie”, or with the southern “ruddy” (for which I can’t think of a northern rhyme, since I don’t think they have that phoneme at all)?

  27. FumbleFingers says:

    Seriously though, I’m southern born & bred with Irish mother and Lancastrian father, so I don’t want to stir anything up. Believe it or not, I am trying to stay on topic.

    In which context I can’t help thinking Rufus should have put “up north, say” in the 23d clue.

  28. Stella Heath says:

    I think for us southerners, or at least for me, northerners include midlanders as being people who ‘talk funny’ and live north of what we know 😀

    I knew a boy from Warrington with whom we used to play ‘pyuel’, when we weren’t reading ‘byooks’. I’m not sure how he’d pronounce the homophone in question.

  29. tupu says:

    Hi Myrvyn and FumbleFingers
    I wonder if northern and midland variants of ‘u’ would do at a pinch for the homophone. Crooks, if rhymed with spooks, would seem to fit my (very limited – please forgive if I’m wrong)idea of Birmingham crux as ‘croox’, and in some parts of the north at least it would be crucks.

  30. Gaufrid says:

    In my opinion regional dialects should not be needed to justify a homophone in a national newspaper puzzle otherwise a percentage of solvers are put at a disadvantage.

    In this instance, both Collins and Chambers indicate a different pronunciation for ‘crooks’ and ‘crux’, with the former being pronounced in the same manner as ‘good’ or ‘would’ and the latter as ‘bud’ or ‘run’.

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    KD and Walruss, sometime ago someone on here said they had copies of the grids used by the Guardian. Presumably they are used because they embody some sort of rules. Try searching the archive of the chat section if you are interested. I downloaded them, but I’ve deleted the original file! That is because I translated them to the formats used by two utilities which I have used. The first is Crossword Utility, a freebie I found somewhere on the net, and the second is Compiler Writer (not the famous one) by Spoonbill Software which is also freeware (and very good). Having collabarated with the author of the latter (doing beta tests and such), my translated grids are now in the distribution for that product in a folder Skeletons/15×15/Standard. I did suggest that the author of that contacted the Guardian first, so I presume he did that, not that it should matter in a freebie.

    Yeah CAST took me a while too for the same reason!

    Overall enjoyable as usual.

  32. Derek Lazenby says:

    Noooo, I meant Crossword Compiler, not Crossword Writer (which I also have and is also free).

  33. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Afternoon, Gaufrid at no 30. I know I said I didn’t intend this homophone debate to go on till midnight, but since we’ve all agreed it’s an enjoyable Rufus, then maybe we can discuss this a bit further.

    I see where you’re coming from, not wanting to disadvantage the ‘standard’ English speaker – but does such a thing exist any more? Yes, I know about RP, but that’s just one accent among many in my opinion – we all have an ‘accent’. And yes, dictionaries will give the ‘standard’ pronunciation using the phonetic alphabet, but certainly in my Collins there is an introductory page which explains that there are significant regional variations which should also be considered acceptable.

    So maybe there are some homophones that are indisputable whatever accent you have – ‘fair’ and ‘fare’ is one that comes to mind (although somebody is no doubt going to tell me otherwise). But beyond that, take today’s example – crooks and crux – and for me it is, for soft southerners it isn’t.

    I’m in the libertarian camp on this one – I’d prefer setters to provide us with a witty homophone clue that’s solvable and raises a smile (or groan) even though, inevitably, for some speakers it isn’t an exact homophone. And for me, that’s what our Midland-based setter provided for us today.

    Since I’m still the (comparatively) new kid on the blog, please forgive me if you’ve been through all this a squillion times before.

  34. FumbleFingers says:

    I wouldn’t want flog a dead horse, but it seems to me most solvers are happy to accept regional dialect (including even obscure scottish terms), so long as the clue directs us to go beyond “standard english” (whatever that is now, as Kathryn’s dad rightly questions).

    That being so, I would see nothing wrong in Rufus rhyming CRUX with “crooks”, if he’d played fair and given us some indication that we were talking “oop north” here.

  35. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Handel.
    Onr of Rufus’s better efforts I thought,with a fair number of nautical clues running through it.
    I like homophone clues (generally) and don’t really mind a bit of “looseness” ,to me the idea is “sounds like” not “sounds exactly the same as”.I am never able to place regional English accents, so the above discussion has been very interesting to me.
    Albatross took me a while ,though I had all the check letters,I could only see “ambitious” and that didn’t work at all.
    Top clues 8 across and 2 down.

  36. Gaufrid says:

    Hi K’s D

    Homophones have been discussed (argued about?) several times in the past, with some strong feelings on both sides and no conclusive result (hardly surprising!).

    I spent half my formative years in West London and the other half in Lancashire and subsequently there were many occasions when I was unsure of the correct way to pronounce certain words. Later, when working in the SE people thought I had a northern accent and when I moved back north again several years later I was told I had a southern one so perhaps I am more sensitive to questionable homophones than others might be.

    My other concern, apart from the possible unfairness to a percentage of UK solvers, is that these puzzles are now being solved by people for whom English is not their first language and they will have been taught the ‘standard’ pronunciations. They might also be using crosswords as a means of improving the quality of their English so surely it would be beneficial if puzzles contained the correct usage, pronunciation etc.

  37. cholecyst says:

    Gaufrid: I understand your point but there is not any ” correct way to pronounce certain words”. But there are many incorrect ways. This is what makes life interesting for cruciverbalists.

  38. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks Gaufrid – I guess you’re right, it’s going to be one of those subjects where people will have different views. Kathryn and siblings have grown up in the Midlands, and when I take them oop north to see relations they’re always taking the rip, saying ‘Why are you speaking like that, Dad?’ when I lapse back into Geordie. So even individuals can have more than one ‘accent’.

    I think Scarpia at no 35 (who made an earlier appearance at no 6 which went about a mile over my head btw) has it about right: homophone indicators should be considered by solvers and setters to mean ‘sounds like’ rather than ‘sounds exactly the same as irrespective of the accent where you come from.’

    That’s enough from me on homophones and all other subject for today.

  39. FumbleFingers says:

    Well, linguistically speaking, I’m in the descriptive rather than prescriptive (or, God forbid, the proscriptive camp. Whilst I admit that at any given time, some forms are just plain “wrong”, decades or centuries later those forms may actually become standard.

    Gaufrid, that’s a very good point about non-native speakers using sites like this to polish their skills (I believe contributors here are mostly what one would call “careful speakers”, so they’d have come to the right place!). But in the final analysis I think the golden rule is there are no absolute rules (except that maybe you should be a native speaker before you start playing fast and loose lol).

    Echoing Kathryn’s Dad, I’m done with this one – for today, at least.

  40. Myrvin says:

    Wasn’t there a puzzle recently with a homophone referred to by “as some say”? For me that wouldn’t have been a homophone and I had a moan about it. I can’t find it now.

  41. Myrvin says:

    …. the words were ROIL and ROYAL.

  42. Myrvin says:

    Found it. It was AZED 1988.
    I posted a week late on this.
    The clue was “Billow like Britannia at sea, does one hear (4)”.
    I said:
    For 8d, I don’t see that ‘roil’ sounds like ‘royal’. I don’t think this is just the SE versus the rest of the UK. Chambers has the pronunciation as ‘roi’el’ (upside down e) for royal and, straightforward ‘roil’ for the other. I put it in, thinking it was some variant on ‘rule’.

  43. Davy says:

    Thanks Handel,

    An enjoyable puzzle from our shipmate. Can’t see what the problem is with CRUX and CROOKS. They are pronounced identically for a normal speaker, never mind a northerner. How else do you southern jessies pronounce them ?.
    There seems to be a lot of debate about next to nothing on this site. Obviously, people have a lot of time on their hands.

  44. Martin H says:

    Myrvin @21 – right, I withdraw my condemnation of TRUANT – it is clever, (but I still don’t like it).
    I thought of ALBATROSS as a cd, as the bird followed the ship in the poem, but it could just as well be a dd, if albatrosses regularly do that.

  45. Scarpia says:

    From what I can make out,”southern jessies” rhyme CRUX with CROCKS.

  46. Carrots says:

    To Meyrvin@19…and anyone else foolish enough to try and complete a Rufus in one`s head: forget it! My experiment failed miserably. Not because the answers were harder to confirm, but because previous solutions had been quickly forgotten. As a silver-topped “Wrinkly” I often find myself heading upstairs for a clean shirt (or whatever), being sidetracked by an incoming e-mail (or whatever) and return downstairs, with the shirt still in my closet. I should have known better. The only bonus was an extra pinta on top of Rufus`s usual one.

  47. Martin H says:

    Carrots – try it with the Quick crossword. You work out the answers in your head and then – and this is the difficult bit – enter them in the grid without looking back at the clues. The problem, as you noticed with the Rufus, is that the answers have evaporated. With practice it gets easier. As with you, the outside of my head is a good colour match to what’s supposedly on the inside, but I find I can do it now without much problem – at least on a good day. In theory perhaps Cryptics might be easier because you (should) have more engagement with the clue in solving it, and so it should be more likely to stick.

  48. Scarpia says:

    Carrots/Martin H.
    Surely what you are attempting isn’t really any different from solving one of Araucaria’s “Jigsaw” puzzles.Each clue has to be solved without the help of check letters.Unless you mean that you have to be able to recite the answers after solving,which turns the excercise into a simple(?) memory test.

  49. Carrots says:

    Martin H….Believe it or not, I usally complete the quickie in my head after my wife has broken the back of it at her (earlier) breakfast. I daren`t fill it in, but it is not much of a challenge…and would make you lot scream with outrage at some of the literary liberties and definition-stretching!

    Scarpia….mmm, might seem the same but I think Auracaria softens some of the clue-ing in most of his Jigsaws. This means that the puzzle tends to get easier towards the end, which will probably involve some referential research for one or two eleventh hour torpedoes. Some chums and I went for an audition for “Eggheads”, the BBC quiz show. I used to have a fly-paper memory….but it is one thing knowing the answer, and quite another remembering it!

  50. Scarpia says:

    You’re right,I must admit that I am usually able to start filling the grid in a Jigsaw before solving all the clues.

  51. Huw Powell says:

    PAINTER was most excellent.

  52. Martin H says:

    Scarpia – I wouldn’t call it just a memory test, but you’re right, memory plays a much bigger part than usual: you have to remember the crossing letters when solving, and everything when you’re filling in the grid. It just adds another dimension, and makes what’s usually (but not always) a two-minute exercise a bit more interesting.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

seven − = 4