Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,072 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on July 26th, 2010


This was slightly harder than the average Rufus, I thought – most of it was straightforward as usual, but the last few answers held me up longer than usual. There were a couple of double definitions that I found rather unsatisfactory, and I had one or two other niggles too. On the other hand, 18dn was a particularly nice clue.

7. BUTTERFLY Double definition – the swimming stroke is one; and the comma is the crossword setter’s favourite type of butterfly
8. GREEK Reference to the expression “it’s all Greek to me”
9. MAKESHIFT MAKE (fashion) + SHIFT (garment)
10. TWAIN Double definition
12. REPAIR Double definition
13. MINISTRY MINIS (old cars – though the “new” mini is still made by BMW) + TRY (go, as in “have a go”).
19. GILBERT LB (pound) + E (note) in GIRT
22. REACTION RE (Royal Engineers) + ACTION (battle)
27. SCABS Cryptic definition – they don’t go out on strike
3. ARCHER I think I’d call this a definition-and-a-half – “flight” referring the the flight of an arrow…
4. ILL-FAME … and this is of a similar style – a definition with a slightly-cryptic hint
6. SENIOR (NO RISE)*. This seems to be missing an anagram indicator
11. ANTI NT in AI. I’m not sure about “book” (singular) for NT, but I suppose it’s OK
14. TIE “Secure” is a definition, and if a team ties a game then there might be a replay.
15. YET Double definition, though the two meanings are very similar
16. BAR Double definition
17. IDA Title character in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida: I’m not sure if there’s any more to it than that. (IDA is hidden in leAD In reversed, but there’s no indication of this so it may just be a coincidence)
18. LAIR L + AIR (“warm and dry” – as you do with your laundry) – a lair is “a place where cubs may be”, but the whole clue is a nice definition too.
20. BLACKCAP Double definition
21. ON AND ON ONAN + DON. The much-maligned Onan was the son of Judah, son of Jacob and brother of Joseph of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame. Onan’s brother was the wonderfully named Er.
23. EXCUSE Double definition, though again the two meanings seem so close as to be virtually identical
24. COBWEB COB (horse) + WEB (a trap). I originally had DICKEY here, causing some problems
26. HOOPLA HO (house) + OP (work) + LA (French “the”)

27 Responses to “Guardian 25,072 – Rufus”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    Re 17dn; I wondered about the reversal, too, and then thought it was Princess Ida but I’m thinking now it’s A + IDA.

  2. Andrew says:

    Ah, well done Eileen, that must be it, making it a much better clue than I thought.

  3. beermagnet says:

    17D I thought it was [A]IDA

  4. Martin H says:

    Thanks for ‘Er’, Andrew – I wonder if we’ll see it in a clue soon; I wouldn’t put it past Paul, particularly in the fraternal context.

    That’s all I can thank you for though (but of course not your fault) – a poor puzzle with many weak clues, notably GREEK and the awful EXCUSE. APACHE was simple, but well done.

    There was a rather old world fustiness about this, although that’s not necessarily a criticism – recalling a world where good people sang along to G&S, travelled steerage, and amused themselves playing hoopla, and bad ones got their come-uppance at the end of a rope.

  5. Martin H says:

    I didn’t see (A)IDA – that is nice.

  6. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew

    wrt 6d, I took for to be acting as the anagram indicator, as in:
    (use the letters of) ‘no rise’ for (the making of a word meaning) those more advanced in service.

  7. Myrvin says:

    Yes, a bit tougher for me too. Stuck in several places before forcing my way through. Last one in was 10a which, nevertheless, made me smile. So did 25a.
    Although I thought GREEK was a Rufus cd (with only one part to the clue), I wonder if Greek is a language, and also ‘Greek to me’ means I can’t understand it. So two parts – sort of.
    However, 27 & 4 were one-part Rufus clues. And ARCHER is odd.

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Is a barely disguised but tongue-in-cheek cryptic definition what you call a one-sided clue, Myrvin? I have no objection to one or two of these, which may help to get you into the puzzle, if you get them straight away, or may produce a smile when you at last see the answer.

    Given my liking for G&S, it’s surprising G isn’t the first person I think of when looking for a librettist or lyricist; I’m always expecting someone more recent – Lennon, for example – and only see Gilbert with the crossing letters :(

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew, and to Eileen for explaining ‘(A)Ida’, whicj I couldn’t see.

  9. Myrvin says:

    SH: I prefer all my clues to have two parts. Anything else seems to cheat us.
    As AZED said:
    “A good cryptic clue contains three elements:
    a precise definition
    a fair subsidiary indication
    nothing else ”
    And this is a cryptic crossword.

  10. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog and the (A)IDA explanation. I found this pretty standard Rufus fare, although, like Andrew, some clues somewhat harder than usual – at least, I got held up on a few. Having completed them, I can see that they’re fairly straightforward, but the wording of clues was in some cases pretty subtle.

    I liked 1a, a cleverly worded dd, which led me to punctuation marks before I remembered the comma butterfly, then had a double take before remembering the swimming stroke.

    I would think of ‘ILL FAME’ as having a space between the two words rather than a hyphen, changing to ‘ill-famed’ as an adjective. So I wasn’t sure about the ‘fame’ part of that until I got the connecting words.

    I didn’t see the L + AIR for 18d so thought it was a single-definition clue as the surface reading is so seamless. That’s clever wording on Rufus’s part, but at the same time self-defeating because the surface reading actually leads you to the solution, rather than away from it.

    Didn’t like EXCUSE or GREEK either. Other than that, an mildly diverting Monday morning puzzle.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Unlike some others, I did see the AIDA/IDA link straight away, but this was for me a tough Rufus. I couldn’t manage the NE corner, including SENIOR, which I thought was unfair – you can’t just have ‘for’ as an anagrind, can you? Also didn’t get TWAIN, but it is cleverly clued.

    Not the worst, not the best … but it filled in coffee-time and got brain in gear on a Monday morning.

  12. Myrvin says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ‘for’ before used in this way. I don’t like it either. If I can’t get a clue, I tend to scan it for possible anagram fodder regardless. Then I might spot the anagrind later.
    By the way. In 16a, is a FLY a ‘parasite’?

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    I was hoping 20d was BLACKLAG, rather like GREYLAG, but I think such does not exist.

    I thought it was an easier Rufus (19′ today)

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Myrvin re FLY. Excluding the odd grub and mould, I don’t think cheeses are alive either!

  15. liz says:

    Thanks Andrew. Share many of the same views as others here. Didn’t like 23dn, 8ac or the apparent lack of anagrind in 6dn. And had to check FAME, as the hyphen seemed unnecessary.

    But I did enjoy the surfaces of 25ac, 29ac, 18ac and 9ac.

    Thanks to Eileen for spotting A+IDA.

  16. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks Andrew. This took a bit longer than a typical Rufus but I had no complaints about the clues. In fact I think you are being a little unfair re 15dn. The ‘yet’s in “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” and “There was never yet fair woman…” have very different meanings. In the other languages I am familiar with they would be two separate words. I admit that the 3 letter answer springs quickly to mind from either part of the clue but I think it is a clever dd nonethless.

    And I could make a similar case for 23 dn. Excuse me, may I be excused from the table?

  17. Bryan says:

    Myrvin @ 12

    Some flies are!

    For example the tsetse fly:

  18. Carrots says:

    As usual, Rufus provides me with an undemanding and congenial companion for a lunchtime pinta.

    My only frown (sic) was the description of “mini” as an old fashioned car (which Andrew, of course, spotted in his blog). The newer, BMW versions, are state of the art. I managed to put three of the longer answers in without reference to the clues. For me, Rufus`s characteristic “sting in the tail” was TWAIN (excellent!)

  19. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus
    Like others I found this quite hard in parts. I solved most of it in the morning but was left with much of the NE corner to which I returned later. I got (A)ida easily enough, but oddly could not think of blackcap till I started looking up black- words.

    10a was my last and probably the best, but 18d (though quickly got) was very nice as Andrew says.

    It is interesting ( :) to me!) that this kind of ‘fairly simple’ puzzle can easily have sticking points. Simple clues (especially stretchy dds) may give very little information to go on compared with more complex anagrams and charades etc. where you have more chance of working out the answer.

    As Andrew notes, Onan has had a hard time and a bad reputation – not only for not doing something he should have done (God struck him dead on the spot for this) but also for being thought to have done something he didn’t do!

  20. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    Typical Rufus puzzle with a couple of iffy clues – cryptic definitions that aren’t particuarly cryptic and double definitions where the mening is more or less the same.Also some excellent surfaces and one or two very good clues – favourites 10 across and 18 down.
    I think tupu has a good point,I inevitably fly through most of a Rufus in about 10 minutes,then take just as long to solve the remaining 2 or 3 clues,which,when solved are really blindingly obvious!
    The sign of a good crossword?

  21. rrc says:

    when I was at work, the crossword was done by a team and frequently we would get down to the last two or three and then it would take ages to finish it off. Since I am no longer at work I havent come across this problem. I cannt explain the difference I am conscious that on most Mondays is a complete run through. Enjoyed the crossword today

  22. Martin H says:

    There’s another nice one: the fashion-follower appalled at realising the wrong logo is showing. Rufus’s best clues are among the best. A puzzle-full would really be something.

  23. Gerry says:

    I took a bit longer than usual with Rufus today too. Not sure I agree with some complaints eg…It’s all Greek to me’ is well-known (from somewhere in Shakespeare).

    I like the cheese parasite.

  24. Scarpia says:

    Hi Gerry.
    Julius Caesar was the play.It is thought to derive from the Latin phrase “Graecum est non legitur” -“it is Greek and cannot be read”.Often used by monk scribes in the Middle Ages when knowledge of Greek was dwindling
    and used to mark untranslatable passages.

  25. Petero says:

    Bryan @ 17 – Certainly some flies are parasites; but this does not make ‘parasite’ a definition of ‘fly’. Indication by example rather than definition is used by some setters (although it looks as if AZED would object), but generally indicated by some disclaimer as ‘for example’ or ‘possibly’ in the clue.
    Gerry @ 23 – I do not see anyone objecting to Greek in 8A on the grounds of obscurity. Far from it; the clue is really only cryptic in that the word ‘such’ suggests language in the sense that Nogood Boyo was using language (well, maybe ‘comprehension’ helps a little). I do find Rufus frustrating in his fondness for (barely) cryptic definitions, when he can come up with such simple but very effective clues as 18D or 25D. Perhaps it is asking too much for every clue to be a little gem.
    In the discussion of 6D, and the adequacy of ‘for’ as an anagrind (I would be on the nay side), I’m a little surprised that no-one has raised the issue of ‘those’. I can see no way out of the objection that it is either superfluous (senior, adjective), or the wrong number (senior, noun).

  26. Martin H says:

    Don’t be a tease Petero – I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t looked into Under Milk Wood for years, if not decades. Tell us about Nogood Boyo.

  27. Huw Powell says:

    I too take issue with 6d. It was easy enough to solve, but “for” is a disagreeable anagrind I would expect to see from a very non-Ximenian like Frank Lewis (ret.). I also have an issue with “those”, which indicates a plural, although I can see how “senior” without the s can be sort-of plural – as an adjective.

    1/3 easy, 1/3 enjoyable, 1/6 tough, 1/6 unfinished…

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