Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,114 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on September 13th, 2010


I found this a bit harder to finish than the average Rufus, though looking back there’s nothing particularly difficult about it. There are fewer cryptic definitions than usual; generally lot of nice, if straightforward, clues, though with a smattering of rather tired devices (e.g. 24dn) and less-than-satisfactory constructions (e.g. 22ac)

1. HESSIAN (ASHES IN)* A nicely deceptive clue
5. STRIFES RIFE in ST[reet]S
11. SQUARE ROOT SQUARE (old-fashioned) + ROOT (origin)
12. OPAL OP (work) + AL (man). The opal is associated with bad luck
18. ELBOW GREASE Cryptic definition
21. SHED Double definition – the first being just “discarded”
22. DISCIPLINE IN in DISCIPLE. “Disciple” and “discipline” are a bit too closely related for this to be a satisfactory clue
25. REVERSALS Cryptic definition
26. EAGLE Double definition – an eagle is two under par in golf
1. HERESY Hidden in tHERE’S Your. I think the grammar is a bit dodgy in the cryptic reading
2. SHOW UP Double definition
3. INTERVIEWS INTER (bury = put in grave) + VIEWS (opinions)
6. RAIL Double definition – the rails are a family of birds, and a rail carries or “takes” a train
7. FLIPPANT FLIP (a drink) + PANT (long [for])
13. WIDESPREAD WIDE (an Extra in cricket) + SPREAD (cover)
15. GERMINATE (A REGIMENT)* I rashly started filling in EMIGRATE here before realising it didn’t fit..
19. DIGGER Double definition – diggers turn up the soil, and “an informal Australian form of address”.
23. CASTE CAST (found, as in a foundry) + E (bearing)
24. IRON Double definition (rather a familiar one, I think)

30 Responses to “Guardian 25,114 – Rufus”

  1. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks Andrew. I raced through this with ridiculous ease until I had just 5ac, 12ac and 7dn to go and then stuck fast and needed help to finish it off so that I could get back to work. Never encountered a plural of strife and have never associated opals with bad luck. Neither was exceptionally difficult in hindsight but out of sync with the rest of the puzzle for me.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew

    The only 3 problems I encountered were all in the NE corner. Eventually, I settled for STRIFES and FLIPPANT then followed. But OPAL sure did puzzle me and I only entered OPAL after nothing else had appeared. I hadn’t heard of its association with Bad Luck.

    I’ve just received an email from The Grauniad advising me that my Crossword Subscription is due to expire in a couple of weeks and that £25 will be automatically collected!

    What next?

  3. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Andrew. A reasonably pleasant saunter – around 15 mins. Most time taken up puzzling about opal(like others), flip for ‘drink’, and rail for ‘it flies’. Your explanations reassure. The clue and answer to 25a were a missed opportunity to provide an example or two. But otherwise fair and enjoyable.

  4. sidey says:

    I enjoyed this apart from the slightly odd ‘discipline’. Opals are odd gems, easily damaged and subject to fading, associated with lots of different superstitions besides bad luck.

  5. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I have been finding Rufus a little harder lately. This seemed fairly easy to me, until I hit 7dn and 12ac, which took almost as long as the rest of the puzzle. I did know that opals are supposed to be unlucky, but the compound work-man construction of the clue is a little unusual for Rufus, I think. Another example of it in 23dn, too.

    14ac was a classic Rufus surface — easy clue but very elegant!

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    A fairly typical Rufus with some sticking points on the odd four letter word and occasionally elsewhere.

    Iron (despite being familiar to Andrew) puzzled me. It had to be the answer but, apart from the club, I could only think it referred to getting one’s clothes ready! I consulted OED which gave money as a slang meaning. I take it this is meant, but it is not a sense I’m used to.

    ‘Strifes’ sounded quite unlikely but it is a standard plural, though it (or any other plural form) can’t be often used.

    Flippant and opal, once seen, were nice, as were 14a, 3d, 4d, 6d and 19d.

  7. Martin H says:

    Much more enjoyable than many recent puzzles from Rufus. I think ‘nice, if straightforward clues’ is spot on, Andrew. REVERSALS wasn’t very good, though, and EAGLE was pretty bad, but HESSIAN was very nice, and I liked IRON, not having seen it before – I think, tupu, it’s a play on ‘evening’.

    Can ‘strife’ have a plural? It’s clearly marked as uncountable in the Cambridge International Dictionary. Chambers gives, among other definitions ‘a contest’, but surely that usage is limited to just that – one particular contest exemplifying strife.

  8. Andrew says:

    tupu – you were right about clothes in 24dn: as Martin H says, the idea is that an iron “evens out” clothes.

    Bryan #2 – I’ve also had the subscription reminder email. I wonder how long it’ll be before we get the follow-up apology…

  9. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Along with others, I found this easy – apart from 2 or 3 clues. On plurals, consider this. Some say “strife” is uncountable and therefore “strife” cannot have a plural. How many strifes can you count in the preceding sentence?

    Oh dear – I see that my spell-checker has flagged-up strifes as a mistake!

  10. Martin H says:

    Good for your spell-checker cholecyst! You can do that of course – by that method you can make plurals for all words, then, even ‘plurals’. How many pluralses…..

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Martin H and Andrew

    Re iron. Yes, of course! Thanks. I was right first time but a bit dim about it. Iron = money also makes some sense but not as much! Once I’d found it inertia took its customary deadly grip!

    Re strifes: OED gives several examples mostly pretty ancient. The most recent seems to be
    1846 SUMNER Scholar, Jurist, etc. 69 “With~drawing from the strifes of the world”.

  12. Bryan says:

    Andrew @ 8

    Apology just received!

  13. Derek Lazenby says:

    Same here, generally easier than recently, marginally slower in the NE.

    Just to prove we are all different, I quite liked REVERSALS!

    I trust those with renewals cancelled the orders!

  14. Lopakhin says:

    I note that Dante in today’s FT has word for word the same clue for Rufus’ 2d…

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you also, Andrew. I’m glad others had the same experience – I whizzed through a lot of it, with some easyish but clever clues, and then came to a dead end in the NE corner. But there were some really elegant surfaces – for WIDESPREAD, HESSIAN and SHOW OFF in particular.

  16. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I agree with Kathryn’s Dad about the surfaces – particularly 1ac, which I thought was superb.

    [Well, Lopakhin, at least neither can accuse the other of plagiarism! :-) ]

  17. Coffee says:

    Also struggled NE… despite my gran telling me many moons ago that her birthstone was Opal & it was unlucky to everyone except those whose stone it is… and I thought in Australia that a DIGGER is a person?? DIG with reversed REG maybe?? ….seconds later- just checked – it’s Aussie slang for SOLDIER…. another one heard at the grandparents’ knees… um…

  18. Coffee says:

    OK, silly me, Bruce, ignore some of previous remark!

  19. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew,

    I agree with most of the comments.
    Re ‘strifes’, I think its use would be in a more or less generic sense, like ‘all my troubles’ or the quote @11, rather than as a specific plural noun. On the other hand, I can imagine a phrase such as ‘the strifes and battles of this world’

  20. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog. I raced through about three-quarters of this, and then came to a grinding halt with some clues in the top and bottom right.
    – I’d never have got ‘flip’ for drink,
    – don’t associate opals with bad luck,
    – wouldn’t have said STRIFES was synonymous with ‘battles’ (and didn’t know it took a plural form in any case),
    – and didn’t know that DIGGER was an Australian form of address – I’ve only heard it in relation to the ‘Dirty Digger’, and thought that was a reference to his papers digging up dirt on people.
    – I also thought that all rails were flightless, which somewhat derailed this clue for me.

    Having said that, I can’t complain about the clueing in most of those, it’s just that I lacked the requisite gen ken.

    I also failed to see the cryptic meaning of ‘evening out’ in the rather well worded 24d, so didn’t get that.

    I thought ‘TV’ in 3d was superfluous; either investigations are interviews or they’re not, whether or not they’re held on TV.

    Clue of the day for me was 14a , a wonderful anagram and cleverly themed clue.

  21. medici says:

    Re tupu @ 11
    “All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unrecorded”
    Walt Whitman in “Manhattan Streets I Saunter’d, Pondering” is a later
    Published in “Leaves of Grass” which went through many editions from 1855 until his death in 1892.
    It wasn’t in the first edition.

  22. Martin H says:

    I’m sure you’re right about ‘strifes’ Stella (@19). While the word is clearly uncountable, the plural is useful to indicate the existence of many instances of strife. Wiktionary gives this fine example from James Joyce: ‘His mind seemed older than theirs: it shone coldly on their strifes and happiness and regrets like a moon upon a younger earth.’ (I like the singular for ‘happiness’, implying that the rest was occasional but that the happiness had something unvarying or reliable about it.)

  23. Stella Heath says:

    You may be right, Martin, but it could also be that the singular form is used to avoid the cacophony of ‘happinesses’ – I prefer your explanation, though 😀

  24. duncandisorderly says:

    I think 24d is the best of today’s pick. a real grower, very nice. struggled in the same places (7d, 12a) but overall a decent-enough start to the week. 24d, though…… :-)

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Post #3.
    “Thanks Andrew [agree]. A reasonably pleasant saunter – around 15 mins [um, do not agree]”.
    Could be, perhaps, because my PinC didn’t feel well today – so I had to it all by myself.

    I am a genuine admirer of Rufus as a setter who uses the English language in such a natural way.
    But today there were one or two things [which is not that much – let’s face it] to be critical about.

    In 12ac, the allusion to the unknown powers of OPAL are fine by me.
    But splitting up ‘Workman’ into ‘Work'(OP, all right) and ‘man’ being AL, is a bit of two stretches.
    First there is ‘Work/man’ as a unity that we have to cut in two pieces, and subsequently we have ‘man’ is AL?
    As Paul Simon said, ‘You can call me Al’.

    Eileen (#16) highlighted #1ac, but I am not sure about that.
    ‘in reparation’ would be fine as an anagrind, but here we have just ‘reparation’. The only thing about this I can say is that, if I were a setter, I wouldn’t want to do this.
    [but my initial admiration for Rufus’ great use of ‘our’ English language still stands]

    Final point is the use of ‘on’ in 5d.
    Nobody seems to bother, but again – if it were me – I would.

    Final point? Not yet.
    I think one of the clues Andrew criticised (22ac) was rather good.
    Another favourite: 1d (HERESY) – splendidly hidden.

    Oh yeah, as a mathematician (and you know “””a bit””” about that too, Andrew), I am not happy with SQUARE ROOT as ‘a mathematical function’ – but OK, I know what Rufus means.

    Probably my Clue of the Day would be 17d – well constructed.
    But unfortunately followed by something I think it’s pointless (certainly as ellipses are concerned).

  26. Paul B says:

    There’s your hidden error? Well, perhaps they (‘there’s’ and ‘your’) hid it (‘heresy’) a while back, and are in some incredibly obvious way still hiding it, such that we don’t need the present tense. A fine clue.

  27. Derek P says:

    Sil #25 – I’m not sure I understand your objection to SQUARE ROOT being defined as ‘a mathematical function’. It seems fine to me.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Derek, let’s take Chambers who defines (a mathematical) function as: “A correspondence between two sets of variables such that each member of one set can be related to one particular member of the other set”.
    In case of taking the square root as a description of that correspondence [which is nót the square root itself], it would give us things like “to 4 we link 2″, ‘to 25 we link 5″ etc.
    A mathematical function describes the process of linking, and is not the result of that – which would be a square root in this case, e.g. the square root of 4 is 2.
    Chambers gives us for ‘square root': “a number or quantity which being multiplied by itself produces the quantity in question, e.g. 3 is the square root of 9″.
    The example is clear [in which the square root is a number found by doing something with another number – so the result of it, nót the process a such], but what precedes it mixes up two different kind of quantities – an unsatisfying definition.

    But, of course, I do understand Rufus’ way of thinking.
    And it is close enough to be acceptable.
    One could see ‘square root’ as the name of that function, but technically speaking it is a bit loose.

  29. JohnD says:

    The Water Rail, a British bird,which is rarely seen because it keeps itself hidden in dense cover can fly, albeit in short flutters from one patch of cover to another.There is also evidence of continental birds coming to Britain for the winter.

  30. Mr Muto says:

    I know this is a bit late however I am about a month behind with the crosswords. I almost completed this one however I got 5 across wrong. I had sorties not strifes. The logic was battles=riots anagramed with St and S around it. Of course this made 7 dn impossible. As someone said above once these things get a grip it’s hard to let go. Never mind maybe next time.

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