Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,138 / Rufus

Posted by Handel on October 11th, 2010


Morning all. This was largely very straightforward, but took us quite a while as we’re never really on Rufus’ wavelength. Still, there were some enjoyable flashes here, 10ac and 8dn being our picks. And no maritime stuff for once, which was a relief…


5. SAUCE  R ‘service’ as in tea service

6. ROM(P)E  D

9. (r)EVOLVE

10. ABSCONDS cryptic definition, the sort of clue we find tricky as there’s not much to go on, really

11. IN (O)N

12. TAKE  IT  BACK dd

13. FREE   AND  EASY ‘no fee’ is free, ‘no difficulty’ is easy

18. JUST  THE  JOB dd, think that ‘just the job’ for ‘in employment’ is a bit weak though. Again, it’s very gettable, just seems a bit loose

21. R(I)OT


23. AT  EASE ‘a tease’, using ‘kid’ as a verb. Good misdirection

24. OS< TEND

25. ADONIS (said no)*


1. DUB  LINER ‘European capitalist’ threw us, but enjoyed it once we got it

2. DEFECT dd funny how the different pronunciation can make dds like this much harder to get, at least for us

3. SOLSTICE (closest I)* Good surface reading, and the ‘turning point’ wasn’t of the literal type as expected

4. A  P  LO  M.B.

5. SA(VAN)T ‘van’ can apparently be short for ‘vanguard’, hence ‘first place’. There may be a better explanation out there though

7. DEDUCE an anagram of ‘deed’ with ‘Cu’ (copper) reversed inside

8. JACK AND JILL another good misdirection. ‘Well-directed’ because they were going to fetch a pail of water. Really liked this one

14. ECHELONS we think this is a double definition, ‘Troops stepped out in these formations’. An echelon is a formation of troops, and can also be a formation in general. Clarification welcome

15. SURGEONS (nurses go)*

16. RUBATO (or tuba)* this is a temporary abandonment of strict tempo

17. HO(I)STS

19. TRAITS (artist)*

20. B  RANDY

18 Responses to “Guardian 25,138 / Rufus”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Handel

    I enjoyed this but, initially, I had toyed with BERLINER for 1d which helped to confuse me. Well, it is Monday morning.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Handel.

    Funnily enough, Sil posed your same question but in more detail about VAN in the comments on Friday’s Bonxie puzzle. (See comment no 24.)

  3. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Handel.

    Agree about echelons. Like Bryan I also thought of Berliner first. In 18a I think ‘what is needed’ may be serving two functions in the clue.

  4. Rishi says:

    14d: I don’t look at ECHELONS as a DD. An echelon is a group of people (here, troops). The rest of the clue brings out the fact that in echelons there is hierarchy – different levels (‘steps’) in the organisation. ‘[S]tepped out’ here does not mean ‘marched’.

    All in all, I would classify the clue as a CD.

  5. Handel says:

    Thanks Rishi, that sounds about right. One of those cryptic definitions where the intended surface reading is harder to fathom than the answer itself.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, both.

    This was a bit of a strange affair. Did most of it in about fifteen minutes, then took more than that to solve the last few in the NW corner. Wherefore? Don’t ask me.

    SURGEONS, JACK AND JILL and ROMPED I particularly liked. Needed the explanation for ECHELONS (not sure I much like it – the clue, not the explanation!)

    But I really relish attempting clues like ‘Goes without saying’, leading to ABSCONDS. I know what you mean about not having much to go on, but it’s the lateral thinking bit of it that appeals to me. Cds aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this one did the business for me this morning, so thank you Rufus for an enjoyable solve.

  7. duncandisorderly says:

    that NW corner slowed me down too. can’t think why- “dubliner”‘s actually quite nice, while sauce(r) should’ve been easy to see. with hindsight, there were far trickier solves elsewhere- “echelons” went in because of crossing letters; I still don’t get it. & we’ve had “van” for “at the front” at least twice that I can remember in the last fortnight.
    ho, as they say, hum.


  8. Rich says:

    I put SALVER in for 5a, which meant I didn’t get DUBLINER. Annoyed about that…

  9. liz says:

    Thanks, Handel. I also struggled with the NW corner after getting through the rest in reasonable time. DUBLINER was my last, after going the SALVER route at 5ac — trying to make things overly complicated! I’m not a huge fan of cds but the surface at 10ac more than made up for it — a lovely clue, I thought!

  10. Coffee says:

    Thanks- kicking myself over 5ac and 2d! Must be bed time in this time zone!

  11. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Handel and Rufus.

    I should have gone straight here this morning, rather than starting with the quiptic, which took me about twice as long.

    Last in was 10ac. – as you say, not much to go on, but it produced a smile once I saw it. Apart from that, the NW corner was the last to be solved, but not at all difficult to see. I somehow avoided the pitfalls others have fallen into, without even seeing them :)

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    That makes me feel better, seeing so many others struggled in the NW, me too.

    I’ll do the Quiptic later, time to go to the bookies now!

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Handel and Rufus

    Came to this late in the day. Pretty straightforward. I liked Dubliner, absconds,and solstice.

    I agree with Handel about pronunciation shifts. Last week’s DustyMiller/win =
    ‘flourish’ was a nice example.

  14. Roger says:

    Thank you Handle.

    I took ECHELON to refer to the V-shaped formation in which each row back is ‘stepped out’ from the one in front ~ bit like a flock of geese in flight, really.

    8d made this puzzle worthwhile in the end.

  15. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Handel – unlike you we áre usually on Rufus’ wavelength. Today was no exception, but it was, in our opinion, an extremely easy crossword. Even the NW didn’t take that long (although we initially, like some others, thought of Berliner) – but relatively speaking, it did.

    Only five anagrams and the usual dose of cryptic definitions.
    Maybe, 8d was indeed very good, but it passed us by.

    So, very easy, yes, but also very well written.
    The clues for ADONIS, RUBATO, SURGEONS, TRAITS and SOLSTICE are splendid – it looks so simple, but Rufus is really a true master in writing smooth and natural clues with completely appropriate surfaces, regardless of their level of difficulty.
    For us, in a way it’s Art.

    We thought, 6ac (ROMPED) was rather clever.
    The combination of ‘played’ (the definition) and ‘piano’ (P) plus the two uses of ‘capital’ (a city and a first letter), make this clue outstanding.
    [a pity though, that the P in the crossing word stands for the same thing (‘quiet’)]

    As it was over all too quickly and as we were in the mood for something more from Mr Squires, we tackled Dante’s FT crossword immediately after this one.
    Also very enjoyable, but cracked even quicker (a mere 20 minutes, I guess).

  16. Mr Beaver says:

    KD @6 – I suppose it’s as well someone relishes clues like 10a, to me it’s just a definition, awkward perhaps, but not really cryptic. You accept it, as it’s Rufus, but would you from another setter? And do SAVANT and scholar mean the same thing ?
    Maybe I’m just grumpy as I put in REJECT for 2d, which almost works (DEFECT is obviously much better), but then it’s only a bit worse than some correct answers

  17. muck says:

    Good Rufus, and thanks Handel for the blog
    I had the same problems in the NW corner as others

  18. Roger says:

    More on ECHELON formation, if any one is still remotely interested. Apparently there are also left and right versions and the word comes from the French for ladder, echelle. Hence staircase effect, ‘stepping out(wards)’. Wiki here. I thought it quite a clever clue.

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