Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,174 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on November 22nd, 2010


It’s Monday,  it’s Rufus, with the usual elegant mix of story-telling anagrams and cryptic and double definitions. I have one real quibble, which I think is a typographical error and / or editorial oversight.


1   ESTABLISH: a great anagram of HIS TABLES but, unfortunately, ‘are’ makes the cryptic grammar wrong.
6   TAPE: double definition
8   CRIES OFF: anagram of OFFICERS, with the same reservation as in 1ac.
9   NO MORE: double definition
10  TEETHE: cryptic definition
12  STREAM: anagram of MASTER – a neat surface
15  ELONGATE: anagram of ALONE GET
16  AUDIENCE: double definition
19  NOTICE: anagram of INTO + CE [church]
21  MOURNFUL: MO [doctor] + anagram of RUN + anagram of FLU – another amusing surface
22  PRISON: cryptic definition
24  TOPICS: PI [sanctimonious] in reversal of SCOT
25 REDCOATS: anagram of SCARED TO
26  EYES: cryptic definition – reference to the instruction, ‘Eyes down, look in’, at the beginning of a Bingo game.
27  OPERATION: ERA [time] in OPTION [choice]


1   EYRIE: cryptic definition
2   THEATRE: double / cryptic definition
3   BROKE: double definition
4   IN FORCE: double definition – except that the clue word should be ‘effective’. Chambers: ‘affective: arising from or influencing emotion'; ‘effective: … powerful, actual, in force‘.
HANDS DOWN: double / cryptic definition. At first, I thought this signified an over-long school day but, of course, at 6.30, both hands on a clock are down.
6   TIME LAG: charade of TIME [sentence, as in 22ac] + LAG [convict]
13 TAUTOLOGY: cryptic definition
14  MANIFESTO: two lots of wordplay [repeated] on MANIFEST + O: show + ring and clear + round
17   IN RUINS: anagram of IS RUN after IN [batting]
18 ENLARGE: anagram of GENERAL
20  TRIPOLI: TRIP [tour] + reversal of I LO [look]. The ‘on’ in a down clue will, no doubt, generate the usual comment. It works for me as ‘added on’.
22  PADUA: PAD [accommodation] + U[niversity] + A

41 Responses to “Guardian 25,174 / Rufus”

  1. Paul B says:

    To be fair to Rufus (despite the fact that I can’t remember seeing him do this sort of thing before), the clues you mention do not necessarily contain an incorrect cryptic grammar. In both cases, one can regard the anagram fodder as strings of letters, thus enabling the plural usage. There’s another way of doing it at 1ac, where you can simply regard ‘his’ and ‘tables’ as more than one unit.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Paul B. I always aim to be fair to Rufus :-) – I was just trying to anticipate criticisms similar to those I have seen before regarding clues containing ‘ I’, where the problem is usually solved by using ‘may be’, rather than ‘am’, which would have worked in both these clues.

    I do think 1ac is an excellent surface!

  3. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I thought this was going to be a real dawdle having the top half in about three minutes barring 6a which ended up being last in. However the SW corner slowed me up including my clue of the day, tautology(13d).

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    A slow start for me for a Rufus, 7d PARASITIC being the first in, but finishing quite quickly thereafter.

    I am afraid I don’t understand your criticism of 1a and 8a? The clues seemed fine to me, if a little wordy. “are lost” is the anagram indicator, but “and” shouldn’t really be there, although I took it to mean “and you get”. I wasn’t too keen on the “in which” in 8a.

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Though I’m usually picky about such things, I have no problem with the grammar if 1ac: I read it as “(the letters of) HIS TABLES are lost”.

    The typo (?) in 4dn is strange – it’s quite common to see “effect” where “affect” is needed (“the Government’s cuts won’t effect me”), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen “affective” for “effective” as here.

    I found 13dn a bit weak – not much more than a straight definition really.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave E and Andrew.

    I’m quite happy to read 1ac as ‘the letters of’, as Paul B also suggests. I was just seeing possible criticism where there needn’t be any. I take it all back!

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus

    The usual excellent blog to a generally enjoyable and partly teasing puzzle.

    Like others I worried about affective. I suspect it is a common mistake in everyday language, and wondered if ‘currently’ could imply it’s becoming more so, but that’s all a bit too devious.

    In fact OED gives something a bit closer to ‘effective’ as an obsolete rather than a current form!
    “b. gen. Having the quality of affecting; tending to affect or influence; influential, operative. Now only in sense 6a.

    1656 J. TRAPP Comm. New Test. Matt. 154 Knowledge, not apprehensive only, but affective too. 1678 Lively Oracles viii. §42, 318 Other manner of impressions, more affective and more lasting then bare reading will leave.

    some clues were hard to see at first. The double wordplay in ‘manifesto’ had me puzzled at first till I saw the 13d. in it.

    ‘teethe’ also took some time – I kept feeling ‘beetle’ should somehow fit!! But of course it won’t do at all. Also ‘audience’.

    I tend to agree with Andrew re 13d though it is less obvious in current economic conditions.

    Some (for me) good anagrams and surfaces e.g. 1a, 17d, 12a.

    I liked 6d. but sensed some repetition of the idea in 26a. Some again bewteen 22a and 6d.

  8. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. More lovely surfaces from Rufus, a nice start to the week! 21ac was probably my favourite but I also liked 25ac, 19ac and 7dn too.

    The use of ‘are’ in 1ac didn’t bother me for the reason Paul B gives, but I was slightly less content with it in 8ac — I think both the ‘an’ and ‘are’ could have been omitted from this clue.

    13dn was close to being a straight def. 10ac really fooled me and took about as long to get as the rest of the puzzle altogether!

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    That’s an ingenious explanation of 4dn – but, as you imply, rather far-fetched! 😉

    Like Andrew, I haven’t seen this particular error before but the affect / effect confusion is, unfortunately, commonplace.

    I’d be willing to bet good money that the mistake doesn’t lie with Rufus!

  10. don says:

    Bryan and Tokyo Colin

    May I make a late comment on 25 across in Araucaria’s recent Prize Crossword which was blogged this weekend? You may not have known that ‘ap’ = ‘son of’ in Welsh, but I’m sure you are familiar with surnames derived from the combination of ‘ap’ and given names, such as Parry = ap Harry = son of Harry

    Similarly, Powell = ap Howell (Hywel); Price/Preece = ap Rice/ap Rhys; Prichard/Pritchard = ap Richard; Probert = ap Robert and others. And I’m sure you don’t need Eileen to tell you who ‘Blind ap Hugh’ was!

    But beware, especially of the reverend gentleman and others of his ilk, next time you see ‘son of Welsh’: and remember the names Bevan, Bowen, Beynon, etc.

  11. liz says:

    Eileen — meant to say that I thought ‘affective’ must have been a typo.

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks, liz.

    Re 10ac: this could have taken me rather longer, too, but I think Mr Squires used a similar clue in a Dante puzzle a while ago, so it rang a distant bell.

  13. walruss says:

    At least tthere are a few things to talk about in today’s Rufus. Samey old thing otherwise, I thnik.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, same old thing! 10 TEETHE was in Rufus #24,154 Aug 13 2007, blogged by michod. The clue – Produce nippers!

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Dave E!

    I wasn’t going back quite so far. This is the one I meant, I think, but there’s no way of checking the clue, since the FT doesn’t have an archive:

    However, UY says it’s a cryptic definition so I think it must be a similar clue.

    Incidentally, I didn’t intend my previous comment to be a criticism of Roger Squires, who holds the Guinness record as the most prolific crossword compiler, and can surely be forgiven for the occasional repetition, especially with such a time interval.

    To quote this article, to which we were directed earlier this year,

    “If you tackled all the crossword clues that he has set, and solved one a minute, it would take you more than three years and nine months to solve them all, working day and night without a break.”

  16. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Eileen. Is there a joke that I’m missing in TAUTOLOGY? It seems rather non-cryptic to me…

    I enjoyed this – nice to have a fast solve, since I’m convinced that what little ability at solving crosswords I had is deserting me rapidly. (I wonder if this is anything to do with trying to learn German – perhaps there’s only so much vocabulary I can cope with at a time :))

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi mhl

    I don’t think you’re missing anything in 12dn: it’s not ever so cryptic, as Andrew says, but, as tupu points out, ‘redundancy’ does have a rather specific ring these days. I think the question mark indicates a certain reservation on Rufus’ part!

    [BTW, if your blogs are anything to go by, you’re not losing your touch. :-) ]

  18. Martin H says:

    But that’s always the Rufus method – do two or three decent clues, then for the rest the first thing that comes into your head, and if you draw a blank a trawl through the back numbers, and on to the next crossword. Mustn’t keep the record books waiting.

  19. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    The clue for 8dn in FT 12,978 / Dante was ‘Produces nippers (7)’.

  20. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid – how did you do that?

  21. tupu says:

    hi mhl
    re 13d
    The only thing I could think of is the point I hinted at @7, i.e. that most people are much more aware, especially now, of redundancy as job loss. Knowledge of the linguistic concept with its links to information theory is, one assumes, less widespread. On the other hand, crossword addicts are perhaps especially likely to be interested in such linguistic ideas!
    Again, I’m not sure that ‘grammarians’, at least in ordinary parlance, are quite the right category to cite here.
    Overall, however, I begin to think it’s quite a nice clue that probably doesn’t deserve such intense scrutiny.

  22. Gaufrid says:

    Eileen @20
    I looked in my archive.

  23. mhl says:

    Eileen: oh, of course – thanks, I’d missed tupu’s allusion to the economic climate.

    The word “grammarian” always makes me think of My Fair Lady: “though she may have studied with an expert dialectician and grammarian…”

  24. tupu says:

    HI Eileen
    Sorry we crossed!

  25. anax says:

    Martin @8
    Sorry, but that’s not really a fair evaluation of the way Rufus works.
    “Do two or three decent clues”: setters with the luxury of plenty of free time may write a handful of ‘choice’ clues for later incorporation into a puzzle. Rufus’s output rarely affords him that luxury.
    “For the rest the first thing that comes into your head”: when you’re making a conscious effort to write accessible puzzles that’s the way you have to do things – work your wordplay around what the solver is going to spot most readily.
    “If you draw a blank trawl through the back numbers”: It isn’t really a case of drawing a blank, but Rufus keeps a frankly astonishing hand-written index of clues, along with a record of where and when each has appeared. He is very careful to avoid rapid repetition of clues, but clues will (or certainly can) be used several times – and why not? A funny joke is funny to anyone who hasn’t heard it before, and – thanks to the fantastic array of blogs which have sprung up over the past 5 years – cryptic crosswords are gathering an ever-increasing body of devotees and it would be a shame for them to miss out on past classics simply because they weren’t solvers when those clues first appeared. A stand-up comedian will base an entire tour on a single routine, but it’s a new routine to each fresh audience.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hurrah! – many thanks, anax.

  27. Daniel Miller says:

    The usual Monday fare. The clue for Teethe was a little contrived however (does one produce nippers by teething children? – Nippers – young children/biters (teeth)? Maybe – or the illusion is lost on me perhaps.

  28. tupu says:

    Hi Daniel
    I think one produces nippers by ‘teething’ (intransitive). :) Or is your allusion to children genuinely illusionary?

  29. rufus says:

    Thanks to Eileeen – and Anax! And everyone else. I’m on holiday at the moment, getting sun-tanned and away from my card-indexes etc so cannot comment on “affective”-“effective” as I won’t know whether it was a typo by me or not until I return. I hope not.

  30. Abby says:

    “PI [sanctimonious]”? Why’s that? We figured that had to be the way to do it, but I don’t understand that definition at all.

  31. Eileen says:

    Enjoy your holiday, Rufus – and don’t worry about it! :-) We have snow forecast for Thursday!

    [Thanks for the puzzle.]

    Hi Abby – it’s short for ‘pious’ – it has its own entry in Chambers. [It’s quite common in crosswords.]

  32. Paul B says:

    I suppose, if I had ‘an astonishing hand-written index of clues’ (or even a new-fangled, computerised version of same), I might be sorely tempted, given my frankly astonishing not to mention record-breaking output, to fill my grids with as many recycled efforts as possible before beginning the race to compose the numerous heart-stopping masterpieces needed to fill the remaining gaps in my myriad grids.

    But then, I am not that veritable pillar of whom we speak. I am a low rascal with nary a scruple.

  33. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen & Rufus

    4dn IN FORCE: I thought I knew the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ and that therefore ‘affective’ in this clue had to be plain wrong. It isn’t so clear, as others have said. But Chambers has ‘affective’ only as ‘arising from or influencing emotion’ and ‘effective’ as inter alia ‘in force’. Occam’s Razor rules.

  34. liz says:


    Well said. No one beats Rufus for surfaces.

  35. fredb says:

    Tautologies are discovered by logicians, not grammarians and are not synonymous with redundancy or redundancies

  36. Martin H says:

    I think my comment was perfectly fair anax. (25)

    So time to write choice clues is ‘free’ and a luxury? Tell that to the setters who are prepared to spend time on a puzzle, for our entertainment, and for whom quality is more important than ‘output': those who would never give us stuff like 6, 22 or 26 Across, or 1,2, 13 or 23 down. It’s facile, lazy clueing, and useless as a beginner’s introduction to cryptic solving because Rufus hasn’t worked any decent wordplay, as you put it, here at all. Not that he can’t – his surface readings are justly praised, but, as I said, he spreads his quality stuff thinly. Why? Well, I know what I think.

    As for repeating clues: think of a jazz player who never plays quite the same solo twice – elements may, certainly will, be repeated, but freshly each time – and who takes pride in the skill of reworking those elements to make continually new creations. Pure repeating is pure cheating. Not unlike clueing in some ways. Crossword setting may be a minor art form, but art form it is, and it should be performed with a bit more integrity and respect for the solver than this.

  37. anax says:

    OK then Martin – you liken the process to a jazz solo, I liken it to a comedian’s stand-up routine. All it proves is that crosswords mean different things to different people and, thus, no setter is going to please everyone. Good point at which to stop arguing.

    Just a note of the use of “are” in the anagrind in 1a/elsewhere. It’s fine. When reading the clue “His tables are lost…” the first two words only appear to be words(!) – actually you are reading the group of letters H, I, S, T, A, B, L, E and S and these “are” to be anagrammed.

    Rules of grammar and syntax in cryptic clues apply to definitions and wordplay instructions, not to wordplay fodder.

  38. Martin H says:

    anax – That we use different comparisons to make points about clue-setting doesn’t prove anything at all. Of course crosswords mean different things to different people and solvers will have preferences among setters. This is not about style, it’s about standards. Would you be happy to have all the clues I listed above appear together in the same crossword under your name?

    Concerning ‘are’, I quite agree with you, and for the reasons you give. I’m surprised it caused any comment.

  39. Eileen says:

    Just for the record, I thought I’d conceded yesterday @ comment 6 re my [small] doubts about ‘are’. I understand perfectly what you’re saying.

    I was confusing this example with [much] earlier discussions re something like, ‘I enter’ or ‘I am in’ to indicate an insertion of I, which would, surely, be wrong? – and, as I said, could be made OK by the inclusion of ‘may [be]’.

  40. pommers says:

    Don’t know if anyone will read this but I’ve printed this off the Grauniad archive today and the word in 4d is ‘Effective’.

  41. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, pommers.

    So it appears that it was a Guardian typo [as I thought!] and not a Rufus mistake, which he, at comment 29, was willing to concede, if necessary.

    There was a similar mistake in a Paul puzzle recently, where the crossword editor simply altered the archive, which, for me, does not constitute an adequate explanation / apology.

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