Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,198 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on December 20th, 2010


Another Christmas cracker from Rufus.

Practically every clue and / or solution has a seasonal reference. [I particularly liked the way Rufus included four different meanings of ‘present’ in 10ac and 2, and 14dn.] Enjoyable but not too taxing – just what we need at the beginning of a busy week when so many of us are beset by 14dns! Many thanks, Rufus, for this and all the other puzzles – and a very Happy Christmas to you and all our readers!


1   PAPER HATS: cryptic definition [capital decorations] and anagram of PERHAPS AT
6   WIFE: anagram of IF WE [nice – but cheeky – surface!]
8   ANGELICA: ANGELIC [very good] + A
9   RESORT: anagram of ROSTER
10 COHERE: CO [Commanding Officer] + HERE [present]
11  DIAMANTÉ: anagram of ANIMATED
12  SKATES: double definition
15  NEEDLESS: NEEDLES [things on the tree] + [christma]S – except that, at the end of Christmas, so many of them are off the tree!
16  BALLOONS: ALL in BOONS [benefits]
19  STAYED: homophone of ‘staid’
21  ESPOUSES: [sw]E[et] + SPOUSES [wives]
22 CUCKOO: cryptic definition
24  OCTAVO: O [nothing] + reversal of VAT [tax] in CO [firm]
25  EPICURES: CURE [preserve] in anagram of PIES
26  USED: hidden in hoUSE Decorations
27  MISTLETOE: anagram of SOME LET IT


1   PANTO: PAN [swivel camera] + TO [towards]
2   PRESENT: double definition
3   RHINE: double definition
4   ALADDIN: LAD [boy] in A DIN [a row]
5   STREAMERS: R[ight] in STEAMERS [packets once]
6   WASSAIL: WAIL [moan] around ASS [fool]
7   FORETASTE: anagram of SET FOR TEA
13 KNAPSACKS: KNACKS [gifts] around PS [second thought] – a particularly nice surface Edit: I meant, of course,  to write ‘KNACKS around A PS – thanks, MikeC and tupu
14  SNOWSTORM: S[mall] + NOW [present] + TO in reversal of MRS [wife]
17  LEONARD: reversal of NOEL [Christmas] + A RoaD [a way]
18  SISTERS: cryptic definition
20  ACCOUNT: double definition
22 CHILL: CH [central heating] + ILL [off]
23  OBESE: O.B.E.S [decorations] + E [point]

21 Responses to “Guardian 25,198 / Rufus”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks Eileen. Yes, this was a bit of fun to start off the Xmas week. Nothing too taxing, but some nice clues nonetheless. I liked NEEDLESS, KNAPSACKS and SNOWSTORM today.

    I suspect this will be my only bit of fun today, though. Kathryn’s brother’s trying to get back from Oslo to Heathrow today. Oslo’s working … If I don’t resurface on the blog in the next 72 hours, send for help, please.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for the usual good blog and Rufus for a nice seasonal piece.

    I enjoyed paper hats, angelica, skates, octavo, and especially knapsacks.

    I was least taken with 9a for what it’s worth.

    One tiny point of no real consequence – I think 6a is ‘if’ with ‘we’ go without (outside).

  3. muz says:

    Thanks Eileen

    The parsing of SNOWSTORM escaped me.

    One of those tricky grids where there are few cross-letters linking the top and bottom halves, but no great problems. Nicely themed, but not up to the greatness of Brendan’s “tea-party” of last week.

    My only quibble is that the “flower of german wine” should surely be the mosel; the river and its wine are as good as synonymous.

    Many thanks to those who have blogged during the year, especially for the time when I was lurking – I now consider myself unlurked.

    My assignment for the christmas break is to clue “unlurked”…

  4. MikeC says:


    I originally read 6a as Eileen did, but on reflection I think you’re right.

    On a similarly small point, surely 13d is KNACKS around A PS.

    A fun puzzle and splendid blog – thanks.

  5. tupu says:

    Hi Mike C
    Yes that is how I read knapsacks – and how I feel sure Eileen meant.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, MikeC – I really did mean to write ‘KNACKS around A PS’. [I thought I’d checked really carefully today! :-(

    I’m going to hold out for my interpretation of 6ac, though: ‘out’ is a very common anagram indicator and the clue does not say, ”outside’ or without’. [But, as you say, tupu, it’s a tiny point and certainly not worth falling out over!]

    PS: and thanks for your endorsement re KNAPSACKS – I’ll amend that now.

  7. Tees says:

    A bizarre grid, whiuch damn near cut my prospects in half. If you know what I mean.

    6ac (not that tying women by their apron strings to the kitchen sink is at all sexist), seems to me to work just as well either way: for the anagram you would need to regard the fodder as plural (I, F, W & E or IF + WE) to get your cryptic-grammatical ducks in a row, while for the container WE needs to be subjected to the ‘string of letters’ policy for correctness. ‘Go out’ (very popular with Shed, as I recall) would be okay, as a quick glance at Collins confirms.

  8. Paul B says:

    Sorry – should’ve put my Paul B hat on for that last one. I also neglected to say how enjoyable the puzzle is. Cheers, Rufus.

  9. Ramasamy says:

    Hi… I couldn’t quite get 7D. What’s ‘or dinner at Christmas’ doing in the clue?

  10. Twiddlepin says:

    Very nicely themed crossword. Much better than today’s Independent crossword – am I the only one that gets fed up by the ubiquity of American States (and particularly their abbreviations) in crosswords? A whole crossword of them was a bit much!

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to think that 3d here should have been “Mosel” – that was the first answer I put in, which then gave me some early trouble.

  11. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen and Happy Christmas to you,

    This was gentle and fun.

    Ramasamy at 9, I agree the clue works without those words but I assume they were added in to support the theme.

  12. Martin H says:

    A few over-padded surfaces and a couple of weak clues at 2 and 9, but overall an enjoyable puzzle with some very nice clues at 8, 13, 17, 24.

    Thanks Rufus – Merry Christmas.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and for all your comments on the site. Happy Christmas!

    And Happy Christmas to Rufus. This was very enjoyable. I particularly liked 27ac.

  14. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus and Eileen for a good blog. I found this a bit trickier than usual, perhaps because I just couldn’t get the ‘capital’ in 1a for a long time. Thanks for the parsing of SNOWSTORM as I didn’t see the MRS in it! Maybe shovelling snow has addled my brain or maybe it was the torture of completing the Christmas puzzle at the weekend!

  15. malc95 says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus for some seasonal fare.
    Having “BUTTONS” at 4d held me up for a while! Otherwise a gentle start to the week.

  16. muck says:

    Thanks Rufus for a gentle seasonal puzzle – much easier than the prize monster!
    23dn OBESE also appeared as 22ac in the QX – coincidence or what?
    Greetings, one and all

  17. Geoff Chapman says:

    Seasonal felicitations to Rufus.

    Much easier than the Prize Muck (@16)? That was a doddle compared to Azed. Azed has beaten me I think.

  18. Carrots says:

    Late on parade as usual, but many thanks Rufus (and Auntie E.) for your various delights.

    I think this is the first crossword I`ve ever completed without pause for breath. I now know how Lightning, (a.k.a. Rightback) feels when he cracks a Paul or Araucaria in the time it takes me to read the clues. Not my preferred method of solving, because the adrenalin-rush to get the last two clues could kill me.

    The season`s tidings to one and all. I`ve just scratched away at Araucaria`s Xmas Prize offering so far, but I intend to savour it rather than demolish it…even though Rightback will have already nailed it to the Grauniad offices` doors by now.

  19. frances says:

    If anyone’s still replying, I don’t understand who Leonard is in 17d. I see the parsing but what does the whole clue mean?

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi frances

    I think I’d just have to call it a cryptic definition – ‘he’.

  21. Frances says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I’m glad I’m not missing a famous ‘Leonard’.

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