Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,221 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on January 17th, 2011


There are some slightly trickier clues here today from Rufus but there are the expected ingenious anagrams and witty surfaces, with rather fewer cryptic definitions, I think, for those who dislike them. Anyway, a pleasant start to the week, as usual. Thank you, Rufus.


5   AMUSED: A MUSED [thought]
6   CHAINS: double definition: a chain is 22 yards [and there are ten chains in a furlong and eight furlongs in a mile, as we used to chant in primary school.]
POLLUX: reversal of LOP [cut] + LUX [the SI unit of illuminance]: Pollux is the brightest star in the constellation of Gemini.
10 ENSLAVES: cryptic definition: I checked that this was the correct solution, rather than ‘ensnares’, which is possible but less good.

11  LATE: double definition – ‘quick’ as in ‘the quick and the dead’, i.e. alive. [In fact, I was tempted at first sight to enter ‘dead’.]
13  DECORATIONS: anagram of COORDINATES  [I’m not entirely happy with the definition ‘colour schemes’.]
18  IMPEDIMENT: I’M PENT [in prison] around DIME [money]
21  TOPS: double definition
22  GRAFFITI: cryptic definition, which raised a smile
23 LOOTED: anagram of TO DOLE, lovely surface, exploiting two meanings of ‘sack’
24 LEEWAY: reversal of WEE [tiny] in LAY [‘inlay’] – an unusual kind of clue for Rufus!
25  UNFAIR: double definition


1   BULLSEYE: double definition: as well as being a peppermint sweet [and the target in archery] a bullseye is also a small circular or oval window – or ‘light’.
2   XERXES: reversal of REX [king] + reversal of SEX:  ‘king’ is doing double duty, as Xerxes was King of Persia 486-465 BC.
3   THESAURI: anagram of HEAR SUIT
4   TIRANA: IRAN [country] in TA [word of thanks]: Tirana is the capital of Albania.
5   AVOWAL: homophone of ‘a vowel’, so it’s ‘I heard A’. I liked that!
7   SWEDEN: reversal of ED [journalist] in anagram [actually reversal, as in 2dn, where, again, the wordplay suggests an anagram] of NEWS
14 ORIGINAL: anagram of AN OIL RIG
15  NOT SO BAD: double definition
16  AMORAL: A MORAL [dictum]
17  APPEAR: PP [double parking] in A EAR [ a feature]
19  EIFFEL: IF inside anagram of FEEL: another nice surface for the famous Paris landmark.
20  TALENT: TALE [relation] + N[o]T

38 Responses to “Guardian 25,221 / Rufus”

  1. Monica M says:

    Thank’s Eileen,

    We must be on the same wavelength today, except I did put in dead for 11ac (but soon realised it was wrong) and 5dn really amused me.

    Some terrific anagrams!!!

  2. Martin H says:

    A nice one from Rufus, although I share your doubt about 13, Eileen. Plenty of good clues, 11 and 24 in particular. Pity about 10, which with a bit of wordplay could have made the excellent definition part of a good clue. As it was, and neat as it was, it was still only half a clue.

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen, needed you for 1d.

    I really liked 22a (GRAFFITI) and it was a CD!

  4. Ian W. says:

    I rarely bother with Rufus any more, as usually he makes my blood boil, but itching for a crossword this morning I tried this one and was astonished to find it largely unobjectionable! I actually had to leave some blank on the first pass through, and there were none of the usual non-cryptic definitions. I rare surprise for a Monday.

  5. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus and Eileen for an entertaining solve.

    I got a bit stuck on the NW corner; I must say I don’t much like 1. This usage of BULLSEYE is given as dated by the Oxford dictionaries. Maybe that is part of the charm of a cryptic clue, but I think it would have been much better to use a more usual sense in a clue such as: A sweet centre. What do others think?

    I, too, played with ‘ensnares’ for 10, and ‘dead’ for 11 – the latter had the same wordplay.

    I also particularly liked 5d, which was one of the last to go in, and GRAFFITI was a nicely worded and humorous clue. All-in-all a pleasure to solve.

  6. MikeC says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus. I had ENSNARES for 10a – seems to me it works (nearly?) as well as the correct answer. Is this a clue that ought to have been edited more tightly? Otherwise, I agree, an enjoyable puzzle. Bull’s-eye was last in for me and needed a bit of help.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I wasn’t quite so keen on this as others. There was some good stuff: I liked LEEWAY, although as you say it wasn’t very Rufus-like, and ENSLAVES (or ENSNARES, take your pick) was a clever cd.

    It was just that of the 26 clues, nearly half were anagrams or double definitions, and the dds didn’t for the most part float my boat today, so I found the whole thing a bit stodgy.

    Thank you for the blog, Eileen.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus

    I’m not sure I understand your parsing of avowal. I read it as ‘I’ (a vowel) heard, rather than as ‘I’ (first pers. sing.) heard ‘A’ (a vowel). Have I misunderstod you?

    This answer went in last for me, just after bullseye, and after a lot of ‘head-scratching’. I wrongly assumed a bullseye on a target might be a ‘light’ so thank’s for that. OED mentions a special nautical use which may be relevant with Rufus.

    Overall an enjoyable puzzle – I particularly liked 9a, 8d, and 3d. :) I first thought there might be something ‘hairy’ about ‘hear suit’!

  9. tupu says:

    Sorry. For ‘thank’s’ please read thanks!

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    You didn’t misunderstand me: that was my interpretation but yours probably makes better sense. [I like it, either way. :-) ]

  11. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    I rarely comment on Rufus puzzles these days but this one was so good that I had to say something.
    Some really good anagrams,some clever wordplay,as well as his usual very smooth surfaces.
    I thought of dead for 11 across but it didn’t really work.Also tried to make PLATITUDES fit 12 across,but that was obviously wrong.
    10 across,I don’t think ENSNARES works nearly as well as ENSLAVES;slavery/loss of liberty are such closely related concepts.
    Tupu – I like the hear suit/hairy joke!

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Scarpia

    Thanks for clarifying tupu’s joke for me [must be feeling dim today – I was hung up on hair shirts!].

    I totally agree about ENSLAVES: it was just that, as I typed up the blog, it occurred to me that ENSNARES would actually fit and some people might have that, so thought I’d better check.

  13. Chas says:

    I have a quibble about 3d: the clue says “an alternative” but thesauri is plural. If the clue had said “alternatives” then I would have been happy.
    What do other people think?

  14. Robi says:

    Chas@13. I sort of agree, although the writers’ need, rather than writer’s need might have been an indication for the plural (?) Re. my inexperienced comment at 5, could Eileen or one of the more experienced bloggers comment – I assume that dated or archaic usages are fair game in these type of cryptic crosswords (?)

  15. tupu says:

    Hi Chas
    This struck me too and I looked again to see if it said ‘needs’. That could also have helped a little, but NB ‘writers” is plural so if each needs one ….

  16. tupu says:

    Hi robi
    Judging by OED dates, the nautical usage seems a bit more modern. COD says nothing about it’s being archaic in either sense.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi chas

    I spent a long time trying to compose a sensible answer to your query then, when I refreshed the page, I lost it! In the meantime, Robi and tupu have given more or less the same explanation as mine.

    Several writers would need several thesauri, each to find one alternative [word].

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks tupu for your reply. The ODE says dated for this usage, but I just wanted to know as a general point whether dated or archaic usages are normal.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi

    I’ve looked up ‘light’ in my SOED, Chambers and Collins and none of them gives its usage as archaic.

    On your more general point, we do see archaisms in crosswords but they’re usually indicated as such. There’s an example from a week or so ago, which I will try to find.

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi again Robi

    The example I was thinking of was from the FT Cinephile [Araucaria] puzzle of 5th January.

    The answer was BARE ARMS, a double definition, one of them being the archaic BARE for ‘bore’. I seem to remember that the archaism was indicated but I can’t remember the clue and since it’s the FT I can’t look it up.

    Can you help, please Gaufrid, since you blogged it? : -)

  21. Robi says:

    Thanks, Eileen :)

    The usage that I was referring to was for BULLSEYE e.g. in at least one of the Oxford dictionaries (

    3 (dated) a thick disc of glass forming a small window in a ship or the glass of a lamp:

  22. Eileen says:

    Sorry for the misunderstanding, Robi.

    The clue was ‘was an old [sic] soldier, without sleeves’.

  23. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I agree that this was a little bit more difficult than usual and enjoyed the fact that there were fewer cds. I was another one who immediately thought DEAD was the answer at 11ac. However, I did like 13ac, even though it was a bit inexact. Idn was my last and I didn’t see the wordplay. I’m more familiar with the ‘window’ sense of bullseye as ‘oeil de boeuf’.

  24. Stella says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus.

    I enjoyed this, as usual with Rufus, though I confidently wrote in ‘ensnares’ until I checked all, as I usually do before saving for future reference. Enslaved is definitely better – I wonder why so many of us have fallen in the trap?

    My parsing of 6d was the same as tupu’s, but thanks for your explanation of ‘bull’seye’, which I knew but had forgotten.

    On the other hand, I didn’t know the meaning of 8d, just that it referred to Aristotle.

  25. finbar says: has several definitions for “bullseye”: Optics . a lens of short focal length and, a lantern equipped with a lens of this sort.

  26. Eileen says:

    Apologies re the clue: it should have had a question mark at the end. And apologies for bothering you, Gaufrid: I hadn’t realised that puzzle was still on the FT page.

  27. walruss says:

    Well, yes. As Scarpia says this one seems a bit better in terms of the clueing than most Rufuses, but as K’s D says, we’re a bit short on variety in the clue-types department! I like it when you get a good mixture.

  28. tupu says:

    Hi Stella

    Peripatetic seems very commonly used these days re music teachers who travel from school to school. Cf.

  29. Stella says:

    Thanks tupu, I didn’t realise music teaching had become philosophical.

    Now I shall have to inform my daughter she’s a peripatetic English teacher. She’ll be chuffed! 😀

  30. Robi says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I see there is an archaic word in the Quick Crossword……… such is life :(

  31. Wolfie says:

    Robi: ‘Bullseye’ is certainly not an archaism. Many suppliers of windows will supply and fit bullseye windows to your home, as a quick inspection of their websites reveals. I suspect that in 1d Rufus is using ‘light’ in the sense of ‘window’ – c.f. ‘skylight’ etc.

  32. Brian Harris says:

    Got everything except BULLSEYE. I think I could have been doing this crossword from now till 2015* and still not got that one. I’ve never come across the window usage, and only very vaguely recall the reference to peppermints. Seems like I wasn’t the only one to struggle with that.

    *and that’s two hours from now.

  33. Robi says:

    Thanks Wolfie; you are right. I was just going on the (dated) Oxford definition that refers to the windows in ships and lamp glasses. Perhaps we better put this light to bed now……..

  34. Jake says:

    As always — nice one Rufus.

    A very nice evening solve, spot on target for my level of thought this puzzle was! 5/5


  35. Jack Aubrey says:

    Thank you to Eileen and Rufus. Two pleasantly easy and fun puzzles today. Glow-worm saw me through the train ride into town and Rufus fitted sweetly into the coffee and panini break before a lecture on the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age. (So no complaints about archaisms from me!)

  36. Martin H says:

    ……continued from my comment at 2: hence the confusion about the solution.

  37. MikeC says:

    Martin H @36

    Yes!! A good cryptic clue leaves you in no doubt when you’ve got it right. As others have said, sometimes Rufus clues more like a quick compiler, which can be unsatisfying.

  38. Carrots says:

    Methinks Rufus is fed up of being a Monday pussy-cat and has grown some seriously sharp claws: I darn nearly didn`t finish this and have the sneaking suspicion that I distinctly heard a tiger growl……

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

− two = 4