Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,251 / Rufus

Posted by mhl on February 21st, 2011


I thought this was a trickier-than-usual puzzle from Rufus, but very enjoyable, as ever. I think my favourite clue here was the simple and elegant 25 across. (I had the great pleasure of meeting the setter in person in Derby recently, and was even the subject of some of his magic tricks :))

5. DOUBLE Double definition: “Run” and “to make the five ten” – I’m not sure about “Run” – I think the closest in Chambers is “to move at twice the normal speed”
6. EREBUS ERE = “before” + BUS = “public transport”; Definition: “Place that was hellish”
9. CLARET (CARTEL)*; Definition: “French wine”
10. OUTDOORS Cryptic definition: “Great place” alluding to the expression “the great outdoors”
11. ADZE Sounds like “ads” = “commercials on the radio”; Definition: “Axe”
12. REFORM BILL REFORM = “to improve” + BILL = “the police?”; Definition: “19th-century Act”
13. ASSASSINATE ASS + ASS = “a couple of fools” + I (1) = “a” + (NEAT)*; Definition: “Get rid of”
18. CHILBLAINS (HILL CABINS)*; Definition: “chaps on foot”
21. PEEK KEEP = “support” (as in “to keep [someone]“) reversed; Definition: “Look”
22. VENDETTA (VETTED AN)*; Definition: “relative bitterness” – a VENDETTA is particularly a blood-feud, although it’s used more generally nowadays
23. PACKET Double definition: “Mail” and “steamer”
24. SONNET TEN = “ten” + NOS = “numbers” all reversed; Definition: “Lines”
25. JERSEY A lovely clue: Double definition: “Lower” (as in “one that lows”, a Jersey cow) and “upper garment”
1. QUARTERS QUARTERS = “News” (N, E, W and S are quarters of the compass); Definition: “rooms”
2. ULSTER Cryptic definiton: an ULSTER is a type of overcoat
3. BRETHREN (THE)* + R = “right” in BREN = “gun”; Definition: “order”
4. ABSORB R = “Take” in AB’S = “sailor’s” + ORB = “world?”; R is one crossword abbreviation that I think is rather too obscure nowadays – prescriptions used to say “R” as an abbreviation for the Latin word “recipe” meaning “take” Thanks to Eileen for pointing out that I’d misparsed this – there’s no R = “take” in this clue…
5. DELUDE D = “A number” + ELUDE = “get away”; Definiton: “swindle”
7. SORELY SLY = “secretive” around ORE = “foreign money” (an ore is a hundredth of a Swedish krona); Definition: “Painfully”
8. POP FESTIVAL Cryptic definition: POP in the sense of “dad”
14. AXLETREE Cryptic definition: an AXLETREE is a hub on which wheel-hubs rotate: Chambers defines it as: “a crossbar or shaft fixed across the underside of a cart or similar vehicle, on each rounded end of which a wheel rotates”
15. TYPECAST TYPE = “Model” + CAST = “found” (?); Definition: “to be lacking new parts” Thanks to Eileen and Michael for explaining that CAST = “found” as in casting metal (in a foundry, no less)
16. CHEERS Double definition: “Thank you” and “goodbye!”
17. CELERY CRY = “Keen” around (EEL)*; Definition: “found in the salad?”
19. LADING LAG = “a convict” around DIN = “uproar”; Definition: “Charging” – we normally only see the verb “to lade” in the form “laden” – this means “charging” in the sense of “loading”
20. SUPPER P = “Parking” in SUPER = “splendid”; Definition: “a meal”

50 Responses to “Guardian 25,251 / Rufus”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog mhl – and Rufus for a nice puzzle.

    Re 4dn:I agree with you about it perhaps being time that R = take was pensioned off but we haven;t got that here: it’s simply AB’S ORB: sailor’s world: defintion: ‘take in’.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Rufus
    A good puzzle from Rufus. I too found him very charming at Derby.

    Some tricky clues as mhl says. My favourites were 18, 1, 2, 8 and 15. 25 was nice but I am getting used to bovine ‘lowers’.

    ‘Axletree’ went in last. After toying with ‘aflutter’ (fits like ‘aglitter’ but makes no sense), I realised it must be ‘axle….’ and had to look that up in Chambers to see what extras were offered there.

    Although they are quite similar, I tend to distinguish adze and axe quite sharply in my mind owing to the different angle of the blade, but the homophone indicator persuaded me.

  3. mhl says:

    Eileen: oops! Thanks for pointing that out – I’ve corrected it now.

  4. Eileen says:

    Apologies for the two typos above!

    In 15dn, cast = found as in metal-making.

  5. Michael says:

    As you say a bit trickier than usual.
    Re 15 down cast = found; as in foundry?

  6. mhl says:

    Eileen & Michael: thanks for explaining CAST = “found” – I’ve updated the post. (I never realized that “foundry” came from there…)

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, mhl, for a blog where I needed your help to understand a few. I would also say that it was a bit trickier than usual, but I enjoyed the cryptic definitions as usual – they were just a bit harder to fathom today.

    JERSEY, CELERY, CHILBLAINS, QUARTERS were all very good. I failed on AXLETREE; I just couldn’t see it even with the crossing letters. I got 19dn from being familiar with the term BILL OF LADING, which if I remember well is a document that you need if you are shipping goods overseas.

    And ‘found’ in the sense of ‘cast’ is indeed reflected in the word ‘foundry’, where metal is (s)melted. It’s related to the French verb ‘fondre’, which means ‘to melt’. And its past participle is ‘fondu’, which when it’s melted cheese is what you dip your bread into.

    Lovely puzzle, thank you Rufus.

  8. Robi says:

    Nice puzzle; as others have said a bit trickier than usual. I was conscious today of how well most of the surfaces read.

    Thanks, mhl for a good blog. I needed you to explain why QUARTERS=news. I particularly liked POP FESTIVAL, ADZE and JERSEY. Of course, a jersey dress can be a lower AND upper garment. I thought VENDETTA was rather weakly clued (DATE plus VENT instead?)

    16, and I might have a glass of 9 to celebrate this evening!

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, a harder Rufus than usual (or was it because I did this one all by myself today?).
    Needed a dictionary to find AXLETREE (14d), as I had never heard of it.

    My favourites were JERSEY (25ac), QUARTERS (1d) and the simple, but well-formulated LADING (19d) with its misdirecting surface.

    Two things still keep me busy – well, only a bit.

    In ASSASSINATE (13ac) there is an I, defined by “a”.
    So, I=one plus one=a gives us I=a?
    Not completely sure about that.

    I do not fully see how the clue of 3d (BRETHREN) works.
    There is the gun (BREN), ‘the’ wrong (ETH), there is ‘right’ (R, the second one, I guess).
    But the word ‘put’ slightly puzzles me, or is it just there for the surface (albeit right in the middle of a construction)?

    Nice puzzle though, bit more challenging than normal.

    Thanks, mhl, still under the spell of the magician …. ? :)

  10. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thank you mhl. This was a little trickier than typical Rufus fare but not at the expense of enjoyment. I needed your help for 2dn. I haven’t heard of an Ulster overcoat and am not sure which bits of Ireland are which colour.

    I agree with a union of K’sD’s and Robi’s “good lists”. Today is my father’s birthday so POP FESTIVAL was appropriate. (Not quite as old as Araucaria but close, and still solving crosswords.)

    One niggle, but one which I won’t harp on. The “foreign money” in 7dn, the Scandinavian equivalent of cents or pence, is not spelt with an “o” but with an “ø”. It looks different in Swedish but is the same letter. It isn’t an accented “o” but a completely different vowel. You won’t find øre under the “o’s” in my Norwegian dictionary, it is together with the other ø’s after the z’s. So in order for the clue to work, an ø has to be accorded honorary status as an o. Is it Ximenean, or legitimate in any sense, to permit letters from foreign scripts which just happen to look like letters from the Roman alphabet? So, for example, could a “B” be used for the German Eszett and so for “ss”?

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    I read ‘brethren’ as a series of instructions

    1. ‘the’ wrong = eth
    2. (next) put ‘right’ = r = ethr
    3. (all) in a (bren) gun = brethren

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, tupu, that must be it, but I find it not very elegant.
    Your 1. is not really an instruction a la 2.
    But it’s fine by me now.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I agree with tupu re BRETHREN – but you’re right about ASSASSINATE. It’s a pity, because ‘Get rid of a couple of fools with one neat manoeuvre’ would actually be a slightly better surface.

    Hi Tokyo Colin

    I think ORE is acceptable, as the Swedish version appears in both Chambers and Collins as öre and accents are usually ignored in Crosswordland.

  14. tupu says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin

    You are right up to a point. As in Norwegian and Finnish it is listed at the end of the dictionary. In Swedish and Finnish it is spelt öre, but I would be surprised if it is simply accidental that it is an umlauted ‘o’. In Finnish unmarked o and ö are a contrasting pair (as are a and ä). They are front and back versions of the same vowel (more or less as in German where the dictionaries list them together). The Swedish situation, is however, complicated in that ‘o’ has a ‘u-type sound’.

    Where this leaves us re permissability is another matter, but there does at least seem to be a case that they are related forms of the same vowel.

  15. Robi says:

    BTW mhl, the expression ‘at (or on) the double’ indicates militarily ‘double time,’ which is defined as: ‘an easy RUN of 180 steps per minute.’

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks mhl and Rufus. I enjoyed this today, as there were fewer CDs and of those 8d was amusing.

    Though I liked it, I did think 1d perhaps warranted a ? at the end of the clue.

    Like tupu, I also toyed with “aflutter” and “aglitter” as well as “axletree”; however this was easily checked once I got back home, so I managed to complete the Xword almost without aids. I was just looking up COW for 25a when I spotted “Guernsey” and JERSEY popped out instantly.

  17. Dave Ellison says:

    Robi @15, I had thought of this too. I wasn’t happy with the “the” in the clue – I suppose it is there for the surface – but I was trying to reconcile it with the “the” of “at the double”, somehow.

  18. Robi says:

    P.S. I think this might be an OKgram, if you take my meaning.

  19. Chas says:

    On 3d: a monastic order is a set of brethren so I think it works well.

  20. stiofain says:

    Lovely surfaces here.
    Nice to see Ulster clued accurately rather than the spurious NI it is usually used to signify.

  21. tupu says:

    Hi mhl and robi

    I took ‘double’ to be a (minimal) run of two wins in a row at the races or in a sport (cf. ‘do the double’).

  22. Tokyo Colin says:

    Re Eileen @13, I think this is the first time I have ever disagreed with anything you have written here! You say that “accents are usually ignored in Crosswordland.” My point was that this is not an accented o. Please see
    “The Swedish alphabet is a latin-based alphabet consisting of 28 letters.” The Swedish ö is a separate letter in its own right.

    And to Tupu@14, the umlauted o and u in German and even the accented e and a in French are recognised as variants of the same vowel. Not so in Norwegian/Swedish/Danish. Finnish is an entirely different language. The fact that in all three the letter o is pronounced like oo English is not relevant I think. The Scandinavian word for chair is “stol.” I take your point that it doesn’t seem accidental that the letters are written using glyphs that are accented vowels in other languages, but I think it is related purely to limited typesetting options.

    The fact that Chambers lists the Swedish word for “ears” in the O’s begs the question. Should we presume to accept foreign letters as equivalent to the English/Latin letter they most resemble? Hence my reference to the German ß and the letter B.

  23. Robi says:

    Tokyo Colin, I hesitate to join the fray, and I am sure that what you say is correct. However, I think an anglicised version of the currency is just ‘ore,’ as seen in an online thesaurus: ore – a monetary subunit in Denmark and Norway and Sweden; 100 ore equal 1 krona. In a list of currencies as well. So, no doubt incorrect, but in popular usage, so fair game I think for a crossword setter. :)

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin

    I really do understand what you’re saying but I really meant that, since it’s listed in Chambers and Collins with [what looks like] an umlaut, which in German words is usually disregarded in crosswords, I think we have to accept it – which, as I’ve often said before, does not mean that we have to like it! :-)

    Although my son lives in Copenhagen, I’m not at all familiar with any of the Scandinavian languages and I think that if anyone came across ‘öre’ in an English dictionary, they could be forgiven for not realising that ‘ö’ is an entirely separate letter.

    I understand what you’re saying in your last sentence – and my answer is ‘No’: Greek P, for instance, = English/Latin R!

    Incidentally, I’m sure I’ve seen ‘ore’ clued this way several times before.

  25. Cosafina says:

    I couldn’t get axletree – what’s the ‘bub’ part of the clue got to do with it?
    However this could in part be because I’m so distracted by the fact I’ve lost my cat – if any of you live in London, would you please keep an eye out for her?
    Details can be found here.

  26. Robi says:

    Cosafina @25; unless it is different in the print version, the clue is: ‘Hub-hub.’

  27. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks mhl. I agree with the consensus that this was trickier than usual for Rufus. One quibble with 12a – I thought a Bill only becomes an Act when it has gone through Parliament and received Royal Assent, therefore the two are not synonyms?

  28. Cosafina says:

    Robi @26: Doh! my rubbish eyesight!

  29. walruss says:

    Yes, pretty good, and pleasantly tougher. Although it was nice to see THAT (ass plus ass) one again!! Groan!

  30. malc95 says:

    Dave E @16
    25a – As I’m sure you realised, if we had been looking for an 8 letter word, “Guernsey” would have fitted the bill (cf “gansey”). It would also fit an Aussie Rules footballer.

    2d – Not sure Sinn Féin would equate “Ulster” with “Orange”.

  31. William says:

    Thank you mhl for the blog, and Rufus for an entertaining puzzle.

    Loved 5ac but wonder if Rufus was tempted to write it as, “Run to make the 5:10″? I know I would have been.

    Don’t wish to pick, but is a pop fesitival really a celebration? Not quite the smooth surface we have come to enjoy from this setter.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    William, you’re probably right about a pop festival, but I think you should unlink ‘pop’ and ‘festival’ within the surface.
    A festival (without ‘pop’) can be a “A joyful or honorific celebration” according to Mrs Chambers. [I nearly wrote 'horrific' ..... :)]

  33. tellmee says:


    I am interested to see you met Rufus and were “the subjuect of some of his magic tricks.” Though I did once have a book of his collected puzzles I can’t remember his name. I have been in magic for many years and would be interested to know if I’ve ever unknowingly met him. Do you feel able to disclose his name – or would this be an intrusion into his privacy?

  34. tupu says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin

    I think we are stuck on the meaning of ‘separate vowel’.

    The argument is complex because of the different overall vowel systems. However, if I am not mistaken, Swedish, Finnish, and German umlauted os (ö)are pronounced much the same along with the Danish and Norwegian slashed Os. Moreover, phonetically, this sound is a frontal version of the back sound ‘o’ as in English ‘of’. It is not just shortage of type-forms. Of course they are a separate phoneme (i.e. the differences between them and other sounds affect meaning), but by their nature they are one of several sub-variants of ‘o’ (as opposed to ‘a’, and ‘u’). It seems too that in Swedish at least a/ä and o/ö can transform into each other as they do in German, e.g. one form in the singular and the other in the plural (e.g. land/ länder and bonde/bönder). Also, I would guess that kök (kitchen) and koka (boil) in Swedish have a common root.

    The point about Finnish is that o and ö are opposites (not just different). They cannot appear in the same word. But they are opposite phonemic forms of the same general phonetic ‘o’ vowel (back and front forms).

  35. tupu says:

    Hi tellmee

    I happen to be on line after my last entry. See the Setters list in the toolbar at the top of this website. It gives details of him (Roger Squires)and several other setters.

  36. malc95 says:

    tellmee @33 – according to the Crossword Who’s Who at, Rufus is the nom de guerre of Roger Squires.

  37. malc95 says:

    Sorry tupu, our blogs crossed.

  38. Kathryn's Dad says:

    And perhaps more importantly, it’s his birthday tomorrow. So I’ll be the first to say thanks for all the cruciverbal enjoyment and an early Happy Birthday Rufus!

  39. Roger says:

    Thanks mhl. Regarding double and run, the on-line OD seems to imply a direct correlation:

    DOUBLE verb(Military) move at twice the usual speed; run. For example: I doubled across the deck to join the others.

    And thanks Rufus, of course … many lovely clues today (a shame about W, though !)

    Ditto what K’sD says @38.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And I would like to add my sincerest Birthday Wishes, too.

  41. Ian says:

    A cracking Rufus that was uncharacteristically.

    Had to use the Thes for 11a and 14d.

  42. Ian says:

    Tough was the word missing”……………

  43. tellmee says:

    Thanks to all for the replies about Rufus. And a happy birthday to him for tomorrow.

  44. RCWhiting says:

    Agree, considerably harder than usual Rufus but enjoyable.
    I really cannot accept the 1,a equivalence in 13ac as mentioned above.

  45. tupu says:

    Happy birthday from me too!

  46. don says:

    No one answered why 14 down had two hubs?

  47. tupu says:

    Hi don

    I too was a bit uncertain about this. OED defines axletree as “The fixed bar or beam of wood, etc., on the rounded ends of which the opposite wheels of a carriage revolve.” So the simplest explanation might be that it provides a double hub (one for each wheel). It might also be thought of, I suppose, as providing a hub (centre) around which the wheel hub revolves.

  48. William says:

    Hello, Don & Tupu.

    I assumed that he was thinking of the wheel itself as a hub. Thus the axle upon which it rotates would be a hub hub.


  49. Brian Harris says:

    Yes, axletree delayed us for a while. I vaguely remember encountering the word somewhere, so we got it eventually. Before I got the answer, I was already interpreting the clue as meaning “the hub of a hub” as this was, in the end, the only parsing that made sense.

  50. mike says:

    Anyone from the services, or in my case a cadet force, will recognise “double” as a command to move faster – e.g. run!

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