Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,269 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on March 14th, 2011


I hope there’s something for everyone in this entertaining Rufus puzzle, which took me a little longer than some of his more recent offerings. It’s still gentle enough for relatively new solvers, with fewer cryptic definitions, for those who don’t like them, and the lovely surfaces that we expect from this setter. Thank you, Rufus, for an enjoyable puzzle.


SPEAKEASY: SPEAK [address] + EASY [no bother]
8   AFOOT:  A FOOT: double definition: I’d think of ‘afoot’ as meaning ‘going on’, rather than ‘going out’ , but it’s an amusing surface.
9   GUNPOWDER: anagram of NOW PURGED: great surface
10 TERNS: anagram of STERN – or, rather, the first letter moved to the end or ‘wheeling around’
12  VERIFY: VERY [extremely] around IF [Kipling poem, lines of which appear over the players’ entrance to the Centre Court at Wimbledon]
13  INDUSTRY: INDUS [river] + TRY [venture
14  OPHELIA: anagram of HOPE + reversal of AIL [trouble]: lovely &lit and my favourite clue, I think.
17  ANYBODY: ANY BODY: double / cryptic? definition
20  SORBONNE: SORE [resentful] around BONN [German city]
22  FLAMBÉ: LAMB [meat] in FE [iron]: another great surface – &lit?
24  GENRE: GEN [information] + RE [about]
25  WIDE ANGLE: double definition
26  STREW: [peppe]R in STEW [hash]
27  GOOD LOSER: cryptic? definition: the weakest clue, I thought – but one of them had to be!


1   SPRUCE: double definition: so much better, I think, than ‘smart / trim tree’, which I’ve seen several times before.
2   CAMPSITE: AMPS {power units] in CITE [quote]: another nice surface
LEEWAY: cryptic definition and the second nautical reference; I think we’ve had fewer of these lately in Rufus puzzles.
4   ASCETIC: sounds like ACETIC [sour]
5   AFTERS : double definition: AFTER S!
6   CORNERED: double definition
11  ODIN: anagram of INDO: my second-favourite clue: I don’t associate Rufus with ‘lift and separate’ clues and this was a clever one. I thought I’d be looking for a word from which to take E.
15  PROPERTY: double definition
16 INNS: reference to the Inns of Court, the professional associations to one of which every barrister in England and Wales must belong.  My first thought, of course, was ‘bars’.
18  BRAINBOX: BRA IN BOX: this is not the first time I’ve seen this but it’s such a gift to setters that it’s no wonder it occurs to more than one. Rufus gives it a characteristically smooth surface.
19  LEG IRON: L [number] EG [for example] IRON [press]
21 BARTER: BARTENDER [publican] without ‘end’
22  FIENDS: I [one] inside FENDS [wards off]: interestingly, the second meaning for ‘fend’, in Chambers, is ‘fiend’ [Milton].
23 BILLED: ILL [indisposed] in BED [laid up!]: super surface and perhaps joint second favourite clue. It made me laugh.

45 Responses to “Guardian 25,269 / Rufus”

  1. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for a very good blog and Rufus for an occasionally tricky but very enjoyable Monday puzzle.

    27 was last to go in but I think it is a good clue with a nice element of suprise.

    17 was pretty clear though ‘anybody’ is a slightly odd word since ‘He’s not just anybody’ gives it an opposite implication.

    Like Eileen, I enjoyed ‘Odin’ and ‘billed’, and I also liked ‘afters’.

    13a, 1d, 18d, and 21d also pleased.

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    Re 17ac: I was thinking of ‘Anybody who is anybody …’

  3. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    Yes, you are of course quite right. I was simply pointing to the double sense. Chambers seems to make an implicit distinction between ‘anyone’ and ‘anybody’ with ‘anyone’ more straightforwardly implying unimportance. ‘Anybody”s opposite ‘a nobody’ nicely highlights the more positive and probably more usual sensee involved here.

  4. tupu says:

    for ‘sensee’ please sc. sense.

  5. Mitch says:

    8a – Is a foot a limb ?

    Other than that, I loved 23d. Rufus very seldom makes me chuckle, but this one did.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Mitch

    I took the definition as being ‘on a limb’ [leg].

  7. rrc says:

    loved gunpowder as the answer because i had the wrong magazine in mind and any body will keep me smiling for the rest of the day – weakest clue must be terns definititely trickier than some but very enjoyable

  8. Mitch says:

    Eileen, thanks for the explanation.

  9. tupu says:

    re afoot

    I think Eileen is right that ‘going out’ is stretching the meaning a little for the sake of the surface. I had not paid much attention to the parsing, but again Eileen’s reading seems necessary for normal usage of ‘limb’. It seems (OED) that foot was used in the C16 and 17 to mean the whole leg, but this usage is obsolete.

  10. James G says:

    re 2d, aren’t amps Current Units? Power units are Watts, arent they?

  11. Chas says:

    Eileen thanks for the blog.

    With my physics hat on I disagree with 2d: an amp is a unit of current NOT a unit of power!

  12. Chas says:

    Note to Eileen: on Araucaria/25262 you raised a question about Archer / prison / fragrantness. I gave an answer but I do not know if you saw it.

  13. Eileen says:

    I did see your comment, Chas. I have replied on that blog.

  14. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I could see from the start this was going to raise a smile or two, and I was not disappointed. Some of the surfaces were hilarious!

    23d. reminded me of one of my Mum’s favourite sarcastic expressions when one of us was complaining about nothing: “Oh, very ill in bed and worse up!” The answer is literally ILL in BED :lol:

    Last to go in was the NW corner, after I’d worked out 7ac. with ‘judicious use of the check button’ :). I’d thought of ‘leeway’ for 3d. but didn’t enter it because I don’t understand how it has to be ‘made up’.
    Perhaps someone with more nautical knowledge can explain.

  15. Stephen says:

    Re Chas at 11
    We had the same discussion about Amps not being power units, but thought that AMP(lifier)S could be consider as power units.

  16. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus for an entertaining puzzle.

    Thanks Eileen for the usual proficient blog. I’m not sure that I would agree that this was gentle enough for new solvers. I think it took me almost as long as the Saturday Prize one, but maybe this is just Monday grumpy (made worse by retyping this drivel as I lost the first attempt!) Perhaps I better check the Quiptic this afternoon. I didn’t know SPRUCE=deal; is this the Norway Spruce being known as white deal? ASCETIC (assetik) doesn’t sound like acetic (aseetik) to me, but maybe this is covered by the ‘might say’ (?) Last in was GOOD LOSER, which as you say was rather weak.

    BRA IN BOX was used in November by Arachne, so that didn’t present any difficulty. Like rrc @7, I liked GUNPOWDER. I guess the sense here is of a ship’s (powder) magazine rather than, say, a machine gun magazine, which would hold bullets.

    Stella @14; I’m not a nautical expert, but Chambers gives: ‘make up leeway': to make up for lost time, ground etc.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi

    I very nearly made the same comment about ascetic / acetic [ I would pronounce them your way] but checked first in Chambers, which gives both pronunciatios for ‘acetic’. [I’ve had enough of homophone arguments for the moment, anyway!]

    Re SPRUCE: I’m afraid I didn’t research this too deeply: I thought along the lines of spruce being a conifer, like pine and fir, and deal is the wood of both of those [Chambers]. I’ve just looked in Collins, which gives ‘deal: the sawn wood of various coniferous trees’.

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I found this a little tougher than usual for a Rufus, but not complaining! Lots of nice surfaces, as you say. I liked 5dn very much, but wasn’t so keen on 8ac. 10ac might have been the simplest of anagrams, but worth it for the nice surface. Missed the wordplay at 23dn, which I am kicking myself over!

  19. Robi says:

    Eileen @17; I think the different pronunciations are for the stems acet- or aceto- . Thus, acetaldehyde (asset..). However, I don’t think anyone would pronounce ACETIC like asset..; at least not any scientist that I know. :)

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi again Robi

    If you look further down in Chambers’ ‘acet-‘ entry [I do hate the way it doesn’t give words an entry of their own, as my other dictionaries do!], you’ll find ‘acetic’ about half way down, with a long or short ‘e’ pronunciation.

  21. riccardo says:

    Amps are not power units!

  22. Robi says:

    Eileen; OK, you win, although I can’t think of who might pronounce it in that way – anyone know?
    Maybe the aborigines pronounce it thus, or maybe a chemist out there can enlighten us.

  23. Coffee says:

    If TokyoColin is indeed in Tokyo, I hope all is well. Not looked at the crossword as glued to the TV the last 3 days- not voyeurism, just a former Tokyo resident.

  24. Robi says:

    OK, I am going to be boring and say that I think Chambers is wrong (I know that Chambers is king or queen for our crosswords.) Unless someone else can find another pronunciation, I think they have confused the sound of ACETATE (assetate) with ACETIC (aseetic). If you search on Google there are a number of sites with the pronunciation of ACETIC, and they all say the same thing (and it ain’t asettic!)

  25. Thomas99 says:

    Glad to see almost as much confusion about amps (it’s Amplifiers NOT Amperes – and I plead guilty myself) here as on the Guardian site!

  26. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I too found this more taxing than the average Rufus.

    Enjoyable as ever.

    22ac is a terrific clue for Flambé whilst I relished the cleverness of both 21d and 23d for Barter and Billed respectively.

    Agree that limb = foot is perhaps a stretching it a little………

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Would 2d have been acceptable as:
    Quote to deposit currency in temporary accommodation.

  28. yogdaws says:

    Thank you Eileen

    Apologies if I’ve missed a parsing response to Stella Heath’s question re LEEWAY. But I was similarly bamboozled as to why the solution was what it was. EEL up? YAW up? Up YAWS???

    Sure somebody out there can put me out of my low brow misery.


  29. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi @22 [and 24]

    It’s not a case of my winning – as I said, I’m rather tired of homophone wars! I’ve now looked up my other two dictionaries; Collins gives only the long e pronunciation but SOED gives both.

    Hi yogdaws, reLEEWAY: I was doing as Stella suggested and leaving it to someone with more nautical knowledge [eg Rufus :-) ] but I’ve now looked up Collins [which is rather more apposite than the Chambers definition [‘leeward drift’] that I found this morning]: ‘sideways drift of a boat or aircraft’. There’s no wordplay: it’s just a straightforward [oxymoronic!] cryptic definition.

  30. Wolfie says:


    A sailing vessel would tend to drift off course in the direction of the wind – the ‘lee’. This ‘leeway’ would need to be ‘made up’ at some point in the voyage in order for the vessel to reach its destination. So this clue is a simple cryptic definition (as stated by Eileen) and the solution does not need to be parsed.

  31. Wolfie says:

    Sorry Eileen – my reply crossed with yours.

  32. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Wolfie, for the clearer explanation.

  33. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    Needed you to explain a couple today. Definitely a trickier Rufus than usual, but some enjoyable clues. GUNPOWDER was clever; also liked AFTERS and BRAINBOX, although I’ve no doubt come across them before.

    SOED does indeed confirm the pronunciation A-SET-IC, so the clue is fair; but like others, I’ve never heard anyone say it that way.

  34. yogdaws says:

    Many thanks to Eileen and Wolfie…

    LEEWAY now indelibly etched on my grey matter.

  35. yogdaws says:

    And before some crossword-head bullies me for using ‘indelibly’ with ‘etched’…

    Yeah, I know. It was a crappy metaphor.

    How about ‘indelibly inscribed’? Happy now?

    This blog leads to paranoia re terminological exactitude…

  36. duncan says:

    I can’t find anything to complain about except possibly deal/spruce, & definitely 27ac.
    with those crossing letters, there were quite a few better options.
    unless it’s a double-def reference to something I don’t know about…. which is I suppose why we keep doing crosswords!

    I paused briefly with the physicists at 2d, then put on my musician’s hat. I have amps, & they go loud.

    I have a friend that we call “t” (short for tony), who is very fond of apple crumble, & in particular the version served by the goodfare cafe on parkway, NW1. so he would’ve liked 5d.


  37. Roger says:

    This was Rufus on sparkling form … thank you sir, and Eileen of course. Ophelia as an &lit was pretty good and had a little chuckle at afters and many others.

    However, agree with tupu @1 that anybody is a bit of a strange one. I see where you’re coming from Eileen with ‘anybody who is anybody’ but am not sure how/if that is supposed to be indicated in the clue … something to do with the ‘?’ maybe ? “A person of importance” is more likely to be a Somebody not an Anybody I would have thought … and surely if a murder detective arrives on site, “where’s the body ?” would be more appropriate !

    Oh well, never mind, just random jottings from one who had Earnest first up closely followed by Bunbury

  38. tupu says:

    Hi yogdaws
    :) Just to say I don’t see much wrong with ‘indelibly etched’ at least etymologically. Indelible’s Latin root is the verb ‘delere’ meaning to obliterate, destroy (in a general sense), deface, delete etc. An etching is a scratching which may or may not be removable.
    OED defines it in general as ‘That cannot be deleted, blotted out, or effaced; ineffaceable, permanent’. It list inks, marks, stains, stamps,and metaphorical uses.

  39. tupu says:

    Hi Roger
    See 3. For what it’s worth, my point was more that it’s one of those words like egregious that seem to have two opposite implications.

  40. Roger says:

    Hi tupu … yes I read yours @3 earlier. However, the on-line OD gives the definition of anybody as anyone … which I guess doesn’t really get us anywhere !

  41. Martin H says:

    I go with the general view that this was harder than the average Rufus, but still contained a couple of duds among some very well-constructed surfaces. 1a was nicely misleading – I discover there are no anagrams of ‘address no’.

    ‘Genre’ = ‘art form’? Iffy.

  42. Martin P says:

    Closing time now and time for a straggling post:

    Agree with many, tougher than usual!

    Loved “afters” hated “good loser”.

    Thanks as ever, g’night all x

  43. tupu says:

    As I said, I thought 27a was a good clue.
    It seemed nicely misleading. The first word seemed to be clearly ‘good’ from the clue and the crossing letters. I then spent some minutes going through different sports and it was only when I started mentally going through word possibilities that the penny dropped.

    Could one of its dismissive critics explain what is so wrong with it? :)I can then be gracious in defeat.

  44. Huw Powell says:

    Hi all… a fun puzzle with lots of lovely surfaces, OPHELIA being a real gem! AFTERS was lovely as well. I never made it to GOOD LOSER but I have no problem with it. Was never able to “confirm” a way to make SPRUCE = “deal”, but I guess the answer to that is above.

    Now on to “acetic”. You are barking up the wrong bad homophone – “acetic” does not mean sour, it just means something with an acetyl group in it. Sure, vinegar is acetic acid, but that’s too far of a stretch I think. I went with the far more sensible “acidic” to be the word for “sour”, since that is correct, and, well, it almost sounds like ASCETIC a bit. Acetic doesn’t, really – the long “e” doesn’t work (or that a UK/US pronunciation issue?).

    Anyway, lots of fun, thanks Rufus and Eileen!

  45. Robi says:

    Huw @44; I won’t mention the homophone again! In Chambers, a sense of acetic as a verb is given as: ‘to make sour,’ so I guess it’s OK in crossword land.

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=""> <strike> <strong>

9 + = fourteen