Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,293 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on April 11th, 2011


Apologies for the rather late post. I somehow managed, in transferring my blog, to delete it – twice! – so more apologies for any mistakes I may have made in my haste.

It’s Monday, the sun is still shining and we have a pleasantly straightforward Rufus to start the week. There are several amusing clues among the usual anagrams and double / cryptic definitions and just one or two I’m not happy with.


1   MAILBAG: cryptic definition, referring to the old practice of convicts sewing mailbags in jail
5   LEARNED: ARNE [composer Thomas, who wrote ‘Rule Britannia’] in LED [shown the way]: I’m not keen on this use of ‘out’ for ‘outside’ [it crops up again in 6dn] but I have seen it a number of times.
9   TACIT: I in TACT [discretion]: nice surface
10  NEON SIGNS: cryptic definition
11  VIOLINISTS: cryptic definition, depending on different meanings / pronunciations of ‘bow’.
12  STIR: initial letters of Serve Time In Russian – another nice surface
18  RAMBLING ROSE: RAMBLING [incoherent] + ROSÉ [wine]: a witty clue, which I found all the more amusing because I belong to a women’s walking group called the ‘Rambling Roses’!
21  SMEE: double definition: along with ‘erne’ [Edit: nonsense! – thanks, greyfox] one of crossords’ favourite ducks and Captain Hook’s right-hand man in ‘Peter Pan’
22  ACCUSTOMED: double definition
25  LEAVES OUT: double definition – but surely the first is the opposite of ‘deals exclusively with’? – the second seemed to happen here within a couple of days last week
26  BLUNT: double / cryptic definition
27  SHEIKHS: homophone of ‘shakes': I was initially worried about the grammar here , then realised that, of course, it’s a noun, ‘the shakes’, which Chambers has as ‘ a fit of uncontrollable trembling’
28 REDHEAD: RED [Communist] + HEAD [leader] and a cryptic definition in ‘flaming capitalist': this was a lovely clue to end the acrosses, since ‘Rufus’ means ‘redhead’, though I understand Mr Squires took his pseudonym from his initials, RFS.


1   MOTIVE: not quite a double definition, I think
2   INCHON : I’m not quite sure of the wordplay here: In [popular] + CH is an honour but ON = ‘in course of”? Edit: yes, of course, as in ‘on a journey’ – thanks, tupu
4   GENII: anagram of GIN I.E. – another nice surface
5   LION TAMER: cryptic definition
6   APSE: S [point] in APE [primate]: apart from the use of ‘out’ again, I thought ‘in church’ was a rather loose definition – but I did like the play on the two meanings of ‘primate’!
7   NIGHTCAP:  double / cryptic definition
8   DISTRESS: DIS [reversal of SID{ney}] + TRESS [lock]
13  AND SO TO BED: anagram of DON BOASTED and the ‘final words’ of a number of diary entries by the famous ‘journalist’, Samuel Pepys: an excellent clue.
15  TENACIOUS: IOU [debt] in anagram of CAN SET
16  WRESTLES: cryptic definition, a lock being a hold in wrestling
17  AMPERAGE: cryptic [?] definition
19  IMPURE: anagram of UMPIRE
20  EDITED: anagram of DIET + ED[ward]
23  UTTER: double dfinition
24 JERK: a jerk is a movement in weightlifting but is this a double definition?

37 Responses to “Guardian 25,293 / Rufus”

  1. Djawhufc says:


    Thanks for the blog.

    I took 25a to be

    Deals (tress) have exclusively or on outside- leaves

    Hence leaves out



  2. Djawhufc says:

    Sorry deals- wood or trees

  3. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for explaining the couple of references I didn’t get, in 1ac and 15d (nice one!)

    I think 1d is more a cryptic than a double definition.

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    I read 25ac as ‘deals exclusively’ = excludes = leaves out and ‘with signs of spring’ = leaves out.

  5. Hounddog says:

    In 25ac ‘Deals exclusively with’ is used to mean ‘excludes’.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for a nice blog and Rufus for a nice ‘helping of the usual’ which took a little time to get into.

    I am grateful for the reminder re Pepys and the double play on ‘journalist’. Also for ‘trembling’ as a noun (I am usually more aware of this possibility).

    I had to check Inchon in a gazeteer. I read ‘on’ as e.g. on the voyage, on my travels etc.

    Re leaves out, I simply took it ‘that deals exclusively’ with could be read as ‘excludes’, even though it could mean the opposite, as you say.

    I liked 14a, 18a, 26a, 28s, 3d, 5d, 16d and 23d.

    I am often unsure whether ‘cryptic definition’ or ‘double definition’ is the best label. 24a seems to be something of both to the extent that ‘jerk’ is a technical term in weightlifting. :) I hope it is not making a rude comment about North Amerticans!

  7. tupu says:

    ps and (re 25) of course as gaufrid says re leaves out as a sign of spring.

  8. tupu says:

    Re cryptic/double. These are of course not simple opposites since the second is often a form of the first.

  9. greyfox says:

    Sorry to be a pedant (aren’t all cruciverbalists?) Eileen, but an erne is a sea-eagle, not a duck.

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid @4: I was misplacing the ‘with': it makes sense now.

    Hi tupu

    I don’t use ‘double / cryptic’ to imply opposites but something in addition to a double definition: for example, in 7dn, ‘nightcap’ has two meanings, but there’s also the cryptic ‘on retirement’. And I did get the ‘signs of spring part of ‘leaves out': as I said, they came out really dramatically here last week.

    Hi greyfox

    I can’t expect you to believe that I did know that really – it’s something I foolishly added in my haste on my third attempt! I shall remove it this minute.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you Eileen.

    This was Rufus back on good Monday morning form. There were many clues that raised a spring sunshine smile: for me, RAMBLING ROSE, VIOLINISTS, MAILBAG and SHEIKHS were the best.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @6

    PS: thanks for the ‘on’ explanation – of course that makes sense. It’s amazing what blind spots one can have!

  13. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    Whoops. Sorry if I seemed to be commenting on you @7 re signs of spring. I was merely acknowledging that I myself had left the ‘spring’ out in my comment @6 when I said ‘I simply took’ ‘deals exclusively with’ to equal ‘excludes’.

    Spring has been rather earlier here. It’s surprising how much difference 80 miles or so can make.

    I was very sorry BTW to read of your accidental deletions. By coincidence, I was reading earlier about someone who had lost their whole PH.D thesis and notes on which it was was based on a train!

    I hope my reading of ‘on’ in 2 down makes sense.

  14. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks for that. Sorry. We crossed.

  15. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus for a nice puzzle that I thought was tougher than many others.

    Thanks also to Eileen for a good blog. I got a little confused by GENII – this seems to be an alternative to GENIes, but is, of course, the usual plural of genius. I’m not sure who would use it in the former sense (?) I would have been happier with a clue based on the latter (more usual) sense.

    I found it a bit tricky at the start – MAILBAG was annoyingly well clued. I toyed with sh*tbag, but then thought that would not do for a Monday Guardian. I also particularly liked LION-TAMER, which took me a moment or two to understand.

  16. Robi says:

    OK, so I found this one and a bit of a cheat with another one

  17. tupu says:

    Hi robi
    My Concise Oxford (to hand) gives ‘genii’ as the usual plural of ‘genie’ and ‘geniuses’ & ‘genii’ as standard plurals of ‘genius’.

    A nice poem, though I irreverently (and irrevelantly) found myself dreaming of the lady with the light brown hair or was it ‘Brownie with the light blue jeans’? :)

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Eileen, now you just sit down and take it easy. Have a nice cup of tea. Deleted it twice? If it’s any consolation, in my many decades in the software industry, despite being a highly paid expert, I did manage far worse on occasion!

    Apart from being in the military, or a historian, why would anybody have heard of that battle? Even for an oldie like me, it was before my time. And even when we had proper exams, like O Levels, it wasn’t on the syllabus.

  19. Geoff says:

    Thanks Eileen (and commiserations about the technical difficulties).

    I got a bit stuck for a while in the SW corner – cd trouble, as usual. Rufus does write exceedingly good cryptic definition clues (1a, 5d, 7d are great) – I just wish he didn’t use so many of them in a single puzzle! 17d is barely cryptic, as you point out.

    It does seem bizarre that GENII is the standard plural of ‘genie’. The SOED has a footnote that ‘genie’ was adopted by the French translators of the ‘Arabian Nights’ because of its resemblance to the Arabic ‘jinni’ (this is the singular, and ‘jinn’ is the plural, oddly).

    My favourite clue by a long way is 26a.

  20. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Nice start to the week with Rufus. I liked 18ac and 26ac in particular. Failed (by one letter) to get 2dn. I’m not familiar with Korean war battles and to me this clue stuck out a bit like a sore thumb. But perhaps that’s just sour grapes :-)

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi Derek

    Thanks for the sympathy – I was just finishing the tea when I read your post!

    As to the battle, I hadn’t heard of it, either [I was but a child at the time] but, according to this

    Mr S was in the Navy at that time.

    Hi Geoff

    “It does seem bizarre that GENII is the standard plural of ‘genie’. The SOED has a footnote that ‘genie’ was adopted by the French translators of the ‘Arabian Nights’ because of its resemblance to the Arabic ‘jinni’ (this is the singular, and ‘jinn’ is the plural, oddly).”

    Very bizarre, I agree. I’d done all that research and been similarly surprised but, when it came to writing my blog for the third time, I decided not to open that particular bottle! I’m glad that others have, though, because it’s interesting.

  22. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen – you cleared up a couple of points I was unsure about.

    I am still puzzled by 5d: I see LION as a ‘wild cat’ but I cannot see where ‘tamer’ comes from.

    I liked 11 and 27.

  23. tupu says:

    Hi Chas
    Try reading it as wild cat blows may put him out of work.

  24. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Up to the usual reliable Rufus standard of late, I.e. Somewhat trickier than of old.

    I concur with Geoff (#19) that there is a superfluity of CD’s when Rufus is at work. Invariably it’s one or two of these that throws a spanner in the works.

    Again like Geoff and Liz (#20) I liked 26ac. Also commendation for the anagram for 13dn and the DD for Jerk at 24dn.

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Ian
    I remember mentioning to Rufus at Derby that the cds can easily stump one, and that he seemed pretty positive about that. As I think I said said not long ago, they are rather like riddles, which seem to be a very old and widespread form of puzzling activity.

  26. chas says:

    Thanks tupu. I have now re-read the clue using your interpretation and it does now make sense.

  27. claire says:

    Tupu and Chas – re the Lion Tamer, I had a picture in my mind of grumpy circus lions downing tools, as it were, for a pay rise, thus temporarily putting the tamer out of work. Well, it amused me!

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I thought that was a particularly easy one, even for Rufus.
    No complaints though. Last one in was Inchon for the same reason as the rest.
    I always forgive very obscure solutions when there is clearly no other word which fits. As a past (very) amateur setter I know how tempting it is not to have to start messing up a finished grid.

  29. slipstream says:

    re 24 down: “yank” and “jerk” are synonyms; each is used in America for “sudden short pull” as in “give a yank on that rope.” And “jerk” is also a weightlifting term. So it’s a fair DD.

  30. Ian says:

    Hi tupu #25,

    Yes, they are designed to prolong what would otherwise be a straightforward 20 minute solve into something that takes an amateur like me the best part of an hour – or more.

    Notwithstanding that, I have the utmost admiration for not just the prodigiousness of his output but some of the most seamless wordplay currently published that is made to look easy but is, sure, far from it.

  31. tupu says:

    Hi claire
    A much nicer idea!

  32. Martin P says:

    Lovely. Thanks Rufus, didn’t notice the spell of rain midday.

  33. tupu says:

    Hi Ian
    By the time I got round to posting 31 (left waiting on screen) you had already posted 30.
    Briefly, I agree re surfaces – smooth and often witty with a light touch. As to cds, I usually feel good when the penny drops.

  34. William says:

    Thank you, Eileen, for the elucidating blog. Rather liked RAMBLING ROSE & MAILBAG. Less keen on APSE & LEARNED.

    This is a really long shot – I don’t suppose it was you on the Cardiff train out of London Paddington on Sunday 27th March was it? A lady answering your description was machine gunning off crossword answers in the seat across the aisle from me, and I couldn’t help thinking of you!

    Of course it wasn’t, it’s a ridiculous thought.

    Thank you for the blog nonetheless.

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi William

    “A lady answering your description … ”

    What can you mean?

    I’m sorry, no – I’ve only been to Cardiff once, on a coach!

  36. Huw Powell says:

    Didn’t read any comments. I count ten (10!) cryptic or double definitions. That is not what a cryptic puzzle should be. Sorry, Rufus, but for once I can’t thank the setter. Shame on you, but more importantly, shame on the editor who let this one by.

  37. William says:

    Eileen @35. Simply that the lady was surrounded by crosswords – I glimpsed Azed, FT, Guardian, Times etc. – and was completing them with such alacrity that it occurred to me that she might be a slogger or better. Of course, it now occurs to me that they may not necessarily have been correct!

    Oh well, thanks anyway.


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