Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,305 / Rufus

Posted by duncanshiell on April 25th, 2011


As I am double booked with another commitment early this morning, I was a bit worried that Easter Monday was going to produce a Guardian humdinger with a double grid and a complex theme.  I therefore got up fairly early in case I needed a long time to solve the puzzle.

Fortunately we have been given a standard Rufus that I found I could solve fairly quickly.  Consequently this blog has been posted earlier than normal.

There were no clues that caused any problems.  There seemed to be fewer cryptic definitons than usual, but maybe I was more on Rufus’s wavelength this morning than on some occasions in the past.  There were plenty of straightforward double definitions, but they weren’t cryptic definitions.  Even the clue to ETCH at 21 across wasn’t really very cryptic.  Probably, the clues at 22 across, leading to PARALLEL, and 8 down, leading to CRYSTAL BALL, involved the most cryptic definitions.

I thought there were more anagrams than Rufus has given us in the past, but on completion of the blog I note that there were only six.  One or two of the definitions were amended to fit the surface of the clue., but the meaning remained very clear  For example, I think that a CANYON is a far more striking topographic feature than just a ‘deep depression’.

Some clues were short and sweet – e.g, the clue to TRANSACTION at 13 across and STARVE at 25 across.

Clue Wordplay Entry
5 Study some in deep depression (6) ANY (some) contained in (in) CON (study) CANYON (deep gorge or ravine; deep depression)
6 Turn up with skin trouble (6) FURROW (to groove, to turn up [with a plough]) (See also comments at 1 and 2 below – my suggested double definiton wordplay is probably not right. The wordplay is more likely to be FUR (skin) + ROW (trouble) with ‘turn up’ as the definition) FURROW (wrinkle [on the skin. Judging by the television adverts, I suspect some people consider wrinkles to be more of a skin problem than I do], also reference ‘furrow ones brow’)
9 A street to flatten out for a gentle walk (6) ST (street) + ROLL (flatten out) STROLL (gentle walk)
10 Early callers get egg rolls outside (8) O (the letter O forms the shape of an egg) contained in (gets [rolls] outside) ROSTERS (rolls [of names]) ROOSTERS (domestic cockerels that call (crow) early in the morning)
11 One always on hand for a date, say (4) PALM (Everyone has a palm on their hand) PALM (date, fruit of the date palm tree)
12 Rivers rose, possibly, to fill them (10) Anagram of (possibly) RIVERS ROSE RESERVOIRS (rivers flow into reservoirs; if the rivers rise, presumably the reservoirs fill more quickly)
13 Deal involves a constraint (11) Anagram of (involves) A CONSTRAINT TRANSACTION (deal)
18 Unaware of being callous? (10) INSENSIBLE (not having feeling; unaware) INSENSIBLE (callous)
21 Produce a work of art from scratch (4) ETCH (to design on metal by eating out the line with an acid; etching is a common artistic art form) ETCH (to cut or carve; to scratch)
22 Meeting in such bars would be quite inappropriate (8)

PARALLEL (parallel lines never meet)

PARALLEL (reference ‘parallel bars’, a pair of fixed bars used in gymnastiics.  People often meet in ‘public bars’ or ‘lounge bars’)
23 About to get wrong answer (6) RE (about) + TORT (wrong) RETORT (answer)
24 In the East a strange sign, giving relief (6) E + A + anagram of (strange) SIGN EASING (relief)
25 Averts disaster fast (6) Anagram of (disaster) AVERTS STARVE (to fast)


Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Sneak in late (8)

IN + FORMER (beforehand; past; late)

INFORMER (a person who informs against another; sneak)
2 Derby cricketer (6) BOWLER (A Derby hat is a bowler hat) BOWLER (cricketer)
3 His word is law at a court assembly (8) Anagram of (assembly) AT A COURT AUTOCRAT (a person who rules by his or her own power; an absolute ruler; his or her word is law)
4 About the end of December reached Santa’s base (6) GOT TO (reached) containing (about) R (the final letter of [the end of] DECEMBER) GROTTO (reference Santa’s grotto; Santa’s base)
5 Animal food given to horses in China once (6) CAT (animal) + HAY (fodder; food given to horses) CATHAY (an old name for China)
7 Call for action put out by the Salvation Army (3,3) WAR CRY (a call used in battle for encouragement; call for action) WAR CRY (the magazine of the Salvation Army, distributed free as I remember)
8 The sphere of the occult (7,4) CRYSTAL BALL (a sphere) CRYSTAL BALL (used by fortune tellers, and other folowers of occult practices, to see visions)
14 Sling net around young bird (8) Anagram of (around) SLING NET NESTLING (young bird)
15 Public union leader about to make a proposal (8) OVERT (public) + first letter U of (leader) UNION + RE (about) OVERTURE (proposal)
16 Those vanquished by the Spanish head East as a precaution (2,4) INCAS (The INCAS, South American people of Peru,  were vanquished by the Spanish in the 16th century) + first letter E of (head) EAST IN CASE (as a precaution)
17 What many in panic make themselves (6) C (100; many) contained in (in) SCARE (panic) SCARCE (reference ‘make onself scarce’, to leave quickly for reasons of tact or prudence)
19 Pass in English, then fail to maintain standard (6) E (English) + LAPSE (fail to maintain standard) ELAPSE ([of time], to pass)
20 Subjects of Shakespearean comedy in Latin (6) Reference Shakespeare’s Comedy of ERRORS ERRATA (Latin for ERRORS)

24 Responses to “Guardian 25,305 / Rufus”

  1. Stephen says:

    6 ac I read as FUR + ROW = SKIN + TROUBLE for the wordplay and “Turn up” as the definition.

  2. caretman says:

    I agree with Stephen @1, I also read 6ac as FUR + ROW. I thought 12 ac was an excellent clue, smooth and with the anagram well related to the fodder that composed it. I don’t know if it’s been used before but it was certainly new to me. 20 dn also brought a smile to me, I can’t say why. It was a good, quick start to the week.

  3. Duncan Shiell says:

    Thanks to Stephen and caretman at 1 and 2 for suggesting an alternative (and better) word play for 6 across. I tend to look for double definitions in Rufus clues before I consider alternatives.

  4. Anna says:

    Thanks duncan
    great blog and I love the way you present so that I don’t have to go back to the puzzle to remember which clue was which. Errata was my favourite and dug deep into latin learnings and Shakespeare for comedy of errata.

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Duncan

    I considered this to be a bit more challenging than the usual Rufus – and all the better for it.

    My first thought for 2d was Geoff MILLER, a former Derby cricketer and now Chairman of Selectors.

    Regarding 11a, surely it’s not politically correct to overlook the Venus de Milo?

    Happy Easter to one and all!

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan and Rufus

    I found this a little bit trickier than some Rufus pieces. Overall a good puzzle with some nice penny-dropping moments.

    I saw 6a as Duncan did. The fur + row idea makes sense, though I was initially suspicious of ‘fur’ as skin rather than simply as hair. Also one loses the furrow = wrinkle idea.

    Re 10a. The use of ‘duck’ for zero comes originally from ‘duck’s egg’.

    I particularly liked 11a, 22a, 1d, 3d, 16d and 20d.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for the usual fine blog.

    I’m pleased to hear others found this a bit harder than normal, because I did as well. Rufus has the ability to write simple but elegant clues; for me RESERVOIR and STARVE were the best today. And since I live near Derby and love my cricket then I couldn’t help but like 2dn. Geoff ‘Dusty’ Miller spoke at our club do a couple of months ago and was very good, Bryan.

    For those Quiptic fans wondering where today’s puzzle is (the site is still showing Hectence from last week), just type 597 into the search box and it will bring up today’s Nutmeg. It says that it is Cryptic puzzle and gives the date as Monday 23rd May 1932, but hey, this is The Grauniad.

  8. Superdad says:

    Neatly for 2d Peter Bowler was a Derbyshire batsman. But then you all know that anyway.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    That’s a good spot, Superdad, I’d forgotten that.

  10. chas says:

    Thanks to duncan for the blog.

    I found, like several others, that this one was harder than the usual Rufus – in fact I found myself beaten totally by several clues. I had to come here to find the answers. I liked 12, 13, 23 and 14.

    As a measure of relative difficulty I was able to finish Araucaria’s prize puzzle on Saturday which I have never done before, but this Rufus beat me!

  11. Bryan says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @ 7

    Many thanks for your advice re today’s Quiptic.

    I had previously found it in the Archive but I was then deterred by the description and the date. Big mistake: I should not have underestimated The Grauniad. Whatever will Hugh have to say about this latest fiasco?

    The Quiptic turned out to be very enjoyable.

    Thank goodness for Fifteensquared!

  12. bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks to Rufus and duncan.

    We really enjoyed the lunchtime solve. We definitely agree with KD about the simple but elegant clues. We particularly liked 12a and 22d.

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Bryan at no 12: judging by the lack of a blog, I think the poor blogger must have made the same assumption!

  14. Gaufrid says:

    K’s D @13
    I think not. I sent PeterO the URL for Nutmeg earlier but as he is in the States there is of course the time difference so he won’t have been up all that long as yet.

  15. Carrots says:

    A most enjoyable puzzle from Rufus who does seem to be getting stiffer (and better) these days. It was completed today in the shadow of Wellow`s new Maypole. The dwellers in this tiny hamlet raised many thousands of pounds to replace the original, which was deemed unsafe by the health & safety police. I half expect them ban cryptic crosswords next on the grounds that they sometimes make your head hurt!

  16. Ian says:

    Thanks Duncan. Much appreciated your explanations.

    Rufus is always capable of throwing in the odd curveball. For me today it was 15across, which was, believe it or not, the last to go in.

    As usual an array of sparkling clues, the best of which 10ac (elegance personified), 21ac (just beautifully written), 11ac (simple, yet elegant) and 17dn (Rufensian wit).

    A pleasant way to spend 40 minutes (only a few minutes less than the Araucaria on Saturday) on this glorious Easter Monday here in S. Devon.

    A happy Easter to all at Fifteen Squared.

  17. Ian says:


    Correction re #16.

    I should have said 15 down was the last clue solved.

  18. Martin H says:

    A fair and considered commentary from duncan, as usual. Those who say that Rufus is ‘getting stiffer and better’ should be cautious. He has for very many years been a most capable setter perversely drawn to awful clues, and I for one see no sign of that changing. However, as with the good weather, we should be grateful while it lasts, and note the scarcity today of non-double definitions, (18 comes pretty close and ‘WAR CRY’ simply repeats in its definition the SA’s proclaimed intention in publishing the magazine), and the sparing (for Rufus) use of cds.

    ‘Inappropriate’ seems an odd choice of word in 22. ‘Impossible’ or ‘unlikely’ might be more appropriate. Etching (unlike itching) has no connection with scratching, relying as it does on corrosion and not cutting. I didn’t like ‘turn up’ for ‘furrow’, which simply means ‘make a furrow in something’ – when earth might be turned up; but that is a result and not the definition. ‘Skin trouble’ was a good cryptic element though.

    Otherwise generally an enjoyable puzzle. ROOSTERS was simple but effective, and PALM very good.

  19. Sylvia says:

    I was puzzled to find two Cryptics today and just assumed the extra was an Easter bonus! However, I completed both without realising I had strayed into Quiptic mode!

  20. Carrots says:

    Martin H @18: I`m sorry MH, but I have to correct you about your assumptions re: etching/scratching/cutting. An etching is made by using a stylus to draw or scratch through a thin film of acid-impervious “ground” on a (usually zinc) plate, which is then immersed in an acid bath to “bite” into the exposed metal. The resulting cavity is then wiped with ink which is squeezed out by a press onto paper in order to make a print.

    As for Rufus, I entirely agree. He`s always had a sting in his tail, but now seems to have half-a-dozen!!

  21. Martin H says:

    Hi Carrots, Yes, you’re right that you have to selectively expose the coated plate to the acid, but the scratching bit of the process – if that’s the method you choose to use – is not the etching bit: it’s rather the preparation for the acid treatment, which is an art in itself.

    Not sure what you mean by Rufus’s sting(s) in the tail. Ian talks about his ‘curveball’, but surely any decent setter has a trick or two up his sleeve; deception is what it’s all about isn’t it?

  22. John E says:

    19d was easy enough to solve, but I cannot really see the sense of the E part of the clue. Am I missing something subtle?

  23. Duncan Shiell says:

    John E @23

    E is given in Chambers as an abbreviation for ‘English’

    I think ‘in’ is simply being used a link word between the definition (pass) and the wordplay E + LAPSE

  24. John E says:

    Thank you for confirming that I didn’t miss anything subtle! Not the most convincingly worded clue in my opinion.

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>

+ four = 13