Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,317 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on May 9th, 2011


This is a classic Rufus puzzle, I think. All the hallmarks are there – succinct, witty cluing, clever anagrams [8ac, for instance] superb surfaces … There are rather more anagrams and fewer cryptic definitions today, I think, but there are some gems amongst those – 10ac and 2dn for example. Many thanks, Rufus, for an enjoyable start to the week.


1   QUOTIENTS: anagram of INQUEST TO
6   ERIE: reversal of EIRE [land]
8   SEAT BELT: anagram of LET’S BEAT: more obvious than most Rufus anagrams but what a surface! – &lit
9   MALADY: M.A. [qualification] + LADY
10  PETROL: cryptic definition
11  OFFERING : F [strong] in anagram of  FOREIGN
12  PLAYER: double / cryptic definition: a cricket player might make a score [in both senses] and an instrumental player would interpret one.
15  DANSEUSE: anagram of SUDANESE
16  REFORMED: RE-FORMED: double definition
19  LARIAT: anagram of A TRAIL – great surface
21  NATIONAL: anagram of ON A LATIN: nicely misleading definition
22 CALIFS: anagram of FISCAL: I think I’d only met the ‘caliph’ spelling before.
24  ALL OUT: double definition and another fine surface
25  VIRGINAL: double definition

26 AWNS: anagram of SWAN: I think I learned this word from crosswords: ‘the grain-sheath of barley, oats, etc.’ [SOED]
27  SURRENDER: SUR [French ‘on’] + RENDER [return]


1   QUEUE: double definition
2   OUT TRAY: cryptic definition
3   IDEAL: IDEA [conception] + L [50 – ‘many’] – lovely surface
4   NET CORD: cryptic definition
5   SEMIFINAL: IF [provided] in SEMINAL [important] [I found it really odd to type that without a hyphen.]
6   ENLARGE: anagram of GENERAL
7   INDONESIA: ONES [units] in INDIA
13  LIE FALLOW: LIEF [willingly] + ALLOW [let]: I really liked the construction and surface of this clue.
14  RUMINATES: anagram of A TERMINUS
17  OMINOUS: O [nothing] + O [nothing] in MINUS [less]
18  DELIVER: reversal of REVILED [abused]
20  RALLIED: a really elegant double definition
22  CARVE: V [number] in CARE [custody]
23  FLAIR: FAIR [just] about L [a pound]

38 Responses to “Guardian 25,317 / Rufus”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen.

    I have been humiliated by not being able to complete this puzzle: NET CORD indeed!

    NOT GOOD would have been a more appropriate solution.

    Yes, Rufus, I do know that you are often accused of being ‘too easy’ but, as far as I can see, you have also omitted your trademark nautical reference.

    Is this really the Rufus that we know and love?

  2. Mystogre says:

    Many thanks to both Eileen and Rufus. Everyone needs a gentle start to the week. Yes, 4d took me longer than it should have – had to look it up as I was not really happy with it! But the rest was entertaining.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    In answer to Bryan’s question: yes, I think so.

    I did struggle with bits of this, mainly because I’d never heard of the definitions of LIEF, AWNS and QUEUE. On the other hand, I got NET CORD straightaway. The rest was an enjoyable start to the week, with some clever (and unusually tricky imo) cryptic definitions.

    I was tempted to put in HOT DESK for 2dn, on the basis that it’s a desk in an open-plan office that anyone can use when it’s free and therefore you’d be seen to be doing work. Ho hum.

    Thanks for blogging, Eileen.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad

    Re QUEUE: I’m sure I know that definition from French lessons!

  5. PeeWit says:

    I must say that, although not a great fan of Rufus, I really enjoyed this one.
    I also look forward to reading the blog and comments on this forum. This should be required reading for all solvers!
    (although having failed with last month’s Genius crossword I feel a bit thick this morning)

  6. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

    My favourite was SEAT BELT – what a wonderful surface.

    I was beaten by 6a: I settled on Erin while wondering about Lake Nire!

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Eileen @ no 4.

    It was a bit girly for me to have come across it, I’m afraid (despite having Kathryn and one other daughter). ‘La queue’ also has another meaning in French, which I suggest we do not go into in a forum as genteel and refined as Fifteensquared. Let’s just leave it there by saying that I’ve got one and you haven’t …

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I found this a little tougher than usual, with many double definitions having one unfamiliar one, and I didn’t know NET CORD, though I’ve often seen players apologise when they hit one.

    As for 1d, I wouldn’t say it’s girlie, K´s D, at least not in the definition given in Wiki. Rather, it seems to distinguish Chinese men.

    The other definition you mention needs no further explanation, as all of the come from the French word for ‘tail’, in turn from Latin, ‘coda’

  9. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I enjoyed this one a lot – far fewer cd/dd clues and a lot more anagrams than Rufus’s usual Monday servings, which suits me fine.

    Clues as succinct and elegant as ever, with some real gems: 5d and 20d are especially good, IMO.

    Having got 1a straight off, I pondered QUIFF for 1d, but the easy (though perfect) 8a soon sent me in the right direction.

  10. Robi says:

    Thanks Eileen for a good blog; I managed to miss the anagram for NATIONAL, thereby spending a lot of time in trying to equate NATION with composition.

    Some splendid clues here, especially for NET CORD, PETROL and OUT TRAY. I’m another one who hadn’t heard of QUEUE as a hairstyle and like Geoff @9 I considered quiff at first. Bit of a tennis theme here with SEMI(-)FINAL, NET CORD, PLAYER and RALLIED (FLAIR and DELIVER?) Djokovic beat Nadal (his first clay-court defeat in nearly two years) in the Madrid Open final yesterday, in case anyone missed it.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Although there were some clever clues (8a) I thought this was much too easy for a Guardian cryptic.
    It’s all a question of value for money. I expect 3 or 4 hours and not less than one hour.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and thanks to Rufus for another enjoyable puzzle with the usual lovely surfaces. 8ac was my favourite.

    I seem to be in a minority but I didn’t like 10ac at all. Maybe I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning!

  13. rulei says:

    > trademark nautical reference

    A tarred queue was a tonsorial tradition among sailors – will that do?

  14. Bryan says:

    Rulei @ 13

    That sure will do.

    Many thanks!

  15. Ian says:

    Thanks to both Eileen and Rufus.

    This was very enjoyable. In struggled with two today that had me foxed for a few minutes. These were Queue and Petrol.

    The latter was one anagram to far inasmuch as I spent a few unnecessary minutes trying to reforrm egine as a result of seeing ‘refined’ as anagram signpost.

    Queue as ‘rank’ is OK. As for hairstyle?

    Incidentally, although there were a lot of anagrams they werenwell concealed in the odd case or two. Very cleverly so.

    Most admired clues today were Rallied and Lie Fallow.


  16. Dave Ellison says:

    I must admit to one fine cryptic definition today: 2d. 10a was more questionable and 4d not to my taste at all.

    Am I being too pedantic – shouldn’t 1a be “results of divisions” rather than “division”.

    I liked 8a, but found it a tougher anagram for some reason.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi rulei

    Yes, thanks for that. I was thinking I perhaps shouldn’t have called it a classic, with nothing nautical in it, as Bryan pointed out.

    K’s D

    As far as I remember, the reference in my French story was to a Chinaman’s pigtail, as Stella says – and I did know the other meaning [but not from school!]

    I’m surprised at NET CORD causing trouble but that’s just because tennis is much more up my street than football or snooker, where I’m often caught out in crosswords.

    Hi Dave E

    I think ‘division’ is right, as one of the functions of arithmetic, just as you would arrive at totals by addition, not additions.

  18. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Ian@15, for QUEUE as a hairstyle, try

  19. flashling says:

    Possibly my first comment on a grauniad blog! I struggled to get going on this – I don’t normally do the Guardian. Net cord and petrol I thought a bit weak (apart from crossing letters why not diesel?)

    Thanks Eileen for the blog to confirm my musings.

  20. caretman says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. In addition to the clues already mentioned (and I particularly liked SEAT BELT), I’d like to tip my cap to 17d for having to split the natural phrase ‘nothing less’ into ‘nothing’ and ‘less’ to get O and MINUS. I thought that was very well done. A nice start to the week.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Seemed hard at first, then it wasn’t! I ought to go do the Quiptic now, but I have a bonus to earn at the ole poker, so that will have to wait a while.

  22. Thomas99 says:

    RCWhiting (11)-
    Value for money? It’s free! (Also I’m not sure I want to spend 3-4 hours on every cryptic crossword I do, but each to his own I suppose.)

  23. Martin H says:

    There was some disagreement a few months ago about a clue where people ‘in court’ were supposed to be watching or playing tennis. If that was tenuous ‘going to court’ is even more so. I suppose ‘catch’ was there to make -O-D suggest catching cold, and in a less flimsy clue might have been admirable misdirection. Of the other cds PETROL was, but for the surface grammar, a dd, and a decent clue, although, as flashling points out ‘diesel’ would have done just as well. ‘OUT-TRAY’, but for the numeration, could have been ‘IN-TRAY’, and would have been just as uninteresting.

    For the rest, great stuff. Unlike RCW I don’t mind a quick solve if the clues are good. LIE FALLOW, OMINOUS, RALLIED very nice.

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Martin H

    “‘OUT-TRAY’, but for the numeration, could have been ‘IN-TRAY’, and would have been just as uninteresting.”

    The clue has ‘work is seen to be done’, i.e. finished – unless you’re seeing ‘to be done’ as a gerundive? [in which case ‘to be’ would be doing double duty].

    And surely any clue could be something else but for the surface grammar / enumeration / crossing letters!

  25. Martin H says:

    Hi Eileen – ‘where one sees work which is to be done’ ie the in-tray. That seems to work to me.

    Your last point is of course quite correct – but surely a more satisfying way of making a clue unambiguous is a bit of ingenious wordplay? Any odds on when Rufus will recycle the clue with the other numeration? I am warming to him though – at least we haven’t had any non-cryptic definitions recently.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Martin

    ‘where one sees work which is to be done’ ie the in-tray.

    Absolutely – but that’s not the wording of the clue: as I said, that meaning would require ‘where work is seen to be ‘to be done’.

  27. Martin H says:

    Hi again Eileen

    ‘Where office work is seen to be done’

    Do we need your first ‘to be’ for the in-tray sense? It seems fine, indeed better, to me without it. (The work is there to be seen so that it will be done). If we need two ‘to be’s you could as well say that ‘out-tray’ demands ‘seen to have been done’. I don’t claim that – I think it’s ambiguous.

    Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one – as I think we often do with Rufus’s cd’s.

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi again Martin

    “Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one – as I think we often do with Rufus’s cd’s.”

    [I should never have mentioned gerundives! ;-)]

  29. Robi says:

    Martin @23; ‘There was some disagreement a few months ago about a clue where people ‘in court’ were supposed to be watching or playing tennis. If that was tenuous ‘going to court’ is even more so.’

    I can’t really see the problem with the clue. The competitors go to the tennis court to play the game and certainly catch the NET CORD quite frequently. As you say, the possibility of ‘cold’ as the second word was a nice misdirection.

  30. Geoff says:

    Martin and Eileen

    Nothing like a grammatical spat, is there?

    For what it’s worth, I agree that the clue as written is ambiguous, but I hadn’t realised that when I solved it myself. It can be read as “Where office work is seen [that is] to be done”, leading to IN-TRAY (Eileen’s gerundive comment, because the phrase ‘tp be done’ in this reading would be translated by the gerundive ‘facendum’ in Latin). However, I think the alternative reading: “…seen to be complete” is, I think, the less forced – the use of an adjective (eg complete) rather than a participle (eg done or completed) would have removed the ambiguity.

    Note that a change in the word order: “Where office work to be done is seen”, gives a sentence that can only be parsed as IN-TRAY!

    But, after all, IN-TRAY doesn’t fit!

  31. claire says:

    Thanks Eileen, How odd (or maybe not really) that I too remember that definition of ‘queue’ from a French book. I instantly pictured the illustration from the book too – all of fifty years on! I don’t think I ever encountered that meaning before or since. Glad it came in handy today. Net Cord let me down though. Still – nice gentle typical Rufus to start off the week.

  32. claire says:

    Oops…sorry that should be FORTY years on. I’ve added 10 years to myself and inadvertently aged Eileen too, perhaps. If so, apologies.

  33. William says:

    Thank you Eileen and to Rufus for a smooth puzzle.

    Bryan @ 1 & Rulei @13, I was always under the impression that going ‘ALL OUT’ was a reference to using every scrap of canvas available to a sea captain.

    Would this do for your nautical reference?

  34. Ian says:

    Stella (#18),

    Many thanks for the wiki enlightenment. Much appreciated.

  35. Jan says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen – I’ve just done the puzzle before my cocoa.

    I was defeated by NET CORD – not a familiar term to me. – When tennis courts failed, I pootled around with, ‘Froggy went a’courtin” – that led to TOAD for the second word – then, from Wind in the Willows I joined Rupert in NUT WOOD.

    I blame all the Mr Men on Google, today! :)

  36. Martin H says:

    Hi again Eileen – I’ve been out all evening since our last correspondence, and it’s struck me that there is yet another interpretation: ‘where office work is witnessed or overseen’, so by my reading we have work done, work yet to do, and also work being done, although – and here I’m on shaky ground, having kept away from offices ever since working in one for a month for a student summer job – I don’t think there’s a tray for the last one.

  37. Eileen says:

    Hi Martin

    I went out, too. Apologies for omitting a line @28: after quoting your comment, I meant to say that I concurred with it.

    [OUT TRAY is still one of my favourite clues. :-) ]

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