Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,377 / Rufus

Posted by duncanshiell on July 18th, 2011


This was a standard Monday offering from Rufus which took longer to blog than it took to solve.  However, The Guardian offers puzzles to suit a wide range of solvers during the week.  Many people will be pleased with today’s puzzle and those who seek a sterner challenge will no doubt be satisfied by the end of the week.



No doubt I am not the only solver who confidently entered SITTING as the answer at 18 down before realising that it didn’t fit with SUNBATHER at 27 across.

As I compiled the blog I looked at the clue types and came up with the following split:

10 pure anagrams

2 container & contents

2 compound clues container & contents including anagrams

8 double definitons

4 cryptic definitions

2 additive

1 homophone and

1 reversal

totalling 30 clues, 2 of which could be considered as & Lits as well.  The number of pure anagrams seems to be on the high side.

I think there is a misprint in the on-line version of 3 down where ‘house’ should be ‘horse’.   Update: the Guardian crossword editor has acknowledged on the comments section of the Guardian Crossword website that there is indeed a misprint in this clue. I have also noted a query at 2 down where PR is used to define publicist.

There were some fairly easy clues, e.g the clue for THE RIVALS but there was also some good misdirection such as ‘stay’ being used as a noun in 13 down and ‘mock’ being used as an adjective in 5 down.

PRIEST at 12 across must be one of the most common words used for anagram fodder given that there are at least 8 reasonably common words formed from its letters.

I had to resort to a little bit of research to understand the reference to HORATIUS at 21 across.

Clue Wordplay Entry Clue Type
1 Get one’s own back (9) REPOSSESS (take back) REPOSSESS (if they were your possessions in the first place, then you get your ‘own things’ back) cryptic definition
6 Attempt to form a party (4) BASH (attempt) BASH (party) double definition
8 Encircled friend making a comeback (8) ALLY (friend) contained in (encircled) RING (circle).  ‘Encircled’ is doing double duty in this clue RALLYING (making a comeback) container & contents
9 Kind disposition (6) NATURE (order; kind) NATURE (disposition) double definition
10 Severely punished for being drunk (6) STONED (pelted with stones; severely punished) STONED (drunk) double definition
11 Runners allowed to enter various heats (8) LET (allowed) contained in (to enter) an anagram of (various) HEATS ATHLETES (runners) compound container & contents and anagram
12 Wit of an animated priest (6) Anagram of (animated) PRIEST ESPRIT (wit) anagram
15 Set off for school in time (8) ETON (school) contained in (in) DATE (time) DETONATE (set off) container & contents
16 Notice fewer without blemish (8) SPOT LESS (notice fewer) SPOTLESS (without blemish) double definition
19 They make us cold and wet (6) Anagram of (make) US COLD CLOUDS (rain falls from CLOUDS, hence they make us wet).  I don’t think all CLOUDS make us cold and wet, there are surely some cloud types associated with warm dry weather. Anagram and & Lit where the whole clue is also the definition
21 He lacked a fourth at bridge (8)

HORATIUS (Wikipedia tells me that Publius Horatius Cocles was an officer in the army of the ancient Roman Republic who famously defended the Pons Sublicius from the invading army of Lars Porsena king of Clusium in the late sixth century BC, during the war between Rome and Clusium.  Apparently there were only three defenders of the bridge.)

HORATIUS (There is also a poem by Lord Macaulay about Horatius that mentions the three defenders, but as it runs to 70 verses I haven’t read it all.)

cryptic definition
22 Oil found somewhere in southeast Europe, say (6) Sounds like (say) GREECE a country in southeast Europe GREASE (oily matter) homophone
24 A sweet’s round and in layers (6) A TART’S (a sweet’s) reversed (round) STRATA (layers) reversal
25 At sea no rating is lacking in knowledge (8) Anagram of (at sea) NO RATING IGNORANT anagram
26 Build-up of runs – they may retain the Ashes (4) Anagram of (build-up of) RUNS URNS (a cricketing reference to England v Australia test series. The Ashes ‘trophy’ is an urn reputed to contain the ashes of a stump, or metaphorically the ashes of English cricket following England’s defeat by Australia in 1882) anagram
27 One suffering heat burns (9) Anagram of (suffering) HEAT BURNS SUNBATHER (one suffering heat burns) anagram and & Lit


Clue Wordplay Entry Clue Type
1 Respond to plea to return to the stage (5) RE-ACT ([plea to] return to the stage and act again) REACT (respond to) double definition
2 Publicist covers new lines in lager (7) PR (publicist [?] – I suggest that Press Release or publicity may be a better definition for PR that publicist as a publicist is more likely to be a PR person rather than just a PR) containing an anagram of (new) LINES PILSNER (lager) container & contents and anagram
3 Reacted like a startled house and threw (5) SHIED (reacted like a startled horse).  I think there is a misprint in this clue and ‘house’ should be ‘horse’.  I am working from the Guardian on-line website.  Perhaps the clue in the published paper has ‘horse’ SHIED (threw) double definition
4 Defile and glen in the country (7) Anagram of (defile) AND GLEN  Note that ‘defile’ also means ‘gorge’ in geographical terms and could be considered to be a more dramatic form of glen ENGLAND (country) anagram
5 Mock the northern city’s affectation (9) Anagram of (affectation) THE and N (northern) and CITY’S SYNTHETIC (mock) anagram
6 Bird of the frozen North (7) BITTER (extremely and painfully cold; frozen) + N (north) BITTERN (bird) additive
7 Refused it anyway having had more than enough (9) Anagram of (anyway) REFUSED IT SURFEITED (filled to satiety; had more than enough) anagram
13 Stay to eat and drink (9) SUP (to eat with a spoon) + PORTER (a drink) SUPPORTER (a check or restraint; stay [as a noun]) additive
14 Sheridan’s competitiors? (3,6) THE RIVALS (reference the play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan) THE RIVALS (competitors) double definition
17 They take the strain out of brewing (3,4) TEA BAGS (bags containing tea leaves for infusion [brewing tea; straining?]) TEA BAGS (the use of TEA BAGS is trumpeted as an easy way of making tea, thereby taking the strain out of more complicated ways) cryptic definition
18 Meeting that has no standing? (7) SESSION (sitting; series of sittings) SESSION (meeting; if it’s a sitting then there is no standing) cryptic definition
20 In this world, or possibly another (2,5) Anagram of (possibly) ANOTHER ON EARTH (in this world) anagram
22 Sail out of port (5) GENOA (sail; a large jib which overlaps the mainsail) GENOA ([Italian] port) double definition
23 A Spaniard of Norse extraction (5) Anagram of (extraction) NORSE SEÑOR (a gentleman in Spanish) anagram

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,377 / Rufus”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan (you’ve reached another level of blogging with your clue summary) and Rufus for another enjoyable puzzle.

    All quite straightforward, except perhaps for the house/horse typo! Believe it or not I had to study Lord Macauley’s poem in school, and I remembered the name and the bridge setting but not much else of the 70 verses.

    Re 26A URNS, another use of the answer is of course to retain the ashes of one’s dearly departed. Re 17D TEA BAGS, “taking the strain out” I think could also mean that one doesn’ need to use a strainer.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Duncan & Rufus

    This was quite straightforward except for the misprint in 3d.

    I see that 22d GENOA provides Rufus’s trademark nautical reference.

  3. duncanshiell says:

    scchua @ 1

    Thanks – I’m sure you are right about not needing a tea strainer at 17 down . I’m a dedicated coffee drinker these days and only drink tea on those rare occasions when it would be impolite to refuse, so I’ve forgotten all the details of making a simple cup of tea.

    Similarly, I agree that your interpretation of Ashes and urns at 26 across is simpler than mine. I guess that I was trapped by the capital A on Ashes.

  4. mike04 says:

    Thanks for the detailed blog, Duncan.
    Another enjoyable Monday morning with Rufus.

    In the Clue Type column of the blog, I was wondering about 27ac.
    The word ‘One’ is not included in the build-up. Is it a full “& Lit” when this happens?

  5. scchua says:

    Sorry Duncan, I didn’t mean to usurp your interpretation of 26A nor 17D. They were meant to be different but additional layers. In the case of 26A, I meant that even if one knew nothing of THE Ashes, one could still get the answer, though, of course, one loses the enjoyment of the surface reading you’ve pointed out.

  6. Ann Kittenplan says:

    Solving stats (Off topic – but I didn’t know where else to go)

    The question of the number of solvers cropped up here recently. I recalled there are stats on the Listener Crossword

    Personally I solve the Guardian Crossword completely and w/o reference works about half the time. I can barely understand what I’m meant to do with a Listener Crossword. Given that the average number of solvers of the Listener Crossword is just over 400, extrapolating from my survey of 1 I’d say the number of solvers of your average Guardian Crossword is well over 1000, and perhaps considerably more.

    I’d imagine somebody somewhere might have stats on Prize Crosswords. Maybe we can get our hands on those.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Duncan.

    I didn’t find it quite as straightforward as you, getting held up on the last few. There were some trademark Rufus clues, which I enjoyed; but I don’t think RALLYING works and I wasn’t mad keen on SESSION either. I’m afraid I had to cheat on HORATIUS.

    I solved the puzzle about nine o’clock and ‘horse’ was showing by then.

    And ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ are not synonymous, as long as I have breath left in my body at least … somone will be telling me that ‘disinterested’ and ‘uninterested’ mean the same thing next.

  8. Roger says:

    Thanks Duncan. I too went with sitting and thought it a fun clue … shame it had to be session, really.

    In the way I read 19a, the words ‘They make us’ doubled up so: They (clouds) make ‘us cold’ (anagram) … and … They (clouds) make us wet. (Well they do today, anyway).

    Horatius was new to me, but got him once I realised the clue had nothing to do with the card game. Even so, tried to find a reference to some missing fourth defender but then I guess if there were only three he would lack a 4th (and 5th, 6th … nth).

    Thanks Rufus.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks for the Horatius, Duncan; I couldn’t be bothered to search for something that would fit, but could see it was some sort of CD. No pleasure in that one.

    I was a SITTING target too, until I couldn’t find a word S_G… for 27 ac.

    Is 1ac cryptic at all? There is a slight misdirection, but it just a definition, otherwise.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Duncanshiell, and I’m glad you managed to find the correct character for 23d :)

    I fell for the ‘sitting’ trap too, and kept it for a long while, even though 27ac looked suspiciously wierd. I only gave it up when checking guesses for 21ac. Thanks for your explanation there – I had no idea of the reference(s).

    Re 2d, I think PR refers to “public relations”, and is the way a person in that line of works refers to himself.

    Thanks to Rufus for a typically enjoyable puzzle.

  11. walruss says:

    Well, the usual stuff from Rufus, and with a mistake too! I too thought the anagrams were on the high side, almost twice the number of ‘pure’ or full ones you’d find in most puzzles. And I can’t believe we’re still being handed the GREASE/GREECE gag! Oh no! Thanks to Dunc for the great blog, as we always get from him.

  12. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    I found this slightly trickier than most Rufus puzzles, which in any case take me somewhat longer than other posters – I find his elegantly terse clues rather difficult to parse until I have the solution. Perhaps having so many ‘pure’ anagrams with a range of subtle anagrinds gave me a bit of a problem; I’m usually expecting dd/cd clues in a Rufus!

    I also had ‘sitting’ to start with at 18d – it fits the clue rather better than SESSION, I think. And I don’t like PR for ‘publicist’ – it’s an abbreviation for the job rather than its holder.

    Otherwise, there are plenty of great clues, as usual. 25a is a maritime one, as well as 22d. HORATIUS took a bit of dragging out of the back of the memory. Macaulay’s poem on the subject is probably the only one of his ‘Lays of Ancient Rome’ that has any currency whatsoever these days. I always felt that he should have written one entitled ‘Cleopatra’….

  13. Robi says:

    Good, typical Rufus. Thanks to duncanshiell for a great blog.

    Had to resort to a word search for HORATIUS; I thought it was a reference to The Three Musketeers or somesuch. ‘Horse’ is now in the ordinary online clue, but ‘house’ is in the .pdf and newspaper.

    Lovely surfaces for SUNBATHER and ATHLETES.

  14. crypticsue says:

    I too found this trickier than the usual Rufus, not helped by having printed off the crossword early this morning and so being confused by the “startled house”!

  15. Eileen says:

    Presumably, in the startled house, there would be one of those notices that say, ‘This door is alarmed’?

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Eileen, you’ve been in too many pantomimes …

  17. MikeC says:

    Thanks Duncan and Rufus. Good fun. Not sure I see the problem with 8a, K’s D @7 – isn’t it ALLY in a circle (RING)? I thought it was rather neat.

    Steady Eileen@15: you’ll have us all bolting!

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    MikeC, I saw the ally in a ring bit; it was just the ‘encircled’ part of the clue that for me doesn’t quite work.

    I think the house was startled because there was a skeleton in the cupboard.

  19. Brian H says:

    Eileen & Kathryn’s Dad –
    Which end of the startled house in pantomime? – front legs or back door?

  20. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Duncan for your superblog and Rufus for a good start to the week.

    Horatius was my COD. Just finished reading the poem! I enjoyed Macaulay’s vision of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio.


  21. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Duncan.

    A puzzle with the usual elegant surfaces from Rufus, and a range of clues from a few which seemed too easy to be in a cryptic puzzle up to a couple which defeated me because of holes in my knowledge: HORATIUS (knew nothing about this episode of Roman history, nor the poem) and GENOA (didn’t know this was a sail, although I realised the clue was a name of port/type of sail double def). I would never have got HORATIUS, and I couldn’t be bothered to go through a mental list of port cities until I came up with one which fit the grid. Many thanks for the explanations of those two.

  22. Robi says:

    Eileen @15; very good…….. perhaps the front door should have a ‘Do not disturb’ notice.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to Duncan for the blog.

    I too was misled into SITTING, until I identified 27a as an anagram.

    I thoroughly agree with K’s D @7: both the fewer/less meanings and uninterested/disinterested!

    I liked 13d – using stay as a noun.

  24. William says:

    Thank you, Duncan, fine blog.

    Hands up not only to SITTING, I’m afraid – I also managed to go for PEERLESS instead of SPOTLESS at 16a. I was lured by the association of PEER with NOTICE, I think. Bewteen the plural mistakes I spent ages groping in the dark before grinding to a slow completion.

    Enjoyable crossword, though, thank you to Rufus.

  25. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Rufus and duncanshiell. This was a somewhat harder Monday puzzle for me. Thanks for the Horatius explanation. I also tried to make SITTING work at 18dn.

    Cheers…for Darren Clarke!

  26. Geoff says:

    Re 16a and the fewer/less distinction, you can always tell the target demographic of a supermarket by the sign above the check-out for customers with not a lot of purchases. Most say ’10 (or however many) items or less’. Waitrose (and Booths up here in the NW) have ’10 items or fewer’.

    BTW Swedish has just one word for ‘less’/’fewer’ (mindre), but separate words for ‘more’ depending on whether the noun is uncountable (mer) or countable (flera) – the opposite of English.

  27. Wolfie says:

    I enjoyed this Rufus crossword very much – it’s a fine example of a puzzle that succeeds in entertaining without being unduly difficult.

    To my own surprise I got Horatius immediately! I remembered reading the story of Horatius on the bridge at school fifty years ago in my basic Latin Reader – ‘Civis Romanus’ (does anyone else remember this text?) The fact that I have retained the memory of Horatius and other notable characters in Roman History is down to my childhood terror of my Latin teacher, who motivated his students by liberal use of the strap.

    Thanks Duncan for the blog.

  28. Headteacher says:

    More proof that, when you think it’s too obvious to be right, it isn’t, it’s just a Rufus “crossword”.

  29. Paul B says:

    One right in the 2 downs there from Headteacher.

  30. Martin H says:

    Another exemplary commentary, duncan; thanks. You say it took longer to write than it did to solve the puzzle – possibly longer than it did to compile it too.

    I agree with you that 5 and 13 down were very nicely done, but the rest was pretty dismal. I too entered ‘sitting’, and thought it poor, but at least it was better than ‘session’. Some of the surfaces today, usually Rufus’s forte, seemed pretty clunky, notably 1 (what’s ‘plea’ doing in there?), 4 and 25. Not-so-golden oldies, NATURE, ESPRIT and GREECE; not-so-cryptic definitions, REPOSSESS, THE RIVALS, and some very obvious anagrams, ENGLAND and IGNORANT.


  31. Carrots says:

    I`m not surprised that blogging this took longer than solving it. I was barely a third down my sole lunchtime pinta when I finished it…and then had to sit and stare at it, like some lonely old codger wondering why he got up this morning.

    Rufus is a setter who can do it: so why doen`t he now and again? I can only hope that he is lulling the usual suspects and sundry pit-nickers into a false state of complacency. `t would be a bit like Fifteen Squared`s Pearl Harbour, with screams of “foul” emanating from the foundering big guns.

  32. Colin says:

    I’m not entirely satisfied with “drunk”/STONED; I’ve always understood “stoned” to mean being under the influence of …certain other substances… rather than alcohol, so I wouldn’t treat the two as synonymous.

  33. duncanshiell says:

    Colin @ 32

    Chambers defines ‘stoned’ in this sense as ‘very drunk, or very high on drugs’

    Collins refers to both drugs and alcohol – in that order.

    The Shorter Oxford states ‘Drunk, extremely intoxicated. Also, in a state of drug-induced euphoria’

  34. Colin says:

    …obviously a regional/generational thing, then – in my experience, there’s no way the two are interchangeable.

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