Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,437 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on September 26th, 2011


It’s Monday, it’s Rufus and I’m saying no more today, except,’Thank you, Rufus’!


7   SOFT PEDAL: cryptic definition Edit: I completely missed the anagram [‘regulating’] of ADOPT SELF [thanks, Neil and Geoff] – and I had almost commented that there weren’t so many as usual!
8   MADAM: MA DAM:  as MADAM is a palindrome [thanks, jvh] it’s a mother twice ‘over’ – lovely clue!
9   INSOLENCE: anagram [reform] of SILENCE ON
10  PLATE: P [quietly] LATE [departed]
13  SYMMETRY: cryptic definition
14  SCUTTLE: double definition, as a noun [container for coal] and a verb [to {cause to} sink]
17  BRISTLE: double / cryptic definition
20  PRESERVE: P[enny – small cash] RESERVE [book]
22  HAVANA: double definition: I knew London was nicknamed the Big Smoke but Wikipedia tells me that the term is applied to various other cities around the world
24  SWEDE: double definition
25  FIRM OFFER: double / cryptic definition
26  DROLL: reversal of LORD [nobleman] + L [fifty: a gem of a clue, I thought
27  MINUSCULE: MINUS [lacking] + anagram [cryptic] of CLUE


1   POUNCE: anagram [Reformed] of UPON + CE [church]
2   STOOD OUT: double definition – but ‘among those who’ is no part of the wordplay
3   DEMEAN: DEAN [cleric] around ME
4   CARCASE: CAR CASE [motorist’s boot!]
5   BAILIE: anagram [false] of ALIBI + E first letter [initially] of ‘excluded’] – great surface
6   PASTORAL: PAST [completed] ORAL [not written down]
11  EMIR: reversal [upset] of RIME: reference to Coleridge’s poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’
15  CAREWORN: reversal [capsized] of ROWER [oarsman] in CAN [vessel]: another fine surface and the second  customary nautical reference
16  LURE: anagram [mis] of RULE
18  SAVE FACE: double definition
19  SEDILIA: anagram [doctor] of LIAISED: the seats for officiating clergy on the south side of the chancel: it’s a Latin word, meaning seats or beches, such as the seats in the theatre.
21  SADDLE: a slightly misleading double definition: you might expect ‘cut’ to be the verb and ‘lumber’ the noun but it’s the other way round, a saddle being a cut of meat.
22  HUMBUG: U [fashionable?] MB [doctor] in HUG [embrace]: since when has U been ‘fashionable’?
23  NEEDLE: cryptic definition

51 Responses to “Guardian 25,437 / Rufus”

  1. andy smith says:

    re 22ac – havava in reference to cigars perhaps?

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi andy

    Yes, indeed – my apologies for not spelling it out. ;-)

  3. andy smith says:

    25a could equally well have a solution ‘firm order’ ? which threw me off for a bit. If you knew that droll also had a meaning of odd, you have a better vocab than me for sure.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I think Rufus has caught you out on 7!

  5. Geoff Chapman says:

    Yeah, 7 is an anagram of ‘adopt self’

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks Neil and Geoff – oops, egg all over my face. Well done, Rufus. :-)

    andy smith, re droll: Chambers: ‘odd, amusing, laughable; Collins; amusing in a quaint or odd manner’.

  7. andy smith says:

    Thanks Eileen – re droll – yes, I checked Chambers, no complaint with Rufus, just unfamiliar to me – used to usage in a context of drily witty.

  8. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Was I alone in finding this one of Rufus’s more difficult puzzles? It took me twice as long as Saturday’s prize crossword, not helped by my putting MAMMA in as 8a at first.

    Splendid clueing, as ever; I found it particularly tricky in this one to determine what types of clue were being presented (cd, dd or some other variety).

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus

    R is his inimitable self. Some clever and amusing clues – e.g. 7a, 14a, 20a, 26a, 1d, 4d, 15d, 21d, 22d. Good surfaces, interesting anagrams, and cunning dds.

    A small slip – the answer to 11d is EMIR as I’m sure you meant.

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks, tupu – corrected now. [I’m not having a very good day! :-( ]

  11. Median says:

    No, Gervase @6, you were not alone. I also had MAMMA at 8 for a while. At 24, SWEDE was an obvious possibility but I held off putting it in because I didn’t think ‘cultivated’ was a good enough definition. SEDILIA was a new one on me.

  12. Median says:

    That should be Gervase @8, sorry.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I very nearly missed the anagram at 7ac — it was among the last I solved. I also nearly went down the MAMMA route at 8ac.

    Like Gervase @8 and Median @ 11 I found this quite tough for Rufus — or perhaps I’m not firing on all cylinders today :-) I had to cheat to resolve the anagram at 19dn — new word for me.

    No complaints about the lovely surfaces, though. 5dn was probably my favourite, but 26ac was also very neat. Like you, I would also query U as fashionable.

  14. jvh says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    For 8, “Madam” is a palindrome, so both a mother twice, and also a mother twice over.

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks, jvh: this puzzle gets better all the time! [I must still be half-asleep – I was actually saying, ‘Madam, I’m Adam’ to myself as I wrote the blog.]

  16. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen and Liz

    I agree re U. Ross’s original (as in the Mitford book) clearly meant ‘upper class’. The meaning does tend toward ‘fashionable’ in as much as he describes how upper class custom is always changing so that others have to keep playing ‘catch-up’. However, this does not seem quite sufficient for ‘fashionable’ as a definition of ‘u’.

    Liz – too had to guess and check ‘sedilia’.

  17. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, tricky in parts.

    Thanks, Eileen for a good blog. I didn’t see the SOFT PEDAL anagram either, until after I had put it in. I didn’t know SEDILIA and my spellings do not necessarily accord with Rufus. I always use ‘carcass’ rather than ‘carcase.’ I see Collins and ODE put the former first, although Chambers has them reversed. I would usually put miniscule, rather than MINUSCULE, but perhaps I am too influenced by miniskirts (even at my age!) I did like that clue and the one for HEROIN. In PRESERVE, I thought the small cash was ‘reserve,’ leaving me with P=book (thought this might be P=parking=book? – doh!)

  18. chas says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog. You explained why I had the right answer with HEROIN.

    I also was astounded to see U meaning fashionable.

    In 20a I was determined to use ‘small’ as giving me the letter ‘s’, which is so often the case in crosswordland. Eventually I had enough crossing letters to force me to see PRESERVE. At that point I relised that ‘small cash’ is penny!

    I was totally fooled by 21d – thinking only of a verb meaning for cut :(

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The last time I wrote ‘no comment’ I was reprimanded for insubordination.
    But now Eileen has commented along similar lines I feel free to reiterate ‘no comment’.

    I see the price has gone up 20%.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    BTW 21d I’m sure Eileen is correct but no meat passed my mind, I solved it by assuming the ‘cut’ was a geographical term like col,pass and hence saddle.

  21. Wolfie says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. Thanks also to Rufus for an entertaining puzzle. Some may disagree, but I think this is a fine example of a cryptic crossword that pleases with its subtle clueing and smooth surfaces without being inordinately difficult (though I too found it more challenging than usual for a Monday).

    RCWhiting @19: Even at £1.20 a day the Guardian is still excellent value for money!

  22. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Rufus and Eileen. Took a long time on this one. Tried MOMMA at 8ac for a while. Tried to fit IN (fashionable) at 22d to no avail. Wasn’t aware that HUMBUG was a piece of toffee. Didn’t know the word SEDILIA. Which brings me to my Swedish heritage. Is the cultivated reference in 24ac related to a Swedish turnip which I did find in Chambers or does it mean that I am refined? My late father would get quite a chuckle out of that image.


  23. Eileen says:

    Well, I only meant that you could take the ‘wit, elegance, smooth surfaces, etc’, that I usually refer to in a Rufus blog, as read, for once. I’ve blogged so many of his puzzles that it’s hard to come up with something new but I’m glad that most people found it a pleasant solve. Wolfie puts it very well, I think.

    A col is certainly the same as a saddle but a cut surely has to be man-made [excavated]? The only ‘geographical’ application I know is cut = canal.

    [Thanks for the smile, grandpuzzler: I did say it was a double definition. :-) ]

  24. RCWhiting says:

    The meat has it everytime.
    It is excellent value especially when it contains a satisfactory cryptic crossword.
    It’s even better value on a subscription.

  25. Allan_C says:

    Nice gentle solve – though it did help doing it online to be able to check 8a.
    14a put me in mind of the old chestnut from primary school days: Why did the coal scuttle? – Because it saw the kitchen sink! But I suspect not many of today’s primary school children would know what a coal scuttle is.

  26. Orlando says:

    Eileen and tupu@16,

    I feel I should come to the defence of Rufus’s use of ‘fashionable’ for ‘U’. Chambers gives as one definition of ‘fashionable': “Moving in high society”.

    In days of yore, ‘fashionable society’ referred to the toffs, as opposed to us plebs.

    I believe Rufus was simply teasingly misleading us by using an archaic definition.

  27. Frank jones says:

    Madam is surely two mothers because ma is a mother and so is dam?

  28. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Orlando, for dropping in and putting us right.

    Shame on me, I didn’t think to look up ‘fashionable': we’re so used to it being used to clue ‘IN’ and U being clued by ‘posh’.

    Frank jones: that’s what I indicated in the blog, by splitting the two words. Perhaps that was slightly obscured by my later addition regarding the palindrome, following jvh’s comment.

  29. Eileen says:

    Sorry, I meant ‘splitting the word into two’.

  30. RCWhiting says:

    I think your explanation of ‘madam’ was perfectly clear and jvh’s addition turned a good clue into a clever one except for one thing: it was a write-in.

  31. tupu says:

    Thanks Orlando for your helpful comment.

  32. crosser says:

    Thank you, Eileen, for your explanations. I mistook the p

  33. crosser says:

    Sorry, my post flew out of control.
    Thank you, Eileen, for your explanations. I mistook the parts of speech in 21d and was stuck. More lateral thinking needed!
    RCWhiting @30 – what is a write-in?

  34. g larsen says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus. I thought this was slightly trickier than most Monday Rufuses.

    Isn’t there a hint of a third definition in 17? I got to the solution via ‘Bristol fashion’.

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi crosser

    I’m glad you asked that!

    I’m sorry, g larsen, I’m not quite with you. I can’t see the connection.

  36. Rishi says:

    As a boy I had seen a paperback titled ‘Droll stories’ in my father’s library.

  37. g larsen says:


    OK, perhaps not a definition, and my confidence that there is anything there is weakened on discovering, to my surprise, that the well-known phrase ‘Bristol fashion’ doesn’t make it into Chambers.

    But I guess that it was in Rufus’ mind when choosing to use the word ‘fashion’.

  38. Rishi says:


    I too am lost. Could you please say what you mean by “it was a write-in”.

    in Madras that is Chennai, India

  39. Rishi says:

    g larsen

    “Bristol fashion” is in Chambers on my machine. But it is not in the 1998 print edition!

  40. Davy says:

    Getting inside RCW’s head (get me out of here), I think by write-in, he meant an answer he could write in without even thinking about the clue. Phew, I’m out of his head now and the sun is shining.

  41. MEB says:

    Sorry if it’s a stupid question, but why is CAR CASE [motorist’s boot!]?

  42. Disco says:

    Am I right in guessing you’re not British, MEB?

    The boot of a car is the British term for the trunk of the car. So, if a case is where you pack things away for travel, then a car case is the boot.

    That’s how I read it. It feels less than convincing but I think it’s right.

  43. MEB says:

    I am British, Disco, know about car boots and, indeed, entered carcase at 4d in the grid. Like you, however, I found the equation of case and boot unconvincing. I wonder if Eileen could help?

  44. Eileen says:

    Hi MEB

    I’ve nothing really to add to what Disco says – “if a case is where you pack things away for travel, then a car case is the boot”] – I’m afraid. I didn’t think too deeply about this one – just thought it was a fun type of clue: it did have a ‘perhaps’, to suggest that it was rather whimsical – or droll. ;-)

  45. RCWhiting says:

    Crosser & Eileen
    Thanks Davy,I hope you picked up something useful while you were in there, I didn’t feel anything.
    You are right, you read the clue, write in the solution and move on to the next one.
    ‘Madam’ was a write-in because mother to indicate ma or dam is very hackneyed and in this case there was no need to decide which one was required – both, one after the other!

  46. RCWhiting says:

    crosser, Eileen & Rishi.

  47. Huw Powell says:

    I hate this grid, why does Rufus keep using it? Sorry… too many unchecked letters at the start of words, and four independent puzzles sharing barely a word each, does not fun make. Got all but three, but no step along the way was really pleasureable. Sorry to whine. Thanks for the puzzle, Rufus, and the blog, Eileen. I think my COD was INSOLENCE. Took a lot longer than it should have due to wonderful misdirection.

  48. crosser says:

    Sorry, only just got back here.
    Surely, in 4d, the car case is IN the motorists’ boot, and therefore is not synonymous with it? It is a case which the motorist puts in the boot of his car. Eileen?

  49. Eileen says:

    You’re probably right, crosser. As I said, I think this is one of those clues that you solve instinctively and that perhaps don’t bear too much analysis – fun, though!

  50. Maxine says:

    First time of commenting on Fifteensquared after lurking for some time. But i would like to point out that MAMMA is also 2 mothers – MAM and MA.

  51. RCWhiting says:

    Welcome from a recent joiner.
    Yes,Maxine, but there is a cross checking ‘A’ at position four.

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