Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25521 Rufus

Posted by scchua on January 2nd, 2012


A nice easy puzzle to start the week, and the year with.  Rufus’s trademark cryptic and double definitions, anagrams, and clever surfaces are here, and some possibly nautical references also.  Thanks Rufus.  And to those who insist on a diet of only tortuous crosswords and nothing less, I’m afraid you will be (or already are) disappointed.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  Each of the 2 sets of pictures at the bottom has got an unidentified link with the crossword.


1 These lads may turn out to be immortal (9)

DEATHLESSAnagram of(may turn out) THESE LADS

6 Handy aid to warmth (4)

MUFF :  Cryptic defn: Tubular case covered with fur or warm material as an aid to keeping hands warm, primarily.  Not to be confused with the later eary aids.  A secondary purpose was as a handbag, or perhaps to conceal a weapon – I distinctly recall Lara (Julie Christie) pulling out a gun from her muff to shoot Komarovsky (Rod Steiger) in Doctor Zhivago.

8 Dog goes mad for fruit (8)

CURRANTS :  CUR(dog) RANTS(goes mad in utterance,raves)

9 Worn by a woman for a dance (6)

BOLERO :  Double defn:  1st: A kind of short jacket, not reaching the waistline with or without sleeves and open at the front, worn by women elsewhere and by men in Spain, especially those who appear in the bullring; and 2nd:  A sensuous Spanish dance to the music of the same name.

10 Brings back games and increases keenness (6)

STROPSReversal of(brings back) SPORTS(a general noun for all sorts of games)

Defn:  To sharpen,increase keenness of a razor by stroking it over a band made of leather or abrasive material.  Can still be seen in old-style barber shops.

11 Doubled over and collapsed (6,2)

FOLDED UP :  Double defn.  2nd:  As when a business goes bust,collapses

12 Describing Hamlet and his rotten state (6)

DANISH :  Double defn. as well as a semi-&lit.  Wordplay:  Anagram of(rotten state) AND HIS.  1st defn:  Describing Hamlet, the great Dane; and 2nd defn:  Describing his rotten state of Denmark – it is Marcellus (and not Hamlet) who says:  “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”.   A cleverly constructed clue.

15 Chap from Belgium is a loyal subject (8)

LIEGEMAN :  A MAN(chap) who comes from LIEGE(a city in Belgium)

Defn:  A faithful,loyal subject,vassal of his lord,the liege

16 More than one out of two is of higher standard (5,3)

ABOVE PAR :  Cryptic defn:  Above average,of a higher standard.  One is the average of (none and) two; so out of two, more than one is above the average.  Not to be confused with “under par”, which in golf means of a higher, and not lower, standard.  Edit.note:  Put another way, a score of one upon,out of two is average; anything more than that is above average.  But tupu@2 has got a better explanation for which thank you.

19 Fancied to win and made a pile (6)

NAPPED :  Double defn:  1st:  In horse racing, to be named by a tipster as likely,fancied to win a race; and 2nd:  Past tense of to raise the fibres on the surface of cloth, and hence make its pile, which is the raised fibres of a cloth such as velvet or corduroy.  Liked the racing-related surface, though if everyone else has the same fancy, you wouldn’t be making much, let alone a pile. 

21 A pamphlet’s sound – makes a personal appeal (8)

ATTRACTSHomophone of(sound) [“a tract”,a pamphlet usually on a religious topic + ” ‘s“]

Defn:  To appeal to,be liked by another person

22 Turned on bad parent (6)

ENRAPTAnagram of(bad) PARENT

Defn:  Excited by,turned on,rapturously consumed by eg love – though some would rather fall in chocolate than in love. :-)

24 Flagrant licence (6)

PATENT :  Double defn:  1st: Obvious,for all to see; and 2nd: A licence that a sovereign state grants the holder,patentee the rights to an invention,original product,process etc. for a limited period. 

25 All too human story in which evil makes a comeback (8)

FALLIBLE :  FABLE(story) containing(in which) reversal of(makes a comeback) ILL(an evil, as in “of ill repute”)

26 Extremely light (4)

VERY :  Double defn:  2nd: A flare,light shot from a special pistol, developed by Edward Very

27 Keep getting drunk? Now hang on! (4,5)

HOLD TIGHT :  HOLD(keep,hold on to) plus(getting) TIGHT(slang for drunk)

Defn:  A warning, usually shouted, to hang on firmly to something fixed, before one is flung off, – or falls off one’s barstool – nice surface.


1 Put off writing letter to a relative (5)

DAUNT :  D(a letter of the alphabet) plus(to) AUNT(one of your relatives)

2 It comes from the Latin, as far as one knows (1,6)

A PRIORI :  Cryptic defn (I think):  Known to be true without requiring experience or examination of the matter.  The phrase in Latin literally means “(it comes) from the former”.  I hope I’ve got the first part of the clue interpreted correctly – could it perhaps have been better with “It comes from former Latin…..”?  

3 They work around the clock (5)

HANDS :  Double defn:  1st:  People who work, usually at manual labour, and perhaps around the clock; and 2nd: The minute and hour (and perhaps second) hands of a clock that move,work around

4 Flu? See a doctor at home (7)

EASEFULAnagram of(doctor) FLU SEE A

Defn:  Relaxed, as if one were at home

5 Young army chap is awkward, but learns (9)

SUBALTERNAnagram of(is awkward) BUT LEARNS

Defn:  A commissioned army officer below the rank of captain, and presumably young as well

6 French writer‘s story set in the ruins of Rome (7)

MOLIERE :  LIE(story,fabrication) contained in(set in) anagram of(the ruins of) ROME

7 Lucky yet strange turn o’ fate (9)

FORTUNATEAnagram of(strange) TURN O FATE

13 Bar attire set out for judge (9)

ARBITRATEAnagram of(set out) BAR ATTIRE

14 Game for a drink after the dance (9)

HOPSCOTCH :  SCOTCH(drink,whiskey) placed after(after) HOP(a dance party)

Defn:  A children’s game which surprisingly is to be found in many countries, with various local names.  We used to call it “aeroplane” here, and it seems that children in Mexico call it a similar name – “little aeroplane (avioncito)”.

17 Music hall medley (7)

VARIETY :  Double defn:  1st:  Another name for the entertainment found in music halls; and 2nd:  A mixture,medley

18 Still in a terrible fluster (7)

RESTFULAnagram of(terrible) FLUSTER

20 Splitting hairs in divorce (7)

PARTING :  Double defn:  1st:  Cryptically, splitting, not individual hairs, but different areas of the hair on your head to get a parting.  Nice surface, as in a divorce, the parties often split hairs,make unnecessary petty distinctions.

22 Spectacular effect when powder magazine finally goes up (5)

ECLATReversal of(goes up, in a down clue) [TALC(powder) + E(last letter,finally, of “magazine”)]

Defn:  Showy,brilliant display

23 One guide – or a good many (5)

PILOT :  PI(short for pious,good) LOT(many,plentiful)





28 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25521 Rufus”

  1. MarionH says:

    Thanks for this, Rufus and scchua.

    Re: 27ac, I took “keep” as being the “large strong tower in the middle of a castle” (MacMillan), otherwise the stronghold or “hold” – “a fortified place” (Collins). Why I didn’t see the simpler and equally valid parsing you made, I have no idea. Maybe I’m secretly “those who insist on a diet of only tortuous crosswords”?

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Rufus

    An interesting puzzle with the usual smooth Rufus surfaces and some unlikely anagrams. The South-east corner held me up a bit and had, I think, the best clues. Liked 19a and 22a especially.

    Re 16a. This is above (more than) and par (‘i’ out of pair) I think.

  3. Allan_C says:

    Thanks scchua and Rufus – particularly scchua for pointing out the ingenuity of the clue for 12a – the answer as so obvious I never spotted the anagram and anagrind.

    This would be an excellent introduction to cryptics for beginners.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, scchua.

    I always look forward to a Rufus crossword, because you know it’s gettable and there’ll be some clever clueing; but I wouldn’t necessarily always describe him as ‘easy’. There were some tricky dds today, especially NAPPED and PARTING.

    Thanks to the setter also and Happy New Year to all.

  5. chas says:

    Thanks to scchua for the blog.

    Happy New Year to one and all.

    I had been unable to see why 23 was PILOT – I just wrote it in on the basis that nothing else fitted! Thanks to scchua for explaining it.

    As to the pictures I have no idea.
    The first man is a face I know but cannot recall his name.
    I think the last man is Dudley Moore.

  6. crypticsue says:

    I am with Kathryn’s Dad in that I too always look forward to a Rufus. Yes his puzzles are straightforward but they have very clever clues and always help to start with week with a smile. This Guardian puzzle was slightly harder than his DT one but both equally enjoyable. Thanks to Rufus and scchua too. Happy New Year to all.

  7. Colin Greenland says:

    Re 16a: tupu, thank you. I got it without understanding it, and understood it slightly less after reading scchua’s explanation. (Sorry, scchua!)

    22a is lovely, isn’t it? So concise, yet so misleading.

  8. MJ says:

    See the triple photo link with 10 and bolero but Kathleen and Michael have me stumped. There were stories about them that could link 3 and 6 – but I can’t think your mind stoops as low as mine.

  9. scchua says:

    Hi MJ, a clue for you: cf a map of England (and I don’t mean Wales!)

  10. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I certainly remember admiring Julie Christie’s muff in ‘Don’t look now’ but cannot recollect that she retrieved a gun from it.

  11. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Rufus and scchua. Learned about Edward Very today; thanks for that. Came here to find out what the explanation is for REGATTA but it’s missing in action? There are six definitions for mug in my Chambers but I couldn’t relate them to regatta. I’m probably overlooking an obvious connection even to a Yankee. To elaborate on MJ@8: in the movie 10, Bo Derek and Dudley Moore had a titillating bedroom scene while Maurice Ravel’s Bolero was playing.


  12. RCWhiting says:

    sccchua 19ac
    There is a breed of punter,usually known as professional, who do live (often very well) entirely off their winnings.
    These people always bet on short odds favourites unlike the amateurs who waste their money on long odds runners who rarely win.
    The former practice should be compared to other forms of investment.
    A win at 11/10 will poducea return of 10% over a period of an hour or so. Something unobtainable over a year elsewhere. The professionals put large sums on such horses and ‘earn’ substantial long term incomes. They do of course have many ‘contacts’ within the racing world.
    Incidently, I do not indulge in either of the above practices.

  13. grandpuzzler says:

    Oops; never mind the REGATTA question. I was looking at the Quiptic. Too early in the morning here. That’s my lame excuse and I sticking to it.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nice puzzle to start the year.

    It’s just as well you don’t indulge RCW. Many professionals, the more successful ones at any rate, don’t look for short price winners, they look for value. This means that in their judgement a prospect is over priced compared to their estimate of it’s chance of winning. They will lump on “a value bet” regardless of price, and regardless of their idea of “the likely winner”. The theory being, that if you always bet with the odds in your favour, you will inevitably win in the long run, despite several individual losses. It’s like betting on a series of single dice roles (on an honest die and throw!) when you are offered odds of 6/1, you must win in the long run.

  15. Robi says:

    Nice crossword; thanks scchua.

    Allo, allo; RCWhiting is making a joke @10; I agree with the admiration for Julie Christie. I’m not sure I understand scchua’s hint at 9. Following RCWhiting’s line of thought, I found the following: ‘Michael Douglas sliding down the hill and landing headfirst into Katheen’s crotch is a movie moment I will always cherish. You don’t see much muff-diving in PG films anymore.’ I don’t suppose that was the connection with the pictures and clue……… No, I thought not!

  16. Wanderer says:

    There’s a village in Cornwall called Par. It appears to be more or less due south of Douglas (Isle of Man). And although I can’t find it, I guess there’s a place somewhere called Turner (or Kathleen) which, like Douglas, is ABOVE PAR.

    Thanks Rufus and scchua for a fun blog.

  17. Robi says:

    ………. maybe, it’s the War of the Roses (film with Turner & Douglas) to do with ‘Splitting hairs in divorce?’………

  18. scchua says:

    Yes, you’ve got it Robi@17…my hint was to direct one to the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, the parties in the original Wars of the Roses. And in the movie, Turner and Douglas not only split hairs, but heads as well – but it was a darkly funny and enjoyable movie.

    BTW the man whose picture is between Bo’s and Dudley’s is Maurice Ravel.

    And thanks all for giving it a shot.

    And speaking of “muffs”, in my draft definition, I had “A secondary purpose was as a handbag and also to stuff things inside”. That would have given RCW a field day!

    Goodnight all, and here’s looking forward to lots of fun this year

  19. Bamberger says:

    Hoped to get more out given the comments about it being easy. However I couldn’t get
    6a Just couldn’t see muff from ??f?
    9a Only had b???r? and would never have got this
    16a Thought it might be par but couldn’t justify it.
    24a Even with ?a?e?t couldn’t see it.
    25a Only had ????i??? which meant I couldn;t have a stab at it.
    6d With only ????e?e I tried an anagram of set & Rome but couldn’t see it. I’d never heard of Moliere so wouldn’t have guessed it even with more letters.
    18d I had ??s???l and thought it was an anagram of still in. Backed the wrong horse.
    22d I had e???t. Didn’t know eclat and wouldn’t have guessed talc for powder.
    23d Never thought of pi for good.

    I was pleased to get 26a but only because I’d encountered it before.

    Derek@14 you are spot on. I once knew a professional horse race punter and he never backed favourites or anything under 2/1.

  20. chas says:

    I find I am still in the dark over the second set of pictures. Bo Derek, Maurice Ravel and Dudley Moore: how are they linked to each other? What is the link to this crossword?

  21. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, scchua.

    I don’t see your double definition in 12ac: ‘Danish’ has the same meaning when describing both Hamlet and his state. [I can’t believe, though, that, like Allan_C, I didn’t spot the anagram!! That makes it my favourite clue, I think.]

    There is no ‘e’ in Scotch whisky! 😉

    Thanks to Rufus for another pleasant puzzle – and for reawakening memories of my grandpa sharpening his cut-throat razor, which fascinated me as a child: I haven’t come across that meaning of ‘strop’ for years!

  22. chas says:

    I have thought about it some more and I now see it: Bo and Dudley were in a film which used the music of Ravel’s Bolero :)

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Allan & Eileen
    You both rate 12ac highly. And yet you both admit that you solved it by definition only (ie not cryptic).
    This is one of my regular complaints about Rufus (and others) who might very well create beautiful cryptitude but waste it completely by over precise definitions.

  24. Paul B says:

    12ac is probably best described as a dd: the anagram seems to be an accidental, more so perhaps if you agree with me that ‘rotten state’ doesn’t function too well (in the cryptic reading) as an anagind in that part of speech.

  25. john goldthorpe says:

    A delightful puzzle – as ever with Rufus smooth, elegant and often witty surfaces in contrast to the gobbledygook that setters of more ‘tortuous’ crosswords often come up with. I think I saw it reported somewhere that Rufus is asked by the Guardian crossword editor to prepare relativelty easy puzzles especially for a Monday. Couldn’t he be also invited to produce something more testing from time to time – while of course keeping his admirable setting style?

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Paul B

    After seeing the anagram [or, rather, having it pointed out!] I took the anagrind as being ‘rotten’, which is the appropriate part of speech. Surely this is totally &lit?

    [I completely fail to see ‘Danish’as a double definition!]

  27. Paul B says:

    Describing Hamlet and his rotten state (6).

    I actually said this clue is ‘best described’ as a dd: in fact it’s more a single def with two examples, since DANISH describes both Hamlet (he is Danish) and his rotten state (Denmark is, indisputably I would suggest, Danish).

    All I’m adding, in the case that the clue is intended to be, as suggested, ‘a semi &lit’, is that there might be a problem with the tense of ‘rotten state’ as an anagind when what’s really meant is ‘in a rotten state’.

    But that wrecks the surface, doesn’t it, and we can’t have that.

  28. Huw Powell says:

    I find I am enjoying Rufus much more since the interview I read a month or so ago. Knowing the intent of the setter helps me appreciate his achievements. Keeping the CD and DD alive, and having very smooth surfaces as a goal is admirable, and simply being told that is something that matters to him a lot has changed my whole approach to “judging” his puzzles.

    This made it seem just fine to me that although I solved the whole puzzle, nine answers were still in pencil (meaning I wasn’t sure of the justification for them). Some would have been easy to ink in with verification research, but to me part of the fun of the “easier” puzzles (everyman, Rufus, some Tuesdays…) is not cracking the laptop open even once.

    On the controversy at 12, I think 3/4 of the purpose of the word “state” in the clue is to make the surface work. The other 1/4 is to make “rotten” and “and his” work double duty. That makes the clue 3/4 def+anagram+anagrind and 1/4 DD. Considerably easier to parse than some Araucaria clues which require operating in five dimensions.

    Thanks whoever pointed out “PA(1)R”!

    And thanks for the blog, scchua; and the nice early week relief from some of the other more brutal puzzles I have been working on lately, Rufus!

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