Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25539 Rufus

Posted by scchua on January 23rd, 2012


Apologies for the later than usual posting.  Thanks Rufus for a  typical gentle start to the week, and to the New Year, the Lunar one, that is.  Today’s the first day of the Chinese New Year celebrations, marked by the traditional visiting of family and friends, the reason for my being late.  And if you’re celebrating, A Happy Chinese New Year of the Dragon to you too.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  The set of pictures at the bottom has an unidentified link to the crossword.


7 Say it, for example, before church (9)

PRONOUNCE :  PRONOUN(an example of which,for example is “it”) placed before(before) CE(abbrev. for Church of England)

8 Where one may put the chalk before break, at the right moment (2,3)

ON CUE :  Double defn: 1st: Cryptic defn: A billiards/snooker/pool player may put chalk on his/her cue just before his/her turn,break

9 Keen for action? (6,3)

BATTLE CRY :  Cryptic defn: BATTLE(action,fighting) + CRY(keen,mourn, usually for the dead) making something to rally the troops keen,eager for action,fight.  A nice wordplay intertwined with the definition (WIWD)

10 Boat with half the crew in the stern (5)

CRAFT :  CR(half the letters of “crew”) plus(in the – I thought “at the” would have been more apropos to avoid confusion with a container indication) AFT(sea-going parlance for stern,the back of the boat).  The salutary nautical reference with Rufus.  A nice surface.

12 Keep quiet about silver and nitrogen in the bottle (6)

MAGNUM :  MUM(keep quiet) containing(about) AG(symbol for the element silver in chemistry) plus(and) N(similarly for the element nitrogen)

Defn: A large bottle (for wine) whose capacity is that of 2 ordinary bottles, or 1.5 litres

13 Service is nevertheless no good (8)

EVENSONG :  EVEN SO(nevertheless,notwithstanding) NG(abbrevs. for “no” and “good” respectively)

Defn:  Church service held in the evening

14 Problem for retired cover girl (7)

DILEMMAReversal of(retired) LID(cover for a container) + EMMA(name for a girl)

Defn: A problem that comes with a pair of horns on which you find yourself

17 Makes slow progress by streetcar (7)

STROLLS :  ST(abbrev. for street) + ROLLS(Royce, the iconic British car marque, though also well known for jet engines)

20 A quiet river location, well chosen (8)

APPOSITEA + P(piano, musical direction to play quietly) + PO(river in Italy) + SITE(location)

22 Boil – the spot comes first (6)

SEETHE :  SEE(to spot,notice) placed before(comes first) THE

24 Conservative-Labour rift? (5)

CLEFT :  C(abbrev. for a member of the Conservative Party) + LEFT(the traditional position of the Labour Party in the political spectrum, but traditions fade away)

25 Famous trumpet piece? Not impressed (9)

VOLUNTARY :  Double defn: 1st: An English keyboard piece from the Baroque era, usually played on the organ using the trumpet stop – the most famous is perhaps Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, mistakenly attributed to Henry Purcell; and 2nd: The opposite of,not being impressed/pressed/forced into, say, maritime service.  Another nautical reference.

26 Shuffle the cards dishonestly and make a pile (5)

STACK :  Double defn: 1st:  From “to stack the deck/cards“,to arrange,shuffle cards in the deck in order to deal an advantageous hand, in other words to cheat

27 Removed fat, including wrinkle (6,3)

STRUCK OUT :  STOUT(fat,weight-challenged in PC terms) containing(including) RUCK(a wrinkle,crease eg. in fabric)  Lovely surface – think plastic surgery


1 Mistakes in Latin translation (6)

ERRATA :  Cryptic defn (weakly?): Latin for wanderings,errors,strayings, translated as ” mistakes

2 Example set by the Ancients (8)

INSTANCEAnagram of(set by) ANCIENTS

3 Place of interest it’s the custom to be silent going round (6)

MUSEUM :  MUM(be silent) containing(going round) USE(it’s the custom,customary practice or employment of as in “to follow the current use of such methods”

4 Colour of Sherlock’s study? (7)

SCARLET :  Cryptic defn: Colour from the title of the Sherlock Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet”.

5 Entraps by gin? (6)

SNARES :  Cryptic defn (slightly?):  A gin is a trap for game  The crypticness is from the surface of someone being snared,seduced by gin the drink? 

6 Chelsea’s opener precedes painful play in big match (3,5)

CUP FINAL :  C(initial letter,opener of “Chelsea”) placed before(precedes) anagram of(play) PAINFUL

11 It comes before the final passion (4)

HEAT :  Double defn: 1st:  The event that comes before, and to decide who is in, the final race.

15 Naughty child to lie when in trouble, being insolent (8)

IMPOLITE :  IMP(naughty child) + anagram of(when in trouble) TO LIE

16 Leading sea power (4)

MAIN :  Triple defn:  1st: The foremost,leading,significant, as in “the main event”; and 2nd: The high sea,the bounding main; and 3rd: Physical strength,force,power as in “might and main”

18 Go by car, perhaps (8)

OVERTAKE :  Cryptic defn: To pass,go by (another) car, perhaps in your own,by car

19 Paces (sic) visited on holiday, or between holidays (7)

RESORTSOR contained in(between) RESTS(holidays)

Defn: Places you go to to spend your holidays perhaps

21 Firm base? (6)

OFFICE :  Cryptic defn: Place from which,base for a company’s,firm’s operations  Situated perhaps in Slough?

22 Reduce to silence when imprisoned (4,2)

SHUT UP :  Double defn.

23 Poor firm later making a profit (4,2)

HARD UP :  HARD(firm, not company this time, but tough or solid) + UP(making a profit,in the black)



29 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25539 Rufus”

  1. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Rufus

    A bit harder to get into than usual but (perhaps because of) some very good clues. I ticked 8a, 99a, 17a, 22a, 25a, 19d (BUT NB the printed version reads ‘paces’!).

    Slight weaknesses – double use of ‘mum’ in 3d and 12a, and the weakness noted of 5d (despite double meaning of gin).

  2. Rick says:

    Thank you for the blog scchua; very helpful as always. As you say, a typical gentle start to the week.

    I still sometimes have difficulties with Rufus knowing when I have the right answer. For example, for 11D “It comes before the final passion”, I thought it was a cryptic definition and had “Lent” (the period leading up to the week where we remember the passion and resurrection of Christ). I accept that it’s not a perfect answer (Lent finishes with Easter Sunday, not Good Friday) but it fits with the crossing letters and, being a bear of small brain, this one fooled me! )-:

    As for using (essentially) the same trick twice (a word inside “Mum” for silent in both 12A and 3D), there are some obvious variants that one could use to avoid this repetition; sticking “Gnu” inside “Mam” would be another possibility for 12A. In the spirit of the clue that’s actually here, one could have “Mother keeping animal shows bottle” perhaps? (-;

    Not trying to gripe (honest!). All good fun and fine for a Monday morning. (-:

    PS Happy New Year!

  3. Gervase says:

    Thanks, scchua. Happy New Year! (I’m a dragon myself, so I’m hoping for great things…)

    Nice one from Rufus, with the same slight reservations that tupu has made. (My print version of the puzzle didn’t have a 99a – even the bank holiday jumbo crosswords aren’t usually that big!)

    I managed the puzzle rather quickly, although the NW corner slowed me down a bit: I didn’t recognise 2d as an anagram immediately, and I spent a while trying to convince myself that 12a was FLAGON. 7a is a great clue – my favourite, I reckon.

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks sschua and Rufus.

    Rick – I went with “lent” too. I was under the impression that Lent ends on Palm Sunday, which makes it a better (although not perfect) fit.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks for the blog, scchua and also for the pics which give me a reason to comment!

    The first is Tom Selleck who starred as MAGNUM PI, the second is a ship launching, for which one would use a MAGNUM of Champagne. Not sure where Jean-Claude Van Damme fits in though, except did he appear in a bit part or as a stuntman on an episode of MAGNUM PI?

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, scchua.

    I agree with tupu about the good clues [again, with his slight reservation]: my ticks were for PRONOUNCE, EVENSONG [I have seen this clued so many times as EVEN SONG – this was a nice change and an excellent surface] CLEFT, VOLUNTARY, OVERTAKE and RESORTS.

    I see nothing wrong with the wordplay of CRAFT: I think, in fact, that AFT means ‘in the stern’, so it’s a straight charade: if there is some misdirection there, that’s what crosswords are about!

    [I was amused to see the reference to Rufus’ other sphere of activity in 26ac. ;-) ]

    Many thanks, as ever, Rufus, for a pleasant start to the week.

  7. Tom_I says:

    The third picture is Clint Eastwood, not Jean-Claude van Damme. Magnum Force (1973) was the second film in which he appeared as Harry Callahan (after Dirty Harry).

  8. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Tom_I – now you point out my error, I see it straight away! You have to admit there’s a certain similarity, though!

  9. tupu says:

    ps I forgot to say that I too had Lent. I agree that ‘heat’ is the better answer though. A very good clue in retrospect – scchua no doubt takes for granted that heat = passion.

    Gervase :) I’m sorry you (and no doubt others) didn’t have a 99a. You’ll just have to imagine what you are missing!

  10. Robi says:

    Pleasant solve and thanks, scchua for the magnum blog (beaten to the draw by Tom_I)

    I thought ERRATA was rather weak; I was thinking I had missed something in the clue. I did like OVERTAKE and STROLLS. Excellent surfaces, as ever, with Rufus.

  11. scchua says:

    Hi tupu@1, the online version also shows “Paces” for 19D, hence the (sic) notation I made :-)

    Gervase@3, the Dragon is the most auspicious Chinese zodiac, and great things happen to Dragons throughout their lives, so you’re all right!. So strong is this belief that in every Dragon Year there is a baby boom amongst the Chinese!

    NeilW@5, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. The last fellow is more American than Belgian, and that was an early photo, perhaps before he made it big on TV, but certainly before becoming famous in the movies.

  12. scchua says:

    Well done Tom_I (we crossed)! Just to add that it was Dirty “Make my day” Harry toting a Magnum (gun, not bottle, nor ice-cream :-) ) that made most of us aware of the existence of such a weapon.

  13. tupu says:

    Hi scchua
    Many thanks. I see that now. I read your commentary too quickly – in a hurry to make a cup of tea for someone. Have there been more such slips than usual recently? There is a danger that one gets used to them and then sees them when they aren’t there as I did with pledge/sledge some days ago.

    BTW My comment re 11d sprang from the presence of 1st without 2nd.

  14. Mitz says:

    Thanks schhua and Rufus.

    Bit of a curate’s egg, I thought. Very nice triple definition for ‘main’. Several beautiful surfaces – my favourites were ‘evensong’, ‘seethe’, ‘voluntary’, ‘strolls’, ‘heat’ and ‘on cue’ – but a few annoyances as well. Others have mentioned the repeat use of ‘mum’, and there were also two instances of ‘firm’ (although with two different meanings) and a few just plain lazy clues – ‘errata’ and ‘snares’ for example.

    I had ‘heat’ and thought it very nice, but I can see where the ‘lent’ people are coming from.

  15. chas says:

    Thanks to scchua for the blog. I had HEAT for 11d without understanding why. I had ‘semi-final’ stuck in my mind :(

  16. Rich says:

    Nice gentle start to the week – thanks Rufus and scchua.

    I would have thought that 21d goes a bit deeper. I would parse it as “off” & “ice” – less slippery than on ice and hence a firm base, otherwise it’s a rather weak clue I would suggest.

  17. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Please can we ban the cliché “a gentle start to the week”.
    This seems to be based on the theory that we all have the same life-style.
    Clearly, we have as many different ones as there are easy clues in a Rufus crossword (I hope that sentence contains no errata).

  18. Monkeypuzzler says:

    I’m guessing the subs have been celebrating the CNY too. The online apology for the typo in 19d refers to 19 across. Pass the aspirin.

  19. Miche says:

    Thank you, schhua.

    “Curate’s egg” was exactly what I was thinking, Mitz. Starting in NW, I thought 1d barely qualified as cryptic, and 4d was, well, elementary. The double use of mum was annoying too. But there were some lovely clues to follow: voluntary, strolls, evensong…

    Seethe was my last in. Eluded me for ages, then a lovely “aha!” moment when I got it.

  20. Paul B says:

    Whilst hating to appear pedantic, quite naturally, I would like to point out that NG for ‘no good’ is a discrete unit rather than a composite of elements in crosswordese SI: as it happens, ‘good’ on its own does equal G, but N for ‘no’ is not generally recognised (even though some people think it should be, where Y/N = yes/no in application forms etc).

  21. Mitz says:

    Not sure I agree Paul: ‘no = n’ is completely fine in book (mostly for the specific example that you yourself cite).

  22. Mitz says:

    *my* book

  23. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, scchua and Rufus.

    Not much to add, except that I thought that CLEFT was a very good clue and I liked STRUCK OUT as well.

  24. scchua says:

    Thanks for all your comments and CNY wishes. Same again for me tomorrow, ie. more visiting and another blog. Goodnight all!

  25. Paul B says:

    Your book is your book, Mitz, and I’m sure it’s a very learned one. But some crossword editors (certainly not all) prefer their contributors to stick to the single-letter indications given in either Chambers or Collins, or both, and perhaps regrettably N for ‘no’ is not present in either. However, and as hinted at above, NG = ‘no good’ is listed, and being very handy for a number of words (especially their endings) is oft-aired.

  26. Davy says:

    Thanks scchua,

    I wish you had a more memorable name as I always have to check the spelling. Pardon my ignorance but where does your id come from ?. Sorry if it’s blindingly obvious.

    I thought this was a very enjoyable puzzle from Rufus and thought that the surface for MUSEUM made it my clue of the day. I was another LENT person but also considered ZEST and HEAT. The latter is obviously the correct answer but I didn’t see the sporting sense.

    Lots of good clues here so I’ll forgive the minority which were not.

    I find myself agreeing with RCW again which must be a sign of one of us mellowing but I certainly get annoyed by Rufus always being described as a ‘gentle start’ or a ‘gentle stroll’.
    He’s not always that easy and I usually struggle to get the last three or four. The SEETHE clue today is a typical example. Thanks Rufus.

  27. morpheus says:

    Did anyone else come up with the answer of “Sext” for 11? According to Wikipedia the office of Sext apparently commemorates the passion of Christ in the Coptic liturgy. Should have realised that would be a bit too obscure for a Monday Rufus!

  28. scchua says:

    Hi Davy@26, my id is derived in the same manner as yours (presumably), except that mine has my initials and family name in full – S. C. Chua. (J. Smith, or the like, was probably something my parents never considered :-) )

  29. Davy says:

    Thanks scchua,

    Your name is already much easier to remember now I know that your family name is Chua.

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