Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,551 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on February 6th, 2012


Unusually for Rufus, there’s only one “normal” cryptic definition in this puzzle, though perhaps 18ac and 2dn partly go towards making up the quota, and even the genuine CD has a slightly obscure reference. Apart from that it’s the usual straightforward cluing and smooth surfaces.

5. GENTRY GEN (information = the low-down) + TRY (attempt)
6. UDDERS Cryptic definition, for which you have to know (probably from years of doing crosswords…) that “neat” is a word for cattle
9. MAKE DO MAKE (assemble) + DO (party)
11. SPIV Reverse of VIPS (top brass)
13. ALL-STAR CAST Double definition – a horoscope is “cast”, and would be comprehensive if it involved “all stars”
18. BLUEBOTTLE This is another example of what I’ve previously called “definition and a half” (or perhaps a “definition and a hint”) – bluebottle is slang for a policeman, and a type of fly
21. REEL R[iver] + EEL. The definition could be “It’s used to catch” (it being a fisherman’s reel), or the whole clue, making it and &lit
23. ASSAIL ASS (fool) + AIL (get bad)
25. ASSERT A + reverse of TRESS, definition “maintain”. Nice that ASS isn’t clued as “fool” again, and also that TRESS as “hair” isn’t reused in 15dn
2. CRY OFF Another def-and-a-half
4. LETS GO Double definition – “let’s go” is “a proposal to start moving”
5. GRASPS Double definition – twigs as in “understands”
7. SLOGAN SLOG (work hard) + AN
8. JOINT ACTION Double definition
14. SCOFFERS Double definition
16. BLOOMS L (pounds (or possibly Lire) = money) in BOOMS
17. RESIST I’S (one’s) in REST (support)

30 Responses to “Guardian 25,551 – Rufus”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I found this a bit harder than normal for Rufus due to the inclusion of the odd surplus word(s) in clues that slowed me down: 6 “soft”; 21 “small”; 25 “so it”. This is unusual for Rufus – as you say, his hallmark is that the surfaces are normally all very smooth and economical.

  2. Kayoz says:

    Thanks Rufus and Andrew

    I also found this a bit harder than normal for a ‘Rufus’. Enjoyable none the less. My only quibble is with 1ac. I had always associated the gentry with the upper class, not middle.

  3. NeilW says:

    Hi Kayoz. Glad to see you took my advice last week!

    I wondered about GENTRY too – Chambers tends to support you but then I found “gentrification” described as: “The movement of middle-class people into a formally working-class area with the consequent change in the character of the area.” I guess this is a relatively modern use of at least a derivative of the word so Rufus probably scrapes in.

  4. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Rufus for the usual.

    NeilW@1, I did wonder about “soft” in 6A, then I saw it as a hint to a non-hard drink, ie. non alcoholic – notwithstanding that one doesn’t normally call milk “a soft drink”.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Andrew.

    I too found some tricky clues here, but then I often do with Rufus. There were one or two pretty remote synonyms (ASSAIL = ABUSE?) but generally fair clueing as usual with this setter. Hadn’t come across the BLUEBOTTLE definition – another one to tuck away. JOINT ACTION was my favourite today, because it made me smile on dank and cold Monday morning. Thanks to Rufus for that one in particular.

  6. NeilW says:

    Just noticed my typo @3 – should be “formerly” of course!

  7. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Andrew / Rufus
    Actually found this one pretty straightforward today.
    I think that the soft in 6a refers more to the soft milk container – that is the udder :)

  8. brucew_aus says:

    … as compared to a hard milk container like a bottle !

  9. Rick says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew. I agree with NeilW @1 that some of the clues were slightly less smooth/economical than normal – but still a fair and entertaining puzzle overall.

    I agree with Kathryn’s Dad @5 about “joint action”. “All-star cast” for 13a also made me smile!

    I still have some problems with double definitions. I thought 7d was one and I put in “strain” initially (meaning both strive hard and a tune) before I realized my mistake. Of course, this one wasn’t a double definition but I tend to think of these first for Rufus as he uses so many.

  10. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus and Andrew.

    Pierre said in his March 21st 2011 blog: ‘If you’ve not seen the STRESSED/DESSERTS trick before, you will again soon.’ Not sure I remember it, though. Not sure about 21 as an &lit. Is an eel really a small river fish? I, too, liked JOINT ACTION.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    I found this enjoyable but hard in places – the SE was last to succumb.
    Overall I felt the cluing was pretty smooth as usual.

    Robi – think r = small river.

    I also found ‘soft’ misleading but liked it for that. As others bring out, it’s not clear though if it is the drink or the container and I like it a little less for that..

    I also ticked 13a, 18a, 25a, 4d, 7d, 8d, and 20d.

    Good Monday morning fare.

  12. Robi says:

    tupu @11; I realised that r=small river in the cryptic reading, but as an &lit it surely would have to be a small river fish?

  13. sitywit says:

    Re 16 down: wondered about “blossoms” with two “shillings” (S) omitted.

  14. MikeC says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus. I thought UDDERS was wonderful – made me lol. tupu@11 – I see your point about the ambiguity of “soft” (drink or dispenser) but for me it’s a plus, if anything, since it doesn’t interfere with the solution. An example of harmless, or even constructive, double duty?

    Given also the collision between “neat” (possibly undiluted) and “soft”, I think there is quite a lot going on in the surface of this clue.

  15. nic@60 says:

    I definitely saw ‘soft’ as relating to the ‘udders’, and thought it an amusing and clever clue.

  16. Pierre says:

    Robi at no 10. May I borrow your memory, please? I get to the top of the stairs sometimes and forget what I’ve gone up there for.

  17. Robi says:

    Pierre @16; it’s all due to the wonderful ‘site search’ here. I sometimes forget why I wanted to walk up the stairs in the first instance. :)

  18. tupu says:

    Hi Robi

    I take your point. I had not thought that hard about an &lit. If that’s what Rufus wanted it would have been better to omit ‘small’.

    Mike C

    I liked the misleading nature of ‘soft’ – I was looking for a ‘p’ at first. But I don’t usually think ambiguity like this which doesn’t affect the answer is a virtue. Its more a quirk of English syntax.

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    We must have the over 60s club in today. I can’t imagine any of my offsping saying bluebottle for police, and therefore as no-one has complained yet…

  20. AndyB says:

    Isn’t there a problem with 20? The definition appears to be “run out”. But “elapse” I think only means that time has passed. However, if something “lapses” then the time has run out on it (eg a licence).

  21. apiarist says:

    I chuckled at “bluebottle”. It’s donkey’s years since I have heard a policeman referred to as this.

  22. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Rufus and Andrew,

    Derek Lazenby @19 and apiarist@21, bluebottle reminded me of my father, who delighted in collecting odd English words and expressions.

    Loved 6ac.Neat shouts cattle and it is a super clue.

    Giovanna x

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    So many niggles over so little.

  24. Robi says:

    RCW @23; perhaps you should try the Quiptic – it’s got a nice NINA.

  25. Paul B says:

    Thanks Robi. I’m trying to work out whether he means that the puzzle is crap, or that the issues raised are so incredibly superficial as to be worthless (it’s that irritating ambiguity around ‘so little’, you see). But certainly he dismisses the greater portion of the comment thread as ‘niggling’ – that’s quite clear. Good, constructive stuff, and not for the first time.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Paul,you seem to be stalking me recently and attempting to interpret my thoughts. Best not to bother, they are in areas quite alien to yourself.

  27. g larsen says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus. I thought this was a good puzzle, and not as distinctively Rufous as the Monday offerings usually are.

    Kayoz @2 and NeilW @3 discussed whether it is right to refer to ‘gentry’ as middle class. Those of us who studied history in the 60s remember the celebrated and wonderfully vitriolic academic dispute about the ‘rise of the gentry’ in the 16th and 17th centuries and the part it allegedly played in causing the English Civil War. The gentry there were certainly not the upper class. Since Rufus is of a similar vintage to me, it may be that that was what he had in mind.

  28. sidey says:

    Robi @ 24

    It would have been polite if you had left it for others to discover.

  29. Cowshill says:

    Just throwing in a comment 10 days late… 7d – “Work hard on an advertising jingle,” caused me initially to enter strive as I had the initial s and could “jingle” strive out of adVERTISing.

  30. RobG says:

    Got horribly bogged down in SE corner. Had BARB at 21ac which is both a hook and a small freshwater fish, and ESCAPE at 20dn being E (England’s first) + SCAPE (slip according to Chamber’s) with ESCAPE meaning run out, in my head, at least!

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