Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25563 Rufus

Posted by scchua on February 20th, 2012


Thanks Rufus for another trademark puzzle with double definitions, cryptic definitions and not-so-long anagrams to the fore (though he holds the record for the longest word – an anagram of 58 letters – used in a published puzzle).  All constructed elegantly and compactly.  Many of the definitions require one to think  of words and phrases in different contexts from the normal ones.  The combination of unusual context and conciseness makes such clues easy to remember and they stay with one for a long time.  Perhaps these should be called “rufuses”, to coin a word.  I was hoping it would be him on my schedule today, and it is.  Knowing that you sometimes read and post on 15sq, this is for you, Rufus/Roger – a happy 80th in 2 days’ time, with best wishes for many more happy years and crosswords to come.  Thank you for stretching our minds, enjoyably, all these years.  And you must show me again that card trick you did in Derby! 

Definitions are underlined in the clues.  The picture set at the bottom has an unidentified link to the puzzle.


1 Starting point is no walkover for the bride (9)

THRESHOLD :  Cryptic defn: Refering to the tradition of where the bride does not walk over, but is carried by her groom over, the doorsill,threshold of their marital home.  Which literal threshold is symbolic of the starting point,threshold of married life.

6 Watch open-mouthed as centre forward moves into space (4)

GAWP :  W(middle letter,centre of “forward”) contained in(moves into) GAP(space).  Nice footballing surface

8 Business force established around the last millennium (8)

COMMERCE :  COERCE(verb, to force) containing(established around) MM(Roman numeral for 2000, the last, up to the present, millennium,1000th anniversary year since anno Domini)

9 Slim elves play around a square (6)

SVELTEAnagram of(play) ELVES containing(around) T(a T square, a T-shaped ruler used in mechanical drawing, possibly all but extinct by now, but I used to be a proud owner of one!)

10 Depart agitatedly; it may explode! (6)

PETARDAnagram of(agitatedly) DEPART.  Another nice surface – if you don’t run off fast enough, you will definitely be “hoist by your own petard”.

Answer: A firecracker, or, in a bigger version, a bomb designed to blow a hole in a door or wall.  Interesting etymology, from Latin meaning a fart – a mighty big one, you could say, in the derivative usage! 

11 Erudite professors or their proteges, perhaps (8)

SCHOLARS :  Double defn:

Answer: One of those words that have opposing meanings.   1st: persons who already have profound knowledge; and 2nd: persons who are starting or still trying to obtain such knowledge, perhaps under the tutelage of defn.1.

12 Jack, given wrong date, lowered (6)

ABATED :  AB(abbrev. for able-bodied seaman,sailor,Jack or Jack Tar – Rufus’s trademark inclusion of a nautical reference) plus(given) anagram of(wrong) DATE.

Answer: Decreased,lowered in intensity, volume, etc.

15 Torn between father and a love initially of mother? (8)

PARENTAL :  RENT(torn as an adjective) contained in(between) [PA(father) plus(and) A + L(first letter,initially of “love”)].

Answer: Descriptive,of mother, with ? indicating it could have been of father also)

16 Elegant fashion on a bride (8)

DEBONAIRAnagram of(fashion) ON A BRIDE.  A WIWD (wordplay intertwined with definition) clue

19 Expire, though previously fit as a fiddle (6)

EXHALE :  EX(previously,once) HALE(fit as a fiddle, as in “hale and hearty”) 

Answer: As opposed to inhale, breathe out,expire

21 Parts that can’t be matched (8)

ODDMENTS :  Cryptic defn: Pieces,parts that can’t be matched,odd.

22 Cyril’s playing with words in numbers (6)

LYRICSAnagram of(playing) CYRIL’S 

Answer: The words of songs,musical numbers

24 They may be a (sic) spun to make briefs (6)

FIBRESAnagram of(make) BRIEFS.  A WIWD clue.

25 Heather Lake’s underwear (8)

LINGERIE :  LING(heather,heath,shrub that grows  on open ground) + ERIE(one of the Great Lakes in N. America)

26 Experienced hat maker (4)

FELT :  Double defn: 1st: Past tense of feel; and 2nd: material with which to make hats, or, put another way, a hat maker

27 One thing one doesn’t expect to be (9)

SURPRISED :  Cryptic defn.


1 He’s to be changed, not these (5)

THOSEAnagram of(be changed) HE’S TO

Answer: If not these, then must be those.

2 Up in arms (7)

RAMPANT :  Cryptic defn: Not the usual meaning of being furious, but a descriptive term in heraldry of a beast rearing up on its hind leg in a coat-of-arms.  The term is also specific about which leg, which way it’s facing, and how its other legs and tail are positioned!  A compact clue requiring lateral thinking.

3 She would pack a right in a scrap (5)

SHREDSHE‘D(she would) containing(would pack) R(right).  Edit.note: Corrected per @6, thanks Robi.  A nice surface for Lara Croft.

4 Reveals that one is being less reserved (5,2)

OPENS UP :  Double defn: 2nd: To be more communicative and forthcoming.

5 Perform for free? (9)

DISCHARGE :  Double defn: 1st: To do,perform, eg. one’s duties; and 2nd: To dismiss,free as in “the accused was discharged”.

6 Aviation spirit? (7)

GREMLIN :  Cryptic defn.  Originally, a small imaginary creature,spirit blamed by RAF aviators for causing mechanical failures.  Not what you put into your airplane fuel tank.

7 Sudden drop of current – flaw later rectified (9)

WATERFALLAnagram of(rectified) FLAW LATER

Defn: Current of the watery and not electronic kind.  Nice surface.

13 About to enter poor occupation? May end up on this (9)

BREADLINE :  RE(about,with regard to) contained in(to enter) BAD LINE(a poor occupation,line as in “what line are you in?”). 

Answer: Figuratively, to be poor and living at subsistence level, derived from the queue of people waiting for free food from a government agency or a charity.  A WIWD clue.

14 Ill-judgment (9).

DIAGNOSIS :  Cryptic defn:  Judgment of what an illness is.

17 How promotion should be given to miner, after recovery (2,5)

ON MERITAnagram of(after recovery) TO MINER

18 Specialist in stock­taking? (7)

RUSTLER :  Cryptic defn: Not the guy taking an inventory of items in stock, but a professional,specialist in stealing,taking cattle,stock.

20 Fit to work like a horse (7)

HARNESS :  Cryptic defn, I think.  To control and make fit (to work) for one’s benefit, eg. to harness the energy of your workforce to, perhaps, make them work hard like a horse?  Also, to fit a harness to a horse before making it work pulling a plough, carriage, etc.  It is a WIWD clue, with perhaps 2 slightly different surfaces? 

22 Ship in river south of the equator (5)

LINER :  R(river) placed below(south, in a down clue) LINE(the line,the equator, in the science of geography)

23 Censured about money issue (5)

CHILD :  CHID(alternative to chided,censured) containing(about) L(£,pound sterling,money)



45 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25563 Rufus”

  1. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Rufus

    I completed this enjoyable puzzle without much difficulty but failed to parse ‘millennium’ and ‘rampant’ properly – so special thanks there. These two clever clues enhance the puzzle considerably. More generally one finds the predictable run (with Rufus) of smooth surfaces, d.ds, and clever anagrams.

    I ticked 1a, 26a, 27a, 7d, and 13d.

  2. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Rufus and scchua for the in depth blog. Not too many difficulties here.

    Hadn’t seen GAWP before (only GAWK) … but couldn’t be anything else.

    Didn’t twig with arms and heraldry with RAMPANT although understood the rearing up on the hind legs. (doh) Thought that “up in arms” (extremely upset) could also refer to unrestrained behaviour which is another definition.

  3. Miche says:

    Thank you, scchua. Your picture puzzle has me baffled, as usual.

    Parts of this crossword, my lord, are excellent.26 across, 5, 6 and 14 down all nice, compact cds. On the other hand I see no cryptic element in 11 and 21 across. And there’s a touch of déjà vu about 18 down.

    19 across here was 1 across in FT 13920 a few days ago.

  4. PeterJohnN says:

    Thanks scchua and Rufus.
    At first i had a problem with 8a COMMERCE because I had confidently entered SHARD, which also fits the clue, in 3d! Also confused for a while by 15a PARENTAL, thinking it had to be Paternal or Maternal.
    My copy of the paper has an extraneous “a” in both 19a and 24a which rather spoilt the surfaces, but I soon realised they were typos.

  5. Gervase says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    Like many Rufus puzzles, I found this one took a little longer than I felt it should. His masterful clues are not abstruse, but I often have difficulty spotting the type of construction. There were 6 (very good) cryptic defs, which (perhaps) meant that I didn’t recognise 16a and 24a as anagrams until most of the rest of the puzzle was complete. And I put SHERD in at 3d to start with – it fits the clue. but not the crossing, of course.

    Favourites were 8a, 15a, 7d, 13d.

    As scchua points out, PETARD literally means ‘farter’. The French verb ‘peter’ and the English verb ‘fart’ are both from a Proto-Indo-European root *perd-. Practically all modern Indo-European languages have a related word (‘prd’ in Czech, ‘pad’ in Bengali, ‘porde’ in greek, ‘pordhë’ in Albanian, for instance) – interestingly, it’s one of the most complete sets of cognates. Toilet humour goes back a long way.

  6. Robi says:

    As ever, nice surfaces and good crossword.

    Thanks sschua; I’ll leave the pictures until later. In 3, I assume you meant SHE’D containing R. I thought of ‘doctoring’ for 14 and ‘paternal’ for 15, although neither fitted the clues as well as the answers. Last in was RAMPANT – I didn’t know the heraldry reference. I had never looked up PETARD before, and just thought from the ‘hoist’ bit of the phrase that it was a nautical reference. Also, I didn’t know GREMLINs were associated with airmen.

    Happy Birthday to Rufus; keep up the good work.

  7. scchua says:

    Thanks Robi@6. Blog corrected – I was just a little too hasty.

  8. Ape says:

    Don’t think I’ve done a Rufus before. Liked the crypic definitions for THRESHOLD, RAMPANT, DIAGNOSIS, HARNESS, RUSTLER and GREMLIN. With these sorts of mild definitions feels like a lighter puzzle you could solve very quickly (or get stuck on). I failed on SCHOLARS and DISCOURSE.

  9. Ape says:

    Oops I meant DISCHARGE. My answer was DISCOURSE, which didn’t work.

  10. Robi says:

    P.S. The online site now says: ‘Special instructions: Note added 20 February 2012: a superfluous ‘a’ has been deleted from the clues for 19 and 24 across as originally published.’

  11. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Rufus and Many Happy Returns!

    Also thanks to scchua for the usual super-blog. Not a clue on the picture except that it suggests a link to gremlins! There is a new beginnings – exploration feel to it.

    Giovanna x

  12. Robi says:

    Scchua; the quiz is more difficult than the puzzle! Obviously Obamas, not sure if the next is John Goodman, Sarah Palin look-a-like; maybe a Booby (not very good on birds!), and fairly definitely a Gemini capsule. So………..

    No idea!

  13. William says:

    Thanks, scchua, another smoothie from Rufus, to whom I add birthday wishes for the day after tomorrow.

    Still can’t really understand HARNESS. Has anyone parsed it?

    Also, I’ve always wondered about the origin of RAMPANT in heraldry, as ‘ramper’ in French means to creep or crawl. ‘Entrer en rampant’ I’ve always used for ‘crawl in’. Anyone know the root.

    Thanks again.

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This was a little better than the usual Monday fare.
    Rufus has a very distinctive style especially some clever CDs.Unfortunately one is writing them in so quickly that there is barely time to sit back and admire, 27ac is a classic example.
    If the word ‘heather’ appears then ‘ling’ follows instantly and underwear is solved – lake – what lake?
    Last in ‘felt’, clever but transparent.

  15. William says:

    RCW@14 Lake Erie, I presume.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    William, you have completely missed my point.

  17. Giovanna says:

    Robi @ 12. The bird is a gannet.

    Giovanna x

  18. Miche says:

    Re the pictures: the woman who looks a bit like Sarah Palin is Geena Davis, star of Thelma and Louise. The spacecraft is a Gemini. Penn and Teller a double act. Obamas in Globe and Mail. Could the link be pairs, as in R’s fondness for double definitions? Google image search suggests that’s a gannet, but if it’s a booby…

  19. Tata says:

    Could the quiz be PPS SC (Postscript Sc chua)?
    President, Penn, Sarah, Seagull, Capsule.

  20. Robi says:

    RCW @14; I can also write them in very quickly. It’s the thinking beforehand that takes the time!

  21. scchua says:

    Hi robi, Giovanna, Miche, Tata and any others:
    Geena Davis, Penn and Teller, Gannet and Gemini are correct. With these I think you’ll get the answer pretty soon. And forget about the Obamas, but not the picture.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Of course, Robi. you are right.
    I do not know why Monday’s are so quick to solve. It is almost impossible to analytically assess cryptic difficulty.
    Obviously part of the difficulty of an Azed is because of the obscure vocabulary which does not apply here.Nevertheless,I personally find an enormous range of difficulty in the daily G’s.
    Some people seem to find it objectionable when I say a puzzle was easy but I have never been reproached for stating the opposite – strange.

  23. William says:

    RCW @16 …and you mine.

  24. Paul B says:

    You’re just a deeply misunderstood kinduvva guy, RCW, I expect.

    HARNESS exploits the difference between adj and vb tenses of FIT, I think, with the horse bit (no pun intended … and if you believe that you’ll believe anything) tagged on for an example of same.

  25. William says:

    PaulB @24 Sure you’re right, thanks.

  26. Robi says:

    Well, scchua, I suspect this is not quite correct, but…..

    GM (Globe & Mail, General Motors) make aircraft; PT (Penn & Teller) is an aircraft designation from Fairchild; GD (Geena Davis) are General Dynamics, who make aircraft; there used to be a Fairey Gannet aeroplane, and Miles Aircraft make a twin-engined Gemini plane. All could link to 6.

    I have a feeling this is not quite right, but am I on the right trail.

  27. Robi says:

    …. trail?

  28. Giovanna says:

    scchua – How about journeys?

    Journey Into Space!!? or Landings (safely without gremlins!)? …or even harness? Won’t somebody please solve it soon!

    Giovanna x

  29. scchua says:

    RCW@22…and stranger still, I’ve said that this puzzle was easy and that puzzle was hard, but I don’t recall being reproached for either of that. Go figure!

  30. scchua says:

    Hi Robi and Giovanna, Globe and Mail is also right, as is the Gannet aeroplane, but no other connections to aviation. And 4 of the individual pictures don’t have links with one another except via the puzzle. And the last has a link with one other picture as well as the puzzle of course.

  31. Rufus says:

    I should like to take this opportunity to thank all those that send 80th birthday wishes – very much appreciated, and especially to the hardy group that made their way to our local pub in the wilds of Shropshire on Saturday afternoon. My wife and I had a really enjoyable time.
    And more thanks for those that who helped organise the venture, especially John Henderson (Nimrod) and wife Jane (JetDoc) who kept my nerves on edge until the actual event.

    Re this crossword, LINGERIE was clued originally as
    “Woman’s habit is to delay, that is the end of it”
    but I had a late call from the editor to change it as, apparently, a similar clue was used recently. (I first thought it was being changed for sexist reasons – but I know feminine Guardian solvers haven’t lost their sense of humour!)

  32. chas says:

    Thanks to scchua for the blog. You explained a couple that I had not known: gremlins come fromthe RAF!

    I thought 11a was not really cryptic.

    I also have made no sense out of the pictures.

  33. Robi says:

    Rufus @31; thanks for popping by. It’s always appreciated when a setter makes an appearance. Pity the original clue didn’t stand!

  34. grandpuzzler says:

    Gillette (Penn’s last name)
    Geena Davis

    Gees – exclamations of SURPRISE.

    Probably not right but that is the best I can do. Loved the puzzle and the blog.


  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ok, well that relieves the need to do the Quiptic for another day!

  36. RCWhiting says:

    scchua @29
    Because you are irreproachable,obviously.

  37. Giovanna says:

    Grandpuzzler @ 34, I hope this is correct as I really like your solution!

    Giovanna x

  38. Miche says:

    grandpuzzler @34 – I was thinking along similar lines, but there’s no G in Penn Jillette.

  39. stiofain says:

    globe and mail
    penn and teller
    thelma and louise
    gannet has double prop engine and 2 propellors
    gemini = zodiac twins
    many happy returns Rufus

  40. grandpuzzler says:

    Miche @38. There is if you misspell it!

  41. Alan Moore says:

    Like PeterJohnN@4 I too had “Shard” instead of “Shred”. Unfortunately I don’t have his ability and so failed to get “Commerce”. I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle even though (yet again) I’d failed to complete it.

  42. scchua says:

    Hi all who tried the puzzle, and good morning (mine) from me.

    Penn and Teller are magician-entertainers. Geena Davis, multi-talented and smart (she looks it in the picture too) is a member of Mensa. It was a Gannet airplane that crashed into the sea off Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in March 1961 (chose that picture as the background of the sea gave an additional nautical reference). Gemini Crosswords is an organisation that syndicates crosswords to newspapers round the world. One of those papers is the Globe and Mail, Toronto, which has a weekday 13×13 and a Saturday 15×15 cryptic (also available online).

    They all point to our magician-entertainer, Mensa member, aircrash survivor, compiler, via Gemini Crosswords, of Globe and Mail cryptics, and octogenarian setter of today’s puzzle. (I hope it was a fair enough trail and thanks for taking the time)

    Thank you too, Rufus, for dropping by.

  43. grandpuzzler says:

    I was just about to guess that.

    Thanks for the entertainment Rufus and scchua.


  44. Tata says:

    Remind me not to try the quizzes again!Different league I’m afraid.

  45. Robi says:

    Thanks, scchua; I was just about to post that answer……………

    ……..well, maybe not!

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