Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,565 by Enigmatist

Posted by PeterO on February 22nd, 2012


Without the dedication, this would have been a tough nut to crack.

As followers of 225 should know by now, today is Roger Squires’ eightieth birthday, and on reading the Special Instructions, this was my first thought. My second was to look at 1,4A, and find them enumerated (6) and (6). The third was to look at the clues, and find that the the first idea played out, with a little prestidigitation. As if solving the crossword were not enough, we were presented with what was evidently a giant &lit anagram in the Special Instructions. At least it gave a broad hint for 25A, RECORD, so that the anagram gives: Crossword setter for the Guardian (which leaves out the numerous other publications for which Mr S has written crosswords). There were a few easy clues (fortunately), along with the thematic material, to help on the way. The whole crossword is a tour de force of references to Roger Squires life – a flyer in the Fleet Air Arm, a magician, and an actor, in addition to the Rufus (and Dante etc.) we know so well. Some of these references I point out in the writeup, but for a potted biography of this amazing man, I would direct you to the Wikipedia article. It makes for humbling reading. Great thanks to Enigmatist for the crossword, and our best wishes to Rufus.


1. They may be jolly good in crew not heading for Wolverhampton (6)
ROGERS An envelope (‘in’) of G (‘good’) in RO[w]ERS (‘crew’) without W (‘not heading for Wolverhampton’). In addition to the apposite nautical references, Roger Squires hails from Wolverhampton, and attended Wolverhampton Grammar School.
4. Respected entertainer starts off, needs lots of paper (6)
QUIRES [re]QUIRES (‘needs’) with RE (‘Respected Entertainer starts’) removed (‘off’).
9. Two records rest with singular, amazing puzzler (9,6)
CROSSWORD SETTER An anagram (‘amazing’) of ‘two records rest’ + S (‘singular’, an abbreviation given in Chambers).
10,25. Take note of a disappearing card or three — magic! (3,3,6)
FOR THE RECORD An anagram (‘magic’) of ‘of’  ‘or’ + ‘c[a]rd of three’, with the a removed (‘a disappearing’).
11. During a break, tackling Crispa’s last — and Custos? (8)
GUARDIAN An anagram (‘break’) of ‘during a’ + A (‘CrispAs last’). Crispa and Custos were former Guardian cryptic setters; Custos is Latin for guardian.
12. A great occasion for 1 across 4 (22), 9 10 11! (5,3)
HAPPY DAY A straight clue with most of the grid fitted into it!
14. One of Squires‘ d___ French team went ahead, after sacking editor (6)
DONZEL This time the squire is mediaeval, and a donzel is a squire aspiting to knighthood. A charade of ‘d’ + ONZE (eleven in French, ‘French team’) + L[ed] (‘went ahead’) with ED removed (‘after sacking editor’).
15. Man, say, appearing on Monday — many beguiled (6)
MISLED A charade of M (‘Monday’) + ISLE (Isle of ‘Man’) + D (Roman 500, ‘many’).
18. Group do something for this splendid fellow (5,3)
CLASS ACT A charade of CLASS (‘group’) + ACT (‘do something’). That nobody can deny.
21. Pretty girl in crimson rose (8)
REBELLED An envelope (‘in’) of BELLE (‘pretty girl’) in RED (‘crimson’). For anyone who has not read Sandy Balfour’s book of this title, get hold of it. The clue originated with Roger Squires.
22. Point out momentous number! (6)
EIGHTY [w]EIGHTY (‘momentous’) with W (west, ‘point’) removed (‘out’).
24. “Tap it twice”, said Roger — not a bad magician! (15)
PRESTIDIGITATOR A slightly derived anagram (‘bad’ – that’s a anagrind, not a value judgement) of ‘t[a]p’ (‘not a’) + ‘it’ + ‘it’ (‘it twice’) + ‘said Roger’.
25. See 10
See 10
26. He occupies hearts, getting more mature (6)
HOLDER A charade of H (‘hearts’) + OLDER (‘more mature’).
1. Men in Fleet Air Arm mostly valuable? They’re uncommonly so (7)
RARIORA An envelope (‘in’) of OR (other ranks, ‘men’) in RARIA, an anagram (‘fleet'; under the circumstances, who could quibble over that anagrind?) of ‘air ar[m]'(‘arm mostly’) . Rariora are rarities, collectables (Latin, again).
2. Regularly pulled out of glossy hat, it’s destined for curry! (5)
GOSHT Alternate letters (‘regularly pulled out of’) ‘GlOsSy HaT‘. Meat in Hindi (or Urdu).
3. Hardware ordered right away to provide clue for R? That’s frightening! (7)
RAWHEAD A double wordplay – an anagram (‘ordered’) of ‘ha[r]dware’ without the r (‘right away’)’ and R is the head of Raw. A rawhead (perhaps coupled with bloody-bones) is a ghoulie summoned up to scare children at bedtime.
5. Far from dull setter Stephenson initially demoted — it ’ad to be a joke (7)
UNSTAID A charade of UNS, which is SUN (‘setter'; of course, the sun also rises) with the S (‘Stephenson initially’) moved down (‘demoted’) + TAID, an anagram (‘a joke’) of ‘it ad’. A delightfully cheeky surface reference to some crossword setter and Hugh Stephenson, the Guardian’s Crossword Editor.
6. Flying machines — ten or so — failing to impress lady sawn in half (9)
ROTODYNES An envelope (‘to impress’) of DY (‘lady sawn in half’) in ROTONES, an anagram (‘failing’) of ‘ten or so’. The Fairey Rotodyne was a gyroplane.
7. Escape from sea with minimum of panic — gee, amazing! (7)
SEEPAGE An anagram (‘amazing’) of ‘sea’ + P (‘minimum of Panic’) + ‘gee’.
8. Sailor’s spirit and extremes of gallantry are staggering (6)
GROGGY A charade of GROG (‘sailors spirit’) + GY (‘extremes of GallantrY‘).
13. Individual approaches entertainment group, getting first part in Crossroads, male part (6,3)
POLLEN SAC A charade of POLL (literally a head, ‘individual’) + ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association, ‘entertainment group’, set up to entertain the troops during World War II) + C (‘first part in Crossroads’). Roger Squires did play a part in Crossroads for a while.
16. Having kittens, lacking time to get out (2,5)
IN ERROR IN [t]ERROR (‘having kittens’) with the t removed (‘lacking time’).
17. Everyone that’s in Dr Who is a playful type? (7)
DALLIER An envelope (‘in’) of ALL (‘everyone’) + IE (that is, ‘thats’) in ‘dr’. Mr S has also been in Dr Who.
18. Future flier, no gentleman to treat with disrespect (6)
CADDIS A charade of CAD (‘no gentleman’) + DIS (or diss, ‘treat with disrespect’). A caddis is the larva of a caddisfly.
19. An adventurous chap like Vespucci, I become trapped under a foreign sea (7)
AMERIGO A charade of ‘a’ + MER (French, ‘foreign sea’) + I GO (‘I become’). Mr S escaped from a plane which sank in 60ft. of water off Sri Lanka; see also 7D. Amerigo Vespucci is said to have given his name to America.
20. Awful to-do — sailor leaving Oscar in a flap (3,4)
CAT DOOR An anagram (‘awful’) of ‘to-do’ + ‘[os]car’, with OS (Ordinary Seaman, ‘sailor’) removed (‘leaving’).
23. Excellent setter appearing finally in Attenborough film (a third cut) (5)
GRAND An envelope (‘appearing … in’) of R (‘setteR … finally’) in GAND[hi] (‘Attenborough film a third cut’).

36 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,565 by Enigmatist”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. Boy, you’ve done your homework! Congratulations on such a comprehensive unpicking of both the puzzle and all the references. I think I only saw about 50% of them, so thanks again.

    The Chambers haters will be pleased to see that 1dn doesn’t feature – at least not in my copy.

    You’ve a tiny typo in your explanation of 10,25 with “of” instead of “or”, which might confuse people, even though the clue is correctly stated above.

  2. Miche says:

    Thanks, PeterO. And applause to Enigmatist for a tour de force.

    RARIORA and ROTODYNES new to me, but gettable. Last in was DONZEL: I hadn’t come across the word, and it took me ages to connect “French team” with “onze”.

    I presume the mention of Crispa and Custos in 11a is by way of a toast to absent friends – appropriate to a celebration.

    Clues of the day (can’t pick one): 15a and 24a among many excellent surfaces; 13d for great misdirection.

    Many happy returns, Mr S.

  3. Eileen says:

    This was truly stunning, from both setter and blogger – huge thanks to both. I was expecting something special and I think Enigmatist has excelled himself in this lovely tribute.

    I almost missed the anagram in the special instructions, having seen it spelled out in the grid – talk about icing on the cake, let alone cherries on top!

    As Miche says, [almost] too many great clues to mention but, like him. I’d pick out 15ac, Roger, of course, being the ‘man appearing on Monday’, as our Rufus, and as Dante in the FT – and I believe Monday is his Telegraph day, too, so I was momentarily MISLED by the clue.

    24ac is a superb anagram, too, but I’ll stop there!

    [I’d like to join PeterO in recommending [again] Sandy Balfour’s book[s] and plead yet again for the Guardian to bring back the X-Philes!]

    Happy Birthday, dear Roger! :-)

  4. greyfox says:

    Superb puzzle and excellent blog. A fine tribute to a remarkable man.

    Happy Birthday Rogers Quires!

  5. Ian Payn says:

    Sorry to be a wet blanket, but this didn’t work for me at all as a daily puzzle in a paper. I solve these things on the train, so I like to have at least heard of a word. Rariora, rotodynes, donzel and rawhead are all, as far as I’m concerned, too obscure. It’s all very well if you’re sitting at home sipping your tea and thumbing through your collection of dictionaries, but for me, as with a lot of people, I imagine, that’s Saturday.

    Secondly, for some while I’ve found self-referential clues tiresome, and “in-jokes” such as the creation of Biggles (We Johns, ho ho)a bore. But when they don’t detract from the crossword as a whole I don’t really care. On this occasion, it detracted. Not only is there no reason on earth why the vast majority of solvers would have heard of Roger Squires, and his name wasn’t even played straight, it was split!

    I have a great deal of respect for Enigmatist, and whatever my feelings about the appropriateness of the puzzle for a cold Wednesday monrning, it was technically well up to his usual standards. I have nothing against Roger Squires and hope he has a memorable birthday.

    But really…

    Colonel Choleric
    Mean Spirited Towers

  6. scchua says:

    Thanks PeterO for the blog and Enigmatist for the tribute puzzle.

    I too had a double take with 1A,4 until i saw the cleverness of it. They were all good clues, including the non-thematic ones. Last in was DONZEL, which required, for a non-French speaker, moi, a 2-step translation – from “team” to “eleven” first.

    You probably would have noticed it, but didn’t mention that in addition to being anagram fodder for the special instruction, 25A combined with 26A in the bottom row gives another accolade to the birthday boy.

    Once again, Roger, a happy 80th.

  7. Stella Heath says:

    What a tour de force for both setter and blogger!
    Happy birthday, Mr. Squires. Long may you continue to entertain us.

  8. molonglo says:

    I’ m with Ian @5 on this. I hate not to finish, and I hate to use aids. Clearly this was in-house, so I googled once I’d got 1 and 4 on my own, and so learned some of the c.v. I fell short by three – 1d, 6d and DONZEL, which I ought perhaps to have got. but my heart wasn,t in it. That said, I wish the great man Happy Birthday. Thanks Peter, too, for a lot of hard work.

  9. Eileen says:

    There’s a very special tribute on the Crossword Centre’s Message Board:

  10. liz says:

    Thanks to PeterO for unpicking a really tough puzzle and thanks to Enigmatist for this birthday tribute.

    i only managed to finish this with heavy reliance on the ‘check’ button. Like others, RARIORA, ROTODYNES and DONZEL were all unknown to me and caused a lot of head-scratching. And I did pity those who were coming to this puzzle without the benefit of the inside knowledge that this site provides! I wouldn’t have got anywhere without knowing Rufus’s real name and the occasion the puzzle celebrates. I was also familiar with some (but not all!) of the details of Mr Squires’ amazing career that are so cleverly woven into the clues.

    I’m not complaining, though :-)

    I thought it was a lovely celebration of one of our great setters, who I was privileged to meet at the Derby get-together.

    Many Happy Returns, Rufus!

  11. Robi says:

    Fabulous crossword, although fairly liberal use of word searches and the ‘Check’ button, as is usual for me with Enigmatist (no, at my level, I don’t mind using aids.) No hope, though, if I was on a train or a bus!

    Thanks PeterO for a great blog, and helping me with the parsing of PRESTIDIGITATOR. I didn’t know RARIORA, RAWHEAD and DONZEL. I thought the latter had a splendid clue, along with many others. Thanks also to Eileen for the link, which I hope others will follow. I’ve also just bought the Sandy Balfour book. :)

    Congratulations to Roger/Rufus for his many years of entertainment………..
    …….. (and the crosswords!)

  12. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Enigmatist for a superb crossword and PeterO for a super blog. The Wiki- link revealed what an amazing man Rufus is!

    Not being an anagram ace, I managed to work them out from the clueing and Prestidigitator @ 24a reminded me of French lessons at school, which made onze jump out at me at 14a- not that donzel trips off the tongue very readily!! Good to learn new words, however.

    Rufus, hope you have a wonderful day!

    Giovanna xx

  13. crypticsue says:

    Even knowing the significance of the day and having solved another Rufus themed puzzle (the DT Toughie) this was a challenge but I got there in the end. Well done Peter for working it all out for the blog.

    I believe that this was the work of more than one setter, but that the Guardian crossword setting software couldn’t cope with more than one name! Thanks to Enigmatist et al.

  14. John H says:

    Indeed, this was by no means the work of just one setter. As I’ve just explained on the FT blog, plaudits and brickbats should also be apportioned in roughly equal amounts to Orlando, Arachne, Doc (not least for the excellent anagram), Tyrus/Lato and Anax, whose own tribute appears as today’s Telegraph Toughie.

    Apologies for the rariola.


  15. MikeC says:

    Thanks PeterO and Enigmatist. Rariora and donzel defeated me but it was a fine tribute puzzle. My good wishes also to Roger, a truly splendid setter (and all-round “good egg”).

  16. Conrad Cork says:

    Another anniversary – Vespucci (19 down) died exactly 500 years ago today. Nice touch, and surely intentional?

    Congratulations to all today’s setters, the blogger and to the man himself.

  17. Miche says:

    By the by, in an interview with the Telegraph, RS says this about his Dr Who appearance: “It was one of the worst Doctor Who adventures they did … some robot grew to 60ft and squashed me under its feet.”

    I think I’ve found it. :-)

  18. Qaos says:

    Thanks for the blog and to all the setters for the wonderful puzzle. It really put the icing on the cake!

    Happy Birthday Rufus!

  19. Simon C says:

    Happy birthday to Rufus but I am with Ian Payn on this one. Way too obscure for me and no enjoyment to be found from Enigmatist who I simply can’t get in to at all.

  20. John H says:

    ….but I only wrote a handful of clues.

  21. Robi says:

    Thanks, Miche @17; great link!

  22. David W says:

    A most ingenious puzzle. I’m sure it would have been a wow at the cruciverbalists’ annual convention. But for me, as an ordinary solver, the in-jokes either passed me by (eg fleet as an anagrind) or just made me feel “out”. A disappointment.

  23. Simon C says:

    No offence meant to John H, I am just not clever enough to do your puzzles! And I note that you only wrote a few of today’s clues but I generally struggle with your crosswords. I will keep trying though …

  24. Matt says:

    Good puzzle, although appreciate the comments that this would have been tricky to do on a train. I’m happy not to finish though; what I did manage I really enjoyed, and what I didn’t finish I can now see the craft behind. My hat goes off to the setters and, of course, Mr Squires.

    Great blog too

  25. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. You explained a couple of clues that defeated me.

    A fond memory from some years ago of a Rufus clue: I cannot remember the details but the main elements in the clue were ‘KLM pilot’ and ‘Wagner’.

    The solution was Flying Dutchman :)

  26. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO – and John H and the gelation of setters who put the thing together.

    Marvellous puzzle, though certainly designed for the in-crowd. Various posters have commented that they were glad they didn’t have to do it on the train. Well I DID! – which is why I’m later than usual in commenting. It did take me a lot longer than usual; much went in without too much trouble, but RAWHEAD and DONZEL were guesses, and I eventually dragged RARIORA from a deep recess of the memory.

    SW corner proved most troublesome. Second word of 12a was obviously DAY, but I wasn’t sure of the first part; I got the ENSA C for 12d but was trying to think of something animal rather than vegetable; I missed ‘Man, say’ = ISLE (not for the first time) in 15a.

    So many great clues it would be invidious to pick favorites. Only tiny quibbles: CADDIS is a fly, so not just a ‘future flyer’, although the larva is more familiar; I’m not sure that the French ever refer to a team as ‘onze’ (unlike the English ‘eleven’), so the word play is two steps away from the solution – which makes for a particularly hard clue for a very rare word like DONZEL.

    Anyway, bravi!

  27. Gervase says:

    Sorry, I almost forgot: Many Happy Returns, Roger!

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Isn’t Monday enough, now it’s Wednesday as well.
    Cool down fans,I am joking.
    As a non member of his fan club this was a real challenge for me.
    I did not even know his name and in spite of a whole column in G2 (that’s the bit you get when you buy the paper) still found nothing more than Rufus.
    Like molonglo, I failed on the same three,I also refused to write in ‘happy’ (day)as I couldn’t see any indication for it.
    Very mixed feelings, I can see exactly where Ian Payn is coming from and sympathise. On the other hand it was such a stinker that I got exellent value for my £1.20 today.

  29. PeterO says:

    Conrad Cork @16

    In preparing the blog, I did look up Amerigo Vespucci in Wikipedia, to see how sure is the origin of America, but it must have been a particularly wiki visit, because I did not spot the date; thanks for pointing it out. As you say, it must be intended.

  30. Trebor says:

    Cracking stuff. Particularly liked the clue in the instructions – don’t think I’ve seen that before.
    Regarding unusual words: I also solve on a train and several of these escaped me – as did a few perfectly ordinary words due to Enigmatist’s fiendishness! – but I think it’s allowable under the circumstances.
    On balance, and I’ve said similar things before, I think any attempt (particularly on a special occasion) to do something different, even if it does result in tough grids or odd words is great and should be applauded.

  31. Mitz says:

    Thanks in unusually large quantities to PeterO and Enigmatist (et al). Did the easy bit on the way in to work, fiddled with some of the rest on the way between meetings, and finally cracked the rest on the train home, hence the late post. Last in for me, well, second last I should say, was ‘pollen sac’ which meant that 12 could only be ‘happy day’. It has become almost cliched on this thread to describe the puzzle as a whole as a tour de force, but that is exactly what it was. To those that have complained about the level of difficulty, perhaps you should get in touch with Rufus’ mother? Not Enigmatist’s fault that our Monday friend’s birthday has fallen on a Wednesday rather than a Saturday! Oh, and regarding solving difficult puzzles on the train: smart phones are very good…

    Many happy returns Rufus.

  32. Gervase says:

    Mitz @31: I’ve been meaning to upgrade to a smartphone for some time (you can tell that I’m not an ‘early adopter’). Today I had to make do with my dumbphone (which was no help at all….)

  33. regalize says:

    A late posting from me, mostly because it has taken me all day to complete, despite guessing the the theme. I don’t see the problem with the split in 1. and 4. The definitions are perfectly valid. I loved the clever preamble. Thanks PeterO, Enigmatist and all other contributors. Rufus must be so proud of you.

  34. tupu says:

    Thanks enigmatist et al and PeterO and a very happy birthday to Rufus

    I started this this morning and only came back to it late this evening. A hard puzzle but a very good one apart from 1d which also defeated me as a Chambers & Collins owner. John H @14 writes rariola which leaves me yet more puzzled.

    I did however get rotodynes which is also absent from my Chambers.

    By an odd coincidence I solved 21a a couple of days ago when somebody lent me Sandy Balfour’s book of that name.

  35. Kjbsoton says:

    This is the first time I have looked at this website as I try to do guardian every day and was blown away by this xword. I have learnt so much from you ALL – many thanks kate

  36. MaryEllen says:

    Am I the only one who put in TORNADOES for 6d? (Anagram of TEN OR SO + AD (half of LADY, although I suppose then she would have been sawn into thirds…)

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