Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,599 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on April 2nd, 2012


Maybe I just wasn’t on the right wavelength today, but I found this a lot harder than usual for Rufus. Most of the clues I had trouble with are double or cryptic definitions, which can be tricky until the penny drops, and in some cases the crossing letters were not at all helpful.

7. SEA ANCHOR Rufus likes his nautical references, and this is a fairly technical one: a fluke is a kind of blade on an ship’s anchor, designed to catch the ground. A sea anchor doesn’t have flukes, but works by using the drag of the water to slow the ship down.
9. PASSENGER Cryptic definition
10. STASH ST (saint) + HAS*
12. STOCKS Double definition – flowers and cravats
14. IMMENSE I M (1000) MEN SE
17. DRIFTER Double definition
20. INCREASE The batsman might be IN the CREASE
22. ABOARD Abeam = a beam = A BOARD
24. AFOOT Double definition
26. BABEL Cryptic definition, referring to the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel. This was my last one in – the crossing letters ?A?E? are perhaps among the least helpful ever (the Chambers online word finder gives over 500 possibilities) so I would have appreciated a clue that gave, well, a bit more of a clue!
1. RECANT RE (about) CANT (hypocrisy)
4. BOHEMIA Double definition – Bohemian = unconventional
6. GLASS EYE GLASS (quartz) + EYE (watch). “Doesn’t look real” = “doesn’t really look”?
11. AFAR A + reverse of R.A.F.
15. MAN-OF-WAR Double definition
16. SHAG Double definition – shag is finely cut tobacco, and a bird
18. FOOTPATH Cryptic definition
22. AGENCY Double definition

27 Responses to “Guardian 25,599 – Rufus”

  1. andy smith says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew. I wasn’t sure about ‘board’ as a synonym for ‘beam’ in 14a, can’t see it in Chambers.

    I also struggled with ‘babel’ although retrospectively obvious. In extremis I use ‘Onelook’ instead of Chambers Word Wizard – you can filter results against a concept, somewhat hit & miss, but in this case “?a?e?:scene” gives 3 answers including ‘babel’- cheating, but marginally more satisfactory than pressing the ‘cheat’ button.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Not just you – I took a while to finish the top left with BOHEMIA and PASSENGER holding out. Unfortunately, I tend to find Rufus a tad irritating when his double and cryptic definitions don’t leap out at me but perhaps that’s being unfair.

    Even for Rufus, there were a great many nautical references today, I thought.

  3. NeilW says:

    FWIW, BABEL went straight in – for me, the “tower” gave it away.

  4. Ape says:

    Struggled in top left corner too. Didn’t know either definition of STOCKS.

  5. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I managed most of the crossword very easily, but the NW corner defeated me and I didn’t have the patience to persist with it. I could see that 7a was probably some sort of ANCHOR, but the first word eluded me. STOCKS, PASSENGER and BOHEMIA are all rather tricky dd/cd clues and I consider RECANT to be rather more decisive than ‘have second thoughts’ – but this may just be sour grapes…

  6. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Rufus.

    I too found this a little harder than the usual Rufus, and it also contained a more than usual number of nautical references in answers and clues. I liked 25A OSTEOPATH with its &littish clue. Didn’t quite complete, going for SWAN in 16D: anagram indicated by “smoked”, in the deceiving sense, of SAWN(“cut up”). Unfortunately the checking letters “confirmed” my assumption.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I’m with others who had a few quibbles about this one. SEA ANCHOR I put in without really understanding why, and I too had SWAN instead of SHAG. BABEL, I agree, is a bit unfair with only two crossing letters and so many possibilities.

    OSTEOPATH was good, though.

  8. Rosmarinus says:

    I always enjoy Rufus’ smooth surfaces. OSTEOPATH was my favourite.
    With a nautical background I understood SEA ANCHOR and I see SHAGS frequently.
    BABEL went in fairly early as I’m inclined to start at the beginning of the alphabet and work through!

  9. William says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Some of Rufus’s double defs are a bit like large round smooth rocks for me – I can’t find a crack or fissure to work on. I end up taking ages just rolling them around until they (or I) yield by fatigue!

    Idiotically, I entered STEAMER instead of DRIFTER – lured by the tramp reference. This made life very interesting until I spotted it.

    Last in BABEL which I’m cross about. As NeilW says, the tower should have semaphored this.

  10. Paul B says:

    On a technical point, I don’t think today’s grid helps solvers all that much. It offers, more or less, four separate crosswords (for example 13ac is the only light that links from the NW to the NE, and 18dn is all that joins NE/SE) and this is going to have an effect on solving and solving times (if you capitalise Times you can see what I did there). Naughty really, although all the papers seem to have these grids. Bin ’em, I say.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    Very muchg agree re difficulty and no. of nautical refs. Bohemia was last in and I didn’t like the definite article in the clue. I was amused by ‘glass eye’ I’m afraid. I got stocks knowing the flowers and missing the cravats – thought perhaps the punishment contraption could be ‘worn’ and din’t check. A satisfying solve over all though.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I came here to cheat after I also got bored with the last half dozen clues. Too many low grade cryptics for my taste (9a PASSENGER, 18d FOOTPATH), though I just about accept BABEL.

  13. Paul B says:

    Let’s also hope that ‘seen at home’ is meant to equal IN at 13, otherwise we have a grammatical in the cryptic reading.

  14. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    Maybe I was on the wavelength or just like the double/cryptic definitions – finished all bar BOHEMIA and AGENCY on the 25 min train ride home.

    Like tupu@11 I parsed it as the wooden contraption because of the ‘old-fashioned wear’ – I think that the neck cloth is still worn in formal horse riding today.

    Had to look up to check that SEA ANCHOR had no flukes. Liked SHAG, FOOTPATH and GLASS EYE (learnt about Quartz glass in the process).

  15. Robi says:

    Last in was BABEL; as Andrew noted many possibilities, but fair enough once the tower clocked.

    Thanks Andrew; you parsed SEA ANCHOR for me. I,too, thought of STEAMER for 17. Andy Smith@1; Chambers Xword dic. has beam=BOARD. I thought the clue for ABOARD was rather weak. I liked BOHEMIA.

  16. John E says:

    I agree with tupu in disliking the definite article in the clue to 4dn. Everything else I found extremely straightforward.

  17. crypticsue says:

    Of today’s two Rufus puzzles, I found this one easier than the DT one. Lots to smile at. Thank you Rufus and Andrew too.

  18. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Rufus and Andrew. BABEL was my first in! Saw TOWER in the middle of the clue and that was that. On the other hand, I opted for SWAN at 16d. Thought I had seen every three and four letter bird in crossword land but SHAG was new to me.


  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    It is pretty miserable when a compiler keeps his easy ones for The G. and gives the better one to The Daily Torygraph. (crypticsue @17)

  20. apiarist says:

    I struggled with the NW corner because I was so sure 9a was dissenter ! Quite a tricky crossword for Rufus I thought.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Got to laugh, I came here expecting all the usual too easy comments! OK the word list was needed for babel, but at least it was on the first page!

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Even as a committed non-biblist I had no problem deciding between Blackpool,Hanoi and Babel.

  23. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew. I though it was pretty typical Rufus.

    I could argue with 6dn in which he clearly intends quartz as a synonym for GLASS. Quartz is a crystalline form of silica. Glass is ‘made by fusing together one or more of the oxides of silicon, boron or phosphorus … and cooling the produst rapidly to prevent crystallisation’ (Chambers)

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    I seem to be in the minority: (1) I got BABEL from the tower and (2) I found the whole thing easier than Rufus normally is for me!

    I did not like equating quartz and glass in 6d.
    It also took me a while to get DRIFTER: my first guess was coaster.

  25. nametab says:

    Thanks Andrew. I found this one realy easy. I admire Rufus’ wordplay, and the ‘crypticity’ is rarely deep. Liked OSTEOPATH & GLASS EYE. Agree (again) with Paul B @13 about grid.

  26. Huw Powell says:

    Paul @ 10, it’s rare I see others complaining about the grid. Rufus uses this one a lot, and it’s a cruel affair. I got more in tune with him after reading the interview a while back and stopped complaining about the CDs and DDs; and now I only hate this grid when a more conventional setter uses it.

    Kicked myself when I got BABEL – sure, *A*E* could be anything, but with this clue?

    Embarrassed to not get BOHEMIA.

    Never heard of either usage of STOCKS. Although, ironically, I have it written in next to the clue!

    Would not have ever figured out RECANT, either. Yes, that NW corner was tough! But the rest was so much fun, who cares?

    Thanks for some nice Monday relaxation, Rufus, and for the blog, Andrew!

  27. Huw Powell says:

    PS, I wanted 12 to be BRACTS.

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