Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,791 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on November 12th, 2012


A typical Rufus, with the usual helpings of cryptic and double definitions, but also (I think) rather more anagrams than usual: these and others gave me a good start, letting the rest be slotted in with very little trouble.

6. SPRY SP (starting price) + RY (railway = track)
8. FULL STOP Cryptic definition
11. INEQUITY IN EQUITY (actors’ trade union)
19. FINDER FRIEND* – a finder “comes across” things
21. PROMOTES MOT (French for “word”) in PROSE*
22. CANAPE A NAP in CE – I’ve never of canapé as a kind of sofa, but Chambers has it.
25. ABATTOIR A rather grisly cryptic definition
26. FEET FEE + T[hespian]
27. KIDNAPPER KID (child) + NAPPER (slang for head). I’m not keen on the definition – a kidnapper does a bit more than “break the rules”.
1. ROUTE U in ROTE, definition “a way”
4. AU PAIRS AU (French for “at the”) + PARIS*
5. TIPPED OFF Double definition
6. SATSUMA A MUST AS, reversed
7. RIGHT TIME Double definition
14. TOAST RACK Cryptic definition – the soldiers are the ones you dip in a boiled egg
17. POMFRET Double definition – a type of fish, and the liquorice sweet also called a Pontefract cake
18. HUSBAND Double definition
20. NONSTOP Double definition – Chambers only gives the hyphenated version, as it does for most “non”-prefixed words, but I don’t have any great objection to dropping the hyphen.
22. CLARA Hidden in deCLARAtion, with definition “Miss” – “girl”
23. PRIOR Double definition, a Prior being the “superior” of an abbey

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,791 – Rufus”

  1. muffin says:

    Thanks to Rufus and Andrew.
    I loved the definition in 26 ac (“walk on parts”) and the &lit. in 9 ac was satisfying. Not difficult, but very enjoyable.

  2. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I found the top half very easy, the bottom took a little longer.

    I liked Rufus’ cryptic at 20d, for a change. However, I find 8a a straight “double” definition (the two definitions define the same thing); how is it cryptic?

    I didn’t like the spurious In in 16a (yes, I know it is for the surface, but that does not justify it)

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Must have been on form this morning, since I saw the majority of this pretty quickly, which isn’t always the case with Rufus. As you say, the anagrams (and indeed the helpful grid) were of assistance. FEET was very good and I also liked ABATTOIR. CANAPE is one of the French words for ‘sofa’, so that went in straight away. Why we use the same word for those posh nibbles, I’ve never understood.

    Fine puzzle, thank you to Rufus.

  4. Rick says:

    Thanks Andrew! I enjoyed the crossword but I still have problems with some of Rufus’ clues.

    As an example, take 23 down ” Coming before a sup­erior”; I wrote in “ahead” which I think fits the clue pretty well (ahead means “coming before” and “a head” is “a superior”). I accept that “prior” also fits the bill (and is arguably better) but I find it rather frustrating when I get an answer that seems to be entirely consistent with the clue but I can’t be reasonably confident that it’s right. Of course, I realized this particular answer was wrong when I solved some other clues.

    It’s nothing to do with the crossword being on the easy side; for example, when I did the Everyman in the Observer yesterday, I found it easier that today’s Rufus but I was much more confident every time I wrote in an answer. In fairness I do appreciate that, when setting crosswords at the easy end of the spectrum, it’s harder to avoid this sort of problem; perhaps I’m being unduly fussy?

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    Started easily but stiffened a bit on the way. I had to check pomfret (as a fish) and canape. I ticked 6a, 19a, 6d, and 14d. Usual smooth surfaces and clever lateral thinking by Rufus.

  6. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I’m one of those who often finds Rufus puzzles a bit tricky, because of all those cds and dds and consequent ambiguity. He is also fond of grids with lots of unchecked initial letters.

    As K’s D has said, this one had the advantage of a friendly grid and a lot of anagrams, so I found it a breeze. I had come across POMFRET, but always thought that sitting on a CANAPE meant a trip to the dry cleaners.

    Although I often find cryptic def clues difficult to solve, Rufus does write exceedingly good ones: I did enjoy ABATTOIR and TOAST RACK.

  7. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Like Rick I also wrote in confidently ‘ahead’ at 23d.
    In my childhood ‘soldiers’ were always made of buttered bread, never of toast. Am I alone?

  8. John Appleton says:

    8ac doesn’t seem very cryptic; if it’s a double def then I think the two defs are too close in their meanings (a good double def, I think, would require a solution with more than one meaning or sense, and the defs would each point to a different meaning/sense. Here, they point to the same).

    Aside from that, nothing much to quibble over.

  9. Thomas99 says:

    Dave Ellison @2
    I agree that 8a could also be parsed as a Double Definition (although the fact that both defnitions are non-cryptic doesn’t make the clue non-cryptic – the surface is clearly about prison sentences, not punctuation, and if you take the DD route you have to split it up and reinterpret both parts to get to the answer). But Andrew’s parsing is also legitimate and it’s the one I would go for: A full stop is (what Americans etc. call) a period, when added to the end of a sentence.

    Re 16a there is absolutely nothing spurious about “in”; it plays a part in the cryptic reading. You find “recklessly” in S + lap + dash. It’s a matter of taste, but I usually prefer it when the cryptic reading, as here, tells you how the wordplay makes up the word given by the definition in fluent English, rather than simply juxtaposing the two halves. Setters who seem to be of this persuasion include Rufus and Azed. E.g. in Azed 2109, 14a is “Aussie braggart responsible for fifth item in comedy revue? (5)” (“Skit E” (5th item in comedy review) = skite (Aus. word for braggart). He could have had simply “Aussie braggart fifth item in comedy revue? (5)” but his version is to my mind better. Using legitimate links between the parts of the clue can also add misdirection, of course, which seems to be welcomed by most solvers.

  10. SeanDimly says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus.
    Dave Ellison@2
    I take your point about the spurious ‘In’ in 16a, but would agree with Thomas99 that it’s a matter of taste. And for any former 400m runners among us, the surface is absolutely brilliant.

  11. Martin in beds says:

    I also think that 8ac is a dd, and wasn’t too happy with it at first, but on reflection I think that the surface is good enough to justify the slightly weak clue.

  12. Paul S says:

    I hadn’t heard the sofa meaning of canape before, was not keen (like Muffin)on kidnapper, and found most of it quite straightforward – although I did spend too much time trying to make slipshod fit 16ac, which delayed 14dn and 18dn, before realising it was slapdash.

  13. Robi says:

    Good crossword; as others the top half went in very easily, but the bottom half was not so straightforward.

    I particularly liked SLAPDASH (I was happy with the ‘in,’ and this also applied to 400 yards runners ;) ) ABATTOIR and FEET. I also thought FULL STOP was a cd referring to the American one.

  14. Gervase says:

    I agree entirely with Thomas99 about the ‘in’ at the beginning of 16a: ‘In’ [‘second part of race, sprint’, ie the charade] is to be found [‘recklessly’, ie the solution]. Although the clue could be written without it, it is not in any way spurious. Clues very frequently have linking words of phrases between the definition and the secondary part, and nobody remarks on this. The only reason that this one is different is that the order is reversed: ‘in’ [x] (you can find) [y], rather than [y] (is) ‘in’ [x].

    One regular feature of Rufus puzzles, which I don’t remember anyone commenting on, is his arbitrary use of indefinite articles. Sometimes they are essential to the clue – part of a charade – and sometimes they are just there for ornament. In this crossword we have 22a ‘Old sofa provides A rest in church’ – here the ‘a’ appears in the solution, and 19a ‘He comes across as A false friend’ – here it doesn’t. Strictly speaking, the indefinite article in 19a is far more spurious than the ‘in’ in 16a. But who cares…..

  15. sidey says:

    In my childhood ‘soldiers’ were always made of buttered bread

    Bread soldiers? A soldier needs to be capable of standing to attention to earn the name! See

  16. duncan says:

    whatever the soldiers rigidity, they will not stay upright in a toast rack; I challenge you to find pictorial evidence of this. :-)


  17. rowland says:

    I agree with Gervase et al, that the ‘in’ is totally okay. Only problem I’ve had is getting onto this site, very slow and difficult, as it can be, unfortunately.


  18. William says:

    Thank you, Andrew & Rufus.

    K’s Dad @3 I grew up believing a canapé to be the the elegant settee with ornate legs which served as a sort holding area for one’s guests before they are ushered in to dinner, and where they would be served little ‘amuses bouches’ to keep the tummy from rumbling. I have no evidence to support this – it just sounds right and my mother told me (so it must be).

    RCW re soldiers – absolutely! Never toasted.

    Top half in 5 to 10 mins, bottom half rather more. Satisfying puzzle, though.

    UNLOOSE is a strange word isn’t it? Sounds like it should mean the opposite of the way we use it.

  19. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    I liked 20d with brakes/breaks – nice!

    On 16a I found ‘In’ unnecessary. You just need to concatenate S[econd], LAP and DASH.

    I disagree with Thomas99 @9: the clue is not ‘clearly’ about prison – that is just one interpretation. When I looked at the clue I remembered immediately that USA usage is to call a full stop a period, so I was left thinking it was a weak clue.

  20. Paul B says:

    ‘In A + B + C (is) D’, where D is the answer.

    I find it amusing that Guardianistas prohibit a simple cryptic equation like that, when they’ll allow just about anything else (including today’s grid).

    I’d like to echo Rowland’s sentiments about the state the site is in at present. I think Gaufrid is going to do something about it if it carries on like this. Latest one is ‘preview error’ (where you can’t test to see if your post makes any sense). Slow, slow, slow, and I can’t always get in.

  21. Paul B says:

    … that comment took over four minutes to load in, by the way, during which time I had ‘preview error’, ‘internal server error’, ‘duplicate comment warning’, an unsolicited appearance of a preview, and two attempts to refresh the page.

  22. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Gervase @14: “One regular feature of Rufus puzzles, which I don’t remember anyone commenting on, is his arbitrary use of indefinite articles. Sometimes they are essential to the clue – part of a charade – and sometimes they are just there for ornament”.

    I did mention this not so very long ago in one of my comments when there was a discussion going on about ‘padding’ (and surely Paul B was involved, but apart from that I don’t know anymore which blog it was). I wrote there that, as a blogger of nearly every single Dante puzzle, one gets immune to that. It’s not reasonable to mention these things week after week in the blog knowing that nothing will change anyway.
    But I agree with you, yet do not want to grill Rufus/Dante for that as there is something in his puzzles that I really like (and something that has helped me to understand the English better over the years).

    As to this puzzle, some of you saw ABATTOIR (25ac) as a particular highlight. We didn’t like the imagery at all – funny, isn’t it?

    In the meantime this was really a very easy Rufus – let’s face it, reading 24ac, how easy can it get.
    But we ticked-ala-tupu 9ac (POTAGE), 26ac (FEET), 4d (AU PAIRS), 13d (TOLERATE) [even though I am pretty sure I’ve seen this before] and 20d (NONSTOP).

    Thanks, Andrew.

  23. rhotician says:

    13d TOLERABLE appears in FT14057 from July 26 this year.

  24. Daniel Miller says:

    Kidnapped – A much subtler clue surely would have been “He may face life inside!” – Ki-dna-pper. Kipper being face (Kipper and Plaice) & DNA (or “life”)

  25. Thomas99 says:

    Gervase @14 and Sil van den Hoek @22

    The indefinite article’s potential for ambiguity is exploited by lots of setters! I suppose it can sometimes be used wrongly but I don’t see any sign of that here and 19a isn’t Rufus just being arbitrary or perverse. “False friend” is a rather weak, boring anagram indicator – it works but false doesn’t really mean mixed up or redone, whereas “a false friend” seems to me to imply “a wrong version of ‘friend'” so it conveys the anagram idea better. That’s what I thought when I was solving it anyway and it’s why I singled it out on the other site as a particularly good clue. The construction is unusual and potentally confusing (i.e. cryptic), but effective. But the main point is that, while the surface is better with the article, the cryptic instruction is meaningful whether you have it or not, just as you could always clue “De Niro” as either “actor” or “an actor”. Both are correct and the setter tries to use the most confusing or interesting version. A good setter, like a good writer, should surely exploit alternatives and uncertainties, in which English is unusually and famously rich, not avoid them. And the solver should be aware of them – s/he should know for instance that we can say both “I’ve been talking to miserable Toby” and “I’ve been talking to a miserable Toby” and that the difference between the two is quite subtle (it’s like in the clue – “a miserable Toby” carries a stronger implication that he wasn’t always thus). This doesn’t mean you have to like the clue, but I certainly think it works.

  26. Mrrichard says:

    ‘One breaking the rules’ is just a really bad definition for kidnapper (full stop). Using that logic it could have been anything from cheat to murderer and everything in between.

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    But ‘it’ IS one breaking the rules.
    How explicit should a definition be (or how vague, in the world of RCW)?
    I’m fine with it.
    It was clear that the clue would start with KID – what else can you get then?
    Does it prevent you from getting the answer? Not really.
    And, subsequently, does the answer match the definition?
    I think this is Much Ado About Nothing.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Oh, and BTW, Thomas99: ““False friend” is a rather weak, boring anagram indicator”.
    We thought it wasn’t.
    “False friend” is a well-known linguistic term, without doubt deliberately thrown into this clue by Rufus – quite nice.

  29. stiofain says:

    On the forum problems has google-analytics been added recently?
    On the xword good old Rufus.

  30. rhotician says:

    Faux ami is French for false friend. Both expressions are in Chambers! Perversely they give an example from Italian.

    BTW, Sil, have you remembered FT14057 yet?

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, dear Rhotician, one can’t recall everything in life.
    But credits to you.
    Unfortunately, Rufus/Dante does this ever so often.
    The only thing I can say about it is: I wouldn’t.

  32. Paul B says:

    ‘Another chance to see’ … you get it on The Beeb all the time. But people complain there too, don’t they.

    Re the peppering of ‘A’s and ‘THE’s that R’s puzzles get, I guess the main difficulty is that adding them in just to plump surfaces seems slightly unfair: when they’re a part of the wordplay (as in ‘the compiler’ = THE/ ME) it’s a different matter of course.

  33. Paul B says:

    Well, that only took about 5 minutes to post. Then the page crashed …

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