Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,910 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on April 1st, 2013


No April foolery here (unless I’ve been fooled..), just the usual type of puzzle we expect from Rufus; if anything rather easy even by his standards, apart from one possibly obscure word that is rather unhelpfully clued.

1. INTERLUDE (TILE UNDER)*, definition “break”
6. GEAR Double definition
8. MANIFOLD MAN (servant) IF OLD
9. PIVOTS IV (Roman 4) in POTS (vessels)
10. JERBOA Cryptic definition of a hopping desert rodent. Quite easy to get if you know the word, but some more explicit wordplay would be helpful to those that don’t.
11. IGNORANT (Not very cryptic) definition, referring to the phrase “blissful ignorance”
15. GAINSAID GAIN + SAID. The “gain” part of this word, meaning “denied”, comes from the same source as “against”
16. BELLYFUL Double definition – to have a bellyful of something is to have too much of it
21. CATARACT Double definition – waterfall and eye problem
22. DILATE I’D< + LATE. Chambers gives “to speak at length” as one definition – not a common usage, I'd say, though the clueing in this case makes it easy to guess
24. RIMINI Hidden in tRIM IN Italy
26. BRIG [spinnake]R in BIG
27. MANEATERS NEAT in MARES*. Neat=cattle is the sort of thing you only know from doing crosswords
1. IRATE I + R + ATE (Greek goddess of mischief)
2. THIMBLE Cryptic definition
3. RIOJA RIO + JA – a rather familiar charade for this Spanish wine
4. UNDOING Double definition
5. EXPENSIVE PENS (swans) + IV (another Roman four) in EXE (river) – “bread” = money
6. GOVERNS G + OVER + NS. G could be either the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth’s surface (32 feet per second per second in old money), usually written as lower-case g, or the (upper-case) universal gravitational constant, which is Earth’s gravity, and everything else’s
7. ATTENTION Double definition
13. GRENADIER DANGER* + I.E. (that is) + R
18. LET-DOWN Double definition
20. BALANCE Double definition – if you lose your bank balance you may go into the red
22. DOGMA DOG (follow) + MA (graduate)
23. TASKS T[he] + ASKS (demands)

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,910 – Rufus”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    This will be a puzzle that Rufus fans will enjoy, I think. A reasonably helpful grid (unlike some recent ones) and enough ‘easy’ clues to get you going before you do battle with the cds and dds. Speaking of which, BELLYFUL was the one I liked best today.

    I knew JERBOA, so that was one that I also liked. One man’s meat and all that.

  2. michelle says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle by Rufus. My absolute favourite was THIMBLE and I also liked GAINSAID, DEFEATISM, BRIG, GEAR, MANIFOLD & UNDOING.

    I learnt quite a few new words & definitions today: the goddess ATE, ‘neat’ = ‘cattle’, DILATE = ‘speak at length’, CATARACT = ‘waterfall’ and JERBOA (last in).

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

  3. Frank says:

    Nice and straightforward, though I needed help with 10a. Loved being sent in the wrong direction with 2 down as I spent 5 mins thinking “sewer” was something to do with waste products.

  4. Kim says:

    Thank you for your blog!

  5. muffin says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus
    Easy, as you say, but quite entertaining. I liked JERBOA and EBBING, as it was, to my slight embarrassment, my last one in.

  6. Colin says:

    Thanks to Rufus and Andrew.

    Not so easy today for me and I hadn’t heard of JERBOA so that one beat me.

  7. Brian-with-an-eye says:

    Different strokes for different folks – I just don’t like Rufus’s cryptic defs, and thought THIMBLE was weak while 10A was arguably simply unfair. I had SERBIA as the answer, and I’m sure I could devise a reasonable justification, given time.

  8. PaulW says:

    Guessed the more common spelling of Jerboa (rather than Gerboa) was the answer required.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    Jerboa held me up a bit but I liked it when the penny dropped.

    Also liked ‘bellyful’.

    Overall, the usual Rufus stuff with good surfaces. I checked that ‘neat’ was the plural of ‘neat’ in 27a but the answer was clear enough.

  10. Algarve Nick says:

    Sorry but I think with Rufus it’s quantity rather than quality. A crossword production line with each one dashed off as quickly as possible with the minimum of thought. I know that he’s held in high esteem by many, maybe because of his longevity and high productivity, but every Monday I can’t help but feel somewhat short-changed by him. Basically not up to Guardian standard. Sorry again, but I feel it needs saying.

  11. colin says:

    Algarve Nick @10

    I know there are some who find Rufus too easy. Fair enough, if you think that although I think the majority here favour a range of difficulty. What I can’t understand is this accusation that Rufus clues are spewed out with no consideration for quality. I would struggle to find a setter who produces better surfaces. I don’t expect to take all day solving a Rufus crossword but I am always confident the experience will be enjoyable.

  12. Robi says:

    Enjoyable Rufus fare.

    Thanks Andrew; I stared at JERBOA for a while before concluding it was a cd, and in retrospect quite a clever one. I did like GAINSAID for the misleading ‘announced’ that had me puzzled for some time. I thought IGNORANT was rather weakly clued, although the rest were fine, in my opinion.

  13. Robi says:

    colin @11; well said! I assume Algarve Nick @10 is not a compiler. It isn’t that easy to provide a range of clues with decent surfaces. I suspect if this puzzle did not appear on a Monday and was anonymous there would be less unnecessary criticism.

  14. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Rufus and Andrew,

    JERBOA was the last in as it rang a bell but rather faintly!

    Buona Pasqua a tutti!

    Giovanna xx

  15. coltrane says:

    Thank you Rufus and Andrew. I enjoyed this and needed the explanation for 10a which I did not know. As Yogi Berra said “it’s déjà vu all over again” with this Monday’s posts. It seems ironic that the criticisms of this compiler for being “production line” are, well, so, um, “production line”!!

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    I had always thought that neat was one animal but I see it used here as a plural. I shall have to remember that.

  17. chas says:

    How are people doing with Saturday’s puzzle?
    I am a Radio3 listener so I had no trouble identifying the two bicentenarians but I have been struggling to solve the clues!

  18. muffin says:

    Chas @ 17
    You might find some help at this site:

  19. NeilW says:

    Sorry, coltrane @15. After last week’s mauling, I had resolved never, to quote one of my attackers, to “raise my head above the parapet” again but perhaps Rufus’ defenders are equally operating without much more than automatic responses? Perhaps there might, from time to time, be a grain of truth in the objections?

    10ac is a case in point. Faced with _E_B_A to fit in the grid, for which I can only see, place names apart, either CEMBRA or JERBOA, both equally obscure and completely unmatched by the other solutions and hardly easy words for the beginner, might not a compiler in less of a hurry have time to unpick the northwest corner of the grid and find a more suitable combination of words? (Or, at the very least, provide more of a way in than a CD.)

    Rufus writes for many different publications and was, if memory serves, producing 40 puzzles a week, at one time at least. If he’s still doing so, then certainly we should all admire his facility but not be quite so fast to shoot down every criticism of every puzzle. To be honest, my main objection to Rufus, what I was trying to explain last week before I was shut up, is that he is simply too hard for beginners and not an ideal learning experience: no one would ever suggest that he move to the Quiptic section would they?

  20. serene says:

    Jerboa had me totally foxed and I couldn’t parse irate. I am improving as a result of setters like Rufus, not to mention learning new words/contexts for words. Many other people will also get hooked on the cryptic following this method.

  21. muffin says:

    NeilW @19
    How about “Re a job, strangely, desert springs keep it going.”? Too easy now, I suspect.

  22. colin says:

    Chas @17

    I would suggest that 1 and 16 on both grids are quite gettable and will open up the grids a little. The themes really do run through each grid and not just a few clues so as you are familiar with the subject matter you should be able to make progress. It is a remarkable achievement by the Rev but I found it not to be as enjoyable as I had hoped. I’ll say no more but I suspect there might be considerable discussion about this when it is blogged here.

    Muffin @18. I’m not sure I like solutions being posted on a public site while a competition puzzle is in progress although of course there’s nothing that can be done about it. Just my opinion of course.

  23. muffin says:

    Colin @22
    I take your point, but did you look at the site? Mainly (not exclusively, I admit) pointers rather than solutions to prize crosswords are given – though solutions are readily given for non-prize crosswords when requested.

  24. Robi says:

    NeilW @19; I guess it depends on whether you think this is supposed to be a beginner’s puzzle. I would say not as there is the beginner’s Quiptic on the same day and also the Everyman on Sunday, which I think is an excellent beginner’s crossword with characteristically very smooth surfaces.

    Yes, Rufus is at the easy end of the Guardian spectrum, but that does not equate with being for beginners. Personally, although I struggled a bit to get JERBOA, I thought it was a good cryptic clue (by the way, he could also have used Lesbia as well as place names.) The dd’s and cd’s are not to everyone’s liking but they make a change.

    I did start the Guardian crosswords with Rufus one day, not realising that it was supposed to be straightforward. As a beginner, I then fell foul of the subsequent days until I found this site, which is a godsend for all those just starting out.

  25. Robi says:

    P.S. We could do with a few more beginners doing, and commenting here, on the Quiptic – in case anyone hasn’t found it, it is at: with a nice, helpful blog from Big Dave.

  26. colin says:

    Muffin @23

    I think I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, it’s just that for me the crossword setter has given what he or she considers to be a fair clue and the challenge is for the solver to untangle it. But then I have nothing against googling or using other solving aids so I’m probably not even being consistent. Hints on the daily puzzles seem fine as people need to progress in their solving ability but somehow I feel the prize crosswords are different. As I say, just my opinion and I fully respect others will differ with me on this.

  27. muffin says:

    Colin @ 26
    Your opinion is entirely fair and I’m sure would be supported by many.

    I would strongly disapprove of anyone getting answers from a site such as I suggested, then entering the solution for a prize – that would seem to be dishonest. No way to know if this happens, but I hope it doesn’t.

  28. chas says:

    Thanks to all those who responded to my post earlier.

    One man’s meat is …
    Colin @22 said “1 and 16 are quite gettable”. I agree on 16 but I’m no further forward on 1 :(

    I think at this point I should stop otherwise Gaufrid is liable to rap my knuckles.

  29. HKColin says:

    i don’t comment often any more but feel compelled to write in support of NeilW@19. One of the joys of Fifteensquared is the courtesy and respect shown to contributors. But it seems that anyone who dares to criticise a Rufus offering is subjected to an orchestrated barrage of polite but pointed abuse. The most frequent charge levelled at any Rufus detractor is one of elitism for not recognising that Rufus has been directed to produce an easy puzzle to cater to beginner solvers.

    I agree with NeilW that such a defence carries no weight. Rufus’s Monday offerings contain many very easy clues but are often sprinkled with others which require specialised knowledge and/or access to research aids.

    I appreciate all the puzzles to which I have access and gain enjoyment from Rufus as well but feel that it should be possible to suggest here that 10ac is a poor clue for a somewhat obscure word and that 3dn and 21ac should be put out to pasture. 8 and 9ac on the other hand were delightful.

  30. Paul B says:

    And yet, one very good way for beginners (real ones) to get acquainted with compilerly ruses is to press ‘solution’, get all the answers into the grid the quick way, and then work backwards. It did the trick for me at any rate!

    Re Rufus as beginner-fodder, I don’t really buy it. Generally speaking he’s easy for people who are good at solving the likes of Araucaria and Enigmatist, but still he can bemuse and baffle.

    On the other hand, and apart from cheating as outlined above, I actually learned how to cold-solve pretty much exclusively with Araucaria puzzles, such was my mentor’s (Jed the trombonist) enthusiasm for same. In other words, begin with whom you like: in terms of learning Crossword Speak (which applies to all puzzles) it doesn’t really make any difference as far as I can see.

  31. Paul B says:

    (He was much better at solving than playing the trombone, sadly.)

  32. coltrane says:

    I enjoy all sorts of crossword puzzles and and for my sins I enjoy cds. Today Rufus is called to task for an obscure answer and a not too helpful cd. Fair enough!! But in the previous Prize, Paul, comes up with two bits of complete doggerel as answers, which we are expected to accept because Weird Al Jankovich is cited as its source. I ask you!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I like Paul’s puzzles, but I do not see the same critical condemnation used on Paul (or some others) as I do with Rufus.

    On a different subject, since when on Fifteensquared, have we started to comment on the Prize a week ahead of the date for submission and the Blog. I think it is a worrying trend and we should all show a bit more restraint. Sorry if that is blunt but it is how I feel.

  33. Eileen says:

    Hi coltrane

    It’s clearly stated in ‘Site Policy’ that we don’t discuss Prize crosswords before the closing date / blog [says she, who has already blogged this puzzle – without ‘cheating’!].

  34. colin says:

    Fair enough. Knuckles duly rapped and apologies all round.

  35. chas says:

    When I mentioned the current prize puzzle I was careful to give away no information – I simply asked how other people were getting on, given that I was having trouble solving the individual clues.

    Sadly the responses received suggested to me that other people were finding it easier than I was :(

  36. AlexM says:

    The Monday Rufus often comes as a bit of light relief after Friday/Saturday. Today’s was almost all fine, if you accept that Rufus is going to include some clues that are barely cryptic. But I was defeated by 10a. Not a word I knew and didn’t seem any way to derive it from the wordplay. Not a great fan of that type of clue.

  37. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Usual Rufus fare.

    I must yet agree with the “gainsayers” and have nothing to add. Thankfully I am busy with website development at the moment so haven’t yet finished the Saturday Prize.

    Muffin @27

    I find your use of the emotive “dishonest” amusing! The setter provides an empty grid which the solver has to fill with the same letters that the setter has omitted. As a guide some clues are provided. Where does it say or even hint that no assistance must be sought?

    Is doing it with a friend OK?

    How about with a group of friends? :-o

    Have you read Alberich on Cheating? ?

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog?

  38. muffin says:

    Brendan @ 37
    I think you must have misread my posting. I have no objection at all to using Google and the Internet etc. to aid in solving a crossword. The “dishonest” refers to entering a prize crossword when some of the clues have been solved by helpers on the Net.

  39. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Muffin @38

    I was only saying that I thought “dishonest” seemed a little over the top.

    Entering a prize crossword with answers supplied by complete strangers could be described as many things:


    But I don’t see how it’s dishonest as there aren’t any rules for a prize crossword. I think one of Alberich’s points in his article is that people make accusations of cheating regarding crosswords based on perceived rules which don’t actually exist.

    All one has to do is supply a correctly completed grid. The way the answers are obtained makes no difference to the validity of the entry. It is purely a matter of personal choice.

  40. rocktv says:

    Hmm … This was an enjoyable puzzle, although I lost quite a bit of time as I was convinced that 26a was “ERNE” ( For the life of me, I couldn’t see how “LEADING” was supposed to fit. Did any one else have this problem or did “BRIG” strike all of you right away?

  41. Paul B says:

    Re Brendan etc, oh yawn. Yet another protracted discussion of the blindingly obvious is really not very welcome.

  42. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Re Paul @41

    My opinions may not be welcome to you but I am entitled to them. And as this is a public messageboard I am entitled to air them here.

    Your comment may breach the forum rules but I still welcome it.

    P.S. It seems you agree with our “blindingly obvious” comments.

    P.P.S. Are you related to Rufus?

  43. Brian Philp says:

    Gerboa is an alternative spelling.
    So is this a faulty clue?

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