Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 12904 / Phssthpok

Posted by C G Rishikesh on October 21st, 2008

C G Rishikesh.

I have been blogging every Tuesday since March 2008 but this is the first time I encountered a puzzle by Phssthpok.
I enjoyed solving this crossword, which is of average difficulty.
At the end of the alloted time, three clues remained to be solved – they are all in the bottom right corner.


1 PIERCING – hom. of “peer sing”
5 SCRAWL – s, crawl (stroke, term. from the sport of swimming)
10 SWALLOW – sw(all)ow -‘flying backwards’ in wordplay is a rev. ind.
11 OPPRESS – op, Press
12 OASTS – (-b)oasts
13 NECTARINE – anag. of ‘entrance I’
14 CIVIL SERVICE – solved from def. – wordplay seems to suggest that ‘something done politely for us can easily be returned’ (one good turn deserves another?). Am I missing something here?
18 POET LAUREATE – anag. of ‘operate a lute’ (‘badly’ being the anagrind); I think grammar requires that it should read … “operates a lute” since the subject is “Betjeman or Wordsworth” but I will stand corrected if I am wrong.
21 LOVEBITES – love, bites (“is effective”)
23 Not solved
24 PROVISO – not “pro, viso(-r)” but “pro viso(-r)”
25 UNALIKE – Una, like
26 ESTEEM – E, ‘steem’ (rev. of ‘meets’)
27 REVENGES – I know that ge (rev. of e.g.) is the content in this c/c clue, I also see that ‘clerics’ could give Revs. but I have not sussed out the rest of the wordplay.


1 PASTOR – past, or – I thought “forgotten” for ‘past’ was not quite exact. Things that are bygone are not necessarily forgotten.
2 ELAPSE – E(laps)E – E for Ecstasy (drug) – drugs = drug, drug, E,E
3 CELESTIAL – I got this from def. and hazily from wordplay, which I see just now – ‘estia’, anag. of ‘a site’ (“in flux” being the anagrind), in ‘cell’ (“space”)
4 NO-WIN SITUATION – I think this is anag. of “snow in situ” plus at, ion, “position is hopeless” being the def. No, No. I have just realised that this is a long, hidden clue that was long-hidden for me!
6 CUPPA – Cu(p,p)a
7 APERITIF – a, peri, tif<
8 LISTENER – L, is, tener (anag. of ‘enter’) – How are we to deal with “to”?
9 WORCESTER SAUCE – ‘Worcester’, I know; ‘sauce’, I know, but ‘Worcester sauce’ is new to me; anagram of “wet racecourses”. – What are we to make of “in”? ‘In’ can be a connector to a def. but can it be a connector to anag. fodder?
15 RATIONALE – ration (v. “dole out”), ale – “Excuse” does not seem to be quite an apt synonym for ‘rationale’.
16 APPLE-PIE – two def.? – ‘apple-pie order’ is ‘perfect order'; will ‘apple-pie’ in itself give “order”?
17 LEAVE OUT – leave, out
19 Not solved
20 Not solved
22 BRIBE – “Carrot” is def. (as in “carrot-and-stick policy”), “bachelor” will give B – I don’t see the rest of wordplay.

9 Responses to “Financial Times 12904 / Phssthpok”

  1. Uncle Yap says:

    23A OXBOW Charade of OX (steer) BOW (front of boat)
    19D EBBING reverse hidden (odd characters)
    GoNe In BiBlE
    20D DWEEBS Insertion of WE in DEBS

  2. Eileen says:

    Rishi: 22dn: B in BRIE [cheese]

    You should try Worcester sauce, if it’s available in Madras!

  3. C G Rishikesh says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap and Eileen.

  4. Eileen says:

    PS Rishi: I’ve since consulted Wikipedia re Worcester sauce: I think you’d find its history interesting!

  5. Eileen says:

    27ac: [I missed this one] I think it’s RE [Religious lessons [Religious Education abbr.] + VEN[GE]S [VEN abbr. of Venerable, the title of an Archdeacon]

  6. C G Rishikesh says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    Though I do know the components, I never got round to parsing the clue.

    Ven. is a honorific, a title. I am not sure whether ven. can mean ‘cleric’. Chambers has no support for ‘venerable’ as a noun.

    Is this nitpicking? If so, I am sorry.

  7. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Rishi – but RR has been used for BISHOP in crosswords for as long as I can remember!

  8. Paul B says:

    At 18 the question is whether or not the subject ‘Betjeman or Wordsworth’ warrants the plural form of the verb – I don’t know!

    But I wonder if, as the subject clearly offers alternatives (i.e. the one or the other and not both) it really ought to be ‘operates’ as Rishi says. On the other hand, if the usage is natural and idiomatic, you can get away with it.

    Grammatically challenged, I would certainly welcome any further comments on this!

  9. Fletch says:

    I’m inclined to agree that it should be operates.

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