Never knowingly undersolved.

FT 12,970/Alberich

Posted by smiffy on January 9th, 2009


It’s hard to say exactly why Alberich’s puzzles amuse me so much. They seem to exude a sense of attention to detail and cliche-avoidance, which suggest that the clue-writing process was a labour of love. Several clues do flirt with the verbose end of the spectrum, but without seeming to be overly clunky. Maybe the xwd editor agrees, as he appears to have provided a regular berth in the FT these days.

1 CH(AMP)IONSHIP – A,M,P in (His Chopin)*. The anagrind “Brahms and Liszt” tickled me. Doubt we’ll run into that again for a while.
9 T(RAN)SOM – ran in most(rev)
11 RE,T,I,NUE – “On time”= RE + T is a deviously subtle ploy.
12 CHIM(E)RA – E(uropean) in (charm I)*. I knew of this mythological beast, but didn’t realised that it could also be used generically to describe anything fanciful in nature.
13 RU(NI)C – The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) used to operate (for want of a better word) in, unsurprisingly, Ulster (NI).
14 U(NRELAT)ED – (learnt)*. Another good example of spotting and interweaving multiple related elements.
19 PUR[-g]ER – Simple, but effective.
21 O,PE(N)ERS – a slightly prolix, but nonetheless precise, &lit.
23 EM,ERSON – Ralph Waldo of that ilk. ME (Maine)rev + [-p}ERSON.
24 SAN,C(T)UM – more admirable surface-rendering.
25 HAIR GEL – (head girl)* – l
26 SPEED CAMERAS – (clampers eased)* – l. One of the least-missed features of Blighty, to this expat.

2 ARSENIC – r in (as nice)*. Is it me, or has the setter-friendly definition “As” become almost painfully trendy in recent months?
3 PERSE,CUTE – homophone of “Percy”.
4 O,P,TIC – Even though he was a “screw” rather than a “copper”, I couldn’t help but think of Mr Mackay from Porridge here.
6 INSPE,C[-a]T – another smoothly coherent surface.
7 LIBRARY BOOKS – punning def’n.  The penny-dropping moment here was a bit of a damp squib for me.
10 MEAN(DER)ING,LY – “On the contrary” in this context means “reverse the container/contents indication”.
18 W,[-t[RESTLE
19 PREMIER – double def’n. Re: the hierarchy of football divisions.  Certain teams to spend their existence yo-yoing between the Championship and the Premier League.
20 RE(S)IGNS – “Bob”=shilling. My passing familiarity with pre-decimalisation currency is entirely crossword-derived.
22 SUMAC – (Camus)rev. Camus’ existentialist works featured far too prominently in the Literature portion of my French studies. Probably a genre that’s best introduced to people after they have stopped being pre-occupied with adolescent trivialities.

4 Responses to “FT 12,970/Alberich”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Pleasing puzzle, a little harder than usual from Alberich. My favourite was OPENERS in the SW corner that was trickiest for me.

  2. Eileen says:

    Great blog of a superb puzzle. Thanks, Smiffy.

    I really loved 1ac and thought 11, 12, 13, 25ac and 6dn were great, too.

    My only niggle is with 19dn. I think it’s supposed to be a homophone [‘said to be’] not a double definition, as an opening night is a ‘premiere’ – but they’re pronounced differently.

  3. Anax says:

    Absolutely top notch setting and Smiffy’s “labour of love” comment is spot on – what really shines in this puzzle is the exuberance of intricate, very carefully observed wordplay. I’ve got appreciative ticks all over this one – 1A, 16A, 21A, 26A, 2D, 6D, 7D and 18D offered pure delight and there are many more “nice one” moments.

    Great stuff – more Alberich please.

  4. Smutchin says:

    I can only echo everything Eileen and Anax said about both the puzzle and Smiffy’s blog. Great stuff!

    1a and 25a are my favourites.

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