Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13053 / Phssthpok

Posted by shuchi on April 17th, 2009


I got off to a breezing start with this puzzle, filled in 90% of the grid without pause but then unravelling the wordplay for a few of them took some thinking. Not sure of 13A, 14D still. (13A, 14D annotations updated based on Geoff’s inputs. Thanks!)

Two new words for me – TAOISEACH and SPLIFF. It was good to find my favourite artist Escher mentioned.


9 LET ON L with NOTE reversed
10 MIDDLE AGE 40-60 years is middle age, and “g” is literally the middle of aGe. This reminded me of the DOUBLET clue from yesterday’s FT.
11 FARTHINGS FAR (distant) THINGS (objects)
12 PEARL PEAL (ring) containing R (queen)
13 FLOATING VOTERS Reverse wordplay, floating voters => anagram of “voters” to give “strove”
18 PHANTASMAGORIA (A GHOST IN A PRAM A)* It helps to get a long word into the grid on sight.
20 RISER dd early riser, and ‘flight’ as in stairs
22 OVERTRUMP OVERT (exposed) RUMP (bottom) Amusing one.
24 TAOISEACH TAO (According to Confucius, the right way) IS before EACH
25 TOTEM TOTE (carry) M (“my” opening)
27 TOPLESS TESS (the Hardy heroine) around (POLE – E)*


1 SPLIFF SPLI (almost tore i.e. split) FF (very loud)
2 INTER ALIA hidden in ‘wINTER A LIAr’
3 LYNCH odd letters removed from ‘sLaY eNoCh He’
6 TELEPHOTO LE (the French) P (place) HOT (passionate) O (love) after TE (Toulouse empties) A litle too wordy. I used to think that telephoto was an adjective for lens, not a noun but my dictionary makes me wiser.
7 LLAMA (A MALL) reversed
8 SEEDLESS “missing top players” is seedless…is the other definition “Orange might be”? I’d be happier if something like “what an orange might be” led to SEEDLESS.
14 ASTERISKS (SKIE + STARS)* ‘stars’ is doing double-duty as the definition and part of the anagram fodder.
15 GRAPESHOT GRAPES (they make wine) HOT (live). Appreciate that though used twice (6D, 15D), HOT was indicated differently in each case.
16 ETIQUETTE TE (limits of ‘the’) up and down around (QUITE)*
17 SPIRITED DIPS (goes down) reversed, around RITE (service)
21 SLOOP POOLS reversed
22 OP ART O (love) PART (some)
23 TOT UP cd (Edited. Thanks Eileen.)

8 Responses to “Financial Times 13053 / Phssthpok”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    Hi Shuchi
    13a This is one of those reverse clues where ‘floating voters’ means an anagram of ‘voters’ to give ‘strove’.

    14d I read this as ‘stars’ being both the definition and part of the anagram fodder.

  2. shuchi says:

    Hi Geoff, Thanks! I should’ve got the reverse clueing for 13a, I’ve been seeing plenty of it recently.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Shuchi

    Re SPLIFF: Araucaria in the Guardian two days ago had ‘joint meshing of lips making a lot of noise’.

    23dn must be TOT UP – but TOP UP makes more sense.

  4. shuchi says:

    Thanks Eileen. TOT UP it is, that’s what I have in my grid. While writing the blog I somehow entered TOP UP, probably my subconscious too thought it was a better answer.

  5. smiffy says:

    G’day all,

    I had TOP UP for 23D, and am willing to stick to my guns on it. It’s “to pup”, as a mother raising her litter.

    My moment of enlightment today was finally (after having encountered the answer about 20 times in my solving life) learning an example (Escher) of what constitutes OP ART.

  6. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    But to pup is just to beget. Raising or rearing is quite another thing!

  7. Eileen says:

    But, Smiffy, what have you got for 25ac?

  8. smiffy says:

    Ummmm, I guess that would be….TOTEM.

    Please disregard my earlier brainfart. Wasn’t cross-checking the clue and the answer. (I’ll hurried unstick my guns and retreat).

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