Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,080 / Jason

Posted by Agentzero on May 19th, 2009


A few of these clues are underwhelming, unless they possess some cleverness that I have missed.  Many of the surfaces are also awkward or don’t make a lot of sense.  Or maybe I’m just cranky today…

1 MUFFLE FF (very loud) in MULE (donkey)
4 SMASH HIT S (son) MA (mother) SH (quiet) HIT (beat)
9 SERENE SER[f] (slave almost) + ENE[my] (foe — “my” must go)
10 FLORENCE L (Latin) OR (gold) in FENCE (dealer)
12 IBEX I B (start to breed) EX (old mate)
13 RESISTANCE IS ER reversed + STANCE (standpoint)
15 UGLY DUCKLING UGLY (foul) DUCK (bird) LING (fish)
18 TABASCO SAUCE I think this is just a cd.  I may be missing something, but if not it’s not very satisfactory. 
21 SUBSTITUTE *(IS TUTU BEST) It appears that “replace letters” serves as both anagram indicator and definition here (unless the anagram indicator is simply the qm after the fodder).
22 ZEST Z (the final letter) EST (“is,” in French)
24 HEADGEAR HEAD (pate) GEAR (stuff); “crumpet” is slang for one’s head.
25 RAVINE IN (popular) in RAVE (jabber)
27 PLIERS *(PERIL) + S (spades)
1 MYSTIQUE MY ST (stone belonging to me) I QUE (Quebec)
2 FORMERLY FORM (class) + R in ELY (small city)
3 LINK dd
6 SCRUTINISE *(CRUST IN) + ISE (homophone of “eyes,” i.e., goggles)
7 HONING hidden clue
8 THEBES THE BES[t] (very nearly top notch)
11 MERCHANT NAVY cd; ref “tramp steamers”
14 ADVANTAGED I’m not sure about this one.  I can see that “daughter” = D and “point” = VANTAGE, but I don’t see where the initial “A” comes from. Please see Rishi’s comment #1 below:  if daughter wins deuce point, it will be ADVANTAGE D
16 JUVENILE J (judge) UVE (homophone of “you’ve”) NILE (river)
17 RESTLESS If you “keep moving” you REST LESS
19 ESCHEW [fl]ES[hy] (“what’s at the heart of fleshy”) CHEW (champ)
20 I-BEAMS I (one) BEAMS (sends)
23 BAIL B (bachelor) AIL (trouble)

14 Responses to “Financial Times 13,080 / Jason”

  1. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Maybe in 14ac, we’ve to read “daughter’s deuce point” as “Advantage D”.

  2. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Sorry, 14d.

  3. Rene Pogel says:

    I agree about “advantage D”.

    Out of mild interest: for words that end in “homophone eyes” is the convention always -ise not -ize? Not complaining just asking.

  4. Sam says:

    Do you suppose something went wrong with that substitute clue (21a)? I can’t make sense of it at all, unless someone would care to explain it please.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Rene
    In the UK, it could be either since Chambers, COED and Collins generally give -ise and -ize as acceptable alternatives. On the other side of the pond however it is a different matter since American English only uses -ize (according to my copy of Webster’s).

  6. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    My interpretation of 21ac:

    Is Tutu best? Replace letters (10)

    Is Tutu best? – anag fodder

    Replace letters – read re-place letters – anag signal; as mentioned in the blog, this does double duty as the def for req’d word.

    Not a really good clue as the components are so disparate. And the surface reading is not that great.

  7. Sam says:

    Thanks Rishi, yes that’s what I mean, the surface. I can’t imagine any situation where someone would say it (presuming it refers to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.)

  8. Agentzero says:

    Thanks, Rishi, for clarifying 14d.

    Yes, Sam, 21ac was one of the clues I was thinking of when I complained about the surfaces.

  9. smiffy says:

    This is one of those unfortunate puzzles that seems not to serve any constituency. Too awkward or clunky for regulars to savour, but nor is it particularly friendly to the novice solver.

    Fortunately, even compared to just a couple of years ago, these types of puzzle are fewer are farther between in the FT these days. I think that the xwd ed has done a good job of upgrading the roster of setters in recent times.

  10. smiffy says:

    A clarification. Having just re-read my comment, I was NOT attempting to imply that Jason should be considered as a Highlander-in-waiting.

  11. Arden says:

    In the light of Smiffy’s remarks, can somebody tell me what happened to Highlander – I am curious to know. Thanks

  12. smiffy says:

    That particular setter often met with less-than-rave reviews in these quarters (and I will confess to being the most strident critic). The issue being that there nothing wrong, per se, with a puzzle being easy. That’s only one dimension of a puzzle, and can be more than compensated for by aspects such as amusement level or overall tone. However, if both elements are missing on a regular basis then people (or at least I) start to talk.

    Coincidentally, Highlander has not appeared in the FT for several months. No causality implied – this is a chatroom and not a hotbed of activism. However, I didn’t want people to conflate my two paragraphs in #9 and construe them as a vote of no confidence in Jason.

    Hope that answers your question, without really answering your question…

  13. Arden says:

    Thanks very much Smiffy, Highlander has not appeared since October 2008. As a relative novice I found the occasional ‘easier’ puzzle had a positive effect on my motivation.

  14. nmsindy says:

    I did not tackle this puzzle, but I have done many FT puzzles by Jason in the past. I’ve found them elegant with well-constructed clues. I would not have thought them easy by FT standards. There was the occasional theme too if I recall e.g. related words symmetrically placed in the grid. In other words, I’d recommend Jason to solvers.

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