Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,209 / Alberich

Posted by shuchi on October 16th, 2009


Solid, satisfying challenge from Alberich as always.

Clarifications needed for 18A, 29A. // Updated with clarifications. Thanks to Gaufrid.


10 ABUSE AE (Scots word for one) around BUS (public transport). ‘Perth’ threw me off-track at first, I was thinking of Australia.
11 CHURNED CHUR[l] NED (Scottish slang for a young hooligan)
12 EPITHET E (English) PITT (prime minister) around HE (the man)
13 PET ([s]TEP)<
17 SIEGE S (special) E (European) around IE (that is) G (good). ‘stock’ = c/c indicator.
18 SAG SAG[e] (herb). ‘Sag’ is the Hindi word for green leafy vegetables, does ‘spinach’ refer to that? I can’t find this meaning of ‘sag’ in any of the online English dictionaries. // Update: Chambers lists this as a Hindi word for spinach.
19 EYRIE EYRE (Jane) around I
21 HARRY POTTER HARRY (pester) POTTER (one at the wheel). Really nice. It’s good to see contemporary fictional characters in crosswords.
23 TAT Palindrome
25 AUBERGE AUBERGINE (vegetable) – IN (popular)
27 GATWICK TAG (label) reversed, WICK (Scottish town). Gatwick is London’s international airport.
28 TESTY TEST Y = penultimate exam
29 EXTROVERT EX (former)  TRO? VERT (green). I tried to fit in RED for communist out of habit, without success. // Update: ‘communist finally gone’ is TRO[t].


1 EGGCUP EG (for instance) + PUG (dog) reversed around C (cold)
2 BAGUETTE (BUT GET A)* E (drug). ‘pain’ is French for bread.
3 PERNICKETY PER (a) NICK (prison) (YET)*
4 LARD LAD around R
5 WATERTIGHT WATER (soft drink) TIGHT (drunk)
6 MAGI Magi are the ancient priests. MAG 1 = first publication. Quite similar to 28A.
7 BUSHEL US H in BEL (unit of sound, 1 bel = 10 decibels)
8 SENTENCE SENTIENCE (consciousness) – I
15 EAST OF EDEN (SENT A DEFOE)*. John Steinbeck’s novel, quoted often for its gems like “Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.”
16 ABERRATION A + RATIO (relation) in BERN (capital of Switzerland)
17 SCHMALTZ (MATCH S + L)* Z (last character) // Update: ‘S’ included in the anagram. Thanks, Sil van den Hoek.
20 RETAILER dd with a tongue-in-cheek second definition – docker cuts short or de-tails, retailer undoes that or re-tails.
22 ROBUST ROB (chap) U’S (university’s) T[homas]. Hardy = ‘robust’ would be familiar to old hands, but this was clever in weaving in the full name into the clue.
24 TAKE TO TAKE T[w]O. The definition blends so smoothly, I didn’t get this one till almost the end.
26 RHYL R[o]Y[a]L around H. One of the first to get solved, from the wordplay alone. Rhyl is a seaside resort on the north-east coast of Wales.
27 GOTH hidden in ‘upsettinG OTHers’

10 Responses to “Financial Times 13,209 / Alberich”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi shuchi
    18a Chambers gives ‘saag’ or ‘sag’ as a Hindi word for spinach.

    29a ‘communist finally gone’ is TRO[t]

  2. shuchi says:

    Thank you, Gaufrid!

  3. nmsindy says:

    Some very good clues in this, which I found quite hard by FT standards, favourites, like the blogger, HARRY POTTER, also WATERTIGHT.

  4. anax says:

    Blimey! I know Alberich is a top setter and I expect a challenge, but this very nearly did for me. There were a couple of spots where it was my own general knowledge that failed, but everywhere else it was a case of being utterly fooled.

    As usual, hearty ticks all over the place:
    CRESTFALLEN – Superbly crafted bit of wordplay to force the theme into place. I can promise you, from my own experience, this is a mightily difficult trick to pull.
    SIEGE – Great use of the containerind to make a totally convincing surface.
    TESTY – Unexpected but very nice treatment; simple in retrospect but it had me tearing my hair out.
    PERNICKETY – Beauty!
    LARD – I have a nagging feeling I’ve seen similar before, but you know what they say about the best jokes.
    MAGI – Like TESTY, so simple when you see it.
    SCHMALTZ – Not really for the clue, just for the sheer balls in tackling such a rotten set of letters. And there’s other stuff but I’ve run out of lines. Top job Alberich!

  5. shuchi says:

    Thanks for your comments, nmsindy and Anax.

    It is always a delight to solve Alberich.

    This was one of the rare cases where I didn’t get any of the anagrams in the beginning. CRESTFALLEN came only after a few crossings, and for a long time I was expecting 3d to be an anagram of (a prison yet). With 2d (BAGUETTE) I didn’t even realize this was an anagram till the very end.

    TESTY and MAGI fell quickly, SIEGE had me confounded till the end. I haven’t seen the LARD device before, and thought it made for a nice surface. Also liked how cleverly the play’s name ‘Measure for Measure’ was used in the BUSHEL clue.

  6. Jake says:

    Top stuff here, I found this a little different from the usual Alberich xwds I’ve tackled in the past. Quite a few letter drops here and Scots words.

    I couldn’t figure out 12, 14, 19 ac & 6 dn. Not actually knowing how the entire cluing worked. So thanks for explanations shuchi.


  7. verbose says:

    The only clue that had me completely stumped was SIEGE. (I got the others quite easily, having found Aardvark’s 13,208 much more difficult.) Is there a system to how certain words get their initial letters into the solution? Why, for example, is Special S, Good G, or European E? I do not find clues of that nature particularly satisfying, perhaps because I don’t understand how they work.

  8. shuchi says:

    @verbose: These come from standard abbreviations for these words. They aren’t necessarily their initial letters, like E can be Spain (from Espana) or I can be electricity (from the symbol in physics). These can be found in dictionaries like Chambers.

    I agree this can get annoying when all it needs to solve a clue is a knowledge of such codes, but one gets used to the common ones after a while. You might want to read my article about crossword abbreviations for more.

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    A late reaction to this wonderful (but difficult) crossword.
    Alberich is certainly not a representative of the “FT being easier than the Guardian
    or The Times”.
    My God, so many extremely clever clues.

    However, 8dn is not quite right, me thinks, because “consciousness” lost the “i” (so just the other way around, and I can’t read it differently).

    The only thing I would like to add, is that 17dn (in the blog) should be seen as (MATCH S + L)* , with “could be” being the anagrind.

  10. shuchi says:

    @Sil van den Hoek: You’re right about 17Dn – I’ll fix that – thanks!

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

nine − 1 =