Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,398 by Cinephile

Posted by Pete Maclean on June 10th, 2010

Pete Maclean.

Prize puzzle from the Weekend FT of May 29
This puzzle is a brilliant feat by Cinephile in that all the symmetrically paired across clues are anagrams of each other — a fact that I did not even notice until Sil pointed it out to me. (See comments below.)

I found it a bit harder than most Cinephiles, especially the top-right corner. From it, I learned that Dorothy (and the variants of the name in the puzzle) means gift of God. And I like that! And I like the ingenious triple definition in 21D (RATTLE), plus 14A (CHARISMA) and 15D (ABSTINENT).

1. RECENT – RE (about) + CENT (money)
4. THEODORA – THE (the) + ODOR (smell for American) + A (a)
10. POLYESTER – LYE (caustic solution) in POSTER (publicity)
11. IRATELY – I (I) + RAT (desert) + ELY (cathedral)
12. IN TEARS – A[rtichokes] in INTERS (plants)
13. LIES – double definition
14. CHARISMA – CHAR (domestic help) + IS MA (has children)
17. ARCHAISM – ARCH (knowing) + IS (is) in AM (earlier hours)
19. ISLE – homophone (“aisle”). Would this clue not be better written as “…being impossibility without water”?
22. RETSINA – S (southern) in RETINA (eyepiece). Nice cryptic cluing here.
24. REALITY – RE[g]ALITY (kingship with G removed)
25. PROSELYTE – PROSE (plain language) + LYTE (insubstantial sound). Is LYTE intended as a homophone here? Chambers gives “lyte” as a variant spelling of “light”.
26. THERE – THE (the) + RE (technical branch — Royal Engineers, I assume)
27. DOROTHEA – HE (man) in DO (party) + ROTA (list)
28. CENTRE – C (roughly, as in circa) + ENTRE[at] (appeal, at lost)

1. RETRIALS – RETR[o] (faux-antique style abandoning love) + I ALS[o] (so do I [abandoning love])
2. CARTAGENA – CARTAGE (transportation) + NA (North America)
3. NEEDED – DEE (river) in DEN (retreat) all backwards
5. HOLD IN RESERVE – HOL (break) + DIN (row) + RE (about) + SERVE (tennis stroke)
6. ORESTES – ORES (deposits) + TES (upset!)
7. OSTIA – OS (large) + TIA (liqueur for Maria)
8. ARREST – homophone (“a rest”)
15. ABSTINENT – AB (sailor) + TIN (money) in SENT (dispatched)
16. TERYLENE – RYLE (former astronomer) in TENE[t] (incomplete belief). The astronomer in question is Sir Martin Ryle, an eminent radio astronomer and one-time Astronomer Royal. It does strike me as a bit odd to refer to him as a “former” astronomer — it’s not like he gave up astronomy and took up a different career.
18. CHICEST – IC (first century) in CHEST (large box)
20. TRIPOD – RIP (old rogue) in TOD (fox)
21. RATTLE – triple (!) definition
23, 9. TWO OR THREE – O (nothing) in WORTH (value) in TREE (plant)

I have been writing this blog for three years now and am moved to reflect on how the experience has changed my solving. For a start, it has made me a better and faster solver after 20 odd years of more casual crosswording. I think there are two chief reasons why I have improved. First is because I have to be more analytical about clues in order to blog them. Previously I would frequently guess answers without ever fully figuring out the wordplay involved. Second is because I am forced to finish each puzzle whereas before I would occasionally give up! The process has also made me more attuned to particular setters and their respective devices. I remain diffident about criticizing clues negatively but, I am happy to say, very rarely find any temptation to do so. By contrast, I take great relish in singling out exemplary clues and do so with increasing confidence. And I look forward to continuing.

15 Responses to “Financial Times 13,398 by Cinephile”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, Pete, this Cinephile was surely ‘a bit’ harder than yesterday’s Dance puzzle.

    And what a special crossword this was.
    As you may nót have noticed [or did you?] all the Across clues are anagrams of each other, symmetrically.
    This is – IMHO – rather stunning!

  2. Pete Maclean says:

    Oh dear! I did notice that there were some such anagrams but I missed the fact that all the across clues are. What a feat!

    Thank you for pointing it out.

  3. anax says:

    Special indeed. I was about halfway through when I first noticed a few symmetrically placed anagrams and from then on I was in awe of the achievement without actually caring if the clues were any good! But they were – spectacularly so.

    It’s hardly a gripe, but seeing what was going on led me to work out some of the ‘grams with scant reference to the clues, but with respect to Cinephile I took the time to go back and parse all of them.

    A brilliant piece of setting.

  4. Pete Maclean says:

    Hi Anax and thanks of your comment. The more I look back at it the more impressed I am.

  5. anax says:

    It’s a shame more solvers haven’t commented on this fantastic puzzle. I know it’s a bit late in the day now, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure I strongly recommend grabbing the crossword while you can:

  6. Wirricow says:

    What a clever puzzle. Thanks for the blog as I could not quite complete it. If anyone sees this could they explain the ‘gift from God’ in 4A & 27A; I got the answers from the wordplay/anagram element but don’t fully understand. Thanks.

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi wiiricow

    As Pete said in his preamble, both THEODORA and DOROTHEA mean ‘gift of God’, from the Greek ‘theos’ [god] and ‘doron’ [gift].

  8. Wirricow says:

    Thank you Eileen, especially for the explanation of the root. I was so surprised about the symmetrically paired anagrams, which I hadn’t noticed at all, that I obviously skipped the rest of the preamble.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks to Cinephile, and also to Eileen and Sil for drawing this brilliant puzzle to my attention in a Guaredian blog! I was too busy solving to notice the anagrams except for the semantic pairing of Dorothea and Theodora. They had said how good it was, and I thought it was quite difficult and they’ve gone a bit OTT – I should have gazed at it hard and long afterwards.

  10. Eileen says:

    I’m really glad you enjyed it, tupu – now for the Loroso!

  11. tupu says:

    Will have a look. Incidentally, may I ask you to have a look if you will at my comment on today’s Puck piece. Everyone so busy arguing about motorways that my note re Mr Walsh and also about ‘unfortunate’/poor went unremarked. I’d be glad to know if you’ve any ideas on this.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I wasn’t sure where to reply!

    I couldn’t believe how long the ‘road rage’ went on – totally off-topic, really! As you say, it did mean that a lot of the rest of the puzzle went almost unnoticed.

    I think you’re probably right about Mr Walsh but I’m not sure what you mean by your reference to poor/unfortunate. The only reference to that clue I can see in your comment is, “While the heart of the 18a clue is in the right place for me, it is clear that not everyone sees it that way.” I can’t see any one else’s comments that you might be referring to, either. Did you mean to query them as synonyms and then forget? If so, I read ‘poor’ as used in expressions like ‘Poor old thing’.

    I think I’m probably being dim – past my bedtime, perhaps. :-)

  13. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    Many thanks for that. No, not dim – I was unclear.

  14. Richard says:

    Thanks for a super blog, Pete.

    I enjoyed this one a lot too, and I must say that on both the last two Saturdays I have enjoyed doing the FT more than the Guardian..

  15. Pete Maclean says:

    Richard, Thanks for commenting.

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