Fifteensquared

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).

Across
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)

Down
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”)
10. PSYCHOANALYSE – anagram of NASHES PLAY COY
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.
    So we have the couples RECENT+CENTRE, THEODORA+DOROTHEA, THREE+THERE, POLYESTER+PROSELYTE and so forth.
    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:

    http://media.ft.com/cms/c9713d70-5c89-11df-bb38-00144feab49a.pdf

  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!

    http://media.ft.com/cms/d4ec603a-5c89-11df-bb38-00144feab49a.pdf

  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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