Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,430 / Phssthpok

Posted by Agentzero on July 6th, 2010


I thought this was an excellent puzzle, with a lot of inventive wordplay.

1 PLUMBAGO P (power) LUMBAGO (backache)
6 MERLIN R[ight], L[eft] (both sides) + I (one) in MEN (people)
9 UNISON UNIS (where students are) ON working)
10 EMBITTER IT + T[ime] in EMBER (ash)
11 AXON to have AX ON = to have weapon attached
12 STATUESQUE STAT (immediately) + QUEUES (trains) with the first and second halves switched
16 NABS N (unknown number) ABS (sailors)
18 PALM dd
19 GESTURES RUTS (tracks) reversed in GEES[e] (tailless birds).  Can “raised” signal reversal in an across clue?
22 AWAY Even letters (i.e., “hiding odd characters”) of mAn WeArY
24 DISMOUNT ISM (dogma) and U (what is acceptable) in DON’T
27 PSYCHE PSYCH (steel oneself) E (drug)
28 MOSEYING MOSE[s] (prophet almost) YIN (philosophical principle) G (good)
2 LINUX UN (one in France) reversed in LI (51) + X (10).  I think the slash (“/”), which signifies division and is often read as “over,” is intended to function as a container indicator.  The definition is “5,” referring to 5 down, OPERATING SYSTEM.
3 MISINFORMED hidden answer
4 AGNOSTIC A (article) GNOSTIC (early Christian philosopher)
5 OPERATING SYSTEM cd.  The “trick” here is that “it” should be read as IT, i.e., information technology.  I’m interested in comments on whether this de-capitalization is thought fair.  I think it is justified by the quality of the clue (including its connection with 2 down).
6 MOBIUS U[ranium] (radioactive metal) in MOB (jam) IS
7 ROT O (nothing) in RT (right)
15 TEA COSIES *(CASES TO I[nsulat]E) A nicely put together &lit.
17 ESQUIRES QUIRE (some paper) in ESS (letter)
20 VOLUME dd
23 ACORN A CORN (cereal)
25 MAC CAM (the river) reversed

2 Responses to “Financial Times 13,430 / Phssthpok”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Agentzero
    I have a similar qualm about the reversal indicator (‘raised’) in 19ac and I would also query ‘supporting’ in 1ac. Both would be fine in a down clue but I cannot see how they work in an across one.

    I’m not sure about the decapitalisation of IT. I only got 5dn after solving 2dn and then it took a minute or two to see the wordplay. Capitalisation/decapitalisation of initial letters has been around for a long time so I suppose it is only a small step to extend this to an abbreviation.

  2. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Agentzero.
    As you say a very inventive puzzle,which took me the best part of an hour to solve;something I don’t expect from the FT!
    Re.5 down: had the answer pecilled in before “IT” clicked.I’m not that up on computer terminology so I assume,for the clue to work, that an operating system maintains IT.Personally not bothered about decapitalisation,but like yourself and Gaufrid was not keen on “raised” in 19 across.

    Some obscure definitions used e.g singularity,which I Googled and can see the connection with gravitation,but it’s a bit scientific for me to completely understand!Palm /obscure is a bit tenuous but o.k.The spelling of 6 down held me up as I’d always seen it spelt “moebius”
    Thought 3 across was a brilliant “embedded” clue.Also liked 9 and 28 across.

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five − = 2