Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,436 / Loroso

Posted by Gaufrid on July 13th, 2010


I heard a short while ago that Agentzero has unavoidable business commitments today and so will be unable to blog. A pity because he missed an excellent puzzle.

This was a themed puzzle with 50% of the answers being a type of 18 (bird). It cannot have been easy to fit this many into the grid. Most of the ornithological entries were known to me but I had to check 14dn on-line and 27ac in Chambers. Those with a lesser knowledge of avian species might have had a bit more of a problem but the cluing was fair throughout, with the possible exception of 6dn (which wasn’t thematic anyway). Edit: reservation withdrawn, see below.

A stiff challenge but one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks Anax.

Definitions courtesy of Chambers and Wikipedia.

1 WRINGING-WET  W (with) *(GINGER TWIN) – ‘ginger’ as an anagram indicator in the sense of ‘to stimulate or enliven’.
7 GYP  Y (an unknown) in GP (doctor)
9 OUSEL  OUSE (river) L (lake) – a blackbird (archaic) or a water ouzel (dipper).
10 CORMORANT  R (river) in COMO (lake) RANT (a roar) – a member of a genus (Phalacrocorax) of shiny black webfooted seabirds, related to the pelicans, that feeds on large quantities of fish and breeds in colonies on rocks and cliffs.
11 COCKATIEL  OC (only child) in *(A TICKLE) – a small crested parrot of Australia.
12 SNIPE  SNIP (prune) [juic]E – any of several wading birds of the genus Gallinago, breeding in marshes and having a long straight bill.
13 A TRIFLE  AT RIFLE (using weapon)
15 RHEA  homophone of ‘rear’ (back) – a small flightless S American bird of the genus Rhea, resembling the ostrich.
18 BIRD  DRIB (a little bit) reversed – ‘time’ as in a prison sentence.
20 TOURACO  TOUR A (first choice of holiday) CO (company) – any of various African arboreal birds of the family Musophagidae, of the genus Tauraco and related genera, with glossy, brightly-coloured plumage and short, stout bills.
23 ITALY  [r]I[f]T [v]A[l]L[e]Y
24 NIGHTHAWK  H (hot) THAW (melt) in *(KING) – an American or European nightjar.
26 HORNED OWL  *(DRONE) in HOWL (cry) – an owl with hornlike tufts of feathers on its head.
27 TWITE  *(WIT[h] T[h]E) – the mountain linnet, Acanthis flavirostris, a N European finch with streaked brown plumage.
28 TIT  I (one) in TT (races) – any of various kinds of small songbirds of the family Paridae (the titmice), of several genera, esp (formerly) those of the genus Parus.
29 NAKED LADIES  *(LAKESIDE AND) – the meadow saffron or the autumn crocus.

1 WOODCHAT  WOO (chase) D (dead) CHAT (rabbit) – a species of shrike, with black-and-white plumage but a red-brown crown’.
2 INSECURE  EC (city area) in INSURE (guarantee)
3 GALBA  B (soft {as in pencils}) in GALA (party) – Servius Sulpicius Galba
4 NIÇOISE  *(IS NO ICE) – not given as a salad in Chambers, Collins or COED (the latter just has “a native or inhabitant of the French city of Nice”) but can be confirmed in Wikipedia. – clever use of ‘cream’ as an anagram indicator.
5 WARBLER  W (wife) *(BARREL) - any bird of the subfamily Sylviinae of the family Muscicapidae (willow warbler, reed warbler, whitethroat, blackcap, etc) or any of numerous small, brightly-coloured American birds of the family Parulidae.
6 TROUSSEAU  ORT (scrap) reversed US SEA (marine) U (uniform) – I cannot find U as an abbreviation for ‘uniform’ in either Chambers, Collins or COED. Edit: I have been advised privately (thanks P.) that U is ‘uniform’ in the NATO phonetic alphabet (something I failed to consider to my shame). 
7 GRAZIE  I (yours truly) in GRAZE (feed) – ‘thanks’ in Italian.
8 PETREL  PET (favourite) REL[y] (bank, not quite) – any bird of the family Procellariidae related to the albatrosses, shearwaters and fulmars, esp the storm (popularly stormy) petrel or Mother Carey’s chicken or similar species, dusky seabirds, rarely landing except to lay their eggs, and including the smallest webfooted bird known.
14 FAIRY TERN  FAIR (good) *(YET) RN (service) – not in Chambers etc but Wikipedia gives “(Sterna nereis) a small tern which occurs in the southwestern Pacific”.
16 PAGANINI  PAGAN (to some ungodly) IN I (23 {Italy}) – Niccolò Paganini.
17 FOR KEEPS  PEE reversed (go the wrong way) in FORKS (junctions)
19 DUNNOCK  O (old)  NN (news) reversed in DUCK (18 {bird}) - the hedge sparrow.
20 TOGGLED  TO GG (horse) LED (took up the running)
21 WITH IT  WIT (comic) HIT (“Kerpow!” suggests this) – definition ‘in’ but very well disguised since ‘Kerpow!’ would appear in a comic.
22 PARROT  PAR (usual) ROT (nonsense) – one of a family of tropical and subtropical birds with brilliant plumage, a hooked bill, and zygodactyl feet, good imitators of human speech.
25 TETRA  hidden in ‘piraTE TRAwler’ - any of various species of tropical freshwater fish of the family Characidae.

10 Responses to “Financial Times 13,436 / Loroso”

  1. Rishi says:

    Sometimes I find that certain abbreviations that are not in Chambers are indeed in Chambers XWD: A Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations by Michael Kindred and Derrick Knight (Chambers, 2005).
    Under U it lists ‘uniform’, among others.

  2. Rishi says:

    Pee flows in today’s Guardian puzzle too, I think. Wasn’t there a rule that terms relating to bodily functions are to be avoided in crosswords? Has it been given the go-by?

  3. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Rishi
    Thanks for the info re Chambers XWD. I do not have a copy of this publication so rely on the dictionaries.

    I haven’t looked at today’s Guardian as yet so wasn’t aware of the duplication (though PARROT also appears in today’s Indy, with ‘standard rubbish’ as the wordplay). I think we have seen ‘pee’ once or twice before (including, IIRC, in the Times), so there would appear to be a bit more latitude granted these days. NN for ‘news’ has also been used before but I cannot remember by whom.

  4. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Maybe it was because I saw the theme very quickly [after linking the easy 28ac with 18ac], but this crossword was certainly not as hard as a Loroso can be [and wás, the previous times].

    That said, it is indeed an extraordinary feat to fit in so many birds [or was it the software?, said the cynic], most of which I knew [though for some I had to turn to, in my case, Bradford like TOURACO].

    Although the clu(e)ing was not as tricky as I feared [and, in a way, had hoped] when seeing the name Loroso, there was still very much to admire.
    I especially liked some simple constructions like 7ac,13ac and 29ac, because they all read so natural.
    Was 29ac a splendid anagram, I think my Winner of the Day is another one: 4ac (NICOISE) – how neat can it be.
    Of the ‘deeper’ clues I had a soft spot for 21d (WITH IT).

    Talking about ‘soft’ [and abbreviations], I assumed that in 3d the letter B had to stand for ‘soft’ as on pencils, but wasn’t that happy with it (a) because it actually means Black [though it’s used opposite to Hard], and (b) because ‘soft’ is normally P.
    [and don’t worry, I am not going to switch to PEE now … :)]

    The use of HH (Horses) and that of NN (News) was in fact similar: H[orse] H[orse] , N[ew] N[ew], am I right?
    Bit surprising that Loroso used this rather specific device twice.

    One final question: is ‘wanting’ the anagrind in 11ac? And if so, how/why?

    Oh, and of the bird clues I enjoyed 14d (FAIRY TERN) the most.
    What a smooth surface, such a unity.

    In the post for Loroso #13,403 I was possibly a bit overenthusiastic [but with a reason], this time I won’t go that far. However, without any doubt, high quality.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Sil
    “One final question: is ‘wanting’ the anagrind in 11ac? And if so, how/why?”

    Yes, wanting is the anagram indicator. It is being used in the sense of deficient or defective.

  6. anax says:

    Software, Sil? As if I would!

    Within limits Crossword Compiler can be helpful in filling this type of grid, but only for a theme with far fewer possibilities. CC allows you to create a theme list, but it would have taken several hours to type in a full list of birds, so I didn’t bother – I just kept a list at hand and kept checking it for possible placements. BTW I’m using CC8 which (at the moment) only has a default wordlist; if I remember correctly my earlier version did indeed have birds as one of several built-in lists but all of my grid templates are now in CC8 so it’s the only version I use.

  7. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid, for explaining ‘wanting’.

    And well, anax, nót using software makes it even more admirable.
    Of course, there are plenty of birds with sometimes exotic names [so plenty of choice], but even so.

    Talking about Crossword Compiler.
    You could indeed use the built-in lists of CC8, but then you’re not completely in control anymore (giving you probably a lot of words that you don’t want, too).
    As you say, you could create your own theme list.
    Normally CC8 can find a grid that will contain about 10-12 theme words, so to find 18 as in this puzzle, is rather brilliantish.

    BTW (and off topic), what I miss in CC is: after creating a theme list, to ask the programme to find a grid in which as many as possible of these words fit and then show me an incomplete grid [as far as I can see, CC8 can only find grids in which áll of the theme words fit – alternatively, it says: I can’t].
    If anyone has something sensible to say about this, I’m interested to know, but please let’s continue in the General Crossword Chat Room.

  8. anax says:

    Hi Sil
    Might be better to email me. I think I know what you mean but to explain it I might need to send you some screenshots. My address is [email protected]

  9. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    As you say,an excellent puzzle,with some very clever clues.
    This is an example of a themed puzzle that works for me,mostly because the theme is wide ranging enough to give the setter a lot of choice for thematic items (there are about 40,000 species of bird to choose from).
    Liked the idea of 18 across(the key theme word) being clued with a different meaning.
    Good use of unusual anagram indicators and some brilliant misdirections.
    Top clues for me – 24 and 26 across and 19 and 21 down.

  10. Paul B says:

    My CC has that birds list, and about a hundred equally useful others, but – unless the program’s going to take all the hard work out, and fill the grid for me from square 1:1 – no matter what I’m trying to do, I usually end up whacking them in on my Jack Jones.

    Nice one, Lorenzo or whatever your name is.

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