Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,473 / Hamilton

Posted by Gaufrid on August 25th, 2010


The theme today seems to be an attempt to get into the grid as many words and phrases that are derived from French as possible. I have identified those that I know but I may have missed some so any additions would be welcome.

As with the last Hamilton puzzle I covered, there was a mix of easy clues and some more tricky ones. I thought the wordplay or definition in a few clues was a little loose and have queried two clues in which I think a synonym is doubtful. The surface of 3dn is very good but elsewhere there is an anagram indicator that doesn’t work for me.

5 A LA MODE  A MOD (government department) in ALE (draught) – in French, ‘according to the fashion’. One of the definitions in Chambers for ‘draught’ is ‘draught beer’ which equates with ‘ale’.
9 SIT IN  SI (South Island) TIN (metal)
10 LOOKALIKE  LOOK (view) A[nd] LIKE (be pleased with)
12 BON MOT  N[ew] M[oney] in BOOT (start up) – in French, ‘good word’.
15 CLEVER  C (cold) LEVER (bar)
17,18 BUREAU DE CHANGE  BUREAU (Davenport) *(CAN HEDGE) – davenport: “a small ornamental writing desk”. A French term meaning ‘office of exchange’.
21 AU FAIT  homophone of ‘Oh (expressed surprise) fey (clairvoyant)’ – in French, ‘to the point’.
23 TARBOOSH  *(HOBART SO) – “a fez, a hat worn by Muslim men, sometimes as the base of a turban”. I can see ‘bracing’ as a containment indicator but cannot parse the clue this way so, ‘is … bracing’ as an anagram indicator?
26 ALCHEMIST  C (about) HEM (trim) in A-LIST (top celebrities) – trim=hem?, perhaps in the sense of ‘to edge’?
27 LEVEL  dd
28 TRESSES  [but]TRESSES (reinforces not only)
29 CHAGRIN  GR (King George) in CHAIN – in French, ‘grief or sorrow’.

1 EN SUITE  IT in ENSUE (take place) – from the French for ‘in sequence’.
2 PETIT FOUR  d&cd – from the French for ‘little oven’.
3 ENNUI  [extrem]E [frustratio]N [ca]N U[plift] I (one) – in French, ‘apathy’
5 ATOM  A MOT (check) reversed
6 AYATOLLAH  A TOLL (a duty) in A YAH (a yuppie’s agreement)
7 ODIUM  [p]ODIUM (head leaving the stage)
8 EVENTER  hidden in ‘sEVEN TERrific’
14 MEALINESS  A LINE (a fringe) in MESS (disarray) – fringe=line?
16 VANCOUVER  VAN (Morrison) U (university) in COVER (insurance)
17 BLATANT  B (key) homophone of ‘latent’ (hidden)
19 ELASTIC  *(SALIECT) – the answer to 4dn with N (knight) changed to C[over].
20 ECHELON  EC (city) HELON (heron {bird} with R changed to L {changing sides}) – “an arrangement of troops, ships, planes, etc as if in steps” so I suppose loosely ‘a series of steps’. In French échelon means ‘the rung of a ladder’.
22 FICHE  *(CHIEF) – in French, ‘an index card or form’.
24 BALSA  BALSA[m] (medicine endlessly)
25 BIAS  B[ar]I[st]AS (baristas giving up arts) – barista: “a person who is employed to make coffee in a coffee shop”, from the Italian for ‘bartender’.

7 Responses to “Financial Times 13,473 / Hamilton”

  1. smiffy says:

    Hi (or should that be Bonjour?) Gaufrid.

    I share your sentiments almost entirely. But here are few sundry braindroppings:

    23A I thought that ‘bracing’ was ok as an angrind – as in the infamous Skegness poster of yesteryear. Chambers seems to concur (=”stimulating”). Still a but of a clunky clue though.

    26A ‘Trim’/hem just about pass muster as a verb I think. But then I’m certainly no fashionista (see below).

    6D I take issue with “Yah” as Yuppie-speak. I have it pegged as a kind of bray that’s exclusiveto Sloane Rangers.

    14D I wondered whether A LINE was a reference to fringes on A-Line dresses. However, Chambers suggests not, so my dress-sense remains minuscule.

    25D Somewhat pedantic, but you have the wrong “S” removed. It should be ARTS in the same order.

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Hi smiffy
    At last a comment! It’s been rather quiet here today.

    In 25d, if you remove ‘arts’ in the same order you are left with BISA which doen’t fit the definition or the grid. The altenative way of looking at this clue is that ‘influence’ is doing double duty as both the definition and an anagram indicator for *(BARISTAS-ARTS) and then either of the As and the Ss could be removed.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    23ac: I, too, remember those ‘Skeggie’ posters on railway platforms. To me, as a child, ‘bracing’ meant ‘cold’, because that’s how it was when we went! Collins gives ‘freshen’ for ‘brace’ and ‘refreshing’ for bracing’ – both OK by me as anagram indicators.

    26ac: when dressmaking, to trim [‘to make tidy or neat’ – Chambers] the raw edge of the bottom of a skirt, I would hem it.

    Hi Smiffy

    A Line dresses are so called from the shape:

    I didn’t really think about this when solving: Chambers has fringe = border, so I suppose if you think of crossing the border / line but I don’t particularly like it. Perhaps it’s a leap too far.

    [I didn’t even notice the French ‘theme’! :-( ]

  4. Dynamic says:

    Rather enjoyable. Made a fast start (for me) but got bogged down in the SE corner. Short of time so didn’t get 5d, 20d, 23a (new word to me), 24d before checking here.

    Thanks to Gaufrid and Hamilton.

    I hadn’t understood FEY/FAIT in 21a, so thanks for the learning experience, and having got A-LIST I struggled with inserted CHEM in 26a until I saw your explanations, in which I concur with Eileen in using hem and trim as verbs and synonyms.

    Still unsure of 14d’s intended wordplay and hadn’t really checked it thoroughly. I just thought LINE = fringe, but maybe it’s about A-LINE dresses.

    28a TRESSES from French ‘tresse’ = a braid of hair (Chambers), a slight French link.
    24d BALSA tree named from Spanish word meaning raft or light fishing boat (Chambers).

    Favourite clues: 17a (loved the high-finance surface reading, esp in context of FT), 19d, 16d, 12a, 6d (Okay-Yah!).

    Plenty to make me smile, and a nice mixture of taxing and accessible clues.

  5. Hamilton says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid for your very detailed blog, and to Smiffy, Eileen and Dynamic for your comments.

    On the point in 14d, I was using “fringe/line” in the sense of “the ground is fringed by a row of trees”. The OED would support the use of line in that context.

    Gaufrid – the only other French connection was bias, from biais (angle).

  6. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    I enjoyed this puzzle a lot.I don’t mind loose definitions/unusual anagram indicators,they usually add to the fun.Must admit I thought line/fringe was only just about acceptable but all the rest of the debatable ones were fine by me.
    28 across took me a while to parse,thinking of stresses for reinforces which didn’t work at all!
    smiffy@1,I didn’t know there was a difference between yuppies and Sloanes!Both so Eighties.
    Favourite clues 5 across,6 and 16 down.
    Tres bon!

  7. smiffy says:

    Belated apologies to Gaufrid for my downright incorrect nit-picking on 25A.

    And thanks to Eileen for the fashion link (which I just happened to click on as my boss sidled past!).

    Scarpia: I’m sure that the difference between the yuppie and Sloane tribes were important at the time, but you’re probably right to consign them both to the same compartment of the dustbin of history by now.

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