Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,541 / Alberich

Posted by shuchi on November 12th, 2010


Alberich challenges and entertains, and altogether gives us a very satisfying puzzle. A trademark of this setter is the seamless joint between definition and wordplay, and you can relish many examples of it today – Santa Maria, Field Marshal, Island capital, to name some.

I had an unusual solving experience with this. I spent thirty minutes with little more than a few answers in the top-left filled in, then kept the puzzle aside. After a hearty lunch, I got back to it and the solutions came one after the other without pause.  It took long to finish overall but it was time well spent.


1 DENOTE HIDE – H (husband) I, NOTE (some money)
4 REDOUBTS RE (soldiers) DOUBT (lack faith in) S (southern)
9 OUTCRY (COUNTRY)* – N (an unknown number). It was a tossup between Y and N (which unknown number to remove?) – tried both and found a satisfactory answer with N.
10 DOG-TIRED (GOT)*, in DIRE (terrible) [feu]D
11 GROTTO [ma]R[ia] in GOT TO (reached). Santa’s Grotto is the workshop where he makes the presents for Christmas. A masterful “lift and separate” treatment here.
12 DENOUNCE DUNCE (stupid sort) around ENO (opera company, the English National Opera)
14 AGE-OLD A GOLD (metal) around E[ngraving]
17 EARSHOT Does one aware of gossip have “ears hot”? I haven’t come across the expression before. Or it’s probably something else which I’ll wait for the comments to shed light on. // Update: See comment#1.
21 MOMENT MOT (test for motor vehicles) around MEN (chaps)
25 PEP dd PEP = go as in spirit, vigour; and PEP = Personal Equity Plan
26 AGAR-AGAR RAG (paper) A (article), reversed twice. Agar-agar is a gelatin-like substance used for bacterial culture, therefore ‘cultural development’.
27 FELINE F (fellow) E (European) LINE (ancestry). The answer for 16d = TOM, a male cat.
28 INTREPID (I PRINTED)*, which makes for a lovely surface when coupled with “in bold”
29 TAHITI T (short time), HIT (buffet) in A1 (capital)
30 DISGORGE DIs (detectives) GORGE (eat too much). I wasn’t too happy with this as DISGORGE is a direct opposite of GORGE as used in the wordplay.
31 NECTAR is a ‘very nice drink’. A homophone of an expression meaning ‘knocked back’? Not sure of this. //Update: homophone of NECKED A. To ‘neck’ is to drink directly from a bottle. Thanks Gaufrid.


1 DROP GOAL DROP (finish) GAL (girl) around O (love). A hooker in rugby may get a drop goal.
2 NITROGEN (RING TONE)*, with the well-chosen anagrind “mobile”. Nitrogen fixation is the natural process by which nitrogen  in the atmosphere is converted into ammonia.
3 THROTTLE THE (article), around ROT (corruption) T[ories] L[abour]
5 ELODEA Submerged freshwater plants, also called waterweeds. ‘Elodea’ is how ‘Hello dear’ will sound when spoken with a Cockney accent. I didn’t know of ELODEA but this clue made me laugh.
6 OCTROI OCT (a month) ROI (French king). Octroi is a local tax collected on articles brought into a district for consumption.
7 BORING BO[y] RING (band)
8 SYDNEY end letters of ‘helplesS poorlY fielD’ NEY (Marshal). I’ve come to learn through crosswords that Michel Ney was a French marshal in the Napoleonic Wars, nicknamed “Bravest of the Brave”.
12 DRESSER DRESSIER (smarter) – I (ego)
15 DAB dd
16 TOM Tom Waits,  and TOM[e] (shortened volume)
18 TOLERATE LO (see) reversed and E (drug), inside (TREAT)*
19 FEMINIST (IF MEN)* IST (first), with the whole clue acting as the definition. Brilliant!
20 STEELIER ST (holy man) EELIER (more slippery)
22 VARIED RA (Royal Academician) reversed in VIE (fight), D (degree)
23 NANTES N (new) [d]ANTE’S (poet’s). Dante is the poet of Inferno fame, and Nantes looks beautiful in the pics I found on the net.
24 GAZEBO B (baron), in GAZE (look) O (round)
25 PALING dd

14 Responses to “Financial Times 13,541 / Alberich”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Shuchi
    As you say, another delight from Alberich.

    17ac is a reference to someone saying “I bet his/her ears are burning” when talking about someone behind his/her back.

    For 31ac I thought this was a homophone of ‘necked a’. Apparently, in today’s parlance, to neck is to drink directly from a bottle.

  2. shuchi says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    Thanks. I didn’t know either of those two expressions, “ears are burning” is especially good to know :). Incidentally, in India, it is said that when we talk fondly of someone in their absence, the person being talked about gets hiccups!

    Homophones that play on the ‘R’ sound invariably trip me up. I went as far as thinking of ‘necked her’ but couldn’t fit it into the clue!

  3. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Shuchi – and Alberich. This was a real treat.

    As usual, too many gems to single out particular ones – although I, too, must applaud FEMINIST [and I laughed at ‘dodgy stomach’].

    I resisted putting in STEELIER for a while, thinking that ‘eely’ couldn’t be a word, then gave in and looked it up and, of course, it’s there.

    The combination of DROP GOAL and ‘finish’ led me to revisit this sublime moment! :-)

  4. Eileen says:

    And, sorry to go on about it, but 8dn reminded me to search this one out again:

  5. Shyam says:


    I see you have left out 25A PEG [DD]…

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Shyam

    No – it’s PEP [Personal Equity Plan]. DD

  7. Shyam says:

    Hi Eileen

    In fact, I was not aware of either of the plans, but stumbled upon Plan D’épargne Groupe (group savings plan) on the Net. I thought go and peg are not quite distant in meaning as well.

  8. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Shyam

    Apologies for my rather curt comment – I should have said, ‘I think it’s …’

    I hadn’t heard of ‘your’ plan, either! I can’t quite see GO = PEG and Chambers has: ‘Pep: vigour, go, spirit, life’.

  9. nmsindy says:

    Yes, this was very good indeed, favourites DOG-TIRED, TOLERATE, FEMINIST.

  10. smiffy says:

    Good to see Alberich back, after a longer than normal hiatus. I had the self-same three clues as mentioned above by nmsindy (plus NITROGEN) as the pick of the pops, and it’s hard to argue with the broad consensus that FEMINIST is a worthy favourite.

    Re: 1D. At the risk of Gaufrid setting me straight (again!) on the positional nuances of rugby, isn’t it fair to say that while a hooker may kick a drop goal, it’s about as common an event as a football goalkeeper scoring with a header?

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Hi smiffy
    What you say is absolutely correct when it comes to Rugby Union. The hooker is often just getting up from a scrum, ruck or maul when a drop goal is scored, usually by the fly half (or outside half depending on which hemisphere or era you play in).

    However, in the other version of the game with the oval ball (League) it is more common, though as a drop (field) goal in RL is only worth one point there are probably fewer attempts per game than in RU where a drop goal would bring a reward of three points. This is because the role of the hooker in RL is as a playmaker rather than primarily being part of the pack as in RU.

  12. scarpia says:

    Thanks shuchi.
    Super puzzle from Alberich.
    I am surprised there have been no comments about ELODEA,surely a word which could be classed as an “obscurity”,yet not easily clued.A cockney would normally use something like ‘trouble’ or ‘bag for life’ as substitutes for wife.
    Gordius would have been slated for this clue!
    BTW,I thought it was funny!

  13. shuchi says:

    Hi everyone

    Apologies for missing 25a – it was so neatly tucked away into the grid that I lost sight of it when blogging. My answer was PEP too, which I got from go = PEP. Search for ‘PEP savings plan’ suggested more than one but I plumped for Eileen’s Personal Equity Plan; result volumes favoured it over others.

    Blog updated.

  14. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We saved this one for a Rainy Sunday Afternoon.
    And what a treat it was, very satisfying [perhaps, as you say shuchi (with thx), apart from 30ac].

    The abundance of high quality clues makes it hard to pick one out of the bunch, but our Clue of the Day was eventually 18’s TOLERATE. Nothing is what it seems there: ‘See about’ [with ‘about’ as a device, but which as a whole cóuld have been the definition], ‘treat’ as the fodder [which cóuld have been ‘stomach’] and ‘dodgy’ as an anagrind with suits the stomach perfectly well [but we had to lift & separate].

    Obviously, the disruption of moving to Prague has not affected the high standard of Alberich’s work [though it might, of course, well be that this puzzle was submitted earlier].
    And we, solvers, are the lucky winners!

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