Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,569 / Cinephile

Posted by Gaufrid on December 15th, 2010


A festive theme from Cinephile today in a puzzle that had me scratching my head at times, not to get the answer but to unravel the wordplay. There is still one clue that has defeated me and one I’m not sure about. Hopefully someone will help me out with these.

Seeing the theme of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ very early on meant that this was a quick grid fill for me, compared to most Cinephile puzzles, but I spent much longer trying to parse some of the clues than I did solving them due to some outrageous liberties (particularly 1ac & 24ac). I am unable to offer a parsing for 13ac because I just don’t understand the clue so any suggestions would be welcome. I am also unsure about 19ac, I have the wordplay but cannot equate the definition with the answer.

1 BACKBITE  if you split ‘backbite’ it become ‘back bite’ which gives ‘et ib’. This translates from Latin into ‘and’ (et) ‘in the same place’ (ib {an abbreviation of ibidem})
5 MISCHA  *(CHAIM’S) – Russian name, a diminutive of Mikhail.
9 GOLD RING  R (right) in GOLDING (writer William)
10 FRENCH  dd
12 THIRSTIER  HIRST (Damien) in TIER (row)
13 GOOSE  ??? – I’ve no idea about this one!
14 SWAN  the Swan River in Western Australia, a black swan and the seven swans a’swimming.
16 MALTESE  MALT (best of spirits {whisky}) *(SEE)
19 HEN COOP  HE (man) NCO (one with stripes) OP (work) – I don’t see how this relates to the definition ‘on one in 3rd’, a 3rd would be in a hen coop.
21 LORD  L (number) OR D (number)
24 CRETE   if ‘con’ is added to ‘crete’ you get ‘concrete’ which is used by builders.
25 PARTRIDGE  *(DIG) in P[e]AR TRE[e] (pear tree missing a couple of points)
27 LADIES  LA (American city) DIES (finishes)
28 MILKMAID  MIL KM (distances) AID (assistance)
29 TURTLE  dd
30 SHERIDAN  SHE (female) NADIR (bottom) reversed

1 BOGOTÁ  GOT (acquired) in BOA (snake)
2 COLLIE  COL[d] (somewhat chilly) LIE (story)
3 BIRDS  cd – the phrase ‘strictly for the birds’ means ‘not to be taken seriously’ or ‘of little value’ hence ‘rubbish’.
4 TENSION  TENS (numbers) NO I (number one) reversed
7 CENSORED  *(SCONE) RED (coloured)
8 ACHIEVER  A CHI (Greek character) EVER (always)
11 DRUM  D[rink] RUM (spirit)
15 WHOLEMEAL  d&cd
17 CHICK LIT  CHIC (smart) K (monarch) LIT (lighted upon)
18 ENGENDER  ENG (English) ENDER (one who stops)
20 PIPE  dd
22 EDWARD  hidden in ‘startED WAR Deliberately’
23 DEADEN  DE (from French) ADEN (port)
26 RAKER  d&cd – ‘moonraker’ is another name for a moonsail which is “a small sail, sometimes carried above the sky-scraper” according to Chambers.

14 Responses to “Financial Times 13,569 / Cinephile”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid.

    I think 13ac is a reference to every mother thinking her 13ac is a 14ac.

    I, too, think that 19ac seems to be the wrong way round.

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    Thanks for your observation about 13ac. This is not something I have come across before. I considered, and rejected, the ‘ugly ducking’ possibility, and even Aesop’s fable ‘The Goose and the Swan’.

    I now see that I should have consulted Brewer which has the saying “All one’s geese are swans” meaning “to overestimate; to see things in too rosy a light; to paint too rosy a picture. All one’s children are paragons, and whatever one does is, in one’s own eyes, superfluous.”

    The subsequent entry is “All one’s swans are geese” which is interpreted as “All one’s fine promises or expectations have proved fallacious. ‘Hope told a flattering tale.'”

    I’ve not met either of these sayings before but I will remember them now!

  3. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid, for explaining some answers that went beyond me.
    Such as 1ac (indeed, quite outrageous, yet OK, I think), 3d (didn’t know that expression about BIRDS) and also 2d (COLLIE) [what is ‘and some say’ doing in that clue?].

    I’m sure Eileen must be right with her parsing of GOOSE.
    I thought of Aesop’s fable (The Goose and The Swan) for a while.

    Here’s another one that had problems with the definition in 19ac.

    You say that in 22ac EDWARD is hidden in “started war deliberately” and of course, he is. There is, though, no ‘real’ hidden indicator, unless we take ‘of’ as such [kind of minimalism, at times typical to this setter].
    Then we have to read the clue as ‘King’ of (= coming from) “England started war deliberately”. It’s OK, I guess.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I think the ‘some say’ in 2dn refers to the fact that some versions of the carol have ‘calling birds’.

    I’ve just found this explanation:

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Sil
    The ‘and some say’ in 2dn is an indicator that ‘collie’ is a homophone of ‘colly’. Depending one which version of the carol is being sung, the line is either ‘four calling birds’ or ‘four colly birds’. I was tought the latter but the former seems to be more prevelant these days.

    In 22ac I took the ‘of’ as the ‘hidden in’ indicator.

  6. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Eileen, got it now.
    Only last week I ‘had to’ sing this carol, in which there was “calling” – didn’t know that it came from “colly”/”collie”.
    Now the ellipsis makes more sense, too.

  7. smiffy says:

    Thanks for the blog Gaufrid. Particularly for shedding a beam of (multiply refracted) light on 1A. The answer was obvious enough, but I gave up trying to parse the wordplay before coming here. Like you, I had 24A flagged as pretty outlandish but, in comparison, that clue now seems almost orthodox!

    I thought that 25A provided a rather generous opening into the theme – tantamount to a neon-lit front door. After spotting that, it all fell into place in a “By George (i.e. autopilot!), I think I’ve got it!” kind of way.

  8. Tony Welsh says:

    Finished this one in near-record time and without looking up the carol! I had no idea why BACKBITE but put it in anyway. The last clue solved was CRETE, an awful clue imho.

  9. Lisa says:

    Explanation for 19AC, GEESE: On the 6th day of Christmas, the gift was “6 geese a-laying.”
    Explanation for 14AC, SWAN: On the 7th day, the gift was “7 swans a-swimming.”
    I don’t understand the confusion, once you know the puzzle’s theme.

  10. Abu Amaal says:

    22d might also be parsed as “start [ed war deliberately]”

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Lisa
    Yes, part of each clue is a reference to the carol and the rest of the clue to 14ac is easily explained. My problem with the rest of 13ac lay with the fact that I had never heard the saying “All one’s geese are swans”. Fortunately Eileen pointed me in the right direction.

    Hi Abu Amaal
    Yes, knowing Cinephile’s liberties, that is a valid parsing, but I still think I prefer the ‘of’ as a ‘hidden in’ indicator.

    To both
    I think this is your first post at 15². If so, welcome and please continue to add your valuable input.

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, Abu Amaal, yes, that’s a possibility too.
    However, it is more a Guardian thing to split up words in a clue nowadays rather than an FT ‘device’ [that is, if you want to call it a ‘device’ – I am not very keen on them, as people might know by now (because I think that these tricks could lead to a kind of cryptic anarchy in the negative sense of the word)].

    Even though Cinephile is capable of doing it, I do not think that this explanation is how it is.
    I’ll stick to Gaufrid’s hidden answer, knowing that Cinephile/Araucaria uses the word ‘of’ regularly to indicate a hidden solution.

  13. verbose says:

    Personally, I found 24ac delightful. I got it pretty easily and it elicited a chuckle. But I did find a number of the across clues difficult to parse: 1, 13 and 14, even 19. Thanks for the explanations, Gaufrid et al.

  14. scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    A quick solve due to the fairly obvious theme – I seem to remember Araucaria(or possibly another setter) using it before.Parsing the clues was definately harder than filling the grid and there were certainly some liberties taken!
    I couldn’t come up with anything plausible for 1 across,so was pleased to see your explanation.
    I have come across “All one’s geese are swans” somewhere before(Swift?) but it’s not an expression in common use these days.

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