Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,638 /Loroso

Posted by smiffy on March 10th, 2011


The usual cordon bleu offering from Loroso.  Plenty of entertaining surfaces and ambitious, but fair, wordplay.  A few of the answer are at the more arcane end of the spectrum that we usually encounter in the FT, but I hesitate at labelling any of them outrageously obscure (even 22/13, which I stumbled over).

1 MIDSTREAM - (trade is)* in mm [=millimetre].
6 POLAR - [River] Po + lar{k}.
9 GAFFE - a hidden clue (but certainly no shrinking wallflower of a surface!).
10 CONUNDRUM - (nun in cod) + rum.
11/3 SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST - homophone of “Sir” Viv (Richards) + (of life that)* + Test (the ‘game’, referring back full-circle to cricket).
12 TAXI - ta + XI.  A sitcom that was a little before my time, possibly most notable for turbocharging Danny De Vito’s subsequent stranglehold on “mouthy little guy” roles.
14 MONITOR - NI (provincially, Northern Ireland) in motor.
15 D’ACCORD - cad< + cord.  Could be tricky to some, as I’d have this pegged as more of a B-lister than an A-lister on the scale of well-known French terms.
17 UTENSIL - U + tensil{e}.
19 POINTER - (One + tip)* + r[ight]. &Lit.
20 HYPE - hidden.  At the risk of invoking The Fast Show nostalgia for a second consecutive week, we seems to be straying into the realm of “Squeezy Cheesy Peas” here…
22/13 ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL- (manhood’s alphabetical)*, referring to 5D.  An unknown piece of work for me (Dryden and C17th literature is light years away from my general knowledge orbit). So, although, the anagram fodder was relatively obvious I still had to wait for full-checking letters – and even then ended up missing the bullseye, by plumping for ACHIPOTHEL.
25 AITCHBONE - (itch in AB) + one.  A cut of rump beef.
26 HIKER - (k in hie [=hurry]) + r[un].  Being ultra-pedantic, the use here of ‘kilometres’ = k jars a little with mm for millimetre in 1A.
27 HURRY - curry, with the c switched to h.
28 KNOWLEDGE - k{ee}n + owl + edge.  Loroso seems to have passed up an exquisite chance to cross-refer, via 12A, to London cabbies?

1 MAGUS - Mag[azine, = ‘organ’ in Private Eye nudge-nudge style] + U/S.
2 DEFERENCE - Re: in defence.
4 EN CLAIR - n[ew] in eclair.
5 MANHOOD - (an H) in mood.  Here the ’21’ is a numerical age of majority, rather than a clue reference. Edit: Or maybe not…much obliged to Lenny (comment 3) for sharing his recipe for Spotted Dick.
6 PINK - P + ink.  ‘somewhat to the left’ on the political spectrum.
7 LARVA - V[ictor] in (Brian) Lara.
8 REMAINDER - a in reminder.  A familiar construct, but still handled smoothly and with the minimum of fuss.
14 MOUTHWASH - O in (What mush)*.  I can only imagine that the O derives from ‘ought’, but that would be a new abbreviation to me.  Edit: Eileen to the resuce (comment 2).
16 OUTRANKED - (UK on trade)*.
18 LUBBOCK - (U + BB) in lock.  A pretty obscure place for non-American solvers I’d hazard.  I’m only familiar with it because of it’s association with US college sports (home to Texas Tech).
19 PLACEBO - b[irth] in (place + 0).  ‘Zip’ = zero is another US-centric rub of the green.  This surface reading was the the most amusing of the puzzle in my book.
21 PETER - t{itle} in peer.
23 DIRGE - g in dire.  ‘Keen’ in the verbal sense of to be mournful.
24 AHOY - a + [Sir Chris] Hoy.

36 Responses to “Financial Times 13,638 /Loroso”

  1. Conrad Cork says:

    As for 22,13 it was nice to get a reference to something on my home turf. Cheered me up a bit, considering how abysmal I am when it come to sport, TV or pop music. Thanks Loroso. Excellent eclectic balance.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Smiffy for a great blog of an excellent puzzle, as we expect from this setter.

    I thought the clue for 22,13 was just stunning, with its ‘alphabetical order’.

    I’d never heard of LUBBOCK but the cluing was impeccable.

    Re 14dn: ‘ought’ is [Chambers] ‘a variant of aught or non-standard variant of naught’ [owt or nowt, really!] so = O

    Many thanks, as ever, Loroso.

  3. Lenny says:

    Thanks Smiffy. This was a very entertaining effort from Lorozo. Like you, I was unable to get the poem even with the anagram and all the checking letters. I don’t think that 5 is anything to do with the age of majority as both Manhood and Peter are synonyms for the male member

  4. smiffy says:

    Quite right Lenny! To my eternal chagrin, the slang and innuendos (innuendi?) completely passed me by.

    Thanks too, Eileen. At least ‘ought’ evens up the transatlantic balnce with ‘zip’ at 19D, then.

  5. Gnomethang says:

    Lovely puzzle, thanks Loroso. 22/13 beat me although I had the anagram. Everything else highly enjoyable.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Smiffy for putting me out of my misery.

    I thought that this was a great puzzle even though I was defeated by ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. Although, actually, I did get the AND correct.

    I managed to guess AHOY and PLACEBO correctly but without fully knowing why.

    Also, muchas gracias to Lo Rozo which, as everyone knows, means ‘I grazed’.

  7. crypticsue says:

    Really enjoyed this one with lots of laugh out loud moments, particularly 24d. I didn’t get the 22/13 combo even with lots of letter rearranging and muttering. Thanks Loroso for a wonderful Thursday afternoon diversion.

  8. mike04 says:

    Many thanks, Loroso and smiffy.

    A great crossword – and for me, a first unaided Loroso solve!

    Eileen @2, I am surprised. Lubbock, Texas, is the birthplace of Buddy Holly!
    Oh, and didn’t Elvis famously gyrate his pelvis there in the early days?

  9. jmac says:

    Thanks for the blog Smiffy. Pleased that I didn’t have to go to work today – wouldn’t have been able to manage this on a 40 minute commute. As Everyone says, a most enjoyable puzzle. Like Crypticsue also laughed at AHOY. 2 minor quibbles, I share Smiffy’s reservations about k = Kilometres in HIKER but understand that that’s just the way it is. Also,the VIV bit of the homophone in 11 across doesn’t really work work for me. But everything else was top drawer.

  10. Sil van den Hoek says:

    What a terrific puzzle.

    Even my one reservation (the K for ‘kilometres’) was out of place as it is in Chambers – never seen K for ‘kilometres’, though.

    I don’t know how Brits think about it, but my main ‘problem’ with Loroso/Anax puzzles is the unusual choice of definitions for (parts of) clues, like eg keen/dirge, guy/cord or jogger/reminder. Which is why I find it hard to fully complete his crosswords – yet, I mastered this one!

    An overdose of brilliant clues, my favourites being 1ac (MIDSTREAM), 19ac (POINTER), 25ac (AITCHBONE), 6d (PINK), 8d (REMAINDER) and 23d (DIRGE).
    Six Clues of the Day – ever seen thát before?
    They all have splendid misdirecting surfaces.

    Plus the Paulian gems 5d and 9ac!

    After I finished the puzzle, I showed it to my PinC [who never has done a Loroso/Anax before].
    She was so impressed by the clueing that she qualified it as:
    a crossword with the Wow-factor!!

  11. flashling says:

    Didn’t know or get close to 23/13 but a Loroso/Anax masterpiece, more please.

  12. Geoff says:

    Bravo, smiffy.

    Although I have never read it, I had heard of Dryden’s poem and got it after just a couple of crossing letters in 22a – which was fortunate, as I only got MANHOOD by subtracting “S ALPHABETICAL from it (the ribaldry having, most uncharacteristically, escaped me – just like the NINA. Sigh….)

    Very good crossword, but not a masterpiece – a few iffy defs and the homophone in 11/3 only works for the first syllable, as the second is pronounced ‘vive’ in the solution. Chambers gives as one definition of ‘ought': ‘an illiterate corruption of naught’. I’m all for a bit of libertarianism, but illiterate corruptions? Hmmm.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi Geoff

    I don’t know which edition of Chambers you have but mine [11th] gives ‘ought: non-standard corruption of naught’, as I said @2, which is not quite the same as ‘illiterate’, I think.

    As for 11ac, I don’t see the problem that you [and jmac@9?] have: SURVIV is a homophone of Sir Viv [‘batsman said’] not ‘survive’.

  14. Scarpia says:

    Thanks smiffy.
    Have to agree with everyone,this was a brilliant puzzle.
    5,21 and the anagram at 22/13,I thought were very special.Also liked AHOY,simple but very effective.
    Eileen – I think the problem people have with the homophone at 11ac is that Sir Viv doesn’t sound like ‘surviv’ as it is pronounced in the complete answer.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi Scarpia

    I understand that but this is crosswordland, where we deal with groups of letters, not necessarily whole words. I know SURVIV is not a word but, if you asked anyone to read it aloud, it would sound like ‘Sir Viv: the rest of the word comes from the anagram. The clue does not suggest that Sir Viv sounds like the first two syllables of ‘survival’.

  16. Scarpia says:

    Hi Eileen – I guess the confusion arises from the answer being split into ‘non word’ segments.Just to clarify – 19 down,for instance,could be clued as ‘sound of dental deposit'(plaque/plac) and then return of award(OBE/ebo).
    Please note I don’t profess to any ability as a clue writer – I’ll leave that to the experts! :)
    (Like Loroso).

  17. anax says:

    Hello friends.

    Yes, it’s about 1:30am and I’ve only just got back from band rehearsal, hence my absence from the fray. As ever I’m thrilled by your kind comments and I’m especially pleased that the SIR VIV subject has cropped up; my DIY COW clue-writing forum this week had some friendly exchanges about whether or not non-word homophones are ‘good’ – the responses there, as here, suggest there’s quite a split.

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi anax

    Thanks for dropping in and letting us know us we’re in good company!

    One thing that I love about your crosswords is how you stretch the boundaries. Keep it up!

    Scarpia, I’m afraid I’d given up and gone to bed before your last post. I think your example is a stretch too far for me at the moment! :-)

  19. Thomas99 says:

    Re the slight latitude of “Sir Viv” – I think context matters. In a brilliant puzzle like this I the innovation seems justified or “earnt”, and the pleasure of seeing the hero’s name referred to is a factor too. In a clever puzzle one’s on the look-out for unlikely things to happen. I suppose what I’m saying is it’s fine if you do it this well!

  20. Scarpia says:

    Hi Eileen,
    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply so long after the event.
    I am intrigued by this,as I don’t recall seeing that kind of construction before(I have started some new medication,so it might just be my poor old memory failing!)

    From your example “if you asked anyone to read it aloud, it would sound like”, how about ‘one’ which would sound like ‘won’,therefore could ‘stone’be clued something like – Came first,we hear after saint gives something precious?
    It would certainly open up a lot of possibilities for setters!

  21. anax says:

    Hi Scarpia

    I think setters are given some latitude here because if you split an answer into component parts and choose a false homophone for one of them, solvers would be split over whether the homophone part is truly separated from the whole. In this clue the fragment being treated is SURVIV. Presented with only those letters the automatic response is to pronounce them as they appear. For the sake of argument let’s say there’s a word SERVIVE, which sounds like the SURVIV component if we take it in context of the entire answer. Were the clue presented that way, there would I’m sure be solvers who would say ‘Yes, but separated from the rest of the answer SERVIVE should just sound like SERVIV shouldn’t it?’ Others would say it should it should be pronounced as it is in the whole answer. So the setter can’t really win as opinion will always be divided.

  22. Geoff says:

    Hi Eileen and Scarpia (and Anax!)

    ‘Rules’ in the land of Cruciverbia are only conventions, of course. The standard convention for homophone clues is that the homophonic pronunciation is retained in the full solution word, even if the homophone is only part of a more complex charade.

    In this clue the homophone simply gives a sequence of letters and the pronunciation is then changed in the full word. This procedure therefore involves two quite separate steps, which is somewhat analogous to the dreaded indirect anagram – hence the debate!

    Homophones are often controversial because much of the homophony in RP and most regional accents in England arises because they are non-rhotic….

  23. Scarpia says:

    Hi anax,
    Thanks to you as well for taking the trouble to reply.
    Fair point.If I may try your patience a little more – have you used the device previously?I still can’t recall seeing it before.

    “So the setter can’t really win as opinion will always be divided.” – it’s a hard life being a setter! :)
    You can’t please all the people ….

  24. Scarpia says:

    And thanks Geoff.

  25. Eileen says:

    Hi Geoff and Scarpia [sorry to be late – I’ve been out.]

    “Homophones are often controversial because much of the homophony in RP and most regional accents in England arises because they are non-rhotic….”

    It’s not just the rhotic / non-rhotic issue: where I live, in the Midlands, ‘one’ is a homophone of ‘wan’, not ‘won’, so, Scarpia, your, “how about ‘one’ which would sound like ‘won’” would open a bigger can of worms. I’ve just seen that Chambers gives both punctuations!

  26. Eileen says:

    ‘Punctuations’? Pronunciations!

  27. Scarpia says:

    Hi Eileen,
    As you say let’s not get into regional pronunciations.
    It doesn’t,however,change the point I was trying to illustrate,just substitute ‘pale we hear’ for ‘came first’.

    But as anax points out”Others would say it should it should be pronounced as it is in the whole answer. So the setter can’t really win as opinion will always be divided.”
    At the end of the day it was a great puzzle and I agree with Thomas99 – context obviously matters.

    Thanks,once again,for the trouble you have taken to explain your point to me.

  28. Canalonly says:

    i still have no idea where the second “o” from the anagram has gone as the same one is is used twice

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi Canalonly

    Are we still talking about the same clue?

    There is only one O in the anagram and in the solution:


  30. Canalonly says:

    no i was talking about Manhood alphabetical sorry Eileen should have been clearer. it was clear in my head before i wrote!

  31. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Cananlonly, I still don’t understand what you mean: there are two Os in MANHOOD ALPHABETICAL and in ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, Canalonly probably means that in the grid the O of ABSALOM is the same O as the one in ACHITOFEL. Therefore this O is one symbol that is used twice.
    As such an interesting question [even though it is clear for me that this O should be clued twice].

  33. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Sil – the penny drops! :-)

    I was only looking at the clue, not the grid – it was a while since I had solved the puzzle and didn’t notice when I entered it. As you say, very interesting,

  34. Canalonly says:

    if it is a proper anagram then all of the letters should be used so there should be two separate o’s in the answer – in my book but i wouldn’t lose sleep over it – was just wondering…

  35. anax says:

    Ha. It’s a very interesting concept (might even have just given me an idea for something) but no, when writing a clue the answer should be treated as if it was written out in full. Grid cross-checking isn’t taken into account. Taking 11a/3d as an example, one initial – ultimately abandoned – idea had consisted of SUR VIV (as before), ALOFT, anagram of THIEF, then TEST.
    Had the above principle been in place, I wouldn’t have been able to have the THIEF anagram; would have to use THEF instead… or, I could keep THIEF and the first bit would have to be based on SURVV. How does one choose? It’s impossible to do so without introducing a level of potentially unfair guesswork.

  36. Canalonly says:

    thank you @ anax

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