Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,650 / Aardvark

Posted by smiffy on March 24th, 2011

smiffy.

As good an Aardvark as I can recall.  Plenty of imaginative and diligent clueing ideas, including a salutary reminder to us all (at 6D) that a clue doesn’t have to be fiendishly technical to be top of the class.

Across
1 SMALLPOX - mall in (sp + ox).
5 CACTUS - act (to ‘ham’) in alternate letters of ‘course’.  A succulent clue indeed.
10 VODKA - v[ery] + do< + ka.
11 LASER BEAM - (a Serb) in meal*.
12 RECTANGLE - homophone of “wrecked” + angle.  ‘Delivering’ is the soundalike indicator, and the first of two such (see also 19D) today that I found amusing and contextually appropriate.
13 PRESS - cryptic def’n.
14 TOP-END - Open in t{wee}d.
15 PANACHE - (a[nonymous] + ch[ildren]) in pane.  With a nicely surface-tweaked definition, to boot.
18 KESTREL - hidden.
20 BEHEAD- he{retics} in bead.  Another evocative surface reading.
22 WOUND - double def’n.
24 MARROWFAT - row in farm* + TA (Territoral Army)<.
25 ATTENDANT - at ten + Dant{e}.
26 ERNST - e{a}rns + {jo}t.  Max Ernst’s second appearance this week in broadsheet puzzles.  The interweaving of the two wordplay elements here is a thing of beauty, to this beholder at least.
27 DORSET- homophone of “door” + set.
28 CLINCHED - c[ollege] + (inch in LED).

DOWN
1 SEVERE =Rev< in see.
2 AUDACIOUS - Au + ca{r}d< + IOUs.
3 LEAD A MERRY DANCE - (Made yard cleaner)*.
4 OBLIGED - (I globe)* + {homewar}d.  More seamless masquerading, at the surface reading ball, by the definition.
6 A DROP IN THE OCEAN - one of the best cryptic-only indicators that I’ve come across in quite some time.
7 THERE - three*.
8 SEMESTER - (m{aster} + set)* in seer.
9 ASLEEP - lee in asp.
16 CHAFFINCH - cha + FF + inch.
17 SKEWBALD - (Walks + Deb).  A great, almost visually-onomatopoeic word, for a type of horse.  My only minor quibble with this puzzle overall is that this clue, along with 18A, means that we have two of those “arbitrary name” type wordplay clues.
19 LAMMAS - homophone (‘trotted out’!) of “lamb” + “ass”.
20 BORSTAL - sort* in Lab<.  A ‘school’ in the more euphemistic sense, I feel (aren’t they just called Young Offender sites these days?).  This may be one clue where your own mileage may vary with regards to the merits of the wordplay.
21 STATED - {Por}t in dates*.
23 UTTER - double def’n.

11 Responses to “Financial Times 13,650 / Aardvark”

  1. jmac says:

    I agree, a great puzzle. Very clever cluing, all very fair, and i loved the unusual homophone indicators.

  2. Jake says:

    Yes! 6d was my first entry with a satisfying “Ah, that’s what it is!” A good clue.

    Liked 22a ‘wound’ sounds like wound(injury)+wrapped(wound – up).

    Cheers for blog.

    Nice one Aardvark. Great stuff.

  3. walruss says:

    Very good, and I did like the Arctic plunge, but not for real! A niceish run of puzzles this week in the FT.

  4. bamberger says:

    6d also my first in.
    Got about 2/3 out.
    10a Hadn’t come across ka=spirit.
    25a I had heard of Dante’s Inferno but thought it was a book so would never had got this. Aren’t there thousands of Italian poets? So how are you supposed to pick this one?
    26a Only got this because I’d seen it in another crossword.
    3d Where is the anagram indicator, please?
    19d I had ass and a ceremony being mass and I’d come across llamas so the answer had to be llmass evern though I couldn’t quite get it all to hang to together.
    20d I’m sorry but where does lab come from please?

  5. Jake says:

    Pity more didn’t try this…

  6. Tony Welsh says:

    I finished this with some difficulty. In particular I did not understand 6d and I still don’t! Smiffy says it is cryptic, so I guess it is too cryptic for me. Why Arctic?

    I had to look up SKEWBALD which I had never heard.

    Bamberger, LAB is short for Labour Party. Also, yes there probably are a bunch of Italian poets but crossword setters rarely use obscure proper names. One can usually assume that it will be the name of someone pretty famous, and Dante is probably the most famous Italian poet and maybe the only one I can think of right now. And while the Inferno is a poem — actually it is just one part of a three-part poem called The Divine Comedy — it is an _epic_ poem, which means it is interminably long and can in fact fill a book!

  7. Tony Welsh says:

    Jake, how do you know how many people tried this puzzle?

  8. smiffy says:

    Agreed Jake! I usually aim to get the Thursday blogs posted as early as possible (i.e. when it’s still Weds evening for me in the Western colonies) but wasn’t able to do so this week. Hopefully the post-lunch (GMT) timing of the blog, didn’t help to undersell this one.

    To address Bamberger’s questions, in no particular order.
    3D – particularly can be used in the sense of unusually/peculiarly (although a touch archaic this days, I think).
    20D – Lab. is our ‘party’. Otherwise known as Labour, to those of us who are not psephologist and do not own a Swingometer.
    25A – I don’t doubt that there are (and have been) thousands of poets waxing lyrical in Italy down the years. But in crossword-land, “Italian poet” is one of those categories where the principal exponent (Dante Alighieri) is so pre-eminent (and, crucially, wordplay-friendly), as to have become synonymous. Other typical examples are ‘Cornish river’ (= Fal) or ‘Argentine leader’ (= Peron).

  9. smiffy says:

    Thanks Tony – you managed to drop in while previous comment lay in unsubmitted limbo…
    6D is simply a reference to submerging in the Arctic Ocean; the astute piece was linking that literally to the metaphorical/abstract def’n of ‘cuts no ice’.

  10. Abby says:

    7D isn’t really three*- that leaves a bunch of clue words on the table. It’s e(arth) shifted in “three”. I think it’d be better as just an anagram, but it’s not written that way.

    Sorry, not a fan of clues with no wordplay (I’m looking at you 6D). They either need to check every letter or give two clues for the word so it checks itself. That’s why British quick crosswords bite the big one.

    I tried desperately to work out a way to get 6D with an anagram or something, but it fit all the checks, so I decided it was right regardless. But if I wanted to do that, I’d skip doing cryptics altogether.

  11. Jake says:

    Tony Welsh no 7

    Usually by the reply’s to the blog. Not to say other folks-elsewhere- don’t attempt the FT, but compared to the Guardian and response to the FT puzzle seems somewhat slack in numbers…

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