Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,655 / Monk

Posted by Gaufrid on March 30th, 2011


A welcome return to the FT for Monk after an absence of nearly 18 months. I didn’t think this was as difficult as some of his previous puzzles have been, perhaps due to the assistance of the preamble, but Monk’s ability to create smooth, plausible surfaces hasn’t diminished whilst he’s been away.

The across clues were made much easier when I realised, after a couple were solved, that the preamble was indicating that FT appeared in all of the across answers. The aim of having FT in each of the answers resulted in a number of repeated words but, for me, this did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the puzzle. There were many good clues but my pick of the day has to be 7dn for the reasons given below.

1 AFTERS [d]AFTER (more stupid … but not daughter) S (son) – ‘fools’ as in a type of dessert
4 SOFT SELL SOFT-S[h]ELL (moderate not hard)
10 TWELFTH FLEW in H (hard) TT (times) reversed – a reference to Shakespeare’s play
11 DRAFTEE RAFT (crowd) in DEE (river)
12 EFTS *(T[hought] E[xtinct] F[ound] S[currying])
13 SOFT PALATE SOFT (weak) PA (father) LATE (no longer) – ‘trap’ = mouth
15 IF-THEN *([c]H[i]EFT[a]IN) – a reference to a line in a computer program which might read IF a=1 THEN b=2
16 LEFT-OFF d&cd
20 SOFTIES F (feminine) TIE (bow) in SOS (call for help)
21 LEFTIE LEFT (port) IE (that is)
24 AFTERSALES AFTERS (dessert) ALES (drinks)
26 HEFT HE (dynamite {high explosive}) FT (us)
28 TOP-LEFT TOP (it rapidly turns) LEFT (sinister) – perhaps this clue would have been better if ‘1’ had been ‘one’, it would certainly have made the answer less obvious.
29 GO ALOFT GOAL (aim) OFT (frequently)
30 HALF-TERM RM (Royal Marines) is half of ‘term’
31 GIFTED GI (soldier) F[e]TED (honoured for liberating European)
2 TWENTY-TWO 22 (it starts here repeatedly)
3 RIFT R (runs) 1 FT (twelve-inch)
5 ODDITIES IT (appeal) in DI (policeman) in ODES (poems)
7 EXTRA EX (former) T[erritorial] (captain of territorial) RA (army division) – this is the first time that I have seen ‘captain’ used as an initial letter indicator but it works with its meaning of ‘head’ or ‘leader’ and it gave rise to a nicely misleading clue, particularly as ‘overthrow’ had to be read in its cricketing sense to determine the definition.
8 LIEGES EG (say) in LIES (stories)
9 PHLOX homophone of ‘flocks’ (gathers)
14 BETTERMENT BETTER (gambler) ME (yours truly) NT (books)
17 FITTED OUT FIT (attack) ED (journalist) in TOUT (spy)
18 DECANTER CAN’T (is unable to) in DEER (animal)
19 RESTATED STATE (nation) in RED (is in debt, so to speak) – normally ‘in debt’ would be ‘in the red’ so strictly speaking the answer should be ‘therestated’ 😉
22 NAUTCH U (universal) in NATCH (naturally) – “(in India) a performance given by professional dancing women known as nautch-girls” (Chambers)
23 LET GO [gif]T in LEGO (children’s toy)
25 TOPOL P (least amount of cash) in TOOL (work) – Chaim Topol – how many people wondered if there is/was an actor called Topil?
27 MAXI IX (nine) in AM (morning) reversed

10 Responses to “Financial Times 13,655 / Monk”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Gaufrid – thanks for the blog.

    This was fun – and a welcome antidote to today’s Enigmatist, which I tackled first.

    The meaning of the intriguing preamble was, as you say, soon sussed and made the across answers relatively easy – though enjoyable – to solve. The only obscurities, for me, were IF-THEN and HEFT [in that sense – I knew the word only in the context of grazing sheep] but the cluing of both was very straightforward.

    My favourite clue was TWENTY-TWO, for the ‘catchy number’ – lovely surface.

  2. jmac says:

    I really enjoyed this – pleasantly teasing. Thanks for your helpful blog Gaufrid which cleared up a few loose ends in the parsing department.

  3. smiffy says:

    Oh frabjous day! Callooh, Callay!
    I’d long since assumed that Monk had become permanently hors de combat, so was more than a little gobsmacked to see his byline re-appearing today.

    A very welcome return to the fray. The likes of 10A, 24A, 2D and 18D all providing “quality assurance” that continuity levels have not dipped. Stumped by my own ignorance at 22D, but today I’m more than willing to indulge a smidgen of obscurity.

  4. Lenny says:

    This appeared to be a doddle with the big helping hand contributed by Monk to the across answers. However, I soon realised that there was some fiendish wordplay in the down clues to restore the balance. I got there in the end with Nautch, the only word new to me, from the wordplay. I finished with Phlox, my worst nightmare, the name of a flower with only the second and fourth letters checked. On the way there were fond memories of reading Catch-22 in the 1960’s and not-so fond memories of coding If…Then statements in Cobol programs in the 1970s.

    I was slightly surprised by Gaufrid’s allusion to Monk’s first appearance in 18 months since I remembered doing one of his puzzles last month. I now realise that it was in the Indy and that Monk appears to be one of the few setters who is allowed to port his name from paper to paper.

    Now back to Youtube to catch up with Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls.

  5. Tony Welsh says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. I am not sure I understand your explanation of 4a. Where does SOFT SHELL come from? I think it should mean moderate for the clue to work as you suggest, but as far as I can tell it is either a crab or a new kind of jacket. I thought “not hard” was SOFT which left me wondering where SELL came from. Or at a pinch the whole clue could be regarded a a non-cryptic one.

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Tony
    Chambers defines ‘soft-shell’ as “adjective, having a soft shell or moderate in policy or principles” and “noun, a soft-shell crab, clam, or river-turtle; a moderate”.

  7. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    Very pleased to see M on K back in crosswordland.
    This,like his Indy puzzle of a few weeks ago,was easily up to his usual high standard.
    The preamble was very helpful in the end,though on first reading it didn’t seem to make sense.
    IF-THEN was new to me but was fairly clued.
    To be pedantic,an overthrow is not an extra but is added to the batsman’s total.
    Favourite clue,the very witty 2 down.

  8. Monk says:

    Thank you for your positive blogs. This entry is to credit Colin Inman, the FT crossword editor, with the idea of inserting the preamble. It was added between submission and publication, and the precise wording was agreed by us at the 11th hour. Apologies to Gaufrid and Scarpia, respectively, for “in (the) red” and “overthrow=extra”.

  9. Dreadnought says:

    Yes, thanks to Monk and Gaufrid. and I’m still trying to find Mr Topil….
    Scarpia, I believe the overthrow can be an extra, if it is part of running for a leg-bye, or bye or even wide or no ball, if the batsman has not touched the ball. So “possibly overthrow” is ok, I think.
    And I did enjoy 2d!

  10. Scarpia says:

    Well pointed out.
    Before donning my pedant’s hat I should make sure that my facts are right!
    My apologies to Monk.

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