Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,657 / Alberich

Posted by shuchi on April 1st, 2011


A very fine crossword that I wish I could have solved and relished at a more leisurely pace – I’m late with the blog and have rushed through! Alberich is at his best with some lovely &lits, challenging wordplay and a wide range of knowledge domains. The SI at a few places is very devious (4d, 16d) and the penny hasn’t dropped on a couple of others yet (5a, 3d, 17d). // Update: Thanks to Eileen, deke and Lenny for filling in the gaps.

I found the NE corner the most accessible and the SW the toughest.

Alberich uses proper nouns abundantly today – some turn out to be cases of false capitalization – Bob and Frank aren’t the people they seem to be, others like Myshkin and Robin need us to know some background about them to solve the clues.

Favourites? Hard to pick when there is so much to admire. There are the nice cricketing surfaces and clever wordplay of 11a and 18d,  the lovely seamless construction of 28a and 2d, the brilliant definitions of 18a and 27a.

On to the clue analysis…


1 STILTED S (bob = shilling) TILTED (inclined)
5 PERSEUS PERSECUTE (to pick on) – CUTE (clever) + US (American)
9 ASPEN S (son) in (PECAN)* – C (opening of ‘cocktail’); ‘aspen’ means shaking but what is the connection with cocktail?
10 TRUNCHEON TR (IVR of Turkey) LUNCHEON (meal) – L
11 PRONOUCE PRONOUN (for example, we) E (English), around C (100)
12 NUDGE EG (say) DUN (to ask for money back)
13 DEPTH [a]DEPT (able, not initially) H[atred]
15 TEMPERATE TEMPE (place of beauty –  – I guess this is Vale of Tempe) RATE (price)
18 ADULTERER (LATER RUED)*. What a creative definition – “Man United playing away”!
19 RECTO RECTOR (head of college) – its last letter. Recto is a right-hand page of an open book; the left-hand page is verso.
21 BOOTH BOOT (kick) H (heroin); John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln.
23 INEFFABLE E (English) F (fellow) in IN (popular) FABLE (myth)
25 EVOCATIVE [Mors]E VOCATIVE (case) – the grammatical case of nouns used for calling the thing or person, found mostly in older languages such as Latin and Sankrit. A nice surface about the fictional detective Inspector Morse who happens to be an expert cryptic crossword solver.
26 MOULD dd; to quote Wikipedia on the history of penicillin – “Fleming noticed a petri dish containing Staphylococcus plate culture he had mistakenly left open, which was contaminated by blue-green mould, which had formed a visible growth. There was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth around the mould. Fleming … grew a pure culture and discovered that it was a Penicillium mould, now known to be Penicillium notatum.”
27 THICKET TICKET (pass) around H (hospital), another definition to admire – “a close gathering of elders?”
28 STRINGY STINGY (mean) around R[ace]


1 STAMPED anagram of half the letters of ‘Hemel Hempstead'; an unusual style of anagramming.
2 IMPROMPTU I’M (I am) (PUT)*, around PROM (concert)
3 TONTO double definition: The Lone Ranger’s companion and the National Forest in Arizona.
4 DETONATOR ON T (time) around A (article), in (RED-TO[p])* with “mostly” indicating deletion of ‘p’ and “edited” as the anagrind. The definition is the phrase ‘one sets off bang’.
5 PRUDE P[erson] RUDE (likely to use obscenities) &lit. Nice!
6 RACONTEUR NO CAR (transport) reversed, T[h]E UR (old city) – “deserted” = “left empty”.
7 EMEND ED (editor) around MEN (staff) &lit. Another elegant &lit.
8 SINCERE SINCE (after) R[eal] E[state]
14 HATCHBACK HATCH (to release chick from confinement) BACK (second). It’s funny when we zoom in on every word looking for wordplay and then it turns out that a string of words had to be read together – I’m talking of “HATCH = to release chick from confinement”.
16 MURDERESS DRUM (one that’s beaten) reversed, ERE (before) [hu]S[sy] S (succeeded)
17 AYCKBOURN sounds like ‘ache borne’ (pain suffered)
18 AMBIENT (BATSMEN)* – S, around I (one)
20 OPEN DAY O (round) DAY (Robin) around PEN (prison)
22 OBOLI hidden in ‘OrurO BOLIvia’ – the plural of ‘obol’, a silver coin in ancient Greece, equal to 1/6th of a drachma.
23 IDIOT IT around DI (girl) O (love); Prince Myshkin is the central character of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.
24 FEMUR F (female) [th]E, RUM (spirit) reversed

12 Responses to “Financial Times 13,657 / Alberich”

  1. Dreadnought says:

    Well, can I get my thruppence in and say this was one of the most enjoyable crosswords I’ve done. Cod (well clue of the year so far) was 18a. There was an April fool moment about a lot of clues:9a,12a,28a,8d. And I still cannot fathom the wordplay on several that I’ve “got”…any road up, I can’t wait to see what others make of this. No mention of 3D radio unfortunately. Many thanks to alberich! And in advance to shuchi ( based on previousl blogs).

  2. Dreadnought says:

    Anyway shuchi, I’m sure you’ve already solved it, but April fool doesn’t work on me cos I’m in GMT+8timezone (as I have just explained to my son in great and pedantic detail).

  3. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, shuchi.

    As you say, a lovely puzzle, with too many excellent clues to pick out the best – but I agree with all of your choices!

    9ac is S in anagram of PECAN minus C [opening for cocktail].

    3dn is TONTO: double definition: The Lone Ranger’s companion

    and the National Forest in Arizona

  4. deke says:

    I think 5a is PERSECUTE-CUTE + US.

  5. Eileen says:

    Some readers may remember the first four words of 18ac as a Paul [I think] clue [it works perfectly well by itself] and Chifonie once clued the word as ‘married man who later rued arrangement’, both great &lits.

    As has been said here before, we need hardly be surprised if the same clue occurs to more than one setter. Here, the combination, plus the addition of ‘foul’ is a nice new twist.

  6. Lenny says:

    This was a brilliant effort from Alberich and I thoroughly enjoyed the torture of solving it. I had to guess that Myshkin was the protagonist of The Idiot, that there was a Tonto national park and a place of beauty called Tempe. There was some brilliant wordplay, frequently featuring subtractions, such as Perse(cute), (A)dept and Bat(s)men. After sorting all this out I managed to spell Ayckbourn with an H instead of a K. Misspelling homophone answers is my Achilles heel.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Shuchi

    However, you have forgotten 23d.

  8. Geoff says:

    Thanks, shuchi.

    Good fun, as others have said, with plenty of clever misdirection, parrticularly around the definitions (‘one sets off bang’, ‘close gathering of elders’, ‘lady-killer’ etc).

    BTW, the ‘vocative’ case (25a) is alive and well in several of the modern Slavic languages.

  9. bamberger says:

    After an hour I only had 18a,26a ,22d & 24d. I did actually think of Tonto for 3d but dismissed it as it didn’t refer to Lone and I couldn’t think of any connection with an American National Forest.
    Way out of my league -well done to anyone who finished or nearly finished that monster of a xword unaided

  10. shuchi says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone. Couldn’t have got TONTO without help though 9ac was a “doh!” moment. Blog updated.

  11. Richard says:

    I enjoyed “Silly Mid-off” to indicate an anagram with the middle letter missing from “Batsmen”; that was almost as good as 18a.

  12. Tony Welsh says:

    Thanks, Shuchi. I found this puzzle too hard. By far my worst effort for many years, with only about half done. I completed the NW corner and about half the bottom half, but had nothing at all in NE, which Shuchi found the easiest!

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