Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13731 Courtier

Posted by scchua on June 28th, 2011


Since this setter was new to me, I searched and found that he/she makes just a single appearance in the FT every 2nd half of June, since 2008.  This coincides with another annual event, which event explains the pseudonym itself.  I imagine this is one of the regular setters, dusting off this particular pseudonym once a year, round about this time.  Edit.note:  L’Envoi:  I (and readers as well, I’m sure) am honoured that Courtier has revealed his identity below (thanks niloci for facilitating) – he’s this veteran gentleman here.

Nice puzzle, though I thought there were bits where clueing was a bit loose.  The Wimbledon theme was enjoyable.  Thanks Court-ier, and enjoy watching the rest of the tournament!  (As usual, definitions are underlined in the clues.)


1 “Former champion has confused an artist with a river, Virginia”. (9)

SHARAPOVA :  Anagram(confused) of HAS + RA(practising artist who is a member of the Royal Academy, ie. a Royal Academician) + PO(river in northern Italy running from the Alps to the Adriatic) + VA(code for the state of Virginia, USA). 

Defn:  Maria, Russian tennis player, 2004 Wimbledon singles champion, seeded 5th in this year’s Wimbledon women’s singles, through to the quarter-finals.


6 It passes through a prism, a shaft of light overhead (5)

SMASH :  Hidden(passes through) in priSM, A SHaft

Defn:  An overhead hit of the ball, as would be used by 1A and 23A.  (“Overhead” as a noun to equate to “smash”? )

9 Block obtained after I took direction (5)

INGOT :  GOT(obtained) after {I +(took) N(north, direction of)}.

10 He’s coming in to sign a dictionary (9)

THESAURUS HE’S into(in to) TAURUS(zodiac sign of the bull).

11 Peers mostly right about the quality of viewing (8)

EYESIGHT :  EYES(peers) + IGHT(right mostly,without first letter). 

Defn:  Quality,characteristic,property associated with viewing.

12 Showing self-confidence that is largely lightweight (6)

BOUNCE :  Much(largely) of the answer is OUNCE(lightweight,1/16 of a pound weight).  (I can’t otherwise explain the B, and if I’m not wrong, it’s a bit of loose clueing.)  The word JOUNCE means the same. 

Defn:  One with,showing self-confidence will show bounce in his/her steps.  (A bit uncomfortable with a noun or verb as an answer to an adjectivial definition.)  Also what 1A and 23A do to the ball before serving.

13 A note to the police about an imperfection (4)

FLAW :  F(a note, the fourth tone, Fa, in the C major musical scale) +(to) LAW(the police).

14 Short teasers designed to make a point at court (4,5)

DROP SHOTS :  Cryptic defn:  As used by 1A and 23A.

18 Exaggerate deliveries to the country (9)

OVERSTATE :  OVER(deliveries of balls to the batsman in cricket) +(to) STATE(country).

19 Donations for weapons by the sound of it (4)

ALMS :  Homophone(by the sound of it) of ARMS(weapons).

21 Loyalty may be late in following year (6)

FEALTY :  Anagram(may be) of LATE in FY(following year, I think that’s what the setter intended, though I’m not familiar with it.  I know of fiscal, financial and even full year; and don’t ask about FY in texting or Internet chat). 

Defn:  Fidelity,loyalty a vassal swears to a lord.

23 “One of the favourites started in formal attire alright but has nothing on, Victoria!” (8)

DJOKOVIC :  DJ(dinner jacket, what one wears,attire to a formal function) + OK(alright,okay) + O(nothing,zero) +(on) VIC(abbreviation for Victoria). 


Defn:  Novak, Serbian tennis player, seeded 3rd in this year’s Wimbledon men’s singles, through to the quarter-finals.

26 A wonderful way with deep water (9)

UNDERFLOW :  Anagram(way?) of WONDERFUL

Defn:  A stream,current in deep water.

27 The first cord, figuratively speaking (5)

TROPE :  T(first letter of the) + ROPE(cord).   “Cord” is something 1A and 23A want to hit over.

Defn:  Any literary form, eg. a metaphor, using words not in their literal, but in their figurative, sense.          

28 Military uniform is cut in a different way (5)

TUNIC :  Anagram(in a different way) of CUT IN

Defn:  The coat, usually tight-fitting, that is part of military uniform.  The word also means any of types of garment of various lengths, from those in Grecian times to the modern day tunic.


29 A crazy start by England has the heartless rushed (4,5)

MADE HASTE :  MAD(crazy) + E(England) + HAS + TE(the without its middle letter,heartless).


1 Spin a share (5)

SLICE :  Double defn:  1st:  To impart a (sideways) spin to a ball so as make it follow a curved trajectory, a slice.  What 1A and 23A would do.  2nd:  A share, say, of a pizza or pie.

2 Get garage to put together total (9)

AGGREGATE :  Anagram(to put together) of GET GARAGE.

3 Achieve something at tennis, first with one in Scotland (6)

ATTAIN AT + T(first letter of tennis) +(with) AIN(word for one in the Scottish tongue).

4 Charade to produce things with many faces (9)

OCTAHEDRA :  Anagram(produce) of CHARADE TO

Defn:  Solids,things with eight faces.

5 Declare it’s pretty ordinary with age (4)

AVER :  AVER +(with) age gives “average”(pretty ordinary, nothing to talk about).

6 As to aces, they may become marginal (3,5)

SEA COAST :  Anagram(they may become) of AS TO ACES

Defn:  That line,margin between sea and land.  (Another noun answer for an adjectivial definition.)

7 Put on to protect the stage perhaps (5)

APRON :  Double defn:  1st:  What cooks wear,put on to protect their clothing while cooking.  2nd:  Part of the stage floor in front of the curtain line.

8 Changing shoes sets them up as entertainers (9)

HOSTESSES :  Anagram(changing) of SHOE SETS

Defn:  Women who throw parties and entertain guests.  Other (professional) hostesses also do entertain – eg. presenters of talk and game shows, and taxi dancers.

13 Penalty for overstepping the mark (9)

FOOTFAULT :  Cryptic defn:  Point given to your opponent,penalty when you overstep the baseline,mark when serving at tennis.  What 1A and 23A try not to do.

15 Agape, like Belloc’s Ponto was (4-5)

OPEN-JAWED Like Ponto the lion in Jim, a verse by Hilaire Belloc, in which Ponto bites off Jim’s head after he runs away from his nurse.  Terrifyingly gruesome stuff to read to a small child, but then it’s supposed to be a cautionary verse, viz. don’t let go of your nurse’s hand.

16 Unaware of what’s clear about one pound (9)

OBLIVIOUS :  OBVIOUS(clear) around(about) LI(one pound,£1)

17 Mysterious about rice following return to the south-east (8)

ESOTERIC :  Reversal(about) of RICE after(following) reversal(return) of TO SE(south-east).

20 Short account of first sailing vessel (6)

SKETCH :  S(first letter of sailing) + KETCH(sailing vessel).

22 An extra returns with a show of assent the first two days (3,2)

ADD ON :  Reversal(returns) of {NOD(show of assent) + DA(first two letters of days)}

24 Civil engineer holds one material and creates another (5)

CREPE :  CE(civil engineer) around(holds) REP(cloth material). 

Defn:  Lightweight fabric.


25 Criticise a version of 19 (4)

SLAM :  Anagram(a version) of 19across,ALMS.

12 Responses to “Financial Times 13731 Courtier”

  1. Hamilton says:

    Hi scchua

    As the puzzle must have been set some time ago, to have Djokovic and Sharapova amongst the themed answers is remarkable after yesterday’s results! Prescient or what? I’ve half a mind to make a small investment!

    Courier also set in 2007 (no 12500) and maybe before that. I’m not so sure it is one of the regulars…….!

  2. Hamilton says:

    Sorry, I meant Courtier, not the 1993 Wimbledon runner-up!

  3. crypticsue says:

    Very enjoyable – nice theme and some good clues too. Thanks to Courtier and scchua too.

  4. eimi says:

    Yes, Hamilton’s right – he’s not one of the regulars and this is his only puzzle each year.

    On the same subject, can I recommend the tweets of Twitmericks. They are topical limericks that can be contained in the format of a text message or tweet, created by Mick Twister, which I believe is another pseudonym of the setter Indy readers know as Morph. Here’s his latest:

    A Wimbledon winner called Venus
    Got taken, this year, to the cleaners
    Beat by Pironkova
    Her tournament’s over
    And so is her sister Serena’s

    OK, beat isn’t great English, but rhyming Venus with Serena’s is brilliant, I think.

  5. Ferret says:

    Thanks to setter and blogger. I arrived at 3D in a slightly different way – AT (first of “at tennis”) with TAIN ( a town in Scotland where I played golf many years ago). I prefer your version scchua!

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, scchua. I think that in FEALTY the F (following) and Y (year) are being used separately rather than as an FY abbrev.

  7. walruss says:

    The excellent blog again from scchua, very pretty. So who is this once-a-year man?

  8. Bamberger says:

    I don’t usually do themed crosswords but I stumbled into this by accident. Once it was clear that there was a theme, I started looking out for tramlines, hawkeye, topspin etc.
    Got most of it out but would still be trying to get 12a,21a ,27a & 24d.
    Also couldn’t get 5d & 7dbut maybe I should have.

  9. scchua says:

    Thanks nmsindy@6, you’re right. I was misled by the container indicator into joining “following” and “year”.
    Thanks also, all commenters.

  10. niloci says:

    Nice blog. I have directed Courtier towards it and asked him if he wishes to be unmasked…

  11. niloci says:

    Courtier is happy to be revealed as John Barrett, Davis Cup and Wimbledon player in the 1950s and 1960s, TV commentator for the BBC and other networks, now retired, author of several books on tennis and for many years the FT’s tennis correspondent.

  12. Eileen says:

    Thank you very much for that, niloci – it’s very interesting to know. I well remember John Barrett, both as a player and as the BBC commentator who succeeded Dan Maskell.

    So, thank you for the puzzle, Courtier – I look forward to next year’s!

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

two + 8 =