Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,738 / Monk

Posted by Gaufrid on July 6th, 2011


Monk is one of my favourite setters so I was very pleased to see him return to the FT and Indy after an eighteen month sabbatical. However, I don’t remember ever taking as long to complete an FT puzzle so this must have been very much at the harder end of the FT spectrum, but it was no less enjoyable for that.

After the first pass through the clues I had the NW corner completed but only two answers entered elsewhere. I then proceeded anticlockwise and filled in the other three corners before finally getting to grips with the four central lights.

There were some obscurities (eg 10ac & 17dn) for which I had to refer to Chambers or Collins for confirmation but, as with all Monk puzzles, the definitions and wordplay throughout the puzzle were accurate, if at times well hidden or with a degree of misdirection.

A challenging start to the day but I’m glad that PeeDee is on holiday so that I had a chance to blog this one.

1 BASSWOOD BA’S (scholar’s) S (son) D (daughter) around (settled outside) WOO (court) – “an American lime-tree or its wood” (Chambers).
5 EMMIES EMM[a] (heroine, almost) IES homophone of ‘ease’ (relax)
10 TRIPOLI LOT (group) reversed (from the east) I (one) around RIP (final farewell) – “a lightweight porous siliceous rock derived by weathering and used in a powdered form as a polish, filter etc” (Collins).
11 ALUMNUS ALUM (white crystalline powder) NUS ({national union of} students)
13 DAISY DAIlY (paper) with ‘S’ (succeeded) replacing (to shift) ‘l’ (line)
15 STELA hidden in ‘waSTELAnd’ – a variant spelling of ‘stele’.
16 FIBROSIS F (fine) BRO (sibling) in ISIS (boat crew)
20 INTRO INTO (digging) around R[eveals]
21 AISLE ALE (wallop) around (boxing) IS with the definition referring to a marriage service.
23 HANSOM CAB *(BACON HAM) around (without) S (salt) – I have seen S and P on salt and pepper pots but this abbreviation does not appear in any of the three usual references.
25 EMULATE EMU (sidekick of Rod Hull) LATE (deceased)
27 BOOKLET BOOK (reserve) LET (sanction)
28 POTATO TAT (old clothes) in POO (filth) – a ‘slob’ is a lazy person and an ‘utter slob’ would be very lazy person such as a couch potato.
29 DEWY-EYED homophone of ‘Dewey’ (nephew of Donald {Duck}) I’D
1 BETA TEST TATE (gallery) in BEST (first)
2 SAINT HELENS SAINT HELEN[a] (island without a) S (second)
3 WHOLESALE OLES (fish {sole}, head to tail) in WHALE (big eater)
4 OLIVE 0 LIVE (suitable for a cemetery? {none live})
6 MOULD double def.
7 INN [s]I[g]N[i]N[g]
8 SASSY nAnnY (old goat) with every ‘n’ changed to ‘S’
9 LAUDABLE AU (gold) DAB (fish) L (line) in LE[t] (permit, mainly)
14 IDIOTICALLY cryptic def. – dope = idiot
16 FLYWHEEL FLY (sly) WHEEL (do a U-turn)
17 OLIGOPOLY OLIO (stew) around G (good) POLY (old college) – “a situation in which there are few sellers of a particular product or service, and a small number of competitive firms control the market” (Chambers).
18 COMBATED COMB (search) A[fter] T[rackers] E[ventually] D[eparted]
21 ATE UP this is a down clue so ‘wordplay for Greek character’ could be ATE UP, ie ATE reversed to give ETA
22 EXALT *([r]ELAX) T[urkish]
24 NOBLE [policema]N ELBO[w] (short joint) reversed (rolling up)
26 ULT fourth letters of ‘beaUfort scaLe gusTs’

9 Responses to “Financial Times 13,738 / Monk”

  1. Conrad Cork says:

    Chapeau, Monk and Gaufrid!

  2. Thomas99 says:

    This was very impressive from Monk – and sensationally difficult! I’m glad I stayed with it. I thought he judged it very well to make it very difficult but not impossible, and not unfair – e.g. words like “beta test” which we would probably all recognise but don’t use ourselves and in my case took absolutely ages to dredge up.

  3. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Phew, Gaufrid, very impressive from you.

    Two Monks ago I said in this place that I couldn’t get anywhere, and that I therefore ‘read’ the solutions to understand the setter’s way of thinking (something that Conrad Cork applauded – btw, nice to see someone else using his real name here).
    The previous Monk I enjoyed enormously and – somewhat OTT – I allowed him to go straight into my Top 10 of favourite setters.
    After today’s offering I am not so sure any more.
    Although I like the cleverness of construction, there were also too many unusual words today.

    Logodaedalus (in the Guardian) was not very satisfying today, and this one, well …
    [glad there was the simple but splendid Orlando (Guardian Quiptic) to save my day]

    A few question marks that need an exclamation mark:
    – “you might make something of it” as a definition of BASSWOOD?
    – EMMA was a “heroine”?
    – ISIS = “boat crew”? [I know, the Isis is part of the Thames]
    – why is “football” part of the clue in 27ac?
    – in 3d: WHALE = “big eater” [I think, a bit of a stretch]
    – just “first” for three first letters in 18d?
    – I can’t see why Monk uses (the, IMO, misleading) “rolling up” in 24d
    – “Number 4 in …” for more than one Number 4? Not sure.

    As I said, Gaufrid, you really did a Great Job.
    I couldn’t have done this.

  4. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    Like you,I found this one of the hardest FT puzzles that I’ve attempted.Like Thomas99,I’m glad I stuck with it.A very satisfying solve!
    Sil,in reply to some of the points you raised –
    BASSWOOD is renowned as a particularly good medium for carving.
    EMMA was the heroine of a very well known novel by Jane Austen.
    ISIS is the second crew of Oxford University.
    I agree ‘football’is perhaps unnecessary in 27 across,but it doesn’t make the clue wrong(IMO).
    WHALE – definition from Chamber’s ‘person with a large appetite’.
    18D ‘Firsts’ would undoubtedly be clearer,but would ruin the surface.
    24D ‘rolling up’ I thought was very fair and,again made for a great surface.
    26D ‘Number 4′ for more than one number 4,seemed fine to me,especially for a three letter answer.

    I thought it was a super puzzle.Thanks Monk!

  5. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Scarpia, for answering my Questions.
    BASSWOOD “is renowned as a particularly good medium for carving”, but does that justify “you might make something of it”. I think that’s rather vague.
    One might call EMMA a heroine, but I think that is a bit of a stretch in a crossword puzzle (EMMA = heroine).
    ISIS “is the second crew of Oxford University”. Should I have known this? And the rest of the FT solvers? Only the second?
    ‘Football’ doesn’t make the clue (27ac) wrong, indeed. Not very right either. A ‘booklet’ is a football programme? Perhaps, people call it like that – then I surrender.
    WHALE – ok.
    “24D ‘rolling up’ I thought was very fair and,again made for a great surface” – I still don’t get this, it’s IMO misleading (which I find negative as being opposed to misdirecting).
    Sorry, Scarpia, I do not agree about 18d and 24d with you. The surface of a clue is important to me too, but not at the expense of precision (and the length of a word is not an issue either).

    Glad you liked this puzzle, huge credits to Gaufrid, but I fear I am going to drop Monk out of my Top 10 again.
    Reason? Lack of sparkle.

  6. Allan Scott says:

    Join all the Ls and you get a £ sign.

  7. Keeper says:

    Thanks for an enlightening blog.

    I just have a minor quibble with 5ac. While I was able to solve it, I wasn’t pleased with “EMMIES” as a plural for Emmy. As far as I can tell, the plural of Emmy (when not using the more formal “Emmy Awards”) should be “Emmys”. Indeed, the official website is (The same would apply to Tony/Tonys.)

    And I agree with Sil that boat crew = ISIS is rather obscure, especially given the FT’s international readership.

  8. Monk says:

    To Keeper @7; Chambers has the entry [Emmy, n., (pl. Emmys or Emmies)]. I don’t think that non-words get past the crossword editor!

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    “Join all the Ls and you get a £ sign” (#6)

    I wonder how many solvers spotted this very well hidden ‘nina’ – I certainly did not.
    [but then I do not even see the most obvious ones …. :)]

    Very clever, Monk!

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