Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times no. 13,739 by ALBERICH

Posted by Ringo on July 7th, 2011


One of those mornings when I stared for five minutes at the empty grid with a deepening conviction that every single clue was nothing but incomprehensible gibberish… but the mental logjam broke, eventually, and all became clear (except for one clue: I’m hoping inspiration will strike while I’m writing this…).

An excellent puzzle, with some outrageously good surfaces. Bravo.


1. FLASHY Fla [‘Alf’, as in Sir Alf Ramsey, reversed] + shy [retiring]… I spent ten minutes assuming Ramsey’s back referred to the letter Y… gah!

4. SAYING Staying [remaining] minus t(ime) to give a proverb, axiom or saw

8. MACRAME Ma [mother, ‘old woman’] + anagram of care incorporating m(inute) to give the ornamental knot-work

9. UGANDAN U(nravel) g(rey) + a(rea) in and [a conjunction] + N(orth) [pole] – tricky parsing, that

11. STRABISMUS Reversal of sum [amount] + Bart’s [hospital] incorporating IS [1’s]  to give an eye condition (most often encountered in Anthony Burgess novels, where for some reason every other character seems to suffer from it)

12. SASS S(pecial) A(ir) S(ervice) + S(taff)

13. HELOT Reversal of eh [what?, pardon?] + lot [a good deal] to give the unfree people of ancient Sparta

14. REMEDIAL Media [(news)papers] in rel(y) [bank]

16. PORRIDGE Double definition: the breakfast gruel is also a slang term for ‘time’ served in prison

18. SABRE Alternate or ‘regular’ letters of ScAbBaRdEd – very clever surface

20. EIGG Egg [slang term for a bomb or mine] incorporating I to get the Hebridean island

21. BACKHANDER Another slangy double definition: a payment made to influence judgment is also an ‘action’ in tennis and other ‘court’ games

22. GALILEO A truly masterly surface, this. Reversal of I(taly) + lag [prisoner], + Leo [one of several popes] to give the great scientist placed under house arrest in Florence and forced to recant his theories of heliocentricity by Pope Urban VIII

24. SPEAK UP Peak [summit] in reversal of US [America] + p(ower)

25. SIESTA The ‘rest of the afternoon’ [lovely definition, although I’ve a feeling I’ve seen it before] hidden in daiSIES TAkes

26. INGEST I + gest [sounds like ‘jest’, joke,’ when spoken or ‘told’] incorporating n(orthern)


1. FEAST Fast [rapidly] incorporating e(pidemic) to give a lavish meal or ‘spread’

2. AIRMAIL Air [as in ‘look’ or manner] + M(ark) + ail [trouble]

3. HAM-FISTED Anagram of maid’s the f(all)

5. AEGIS A(re) E(nglish) + GIs [soldiers] – not at all sure about that opening ‘A’ – any ideas? UPDATE: as Gaufrid explains below the line, A is an abbreviation of Are, a unit of the French metric system equivalent to a hundred square metres

6. IONISED Lionised [admired] without its ‘leader’ to give ionised, ‘charged’ or ‘carrying a positive or negative charge’ in particle physics

7. GLASSWARE G(ood) + lass [girl] + ware [sounds like ‘wear’ or sport (in the sense of clothing)]

10. EMERGENCY Reversal of re [about] + M(iddle) E(ast), + (a)gency [business]

13. HOOLIGANS Anagram of I hangs incorporating reversal of loo [toilet]

15. MISSHAPEN Mishap [accident] incorporating s(on) + E(ast) N(orth) [points]

17. RAGTIME Time [the magazine] following rag [newspaper] to give an early form of jazz

19. BANDAGE Okay, I give up – ‘wound covering’ is the definition, but beyond that I’m stumped – sorry! Hopefully someone below the line is feeling sharper than me this morning… UPDATE: Eileen and Gaufrid were quick to come to the rescue – ‘wound’ refers not only to the injury but to the way in which a bandage is ‘wound’ around an injured limb, giving a neat double definition

21. BLEAT B(lack) + l(imo) + eat [corrode] to give a very evocative word for ‘complain’

22. EXULT Exalt [fill with joy] with a new ‘heart’

19 Responses to “Financial Times no. 13,739 by ALBERICH”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Ringo – thanks for a great blog of a great puzzle. I’ve too many ticks to mention them all but double ticks to 23ac.

    19dn: think of two pronunciations / meanings of ‘wound’.

  2. Eileen says:

    Sorry – 22ac!

  3. Ringo says:

    Oof – of course. Thanks very much, Eileen. I did briefly consider that other pronunciation but for some reason it didn’t quite click…

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Ringo
    In 5dn A is the abbreviation of ‘are’, the unit of the metric land measure equal to 100 sq m.

    In 19dn I think the ‘in two ways’ means that you need to read ‘wound’ with different meanings, twisted/coiled and injury.

  5. Ringo says:

    Thank-you, Gaufrid – don’t think I’ve ever come across that before, but I see you’re quite right: The unit of superficial measurement in the French metric system; a square of which the side measures ten metres, equal to 119·6 sq. yards, according to the OED. You learn something new every day…

  6. anax says:

    Terrific stuff from Alberich. Like Eileen I had ticks all over the place – favourite for me was 17d as ‘jazz mag’ is a colloquial term for one off the top shelf; traditionally (perhaps it’s more of an urban myth) purchasers of such organs would place them underneath a hastily chosen newspaper before buying. I do anyway.

  7. Pelham Barton says:

    Thank you Alberich and Ringo. I had read 9ac as “starts to unravel grey area” = U G AND A. Your explanation is far better.

  8. Ringo says:

    Thanks Pelham. I considered that reading, too – and to be honest I’m still not sure that I don’t find it more satisfactory…

  9. scchua says:

    Thanks Ringo and Alberich.

    This was enjoyably challenging. Got all except one 20A EIGG. Used the sledgehammer approach of running through the whole alphabet but for some strange reason skipped EI_G. Grrr!

    Everyone a favourite. Small point but in the pdf version, in 1A the clue gives “Ramsay”. It should of course have been (Alf) Ramsey, as you’ve got it correctly in the blog. For a while I was considering whether it was Gordon that Alberich was referring to.

  10. smiffy says:

    Stonkingly good puzzle. Although the Ramsey clanger was dropped from quite a height.
    18A is ingenious, 23A ingeniouser and – per Anax – 17D is the ingeniousest of the bunch. Never expected to encounter the term jazz mag in the FT!

  11. Eileen says:

    Many [delayed – I’ve been out] thanks to Anax [and Smiffy] for shedding light on ‘jazz mag’. There was I, in my naïveté, thinking that was a rather tame clue for Alberich – and it turns out to be a superb &lit! ;-) [I should have known better!] Double ticks for it, too!

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Everything has already been said, but I (or better: we) would like to join the Chorus of Lionisers.

    Just like scchua we didn’t get EIGG.
    Why on earth did Alberich choose that, having ?I?G and numerous ‘normal’ words available? :)

    And just like you Ringo (merci beaucoup!) we didn’t see the first A in AEGIS (very very clever!) and the two-way meaning of ‘wound’.
    And we didn’t understand what exactly happened in UGANDAN.
    But you’re absolutely right about it, Ringo.

    A pity that the pdf version gave us ‘Ramsay’, but it didn’t prevent us from getting the right answer.

    See, everything’s already been said.

    Splendid puzzle – as we’ve come to expect from Alberich (which is quite a feat).

  13. Richard says:

    The moment I see SAW = SAYING in a cryptic crossword I just sigh out loud knowing that the setter has probably used more ridiculously obscure synonyms…
    …and in this case it turns out to be true.
    …and another bunch of silly single letter abbreviations too. A = Are, S = Staff?
    It is such a shame that these detract from the genuinely good clueing in the rest of the puzzle.

  14. Eileen says:

    Richard @13

    Gaufrid explained A = are and it wasn’t S = staff: the clue was ‘chief’, i.e. ‘first letter’ of’ ‘staff’.

    As for SAW = SAYING: I’ll stick my neck out at this stage since I think it’s now no longer a spoiler, and refer you to an excellent clue in last Saturday’s Guardian Prize puzzle.

  15. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Ringo and Alberich.
    Excellent blog and an excellent puzzle.
    Thanks also to anax and scchua for the ‘jazz mag’ reference!
    In my innocence I was thinking of ‘Downbeat’ or ‘Straight No Chaser’.
    What a sheltered life I lead! :)

  16. Alberich says:

    Many thanks for the kind words. The Ramsey/Ramsay mistake is entirely mine – that’s careless of me. Sorry!

  17. mike04 says:

    Hi Sil @12

    I was delighted to see the delightful island of EIGG get a mention in the FT crossword yesterday.
    I was disappointed when I read the word ‘normal’ in your post.

    On the same day in the Guardian, Gordius gave us C_A_, a river in the southeast.
    Nobody discussed that word’s appropriateness!

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Mike04, I hope you noticed the ‘smiley’ in my post.

    And you certainly have a point with Cray.

  19. mike04 says:

    Thanks for getting back, Sil. Yes, I did notice the emoticon.

    Here’s my answer to your question, “Why on earth did Alberich choose that,…

    An island fanatic. (No doubt there’s a word for such a person!)

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