Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13749 PHSSTHPOK

Posted by scchua on July 19th, 2011


There was a problem with the link to the online version, which meant that I started late.  (Thanks to those who responded to my call for help in trying to get the crossword.)   When I finally got it in hand, it wasn’t as easy as previous PHSSTHPOKs.  The right half was reasonable, but I got held up with the left half, and I’m still not sure of the parsing (nor of the answer too) for my last one in, 25D. (Edit.note: See comment#12 So, a little belatedly, here’s the blog I finally completed, with apologies for being late.  Thanks PHSSTHPOK, you’ve made me work, enjoyably, for it.  (Definitions are underlined in the clues.)


1 Maraschino cocktail lacked no ability to impress (8)

CHARISMA :  Anagram(cocktail) of MARASCHI(maraschino without,lacked no).

6 Seal bone in cupboard (6)

CLOSET :  CLOSE(seal) + T(T-bone, as in the steak).

9 Without apron, spill head of lime drink (6)

IMBIBE IME(lime without,spill head,initial letter) around(without) BIB(apron).

10 Cut and paste at a clear menu (1,2,5)

A LA CARTE :  Anagram(cut and paste) of AT A CLEAR.               

11 It restrains hooligan who has bomb concealed (4)

ASBO :  Hidden(concealed) in hAS BOmb.

Defn:  In the UK, Anti-Social Behaviour Order placed on a hooligan, which restrains his activities and movements.

12 One used to torture general’s army (10)

THUMBSCREW :  THUMB(I think, General Tom Thumb, the stage name of a dwarf who was an act in P.T. Barum’s circus)S + CREW(a group of armed men,army).

Defn:  Crude instrument where your thumbs (fingers as well?) are inserted and subjected to extreme pressure.


14 Draw a straight flush (4,4)

DEAD HEAT :  DEAD(straight,as in dead ahead) + HEAT(a sudden reddening, glow,flush).

Defn:  Finishing at the same time, ie. no one single winner, ie. a draw.

16 Ogle king during speech (4)

LEER :  Homophone(during speech) of “Lear”, king in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

18 Stand up and join lots in alternate positions (4)

JILT :  Letters in alternate positions in JoIn LoTs.

Defn:  To break a promise to meet up with, marry, etc. another person.

19 Agreed to go back on board ship with headless corpse for adventures (8)

ODYSSEYS :  Reversal(to go back) of YES(agreed) in(on board) SS(ship) +(with) ODY(“body”,corpse without initial letter,headless).

Defn:  Adventures over a prolonged period or distance, named after that of the Greek Odysseus aka Ulysses.

21 I am bound to earn some money in opposition (10)

IMPEDIMENT :  IM(I am) + PENT(within a pen,bound) around(earn) DIME(some US money = 10 cents).

Defn:  Something that blocks,in opposition to one’s progress.

22 Just above line next to vertical axis (4)

ONLY :  ON(above) L(line) +(next to) Y(vertical axis in an x-y graph, as opposed to horizontal x-axis).

24 Deviant wears leather-tipped gag (8)

STRANGLE :  STRANGE(deviant) around(wears) L(initial letter,tip of the word leather).

26 In pursuit of unknown amount of liquid crystal (6)

QUARTZ :  QUART(volume,amount of liquid measured in Imperial units = 1/4 of an Imperial gallon) +(in pursuit of) Z(unknown quantity, especially in algebra, together with x and y).


27 Outline he sculptured briefly on skirt and angora top (6)

SCHEMA :  SC(abbreviation,briefly of “sculpsit”, Latin for “he sculptured”) + HEM(as a verb, to enclose,circle round, which in a sense could also mean to skirt,provide with a border) + A(first letter,top of angora).

28 Wild, loud Frenchman had little time to speak (8)

FRENETIC :  F(loud,forte in musical direction) RENE(most popular Frenchman in Crosswordland?) +(had) TIC(homophone(to speak) of “tick”, a little duration of time,a moment,an instant).


2 Smell American appetiser (5)

HUMUS :  HUM(a bad odour,smell) + US(American).

Defn:  The Middle Eastern paste or dip made of chickpeas mashed with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini and usually eaten with pita, as an appetiser.  Not all dictionaries give this alternate spelling to “hummus”.  “Humus” commonly refers to soil material produced by decomposed vegetable or animal matter, certainly not appetising.


3 These letters could be dreariest, on purpose (6,5)

RAISON D’ETRE :  Anagram(these letters could be) of DREARIEST ON.

Defn:  From French, reason for existence,a purpose.

4 Regal route had mushroom colour (8)

SCEPTRED :  ST(street,route) around(had) CEP(mushroom, more commonly called by its other name, porcini, in menus) + RED(colour).

Defn:  Of sovereignty, the scepter being one of the symbols of royalty.

5 Uncontrollable wolf eats a lone gnu without good camouflage (1,3,4,7)

A LAW UNTO ONESELF :  Anagram(camouflage) of WOLF EATS A LONE NU(wolf eats a lone gnu without “g”,good)

6 Temperamental supercomputer captures twp (sic) bytes (6)

CRABBY :  CRAY(supercomputer, actually the name of the company that makes them, named after its founder) around(captures) BB(two bytes, 1 byte = B).  I’m quite sure that “twp” is a typo.


7 Eggs are in round state (3)

OVA :  O(round) VA(abbreviation for US state of Virginia).

8 Extension to bank carries compiler remarkably (9)

EXTREMELY :  EXT(abbreviation for extension) RELY(to bank,depend on) around(carries) ME(compiler,setter).

Defn:  To be at the extreme end of the spectrum, and hence remarkably.

13 Infections run rampant, though confined to refrigerator (4,7)

COLD STORAGE :  COLDS(infections) + RAGE(run rampant, as with fires, epidemics, emotions through forests, populations, etc) around(confined) TO.

15 Mysterious variations precede muscular spasm (9)

ENIGMATIC :  ENIGMA(variations, compositions by Elgar) before(precede) TIC(involuntary muscular spasm).  A somewhat weak clue, as wordplay and definition are close to each other.    

17 The charm of Europe is up my street, with intelligence above all (8)

MYSTIQUE :  MY ST(street) +(with) IQ(intelligence quotient, measure of intelligence) above reversal(up, in a down clue) of EU(Europe).

20 Lauding missing daughter’s cooked tongue (6)

LINGUA :  Anagram(cooked) of LAUING(lauding without,missing “d”,daughter).

23 Stick to Latin greetings (5)

LATHI :  LAT(Latin) HI(greetings).

Defn:  From Hindi, a stick usually used by police.

25 Otherwise some English people express alarm (3)

AYE :  I think, but not sure, AY(expression of agreement, otherwise,opposed to expression of alarm,surprise) + E(English).

Defn:  An expression of surprise,alarm.

13 Responses to “Financial Times 13749 PHSSTHPOK”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    I thought 25 was AWE, homophone of or (= otherwise; with perhaps a reference to that fact that some of us do pronounce the final R?), with alarm as the definition. I’m not completely sure.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Scchua & Phssthpok

    However, you have made a tiny error: the last word in 5d should be ONESELF.

    Some clever clues: I did like THUMBSCREW and COLD STORAGE.

  3. Richard Cleaver says:

    Thanks for such a thorough blog.

    You’ve a typo in your solution for 5dn. The last word is ONESELF not YOURSELF.

  4. Bryan says:

    Like Thomas99 @ 1, I also had AWE for 25d.

    I justified this to myself with A WE (English people) but, of course, some solvers will be non-English.

    We’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks Bryan and Richard, the typo corrected. I’ve also edited my preamble, now that even my answer to 25D may be wrong.

  6. walruss says:

    An awkward puzzle. Why does this compiler have the past tense in his clues so often? ‘Lacked’ in 1 across, ‘had’ in 28 across? It does not work. I didn’t like ‘cut & paste’ for an anagrind much either, in 11 ‘who’ is only there to make the surface work, 13 down uses the past tense for a comtainer indicator in a clumsy clue, and what is ‘to’ doing in 23 down? Not for me at all this one, which was the first I tackled today.

  7. Richard Cleaver says:

    I agree with your description of ‘awkward’, walruss, and I agree with your comment about cut and paste.

  8. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks scchua for this blog. There are some very nicely constructed clues, but others which are insufficiently precise for my taste. For example in 26ac, I do not see how the word order in the clue can be twisted to give Z following QUART.

    I pondered 25ac for some time before writing in the W without much confidence. Some minutes later I thought of the explanation as given by Thomas99 @1 and decided it must be right. Anyway we shall find out in a few hours.

  9. Pelham Barton says:

    Correction to 8: Of course I meant 25dn not 25ac.

  10. Paul B says:

    Your point about

    In pursuit of unknown amount of liquid crystal (6)

    is a good one, in that you don’t see the ‘pursuit’ gag done in this way at all often. But I’ve seen it done the other way (an element B goes after, ie is tagged onto the end of, an element A) often enough.

    25 dn looks like a dd to me.

  11. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, scchua, for your nice blog of a puzzle that was (so far) the only one I did today.
    I didn’t find it easy – perhaps, because I have never done a P-K before but, I fear, more because of the things walruss mentioned in #6.
    He is fully right about ‘lacked’ (1ac, should be ‘lacking’), ‘had’ (4d, why not just ‘has’ or, better, ‘gets’?) and the clumsiness of 13d.

    However, my biggest complaint is about 24ac.
    In Crosswordland “A wears B” means usually means: “B around A”.
    Not here though.

    On the positive side, I quite liked IMPEDIMENT (21ac), ONLY (22ac), 28ac (FRENETIC) and 5d (THELONGONE).

    Agree with all the above on (my last entry) AWE, which is surely a homophone of ‘or’ (otherwise).

  12. scchua says:

    Re 25D, the AWEs have it! Thanks Thomas99@1 for the explanation.

    But the clueing leaves me a bit puzzled, viz. “some English people”. Why “some”, since MOST people surely pronounce “or” the standard way, homophonic with “awe”? Or for that matter why “English” since it doesn’t contribute any fodder to the wordplay – it is an English crossword after all.

  13. Paul B says:

    International crossword, old boy! That *might* be why. Thanks for the correction, you slippery genius.

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>

1 + seven =