Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times no.13,811 by HAMILTON

Posted by Ringo on September 29th, 2011


It seems a pity to be negative on such a glorious autumn morning, but…

I didn’t find this very satisfactory at all, I’m afraid. Too much of the clueing was overcooked or awkward or simply didn’t work (for me). A shame, because I usually enjoy themed puzzles, and the theme here was quite devilishly concealed (it took me a little while to see that the recurring ones referred to 1ac.). Either I’m having an off-day, or Hamilton is.


1. TIMBER  I think this must be a cryptic definition – in the sense of something taken from the forest? Can anyone elaborate? And was I the only one to initially pencil in lumber, seeing a (somewhat tenuous) double definition?

5. PROMPTER  Somewhere between a double and a cryptic definition: a prompter in the theatre is ready to give an a actor help with a line…. but of course prompter means ‘more ready’, not ‘more than ready’

9. FLAX LILY  XL [forty in Roman numerals] within flail [strike] + Y(ankee) to give a kind of plant

10. IN A PET  Anagram of impatient minus tim to give a colloquialism for ‘sulking’

11. WILLOW  Ill [evil] within wow [presumably meant in the rare noun form, to mean a wonder] to give a kind of timber (see 1ac.)

12. BREAKAGE  Sounds like brake [stop] + age [time]

14. ENTRENCHMENT  Men within anagram of centre then minus an e(nergy)

18. CONSERVATION  Deeply unsatisfying anagram of c(ollege) renovations

22. HELPMATE  Hate [dislike] incorporating ELP [acronym for the rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer] + m(usic)

25. EXEMPT  Ex [old girlfriend, although of course it could just as well be a boyfriend - very male-centric, this puzzle: cf. 22ac.] + (t)empt [invite]

26. DOTARD  Do [event] + tard(y) [almost late], with ‘opening’ indicating that do has to move to the front

27. EPILOGUE  Epicure [gourmet] minus cr [credit] incorporating log [timber, see 1ac.]… sheesh

28. ADJOURNS  Jour [French for 'day'] within anagram of Dans

29. ENTREE  Embedded in lindEN TREEs


2. INLAID  Pretty sure this is in + l(ine) a(nd) i(n) d(istress) (‘front’ being the indicator)

3. BOX ELDERS  Boxers [sportsmen] incorporating anagram of led to give another sort of timber (see 1ac.)

4. RAINWATER  RA [Royal Academy, i.e. artist] + anagram of a winter

5. PAYABLE  Pay [settle] + able [competent], with ‘finally’ prompting the reversal – not a great clue, as neither pay nor able really offers a double meaning

6. OLIVE  Double definition: a girl’s name, and a timber (see 1ac.) from the Mediterranean region

7. PLANK  Double definition: timber (see 1a.), and a political cliché, as in ‘Education is a key plank of our manifesto’

8. EMERGENT  Merge [join forces] within that old favourite ENT [Ear, Nose and Throat - hospital department]

13. ASH  Another timber [see 1ac.] embedded in old-fASHioned

15. CHILE PINE  Anagram of pile within chine [deep gorge] – and I am now willing to forgive this puzzle all its flaws, as I have just twigged (haha) that Chile Pine is anagram of Cinephile, which is the FT nom de plume of the great John Graham, better known as the Guardian’s Araucaria, which is another name for the monkey-puzzle tree or Chile Pine

16. MANGETOUT  Man [chap] + get out [send away] to give the tasty pea-pod

17. ROSEWOOD  I need a little help parsing this: rose [stood up] + woo [seek (?)] + d(irector), with ‘support for’ meaning ‘first letter of’? The solution is, again, a sort of timber (see 1ac.)

19. ELM  El [Spanish for 'the'] + m[otorway] to give another timber (see 1ac.)

20. A-LEVELS  Eve [the first lady] within all [everything] + S(weden)

21. SPRUCE  Anagram of pie crust minus it to give another timber (see 1ac.)

23. PIANO  Double definition: joanna is Cockney rhyming slang for the old pianner, while piano is the musical term for ‘quiet’ ['loud? on the contrary' suggesting the antonym]

24. ALDER  (B)alder [having lost more hair] to give yet another timber (see 1ac.)

4 Responses to “Financial Times no.13,811 by HAMILTON”

  1. crypticsue says:

    I don’t think its you Ringo – I struggled with this one – I even worked out what the One related to without getting 1a until nearly the end. Now that you have explained 15d, that has to be clue of the day.

  2. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Hamilton for the crossword and Ringo for the blog.

    Like crypticsue @1, I got the theme without solving 1ac, which was one of the last ones in for me. Full marks to Hamilton for getting so many timbers into the grid, but I think 1ac deserved a better clue.

    Ringo, I am not quite sure why you do not like 18ac – are you dissatisfied because the letters VATION stay together?

    In 17dn, I think you can take all of “seek support for” as the definition of WOO. D for director on its own has the authority of Chambers.

    My grumble is with 25ac. I am not happy with “timeless” as an instruction to remove one of two Ts from a word. I am getting used to it as a solver, and it could be justified by the device of splitting the clue word into “time less”, but I do not like that device either.

  3. Ringo says:

    Ah – thanks, Pelham, for the clarification of 17dn (though I still find it a little troublesome, as to “woo” is surely to seek the support of, not for; I suppose one has to simply view the “of” as a linking word.

    Yes, I found conservation to be hardly more than a half-anagram (for vaguely similar reasons, I wasn’t keen on “entrance” as a clue-word for “entree”, either).

    Crypticsue – glad I wasn’t the only one!

  4. Bamberger says:

    Seems noone can explain 1a . Funnily enough I thought of timber as soon as I saw Forestry but didn’t write it in as I could see absolutely no connection with Commission .

    I did twig that it was themed and got a few more out.

    I have decided that I’m just not interested in themed crosswords.

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