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Financial Times 13815 Phssthpok

Posted by scchua on October 4th, 2011


Not so smooth today and hence the later posting.  First the FT online crossword posting was delayed for a couple of hours.  Then I found this the hardest Phssthpok I’ve encountered, especially in the SW.  I think that though the words were common enough, there were some shades of meaning I wasn’t familiar with.  Finally managed it, so thanks Phssthpok for the workout.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.


9 Conductor of opera with Mimi’s new maiden replaced (9)

TOSCANINI :  TOSCA(the opera by Puccini) NINI(from another Puccini opera, “Mimi” with “m”,maiden replaced by(replaced) “n”,new – to fit, both “m”s are replaced, though not explicitly stated)

Defn:  Arturo, 1867-1957, Italian conductor.

10 Astonished to find silver on silverback, perhaps (5)

AGAPE :  AG(in chemistry, symbol for silver from Latin “argentum”) APE(an example,perhaps of which is the silverback gorilla).  Nice surface.

11 Parrots smuggled in rear of motor vehicles (7)

LORRIES :  LORIS(Australasian parrots) containing(smuggled in) R(last letter,rear of “motor”).  “Motor” could be considered as doubling up in definition and wordplay.  Another nice surface

12 Fleet set forth (7)

EXPRESS :  Double defn.  1st:  Adjective, fast,express; and 2nd:  Verb, to elucidate,say so.

13 Assume consent is overridden (3)

DONReversal of(is overridden) “nod”,consent.

14 Pour egg on snow (11)

PRECIPITATE :  I think it’s a triple defn.  1st: Verb, as in “to rain,pour”; 2nd: Verb, to cause to happen, as in “to precipitate an action”;  3rd:  Noun, that which falls, eg. snow.  I spent a long time trying to work it out as a cryptic clue, then a cryptic definition, then a double definition, and can only conclude (rightfully I hope) that it’s a triple definition. 

17 Glue shampoo lid into top of head (5)

PASTE :  S(first letter,lid of “shampoo”) contained in(into) PATE(crown,top of head)

18 Odd characters in skiing trip (3)

SIN :  The first, second & third letters,odd characters inskiing

Defn:  Verb or noun of “to stumble,trip,make an error” – which if serious enough, could constitute a sin, I guess.

19 Threaten disgrace (5)

LOWER :  Double defn.  1st:  To menace,threaten, eg. the sky or weather when it’s going to storm; and 2nd:  To bring down in standing or stature,to humble,to disgrace.

21 Square corners supply hard puzzles (5,6)

RIGHT ANGLES :  RIG(to provide,supply with equipment, etc.) H(hard) TANGLES(situations which are confused and confusing, and can therefore be called puzzles – not to be confused with crosswords which only try to be confusing)

23 Unseaworthy vessel’s infection concealed presence of uranium (3)

TUB :  TB(abbrev. for tubercolosis, an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, largely thought to be eradicated by mass vaccination, and antibiotics, but with some evidence of new strains resistant to those antibiotics) containing(concealed presence of) U(in chemistry, symbol for uranium)

25 In hearing, give others a going over (7)

EARSHOTAnagram of(going over) OTHERS A.  Nice misdirection towards a homophone.

27 Way to get a gross litre of pastry (7)

STRUDEL :  ST(abbrev. for street,way) plus(to get) RUDE(unrefined,gross) L(abbrev. for litre)

28 Film of queen following woman (5)

SHEER :  ER(the queen, Elizabeth Regina) placed after(following) SHE(pronoun for “woman”)

29 Nut in grease you gobbled up noisily (9)

INFATUATEIN FAT(lard,grease) plus [U ATE]{homophone(noisily) of “you ate”,you gobbled up)}

Defn:  Noun for someone who is infatuated with someone/something, in other words a nut, crazy (not literally) about that one/thing.


1 Impassive as bone is set in concrete (6)

STOLID :  T(as in T-bone, a large steak with a bone shaped like a “T” running through it – as an aside, a contemporary meaning of T-bone is a vehicle crash where the wreckage is shaped like a “T”, one of the more lethal types of crashes) contained in(is set in) SOLID(hard and firm,concrete)

2 Underwear for musicians? (1-7)

G-STRINGS :  Cryptic defn.  I’d like to know how the lowest string on the violin became associated with underwear.  The association of the G-string with strippers, and the perhaps disreputable overtone, is now overcome by calling it the “thong”.

3 Revolting pimp steals manuscript (10)

PALIMPSESTAnagram of(revolting) PIMP STEALS

Defn:  A parchment with writing, which could be a manuscript, but in particular a palimpsest is one where previous writing has been erased to make way for the new writing.  An ancient example of recycling.

4 Appreciates where archaeologists work (4)

DIGS :  Double defn.

5 Reverse network grids oddly broadcast beeps, perhaps (4,6)

TIME SIGNALReversal of(reverse) [LAN(abbrev. for local area network, where computers within a limited area are linked) GIS(first, third & fifth letters,oddly of “grids”) EMIT(issue,broadcast)]

Defn:  Eg.  “At the beep/tone, the time will be ….”

6 Find fault with entry missing from woodwork (4)

CARP :  “Carpentry”,woodwork without,missingentry

7 Army arrived first in this, secretly (6)

CAMERA :  CAME(arrived) placed before(first) RA(abbrev. of Royal Artillery, branch of the British army)

Defn:  “In camera”, Neo-Latin for “in the chamber”, ie. in the privacy,secretly perhaps, of a judge’s chamber, as opposed to “in open court”.

8 Soldiers curse their clothes (8)

MENSWEAR :  MEN(soldiers) SWEAR(curse)

15 Filmmaker to sensationalise hollow admission by scientist (10)

EISENSTEIN :  SE(“sensationalise” without its inner letters,hollow) contained in(admission by) EINSTEIN(Albert, scientist of E=mc2 fame)

Defn:  Sergei, 1898-1948, pioneering Soviet film director,filmmaker.


16 Ornament would suit taller build (10)


Defn:  Verb, I suppose when one illustrates text with, well, illustrations, one is ornamenting it.

17 Irregular verb nearly split by definition (8)

PERVERSE :  VER(“verb” without its last letter,nearly) contained in(split) PER SE(Latin for “by itself”,inherently defined,without reference to extrinsic circumstances/factors – by definition, I suppose)

Defn:  Deliberately deviating from what is good or proper.  I suppose that would be “irregular”.

20 Pull out of accompanying minor the wrong way (8)

WITHDRAW :  WITH(accompanying) plus reversal of(the wrong way) WARD(a minor,person who is underage, and under the guardianship of an adult)

22 Strip for one who puts on clothes? (6)

GARTER :  I think it’s a cryptic defn.  A band,strip, usually elastic, for a person to use when he/she puts on his/her clothes; the item could be for securing socks, nylon stockings or shirt sleeves.  A nicely thought paradox of a clue.  Edit. note:  Per comments 1-3 below, in spite of the mental aerobics, it looks like I thought wrong.  It’s a straight double defn. not a cryptic one:  GIRDER.  Thanks Stuart and Thomas99.

24 Slug in batter left as replacement for food initially (6)

BULLET :  Verb, “buffet”,batter,hit with blows with the letter “l”,left as replacement for the letter “f”,first letter,initially of “food” – to fit, both “f”s are replaced, though not explicitly stated, cf. 1A

Defn:  Slang for the projectile part of the bullet, that can be found in or out of the target.

26 Stag party is unending after taking heroin (4)

HART :  ART(“party” without “p” & “y” its front & back end letters,unending) placed after(after) H(slang for heroin)

27 Lounge without any right until now (4)

SOFA :  “So far”,until now without “r”,right.

Defn:  The noun “lounge” for a reclining sofa.  I’m more used to “lounge chair” or “lounger”, but “lounge” is also correct. 


6 Responses to “Financial Times 13815 Phssthpok”

  1. Stuart says:

    Hello scchua – May I make a different suggestion for 22d?

    Girder – a strip of strengthening tissue (botany) & one who puts on clothes

    Thank you as always for the blog.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Believe it or not, Toscanini – who doesn’t seem like a figure from the distant past to me at all – conducted the world premiere of La Boheme (the opera with Mimi). He was very young of course. It adds another layer to 9a.

    Thanks for the blog. I also found it quite hard for Phssthpok. He often seemed to be deliberately confusing me with his word order!

    By the way I also had Girder for 22d. Not sure whether I should have now, but thought it might be worth mentioning (to gird – to put on and Girder – (sort of) strip…)

  3. Thomas99 says:

    Ah – Thanks Stuart; botany comes to the rescue. I wasn’t completely happy with steel girders as ‘strips’. Assuming gart doesn’t mean “put on” too, I think it probably is Girder.

  4. scchua says:

    Thanks Stuart and Thomas99. I think you’re right, and I’m the long shot with this one. And it’s also a long shot that the FT will one day buy the interactive software with a cheat (or at least check) button!

  5. crypticsue says:

    I agree that this was tough, especially the SW Corner. Thanks to scchua for the explanations and to the setter for the brain pummeling.

  6. jmac says:

    Thanks for the blog Scchua – you really put a lot of work into your blogs which makes them particularly helpful. It’s always good to know that other solvers found it a bit harder than expected, and it wasn’t just me. Also thought it was a top class puzzle so thanks Mr(?)P.
    Re your comment @ 4, personally I’m delighted that there is no check/cheat facility with the FT – keeps it real!

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