Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,838 – Crux

Posted by Sil van den Hoek on November 10th, 2011

Sil van den Hoek.

Monday Prize Crossword/Oct 31

A Crux crossword full of clues that were really on my wavelength. When I showed this puzzle to my PinC (who has never tackled a Crux), she was very impressed by it, adding “a setter who really cares for surfaces”. I couldn’t agree more. Happily, Crux geared up a bit which made that, at least for me, solving this puzzle wasn’t a routine job – the top half being considerably harder than its counterpart.  Nice crossword – not too many cryptic definitions [in my opinion, not Crux’s forte], and 24d? … any ideas in defence of Crux are most welcome.


1 PATENT A licence is invalid without one
    PATIENT (invalid) less I (one)
4 HARDSHIP Suffering, as HMS Bounty must have been
    Double definition, the second one making clear how tough that particular ship was
9 GIBBET Large inverted stake was fatal to felons
    GIB (reversal of BIG (large)) + BET (stake)
10 DOOMSDAY When the Judge’s decision is final – literally!
    Cryptic definition
12   EYES LEFT Observers taking over army command
    EYES (observers) + LEFT (over)
13 ODESSA Seadogs sozzled? Good to leave port
    (SEADO[g]S)* , the deleted ‘g’ being ‘Good’
15 RIAL Part of Venice surrenders to foreign money
    RIALTO (part of Venice) less TO
16 GHOSTWRITE   Stand in for the literarily challenged – sounds spooky
    Cryptic definition
19 IMPREGNATE   Soak in permeating fluid
20 OTIS Boy in love . . .. it’s remarkable . . .
    O (love) + (IT S)*
23 SUITOR . . . he woos his girl with diamonds, say, or . . .
    SUIT (diamonds, say [think card games]) + OR
25 SAPPHIRE . . . perhaps one fantastic sparkler
    (PERHAPS + I (one))*
    Even though there is no causal cryptic connection in this double ellipsis, I did like it. The clue in the middle being my favourite (but the last one isn’t bad either).
27 DEALINGS Business cards undergo them, you might say
    Double definition, cryptically formulated
28 FINIAL I come in last and get topmost decoration
    I inside FINAL (last)
29 STEWARDS Officials generally set off charges
    (SET)* + WARDS (charges)
30   STENCH A number in school smell, to put it mildly
    TEN ( a number) inside SCH (school)
1 PIGS EAR Ill-mannered people are awful – a real mess
    PIGS (ill-mannered people) + (ARE)*
    I wasn’t familiar with this expression meaning ‘a real mess’, so I went to my friend Wiki to ask for advice. Now, PIG’S EAR seems to be food in various countries: now that’s what I call a real mess ….. 
2 TABLE LAMP It should dispel the gloom on board
    Cryptic definition
3 NEEDLE Saints avoid unnecessary anger
    NEEDLESS (unnecessary) minus SS (Saints, being S plus S)
5 AGOG Excited since putting on little weight
    AGO (since) + G (little weight (gram))
6 DUMB DOWN   Silly sort of clue, this, to make things easier
    DUMB (silly) + DOWN (sort of clue, this)
7 HADES Where it’s hottest, go topless with sunglasses
    SHADES (sunglasses) minus the S at the start (topless)
    Great surface, and a definition (‘Where it’s hottest’) that made this for me a hard clue.
8 PAYSAGE Put money on a kind of green landscape painting
    PAY (put money) + SAGE ( a kind of green)
11 OFFHAND Absent worker with a careless manner
    OFF (absent) + HAND (worker)
14 ASHTRAY Smelly receptacle is missing around hospital
    ASTRAY (missing) around H (hospital)
17 INTUITION In teaching, women are known for it
    IN + TUITION (teaching)
    My way of teaching is based on structure ánd intuition (though I’m a man). Sometimes I say to male students: ‘now use your female intuition’ … because I think that really works!
18   SEMOLINA Some nuts left in a pudding
    (SOME)* + L (left) + IN A
    One of the best clues in this crossword, I thought.
19 INSIDES Stylish players can show guts
    IN (stylish) + SIDES (players)
21 STEALTH   By which taxes go up as the last resort?
    (THE LAST)*, the definition being cryptic
22   SPRINT Second run off is needed in this race
    S (second) + PRINT (run off)
    Another fine clue, with ‘run off’ directing the solver the wrong way due to the surface.
24 INANE Stupid how everyone starts and noone finishes
    IN AN E
    The idea is great, but this is debatable: ‘everyone’ does nót start IN an E.  Luckily, ‘noone’ dóes finish in an E.
26 AGED Old English penny, covered in silver
    An English (E) penny (D) is an ED, so an English penny covered in silver (AG) might be an AG ED

4 Responses to “Financial Times 13,838 – Crux”

  1. David says:

    28A) I come in last and get topmost decoration (6)

    Isn’t this a liberty by the setter? I thought the grammar in the cryptic reading was not correct.

    1A) PATIENT (invalid) less I (one) – For PATIENT, the same clue would work with licence and invalid interchanged!

    Loved most surfaces except for 30A.

  2. David says:

    Also thanks for the blog Sil, but I cannot understand the problem in 24D. ‘Everyone’ does start in an E, doesn’t it?

  3. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, David, for me, it starts “with” an and ends “in” an E.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Indeed, the cryptic grammar in 28ac is not right. We had a few discussions on that recently in the Guardian blogs. But I did not want to flag it up again. “I must come in last to get topmost decoration” would have been a way to solve this.

  4. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Crux for the puzzle and Sil for the blog.

    28ac: I agree with the criticism. The time honoured solution of starting “I’ll come” would give a perfectly good surface here.

    24dn: I take Sil’s point. I would more naturally say that “everyone” starts with an E. I would call it a blemish, rather than a serious error.

    26dn: I think “covered in” is just an indication for “after” in a down clue.

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