Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,844 – Dante

Posted by Sil van den Hoek on November 17th, 2011

Sil van den Hoek.

Monday Prize Crossword/Nov 7

Pleasant starter of the week, this Dante.  What struck me was that the clues were shorter than usual. Surfaces were great as ever …..

….. while my Top 3 (in random order) of favourite clues consisted of: 20ac (ESPY), 21 (CHURCHMICE) and 7d (CORPULENT).

1 BLOOMS Flourishes and prospers without money
    BOOMS (prospers) around L (money, a pound)
4 MANIAC Mother, can I distribute some fruitcake?
    MA (mother) + (CAN I)*
8 BATSMAN Sportingly, he takes over
    Cryptic definition
9 ESQUIRE Address of a gentleman who sorts queries out
11   DEPRESSION   Slump causing gloom
    Double definition
12 NOUS In France we show common sense
    Double definition
    Some might perhaps comment on the cryptic grammar, saying that ‘show’ should be ‘will/must show’, but I am not going to flag it up (again). Oops, I did.
13 THEME I object to the subject of discussion
    ME (I, in the object form) added to THE
14   OBSESSED Persistently preoccupied, Bess does go wrong
    (BESS DOES)*
16 COQUETTE She vainly seeks masculine attention
    Cryptic definition
    In fact, a straightforward definition or is there something more to it?  Still not sure about ‘vainly’, although it reminds me of the Dutch word ‘koket’ which indeed means ‘vain’.
18 MERIT Deserve credit
    Double definition
20 ESPY Spot for parking inside, yes? Possibly
    P (parking) inside (YES)*
21 CHURCHMICE   Poor little creatures
    Cryptic/Double definition
23 ANISEED One’s restricted by a lack of flavour
    I S (one’s) inside A NEED (a lack of)
24 CLEAVER A butcher may use it to cut credit without permission
    CR (credit) around LEAVE (permission)
25 SISTER Tender relative
    Double definition
26 INSTEP One part of Oxford just like the others?
    Double definition
    INSTEP is a part of a shoe (which ‘Oxford’ is), and IN STEP means ‘just like the others’.
1 BRACE Two support the church
    BRA (support) + CE (the church)
2 OBSERVE Watch and obey
    Double definition
3 MEANS TEST   Statesmen arrange financial review
5 ARSON The offence of one coming to light
    Cryptic definition
6 IGUANAS Lizards that may be using a double disguise
    (USING + AA (‘a’ double))*
7 CORPULENT   With port, uncle becomes portly
10 NICODEMUS Possibly mendacious? Not a supporter of Jesus
13 THOUSANDS Crowds joining you on the beach
    THOU (you) + SANDS (the beach)
15 SEMICOLON Monocle is readjusted half a stop
17 ULYSSES Book in for July’s session
    Hidden solution:  [j]ULY S SES[sion]
19   RAMPART An animal must have some means of defence
    RAM (an animal) + PART (some)
21 CRETE Island it would be hard to con?
    With CON this would be CONCRETE (hard)
22 CHEAP Inexpensive high explosive in a detonator
    HE (high explosive) inside CAP (a detonator)

3 Responses to “Financial Times 13,844 – Dante”

  1. John Newman says:


    I have been waiting for your blog because I had the same problem with 16A as you did.

    A while back you wrote the following about what I read was Mr Squires’ 2 millionth clue

    19 PATELLA Two girls, one on each knee
    PAT and ELLA (two girls)
    This is one of Dante’s favourite clues which he used in the past. And I think, it is a setter’s right to re-use clues that he thinks are fantastic and should be seen by the next generation. And I agree, it is a great clue.

    Squires used this Coguette clue as Rufus in the Guardian back in June and the blog on it had a ? mark after the word cryptic. Perhaps you have unearthed something really cryptic about the word vainly. If not then I would suggest Dante not use this one again.

    Having uttered this criticism I have to say I do love Dante crosswords for their cryptic clues.

    I would prefer the word “find” to “joining” in 13 down and can I ask why HE can be used for High Explosive? Is that what is written on the container boxes?

    I really liked 13A – theme.


  2. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks John, for flagging up the COQUETTE connection.
    Normally my memory serves me well, but COQUETTE didn’t ring a bell this time.
    After I dived into Fifteensquared’s Archive, I came to the same conclusion as you: exactly the same clue as on June 6th.
    In the Guardian blog, Eileen questioned the crypticness of it and no other commenter added something substantial.
    I can’t either, I fear.

    However, all in all it was a fine crossword, I thought.

  3. Rufus says:

    Apologies for late posting – we have electricity problems meaning computers, lights etc are continually tripping. The joy of old houses – ours was built in 1854.

    In the Coquette clue, the intended cryptic element is “vainly”, hoping the solver takes it to mean “futilely”, instead of the other meaning of “priding oneself inordinately on one’s appearance” (Chambers) as coquettes seem to do.

    Re THOUSANDS, I shall add “find” to my card index, with thanks. I haven’t used the solution THOUSANDS for many years and I only have two clues on my card!

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