Fifteensquared

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Financial Times 13,849 by Mudd

Posted by Pete Maclean on November 24th, 2011

Pete Maclean.

Prize puzzle from the Weekend FT of November 12

I found some challenging clues in this puzzle, especially 1D (WOMANISH), 3D (EDEN) and 8D (REEFER). My favourite is 26D (SAGA) and I also like 29A (DOORSTEP).

Across
1. WIDGET – WID[e] (extra short) + GET (understand). Extra as in cricket.
4. SCIMITAR – [l]IMIT (edge blunted) in SCAR (mark on skin)
10. MOVIE STAR – VIE (struggle) in MOSTAR (Balkan city)
11. IMAGE – MAG (publication) in IE (that is)
12. NORM – N OR M (choice of adjacent letters, reversed). I had a very tough time figuring out the wordplay here, primarily because I got stuck thinking that “choice of adjacent letters” had to clue NO (by contrast with YES which is not composed of adjacent letters). Even now I am unsure what purpose the question mark on the clue serves.
13. SPONGE CAKE – SPONGE (bum) + CAKE (some soap)
15. SLIPPER – double definition
16. RINGER – double definition
19. ANGOLA – AN (an) + A (a)+LOG (diary) reversed
21. SOMALIA – SO (like this) + MALI (African country) + A[frica]
23. PACESETTER – PACE (step) + SETTER (me)
25. OGLE – hidden word
27. CAMEL – “came l[eft]” (went right? No!)
28. CHARACTER – double definition
29. DOORSTEP – D[ough] + anagram of POOREST. Great anagram indicator here (VAGRANT)! I noticed this curious use of DOORSTEP, meaning a very thick slice of bread, in a television drama I saw recently.
30. GARNET – GAR (fish) + NET (catch)

Down
1. WOMANISH – OMAN (the country) in WISH (dream). I am unsure if I have come across ‘womanish’ before but it certainly did not spring to mind.
2. DIVERSION – DIVER (one dropping) + SION (Jerusalem)
3. EDEN – [sw]EDEN (South-west obscured in country)
5. CORONER – O (duck) in CORNER (hog). Duck as in cricket.
6. MAIDEN NAME – [offic]E + MANNED (staffed) + IAM (I am) all backwards
7. TIARA – I (one) in A RAT (a bad lot) backwards
8. REEFER – RE (on) + FEE (the money) + R (right) all backwards. I had a hard time with this as I was not familiar with REEFER meaning a jacket and, faced with R_E_E_, figured the answer had to be REELED with “taken up” as the definition.
9. STUPOR – UP (riding a horse) in STOR[e] (shop almost). “Up” for “riding a horse” is a handy thing to remember for crosswords.
14. EPSOM SALTS – EPSOM (course) + SALTS (sailors)
17. ENLIGHTEN – anagram of ENGLI[s]H (son leaving…English) + TEN (figure)
18. WATER RAT – TERRA (ground) in WAT (temple)
20. ARTICLE – anagram of RECITAL
21. SEE-SAW – SEE (observe now) + SAW (observe then). “Observe then” is not a perfect clue for SAW but I’ll buy it.
22. SPICED – C[ondiments] in SPIED (looked)
24. COMBO – COMB (search) + O (round)
26. SAGA – AGAS (those cooking) backwards

4 Responses to “Financial Times 13,849 by Mudd”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks Pete for another fine blog of a good Mudd.
    We especially liked CAMEL (27ac).

    We thought 12ac (NORM) works like this: “choice of two adjacent letters” = M or N. When “reversed”, you’ll get N OR M. Definition: “standard”.
    Oh, and btw, 23ac (PACESETTER) is missing.

  2. Pete Maclean says:

    Hi Sil, The truth of 12A actually occurred to me after I wrote the blog. But I was unable to get back to fix my explanation before publication time and I guessed you would be here with the fix already. And so you are! Thanks.

    I have added 23A.

  3. Wil Ransome says:

    But n and m are adjacent letters, so what is the point of having ‘reversed’ in 12ac?

    And I was less than sure about ‘blunted’ for removing the first letter, in 4ac.

    Excellent 6dn I thought.

  4. Pete Maclean says:

    Hi Wil, I debated at length with myself about whether or not to discuss ‘reversed’ in the blog and decided not to. You are right, of course, that adjacency is a commutative relationship so ‘reversed’ is redundant. One could argue that its presence either makes the clue a little easier by tipping one off the the letters may be reversed from alphabetic order or makes it more difficult because one does not know what to do with it!

    I was also less than thrilled with blunted.

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