Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,855 by Cincinnus

Posted by Pete Maclean on December 1st, 2011

Pete Maclean.

Prize puzzle from the Weekend FT of November 19

I found the bottom-right quadrant of this puzzle a bit tricky, especially 24A and 15D. My favourite clues are 1A (PIERCE), 17A (CAFE NOIR), 5D (AFRICAN VIOLET) and 21D (AD LIBS).

1. PIERCE – PIER (supported) + C[hang]E
4. BARRACKS – R (right) in BARACKS (President’s)
9. LOCUM – LO (see) + CU (copper) + M[olten]
10. FOR A START – FOR (dedicated to) + ASTART[e] (goddess, but not finally)
11. OMNIBUS – double definition
12. CAIRENE – CA (about) + IRENE (woman)
13. EARS – hidden word
14. MIDNIGHT – double definition
17. CAFE NOIR – I (I) + O (love) backwards in anagram of FRANCE
19. PING – [ping] PONG. I like the rather absurd surface reading of this clue.
22. REFUSAL – double definition
24. LADDERS – LAD (boy) + [fre]D [astair]E [ginge]R [roger]S. While I think it’s brilliant to work in Fred and Ginger, I am not otherwise enamoured of this clue — I think that ‘finally’ is a weak indicator for multiple last letters (although fine for one).
25. WILLOW TIT – WILL (is going to) + OWT (anything) + [c]IT[y]. I had to look up a list of tits to find this one.
26. INDIE – IN (not out) + DIE (join the choir invisible)
27. LENINIST – NINE (9) backwards in LIST (lean)
28. ASTRAL – ASTRA[y] (almost missing) + L (line)

1. PULLOVER – PULL (remove) + OVER (surplus)
2. ECCENTRIC – CENT (a coin) in CIRCE (enchantress) backwards
3. COME BY – double definition
6. RESTING – RE (about) + STING (rock star)
7. CRAVE – C (Conservative) + RAVE (party)
8. SATEEN – A[partmen]T in SEEN (spotted)
15. TAIL-ENDER – AIL (trouble) in TENDER (boat)
16. EGGSHELL – EGG (food) + SHELL (container). Eggshell refers to a light-blue paint.
18. FESTOON – FE (one metal, iron) + TOO (also) in SN (a second metal, tin)
20. CREWEL – homophone (“cruel”)
21. AD LIBS – cryptic definition
23. FELON – F[ortunat]E + LON[don]

6 Responses to “Financial Times 13,855 by Cincinnus”

  1. Wanderer says:

    Thanks Pete and Cincinnus, this was as enjoyable and satisfying as always.

    Last in by a mile was CAIRENE. With the crossers C_I_E_E, the only word I could see was CHINESE, and I spent an age trying, idiotically, to justify it. I was helped in the end by remembering that Cincinnus served up the double combination of SPEKE and the NILE in his last FT prize — there’s something about this setter and Egypt, it seems. (We also have Astarte in this puzzle, whom I learn features in Egyptian mythology as well as in other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean.)

    MIDNIGHT was my favourite, a very clever construction.

  2. Pete Maclean says:

    Wanderer, thank you for your comments.

    I thought of CAIRENE right away but then had some trouble seeing how the wordplay worked for it! My last in by a stretch was, perhaps appropriately in a odd way, TAIL-ENDER.

    I grant you that MIDNIGHT has a very clever construction and is a most satisfying clue to solve. But I thought that it maybe should have a question mark on it given the way ‘g’ works.

  3. John Newman says:

    Thanks Pete,

    Sorry for late blog – Was ticketed on a non-existent Ethiopian Airways flight back from Paris. Not a recommended airline. But this is Africa!

    I am surprised by quiet blog as I thought this one of the best Cincinnus ever. MIDNIGHT I thought brilliant. I got it with three letters and wonder if anyone out there was clever enough to get it with no letters?

    I do have two small things. Is Sting the pop star or the band? And I thought Cincinnus was so intent to get “hear” next to “Yarn” that the surface didn’t work. The homophone was not “yarn” but “without pity”. This one stumped me till the last.

    By the way, how many ways are there to represent “about”? Re, C and inverse I know – now we have CA.


  4. John Newman says:


    Meant to add that for a long while I had NEARLY for 28A. NEARLY = ALMOST. NEAR = Missing. LY = Vietnamese Dynasty (ie Line of stars).

  5. Keeper says:

    My favorite line from your blog, Pete:

    “I had to look up a list of tits to find this one.”

    I wonder if my wife will buy that excuse: “Really, dear, I’m just trying to find an answer to the crossword!”

  6. Pete Maclean says:

    Hi John, I certainly thought this was a fine Cincinnus but cannot say it struck me as one of his best. The “12 g” clue stumped me for a while; I cannot recall how many letters I had when I solved it but it must have been two or three.

    I took “Sting” to be the pop star. As I mentioned in the blog, I found the bottom right tricky and that included 28A. But I had the final letter (L) early and did not get misled.

    Keeper, thanks for your comment! Reminds me of how some of my American friends would be tickled by my mother talking about feeding the tits.

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