Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,869 / Neo

Posted by duncanshiell on December 6th, 2011


This is the last Financial Times crossword I am scheduled to blog in my short spell as stand-in for scchua who will return to the Tuesday slot next week.  This is the the second NEO crossword I have blogged in this short spell.  I find his crosswords entertaining, althougn I would take issue with some of his geography today.

There was a definite theme to the this puzzle with European Financial Issues and European politics playing a leading role.

I got off to a strong start in the NW corner and the long anagram fell quickly.  I wonder if NEO considered using the name of the most recent ex-head of the IMF in the grid. The gentleman in question has been in the press recently more for his [alleged] extra-curricular activities than for his financial skills.  Perhaps though the Q,K, H  and 3 Ss in DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN would have been a challenge too far.

As mentioned above, I think there are geographical issues in this puzzle.  ADELAIDE is a capital city, but maybe the word State in the clue was required (I realise that this would have negated the financial capital misdirection in the clue).  Perhaps more serious is the suggestion that ATLANTA is a State.  The only ATLANTA that I know about is just a State capital - ATLANTA, Georgia.

I slowed down in the SE corner of the puzzle where NAUTILI and CURARE took a bit of thought.

I was also defeated by the wordplay in 14 down for a long time until I saw reference linking ASSASSIN to the religious order of the Old Man Of The Mountain.  I am not entirely sure of the parsing of TENDRIL but I think it is just a double definition, as is CURARE [with a bit of cryptic definition thrown in].

As far as I can see the theme entries (taking anything European and/or financial) are RIESLING, NICOLAS, GEORGE [Papandreou], INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, GREECE, ADRIENNE and ANGELA.  There are also many European and financial references in the clues.

The clue for IDIOT contained a number of hidden drummer references.  

Another enjoyable puzzle from NEO

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Only holds on to silver as deficient in amount (6) MERE (only) containing (holds on to) AG (chemical symbol for silver) MEAGRE (scanty, insubstantial, inadequate; deficient in amount)
4 Sir Nigel ordered German wine (8) Anagram of (ordered) SIR NIGEL RIESLING (dry white table wine produced from grapes grown predominantly in Germany; German wine)
9 Darkness close – close to what! (5) NIGH (close) + T (last letter of [close to] WHAT) NIGHT (time of darkness)
10 Not mad about chance one gets to be gloomy (9) SANE (sound in mind, rational; not mad) containing (about) (TURN [opportunity; chance] + I [one]) SATURNINE (gloomy)
11 Means of attachment for a natural climber? (7)

TENDRIL (anything resembling a plant’s tendril that can be used for attachment?)  I think this is just a double definition as I can’t deconstruct TENDRIL into anything that relates to possible components in the clue.

TENDRIL (a plant’s threadlike climbing organ [leaf, leaflet or shoot]; natural climber)  
12 LIke mechanical man traced back from Martucci to Borodin (7) Hidden word  in (traced … from) MARTUCCI TO BORODIN reversed (back).   Martucci and Borodin were both composers but I don’t think either had links to robotics, even though Wikipedia tells me that the concept of robotics can be traced back to classical times.  Borodin was also a scientist. ROBOTIC (like mechanical man)
13 Urgent demand for cash swamps Italy (among others facing this) (4) RUN (urgent demand for cash as in ‘a run on the bank’) containing (swamps) I (International Vehicle Registration for Italy)’ RUIN (there is often a run on the banks when investors [and all citizens] face ruin in other aspects of their businesses [or lives] and they believe that the banks are going bust)
14 KIller shows when to commit offence on Holy Mount (8) AS (when) + SAS (I hesitate to suggest that SAS [Special Air Service] is serving as another synonym for ‘killers’ in this clue) + SIN (offence).  Do we read this is simply as one phrase AS SAS SIN (shows when to commit offence)? ASSASSIN (killer, originally a follower of the Old Man Of The Mountains, a member of his religious and military order in Persia and Syria from the 11th to 13 th century, so that gives the Mount and Holy [religious order] connection))
17 One final song for Scotsman (8) A (one) + LAST (final) + AIR (song)

ALASTAIR (male christian name, most usually associated with Scotland as a Gaelic form of Alexander)  I orginally thought that this might be thematic with a reference to Mr Darling, previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he is ALISTAIR, not ALASTAIR

22 Sarkozy loan is about to be reformulated (7) Anagram of (to be reformulated) LOAN IS and C (circa; about) NICOLAS (christian name of NICOLAS SARKOZY, current President of France)
24 Discussed in mischievous way the sea creatures (7) NAUTILI (sounds like [discussed] NAUGHTILY [in mischevious way])

NAUTILI (tetrabranchiate cephalopods of the genus Nautilus; sea creatures)

 25 Sees new Latin translation as vitally important (9) Anagram of (new) SEES  + anagram of (translation) LATIN ESSENTIAL (vitally important)
26 So vampire might appear as ladybird? (5) AS + HEN (a female [lady] bird) ASHEN (vampires are often portrayed with ASHEN faces, presumably because they are dead and tend to come out only at night)
27 Capital or very good deal ruined by incomplete thought (8) A (very good) + anagram of (ruined) DEAL + IDEA (thought) excluding the final letter (incomplete) A ADELAIDE ([State] capital of South Australia)
29 Papandreou’s echo in valley (6) E (Echo [code word for the letter E in international radio communications) contained in GORGE (valley) GEORGE (reference GEORGE Papandreou, most recent ex-Prime Minister of Greece)
No. Clue Wordplay Entry
2 Republican man respected at home in organisation that drives the country (9) (R [Republican] + GENT [man of good birth or high social standing; respected man] + IN [at home]) contained in (in) AA (Automobile Association [organisation that drives]) ARGENTINA ([the] country)
3 Delay for debt-ridden sailor (6) TAR (sailor) contained in (ridden [oppressed by the dominance of]) RED (in the red; in debt) RETARD (delay)
5, 1d, 19 What might be UN-nominated loan fraternity (13,8,4) Anagram of (what might be) UN-NOMINATED LOAN FRATERNITY

INTERNATIONAL [MONETARY FUND] (The INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) [as described on its own web site] is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.- i.e a FUND that is likely to be nominated by the United Nations [UN] as a suitable source of help for countries in financial difficulty)

6 Gives support where unemployment benefit is denied journos (7) SUBSCRIBES (signs ones names to; gives support) excluding SUB (subsistence money; loan or advance payment; unemployment benefit possibly) SCRIBES (writers, public or official writers;  journalists)  Possibly some cynics would say today that SCRIBES of history are cut above many journalists.
7 First among drummers, Moon cuts it as nutter (5) (D (initial letter of [first among] DRUMMERS + IO [moon of Jupiter]) contained in (cuts) IT  Keith Moon was the drummer of The Who.  A bit of research shows also that NEO (today's compiler) is also a drummer. IDIOT (nutter)
8 Much desire for wealth upset European Commission and ruined country (6) All but the last letter of (much) D of GREED (desire for wealth) +( EC [European Commission] reversed [upset; down clue]) GREECE (Country of the European Union close to economic ruin, [or possible already ruined in the eyes of credit-rating agencies])
10 Very complacent or misguided EFSF idealists (4-9) Anagram of (misguided) EFSF IDEALISTS  (EFSF is an abbreviation for European Financial Stability Facility.  If you conform to the view that the leaders and supporters of the EFSF are idealists then this is an & Lit clue) SELF-SATISFIED (smug; very complacent)
15 We have to enter shrine rebuilt for one giving encouragement (9) OUR (we have) contained in (to enter) an anagram of (rebuilt) SHRINE NOURISHER (one giving encouragement)
16 Notice nothing in French quarter but me? (8)

AD (advertisement; notice) + RIEN (the French word for nothing) + NE (North East; quarter.  Chambers tells me that any point of the compass can be termed a quarter, not just the four cardinal points).  I did wonder whether NEO himself [me] was getting in on the end of the clue here but I couldn't make NE minus O fit the wordplay)

ADRIENNE (girl's name, French I think, although Chambers tells me that it is the feminine of Adrian, which has a Latin or Italian derivation [of Adria])
18 State worker passed through endless mountain range (7) ANT (worker) contained in (passed through) ATLAS (mountain range in North Africa) excluding the final letter (endless) S ATLANTA (Hmm, ATLANTA is certainly not a State of the United States, or even a State of any other country as far as I can see.  It is however the State capital of Georgia in the United States.  As we have had a State capital in the across clues, I wonder if we were meant to have a State capital in the down clues as well?)
20 Investor first annoyed with Merkel (6) ANGEL (investor, particularly in the world of theatre) + A (first letter of [first] ANNOYED) ANGELA (reference ANGELA Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany)
21 That which brings stillness on the Dart? (6)

CURARE (a paralysing poison [brings stillness] extracted from the bark of S American trees, originally used by S Americans to coat the tips of arrows [darts]...)

CURARE (...also used today as a muscle relaxant [brings stillness])
23 Persons with class dismiss euro(5) CAST (get rid of; miss) + E (Euro[pean], as in E-number; I'm not sure E is a common abbreviation or the Euro currency unless you consider the Euro symbol is an E) CASTE (social class; persons with class)

4 Responses to “Financial Times 13,869 / Neo”

  1. MikeC says:

    Thanks Duncan and Neo. I’m still a bit puzzled by 16. Your explanation of the word play makes sense but I’m not sure about the definition. It seems as though ADRIENNE should somehow fit “but me”. Apparently (Wikipedia) the name literally means “dark one”. Is that supposed to be a connection to “Neo”, do you think?

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks Duncan – and Neo, for a stunning puzzle, I thought.

    I share MikeC’s puzzlement over ADRIENNE and Duncan’s re ATLANTA.

    I read 14 ac as ASS ['Holy Mount' - Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass: I've seen a similar clue quite recently but can't find it!] + AS [when] + SIN [commit offence]

    and 6dn as SUBSCRIBES excluding UB’S [Unemployment Benefit is].

  3. duncanshiell says:

    Mike @ 1 – I think me and ADRIENNE go together if we accept that ADRIENNE is a French name, but I agree that there is some doubt.

    Eileen @ 2 – Yes, I think your explanation of ASS as ‘holy mount’ is better than my rather tortuous link to Middle Eastern 11th century religious orders, and I agree that taking UB [I]S out of SUBSCRIBES is better than dropping SUB.

  4. Neo says:

    Ah yes, sorry about 18D which should have been another ‘capital’ joke.

    ADELAIDE OTOH was intended to be defined as a capital, esp for purposes of this puzz. Mystery @ ADRIENNE: she’s French, that’s all it is, so notice nothing but her, kind of thing. In SCRIBES, ‘unemployment benefit is’ (i.e. UB’S) is what’s denied. TENDRIL is a CD about bits of plants that attach to walls etc.

    ASS/ AS/ SIN is correctly parsed by Eileen: Collins says an assassin is ‘a member of a secret sect of Muslim fanatics operating in Persia and Syria from about 1090 to 1256, murdering their victims, usually Crusaders’. Does this mean they all lived to be 166 years old?

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