Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,872 / Bradman

Posted by shuchi on December 9th, 2011


“Twelve clues lack a common definition”, said the opening line to the puzzle, but even after I was 50% through I hadn’t figured out what the definition was. Some clues (23a, 26d) did look more definition-less than others, which was some help. 3d, with all its checking letters, gave the first break into the themed answers, thereafter the others came one by one. A challenging and very enjoyable workout.

The themed answers – all names of rivers – are marked with an asterisk.


1 ANCHOR A N (new) CHOR[e] (job falling short)
4 DIVAGATE DIVA (singer) -GATE (common suffix for a public scandal, such as Watergate). Enjoyed this clue.
9 STRESS MISTRESS (the other woman) – (I’M)<
10 OCHREOUS (SCOUR HOE)*. Ochreous soil is of the colour of ochre, containing ferric oxide, silica, and alumina. I was briefly stuck with 4a and 6d as I had filled in the alternate spelling of the word OCHEROUS at first.
12 *RENO ONER (exceptional person), reversed. Reno is a river in Italy.
13 *SEINE SEIZE (grab) with ‘Z’ doing a 90-degree turn. A river in France.
14 *URAL [r]URAL (country, without leader). A river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan.
17 COSMOPOLITAN (CO-PILOT MOANS)*. Great choice of anagram indicator, ‘having to travel’.
23 *AVON NOVA (star) reversed. The name of many rivers – check out this long list.
24 *MARNE MARINE (gullible type) – I. A new find for me is this phrase ‘tell it to the marines’, said in response to an unbelievable story. Marne is a river in France.
25 *NILE NIPPLE (small projection) – PP (very soft)
28 DESPOTIC DES (little man, short for Desmond) POT (big belly) IC (in charge)
29 LAVABO LAVA (hot black stuff maybe) BO (nasty stink). One of my last answers in – I didn’t know this word, plus I was expecting this to be a river name. Lavabo is a basin for washing the hands.
30 MISPRINT MI (motorway) SPRINT (run)
31 STUPID PUT (placed) in DIS (hell), all reversed


1 ABSTRACT A B’S (bishop’s) TRACT (religious leaflet). A new meaning of ‘tract’ for me – a component of Roman Catholic liturgy, it is an anthem consisting of verses of Scripture.
2 CURTNESS CURS (despicable men), around SENT (stimulated i.e. elated) reversed
3 *OUSE DORMOUSE (slow mover) without the first half. A rodent made famous as the sleepy character in Alice in Wonderland. The word ‘dormouse’ comes possibly from ‘dormir’ (to sleep), which is also the root for ‘dormant’. Ouse is a river in Britain – or make that ‘rivers’ – more than one river has that name. // Update: Eileen has an alternate answer [tort]OISE which Bradman confirms is the right one.
5 INCONSISTENT INSISTENT (determined) around CON (fraud)
6 *AIRE AIR (look) E (east). A river in Yorkshire.
7 ABOARD A BOD (fellow) around A R (river)
8 ENSILE SENILE (decrepit) with the ‘roof’ i.e. letter ‘S’ moved inside
15 *LOIRE LO (see) FIRE (passion) – F (female). Loire is the longest river in France.
16 *TAMAR TAMARIN (small monkey) – IN (at home). River Tamar flows through south western England.
18 PERICARP (RIPE)* CARP (complain). The pericarp is the edible tissue around the seeds in fruits like berries.
21 RANDOM RAND (money – African currency) OM (Order [of Merit])
22 POSSES POSSES[s] (have, reduced). Very nice clue.
26 *SOAR sounds like ‘sore’ (painful). Soar is a tributary of the River Trent.
27 *DART dd. Dart is to be found on a (dart)board, and is the name of a river in Devon.

9 Responses to “Financial Times 13,872 / Bradman”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi shuchi and thanks for the blog.

    An enjoyable puzzle, as you say.

    I had OISE [half of tortOISE] for 3dn and since I had LOIRE and MARNE, I thought they were all going to be French rivers. Then I was deligted to see SOAR, which flows through my home town!

    [By the way, you’ve omitted 28ac and entered the wrong answer for 8dn – although you’ve implied the correct one! 😉 ]

    Thanks to Bradman for the puzzle.

  2. shuchi says:

    Hi Eileen

    Your answer for 3d does fit well. I thought of [Dorm]OUSE and since that seemed to work, stopped at that…but I guess Bradman meant [tort]OISE, too.

    Have updated the blog for 28a, 8d. Thanks.

  3. Bradman says:

    The DORMOUSE never occurred to be as the epitome of slowness, and the COD calls it agile despite the derivation of its name. One for the exam panel to decide on methinks. Thanks for comments.

  4. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Don for a fun puzzle and shuchi for the blog. Fortunately I spotted (or at least guessed) early on that the unclued entries were all in the 4-5-4 rows and columns. Nice device at 13ac.

    I too had OISE at 3dn, but OUSE works.

  5. Thomas99 says:

    Re 24 – I wondered if Marnie was gullible in the film… I wish I’d taken more time over 3d. I had Ouse, but Oise is much better!

    I spotted the rivers early but still found this very challenging. I was also haunted by the possibility that half of them might turn out to be FLOWERs…

  6. Jan says:

    Thanks Schuchi. I was frustrated by this puzzle: guessing 4 and 5 lettered rivers, anywhere in the world, and making the clues fit. I’m not familiar with the Italian one so I was not going to get it.

    I also had AFLOAT at 7d (until I got OCHREOUS). It does work.

    A fellow (AF) needing to cross a river can be read as river needing to cross a giving LOT (French river) around A …

    … AF LO A T … = ready to sail.

  7. shuchi says:

    Thanks Bradman for dropping by and clearing up 3d.

  8. Huw Powell says:

    I have just recently taken to supplementing my Grauniad puzzle habit with some of the recent FT offerings.

    Enjoyed this one immensely, for a bit 6d had me thinking we might be looking for dances (REEL), but I found LOIRE and AVON very early on, both worked well and had something in common, so in they went in pencil. As I slowly cracked the regular clues and some more rivers, I took care to highlight the thematic answers’ locations, suspecting there would be symmetry involved.

    Embarrassed to not have figured out STRESS, but that came from not being able to parse CURTNESS, so not writing it in and taking the R seriously.

    I had RAFT at 27 – it’s a river in Idaho and Utah, and sort of fits the clue. But not very well.

    3 is *definitely* OISE and not OUSE. A tortoise is a legendary slow mover. A dormouse, as a little rodent, would be anything but.

    I really enjoyed many aspects of this puzzle – the theme, the difficult grid (four corners and a center with only the long answers checking them), the way the long answers were technically easy but came so slowly… and the device at 13! Excellent.

    Thanks for the blog, shuchi, explaining some of what I missed, and BRADMAN for the joyful romp!

  9. malc95 says:

    If anyone is still around –

    I had LARNE (river in NI) for 24a, ie LARiNE which refers to seabirds & in particular gulls. Oh well, how wrong can you be?

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