Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,878 / Hamilton

Posted by shuchi on December 16th, 2011


A puzzle of two halves for me. The bottom filled in fast while the top remained blank, till 7a gave me a breakthrough after looking up the French word for ‘queen’.

Help invited for 16d and 20a. // Update: Thanks to Thomas99 for the explanations.


7 REINED IN REINE (queen in French) DIN (racket)
8 WISE UP WE around IS (income support), UP (at college)
11 AESOP hidden reversed in ‘proPOSE Alternative’. Which is the hidden word indicator – ‘may’?
12 BANQUETTE BANQUET (lots of food) TE[a] (endless drink). ‘Banquette’ is a long bench with an upholstered seat.
13 HOLSTER HOLST (composer Gustav Holst) ER (hesitation)
15 NORTH-WEST-BY-WEST NORTH and WEST (opponents in bridge) BY WEST (one of the opponents repeated)
18 SUBLIME EMUS (birds) around I (one) LB (pound), all reversed
20 ROULADE I guess lade sounds like ‘lard’ (fat) but I can’t see the chef connection. // Update: ROUX (chef) LADE (lard).
22 ANNOTATED ANN (girl) O (nothing) TAT (rubbish) ED (journalist); ‘but’ is a redundant filler for the surface.
23 GABLE B[uckle] in GALE (bad weather). ‘starts to’ is unfair I think, as we’re picking only one initial letter.
24 ENACTS the opposite of ET’S (film’s) < in CAN, i.e. (CAN)< in ET’S.
25 EGGSHELL cd. It had to be EGGSHELL based on the crossings but I couldn’t see why at first. It came to me while writing the blog post that ‘soldiers‘ is also a British term for strips of toast.


2 TINSEL dd; ‘Tinsel Town’ is a nickname for Hollywood.
3 DESPATCH dd; ‘post’ and ‘haste’ are synonyms of despatch.
5 MINUET MINUTE (short time) with the end letters ‘T’ and ‘E’ exchanging places.
6 AESTHETE (HASTE)* ETE (‘summer’ in Paris). Our second French word of the day – été.
9 PEER OF THE REALM PEER (sounds like ‘pier’) (FOR THE MALE)*
10 INFANT PRODIGY (PRAYING TO FIND)*. I’m on the fence on ‘another’ as anagrind. What do you think?
16 ROBIN DAY ROY (Jenkins, the author) around BIND (difficulty) A[t].
19 IN TOTO IN (at home) TOTO (Dorothy’s dog, from the Wizard Of Oz)
21 AMBLER [g]AMBLER (better, without top)

10 Responses to “Financial Times 13,878 / Hamilton”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    Robin DAY! It’s Roy outside bind (=difficulty) and a (=at first)

    20a The chef is Roux and the fat is lard.

    Fun puzzle, but wasn’t familars with NW by W in that order! Thanks for the blog.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Ahem. Fam-il-i-ar.

  3. shuchi says:

    @Thomas99. Thank you. Couldn’t have got those two on my own.

    Post updated.

  4. crypticsue says:

    It was a puzzle of two halves for me too, but not the top and bottom like shuchi – I did well on the LH but the right remained a mystery for quite a while. I did wonder who would remember the interviewer at 16d. Once again, if only I had a £1 for every time I forget the non-military significance of ‘soldiers’!! Thanks to Hamilton and shuchi too.

  5. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Hamilton for a puzzle with much to enjoy and shuchi for the blog.

    11ac: I think “may” is a linking word and “group” indicates the hidden part.

    3dn: This could be taken as a one word straight definition – after all the crossword is not actually billed as cryptic. However, it is presumably based (as shuchi suggests in the blog) on an unsignalled requirement to split a clue word. Fine if you regard crossword solving as a series of conventions to be learned, but I will always regard it as unsatisfactory.

    10dn: In the blog, shuchi asks about “another” as an anagram indicator. I cannot find a justification for this. For me, the same goes for “suited” in 14ac. Can anyone give a convincing justification for either of these?

  6. Thomas99 says:

    I agree with Pelham Barton about some of the indicators. Suited (14a) seems most likely to be a non-Ximenean second-degree one – suited meaning tailored, meaning… Similarly another (10d), meaning different from the first one, meaning altered, I suppose. I can think of a few other explanations but none seems very likely.

    I agree that posthaste is meant to be split. I don’t think it is all that unlikely that someone might realise this without being taught it as a convention. Surely Hamilton is more likely to be trying to trick experienced solvers who have got used to certain other conventions and consequently don’t think of looking at the words-within-words separately? If posthaste can also be a synonym of despatch then I suppose it’s also a sort of &lit. I wouldn’t be too hard on him here anyway, especially as posthaste was presumably a two-word phrase which at some point (possibly after a hyphenated spell?) got turned into a portmanteau word. I’d agree that some sort of indicator or at least a nudge like a question mark would make it more above board (above-board? aboveboard?) though.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    Actually now I think about it “Post haste?” would have been a perfectly decent clue, wouldn’t it? It certainly adds to the impression that Hamilton was deliberately throwing a few little spanners (weird/missing indicators) in the works to avoid being too easy. (By his standards, it isn’t otherwise all that hard.)

  8. Hamilton says:


    Thanks for the blog; thanks also to Thomas99, crypticsue and Pelham Barton for your comments.

    As regards 11a, Pelham Barton has interpreted my intentions; I don’t mind the odd linking word (“but” in 22a also) if it assists the surface – something I know you have mentioned before Shuchi.

    As regards 3d, Thomas99 has put it far more eloquently than I ever could!

    As regards anagram indicators, I do my best to steer away from the more obvious ones, and in my quest for originality, I will scour my Chambers Thesaurus, and cross-reference what I may find with the Chambers dictionary. In the instances here that have been commented upon:
    Another – “different, alternative, not the same, variant”
    Suit – amongst other things, “become” (I probably won’t be using this one again)

    Finally, I’m disappearing shortly on an Antipodean adventure, so may I also use this opportunity to thank Gaufrid and his team of bloggers, all those who have been kind enough to comment on my puzzles during the year, and my compiling colleagues at the FT and elsewhere, a very Happy Christmas, and best wishes for peaceful and successful 2012.

  9. Pelham Barton says:

    Hamilton @8

    Thanks for dropping in. I am glad to have helped with 11ac. On 3dn we will simply have to agree to differ on our preferences for this type of clue.

  10. shuchi says:

    Thanks Hamilton. Best wishes for a very Happy Christmas and New Year to you too.

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