Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,888 / Sleuth

Posted by duncanshiell on December 29th, 2011


I have come across Sleuth more often as his alter ego, Hypnos, in the Independent, where I have always enjoyed his crosswords.

This puzzle comprised the mixed variety of cluing that I enjoy.  There was a fair amount of misdirection. I was looking for PREY in 21d (something hunted in blasted site) especially as I had blank R blank Y at the end of the entry.

I couldn’t see a theme (although we had CATCH FIRE and KEEN AS MUSTARD). The puzzle is 3 letters short of a pangram.  It’s just a good old-fashioned crossword.

I liked the use of ‘empty’ in 2d as a hint to the fact that the CARTON contained nothing (O) and I learnt a new definition for ‘cocktail’ at 19a.

There were a couple of surfaces that stood out for me – 11a Councillor supported by unknown companion and 20d Palin, perhaps, sadly starts to kibosh alternative nominees.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Jack and Carol in play touring university that’s facetious (7)

J (jack [ in cards]) + (an anagram of [in play] CAROL containing [touring] U [University])


JOCULAR (given to, or inclined to joking; facetious)
5 Quiet servile type ignoring male in wing (6) P (piano; quiet) + MINION (servile type) excluding (ignoring) M (male) PINION (wing)
8 One taking brief exchange to restrict backward gentleman (9)

BARTER ([trade in] exchange) containing (to restrict) (SIR [gentleman] reversed [backward])


BARRISTER (a BARRISTER takes a brief from a lawyer)
9 Ruin park within week (5)

REC (recreation ground; park) contained in (within) WK (week)


WRECK (ruin)
11 Councillor supported by unknown companion (5) CR (councillor) + ON (supported by) + Y (unknown [in mathematics])

CRONY (companion) Sleuth may be having a little dig here at some alleged practices in Local Government where a few Councillors are said to indulge in CRONYism [the appointment of friends to well-paid posts regardless of their fitness for these posts.]

12 I fetch car that’s remodelled and become unenthusiastic (5,4) Anagram of (that’s remodelled) I FETCH CAR CATCH FIRE (become enthusiastic)
13 Second family wearing top and skimpy garment (8)

MO (moment; second) + (KIN [family] contained in [wearing] NO I [number one; top])


MONOKINI (a woman’s topless beach garment consisting of the lower half of a bikini; skimpy garment)

15 Mat put back by nameless eastern governor and military type? (6)

RUG (mat) reversed (put back) + KHAN (in central Asia, a prince or chief; eastern governer) excluding (less) N (name)


GURKHA (a member of the dominant people of Nepal, from whom regiments in the British and Indian armies were formed; military type)

17 Surpass in art striking animal (6) OUT (on strike; striking) + FOX (an animal) OUTFOX (get the better of by cunning; surpass in art [crafty conduct])
19 Producer of fine cocktails? (8)

STUDFARM (one of the less well-known definitions of ‘cocktail’ is ‘an animal, especially a racehorse, of mixed breeding’)

STUDFARM (horse breeding farm which produces particularly fine versions of cocktails)

22 Part of network associated with business manager in athletic gear (9) TRACK (part of the [rail] network) + SUIT (a colloquial term for a business manager) TRACKSUIT (athletic gear)
23 Gather group among team assistants (5) Hidden word in (group among) TEAM ASSISTANTS AMASS (gather)
24 A fashion designer right at the start in broadcast medium (5)

A + DIOR (reference Christian DIOR, fashion designer) with the R (right) moved to the start


RADIO (a broadcast medium)
25 Plant in dark cube I cultivated (9) Anagram of (cultivated) DARK CUBE I

RUDBECKIA (any of the N American composite plants of the genus RUDBECKIA, of the sunflower subfamily)

26 Ambassador in front of some entertaining European poet (6)

HE (His/Her Excellency, the traditional form of address for an ambassador/dress) + (ANY [some] containing [entertaining] E [European, as in E numbers])


HEANEY (reference Seamus HEANEY [born 1939], Irish poet and Nobel prizewinner for literature)
27 Felt longing for period of education and study on reflection (7)

YEAR (period of education, e.g. final YEAR; YEAR group) + DEN (study) reversed (on reflection)


YEARNED (felt longing for)
No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Objectors from ground – source of unexpected aggravation (4,9) Anagram of (ground) OBJECTORS FROM

JOB’S COMFORTER (someone who aggravates the distress of the unfortunate person they have come to comfort; source of unexpected aggravation)

2 Empty cardboard container perhaps – something found in strips? (7) CARTON (cardboard container) containing O (nothing) – containing nothing [empty] CARTOON (reference CARTOON strips found in newspapers and magazines)
3 Liberal with a magnetism close to demagoguery in part of church (5) L (liberal) + A + IT (sex appeal; magnetism) + Y (last letter of [close to]) DEMAGOGUERY

LAITY (one of the three divisions within the General Synod of the Church of England, the others being the Bishops and the Clergy)

4 Uncommunicative name brought up in split (8)

CITE (name) reversed (brought up; this is a down clue) contained in (in) RENT (split)


RETICENT (uncommunicative)
5 Old city beset by regretful matter in a clean state (6)

UR (reference the old city of UR, once a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates) contained in (beset by) PITY (a source of a feeling of sorrow; regretful matter)


PURITY (freedom from sin; a clean state)
6 Different directions harass assiduous seeker of stories (9) N + E + W +S ([four] different points of the compass; different directions) + HOUND (harass) NEWSHOUND (assiduous seeker of stories)
7 Stone pillar? Bloke is staggered (7) Anagram of BLOKE IS (staggered) OBELISK (a tall four-sided tapering pillar, usually of stone [hence ‘perhaps’])
10 Tanker assumed to be at sea – and fired up (4,2,7) Anagram of (to be at sea) TANKER ASSUMED KEEN AS MUSTARD (fired up)
14 Very low aim of Haye, say (5-4) KNOCK-DOWN (reference KNOCK-DOWN price; very low [price]) KNOCK-DOWN (what boxers aim to achieve; David Haye is a British heavyweight boxer, said to have retired, but there is some doubt as he has expressed interest in further fights against one or both of the Klitschko brothers)
16 Unruly adolescent left during visit in explicit fashion? (8)

(TED [Teddy Boy; unruly adolescent] + L [left]) contained in (during) STAY (visit)


STATEDLY (in explicit fashion)
18 Couple mostly become confused in senseless talk (7) All but the last letter (mostly) of TWO (couple) + ADDLE (become confused) TWADDLE (senseless talk)
20 Palin, perhaps sadly starts to kibosh alternative nominees (7) ALAS (sadly) + KAN (first letters of [starts to] KIBOSH ALTERNATIVE NOMINEES) ALASKAN (Sarah Palin was a governor of Alaska [she also seems to be a gift to crossword compilers who can bring her outspoken opinions and various ‘talents’ into play in their clues.  Some commentators say she has significant influence over the choice of Republican nominee for the forthcoming United States presidential election)
21 Something hunted in blasted site (6) QUARRY (a site for blasting; blasted site) QUARRY (something hunted)
23 Stadium in historic period put up (5) AN ERA (historic period) reversed (put up) ARENA (stadium)

5 Responses to “Financial Times 13,888 / Sleuth”

  1. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Sleuth for an enjoyable puzzle and Duncan for the blog. 10dn was probably my favourite.

    19ac: To me, this meaning was too obscure for a one-part cryptic definition clue. It was my last entry, and entered without much confidence.

    25ac: Good use of an anagram for a word that was unknown to me – there was only one plausible way of fitting the unchecked letters into the grid.

  2. MikeC says:

    Thanks Duncan and Sleuth. I rather agree with PB about both 19 and 25. In 19, STUDFARM was the only word that fitted, but I had no confidence that it was correct!

  3. Lenny says:

    I found this quite a chewy puzzle from Sleuth. Thanks Duncan for explaining the reference to David Haye. Knowing nothing about boxing, I assumed that the cryptic was something to do with haymakers.

    I had the same trouble with 19 as Pelham and Mike and entered Studfarm faute de mieux. At least I knew that it is a popular word for CDs. I remember Mike Laws clue “Arab staying here should see to his mates”.

  4. Bamberger says:

    Got most of the rhs out but not much of the lhs.
    Getting 1a would have helped but without 2,3&4d there were too many possibilities. Jack=tar or ab or j. carol =c , play -some short play?
    Knew 1d was an anagram but just couldn’t get it.
    19a -never come across this before.
    14d Had no idea who Haye was -don’t think this was very fair.

    Thanks for the clear blog.

  5. Sleuth says:

    Thanks to Duncan for his superbly detailed blog and clue analysis and everyone for their comments. Re Lenny@3,
    I’ll strive to be more succulent and less chewy in future!

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

6 − = four