Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,886 / Dante – Prize Puzzle – 27 December 2011

Posted by duncanshiell on January 5th, 2012


I don’t blog Financial Times crosswords very often, so I haven’t encountered Dante before.  As I solved the puzzle, I thought the cluing style was familiar with very smooth surfaces, lots of double or cryptice definitiions and very few complex clue constructs.

A bit of research showed that Dante and Rufus (Guardian setter) are both pseudonyms of Roger Squires, the most prolific of crossword compilers.  I’ve blogged a number of Rufus puzzles.

Dante’s style of cluing will be very popular with many solvers, but I have to admit that it is not my preferred style. Life would be very boring if everyone preferred the same thing.

The surfaces to AUSTERE and NEIGHBOURS  were excellent, but, to me,  the clue to USHERETTE just seemed like a concise crossword clue.  No doubt other solvers will have different views.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Plant a bomb that explodes overhead (6) Anagram of (explodes) A BOMB + O, first letter of (head) OVER BAMBOO (plant)
4 Encounter reserve in one’s social network (8) FACE (encounter) + BOOK (reserve) FACEBOOK (social network)
10 Leading Roman involved in recount (9) Anagram of (involved) IN RECOUNT CENTURION (a Roman officer who had the command of [led] 100 men; leading Roman)
11 Victor, out west, is a pretty good shot (5) WINNER (victor) excluding (out) the first letter W (west) INNER (that part of the target next to the bull, so still a pretty good shot)
12 A slap on the wrist (4) CUFF (a light below with the open hand; slap) CUFF (the end of the sleeve near the wrist; a covering for the wrist; on the wrist) The whole clue is also a straight definition of CUFF as a shortened form of a HANDCUFF, which is placed on the wrist. &Lit clue
13 Rise secures unemployment benefit for a youngster (10) ASCENT (rise) containing (secures) DOLE (unemployment benefit) ADOLESCENT (youngster)
15 Harsh wind from south east and east (7) AUSTER (the South wind; wind from the south) + E (east) AUSTERE (harsh)
16 Run lightly on to the scene – and stumble (4,2) TRIP UP (to move with short light steps up to [onto the scene]) TRIP UP (stumble)
19 It may provide a crash course for the fair driver (6) DODGEM (I think the real aim of DODGEM drivers is actually to DODGE each other, but mostly drivers crash into each other) DODGEM (DODGEM cars are a common feature at [fun]fairs)
21 When the fight is in the balance? (5-2) WEIGH-IN (before a fight boxers attend a weigh-in, to check that each is below the maximum for the category, or in the case of the top weight [heavyweight] just to get the absolute weights of each boxer) WEIGH-IN (boxers are usually weighed on scales involving a balance beam)
23 Former astronaut going beyond the limits? (10) EX (former) + ORBITANT (not a real world in English as far as I can see, hence the ? in the clue.  If it were it could describe someone who orbits – e.g. an astronaut).  I can’t see any word play separating ORBIT and ANT EXORBITANT (going beyond the usual limits)
25 Berliner’s odd bits of cheese (4) Letters 1, 3, 5 and 7 (odd bits of) BERLINER BRIE (cheese)
27 Foreign dish provided in ladle, as usual to start with (5) Initial letters of (to start with) PROVIDED IN LADLE AS USUAL PILAU (a highly spiced Asian dish of rice with a fowl, or other meat, or fish boiled together or separately; foreign dish)
28 Score twice with one dart? (6,3) DOUBLE TOP (On a dartboard the 20 is referred to as ‘top”) DOUBLE TOP (throwing one dart into the double 20, gives you 40. 20 is also referred to as score)
29 Manufacturing enterprise showing diligence (8) INDUSTRY (manufacturing enterprise) INDUSTRY (diligence)
30 Lower form emend a composition (6) Anagram of ( composition) EMEND A DEMEAN (lower in status; lower form)
No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Soccer player gets the bird for cheeky retorts (8) BACK (soccer player; left-back, right-back centre-back etc) + CHAT (any small bird of a subfamily of thrushes) BACKCHAT (cheeky retorts)
2 Clear love declaration (9) MANIFEST (clear) + O (love [score in tennis]) MANIFESTO (public written declaration)
3 Where lies our responsibility (4) ON  US (our responsibility lies upon us) ONUS (responsibility)
5 Moulding discovered in a tunnel’s renovation (7) Anagram of (renovation) A TUNNEL ANNULET (a small flat fillet encircling a column, etc; a moulding)
6 The demon drink? (4,6) EVIL (wicked; like a demon) + SPIRIT (drink) EVIL SPIRIT (a spirit tending to cause harm; a demon)
7 Cat required? There are quite a few in the pound (5) OUNCE (snow leopard; cat) OUNCE (there are 16 ounces in the pound – well known to old fogies like me but probably not so well known to children of the metric age. Let me make it quite clear, I fully support the metric age – if anything is designed to annoy me these days it is newspapers and other media that continue to give temperatures in Fahrenheit, when children are educated in Centigrade.  There are many other examples I could give.  Rant over!)
8 Shrewish girl set about painter in unarmed combat (6) KATE (reference Katharina, the central character in the of Taming of the Shrew) containing (about) RA (Royal Academician; artist; painter) KARATE (a traditional Japanese form of unarmed self-defence using blows and kicks, now a popular combative sport; unarmed combat)
9 Toy instrument (6) FIDDLE (to toy) FIDDLE (musical instrument)
14 New ribs enough for those Adam lacked (10) Anagram of (new) RIBS ENOUGH NEIGHBOURS (Adam, as first man, didn’t have many neighbours; those Adam lacked)
17 A theatregoer’s guide (9) USHERETTE (one who guides a theatregoer to their seat) USHERETTE (one who guides a theatregoer to their seat)  There really is no difference between the wordplay and the definition.  A cryptic definition.
18 Support in setting up dinner (8) Anagram of (setting) UP DINNER UNDERPIN (support)
20 He produces his pass when he’s being charged (7) MATADOR (A bit of research on Wikipedia reveals that a pass is a fundamental move of a MATADOR) MATADOR (one who is charged by a bull, or according to Chambers, one who kills the bull)
21 Don’t continue if scared (4,2) WIND UP (to bring or come to a conclusion; don’t continue) WIND UP (reference ‘get the wind up'; be scared)
22 Park in Indian city – or Greek one (6) P (park) contained in (in) DELHI (Indian city) DELPHI (ancient and modern city in Greece)
24 Canned – as sardines are (5) OILED (sardines are oiled) OILED (drunk; canned)
26 A shade over-extravagant (4) BLUE (colour; shade) BLUE (squander; be over extravagant)

One Response to “Financial Times 13,886 / Dante – Prize Puzzle – 27 December 2011”

  1. John Newman says:

    Thanks Duncanshiell for an excellent blog giving such clear reasoning for the answers.

    I loved this Dante. I thought 3D (on us) 21A (Weigh-in) and 21D (wind-up) were especially clever. I don’t know how Dante does it. 7D wasn’t bad either.

    I see from your blog that I had one clue wrong. I had Datebook for 4A. Shows my age too I guess!

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