Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13957 Phssthpok

Posted by scchua on March 20th, 2012


Thanks Phssthpok for an enjoyable puzzle with some clever disguises.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.


1 What yacht salesman does in parade (8)

SHOWBOAT :  [SHOW BOAT](what a yacht salesman does for and to a prospective buyer). 

Answer: Verb, to parade  in an outrageous or spectacular manner, show off, or playing to an audience, eg. as politicians do.

6 Gross sound of publication (6)

VOLUME :  Double defn: 1st:  I think this is the gross,basic quality of a sound, ie. volume, ignoring its finer points of tone, etc.

9 Fool views broadcast sitting in judgment (6)

ASSIZE :  ASS(the fool, not the animal) + IZE{homophone of(broadcast) “eyes”(views)}. 

Answer: Noun, a judicial inquiry,sitting of a jury or assessors leading to a judgement.

10 Nobody reveals when nothing happens (3-5)

NON-EVENT :  [NONE VENT](nobody reveals,vents as in to “vent one’s feelings”)

11 Exploit overweight drug-taker (4)

FEAT :  FAT(overweight or gravitationally-challenged?) containing(…taker) E(slang for the drug, Ecstasy)

12 Tense, mischievous elf crept up (10)

PLUPERFECTAnagram of(mischievous) ELF CREPT UP

Answer: In grammar, the tense that describes a verb whose action occurred even before the main verb that is itself in the past tense, eg. “had gone before I came”.  Also known by the simpler “past perfect tense”.

14 Plans for cash met a glitch (8)

SCHEMATAAnagram of(glitch) CASH MET A

Answer: Plural of the noun schema,plan, as in “schemata for automata”.

16 It attracts attention to a skirt (4)

AHEMA + HEM(to provide with a border,to skirt).  Strangely, yet another relation exists between “hem” and “skirt” – “to hem and haw” which is derived from the sounds of clearing one’s throat and hesitation, is synonymous with “to skirt round (the subject/issue)”. 

Answer: An interjection, lengthened from the abovementioned clearing of throat, to attract attention, interrupt, express doubt, etc   

18 Bond was a soldier and an officer (4)

GILT :  GI(an American soldier, apparently derived from government issue) plus(and) LT(abbrev. for lieutenant,a commissioned officer). 

Answer: In finance, short form for gilt-edged security, a financially sound share or bond, as opposed to a junk bond.

19 Sampling the wrong way gives a bat a defective store of information (8)

DATABASEHidden in(sampling) and reversal of(the wrong way) givES A BAT A Defective.  Cleverly hidden.

21 Protection from water or soup? (4,6)

DAMP COURSE :  Double defn: 1st:  Aka “damp-proof course”.  A protective layer of impermeable material laid in the foundation walls of building to prevent dampness,water rising into the building; and 2nd:  Cryptic description of a damp,wet,liquid course,soup in a meal. 

22 On a power cut (4)

REAP :  RE(on the subject of,regarding) + A + P(abbrev. for power in physics). 

Answer: As in “to cut a crop of grain”.

24 Station has flush toilet, perhaps (8)

WATERLOO :  [WATER LOO](a lavatory,toilet that has a flush, thus requiring water, as opposed to a bucket or a hole in the ground) 

Answer: A railway and Tube station in London.

26 Bishop hides cross in leaderless search (6)

EXARCH :  X(cross) contained in(hides…in) EARCH{“searchminus initial letter(leaderless)} 

Answer: Title given to a bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

27 The first sin is fear (6)

TERROR :  T(initial letter,first of “the”) + ERROR(sin,wrongdoing)

28 Extremely primitive oil produced within a moral code (8)

EOLITHICAnagram of(produced) OIL contained in(within) ETHIC(a moral code of conduct).

Answer: Descriptive of the extremely primitive early part of the Stone Age.


2 Pure, but not light speed, velocity (5)

HASTE :  “Chaste”(pure,innocent) minus(but not) “c”(speed of light, most famous in the equation E=mc2).

3 Wind instruments excel in brief tour (7,4)

WHISTLE STOP :  WHISTLES(more sophisticated than the type that referees use, is the tin or penny whistle, wind instruments with a mouthpiece and finger-holes, akin to the flute or recorder) + TOP(to excel).

Answer: A tour of places, stopping only briefly at each place.  Originally descriptive of the kind of campaign political candidates made, stopping briefly at each town, especially by train, and making a speech from the platform of the train.  This together with SHOWBOAT made it look for a moment as if there were a US Presidential election theme.

4 Unfold map of office (4-4)

OPEN-PLAN :  OPEN(unfold) + PLAN(map). 

Answer: Descriptive of an office made up of a doorless, low-walled cubicle for each worker, the extreme of which, I guess, is the bullpen plan.

5 Talk and dance joint (6,3,6)

TONGUE AND GROOVE :  TONGUE(speech,talk, especially of the glib or empty kind) + AND + GROOVE(that quality of music that gives you a pleasurable sensation and makes you want to move, dance or “groove”). 

Answer: In carpentry, a joint that allows flat pieces to fit together.

6 Fourth letter from Jules Verne redrafted for screen (6)

VENEERAnagram of(redrafted) [E(fourth placed letter fromJules”) + VERNE]. 

Answer: A superficial layer covering,acting as a screen for material underneath.

7 Left voting system in the toilet (3)

LAV :  L(left) + AV(abbrev. for “Alternative Vote”, a system of voting where each voter has the option of ranking candidates). 

Answer: Another toilet reference, short form of lavatory.  The surface makes reference to a UK referendum that definitely rejected AV – left it in the toilet, so to speak.  Another political reference.

8 Names criminal methods used by thieves (9)

MONICKERS :  MO(abbrev. for “modus opeandi”,Latin for mode,method of operating, criminal or otherwise) plus (used by) NICKERS(people who steal,nick,thieves).  Nice misdirection by “criminal”, often used as an anagrind. 

Answer: Slang for persons’ names, especially nicknames or aliases.

13 In bar, with bags, left ground floor (11)

FLABBERGASTAnagram of(ground) [BAR + BAGS, LEFT]. 

Answer: To confound, figuratively knocking one to the floor.  Anagrind and definition cleverly hidden in “ground floor”.

15 Feature observant service (9)

CHINAWARE :  CHIN(physical feature of one’s face) + AWARE(observant,alert). 

Answer: Collectively, porcelain plates, bowls, cups and saucers, pots, etc. one uses for serving a meal, eg. a tea service.

17 Unearthly shade absorbs woman’s energy to begin with (8)

ETHEREAL :  E(abbrev. for energy, again as in E=mc2) placed above(to begin with) {TEAL(a greenish-blue colour,shade) containing(absorbs) HER(possessive pronoun denoting woman’s)}

20 Everyone held back after interrupting my arrest (6)

COLLARReversal of(held back) ALL(everyone) contained in(interrupting) COR(an exclamation of surprise or amazement, akin to My! or My-my!).

23 Computers use this code when key is sounded (5)

ASCII :  AS(as in “as and when”) + CII{pronounced as a homophone of(is sounded) “key”}. 

Answer: Standard code for characters and symbols stored in computers or transferred between computers.  Derived from American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

25 No odd characters repair to hearing (3)

EAR :  “repairminus(no) its first, third and fifth (odd) characters

Answer: The sense of hearing, eg. “pleasing to the ear”.


4 Responses to “Financial Times 13957 Phssthpok”

  1. mike04 says:

    Many thanks, scchua.

    Your blog was very helpful today – I couldn’t parse either 10ac or 17dn.
    I parsed 6ac as a Triple Definition as ‘gross’ and ‘volume’ both mean “bulk”.

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks Phssthpok and scchua.

    I have a very minor quibble on 20d. I thought it was customary for across clues to use devices like ‘held back’ for reversals whereas for down clues it should be something like ‘held up’ (which would make for a perfectly good surface in 20d). Am I correct, or did I just dream up this convention?

  3. pennes says:

    Well done with really helpful and thorough blog. This is only the second FT I’ve attempted, and it took me a very long time to do the first half, but the second half with enough crossing letters, went in very quickly. I had to come here as about 6of them needed an explanation. I could choose 6 or 7 really nice solves but really liked “ahem” and “waterloo”. I also think “Ethereal” is one of my favourite words. I don’t really know why we take a particular liking to some words

  4. Paul B says:

    Depends on your cruciverbal geometry really.

    If you look at all the clues, across and down, as being written from left to right horizontally in the paper or on a website, then ‘up’ as a reversal ind for a down clue might seem a little odd. Some people think like that, you know! And, of course, in Ruth Crisp’s excellent Teach Yourself Crosswords, the list for reversal inds is in two parts, ‘across and down’ and ‘down only’, so ‘back’ according to Marcy, Crispa etc would be fine in a down clue.

    But your assessment happens to be the one I agree with, where words that generally mean ‘backwards’ apply to across entries, and words that generally mean ‘upwards’ apply to downs. Personally, I’d try not to use ‘back’ for a down ind for that reason.

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>

+ 9 = fifteen