Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13998 Peto

Posted by scchua on May 8th, 2012


This is Peto’s second FT puzzle.  The first was also blogged by me, and this is in the same calibre, a not difficult, enjoyable start to the week.  Thanks Peto.  Having said that, I do have a few little niggles here and there about the indicators used.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  Each picture at the bottom has an unidentified link to the crossword, including one setter’s device.  Though most of them are 13As, that is not the link.


1 Draw from French writer (8)

DESCRIBE :  DE(French for “from”) + SCRIBE(a writer, the meaning ranging from a journalist to a public clerk to a copyist). 

Answer: Eg. “to describe,draw a circle”.

5 Acquisitions from Mars (6)

SPOILS :  Double defn: 1st: What are gotten from others,acquisitions, especially after winning a war; and 2nd: Damages,mars.  Nice surface as Mars is the Roman god of war.

9 Spurn shot at swallow (4,4)

TURN DOWN :  TURN(one’s turn to take a shot in a contest/game) plus(at) DOWN(to swallow a drink, especially quickly or in one gulp).

10 Keep soldiers in check (6)

RETAIN :  TA(abbrev. for Territorial Army,soldiers) contained in(in) REIN(to check,limit,control)

12 Rambling about new form of virus found in river (9)

EXCURSIVEAnagram of(new form of) VIRUS contained in(found in) EXE(a river in England, the name derived from the Celtic word for – surprise! – “water”; and giving its name to towns like Exeter and Exmouth).

Answer: Descriptive of speech or thought that wanders,rambles round as if it were on an excursion.

13 One taking part in exploit with soldiers (5)

ACTOR :  ACT(a deed,an exploit) plus(with) OR(abbrev. for other ranks,soldiers without a commission).

Answer: One taking a role,part in a play, movie, etc.

14 Dynasty’s clout beginning to grow (4)

TANG :  TAN(to beat,clout someone) + G(initial letter of,beginning togrow”). 

Answer: The dynasty in China from 618 AD to 907 AD, except 690 – 705 AD.  Edit.note re comment#1:  I hope I’m right about this as there is no indication like a “?”,”perhaps”,”maybe”,”say” that it is an example of a dynasty.    

16 Look closely at wound – it’s ugly (7)

EYESORE :  EYE(look closely) plus(at) SORE(a wound that is especially painful or sensitive). 

Answer: A sight painfully ugly to look at, almost always man-made.

19 Distinguished knight gripped by material on record company (7)

EMINENT :  N(in chess notation, a knight chesspiece) contained in(gripped by) NET(fabric,material with a uniform mesh, serving as a foundation for various laces) plus(on - an odd positional indicator in this case, perhaps short for “tagged on to”) EMI(the big record company which started off as “Electrical and Musical Industries”).

21 Quote from it in church (4)

CITEIT contained in(in) CE(Church of England). 

Defn: As a verb

24 Rex is inside numb with fear (5)

DREAD :  R(abbrev. for Latin Rex) contained in(is inside) DEAD(numb,but not to the extent of being deprived of life, as in “my leg feels dead”.

25 Priest, after his collapse, has various exercises to get trim (9)

SHIPSHAPE :  [P(abbrev. for priest) placed after(after) anagram of(collapse) HIS] + anagram of(various) HAS + PE(abbrev. for physical exercises). 

Answer: Descriptive of something or someone that is in good shape,fit,trim for action, work, use, such as, well, a ship.

27 Destroyed, like before, outside Germany (6)

ERASED :  [ERE(before, poetically) containing(outside) AS(like, as in “fit as a fiddle”)] + D(International Vehicle Registration code for Germany).  Nicely misdirected by punctuation and word order.

28 Produce blend of green tea (8)

GENERATEAnagram of(blend of) GREEN TEA.

29 Fish become liquefied by heat on board ship (6)

SMELTS :  MELT(become liquefied by heat) contained in(on board) SS(steamship).

Answer: Any of various small silvery food fishes in northern waters.

30 Film of an illegal act involving footballers taking Ecstasy (4,4)

CAPE FEAR :  CAPER(in slang, an illegal act, like a burglary, robbery, heist) containing(involving) [FA(Football Association, of footballers, what else?) containing(taking) E(abbrev. for the drug Ecstasy)]


1 Be in two minds over hit during communist retreat (6)

DITHERAnagram of(over – acceptable as an anagram indicator?) HIT contained in(during) reversal of(retreat) RED(communist).

2 Impressed by small business (6)

STRUCK :  S(abbrev. for small, clothes size that many women seem to desire) + TRUCK(dealings with,business, as in “I don’t want to have any truck with him”, or even specifically, barter trade). 

Answer: Impressed in a big way, as in ”He was struck by her incredible intelligence”.

3 About to receive papers on Republican’s addition to bill (5)

RIDER :  [RE(Edit.note re comment#2: short Latin for regarding,about) containing(to receive) ID(abbrev. for identification,papers that prove you are who you are, perhaps?)] placed above(on, in a down clue) R(abbrev. for a member of the Republican Party).

4 Not heard by Heather when making a delivery (7)

BOWLING :  BOW{a knot, homophone of(heard) “not”} plus(by) LING(the heather, a low-growing evergreen shrub). 

6 Widely accepted in time after vicar meets Capone in prison (9)

PREVALENT :  T(abbrev. for time) placed below(after, in a down clue) [{REV(short for “reverend”,member of the clergy, who could be a vicar) plus(meets) AL(Capone, Chicago gangster who spent time in the pen)} contained in(in) PEN(short for penitentiary,Americanism for prison)]

7 I cannot bend over international’s laziness (8)

INACTIONAnagram of(bend) [I CANNOT] containing(over) I(abbrev. for international).

8 Guards train carrying books (8)

SENTRIES :  SERIES(a series or row of objects or parts,a train) containing(carrying) NT(abbrev. for the New Testament, books in the Bible)

11 Honour Lot in speech (4)

FETEHomophone of(in speech) “fate”(one’s lot,destiny). 

Answer: To honour with a fete which could be festive or religious, or both.

15 A month after reform hospital department shows a change for the better (9)

AMENDMENTA + [M(abbrev. for month) placed below(after, in a down clue) MEND(to reform,repair)] + ENT(abbrev. for Ear, Nose and Throat department in a hospital).

17 Section on obelisks is unnecessary (8)

NEEDLESS :  S(abbrev. for section) plus(on – cf. comment in 19 Across) NEEDLES(obelisks,tapering four-sided shafts of stone, as in Cleopatra’s Needle).

18 Release story about bishop on speed (8)

LIBERATE :  [LIE(story,fib) containing(about) B(in chess notation, the bishop chesspiece) ] placed above(on, in a down clue) RATE(of travel,speed – not the drug this time).

20 Some of Plato’s Hipparchus is rubbish (4)

TOSHHidden in(some of) plaTO’S Hipparchus

Answer: British slang, origin uncertain – blend of “trash” and “bosh”?

21 Fancy one after church before mother rings up again? (7)

CHIMERA :  [I(Roman numeral for “one”) placed below(after, in a down clue) CH(abbrev. for church, the building)] placed above(before, in a down clue) [MA(mother,mama) containing(rings) reversal of(up, in a down clue) RE(the prefix signifying a repeat action,again)].  A somewhat preposition-heavy construction. 

Answer: A wild and unrealistic dream or notion,a fancy.

22 Injury time needed after Canadian centre back stands on Maradona’s head (6)

DAMAGE :  AGE(a period of time) placed below(needed after, in a down clue) [reversal of(back) AD(middle two letters,centre of “Canadian”) placed above(stands on, in a down clue) M(initial letter,head of “Maradona”].  Another clunky construction?

23 Came across the Queen embracing old space traveller (6)

METEOR :  MET(came across,encountered) + [ER(Elizabeth ­Regina,the Queen) containing(embracing) O(abbrev. for old)]

26 European country – not Norway (5)

SWEDE :  “Sweden”(country) minus(not) N(International Vehicle Registration code for Norway).

Answer:  A European from Sweden.



5 Responses to “Financial Times 13998 Peto”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. The clues were very well-wrought with some lovely surfaces. As you said, not too long a solve though. For anyone who got through it quickly I recommend looking back over them to enjoy the constructions.

    14a – A question mark is not appropriate. The Tang certainly IS a dynasty. The question mark is needed if it’s the other way round – i.e. if the answer is Dynasty and the definition is Tang, because a dynasty MIGHT BE the Tang, but could easily not be. This comes up from time to time in the blogs but I think everyone would be astonished if someone clued Al Pacino as “Actor?” or “Actor, perhaps”. And you quite rightly didn’t suggest Cape Fear should have been defined as “Film?” in 30a, an exactly equivalent case.

  2. Paul B says:

    I too had no problem with that one. 30A, and even FISH for SMELTS you could describe as DBE, but there are limits. And yes, there were some nice surfaces.

    To be a bit techie, in 19A the use of ‘on’ (to the right of something) was correct according to convention, whereas in 17D (on top of something) it was incorrect; in 24A ‘with’ might get Peto shot by the pedants, since it changes the tense of the definition; 30A ‘taking’ some might not see as a true container-ind despite the context, and FA aren’t footballers (whereas PFA are); 1D ‘over’, as in something knocked over, works; 3D RE is Latin, not really short for ‘regarding’; 6D ‘after’ is fine both across & down; 22D ‘stands’ might be mistaken for a reversal-ind, which would give solvers two to select from!

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks Thomas99 and Paul B. Blog amended.
    Re 24A, as I understand it, you’re taking definition and answer as verbs? I took FEAR and DREAD as nouns, in which case “with” doesn’t affect the definition.

  4. Paul B says:

    24A surface sense is nounal. Back in the real world, FEAR is a verb or a noun, DREAD a verb, noun or adjective.

  5. Paul B says:

    … whilst ‘with fear’, though adjectival, would not define DREAD in that sense.

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