Posted by Pete Maclean on July 26th, 2012
Prize puzzle from the Weekend FT of July 14, 2012
Gozo marked Bastille Day with a veritable tour de force, a puzzle in which all the clues except two (11 and 14D) have some French connection. I applaud the idea and the effort but the result is, malheureusement, marred by one glaring error (in 20A) and two more clues that I strongly suspect of being deficient (2D and 23A). Despite its faults, I suspect this puzzle was a challenging treat for most people who, like me, have a good command of French language and culture. For others it may have been a bit of an exercise in frustration.
The clue that is unquestionably broken is 20A. I also suspect 2D is broken while 23A is suspect. And one could raise quibbles about 1A and 20A. My favourite clues in this crossword are 9A (LIAISE), 10 + 25A (FRANCOIS HOLLANDE) and, despite a possible fault, 13A (BOURSE).
Some people may dislike all the “in 16″ and “in 22″ qualifications in the clues. One does occasionally find puzzles with clues of such a nature, where the full context of certain clues is dependent on solving another. I have no problem with that in general but I was a bit bothered by how it was used in this puzzle where “in 16″ and “in 22″ turn out to effectively mean the same thing, i.e. in France. While 16 was easily solved, 22 was not only a bit tricky but dependent itself on 16.
Another thing that seems a bit of a problem is that Gozo uses some words in French without saying so, such as ‘ours’ in 13A and ‘vrai’ in 20A. I have not ascertained that these are not in any English dictionary but they are not in any that I have at hand.
1. DIRECT – DIRE (say in 22) + CT (court). One could complain that ‘dire’ means to say, not simply say, but I think this usage is fine.
4. SCABBARD – DRAB (dull) + BACS (degrees in 22) all backwards. ‘Bacs’ is short for baccalaureates.
9. LIAISE – anagram of LIES IA (1 across)
10, 25. FRANCOIS HOLLANDE – anagram of CAN SOLDIER ON HALF. Gozo found a great anagram here!
12. BASTILLE – TILL (work) in BASE (vile)
13. BOURSE – OURS (bears) in BE (live). But ‘ours’ is French for bears, not English.
15. SODA – reverse hidden word
16. VERSAILLES – AI (top-class) + LL (lines) together in VERSE (poetry)
19. ROCAMADOUR – anagram of MARCO + A (a) + DOUR (dismal). This is one I had to look up — try Wikipedia if you are curious. It is hardly a well known place of pilgrimage but that is a fair definition of it.
20. VRAI – V[e]R[b]A[t]I[m]. But is ‘vrai’ an English word? Is is fair to have a French word as an answer, especially without saying so? At first, I totally missed the error in this clue which is that ‘even’ should be ‘odd’! I noticed that VRAI was formed from alternate letters of ‘verbatim’ and went on my merry way — but it lies in the odd-numbered letters of the word, not the even-numbered ones.
23. MARINE – MARI (husband in 22) + NE (was not?). Where does the NE come from here? If my understanding is correct, ‘ne’ does not mean not; ‘pas’ means not. And even if ‘ne’ did mean not, there is nothing in the clue to tell us to attach it to MARI. Or am I missing something?
27. ABSINTHE – ABS (seaman) + IN (trendy) + THE (the)
28. SARTHE – anagram of HEARTS. This is another one I had to look up. Sarthe is a département in the northwest part of France.
29. DESCENTS – DES (in 22 some) + CENTS (in 22 hundreds)
30. HELENE – HELENE anagrammed with TV makes ‘eleventh’. This is one of those backwards clues that I see more and more of. I like them.
1. DELIBES – DELI (charcuterie) + BES[t] (almost tops)
2. RHAPSODIC – would be anagram of IPODS HARD? Well now, what’s going on here then? IPODS HARD anagrams to RHAPSODID but not RHAPSODIC. Is ‘variation’, certainly a powerful anagram indicator, intended to actually tell us that we have to vary the given material in a way that extends beyond anagramming it? Or is the clue just broken? I suspect the latter.
3. CASSIS – C (Catholic) + ASSIS (sitting in 22)
5. CURE – double definition. Curé is the French for priest.
6. BONHOMIE – B (bishop) + H (hospital) in anagram of MOONIE
7. AMOUR – [gl]AMOUR (beauty going topless twice). Now here is a word that is much better known as a French word but which is very definitely an English one too.
8. DOSSERS – DOSS[i]ERS (removed I[tem] from document cases). ‘Dossier’ means much the same in French and English.
11. ALREADY – A (a) + RE (note) in LADY (mistress)
14. ESCUDOS – anagram of DOC USES. The escudo is the former currency of Portugal.
17. LORGNETTE – homophone (“lorn yet”)
18. EMINENCE – double definition. The first definition refers to a ridge of bone to which a muscle is attached; the second refers to ‘eminence grise’.
19. RIMBAUD – anagram of DRAMBUI[e]. A great find!
21. ILE DE RE – LE DER (two European articles) in IE (that is). Île de Ré is an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle
22. ALSACE – S[now] in [p]ALACE (16’s lost its roof). I found this tricky because I took ’16’ to refer to 16A, which it does, but it does not refer directly to the answer to 16A as such references usually do.
24. ROSES – hidden word
26. CHAT – double definition. The second refers to a tomcat, chat in French.