Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 14,056 by Gozo

Posted by Pete Maclean on July 26th, 2012

Pete Maclean.

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.

Across
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.

Down
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.

14 Responses to “Financial Times 14,056 by Gozo”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks Pete.
    First I would like to say that I didn’t do this puzzle, but as you were so critical about three of the clues I had a closer look.

    I think 20ac (VRAI) can be justified. The clue says “It’s true in 22 [which is the Alsace, in France – so it is indicated]”. In the context of this puzzle, I wouldn’t mind having this French word. I am not happy with “even” for the odd letters, but perhaps Gozo meant “in a regular way” when he wrote down “even”. I’ve seen a thing like this before.

    Well, 2d, that looks like a real mistake.

    Finally, 23a.
    NE is in Chambers as “not”, so that’s all right.
    But it leaves us with the word “was”.
    Perhaps, Gozo’s idea was: “Husband from 22’s not a seaman”?
    That would have been fine.

    As Gozo is a very seasoned setter, I don’t know what to think about all this.

  2. john newman says:

    Well done Pete!

    I didn’t ever get 11D and 30A and I was amiss with one or two of the cryptic reasonings.

    I got Rocamadour very late because I had written RHAPSODIE for 2D. Hard to know what to write for 2D when it is clearly in error. What do editors do? When a setter submits a puzzle does he submit the answers and reasoning as well? If so the FT editor was asleep when this one was submitted.

    I cannot agree with Sil. 20A is in error too.

    As for 23A, if Chambers states that NE = Not then that supports my long held view that we should forget Chambers. Ne does not mean not. Ne is the auxilliary which goes before the verb supporting the meaning word after the verb. Ne …..que means ONLY. Where is the not there?

    I imagine there will be a number of blogs submitted about this puzzle because of its errors. However, I would like to support Pete in saying that it was a commendable effort by Gozo. And for me it is easier to translate a word into french than to think of the appropriate synonym. So I found it an enjoyable puzzle.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Pete.

    I share the reservations in the comments above. As Sil says, it’s not like Gozo to have so many dubious clues – but I enjoyed solving the puzzle because Bastille Day is my birthday.

    Re 13ac: the clue is ‘Stock Exchange with its bears': the Bourse is the French Stock Exchange, so its bears would be French, so this clue is fine by me.

  4. Pete Maclean says:

    John, My understanding is that a setter submits clues and answers written into the grid, but not explanations. (If anyone knows better, please let us know.) So, I do think the editor was remiss in not spotting the problem with 2D.

    Sil, You do have a point about NE. I don’t have my Chambers at hand but an online search does reveal a definition of NE, as an English word, meaning not or nor. This usage is cited as being obsolete but the correspondence with the French ‘ne’ does, I suppose, make it a fair choice for use in this puzzle. The clue remains broken nonetheless. As you said, Gozo could have made it, “Husband from 22?s not a seaman”?

  5. Pete Maclean says:

    Eileen, I think you are saying that the ‘its’ in 13ac makes the clue okay. In which case, I find myself in agreement with you. As I said at the beginning, this is one of my favourite clues anyway and now I retract my concern about it.

  6. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, no final Wise Words then?

  7. Wil Ransome says:

    Agree that 2dn and 20ac are wrong. No point in trying to justify them — they’re simply wrong and the crossword editor should jolly well have noticed.

    Another way in which 20ac is no good, in my opinion but not evidently in that of anyone else since it hasn’t been mentioned, is that ‘even verbatim’ doesn’t give ebti; ‘evenly verbatim’ does.

    Since that place of pilgrimage is so little known — it doesn’t seem to be in any reference books — it seems a bit unfair to me to set a clue that could equally well lead to RACOMADOUR. How on earth is one expected to know what the correct answer is?

  8. Pete Maclean says:

    Wil, Thank you for your concurrence of 2dn and 20ac.

    I do not understand your comment about RACOMADOUR. I had to search to find ROCAMADOUR. It does not seem to be a well known place of pilgrimage but it is listed as one by Wikipedia. I did not come across a RACOMADOUR and a web search for that now turns up nothing.

  9. Wil Ransome says:

    Thanks Pete, my point was that the definition should lead to an answer and the wordplay should lead to an answer, and those answers are the same. If one does not know the definition it should still be possible to work things out from the wordplay and get the correct answer. In this case to do so was impossible, since the wordplay alone led to at least two plausible answers.

  10. Jason Lofts says:

    I have an even better anagram of François Hollande’s full name:

    François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande (born 12 August 1954, i.e. star sign Leo)

    Frigging scandals and errors
    A Leo … Leo (echo)

  11. Pete Maclean says:

    Hmmm. Well it does work and is rather clever. But I’d prefer one without the “Leo (echo)”.

  12. Jason Lofts says:

    Well, Pete, what about:

    Angered frogs casseroled in grain alcohol
    OR
    Frogs’ leader enraged Carolingian schools ?

  13. Pete Maclean says:

    Now you are entertaining me!

  14. Jason Lofts says:

    Not to mention

    Endangered frog angers alcoholic sailors

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