Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times Christmas Crossword Set by Gozo

Posted by Gaufrid on January 3rd, 2013


We were told that: “Each of the 26 pairs of clues leads to solutions beginning with the letter indicated. In each pair one of the clues leads to a thematic solution, though no thematic definition is given. All 52 clues are presented in strict alphabetical order of their solutions. Solvers have to assign each of the 52 solutions to its correct position in the grid, jigsaw-fashion.”

For once I started at the beginning, rather than working backwards as I often do, which was a good thing because the theme quickly became clear. I found most of the clues relatively easy and solved all bar seven during my first pass through them.

It was then time to start entering the answers. A quick look at the grid revealed that there was only one location where an intersecting across and down entry had the same initial letter and from the enumeration it was clear that this had to be Z so the first two answers went in.

Having cold-solved most of the clues the rest of the grid fill became fairly straightforward, particularly around the perimeter, and I was able to solve most of the remaining clues now that I had some checked letters. Towards the end, as I was filling in the middle section, I found that I was unable to find anywhere to enter LOYALTIES and GOOSANDER. Silly me, I had entered BOOK SHELF when it should have been BOOK STAND. Once this error had been corrected and the two words entered the grid was complete except for one, DOVEKIE, my last to go in.

There were some familiar birds, and some very much less so, but I suppose that’s what comes of having to have one that begins with each letter of the alphabet. However, most of the more obscure birds were readily gettable from the wordplay.

The completed grid looked like this:


All bird definitions (except upupa) courtesy of Chambers 12th Edition.

The Granite City cut short importing French wine (10)
ABERDEVINE VIN (French wine) in ABERDEE[n] (The Granite City cut short) A bird-fancier’s name for the siskin
New Zealand to Maoris – a foreign area too! (8)
AOTEROA A anagram (foreign) of AREA TOO
Composer of Lulu, heartless harridan (8)
BERGHAAN [Alban] BERG (Composer of Lulu{opera}) HA[rrid]AN (heartless harridan) The bateleur eagle
Volumes of support? On the contrary (4,5)
BOOK STAND cryptic def.
Fungi around Loch and River Fitzgerald (9)
CHLORELLA anagram (around) of LOCH R (River) ELLA (Fitzgerald)
Small bed with nothing in (4)
COOT O (nothing) in COT (Small bed) A short-tailed waterfowl, with black plumage, a white bill and an area of bare white skin (the frontal shield) on the forehead (hence the phrase bald as a coot)
American plunged to German canal, losing top of leg (7)
DOVEKIE DOVE (American plunged) KIE[l] (German canal, losing top of leg) The little auk or rotchThe black guillemot
Go with haulier and tour port near Dublin (3,9)
Heavenly body changing top (6)
ELANET pLANET (Heavenly body) with a different first letter (changing top) A kite of the genus Elanus
She charmed the heart of Leander at oracle (5)
ERATO hidden in ‘LeandER AT Oracle’ Erato is the Muse of lyric poetry, especially love and erotic poetry. She is also the Muse of crossword puzzles (according to Wikipedia).
Open country food (9)
FIELDFARE FIELD (Open country) FARE (food) (ety doubtful) a species of thrush, having a grey head, a reddish-yellow throat and breast spotted with black
Sea-planes go by flats in ragged formation (6-5)
FLYING-BOATS anagram (ragged formation) of GO BY FLATS IN
Showed disapproval as flag finally came down (8)
GLOWERED [fla]G (flag finally) LOWERED (came down)
Thematic solution eating partner’s innards (9)
GOOSANDER [g]OOS[e] (partner’s innards) in GANDER (Thematic solution) A large duck of the merganser genus
More enthusiastic judge takes the floor (8)
HEARTIER HEAR (judge) TIER (the floor) I wasn’t sure that floor and tier were synonymous but Chambers confirms that they are.
Husband taking note during 365 days (10)
HONEYEATER H (Husband) TE (note) in ONE YEAR (365 days) Any bird of a large Australian family, the Meliphagidae, which feeds on nectar
Team’s outside – bowled (4)
IBIS 11’s (Team’s) around (outside) B (bowled) A wading bird of the family Plataleidae, typically having long, thin down-curved bills, long broad wings and short tails, and including the sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) worshipped by the ancient Egyptians.
One pundit’s accepted game giving academic instructions (8)
ISAGOGES I (one) GO (game) in SAGE’S (pundit’s)
Half the police would turn out in this old car (3)
JAY police reversed (turn) removed from (out) JA[lop]Y (old car) A bird of the crow family with colourful plumage
Rejoice with psalm on third Sunday after Easter (8)
JUBILATE double def.
Bell-tent is OK representing mathematical 4-D surfaces (5,7)
KLEIN BOTTLES anagram (representing) of BELL-TENT IS OK A one-sided four-dimensional surface, which in three dimensions can be represented as a surface obtained by pulling the narrow end of a tapering tube through the wall of the tube and then stretching the narrow end and joining it to the larger end (Chambers)
Aga town is suggested (10)
KOOKABURRA homophone (is suggested) of cooker (Aga) borough (town) An Australian kingfisher (Dacelo novaeguineae) which has a discordant laughing call, the laughing jackass
Resounding football defeat backfires (6)
LINNET TEN NIL (Resounding football defeat) reversed (backfires) A common finch, Carduelis cannabina, feeding on flaxseed
Patriotic sentiments when Italy lose, maybe (9)
LOYALTIES anagram (maybe) of ITALY LOSE
Carnival day in Indian city holding king and soldier up (5,4)
MARDI GRAS R (king) & GI (soldier) reversed (up) in MADRAS (Indian city) The grid entry is an across so ‘up’ as a reversal indictor is not valid.
Mother’s view of the past. No thanks (5)
MAVIS MA (Mother) VIS[ta] (view of the past. No thanks) The song thrush
Antelope badly ailing (6)
NILGAI anagram (badly) of AILING
Caesar’s now not cold (3)
NUN NUN[c] (Caesar’s {ie in Latin} now not cold) A blue titA male smew
Six deliveries and a single remaining (3,4)
ONE OVER ONE (a single) OVER (Six deliveries)
River in York and Leeds, initially (5)
OUSEL OUSE (River in York) L[eeds] (Leeds, initially) A blackbird (archaic)A water ouzel (the dipper)
The Bard of Twickenham embracing prince and a king (9)
PHALAROPE [Alexander] POPE (The Bard of Twickenham) around (embracing) HAL (prince) A R (king) A wading bird (genus Phalaropus) with feet like those of a coot
Devise theatre reconstruction for Attenborough’s series (6,5)
PLANET EARTH PLAN (devise) anagram (reconstruction) of THEATRE
Dodgy medic caught out with ecstasy will tremble (5)
QUAKE QUA[c]K (Dodgy medic caught out) E (ecstasy)
Would become tranquilized with indri (7)
QUETZAL tranquilized’ is an anagram of ‘indri’ and QUETZAL A Central American bird with brilliant green plumage and very long tail feathers (the resplendent trogon)
NE racecourse favourite providing welcome for celebrities (3,6)
RED CARPET REDCAR (NE racecourse) PET (favourite)
Note always abridged (5)
REEVE RE (note) EVE[r] (always abridged) The female of the ruff
Day gets in trouble making stable (9)
STEADYING anagram (trouble) of DAYS GETS IN
Small flounder (7)
SWALLOW S (small) WALLOW (flounder) A small long-winged migratory bird (Hirundo rustica), with a forked tail, that catches insects on the wingAny bird of its genus or familyExtended to various unrelated birds of similar form or habits
His Excellency gets 100 poisha (6)
TAKAHE TAKA (100 poisha {currency in Bangladesh}) HE (His Excellency) A large flightless bird (Notornis or Porphyrio mantelli) of the rail family with brilliant blue-green plumage, a heavy pink bill and a large red shield on its forehead, thought to be extinct until 1948 when a small population was discovered in the South Island of New Zealand
Note sign on the rationale about the doctrine of final causes (10)
TELEOLOGIC TE (note) LEO (sign) LOGIC (rationale)
“…, … and away” for starters! (5)
UPUPA UP UP A[way] The hoopoe, a salmon-pink Eurasian bird with a long downcurved bill, a large erectile crest, and black-and-white wings and tail (Oxford On-line)
Posh covering at dockside, when queen leaves country (7)
URUGUAY U (Posh) RUG (covering) [q]UAY (dockside, when queen leaves)
In France, dishes out Levi’s – sale! (9)
VAISSELLE anagram (out) of LEVI’S SALE
Half a dozen in verse overturned (5)
VIREO VI (Half a dozen) O’ER (in verse over) reversed (turned) Any American singing bird of the genus Vireo, the greenlets, giving name to the family Vireonidae
New mallow mixed for one attending a health clinic (4-5)
WELL-WOMAN anagram (mixed) of NEW MALLOW
Remains outside the Big Apple, backtracking (7)
WRYNECK NY (the Big Apple) reversed (backtracking) in WRECK (Remains) A member of a genus of small birds (genus Jynx) related to the woodpecker, which twist round their heads strangely when surprised
Ten colony members hiding dislike for salts (9)
XANTHATES X (Ten) ANTS (colony members) around (hiding) HATE (dislike)
Credit card returned (4)
XEMA AMEX (Credit card) reversed (returned) A genus or subgenus of gulls
Fairy and pixie going west (6)
YAFFLE FAY (Fairy) ELF (pixie) both reversed (going west) The green woodpecker
Heart of cypress at battle ground (5)
YPRES [c]YPRES[s] (Heart of cypress)
Huge number not poorly on hill in Jerusalem (4)
ZION Z[ill]ION (Huge number not poorly)
A couple of menageries (6)
ZOOZOO ZOO ZOO (A couple of menageries) The wood pigeon


7 Responses to “Financial Times Christmas Crossword Set by Gozo”

  1. Peter Groves says:

    I was disappointed and frustrated with this puzzle. To my mind, a cryptic puzzle should not require extensive research into obscure words – and some of those birds were very obscure. I like to learn a new word or two from a crossword occasionally, but not this many: it’s not Polymath! And to set a clue with three equally plausible solutions (how many others went for BOOKSHELF first, and how many also gave BOOKSTALL a go?) is surely unacceptable.

  2. ClaireS says:

    Thanks for the blog Gaufrid.

    I thought this was great fun, but then I’m a big fan of Araucaria’s alphabet jigsaws. Fortunately the first clue I solved was XEMA which gave me the theme straight away. I didn’t solve nearly so many in my first pass but had enough 4/5/6 letter solutions to begin entering them fairly early on, which was a great help with the rest.

    BOOKSTAND was last in (I think) as I wasn’t sure of the answer until GOOSANDER went in.

    Many thanks Gozo.

  3. Bamberger says:

    There are times when you realise that you are a non league team playing against a premiership team “I found most of the clues relatively easy and solved all bar seven during my first pass through them.”. There are 22 words that I’ve never heard of and I doubt if I would have solved many of the other clues even though I knew the words.
    I’m in awe.

  4. MikeC says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid and Gozo. I was another who was initially misled by book shelf.

    Although I did, with aids, just about complete this one, I thought it was verging on unfair. I’m thinking about clues like that for VIREO, where both the solution and the word play are pretty hard. Picking up on ClaireS’s enthusiasm for Araucaria (which I share), what distinguishes the Master’s puzzles is that obscure answers are usually given relatively straightforward word play. There’s a kind of balance between the difficulty of the word play and the answer, which (to my mind) is a bit kinder to the solver.

    Nevertheless, an ingenious and enjoyable challenge, so thanks again and HNY to Gozo!

  5. Wanderer says:

    Very late to the party, mainly because I didn’t finish this until a day after the blog appeared. But I thoroughly enjoyed this and have no objection at all to obscurities in a puzzle of this kind. When we know the initial letter, AND we know that we’re looking for a bird, AND we’ve got more time than usual thanks to the Christmas/New Year break, then I think it’s more than acceptable for a setter to make us do a little extra research. Some of the (to me) obscure ones (BERGHAAN, PHALAROPE, HONEYEATER) were so clearly clued that I solved them correctly even though I then had to check that the words existed.

    Very kind of Gozo to give us only one pair with enumeration 6/4, so leaving us with no doubt where the Z went; and very kind of him to make sure that the two Z solutions crossed with one of only two 12 letter solutions in the grid, and with one of only two 11 letter solutions. This made it easy enough to get started.

    I failed on one, ISAGOGES, an unfamiliar word to me. Now that I’ve had a chance to look into it, I wonder whether there may be a misprint in the clue? Every source I can find explains the word ISAGOGE as ‘an academic introduction’ and more specifically the introduction to Aristotle’s Categories. The etymology seems to be from the Greek eisagoge, or introduction; I can’t find any reference to the word as an instruction.

    Huge thanks to Gozo for splendid fun over several sessions, and to Gaufrid for the blog.

  6. fearsome says:

    thanks Gozo and Gaufrid
    I did finish this but it was a bit of a struggle.

  7. Keeper says:

    Sorry, Gozo, but all the information I can find points to Chlorella belonging to the Protist kingdom (vice Fungi). Apparently, while Chlorella may have some use in treating fungal infections, the organism itself is a single-celled green algae.

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