Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 14205 Phssthpok

Posted by scchua on January 8th, 2013


It is a long time since my last FT blog – first I was off, then the FT was off for Christmas and New Year.  Thanks to PeterO and PeeDee for standing in, and as this is the first blog in the new year for me, best wishes to all (wh0m I haven’t wished before) at Fifteensquared for a Happy New Year.  Back to business…This was an enjoyable, even if straightforward, puzzle from Tuesday regular Phssthpok, for which thank you.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  [[The pictures at the bottom have unidentified links with the puzzle.]]

1 Air  force (6)

STRAIN : Double defn: 1st: A part of a tune;air that is more or less complete in itself; and 2nd: To exert a force, or the force itself.

5 List contents of verse for American sportsmen (8)

PITCHERS : PITCH(list, though strictly speaking, a list is a movement to the left or right, whilst a pitch is a forward or backward one) + inner letters of(contents of) “verse “.

Answer: Those who deliver the ball in the American game of baseball.

9 Graduate finds mineral in rock (6)

BASALT : BA(a graduate’s post-nominal initials, standing for “Bachelor of Arts”) plus(finds) SALT(a mineral, eg. rock salt).

Answer: Rock formed from rapid cooling of lava.

10 Breaks down what was formerly grassland (8)

EXPLAINS : EX-(prefix for “what was formerly;once”) PLAINS(relatively level and treeless grassland).

11 Virgin continent almost despoiled (8)

INNOCENT : Anagram of(despoiled) “continent ” minus its last letter(almost).

12 Lent participant with more security (6)

FASTER : FAST(fixed;secure;with security) + -ER(the comparative suffix denoting “more”).

Answer: A participant of the Christian Lent season by fasting;abstaining. A nice financing surface.

13 Spots new interruption to service (4)

ACNE : N(abbrev. for “new”) contained in(interruption to) ACE(a winning service in tennis, without the receiver touching it).

15 Dock of iron? (8)

DECREASE : DE-CREASE(to eliminate creases;to iron).

Answer: To reduce;decrease, eg. by deduction (of wages) or cutting the end (eg. of a tail).

18 Beating what a compiler does requires books (8)

CLUBBING : CLUING(what a crossword compiler does) containing(requires) BB(abbrev. for “book” x 2).

19 Mischievous spirits are what rider claims (4)

IMPS : I’M…(contraction of “I am…”;a claim) P.S.(abbrev. for postscript;an addition to a document;a rider).

21 Mobile phone finally replaces last bit of kit (6)

SUPPLE : Last letter of(finally) “phone” replacing last letter of(last bit of) “supply”(to kit;to outfit;to supply).  Nicely misdirecting phrase.

23 Two bones and then arm bone left to the end in examination (8)

TRIBUNAL : T(-bone, especially in a steak) + RIB(another bone) plus(and then) UNAL{“ulna”(the forearm bone) with “l”(abbrev. for “left”) moved(to the end)}.

Answer: An inquiry;examination, by a special court, usually convened by the government.

25 Retired with outstanding contest won (5,3)

BOWED OUT : OWED(outstanding;still to be paid) contained in(… won) BOUT(a contest or trial of strength, eg. boxing).

26 Surgical saw operates on parent (6)

TREPAN : Anagram of(operates on) PARENT.

Answer: An obsolete form of surgical saw for making holes in bone, especially in the skull.

27 Soldiers curse when in uniform, perhaps (8)

MENSWEAR : MEN(soldiers in general) SWEAR(curse).

Answer: An example of which;perhaps are soldiers’ uniforms.

28 Met going back and got in vehicle (6)

TANDEM : Reversal of(going back) MET containing(… got in) AND.

Answer: Any of the vehicles with things arranged in tandem, eg. seats, horses, axles.



2 Author can entertain Washington (5)

TWAIN : TIN(a can originally made from tin metal or plate) containing(entertain) WA(abbrev. for the US state of Washington).

Answer: Mark, American author’s pen name, of “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” fame.

3 Depressed for manufacture (2,1,3,3)

AT A LOW EBB : Anagram of(for manufacture) BELOW A TAB.

Answer: The same answer appeared in Dante’s offering on Christmas Eve (at 2 down), so it was practically a write-in.

4 Disciple took Margaret spice (6)

NUTMEG : NUT(a disciple;a fan;an enthusiast) plus(took) MEG(a shorter form for the name Margaret).

5 “It’s wizard to sleep, rest, I dig it!” a Tory was quoted in part (15)

PRESTIDIGITATOR : Hidden in(was quoted in part) sleep, rest, I dig it!” a Tory.

Answer: A conjurer;magician;wizard. Part of the term has the same Latin root as that of the conjurer’s patter “Hey presto!”.

6 Stamp goes on outside for Courier, perhaps (4-4)

TYPE FACE : TYPE(that which produces, by stamping, an image or print;a stamp) placed above(goes on, in a down clue) FACE(the outside;that which can be seen).

Answer:  A print font: an example of which;perhaps is the Courier.

7 Warms up for races (5)

HEATS : Double defn: 2nd: Preliminary races.

8 Have seconds to eat after vegetable (7-2)

RUNNERS-UP : SUP(to eat the evening meal;to have supper) placed below(after, in a down clue) RUNNER(a plant that grows horizontally, especially the vegetable runner or string bean). I’m not sure if “have” is really necessary?

Answer:   Plural of runner-up;one in second place in a contest.

14 Plant material in part of prison – this happens when I win, reportedly? (9)

CELLULOSE : CELL(the part of a prison where inmates are locked in) + U LOSE{homophone of(reportedly) “You lose”;that which happens when I win a contest against you}.

16 Hedonistic frolics ruin peace (9)

EPICUREAN : Anagram of(frolics) RUIN PEACE.

17 Zen tome I edited as it changes from east to west (4-4)

TIME ZONE : Anagram of(edited) ZEN TOME I.

20 Trash Richard initially for announcing order (6)

DIKTAT : TAT(trash;worthless stuff) placed below(initially, in a down clue) DIK{homophone of(for announcing) “Dick”(a shorter form of the name Richard)}.

22 Ram in  flock (5)

PRESS : Double defn: 2nd: A throng;a crowd;a flock, or the corresponding verbs if you like.

24 Silver wore away quartz (5)

AGATE : AG(chemical symbol for the element silver) + ATE(wore away; corroded as by an acid).

Answer: A form of quartz used as a gemstone.



Answer to pic#2 click here and to pic#5 click here

4 Responses to “Financial Times 14205 Phssthpok”

  1. MikeC says:

    Thanks s and P. Agree with your assessment of a good puzzle. I needed your help with parsing 6d, and failed on 20d (I thought “dictat” fitted the word play equally well and was probably a valid word – d’oh!).

  2. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, although I got stuck in the SW corner by confidently putting in ‘crowd’ for 22.

    Thanks scchua; I also originally put in ‘extracts’ for 10, which almost fits the bill. I liked CLUBBING and TRIBUNAL, but didn’t warm to IMPS, although it couldn’t be much else.

    [[#1 is Deborah Kerr who starred in The INNOCENTs
    #2 looks like some kind of bear spray (Mace?) – there is a NUTMEG bear, but that seems a fairly unlikely connection. Could be an alternative to CLUBBING 😉
    #3 is Edward Norton, who starred in The Illusionist – a PRESTIDIGITATOR
    #4 is a bunch of grapes; could be Trepat, otherwise known as TREPAN
    #5 are Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johannson who were both RUNNERS-UP for Favourite Celebrity of the Year in 2006 in “The Golden Schmoes” – is that it??]]

  3. scchua says:

    [[Robi, you’re right about #s 1, 3 and 4 and close on 2 – well done. As usual, I’ve put links for the answers to 2 and 5 below the pictures.]]

  4. Robi says:

    [[Thanks scchua; I had ‘The Prestige’ in my first iteration, which I lost when I forgot to do the captcha. However, I hadn’t realised it was about magicians. :( My 5 was, however, a valid link also. :)]]

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