Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 14,274 by Cinephile

Posted by Pete Maclean on April 11th, 2013

Pete Maclean.

Prize puzzle from the Weekend FT of March 30, 2013

I think the puzzle is a mixed bag. The fairly obvious theme made many of the clues easy but there are four answers that I was not familiar with including one, Atebrin a medicine, that I imagine very few people knew. The only exceptionally good clue I find is 5D (UNLOOSENED) and I have some reservation about 12A (CHAIN).

Across
1. HUGGER-MUGGER – HUGGER (bear) + MUGGER (crocodile). A mugger is an Indian crocodile.
10. HAGGARD – A (a) + GG (horse) together in HARD (adamant)
11. LUNETTE – NET (catcher) in LUTE (clay). ‘Lute’ can mean clay! I had not known that.
12. CHAIN – double definition. I needed help with this one because, while I correctly guessed the answer, I could make no sense of the “but not if you’re buying a house” part of the clue. Turns out it refers to a chain of people each of whom is trying to buy a house when the person at the end of the chain cannot find a buyer. Even for someone who knew this, I think the clue does not work well.
13. ZOOT SUIT – ZOO (animals) + anagram of TITUS
15. EVEN-STEVEN – EVEN (flat) + STEVEN (boy)
16,18. SHERLOCK – SHER (actor Anthony) + LOCK (security)
20. GREENSHANK – NS (poles) + HAN[dicapped] together in GREEK (language)
22. CLAPTRAP – CLAP (in praise of) + TRAP (gin)
24. CREEL – CREE (native American) + L (student)
26. ENTERED – anagram of TREE in END (last)
27. WEE FREE – homophone (“we three” in Cockney). “Wee Free” refers, I assume, to the Free Church of Scotland.
28. NIMINY-PIMINY – two words that rhyme with RIMINI (Adriatic city). I needed help with this clue too. I suspected that Rimini was the rhyming city but I had never come across this term, niminy-piminy — which means affectedly delicate.

Down
2. UPGRADE – anagram of A PURGED
3. GLADNESS – END (fine?) backwards in GLASS (barometer). ‘Fine’ can mean an end or conclusion (similar to ‘final’).
4. RIDE – double definition
5. UNLOOSENED – anagram of END ONE SOULS
6. GENET – E (English) in GENT (gentleman). A genet is a civet-like animal.
7. RETOUCH – anagram of HOUR ETC
8. CHICKEN-LICKEN – CHIC (has fashion) + KEN (knowledge) + LIC[ensed] + KEN (know)
9. HELTER SKELTER – double definition
14. BEER GARDEN – BE (live) + ERG (piece of work) + ARDEN (forest). An erg is actually a measure of work.
17. ISOCHEIM – anagram of I COME HIS. I was unaware of this term but guessed that it started with ISO which led me to find it in a dictionary.
19. CHASTEN – C[onspiracy] + HASTEN (don’t delay)
21. ATEBRIN – ATE (consumed) + BRIN[e] (a lot of salt). Atebrin is an anti-malarial drug. Which I had never heard of.
23. THRUM – double definition. At first I thought that ‘a bit of thread’ must clue THR — which left me with, UM, something missing. Turns out that thrum can mean a tail end of thread.
25. SWAP – PAWS (hands) reversed

7 Responses to “Financial Times 14,274 by Cinephile”

  1. jmac says:

    Hi Pete,

    Chambers gives daisy as “a general term of admiration”, and daisy-chain as “to inflate(prices)…” so not very good if you are buying a house. So I think the clue does work, albeit relying on (to me)less familiar secondary definitions. I suppose it is all part and parcel of a cryptic crossword.

  2. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, Pete. You have the same reservations about this crossword as me.

  3. Pete Maclean says:

    jmac, Thank you for commenting. That certainly expands my sense of what ‘daisy’ and ‘daisy-chain’ can mean — I had not known either of the meanings you cite — but it does not allay my doubts about the clue. As I see it, the first part of the clue, “could be daisy”, works very well as a definition for CHAIN. However the second part, “but not if you’re buying a house”, does not by itself clue CHAIN (or anything else that I can come up with). It only has specific meaning when understood in the context of a daisy-chain. So the clue is solvable but it does not work as a proper double definition. So, do we suppose it is a cryptic definition? I cannot quite see that either. Bottom line, it’s no big deal; it’s an okay clue; it’s a kind of clue we expect and accept from Cinephile; but it’s a weak clue.

  4. Keeper says:

    Thanks for the blog, Pete. I have to agree with you (and Richard @2) about the weakness of 12a. Like you, I had not heard of ISOCHEIM or ATEBRIN but penciled them in based on the wordplay. Ditto for 28a. And I was not familiar with Antony Sher, though the crossing letters (and detective) led to the solution. Lute = clay was also new to me.

  5. Pete Maclean says:

    Hi Keeper, Anthony Sher is a fairly prolific actor although not a very big name. It may be that he sticks in my mind because I have a cousin who met him once.

  6. malcolm caporn says:

    Niminy-piminy will be familiar to anyone who knows Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience. It described one of the two poets based, I believe , on Oscar Wilde and Arthur Swinburne, though I do not know which is which.

  7. Pete Maclean says:

    Ah, so it must be a fairly old expression. Makes it all the more surprising that I am unfamiliar with it. I know The Mikado well and have seen a couple of other G&Ss but not Patience.

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