Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 14,280 by Mudd

Posted by Pete Maclean on April 18th, 2013

Pete Maclean.

Prize puzzle from the Weekend FT of April 6, 2013

I call this an exceptionally good crossword puzzle. It has several brilliant clues, most notably in my estimation 20A (METABOLISE), 22A (HOTHOUSE), 3D (EXIT SIGN), 9D (BROKEN-HEARTED) and 17D (ROOF RACK), and nothing that I can make the slightest quibble about. A real treat. Thank you, Mudd!

Across
1. GAMES CONSOLE – GAME (willing) + CONS (kids) in SOLE (unique)
10. QUININE – QUI (French question) + NINE (figure)
11. AUDITOR – AUDI (car) + ROT (rust) backwards
12. APHIS – A (a) + PH (pub) + IS (one’s). In case you don’t know, an aphis is a type of aphid.
13. FOREDECK – [th]E + DEC (month) together in FORK (pay)
15. ENOUGH SAID – O (love) in anagram of ANGUISHED
16. NEON – hidden word
18. AIRE – A (a) + R (river) in IE (that is)
20. METABOLISE – anagram of ALBEIT SOME
22. HOTHOUSE – THOU (you) in HOSE (nylons)
24. FLAIR – L (left) in FAIR (just)
26. NOISOME – NOI[r] (short black) + SOME (part)
27. FRAGILE – RAG (paper) in FILE (catalogue)
28. SWEET-TALKING – anagram of GETS A NEW KILT

Down
2. ATISHOO – homophone (“at issue”)
3. EXIT SIGN – anagram of EXISTING
4. CREW – double definition. The second definition refers to ‘crew’ as an alternate form of the more common ‘crowed’.
5. NEAPOLITAN – anagram of NOT A NEPALI
6. OLDIE – LO (look) reversed + DIE (stop)
7. EXTREME – EX (old) + M[an] in TREE (plane perhaps)
8. SQUARE-BASHING – SQUARE (sixteen perhaps) + BASHING (smacking)
9. BROKEN-HEARTED – reverse cryptic (“broken-hearted” could clue OR RED HEAT)
14. ASSESSMENT – ASSES (fools) + MEN (people) in ST (way)
17. ROOF RACK – anagram of OK FOR CAR and a beautiful &lit.
19. RETAINS – anagram of EAR ISNT
21. ITALIAN – hidden word
23. OZONE – O (round) + ZONE (the area)
25. OFFA – homophone (“offer”). Offa was an early English king who is best known historically for his dyke.

7 Responses to “Financial Times 14,280 by Mudd”

  1. ernie says:

    Thanks, Pete

    I don’t think that I spotted the anagram in 20A which makes it an even better clue.

  2. John Newman says:

    Well Pete, I don’t agree with you. I think some of the references are far too esoteric and too difficult for me to work out at least.

    1A was too hard for me (incidetally you have an extra S – presumably CON)

    13A Isn’t pay = fork out, not just fork ?

    26A Isn’t noir a french word?

    2D too hard

    4D I don’t know either definition

    7D doesn’t seem reasonable. I mean “very high” can mean lots of things – like getting drunk. How can we work this definition out if the cryptic clue isn’t more straight forward i.e. plane

    8D I couldn’t work out what sixteen was referring to

    9D Still can’t see it. Perhaps you could explain more

    cheers

    John

  3. Bamberger says:

    I couldn’t get
    1a Must admit I was thinking of kids as children.Good clue
    11a I had 5d as neopolitan which meant that my first letter was o.
    13a My best guess was poopdeck but thoroughly agree with John Newman, “I had to fork out £30 for a new kettle when the old one broke down not “I had to fork £30 for a new kettle”
    6d no excuse
    7d Agree totally with John

  4. Sil van den Hoek says:

    John, as to 9d:
    It is a reverse anagram.
    “Broken-hearted” could lead to “red heat” (with ‘broken’ as the anagram indicator).
    Clues like this turn up quite regularly nowadays (especially in The Guardian). They are indicated by things like, for example here, ‘cryptically?’ There’s nearly always a question mark at the end.

  5. Pete Maclean says:

    Thank you all for your comments. I still maintain that this is an exceptionally good puzzle but I am now satisfied that it is not impeccable.

    I agree that ‘pay’ is not a great way to clue FORK. I can suggest a context in which the two words are interchangeable: I had to pay/fork out a large sum. However the bottom line is that no dictionary I have defines ‘fork’ as having any meaning like ‘pay’.

    Isn’t ‘noir’ a French word? Well, originally, yes but it is a proper English word as well. The problem is that in English, its meaning ‘black’ (as clued in 26A) is rare — I can find this only in my OED. My Chambers does not have ‘noir’ at all and, while I have found several other dictionaries that do, they define it only as “relating to the film noir genre” or “suggestive of danger”.

    I found 2D very easy but 4D is, I agree, difficult.

  6. Keeper says:

    I struggled with many of the same clues as John @2. Being a Yank, I had never heard of “square-bashing” as a military drill, nor of “atishoo” as the sound of a sneeze (we use “achoo”). I considered “extreme” for 7d but couldn’t parse it, having had forgotten that “plane” is a kind of tree (a fact I’ve never encountered outside of crossword-land).

  7. Pete Maclean says:

    Keeper, thanks for your comments. As a Brit who has lived in the U.S. all his adult life (over 40 years), I am still occasionally surprised to learn that a word that seems totally common and ordinary to me is unknown to Americans. Such is the case with ‘atishoo’. It is especially well known in Britain because of a child’s rhyme that incorporates it, “Ring-a-ring o’ roses, A pocket full of posies, A-tishoo! A-tishoo! We all fall down.” I see now that there is an American version that uses “Ashes” instead — which strikes me as rather strange.

    ‘Square-bashing’ is another matter. I had not known that this term is unknown to Americans but it does not at all surprise me.

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