In the spirit of Jules Verne, the FT crossword is setting forth on the task of traversing the countries of the world — or at least a lot of them — with the help of clues, solutions and a little ingenuity along the way.
The first monthly FT World Puzzle is published today, set by GAFF (real name — Peter Willmot), who on Friday set a puzzle for the FT themed on the coronation.
The solver’s task is simple — find out which country is the theme of the World Puzzle. Oh, and along the way, fill the grid. But as is the way of FT crosswords, solving the task is not so straightforward.
The solution to one specific clue — 24 down — is where the name of the country should be inserted. The problem is that there is no clue.
The solver’s task is to work out the name of country by solving those clues in the grid that are asterisked. These clues are undefined — in other words, GAFF has deliberately left out the basic definition of the solution. What’s left is entirely cryptic.
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The solutions to each asterisked clue relates to the country at 24 down. It could be a name, a place, a piece of popular culture, a street — anything that would be familiar to that particular country.
For example, look at this clue:
Capital adjustment for easier bonus (6,5)
The answer is Buenos Aires.
‘Capital’ is the definition (the capital of a country), ‘adjustment for’ indicates an anagram and ‘easier bonus’ are the words to be jumbled up to make Buenos Aires.
But in a World Puzzle themed on Argentina, the clue would be asterisked and therefore undefined, meaning all the solver would get for the clue is:
*Adjustment for easier bonus (6,5)
Other, unasterisked, clues are normal — defined, cryptic and not related to the country. Bit by bit, the grid will reveal itself, letters will appear that suggest solutions to some of the asterisked clues, the penny will drop and the theme of the first FT World Puzzle will become clear — even if contains no clue.
Each month, a FT setter will come up with a new country for the World Puzzle.
FT World Puzzle for May is published on ft.com/crosswordapp.