Boris Johnson
No 10 down: Boris Johnson featured in one FT crossword © PA

A year to forget for many has been one to savour for crossword compilers. War, political upheaval, economic crises, royal intrigue and sorrow, sporting triumph and controversy provided some of the opportunities for setters on the lookout for topical clues to tease the befuddled solver.

Jason Crampton, a longstanding FT compiler who goes by the moniker Basilisk, throws all of these themes — and more — into today’s FT Review of the Year puzzle.

British politics, unsurprisingly, provides much fodder. Even in a dull year, the Conservative party is never short of options for compilers, since its name can be applied to clues or solutions in various forms — C, CON, TORY.

Solvers can expect to see shortened forms of political parties and groupings crop up regularly — L and LIB for Liberal, LAB for Labour, R and REP for Republican (and sometimes GOP), D and DEM for Democrat. South Africa’s ANC also has its uses.

But a feature of 2022 has been how the political narrative played out in FT puzzles.

Clues that brought in affairs of state and the state of affairs

David McLean, who has been setting for the FT since 2017 as Slormgorm, set the tone early, anticipating the UK ruling party’s travails to come, back in January with this anagrammatic clue —
Fall from grace seen in farcical Tory saga (2,6)

The following month, Rob Jacques, aka Julius, a former trader who lives in the Black Forest, warmed to the theme of chaos at Number 10 and offered this hidden clue —
PM is hapless — trousers a disaster (6)

In March, Moo, the handle for Norwich-based former teacher David Battye, weighed in with an anagram-based clue, thus —
FBI troubled by last of Boris’s deceptions (4)

The Conservatives were by no means the only body to exercise compilers’ clueing.

Semi-retired heart surgeon Samer Nashef, known as Goliath to crossword addicts, reminded solvers back in April of one of the undercurrent themes of 2022. It’s another anagram —
State of antivac movement (7)

Nashef’s partner, Fran Malley, who sets as Velia, went for this elaborate anagram —
Double NHS wait, turn for treatment and make things worse (3,4,2,3,5)

Nick Huntley, an orthodontist whose FT handle is Leonidas, felt the need to dabble in royal circles with this clever offering in April —
Unit in force intercepting Harry close to palace (10)

But UK politics and the ruling party’s malaise remained unavoidable. Flimsy, real name Anthony Plumb, couldn’t resist a dig in April at the Covid party furore engulfing the Tories — 
No.10 character in miscalculated social gathering almost isolated (5)

James Brydon, based in St Albans, whose FT pseudonym is Buccaneer, noted the way the political winds were blowing. Here, he makes use of one of the political abbreviations discussed above —
Discussing eg Boris Johnson making up stories (13)

There were other political goings-on to note. Former senior civil servant Richard Higson (Bobcat) had an eye on events over the pond —
Beginning to be keen on securing second term for Trump (5)

So did Basilisk, who went full throttle with this part-anagram clue —
Rotten corrupt independent politician ousting Republican unable to function in Congress (8)

Interactive crosswords on the FT app

Subscribers can now solve the FT’s Daily Cryptic, Polymath and FT Weekend crosswords on the iOS and Android apps

Buccaneer, meanwhile, reminded solvers there was a presidential election in France. This one requires a bit of knowledge of a certain foreign language —
Liberal blocking Macron’s way to hold power (4)

But the Conservatives were not to be kept in the dark for long. Julius, never far from an opportunity to make political capital, spotted a future leader with this anagram —
Most enthusiastic, Sunak’s mastered a reform (2,4,2,7)

But towards the end of the summer, database expert Michael Holmans (Chalmie) had had enough. His clue involves a synonym, an abbreviation for a rude term and a familiar shortened term for a political grouping —
Such rubbish, the Conservative litany of excuses (3,5)

Answers -

Fall from grace seen in farcical Tory saga (2,6) GO ASTRAY

PM is hapless — trousers a disaster (6) MISHAP

FBI troubled by last of Boris’s deceptions (4) FIBS

State of antivac movement (7) VATICAN

Double NHS wait, turn for treatment and make things worse (3,4,2,3,5) RUB SALT IN THE WOUND

Unit in force intercepting Harry close to palace (10) HECTOMETRE

No.10 character in miscalculated social gathering almost isolated (5) APART

Discussing eg Boris Johnson making up stories (13) CONFABULATING

Beginning to be keen on securing second term for Trump (5) INTRO

Rotten corrupt independent politician ousting Republican unable to function in Congress (8) IMPOTENT

Liberal blocking Macron’s way to hold power (4) RULE

Most enthusiastic, Sunak’s mastered a reform (2,4,2,7) AS KEEN AS MUSTARD

Such rubbish, the Conservative litany of excuses (3,5) SOB STORY








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