ST 2500 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2500

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2500

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment *****

As expected, this puzzle was a bit out of the ordinary. At least in the online version, it was accompanied by a warning message attached to the first across and down clues: “WARNING: Two answers in this special 2500th puzzle require numbers as well as letters. The figure zero must be entered as a capital O.” This spoiled any possible surprise but I guess it was necessary for clarity when completing entries online.

Our Sunday setter specialises in thematic puzzles when writing as Virgilius or Brendan, so it’s no surprise that the thematic element here is handled elegantly – each of the Across rows in the grid has one word in the theme, which is clarified by the clue for 28A.

The thematic stuff led to some strange words elsewhere but solvers seem to have found even the one that’s not a proper English word – or so some of us thought – see below.

1 Time off for good behaviour? (6)
SUNDAY – CD based on Sunday being your day of rest and a day for good behaviour (for those who can remember back far enough).
5 Quick to imprison one ring-leader for main robbery (6)
PIRACY – 1,R in PACY=quick
10 Digital attachment that can convey decision either way (5)
THUMB – which can of course convey a decision whether up or down (for once, “either way” in a clue doesn’t signal a palindrome).
11 To indicate one’s intentions in advance could be great help (9)
TELEGRAPH = indicate one’s intentions in advance – anag. of (great help)
12 Leaves on male fruit-trees (7)
MANGOES – MAN=male,GOES=leaves – not hard but very neatly done
13 One enters vault, cold and mysterious (7)
CRYPTIC – 1 in CRYPT,C=cold
14 What you’re working on, if broken, could be bother! (9)
CROSSWORD – a “cross word” could be “Bother!”
17 Dangerous? Not so, once close shave is over (5)
HAIRY – CD punning on hairy=dangerous, and the two meanings of “close shave”.
18 Sycophant having ad put back at the present time (5)
TODAY – reverse the AD in “toady”.
19 Harvests the grains, in a way (9)
INGATHERS = anag. of (the grains) – understandable by remembering “all is safely gathered in” from the harvest hymn “Come ye thankful people come”.
21 Gets in touch and feels pain again? (7)
REACHES = re-aches
23 Opinion hard to hold in difficult time (7)
25 An indication of one’s progress, by the way (9)
MILESTONE – the way here being the road
26 A flower moved from bed (5)
AROSE = A,ROSE – another easy but neat one, exploiting two types of bed
27 It avoids one having to go through this kind of surgery (6)
BYPASS – 2 meanings, one a road that’s an alternative to going through a town
28 This is it! See headline at 1, 11, 13, 14, 18 across, 21, 25 (6)
2 Major change of course, but without first vessel (1-4)
3 Call promise to pay cunning, in suspicious manner (9)
4 Rarely seen group of creatures nevertheless exists? (5)
YETIS = “yet is”
5 I lodge with cop? Not normally (6,3)
POLICE DOG – anag. of (I lodge, cop) and an &lit/all-in-one
6 Why you are upset, it’s said, about this island school (5)
RUGBY = school – GB=”this island” in reversal of YUR = “Why you are”
7 Sectional reorganisation for seaside area (9)
COASTLINE = anag. of sectional
8 A male in charge of one kind of energy (6)
ATOMIC = A,TOM=male,I/C = in charge of
9 Share end of story that’s oddly amusing (6)
WHACKY – WHACK=share as in “Peter’s now getting more than his fair whack of the really good puzzles”,Y=end of story
15 Stupidly lie badly under oath, initially, in court (3,6)
OLD BAILEY = London’s Central Criminal Court – O,anag of “lie badly”
16 You won’t find them in gung-ho mission statement (9)
OMISSIONS – hidden word clue which looks initially like a false statement as you WILL find omissions in “gung-ho mission statement”. Stop to think and you see that “You won’t find them” is the def. and the rest is the wordplay.
17 Excited primate about a controversial issue (3,6)
HOT POTATO = HOT,POT(A)TO – the potto is a cute little primate
18 Sailor and a soldier finish off fish paste (6)
TARAMA – TAR=sailor,a=A,MA(n)=”soldier finish off”. Well now taramasalata’s main ingredient is cod (or strictly mullet) roe, if you ditch salata=salad, you can intuit that tarama is the desired fish paste. But Chambers has “taramas” = cod roe, so this is a bit inaccurate. But never mind – most solvers seem to have got there in the end and even this setter is human. Or rather I am – I forgot to look in the Concise Oxford when writing up, so got the gentlest of slaps with a wet fish in the comments. Brings back memories of the days when fishmongers (What’s a fishmonger, daddy?) sold smoked cod roe – my dad loved it on his breakfast toast.
20 Thy servant a dog (6)
SETTER – two defs – as noted on Sunday, the “Whacky setter” in the far right column of the grid may be a little joke. See comments for more information from the servant himself.
22 Prophet in hot seat, losing both times (5)
HOSEA = HO(t),SEA(t) – a neat pair of subtractions
23 Part of pitch and time he used with catchy number? (3,2)
THE 22 – line on a Rugby pitch, now in metric. T=time,HE,22=”Catchy number” from Joseph Hellers “Catch 22”. The combination of pitch, time and number in their musical meanings in the surface is inspired stuff.
24 Good party organiser, in spirit (5)
GHOST – G=good,HOST=party organiser

5 comments on “ST 2500

  1. TARAMA is given under TARAMASALATA in my C.O.D. and N.O.D.E. Admittedly both are old and tattered, but it’s also in the online Oxford Dictionary on my Mac. It was either that or THRUMS.

    “Thy servant a dog” is a story by Kipling. WHACKY SETTER was not intentional, but I’ll take it.

    And thanks to everyone for kind comments.

    1. I am so pleased to be able to welcome you to the blog Sunsetter

      Thanks for the explanations, and for the many excellent puzzles you have given us over recent weeks.

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