ST 2506

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2506

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Much easier than last week for me, but there’s plenty to see. First, a bit of symmetry – half-turn rotational symmetry still applies when you’ve drawn in little bars to mark word breaks in multi-word answers.

Legend: (act)* indicates an anagram of act

1 Live quartet heard previously (6)
BEFORE = BE=live,FORE=”four”
4 Scion not on hunting expedition (8)
OFFSHOOT – OFF=not on,SHOOT=hunting expedition. A scion is a twig or offshoot, esp. one used for planting or grafting. It’s also a fairly obvious component of a family tree.
10 What footballers try to avoid in clubs, for example (5)
CARDS – 2 defs, from football and card-playing
11 China correspondent? (9)
PENFRIEND – cryptic def punning on china=mate=friend and a possible location for a penfriend. 2 words or 1? 1 in Concise Oxford, 2 in Collins. There’s probably no right answer, and the lesson for xwd solving is not to rely too much on the enumeration matching your expectation.
12 Author collecting royalty as person producing books (7)
PRINTER – R in PINTER – R=royalty by way of rex and regina, not as a direct abbreviation
13 Kind of power, one French back completely (7)
NUCLEAR – rev. of un,clear=completely
14 Reassembled trio can inspect keyboard musician (7,7)
CONCERT PIANIST = (trio can inspect)*
17 It requires good performance in test, hitting initial shots with freedom (7,7)
DRIVING = hitting initial shots (golf),LICENCE = freedom. If you really want to be picky, you might point out that a learner has a driving licence, though a provisional one. A similar point was made on the Times blog a while ago when something like “one without a licence” was used for ‘learner’.
21 Slight change in RAF, not including first of flights (7)
AFFRONT – F in (RAF, not)* – “Slight change” is a classic bit of disguise, “slight” being the definition rather than a description of the change
23 Insert minute design in it (7)
IMPLANT – (M = minute, PLAN = design) in IT
24 Open to investigation likely to include drug (9)
PROBEABLE – E = drug, in PROBABLE = likely
25 Escort family from falling house (5)
USHER – 2 defs, one referring to Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher
26 Swaggered along with supporting members (8)
STRUTTED – 2 defs, one based on the “equipped with” meaning of the -ed suffix
27 Fuel, we hear, for this flier over ocean (6)
PETREL = “petrol”
1 Luggage – altogether, nine of fifteen (8)
BACKPACK – referring to a BACK being one Rugby player, and the pack=scrum eight of them
2 Person from elsewhere putting gold in counterfeit sovereign (9)
FOREIGNER – OR = gold in FEIGN = counterfeit (vb.), then E.R. = sovereign
3 Old dog moving right to top gets award in show (7)
ROSETTE – move the R = right to the top when writing “O(=old),SETTER(=dog)”
5 Source of economic advice, not a white paper (9,5)
FINANCIAL TIMES, which is of course a “pink paper”. I’m sure you all know the cheesy joke about the FT crossword already.
6 Arab people surrounded by endless sand (7)
SARACEN = Arab – RACE = people in SAN(d)
7 Honours bestowed on European with big corporation (5)
OBESE – O.B.E.’S = honours, E = European
8 People from house demolished in Stroud (6)
TUDORS = Stroud* – members of a royal house=dynasty
9 Patient supporter when cuts are needed in theatre (9,5)
OPERATING TABLE – CD with “Arts funding” surface using three puns – “Patient supporter”, “cuts” and “theatre”
15 Possibly burns absorbing heat disastrously as this? (9)
SUNBATHER – heat* in burns*
16 Frantically clear top of chest (8)
PECTORAL = “of chest” – (clear top)*
18 Wild flower, without name (7)
VIOLENT – n = name in VIOLET. A sharp-eyed solver has grumbled about this use of “without” on the Times blog, pointing out that the crucial meaning of “without” is “outside of” rather than “surrounding”. He has a point, I think.
19 Take on board what’s fitting in solution (7)
CAPTURE – APT = fitting in CURE = solution
20 Author seizing power in university position (6)
CAMPUS – P = power in (Albert) Camus = author
22 Knock down part of building (5)
FLOOR – 2 defs


  1. Radler
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I take the point that “without” means “outside of” rather than “surrounding, (18dn), but I don’t think that alters its validity in a cryptic clue. Wouldn’t “flower outside of name” just as acceptably allude to the answer as “flower surrounding name”?

    • Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Radler

      I’m very inclined to agree with you. I would be much more concerned with constructs like A B in C meaning to put B in A to get C which is just not English.

      • Posted November 11, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        If anyone’s still interested …

        I explained this badly – the point is that “without” in (e.g.) “there is a green hill far away, without a city wall”, does NOT mean surrounding – the hill is not a circular ridge! As far as I can tell, “outside” can mean “surrounding”, but this meaning of “without” cannot.

        • Radler
          Posted November 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          I understand the distinction and agree with you. However, I don’t think “without” precludes the case where the object outside is also “surrounding” – e.g. it would be correct to state that “the moat was without the castle”.
          Another thought… The meaning of a word is of course determined by usage. Could its long-standing, frequent (and possibly originally erroneous) use in crossword clues mean that it now really does mean “surrounding”?

          • Posted November 13, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            The moat could be described as”without the castle”, but this would equally describe a moat outside but not surrounding it. This is true for “outside” too, but I think there’s a case for more precision when using old-fashioned meanings. I can’t support the “used in crossword clues” argument for meanings of words unless the dictionaries start going down that route, but thinking of a particular pet hate, I hope never to see a dictionary definition like “ion: a charge (from cryptic crossword clues)”.

            • Posted November 13, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

              We all have our particular likes and dislikes.

              Does this mean that “outside” cannot be used either? And what about “outwith”?

              I am happier with “without” meaning surrounding (Chambers – outside the limits of) than I am with “in” joining the wordplay to the definition, as in ST 2509.

              • Posted November 13, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

                I have no problem with “outside”, as this is in modern vocabulary and “surrounding” is a possible meaning as well as “exterior to”. My problem with the archaic meaning of “without” for “surrounding” is that I cannot think of an example with this meaning that would be as recognisable as “An Agony in eight fits” (see today’s stuff on 2509).

                It’s not a requirement recognised explicitly by any set of cryptic crossword “rules” I’ve ever seen, but I’m always happier if I can illustrate a meaning with a convincing snippet of English – and for archaic stuff, convincing usually ends up meaning “something I can quote and at least some people will recognise”.