ST 2509 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2509

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2509

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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


Quite a tricky Sunday puzzle by current standards – especially if like me you don’t see 1A on first look.

1 Tailor cuts up curtains for needleworkers? (14)
ACUPUNCTURISTS – anag. of (cuts up curtains) – the use of “tailor” and “needleworkers” here is clever clue-writing, telling a convincing story.
9 Officer liable to be taken in by murderer (7)
CAPTAIN – APT = liable, in CAIN (Genesis) = murderer
10 Drink wine as champion (7)
SUPPORT – SUP = drink, PORT = wine – straightforward substitutions so a fairly easy clue
11 It’s a very old wicket, so declare (4)
AVOW – a set of abbreviations mostly – A = a, V = very, O = old, W = wicket
12 Over 50% of crop not fit to eat, hard to swallow (10)
INCREDIBLE – CR(op) in INEDIBLE = “not fit to eat” – “over” is a fairly tricky containment indicator
14 Feature about old piano, pianist and composer (6)
CHOPIN – (O = old, P = piano) in CHIN = (facial) feature
15 Lots of soldiers in outskirts of Beirut? That’s extremely foolish (8)
BARMIEST – ARMIES inside B(eiru)T – worked out from the very probable -EST ending
17 Men committed to unions securing new funds (8)
FINANCES – N = new in FIANCES = “Men committed to unions”
18 Moves very slowly during endless board game (6)
INCHES – IN = during, CHES(s) = “endless board game”
21 From our point of view, embracing cause that’s unpatriotic (10)
TREASONOUS – REASON = cause, inside TO US = “From our point of view”
22 Choice of quarters not in good condition (4)
WORN – “W or N” is the choice of quarters = main compass points
24 Contradict about one line constructed anew (7)
REBUILT – REBUT = contradict, outside (I = one, L = line)
25 Trying to sell West End excursion (7)
TOUTING – T = “West End”, OUTING = excursion
26 Rope popular band into dance — he compiles critical notes (9,5)
RECORDING ANGEL – (CORD = rope, IN = popular, GANG = band), all inside REEL = dance. A recording angel is supposed to keep a list of your bad deeds (though also your good ones, if any)
1 Curved structure was nice but pointless and obsolete (7)
ARCHAIC – ARCH = “curved structure”, then AIC from a pointless (was nice), “pointless” here meaning “without N, S, E or W”. Excellent use of novel wordplay to create a convincing surface meaning
2 Powerless about part of speech to church? It’s not fit to deliver (15)
UNPRONOUNCEABLE – (PRONOUN = part of speech, C.E. = Church (of England)), all inside UNABLE = powerless. Here, delivery is speaking
3 A hut split in two, reassembled in this state (4)
UTAH – take “A hut”, and put its two halves in the other order. A nice one for my return from a trip during which I briefly had one limb in Utah, at the “four corners” monument.fourcorners
4 Dog that bites (6)
CANINE – two defs, one descriptive (“that bites”, for the tooth)
5 Leading group of pupils towards head (8)
UPSTREAM – UP = leading (“Federer is two games up in the first set”), STREAM = group of pupils. “Head” here is the source of a river
6 Obstruction as I am topping off upper part of building (10)
IMPEDIMENT – I’m = I am, then PEDIMENT = “topping off upper part of building”, with “off” meaning “from”
7 Finding fault with foreign currency hard to get in part of London (15)
TROUBLESHOOTING – (ROUBLES = foreign currency, H = hard), in Tooting = part of London. Noe that “finding fault” = diagnosis rather than criticism
8 Being present for trial, provide evidence (6)
ATTEST – AT = being resent for, TEST = trial
13 In very subdued way, I impassion converts (10)
PIANISSIMO – anag. of “I impassion” – fairly easy as impassioning converts in a subdued way isn’t totally convincing in the surface meaning
16 Got together again about eleven in Manchester or Leeds (8)
REUNITED – RE = about, UNITED = “eleven in Manchester or Leeds”. Some time wasted on looking for eleven = XI, inside a word for city.
17 Not yet tense (6)
FUTURE – two defs
19 Eagles flying round North African country (7)
SENEGAL – N = North, in anag. of Eagles – the def. is just “African country”, which saves worrying about exactly how far “North Africa” extends.
20 Fasten in one way, yet not the other way (6)
BUTTON – BUT = yet, TON = “not the other way” – lovely clue
23 Area covered by green reporter in red state (4)
CUBA – CUB = green reporter (green = inexperienced), A = area.

6 comments on “ST 2509

  1. I wrote my report (as I usually do) without looking at the discussion which took place on Sunday.
    To conclude the discussion about “in” as a link word in 23D, which included Big Dave’s “I think you will agree that the linkword appears, at first sight, to indicate that “red state” is a container rather than a definition.”, it’s worth noting that in Tim Moorey’s book (see “Which Books” linked on the right), “in” is included in the “Ten Especially Troublesome Words” chapter. I’m probably not alone in thinking that it should be the first word covered (Tim puts it second, after “about”).

    The possibility of “in” indicating containment (among other possibilities) is a legitimate part of the clue’s deception.

    “in” as a link-word can be a bit surprising, and may be more common in Times puzzles than Telegraph ones, but if you allow words like “with” and “during” as link-words (as the DT xwd editor does), it seems harmless by comparison.

    1. Thank you for that Peter

      I was actually about to leave a comment asking for your opinion on this very point – telepathy at work?

      Hope you enjoyed your holiday.

      1. Yes, I’m very much in the “in as a link-word is fine” camp. Expanding a generic clue parsing, we can say:

        These wordplay components can be found IN the answer…

        It’s completely harmless. Of course, there will be occasions when it can mislead, but the setter’s modus operandi is to do just that.

        1. That’s fine for “{wordplay} in {definition}” clues, but it’s used as a “bi-directional” link word, so we see “{definition} in {wordplay}” clues as well as “{wordplay} in {definition}” ones. The best explanation I can see for the first case is {in=”consisting of”}, as in “An agony in eight fits” (subtitle for “The humting of the Snark”).

          1. Agreed – and I think the bi-directional nature of “in” is also fine. Thus we can have either of:

            These wordplay components can be found IN the answer…
            The answer can be found IN these wordplay components…

            I would be wholly in agreement with the suggestion that, because of this potential ambiguity, “in” is not being used in an absolutely definitve way, but a cryptic clue consists (usually) of definition and wordplay elements which the solver must try to separate and unravel. It’s not always easy but, as soon as one element is found, the “leading to/from” role of “in” should fall into place.

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