ST 2513

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2513

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

A fairly tricky puzzle, this one. Someone on Sunday asked whether the “level at which they are set is in the gift of the setter for the day or whether the crossword editor issues guidance to toughen things up or to ease back a little?”  I’m sure some attention is paid to this, and I believe the daily setters have some notion of a general desire for the Telegraph puzzle to avoid some of the tougher vocabulary and “general” knowledge that you might need for other broadsheet puzzles (or the Toughies); but I hope they don’t spend too much time agonising about difficulty, because it’s so hard to measure. Two different people of the same ability level can give you completely different reports about the difficulty of a puzzle, whether they’re beginners or experts. In this puzzle, knowing some fairly standard cryptic xwd material probably helped a lot in keeping the solving time down.

Sunsetter seems to have gone for a bit of Times crossword nostalgia here – this grid is the quirkiest one in the current Times set. It was made by former Times xwd editor Edmund Akenhead, and the big black E is his “signature”. It’s also the only Times grid with answers you might not have to solve at all – the two fully checked four-letter answers.

Across
1 Gym equipment one left out finally for swimmer (6)
BARBEL – a kind of fish=swimmer (and also part of a fish), and a barbell with one L=left missing at the end, as part of the sporting surface meaning.
5 Insult on Wellington’s part is blow for fighting man (8 )
UPPERCUT – which you might expect to be hyphenated, but at least one dictionary (ODE) has it as one word. Wellington being a type of boot should be no surprise, so that gives us UPPER for “Wellington’s part”, then insult (verb) is CUT – to ignore or refuse to recognise, as in “he cut me dead”.
9 Standard nonsense editor mindlessly repeated (8 )
PARROTED – PAR=standard, ROT=nonsense, ED(itor) – simple enough but very nicely done. There’s a cheeky possibility here about “standard nonsense from snooker commentator”.
10 Japanese entertainer falsifying his age (6)
GEISHA = anag of “his age”, with a nice bit of gender confusion from “his”
11 Medleys with verve, for example, turned into potential book (8 )
MELANGES – one of the tougher clues – (ELAN = verve, GE = rev. of e.g. = for example), all in MS = manuscript = “potential book” – one for spotting from checked letters and then explaining afterwards, though the GE part was fairly easy, suggesting ?E?A?GES
12 Polish, perhaps, sounding like another European language (6)
FINISH = “Finnish” – the next European language chestnut after you’ve seen the “two languages” clues for FRENCH POLISH.
13 First inaccurate, then accurate? Absolutely (8 )
OUTRIGHT = absolutely (outright is one of those words that help setters by being adverb and adjective). OUT=inaccurate, RIGHT=accurate. Possibly an old chestnut, but “if you’re going to steal, steal class”.
15 Provide satisfactory answers in predicament (4)
PASS – two meanings, one from the exam hall, the other as in “a pretty pass”
17 Railways ignoring the odds, unfortunately! (4)
ALAS = rAiLwAyS – “odds” for “letters in odd-numbered positions” is a pretty harmless bit of cryptic crossword convention
19 Produce onset of fear? Correct (8 )
FRIGHTEN – F=onset of fear, RIGHTEN = correct – it’s in the dictionary if you want to look, but easy enough to work out, and gives us a nicely done all-in-one
20 Doctor tucked into fish in northern region (6)
TUNDRA – DR = doctor in TUNA – for once “doctor” is not M.O. or M.B., probably the commonest meanings in xwds (likewise TUNA for “fish”, as compared to cod, gar, eel, or id(e))
21 Artist arrived within private chambers (2,6)
IN CAMERA = within (a judge’s) private chambers, and “in came R.A.” for “artist arrived”, using the meanings of the whole phrases rather than their parts. “Within” is the first of at least two “fake containment indicators” used as decoys in this puzzle
22 Opponents at bridge each leading it, also dummy (6)
NITWIT = dummy – N and W are the bridge opponents, both “leading IT”
23 Fortunate outcome for survivor from craft, say (8 )
HEIRSHIP = “fortunate outcome for survivor”, and also = “airship” = craft. “xxx, say” for “sounds like xxx” is another fairly harmless cryptic xwd convention
24 Costume worn by female relative, one in Daisy’s family (8 )
MARIGOLD – MA = female relative, RIG = costume, OLD = worn (in the costume context, or as of a joke). Something wearing something else often indicates containment, so the combination of worn=old and by=”next to” made this quite a subtle clue
25 Facilitating ending, but not beginning (6)
EASING, from (c)EASING – another chestnut I suspect, but a good one
Down
2 Pointed article about rising in intellectual circles (8 )
ACADEMIA – (AIMED = pointed, A=article, CA. = about), all reversed. Once I’d read “intellectual circles” and seen an initial A?A, the ACADEM bit went straight in, followed by deciding what might go at the end
3 Hurtful remarks about trouble in island state (8 )
BARBADOS – ADO = trouble, in BARBS = hurtful remarks. Spotted the BARBS and then the rest was easy
4 Person seeking action landed on one reptile (9)
LITIGATOR = “person seeking action (=court case)” – LIT=landed,1=one,GATOR=reptile – another seen quickly, from L?T?…. Surface meaning maybe not quite as good as we expect from Sunsetter, but “landed on” = “found” and reptile=”contemptible person” could suggest a client arriving at Sue, Grabbit & Runne.
5 Thing in use is dud, awfully mediocre (15)
UNDISTINGUISHED – anagram of everything in front of “awfully” – easily solved, but reads well
6 Part of Ezekiel, e.g., is the source of mournful verses (7)
ELEGIST – hidden word – a nice example of “easier than it looks”, with no Biblical knowledge required as it’s not that kind of verses we need to think of
7 Silly cover for scientist’s first piece about the universe (8 )
COSMICAL – S = “scientist’s first piece” inside a cover prvided by COMICAL = silly. A slightly surprising answer word but had to be COSMI-something
8 With new organisation, there’s about a hundred staff (8 )
TEACHERS = staff – (A=a, C=hundred), in anag. of “there’s”. A slightly vague def, but …
14 I’m kept in by agitated teacher for loathsome misdeed (4,5)
… HATE CRIME has “teacher” in the clue, which I suspect helped some solvers with the previous clue – I’M in anagram of TEACHER.
15 Nice job, with one metal embedded inside another (8 )
PLATINUM – PLUM = “nice job” (“noun, usually a modifier” says the dictionary, with “plum job” as an example, so this is the implied non-modifier version). This has “1 TIN” = “one metal” inside it, leaving “another” (metal) as the def.
16 Playwright embracing one son after another, and a single female (8 )
SPINSTER = single female – PINTER is the playwright – with one S=son inside and another in front
17 I’m into unusual saints, those who take a soulful view of nature (8 )
ANIMISTS – (I’m) in anag. of saints – animists are folk who think that plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomena all have souls.
18 One relation that produces negative reaction (8 )
AVERSION = negative reaction – A = one, VERSION = an adaptation of a novel or similar, and hence a relation = telling of a tale
19 E.g. attacking castles simultaneously, in support of monarch (7)
FORKING – a “fork” is moving a chess piece so that it attacks two of the opponent’s pieces at once, only one of which can be moved out of the way. The classic example is to advance your knight so that you can attack the opponent’s unmoved queen and rook from the “bishop 2” square halfway between them. Charade of FOR = “in support of”, KING = monarch. “Attacking two men on behalf of one” is another possible clue.
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One Comment

  1. Lea
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I have just realised I don’t often come and look at the results of the ST puzzle and haven’t commented before. The review is excellent – thank you and I know is appreciated by everyone.

    I remember solving it but there were a couple that I couldn’t remember why – 19d in particular.