ST 2532

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2532

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

Reporting duties remembered on-time this week, for this relatively tricky one. Along with the sheer class that’s so consistent in these puzzles that I don’t always mention it, there’s something quite unusual about this puzzle – did you notice it? As usual I’m writing before I look at the comments made on the day, so I don’t know whether anyone did.

1 Head of company searching for hostile takeover (8)
CONQUEST – C from Company, ON QUEST = searching. “for” is not part of “searching for” in the cryptic reading, but a link between wordplay and def. In the strict clue-writing system used by Brian Greer, it’s a “one-way linkword” – {[wordplay] for [def]} and never the other way round, as “for” means “in order to get”.
9 Desire a little power, very little (8)
APPETITE = desire (noun, no verb) – A,P=power,PETITE = very little (i.e. very small, not “a small amount of”)
10 Odd bits of culture, such as this (4)
CLUE – “odd” letters of CuLtUrE – it’s widely accepted cryptic clue convention that the “odd” letters are those at the odd-numbered positions of a word. An all-in-one if you’re happy with “odd bits of culture” as a description of crossword clues.
11 It’s regularly shown, but collector won’t take it (6,6)
SEASON TICKET – a nicely done cryptic def
13 Handle a thousand pounds, pinching none (8)
MONICKER = name = handle – M=a thousand,O=none,NICKER = pounds (irregular plural)
15 Burrowing rodent, fetching type (6)
GOPHER = burrowing rodent and variant spelling (hence no homophone indicator) of GOFER = someone who fetches things
16 Princess, as was natural, primarily a potential queen (4)
PAWN – first letters of words in clue and reference to the possibility of a chess pawn becoming a queen
17 Stigmatise ring-leader in gang (5)
BRAND – R = “ring-leader”, in BAND = gang
18 Damage inflicted in ring (4)
TOLL – two definitions – one as in “His death, which happen’d in his berth, / At forty-odd befell: / They went and told the sexton, and / The sexton toll’d the bell.” (Thomas Hood, one of the pun-ridden Faithless [someone] poems – Sally Brown this time)
20 Thus a beat returns in musical performance (6)
SONATA – SO = thus, reversal of A TAN = a beat
21 Good teacher’s witty remark about dreadful liars (8)
MORALIST – anag. of ‘liars’ in mot = witty remark. And this, folks, is the only anagram in the across clues. There is one in the downs too, but no anagrams of whole answers at all. A bit of a change, and one possible reason for difficulty – long full anagrams in particular are easy meat for old hands.
23 Studying students as part of society (7,5)
WORKING CLASS – WORKING = studying, CLASS = students
26 Goes whither for this acting award? (4)
TONY – the theatre equivalent of an Oscar. The rest of the clue is baffling until you break up the word into “to N.Y.” – yes, the ceremony is held in New York City – at the Radio City Music Hall since 1997.
27 Medical outfit making one visibly angry and irritated (3,5)
RED CROSS – RED = visibly angry, CROSS = irritated
28 Vehicle hemmed in by coach – and car, too (8)
HANDCART – hidden word
2 Show what can be OK when abbreviated (8)
OKLAHOMA – a show when followed by an exclamation mark, and an American state abbreviated as OK
3 Dispute result in test that ends this? (8,4)
QUESTION MARK – bang (sorry) on the heels of that exclamation mark in Oklahoma! QUESTION = dispute, MARK = result in test, and “that ends this” describes the example at the end of the clue. If you haven’t seen this trick before, prepare to see it for every conceivable bit of punctuation some time in your solving life.
4 Get on board with European doctor on rescue vessel (6)
EMBARK = get on board – E,M.B. = doctor,ARK = (biblical) rescue vessel
5 Foreign food cooked, initially, in Chinese way (4)
TACO – C for cooked, in TAO – of which “(right) way” is the English translation
6 Otherwise puts senior in bad position as player (8)
UPSTAGED – UPST = “otherwise puts” is our second partial anagram, AGED = senior
7 Exploit product of human kindness (4)
MILK – two defs, one referring to “the milk of human kindness”. Where does this familiar expression come from? Line up the usual suspects and it’s …. the bard – “Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o’ th’ Milke of humane kindnesse.” Macbeth
8 Like part of body Inspector Alleyn has taken inside (8)
PECTORAL = “like part of body” – hidden word. Full marks for relevance – Inspector Alleyn is a detective in a series of books by the splendidly-named Ngaio Marsh
12 Excellent criticism, mostly about one motivated by profit (12)
CAPITALISTIC = motivated by profit – I = one, in (CAPITAL = excellent, STIC(k) = criticism)
14 Back top spy to prepare for action again (5)
REARM – REAR=back,M=top spy – the head of MI6 (or MI5, can never recall which)
16 Old man’s weapon that’s needed to get into base (8)
PASSWORD – which is needed to get into a military base – PA’S = old man’s, SWORD = weapon
17 Clever person packed underwear (8)
BRAINBOX = “bra in box”
19 BBC user having no views (8)
LISTENER – a BBC radio rather than TV user
22 Think logically about one part of the issue (6)
REASON – RE=about, A SON = “one part of the issue”, one’s issue being one’s children – hence the old chestnut “They tend to bring up unrelated issues (6,7)” for FOSTER PARENTS
24 Travelled route on land or went by boat, we hear (4)
RODE – which sounds like “rowed” = went by boat. Unfortunately so does ROAD, which I saw as a “travelled route on land” and confidently wrote in. But 27 starting with the word R?A was pretty obviously impossible. It turns out that the right analysis was somewhere between my first and second thoughts – see the setter’s comment below
25 Get ready for country music legend (4)
CASH = ready, and country music performer Johnny


  1. Geoff
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the excellent review, Peter. You’ve explained very clearly why I could only solve about half-a-dozen clues!

  2. Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I must be getting better as this was only 2* difficulty for me, but whatever was unusual about it passed me by!

    • Posted April 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s not too uncommon for a puzzle that’s hard for me to be easy for someone else. Because I judge difficulty just by my solving time which I’m trying to keep to a minimum, a puzzle that doesn’t use easily recognised crossword clichés (or does but disguises them well) becomes “difficult” for me. Someone taking a calm and unhurried approach instead of going as fast as possible may find that 20-30 seconds of thought solves the clue on first look when I only spent 5-10. If you get most of the clues in that 20-30 seconds, you can still clock a very respectable time.

      Let’s be fair here: it was only when typing up that I realised 21A was the first time I’d had to type ‘anagram’ and then looked for any others. If I hadn’t been writing a commentary I would have missed it too.

      • Posted April 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’ve just spent 10 minutes staring fruitlessly at the grid!

  3. Brian Greer
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks, Peter, for such a thorough and accurate analysis.

    One point of clarification. For 24 down, the intended reading was “travelled” = definition, “route on land” or “went by boat” = alternative homophones for ROAD/ROWED.

    • Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Brian – I’ve made similar mistakes on the Times blog with triple definition clues, identifying the first or third def correctly and then grumbling about the “other definition” not working or not explaining it clearly. Motto for bloggers (and solvers): if you think a clue doesn’t quite work, it’s usually your fault.

  4. mark
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Peter,
    So what was special about it? I enjoyed the puzzle and your comments, but I am in the dark as to the unusual feature.

    • Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink | Reply

      See the last sentence of Peter’s reply to comment #2

    • Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink | Reply

      Sorry for not being explicit enough – the special feature was the compete absence of full anagrams from the clues. If you look back at the blog for the previous Sunday puzzle, you’ll find four full anagrams. This is probably a good estimate of the average number in daily paper cryptics – some papers impose a limit of about 6, and I suspect most broadsheet setters would impose a similar limit themselves, regardless of any rules made by their crossword editor.

      • mark
        Posted April 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Peter – I did notice your comment on anagrams; obviously a bit slow on the uptake today!

  5. Posted April 24, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Peter for the thorough review and to Mr Greer for the puzzle. Sundays are becoming a mighty fine and enjoyable challenge for me!

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