ST 2533

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2533

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

Less difficult than last week, but I think still a notch harder than most of the puzzles written in the early days of Brian Greer’s spell as the Sunday setter. Most interest here is probably in the two long answers, but there’s plenty to talk about elsewhere.

Across
7 Rome cuts perturbed one who’s infallible? (8 )
CUSTOMER – anagram of (Rome cuts) – the combination of Rome and “one who’s infallible” pretty well force you to think of the Pope, but I fairly quickly translated infallible to “always right”, as used to describe “the customer”.
9 Capital letter coming first, followed by second (6)
ATHENS=capital – “A=letter, THEN = followed by, S=second” – this is the commonest wordplay pattern for Athens and Athene, but you can choose different ways to express it, so I don’t think I’ve seen this exact clue before.
10 Set down in isolated location, hence distress signal (6)
MAROON – to leave someone in an isolated position, and a distress signal. Not quite 100% convinced on reflection by “hence” as a link word between definitions rather than in “{wordplay} hence {def}” but it caused me no difficulty in solving the clue.
11 Legal workers, as are Leo and ten others (8 )
NOTARIES = “Not Aries”. There are two questions the solver might ask which would help to crack this clue: “Why Leo?” and “Why ‘ten others’?”. The answers turn out to be: “Because no other sign of the zodiac is anyone’s first name?” (he said carefully, typing this to the accompaniment of Willie Thorne and John Virgo), and “Because we’re talking about a group of twelve.” Unless you start using the English names, Gemini Cancer and Leo are the three words you need to recognise in wordplay content as strong hints that the Zodiac is involved.
12 Linguistic inconsistencies to hamper and harm poet? (5,9)
MIXED METAPHORS – in this inventive anagram-based clue, “to hamper” and “harm poet” are both anagrams of metaphor, and therefore “mixed metaphors”. The combination of thinking of this idea and finding the anagrams to make a convincing surface is (going back to Willie Thorne) “top drawer”. “Linguistic inconsistencies” isn’t a very interesting definition, but I’m not sure what else you can do in a few words to express (from Chambers): an expression in which two or more metaphors are incongruously joined, such as to take arms against a sea of troubles
15 It might be said to provide support for speaker (4)
DAIS = anagram of said. One of those words that seems so un-English that I always wonder whether I’ve spelt it right.
17 State of solitary star having drinks around ten (5)
TEXAS – X=ten in TEAS=drinks. In US state nicknames, Texas is the “Lone Star State” from the design of its flag – or so I thought – according to wikipedia, Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as an independent republic and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas State Flag and on the Texas State Seal today.
19 Endlessly fire or verbally dismiss (4)
SHOO – SHOO(t) = “endlessly fire”
20 Preserving chemical found in China clay, in short (6,8)
SODIUM CHLORIDE – this is an inventive clue to match the other 14-letter answer. This time the twist is on the humble hidden word. Inside “China clay” is NaCl, sodium chloride’s chemical formula. I wonder whether BG bet some other setter that he could write a hidden word clue for “Sodium Chloride” and is now a few pints better off.
23 One fool is allowing a novice driver inside BMW, say (8 )
INITIALS, of which BMW is an example – 1,NIT=fool,I(A,L)S
25 Guide people in the right direction (6)
MENTOR – MEN=people,TO R = “in the right direction” – rather more literally than you might have expected. And the “guide” you need is a noun rather than the verb in the surface meaning.
27 Intend changes to be preserved (6)
TINNED = preserved – anagram of “intend”. Very straightforward but the surface reading is good.
28 Unexpected benefit from collapse after blow (8 )
WINDFALL – WIND=blow,FALL=collapse – I wondered a bit about WIND=blow, but both Chambers and the Oxford Dictionary of English have blow=a strong wind, as in “we’re in for a bit of a blow”.
Down
1 Arrogant youth – a monarch, perhaps, lacking maturity (4)
PUPA – an immature “monarch, perhaps” because monarch is a type of butterfly, with famous migration patterns involving parts of the USA. PUP=”arrogant youth”,A
2 Hit as cricketer or golfer, or oarsman (6)
STROKE – two definitions. Oarsman=STROKE is clear, but “hit as cricketer or golfer” seems a bit odd as it’s the noun meaning of stroke that I’d associate with these sports – the verbal meaning required here, as in “stroke the ball home” could be used in other sports too. But there’s little harm in giving these two as examples.
3 Builder of small home becoming major architect when capitalised (4)
WREN – a double def with more clarity than usual – when a word appears at the beginning of the clue and therefore could represent the capitalised or uncapitalised meaning, it’s left to the solver to decide which is required. But here you are actually told that the builder is “wren” and the architect “Wren”
4 To shoot companion is upsetting for PC (6)
LAPTOP – reversal of POT=shoot,PAL
5 Insular group listened to these ancient rulers (8 )
PHARAOHS, which sounds like Faeroes. Another word with an odd spelling where A comes first – I suspect Googling for “pharoah” would get millions of hits.
6 Contribution to blunders too dreadful to be comprehended (10)
UNDERSTOOD – hidden word with super-smooth surface reading
8 Football team, with time almost up, getting free (7)
MANUMIT = free (verb) – usually reserved for setting people free from slavery. MAN U = football team, MIT = rev. of tim(e)
13 Missing a term of Latin (2,8 )
IN ABSENTIA = missing, in Latin. In this case I think I can say that I’ve seen the exact clue before, but the surface reading makes it worth repeating.
14 Farm animal in grip of spasm caused by poison (5)
TOXIC = caused by poison, as in “toxic liver injury” – I don’t know whether Brian Greer had to look in the dictionary to find this def, as I did, but if so he must have been delighted to see it. Wordplay is OX in TIC
16 Calming down daughter in theatrical row, for example (8 )
SEDATING – D=daughter, in SEATING = “theatrical row, for example”. If you’re in any doubt about words like SEDATING, it’s worth checking whether SEDATION works any better (and of course, vice versa if the def here triggers SEDATION as your first idea).
18 One wise man or another embracing a second (7)
SOLOMON – MO = short time = second, in SOLON. As a quick commercial for the Oxford Dictionary of English, here it is on Solon: (c.630–c.560 bc), Athenian statesman and lawgiver. One of the Seven Sages, he revised the code of laws established by Draco, making it less severe. His division of the citizens into four classes based on wealth rather than birth laid the foundations of Athenian democracy. [And yes, there is an entry for Seven Sages, listing all seven]
21 Leaders of urban guerrillas joined with head of army in African country (6)
UGANDA – UG from “Urban Guerillas”, AND=joined with, A from Army.
22 Print something extra needed after drawing (3-3)
RUN OFF – double definition, the second def being for run-off = “A further competition, election, race, etc., after a tie or inconclusive result”, not as I thought, an extra dribble after drawing off a portion of liquid from a barrel or similar.
24 Disseminated small grant (4)
SOWN – S=small, OWN=admit=grant
26 Just operating legally, being extremely selective (4)
ONLY – ON=operating,L(egall)Y

6 Comments

  1. Posted April 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    To me this puzzle was an embarrassment of riches, with enough superb clues for several puzzles by any other setter.

    • Posted April 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes – and Mr Stupid here missed at least one all-in-one (15A). But it gets a bit dull to put “another gem from BG” into the report every time. Maybe I should add it to the “empty” file which I fill in with clues, numbers, explanations and introductory stuff …

  2. Libellule
    Posted April 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wil repeat my comment on the hints:
    “Without doubt the best crossword of the week!”
    After thinking about it – I would probably amend that to
    Without doubt the best crossword for quite some time!”

  3. Posted May 1, 2010 at 1:10 am | Permalink | Reply

    Agreed, a wonderful solve that kept on unfolding and bringing more riches.

  4. Posted May 2, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    Ditto the above. Looking forward to today’s!
    Thanks for the notes, Peter.

  5. Nora
    Posted May 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought it was a real stinker, but maybe I’ve overdone it on the cryptics this weekend, trying to catch up on the ones I’d missed whilst on hols last week. My brain aches!

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