ST 2534

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2534

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

For once I looked at the hints posting before writing this, so I’m trying to highlight a few useful pointers for beginners. The Sunday puzzles are worth attention from beginners because Brian Greer is scrupulously fair – more so than some Telegraph or Toughie setters. Every clue has a fair definition, and every word in the clue is there for a good reason – there are no extra words added for the sake of the “surface” reading and not the cryptic reading of the clue.

1 Time in lesson certain to expire (6)
MORTAL – T=time, in MORAL (noun) = lesson. “certain to expire” is an accurate version of “subject to death” (Concise Oxford) which contributes to the surface reading about a schoolroom lesson. A fairly easy clue because “time” and “in” mean what they very often mean in crosswords (though in the case of “in” there are probably too many possible meanings to think of the “containment indicator” use in this clue as necessarily the most common.
4 Goes round without penny, being this? (8)
STRAPPED – reversal of goes=DEPARTS, outside P=penny. The definition is either the whole clue, or “being this?” which tells us that the answer describes someone who’s going round without a penny and is therefore “strapped”. I can’t quite decide whether this is a true “all-in-one” clue (where the whole clue is simultaneously definition and wordplay) but if not it’s pretty close.
10 Stuff carried on board badly cracked before journey (4-5)
DECK CARGO – cargo stored on the deck of a vessel. I guess the definition “Stuff carried on board” could apply to cargo in the hold too, but a more detailed def would be hard to include in a deceptive surface reading. The wordplay is DECKCAR = anag. of ‘cracked’, GO=journey (verb)
11 Clergyman hasn’t finished page – that’s right (5)
RECTO = the right-hand page of an open book, the opposite being “verso” – so this is “page – that’s right”. The wordplay is the clergyman = RECTO(r) who hasn’t finished
12 Abridged book is read after editing? Penguin, for example (7)
SEABIRD – “abridged book” is B – the abbreviation for book, and this is anagrammed with “is read”. A Penguin (with capital P) is both a seabird and a book from a famous publisher.
13 Burdens added to bishop, hence lots of extra pay (7)
BONUSES – another word that can be abbreviated by B is “bishop”. To this B we add ONUSES = burdens, and get lots=amounts, of extra pay.
14 Unsatisfactory type of pale colour (5)
LEMON – two definitions – “unsatisfactory type”, and “of pale colour” – any colour is simultaneously a noun for the colour itself and an adjective describing anything of that colour. “Of pale colour” gives you a fairly wide choice on its own, but only one matches the other def.
15 Making certain changes, with nothing added (8)
CREATION – the def here is the single word “making”. The rest of the clue tells us to anagram CERTAIN with O=nothing added
18 Something between rounds eaten in golf club (8)
SANDWICH – another pair of defintions – “something between rounds eaten”, and “golf club”. Strictly speaking, although there are two famous golf clubs at Sandwich in Kent, neither is offically called “Sandwich” – they’re Royal St Georges and Prince’s. But talking of an “Open at Sandwich” would indicate one of these (Royal St George’s these days, next up in 2011 – Prince’s has hosted the Open but a long time ago).
20 How belligerent American operates gadget (5)
GISMO – gadget is the def., and if you see this plus something like G???O from checked letters, you should be asking: GISMO or GIZMO? The wordplay tells us – a GI is an American soldier, so a “GI’S MO” (MO = modus operandi) is “How belligerent American operates”
23 A gang running to desert (7)
ABANDON = “to desert” – it’s accepted that you can optionally use “to” when defining a verb by providing a synonym. Less often, this might work the other way round – e.g. “Leave in West African country (4)” = TOGO = “to go”. The wordplay here is A = A, BAND = gang, ON = running – watch out for a wide range of possible meanings for little words like “on”. These can create as much difficulty as unusual words which are much more obviously a source of trouble.
25 Excel militarily? Not in offensive (7)
OUTRANK – to excel and to outrank are both “to be better than” – “militarily” is more a description of one of the components than extra precision in the definition. OUT = “not in”, RANK (adj.) = offensive
26 What’s said to get attention about a volume that’s serious (5)
HEAVY = serious – A,V = “a volume”, in HEY = “What’s said to get attention”
27 Unusually choice opener for sport (3,6)
ICE HOCKEY = sport – anagram of “choice”, followed by KEY = opener
28 E.g. Christian seen in strange retinue after mass (8)
MUTINEER = “e.g. Christian”, specifically Fletcher Christian in the mutiny on the Bounty. M=mass, anagram of retinue.
29 Become furious in office of bishop and cardinal, say (3,3)
SEE RED = “become furious”. SEE is an old crossword chestnut – a synonym for a diocese, hence “office of bishop”, and RED is a colour of which one shade is called “cardinal”.
1 Short new style altered in decorous fashion (8)
MODESTLY – MOD = modern is “short new”, then ESTLY is an anagram of ‘style’, leaving “in decrorous fashion” as the definition.
2 Save most of cake in small room (7)
RECLAIM = save. “most of cake” is ECLAI(r), and this is inside rm. = room
3 Education reforms offered lots to people (9)
AUCTIONED = anag. of “education”, with a meaning change for “lots” between the surface and cryptic readings
5 Sorting out bothers – role for such a person (14)
TROUBLESHOOTER – anag. of “out bothers role”. Another one which is very close to an all-in-one though for me not a pure one because “sorting (=anagramming) ‘out bothers role’ ” seems to be the whole wordplay. But still a very elegant clue.
6 Suitable garment for kitchen sink stage part (5)
APRON – another near all-in one, but for me it’s either a definition in full, or two next to each other – “Suitable garment for (someone at the) kitchen sink”, and “stage part”.
7 Contributing to epic as someone who produced most expensive pictures? (7)
PICASSO – hidden in “ePIC AS SOmeone”. Picasso produced some of the world’s most expensive pictures as determined by auction prices, such as this one
8 Weapon hoisted on end of gantry liable to drop off (6)
DROWSY = “liable to drop off” – reversal of SWORD = weapon, on Y = “end of gantrY”
9 Manufacturing arrangement for channel, one connected to Internet (10,4)
PRODUCTION LINE – PRO=for, DUCT=channel, 1=one, ONLINE = “connected to the Internet”
16 Drunken painter, say, in highly dangerous position (9)
TIGHTROPE – TIGHT=drunken,ROPE=”painter, say” – a painter being a kind of rope as well as someone like Picasso
17 Manoeuvred to get position Scot contemplated (8)
JOCKEYED = “manoeuvred to get position”. JOCK=Scot, EYED=contemplated
19 Firm including a worker in commercial transaction, initially (7)
ADAMANT – A MAN = “a worker”, in (AD = commercial, T = “transaction, initially”. There is scope for confusion here because ANT is another crossword “worker”, so it’s easy to be fooled into trying to make ADAM fit part of the clue.
21 Note no longer as expression of love (7)
SMACKER = £1, hence “note no longer”, and also a kiss or “expression of love”
22 Deeply understand female, in short (6)
FATHOM = “deeply understand” for similar reasons that outrank is “militarily excel”. F=female, AT HOM(e) = “in short” – i.e. a short version of “in” = at home – good disguise because two letters in the clue represent six in the material used to make the answer.
24 Act on desire to be top person in field (5)
DOYEN – DO=act, YEN=desire – “top person in field” is the def.


  1. Geoff
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was one I finished, although it took forever … Thanks for the review. I had no idea of the construct for 9d, so pleased to see it explained.

    • Posted May 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I doubt that I understood all of it it while solving either, but for those not trying to save every last second on the clock, the key for confirming the wordplay is to identify the def and find the easier parts like PRO=for and 1=one. The rest then fall out by a process of elimination – apart from “arrangement” which could be an angram indicator but turns out to be part of the def, there are no indicator words in the clue, so with some wordplay found, the clue has to be a charade and the unexplained parts must match the unused bits of the answer.

  2. NMS
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great puzzle, favourite clue FATHOM.

    Enjoyed working out the wordplay for PRODUCTION LINE as I am definitely one of “those not trying to save every last second on the clock”.

    This puzzle is a “must solve” for me every Sunday.

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