ST 2544 – Wot, no vuvuzelas?

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2544

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

This took me about twice as long as an average Sunday puzzle, despite having thematic material nearly identical to a puzzle I blogged at the beginning of the 2010 World Cup. I can’t see now why it took so long – there are plenty of anagrams that now seem rather obvious. And I have to tip my neophyte setter’s cap to the clue-writing skill here – as well as the thematic aspects discussed below, he somehow gets away with four uses of SA or South Africa, and deftly marshals the crossword clichés like SAY and ED in 28 and meanings like those of “players”, and “supporter”.

As usual I’m writing this initially without looking at the comments on the hints posting. It’ll be interesting to read them afterwards, after some grumbles last week about the July the fourth themed puzzle. In the Guardian and Independent, Brian Greer’s thematic puzzles go down well, and personally I can see no good reason why Sunday Telegraph solvers shouldn’t get some too. As well as the seven previous winners of the tournament and other thematic answers, every clue’s surface reading fits the theme. The only thing missing is the V?V?Z??? word granted by this tournament to crossword setters and Scrabble players of the future.

Across
7 Team not great, to begin with, in game in South Africa (7)
ENGLAND – NG = “not great, to begin with”, in eland = “game in South Africa”. This is a “semi-&lit” clue, because the whole clue can be read as a definition, as well as the single word “Team”. I’m sure most of the ST puzzles are written months ahead, but suspect the chance was taken to include the topical content about the draw with the USA, either by replacing a previous clue or by leaving the clue-writing until later than usual.
10 United embraced by supporter, innovative type (7)
PIONEER=innovative type – ONE=United, in PIER=(architectural) support
11 Year a university teacher backed champions twice (7)
URUGUAY = “champions twice” – in the first world cup and also in 1950, when they defeated hosts Brazil in a famous decisive match that was the last played, but not the final. Wordplay for the clue: reversal of (Y=year,A=a,U=University,GURU=teacher)
12 A group of players picked for lack of inhibition (7)
ABANDON = lack of inhibition – A,BAND=group of players,ON=picked=selected and hence playing=ON – the last part is a bit of a stretch but seems fine in context
13 Dramatically play in Italian team ready for French (9)
INTERPRET = Dramatically play – INTER = Italian team, PRET = French for “ready”, as in the branding of this chain of food outlets
15 Piece of play witnessed by spectators, say (5)
SCENE, which sounds like “seen” = “witnessed by spectators”. I liked the clash of senses created by a sounds-like clue about seeing things.
16 Elated, like 4 19 and their predecessors herein (2,3,2,3,5)
ON TOP OF THE WORLD – an old favourite 15-letter answer which is very easy to spot – ironically the only (2,3,2,3,5) alternative in my crib book of phrases is AS OLD AS THE HILLS. But this is an appropriate occasion to include it, clued by a gentle cryptic definition cross-referencing another theme answer
21 Stop fighting in extremely disruptive and unruly crowd (5)
DEMOB = “stop fighting” – DE = “extremely disruptive“, MOB = unruly crowd.
23 Aren’t in a combination that includes good SA side (9)
ARGENTINA = “SA side” – SA can be South America too. They’re usually a “good SA side” (unless we’re remembering the bad side of Antonio Rattín or Maradona), but we need ‘good’ for the wordplay – G is inserted into “Aren’t in a” – “combination” means the words just go next to each other. I don’t think I noticed when solving, and probably made an unnecessary anagram.
25 Rival team that could make me angry (7)
GERMANY = “rival team” – whether of England or Argentina, it doesn’t really matter. Our other traditional football foes can make “me angry” as an anagram.
26 Cheat badly with first couple of penalties in part of SA (3,4)
THE CAPE = “part of SA” – anagram of ‘cheat’, then “first couple of penalties
27 You said a point, potentially, is the best one can get (7)
UTOPIAN = “the best one can get” – U=”you said”, anagram of “a point”
28 Evaluated and backed South Africa, for example, with editor (7)
ASSAYED=evaluated – AS = reversal of SA=South Africa,SAY=”for example”,ED=editor
Down
1 Artistic Italian in Group E, oddly (8)
PERUGINO = Artistic Italian – anag. of “in Group E”. An Italian in Group E would indeed have been odd – their campaign was terminated while still in Group F.
2 Wings of 7 and 25 affected by nerves (4)
EDGY – from “wings” = outsides of England, Germany
3 Leading players thrown in the air (6)
UPCAST = “thrown in the air” – UP=leading, CAST=players
4, 19 Final outcome expected this evening — and news story frantically absorbing one? (6, 7)
TODAY’S WINNERS – I=one, in anagram of “and news story”
5 Make grade, somehow, after he secures a cap, say (8)
HEADGEAR = “cap, say” – HE,A,anagram of “grade”
6 Run into supporter before church in country (6)
FRANCE – R in FAN=supporter, then C.E. = Church (of England)
8 Beastly noise from team-leader after end of morning jog (5)
GRUNT – G from morning, RUN = jog, T = team-leader
9 A stern chat that is followed by unfair penalty for Americans? (1,3,3)
A BUM RAP = “a false charge, typically one leading to imprisonment”, or “that leads to unfair penalty” as a description – A=A,BUM=stern, RAP=chat
14 Man on pitch not playing part of centre-forward (3)
REF = “Man on pitch not playing”, and “part of centre-forward”
17 Get to instant replay, initially – argument follows next day (8)
TOMORROW = next day – TO=to,MO=instant,R=replay, initially,ROW=argument
18 Swine ending off match with own goal (3)
HOG – H = “ending off match“, O.G. = own goal
19 (see 4)
20 Dreadfully saddened in positions in which goals are blocked (4,4)
DEAD ENDS – anag. of “saddened”, and situations where you can’t achieve your goals
21 Place for coaches and subs removed from ground (6)
DUGOUT – the place where the folk mentioned get to sit in an old-fashioned ground. Double def., “removed from ground” being “dug out”
22 Supporter upset girl, a kind of nut (6)
BRAZIL = a kind of nut – BRA=supporter,ZIL= reversal of Liz.
23 Stupidly annoy European who might win evenly balanced game? (6)
ANYONE – anagram of (annoy,E=European)
24 One score one left out for this team (5)
ITALY – I=one,TAL(l)Y = “score one left out” – lovely precise indication of the deletion of just one L
26 Control football, getting some upset (4)
TRAP=control football – reversal of part = some – if you’re unsure that these are synonyms, compare “I watched part of the match” with “I watched some of the match”.
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3 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I too enjoyed this puzzle. It wasn’t that difficult and you didn’t need a particular knowledge of the theme to complete it in one sitting. I am a fan of themed puzzles (cue groans from those who aren’t). They add a certain extra joy to the pleasure of solving cryptics,particularly when you have been doing them for a very long time. I think the balance between “ordinary” and “themed” is about right and long may they continue. Thanks for the comprehensive review.

  2. Posted July 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t get the paper so didn’t solve the puzzle, but this opportunity to read through the clues/answers leaves my jaw creating huge dents in the floor. The comprehensive use of the theme is just astonishing.

    Definitely a 5-star puzzle and I don’t even care what grid was used.

  3. gnomethang
    Posted July 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    A great puzzle where the theme was obvious but the clues were still hard to spot and expertly crafted.
    Thanks Virgilius and Peter fir the review.