ST 2554

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2554

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

I mislaid my original copy with timing, so not sure of my difficulty rating – maybe 4 stars rather than 3 by Sunday puzzle standards. Now that I’ve re-solved the puzzle and written up the clues, well up to standard – no epic hidden word, but three all-in-ones, two old queens and lots of other entertainment.

1 One insect holding another back with little force (6)
FEEBLY – reversal of BEE (one of the two stock insects), in FLY which is a stock insect in real life but not so common in cryptic clues
4 Lots of water in which to put English ships (8)
10 Note invariably inserted in travel document? Just the opposite (4,5)
VICE VERSA = “just the opposite” – (C=note,EVER=invariably) in VISA. Very nice deception here as “just the opposite” is a standard trick in clue writing when something like “A in B” produces a nonsensical surface meaning but “B in A” makes a better one. So you might have wasted time looking for a “note” that was a travel document inside something to match “invariably”.
11 Style that is abbreviated for attractive girl (5)
CUTIE – CUT=style, i.e. = “that is abbreviated” (literal meaning of “id est”)
12 Make longer sentence (7)
STRETCH – two definitions, and nothing to do with writing that goes on for longer than it needs to.
13 Was obliged to cut tail off fish (7)
HADDOCK – HAD = “was obliged” (I had to pay up = I was obliged to pay up”), DOCK = “to cut tail off”
14 Last character held by a sleuth, an old Indian (5)
AZTEC – Z in “a tec”
15 Person who supports HM, not her predecessor (8)
SECONDER = person who supports, plus “second E.R.” as an indication of “Brenda” rather than Good Queen Bess
18 Bad person, one put inside, right? (8)
PRISONER – I=1 in anag. of (person + R=right) – an &lit/all-in-one
20 Hero who’s acted in Italian city with love (5)
ROMEO = “hero who’s acted” – ROME,O=love – another &lit/all-in-one
23 Without conductor’s lead, play it badly, as usual (7)
TYPICAL – C in anag. of (play it) – orchestral musicians might not always agree with the surface reading – there are many tales of vicous comments about poor conductors. One orchestral muttering from New York: “This is the music police. Put the baton dowm, and walk away from the podium.”
25 In football, say, briefly managed part of Scottish outfit (7)
SPORRAN = part of Scottish outfit – here is one from the site where I found a balmoral hat for another recent blog report. SPOR(t)=”football, say, briefly”, RAN=managed
26 Show line with style, as this? (5)
MODEL – MODE=style,L=line – another all-in-one
27 Transparency by government that calculating person used to manipulate (5,4)
SLIDE RULE – if you’ve never used one, you can go here for the experience shared by maths students before about 1976 – I just caught the dying gasps before calculators took over. SLIDE=transparency,RULE=govt.
28 Artful person reorientated lost boys (8)
SLYBOOTS = artful person – anag. of (lost boys)
29 Attending critical trial to give evidence (6)
ATTEST = to give evidence – AT = attending, TEST = critical trial
1 Top-quality game with man on board (4-4)
FIVE-STAR = “top-quality” – FIVES = game, TAR = sailor = “man on board” – another good bit of deception, as “man on board” could indicate a chess piece or similar, and “on board” is a really cheesy old cryptic clue indication for “inside SS (steamship)”
2 Short piece of music, perhaps, 20 heard on radio in bar (7)
EXCERPT = R = “Romeo, heard on radio” (radio alphabet), in EXCEPT = bar
3 Odd clue – it is about verse in part of OT (9)
LEVITICUS = part of OT – V=verse, in anag. of (clue it is)
5 English writer whose biggest hero was Hercules, mostly (6,8)
AGATHA CHRISTIE – whose hero was Hercule Poirot – who was busy finding the killer of a thirties flapper on some Freeview channel during my original solving of the puzzle
6 Most of fortune I had reduced – that’s understandable (5)
LUCID = understandable – LUC(k)=fortune,I’d = I had
7 Not within reach, as a result (7)
OUTCOME = result – OUT = not within, COME = reach – pedants may insist on “come to”, but this one hasn’t checked the dictionary – in my speed-merchant solving mode it was plenty close enough
8 Pronouncement of moment for Arab leader (6)
SHEIKH = “shake” = movement
9 Canned music producers (6,3,5)
BRAHMS AND LISZT = “music producers”, and rhyming slang for pissed = canned
16 Quarrel in home that’s extremely illiberal (9)
NARROWEST = exremely illiberal – ARROW = quarrel, in NEST = home
17 Exhausted after drink in part of bar (8)
DOWNBEAT = part of bar – the first beat of a bar as usually indicated by the bloke were so rude about at 23A. DOWN = drink (verb), BEAT as in ‘dead beat’ = exhausted
19 Chat in frivolous way with expedition (7)
RAPIDLY = with expedition (2nd meaning) – RAP=chat,IDLY
21 One of the Tudors switching endless parts in tent (7)
MARQUEE = tent – Queen Mary = “one of the Tudors”, with the words switched after losing the last letters.
22 Remnants of old chestnuts, perhaps, found in puzzles (6)
STUMPS = both “puzzles” and “remnants of old chestnuts” when these are trees. Long-standing readers will appreciate the wry joke from BG, who’s called me an “arch-roaster of chestnuts” or similar
24 Place for locking up old instrument (5)
CELLO = instrument – CELL=place for locking up, O=old – a simple enough clue to solve, but well-crafted to make you think however briefly about something like a more secure version of the shelving in this picture


  1. BigBoab
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Peter for the excellent review, i really enjoyed this crossword on Sunday, a nice easy trawl through after a heavy Saturday night.

  2. Digby
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Just started doing the Sunday puzzle a month or so ago, and I really like them. Thanks for the review. 18a & 20a, but which was the 3rd all-in-one clue? 5d?

    • Posted September 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      18, 20 and 26 (all across) are the ones I’m calling all-in-ones.

      I’d call 5D a cryptic definition (using subtraction), or a definition plus an indication using subtraction and a bit of knowledge. It’s quite a good example of why it’s not always worth making sure you put a clue into the right pigeonhole – you can spend more time worrying what kind it is than solving it or appreciating it, and that shouldn’t really be the point.

      • Digby
        Posted September 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the enlightenment, Peter. I tend to agree that clue classification is more for purists than true solvers, but interesting nonetheless.