ST 2557 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2557

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2557

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

A puzzle solved when I got home from the rigours of the toughest Times Crossword Championship final I can remember. However, now that I’ve looked up the results from 2000, which I remember as my best final in both results and speed terms, it turns out that my winning average time was just over 8 minutes a puzzle. Mark Goodliffe’s winning time on Sunday equated to 8:22 a puzzle.


Conclude from that what you will, but it kind of scuppers what I was going to say about nice easy puzzles back in the days when a certain Brian Greer was in charge at The Times. And this puzzle took me over 12 minutes – I’ll plead extreme cruciverbal fatigue (or a consistent difficulty with double and cryptic defs). Is 7 double defs (by my reckoning) too many? Not for me in a single puzzle – if crossword fate decrees that the good surfaces are for double defs, so be it.

I’ll be away on holiday when you read this and still away when the next ST is due to be blogged, so for 2558 I leave you in the capable hands of Cryptic Sue.

Across
1 Nonsense about coach being tough (6)
ROBUST = tough – BUS in ROT
4 Person who starts a piece of knitting (6)
JUMPER – 2 definitions – to “start” being to jump, doubtless connected somehow with “startle”
8 Parliamentarian’s enemy is devil-may-care (8)
CAVALIER – another double def
10 Organizer of musical entertainment getting a couple of letters (6)
DEEJAY = D,J in letter names
11 Work with steamer, say, as adventurous captain (4)
COOK – 3rd double def in 4 clues!
12 Useful person with chair and one other piece of furniture (10)
PROFITABLE = useful – PROF = person with chair, 1, TABLE
13 One-time record total produced by working round the clock (7-5)
SEVENTY-EIGHT – a very old record, and the sum of the digits 1 to 12.
16 Why is a report unusually deserving of approval? (12)
PRAISEWORTHY – anag. of “why is a report”
20 It’s beneficial to tax freight transport (5,5)
GOODS TRAIN – GOOD = beneficial, STRAIN = tax (verb) – the old “move the gap by one letter” trick works again
21 Supporting Democrat as president after disgraced Republican (4)
(Gerald) FORD = president after disgraced Republican – FOR = supporting, D = Democrat
22 Worst role for actor in Shakespearean comedy (6)
BOTTOM – 2 definitions, one the single word “worst”
23 Bishop is getting involved with deacon (8)
DIOCESAN = the bishop of a diocese – anag. of (is, deacon)
24 Artist prepared food, ingredient for salad (6)
RADISH = salad component – R.A. = artist, DISH = “prepared food”, with “prepared” changing from surface reading verb to cryptic reading adjective
25 From small number of competitors, who will challenge all-comers? (6)
SENTRY = “who will challenge all-comers” – S = small, ENTRY = no. of competitors. I have to wonder whether the surface reading is a personal message here – if so, my challenge was a bit feeble – with that set of puzzles, I should have been vying for a podium position rather than struggling to complete.
Down
1 In theatre, as one doctor performed a brain operation (8)
REASONED – hidden word, with “performed a brain operation” as a whimsical def
2 Putting pound into deposit, the best kind of cheque? (5)
BLANK = “the best kind of cheque” – L = librum = pound, in BANK (verb) = deposit
3 Trim poodle, for example, a little bit (7)
SNIPPET = a little bit – SNIP = trim, PET = poodle, for example
5 Fatal flaw in opening (7)
UNDOING – our fifth double def
6 Person sampling American writer or minor versifier (9)
POETASTER = minor versifier – POE-TASTER = “person sampling American writer”
7 Expression of protest, perhaps, from European in mass meeting (6)
REALLY = expression of protest, perhaps – E in RALLY
9 She and I, Lord, converted? Providence controls it (5,6)
RHODE ISLAND, a state of which Providence is the capital – anag. of (She and I, Lord)
14 Vote in English parish initially revised and fast-tracked (9)
EXPEDITED – X = vote, in E = English, P = parish initially, EDITED = revised
15 Quick containing damage in place drugs are available (8)
PHARMACY = place where drugs are available – HARM = damage, in PACY = quick
17 Where people work for our rival, on occasions (2,5)
AT TIMES = “where people work for our rival”, and “on occasions” – double def no. 6
18 Attractive, is bit by bit accepted by strange women (7)
WINSOME = attractice – IS, in separate parts, in anag. of “women”
19 Pigment that’s not red or white for potter? (6)
COLOUR = colour, and = “that’s not red or white for potter”, the potter being a snooker player – the highest “colour” is the black, which scores 7 points, appropriately for our 7th double def.
21 Fast run, short time (5)
FLEET = fast – FLEE = run, T = (short) time

2 comments on “ST 2557

  1. Did all but two. I guess not bad for a 4 star. Fell on DJ and Poetaster; never heard of the latter and no charade or anagram to guess it either.

    1. I guess POE-TASTER is not quite a charade, as you have to get the two parts from “person sampling American writer” treated as a whole, rather than elements with separate independent meanings. But POE as “American writer” is a fairly routine choice once you’ve absorbed the principle that you always look at the short possibilities first – novel = SHE, poem = IF and all the rest. Then TASTER as the “person sampling” part should be possible with another principle – if the wordplay makes complete sentence and produces an answer fitting all the checking letters, don’t worry if that answer is a word you’ve never seen before.

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