ST 2580

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2580

A full review by Gnomethang

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

Afternoon All!. We have an absolute belter of a Sunday puzzle from Virgilius this week with his usual hallmarks. This was my back page puzzle of the week.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.  You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

Across

1a           Talking about athletics event, what’s bad and good (10)
DISCUSSING – A charade to start with: The DISCUS athletics event then SIN (what’s bad) followed by G(ood)

6a           Surrounded by millions in financial support (4)
AMID – The definition is ‘Surrounded by’ i.e. ‘In the middle of’. Place M (abbreviation of Millions) into AID – financial support.

9a           Empire replaced king as head of state (7)
PREMIER – This one tripped me up due to the good surface reading. An anagram (replaced) of EMPIRE then R (Rex) for king.

10a         One seeking to profit from illegally acquired stock (7)
RUSTLER – A gentle cryptic definition for one who steals cattle (cattle stock not stocks and shares)

12a         Second Dickensian villain’s trial for fleecing (5-8)
SHEEP SHEARING – Another excellent surface reading that nicely disguises the real meaning – that of fleecing (or de-fleecing) a sheep. Start with S(second) then Uriah HEEP’S – A Dickensian villain (or at least an obsequious and insincere ‘yes-man’) from David Copperfield followed by HEARING for trial. Note that the apostrophe ‘S here is actually required in the wordplay as an addition rather than meaning ‘IS’ etc.

14a         Announcement of discovery from awful rake attached to multinational group (6)
EUREKA – Allegedly what Archimedes shouted when jumping out of the bath. An awful anagram of RAKE follows (is attached to) the EU – European Union being a multinational group.

15a         Exhausted down-and-out late to attend (4,4)
DEAD-BEAT – There are two definitions here – ‘Exhausted’ and ‘Down-and-out’ followed by the directional wordplay; DEAD (late/deceased) and BE AT (to attend). Another smooth surface.

17a         Shoot returning birds showing decorative crests (8)
TOPKNOTS – The definition of decorative crests such as fancy hair pleats. To POT is to shoot (particularly at game). Reverse this (returning) then add KNOTS – shore waders in the sandpiper family.

19a         It enables someone without power to take flight (6)
GLIDER – another very gentle cryptic definition for a form of flight without an on board engine.

22a         Connected with pair unfortunately liable to make mistakes (8-5)
ACCIDENT-PRONE – an anagram of CONNECTED and (with) PAIR for a phrase meaning ‘liable to make mistakes’.

24a         One playing with last piece of Waterford glass (7)
DRUMMER – I had to look up RUMMER to check that it was a ‘bowled or ovoid drinking glass with a stem’. Place it after D, the end of WaterforD to get a musician/player.

25a         Chase out of English party (7)
ENGRAVE – Another good diversion. Engrave for Chase Out is misleading (but fair) enough but what Virgilius has done is to use two lesser known synonyms, ENG and RAVE, for English and Party. If, like me, you immediately started throwing E and DO around then you were probably held up as well!.

26a         Medic joining partnership was in a no-win situation (4)
DREW – A fairly straightforward charade of DR (abbreviation of Doctor/medic) with E(ast) and W(est) – partners in a game of Bridge. Note the past tense – WAS IN is important here and not merely padding.

27a         All its pieces are in one row on it (10)
TYPEWRITER – One of Virgilius’ observational clues. All the letters in ‘typewriter’ are on the same line of a standard QUERTY keyboard. This may not help some of our friends in e.g. India – I have seen their keyboards and I wouldn’t like to guess that this is the case.

Down

1d           Stupid and empty party after party (4)
DOPY – Chambers gives both DOPY and DOPEY for stupid or stupefied. The first ‘party’ is the DO that we are used to in Crosswordland. Next add P(art)Y a party that has been emptied.

2d           Old poet associated with Marx in speech (7)
SPENSER – A cheeky little clue. The Poet is the 16th Century Edmund SPENSER. If you read him along with Karl MARX you get Marx and Spenser which is a homophone (in speech) of a well known department store, Marks and Spencer.

3d           Characters starting up keenly get capitalised in this country, briefly (6,7)
UNITED KINGDOM – The starting characters of Up and Keenly, when capitalized, make the abbreviation of the British Isles, broadly.

4d           Band’s tour going in one or two directions (6)
STRIPE – A band of colour or cloth. Place TRIP (a tour) inside S(outh) and E(ast) two cardinal points or directions.

5d           Main source of oil on earth’s disrupted (5,3)
NORTH SEA – Another smooth surface should not really stop you spotting the obvious anagram of ON EARTHS (disrupted) which gives a source of oil just off the coast of 3d.

7d           Article is penned by man in discomfort (7)
MALAISE – More smooth surface reading with the container indicator (penned) working well with Article. The instruction is to surround A + IS (article is) by MALE (man) to get a word for discomfort.

8d           Critical move to the left upset a right-winger (10)
DEROGATORY – An excellent clue (have I mentioned smooth surface reading?) where the definition is well disguised at the beginning. Reverse (upset) GO RED – a movement to the political left – then add A TORY (right winger). A critical comment is a derogatory comment. Top Stuff!.

11d         Source of rumours as slander can go nasty about maiden (13)
SCANDALMONGER – A source of rumours and gossip is an anagram (nasty) of SLANDER CAN GO around (about) M for Maiden from the cricket abbreviation.

13d         It’s awkward, skilful composer switching ends (4-6)
LEFT-HANDED – Don’t forget kids that the left hand is the hand of the Devil! Being a Lefty makes you clumsy, awkward, gauche and sinister. Being right-handed makes you right, adroit and dexterous. That is why the good natured Victorians used to tie the child’s left hand behind their back and beat them with a ruler until the evil left them and they started writing correctly. Sorry where was I?…
My favourite clue; a skilful composer is a ‘deft Handel’. Switch the ends (first and last letters) to get the practicing sinistrist.

16d         Underwater swimmer straying when beam sinks to bottom (8)
STINGRAY – Start with STRAYING and move the RAY (beam) to the bottom to get the potentially lethal fish.

18d         Shot from right going in just before end of disorderly cup-tie (7)
PICTURE – Another very natural clue, describing a moment in a football match. Once again the definition of a camera or movie picture (shot) is easy to miss at the start of the wordplay. The remainder tells you to put R (right) towards the end of a disorderly anagram of CUP-TIE. Virgilius is even helping out by telling us the approximate location.

20d         Drop some players produced in a certain mould (3-4)
DIE-CAST – Another charade. DIE (drop, keel over) with CAST (some players/actors) give a specific type of mould for creating machine parts etc.

21d         Something added up, at this point, in area (6)
SPHERE – The definition of ‘Area’ can mean ‘sphere’ as in ‘sphere of influence’. Start with the reversal (up) of P.S. – a Post Script or ‘something added’ to a letter then follow with HERE (at this point)

23d         Within rail network, start from Euston and end in Victoria, or maybe Paddington (4)
BEAR – Place the start of E(uston) and the end of (victori)A into BR – British Rail to get the bear named after the station where he was found. My only quibble is that British Rail is now long gone – maybe ‘old rail network’ might have been better.

Thanks again to Virgilius for the entertainment. I will be switching to Saturday for the next two reviews so you will have the pleasure of Crypticsue for the Sundays.

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6 Comments

  1. Digby
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this was a fair, elegant and challenging puzzle. Given that almost everything we once took for granted is now politically incorrect, or non-u, I’m surprised that Virglius is allowed to called lefties awkward, even with his tongue in his cheek!

    • gnomethang
      Posted March 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      This is the Telegraph, Digby! I would wager that he wouldn’t dare try it as Brendan in the Guardian!!

  2. Lea
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for an excellent review Gnomey – was an excellent puzzle to end the weekend. My favourite days are Fri Sat and Sun (with the odd other day in between but I can rely on those three days).

  3. pommers
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    ood review Gnomey!
    Agree that this was probably the best puzzle of the week.

    • Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      lad you liked it, Pommers ;-) !

      • pommers
        Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        Something wrong with the G on my keyboard – left the G off Gazza the other day! Must remember to hit it harder!