ST 2591 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2591

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2591

A full review by Gnomethang

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Afternoon All!. This week we have another solid puzzle from Virgilius. I was about to say that there was no theme in this puzzle but was reminded of this report from Hugh Stephenson in the Guardian regarding a puzzle by Brendan (Virgilius’ other nom de plume):

“A number of you noticed (and were sufficiently surprised to comment) that the Brendan cryptic puzzle for30 May (No 25,335) had no running theme in its clues, which his offerings usually do. What you may have missed is that the letters running clockwise round the completed grid from the top left-hand corner read: THERE’S NO THEME IN THIS CROSSWORD.”

I looked again and lo and behold, the first 6 letters of 1a and the first four of 6d point us to a feature of this grid that is unloved by many!


1a           Old-fashioned garments found in pretty knitting patterns (8)
DOUBLETS – TO solve this you need to spot the fact that each of the last 3 words contain TT or DOUBLE-T. In the plural this gives us DOUBLETS, mediaeval garments.

9a           Maker of metal objects extracted from cast in smithereens (8)
TINSMITH – A worker of Stannum (Tin) is hidden in (extracted from) casT IN SMITHereens

10a         Cause of ill feeling — jeweller finally cutting stone (4)
GERM – The microbes that can cause sickness (ill feelings). Place the last letter of jewelleR inside GEM, a precious stone.

11a         Smashed bottle he blew — that’s unfair (5,3,4)
BELOW THE BELT – A phrase for unfair is created form an anagram (smashed) of BOTTLE HE BLEW. In the good old days bottles and other glassware were actually blown with a pipe fixed to the top of the receptacle.

13a         Host rebuffed an agricultural worker (8)
DAIRYMAN – As Jezza mentioned on the day we recently had DAIRYMAID with a similar construction. Reverse MYRIAD (host or legion) and add AN (in this case) to get the agricultural worker that deals with the milk herd.

15a         Small Irish lake or swamp (6)
SLOUGH – The answer is a swamp, marsh or hollow filled with mud. Start with S (for small) and then add LOUGH which is the anglicised spelling of the Irish LOCH for lake.

16a         Ignoring the odds, mind began producing plan (4)
IDEA – A straightforward ‘every other letter’ hidden clue. Remove (ignore) the odd letters in mInD bEgAn and you are left with the plan or scheme.

17a         Foreign president and prime minister later installed (5)
PUTIN – A gentle cryptic and definition for Vladimir PUTIN who was first president then the premier of Russia. If you split is name (3,2) then you get a word meaning installed.

18a         Non-violently hits back in row (4)
SPAT – A row as in a fight. Start with TAPS (non-violently hits) and reverse it (back).

20a         Brought to mind English verse pronounced acceptable (6)
EVOKED – We need to start with two abbreviations E(nglish) and V(erse) then add OK’ED which is a variant of OKAYED or verbally accepted. The result is a word meaning ‘brought to mind’.

21a         Term used about it produces merriment (8)
HILARITY – A term for fun, high jinks or jollity. Place IT inside HILARY, the second academic term of Oxford University’s academic year.

23a         Collectible item bought originally for a penny (7,5)
POSTAGE STAMP – A nice gentle cryptic definition for the subject of a schoolboy’s traditional hobby of philately. The original stamps, the Penny Black and Penny Reds were named after the price.

26a         What patient initially needing medical treatment gets? (4)
PILL – A very nice Semi-all-in-one detailing what’s gotten by the P(atient) initially who is ILL (needing medical treatment).

27a         Ulster, for example, contrived a rare win (8)
RAINWEAR – An Ulster is a Victorian day coat with a cape and sleeves suitable for wearing in inclement weather. Make an anagram (contrived) of A RARE WIN.

28a         Like tough crossword I finish in school (8)
FIENDISH – Place I and END (finish) into FISH (something in a school) to get a description of a really tough crossword.


2d           Making too much bread? Provide a spread (8)
OVERPAID – Bread here is slang for money. Spread the letters of PROVIDE A to get the second cryptic clue.

3d           Crowd hoisted sailor in hat and coat (6,6)
BOMBER JACKET – The simple definition is a coat. Reverse MOB (crowd hoisted) then place JACK (sailor) inside BERET (hat).

4d           Device used in ensemble music (6)
EMBLEM – Device here is used in its heraldic sense of a pictorial contrivance. It is hidden in (used in) the last two words. The surface reading is particularly good here since a device is also a motif in a musical work.

5d           State of great anxiety, with waters rising (4)
STEW – A reversal (rising) of WETS (waters or dampens) gives a state of anxiety or a tizz.

6d           Shun, once disgracefully excluded from team (8)
UNCHOSEN – To remain unpicked for a team. Make a disgraceful anagram of SHUN ONCE.

7d           Sage is intermediary for partners bidding for contracts (4)
WISE – An adjective for sage or learned. IS goes between (intermediary) W(est) and E(ast), two bridge partners who bid for contracts.

8d           Difficulty interrupting spiteful woman’s gossip (8)
CHITCHAT – Place HITCH (difficulty) inside CAT, a spiteful woman, to get gossip or idle banter.

12d         Hotel worker, unable to get out, started up computer (12)
BOOTSTRAPPED – I solved this from the wordplay and checking letters but was unaware of the full word and its definition. To bootstrap is ‘to input initial data so as to enable the subsequent loading of ta computer program. I figure we all know the term nowadays as ‘boots’. In any case start with BOOTS (a hotel employee who cleans boots and runs messages) and add TRAPPED (unable to get out).

14d         Century after century knocked up, hard to score (5)
NOTCH – A verb meaning to score or make a nick in something. Reverse (knock up) TON (100, a century) add C (another 100, in Roman numerals) then add H for hard.

16d         Like beginner, one immediately succeeding, capturing pawn with queen (8)
INEXPERT – This is an adjective applied to a beginner or someone who is not adept. Start with I for one, then place P (Pawn) and ER (Elizabeth Regina, our queen) inside NEXT (immediately following).

17d         Ancestry — parent that’s French and English concealing mine (8)
PEDIGREE – Place DIG (mine) inside PERE (French for father) and then add E for English.

19d         Anthea’s make-up items (8)
ARTICLES – Another word observation clue from Virgilius. The constituents parts of ANTHEA are AN, THE and A which are all definite or indefinite articles in English which is a synonym for items.

22d         Sporting contest seen in distance (6)
LEAGUE – A double meaning here. Any sporting group where teams play regularly together. Also the distance of about 3 miles, traditionally the distance that a man or horse could walk in one hour.

24d         Something revolutionary some doctors work on (4)
SPIN – Spin Doctors in government organizations are responsible for lying to the electorate to make their government appear better than they really are. A spin, of course, is something that turns (is revolutionary).

25d         In the main, maintain one’s standing on board (4)
SURF – A gentle cryptic definition of someone who stands on a (surf)board on the sea (in the main).

I’m back next week for another Virgilius instalment and will scan very hard before making any non-themed statements!.