ST 2600 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

ST 2600

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2600

A full review by Gnomethang

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Afternoon All!. As usual Virgilius does not disappoint with his puzzles and this was a special one to nod to the fact that is puzzle number 2600 in the ST series. It is not JUST a pangram in that the puzzle contains 26 clues and each one starts with a different letter of the alphabet (although not in alphabetical order – that would be seriously pushing the ‘genius’ envelope!. The theme is alluded to at 1 across – to get us thinking presumably – and explained in 26a. As another blogger pointed out via email on the day – “Another tour de force!”

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.


5a           Characters collectively gaining height on mountain with support (8)
ALPHABET – The collection of letters used in the English language are a charade of ALP (mountain), H(eight) with ABET for support.

8a           English chap monarch brought back to bestow another title on (6)
RENAME – A reversal of E(nglish), MAN (chap.) and ER (Monarch) gives a verb meaning to ‘ bestow another title on’.

10a         Essay, a piece of fiction that’s number one in the field (6)
GOALIE – The man with the number one on his back in a team of footballers (in the field). Place LIE (piece of fiction) after GO (try) and A.

11a         Piano piece’s sound quality is what everything depends on (8)
KEYSTONE – the most important stone on a building upon which all others depend (literally and figuratively). A piano piece is a KEY and sound quality is TONE. Super smooth wordplay.

12a         Chemist, short of cash, began using computer (12)
BOOTSTRAPPED – Jesse BOOT, founder of the famous UK chain of chemists and STRAPPED (short of cash). To BOOTSTRAP is the process, defined in BIOS now, of starting a computer. For a while the word has been truncated to BOOT.

15a         Frenchman or Englishwoman, so-called? (4)
JEAN – Simple enough – a male Christian name in France and a female one elsewhere.

17a         Weaknesses in carpenters’ tools (5)
VICES – A double definition. Weaknesses, usually of the flesh (My only vice is a little tipple before evensong and the occasional plug of tobacco!), and tools found on a carpenter’s bench to which are used to secure working materials.

18a         Rabbit sounding like domesticated animal (4)
YACK – Rabbit as in gas, jabber or motormouth. It is a soundalike of a domesticated bovine animal.

19a         Debates ain’t so stupid if appropriately organised (12)
DISPUTATIONS – These debates or arguments are an anagram, indicated by the phrase ‘if appropriately organised’, of AINT SO STUPID.

22a         Least straight — is deceptive, in short (8)
CURLIEST – More lies from Virgilius!. A verb for ‘is deceptive’ inside CURT for ‘short’ is an adjective meaning least short (i.e. most wavy).

24a         Legal term starts off hearing, in legal action regarding youth (6)
HILARY – Hilary term is the second term in the Oxford year, typically associated with Law degrees. Mr Greer continues the legal surface reading with an acrostic (starting letters indicated by ‘starts off’) the remainder of the clue. Top Stuff!

25a         In the role of queen, when centrally placed, revealing heavenly body (6)
QUASAR – Qua is a lovely little scrabble word meaning ‘in the capacity of’ (as defined by Chambers – ROLE and CAPACITY here are certainly synonymous). Add R(egina) for queen and insert AS (when – centrally placed). This was very difficult to spot at the time as ‘when centrally placed’ requires a good ‘lift and separate from the synonym (when) and the instruction (centrally placed). Incidentally, many people considered ‘pulsar’ for this clue but I was already on the road to the theme – it just took a bit of time to parse the wordplay.

26a         Totally how the first answer goes, or all them, initially (4,1,2,1)
FROM A TO Z – The first answer (ALPHABET), in total, is included in all the other answers initially. If you thought that something was going on then this clue (possibly solved from the checking letters as it was for me!) should have put you on the path of the theme although it was Qix who pointed out via email the significance of the puzzle number.


1d           In the course of card game, putting in pound (6)
WHILST – Another good ‘lift and separate’ required to get the definition ‘In the course of’ and ‘card game’ (WHIST) split apart in the surface reading. Add L (Librum, pound) to clear things up.

2d           Goals I have presented in articles (10)
OBJECTIVES – A charade of I’VE (an abbreviation of I Have) inside OBJECTS (articles/things) leads to goals, aims or targets.

3d           Ten fish shot under the surface (1-3)
X-RAY – These pictures that are shot (taken) under the surface of the body are a charade of X (Roman Numeral for ten) and a RAY (fish)

4d           Wed heartless lady to a man (8)
UNITEDLY – I missed the wordplay first time round. Wed is UNITED and taking away the internal letters (heartless) of L(ad)Y gives a synonym for ‘to a man’ or collectively/without disagreement.

6d           Inspect fine ring in girlfriend’s possession (4,4)
LOOK OVER – Place OK (fine) and O (ring) inside, in the possession of, LOVER – a girlfriend. Too many O’s at first glance!

7d           Don’t disregard awful UFO attack once (4,7,2)
TAKE ACCOUNT OF – If you take something into consideration then you do this. It’s an anagram (awful) of UFO ATTACK ONCE.

9d           People joining university that provides information about courses (4)
MENU – A lovely definition of ‘provides information about courses’ tied into MEN (people) and University.

13d         As it is, chop bananas and nuts (10)
PISTACHIOS – A bananas anagram of AS IT IS CHOP is a variety of nut. A nice (if not difficult) healthy snack food sort of clue.

14d         Envisaged developments in a score being composed (8)
SCENARIOS – If you make an anagram of IN A SCORE (being composed) then you get a word for ‘envisaged developments’. Virgilius always picks the apposite anagram indicator for the wordplay!

16d         Showing effects of swelling, unusually loud in organ (8)
NODULOSE – I was tripped up by the alternative OUS ending here. An unusual anagram of LOUD inside NOSE (organ)  gives a word for ‘lumpy’ or the effects of being hit on your bugle!

20d         Bad influence? Too right! (3,3)
I’LL SAY – Some questioned the lack of quotation mark in the enumeration but it is the house style so Yah boo!. ILL for bad and SAY for influence (say-so etc).

21d         Final letter heard on radio is one from Africa (4)
ZULU – The NATO phonetic for Z is also an African (or thousands!). This must have been preselected as ?U?U does not yield too many words, never mind ZU?U!

23d         Mark’s replacement in amateur operatics (4)
EURO – The replacement coinage in Germany to the Mark. It is hidden in the last two words.

Well we didn’t have a massive hidden word (in fact the one was at the end!) but this was a corker of a special themed puzzle, thanks Virgilius!. See you next for the Saturday slot at 8 a.m.!

4 comments on “ST 2600

  1. Virgillius is my favourite setter, so I always look forwards to a Sunday – it’s worth the cost of the paper alone! This one didn’t disappoint, and, to push things further, I think it was possibly my favourite puzzle so far this year!
    Great review from Mr. Gnome guy! :)

    1. I agree – the Virgilius Sunday puzzle is always the best for me – even though it costs £2.00. Sometimes I even read the rest of the paper!

      Nice review, so thanks to Gnomethang – or is it gnomethang (without the capital letter)?

Comments are closed.