ST 2603 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2603

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2603

A full review by Gnomethang

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

Afternoon All!. We had a pretty tricky puzzle from Virgilius which I downgraded to *** difficulty as I was being a bit dense on the Sunday Solving. The enjoyment of the wordplay, however, warrants a **** in my book. What makes increases the difficulty here is Virgilius’ accomplishment of superb surface readings and aptly chosen synonyms – you look and gasp sometimes (particularly the two &Lit clues). There is a convincing story that is very difficult to crack to get the real definition.

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.


7a           Change layout in store for material (8)
REFORMAT – To start with we have a trademark Virgilius hidden word for ‘change layout’. It is hidden (IN) stoRE FOR MATerial. The surface reading is so smooth that many people were foxed on the day (including me!)

9a           One kind of leader who takes responsibility for another (6)
EDITOR – The leader of the paper who is responsible for writing the leader (or editorial) that sets the tone and political agenda for the day.

10a         Initial odds interpreted in broadcast (6)
SPREAD – The Starting Price of a horse, initially is known as the SP. Add READ (interpreted) to get a word for broadcast.

11a         The film shot without a break for players (4-4)
HALF-TIME – A well disguised anagram (shot or broken) of THE FILM around (without – on the outside of) A is also the break in a football or rugby match.

12a         Product of Asian light manufacturing plant (7,7)
CHINESE LANTERN – A cryptic definition that had me going for ages. The cryptic element is of the use of “light manufacturing plant” which, whilst usually meaning kettles and lawnmowers and suchlike actually here mean lanterns from China (Asia)

15a         Express disapproval of Charles’s conclusion (4)
HISS – I am pleading the 5th here as I had the answer but thought it was flawed. Here is Big Dave’s take on it “A word meaning to express disapproval is a charade of the third person male possessive pronoun and the final letter (conclusion) of Charles”. There must be some double duty here unless I am missing something. Actually, now I am thinking about it ‘Charles’s conclusion is HIS –S. Top clue, I take it all back.

17a         Strange thing to say repeatedly when tucking child in (5)
NIGHT – A strange anagram of THING, when rearranged to NIGHT and repeated is what oe says to a child upon the tucking in for bed. Very deceptive!

19a         Among Irish, a writer (4)
SHAW – An easy starter. George Bernard SHAW (an Irish Writer) is hidden in ‘iriSH A Writer’. An &Lit I believe.

20a         Reform costs dough, then — not the most original of ideas (6,8)
SECOND THOUGHTS – A straightforward anagram of COSTS DOUGH THEN (tou need to reform it) is not the first thought or idea (not the original).

23a         Singularly unpleasant situation for person with convictions (8)
SOLITARY – A nasty place where a convicted criminal can find himself all alone. ‘Singularly’ leads to solitary and ‘person with convictions’ is a nice cryptic definition of a prisoner/lag/con etc.

25a         Cut back hostile strategy (6)
POLICY – A reversal of LOP (cut) then ICY (hostile or cold) is a plan or strategy, in a government for example.

27a         Drawing instrument with carbon, one needed by learner? (6)
PENCIL – Another &Lit (or all in one clue). The wordplay is PEN (drawing instrument) with C(arbon) and I (one needed by) L for Learner. The whole definition is that a pencil is required by someone (a learner) who might not want to ‘Ink it in’ first time.

28a         Military commanders giving ground after unprepared retreats (8)
WARLORDS – RAW (unprepared) in retreat fllowed by LORDS – a well known cricket (sorry!) ground is a word for Military Commanders.


1d           Tears small page (4)
WEEP – A charade of WEE (Small) and P (an abbreviation of Page) is a word meaning to shed tears.

2d           Single chap disheartened and glum (6)
SOLEMN – SOLE (single) and M(A)N, disheartened) is glum or dour.

3d           Largest of four states divided equally by North-South line (4)
UTAH – Now then – I am taking a stiff drink and a friend to explain this!. This is the largest of four states in America whose individual letters display symmetry on reflection about the vertical axis (The North-South line, appropriate for the USA!). The others are HAWAII, IOWA, OHIO. Please may I refer you to Virgilius’ comments (as Brian Greer below) to see how fiendish this could become. Personally I thought that this was a bit ‘niche’ for a non-thematic puzzle but still quite a nice spot. In any case the answer was clear from the checking letters.

4d           What capital was for Marx, but not Lenin (6)
BERLIN – Whilst both were communists, Karl Marx was a German who’s capital city is Berlin. Lenin’s capital city (as a Russian) was whatever he called it (Leningrad probably!). The cryptic element is the use of capital/money in the wordplay. Marx also wrote Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie

5d           Lethargic, unlike systematic shopper? (8)
LISTLESS – A systematic shopper would have a list, a lethargic person would be LISTLESS.

6d           Ordinary seaman that’s released from cellar as required (6,4)
COMMON SALT – This was one of my last in. Ordinary is COMMON and a seaman is a SALT )as well as an AB, TAR, OS, HAND, JOLLY and JACK. In any case Common Salt (Sodium chloride) is released from a salt CELLAR as and when required. Lovely clue with a great Penny Drop Moment for me.

8d           President’s daughter housed in France (7)
MADISON – The 4th President of the USA. The wordplay is a tad devious: ‘daughter housed in France’ may be read as “place D(aughter) in a French house” i.e Put D in a MAISON. Another great clue.

13d         What rock fans do in bad weather? (10)
HAILSTONES – All Hail the Rolling Stones!. Some rock fans will do this and most fefstivals are spent in bad weather!.

14d         Authorised to take flight (5)
LEGIT – A contracted slang word for legitimate (Legal or Authorised). When split as (3,2) you get LEG IT – run or take flight.

16d         300 units given new order, in short (8)
SUCCINCT – More devilry. 300 = 3 times 100 which is C, C and C, the Roman Numerals for 100. Add UNITS and make an anagram (give a new order) to get a word meaning ‘in short’ or ‘concise’.

18d         Put up official statement about old soldier (7)
TROOPER – An old fighter can be found by reversing (putting up) REPORT (official statement) and including O for Old.

21d         In the neighbourhood of New York wherein noble resides (6)
NEARLY – An EARL (noble) residing in NY means ‘In the neighbourhood’ or ‘close’

22d         Republicans taking everything in race (6)
GALLOP – The Republicans are known as the Grand Old Party (GOP). Put ALL (everything) inside to get a race or run, particularly for horses.

24d         Show no interest as new fashion turns up (4)
YAWN – Start with N for new then add WAY for fashion. Reverse (turn up) the lot for an expression of boredom or no interest.

26d         Some original characters from Colin Dexter, such as Morse (4)
CODE – Some (two of) the first letters (original characters) from COlin DExter  give A CYPHER of which MORSE is an example. Lovely wordplay given that Mr Dexter wrote the Inspector Morse series of books.

A corking puzzle and I am hoping for more next Sunday. I am unlikely to be disappointed. Thanks to Virgilius.

3 comments on “ST 2603

  1. This was certainly a bit trickier than the usual Virgillius Sunday offering, but was tremendous fun, if only due to the sheer range of different clues and the sheer degree of thought that had gone into them. You really do feel as if each clue has been so lovingly crafted – it’s almost artwork! :)
    Fave clue was 14d, which illicited more than a chuckle when I realised what was going on…
    Thanks for the review, Mr. Gnomethang!

  2. i ECHO tIMcYPHER ABOVE THAT THIS WAS A BRILL CROSSWORD AND I’ve just noticed I had Caps Lock on!
    Thanks Virgilius and also to the gnome for a very entertaining review!

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