ST 2639 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
No comments

ST 2639

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2639

A full review by Gnomethang

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Morning All!. This is the review for the ST 2639 from the 13th May. One thing about putting the entry closing date back is that you forget how you felt about the puzzle on the day. I had a fun time refreshing my memory on this excellent puzzle.

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.


1a           Least noble, as eclipsed by most noble (6)
BASEST – A slightly archaic word for ‘least noble’ is created by inserting AS inside (it is eclipsed by) BEST, or most noble.

4a           Statistical diagram in Chapter I in error (3,5)
PIE CHART – An anagram (in error) of CHAPTER I gives one method of displaying statistics.

10a         Sounded alarm, perhaps, and initiated recall (4,1,4)
RANG A BELL – Two definitions; sounded the alarm and also jogged the memory.

11a         Help introducing gardener’s scientific measure for pest (5)
APHID – Place PH (a measure of acidity that is used by chemists and gardeners) into AID to get a gardener’s pest.

12a         Starts journey with radios out of operation (4,3)
SETS OFF – A definition (starts a journey) and a cryptic definition: if the radios were not working then the SETS would be OFF.

13a         Musician has a life after bit of gaol time (7)
CELLIST – A member of the string section. Place IS (has a life) and T for Time after CELL – an element (bit) of a prison. The construction is clear here but a tad confusing. In fact IS goes after CELL and the Time is simply the last word in the clue. Good surface reading.

14a         Shark in harbour (5)
NURSE – The BURSE is a variety of shark and to NURSE means to ‘harbour’ , as in a suspicion.

15a         Put limits on a large urban area’s size (8)
CAPACITY – CAP means ‘put limits on’ and a large urban area is a CITY. The resulting charade means ‘size’ or available volume.

18a         Insouciant participant in civil war (8)
CAVALIER – The sides drawn up in the English Civil War were the CAVALIERs and the Roundheads. Only one of these words means ‘Insouciant’.

20a         Part of face — cheek or lip (5)
MOUTH – A lovely clue in my opinion! Part of the face (which is close to the cheek and lip) also means Cheek or Lip, in the way of someone being cavalier!.

23a         Moor, for example, moving around in a craft that’s docked (7)
AFRICAN – A Moor was a North African Muslim who fought against the Knights Templar in the Crusades. Thus he is an example of an AFRICAN which is an anagram (moving around) of IN A CRAFt with the last letter removed (docked).

25a         Name many stupid people (7)
NOODLES – Start with N for Name and add ODDLES for lots/many. Stupid people are known as NOODLES.

26a         Cricket side in an odd mood, initially, it’s obvious (5)
AXIOM – Something that is AXIOMATIC is obvious and (particularly mathematically) should be able to be derived from first principles). Place and eleven (XI in Roman Numerals) inside the initial letters of An Odd Mood. The problem with axioms mathematically tortured Bertand Russell for a long time with regards to “1 + 1 = 2”. It could be boiled down to the following puzzle (amongst others):
“There is a small village in Italy where the barber shaves everybody who does not shave themself. Who shaves the barber?”
Prepare to “Bake yer noodle”!

27a         Person venerated like John and George, but not Ringo? (5,4)
SAINT PAUL – Of the four members of the Beatles only three have names associated with Saints (i.e. venerated). Ringo is right out of it and John and George have been mentioned so that leaves……

28a         Record producer shrink listened to (8)
ANNALIST – A producer of Annals (historical records) also sounds like analyst – a shrink or psychotherapist.

29a         Tell, for example, cunning ruler (6)
ARCHER – William TELL was (for example) a bowman which is the definition. Start with ARCH (cunning or sly) and add ER – Elizabeth Regina – our current monarch in the UK.


1d           Open-air vocal music giving child good time at first (8)
BIRDSONG – This open air vocal music is free for all. Start with BIRD (a synonym for prison TIME – bird lime is cockney rhyming slang) then add SON (for child) and G for Good.

2d           American politician contributing to tense NATO row (7)
SENATOR – The American politician (in the Senate!) is hidden inside (contributing to) tenSE NATO Row.

3d           Thus a religious leader and artist combined for TV serial (4,5)
SOAP OPERA – A TV Serial such as ‘Coronation Street’ is a charade of SO (thus), A, POPE (religious leader) and RA (A Royal Acamedician).

5d           Organised oral inspection, like teacher for pupils (2,4,8)
IN LOCO PARENTIS – One of the teachers duties is to be ‘In place of the parent’. The common Latin phrase for this is an anagram of ORAL INSPECTION.

6d           Move quickly in sea, slowly on land (5)
CRAWL – Two definitions. A CRAWL is a fast swimming stroke (in the sea) but also a slow pace when travelling on land on all fours.

7d           Ungodly type present as robbery happens (7)
ATHEIST – I have seen this clue similarly portrayed. A man at a robbery might be said to be AT a HEIST. When combined you get an unbeliever – an ungodly type.

8d           One use of carbon, until now (2,4)
TO DATE – Radiocarbon dating uses the Carbon-14 isotope TO DATE expired organic matter (once dead the carbon molecules are not naturally replenished and the decay of the isotope can be read). The phrase also means ‘until now’ or ‘up to this point.

9d           In respect of its being transformed, they demand the best (14)
PERFECTIONISTS – An anagram (being transformed) of IN RESPECT OF gives people who demand the best of people’s work

16d         Supportive type about to reform, in a way (9)
COMFORTER – A shoulder to cry on. Start with C (an abbreviation for the Latin Circa) and then add an anagram (in a way) of TO REFORM.

17d         Cop summoning help, maybe, for artist (8)
WHISTLER – James Abbott McNeill WHISTLER was an American artist living in the UK. He is cryptically alluded to as what an old fashioned Bobby on the Beat might do to summon help/support.

19d         In hearing, a means of controlling charge (7)
ARRAIGN – A verb meaning to charge in a US court (as in an arraignment) is also a homophone (in hearing) of A REIN – a means of controlling a horse, for example. The wordplay is beautifully crafted to make ‘hearing’ consistent with the court case/charge.

21d         To release, remove ropes tied around European (7)
UNLEASH – UNLASH (remove ropes tied) around E for Europe gives a word meaning release, as in a Kraaken.

22d         Is a lawyer from US able to land across the border? (6)
CANADA – Another slightly chestnutty clue (for me at least). The land across the border from the USA is a charade of CAN A D.A, or “is a District Attorney able to”.

24d         Animal arrived, then shortly left (5)
CAMEL – A one or two humped animal. Start with CAME (arrived) and then add the abbreviation (shortly) of Left.

Thanks to Virgilius for a very fine puzzle. I am back sorting out last weekend’s Saturday puzzle so I will see you all tomorrow morning.