ST 2715

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2715

A full review by gnomethang

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

Morning All!. This was an absolute corker of a puzzle from Mr Brian Greer (Virgilius) that placed two themes inside: The Times Crossword Championship 2013 (John H being a previous winner) which occurred on the Saturday 19th October and then the 50th Birthday of John Henderson (Elgar to you over here in the Toughie and also Nimrod in the Independent, Enigmatist in the Guardian, and IO in the FT. He also sets in the Listener series of barred thematic cryptics. Lots of these thematic materials appear in this puzzle and they are highlighted in RED and BLUE as required in the blog.

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           Spread in breadth, say (6)
BUTTER – B for Breadth (the abbreviation included in length and width and height for example) then UTTER for ‘say’.

4a           Mighty hunter‘s sleeping quarters at home turned over (6)
NIMROD – The first of the nom de plume of our Birthday Boy. A biblical hunter who was a great grandson of Noah. Also part of the 10a/12a answers by the 21d composer and Birthday Boy. Reverse DORM (sleeping quarters) and IN (at home).

8a           Complaints as doctor breaks key laws (8)
GRUMBLES – Place the MB (an abbreviation for doctor) inside the key of G and RULES (laws)

10a         and 12 Across: Pieces by 21 Down, such as 4 — and 22? (6,10)
ENIGMA VARIATIONS – Having solved ELGAR at 21d we need to remember that NIMROD (at 4a) was part of the ENIGMA VARIATIONS and also that the answer at 22a is an anagram of ENIGMA (i.e. a variation!). Sterling work from Virgilius!

11a         In this way, most of the states united (4)
THUS – Most of the word TH(e) and then the US (United Sates abbreviation or States United!)

13a         After terrible danger, recent changes that can help people grow a lot (6,6)
GARDEN CENTRE – An anagram (terrible) of DANGER then an anagram (changes) of RECENT. Of course a LOT is short for an allotment where yer veg is grown.

16a         Miles covered by fellow, one sailing in competition (12)
CHAMPIONSHIP – Placed the abbreviation M for Miles inside CHAP (or fellow) and then add I for One and finally ON SHIP (sailing). CHA(M)P I ON SHIP. More lovely stuff!.

20a         In maturity, getting podgier with ale, perhaps? (4,3,3)
RIPE OLD AGE – Surely not a jibe at the Birthday Boy who likes a pint of traditional??. Make an anagram of PODGIER and ALE (perhaps being the anagram indicator). Note that ‘with’ can be used to split the anagram’fodder’ but means to include them both i.e. THIS with THAT perhaps is an anagram of THISTHAT.

21a         Scoffs, out of spite at someone (4)
EATS – A word hidden in the last three words of the clue and indicated by ‘out of’ (or from).

22a         Mischievous young woman finally detonating an explosive device (6)
GAMINE – The final letter in detonatinG and then A MINE (an explosive device).

23a         Awful nag in cast attacking abusively (8)
SLANGING – I lost my paper solve and stalled on this one a second time around as well. An anagram (awful) of NAG inside SLING for cast.

24a         Score under 100 — that’s significant when opener’s dropped (6)
EIGHTY – Romove the opening letter from (w)EIGHTY or significant. Try as I might I cannot find any significance here!.

25a         Alarm time set by mistake (6)
TERROR – Place (or set) T for Time next to (or against) an ERROR or mistake.


1d           Occasion for celebration, often involving light blow-out? (8)
BIRTHDAY – A lovely cryptic definition. One blows the lights out from the birthday cake (50 of ‘em!) and a blowout, of course, is an expansive meal.

2d           No-win situations besetting mass publication (5)
TIMES – TIES (no win situations) around (or besetting) the SI unit for mass, M.

3d           Stimulate new learner I put in uniform (7)
ENLIVEN – The abbreviations for N(ew), L(earner) and then I placed inside EVEN (uniform).

5d           Rough occupying court, holding chopper up (7)
INEXACT – IN (occupying) and the abbreviation CT for court holding the reversal (up) of AXE – IN (EXA) CT.

6d           Some terrain, in essence, is what produces flooding (9)
RAININESS – Another hidden word (indicated bt SOME) of the second to fourth words in the clue.

7d           Set piece generally spotted in each half (6)
DOMINO – Another great definition which held me up to the last. Most dominoes (being part of a set) have spots on each side of them. Of course the double Blank does not hence ‘generally’.

9d           Page with line inserted in necessary rewrite for scripts (11)
SCREENPLAYS – Insert P(age) and L for Line inside an anagram (rewrite) of NECESSARY.

14d         Ordering starter for dinner in Greece, curiously (9)
DECREEING – Start with the starting letter of D(inner) and then make an anagram (curiously) of IN GREECE.

15d         Having left, is about to catch up, one hears (8)
LISTENER – Stat with L for Left then IS from the clue. Finally reverse (UP) RE (reference, about) and NET (catch). L IS (RE NET) reversed.

17d         In part of jail men threatened disorder (7)
AILMENT – One more hidden word (in part of). It is inside of jAIL: MEN Threatened.

18d         Too old to have romance and passion? Not 50, for a start (4-3)
OVER-AGE – Take LOVE (romance) and RAGE (passion) and remove the Roman Numeral L (50) from the start.

19d         Vehement outburst when one’s caught in traffic (6)
TIRADE – Place I for One inside TRADE (traffic).

21d         Composer turning fifty in years, right? (5)
ELGAR – A musical composer and a composer of Crosswords. Reverse AGE (years) and insert the L for 50 again and finally add R for Right. Our Birthday Boy as he appears in the Telegraph Toughie.


A massive thanks to Virgilius for an excellent puzzle and a further thanks to John Henderson and his wife Jane Teather for an invite to a wonderful day’s celebration.

I’ll see you all tomorrow for the Saturday Prize Puzzle review.




  1. spindrift
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Absolute stonker! It doesn’t get much better than this. Thank you to V & to G.

  2. BigBoab
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Got to agree with spindrift, one of the best, many thanks to Virgilius and to Gnomethang for an excellent review.

  3. halcyon
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    What a cracker! I spotted the “blue” theme but not the “red” one. Why does this guy not get the praise that some of the toughie setters get? [Or maybe I’m not paying attention]. He really is astonishingly good -his wordplay is always spot on – most puzzles have an unusual type of clue; surfaces are nearly always smooth, sensible and often witty; and the care he takes with his definitions to mislead us further is exemplary.
    Bravo Maestro and thanks to Gnomie.

  4. Catnap
    Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Spindrift, BigBoab and Halcyon. I loved the birthday allusions! This is a super review, Gnomethang, because going through it one really appreciates the depth and expertise of this outstanding crossword.
    Very big thanks to both Virgillius and Gnomethang.