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ST 2956

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2956

A full review by crypticsue

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This puzzle was published on 17th June 2018

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

Quite tricky for a Sunday – I wasn’t the only one to think so, and we all agreed about the  usual high level of enjoyment. Too many great clues for me to pick just one for stardom

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a    Stoat beheaded and trisected? (7)
EXACTLY – I’ve had a bit of a ponder and I’m wondering whether the ? is the definition or whether there isn’t one at all – If you remove the first letter (beheaded) of sTOAT and then trisect or split into three parts the letters you have left, you get an expression meaning exactly

10a    Scrap line I inserted in a nonsensical talk (7)
ABOLISH – L (line) I (from the clue) inserted into A (from the clue) BOSH (nonsensical talk)

11a    Conflict leading to the fall of Paris (6,3)
TROJAN WAR – Paris being the Greek who eloped with Helen, Queen of Sparta, which started the war in question and led to his death (fall)

12a    Lasting result of cutting fine garment (5)
SCARF – SCAR (lasting result of cutting) F (fine)

13a    These parts of body may be hard to draw (5)
TEETH – There’s an expression meaning that something is hard to do ‘it’s like drawing teeth’

14a    Know rye, when drunk, results in this state for some Americans (3,4)
NEW YORK – An anagram (when drunk) of KNOW RYE

17a    Work to improve appearances in theatre (8,7)
COSMETIC SURGERY – A cryptic definition of an operation to improve someone’s appearance

19a    After start of picture, I, for example, limited range of colours (7)
PALETTE – P (the start of Picture) LETTEr (I, for example) limited or without its final letter

21a    What John, Paul or George is, Starr initially is not (5)
SAINT – S (Starr ‘originally’) AINT (is not)

24a    Chapter finished that’s supposedly not representative of book (5)
COVER – C (chapter) OVER (finished) – because you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover

26a    Drink beer or wine, embraced by fabulous fan (9)
SUPPORTER – You can solve this clue one of two ways – you can SUP PORTER (drink beer) or PORT (wine) can be ’embraced by’ or inserted into SUPER (fabulous)

27a    City in ascendant or on top (7)
TORONTO – Lurking in ascendanT OR ON TOp

28a    Performance of the day in team excited by drug (7)
MATINEE – An anagram (excited) of IN TEAM ‘by’ E (Ecstasy)


1d    Without European vote, don’t change that group of players (6)
SEXTET – STET (a printing instruction to leave something as it is) goes ‘without’ E (European) X (vote)

2d    For this entitled female, what symbolises dollar? (8)
BARONESS – A dollar can be symbolised by a BAR ON ESS

3d    Affection that may be forgotten in email correspondence (10)
ATTACHMENT – A bond of affection or something forgotten in email correspondence – fortunately Outlook always notices the word ‘attach’ in the body of a message and asks if you are sure you want to send the email without an attachment

4d    Act condescendingly in relation to part one is transforming (9)
PATRONISE – An anagram (transforming) of PART ONE IS

5d    Lines flower-girl enunciated (4)
ROWS – A homophone (enunciated) of ROSE (flower girl)

6d    Extract from pagoda kimono taken back for Japanese VIP (6)
MIKADO – Found lurking (extract from) in reverse (taken back) in pagODA KIMono

7d    What makes it into computer science etc? (5,3)
SHIFT KEY – If you use the shift key it turns into IT (computer science etc)

9d    Be open-mouthed as new fashion gets taken up (4)
YAWN – A reversal (taken up) of N (new) WAY (fashion)

15d    Value of a piece of text for poet (10)
WORDSWORTH – the WORTH (value) of WORD (piece of text)

16d    The writer had turned up account that’s amusing (9)
DIVERSION – A reversal (turned up in a Down clue) of ID (the writer had) VERSION (account)

17d    Size limit put on one place where many live (8)
CAPACITY – CAP (limit put on) A (one) CITY (place where many live)

18d    Succeeded in splitting current (8)
EXISTING – S (succeeded) in EXITING (splitting being a slang way of saying ‘making yourself scarce)

20d    Learner, one with extremely distinctive uniform (6)
LIVERY – L (learner) I (one) VERY (extremely)

22d    Artist who reveals another aspect of something? (6)
TURNER – An artist who may have revealed another aspect or something by turning it over

23d    Something on menu that computer user doesn’t ask to get (4)
SPAM – A meat product found on a menu or something a computer user could do without

25d    E.g. major row, making a stink (4)
RANK – A nice triple definition to finish


9 comments on “ST 2956

  1. Many thanks for the review, CS, particularly the parsing of 7d. I know I’m useless at this computer ‘stuff’ but I should have got that one!
    I remember that being an excellent puzzle but then Virgilius invariably produces winners.

    PS 16d answer needs a tweak.

    1. If you knew the haste with which this was prepared by an extremely tired-from-travelling, hay fever-stricken, Granny, I’m surprised there isn’t more to be tweaked.

      1. I’d like to bet you wouldn’t have turned down the opportunity to go whatever the price you’ve subsequently had to pay!

        1. True – I’d sort of counted on it not being my turn to do this week’s weekend blogs but best laid plans (mostly those of a certain Gnome) always fail at the last minute

  2. 8a is definitely a bit naughty in my book – there is no definition. Otherwise a lovely treat as usual.

    Thanks to CS for the write-up.

  3. Thanks CS. On 8a, I like your thought on ‘?’ being the definition. I recall having to ponder on this one when I did the hints and there were a couple of comments from some who considered that there was no definition. It would be nice if we could get a comment from CL or Mr Greer himself.

    P.S. 6d answer also needs a tweak.

    1. Yes, on 8a it would be very interesting to hear what the setter or the editor think.

      In my view the clue is unfair because it cannot be solved without additional information from checkers. The clue tells us to look for a seven letter word that could be ‘to a T’. How are we supposed to know it’s EXACTLY and not IDEALLY?

      On the other hand, many of the blog visitors who got the answer and/or the parsing from your hints picked it as their favourite clue, so perhaps fairness isn’t that important.

      Thanks to CS for the write-up.

  4. I don’t see how “?” can define exactly. You could argue I suppose (and I know someone who would!) that you can have a definitionless clue, just as you can have one without wordplay (as in a cryptic definition – although that is a definition employing a play-on-words, so … ). Cute as it was, I think the number of people who couldn’t solve this clue unaided says everything about its fairness, at least in the context of current cryptic conventions.

    (Funny, as one thing I particularly admire about this setter is that he often finds a really nice cryptic definition, but goes the extra mile to include supporting wordplay too to provide that additional route to, or confirmation of, the answer.)

    That aside, another marvellous puzzle, for which thanks to Virgilius, and thanks to Sue for once again taking on extra duties.

    [Edit: wrote the above before seeing Mr K’s comment]

  5. As a relative beginner (certainly compared to others who have commented on this), I thought 8a was unfair. If we are still trying to i the definition nearly a week later then it must be so.

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