ST 2550 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2550

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2550

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty * Enjoyment *****

A very easy puzzle for me this one. Big Dave discourages bragging about solving times, so I’ll just say that in minutes and seconds this was exactly as quick for me as the Times crossword of 24th August, the quickest for me in several months if not a year or more. So in the same spirit as Craig Revel Horwood of Strictly Come Dancing, who sees no point in having a board with a 1 on it if he’s never going to use it, this gets one star for difficulty. I was going to knock off an enjoyment star on the basis that nothing this easy can be worth 5, but changed my mind when I got to 3D.

On to the clues – sorry this is a bit late, as there’s rather a lot going on here at present, but if I can blog as fast as I solved it’ll be up by 12:30. (Didn’t quite make it …)

1 British staff holding space for charming female’s transport (10)
BROOMSTICK – B-British(ROOM=space),STICK=staff – “charming female” = a female who charms=controls by magic
6 Unlike ministers, held back by officialdom (4)
LAIC = of the laity, i.e. unlike (religious) ministers, as opposed to the political ones in the surface. Reverse hidden in “officialdom”
9 Line included by me, for example, for person new to area (7)
SETTLER – L=line, SETTER=”me, for example” – that’s the Brian Greer “me”, not the Peter Biddlecombe “me”
10 Unsuccessful competitor didn’t just walk? (4-3)
ALSO-RAN = unsuccessful competitor – used for a list of horses or other competitors whose times or positions aren’t worth quoting – “didn’t just walk” is a quirky alternative definition
12 How one works, taking a term of Latin (5,8)
MODUS OPERANDI – switched-on solvers will see that “a term of Latin” in cryptic clue-speak is just a Latin term. “Modus operandi” means “how one works”
14 Defensive cover for injury time at West ‘am? (6)
ARMOUR – this is a double bit of caricature Cockney using the ‘ammers as the indication – (‘arm ‘our) = “injury time”
15 Magnificence under a corrupt English king, initially (8)
GRANDEUR – G.R. = “English king, initially”,ANDEUR = anag. of “under a”
17 Vehicle backed into unusual kind of engine (8)
TRACTION = “kind of engine” – TRAC=rev. of cart,TION = anag. of “into” – simple structure and clear instructions but all put together very smoothly – a well-oiled engine, this one
19 Yellow – that is to say, a primary colour (6)
SCARED=yellow – SC. = scilicet = “that is to say” (a cliché in Times xwds, and like “viz.”, an alternative to “i.e.” that comes up sometimes),A,RED = “primary colour” – more applause from here for the red/yellow find
22 Stickler getting frontispiece arranged ahead of time (13)
PERFECTIONIST – PERFECTIONIS = anag. of ‘frontispiece’,T=time – I believe most long-standing Times setters would describe their former xwd editor BG as a “stickler”.
24 Vital op could be this (7)
PIVOTAL = anag. of “vital op.” and our first all-in-one
25 Old desktop feature writer with word processor doesn’t need (7)
INKWELL = “old desktop feature”, the rest of the clue being a gentle cryptic def. probably written in the hope that you’ll think of the kind of desktop with icons and toolbars on it
26 Part played in revolutionary movement proclaimed (4)
ROLE = part, souding like “roll”=revolutionary movement – another one that’s so simple when you understand it, but the setter needs the skill to find the definitions of “role” and “roll” that allow the surface meaning. If you think that’s easy, have a go yourself!
27 US city a long way away from this state (10)
WASHINGTON – a US city and US state with the same name but about as far apart as they could possibly be in the “lower 48”
1 Attempt to impact party (4)
BASH = attempt = to impact = party – one of those triple defs that I probably only saw as a double when solving
2 Plump mother protecting one best (7)
OPTIMUM – OPT=plump, as used in Call My Bluff (it comes up eventually in this vicious parody of Robert Robinson),I=one,MUM=mother – the “one” being “protected” by the other wordplay elements
3 Problem managing some firm a lad just mentioned (13)
MALADJUSTMENT = “problem managing”, epically hidden in “firM A LAD JUST MENTioned” – 13 letters, 5 chunks, 3 of ’em whole words – great stuff. I wonder whether BG checks all long answers to see if there is a chance for his “epic hidden word” trademark, or has a little black book of candidates waiting to be included in future puzzles
4 Confidence to absorb hard attack by swordsman (6)
THRUST as in “thrust and parry” – H=hard in TRUST=confidence – again, it looks simple but it’s the word/meaning selection that makes it classy
5 Appreciative audience? They are quick to be moved (8)
CLAPPERS – one plain definition, one reference to “going like the clappers” (COED reckons this is from the type of clapper found in a bell)
7 Organize a row across river (7)
ARRANGE = organise – A RANGE = a row, goes across R = river (as closely as you can reasonably expect in the one-dimensional geometry of letters in words)
8 Certain degrees, in short, represented in this (10)
CENTIGRADE = anag. of “certain deg(rees)” – the “short” here means a bit more short than it often does in cryptic clues but it makes perfect logical sense to give us another all-in-one
11 Young person has to help coward escape (6,7)
SPRING CHICKEN – another def and whimsical def combo, to “spring” someone being to help them escape
13 Stuff thrown in basket appears wet when recycled (5,5)
WASTE PAPER = “stuff thrown in basket” – anag. of “appears wet”, with the surface trying to push you towards the laundry basket
16 Couple of things wrong with a Mexican dish (8)
TORTILLA – TORT,ILL=”couple of things wrong”,A=a
18 Achievement of success, having run into an opponent (7)
ARRIVAL = achievement of success – R = run, in A RIVAL = “an opponent”
20 Pull back part of army to negotiate terms (7)
RETREAT – R.E.=Royal Engineers (frequently described as “sappers” in Telegraph cryptics of 40-odd years ago),TREAT=to negotiate terms
21 12 combined with food, in fashion (6)
MODISH – M.O.=modus operandi=12 (Across), DISH = food, “in fashion” being the def., not the “fashion” you might expect from the common “{def} in {wordplay}” structure
23 Design aircraft without tail (4)
PLAN = design – PLAN(e) = “aircraft without tail”

2 comments on “ST 2550

  1. Excellent review for an excellent puzzle. It was nice to revisit it after so many days between. Thanks to both.

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