ST 2517 – Hints

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2517 – Hints

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Once again a well-constructed puzzle from Virgilius (the name by which Brian Greer is best known these days). Very few easy clues, but all the answers should be within the vocabulary of the average solver, with the possible exception of 20 down.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, I will select a few of the better clues and provide hints for them.

Peter Biddlecombe’s full review of this puzzle will be published at 12.00 on Friday, 8th January.


1a    Study about carbon dioxide that’s broken down protective cover (6)
A word meaning to study is to be placed about the chemical formula for Carbon Dioxide, broken down [where it sulphur dinitride, SN2, this would be broken down as SNN – I hope that’s clear!]. The result is a protective cover for an insect lava.

12a    Court action that is faulted by judge if too long, say (7)
… while playing tennis!

24a    Impressive contract secured by the Irish last year (5,4)
In bridge this contract means you have to win all thirteen tricks – but in Rugby Union you only have to win five games

27a    Plagiarised something from German cookbook, we hear (6)
As has been remarked many times, one man’s homophone is another man’s complete bewilderment! Here a word meaning plagiarised (like the plot of most of the books written by a disgraced former Tory politician) allegedly sounds like a rich, sweet German bread made with raisins, etc. and coated with icing sugar which is particularly popular at Christmastime.


1d    Sort that’s stylish provided inside (8)
A word meaning to sort into categories is constructed from a synonym for stylish with a short word meaning provided, in the sense of “on condition”, inside

8d    Awfully untidy feature of some colonies (6)
My favourite clue today is an anagram (awfully) of UNTIDY – then think about where those who practise this might go!

18d    Derby’s starter had one old mare put out (7)
According to legend, if the toss of a coin had gone the other way the famous horse race would have been called the Bunbury Stakes – the title held by the winner of the toss is an anagram (put out) of OLD MARE

20d    A huge number go surfing – but not in ocean, we hear (6)
When the setter says huge he really means it – 1 followed by a hundred zeros, or 10100 – which sounds like (we hear) the world’s best known search engine

22d    A humorous writer or two (5)
The name of the author who famously said “The report of my death was an exaggeration” can also mean two

If you need further help then please ask and I will see what I can do.

Please don’t put whole or partial answers in your comment, else they may be censored!



  1. mary
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dave happy new year to you and all bloggers and users, especially CC members :)
    I found this particularly the top half really hard today, maybe it’s because i’m just getting started again, have completed with help from yourself and my brother but wouldn’t have done so otherwise :(

    • Tilly
      Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Welcome back, Mary. And a happy new year too. My thoughts have been with you during the past couple of weeks.

    • Nubian
      Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mary, hope you are well.
      This has been a hard puzzle for me too but I am going to keep my powder dry as it is a bit early in the new year to start complaining.
      I thought I had spotted a genuine mistake in 4a as I assumed ‘change’ was the anagram indicator. I’m glad I didn’t fire off a salvo.
      Some new words learnt today.

    • Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Nice to hear from you Mary – we’ve all missed you. Hope you are coping well.

    • Nanaglugglug
      Posted January 5, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Oh Mary -I’ve missed out on all the news – not having proper internet over Christmas. Hope you’re OK and nothing too awful has happened to you?

  2. Tilly
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Having solved it, i did wonder how the clue for 1a worked, thanks for the explanation BD.

    20d is a homophone, agreed, but I think 27a is pushing it a bit. The suggested homophone in this clue has a shorter vowel sound before a double letter, as opposed to a longer vowel sound before a single letter (if you follow what I mean!) And if you have any of the German delicacy still around after Christmas, it makes a very good version of bread and butter pudding!

    • Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the suggestion Tilly, but our German delicacy didn’t even make it to Christmas Day so there certainly won’t be any left over!

      • Libellule
        Posted January 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        The last time I got “one of those” it fed the birds for a week :-)

        • Posted January 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          That’s because you didn’t buy yours from Marks & Spencer!

  3. Prolixic
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the homophone in 27a was weak but, this aside, it was a sterling puzzle from Virgilus this week. Lots of great clues to enjoy. Like you I appreciated 8d but my favourite clue this week was 25a.

    • Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      25a Gift in container carried back by kings (5) was very seasonal.

  4. gnomethang
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I thought that this was great!
    Having gone thrugh across and downs I had 4 answers filled in.
    It took a bit of work after that but was very satisfying to finish (in the N E corner)
    I liked the German cake!

  5. nanaglugglug
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Liked this puzzle, but could someone explain 4a – Where does the first letter come from? Happy New Year to you all! Very restricted internet at the moment so really having to use our collective brain!

    • Posted January 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Happy New Year Nana & Hotlips

      I took it as P(ence) = change.

  6. Brian Greer
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    My apologies about 27 across. I was misled by my Mac’s online Oxford Dictionary which has a heavy American bias — and I’m sure I’ve heard that pronunciation over here.

    Nothing to do with crosswords, but you might like this:

  7. jwed2000
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t like it when I complete all but one of the clues and then none of your readers ask for help. I must be doing something stupid! 26A anyone?

    • Prolixic
      Posted January 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      The answer is an example of “North America”, indicated by “say”. Think of another word for a continent. The answer is made up of a word sum clued by “secure” and “service”. “Service” refers to a church service (another name for Holy Communion) and “secure” refers to catching something. Anglers may **** a fish when they have got it ashore. Hope that this helps.

      • jwed2000
        Posted January 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Prolixic !!

  8. NathanJ
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    I completed this puzzle without any help except for 20d. I had never seen that word before so I was grateful for the hint.

    The run of good puzzles for 2010 remains intact. Long may it continue.

  9. Chinfaces
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Happy new year from Chinfaces.
    We found this one difficult and still have a few incomplete sections. Can anyone help with the clue that had something to do with a cut in surgery? Sorry – I don’t have the clue with me..evidently.
    Chambers finally arrived and has brought no end of entertainment. Patricularly enjoyed the definition for ‘tracksuit.’

    • gazza
      Posted January 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      11a. Worked out cut in operation without hesitation (9).
      The definition is worked out, as you might have done at a health club. Put an interjection expressing hesitation inside the past tense of a verb meaning cut out.

    • Libellule
      Posted January 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      There are others, try eclair, and middle-age for example.

      • gazza
        Posted January 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Other good ones are jay walker and Japanese cedar, but my favourite, so far, is mullet (3).

        • Libellule
          Posted January 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for that – I had forgotten about mullet :-)

      • Prolixic
        Posted January 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Chambers maintain a list of the humorous definitions on their website. See:

        • Lea
          Posted January 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for that Prolixic. I particularly like “fish”, “lady-killer” and *yahoo*.

  10. Libellule
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that link – excellent.

  11. Chinfaces
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Thank you for help with that clue and for advice on Chambers. ‘Mullet’ was funny. ‘Boyband’ is another good one. Will check out your link.