ST 2531 – Hints

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2531 – Hints

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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A few hints to get you started on this excellent puzzle from Virgilius.

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, 16th April.


1a    Men captured in error if pawns so arranged (9,2,3)
These captured men are an anagram, indicated by arranged, of ERROR IF PAWNS SO – the surface reading leads you to think this is about chess; it isn’t!

Japanese Prisoners of War at Guam

11a    One old-fashioned hero (4)
Four-letter answers where only the vowels are checked can be quite difficult – this one is well clued as I (one) followed by an anagram (fashioned) of OLD

14a    Short screw secures it for instrument (6)
Here screw refers to someone like Mr Barraclough in Porridge – drop the last letter and include (secure) IT to get a musical instrument

26a    Disruption of trade meant less for veteran politician (5,9)
A long anagram, this time indicated by disruption, of TRADE MEANT LESS gives a description of a veteran politician


1d    Examining bird admitted by doctor turning up (7)
A word meaning examining is generated by putting a small bird inside a reversal of your local doctor

7d    Deem a democracy incomplete if this liberty is destroyed (8,7)
The whole of this all-in-one clue defines an anagram (destroyed) of DEEM A DEMOCRAC(Y) without the last letter (incomplete) and IF

23d    Club that’s used to deter attackers (4)
A double definition of a club, as in the ornamental one in the House of Commons, or a spray used to deter attackers

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. Mark
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dave. Thanks for this. I have all but 3 answers and you’ve just helped me get 11a.

    • Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      I don’t always give hints for the short answers, but 11a, although very simple, was cleverly disguised.

  2. Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    At last been awaiting some help…am stuck on the S/W corner having completed the rest…can you give me a hint please for 17d then I should be able to complete this crossword…enjoyed it so far.

    • Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      17d Small, and a bit tight (6)
      It’s a double definition – small, perhaps like a small fish, and tight, as in a bit drunk.

    • Prolixic
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Think of being a bit tight as being a little drunk and find a corresponding word that means small.

  3. Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Before starting this puzzle I received an email from another setter and I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting him:

    “An Embarrassment of Riches – What a ‘tour de force’ from Brian today. I started to make a list of favourite clues, but ran out of paper.”

    • Lizwhiz1
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      I agree… exteemly enjoyable and challenging. Most clues left me impressed once I’d finally cracked them! I liked 21a best

    • Prolixic
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I agree. This was a spectacular puzzle – highly inventive and plenty of wow moments. Top notch stuff.

  4. Lizwhiz1
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Have finally got there!!!!! I too got stuck on the bottom left corner and have been sat here for an hour but somehow worked out 17d and everything went from there!
    Took ages to get 2d.. knew what it should be ..ish but not exactly.
    19a and 24d left me puzzled even with the answer!

    • Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Assuming that you meant 19d and 24a!

      19d Highly controlled spinner joining county (3-4)
      The definition is highly controlled (Chambers: organized or controlled by the most important or powerful people involved) and is a charade of a spinner and an Irish county.

      24a Way to resume play with part of actor’s speech removed (4-3)
      When the ball goes into touch in Rugby Union , this is how you resume – read it again and it could be the removal of part of an actor’s speech.

      • Lizwhiz1
        Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Many thanks! I looked up 19d and got that, but as usual refences to sport leave me clueless!!

  5. Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Last one…any clue for 21a?

    • Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      21a Poet’s order to horse that’s unenforceable (10)
      It’s so easy you will kick yourself if the horse doesn’t do it first – what can you ask a horse to do, but not make him do it?

  6. Nubian
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny how you can spot quality a mile off.
    Unlike yesterdays, there were little or no answers using everyday phrases like “here you are” and “just as well” which points to a puzzle where the clues have been produced with great thought.
    Favourite was 7d.
    Now going for a bike ride in this fantasic sunny weather.

  7. Nora
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Can somebody explain to me how 10a works? I’ve got the right answer but no idea why!

    • Nora
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Never mind. Just worked it out!

      • Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Sometimes words are placed at the beginning of the clue to disguise that they are proper nouns – here you have the complete opposite!

  8. Nora
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Favourite clue – 8d. Was the last but one to get – a ‘penny dropped’ moment.

  9. Nora
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Just stuck on 4d – am I being really stupid? Could you give me a hint please?

    • Nora
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Just got it. In this case, the answer is a proper noun. They were obviously there to trouble me today!

      • Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Spotting that when you reverse the name of a station you get two words is clever enough, but to work them into a clue like that is brilliant!

  10. mary
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Still stuck on 20d folks am i just being thick here?? got to go out now, will call in again later, it will doubtless nag at me all the while i am out, only one word i can fit there and that links with girl? but can’t see why :) enjoy the sunshine

    • Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      20d Recalled country I ran without a break since 1935 (6)
      Re-called here means renamed – remember the Shah of this country! The new name is in the clue.

      • mary
        Posted April 12, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        thanks both, yes i was really being thick :)

    • gazza
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      20d Recalled country I ran without a break since 1935 (6)
      The current name of this country is “I ran” without the break, i.e. without the space. We want what the country was called prior to 1935.

  11. Geoff
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear! I’ve got about halfway, but a lot of this is beyond me. But, I’ll keep pondering and see what comes up in the comments.

  12. nanaglugglug
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    really nice puzzle today – favourite clue is 4d, stuck on 19d – got the answer but still not sure why!

  13. Ann B
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Any hint for 12a please to finish in the sunshine

    • gazza
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      12a. Crude quality of lessons reported to head (10)
      The definition is crude quality. You want a sound-alike (reported) of a word for a series of lessons, followed by a word meaning head(land).

      Posted April 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      the definition is CRUDE and the head is a geographical term

  14. Ann B
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks both, finished at last.
    Now husband says thanks too so I can get on with our evening Dinner!!

  15. Domus
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Why am I the only person who can’t get 5d? Hints please or I shan’t sleep…

    • gazza
      Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Hi Domus – welcome to the blog.
      5d. Second highest mountain is extremely hard (8)
      If you put a comma between second and highest it may all become clear.

  16. gnomethang
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly excellent!
    Just got back from Devon after a 3.5 hr drive and enjoyed this immensely over a couple of beers.
    15a, 21a, 20d and 4d to name but many!

  17. Posted April 12, 2010 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Was a brilliant crossword today – didn’t get round to it till very late. Last one was 16d – unmentioned by all….

    • Posted April 12, 2010 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      Nice to see that the Caistor one has been freed!

      • Posted April 12, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        Indeed so, BD – and the CaistorOne having freed himself now reverts to his previous incarnation – and more importantly, can get back to a bit of old-fashioned crosswording. Haven’t really had a go at any of the Toughies for the last couple of weeks (still mostly done the usual Craptics, as ever), but have generally swung by your Blog most days incognito…..because it’s a class act…………………………….Cheers.

  18. Derek
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle.
    I had to break off last night to watch The Masters at Augusta.
    Favourites were 4d & 7d.

    April is choc-a-bloc with sporting events – Boat Race, Grand National, The Masters and
    snooker at the Crucible coming up – to mention a few!

    • Derek
      Posted April 12, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Also 21a!!!

  19. Claire
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t get round to doing this til today but liked it very much – so much better than Saturday’s! 4d very, very clever – also liked 22a &8d for simplicity and 21a, Got the answer to 7d but didn’t understand! Didn’t spot it was an anagram – doh!