ST 2639 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2639 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

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.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post before asking questions about the site.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submission


1a           Least noble, as eclipsed by most noble (6)
This adjective meaning least noble is derived by putting AS inside (eclipsed)by an adjective meaning most noble

13a         Musician has a life after bit of gaol time (7)
To get this musician put a two-letter word meaning has a life after a room in a gaol and then add T(ime)

20a         Part of face — cheek or lip (5)
Three definitions that are really only two – a part of the face and another word meaning cheek, lip or impudence

28a         Record producer shrink listened to (8)
This person that produces records of events under the years in which they happened sounds like a shrink or psychiatrist

29a         Tell, for example, cunning ruler (6)
The enforced capitalisation of the first word in the clue hides the fact that the example is William Tell – to get a word that describes him combine an adjective meaning cunning with Her Majesty’s cypher


1d           Open-air vocal music giving child good time at first (8)
This open-air avian music is built up from a male child and G(ood) preceded by a cockney slang word for time spent in prison

6d           Move quickly in sea, slowly on land (5)
This verb meaning to move quickly in the sea or swimming pool also means to move slowly when on land

19d         In hearing, a means of controlling charge (7)
What sounds like (in hearing) A and a means of controlling a horse is actually a verb meaning to bring someone before a court to answer a criminal charge

24d         Animal arrived, then shortly left (5)
This animal that is suited to desert conditions is a charade of a verb meaning arrived and L(eft)

Today it’s Happy Birthday to Stevie Wonder (62)

The late great Ritchie Valens would have been 71 today – as it was he died in 1959 aged just 17 – RIP Ritchie


  1. Colmce
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for hints,1d although I got it needed explanation for first part.
    Whizzed through 3/4 of puzzle in double quick time only to get bogged down in bottom left corner. Then 22d dawned and it all fell into place.

    Enjoyed it though.
    The Chambers app is a great aid to solving even spelling and defining homophones which is handy.

  2. Kath
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Loved it and did it, for me anyway, quite quickly – definitely getting better at Sunday puzzles. I have two slight problems – I can’t explain the answers that I have for 23 and 26a – with 26 I can see the cricket side but where my remaining three letters come from completely defeats me.
    My favourites include 11 (little blighters they are!) 18 and 25a and 1, 6, 7 and 22d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      23a Moor, for example, moving around in a craft that’s docked (7)
      A Moor is an example of this inhabitant of a continent – an anagram (moving around) of IN A CRAF(T)

      26a Cricket side in an odd mood, initially, it’s obvious (5)
      Put the Roman numerals representing the number of players in a cricket side inside the initial letters of An Odd Mood to get something that is inherently obvious

      • Kath
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        Thank you – they would have driven me mad for the rest of the day. However did I miss them! :roll:

  3. Persona Non Grata
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Without doubt, Virgilius always provides the best surface readings. Thanks to him. Also I don’t think that anyone can complain about today’s homophones – wherever you come from.

    Favourite: 27a – Initially I thought that Mr McCartney might have been annoyed about left out of the clue.

  4. Brian
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t take too long but not particulary enjoyable. Thought 26a was a horrible clue but did like 27a. Not my favourite Sunday puzzle, a lot of the clues seemed a bit clunky.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Sunshine and a nice Virgilius puzzle, what more could you want on a Sunday morning? Some good clues and a couple of headscratchers too. Favourite has to be 27a. Thanks to Virgilius and BD too.

    Libellule and I would be inerested to know whether anyone could do more than five clues in the General Knowledge puzzle today (from the heads, ie without looking up everything) and, if so, when they will be appearing on Mastermind. Our (separate) copies went into the recycling very early on today.

    • Dickiedot
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      nswer is no, what a stinker!

    • Kath
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Haven’t looked at General Knowledge puzzle – in the middle of cutting grass AGAIN and when I’ve done that I’ll probably carry on my struggle with NTSPP – have so far resisted looking at any hints.

    • andy
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Six, and one was a lucky fluke(I worked for Barclays in Tanzania in my first year for them). Thank your Lord for the comment though, I thought I was being amazingly thick today!

  6. Dickiedot
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable, top half went in quickly and then slowed, John Constable the painter wouldn’t go away nor fit :-) liked 29 and 22 thanks to Virgilius and BD

  7. weekend wanda
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Although not often in tune with Sunday puzzles really liked this one and finished well before the omnibus edition of the Archers. Most slipped in v. quickly and v obvious eg 3d. Did spend some time on 16 abd 19d and 23a. Thought 19d very clever. Liked 22d – no one could say that is at all clunky. Also 26a, 1d, and many more. Have seen 25a recently which helped as not a normal word (for me) for a stupid person. 5 and 9d were of course a great help. Much more enjoyable for me than yesterday’s which I found tortuous! Thanks to setter and BD.

  8. pommers
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Glad Virgilius was in gentle mood today because I started the puizzle not long before the Spanish GP but managed to finish before the parade lap :grin:

    Great stuff, both from Virgilius and Williams :grin: Also temerature here has just topped 30C for the first time this year and it’s only mid-May! Perhaps a long hot Summer in store.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    • Jezza
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      In-laws in Marrakech tell me they have had 40C+ the last few days which is also higher than they would normally expect in May.

      • pommers
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Phew! That’s ridiculous for May. We only ever get that high in Late July/early August.

        • Jezza
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          They keep telling me I would hate that heat, and I keep telling them I wouldn’t! They still haven’t grasped the concept of ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen….’

          • pommers
            Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Going out in the midday sun in Summer is a bit wierd but the heat isn’t too bad really. Get my suntan in the Winter when it’s cooler – in Summer the sun, rather than time, is the enemy!

  9. Jezza
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    A gentle puzzle today which was over too quickly. The only one I needed to check was whether such a ‘shark’ existed!
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD.

  10. pommers
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    With my blood pressure I’m not sure I’ll survive this afternoon! After the exciting Grand Prix and now the footbal . . .

    “Anything can happen in the next half hour!” . . .

    • pommers
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      And it did!

  11. Arthur Dent
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    As this is my first post I thought I should introduce myself before asking for help. At the age of 50¾, bored with sudoko, I decided to take up cryptics in a vain attempt to preserve the few remaining braincells. I thought then that I was completely unable to do cryptics. That was about 4 months ago. I was (and still am) in awe of anyone who can plough through a DT backpager without electronic help…

    I can still remember the first clue I solved completely unaided. It was in DT 26,776 – 25a “Subtle difference in tone used by sister describing a church” (Answer=nuance). I was thrilled to bits with myself. I could still only do 2 or 3 clues however.

    Then I found this excellent site. I can’t stress highly enough what an excellent resource this is – and such a friendly place too – it has greatly aided my education. Prior to discovering BD I would often look at the answers the following day and in some cases still be none the wiser as to the derivation of the answer. Now, with the carefully crafted hints of the bloggers here I am beginning to learn how to tackle the hitherto impenetrable clues. I still can’t quite finish a puzzle unaided, but I sometimes get as much as all but 4 or 5 on my own (although often, just as I think I’m “getting it” I get to the last clue and find I have only managed 3 or 4 answers and the despair returns). But thanks to this blog I’m learning and I’m enjoying it! So thanks!

    Anyway – to my question… I am stuck in the the SE corner. I still can’t get 20a – even with the hint – nor 25a or 18d. Any help gratefully received.

    Thanks again.

    • Arthur Dent
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Sorry – I meant 16d…

      • gazza
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        16d Supportive type about to reform in a way (9)
        This supportive type comes from a single-letter abbreviation for about followed by an anagram (in a way) of “to reform”.

        • Arthur Dent
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          Got it. Thanks – I’ve finished now. Needed (almost all of) the hints plus quite a lot of electronic help for today – but nice feeling to finish it.

          Thanks again!

          • Arthur Dent
            Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            Oh – one further question if I may. I have 21d but I don’t understand the wordplay. Any enlightenment?

            • crypticsue
              Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

              To release or untie a rope or cord – insert E (tied around European) into a word meaning to unsecure a rope or similar.

      • Franco
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink


        • Arthur Dent
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink


          (See below)

    • Prolixic
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the Blog Arthur. Glad that you are finding the hints and tips useful.

      20d. Think about a part of your face that might mean being cheeky or impudent if you use it.

      25a. You need the abbreviation for Name followed by a word meaning many. The resulting word means stupid people.

      18d. You would control a horse by holding a ****. A homophone (word that sounds the same) of the words “a ****” gives a word meaning charge or accuse.

      • Arthur Dent
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Doh! Thanks!

        When I just had the first and last letters of 25a I really wanted it to be “Numptys” but I guess that hasn’t made it into Chambers yet!

        Thanks again.

        • Prolixic
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          It has but as Numpties in the plural!

    • Slartibartfast
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Hey Arthur – gotta ask. That your real name or are you a Hitchhikers fan? :lol:

      • Arthur Dent
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Hi Slarti!

        No – not my real name. I’m a teacher and my kids have a habit of googling my name. I could do without them discovering what a fool I make of myself here and elsewhere!

        And yes – love Douglas Adams!

        • pommers
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

          Arthur – long time so see!

          Nice to see you on the blog and a big welcome from me as well. (Slarti is my alter-ego (I like Fjords) used only in extremis on other sites but I couldn’t resist this one) :grin:

          A nice comment from you and I agree with Libellule’s reply – it does make it all worthwhile.

        • pommers
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

          It was his birthday last Friday – a sad loss.

    • Libellule
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      A comment like that makes it so worthwhile….

      • gnomethang
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        This was ace for me but I had a couple of wobblers. Thanks to BD and BG!

        • spindrift
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          It’s usually that Gazza has the wobblers….

    • andy
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Arthur a few years ago when I found this site I was in exactly the same position , you will only improve. Great site with great people always supportive

    • Kath
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      Good luck with the cryptics. I agree that this is a great blog – I found it a bit over two years ago – I think that I first dared to make a comment two years ago today – I only know because it’s the birthday of one of my most wonderful friends!
      I think that you should have Adrian Mole as your name – except I think that he was 13 3/4 rather than 50 3/4!
      Lots of really friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people here! :smile:

  12. pommers
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Well, it don’t get any closer than that! Well done City, (and I’m still alive :grin: ).

    • andy
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      Do you follow speedway Mike / pommers, just heard about the death in Poland of Lee Richardson, too sad and such a nice guy..

      • pommers
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Hi Andy

        No, not followed speedway since the early seventies when I had a flat overlooking the Bellevue track. Howvever, the death of anyone in a motor sport event is very sad and shows just what these guys put on the line for our entetainment.

  13. Franco
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Liked the crossword very much today. But the football was so much better!!!!!!

    Blue Moon!

    Grazie signore Mancini

  14. Libellule
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    In terms of your reference to Ritchie Valens – may I also mention RIP Donald “Duck” Dunn, bass guitarist extraordinaire.

    • andy
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      agreed, RIP

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      I’ve only just found out – Paul Jones put it on FB. Maybe more in his program tomorrow night,

  15. phercott
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    No fun. Schoolmasterish

    • pommers
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      In what way “Schoolmasterish”?

  16. andy
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Another Virgilius bagged, surely this run can’t continue? Thanks to BD and Virgilius. Blue moon ….

  17. Derek
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Started this puzzle around 11PM my time as had family for dinner this evening after which we played racing demon – my granddaughter won – then I cleared up the dishes after they left so all is shipshape for breakfast later (it is already Monday now).

    Liked : 4a, 11a, 14a, 27a, 2d, 5d, 7d & 8d

    Off to bed now!

  18. phercott
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    In reply to pommers, I meant ponderous, pedantic and rather dull. For me, no entertainment in solving

    • pommers
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      An “Eye of the beholder” thing then – I quite enjoyed it.