ST 2669 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2669 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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There’s still time to enter the December Prize Puzzle.

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”.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.

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


1a           Developed into hard worker outside academic stream (6)
A hard-working insect, not an ant this time, around a stream in a famous academic city

10a         Entertains in a way, with quartet of players around one (5)
All four bridge players around I (one)

11a         Despicable people introduced to new editor? Forget it! (5,4)
Some despicable people inside (introduced to) N(ew) ED(itor)

14a         Lack of importance within certain sign, if I cancel (14)
One of Virgilius’s signature clues!

17a         Unfinished research I’m doing badly? Dons control it (9,5)
An anagram (badly) of RESEARC(H)  without its final letter (unfinished) and I’M DOING – nor University Dons, not even Don Manley, but Mafia Dons!

25a         Container repeatedly broken in outskirts of Philadelphia (5)
Two (repeatedly) anagrams (broken), one at each end (in outskirts)  of PHILAdeLPHIA –a similar construct has been used by this setter before; a Toughie by Jed and a Sunday puzzle by Virgilius

27a         Berry, oddly, put in alcoholic drink (6)
Spell out the odd letters of BeRrY as (1,1,3,1)


1d           Part that extends over prow’s possibly this (8)
A part around (that extends over) an anagram (possibly) of PROW’S – one of those clues that can be solved without realising that there is some wordplay!

2d           Priest, generally, converted sons with force (9)
An anagram (converted) of SONS with FORCE

5d           These parts of newspaper are, in brief, central for dreadful lady reader (14)
An abbreviation of the answer can be found in the inner letters (central) of the last three words in the clue

9d           Hamlet’s problem, having sorted out vice inside head (14)
An anagram (having sorted out) of VICE INSIDE followed by a headland – the definition is an allusion to the opening phrase of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy

16d         Potential husbands with match in mind (8)
Some potential husbands followed by a verb meaning to match

20d         Primate and historian (6)
A double definition – a primate or ape and the author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

22d         Influence foolish person had over union leader in strike (5)
A definition at each end and a foolish person around (had over) the initial letter (leader) of Union

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

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put whole or partial answers or alternative clues in your comment, else they may be censored!

Today it’s Happy Birthday to Judy Dench (78) and Kirk Douglas (96)


  1. crypticsue
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Another superb start to Sunday with so much to enjoy (and I get to do so twice over, lucky me). Top favourites have to be 25a and 5d but there are lots of others which will probably be highlighted in blue once I have typed the review.

    Thanks to Virgilius for a great puzzle and to BD for the hints.

  2. Only fools
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Absolute cracker ,top half went in fairly readily ,wrestled with lower half far longer but that was where most of my many favourites were .Last one in 23a.
    3* / 4+* for me

  3. Sweet William
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – Virgilius I presume having decoded 14a ! very clever. Needed your explanation BD for 5d and 25a having got the answers but failing to understand the wordplay. Thanks to setter and BD. Off to Manchester later for the Katherine Jenkins concert – only to realise that City are playing United and the X Factor final is across the road from Bridgewater Hall ! Sounds as though it might be a bit busy !

  4. Colmce
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    What a cracking weekend for Xwords, really enjoyed this one loads of cleverness.
    25a definite fave.

    Thanks to BD for the hints.

    Thanks to Virgilius.

  5. Franco
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Excellent Stuff from Virgilius!

    5d, 25a & 27a are so clever that I’m surprised that I understood them – but it did take me a long, long time!

  6. mary
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for hints Dave explained a few I couldn’t understand, although I had all the answers, I still can’t understand the answers to 24a and 21a though?

    • mary
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      fav clue 14a very clever

    • Franco
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Mary – 24a – the first word in the solution is a synonym of “initiate” and the second word – a synonym for “big game” – often seen at the Millennium Stadium!

      [Is this an alternative clue? Hopefully, not!]

      • mary
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Franco, I missed that when I looked for the synonym it doesn’t give it the other way round!

        • mary
          Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          I really don’t know how I do these at all, sometimes I am just so thick ;-)

          • Kath
            Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

            No, you’re not! :smile:

    • mary
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      If anyone could explain those two I would be very grateful, in 24a I can’t see where the first word comes from and in 21a I know what the definition is and the answer but can’t see how it works because if it is 6 letters around the ‘d’ at the end of crossword then I can’t find that six letter word in the BRB?

      • gazza
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        21a Where setter’s skill is shown is (2,4).

        • mary
          Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          Another Duh! moment, thanks gazza, I would have stared at that, til the cows came home :-)

  7. Digby
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Just about the perfect crossword puzzle IMHO.
    A great balance of clue-type, difficulty, mis-direction, clever surface reading and humour.
    Too many great clues to really single one out, but 22d reads, well with a nice double definition.
    Good start to Sunday – won at tennis too!!
    Thanks to Virgilius the Squire.

    Kirk Douglas 96!! Hadn’t realised he was still with us!

  8. Mike in Amble
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Excellent Sunday puzzle. Thanks setter and BD

  9. Roger
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Lovely crossword. Top RH went in very quickly plus a couple of the long ones. Then a pause for thought. Having ‘needless’ for 26 slowed me down….isn’t it funny…you know it doesn’t quite fit…well, it might at a push..or so you convince yourself!

    Thanks for the hints on 25…that one had me stumped. Favourite clue has to be 14a.

  10. Kath
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Just a little bit – OK, quite a big bit – fuzzy round the edges today! Not getting to bed until 3.00am has done nothing for us at all! :sad:
    This one has taken me hours. I thought that I was getting better at Sunday puzzles – I’ve changed my mind. Finished now but needed the hints to explain 25a and 5d.
    I made a real pig’s ear of the bottom left corner – putting bishop for 20d just didn’t help. I eventually sorted that out and then still couldn’t do 24 and 26a for ages. I was completely fooled by the combination of research and don in 17a so was thinking of academic departments, exactly as we were meant to be doing I should think.
    Lots of good clues – 11, 17 and 21a and 3, 9 (think we had a clue quite recently that had a reference to Hamlet and the answer – remember a very funny comment from BD) 18 and 22d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.
    Just wondering if my fragile brain is up to having a go at NTSPP.

  11. Addicted
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    All done except 26a and I can find only 2 words that actually fit/?! But neither of them make sense of the clue – to me, anyway. Help!

    • gazza
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      26a Authenticate a cut in pay, or no change (8)
      A verb meaning to authenticate if split (3,1,4) means that your pay’s either going down or staying the same.

      • Addicted
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Gazza – I was nowhere near that! All finished now. Good Xword, even if I did sruggle!

  12. Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Kept me going while Mrs B was shopping at Cheshire Oaks. Some very nice clues.

  13. Derek
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable Sunday puzzle from Virgilius once again.

    Faves : 10a, 17a, 25a, 3d, 5d, 16d & 20d.

    We were blanketed with snow on Thursday night but this has now gone – the local authorities got out massive snowplough vehicles, gritters and salters and cleared the main roads beautifully.

    Salade Niçoise tonight with a drop of Vouvray.

  14. Heno
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Virgilius & to Big Dave for the hints. A great puzzle from Virgilius, which I enjoyed, but had real trouble with. I needed 7 hints, which is the most I’ve ever needed for a Virgilius. Favourite was 14a.