ST 2686 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2686 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2686 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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Why not have a go at our April 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 and the FAQ 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           Unwanted things on car standard family acquires over short time (7,7)
A three-letter word for standard or usual followed by a three-letter word for family and a verb meaning acquires around a short period of time

9a           Choose how to make one’s entrance, we hear, as fighter in ring (7)
What sounds like (we hear) a request to choose how to make one’s entrance (4,1,4) is actually a fighter in a bullring

10a         Puzzle — carefully study what makes mine go off (7)
This verb meaning to puzzle comes from a charade of a verb meaning to study followed by the device used to make a mine go off

11a         Settled one of several pieces of political instability militarily (3)
Hidden (one of several pieces) inside the clue not once, not twice but three times

19a         Line very bad? Not bad enough to cause offence (6)
L(ine) followed by an adjective meaning very bad

23a         Almost die as young animal (3)
… this die is the singular of dice!

27a         Supporting and helping colleague, in a manner that’s relatively consistent (14)
A three-letter word meaning supporting followed by a helping and a colleague


1d           University in part of London is getting into a misguided attempt to widen appeal (14)
U(niversity) inside a  part of London followed by IS and an anagram (misguided) of INTO A

3d           Hard-working American men in a tub, say, falling in river (11)
The two-letter abbreviation for American followed by a word that describes , for example (say), the group of men in a tub who feature in a famous nursery rhyme inside (falling in) an Asian river

4d           Not the common choice between unexceptional alternatives for growth area (6)
The other alternative to  “common” in a choice between unexceptional alternatives (6-2-6)

7d           One way to secure money soundly tied up (7)
Sounds like a five-letter word for a way of securing money, particularly for one’s children

8d           From which things are bound to be borrowed, presumably with interest (7,7)
A cryptic definition of a public building from which bound items may be borrowed

16d         Left veteran at sea in strong easterly wind (8)
L(eft) followed by an anagram (at sea) of VETERAN

18d         A strange team sport upset one kind of player (7)
The A from the clue followed by an anagram (strange) of TEAM and a sport reversed (upset in a down clue)

21d         Parking provided in Asian city for ancient games site (6)
P(arking) inside an Asian city gives this ancient games site situated on the southern slopes of Mount Parnassus

25d         Snake‘s adversary — Saint Patrick, originally (3)
This snake is derived from the initial letters (originally) of three words in the clue – pertinent because St Patrick is credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland

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 Russell Crowe (49), Francis Ford Coppola and Sir David Frost (both 74)

52 comments on “ST 2686 (Hints)

  1. ***/**** for this one today. Many thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable challenge, which I was able to complete without help after coming back to it twice. It was one of those puzzles where for me the spread of answers ranged from straightforward to difficult, but i always felt that peristance would pay off, which it did :-)

    13d was my last one in, and, when the penny dropped, was my favourite.

    BD, thanks very much for your review. The only thing I don’t understand is how does “settled” relate to 11a, the answer for which I got from the rest of the clue?

      1. Thanks very much. I wasn’t aware of that specific meaning of the verb in question (except when preceded by an a!). I should have checked the BRB!

        PS: loved your cartoons for 25d :grin:

        1. This verb was used on warning signs on the double deckers of yesteryear. Mrs T, said “What? careful luv” in her best cockney drawl.

  2. Wow! What an awesome crossword. I started looking at it and really thought that it was going to be a disaster area for me. Nothing. Nada. Then 8 came to me in a flash and that was the trigger. All done in a very respectable time for me. Dead chuffed, to be honest. The only clue I was missing was 11 and so thanks for the hint.

    Great crossword and very enjoyable.

    1A is a blinder !! Thanks for the hint on 4 as that explains the answer that I had. I don’t understand 15a or 5d (unless I have the answers wrong ;-)

    1. 15a Checked part in theatre in Edinburgh (6,2)
      Hidden inside the clue

      5d Listed popular bit of song record includes (8)
      A two-letter word meaning popular followed by part of the verse of a song inside a replacement for an old vinyl record

      1. Ah yes…not penned in then! Where is the indicator that we are looking for a ‘replacement’ for an old vinyl record?

        Forgot to add….I didn’t fall in the trap of putting in ‘article’ for 2d

        1. “Replacement” is BD trying to be helpful. The two-letter abbreviation is a modern sort of record, where in the old days it might have been made of vinyl.

      2. Thanks. 15a was my last one and could not get it for the life of me, but my fault as made a mistake misspelling a word.

    1. I loved today’s but Thursday’s Ray T was a bit special too . . . ! I also enjoyed Giovanni’s on Friday. In fact when do I ever NOT enjoy a crossword?
      As always thanks to all the setters and bloggers, and in particular to BD for thinking it all up! Where would us strugglers and stragglers be without all of you?
      :smile: and thanks again.

  3. Once started, operative word being once,(very slow!) kept going and polished off.
    Great clues, eg 1a and 19a
    Many thanks to the setter and BD for the review.

  4. Spent more time parsing 4d after completion than I spent on the puzzle .Terrific .
    Faves 9a,11a ,13d etc etc .
    Usual 4 +* for enjoyment .
    Thanks very much .

    1. With you all the way on 4d ! Last in – had the answer but couldn’t for the life of me think why ! The eventual explanation came from Mrs SW. Usual excellent puzzle – thank you Virgilius. So many clever clues – especially with the hidden words today.

      Thank you BD for your hints. All good fun.

  5. Thanks to Virgillus, and BD for all the assistance ,particularly 1a, and the illustration of 25d.

  6. Completed without too much difficulty and despatched into the ether. Has anyone ever won the Amazon voucher? I send off the Saturday and Sunday puzzle every week from the ipad, no luck yet.
    Thanks for a wonderful site.

    1. Once got a silver pen and have had a few “plastic blanket blank notepads and biros ” !!

      1. Mrs T completes prize puzzle every week for me to post, We have never won , but then again I don’t actually post them.

  7. A wonderful Sunday puzzle AND it’s sunny if not exactly warm.
    When I first looked I could hardly get any answers and thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it at all but then started to get the odd one and carried on from there. Some of these took me ages to understand the answers once I’d got them from the checking letters – 27a, 3 and 4d.
    SO many good clues that it’s almost impossible to pick any particular ones – maybe 11 and 23a and 4 and 6d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.
    1a has given me the giggles – someone sent me an email a few days ago. It’s a photo of a car with about fifty pay and display tickets and there’s a notice on the windscreen that says “Hello traffic warden – I want to play a little game with you”.

  8. Well I thought I was going nowhere fast with this. I had solved only about 10 clues before I resorted to the hits and then BD’s first hint (1a) set me off. Albeit with some electronic help I was away and didn’t need another hint!

    I needed however to look at the hints to explain why I had what I had – Especially 23a (couldn’t fathom that one at all) and 4d and 5d.

    Thanks, as always to Virgillus and to BD…

  9. Dreadfully tough this one, way above my pay grade. Sorry BD just don’t understand your hint for 4d.

  10. Finished now although with some answers that we don’t really understand and only with BDs hints. Never heard of 16d before.
    One of those crosswords that leaves me feeling deeply unsatisfied.
    Very tough and very little fun at least for Mrs B and I.

  11. Brian,

    I’ve just got the answer to 4d having relooked at BD hint. Firstly you need to think of a phrase that means common but also actually begins with the word common. The end of the phrase gives you the answer you need and is a growth area for plants and flowers.

    1. Ah now I see the 6 2 6 reference. Thx so much Alan, it’s been bugging me all day :-)

  12. Loved it! So many clues that I liked today, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be 4D, closely followed by 5D. Many thanks to the setter and to Big Dave for the review. Hints not needed but the visuals are always a pleasure.

    1. Agreed, was expecting BD to use a sexy Rita pic for 1a, the police van just doesn’t cut the mustard.

  13. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. Usual super puzzle from Virgilius, found this a little bit on the gentle side. Slight problem with 15&17a until the pennies dropped. Favourites were 1&23a, and 16d was a new word for me. Lovely sunshine in Central London, but still chilly.

    1. It sounds as if you’re as bad as I am at spotting the hidden answers – I keep saying I’ll learn but I don’t seem to have done so yet!

  14. New to cryptics so grateful for the hints. Managed most anagrams and about half of the rest before seeking help!
    Was ‘weigh’ off with 9a so that correction helped greatly in NW corner.also spent some time fretting over two 13 letter options that seemed to fit 27a until the light dawned.
    Thanks again to both setter and reviewer.
    Snowing here in Perthshire. Spring was nice while it lasted

  15. I agree with CS that it’s the best puzzle for some days – much easier than some recent offerings but offering some clever clues.

  16. Excellent fare as we have come to expect from the Sunday Maestro. BD’s hints not required bu thank you anyway.

    Best weather of the year & who’s got the most serious instance of ManFlu ever recorded?

    Family at a barbecue while I nurse a Bishop’s Finger shortly to be followed by a Sneck Lifter.

      1. Turbot’s Really Odd
        Jasper’s Extremely Dirigible.

        I’m with you all the way!

      2. Great link! There’s a terrific pub in Pittsburgh that has nothing but imported beers on tap.

  17. Some lovely hidden words here and as always much to tax and then admire!
    Thanks to Virgilius and BD!

  18. First read through I thought I was toast, but got one or two and eventually got into the vein of thinking by setter. I loved it, but never got 15a until I reviewed my letters and found that I had put “…***” instead of “***” at 7d, then with help from BD’s hints the light went on. I knew the wind name at 16d without the “**”, so it was an easy google to confirm.

    All in all, a great puzzle, especially after that stinker yesterday. Unfortunately, what with other activities, I didn’t have time to sit and play with it so only did about half of it. Thanks to all.

  19. Another enjoyable bit of Sunday fare from BG!

    Faves : 9a, 19a, 23a, 1d, 3d & 13d.

    Beautiful sunny weather today.

  20. Goodness that was a tough one today. Needed help from here and electronics

  21. Sailed through it but couldn’t do 4d! Just got it – but only after reading all the comments above! Thanks to BD et al :-)

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