ST 2694 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2694 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2694 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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There’s a new prize crossword available, why not have a go?

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           In front of head, people beating impudent youngster (14)
An informal word for the head preceded by (In front of) some people who beat others, typically as punishment

10a         Philosopher representing the precious metal, including its colour (7)
THE and the chemical symbol for a precious metal around (including) the heraldic term for its colour

14a         Person taken in by letter written antagonistically, to some extent (6)
Hidden (to some extent) inside the clue

15a         Closes off gap — men play no predetermined strategy (4,4)
Drop the final letters from (closes off) four words in the clue

21a         Rival clubs promote changes covering it (10)
An anagram (changes) of c(lubs) promote around (covering) IT

22a         Humble tool in hand, finish off (4)
A slang word for a hand followed by the final letter (finish) of constructioN

25a         Tile one laid outside hospital (7)
This rectangular, originally wooden, tile is derived by putting another word for one around (laid outside) H(ospital)

26a         It grows light in the East (7,7)
Two definitions – a plant with cherry-like fruit which ripens in winter and a collapsible paper light


1d           Omitting humour you formerly included (7)
Humour or jocularity around (included) an old-fashioned (formerly) word for you

2d           As part of alcoholic mixture, it expanded (7,8)
The It from Gin and It, expanded into its full name

4d           Pronounced hardship for man working on vessel (6)
This person working on, say, a ship or an oil platform, sounds like (pronounced) a word meaning hardship

5d           Speculative citizen having made a trade for nothing (8)
Start with another word for a citizen and exchange (trade) the A for an O (nothing)

7d           Trio finding harmony difficult are lent unusually simple instrument (7,8)
An anagram (unusually) of ARE LENT followed by a simple percussion instrument

16d         Measuring devices, possibly rulers? (8)
These measuring instruments used in geometry could, according to a famous expression, be rulers who adopt the policy of maintaining control over opponents by encouraging dissent between them

20d         Crossword fan famously good with clues left a little food (6)
The fictional crossword fan and detective(famously good with clues) created by Colin Dexter followed by L(eft)

23d         Sign new work of art put up (4)
This sign of the zodiac is derived from N(ew) and a type of painting (work of art) all reversed (put up in a down clue)

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 Keith Allen (60) and Charlie Watts (72)
ARVE Error: need id and provider

83 comments on “ST 2694 (Hints)

  1. Thank you Virgilius – found this a bit harder than usual, or perhaps that was just me ! Thank you BD for hints. Good fun as usual.

  2. Right on the setter’s wavelength today! Lots of check marks against the one’s I liked, so **** for enjoyment from me. 2D was in the lead until I solved 16D (last one in), then 2D had to be content with the runner-up spot. Many thanks to the setter for the fun, and to BD for the the review.

    Out to do some early gardening before it gets too hot.

    1. I thought that 2d beat out 16d by a nose. All good and many clever, clever clues. What a fun start to the day.

  3. Many thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable challenge and to BD for his excellent hints. It took me quite a time to understand the wordplay for 5d and to get the answer for 8d, which resulted in a d’oh moment.

    I needed BD’s help (a) to get 15a, which defeated me completely – even after much perservation, and (b) for 1a, even though I got the answer quite quicly, to remind me of the informal word for head, which I had long forgotten.

    Favourite today like Expat Chris – 16d

  4. I’ve finished at last, with help for 16d and 22a. It took surprisingly long to get 8d ! I’m beginning to think I’m just too thick for cryptics as it takes me so long.Thanks to Virgilius and BD.7d was my favourite

    1. It doesn’t matter how long you take Una, its a journey not a race. Perservate!

  5. A superb start to a lovely sunny Sunday. Woke up still tired and a bit grumpy but this crossword soon put a big smile on my face. Don’t care what the favourites policewoman says, I have lots and lots of stars on my piece of paper, and two by 16d. Thanks to Virgilius once again and to BD.

  6. 10a apparently said “it’s not what you look at that matters ,it’s what you see ” ,how appropriate for Virgilius with his trademark 14a .
    Liked 2d ,7d ,16 d ,9a etc .
    Thanks once again to both .

    1. Courage, mon brave!

      I’m fairly confident that those here who always find the cryptic crossword doable, no matter who the setter might be, have been honing their skills assiduously over many years. That’s why nobody comments on how long it took, so as not to depress we mere mortals :-)

      I’ve always found that I learn the most precisely from those crosswords that are “an absolute horror”, this understanding being mightily assisted by the good people who post here.

      As the great Tom Lehrer said; “Life is like a sewer – what you get out of it depends on what you put into it”. :-)

    2. Try again, but this time get some answers in with help from the hints, then work from there. A good few of the clues are very, very clever and enjoyable. Go on, give t a try.

      1. Tried that and got about 2/3 done but even so the clues are so obscure as to be way above my pay grade. I find these sort of toughies very little fun at all. I do crosswords for a bit of pleasure not to get a headache!
        IMHO the worst puzzle on a Sunday for many a long year but hey that’s only my opinion.

        1. Trust me, they used to be a thousand times worse than this! This one was certainly hard, but I found that when I looked back I could.t see why.

        2. BD’s right, Brian. I think he usually is!!
          Sunday crosswords used to be a complete no go area for me – a couple of answers was pretty good. I thought that it was because I’d learnt SO much here and then someone, pommers I think, disillusioned me and told me that the Sunday setter was different now – damn – I thought that I was getting better!

        3. I don’t usually reply to comments like this, but I will admit to being irritated. Why? Because I think you mean that the puzzle is not to your taste, but you express that by calling it “the worst puzzle on a Sunday for many a long year”. This is like someone who doesn’t like Italian food going to an Italian restaurant and criticizing the cooking because they don’t like the food. The obvious course for you is to find something that is to your taste. I’ve been serving up this recipe every Sunday for more than four years and believe it has been consistent in style and difficulty.

          Also bear in mind that in calling it “the worst puzzle on a Sunday for many a long year” you are, by implication, impugning the judgment of anyone who liked it.

          1. Brian, we are a couple, among what must be many thousands of people who really love and appreciate your puzzles. Every Sunday we look forward to 11am when we are able to download and sit down to enjoy what you have served up to us.
            We regard them as a very special treat. Long may they continue.

          2. The Sunday puzzle is without doubt the best puzzle of the week.This week was a little harder for me than some other weeks, which I attribute to my relative lack of experience (started doing cryptics last September).they are always a challenge and a pleasure. Thank you.The comments on the other puzzle,below,refer to what I get up to after the principle task of the day, the Virgilius puzzle.

            1. I am really happy that the 2Kiwis, gazza, and una, and others appreciate my work. Thankyou. In my little tantrum, I just wanted to make a point about the difference between “not to my taste” and “bad”.

              1. add me to the ‘hear hears’ too – consistently the best puzzle of the week every week.

              2. Thanks for the puzzle Mr Greer, I was looking forward to it after 26 Hrs work in the last 2 days and it did not disappoint. I have written and scrapped three retorts to Barrie/Brian but erased them all.

                I finally managed to start this puzzle over a well earned pint and thoroughly enjoyed teasing out every bit of it.

          3. A bit late in the day – been doing other ‘stuff’ but I would like to agree with 2Kiwis, gazza and una.
            In fairness to the other Brian I think that he normally really enjoys your crosswords – maybe he was having a grumpy day.

          4. Just to throw my two cents in, I would prefer to see criticism of a puzzle after it has been completed, or if that is not possible, to at least read the rationale behind the clues and the solution. In my humble opinion, to pass judgement on something one cannot complete without waiting to see why, is nothing less than arrogant.
            Thank you Mr Greer for providing a splendid diversion every Sunday.

          5. Well said Brian! Please continue to supply what for me is usually the best puzzle of the week. Today’s was perhaps above your average and very much fun.

            We all know who the previous setter was . . . !

          6. All a bit unnecessary in my view one judges Mr Greer’s crosswords as one finds them and Brian’s comments no differently .Still my favourite setter but Brian chooses his own comments and I am sure means no personal offence to setter or solvers .
            Keep happy

          7. I would like to thoroughly endorse all that Brian Greer (aka Virgilius) has said. Negative criticism without an explanation as to the reason is, and always will be, strongly discouraged on this site.

            I am reminded of a conversation I had with Val Gilbert (the Telegraph Crossword editor at that time) a few years ago. She told me it is expected that solvers of the Sunday puzzle will usually have more time on their hands than they do during the week. There are almost invariably a number of clues that enable a reasonably competent solver to get a foothold in any puzzle – the rest will often follow.

  7. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. I was 3 answers short, so needed the hints for 10a & 5d, and a bit of electronic help for 8d, which was last in. Usual great stuff from Virgilius, I always enjoy them. Was 3*/4* for me. Favourites were 1&2d, a penny drop moment on 7d and a new meaning in 25a. Pleasantly warm in Central London.

  8. Thanks to Virgilius for another grand finish to the week.

    Faves : 1a, 10a, 24a, 26a, 5d, 7d, 16d & 20d.

    Weather still sunny and cloudless but not yet very warm.

      1. OK, I’m not a Times subscriber but you have intrigued me – what is the clue to 17D?

          1. You smutty lady! :-)

            I suggested to my wife that for our Nth wedding anniversary we should wear matching t-shirts reading “N years and still *******” but she was strangely reluctant…

  9. How many of you fell into the trap of 17d? That kept me going (downwards!). Nevertheless most enjoyable, a little help needed for a couple but eminently doable. Always feel a bit empty when it’s done and looking forward to the following morning !

  10. What a delight! A little harder than I was expecting, but none the worse for that. My particular favourite (just the one, officer!) was 10A, as I’ve never seen both golds used like that.

    Many thinks to Virgilius and BG too.

  11. Oh dear – oh dear – oh dear! I thought that this was incredibly difficult – it’s taken me hours, perhaps because of late night yesterday with family home for the weekend – that’s my excuse anyway. AND the picture of John Thaw nearly made me cry as it always does.
    I really enjoyed this but almost gave up with two that I couldn’t do at all – 22a and 23d – and one that I didn’t understand. I couldn’t see how or why the rulers got into 16d so needed the hint to explain. Managed the two beastly little four letter words on my own though.
    There were quite a few things that I didn’t know – the word for head in 1a – the philosopher – the 17d ship.
    I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one who found this harder than usual – was just about to go and start counting the marbles!
    I liked lots of these but my favourite was one out of 1 and 15a and 2, 6, 7 and 20d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.

      1. No!! But just the one . . . ! :grin: I’m sticking to my guns here – now where did that expression come from?
        Having said that, I love anything to do with the crossword fan in 20d and any picture of him and almost any reference to him is guaranteed to make me cry! Weedy or what?

        1. Sticking to your guns means holding your position whatever the opposition – so originally used in times of battle but now just defending your point of view.

    1. I couldn’t do 22a either. I had a hand tool followed by N, which did NOT mean ‘humble’! So couldn’t have finished without the hint.
      Got a bit stuck on the NE corner, too. Wouldn’t have thought of the philosopher, even though I subsequently remembered that I have read one of his books and visited the site of his hut!
      Thanks to setter and BD, as ever.

    1. 8d Love pal that’s raised capital (6)
      A 3-letter word meaning love or zero followed by an American term for a pal, all reversed (raised in a down clue) gives a capital city

    2. Two three letter words reversed (raised) give a capital. Split what you have and the penny should drop.

        1. I went for the less informative option – made an experimental lime drizzle cake (instead of lemon) and it is very good so don’t want to have to share it in the NC :)

    3. I started off with the wrong answer for 8d – my last three letters made sense but the first three didn’t but couldn’t think of another capital that ended like that – just being dim but it didn’t help at all with 10a, not that I’d ever heard of him anyway.

      1. re 8d, I spent a little time trying to persuade myself that “reb” could mean friend, and I have no excuse !

        1. I got there eventually, but it was one of the last in, and it’s a city that I’ve visited more than once, and all day I’ve been wearing a t-shirt commemorating the 250th anniversary of one of that city’s finest products…

  12. Thanks bd another for 8 being last in yet so simple in construction. Blog by phone much better now on my galaxy samsung running gingerbread.

  13. PS Today it’s Happy Birthday to Keith Allen and Charlie Watts and me and I think, although I don’t know why I think so, Giovanni.

    1. Happy Birthday Kath. A very auspicious day too from a NZ perspective as here it is Monday, Queen’s Birthday. Here, everybody gets a holiday, not like in your country when on similar occasions only people working in financial institutions get a day off we understand. ( Before we get a flood of corrections, just joking.) Have a great day.
      We loved the Virgilius puzzle too.

    2. Thanks to all – have had SUCH a lovely weekend with my joint favourite daughters home – well, we only have two but how lovely to have them here – I really feel very lucky! They’re wonderful.

    3. PS I just about remember Coronation Day – it was my fourth birthday – I fell over and scraped knees, elbows and chin and that is my only memory of it!!

    4. I’m late to the party, as usual, but I do hope it was a good day, Kath!

  14. Many thanks, Virgilius for a most enjoyable yet pretty tough puzzle.
    Thought many brilliant, especially 10a, 5d, 7d and 22a
    Solving the last one above, took me way over my target time.
    Nice to see the Chief Inspector cropping up regularly.
    Thanks BD for the review.

  15. I’ve been reading through the comments above, and I just want to say this. Personally, I love Brian the Setter’s puzzles and I am in awe of him and all the setters. I couldn’t do what they do. But I sympathize greatly with Brian the Solver. It can be soul-destroying to be stumped from the starting post and then see so many comments about how straightforward or easy or fun a certain puzzle was. I feel like that if I attempt an Elgar toughie! I really don’t think he deliberately meant to be offensive to the setter, though I understand how offence could be taken. I do hope that he has not been put off and will stay with us.

    It would be interesting to know how long other people have been doing the cryptic. I started when I was 17 (with a long drought between leaving the UK and the DT going on line) , and I’m now grandmother to a teenager!

    1. I have had to learn, on pain of expulsion, to ignore Brian the blogger’s remarks. I hope he will express himself in Starbucks or in a Parisian nightclub or in a restaurant in California.

  16. Beautiful weather, cold beer, quiet garden & a belting crossword – life doesn’t get much better.

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