ST 2730 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2730 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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Don’t forget the monthly Prize Puzzle – with a very special prize

In response to a number of requests, I have added a page, The Usual Suspects, to the Crosswords section of the blog. This lists some of the wordplay elements commonly used in cryptic crosswords. I hope it proves to be useful, especially to newer solvers.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, I will select a number 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.

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    Male is part of formal arrangement? That’s not true (14)
M(ale) and IS followed by a phrase meaning part of a formal arrangement (2,9)

10a    Hesitate on moral grounds? It’s of little weight (7)
Two definitions – verb meaning to hesitate, possibly on moral grounds and a unit of weight equal to 20 grains, used by apothecaries

11a    Party politician elected by Conservative area (4)
The two-letter abbreviation for an elected politician preceded by C(onservative) and A(rea)

15a    After short time, deposit finally put in bank, under the counter (8)
A three-letter abbreviation for a short period of time followed by the final letter of deposiT inside a verb meaning to bank or depend

18a    Drive home is easy task, with learner tucked in behind leader (6)
This verb meaning to drive home a deal is derived from an easy task with L(earner) inserted after its initial letter (leader)

21a    People perusing paper showing academic position (10)
Two definitions – the totality of people perusing a newspaper and a junior position at a university

22a    A list of courses university ultimately dropped, as agreed! (4)
The A from the clue followed by a list of courses for a meal with the U(niversity) dropped from the end (ultimately)

25a    Left champion in lead, old pill having no effect (7)
L(eft) and a champion or expert inside the chemical symbol for lead and followed by O(ld)

26a    Well-oiled combination of scorers from Europe (6,3,5)
To get this adjective meaning well-oiled or drunk combine two European scorers of classical music


1d    Show, with numbers, claim’s wrong about setter and solver (7)
This show which has a number of songs is derived by putting an anagram (wrong) of CLAIM around a pronoun which represents both setter and solver

2d    Wise man I malign, person living in the Pacific (7,8)
A person of unusual wisdom, from a king of Israel whose judgement called the bluff of a false claimant, followed by the I from the clue and a verb meaning to malign

3d    A short lead  that’s inserted in collar (4)
Two definitions – a short distance used to measure a horse’s lead in a race and something inserted into the collar of a shirt

5d    Service to elderly that’s relieved tension, in a way (8)
A church service followed by another word for elderly

6d    Capsize in vessel time after time — third time breaking rule, stupidly (4,6)
T(ime) and T(ime) around a vase-like vessel followed by T(ime) inside (breaking) an anagram (stupidly) of RULE

7d    Counterparts work on book about river location (8,7)
The two-letter musical work and a book of the Old Testament around Gnomey’s favourite river and a location

17d    Poet Rembrandt initially included in ‘Night Watch’ (6)
The initial letter of Rembrandt inside (included in) a watch, particularly at night

23d    Bowled over completely — or partly (4)
B(owled) followed by an adverb meaning completely gives a cricketing term for a part of an over

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

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

Please read these instructions carefully. Offending comments may be redacted or deleted.

Today it’s Happy Birthday to Carole King (72)



  1. neveracrossword
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. Hope no one was 22a after the celebrations yesterday.

    • Tantalus
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      You mean 26a methinks

  2. pommers
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Going by the time of this post I recken yesterday must have been a corker :grin: Sorry I couldn’t be there – maybe at the blog’s sixth birthday? Hope you had a great time as you deserve it.

    Crossword was just the usual excellent stuff expected on a Sunday so there’s not much more to say, apart from this seemed maybe on the benign side. Penny dropped quickly on 1a and then I knew I was in for some fun.

    Thanks to Vorgilius and BD.

  3. Tantalus
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Thx to BD and ***** [reference giving away an answer deleted – please think before posting BD]!

    • Tantalus
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      I will enjoy eating Chambers’ words.

  4. Una
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Another great puzzle, thanks Virgillius.When I saw 17d and 15a I wondered if I’m missing something.I never heard of 6d or 26a before but they were guessable.All great clues so it is quite impossible to pick a favourite. Thanks for the blog, BD.

    • Tantalus
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear. Our fav was 26a (but most of the hammers fans don’t know who they are).

  5. Derek
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    The usual enjoyable Sunday treat from Brian!

    Faves :1a, 24a, 6d & 13d.

    We’ve had 26a many times!

    • Tantalus
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      26a was new for us 30somethings.

  6. Sweet William
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Virgilius. I found this harder than most Sunday puzzles and for me at any rate it didn’t seem to have the usual “fun” element to it. Probably just me ! Thanks BD for your hints. I am glad you gave a hint for 23d. I had the answer, but was unsure of the wordplay. Hope you all had a good time yesterday. Will there be lots of photos so we can put faces to names ?

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      There are photos on the ‘Bristol Celebrations’ post and I am just about to email BD/Prolixic with a copy of the group of bloggers present so that can be added by one of them, together with a couple of others BD can add to the gallery in due course.

      • Sweet William
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Excellent ! A handsome group I am sure ! Thank you CS.

      • Prolixic
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        The photo has been added.

        • Kath
          Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

          Wonderful – just about to do supper but will look later.

    • Una
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      I agree that none of the clues made LOL, which did happen in the past.

  7. pommers
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Dave, should you not go to the naughty corner? Your hint for 1d equates numbers to songs, which is giving an alternative clue, and alsoit gives the game away big time.

    • Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      The hints often include synonyms or further explanation of definitions – what I object to is a hint which relies on a different meaning to that given in the clue.

  8. JonP
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    First one I’ve ever finished without the hints! Did, however, use some electronic aid. Next goal is to complete one without any assistance – some way off methinks, but at least vaguely visable on the horizon… Thanks to setter and hinter – would therefore have to be a ***/***** from this colossal novice.

  9. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    2.5*/4* rating for this excellent and amusing puzzle today. I was working steadily through it but got held up a bit in the NE corner with 10a & 8d taking a while to unravel. I had never before heard of the “little weight” in 10a, but as ever the BRB provided enlightenment.

    I particularly liked 1a and 23d, but the brilliant 26a was the stand-out clue for me.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    P.S. I am glad everyone who was able to join yesterday’s celebrations seems to have had a great time and I hope there are not too many hangovers today.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      BD, I parsed 1a slightly differently to you, but I think both work. For your (2,9) enumeration I took “part of” to be the (2) and “formal arrangement” to be the (9).

  10. Kath
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    A really good crossword. At one stage I’d finished the left side and only had about two answers in the right.
    12a took absolutely ages even though I could see it was an anagram and had alternate letters in. I was also slow to get 8d – don’t know why.
    However many times he comes up in crosswords I always have to check the spelling of the last bit of 26a.
    I liked 26a and 6d. My favourite was 13d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    I hope that everyone managed to get home safely last night and that no-one was too badly held up by weather related problems. I also hope that there aren’t too many sore heads today.

  11. Merusa
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Having no electricity until midday, I was late getting started, so fortunately it wasn’t one of Virgilius’s devilish offerings. I enjoyed it, though I never did get 26a, even having all the letters. I googled and see it’s our old pal Cockney rhyming slang. No objections, just hope that one day I’ll remember to check that before giving up.

    Hope a good time was had by all yesterday and weather is not too horrendous. Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  12. crypticsue
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Great fun as usual, thank you Virgilius. Lots to smile at.

    Thanks to BD too – hope the slice of cake didn’t get too squashed and was enjoyed by Mrs BD.

  13. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    As an afterthought, “Happy Birthday” to Carole King, a superb singer and song-writer. One of her best was it might as well rain until September, and it looks like it’s going to.

    • Kath
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes – “Happy Birthday” to Carole King – how the hell can she be seventy-two?! I agree – fantastic singer and song-writer.
      As for your last sentence, should we “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”?

      • Kath
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        PS I do know that’s not by Carole King – it’s just that it came into my head and I can’t hear it without smiling.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

          I agree! I loved the rendition by Eric Idle during the Olympic closing ceremony, but I do wonder what non-Brits made of it.

  14. Brian Greer
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Greetings from Portland, unusually snowbound, thawing today. Didn’t get to Kells to see Ireland surprisingly dominate Wales.

    Thanks for the photographs from the clan gathering.

    • McMillibar
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Another great crossword, Brian. Thanks for these Sunday treats.

    • Una
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Kells? Aviva/Landsdown road surely. Wonderfully difficult but where are the jokes ?

  15. Hrothgar
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Truly great puzzle, just the right edge for me.
    Some brilliantly complex clues, eg 16a, 24a and 6d.
    I rermember, having time to wait in Amsterdam, sitting in front of the ‘Night Watch’ for two hours.
    So much in it and to it.
    Many thanks Virgillius and thanks BD for the review.

  16. McMillibar
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Another great example from Virgilius… a setting legend. NE corner certainly hardest to prise into shape for me and I did not know that 10a was a measure. I’m going for **/****. I got the younger members of the family involved in this one and they were tickled with the word play and ingenuity. So often stumbling over lack of knowledge because of generational differences (well-oiled for drunk?) they learn so much from crosswords – hardly any of it useful!

    If I was being banished to that Desert Island, my luxury would be a never-ending book of Virgilius’ puzzles.

    Glad that Brizzle seems to have been a great success, I look forward to meeting you all at some future event.

    • gazza
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      If I was being banished to that Desert Island, my luxury would be a never-ending book of Virgilius’ puzzles.

      I hope Brian Greer reads that.

      • andy
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        Now that I’ve , mostly, found the wavelength I couldn’t agree more Gazza. And on my desert island I could have a walk, swim etc, and then get back to the brilliant clues that I should have answered in the first place.

        • Kath
          Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          My desert island would, by definition, have sun and sea – that’s all I want – I’m very easily pleased.

          • crypticsue
            Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

            You’d get bored – you would need a garden, a cooker and supply of food, and that lovely-sounding book of Virgilius crosswords.

          • Kath
            Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

            Oh – but then I might need a book of crosswords so that my brain kept working (but why would I need it on a desert island) and then, if I had a book of crosswords, I’d need BD’s blog to explain the ones that I didn’t understand . . . oh, sod it, I might as well just stay where I am!

            • Kath
              Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

              Oh no! Why is my comment awaiting moderation? NOW what have I done?

              • Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

                A problem with the spam filter – “Akismet [that’s the spam check program] cleared this comment during an automatic retry.”

                • Kath
                  Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

                  I don’t really understand but as long as I haven’t committed a deadly sin of some kind and been excluded for ever I don’t really care!

              • andy
                Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

                What comment my dear? Desert Island thread all in tact on reading. And if I could have a secret stash of Micawber Toughies just happen to float by in a bottle then my life would be enhanced.

                • Kath
                  Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

                  . . . and a few Ray T back page crosswords too . . .
                  Good photo – well done.

    • Una
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Desert island or solitary confinement,give me an endless book of Virgillius crosswords and I’ll continue to exist.

  17. Angel
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Yes, a great puzzle introducing me to new words/phrases, e.g. 6d and 10a (in that context). 22a an old chestnut but amusing nevertheless. Afraid my rhyming cockney is rusty so 26a took a while to solve. Thanks Virgilius. Life on my desert island would also be enhanced by endless supply of your puzzles but perhaps with a BRB as my chosen book. ***/***. Here’s to your next 5 years BD – congratulations and thank you for camaraderie and guidance your blog offers.

  18. Salty Dog
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    A pleasing solve, just tricky enough to keep my interest. Thank you Virgilius, and Big Dave for the hints.

  19. Heno
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. I hope you all enjoyed Bristol. A very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Virgilius. I was beaten by the 17’s, can’t get either, even with the hints. Any help would be much appreciated. Favourite was 26a, but lots of good clues. Was 3*/4* for me. Got them both now, used electronic help to get the across clue, just couldn’t think of the helmet part, then made sense of the hints once I had the first checking letter.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink


      17d – ********************************* [please stop giving alternative clues BD] ! I unfortunately did Latin “A” level – so I hate all Latin Poets!

      (R)embrandt initially in Night Watch

    • gazza
      Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      17a Parts of helmets protecting it for away team (8)
      Put ‘it’ into parts of helmets that cover the face. The answer is how you might refer to the away team at a football match.

      BD has given a hint for 17d. The poet you want is a very old one.

  20. Catnap
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    This was such an excellent puzzle! have marked so many enjoyable clues I don’t think I’d better list them all. My fave has to be 26a — albeit it did take me ages to realise it was Cockney Rhyming Slang (am I allowed to say that or is it giving the game away?).

    Many thanks for your most helpful hints, Big Dave. I simply couldn’t get 23d without your help. I knew it had something to do with the cricket over but was stumped!!!

    Many thanks to Virgillius for a lovely puzzle. (Add my name to the list of those who’d like an endless collection of Virgillius crosswords.)

    And special appreciative thanks to Big Dave for ‘The Usual Suspects’. (What a lot of expertise and hard work must go into the compilation of your Mine of Useful Information.)