ST 2753 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2753 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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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”. Where the hint describes a construct a “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

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

Some hints follow:


1a    Name in cast not altered, staying the same (8)
N(ame) inside an anagram (altered) of CAST NOT

9a    Change country as leader of government in Arab state (8)
Put the initial letter (leader) of G[overnment] inside a typical Arab state

15a    Put off about one person who’s determined to lose (6)
A verb meaning to put off or discourage around I (one) gives someone who is determined to lose weight

16a    Undergarment seen in strip? (4)
Two definitions – an undergarment and a strip or scrap of, say, paper

21a    Went through again, putting in clue finally made easier (8)
A verb meaning went through again in one’s imagination with the final letter of [clu]E

23a    Knowledgable source replacing male editor (4-8)
This is not how I would have spelt knowledgeable, but Chambers does give it as an alternative – split as (4,2,3,1,2) this could mean a source of water is replacing M(ale) ED(itor)

27a    Tune again interpreted precisely (8)
A verb meaning interpreted or understood followed by an adverb meaning precisely or exactly

28a    Type avoiding risk repeatedly carrying a helmet, for instance (8)
Someone who avoids risk on an investment by making balancing or compensating transactions has the A from the clue inserted (carrying) in two separate places (repeatedly)


2d    Novel as inspiration for fictional character (8)
Two definitions – an adjective meaning novel or innovative and a person on which a character in a literary work is based

3d    Quickly move into South London, say, some company assets (5,7)
A verb meaning to move quickly inside S(outh) and the type of city of which London is an example (say)

4d    A line in Merchant of Venice for handsome youth (6)
The A from the clue followed by L(ine) inside the surname of a Venetian merchant (no, not Antonio this time!)

8d    Females celebrating, exuberant about new piano (3,5)
An adjective meaning exuberant or enthusiastic around N(ew) and P(iano)

14d    Bone the setter held up, wrapped warmly? (5)
The reversal (help up in a down clue) of the first person objective pronoun (the setter) is wrapped warmly by being “in” the hair of certain animals

19d    Possibly the polar opposite of scarcity (8)
An anagram (possibly) of THE POLAR

24d    Idle  brains (4)
Two definitions – a verb meaning to idle or stand around and brains that you might be invited to use

25d    Insert in coat had darn, for example (4)
Hidden inside (insert in) the clue

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 Carlos Santana (67) and Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg (76)


  1. Kfb
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Not too bad today but I expect others will also mistakenly put ***** *** in the grid .

    • Prolixic
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I have edited out the incorrect answer as we do not give any whole, partial or wrong answers for prize puzzles.

    • Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I’ve increased the font size on the sentence about not putting WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT answers in your comments in the hope that it might be easier to read.

    • pommers
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      I can guess what your post said and have to say “me too”.

    • Kath
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      I assume we’re talking 13a here in which case you can count me in too!

  2. Una
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    This was a little more difficult than it should have been , due , possibly to me having joined the ranks of the 15a.This is my third day , so all the pain and no results , so far.I will persist, though. Favourite: 17d.
    Thanks Virgilous and BD.

    • Kath
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Good luck on the 15a.

      • Una
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, I’ll need it .

        • pommers
          Posted July 20, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

          Pommette is the expert on 15a. You want advice just ask, but be careful as she’s a bit evangelistic :lol:

  3. Jezza
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I seem to remember saying ‘very good’ to myself on quite a few occasions this morning, as the penny dropped on some of these excellent clues.
    2*/5* for me today. Many thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints.

  4. Rick
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Trickier than yesterday, due in some measure to an unfriendly grid (16 double unches by my count). A bit mechanical and lacking smiles for me. 2.5/2*

  5. Sweet William
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Another fine puzzle thank you Virgilius, which took me quite a while to complete. Thanks BD for your hints, particularly 28a and 4d – which explained the answers which I had ! Not for the first time ! Held up on 2d due to putting an incorrect first word in 13a which seemed quite reasonable at the time. The penny dropped eventually.

    • Kath
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Me too with 2d because of wrong first word in 13a. We won’t be the only ones!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Me three.

        • Annidrum
          Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          Me four

      • Merusa
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        Me five

  6. SheilaP
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Thought we would have to resort to the hints, but we persevered, and managed to finish without help, except for some explanations. Certainly made us think a bit, which can only be a good thing. ***/*** for us today. Thank you to the setter and to BD.. I see India’s tail enders are giving us the run around again, and giving themselves a very good chance of winning this test match.

  7. stanXYZ
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    4d – I brushed up my Shakespeare, but all to no avail. Nice misdirection!

  8. Kath
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Lovely Sunday crossword. I would say it was probably of about average difficulty – brain working a bit better today, I think.
    28a was my last answer and the first word of 3d was wrong – no wonder I didn’t quite get it!
    I also started out with the first word of 13a wrong which made 2d if not impossible then certainly pretty unlikely.
    Managed both hidden answers today.
    I liked 11a and 12 and 16d. My favourite was 24d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD for sorting out my 3d.
    Still very warm here but feels better than the last couple of days. Husband and collie were at the top of our garden early evening yesterday – the sky went completely black, torrential rain with no warning at all and then a “baby tornado” – made me think of The Wizard of Oz – thought they might disappear but they didn’t!

    • Merusa
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      I remember watching a polo match at Windsor many years ago on a bright summer day, when black clouds came over and changed our sun to night. We were suddenly sitting in a field of hail. I have never seen anything like it, at least our thunderstorms give notice!

  9. Graham Wall
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    This was one of those puzzles where I was slow to start but once I had half a dozen solved the momentum carried me through without needing the hints. I think 11A was my favourite. No smilers today. I would rate this 2.5*/3* Thanks to Big Dave for his review.

  10. Roger
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, I seem to be out on a limb with this one as I found it a real struggle and not very enjoyable. Too many clues left unsolved. And there I was…on such a roll during the week. Ah well…

  11. LolGee
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Mr LolGee and I started off very well with the upper half finished before breakfast but then the heat got to us and our pace slowed considerably. Just finished over an afternoon cuppa … and with the help of a couple of hints. Now listening to the thunder rumbling overhead and waiting for the storm to come. Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable puzzle and Big Dave for the hints and tips.

  12. Allan
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    May I have some assistance please with 7D. I think I have the answer, knowing both the checked letters, and also think I understand the clue, but I can’t see how the word (that I think is the answer) meets with the definition part of the clue.

    • Prolixic
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      The answer is hidden (some … selected ) in teachers.

      • Allan
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Understood, I saw that, but how does it meet the definition. I am expecting your reply will leave me to a doh! moment

        • Prolixic
          Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          A head – think of it in terms of paying a bill in a restaurant.

          • Allan
            Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            Thank you; as I thought, I should have seen that. Thanks again.

          • Allan
            Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for clarifying: I should have seen that.

  13. Allan
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Also, a general question (from a newbie to this forum). How do some people know who the setter of the crossword is- in earlier postings, writers say it is Vigilius. Is that known, and if so from where?

    • Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Please see the FAQ. Questions like this have already been asked on numerous occasions.

    • Heno
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi Allan, the names of the backpager setters and Sundays are not published, but some people have a bit of inside knowledge. It tends to be Virgilius on Sunday, Rufus on Monday, mystery on Tuesday, Jay on Wednesday, Ray T& mystery alternate Thursdays, and Giovanni on Fridays.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Hi Allan, follow the link below.

      • Allan
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Thank you


  14. Heno
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very difficult, but enjoyable puzzle. I needed a few hints. I’m still stuck on 17d, any help would be much appreciated. Was 4x*/4* for me. Cricket is very interesting.

    • Allan
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      17D: a three letter word for organised in side a five letter worded Dutch city.

      • Heno
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, got it. Nice hint.

        • dutch
          Posted July 21, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          took me embarrassingly long..

        • dutch
          Posted July 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Enjoyed this – but I can’t think of the alternative to 13a that confused some? favourites 15a, 21a

          I thought the OFF (vs of) was interesting in 5d – wasn’t sure it was kosher at first then decided that it did work. Also took me a while to accept the second definition of 2d.

          i liked 11a also because it fixed my 4d mistake. I liked 23a, took me a while to see the word play.

          many thanks setter and BigDave

  15. Annidrum
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I very very slowly got there but having finished can’t understand why it took me so long to see the answers. Virgilius is my favourite setter but didn’t really enjoy this one.

  16. Merusa
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I found this very, very HARD, with much satisfaction when I had my Eureka moments and saw the light. As I said above, I missed 2d because I had 13a incorrect. I also never got 4d, even with the hint, but with a totally fried brain, I think I’ll just accept the fact that I’m dim today. I don’t think I’ve ever found Virgilius this difficult, but always a satisfactory solve, so thanks Virgilius, and to BD for review.

  17. Vancouverbc
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Started later than usual but struggled to complete this. Not my favourite but a good workout while watching the last half dozen holes of the Open. Thanks to BD for the review.

  18. Rabbit Dave
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful – as usual for a Sunday! What a joy! I’m going for 3*/4*.

    24d was my last one in and favourite. All the other clues was very good too!

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    • Kath
      Posted July 20, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      I loved 24d too – also my favourite. I sometimes think that you and I could write comments for each other!

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted July 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

  19. Gwizz
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I found this one like yesterday’s somewhat trickier than usual. Hence a long tussle and got there eventually.. 28a was my favourite and final one in, and a merry dance it led me before the penny dropped! Thank you setter and DT for the hints.

  20. Salty Dog
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    More interesting, and more testing, than the usual Prize Puzzle. Something like 3*\4* for me, and some nicely constructed clues. Thank you Virgilius, and of course BD.

  21. Kitty
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I liked this one. A good level of challenge, I thought, and some d’oh! moments. 2.5*/3.5* from me. I’ll Join Kath and Rabbit Dave in the 24d as favourite camp :).

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the review which ironed out a couple of parsings – and also Prolixic, whose reply to Allan provided a nice facepalm since I, too, had stumbled on the definition part of 7d.

  22. Angel
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree, this was on the tough side for a prize crossword so I have had stabs at it over the course of the day in between some rather hot-making gardening followed by a late dinner al fresco in the cool of the evening. Thanks Virgilius and BD but, for once, the hints I needed were not amongst your chosen ones! Surely there is, unusually, a spelling mistake in 23a clue. ****/**. No favs today.

  23. dutch
    Posted July 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    enjoyed this – i am struggling to think of the alternative to 13a that confused some. Favourites 15a and 21a.

    I thought OFF in 5d (vs of) was interesting – wasn’t sure it was kosher at first then decided that it did work. Also, took me a while before i thought 2nd def in 2d was ok.

    liked 23a, bit of a delay before the wordplay clicked.

    many thanks setter and big dave

    • Sweet William
      Posted July 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      I found it remarkably easy to go down the wrong path We can all disclose the error of our ways in a few days. Congratulations on taking the right route

  24. Catnap
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Super hints, for which thank you very much, Big Dave. I needed two to complete the puzzle — 4d and 24d.This latter is my fave! Also liked 15a, 14d, 22d and 25d. So many polished clues to choose from … but then Virgilius’ puzzles are always rather special. Many thanks to Virgilius for the Sunday treat.

  25. Cornishpasty
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Well, here it is Tuesday evening and just finished the darn thing. Spent ages reconciling 1d and 13a, had punch, o,k once changed to what your big end used to do, or cheap gas/petrol!