ST 2774 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2774 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2774 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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If you haven’t tried our December Prize Puzzle why not have a go?

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    Ostentatiously display fraternal love, initially, in front of relative (6)
The initial letters of two words in the clue followed by a female relative

10a    Revolutionary movement in West he introduced to political bloc (9)
W(est) and HE inside a political bloc


12a    Object set in long piece of jewellery (7)
An object or aim inside a verb meaning to long

13a    Portion husband consumed in abstracted state (7)
H(usband) inside (consumed) a dazed or abstracted state

14a    Neck or lip, or nearby part of head (5)
Three definitions, the first two being neck or lip in the sense of impertinence and the last one being a part of the head near both the neck and the lip

18a    Strict disciplinarian putting soldier outside time and time again (8)
Put a soldier serving on board ship around T(ime) and follow him with T(ime) again

25a    Original clue in paper put back as centrepiece? (7)
An anagram (original – not one of my favourite anagram indicators, especially when the rearranged letters do not form a word in themselves) of CLUE inside the reversal of a tabloid newspaper

27a    Taking offence about article liable to be shocking? On the contrary (9)
A verb meaning taking offence around the indefinite article gives an adjective meaning covered in a way that should prevent electric shocks (liable to be shocking – on the contrary)

29a    Like a mule held by lengthy bridle (6)
Hidden (held by) inside the clue


1d    Cosmetic treatment from female expert on the cards (4,4)
F(emale) and an expert followed by a set of playing cards

3d    Course that’s what expanding company seeks (9)
This horse-racing course, when split (3,6) could be what an expanding company seeks

5d    The writer will repeat point that’s not a problem for reader (14)
The writer will (1’2) followed by a verb meaning to repeat and a point or headland gives a condition that’s not a problem for someone who can read

6d    Note bullets set up for part of list, invariably (5)
A musical note followed by the reversal (set up in a down clue) of some bullets gives something often used to separate items in a list which is also cunningly hidden between the last two words in the clue

9d    Nostalgic chap mailed a catalogue, including old boys in it (14)
A verb meaning mailed or posted, the A from the clue and a catalogue around some grown-up boys, themselves inside IT

16d    Within the neighbourhood, housing foreign fighter in sensible fashion (9)
An adverb meaning within the neighbourhood around (housing) a US (foreign) fighter

19d    Before PM starts, a vitality that’s remarkable (7)
The period before PM starts, the A from the clue and some vitality – in the words of Craig Revel Horwood!

24d    Like legal action, start off really bad (5)
Start with an adjective meaning like legal action and drop its initial letter (start off)


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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 Vicki Michelle (64)
Vicki Michelle ARVE Error: need id and provider


42 comments on “ST 2774 (Hints)

  1. Surprisingly this prize puzzle was a walk in the park and caused me no trouble whatever. I liked 10a and 6d, thought they were clever clues. Thanks for hints BD although they were not required. I agree with your assessment of the anagram indicator in 25a.

  2. Thank you Virgilius, yet another lovely puzzle. Last one in 22d. I was quietly hoping that you might be giving a hint for that BD. I think I have got it right ! Thanks for the other hints – particularly 10a !

    1. It was on the shortlist.

      22d Old ruler commemorated in July or August (6)
      July and August were named after Julius Augustus – who was so upset that his months only had 30 days that he stole a couple of days from February!

      1. Thanks, I got the wrong one! But I’ve learned something really interesting today, many thanks for that.

        1. I imagine that, as I first did, you opted for the much more modern equivalent. Fortunately I was doing it on-line, so it told me that I was wrong and I had to think again. My last entry and favourite clue.

          1. Yes, and it made no sense at all, but it was M’pops rule so I just bunged it in. Isn’t it amazing the things you learn here!

  3. Straightforward and pleasant, except for 5D that I had to check in the BRB because I’ve never come across this word before. Thanks for the hints, BD, though not needed today.

  4. 2*/4* for a steady and very enjoyable solve. I had to look up 5d in the BRB to confirm its existence as I have only ever known a very much shorter version of that word. I found the NE corner slightly harder than the rest, with 8d my last one in.

    I would quite like to have lots of favourites today :wink: but I’ll behave and select just 3d which made me smile.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  5. Could someone who has the paper please tell me when the closing date for submissions is for this puzzle. It would normally be in eleven days’ time, but at the risk of upsetting the unprepared, that’s Christmas Day so I don’t think it can be then. I need to know purely so I can remind my friend Gnomey

      1. Thank you – I’ll email the Gnome now while I remember.

        My sister’s family refer to 23 December, as ‘Christmas Adam’ as it comes before ‘Christmas Eve’ :)

  6. Very enjoyable, as always.
    I started off thinking this was going to be a doddle, or that, just maybe, I was getting better at Sunday crosswords – I changed my mind.
    I got badly stuck on the last few – not so much getting the answers but more working out why – 9d in particular.
    22d was my last answer – I had something in my head which was completely wrong but it just wouldn’t go away – oh dear!
    Dare I say that I was also pretty slow to get 8d – oh dear again!
    Not sure that I knew Tolstoy was what he had to be to fit into 4a – gap in general knowledge.
    I liked most of these so will just select a few – 1 and 20a and 5 and 19d. I loved the piccy of the little chap doing what he’s doing for 10a – no, I’m not going to the naughty corner. I think he’d look even better with a few little snowflakes fluttering around him!
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  7. All went well until 25a where I confess to feeling a bit hard done by; I was glad to see BD remarked on that unusual anagram indicator. However it did not spoil the usual Sunday enjoyment from Virgilius, so thank you to him/her and to BD.

      1. Sincere apologies to Virgilius (who obviously had to be a him with an ending in ‘us’ – quite apart from his being called Brian Greer!)

  8. Only my fourth attempt at the Sunday crossword and I have to admit I am still struggling. Start off happily and go downhill fast until I crash into a brick wall. Out comes the supertoy dive into thesaurus and finally come up with a few more answers. After lunch back to crossword and somehow managed to complete it but with a lot of help. Fave rave 25a because it was clever and witty.

  9. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. Another superb offering from Virgilius, I was sorry when it was over. I took ages to get 5d, but got there in the end. 27a followed, then, last in was 25a. Favourite was 6d. Was 2*/4* for me. Clouding over now in Central London, but was a nice day.

  10. ***/****. This was an enjoyable but tricky puzzle for me – well worth the slog.thanks to the setter and BD for the review. I was also amused by Christmas Adam crypticsue.

  11. I so look forward to Sunday crosswords, Virgilius never disappoints.
    I got 22d wrong but I did have the correct one in beside it with a question mark. I didn’t know what BD told us above, what a lovely clue.
    There were many stand outs, 6d, 19d, 9d, but I think 8d takes the cake today.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the review.

  12. Great fun, very enjoyable but still don’t get the Tolstoy reference in 4a although the rest of the clue is solvable. Best clues for me were 14a and 29a although not keen on original as an anagram indicator, it seems to make little sense.
    Thx to all.

    1. I didn’t know he was a ‘thingy’ (the last five letters of the answer) either, or if I did I’ve forgotten.

  13. Just the right combination of challenge and entertainment. Thank you Virgilius and BD. Top right corner was last to go in – could have done with parsing for 8d. ***/***. Am submitting solution to ST for umpteenth time in vain hope for a fountain pen!

      1. For heaven’s sake how slow can one be? I had failed completely to fathom that. Many thanks indeed for getting through to my mental block. I agree BD’s website is a joy. One each for you and BD!

  14. What a cracker! To me it seemed rather harder than the usual Sunday fare, but clearly not everyone agrees. Much respect to Virgilius, and thanks to BD for this wonderful website :-)

  15. Err – in the explanation for 13a did you mean to put the last word in?

    On a lighter note I went to school with Vicki Michelle only she was called Vicki Nathan in those days, I remember her Mum coming to the School one day – she was an actress as well and she had quite an effect on a 14 year old whose hormones were erupting all over the place!

  16. I started this late last night (always a mistake) and finished it just now.For some unaccountable reason 4a eluded me,maybe because I never met one. Wonderful puzzle , again.A lot of people liked 22d, including me and I also liked 23a and 6d.Thanks V and BD.

  17. A strange mixture; l was on course for a 2* completion, then ran aground in the NE corner, where l thought 6d, 8d and 11a were a cluster of clever clues. On balance, then, l score this one 3.5*/4*. Favouritism is a choice between the NE corner and 22d. Many thanks to Virgilius for a splendid puzzle, and to BD for the hints.

    1. Welcome to the blog Andrew

      11a Fool‘s gold found in second excavation, finally (5)
      The heraldic notation for gold inside a second or brief period of time and the final letter of [excavatio]N

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