ST 2775 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2775 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2775 (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    Partners, in period after miraculous birth, filled with wonder (4)
Two bridge partners inside the period since the miraculous birth of Christ

10a    Place full at Christmas seen so differently? Not in any way (2,2,5)
The place that, according to legend, was full when Christ was born followed by an anagram (differently) of SEEN SO

13a    One thing we hear about temperature? Surprise! (7)
A (one) and something we hear around T(emperature)

16a    Deep crisp snow seen on Boxing Day also this? That’s not odd (4)
When King Wenceslas looked out, the snow was deep and crisp and this!

17a    Enlighten with star sign around East, position covering Saviour’s origin (10)
Put a star sign around E(ast) then add a three-letter position around the initial letter (origin) of S(aviour)

23a    Queen may be taking part in this, so watch broadcast (3,4)
This queen is not royalty but a feline! – an anagram (broadcast) of SO WATCH

25a    Two couples extracted from snow freeze — reason for blessing (6)
Drop (extracted) two couples, i.e. four letters, from SN[ow][fr]EEZE

30a    Christmas scene? Sons wrapping present, piece of clothing (9)
S(on) and S(on) around (wrapping) a three-letter word meaning the present followed by a piece of clothing

31a    Compose or correct, so to speak, something like mass (4)
Sounds like a verb meaning to compose an essay or to correct or rectify


2d    Succeed with efforts over gift, finally — most like the present (9)
A three-letter verb meaning to succeed or be victorious followed by some efforts or attempts and the final letter of [gif]T

3d    Fast runner, member of team in action at Christmas (6)
This fast runner is one of Santa’s reindeer

6d    Secure a child inside, specifically for Christmas period, say (8)
A verb meaning to secure around the A from the clue and a male child

7d    Function set up one arranged in cinema (5)
The reversal of a function or party followed by an anagram (arranged) of ONE

8d    Celebrity‘s sign at Christmas, appropriately placed (4)
The sign on the door of a celebrity, the celebrity or a zodiac sign – placed appropriately above 15 down

14d    Drink in a company, with boy restrained by father (4,6)
IN, the A from the clue and CO(mpany) and a boy inside a two-letter word for a father

19d    Mostly engage with wise men in teachings (8)
Most of a verb meaning to engage or interlock followed by some wise men

27d    Consequently turned up as character in ‘Puss in Boots’ (4)
A Latin word meaning consequently or therefor is reversed (turned up in a down clue)

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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.

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Samuel L Jackson (66) and Jane Fonda (77)


53 comments on “ST 2775 (Hints)

  1. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Virgilius. I had a feeling that there would be a theme :-)
    Quite gentle fare, but good fun. Favourite was 25a. Was 1*/3* for me. A very happy Christmas to one and all.

  2. Is everyone wrapping presents today or what?

    I struggled with this one – my brain is a bit fuzzy but I managed all the seasonal stuff and crawled over line.

    Onward etc etc – roll on Christmas!

  3. Anyone else get a couple of clues in and think I do hope Franco doesn’t solve the Sunday Puzzle ?

    Nice seasonal fun thank you and Happy Christmas to Virgilius.

    1. Grrrr! I knew it would happen!

      However, I still do not understand 26d – BD hasn’t given a clue – so it must be easy!

      1. Yes it is – I don’t think I can expand on the hints given by Rick and Gazza at #5 below.

        Similar treatment has been applied to the relationship between 8 down and 15 down.

        1. My New Year’s resolution: Read the comments before commenting!

          How clever is Virgilius? Far too clever for me! Brilliant!

  4. Lovely puzzle, great fun thank you Virgilius. 26d terrific ! Glad you gave a hint for 23a BD – I had the answer, saw the anagram, but only when I saw your hint did I take the trouble to consult BRB and take on board what was for me a new definition of Queen.

    Merry Christmas to you Virgilius and thanks for all the fun and to BD and thanks for all the hours you put in to this site.

  5. Very enjoyable and managed to complete it long before the hints came on line. I was hoping there would be a hint telling me why 26d is what I am sure it must be as I can’t think of any other word that would fit. I just don’t understand the answer from the clue. Anyone able to help?
    Happy Christmas to one and all.

      1. Thank you Gazza and Rick. As you say, Virgilius at his playful best. I spent an awfully long time trying to warrant the answer without success. When you guys pointed me in the right direction it became obvious.

  6. Like most seasonal entertainment, not a lot to stretch the grey cells but jolly enough.
    Happy Christmas Virgilus and thank you for all the entertainment you have provided through the year.

  7. Not easy but very entertaining apart from 1a which I found totally dislikable. Some lovely clues apart from that in 29a, 17a and 23a.
    A very festive offering.
    Thx to all

  8. That was fun, whatever poor old Franco is going to think.
    I thought some of this was a bit tricky.
    I messed up the bottom right corner for quite a while by being a bit too literal with 25a – wrong kind of visitor and wrong kind of treat but my answer was at least round, even if they were plural – no naughty corner for me today!
    17a was my last one – not sure I really knew the word and from the letters I had in I was going for the wrong star sign.
    I was slightly thrown out by the enumeration of 22d – in the paper it says (5) so until I looked properly I’d ruled out an anagram.
    I liked the two answers with the white stuff (4 and 30a), specially the picture for 30a, and 9d. My favourite was 23 or 25a.
    Thanks and Happy Christmas to Virgilius and to BD.

  9. I know it’s nearly Christmas but there seemed to be quite a lot of chestnuts about today :grin:

    However, it was a very entertaining puzzle, as is usual from Virgilius, with a well constructed theme.
    Lots of great clues but 26d was the stand-out for me and I’d give it */****.

    Probably won’t be around next week as we’re off to Benidorm for the festivities so here’s a very merry Christmas to one and all.

    1. Happy Christmas to both of you from me too. A little flower, one each so don’t go hogging both of them.

  10. Ashamed to say I found this decidedly tricky and it took me well into 3* time..?? Was fun though and hopefully my wits will sharpen a bit later when I tackle other puzzles.. Thanks to BD and Virgilius ***/***

  11. A nive whimsical offering for the festive season. Not a great challenge but enjoyable all the same. Thanks to BD for the review.

  12. I very much enjoyed this, although I had misgivings at first. In general I am not fond of clues that rely on the solutions to other clues, but I thought 26d was very clever!

  13. Loved, loved this offering from Virgilius. Once I realised the theme, it immediately made the puzzle so much easier. Every clue a jewel, but then I’m biased towards Virgilius and look forward to Sundays.
    I can’t really choose a fave, but I do think that 26d deserves a mention, so clever and amusing.
    Thanks to Virgilius, have a very merry Christmas, and huge kudos to BD for the time he has spent to ensure our entertainment.

  14. 2*/4* for a delightful puzzle which manages to be 6d without being either trite or simplistic.

    On my first pass I couldn’t decide which of two plausible answers for 4a was correct, and needed to wait until I had solved 6d to write the answer in.

    Picking a favourite on a Sunday is always a tough task with so many excellent clues to choose from, but I particularly liked 27d although the typically Virgilian 26d gets my vote today just ahead of the equally typically Virgilian 25a.

    Many thank to Virgilius and to BD.

  15. The theme made me glum. I’m doing my best to ignore the season except for the days when I have to put on my happy face for the invading hoards. Mercifully not too many this year, and next year I have vowed to make an escape in one direction or another.

    Still, there were some lovely clues. I thought it was going to be an easy one at first, but after the obvious ones were in I did need to engage my brain. 17a was last in (what a selection of checkers!) but 26a took the longest to parse – well worth it and a nice way to finish. How can it fail to be favourite?

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    1. Oh dear – poor you. Would a little help? I think that sometimes having to put on a happy face helps – it sort of becomes real . . . although I can understand if that’s not a very helpful thing to say.

  16. To my eternal shame I missed the anagram in 23a and thanks to BD for sorting me out. Still struggling with Sunday crosswords but loving every minute and there is a feeling of loss when I have written the last answer in. OH slightly peeved because lunch late while I finished last clue I could – crosswords are far more important than mere lunch.

  17. I haven’t done a Sunday puzzle for months so was delighted to find this one has a theme, just to ease me back in!

    What on earth is dislikeable about 1a, Brian??

    Many thank to Virgilous, and to BD for the hints.

  18. I normally find themed crosswords somewhat awkward and artificial so when I saw today’s puzzle I feared the worst. However my fears were quickly dispelled by several very good clues with 26d being the outstanding example for the reasons already given.
    Thanks to Virgilius and BD for the hints.

  19. Back in Billingshurst! Found this puzzle quite tricky but most enjoyable. Thank you to Virgilius and to BD for the hints – needed help with 23a and 30a (completely missed the anagram!). Favourites? Lots but let’s say 25a and 14d. 2.5*/4*. Decorations up so the little abode is ready for Christmas. Lovely to see our grandchildren again… Merry Christmas to all!

    1. Many years ago my Aunt had a Tudor house in Billingshust, on the main road. It was called “Quince Cottage” because she had a quince tree in the garden. Last time I was there it had become “Ye Olde Tudor Cafe”, or something like that.

  20. Thanks everyone and especially BD. I love the pictorial embellishments.
    If you are celebrating — a religious festival, a collection of Victorian/Germanic customs, the winter solstice, whatever — have a good time. I’m actually working hard at home on preparing a conference for next year while Swapna, my wife, is back in her home city, Kolkata.

    One comment on easiness. I really appreciate comments along the lines of “easy, but nevertheless enjoyable”. The level of difficulty needs to remain relatively constant — if it kept going up, that would cause problems as new solvers come on board. So regulars who dissect clues week on week and become familiar with my style are going to find my puzzles become easier. I just try to keep thinking of new twists — not so easy after 50 years of doing this.

    1. Seasons greetings from us Brian. We always really enjoy your puzzles. In fact when we pick each week a special one to print off to give to a friend, it is usually yours that gets picked. Cheers.

      1. Hear hear! They are the highlight of my week and Sunday mornings would not be the same without them.

    2. Your puzzles are always so clever and original, I don’t think anyone can dismiss them as just plain “easy”. I have to cite 26d today, that is so clever, brilliant, and many have remarked on it. I don’t know how you think this stuff up. Have a wonderful and merry Christmas, and all the best for 2015. I shall continue to look forward to your Sunday offerings.

    3. Sir – I’m in awe of your crosswords and, having looked it up, I now know where Kolkata is! Happy Christmas to you and your family.

    4. Hello Brian and a very happy festive time to you and yours.

      Your puzzles never fail to delight and long may they continue. For me they aren’t the most difficult but they never cease to entertain and amuse.

      I bet weather’s a bit warmer here!

    5. Brian thank you so much for this one which was utterly delightful from start to finish, particularly 1a, 25a, and 15d plus the 9d etc. Thanks for this seasonal enjoyment. Thank you BD also, especially for 13a which I just couldn’t see.

  21. This was not a simple puzzle for me but a lovely Christmas treat when I got to the end. There were so many good and clever clues when I look back. A merry Christmas to all and thanks to the setter and BD for the review. There will be no snow for us on Thursday which may be a good job given the amount of rain falling.

  22. In spite of this being the season of goodwill I have to admit, Virgilius, that this didn’t take my fancy unlike your usual puzzles which I enjoy. In fact I wondered whether it might have been a rookie offering! Thanks anyway for so many past entertaining exercises. Thanks also BD for your illustrations for the festive theme. ***/*.

  23. I have an inbuilt aversion to themed crosswords.
    Probably because I stumble over them.
    Enjoyable solve, though, as it turned out.
    Many thanks Virgilius and BD for the review.

  24. Pleasant puzzle that I solved yesterday!

    My only comment BD is: look at the picture for 3d – what is the colour of his nose?

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