ST 2777 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2777 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2777 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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Only 14 days left to enter our January Prize Puzzle

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    Part of destructive plague in particular place and time (6)
To get this part of a biblical destructive plague a word, from Latin, meaning place is followed by T(ime)

10a    Accordingly, like legal practice, or one who works in it (9)
A two-letter word meaning accordingly followed by an adjective meaning a practice that is legal and the OR from the clue

14a    Demonstrated, somehow, smooth fabric (5)
Split as (3,2) this could mean took part in a particular kind of demonstration or protest

18a    What’s illuminating, naturally, in paper, and easy to pick up (8)
A daily newspaper followed by an adjective meaning easy to pick up

23a    Wife in top hat, replacing husband, that runs along bank (7)
Insert W(ife) inside TOP HAT then move (re-placing) the H(usband) to the end

26a    Manner of playing piano, say, that’s off pitch (5)
Where the ball goes when kicked off the rugby pitch

27a    Gardener’s wife right in front of area for putting kind of shrub (9)
The wife of a couple who resided in a famous garden followed by R(ight) and an area on a golf course used for putting – what a difference pronunciation can make to the interpretation of a verb like putting!

29a    Garment for upper body — or lower (6)
Two definitions – the second being an animal that makes a lowing sound


1d    Endure letters giving indication it’s time to retire (4,4)
Combine a verb meaning to endure or survive with a word for letters or mail to get this indication that it’s time to retire to bed

2d    Raise instrument, held up in court (7)
To get this verb meaning to raise money put the reversal (held up in a down clue) of a stringed instrument inside C(out)T

5d    Broadcast if editor kept cool, in a way (3-11)
A three-letter verb meaning to broadcast followed by what “if” represents and ED(itor)

8d    Excessive pressure, you said, in outfit (6)
The letter that sounds like (said) you inside an outfit or costume

16d    Malingerer might report this, as heard in region of France (9)
Split as (4,5) this sounds like (as heard) what a malingerer might report in order to avoid working

21d    As example of 27, it must be removed from city newspapers (7)
To get this example of 27 Across, drop (removed from) “it” from C[it]Y and a generic word for newspapers

22d    Perform final act in theatre? It’s painful (6)
This theatre is in a hospital!

24d    Very pale, like one that sits and broods (5)
A two-letter word meaning like followed by a bird that sits and broods

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Craig Revel Horwood (50) and Michael Stipe (55)
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63 comments on “ST 2777 (Hints)

  1. I really enjoyed this puzzle. A good challenge yet some great clues that required some thinking. Kudos to the setter.

    I am not sure if the suspicion about making the puzzles more difficult this year is true – but I think this puzzle would be a good standard level of difficulty for me.

    2*/5* for me.

  2. I do love Sundays – a great puzzle with some brilliant d’oh moments with the level of difficulty and fun one expects from Virgilius.

    Happy New Year and thank you to him. Thanks also to BD for the hints.

  3. Superb! 2*/4*. I knew we could rely on our master Sunday setter for a delight for the first weekend of the New Year!

    No issues, just a joy from start to finish. Lots of goodies to try to choose a favourite from, but I’ll settle for 22d just ahead of 5d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

      1. Your selection surprises me in view of its connection with “one of the most boring xxxxxx ever invented” ! On that score I came near to misinterpreting “off pitch” in 26a although I couldn’t really parse it.

      1. Donkey’s years ago I slept in one of those for one night – fine as long as you don’t mind being smacked in the face by a wave every time you turn over but otherwise not so good!

          1. I’m still here – no naughty corner, yet! Either no-one has noticed or they think it’s OK . . .

            1. Not sure how you got away with that, I got a smacked hand for a more obscure hint than that.

              1. Shhhh – they still haven’t noticed!! Actually I’m not sure what, if anything, was wrong with it. And as for the smacked hands I’ve been in the naughty corner so many times that I think I’ve probably outworn my welcome there.

                1. And I’m still watching you Kath. I’ve been forced to eat cake for a lesser erring. Oooh wait ;)

      2. I’ll let you and BD into a secret …

        … they were both on my very long “short” list!

        1. This stumped me for a while too, but definitely a Doh moment when I got it too. My favourite has to be 16d, quite cheesy me thinks, though not literally of course.

      3. BDs choice of the “area for putting” and the enormous penny drop at 4a get my equal favourite votes, sorry Kath. Thanks to Virgilius and BD

  4. Very enjoyable indeed. The first bit of 1a was a new word for me and had to check in in my dictionary. I agree with 2*/5*

  5. This was the usual Super Sunday. Most enjoyable so ***/**** from us.

    I still think Phil McNeil has upped the ante. Four puzzles so far this year and each one noticeably trickier than were used to on those particular days of the week. Or maybe the festive season has completely addled my brain, which is entirely possible

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD

  6. Ooh – first today, but I won’t be by the time I’ve faffed around!
    I thought this was fairly gentle for a Sunday until I got to my last four – 4 and 20a and 5d (the answer was pretty clear but couldn’t work out why for ages) and 21d.
    Found both the hidden answers so feeling smug – maybe I’m getting better at them but !
    The 13a anagram caused a minor problem as the first answer I came up with is in Italy – oh dear.
    I enjoyed the whole crossword very much and particularly liked 4, 15 and 29a and 22d. My favourite was 16d because it made me laugh.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD. Off now to continue what I suspect is going to be an unequal fight with MPP.

      1. I hope that you are doing better than me because so far after too long gazing at it I have the grand total of two answers.

          1. I’ve got eleven and they include four amounts of money. Just got 1a which is going to make me giggle for the rest of the day!

        1. Very slow progress – off to demolish Christmas tree – maybe doing something different will help . . .

  7. Well we think this puzzle is at the tougher end of what we think of as being our level of competence, but we managed to finish before the hints appeared, so that’s good for us. No crossword editor is going to be able to please all of the people all of the time, but, as long as there’s a ‘Toughie’ for those people with more ability, I see no reason why these crosswords should be toughened up. Of course we don’t even know if this suspicion is true, and I for one hope they continue much the same as they have done with some days easier than others depending on wavelength etc. thank you to the Sunday setter and to BD.

  8. Many thanks Virgilius for yet another super puzzle. If PMcN has issued instructions for more difficult puzzles, I am delighted to see that you have ignored them and today’s puzzle was exactly what one expects on a Sunday Many thanks BD for your hints which confirm the wordplay.

  9. 2.5/4 for me today. An excellent puzzle which makes a Sunday all the more enjoyable. Thanks to BD for the review Favourite clue was 23A

  10. Thanks to Vigilius and BD for a totally marvellous Sunday morning. No need of electronic help and several giggle moments, too many fave raves to list but 4a and 16d scored highly. Off to do yesterday’s GK buoyed up by the promise of some coffee ice cream with a wafer biscuit. Roll on tomorrow

  11. A real delight, with so much humour and clever wordplay. Virgilus’ Sunday puzzles are always so enjoyable. And good to have a puzzle at the less challenging end that demonstrates it doesn’t have to be super-hard to be the most fun to do. Many thanks to the setter and BD for the hints.

  12. Great fun for a gloomy cold misty morning. Still a single pot of coffee, luckily but then I sip slowly!

    Thought 4 was brilliant but also liked 16.

    Many thanks for the explanations for 5 and 22. Is there a normal interpretation of ‘replacing’ in 23 that implies moving to the end?

    Many thanks to both.

  13. An enjoyable accompaniment to a Sunday morning coffee.
    Like previous comments, I’d find it hard to pick a favourite as there were lots of amusing clues with some clever wordplay and long anagrams.
    Thanks for the fun Virgilius, and also to BD of course.

  14. **/****. What fun! Some very clever clues and especially liked 1&27a and 24d which was a bit of a d’oh moment for me. Thanks to the setter for raising a smile or two and to BD for, I’m happy to say, hints I didn’t need. The promised snow hasn’t arrived yet and likely that means freezing rain for the next day or two.

  15. At the slightly trickier end of the Sunday scale methinks. A very enjoyable solve as usual with thanks to BD and Virgilius 2.5*/4*

  16. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A super puzzle from Virgilius as usual. Lots of clever clues, loads of humour, all very expertly constructed. Great fun. Favourite was 4a, which was last in. Was 2*/4* for me. My first completion of the year

  17. v enjoyable puzzle
    knew the answer to 28a but for some reason took ages to see why !

  18. About normal difficulty-wise for a Sunday I thought, but 14a- like setting as usual from the maestro. Last in was 4a after much pondering, so that has to be clue of the day, but the groan inducing 16d gets an honourable mention.
    Superb stuff 2*/4*

  19. Again, I have to say thank you to a master of puzzles. He never fails us.
    I had the correct answer for 22d but had no idea why; thank you BD for explaining that, isn’t that clever?
    Just the right level of difficulty and much satisfaction when getting the answer.
    I am not going to pick a fave, there are too many, loved 4a, 27a, 21d, 22d, and so on.
    Thanks Virgilius and BD for helping with understanding 22d.

  20. The usual high standard and fun. Virgilius always delivers. 23A and 16D were my favorites. Thanks to the Sunday Supremo and to BD for the review.

  21. As usual a good Sunday workout including some nice clues which needed a bit of teasing out. No real favourites but if pushed I’d go for 21d because… because it was neat.
    Thanks to Virgilius and DT for his hints.

  22. An excellent puzzle, not too taxing but great fun.
    Some nice misdirection and lots of lovely anagrams.
    Thx to all.

  23. 4a was my last one to go in. In general very satisfying and sometimes amusing . Like 9 & 16d

  24. Just finished but was playing golf all morning in the sun. Great puzzle with a mixture of easy clues and real posers. Thanks for the hints and also to the setter. Most favourites have already been listed so I’ll just mention 16d for the same reason as Kath.

        1. Grey, foggy and maximum 2C here today – clearly we live in the wrong place.
          Vega Baja or Anglesey here we come!

  25. 2*/4*, l think, and a pleasant way to spend (an unquantified!) part of Sunday afternoon. As for favourites, l think 21d takes the laurels for me. Thank you, Virgilius, and thank you BD for the hints.

  26. A great crossword and I thought a bit more difficult than on average for a Sunday – 3.5*/5*. Thanks to the setter and BD.

  27. Many thanks Virgilius – that was a terrific exercise with plenty of lighter moments, just right for relaxation at end of busy day playing festive season hostess yet again. Roll on Twelfth Night! Thanks BD also for your hints. ***/****.

  28. Many thanks to Virgilius for a delightful puzzle! 4a and 8d were last in. I am sure Jean-Luc got 16d straight away as I did! 27a and 29a made me laugh. 21d was so clever. Thanks to BD for the hints. 2.5*/5* for a great start of my day.

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