ST 2778 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2778 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2778 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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Less than 7 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    Warning pet’s going across street (6)
A domestic pet around (crossing) the three-letter abbreviation for a type of street

4a    Like cruel joke uncovered about bishop (6)
A verb meaning uncovered or exposed around B(ishop)

10a    Who, for example, returned fish to river? (6)
The fact that this Who needs to be capitalised is concealed by placing it at the start of the clue! – the reversal of a popular fish is followed by TO and R(iver)

16a    In odd part of ship, left in total control (12)
An adjective meaning odd or unusual and a part of a ship used for storage around L(eft)

20a    Nothing within American country house is really bad (10)
This American country house is split (5,2,2) – just insert O (nothing to get this adjective meaning really bad

21a    Don’t allow boxer’s doctor beside ring (4)
This boxer is a dog not a pugilist! – follow his doctor with a O (ring)

22a    Watching sporting event, say, in court (6)
Split as (2,4) this could mean watching a sporting event at Lords

23a    Construction in garden that’s excessively large dropped (4,4)
A simple charade of an adverb meaning excessively, L(arge) and a verb meaning dropped

25a    Like carrier, off course (6)
A two-letter word meaning like followed by an item used, for example, to carry drinks


1d    Issue brought up as rich lend haphazardly (8)
An anagram (haphazardly) of RICH LEND

2d    Very popular Slavic name for Russian river (5)
V(ery) followed by a popular Slavic name

3d    Subject born in African country? Not I (7)
Put B(orn) inside an African country and then drop the I

7d    Casually draw largest part of crow (6)
The largest part, i.e. the six-letter bit, of the crow of a cockerel (4-1-6-3)

14d    Do what you need to do in pub with tequila, initially, on the rocks (9)
What you need to do (to complete this puzzle) inside a three-letter word for a pub and followed by the initial letter of T[equila]

15d    British flower-girl wrapping article in careless way (8)
B(ritish) and a girl’s name that is also that of a flower around the definite article

19d    West put in grave situation in period of freeze? (6)
W(est) followed by a verb meaning to put in a grave

21d    Means of saving face used by advisors (5)
Hidden (used by) inside the clue

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Rachel Riley (29) and Mary J. Blige (44)
Rachel Riley ARVE Error: need id and provider
RIP Anita Ekberg (29 September 1931 – 11 January 2015)
ARVE Error: need id and provider

45 comments on “ST 2778 (Hints)

  1. Good morning

    the only clue that I couldn’t figure out was 24a, and you haven’t given any hint for it !!
    I have put in a logical answer, but would love the full explanation

    1. Perhaps check your computer keys. You beat me to the draw BD – I should have let you MYOB (as we used to say at school).

  2. Thank you Virgilius – another super puzzle which I enjoyed solving. Last in was SW corner due to a ridiculous blunder with 17d. Once that was sorted the problem was resolved ! Lots of favourite clues again. Thanks BD for the hints – important for checking wordplay and in particular 7d which was a “bungitin” for me and I needed your explanation.

  3. As a very junior apprentice when it comes to Sunday crosswords I have to own up to a lot of pencil work and electronic help but I did get there in the end before BD’s helpful hints appeared. The joy of finishing made up for an overcast chilly morning in East Suffolk, several very silly things including putting the wrong ending to 12a which threw 6d askew. Off to deal with lunch.

  4. 19d – the paper version has two Question Marks.

    West put in grave situation in period of freeze?? (6)

    Thought it was significant … but it seems to be yet another typo??

    1. Yet again I get 0/10 for observation – didn’t notice the ?? 19d. Good thing I’m getting my eyes tested this week!

  5. Such an enjoyable exercise – great combination of challenge and fun. Many thanks Virgilius. Clever 3d clue led me to bung in wrong subject which made 12a insoluble. Thanks BD also. Great start to ST/DT week. Je suis toujours Charlie

  6. Had to resort to the hints for 4a and 7d which I could not have found without BD’s help. My usual angular problem I suppose. Quite irritating when everything else was solved while sipping a litre of tea.
    Loved 14d and 20a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  7. I expect two question marks is a typo – not sure I look forward to a clue that requires two questions marks??

    Last one in for me was the crow – I had the answer, but was wondering if I was missing a second meaning, then eventually the largest part dawned on me, nice clue. I also liked 8a, 16a, and 23a.

    Many thanks setter and bd as always

  8. I couldn’t make my answer for 8A fit the clue, causing some head scratching until I cleaned my specs and realized the error of my ways. 14D is today’s favorite for me. Thanks to the setter (Virgilius, I presume) and Big Dave for the review.

    1. I think I made the same mistake with 8a! I hope you are not having too many problems with that awful weather up north. I believe you work from home, if so, that must be a huge plus.

      1. Chilly here, but not bad. Freezing rain tonight. Nothing we can’t cope with or are not prepared for!

  9. A la Bonne franquette. So many heads of state queuing to get on the bus for the start of the biggest demonstration France has ever witnessed since liberation day.
    But have we really won this war?
    Vive la liberté.

    1. No, this is not a war that can be won. It requires moderate Moslems to work against extremism in their religion from within, and Western countries to stop attacking them with armies.

      Meantime, security will crank up to previously unheard levels working as much in favour of the extremists as against them. What sort of civilisation will we be left with?

  10. Another very nice puzzle – some great clues again. Thanks to setter for a nice mental workout!
    2*/4* is my rating.

  11. Ánother Sunday puzzle to the high standard we have come to expect. Managed to solve without the hints. I rate this as 2/3 I particularly liked clues 21D and 23D Both were succinct but effective. Thanks to BD for the review.

  12. Another great puzzle, thanks V and BD.I particularly liked 24a, 25a, 21a and 6d.For 15a I had a particular British flower girl in mind for a long time, but it just wouldn’t fit.Lots of girls today. If there was a hidden clue , I didn’t notice it.

  13. Found this a bit trickier than usual – all issues in the SW, so once I got a couple (with the faintest rumour of electronic help) – the rest followed. Very enjoyable as per usual – thanks to BD and Virgilius 2.5*/4*

  14. A great puzzle today with a stack of good clues. Needed a couple of hints but 17d caught me out as I had the wrong version of Tories. ***/*** mainly because bottom left corner wouldnt work with my version of 17. Hard to pinpoint a favourite but I like 7d as much as any as I didnt twig the significance of the first word until the answer was in the grid.

  15. Thanks to Virgilius & B. D.
    Still stuck on 3D &15 D but I will persist.

    In new house (23A) just finished 1.5M x 5.3M…envy all round.


    D. D.

  16. My last in, and favourites, were 14d and 20a. (OK, if I am only allowed one, it’s 14d.) Another very enjoyable Sunday but I found it more difficult than usual; 3*/4* today. Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  17. I found this a little trickier than most Virgilius’ offerings, but no less enjoyable.
    Needed electronic gizmo for 14d, really got stuck on that, then when I got the answer I had no idea why it took so long.
    I did get 8a, wanted to make an anagram but missed the cap in one word, can’t say more for fear of being thrown under the train.
    Lots of honourable mentions, but I think fave has to be 7d, how clever is that?
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the review.

  18. 3*/4*. I thought this very enjoyable puzzle was going to be 2* for difficulty but the last few clues stretched my time to to 3*.

    Brilliant cluing as ever on a Sunday with great surface readings throughout. I keep changing my mind regarding my favourite, but I’ll plump for the superb 7d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  19. Just had rethink on 7d. Gosh isn’t it brilliant, silly me missed the significance first time round.

  20. ***/***. Enjoyable but sometimes tricky puzzle. Too many Cuba libres last evening meant a lazy start to the day and this exercise. Thanks to the setter and BD for the review.

  21. Just over my (self-imposed) 1* time limit, so it gets 2*/3* from me. I liked 9d, despite not usually picking this sort of clue as favourite, because of the inherent misdirection. Thanks to the setter, and to BD for the hints.

  22. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very nice puzzle, quite tricky, but great fun. Favourites were 2d&21a. Last in was 15d. Was 3*/4* for me.

  23. Thank you Virgillius for an excellent puzzle and BD for hints. One day I will be independent but I think it’s a long way off.

    Favourite clue 5d for the groan factor.

    It’s nice to be doing crosswords again :)

  24. A most enjoyable puzzle which I completed after a fashion having gone a bit astray with 17d – SE quarter therefore solved last. 10a made me chuckle. Lots of clever clues so thank you Virgilius for a brilliant puzzle. Many thanks to BD for the hints not needed but enjoyed nevertheless. The peace marches through Paris and in most big cities in France were very moving – i would have been one of the participants, should I have been in my country – was there in my heart.

  25. Very enjoyable. As with most Sundays it took a little bit of getting into but it flowed quite nicely after that. Just one thing, I can’t see the relevance of ‘Mavericks’ in 18d unless a maverick is some sort of cattle.
    Thx to all.

    1. I have said it before and will probably say it again but why not look in a dictionary before saying ‘I can’t see….’

  26. Straw Bear festival in Whittlsea yesterday, then Paris earlier,now going to Madrid for a few days. Eiffel Tower with Cynth and Cuth in Je Suis Charlie coats was a sight i’ll never forget. Anyway back to the blog thank you BD and Virgilius

    1. The mind boggles – how did you get Cynth and Cuth to Paris? Do we get to see a photo of them at the Eiffel Tower?

  27. Very late here today – we’ve had a lovely day in London – younger Lamb cooked Sunday lunch and we were joined by elder Lamb and her partner. As so often happens there was an ulterior motive – phone call a couple of days ago “Mum, if I did lunch on Sunday could you and Dad come up and while you’re both here could Dad do . . . and could you help me with . . . ? etc etc!
    Didn’t start the crossword until late so completely out of routine – that’s my excuse for finding it trickier than usual.
    I ended up completely stuck with 20a and 14d and I confess to needing the hint to understand what had to be the right answer to 7d – dim, or what? That one ended up being my favourite.
    The usual very enjoyable Sunday crossword so thanks to Virgilius and to BD.
    Need bed now.

  28. I found this a bit trickier than usual in parts, namely 8a and 24a. This was, however, a most enjoyable Sunday crossword. It’s difficult to select a fave, but I think it must be 7a, followed by 10a, 2d and 14d.

    Big thanks to Virgilius for providing us with a gem of a puzzle week after week.

    And big thanks too to Big Dave for the excellent hints. I did not use them at the time. I now understand my answer to 24a.

    I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Big Dave for unfailingly providing us with his peerless Big Dave’s Crossword Blog. Brilliant!

    Oh dear! I had a lovely rose for you but while trying to remove an italic, I messed up the emoticon.

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