ST 2780 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2780 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2780 (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    Do some home improvement — add bar? (10)
This could mean to add a bar to a previously awarded medal

6a    Long, narrow point or points turned round (4)
To get this long narrow point of land running into the sea simply revers () some points on the end of sharp objects

9a    Bone in rump, centre thereof (7)
The rump of hind part followed by the middle letters (centre) of [r]UM[p] (thereof means of the thing just mentioned, i.e. rump)

10a    It’s said to eliminate noise, say, in camera component (7)
A two-letter exhortation to keep quiet followed by a verb meaning to say or state

17a    Material for violins, etc revolted conductor (8)
A verb meaning revolted or rebelled followed by the surname of the famous conductor who founded the annual Promenade Concerts at the Albert Hall

19a    Like animals or birds, but not necessarily fish (6)
… because fish can also be singular!

24a    A powerful explosive article about US city, initially, or another (7)
Put the A from the clue, a powerful explosive and the indefinite article around the two-letter abbreviation for a US city to get a different US city

26a    Type choice of endings in this text (4)
Split as (1,2,1) this could indicate a choice of endings in [thi]S [tex]T

27a    I’d pulled back, protected by natural tendency? It’s not clear (10)
The reversal (pulled back) of I’D inside (protected by) a natural tendency


1d    A little of whatever is known is dangerous thing (4)
Hidden (a little of) inside the clue

3d    Moscow’s anger disturbed new politician in Washington? Not he (13)
An anagram (disturbed) of MOSCOW’S ANGER followed by N(ew) gives a female (not he) politician in Washington

4d    Lots of people supporting reading or writing old language (6)
A four-letter word foe lots of people preceded by (supporting in a down clue) the letter that represents Reading or wRiting and O(ld)

7d    Situation of plant on part of golf course that can be problem when driving (7)
Where you might find (situation of) a plant followed by part of a golf course gives something that can be a problem when driving, not a golf club, but a car

8d    It raised sum, we hear, in bank, in irritating way (10)
The reversal (raised) of IT followed by a word that sounds like (we hear) sum inside a verb meaning to bank or depend

11d    Stupid group of workers, none the less, report information in it (13)
An organised group of workers without the O (none the less) followed by a verb meaning to report and some information inside IT

13d    Show lasting effects of accidents in fast vehicles (6,4)
A verb meaning to show or display followed by the lasting effects of accidents or injuries

20d    Managed game in East, supported by Asian city (7)
A three-letter verb meaning managed followed by a game that is popular in the East and a preposition meaning “supported by”

23d    Start of scene in plane — it’s not serious, so to speak (4)
The initial letter (start) of S[cene] inside a type of aeroplane

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Alicia Keys (34) and David Ginola (48)
ARVE Error: need id and provider
… and not forgetting,
Rabbie Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis


53 comments on “ST 2780 (Hints)

  1. Good fun. if a litle easier than normal? Just over 1*/3*** for me on this bright and sunny morning. A nice variation on a few old chestnuts. 13d brought a smile. Thanks to the Sunday Maestro and BD.

  2. I didn’t think it was easier than usual, quite the opposite.Thanks for parsing 9a.Lots of the clues were of the “bung them in ” variety for me, rather than fullly understanding why the answer was what it is.Amoung clues I liked and understood were 10a,24a,27a and 23d. Thanks V and BD.

    1. Same here – a case of putting in a word that fits and then unravelling the wordplay to see if it still made sense!

  3. Took ages but was very enjoyable. We just needed a little help in understanding the bung-ins. Thank you to the Sunday setter and to BD.

  4. I found this one to be a bit of a work out. Did not know the conductor in 17a, but the answer was obvious though – so something learned there. I enjoyed the rest of it despite the heavy going!
    3*/4* for me.

  5. Thank you Virgilius once more for another super puzzle. I really look forward to the weekly Sunday challenge. Not too hard today I thought. Thanks for the hints BD.

  6. Not exactly a barrel of laughs but enjoyed the tussle whilst also following the Murray/Dmitrov match in Australia on line – phew he made it! Can’t believe I had to seek outside help to parse 21d and 24a – d’oh – can quite see now why they were too simple to warrant BD hints! Thanks Mysteron. ***/**.

    1. I had not heard of Alicia Keys but LOVED the video of her recording about New York (“Wonderful Town”) where I lived for several happy years – golden memories. Thanks BD.

  7. As I am already on the naughty step from yesterday, without being more specific am I the only one who had a sense of deja vu with one of the answers? OK I had to use the supertoy to check my spelling which was a bit suspect on a couple of words – I seem to have a problem when the word is vertical but see it once it is horizontal. Thanks to V and BD for a splendid way to spend Sunday morning.

  8. Not an easy solve.
    First reading made me feel that I was about to tackle a Toughie.
    But plodded along slowly and surely until completion.
    Didn’t like 19a too much, nor 7d.
    9a was very good and becomes my favourite of the day.
    I tried to read aloud Robert Burns poem but sorry to say that I just couldn’t.
    I wonder what Jane is going to think about all this tripe. And no offense to the writer of course.
    Thanks to the setter and to BD for the hints.

    1. Good job Big Boab isn’t listening in jean-luc – or maybe he is ! We will be partaking of the aforesaid tripe with a wee dram this evening. A good excuse. I hope the use of the small measure doesn’t land me in the naughty corner BD !

    2. Hi Jean-luc – don’t get the weekend papers but popped in to see how you’re all faring. It may surprise you to learn that I really like haggis, complete with neeps and tatties! Actually, I’m rather partial to black pudding as well (apart from the ‘white’ bits).

  9. Straightforward for me today, with a touch of American flavor, which suits me just fine. I’m partial to ‘grammar’ clues so 14A and 19A get my vote, but 12A is my favorite just because It’s such a lovely word. Thanks, Virgilius, and thanks BD for the review.

  10. I’m definitely in the quite tricky camp – a really good crossword though and one that kept me occupied for far longer than it should have done.
    26a had to be what it was but I couldn’t see why for ages and the same with 19a and 21d.
    I’m beginning to think that my new problem is going to be spotting anagrams – I missed an obvious one in NTSPP yesterday and today it was 16d – seem to have hidden answers sussed.
    I liked 19 and 26a and 3 and 7d – the picture for 7d looks the way that most of Oxford is at the moment.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.
    The sun is out and it’s much less cold today – off to the garden – might plant sweet peas.

    1. Hi Kath – just checking up on everyone’s progress over the weekend. Yes, I certainly would have been ‘up the drainpipe’ with a for Dads if I’d been around. Mine would certainly have been in the ‘pedant’ camp yesterday!
      Been indulging in my usual weekend game (don’t get the papers Sat/Sun) of looking at the hints and trying to work out the answers. With no checkers, it can sometimes still be a bit of a fight to get there. The penny has only just dropped re: 24a from yesterday.

      How’s the marmalade coming along?

      1. Best way to describe the marmalade is as an ongoing project – been in the garden all afternoon and am totally incapable of doing two things at once.

        1. I used to make a gorgeous three fruit marmalade but now OH is diabetic it is off the menu and he has some dire thing with artificial sweetener. Yeuk.

          1. Oh yuk indeed. I make about thirty-forty pounds of marmalade every year – we get through quite a lot and for some reason I seem to be the the “designated marmalade maker” for the entire family – the Lambs and my Mum being the main “pinchers of marmalade”. I’m not complaining – I quite enjoy making it apart from the sticky mess that the kitchen becomes – not to mention what I end up like – it’s something nice to do at this rather dead time of year.

  11. I very much enjoyed this puzzle, not too great a challenge today so would rate this 1.5/3. In my opinion the best clue was 6A Very pithy, cryptic enough and a good smiler. When I was enjoying my morning coffee and doing the puzzle I thought what a peaceful enjoyment it is. Then I thought of all the bloggers for whom it must be a task to complete the puzzle to a deadline. I thank them all for their efforts, and of course, specifically, Big Dave for today’s review.

  12. Polly and I found this fairly straightforward today, although she got a better offer (breakfast) half way through, leaving me to finish alone. A comfortable 2* and very enjoyable as always.

  13. Just popped in to say that if anyone has been thinking of trying an Enigmatic Variations puzzle, today’s is a good place to start. Most of the clues are no more difficult than a typical back-pager, and the topical theme is easy to grasp.

    1. I’ve only tried them a couple of times before and didn’t get on very well, but I’ll give it a whirl!

    2. Thanks DT, loved the challenge and the Churchill speech.
      First time lucky I suppose. And a little help from wikigoogle.
      The clueing is quite tough but fun to solve.
      That will definitely put an end to dull Sundays.

    3. Well, what a great puzzle that was – but I thought it was nearer a Toughie than a back page, personally. Still very enjoyable, and many thanks for the suggestion.

  14. Sunday puzzles are a regular highlight to look forward to, and this was no exception. Several clues seemed especially satisfying, the favourite being 19a – with 9a and 16d my runners up in a strong field.
    One thing I like about the Virgilius crosswords is the final feeling that it should have been so obvious (yet at the time it wasn’t!). Hence it took me longer than I thought it should have, too – so 3* / 4* today. Thanks also to BD for the hints – almost needed, but that American state clicked at the last minute.

  15. On the first reading I gulped and pulled a gromit face thinking that it was going to be a bit too tricky, but once I had a few solved, the rest fell in etc etc. Highly enjoyable as always with thanks to BD and Virgilius 2.5*/4*

  16. ***/***. Extra * for difficulty as I’d pretty much done this on first pass but then got stumped by a few in the SE corner. Picked up again this morning and they seemed much easier. Thanks to the setter and BD for the review. Really liked 19&26a and 13d.

  17. I found this a bit trickier than normal for a Virgilius puzzle, missing 23d completely. I just love his style, even when difficult.
    I needed help understanding a couple when the answer fit but I didn’t know why. Fave was 19a, runner up was 12a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  18. An excellent puzzle – thoroughly enjoyed it, but am absolutely stuck on 21d. Can anyone supply a teensy weensy hint without breaking the rules?

    1. 21d – The definition is an American state. Start off with a three letter fruit – probably not one that you would eat but the birds do – they are little berries that grow on a plant mainly used for hedging. Follow that with the A from the clue and the letters that look like the Roman numeral for two (couple of Romans). Good luck and hope that helps.

        1. OK Franco and Expat Chris – now what have I done?
          Can’t see that I’ve said anything that’s going to get me sent to the naughty corner – anyway they’ll have to be jolly quick as I’m off to bed very soon and our house is like a rabbit warren so they’ll have to find me first!!

          1. In case the Naughty Steppists tried to invade the rabbit warren, Kath, I should like to assure them that light dawned for me just a little before your splendid exposition, for which many thanks. So I hope you have been spared to tweet another day. But it wasn’t ‘arf a tricky clue!

            1. Thanks Kath – 21d has been bugging me all night. I always forget that the answer is ***********************.

                1. A tad harsh old boy given some of the ‘near as dammit’ replies. No names, no pack drill…

  19. 3.5*/4*. This was definitely at the tricky end of Virgilius’ scale for me although still superbly enjoyable.

    21d was my last one in as I was transfixed by looking for a four letter fruit to go with a couple of Romans until the answer finally dawned on me.

    As usual for a Sunday I loved all the clues, but 22a & 26a are my joint favourites today.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  20. A really good crossword which I really enjoyed completing. 9a was my favourite clue I think. Many thanks to Virgilius and of course, the governor for his hints.

  21. Another lovely Sunday puzzle, mostly done while half asleep en route to the airport so something of a bittersweet solve.

    9a made us laugh lots and we also particularly liked 19a and 26a. That last I failed to parse: grr!

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  22. Some of the clues had me groping a bit, but l think that was a wavelength thing. In the end l completed well within 2* time. 3* for satisfaction, maybe a bit more. 10a was in pole position for favouritism for quite a while, but was pipped at the post by my last in – 19a. That one went in with a dull “thunk”, accompanied by a rueful grin. My thanks to the setter, and to Big Dave for the hints.

  23. Quite tricky, I particularly liked 24 and 25a. A useful distraction whilst the boss watched her favourite evening TV. Excellent review, possible Freudian slip of foe rather than for in one hint.

  24. I found this a little trickier than some of the recent Sunday puzzles, and as a result I found the challenge more enjoyable.
    Many thanks to Virgilius for an excellent puzzle, and to BD for the hints.

  25. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable but very tricky puzzle. I’m still stuck on 16d, any help would be much appreciated. Was 3*/3* for me.

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