ST 2781 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

ST 2781 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2781 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

It was great to meet so many of you at yesterday’s 6th Birthday celebration.  I was pleased to see so many new faces – please come again to our next event.  The biggest surprise of all was the appearance of Jean-Luc Cheval, who flew in from the South of France especially to be with us.  I missed the significance of his Friday comment “Only BD with his super IP address finder will be able to locate me.” – he was in Covent Garden at the time, although the “super IP address finder” said he was in Birmingham!  By the way, the macaroons were superb, as everyone who tasted them will confirm.

Records are regularly broken by the blog, but in January we reached a special landmark – over half a million page views (510,241 to be precise) over the course of the month.

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    Government, in disarray, isn’t being held in high regard (14)
An anagram (in disarray) of ISN’T inside some high regard or respect

10a    Consult part of manual, say, for problem with tank (7)
A three-letter verb meaning to consult, perhaps, a doctor followed by part of a manual or book

12a    Notice fair-minded people with little time producing change (10)
A two-letter notice followed by an adjective meaning fair-minded, some male people and the abbreviation (little) for T(ime)

15a    Set off in vessel heading east after opening scenes (8)
A three-letter vessel or container followed by the heading E(ast) and preceded by the group of scenes that form the opening of a play (3,1) – heading east in an across clue usually indicates a reversal, but not here!

17a    A Conservative supporter accepts workers’ organisation, in fact (8)
The A from the clue, C(onservative) and a supporter or helper around the usual workers’ organisation

21a    Endless difficulty framing suitable answer that’s useful (10)
Start with a seven-letter difficulty, drop the final letter (endless) and then place what’s left around an adjective meaning suitable and A(nswer)

22a    Asian leader in past hiding yen in part of Ireland (4)
The name of a the former (in the past) leader of an Asian country around (hiding) Y(en)

26a    Standard variety of green trade for this kind of farmer (6,8)
A standard or criterion followed by an anagram (variety) of GREEN TRADE


1d    Advent calendar finally included by a competitor (7)
The final letter of [calenda]R inside the A from the clue and a competitor

2d    Does extra work on a tuneful arrangement, initially — work for pianists (9,6)
A verb meaning does extra work outside one’s normal working hours followed by ON A and the initial letters of T[uneful] A[rrangement]

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d    With thoroughfare restricted, go on horseback or walk (6)
The abbreviation (restricted) for a type of thoroughfare followed by a verb meaning to go on horseback

6d    Mad Hatter I mostly describe as overdramatic (10)
An anagram (mad) of HATTER I followed by a verb meaning to describe or designate without its final letter (mostly)

8d    One insect or another let out (6)
A three-letter insect followed by an anagram (out) of LET

17d    Native growing up in mountainous area, possibly Nepali (6)
This plant which grows up in a mountainous area is an anagram (possibly) of NEPALI

20d    A request received by US city or state (6)
The A from the clue is followed by a verb meaning to request inside the abbreviation for a US city gives a US state

23d    Musicians not allowed in audition (4)
Sounds like a word meaning not allowed or prohibited

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

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 Lisa Marie Presley (47) and Don Everly (78)
ARVE Error: need id and provider


49 comments on “ST 2781 (Hints)

  1. 2*/4* from me for another great Sunday puzzle. It’s so difficult as usual on a Sunday to pick a favourite, but I’ll settle for 15a which was my last one in.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD, whose explanation I needed to understand fully the wordplay for 17d.

  2. Thank you Virgilius for another enjoyable puzzle and thanks BD for your hints. You must have been thrilled to see so many people come to the party yesterday – especially from overseas as well. Some photos perhaps…….?

  3. **/****. A really fun puzzle and only held up briefly by a misspell. Super Bowl today so will be joining the 12th man to support the Seahawks. Lots of wings and things to eat washed down with a few beers.

    1. After being pummelled every day for two weeks by everything super bowl, I must be the only person in creation who is bored out of my mind with the whole thing! I shall watch a movie in perfect peace, far from the shouting and shrieking.

      1. Downton for me, too, but I will try to catch the commercials….he only time of year I ever say that!

  4. Unusually I have a problem with a Virgilius clue – 5d. There are two possible answers and the one he wants is the worse of the two. Guess which one we put in first?

    Otherwise brill as usual and many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    1. My BRB gives the definition for the answer to 5d as “possibiility of help” so for me that seems to fit the clue perfectly.

      1. It does indeed fit the clue, I never said it didn’t.
        The alternative answer has this def in Collins “a person, organization, or course of action that is turned to for help, protection, etc”. Also fits the clue perfectly.

        Therefore it’s a bad clue because you can’t know the answer until you have a checker in place.

        1. I agree with Pommers. I wasted a lot of time due to this as I could not see which of my down clues was wrong.

          1. If in doubt I always agree with pommers although it took me a long time to see what he was on about this time – I already had another answer in which made the alternative to the right answer impossible. Garbled – me – never!

            1. Hard to say more clearly without being sent to the naughty step and you lot ate all the cake yesterday. Glad to hear you all seem to have had a great day.

        2. Sorry, Pommers, I misunderstood you. When you said that the actual answer was the worse of the two possibilities I thought you meant it was incorrect. I take your point about the ambiguity. I was obviously lucky that I got the required answer first.

    2. Me too with the so-called wrong answer. And that totally screwed up the NE corner for me. It wasn’t until I read the hint that realization dawned and the rest of the answers fell into place. Must say that I am disappointed with Virgilius for the first time ever.

  5. Very much at the easier end of the Virgilius spectrum but precise and stylish clueing as ever.
    Short and sweet – 1*/3*

  6. Don’t get to tackle the Sunday puzzle very often, but I found this one quite enjoyable. Except that I am totally mystified by 3d, and I was stuck on 10a and 15a until, with help from BD, I realised that, probably like pommers, I had the ‘alternative’ solution for 5d. But, a polite comment for BD – you appear to have named the vessel in your hint for 15a.

  7. Great puzzle, the usual Virgilius brilliance. I never did get 3d, but I have a feeling it’s probably the easiest one. Oh well!
    I had so many likes, but I think 2d wins the race for fave.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the review.
    I’m glad you had such a good party yesterday, I wish I could have attended.

  8. A lovely crossword – really enjoyable.
    I was terribly stuck on the last few – 3d (my last answer) 17a and 17d (stupid but didn’t see the fairly obvious anagram until I got 17a.
    I took ages to get 1a which slowed up getting lots of the down answers.
    Didn’t know the 19d fish – I’ve only ever heard of that word as a rude(ish) gesture.
    I liked 10 and 26a and 2 and 13d.
    With thanks to Virgilius for the crossword and to BD for the hints and for a very good day yesterday.
    I just wonder if BD might be spending the rest of today in his own naughty corner – or should we let him off?

    1. I’ve covered up BD’s ‘transgression’. I haven’t any cake at all today but if Mrs BD hasn’t eaten the slice of celebration cake I sent home for her yesterday, perhaps he could have that.

    2. Mea culpa.

      When writing the hints i often write in the word that is to go in the answer, the hit Ctrl + right click which looks it up in my WordWeb dictionary and thesaurus. What I intended to do was to replace said word with a synonym, in this case one that indicated that this vessel was not a seagoing craft. Sometimes I get distracted and the “guilty” word remains in the review.

      1. I think you’re allowed to do anything you like today. 17a you can do anything you like any day – it’s your blog, and it’s wonderful.

  9. Can’t for the life of me get 3d – even with the checking letters. I have something in mind, but I don’t get the wordplay. Aren’t these just the worst?

  10. For some reason it took me sometime to get off the ground with this but then I really enjoyed it. As commented above wrong word for 5d held up 10a and 15a. Surely “what” in 14a should have been “that which”? Liked 25a although it may be a bit of an old chestnut. Thanks Virgilius for much fun and BD particularly for the evergreen Beethoven.

    Glad you all had such a good time yesterday – cakes, ale et al.

  11. Just a note to say how much I enjoyed yesterday. Thanks to the weather west of London my match was postponed so took a last minute decision to “put faces to names” and glad I did so. Good company, even better beer (TT’s Landlord). I’ve not posted a comment before but use the site for hints – that makes me a lurker apparently!

    1. Welcome from me too – at least I can put a face to your name thanks to yesterday. I was the one who told you that you were officially a lurker although lots of others may also have said so. Anyway, all irrelevant now as you’re no longer one.

  12. Every setter knows that a clue may have an alternative answer; it is impossible to avoid all the time, though of course we try — thanks to those who pointed it out. Hoping you haven’t heard this one already, it reminds me of the priest in Ireland having problems with a crossword and consulting his bishop. The bishop soon found the problem and said: “I think you’ll find that the answer to ‘He was born in a stable and is worshipped by millions’ (5) is not ARKLE”. (Arkle was the name of a famous Irish racehorse).

    1. Hi Brian

      As to ARKLE – :lol:

      Otherwise, sorry to have brought it up but when it’s one of your puzzles I was a bit astounded. You are usually so scupulously correct in your clueing. Pommette and I had all in apart from the two across clues which go across the middle of the one in question. Took ages before I suddenly twigged that we had 5d wrong.

      No pasa nada

    2. Who am I to question your setting Brian? I have just listened via YouTube to your perceptive interview in May 2010 re “Clues to Social Justice”. Your modest cruciverbal enthusiasm is so engaging. Here’s to next Sunday!

    3. My thought was that the wrong answer to 5d was associated with more certainty than indicated by “possibility”, but maybe I was being over analytical.

  13. No problems (I was lucky to hit the right answer for 5d) and lots of smiles. All that remained after filling the grid was to look up an alternative spelling and a fish, and to parse 22a which misled me in a way I’d spell out on a non-prize day.

    1a/3d were my last in for some reason. I liked 9a and 7d, and thought in audition a nice homophone indicator though I bet it’s used often enough. I’ll go with 2d as favourite, because it is one of the few things I can play half way competently.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD

  14. I am green with envy, you all sound as though you had a wonderful day and BD must be glowing with pride. Loved the crossword, I started well with 2d and it all fell into place, perhaps I am a Sunday person after all. I was apprehensive initially when I first got the paper delivered that I was going to spend the weekend under the stairs but NO. Thanks to V and BD for making me a very happy little old lady.

  15. After a flying start, we slowed down somewhat but then eventually finished another very enjoyable puzzle. A great time was had yesterday meeting so many people from the blog and realising that we all really do exist!!

  16. Tricky puzzle, I started off well but faded! Never did get 3d – any allowable hints BD ??? Thanks for 10a help BD. Quite beyond me without your help!

  17. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. Another super puzzle from Virgilius, I thought 13d was particularly well constructed. Favourites were 18a&2d. Was 3*/4* fantastic afternoon yesterday in Little Venice, great to meet everyone, thanks to CrypticSue for delicious cake, without me being on the Naughty Step, and congratulations to Big Dave on successfully steering the blog into it’s seventh year.

  18. Staring at 3d – my last in – for ten minutes put me into 2* time, so 2*/3* on balance. I’m afraid l can’t decide for favouritism between 2d (about the only recognisable piece l could play) and 26a (my dear old Dad was one). Thanks to the setter for the mental exercise, and to Big Dave for the hints.

  19. Another very enjoyable Sunday thanks to Virgilius / Brian. (Somehow the Sunday clues always go down so well.) Thanks also to BD for the blog. Both are very much appreciated.

Comments are closed.