ST 2786 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2786 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2786 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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Our March Prize Puzzle is now available – why not have a go?

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    Instructional text used in preparation of course (6)
This instructional text is used in the preparation of a course of a meal

4a    Off-putting statement from me as pagan (8)
Split as (1,2,5) this is a statement that the compiler could make when putting off an action until tomorrow

11a    Runs into singer and part of orchestra (5)
Put R(uns) inside a deep-voiced singer

13a    Article penned by humorous author for kid, say (7)
The definite article inside (penned by) a writer of humorous verse

15a    Make a contribution with good setting up (8)
A phrasal verb meaning to make a contribution (5,2) followed by G(ood)

23a    I belong with new organisation in base (7)
An anagram (with new organisation) of I BELONG

25a    Being portrayed as smart about use of computers (7)
A verb meaning to smart or suffer pain around the two-letter abbreviation for the use of computers

28a    After partner’s heart, play this (8)
This allusion to a game of bridge appears to be simply a cryptic definition of a tune played to win over a prospective partner

29a    Didn’t go steady, being fickle (6)
An anagram (being fickle) of STEADY


1d    Rocky situation faced, so to speak, by four presidents? (8)
A cryptic definition of a famous US landmark

3d    King on one vessel captured by noble warship (9)
The Latin abbreviation for king followed by I (one) and a large vessel or tank, all inside a member of the nobility

5d    Removing forces from a revolt after limited changes (14)
The A from the clue and a revolt preceded by an anagram (changes) of LIMITED

9d    Objected about perhaps changing drug taken the wrong way (14)
A verb meaning objected or took offence around an anagram (changing) of PERHAPS and the usual single-letter drug

16d    Male with cunning thought sincere (9)
The male pronoun followed by a three-letter word meaning cunning or craftiness and a verb meaning thought or was aware of

21d    Leaders leaving bar aid city that’s showing effect of drought (7)
One of Virgilius’s trademarks – drop the initial letters (leaders) from three words in the clue

22d    Flower-girl turned up with American star (6)
The reversal () of a flower that is also a girl’s name is followed by the two-letter abbreviation for American

24d    Staff don’t make declaration (5)
Split as (3,2) this is a cricketing term describing what happens when one side doesn’t declare their innings closed

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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.

Please read these instructions carefully. Offending comments may be redacted or deleted.

Today it’s Happy Birthday to Gary Numan (57) and Micky Dolenz (70)
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36 comments on “ST 2786 (Hints)

  1. This puzzle, for me, continued with the ‘trickier than usual’ theme of the last weekend and this one. I thought it was a superb puzzle with some excellent surfaces and I thoroughly enjoyed solving it. Thanks to BD and Virgilius 2.5*/4.5*

  2. Some lovely clues I thought. I particularly liked 20a ( alternative to reveille) and 26a (form of gold or silver..) clever and elegant. I enjoyed 1a ( instructional text), 29a (didn’t go steady..) and 7d ( form of instruction…)

    I did wonder whether “so to speak” was really needed in 1d, any views?

    Many thanks virgilius and BD

  3. This was a very reasonable puzzle we thought, though we really struggled with it. With help from the hints we managed to finish. I think others will find this quite easy. It’s so annoying not being able to work out the answers when they are quite straightforward. Thank you to the Sunday setter and to BD.

  4. As is normal for a Sunday, hard but enjoyable. However, I always seem to end up with two clues unanswered which are seldom in the hints. Today it is 7d and 13a. I have several possible answers for 7d none of which fully fit the clue but none at all for 13a.
    Any help would be most appreciated.
    As for the rest, my fav was 4a but 26a, 22d and 5d were also v good clues I thought. My only quibble would perhaps be with 19d, surely this stuff is sharp rather than sour? A minor point I know.
    Thx to all.

    1. I think that the only way I can comment on your remark about 19d without being put in a corner is to suggest you look at the BRB and the derivation of the word in question.

      1. In the Oxford Dictionary of English, not only is the etymology as you described, but also “sour” is the first word used to describe it.

      2. Ok I did look in the BRB before making the comment but it just seemed to me that this substance tastes sharp rather than sour but it’s only a very minor point in an excellent crossword.

  5. A second visit has revealed 7d and 13a, just took ages to parse them. Mind you spelling 6d correctly helped! 13a is really clever I thought.

  6. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. I couldn’t do this to save my life. Needed 7 hints to finish. Was 4*/2* for me.

  7. Having had a bad week I found that with the minimal amount of help from BD I was able to finish. Needed help to see why I had put in a couple of answers 7d and 13a but on the whole I was pleased with my effort. Remembered 1a from a few weeks ago and loved the anagrams, difficult to choose a favourite but was proud of sorting 5d out. Thanks to BD and Virgilius, roll on Monday and another crossword to solve.

  8. Ah Virgilius – my favourite setter. I seem to always thoroughly enjoy the Sunday puzzle – some novel clues that I have not seen before. I did find it pretty much a read and write and finished it in 1* time. I will give it a rare 5* for enjoyment.

    Quite a contrast to my nemesis RayT! I still do not understand why some setters create puzzles which seem easy to me and more difficult to others, and the the converse.with ones I find very difficult that others find easy.
    Interesting (well at least for me!)

  9. I found this really difficult. I thought there were loads of brilliant clues but it’s taken me ages – much longer than usual. I think I’m having a dim day.
    I would never have got 1d – my lack of general knowledge letting me down again.
    I missed both the hidden answers for far too long and 24d was my last answer – plus ca change!
    Spent ages trying to make 28a begin with a * (***************).
    I made a pig’s ear of 6d which mucked up 4 and 13a very effectively.
    Generally oh dear, I think.
    I liked 4 and 15a and 2 and 22d. My favourite was 20a even though it’s a hidden one!

    1. I know exactly what you mean about 28a as I did the same thing. Eventually, when I had all the checking letters, it came to me with a huge flash!

  10. Typical Virgilius puzzle, brilliant! Impossible to choose a fave, maybe 28a will have to be it today as it was my last in, could not get it until it just hit me.
    It was over all too quickly, thanks Virgilius, and to BD for your review.

  11. I just couldn’t get to grips with this and have been returning to it on and off all day with interruptions for Davis Cup etc. – well done Andy Murray! I did in fact manage to get there in the end on my Jack Jones with the exception of 1d where BD saved me from settling for ********. 24d appealed. Thanks Virgilius for a bit of a mind-bender. ****/***.

      1. You’re very welcome to join me in the naughty corner – I can guess what your “alternative answer” was as it was all I could think of too!

        1. Great minds think alike or should it be fools seldom differ? See you in the NC in a minute – It will be good to have some company although I’m ready to

    1. 7d Form of instruction can, when a head is included (5-2)
      Another word for a can containing ‘a head’ or ‘per head’.

  12. I found this puzzle very challenging indeed. I needed BD’s hint for 13a in order to finish and finished I did! 1d was my first one in and it did make me smile but my vote for favourite goes to 10a. In all a brilliant puzzle with lots of clever clues so many thanks to Virgilius without forgetting BD for his help. 3*/5*.

  13. Brilliant and fun (sitting in the shade on a glorious sunny day with a bottle of something good!) Hardest part was SW corner but once the flower girl went in, it all fell into place. And speaking of SW (28a), BD surely there is nothing to do with Bridge – it’s all about being romantic!!

    Thanks to V for another “blessing” on Sunday and to BD for hints.

    Quick dip in the pool now!

    1. I’m pretty sure that BD knows it’s nothing to do with Bridge – he means that that’s what we were meant to think – i.e. a spot of misdirection.
      As for sitting in the shade with a nice bottle of something and a quick dip in the pool I think I’d keep quiet if I were you . . .

  14. Found this rather tricky but enjoyable. Managed to finish it with a bit of help from Big Dave to confirm a couple that we weren’t sure about. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big D. 3*/4*

  15. Yes, tricky but enjoyable sums it up well. 2*/3* by my reckoning, and l was held up by the SW corner until l spotted the hidden solution in 26a. My favourite clue was the splendid 24d. My thanks to Virgilius, and of course to Big Dave.

  16. Agree with others that this was trickier than the usual Sunday Virgilius but lots of fun. SW caused some pain. The correct answers for 26a, 22d and 24d all popped into my head at various times to say hi but I sent them away again because I couldn’t see why. Eventually I sorted it all out. I took a while to get 28a for the same reason Kath did.

    I hadn’t heard of 7d but worked it out and looked it up. I also was glad of BD’s hint to confirm my guess as to the other meaning of 24d.

    It’s hard to pick a favourite from so many contenders, but 29a wins for its elegance and nicely hidden definition.

    Thanks to BG and BD. Hope you all had a lovely weekend.

  17. Thank you Virgilius, it seems strange doing one of your puzzles on a Monday – perhaps that was why it seemed a bit trickier than normal ! Got really stuck on 7d, mainly because I had made a hash of 13a. So thanks for your hint Gazza for 7d – it drew my attention to the fact that 13a was a mess ! Thanks for the hints BD, 9d was a big help in the unravelling process.

  18. Red letter day!
    I did it, I did it, I finally did it!
    Managed to complete this crossword with no electronic help and no hints!
    Smug mode firmly engaged, even if it did take me until today to do it.
    Fisrt time ever for a Sunday Cryptic.
    Frabjous day callooh callay!

    Thaks to the setter…and to the reviewer, even if I didn’t need the hints!

  19. Several days after the event I have at last ‘caught up’ with my cryptics! This was a super Virgilius puzzle with lots of good stuff involved. 28a was my favourite. 3*/3* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for his hints.
    I have now run out of excuses for not doing my guitar practice…

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