ST 2791 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2791 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2791 (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    In line with law introduced by one legislator? Not in so many words (8)
An adjective meaning in line with law preceded (introduced) by I (one) and a elected legislator

13a    Part of test on wife showing pounds gained, say (8)
Part of a cricket test match preceded by W(ife) – these pounds are sterling not avoirdupois

16a    Queen bee improperly ordered drink (4)
The Latin abbreviation for Queen and BEE swapped round (improperly ordered)

21a    Make catalogue that’s shorter and lacking oomph (8)
Split as (4,4) this could mean to produce a catalogue with fewer entries

23a    Encouraging holding copies back — that’s mean (12)
A verb meaning encouraging or exhilarating around (holding) the reversal (back) of a verb meaning copies – although Chambers has the enumeration as (12) other dictionaries give (6-6)

26a    Something on computer screen the writer scans (4)
Split as (1,3) this is equivalent of the writer/setter scans in the first person

27a    Asian queen cutting plant or flower (8)
Put an Asian queen (4) inside (cutting) a plant to get a flower

28a    Taken by surprise, began pulling in line (8)
A verb meaning began around (pulling in) L(ine)


2d    A nightly appearance, but not by star (8)
A cryptic definition of the nightly appearance of a heavenly body that is not a star

3d    Thames landmark, from vantage point on vessel author’s on (6,6)
The vantage point from which the captain controls a vessel preceded by (is on) an American author

4d    Caught bird — chicken? (6)
C(aught) FOLLOWED BY a bird gives an adjective meaning chicken or cowardly

12d    Performer who’s bound to start act, but not to finish it (12)
A cryptic definition of a performer, like Harry Houdini, who starts his act being bound or tied up but becomes free by the end

14d    Capital, we hear, doubled for solitary individual (5)
Two separate words (doubled) which sound the same (we hear) as this Asian capital city are an adjective meaning solitary and an individual

16d    Old composer heard, then modern one, in arrangement of bars for singer (8)
Split this as (4,4) and the first part sounds like an old English composer and the second part is an American composer (although to some of us that designation is debatable!) – put them together to get a framework made of bars into which a “singer” can be incarcerated, although quite why one would want to do that is beyond me

19d    Its majority shareholder can ask for anything, supposedly (8)
I loved this one and don’t want to spoil that penny-drop moment (so please don’t give additional help in the comments) – just think of something that invariably splits into two unequal “shares”

25d    Penniless receivers of money handed over as charity (4)
Drop (less) P(enny) from parts of the body that could act as receivers of, for example, money

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Herbie Hancock (75)
Image result for Herbie Hancock ARVE Error: need id and provider


56 comments on “ST 2791 (Hints)

  1. 4*/4*. An exhilarating challenge which took a lot of perseverance to complete.

    I spent some time trying to work out the anagram in 9a using the wrong fodder, and the hidden word in 5d proved elusive for quite a while (I hope poor Kath doesn’t get too held up by this one). 23a is an expression I have not heard for ages but was eventually able to drag up from my memory banks, and I needed Google to check the four letter plant name in 27a. I was also misled initially into thinking that the first four letters of 21a must be the last four letters.

    I was convinced to start with that the first four letters of 16d must be a homophone of a different composer. When the penny finally dropped, I felt sure this was going to be my favourite but it got trumped by my last one in, the brilliant 14d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius, who was definitely wearing his tricksy hat today, and to BD.

    1. Found 5d so it’s not poor Kath today it’s Kath today.
      Thanks for thinking of me though!

  2. Lovely Sunday crossword which caused felines to purr on both sides of the pond. I found it gentle and delightful, with the last few taking a little longer. I had to ponder a bit before settling on the second half of 1d.

    I liked lots, including 4d, 7d, 12d and 17a. Lucky for you it’s a Sunday – or I’d be tempted to give an alternative clue for 19d.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  3. Definitely tricky, with 19d being the trickiest of all. My favourite was 12d. I had to work backwards to understand the parsing of 23a, guessing the answer and seeing why afterwards. Thanks to all concerned.

  4. As usual a great Sunday puzzle which did take some thought. Lots of great clues as usual. A very enjoyable challenge.

    Thanks to all as usual.

    4*/5* for me today.

  5. Splendid Sunday masterpiece, tricky in places but delightfully witty. Difficult to nominate a favourite but 19a high on list. Off to try GK from yesterday thanks to BD And V.

    1. Sometimes I despair. I put instructions in bold red, have pop-ups spinning in from outer space and still some people will insist on providing alternative clues. The clue is correct. Check it in Chambers dictionary.

  6. Great puzzle today. Managed to get lots of answers without working them out until afterwards. I don’t suppose that’s the ‘right’ way to do it, but that’s the way I like it. Thank you to the Sunday setter and to BD.

    1. Heavens, isn’t that the way it is everyday? I often pencil in a prospective answer then read the clue again carefully to see if it makes sense. Then the wonders of the synthetic rubber eraser comes into action if it makes no sense!

      OK – crossword purists – you can abuse me now.

      1. Yes George it does happen every day, but so many people on here seem to be able to do them in their heads without resorting to guesses, electronic devices etc. that I don’t always admit to using them.

        1. I always write mine down, unless they are so obvious they pop out of the page and hit you. I use my electronic aid after I have exhausted all options, but i don’t consider that I cheat!

  7. Thank you Virgilius yet again for another most enjoyable puzzle. I really look forward to the Sunday puzzles as I know that I can do them, albeit they are never easy ! A fair challenge. Thanks BD for the hints.

  8. Are the Sunday Telegraph crosswords harder than the Daily puzzles? I’ve never tried the Sunday one before and it seems a lot harder.

    1. I’m afraid the answer is Yes and No. Harder than some, easier than others, but undoubtedly better than nearly all of them.

      1. Not sure they are often easier than the back page weekday puzzles but certainly better crafted on the whole.

        1. We agree with that! Sometimes more difficult, sometimes more complicated but always incredibly satisfying, especially the Sunday one.

    2. I don’t think it is necessarily harder – but Virgilius certainly creates some complex clues that often come from a different perspective. I really enjoy the Sunday puzzle because it always seems to me that I can eventually succeed at it because I can work out the clues, regardless of the difficulty. Some other puzzles I find hard because they have tenuous synonyms or poorly known general knowledge that you cannot solve without knowing something rather than using your logical abilities.

        1. Yes, you can check elsewhere on this site about the setters. But it seems to me that Virgilius does the Sunday puzzles.

    3. I’m not sure about Sunday crosswords being harder or otherwise it’s just that, to me anyway, they’re indefinably different. I don’t think that Virgilius ever seems to have an off day.

  9. Started at breakfast and finished after the lunch service.
    Such a beautiful day for a beautifully crafted crossword.
    I can’t believe I even got 19d.
    But 13a and 14d were my last ones in.
    Must remember to buy some more 27a, they very good to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
    Wanted to welcome two British writers to our first ever Book Festival.
    Bienvenue à Tim Willocks and RJ Ellory.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints.

  10. Fab. Fab. Fab. I do look forward to Sunday’s and today was no exception. Not that hard but some fine clueing….ingenious wordplay. Brilliant! Favourites were (down) 14, 16 and 19.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD for explaining the first word in 3d.

  11. Missing my better half and her assistance, I often have to lean on Mr Google and the electronic BRB to finish these things. Sometimes, like Friday, even that doesn’t help. But happily today that strategy worked. This is certainly the most inspired puzzle I’ve encountered since I started trying to understand cryptics a few months ago. No dodgy definitions, and so many witty clues that brought a smile: 20a, 15a, 14d, 16d, 25d, and, of course, 19d. Many thanks to the setter, and to BD for explanations of a few I couldn’t quite parse.

    1. I might point out that I am a whole person, but am not going to argue with the “better” ;).

  12. Stuck on 11a – I’ve googled & I’ve been down BD’s mine but can’t get the solution to this one clue which is a first for me in many Sundays – just a nudge in the right direction would be appreciated then I’ll disappear up to North Yorkshire to the coast for a week.

    Thanks to V & to BD as per.

    1. An, originally, Italian term for an entertaining piece of music – ‘arranged’ and ‘changed’ are both anagram indicators in the clue.

      1. You’re an angel! My classical musical knowledge is scant not to say almost non-existent however as I write I’m listening to Requiem: Dies Irae by Karl Jenkins on Spotify.

        Now I can go on holiday with a clear conscience about not leaving a puzzle unsolved.

        1. You might like to try a ‘proper’ Requiem such as Mozart’s or Verdi’s
          Have to confess I am not a great fan of Jenkins and an even lesser fan of that awful new Composed app/program being hyped to the Heavens by ClassicFM as it is incapable of playing music gapless…which is essential for classical music. Hmmph!

  13. I have not tackled a crossword for a few days now and this offering makes a very pleasant return. A very well crafted puzzle but difficult (4*) yet worth it for the enjoyment given (5*) 19D has to be my favourite for the ingenuity but I would give 7D a mention in dispatches for being clever, succinct and pithy. My thanks to BD for sacrificing his Sunday to post the review and monitor subsequent comments.

  14. A super puzzle today , great cluing thanks to the setter . Finished very early today although did get held up by 19d and last in 13a ***/****

  15. We thought this was one of the easier Sunday puzzles for a while or it might just be that we were on the right wavelength today. Not quite a read/write but not far off. However, please don’t think we didn’t enjoy it because we certainly did.
    The last in was 26a which I still don’t really understand even with the hint.
    Best clue for us was 23a which was a real smile clue.
    Thx to the setter and to BD for the hints.

  16. I was worried at first that I was slipping off Virgilius’s wavelength as I found this decidedly tricky to start. As I said, Virgilius is very fair and you get a chance to work it out from the clue.
    There are so many clever clues, but I think 19d is the winner, brilliant, with 23a as runner up.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the review.

  17. Great puzzle, but as usual I am stuck with a four letter one. 10a is obviously so crashingly easy that no-one else except me needs assistance – help, please????

    1. A fairly old fashioned word for a gift – how you might audibly disapprove of something followed by the abbreviation for new.

  18. The usual Sunday Splendid Stuff but with , for me, a bit of a sting in the tail.. Took ages to twig the parsing of 14d, latched on to the wrong old composer and never heard of the plant bit of 27a. The rest was pretty plain sailing but good fun so I’ll go for ***/****.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD. I nearly had to consult the hint for 14d to see how it worked but the penny dropped just in time and caused yet another dent in the T tray.

  19. The usual wonderful Sunday crossword – thought it might be marginally easier than some or maybe I’m having a good day.
    13a and 14d were almost my last answers with 19d getting both prizes – being last and favourite.
    16d took a while as I was thinking of a different kind of singer – no particular one but just not the right one.
    I liked 1 and 27a (how could I not like that one – both plants concerned are lovely) and 12 and 16d. My favourite was 19d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  20. TVM Virgilius for pleasurable Sunday test. Managed all but 14d where BD came to my rescue – thanks for that – d’oh! Never heard of second half of 16d but solution was obvious. ***/***.

  21. Sunday crosswords are different from those during the week; be they easier, harder… doesn’t matter, the Sunday crossword is different. And always very good too.
    Today’s was no exception; a very slow start and eventually I found myself working from the bottom up. The wrong answer for 13a held me up and the wrong composer in 16d didn’t help either! However I finally made it. 23a and 19d I thought were terrific clues and 3*/4* over all.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for his hints.

  22. A brilliant puzzle and a joy to solve! First perusal only yielded 9d… Perseverance paid off! 3*/5* with 12d as my favourite with 16d a close second. 19d was so clever. Got 5d but missed the hidden word, hence was puzzled how to reconcile my answer with the clue, silly me! With thanks to Virgilius and BD for an entertaining review.

  23. Another brilliant Sunday puzzle from Virgilius today, a lovely mixture of clues. Last in was 23a – it nearly drove us mad! We had a quick glimpse at the tip and managed to remember an expression we hadn’t heard for ages thanks to the 6,6 – thanks BD and Virgilius, our favourite setter.

  24. Needed some electronic help for this as well as several hints, but enjoyed it nevertheless.

    Took absolutely ages to understand 14d even with the hint.

    Thanks to the setter and to Big Dave.

  25. I only got round to this very late, and found it the hardest Sunday for ages, but what a great puzzle. Finally got there after copious electronics, and a hint for 26a. Thank you for that, BD, and to Virgilius for a great puzzle – with honours to 19d.. 4*/5*.

  26. I found the top half pretty straightforward, but the bottom half took me into 2* territory. It was a very satisfying puzzle to solve, though. My favourite is a clue that l stared at blankly for some time, then inspiration arrived with a resounding clang: 19a. Many thanks to Virgilius for the entertainment, and to Big Dave for the hints.

  27. I finished this in the end. It took me a few days and I needed a few of the hints but got there. It really took me a while to get into it but as I very rarely finish a crossword I’m pretty pleased :)

  28. What a wonderful puzzle, Virgilius has surpassed himself. We struggled for ages on Sunday with the SW corner, I’ve just revisited it and of course it fell into place. 16d has to be my favourite.

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