ST 2803 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2803 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2803 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, a number of the more difficult clues have been selected and hints provided 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    Respect natural setting in which silver’s found (6)
A natural setting or domicile around the chemical symbol for silver

4a    Prophetic work with unchanged line about what lies repeatedly in future (6)
To get this prophetic work in the bible put a word meaning unchanged and L(ine) around “what lies repeatedly in future”

8a    Evil racket almost covering one state (8)
An adjective meaning evil or bad and most of a racket or din around (covering) I (one)

10a    Start of crossword clue, ending with unknown material (6)
The initial letter (start) of C[rossword] followed by a clue and a mathematical unknown

13a    Drinks diners combined with sweets, perhaps (7,5)
An anagram (perhaps) of DINERS combined with SWEETS

16a    Still returning to ruined shelters, however (12)
The reversal of an adverb meaning still or yet followed by an anagram (ruined) of SHELTERS

20a    Again find something obvious about Mao’s little book? Just the opposite (10)
Split the answer as (3,2,5) and swap the first and last words (just the opposite) to get something obvious about Mao’s little book

25a    Strange story about European that lies in bed under water (6)
An anagram (strange) of STORY around E(uropean)


1d    Husband, completely outstanding, revered (8)
A charade of H(usband) a three-letter word meaning completely and a word meaning outstanding or due

2d    Part of New England twice heard primary shock (5)
This part of New England sounds like (heard) both (twice) an adjective meaning primary and a shock of hair

3d    Shopkeeper sounded less refined (7)
Sounds like a shopkeeper

5d    Dispose of lots, using element of WMD in battle (7)
Put the chemical symbol for an element used in WMDs inside a word for a battle

9d    Drink with sailors in small club (11)
Put a company of sailors inside S(mall) and a golf club

15d    Irishman, for example, is on spacecraft that comes down (8)
The IS from the clue followed by the type of spacecraft that comes back down to earth

17d    Brutal emperor’s final word of dominance over us (7)
My favourite of today’s clues – the final word of the three-word Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar followed by O(ver) and US

19d    Artist appearing in American gambling centre I run (6)
An American city famous for gambling followed by I and R(un)

21d    Plague first spread around East (5)
Put an adjective meaning first or optimal around E(ast)

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Edie Falco (52)
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and a special Happy Birthday to our very own Tilsit


50 comments on “ST 2803 (Hints)

  1. 3*/5*. Just back from a lovely week’s holiday in Tenerife, and what a wonderful puzzle to come back to!

    The NE held me up for the longest time, with 4a, 10a and 5d the last three to go in. Each of these earned an asterisk as a potential favourite, as did the very clever 13a & 20a. However the typically Virgilian 2d was my favourite.

    I didn’t know the trunk part of 22a, but the answer was obvious from the definition and checking letters, and I needed BD’s help to parse 20a fully (d’oh!)

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    1. A digression:

      My previous posting was on Black Friday when the server imploded and I was one of only 11 people to comment (or probably more correctly one of only 11 whose comments were not unceremoniously wiped out). However I now can’t access the home page for this site ( without getting an error message saying the site may have moved to a different server or the IP address may have changed. Thankfully I can get in using the url:, but if I then click on the Home tab I get the same error message.

      BD, any thoughts on what the problem might be please?

      1. You ‘have to clear’ your cache. There’s ‘structions how to do this on one of the reviews last week. If you can’t find it, I’m sure someone else will explain the technicalities again for you.

      2. It is here For Firefox:

        Open Firefox

        • Hit Ctrl+Shift+Delete

        • Select “Everything” in the “Time range to clear”

        • Open the dialog box “Details” by clicking on the down arrow next to it

        • Uncheck everything in the dialog box that appears except “Cache”

        • Click the “Clear Now” button

        (The exact method and words in the dialog boxes probably change from version to version.)

        Follow the instructions to the letter, because leaving items other than “Cache” checked could get rid of more than intended.

        1. Thanks very much, CS.

          I have Internet Explorer 11 (I can hear BD groaning from here), and I will need to approach this with care as I’m not sure how easy it is just to clear the cache without keeping all the other things like saved IDs.

    2. Glad holiday was a success you were sorely missed, hardly a day went by without a comment about your absence.

    3. Another digression! And, sorry, BD that this strays outside site protocol of not mentioning a different puzzle but I’m not sure where else to ask for help.
      While I was away, to prevent withdrawal symptoms, I took the Telegraph Cryptic Crossword Puzzle book 8 with me, and solved the first dozen or so while lying in the sun while quaffing copious amounts of Sangria. However I couldn’t escape my Friday Nemesis, who I feel sure must have set puzzle number 2. Among several obscurities, I failed miserably to solve: “Established the military leader had a sword (5)” with the checking letters _S_O_. Now I am back I found the answer in my BRB – apparently it’s a French word for a short sword! A final appeal for help with this particular puzzle please for one clue “Stimulant started early turn on (7)”. I get that stimulant is the definition leading to the answer “Ecstacy”, but I don’t understand the rest of the wordplay.

      1. That clue appeared in DT 25867, which was blogged in the very early days of the blog. You can see BD’s take on the clue (and notice how few comments we had in the early days) here:

        DT Cryptic No 25867

        1. Thanks very much, Gazza. Apart from as you say the almost vanishingly small number of comments, that’s very interesting for two reasons:

          1) Puzzle DT25867 is identical to puzzle number 2 in the Telegraph Puzzle Book 8 right down to the appalling Estoc. This was published this year and alleges itself to be “All New”! I bet the setter (whoever he, or she, may be) thought he would get away with it! That’s the power of the internet and search engines!

          2) I am relieved to see that BD appears to have been as confused in 2009 as I was in 2015 about the Ecstasy clue (which I see I misspelled earlier :oops:).

    4. Hi RD,
      Back last Weds. from my three weeks in IOW only to find that you’d GONE. Kath assured me that you’d asked permission but just popping in to say ‘welcome back’. Franco did a sterling job of manning pedants corner but your long, floppy ears have been much missed.

      1. … and a little present for you too
        I missed you all, and many thanks to Franco for maintaining the required level of pedantry.

    5. SO pleased to see that you’re back. As others have said, you were really missed. I didn’t see the ‘official request’ for time off and asked last week (Monday, maybe) when Kitty assured me that everything was in order!
      Glad that you’ve had a good holiday.
      Franco has done well with maintaining the necessary standards.
      A for you and another for Franco.

        1. I know – I think that Kitty put that bit in last week. I’m not clever enough to know how to do that sort of stuff! I’ll learn, one day.
          Just glad that you’re back and that you had a good holiday.

  2. Not that difficult but splendiferous entertainment. 17d was going to be top favourite but I think RD is correct and 2d just beats it.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD too.

  3. Restored my faith in me after disaster with MPP. Some gorgeous clues again too many to risk choosing as favourites but 8a and 25a were on the list. Thanks to BD and Vigilius. Teeming with rain and for the first time for several days I feel fine I hate ‘ot weather.

  4. A Virgilius crossword on a Sunday… what could be better? As CS above says ‘splendiferous entertainment’.
    My favourite clue was the prophetic 4a. 2.5/3* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius and BD for the hints.

  5. My only delay in this lovely puzzle was 22a, as I have never heard of this word used to refer to a trunk.
    Favourite clue for me was 17d.

    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD.

  6. After a slow start I seem to have completed it! Some clever clues 17d, and lovely surface readings – 15d made me smile.
    Thanks to setter and BD.

  7. Usual Sunday difficulty ie not easy :-)
    Stuck on the last one which is 4a, given I have zero knowledge of the Bible (by choice as an Atheist), this is proving very tricky. The hint is almost as cryptic as the clue itself so is of little help I’m afraid. Any further help within the boundaries of a prize crossword would be much appreciated.
    Apart from that we really enjoyed this one and esp 20a which made us both smile as did 3d. Thx to all.

    1. Mrs B (bless her little cotton socks) has just worked it out. I assume this chap must be a biblical prophet but work implies a body of work so still a little puzzled.

    2. “The hint is almost as cryptic as the clue itself ” – no it’s not; for starters it tells you where to find the definition and also where to find the components of the wordplay. There is a page on the books of the bible here:


      Don’t blame me if you are too lazy to look.

      1. BD – you mustn’t be mean to Brian – well, it is your blog so I suppose you can do whatever you like but he is pretty good value and certainly uses his role of devil’s advocate of the blog to the full.

      2. What an unpleasant response.
        I have often thought of contributing to this forum, but no longer.

        1. Oh diddums, poor Teddy bet he got thrown out of your pram. We have all had our hand smacked by BD at some stage but we usually deserve it and resolve to try harder. BD forever

      3. I would point out that it is a bit of a dodgy clue. I find it a bit thin to class the work as prophetic since it is more historical. The man was a judge so when we talk about the Law and the prophets :)

  8. The usual quality from Virgilius.
    Not too taxing which is a good thing as my brain is a bit slow due to the heat.
    Even the setter is giving us drinks, but maybe not the right stuff.
    Favourite is 20a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints.

  9. Thank you Virgilius, enjoyable challenge as always. I found this trickier than usual with lots of clever clues. I thought that 13a was a particularly good example. Thanks BD for the hints.

  10. I do so enjoy Virgilius on a Sunday! 2*/4* by my judgement, and 1d just gets the nod as favourite clue (although l nearly went for 10a – BD’s illustration of the hint took me right back to the wardrooms of the 1970s. I could almost taste the Courage Sparkling Beer). Thanks to V and BD.

  11. After yesterday’s travails this was a much more comfortable offering from Vigilius. ***** I think, with many top clues making it hard to nominate a favourite, but if pushed I will go for 17d for the sheer audacity of the wordplay. Thanks to all as usual.

  12. Tough enough .My favourite is 13a for its pleasant associations, properly chilled with one of Mary Berry ‘s concoctions.
    Thanks for explaining 2d and 17d which I couldn’t parse.
    Thanks also to Virgilius.

    1. My only association with 13a is a thundering headache the following morning – a bit like whisky or brandy etc. But, as husband correctly states, I only drink any of the aforementioned tipples when I’ve already had far too much to drink!

      1. I was thinking more of a solitary glass, with cake , at around five pm; it beats cucumber sandwiches.Happens less than once a year.

  13. It’s been a good day today. A bit of carnage in Le tour has benefited Froomy and Lewis won. As well as that I’ve not had to watch any tennis and the brill crossword was solved in the bar over a couple of beers and a tapa. What more could a chap want?

    Fav in the crossword might be 20a (how clever is that?) or 4a but there’s so many good clues it’s a bit unfair to single one out.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  14. Tough for me but by Jove I did it! Got held up in the SE corner but perseverance and re-reading the clues several times – 17d, 18d, 21a and 21d – proved fruitful. I did not know the trunk part of 22a. Lots of clever clues – 10a, 21a, 20a, 17d but my favourite was 2d. My turn to find this puzzle difficult when most of you sailed through it. Many thanks to the setter and to BD for the hints.

    1. No – I found it quite tricky too but my excuse, for today anyway, is that I’ve been doing other things.

  15. Another great Sunday crossword. Not much to add. As usual, too many contenders to make it easy to select favourites. The Latin word in 17d is the middle word of the phrase in the form that I like to quote it.

    Many thanks to V and BD.

  16. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Got stuck for long time until I realized 13a was not an anagram of drinks dinners, then everything fell into place.
    Learnt some now words too, the trunk on and feeling. Lots of nice little false trails in the clues which I always like, although I always seem to get hooked by them.

    1. Me too with 13a but at least I realised that it wasn’t an anagram of DRINKS and DINNERS as that didn’t make up the right number of letters! At least I can still count! I did think that it was an anagram of DRINKS and DINERS for far too long.

  17. Enjoyable stuff as usual from Virgilius. I found this quite tricky but I really shouldn’t have on post-solve reflection… That said I’d go for 2.5*/4* with thanks to BD and the Sunday Supremo.

  18. Solved this puzzle after watching Hamilton win at Silverstone.

    Faves : 4a, 24a, 5d & 17d.

    I drink a brand of non-alcoholic wines called Vini **** available as still and sparkling in all shades which helped with 17d.

    Weather is still very warm in NL though we had a shower earlier today.

  19. Rather late here today. We’ve had elder Pet Lamb (the Pet bit has been restored to the Lamb bit as at least she hasn’t ******** up the washing machine on this visit!) and her partner for the weekend and we’ve been up to B’rum to have lunch with a nephew (my favourite of the four) and his partner. We’ve had a lovely day.
    Right – now then – the crossword – this is, after all, a crossword blog!
    Pig’s ears spring to mind, particularly with 1d. Wrong answer – couldn’t explain it so shouldn’t even have pencilled it it lightly, but I did and it really messed up that corner.
    Sorted that out.
    My last answer was 4a and then it took me as long again as the rest of the crossword had taken to see why it was right.
    Missed the 7d anagram – how did I do that?
    Didn’t know the 22a trunk.
    I needed the hints to understand 17d (shouldn’t have done) and 2d (thought that the shock was electricity!)
    Anyway, finished now.
    Completely missed both 12 and 23a – must try harder!
    The usual brilliant Sunday crossword.
    I liked 4 and 10a and 9 and 14d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  20. ***/****. A late finish today as we had to get the dogs walked before the temperature reaches 80 and likewise water the veggie garden. Liked this puzzle although struggled a bit with the NW again as I managed to put a different word in for 1d – schoolboy error. Thanks to the setter and BD for the review.

  21. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable but very tricky puzzle. I needed the hints for 4a, Biblical knowledge very limited. Missed the anagram in 25a. Also needed the hints for 15&21d. Favourite was 10a, last in was 22a. Was 4*/3* for me. Also couldn’t parse 2d.

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