ST 2827 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2827 (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 as “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.

Our setter is in festive mode this week!  Some hints follow:


1a    Start of herbaceous border that runs around garden (5)
The initial letter (start) of H[erbaceous] followed by a border

9a    Bands, five of which are featured in Christmas song (5)
Our first thematic answer – if you don’t get it now, you probably will when you have worked out the theme

13a    Show anger about women’s swan, one of seven (7)
A verb meaning to show anger around W(omen) gives a description of one of our thematic answers

15a    Number of those working in dairy — or having a row? (5)
The number of our thematic answers that work on a dairy – or the number who famously row a boat

20a    Players having their day, though not in first eleven (8)
These thematic players are not in the first eleven

27a    Like ten nobles below, going into spring (7)
What the ten thematic nobles in 34 Across are doing

29a/32a    Silly repartee in home of 4 Down (4,4)
An anagram (silly) of REPARTEE gives the thematic home of the answer to 4 Down

31a    Half a dozen layers among seasonal gifts (5)
There are six of these in our theme

33a    Major work that’s sung after my 6 11 30 (4)
Split as (2,2) this, together with the answers to 6, 11 and 30 across, completes each line of our theme

34a    House that’s HQ for sport in London (5)
A house full of one of our thematic nobles and the London HQ of one of our favourite sports


1d    Under pressure, ran over nincompoop (8)
A verb meaning ran or sped around (over) a three-letter nincompoop

2d    Having a ball, like ladies, one over the eight (7)
What eight plus one of our thematic answers were doing

4d    Flier received initially at Christmas (9)
This flier is the first component of our theme

5d    Piano put in middle of jetty for musician (5)
Put P(iano) inside a jetty to get this person who, together with a number of others, adds up to 8 Down in our theme

8d    5 and his fellow players counted in cricket side (6)
See 5 Down – or enter the number in a cricket side

12d    Number of days in present period (6)
The number of days on which my 6 11 30 33 (2,2) a present

16d    Queen’s consort? (6)
… This queen is a feline!

24d    Pages penned by writer in verse for sweetheart (6)
P(age) and P(age) inside someone who writes in verse

28d    Christmas visitor appearing in strange light (5)
Hidden (appearing in) inside the clue

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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.

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Today it’s Happy Birthday to Jenny Agutter (63)
Image result for jenny agutter



  1. Rabbit Dave

    2*/5*. A not too difficult but absolutely splendid seasonally themed puzzle – a work of 6a genius!

    You could pick any one of these clues as a favourite, but I am going for 33a. 16a, my last one in with a resounding clang as the penny dropped, was my runner up.

    Many thanks to Virgilius for making every Sunday special in 2015, and to BD whose blog makes every day special.

  2. stanXYZ

    Nice puzzle from Vigilius!

    But I still have 2 or 3 missing. I’m sure that they are there somewhere?

  3. Paso Doble

    We’ll go along with Rabbit Dave on this one, certainly with the 6a conundrum. it took a little longer than usual
    owing to the fact that the door bell never stopped ringing. Friends, Amazon, e-bay deliveries, the Samaritans and some people
    representing Jehovah’s Witness all pitched up.
    Splendid yuletide themed puzzle from Virgilius and thanks to Big (Bib) Dave for the hints…..

  4. Young Salopian

    Excellent, excellent excellent. 16d was my last one in, and it pushed me into 2* time for difficulty, but a solid 5* for sheer enjoyment. Another masterful puzzle from the Sunday genius. Thanks Virgilius and BD.

  5. Nev

    3*/5* for me today. I think I have the answer to 16d, but it makes little sense to me. That aside, everything else was fairly straightforward, and very enjoyable.

  6. Stone Lee

    Absolutely splendid!! What brilliant Xmas fare. As with most – 16d the last one in. 1.5* for difficulty and 5* for enjoyment. Many thanks to Virgillus and BD

  7. Brian Greer

    Greetings to everyone from Kolkata, where I’ll be for the next two months with my wife Swapna..
    Thankyou Big Dave for the beautiful illustrations and your work through the year, and to crypticsue and all the other analysts.
    And for all the kind comments and constructive criticism.

    • stanXYZ

      And many thanks to you, Mr Greer, for all the Sunday morning entertainment!

      ps.Criticism? What criticism?

        • Tantalus

          OED – The expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.

          Strange that it has gained such negative connotations. Just as critical acclaim is so positive.

    • Merusa

      Greetings to you and your wife too. On the contrary, we are the ones who should thank you for the Sunday entertainment, you never fail us. Your puzzles are always so fair and entertaining. All the best for 2016 !

    • 2Kiwis

      Our sincere thanks for a year of great puzzles that we always enjoy. Most weeks we print off a couple of favourite puzzles from the week to give to a friend as his ‘homework’. Our constant problem is deciding which one we will select to go with the Virgilius.
      Seasons greetings to you both from us.

    • Crack On

      Your crosswords are a joy. Thank you so much for wonderful Sunday mornings! With all best wishes to you both for Christmas and 2016.

  8. Brian Greer

    I should also thank my editor, Phil McNeill, who’s very easy to work with and very reliable in spotting my mistakes and weak clues.

    • Paso Doble

      Spend a pleasant Christmas and a wonderful New Year with your wife. We can’t wait for your next puzzle.

  9. crypticsue

    Merry Christmas Brian and thank you for yet another splendid Sunday puzzle – I only wish it was mine to review but Gnomethang is the lucky person getting a second ‘go’ at the fun.

  10. jean-luc cheval

    So many references in just one 15×15.
    A real masterpiece.
    Enjoyed it immensely.
    Thanks to Mr Grier and to BD for the colourful review.

  11. Vancouverbc

    What a well constructed puzzle for this time of year. By the way, I’m fed up of “happy holidays” rather than merry Christmas. My favourite was 16d which came from somewhere deep in the little grey cells. Thanks to the setter and BD for the review. To all you bloggers a very Merry Christmas.

  12. dutch

    Very nice, thank you Mr Greer. Like the others, I have been highly appreciative of your sunday puzzles, so thank you. This was no exception, most enjoyable. However, I did have to remind myself of the details of the song.

    best wishes, enjoy your holiday

  13. Drapdor

    My knowledge of the song really came into its own today!
    Thank you to Brian Greer and BD

  14. Kath

    Brilliant – I could just leave it at that but when have I ever kept it so short . . . ?
    I have to confess that I had to keep looking up how many whatever they weres were doing what, if that makes the slightest bit of sense.
    16d – oh dear – always forget that kind of queen however many times I see it.
    I loved the ‘host’ bit of 18d and the ‘from our perspective’ part of 7d.
    I liked almost all these but if I had to pick just a few I’d go for 33a and 7, 8 and 24d.
    With thanks for the Sunday crosswords and all good wishes for a very Happy Christmas to Virgilius and thanks too to BD.

    • Waltzing

      Awesome as number two grandchild would say. I too had trouble with the queen, last one in and I still don’t get the “host” bit of 18 down. Pre Christmas brain death perhaps.

  15. pommers

    A very clever puzzle which, I have say, I hope isn’t the start of a whole week of such things. You can have too much of a good thing and it will be hard for anyone else to come up to this standard.

    I’ll have to give it **/**** Good value though as there are 36 clues to solve instead of the usual 28 or so.. Unfair to pick a favorite out of that lot but it might be 16d as it was our LOI with a loud clang when the penny dropped.

    To Brian Greer – Many thanks for all the Sunday entertainment and I hope you and yours all have a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

  16. Snape

    I thought this was a work of art – getting all the themed answers into a grid for one thing, but the usual great clues, as well. I thought this was slightly easier than many Sundays, but that was helped by being able to look out for themed answers. However I did have five still to complete this morning, so I came back to use a couple of hints.

    I didn’t know that meaning for 16d – the only answer I could think of to fit the crossers was a tradename, and not the sort of thing I thought would be in a ST crossword. I think my favourite was 25a as it took quite a while to get the second word and produced a chuckle, and 6a was nice too, though that went straight in.

    Thank you to Mr Greer, and to BD.

  17. Michael

    I was desperately tring to remember the words to the ‘Twelve days of Christmas’ failed miserable and had to resort to looking it up on the Interweb – oce I’d done that it was a doddle!

    The gorgeous Jenny Agutter is the same age as me, I still think of her in ‘the Railway Children’ – ‘Daddy, my Daddy!’ – I don’t feel so old!

    It’s purgatory watching West Ham struggling against Swanse – ‘Come on you Irons!’ – it don’t look good!

  18. Merusa

    I just loved, loved, loved this! I had so much fun trying to remember the song.
    I think it takes sheer brilliance to tie them all in like that.
    I remembered the queen from before and loved 16d.
    I got 33a wrong, but why? Now I get it from the hints it seems so easy and so clever.
    I cannot choose a favourite, just say the whole puzzle is my favourite!
    Thanks to Mr. Greer and to BD for the hints and lovely illustrations.

  19. Penky

    A lovely crossword with a nice festive theme. Is it just me but does anyone get the Quickie pun? Or isn’t it one.

  20. Florence

    Good bit of fun to put us all in the mood for Christmas. Have to be honest. Didn’t know why 16d was what it was. Had to use a search engine. You live and learn. Thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  21. John

    Bah Humbug. What a shame that our normally splendid Sunday treats should have been hijacked by a 1*/1* dumbing down as an homage to The Most Awful Time of the Year. Yes, I am wearing my protective armour.

  22. Salty Dog

    Well, even though I’ve a streaming cold, my beloved Exeter Chiefs have been taken apart, and there is more than a touch of Bah Humbug in my own makeup, I cannot find it in me to venture even a hint of criticism for my favourite setter. As themed puzzles go, this was a jolly good one. 1*/4* is my rating, and 19d my favourite clue. Thanks to Virgilius (splendid to hear from him in person) and to Big Dave.

  23. Kitty

    I’m not in a particularly chatty mood so will just save pixels and ditto the comment made by pommers at #15.

    Thanks all.

  24. Maggie

    Super super puzzle. Loved the Christmassy theme – just what I needed. All themed answers were a favourites. No sheep or sweets from this corner.

  25. Heno

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle but very tricky. Still stuck on 11&30a,and 7d.
    Favourite was 22a. Was 4*/4* for me.

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