ST 2828 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2828 (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.

Some hints follow:


7a    Transfer deal’s beginning in European city (8)
Put the initial letter (beginning) of D[eal] inside the Anglicised spelling of a European city

10a    Provide inspiration for puzzle (6)
Split as (2,4) this means to provide inspiration for an artist, poet etc.

12a    Grasping it, smart sailor receives easy marks (7,7)
Put (grasping) IT inside a verb meaning to smart or hurt then add our usual three-letter sailor and a verb meaning receives

15a    Computer user should ignore this  inferior option in menu (4)
Two definitions –emails that are unwanted by a computer user and an inferior item of on the menu in a Monty Python sketch

17a    Note unaltered when sent back (5)
… because it’s a palindrome

19a    Lacking determination as yet, in low temperature (4)
This adjective meaning as yet undetermined is a charade of a verb meaning to low like a cow and T(emperature)

20a    Open location from time to time for form of education (8,6)
Two definitions – the location of the Open Golf Championship, from time to time, and a form of education

25a    In dramatic scene, how players get sent off (6)
A cryptic definition of a direction in a drama that the players should all leave the stage – in The Winter’s Tale they are famously pursued by a bear!

28a    One in position on board to help mate, perhaps (8)
A cryptic definition of a piece on a board game in which “mate” is the ultimate aim


1d    Container, for instance (4)
Two definitions – a container and an instance or example

2d    Tune from band that’s oddly deficient? Exactly (6)
This verb meaning to tune, for example, an engine is a charade of the even letters (that’s oddly deficient) of a word in the clue and an adverb meaning exactly

3d    Fellow with chair for female (4)
A word meaning “for” followed by F(emale)

6d    Like people around one, making negative comments (10)
A two-letter word meaning like followed by some people around I (one)”

18d    China concealing revolutionary weapon (7)
A china or pal around (concealing) Crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary

22d    Like lying for crowned head, hard? (6)
A cryptic reference to a line from Henry IV, Part II – the one that ends ” … lies the head that wears a crown”

24d    Rugby player  that may be picked after key loss (4)
Two definitions – a rugby forward and something that has to be picked if the key has been lost

26d    Close section of exhibition early, or phone artist (4)
Hidden (section of) not once, but twice, inside the clue

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.

Marlene Dietrich was born on this day in 1901


  1. neveracrossword
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was harder than the usual Sunday fare, especially since I was ignorant of the Shakespeare reference. Thank you Virgilius and BD.

  2. Paso Doble
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    We found this difficult and needed BD’s help in knowing why the Shakespearian answers were right. Still stuck on 1d! Thanks to Virgillius and to BD himself.

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    3*/4*. Yet another superb Sunday puzzle to finish the year. As normal, picking a favourite is an impossible task as all the clues are so good.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD, whose hints I needed to explain the wordplay for 10a and to understand why my answer for 22d was correct.

  4. Una
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I found the bottom right corner almost 13d until the hints appeared , not having studied Henry IV, part II , directions in plays , and being unfamiliar with Rugby players names.
    Not that I am casting any 6d on our setter, Virgilius.
    Lots of terrific clues , including 12a, 20a, 18d and 21d.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  5. Brian
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    HArd going but great fun. My fav was def 20a, v clever.
    Got answers for 11a and 5d but struggling to parse them.
    Thx to all

    • pommers
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      11a – F(orce) + ON (from the clue) + a bank and then insert (guarding) an R(iver).

      5d – IS (from the clue) + a word meaning not the same and then M(otorway).

  6. dutch
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. Well done BD for recognising the Henry IV part II reference, that went over my head – guessed the answer from the checkers.
    As is so often the case with the Sunday puzzle, too many ticks to list.
    Many thanks Virgilius and BD.

  7. Nev
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    3*/4* for me today. 25a was the last one in. Just too many clever clues for me to pick a favourite! Many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  8. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Quite a tough one in my opinion. Got there in the end but only with a lot of head scratching. Thanks to the setter and BD for the review.

  9. pommers
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    A tad trickier than recent Sundays but just as much fun. I’d completely missed the Shakespeare reference so was not at all happy with 22d but should have known better than to doubt Mr Greer. Too much good stuff to single out a favourite so I’ll just settle for giving it ***/****.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    P.S. We seem to have survived the dangers of Benidorm, including all the free wine, and are now back home to recover completely before the New Year party in the village hall.

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Quite strange to go back to a normal grid after the jumbo weekend offerings.
    The 22d, 25a combo was last to go in.
    Don’t know what to think of 20a. Cryptic def to cryptic def?
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints.

  11. Michael
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Tough – too tough for me I’m afraid, just when you’re thinking you’re getting the hang of this lark, one comes along like this and undermines any confidence you’ve built up!

    My only excuse is that my head is a bit muzzy after all the Red Wine we’ve consumed – mind, I enjoyed it at the time!

    • HoofItYouDonkey
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      And me Michael…
      Started ok, but suddenly realised it was a prize one, then I was in trouble!!!

  12. Cryptor
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Needed some grey matter awakening from its slumber. Not helped by seeing 12a as (8,6) rather than (7,7), which put solving time into **** territory until penny dropped. Thanks to the faithful few.

  13. Young Salopian
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Virgilius made this a pretty tough battle for his last Sundy puzzle of the year. I got there in the end, but the NW corner held me up for way too long. As a result, I must put 3.5*/4 in the honesty box. 12 and 20 across were terrific, but 22 down gets my vote for the top of the podium.

    Many thanks to Virgilius, not just for today, but for all the excellent puzzles he has set us this year. Thanks as well to BD for all his efforts.

  14. Framboise
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Phew, quite a challenge! As first perusal of the clues yielded nothing, I knew I was in for a bit of a battle. Battle did I do but had to admit defeat for 25a, 28a and 22d. Many thanks to BD for his hints which enabled me to complete this excellent puzzle. It has to be 3*/4*. Merci to Virgillius for a thorough working out of my grey matter. Rather liked 20a…

  15. Langstone Joe
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Too hard for me today. After a couple of hours and only a handful of solutions I went to BD’s hints and the first I looked at saw that “China” was a reference to “****”. That finished me off. For me, that’s just so obscure and tenuous I lacked the will to carry on.
    So my rating is ***** for difficulty and * for enjoyment :)

    • Posted December 27, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      China is Cockney rhyming slang and is far from obscure (and has been redacted).

      You can’t expect the setter to be aware of the limitations of your own vocabulary – most people who do crosswords use them to extend their vocabulary.

      • Michael
        Posted December 27, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        That’s you told Joe, don’t worry you weren’t alone and there’s always tomorrow!

      • Bob H
        Posted December 27, 2015 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        I think your response is a little unfair BD. The original comment was presumably posted in the spirit of discussion rather than pique. I too thought China was a bit off the wall. But I got the clue nevertheless and therefore just put it down to the peculiar country, crossword land. There is actually quite a lot I don’t like about that place, but I’m too polite to mention it. No doubt this postings will blot my copybook.
        Anyway a happy Christmas and joyous new year to everyone. May this excellent blog continue and I will continue to look forward to the sort of challenge the Sunday crossword gives me.

        • pommers
          Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

          Bob, please don’t get shirty with BD – that’s always been my job!

          Crosswordland is an odd place and if you want to live in it there’s a long list of things you need to know. First is an extensive knowledge of abbreviations and second at least a passing knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang, of which China is one of the better known examples. There’s lots more you need but these are the two bits that used to drive me to distraction until I got used to them over the years. I can’t really help any more, you just have to live with it or “If you don’t like the heat then get out of the kitchen”. I chose to live and learn and haven’t regretted it (much).

          A happy Xmas and New Year to you as well

          • Paso Doble
            Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

            I agree with BD and Pommers here. Even when I was young student at Loughborough we used to go into the local Chinese restaurant and say…’Are you alright my old China’.The owner knew very well that it was an affectionate term for friend. My dad, who was from the North East used the expression too.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 27, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        I agree.
        And it’s a language in constant evolution.
        I mean, who would remember the Barnet fair or J Arthur for that matter?
        Now you can find Billie Piper, John Cleese and Wallace and Gromit.
        What a bubble bath!

  16. John
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Have somehow managed to complete this one unaided, in 4* time, with the exception of 1d (well, I have a word in there, which seems to sort of make sense to me, but doesn’t fit with the help given by BD). Any nudges possible without risking a yellow card?

    • pommers
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      1d Container, for instance (4)

      It’s a container for your luggage and an instance as in an example.

    • Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      There is a different container which fits the checking letters, but not the second definition.

  17. Airhead
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Very late getting to this one.. I spent a long time staring at the grid before anything clicked on this puzzle. Once the brain got into gear, it was good fun. I like a good challenger to put me back in my place. Happy New Year to all and thank you to BD and Virgilius.

  18. Heno
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but trickier than usual. I 23a 25a, so couldn’t get 22d, but wouldn’t have got it anyway, as my Shakespeare is not very good :-) I also needed the hints for 2d, had the first two letters, but couldn’t get the rest. I was completely 10a ed by 10a, my favourite clue. Was 3*/4* for me.

  19. Katie B
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Phew…found this quite tricky but have just finished with 11a..Thanks to BD and Virgilius

  20. Florence
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Still running a day late … Would you apple and Eve it. Many thanks to the setter and to BD. Difficult today but still enjoyable. My mother-in-law is nearly 90, lives near the Scottish Borders, and still managed to get 18d. Family effort today, even my son had a butchers. Just printed off today’s puzzle, but I need to go and cook dinner.

  21. Kath
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Only just got round to this one – I thought it was quite a tricky Virgilius offering but it is the third Xword I’ve done today so may be a bit overdosed.
    I did find the only (I think) hidden answer so a bit smug about that.
    I needed the hint to understand why, or even if, my 22d was right and also, needless to say, 20a – oh dear!!
    Given that the anagram indicator in 14d is about as easy as it comes how did I miss it? Very few anagrams I thought.
    I liked 5, 18 and 21d. My favourite was 10a.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.