ST 2832 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2832 (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:


1a    Dropped litter — reacted with alarm (3,7)
This litter has been dropped by a female cat!

6a    A score of forty, say, in part of match (4)
The fraction that a score is of forty!

9a    Instrument Mary found abandoned at sea (7)
When preceded by Mary this musical instrument gives a cargo ship that was found abandoned in the North Atlantic in December 1872 – and if you thought that the first word in the name of the ship was spelt differently you have fallen victim of the account of the mystery that was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1884

15a    Cupid, for example, said to govern love (8)
This Cupid was one of Santa’s team, along with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen et al – what sounds like (said) a verb meaning to govern and a word meaning love or darling

17a    Attitude I had about main ruler of Greeks (8)
Looks complicated, but it’s just a charade of an attitude or stance, the shortened form of “I had” and a two-letter word meaning about – the main here is the sea

19a    Consort with drunkard around front of pub (6)
Consort here is a noun meaning a partner – put a North American drunkard around the initial letter (front) of P[ub]

22a    Sympathetic travel guide they oddly found going round island (13)
An instrument (guide) used by travellers in the days before satellite navigation followed by the odd letters of T[h]E[y] around a Scottish island

27a    Means to shape opinion and support a country short of capital (10)
A four-letter support is followed by the A from the clue and a country without (short of) its initial (capital) letter


1d    In a way, get ready for wine (4)
One way to obtain some ready money!

2d    Scornfully criticised rising that makes us free (7)
Start with a verb meaning scornfully criticised and reverse it – words like this are known as semordnilaps and there is a page in The Mine about them

3d    Section removed from main sign if I can, though it’s not important (13)
I just hope that Kath gets to see this superb lurker which spans no less than six words!

5d    They do work that’s legal, like about 92% of the population (8)
Split as (3,5) this describes the eleven twelfths (91.66 recurring / about 92%) of the population that have a different star sign

8d    Quick to secure a book where stuff may go cheaply (4,6)
A five-letter adjective meaning quick around the A from the clue and a book of the New Testament

13d    They include money for workers to put tar on boats (3-7)
A three-letter verb meaning to smear a wooden boat with tar followed by some boats used to carry, for example, letters

16d    Weigh argument against party on right (8)
A three-letter word meaning against followed by a party of faction and R(ight)

21d    Bit of change in the air? It could go either way (4-2)
This act of throwing a coin (bit of change) into the air could result in either heads or tails (go either way)

23d    Imitating flier many reproduced (4)
This bird (flier) that can be taught to imitate human speech is an anagram (reproduced) of MANY

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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 Aaron Neville (75) and Neil Diamond (75)


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    4*/5*. :phew:

    This was a tough challenge today but its sheer brilliance gave me such unbridled enjoyment that a 5* rating is really not enough.

    Although I could see what the answer to 1d must be, it took quite a while for the penny to drop (with a very loud clang) when I finally unravelled the superb wordplay. 12a is likely to be as good an anagram as you will ever find.

    Excellent though those two (and all the other clues!) were, they pale into a word I can’t say without being sent to the naughty corner when compared with 5d. This is a construction of pure genius and my favourite.

    Many, many thanks to Virgilius and, of course, to BD for his splendid hints, which I thought I was going to need but didn’t in the end.

  2. dutch
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Insteresting, a little trickier than usual! Took me a while to see 1d (in a way, get ready) and 13d (put tar on boats) – very clever. I particularly liked 6a (score of forty), 9a (instrument mary found..), 10a (a cut above the rest), 15a (cupid), 5d (92% of the population), 20d (you reportedly tidy up) and 23d (imitating flyer many reproduced)

    Great Sunday treat, many thanks Virgilius and thanks BD

  3. Jane
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Courtesy of you lovely people on the blog, I had the chance to give this one a try and I’m so glad that I did. Excellent stuff!
    More familiar with a different letter at the end of 9a which gave me a temporary problem with 4d and also needed to verify that the first part of 13d answered the clue but otherwise it was all down to pennies dropping as and when required.
    I wonder whether the statement in 5d is actually true – has anyone ever worked it out?

    Leader board for me shows 1,6&15a.
    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD – loved the Neil Diamond clip. I tried very hard to get that particular ‘sweet female’ into 9a in the NTSPP yesterday!

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      I was hoping you’d try this. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday Virgilius delivers up a real treat.

    • pommers
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Nice one Jane, glad you enjoyed it. I’m just off to the local to give it a try over a pre-prandial. If there’s folk we know in there, unlikely on a Sunday as the Spanish visit family not bars on Sundays, it will have to wait till later.

  4. JonP
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff from Virgilius! I initially struggled with this one, especially on the RHS of the grid, but slowly the puzzle came together clue by clue as is often the way.

    Thanks to BD and Virgilius and if that isn’t a 5* puzzle in terms of enjoyment then I don’t know what is ***/*****

  5. Brian
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Very hard today, needed a couple of the hints to finish it.
    Some amazing clues though in 1a, 6a and 8d. Don’t think I have come across the 3 letter word for the application of tar before but it is in the BRB. Did think the spelling of Mary in 9a was a bit sneaky as was the anagram indicator in 23a.
    All in all a very enjoyable outing.
    Thx to all.

  6. stanXYZ
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    A far more difficult challenge from Mr Greer today … but time spent solving a Virgilius crossword is always time well spent!

    I only popped in to see the explanation of the wordplay for 4d – no hint from BD – so it must be easy?

    • stanXYZ
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Just a Gnoment – I finally understand 4d!


  7. Penky
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely crossword. Biggest groan goes to 5d, a very clever clue. Well done Virgilius and of course to BD for the not needed hints today.

  8. Heno
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, with some brilliant clues. Was beaten by 19a, I should have looked up consort in the BRB, then maybe… I thought 12a was a brilliant anagram. Favourite was 5d. Was 3*/5* for me. Hope the Gooners win later.

  9. Vancouverbc
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    ****/****. Interesting puzzle. Lots of Lego clues and some real a-ha moments. Really liked 6,15&22a and 13d. Thanks to BD for the blog and the setter for an entertaining challenge.

  10. Graham Wall
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Well this was a tough one which heaved me out of my Sunday torpor. Very enjoyable though and worth the perseverance. Thanks to BD for the hints. My rating is 4/4.5

  11. Gwizz
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Yet another class puzzle from Virgilius; he’s a bit good isn’t he? Some excellent clues of which 3 and 13d were prime examples. Thank goodness Kath is away cos these were both my favourites. 3/4* overall.
    Thanks to the great man and to BD for the hints.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Kath might be away but she is still watching. Your indiscretion will be reported to her as soon as she emerges from her bedroom. Stand by for trouble. :wacko:
      We had a team of three solving this one and thoroughly enjoyed it.
      Thanks Virgilius and BD.

      • Jane
        Posted January 24, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        I just knew there would be trouble. :smile:

        • Kath
          Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

          . . . and so there is!

    • Kath
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      You’re nicked! :negative:

  12. Merusa
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Well, another brilliant offering from Virgilius. I really look forward to the Sunday tussle and this was even trickier than usual. The NW corner was last in for me.
    Loved 1a, 3D, 5d, oh, the list goes on and on.
    Thank you Virgilius for this 5* enjoyable puzzle, and to BD for your hints.

  13. Una
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I made the mistake of starting last night when 13d utterly defeated me.
    Terrific. Thanks Virigilius and BD.

    • HoofItYouDonkey
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      I made the mistake starting…
      Not a beginners crossword today!!
      Thanks for the hints and the setter as I was able to spend all day in the garden!!

  14. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t parse 1d either before reading the hints.
    And the term for putting tar on in 13d was new to me.
    Two obvious answers and two beautiful bung ins.
    That didn’t spoil the fun though.
    21d favourite.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for explaining everything.

  15. Robin Newman
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    clever xword I thought, and thanks for the hints


  16. Hrothgar
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Terrific stuff.
    A real meaty challenge.
    Ashamed I took so long over 1a and 1d, last in.
    (Or is that ‘ins’?)
    Many thanks to the master and to BD for the review.

  17. Kath
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Hello everyone – I’m awake now – so look out all you who have contravened any rules and regulations!
    I’ve been doing the Xwords most days but haven’t looked at the blog for a while.
    Did this one yesterday evening with the lovely Kiwis in their lovely kitchen – what Kiwi Colin didn’t say in his comment earlier is that Kiwi Carol and I instantly leapt to the wrong conclusion with 1d – ‘**** obviously – oh dear!
    Not going to go on at length now as we’ve finished breakfast and are all heading off to the Manawatu Gorge – it’s apparently googleable if anyone’s interested.
    Yes, BD, I did get to see the amazing lurker at 3d – did I get it – well, what do you think?
    I loved 1a.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    • Jane
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      So lovely to hear from you, Kath. Hope you’re having a really good time – I’m sure the 2Ks are enjoying having you both with them.
      By the way – yes – I tried for ‘****’ as well! :whistle:

      • Jane
        Posted January 24, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        Oops – that’s both of us in the naughty corner, Kath! :sad:

    • Merusa
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      I did google it and it looks gorgeous. It reminds me of the Bog Walk Gorge in Jamaica but on a much grander scale!

  18. Paso Doble
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    We are in slightly later than usual today as we have just ordered a new dog and a new car. We were thoroughly inspected by the collie rescue people this morning and are awaiting the call to go and collect our new friend sometime this week, we hope. The car is arriving on Saturday, so it’s first outing will be to the Birthday Party! Paso did the puzzle today and thought it was a 5 and a piece of pure genius. Too many favourites to choose from. Thanks to Virgilius for some fantastic brain-teasing entertainment and to BD for the hints.

    • Jane
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Oh wow! Kath is going to be plaguing you with questions.
      Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday but how will you be able to leave your new little bundle?

      • Paso Doble
        Posted January 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        We aren’t getting a puppy – we will be getting a grown-up dog who maybe can come with us (not sure about the pub’s rules) or stay at home with daughters!

        • Jane
          Posted January 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Maybe he/she will have had enough upheaval moving home and would be better left at home with daughters?
          Sorry – your choice of course, I’m just a soft dog lover!

    • Merusa
      Posted January 24, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      That is wonderful news! I am so in favour of rescues. There are so many looking for forever homes, what a lovely feeling that you’ve saved one.

      • Paso Doble
        Posted January 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        We’ll be going up to Northamptonshire to choose a dog, probably a sheepdog from Ireland who hasn’t made the grade. The rescue people don’t let you meet any dogs until you’ve been vetted so we don’t really know if we will find our dog this time or maybe have to wait a bit. Of course, it will all depend on the temperament of the dog whether we bring it or not – my old Collie absolutely loved meeting new people but not all of them are like that. We are so excited – our old dog died last May and we have really missed him.

        • Merusa
          Posted January 24, 2016 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Good luck! I would love to adopt another friend for Sadie (I’m a Labrador lady) but feel that wouldn’t be wise with mobility problems, so I rescue cats! Sadie is an absolute dream, she loves the world.

  19. Salty Dog
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Despite the fact that I have caught my second cold of the winter (and it’s an absolute stinker) I am on cloud nine as a result of Exeter Chiefs having won through -unexpectedly – to the quarter finals of the European Champions Cup, and this crossword has rounded my day off very nicely. It felt slightly stiffer than the usual Sunday fare (say 2/3*) but was filled with delightful and satisfying clues (4.5*). One in particular – 5d – prompted a broad grin when I realised what Virgilius was after. My thanks to Virgilius for this treat, and to Big Dave.

  20. Expat Chris
    Posted January 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    For the longest time I had the wrong little animals in 1A. Where that came from, I have no idea! But once sorted, the NW corner fell into place. Another lovely Sunday puzzle, for which I thank Virgilius. Thanks also to BD for the blog.

  21. Florence
    Posted January 25, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Sorry this is so late. Fell off to sleep late evening. Now wide awake. This puzzle was a great challenge, but brilliant and very satisfying to complete. Made it more difficult by putting 16d into 17a, so SW corner took ages. Not helped by barking up the wrong tree with a particular word in 26a. Too many favourites once I’d worked them all out. Thank you Virgilius and BD.

  22. Angel
    Posted January 25, 2016 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Didn’t look at this until after a late dinner and then couldn’t make any real impression on it so succumbed to lots of help from BD and elsewhere. Thank you for that. You certainly gave us a run for our money Virgilius – sort of thanks for that! Favs 1a and 21d. *****/***. And so to bed! :phew: :phew: