ST 2838 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2838 (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    Put extra weight on small lock (6)
This verb meaning to put extra weight on, in the grammatical sense, is derived from S(mall) followed by a lock of hair

8a    Weapon of sailor protecting key material in schooner, perhaps (3,5)
An old-fashioned weapon of the kind wielded by sailors, particularly pirates, around a musical key gives the material from which the kind of schooner that is used for drinks, such as sherry, could be made

12a    Powerful Americans exemplified in Harrison Ford’s parts (10)
Harrison and Ford are example of these powerful Americans – Harrison Ford is not, although he once played a fictional one in a film

13a    Major figure aligned with reform, easy to shift (7,5)
Clues like this in which one part is an anagram, (with reform) of ALIGNED, and the other is a synonym, in this case of an adjective meaning easy to shift, are often the hardest to solve

16a    Published accounts that are hardly creditworthy? (6,6)
A cryptic definition of a section of a publication that is concerned with rumours, not all of which are true, about the lives and loves of well-known people

20a    As manual worker, for example, one’s in minority (4-6)
Allegedly a minority of manual workers have this attribute

21a    Choice between partners in game was sporting (4)
… these partners are in the game of bridge

24a    Unknown in cast making rapid progress (6)
A mathematical unknown inside a cast or throw

25a    Sacred verses to be read in class (6)
Two definitions – some sacred verses or portion of Scripture read during a religious service and a class or period of instruction in school


1d    They fall for male stars in action movies (8)
A cryptic definition of those paid to perform dangerous feats, such as falls, on behalf of male actors in action movies

3d    Make keener and run into form before end of season (7)
Put R(un) inside a form or outline and then add the final letter (end) of [seaso]N

6d    For instance, people in last resort divided into sections (9)
The two-letter Latin abbreviation of “for instance” and some people inside an anagram (resort) of LAST

7d    Reason judge has foolish type put inside (6)
A verb meaning to judge around (has ,,, put inside) a foolish type of person

9d    After some time, craftsman finishing book that’s fascinating (11)
A five-letter period of time followed by a craftsman who applies the finishing touches to a book

15d    One politician on right is about to shut up? (8)
Usually Lego® type clues that involve five separate pieces are very clumsy, this one is the exception – I (one) followed by a politician, R(ight), IS from the clue and a two-letter word meaning about or concerning

17d    Practising austerity  like some Greeks — in this part, anyway (7)
This answer, which is hidden (in) inside the clue, has two separate definitions

21d    Sources for English writer or American actor, we hear (5)
These sources of liquids, such as water and oil, are also the surname of an English writer and sound like (we hear) the surname of an American actor

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.

Today it’s Happy Birthday to Kiki Dee (69) and Dave Gilmour (70)


  1. stanXYZ
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Yet another wonderful Sunday crossword from Mr Greer.

    Loads of great clues but in my opinion 17d gets the top prize – Virgilius at his brilliant best!

  2. Sheffieldsy
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    A lovely crossword for Sunday. Stand-out favourite was 22a for a great surface plus simultaneous complexity and brevity. I’d rate this as 2*/3*.

    Thanks to BD and Virgilius.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted March 6, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Should be 21a! D’oh.

  3. Hilary
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous Sunday masterpiece from Virgilius, thought I was never going to get started, 1a loomed, followed by 17d. Worked up and down with scribbles in the margin where necessary, last one in 21a only because I missed last letter off in the euphoria of thinking I had finished. Think shortage of comments due to access problems as I have got thrown out several times. Thanks to all concerned. :phew: off to try GK from yesterday.

  4. Young Salopian
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    This was definitely at the top end of difficulty for me, and there was a time I nearly caved in. But I persevered, and got there in the end. I, too, had problems accessing the site, which is probably just as well, as I would have given voice to my earlier frustrations, which would have been insulting to one of my favourite compilers. You almost beat me, Virgilius, but not quite.

    Many thanks for a real tussle today, and to BD for his hints and hard work.

    I have to go 4.5*/4* for this one – a long time since I scored so high on difficulty.

  5. Gwizz
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    That was a battle….. to get on here I mean! The crossword was excellent and featured the usual high class clues we have come to expect from our Sunday expert. For me 21a was the clue that tickled my fancy. Overall 3/4*.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for his hints.

  6. Kath
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I found this really difficulty – think my little grey cells are frozen – well, that’s today’s excuse anyway.
    I couldn’t get the first bit of 8a for ages and 20a and 1d were my last answers – that was just dim – I’ve seen a similar clue before.
    I’ve just decided that another reason I found it tricky is that, unless my ability to count has deserted me, there are only a couple of anagrams.
    On the plus side I did manage to spot the hidden answers today – maybe things are looking up!
    I liked 16a (once I’d sorted out my incorrect ending to 6d) and 22a and 2 and 19d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.
    Now to see if this will go . . .

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Access to the site’s been challenging this morning, and very slow. Still, perseverance paid off.

    I was held up for a little while because of a wrong ending for 6D but otherwise no real problems. 22A was the last in. I checked off 8A, 12A, 22A, 1D and 14D, with 14D easily taking the top spot. Thanks to BD for the review and Virgilius for another Sunday treat.

  8. George
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle as usual. It would have helped if I had not put in FORM for 21a, but eventually straightened that out! 2*/4* for me.

  9. Merusa
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    The usual Sunday enjoyment, great fun. I did very well until I got to 21d and 25a, my last ones in, and I made heavy work of those two. Now I know the answers, I wonder what all the fuss was about.
    I can’t choose a favourite, too many are deserving of the top spot.
    Thanks to Virgilius, how do you do it week after week, and thanks to BD for the hints.

  10. Wahoo
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Like last Sunday, a slightly tougher one from Virgilius (many thanks to he) than some. A good work out for the grey cells that justifies a lazy lunch with a bottle or two on the beach. Last one in was 20a when I finally realised the significance of “manual” in the clue. Again, a reminder to recognise that often each word can be relevant!

  11. Jezza
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one, which took me considerably longer than normal this morning to finish off. Drinking till the early hours with Spanish guests who were reluctant to close my drinks cabinet did not help, nor did the early morning pyrotechnic rehearsals for the impending Fallas due to start in a few days time.

    Many thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints.

  12. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Stared a while at this one before getting a foothold in the SE corner.
    Wasn’t too sure about the “increasingly unpopular” bit in 23a and wasn’t too keen on 12a and 1d.
    As all in one goes, I liked 16a and 20a.
    Thought these clues were more Rufus’s style.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    • Framboise
      Posted March 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jean Luc! Hope you saw my mentioning we were back in Hyères! See you soon! Franxxx

  13. Una
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I also found this fairly difficult and needed to look at the hint for 8a. Doh !
    Lots to like, 13a 16a , 20a and 14d.
    Thanks BD and Virgilius.

  14. Kath
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Quiet here today – I think lots of people must have had trouble with the site – poor BD – he must be almost hairless by now – there again, is that ever going to be likely – I think not! :smile:

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted March 6, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kath, your comment reminded me that I had forgotten to apply for leave of absence. Mea culpa. What with you having been away for a long while coupled with the recent site difficulties, our routines seem to have flown out of the window.

      We arrived in Cancun yesterday evening and will be here for a couple of weeks. I have to say it’s rather warmer here than it was in London!

      I’ve brought my DT Cryptic Crossword Book 8 with me, which I was fortunate enough to win for one of BD’s Monthly Prize Puzzle competitions last year. It is an essential holiday companion to make sure I don’t suffer total crossword cold turkey. Although the book proclaims itself to be “all new”, the puzzles were actually published in the DT in 2009 as I found out a few months ago when Gazza kindly pointed in me the right direction to help me with one answer with which I was struggling.

      The good news is that if ever I need help in understanding any wordplay for the clues in the book I can actually find the review on this site by using the Google search function. The reason I am here now is that I was couldn’t parse one particular answer. The sobering feature which such a search illustrates is the paucity of comments. There were exactly two comments for the specific puzzle where my unparsed answer was reviewed and one of those was a reply by BD himself. To say that this wonderful and indispensable site has “growed like Topsy” would be somewhat of an understatement.

      • Kath
        Posted March 6, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        Hi RD,
        Well spank your legs for not filling in all the required paperwork – it’s very naughty, but, given the circumstances, forgiven.
        Sorry to have missed meeting you at the Birthday Bash. Have fun in Cancun – we’ll no doubt meet up again in a couple of weeks.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted March 6, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        Hope you are well clear of Cancun before Spring Break when, unless things have changed recently, thousands of college students descend for the annual strutting, rutting and drinking ritual!

  15. Jon_S
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Fun as ever from Virgilius, difficulty a little over par. Last in 1d, which was very well done.

  16. Framboise
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Top went in very easily but the bottom part was more of a challenge. Managed to complete it bar 21a which in spite of the hint still eludes me. Favourite was 14d closely followed – dare I mention it, sorry Kath! – 17d. 16a took a while to solve as I was barking at the wrong ,’accounts’! No trouble with the site for a few days so BD take heart, what would we do without Bigdave44! Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints.

    • HoofItYouDonkey
      Posted March 6, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      21a – and me, and I play bridge!!

  17. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Top half, ok, but well and truly defeated by the bottom half, The Night Porter on now, so the conclusion is DT – 1, HIYD – 0.
    Thanks to BD for the hints, and the setter.

  18. Dutch
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable as usual. thought 10a (masseur) was brilliant, as was 14d (how calculations are done). Also liked 17d (practising austerity) and 9d (after some time, craftsman finishing book..). Less keen on 20a.

    Many thanks Virgilius & BD

  19. Kath
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s late and, as my Dad would have said, we’re all tired and in danger of being silly and showing off.
    I’m going to bed now before that becomes any more likely particularly as jet lag is still a feature of my life :yawn:
    See you all tomorrow . . .
    Night night and sleep well . . .

  20. Brian
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Too tough for me I’m afraid, left with 6 which have beaten me completely.
    Still can’t see 21a or 25a even with the hints and the others 18d, 19d, 22a and 24a are complete mysteries. This is the first Sunday one that I have failed to finish for a very long time.
    Thx for the hints.

    • Brian
      Posted March 6, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Just after I finished writing the comment, I had another look and the rest fell into place! 😀

  21. Heno
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. Just about managed it without the hints. Spent a long time on 20a, which was my favourite and last in. Quite a sinister clue :-) Great puzzle, very entertaining. Was 3*/4* for me. Today’s power cut was only for a couple of hours, all fixed now. Off to Cumbria tomorrow, so I won’t be commenting until the evenings.

  22. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted March 7, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Just 21 and 22 left, any hints for a novice would be appreciated.

    • Kath
      Posted March 7, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Hi HYID
      BD’s done a hint for 21a – try looking up ‘sporting’ – it’s not the immediately obvious meaning.
      22a – it’s effectively a double definition of ‘flower’ and ‘girl’ – the hyphen is misleading. You need a seven letter synonym for intense or forceful without the last letter of passio(N).

      • HoofItYouDonkey
        Posted March 7, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Thanks Kath.
        Yes, BD’s hint has been well-thumbed. Trouble is the checkers don’t seem to help as I could fit about 1,000 words (including the singular of this one) in there.
        I will have a go now…

        • HoofItYouDonkey
          Posted March 7, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          Once you explained how the clue worked for 22, it fell into place nicely.
          21 has beaten me though, I think I get the reference to sporting and admit it that the definition had not occurred to me, but I am still in the dark. Doubly-annoying as I play bridge and know the game inside out.
          Frustrating to have one to go on what was quite a tricky prize crossword, but when the solution comes out, it should help me in the future.
          Many thanks for your help.

          • HoofItYouDonkey
            Posted March 7, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            I got it when I looked up another version of ‘sporting’, but have absolutely know idea what it has to do with ‘bridge’, but ‘what the hell’, at least I finished it.

            • Cryptor
              Posted March 7, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

              Hi HIYD, its one of the partners in bridge **** other partner = sporting. Took me ages as well.

              • Posted March 7, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

                As it is appears that it is not possible to give more help for this one than I have given in my hint without using part of the answer, it’s probably best to leave it alone. By the way, the definition is not “sporting” but, as I have underlined in my hint, “was sporting”.

                • HoofItYouDonkey
                  Posted March 7, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

                  Understand BD. Thanks Cryptor, yes, I have it now. Very good.
                  Glad this one has finally been lain to rest. Thanks for everyone’s patience!! :yahoo: :yahoo:

  23. Cryptor
    Posted March 7, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Wow. Was struggling along at **** time until the last six clues which took me into next morning territory. I love that kind of challenge. Got there in the end. Still not absolutely sure about 11a – is it a triple definition? Favourites too many to mention.
    Hats off to Virgilus and many thanks to Big Dave. Everything seems to work fine for me, on ipad, phone and laptop. :unsure:

    • Posted March 7, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Yes, 11a is a triple definition but I thought there were other clues that were more difficult so I didn’t add a hint.