ST 2851 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2851 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2851 (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.

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    Absurd probe into salary for one who delivers (8)
An anagram (absurd) of PROBE inside another word for salary

12a    Kind of education that’s levelling out social differences? (7,7)
A verb meaning levelling out followed by some social differences

17a    Poet sharing food with Keats, but with different starter (5)
Take the part of Keats that means food and add a different initial letter (starter)

19a    Clue recurring in puzzle, a debatable addition (4)
A signature Virgilius clue in which the answer is hidden not once but twice (recurring)

20a    Parent is, in part, changing requirement for sweater (14)
This anagram (changing) of PARENT IS IN PART gives a requirement for someone who tends to sweat a lot

23a    Misprints in American volume too unfinished (8)
The American spelling of a measure of volume followed by most of (unfinished) a word meaning too or as well

25a    Backed party about vote favouring university (6)
The reversal (backed) of a two-letter party around the letter used to indicate one’s preference on a voting paper and a word meaning favouring

28a    Unusually alert in court battle (8)
An anagram (unusually) of ALERT inside a verb meaning to court or try to win the affection of a lady


1d    Brilliant disc for John, Paul, or George, perhaps (4)
This brilliant disc is worn by holy men (but not by members of the Beatles!)

3d    Beginner from county losing couple of points, finally (4)
Start with a Northern Irish county and drop (losing) two compass points from the end (finally)

5d    Festive drinking in clubs leading to excitement (8)
C(lubs) followed by excitement or titillation

8d    Single-handedly cutting through claptrap (7)
A five-letter word meaning single-handedly inside (cutting) a preposition meaning through

13d    Damaged museum slide replaced (10)
A London museum, expressed as (1,3,1), followed by an anagram (replaced) of SLIDE

14d    Triumphantly elevate academic position (5)
Two definitions – a verb meaning to carry publicly in triumph and the position in a university held by a professor

18d    Champion leading in golf, say (7)
This verb meaning to champion is derived by putting a two-letter word meaning leading or winning inside the type of activity of which golf is an example (say)

21d    Part of seven-piece suite‘s in flat on time (6)
… this seven-piece suite is a musical opus composed by Gustav Holst

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

24d    How deal is cut, having spotted what’s on top of charts (4)
A verb meaning spotted followed by the compass point that is on the top of nautical charts

26d    Cheat man on board initially trapped in corner (4)
Two definitions – the second one being a chessman

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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.

Please read these instructions carefully. Offending comments may be redacted or deleted.

  Today I pay homage to the Late, Great Buddy Holly  
  ARVE Error: need id and provider
  ARVE Error: need id and provider

51 comments on “ST 2851 (Hints)

  1. Another fine puzzle from Virgilius. I found the top half went in quickly, but my solving was hindered in the bottom half.

    Thanks to BD and Virgilius 2.5*/4.5*

  2. What a fine selection of very different but very enjoyable crosswords (DT, MPP, NTSPP, ST) we have been blessed with over this weekend culminating in this magnificent offering today for which my rating is 3*/5*.

    This is as close to puzzle perfection as I could wish for with just the right level of difficulty, unbridled joy from start to finish, and yet another bizarre coincidence!

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD, not only for his hints today but also for this brilliant blog.

    1. I doubt that any of us ‘weekenders’ are ever likely to forget the correct terminology in that particular area again!

    2. I too noted the bizarre coincidence.

      The best thing about all the enjoyable crosswords this weekend is that I’ve enjoyed them twice while drafting reviews for three of them. Knowing our Gnomey as I do, I won’t be surprised if I end up drafting a review of this one too :roll:

      Thanks to Virgilius and BD

    3. Please could someone point me in the direction of the bizarre coincidence – having a dim day. :sad:

  3. The usual brilliance from our Sunday Saint. I lingered longer than I care to admit over a few in the south. Thanks to BG and BD.

  4. 24d had me stuck for ages. couldn’t decide between two choices. think i’ve got it right now

    loved 12a

    1. You’ve changed how you write your alias – you were sgtbilko before. Both should work now.

  5. Another helping of Sunday enjoyment from the master. A very long time since I’ve seen a traditional 7a.
    Think my top two were 12a&13d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and also to BD for helping out with the reasoning for the last letter in 24d and for the unusual representation of the ‘seven-piece suite’!

  6. Lovely as per usual thank you Virgilius. My piece of paper looks like a galaxy (which is the nearest I’m going to getting told off by Kath) ;)

    Thanks to BD too.

  7. And it’s also a Happy Birthday to … ?

    Much prefer the Buddy Holly!

    As always a most entertaining puzzle from Virgilius – particularly liked “.what’s on top of charts”

  8. Total bliss, after aborting on the Prize Puzzle I turned to this one to cheer me up and it certainly did. Jane we received a Christmas card from someone called Luke who apparently is our Sunday 1a, the rest of the week is the lovely David. Back to Mr G, several smiley moments far to many to risk a favourite but 28a is high on the list. Thanks as always to BD for untangling things.

  9. Another lovely crossword and a sunny day – what more could anyone ask for, apart from a functioning brain.
    I was terribly slow to get going – only three across answers having read through all the across clues but the downs went a bit better.
    Like Jane I needed BD’s hint to understand the last letter of 24d.
    Don’t anyone ask me how or why but 25a was my last answer. :roll:
    I’d never heard of that meaning of 28a.
    Wish we still had a 7a especially one who goes as fast as the one in BD’s pic.
    I liked 12 and 28a and 1d (eventually) and my favourite without any doubt was 8d – another word used by my Dad.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD, as RD says, not just for today’s hints but for this brilliant blog – maybe that’s something we all think every day but don’t get round to saying often enough.
    Finally at the risk of being either a pest or stupid, or even both, what’s the difference between ‘page views’ and ‘visitors’?

    1. Page views are the number times that pages have been looked at, visitors are the number of people who have done the looking.

      1. Yes – of course I did! Dim combined with writing on top of the clue numbers in the grid is a rather less than good mixture! :roll:

  10. Quiet day at work.
    Everybody must be by the sea as the weather is perfect.
    That gave me enough time to finish the monthly prize and this fabulous offering from Virgilius.
    Not telling you which first word I put in 12a. So ashamed.
    Thanks to Mr G and to BD for the blog.

  11. Tougher than even the normal Sunday toughness!
    Still need help with 15a, 16d and 27a, all clues that I just can’t parse.
    Any hints would be most appreciated
    Thx to all

    1. 15a ‘by audience’ indicates that you are looking for a homophone of a negative
      16d def is made dry. red is inferior to or below an anagram (oddly) of white.
      27a cut off + energy

  12. Wonderful sunshine has cooked my brain. I still can’t get the ‘bizarre coincidence’ Anybody give me a bit more of a hint please without getting into trouble? Would be much appreciated!

    1. I can’t keep emailing people as Mr CS wants me back weeding in the garden. Forget about the coincidence and I’ll remind everyone “in due course”

      1. Think that you should tell Mr CS to do some weeding himself – why should you do it all?

      1. Honest guv – it wasn’t us. Blame RD – he started it – spank his legs and send him straight to the naughty corner.

  13. Wow, another brilliant Sunday offering! The south was harder than north.
    The meaning of 23a was new to me. Loved 28a and 12a, but the whole thing was pretty outstanding. Thought of Kath at 25a.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints, and the lovely Buddy Holly clips.

  14. Not quite so demanding as usual for me. Still a very good crossword and 20d was my favourite. 3/3.5* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints.

  15. We found this really hard and, like Brian, we were stumped by 15a and 16d, so thanks to CS for the help. As usual for a Sunday, a cracking puzzle. Thanks to Virgilius and to BD. ****/****

  16. Held up by the SW corner (and half my attention on Murray/Djokovic, which isn’t looking propitious) but this comes out at 2*/4*. My favourite clue could be either of my last two in – 23a or 21d. Many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  17. ***/****. Not that easy a puzzle for me but perseverance paid off. The bottom half was the final part to go in and 24d and 28a shows how slow I was thinking. Thanks,to the setter and BD for the (unneeded) hints.

  18. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle from Virgilius as usual. Quite tricky, needed the hints for 21d, I was on the wrong track altogether. Also for 23a, which I’d never heard of. Favourite was 25a. Was 3*/3 *for me. I have no idea what the bizarre coincidence is about, but I’m not asking :-)

  19. Got there in the end, but not sure if my 18d and 23a are right. Favorites were 12a, 19a and 20a. Back to the packing…

  20. Beautiful day in London today, managed to weed the raised beds and still have time for the CW.
    Thanks BD (and CS!!) for the hints, I needed a couple.
    Very enjoyable, I am so looking forward to the day when I don’t need a hint or to open the BRB.
    Thanks to the setter.

  21. A lightning solve in the north that gradually slowed as I moved south, and ground to a complete halt in the SW corner, eventually limping across the finish line far too long later. That said, this was an excellent puzzle, and I could cope with challenges like this every week. :-) Liked 12ac especially.

  22. Well weekends are obviously not going to be a ride in the park any more. It took me quite a while to get going on this last night but gradually it came together finishing in the SW. Love the peddling 7a and 12a amused. ***/***.

  23. Enjoyable Sunday puzzle as usual. I liked the dining story in 17a. It took me a while to spot the american volume and what’s on top of charts.I also liked 7a (one who delivers), 28a (in court battle) and 8d (single-handedly cutting through..).

    many thanks Virgilius and thanks BD

  24. An unimpeachable peach of a puzzle which didn’t slow me down at any point, but which contained at least 4 or 5 things that I noted to be very clever.

    This setter is also Brendan in the Guardian is that right? I never connected the various identities before but I liked them all lots independently. Good to know my worldview is basically coherent.

      1. I trusted you implicitly for a long time, but despite significant financial outlay on my part, it does not appear that I *actually* now own the Brooklyn Bridge…?

  25. Being myopic I know but just can’t figure out 11a even with all the available letters. -clue please

      1. Duh, so obvious when you know what it is. Had the anagram sorted but could only think of bullock for the steer! Thanks for the clue

  26. Late to the party but I’m not bothered. Now I really get what Virgilius is all about. I liked this. An utterly delicious solve and far too many clues I liked to name a favourite.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD for a great blog…and for a bit of Buddy.

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