ST 2853 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2853 (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:


1a    Not working, fusses about a lower level position (10)
A four-letter adjective meaning not working or out of action followed by a word meaning fusses or disturbances around the A from the clue

6a    Prepares to fight — that’s a promise, ignoring the odds (4)
Unless you count the ‘S as the first letter of the fodder, the wordplay involves taking rather than ignoring the odd letters The A from the clue followed by the even letters (ignoring the odds) of the next word in the clue {thanks Kitty]

10a    One making definite choice to be less slim (7)
Two definitions – someone who gives all his votes to one candidate and an adjective meaning less slim

12a    In hardship, it’s a restructuring that’s often opposed by unions (13)
Start with a nine-letter word meaning hardship and insert an anagram (restructuring) of IT’S A

17a    What can become ruined without male guard (8)
An anagram (become ruined) of WHAT CAN around (without – no comment!) M(ale)

22a    Preparing to substitute for player, not learning enough (13)
This verb meaning preparing to substitute for a player in a drama could possibly mean not learning enough

24a    Something body needs for energy put in container (7)
A word meaning for or in favour of followed by E(nergy) inside a container

27a    Pressure leading to post in hospital in top office (10)
P(ressure) followed by a post for a doctor who works and lives in a hospital


1d    Ready to perform call for peace (4)
A colloquial word for ready or money comes from a charade of a verb meaning to perform followed by a call for peace or silence

3d    Extra cost to pay as Army, say, goes on attack (7,6)
This extra cost to be paid in, perhaps, a restaurant is a charade of the type of organisation of which the Army is an example followed by an attack

4d    Needing to be replantedlike dates, with one exception (6)
Two definitions – plants that need to be replanted every year and an adjective meaning occurring like a date, with the one exception being 29th February

8d    Playing to win hand (10)
A cryptic definition of a verb meaning playing an instrument in order to attempt to win the hand of a young lady

11d    Not quietening down, including one part of speech turned up full (13)
An adjective meaning not quietening down or without any reduction in intensity around (including) the reversal (turned up in a down clue) of I (one) and a part of speech

18d    What we did, ultimately, with record of loans generating little interest (7)
The final letters (ultimately) of the first three words in the clue followed by written notes of loans or debts

20d    Roman soldiers holding king in chain (3-4)
A body of three to six thousand Roman soldiers around the Latin abbreviation for king

23d    Severely criticise loud song for beat with excessive force (4)
The musical notation for loud followed by a song – surrounded by two definitions

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  This week, two different versions of the same song – Don Gibson from 1958 and Ray Charles from 1962  


  1. Jane
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The usual high standard of fare from the Sunday maestro.
    Took ages to get 1d despite having both checkers in place and wasn’t familiar with that ending of 14a.
    Fell into the all too obvious trap of trying to make an anagram out of part of 12a.
    Think my favourite is 13d – simple but spot on.
    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints which I didn’t need but still enjoyed reading.

    PS Bet RD enjoyed this one!

  2. Posted June 19, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The usual great Sunday stuff. I can’t work out whether it was trickier than usual or whether I was just having a slow morning. Well, the latter is certainly true, but I had a delightful sleep in so I’m happy.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD. I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

    P.S. For 6a, I took it as A from the clue, and then the even letters (ignoring the odds) of promise.

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Pretty much exactly what Jane said.

    I found this at the tougher end of the Sunday scale for difficulty but supremely enjoyable, so it gets a 4*/4.5* rating. It would have been given 5* for enjoyment except for the unnecessary split infinitive in 14a.

    13d would have been my favourite were it not for 15a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  4. pommers
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Harder than the average Sunday methinks but the usual high level of entertainment. ***/**** from me.

    Solved in the local over a beer or two and a plate of wonderful Esaladilla Rusa. It’s village fiesta this weekend so the disco going on until 0415 this morning might have affected the brain, not to mention the vino collapso :grin: At least the Mass in the church is held at 1200 instead of 1000 so we all can get a bit of kip as the bells don’t go off until 1130. All that goes on about 50m from my bedroom window.

    Muchas gracias to Virgilius and to BD.

  5. Young Salopian
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Judging by the lack of comments on this page at this time of day, fellow solvers must have struggled as much as me to get this finished. In common with those above, I thought this was the hardest puzzle I have completed in quite a while, and can honestly say this is the first 5*/5* I have awarded as a result. It was, in short, quite breathtakingly brilliant. I won’t nominate a favourite as they were all top class.

    Thanks Virgilius for pushing me so hard, and to BD.

  6. cat
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This took me a while, I always find Sundays more challenging, but was very enjoyable. Some fell into place easily, eg 22a, but others I really needed to get my head around. ****/*** for me, I think.

  7. Florence
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tried to restructure all sorts of things in 12a, and had the wrong definition for 1d.Got there in the end. Lots to like. 9a,12a,18d and 20d. Thank you Virgilius and BD.

  8. Merusa
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Definitely more difficult for a Sunday, but so, so much fun.
    I never did get 1d; when will I ever remember that meaning for “ready”? We’ve had it often enough so it should be burned in my brain.
    I loved 15a, 19a and 13d in particular, but they’re all good.
    Thank you Virgilius, and to BD for the hints, and also for the Ray Charles, adore him.

  9. Margaret
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just wanted to pop my head in to say thank you to BD for the wonderful Sunday treat of the sublime Ray Charles – going to go and listen to some more now.

    As to the crossword, I also loved it, although it was a bit more taxing than normal. Needed electronic help for 15a and then couldn’t understand why. As Kath would say – dim!

    I have also not come across that version of 14a and didn’t like it at all.

    Thanks to the setter and BD

  10. Una
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Like Merusa above, I also didn’t work out 1d as it is usually referred to in the plural, n’est pas vrai ?
    Otherwise , I found it quite hard.
    25a was my favourite.
    Thanks Virgilius and BD.

  11. Heno
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Virgilius. I found this very difficult, the bottom half went in ok, but I got stuck on the top half. Needed the hints for 4d. Had to use electronic help for 11d & 12a, I was convinced the latter was an anagram. Favourite was 9a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  12. AndyP
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Is 23d not a triple definition?
    Sunday excellence as usual.

    • Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog Andy

      The middle part of 23d is not a definition, it’s wordplay. The answer is not a loud song.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted June 19, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We thought it was a triple too. Help us out here BD, what do you mean by wordplay? To us the middle part looks to be precisely a loud song. What are we missing please?

      • Posted June 20, 2016 at 7:04 am | Permalink | Reply

        Have you ever heard of a loud song being called a [answer to 23 down]. If the answer is no, then loud song is not a definition. The explanation is in my hint.

  13. Hilary
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My spelling went a bit awry so had to resort to supertoy to sort things out, found it quite hard and needed BD (thank you) in the end to tell me what I had misconstrued. My poor little brain has certainly been overworked this weekend so think I will find something on my Kindle to read this evening. Thanks as always to Virgilius.

  14. Vancouverbc
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was tough for me. It took me ages to get on the setters wavelength. 14a needed help from Mr Google even though it parses perfectly. However very satisfying when completed. Thanks to the setter and BD for the hints.

  15. Gwizz
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    1d had me foxed for a while; I had always thought of the answer as being plural. But there you go. A small blip in a wonderful Sunday crossword. 8d was my favourite, and overall 4/4*
    Thanks to the Sunday maestro, and to BD for the hints.

  16. Angel
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Phew that was a bit of a brainteaser. I have been having stabs at it over the course of the day with interruptions for favourite Sunday political programmes, etc. and Andy Murray playing at Queen’s Club – well done him for coming from behind and securing the record fifth Queen’s title. 14a new to me and it took me sometime to sort out and parse 11d. Thanks Virgilius for setting us such an enjoyable challenge and also thanks to BD without whom I was determined to manage and did just do so. ****/****.

  17. Brian
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    One of the toughest Sunday’s for a while I thought. Some very clever clues but Mrs B was less than complimentary. She thought it was like pulling teeth. My feeling is that is was tough but fair.
    Thx to all

  18. Salty Dog
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite a lot stiffer than our usual Sunday delight, but as enjoyable as ever. The NE corner – 15a and 8d – took me into 3* time, particularly as I came within an ace of picking up my dictionary in exasperation to see if there was an obscure religious leader called a “******”. I had little ticks against 7, 11 and 20 down, with the latter taking the honours as favourite clue. Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  19. Jon_S
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 9:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tough in the north, pretty straightforward down south. Or maybe that’s just tiredness setting in as I moved from the bottom upwards. It’s been a long weekend! :-) The usual high standard from Virgilius.

  20. Popeye
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Loved this crossword yes 1d was a revelation when it came and was my last one in. Enjoyed 19a because who doesn’t like a bit of magic!!!!!

  21. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Can anyone help me parse 7d??? Confused!!

    • Gazza
      Posted June 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      7d Ribbed fabric is not commonly put on new coat (7)
      A type of ribbed fabric is followed by a common way of saying ‘is not’.

      • HoofItYouDonkey
        Posted June 19, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza, I have learnt a new fabric!!

        • pommers
          Posted June 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Remember the fabric as it turns up fairly regularly. One of those words you never need in normal life but are essential to crossword solving.

          • hoofityoudonkey
            Posted June 20, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink | Reply

            Yes Pommers, a case for the Usual Suspects???

  22. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 10:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Stared at this for ages, then finally it all clicked, though not without much needed help from BD’s hints.
    My favourite was 19a, as a keen birder, the answer is a superb example of the genus (desperately trying to not contravene the rules!!).
    I though this was a first-class crossword, many thanks to BD for the hints and the setter.

  23. Sheffieldsy
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 11:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The bottom half went in relatively easily; the top half proved a real challenge but we got there in the end. As most above have said, tougher than the average Sunday puzzle.

    3*/3*. Have to say we did not like 14a – what a horrid word (but, of course, not Virgilius’s fault).

    Thanks to BD and Virgilius.

  24. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I too was trying to make 23d a triple def but as BD clearly pointed out, it didn’t make sense.
    Very pleasant solve which took a bit more time than usual.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the blog.

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