ST 2859 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2859 (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    Kind of ball fashioned around square, oddly (10)
This ball is a kind of dance – a four-letter verb meaning fashioned around an anagram (oddly) of SQUARE – I tried unsuccessfully to use the odd letters of square

10a    Poke fun at a politician in flier (7)
The A from the clue and our usual politician inside a type of diving bird (flier)

12a    Attractive urgent coverage for legal support team (13)
An adjective meaning urgent around (coverage for) a team of people supporting the local lawmen

14a    Surfing, maybe at equator (6)
Split as (2,4) this could mean at the equator

17a    Former partner having case for enforcement of payment (8)
Our usual former partner is followed by a case in a court of law

22a    Group of swimmers before the race upset instructor (13)
A collective noun for a group of fish (swimmers) followed by an anagram (upset) of THE RACE

24a    Academic penning papers is tiresome (5,2)
A three-letter university academic around a colloquial word for tabloid newspapers

27a    Have second thoughts about condition covering European disadvantages (10)
Put a condition or clause added to an already complete contract around E(uropean) and some disadvantages


1d    Get engaged repeatedly in schemes Holmes hatched (4)
In this signature Virgilius clue, the answer is hidden not once but twice (repeatedly) inside the clue

2d    It’s used for opening act in theatre (7)
A cryptic definition of something used for opening a patient in the operating theatre

4d    Organised party membership, initially unsystematic (6)
A three-letter verb meaning organised followed by a party and the initial letter of M(embership)

7d    I’ll feature prominently in his speech (7)
A cryptic definition of someone who uses the word “I” a lot

8d    Like those in charge, chap set over African country shifting left (10)
A chap followed by an African country with its L(eft) shifted to the end

13d    Serious type, in this way, also embracing monarch (10)
A two-letter word meaning in this way or thus followed by a word meaning also or additionally around the Latin abbreviation for a monarch (king or queen, it’s the same abbreviation)

18d    Put the ‘A’ in art, essentially (2,5)
Just do what it says on the tin – put THE A inside ART

21d    Cut short awkward old cowboy (6)
Most of (cut short) an adjective meaning awkward followed by O(ld)

23d    It sounds like sweetheart does, for instance (4)
Sounds like a sweetheart or darling – these does are female animals and they are an example (for instance) of the answer!

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  Today we have three for the price of two from Little Richard
Long Tall Sally / Tutti Frutti and Lucille


  1. Heno
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. Super puzzle as usual from the Sunday Maestro. A bit on the gentle side, but very enjoyable, Shame it had to finish. Favourite was 18d. Was 2*/3* for me.

  2. Rabbit Dave
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2.5*/5* for yet another sublime Sunday solve providing a perfect start to what looks like a perfect day for the weather here in London too.

    There were two new words for me in 13d & 21d but each was readily derivable from the wordplay.

    As usual you could pick any one from all 28 clues as favourite, but I will give special mention to three Virgilian specials: 1d, 18d & 23d.

    Many thanks as ever to Virgilius and to BD.

  3. Angel
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    More good, clean fun and puzzlement. Thank you Mysteron and BD. The sun still shines beautifully in W. Sussex but, according to ST Weather, we are due for a “quick-moving disturbance” bringing “outbreaks of rain” in our neck of the woods tomorrow – pity. 21d new to me too. Fav today was 2d – nice double entente. ***/***.

  4. neveracrossword
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I tried to insert the odd letters of “square”, too! Favourite was 23d for the misdirection. Not too difficult today. Thank you BD and Virgilius.

  5. cat
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another lovely Sunday puzzle, with a couple that held me up for ages so will give it 3*/3*. I always get caught out by theatre initially and needed the hint for 14a. I also took a while to pick up on the anagram in 1a. 19a was new to me, I’d heard of the adjective but not the noun, although it was obvious from the clue. I felt 20d down worked better with bullet in the plural but perhaps I’m being a bit picky.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Cat, I initially thought the same as you about 20d but I checked the word in question in the BRB and in fact it does only refer to a single bullet.

      • cat
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. I’ve gained so much general knowledge from cryptic crosswords over the years.

  6. Jane
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another one guilty of trying the odd letters of ‘square’ – fortunately soon rectified.
    2d caught me in the wrong theatre (not for the first time) which left 14a blank for a while.
    Not sure that I actually knew the definition of 19a and also had to dig deep to remember the old cowboy.
    Nevertheless, all completed in a reasonable length of time and enjoyed as much as ever.

    Top spot goes to 23d with a mention for 2d for the misdirection.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    • Angel
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I deleted a reference to the other theatre in my comment for fear of editing by BD or CS again!

      • crypticsue
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Having read BD’s extremely helpful hint, I’m saying nothing today

  7. George
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another great puzzle for a sunny Sunday here in Nova Scotia. All over far too quickly, though. I find Virgilius to be very logical and that suits my pedantic way of thinking!


  8. AnntheArt
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    If there is anything in this wavelength thing, well I am on Virgilius’s wavelength I think.
    Very enjoyable for me today.
    19a and 13d were new words and so had to resort to my little helper.
    6a and 7d were tricky and were the last in.
    Liked 23d and 1d and many others.
    Thank you BD for the hints and to the setter for a lovely crossword day.

    • Kath
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m more and more convinced that wavelength is everything.

      • AnntheArt
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

        That makes me feel so much better about my patchy performances, Kath. Thanks!

      • BusyLizzie
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

        You are so right, especially today.

    • Ridgerunner
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You must have a better little helper than me as Wordweb app came up with no matches for 13d when i had the last 9 of the 10 letters. I was stuck on ****** for “in this way” till I finally got the first letter. Last one in.
      Thanks to setter for enjoyable puzzle and to BD for hints.

      • Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Although I’m sure your contribution was of no use to anyone stuck on 13d, please get into the habit of avoiding correct or incorrect answers or part answers to prize puzzles. There will be a full review of this one next week.

  9. Kath
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was slow to get started today – often the case on Sundays.
    For once I wasn’t fooled by the 9a Waterloo but that small triumph was wiped out by thinking of the wrong kind of 15a PC.
    I looked at 27a upside down and inside out for ages before I untangled it in the right way.
    As one who should have got 2d pretty quickly all I can say is, oh dear and :roll: as it was my last answer.
    I liked 19 and 22a and 7 and 11d. My favourite was 23d.
    With thanks to Virgilius for a great crossword and to BD for taking the time to do hints and pics on a Sunday.

    • Angel
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The part which I deleted from my reply to Jane in 6 above for fear of editing was in fact a reference to you, Kath, vis à vis 2d.

      • Kath
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

        One of my dimmer moments. Oh dear!

  10. dutch
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks Virgilius and BD

    I especially liked 1d, 18d, 20d and 23d.

    14a produced a groan.

    Last one in was 13d.

    I too tried to use odd letters in square, even while suspecting the right answer

  11. Vancouverbc
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2/4. Very enjoyable puzzle with very fair clues given a couple of the answers were fairly obscure words, at least to me. Thanks to all.

  12. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Real struggle for me. West side & finally SW corner. BD’s hint on 18d & finally seeing 13d. So many answers seemedo to take so long to dredge up. Spent too long with sur etc, etc.
    3*/3*, though delayed start on jobs & lawn mowing not good.
    Thanks to setter & BD

  13. Merusa
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lovely puzzle, as usual.
    I was among the solvers who tried so hard to fit “sur” into 1a.
    My last in was 24a, forgot about those papers for a long while.
    Thanks to Virgilius and Big Dave for the Sunday entertainment.

  14. Young Salopian
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Late night following wedding plus long drive home today equals a lack of mental sharpness from me. This took a tad longer than it should have done as a result, but that was no fault of Virgilius. Some real crackerjack clues, but I will go for 1 down as my favourite as it is an example of brilliant and typical Virgilian clueing.

    I have to mark this 3*/4* because of my sluggish brain, and offer grateful thanks to V and BD.

  15. Una
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The gentler side of Virgilius. 7d is my favourite .
    With thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  16. BusyLizzie
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Virgilius just went to top of my favorite setter list, super puzzle right on my wavelength, with thanks to Big Dave for hints to finish. A lovely Sunday puzzle.

  17. Jon_S
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I got myself into a bit of a pickle in the SW corner, and 13/14 in particular, but the rest fairly flew in.

  18. Florence
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Unlike Kath, I was fooled yet again by 9a. 13d and 19a were new words for me, but I will never remember or use them. I liked 8d and 20d. Thank you BD and setter.

  19. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted August 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fell a bit short, which was a shame…But good fun and an enjoyable puzzle.
    12a – Needed a hint, did not know the law part of the clue – One to remember
    13d – Never heard of the answer – had to use the machine
    8d – Didn’t understand the shift left bit
    7d – Needed a hint…
    6a – Needed the letter hints, had no idea of the word relating to ‘Bishop’ – another to remember
    On a tangent, I have a birthday coming up soon and like Jack Benny, I will be 39 again, can anyone recommend the best dictionary to get, and which edition.

  20. Robin Newman
    Posted August 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked 1D, 2D & 20D.
    Bit puzzled by 9A, but think I have the correct answer.

  21. Graham
    Posted August 2, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    Phew. Just got 13d to finish the thing. Thanks for confirming my decoding. Now back to today’s.

  22. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 2, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not only I tried to take the odd letters of square in 1a, but went down BD’s mine armed with these three letters trying to find a relevant answer in the cricket bowling section.
    13d was a new word for me.
    Thanks to Virgilius for the usual Sunday excellence and to BD for the blog.

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