ST 2868 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2868 (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    Showing sign of nerves, yet was strangely composed (6)
An anagram (strangely composed) of YET WAS

11a    Churchman‘s eye, we hear, caught by very short mini, say (5)
A word that sounds like (we hear) eye inside the abbreviated (short) form of V(ery) and the vehicle of which the mini is an example

12a    Ringleader I put inside after being sent back for new case (7)
The initial letter (leader) of R[ing] and the I from the clue inside the reversal (being sent back) of a word meaning after

18a    Settle account, inserting line in dramatic announcement (8)
A three-letter verb meaning to settle and a four-letter account (or, indeed, a phrase meaning to settle an account) around (inserting) L(ine)

25a    Actual result of ingenue moving in (7)
Not quite the same as an anagram – to get the answer move the IN towards the end of INGÉNUE

27a    Savage attack on street outside US city that’s disgusting! (9)
The ON from the clue followed by the abbreviation for ST(reet) around a US city and an Interjection that means “that’s disgusting”

28a    Most important piece in scattered notes on island (8)
An anagram (scattered) of NOTES preceded by (on in an across clue) an island

29a    Almost name before time is ripe (6)
N(ame) followed by a word meaning “before the time is ripe”


1d    Ridiculing author I found in dire straits (8)
Ridiculing here is an adjective not a verb – put the I from the clue inside (found in) an anagram (dire) of STRAITS

3d    Evidence in trial supported by one with non-European funds (9)
A four-letter trial followed by I (one) and some funds from which the E(uropean) had been dropped

5d    Social scientist reading, perhaps, work held by literary collector (14)
The letter which represents reading as a basic skill in a well-known phrase and our usual two-letter musical work inside (held by) a person who puts together a collection of literary works

8d    Mock revolutionary rising with incomplete plan (6)
The reversal (rising in a down clue) of a revolutionary or left-winger followed by most of (incomplete) a plan

9d    Part of speech that never refers to one (10,4)
… because it refers to a group

16d    Become thin — from what we hear, you dined late (9)
Split as (2,3,1,3) this sounds like (from what we hear) you dined later than usual

19d    Composing song for child (7)
A loosely cryptic definition of a song used to compose or soothe a child

24d    Allow to enter random list, oddly deleted (5)
Remove the odd letters (oddly deleted) from two words in the clue

As well as the above – don’t forget to look for those superbly hidden answers.

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 we have two instrumentals from Johnny and the Hurricanes,
parodies of Red River Valley and Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) respectively


  1. George
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Ah – Sunday puzzles are just so great. Not too difficult this week but so many good clues.

    1*/4* for me.

    Thanks to all as usual.

  2. Rabbit Dave
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3*/5*. In my opinion this was close to perfection with 19d the only weak link. My page abounds with ticks, but my favourite is a straight choice between 11a and 16d.

    Many thanks as ever to Virgilius and to BD.

  3. Heno
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. No problems with this one. Very enjoyable. 22d made me laugh, but my favourite was 16d. Last in was 17d. Was 2*/4* for me. Lovely Indian summer in Central London.

  4. dutch
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I am a giant fan of our Sunday Maestro and today he has not failed to please – very enjoyable.

    Did you notice the naughty de-capitalising to mislead? It’s just interesting given our Friday Toughie discussion. Basically, false capitalisation to mislead is fine, de-capitalising is not. I believe it is usual to capitalise *** brands (11a), and BRB seems to agree in this case. De-capitilasing misleadingly suggests the dress in the surface. Just goes to show, rules get broken, perhaps even inadvertently.

    Many thanks Virgilius for an excellent puzzle, and thank you BD

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s an interesting remark about de-capitalising, Dutch, even though I think you might end up in the naughty corner. I shall try to avoid following you there!

      In this specific case I think it’s a bit of a moot point as the word in the clue can refer to a specific brand (needing a capital) or occasionally just generically to a small vehicle of that type (which would not need a capital). For example, a “Hoover” is a specific brand of vacuum cleaner but “hoover” has come to be a synonym for any vacuum cleaner.

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted October 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I agree that “hoover” came to general acceptance as a noun (and also a verb). However like Dutch I think de-capitalised mini is associated with the dress not a ***. In the latter use it is a registered trade mark where the capitalisation forms part of that mark.(as in BRB) I would have said with vehicles ” mini” is a prefix to the vehicle type eg. minicab, minibus etc not stand-alone.

      • dutch
        Posted October 2, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I was hoping to avoid naughty corner by not revealing anything that wasn’t already in BD’s hint. I’m not sure Mini can be generic – you would never refer to a Fiat 500 as a Mini, though it’s pretty damn small.

        But it certainly did not detract from the enjoyment

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted October 2, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I definitely wouldn’t, but Mrs RD would. :wink:

        • Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

          The word I redacted was in neither the clue nor the hint, but I’m sure by now that anyone who didn’t know it will have guessed it from the comments.

          • Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Incidentally mini (without capitalisation), is defined in the SOED with the meaning used in the clue. It has Mini as well.

            • BobH
              Posted October 2, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

              I can’t believe that such a fuss was made about a dubious capital. The meaning being perfectly clear

              • dutch
                Posted October 2, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

                No fuss – just discussing what may have been, as you say, a dubious (lack of) capital – mainly because the discussion came up two days ago, and was wonderfully enlightened by Elkamere. To me, that is part of what is interesting and exciting about this blog.

                • LabradorsruleOK
                  Posted October 2, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  As always eloquently put dutch. The blog has points of interest that are discussed, often humorously & that adds to its usefulness, to me anyway.

  5. Senf
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had a busy day yesterday so I thought that I would take it easy on today’s puzzle and I was surprised when I found that I had completed it sooner than I expected, maybe it was the combined number of anagrams and lurkers that helped – **/***.

    Favourite 16d.

    Looking forward to today’s comments, I hope they are as entertaining as yesterday.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  6. Orphan Annie
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love Sunday, what more could I want a superb Virgilius crossword backed by BD”s masterly decode which I did not need this week but appreciated to check that I had not made a silly mistake. Sun is shining after early morning rain but autumn is definitely on its way, day caving in earlier each day. After lunch GK crossword left from yesterday, glutton for punishment.

  7. Alec
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Immaculate clues, as always, from the consistent Sunday setter, Virgilius. Out of many excellent clues I would pick 25a (for its simplicity) and 16d as my favourites. Thanks to all.

  8. Angel
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not a barrow-load of laughs but nicely taxing with the West beating the East to the finish. Tied Favs 27a and 16d. ***/***. Thanks Virgilius and BD.

  9. Una
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Done in Rufus time, this week.
    16d was my favourite. Thanks BD and Virgilius.

  10. Jane
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sunday perfection, as ever. Thank you, BD, for reminding me of the alterative meaning of ‘composing’ – my only question mark in the parsing.
    Gave up putting ticks besides clues – just too many – but think 16d probably has the edge for its humour.
    Thanks to our Sunday maestro and to BD – liked the sentiment expressed in the 1d quotation, how very true.

  11. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Completed without need for BD’s hints so probably Virgilius’ gentler side. Like the gorgeous sunny weather here it was very enjoyable. Go with 16d as COTD.
    Better half should be home soon from running Cardiff half marathon so better get the ice bath ready (or a cup of hot sweet tea – I know which she’ll pick).
    Another late night watching the WWF, sorry golf, in prospect but looks like second place is the best we will manage.
    Thanks to Virgilius & BD for hints. Johnny & the Hurricanes brought back teen’ memories: can’t get Red River Rock out of my head nor just how repetitive it was!

    • Senf
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh come on don’t be so pessimistic, as Yogi Berra, a famous US baseball player/manager once said ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’ and, remember Medinah 4 years ago, it could be ‘Déjà vu all over again.’

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted October 2, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

        With reference to Medenah Mr Berra also said “The future ain’t what it used to be”. Sadly most of the crowd haven’t Mr B’s way with words.
        Was in the US when he passed away last September, how the media etc paid tribute was class I have to say.

  12. Gwizz
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    ‘Beatnik Fly’ was no.6 in my 45’s collection. Mark you I rather blew it by having Adam Faith’s ‘Don’t you know it’ as the first one I ever bought!
    Anyway, back to the crossword. Very good as always although I would suggest that it is a little on the gentle side. 16d floats my boat and 3/3* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints.

    • BusyLizzie
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh yes, Adam Faith, bought his also but first purchase was “Little White Bull” by Tommy Steele. Oh the pleasure we used to get going to the records shops and going into a booth to listen to a record…

  13. Faraday
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The enjoyment of a gloriously sunny day, or a Sunday, is definitely enhanced by Mr V. If my solving time reflects the difficulty of the puzzle then this is one of his easier offerings but I seem to oscillate weekly between tuning into the correct wavelength or wading through treacle. I thought 16d was most chuckle-worthy, especially if you imagine Yoda delivering it as a question😂

  14. Merusa
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wotta treat! Loved this, and, yes, Virgilius in a benign mood today.
    Every clue is a gem, 22d stood out, but I agree with the majority that 16d was the best smile clue.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the music, I had forgotten about Red River Rock, you are bringing back so many, many memories.

    It appears that we may, repeat may, have escaped Matthew, but Jamaica is still under the gun. Poor, poor Haiti seems to be in the crosshairs, they never seem to get a break. With 30 inches of rain forecast, you know that there are going to be major landslides and probably loss of life.

    • BusyLizzie
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, just heard this is the worst one for 10 years… god help Haiti.

  15. Graham Wall
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Loved this puzzle with its very well crafted and entertaining clues. Too many good ones to nominate a favourite. I rate this as 3*/4* My thanks to BD for his consistent and untiring efforts.

  16. Expat Chris
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A quiet Sunday in Wiltshire and time at last to spend on the puzzles after a couple of busy weeks. Surprisingly, my brain hasn’t atrophied and I completed this lovely Virgilius without any difficulties. My favorite is 9D. Thanks to our Sunday setter and to Big Dave for the review.

    A special thanks to BD and Mrs BD for a lovely Friday lunch. Such a joy to meet up with you both again!

    • Jane
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Chris,
      Nice to see you popping in – missing you on the ‘other side’.
      If you get the chance, do print off Gazza’s NTSPP from yesterday – brilliant puzzle.

  17. BusyLizzie
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well guess I am the dunce in the class today. Found this difficult and not on my wavelength. Most of Big Dave’s hints were for clues I already figured out, so will have to see if rest make sense later on. Concentration impaired as have one eye on Hurricane Matthew right now, a nasty looking strength 4 heading to the east of us. Fingers crossed no westward movement and great concern for those in its path, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas right now. Checking our Hurricane shutters just in case.

  18. Posted October 2, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A gentle one, but beautifully crafted as ever. I liked it all and didn’t notice the naughty de-capitalisation in 11a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and BD.

    Yesterday there was reference to Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I like the NZ version: the kiwi eats, roots, shoots and leaves.

  19. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was a struggle, after a tiring day with a 2 year old, not at my best, probably not helped by trying to listen to the Ryder Cup at the same time.
    A few problems…
    14a – Can’t parse
    7d – Can’t parse (not even sure what the definition is!!)
    Thanks to BD for the usual hints, I did need a couple today, and to Vigillius, though personally I though it lacked a bit of spark from the usual Sunday excellence.

    • Jane
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Can’t really help you on a Prize Puzzle day, Hoofit, but I would recommend you to look very carefully at each word in both of those clues.

    • Angel
      Posted October 2, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Try opening letters in 14a and doctoring notices in 7d. Naughty corner for me?

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted October 2, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Would think so. Hopefully Hoofit gets there before BD! Mind I don’t think the answer in 7d is something everyone would associate with microscopes

        • hoofityoudonkey
          Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Thanks all, don’t want to get anyone up in front of the beak

          • hoofityoudonkey
            Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Got there now, thank, though agree about the answer to 7d = definition.

            • Angel
              Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Phew, saved by the bell!

      • Merusa
        Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It appears that no one is paying attention!

        • LabradorsruleOK
          Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          BD always pays attention!. I note the comment to #4 was made at 7.41 so he may be on his way down as I write.

  20. Vancouverbc
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What an excellent puzzle interspersed with watching the Ryder Cup. My favourite was 16d. Thanks to all and come on Europe!

  21. Paso Doble
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great stuff from Virgiius as always…Wrong answer for 5d held us up a bit. I was showing off
    by putting in transitive verb which was not the answer!!@!!

  22. Jon_S
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Solved fairly quickly while trying to persuade recalcitrant children to get ready for bed, so must have been a straightforward one. :-) Enjoyable as ever from Virgilius.

  23. Salty Dog
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a star we have in our Sunday setter! This wasn’t particularly difficult, but every clue brought a smile to my face, so let’s say 1*/4.5*. My favourite was 16d, but 27a came very close. Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints.

  24. Ora Meringue
    Posted October 3, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Late in getting to the Sunday puzzle this week as other duties intervened….but enjoyed doing this this afternoon. One of the very few times I have managed the Sunday one without assistance.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Big Dave.

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