ST 2869 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2869 (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    Hunt runs in frantic chase (6)
Pur R(uns) inside an anagram (frantic) of CHASE

8a    No problem for top minion, as arranged (8)
This state metaphorically doesn’t apply to a top – it’s an anagram (arranged) of MINION AS

10a    Person easily manipulated, that might be on hand (6)
Two definitions – the second is illustrated below

12a    Not having any money – what’s heart-warming about that? (10)
Lift the words that form the definition and it becomes a lot easier – a three-letter a colloquial word for money inside what proverbially makes the heart grow fonder

16a    Improvement to house – addition of bar? (12)
This could mean the addition of a bar to a medal awarded for an earlier deed

20a    Gift divided by male, one in total control (10)
A gift around (divided by) M(ale) and I (one)

22a    Impact fellow with iron, in turn (6)
F(ellow) and the chemical symbol for iron inside a turn or performance

25a    Undernourished family in Southern US city (6)
Put a three-letter word for family inside S(outhern) and a US city – note that the city doesn’t have to be in the south!


1d    Kind of course that provides something to eat between rounds (8)
A cryptic definition of some food that is served between rounds or slices of bread – it’s interesting to note that round (in the singular) is actually another word for the answer, so two rounds make a round!

2d    Dealing with an attack of disease? (5)
A (an) and an attack of disease

3d    Restrict murderer oddly not put inside (7)
The name of the Abel’s murderer around (put inside) an anagram (oddly) of NOT

7d    Start work on canvas in small sailing boat (6)
S(mall) followed by a sailing boat

14d    Basis of health, wealth and wisdom one’s seen in noble head (9)
To get the basis of health, wealth and wisdom put I (one) between a noble and a head or promontory

17d    Medic acts badly about onset of illness that’s severe (7)
A two-letter abbreviation for a medic and an anagram (badly) of ACTS around the initial letter (onset) of I[llness]

19d    Have discussion about working capital (6)
The single-letter Latin abbreviation for about followed by the usual two-letter word meaning working and an adjective meaning capital or excellent

21d    Sound made by large gun, as a rule (5)
This rule sounds like a large gun

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  Today it’s a couple of songs by Hank Williams
Your Cheatin` Heart and Lovesick Blues


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3*/5*. Virgilius right at the top of his game as ever. Nicely challenging and hugely enjoyable.

    Not one of this splendid selection would disgrace the title of favourite, but my short list today is 8a, 12a, 14d & 19d with the accolade going to 19d as it is such a wonderful word.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  2. Alec
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Virgilius never disappoints. I found this at the easier end of his spectrum – the 8 anagrams/partial anagrams assisted in that. I liked 8a (no problem for top) and 14d. Enjoyment from beginning to end. Thanks to all concerned.

  3. Jaycat
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lovely puzzle which is certainly challenging. Liked 20a, 12a, 18d and many more.


    Thanks to BD and setter.

  4. MalcolmR
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I, on the other hand, thought 19d very poor, but 16a an absolute belter.

    Thanks Virgilius.

  5. Senf
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    */*** for me – very enjoyable and completed comfortably before lights out last night. I had no idea about the parsing of 12a, but the puzzle web site accepted my answer on submission, so I am pleased to see that it is in BD’s selection for decrypting (I had forgotten about the 3 letter synonym for money).

    Favourite 14d.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  6. Kath
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another great crossword.
    As so often on Sundays I was slow to get started.
    There were quite a few not very difficult clues that, for some reason, I was particularly dim about – 8a and several of the down clues.
    I don’t quite ‘get’ 14d – can’t find any reference to it anywhere and although I’m pretty sure my 11a is right I’ve never heard of it meaning fool.
    I liked 21a and 1 and 15d. My favourite was 9d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.
    The beautiful Ted (collie, for those of you who haven’t been keeping up!) is coming to stay for another few days – need to cut the grass before he arrives – I know he chases cars so assume that the lawn mower will have the same attraction.

    • George
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      In regard to Ted’s expected behaviour, my Australian Shepherd, Max, who sadly passed along last year, definitely regarded the lawn mower as being in the same category as sheep and cattle. He would circle around the mower barking to indicate the direction he thought it should go, then rushing in for a quick nip of the back tyre to punish it when it didn’t. I used to watch exactly the same routine when herding my neighbour’s cattle!

      • Kath
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Our collie cross (Annie – my piccy) used to try to organise us – she failed but she chased squirrels, which was fine, and if I saw something I didn’t want her to chase I just told her to leave it – she would then instantly look all round to see what it was that she was meant to be not going after.

      • Young Salopian
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

        We had a beautiful border collie called Jasper who would dance around while running backwards as I operated the mower. He even did it once I had graduated to a ride-on when we moved to our present house. He was the same with a broom, trying to bite the bristles as I brushed. He also liked diving head first into piles of leaves. Quite mad.

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I looked for a phrase for 14 Down along the lines of “[answer] is the basis of health, wealth and wisdom” but couldn’t find one.

      11 Across is simply the initial letters of four words in the clue – Chambers defines it very simply as “a fool”.

      • Rod
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

        ****** makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ is a well known proverb.

    • Alec
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Isn’t there a little rhyming proverb regarding 14d which makes a man. healthy, wealthy and wise?

      • Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I knew there was something – thanks.

      • crypticsue
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’ve already quoted it in my draft review

        • LabradorsruleOK
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I’m nearly always in bed by 10.30, I rise before 6.30am. My doctor says I am not healthy, my bank manager I’m not wealthy and my better half I’m not wise. I agree with all of them, ‘seems old wives’ tale to me.

      • Kath
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I tried googling all that and didn’t find anything . . . forget all that – I’ve just remembered it – not going to put it in here – still haven’t cut grass – the ******* lawn mower won’t start so no time to spend in the naughty corner.

    • LabradorsruleOK
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Are the diabetic cat / cats back home then?
      Our collie-cross (we think) rescue dog goes berserk at the vacuum cleaner & attacks it. Vacuuming has to be done when she’s on her walk.

      • Kath
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes – the diabetic cat and the non-diabetic one were collected yesterday – Elder Lamb and her partner were woken up by them at 5.00am this morning – loud wails, “Mum – could they come back to you?” No!!! As for the vacuuming – well, if you can’t do it then you just can’t, can you? I’m all for a good excuse.

        • LabradorsruleOK
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I take the dog out if it’s not raining, better half vacuums. If it is raining we swop. I am a caring husband.

    • Merusa
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s great that Ted is back for a visit. Still giggling at your vet’s punny. Maybe this will help you to decide to rescue another? Okay, I’ll mind my own business.

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

        No you keep trying Merusa our canine friends need the Kath’s of this world as you & I know (& she does I suspect hence Ted).

      • Kath
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Oh dear – whatever are you two trying to do to me? :sad:

  7. Una
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was just particularly dim , and found it very difficult today.
    Thanks to all concerned.

    • hoofityoudonkey
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think this was difficult, Una.
      Keep the faith…

  8. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Like yesterday toughish but fair & even more satisfying a solve for me.
    Thought 14d was very good but 16a epitomised what a cryptic clue is all about so gets my COTD
    Thanks to setter, you deserve a 16a and BD for the usual succinct review.

  9. Young Salopian
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    16 across my favourite of many outstanding clues in this excellent Virgilian offering. Nothing to dislike and everything to praise from a compiler absolutely at the top of his game. Certainly a tad more difficult than recent Sunday puzzles, but hugely enjoyable and well worth the effort of solving.

    3*/5* overall with grateful thanks to Virgilius for the challenge and BD.

  10. Orphan Annie
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sunday would not be the same without the DT crossword. Before BD I was lucky to solve half a dozen but now I am brave enough to struggle through to completion. Far to many ticks to risk picking favourite but 19d up there because it sounds great. Thanks to Virgilius and BD, next question what do I do for the rest of the afternoon?

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The Sunday offering is always a pleasure. 12A is my pick, followed by 16A and 24A. I must be parsing 4A incorrectly because I seem to have and extra letter at the end. Thanks Virgilius and BD.

    • Angel
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I felt the same about 4a but the word used for legislation is being used here in the plural.

  12. Angel
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another delectation today for which many thanks Virgilius and also BD. We have had one or two recent instances as to whether words are single, hyphenated or two words and I would go for 13a being a single word. I bunged in 14d as the rhyme about time of rising and retiring didn’t occur to me until Rod and Alec jogged my memory. ***/***

    • Senf
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Angel – an interesting comment on 13a. The results of a Google search would agree with you, but Bill Gates(MS Word spell check, and not necessarily the ultimate authority) would apparently accept any of one word, hyphenated, or two words.

  13. Cornishpasty
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Although not quite a romp, I found this one easier than yesterday’s. Last one in was 8a, not that it wasn’t obvious what the answer was, just couldn’t parse it, kept on going back to it until the penny dropped, sleeping like a top.
    So, I’d rate at the easy end of hardness, say 2 and high end of entertaining, say 4.

  14. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The last two days have been a real slog, I think it must be the shock of having to go to work tomorrow. I still don’t understand the reference to ‘top’ in 8a.
    This was not quite up to Virgilius’ ultra-high standard, but that is probably more down to me than him. Thanks are due to him, and to BD for the hints, which for a change I did not need.

    • LabradorsruleOK
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      HI HIYD,
      The “top” is a reference to an expression ‘***** like a top” & that is what the answer don’t do as I remember you know. Didn’t know where it came from so Googled it. Not convinced of either explanation but it has been around a long time.

      • hoofityoudonkey
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I googled the same and found the same. An expression I have never heard of, I would be interested to know where that comes from.

    • Kath
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I have heard the expression to ‘sleep like a top’ – can’t see any reason not to put in the whole of it – can’t believe that I’ve transgressed any rules. I don’t know where it comes from and haven’t been able to find anything about it. I’d probably say ‘sleep like a log’ which makes no more sense – never seen a wide awake log . . .

      • hoofityoudonkey
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes Kath, ‘sleep like a log’ makes more sense to me too. John Lennon even used it in the lyrics to ‘A Hard Days Night’.

    • Senf
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Apparently, this is the source:

      The expression ‘sleep like a top’ is quite old and is recorded from at least 1693, when it appeared in William Congreve’s The Old Batchelour:
      “Should he seem to rouse, ’tis but well lashing him, and he will sleep like a Top.”


      Who knew? Not many of us!

      • Merusa
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Certainly not me!
        As an aside, twenty or so years ago, we would sit and ponder on questions like that and never know. I think this age of Google, et al, is wonderful and I spend waaaay too much time looking “stuff” up.

  15. Merusa
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great entertainment again, I so look forward to Sunday’s puzzles.
    My first thought was that I can’t choose a fave, so many good ones, but 16a stood out, so did 8a, so did 19d a fun word. I had a light-bulb moment and recalled the meaning of “round” in 1d, felt very smug.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for his hints.

  16. Brian
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Difficult and rather poor today I thought. Not up to the normal high standard.
    Thx for the hints.

  17. Paso Doble
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Agree with Brian!

  18. Gwizz
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I don’t! Slow to get going but from then on everything slotted together eventually. Some great clues of which 12a was favourite. 3/4* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for his hints.

  19. Jon_S
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, this felt like I needed my brain in gear throughout, but the clock says I fairly whizzed through in something like ** time, so I’m not sure which to believe. Top marks for enjoyment value as ever.

  20. BusyLizzie
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It took me a while but who cares, I never time it anyway. Just so long as I get there in the end, thanks Big Dave as needed several of your hints. Favorite was 1d, followed by 25a.

    • Merusa
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I thought 25a was a weak one when compared to the rest. I know several people who are 25a and not undernourished, they eat huge plates of food and snack all day long.

  21. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Did say “hum” a few times while solving.
    Specially with 8a, 12a and 14d.
    Have to admit that I agree a bit with Brian.
    Can’t please all the people all the time and all that.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints.

  22. Cryptor
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A day late, but thought it worth a question re 19d. Where I come from (Liverpool) and where I now live (Midlands), the word has always had an ‘L’ in it, 5th letter. Can’t find my version in Chambers, but it’s in Wiktionary. Anyone know anything about this?

    • Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Your spelling is in the ODE (Oxford Dictionary of English)

      informal, another term for ******.
      – origin late 19th cent.: alteration.

      • Cryptor
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Dave, interesting. Did a straw poll at work today, most used the ‘L’ version.

  23. Heno
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. Very nice puzzle as usual from Virgilius. Was beaten by 18a, largely because I transposed two letters when I wrote in 3d, doh! Was 2*/3*for me.

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