ST 2873 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2873 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2873 (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    Still cold, wrapped in piece of woollen cloth (6)
C(old) inside a piece of woollen cloth, typically one with a tartan pattern

4a    Single out what’s central to president if young (8)
… there’s definitely at least one hidden answer this week!

13a    Bad treatment for natural wood (3,4)
A charade of an adjective meaning natural or unrefined and a type of wood

14a    Characteristic of courageous person, never being ruffled (5)
It looks trickier but this is simply an anagram (being ruffled) of NEVER

18a    Tree is what ruined instrument (8)
An anagram (ruined) of WHAT followed by a musical instrument

23a    A regal upset about British subject creating class struggle? (7)
An anagram (upset) of A REGAL around B(ritish) gives this subject with which many struggle in the classroom – it took me a while to resolve the definition part of this clue as it was one of my favourite subjects

26a    Stick fork, say, into small fruit or vegetable, right? (5)
Separating the definition from the wordplay makes this one a lot easier – S(mall) followed by a fruit or S(mall) followed by a vegetable and R(ight)

28a    Criminal sheltered by parson is terrified (8)
… oh look! – another lurker

29a    Top player finishes off the season heavy (6)
This top player is an actor, not a tennis player – add the final letters of [th]E and [seaso]N


1d    Sanctimonious leader of cult in affair, having fling (8)
A two-letter adjective meaning sanctimonious followed by the initial letter (leader) of C[ult] inside an affair or incident

2d    Make nothing of a boxer’s last round (7)
A verb meaning to make nothing of or invalidate followed by the A from the clue and the final letter (last) of [boxe]R

3d    It’s not fair, people being taken in by bad client (9)
Fair here is describing weather – some people inside (taken in by) an anagram (bad) of CLIENT

5d    With record margin, one people showing good judgment (14)
A four-letter gramophone record is followed by a three-letter margin, I (one) and the people of a country

7d    Parts of feet getting hot or cool on flight (7)
A two-letter word meaning hot or cool followed by a flight of stairs

8d    Like dates, with one exception, unknown in advance (6)
The exception is 29th February! – a mathematical unknown followed by an adverb meaning “in advance”

9d    Tories are mad about one in Commons following Conservative peers (14)
An anagram (mad) of TORIES ARE around someone who sits in the House of Commons and preceded by CON(servative) gives peers or associates

22d    Loathing that’s irrelevant without a purpose (6)
A two-letter abbreviation meaning irrelevant around (without) the A from the clue and a purpose

24d    Part of goal supported by noble (5)
This part of a goal is one that is frequently hit by unsuccessful footballers – just add a word meaning “supported by” or “in contact with”

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33 comments on “ST 2873 (Hints)

  1. A sense of normalcy has returned. I have been reunited with my Small Red Book after my travels to New Jersey and Florida and the ‘correct’ time zone differential has been restored with the clocks over here ‘falling back’ in the early hours of this morning.

    I found this puzzle a little tricky, but not as tricky as yesterday’s – **/***.

    Two candidates for favourite, the two 14 letter clues, 5d and 9d. For being anagram-less, the winner is 5d.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  2. 3*/5*. I have run out of superlatives for the Sunday Cryptic. Like BD I struggled a bit with 23a as I too loved that subject. 6d was a new word for me.

    My favourite is one of 26a, 7d and 8d, but I’m not sure which.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  3. This all fell into place very nicely; my last one in was 6d, a word I’d never heard before.
    Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  4. At my age I’m not certain that I can afford the loss of brain cells the Sunday crossword demands but I’ve decided its delight makes the sacrifice worthwhile.
    Unravelling 5d and 9d early on helped but whereas the RHS was steady progress the LHS was wading through treacle territory for me. 23a was my smiley favourite 😂😂

  5. 23 across just pipped 12 across as my COTD in this truly marvellous Virgilian composition. As before, I find myself agreeing with RD at 2 about the continuous stream of excellence our Sunday compiler presents to us. There is always a good number of clue types, the surfaces are elegant and often witty, and the overall effect is of a puzzle by a setter at the absolute top of his game. Like Faraday at 4, my RHS was completed in full before anything on the left was solved.

    3*/5* from me with many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    1. Having just drafted the review before starting an afternoon of baking, I’d add to your comments the fact that the Sunday puzzles are always the best ones to review too – lovely cryptic clues to solve but kind to the person who has to explain them. If only they were all like that, I probably wouldn’t spend quite as much time lying down in a darkened room :)

      1. Oh, come on, someone who can get to the finals of the Times Crossword Championships has to lay down in a darkened room before or after preparing a review??

        1. Did you not read my ‘thesis’ on the Elgar York NTSPP? If I wasn’t in the middle if pear and ginger cake making, I’d have a look and give you some more examples.

          1. Apologies. I have just had a quick, mind-blowing look at your example. Now I understand (because of time constraints, I do not normally look at the NTSPP).

  6. Two strong & good prize puzzles in one weekend for me.
    Two nice lurkers but 23a my COTD (even though, as BD / RD I liked it).
    Thanks to Virgilius for the workout & BD. for hints. You deserved a lie-in after yesterday (even breakfast in bed).

  7. Thank you to the crossword gods, and especially to Big Dave for all his efforts to get this site up again. I missed it so badly yesterday, not just because I was in desperate need of the hints, but it was like going to your favorite coffee shop and finding it closed. Cannot imagine what type of person gets a kick out of taking down a site like this. Still need to finish, but today’s hints have helped me get back on track. So far a pleasant puzzle today and will have another stab later over lunch.

  8. I think we are all agreed that Virgilius is the master of his craft.
    It took me some time to get a toehold, but first was 18a, and that gave me an entré.
    I’m going to choose my fave as 12a, ‘cos I like that composer.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to the indefatigable BD!

  9. I really struggled to get a grip on today’s offering from the great man. It was one of those days where everything I tried was (for me) either wrong or off target. Grr!
    So thanks for your hints BD, I really needed to call on them.
    23a was my COTD and overall 3/4*
    Thanks to Virgilius and to my saviour, BD for his hints.

  10. “What a difference a day makes”…
    Breezed through yesterday, but could do very little of this. Eventually ‘finished’ this, via BD’s hints and internet crossword-solving websites.
    Just was not at the races, either wavelength or just not good enough, one of the two, or both.
    Thanks to BD for the hints and Virgilus for the defeat.

  11. How lovely to find everything working ‘normally’ again – a :good: and a :rose: to BD for all his work.
    I’m not going to go on at length in case it sets the gremlins off again.
    As usual it was a great Sunday crossword – not too tricky and certainly not too straightforward either.
    I got a bit stuck in the top left corner having got something wrong in my head for 2d which made 1a impossible – sorted that out.
    I liked too many to pick out any in particular.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  12. Good to have something to get one’s teeth into with a weekend prize puzzle. Just managed to complete thanks to various reference sources but I did finally need BD to sort 1d for me which wasn’t helped by trying to use an unparsed solution fot 1a – d’oh! Thank you Virgilius and BD. ****/***.

  13. A little tricky in places, especially in the far NW/NE/SW corners. 22d I failed to parse, the two-letter abbreviation passing me by as it has every time I’ve encountered it to date, so thanks for the explanation.

  14. An absolutely wonderful puzzle: 2*/5*. Is there no limit to this setter’s consistent excellence? So many great clues to choose from, but 23a really takes the biscuit. Many thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints (and particularly the marvellous picture of the tree accompanying that for 18a). We had similar sights in Cornwall earlier this year; I can’t decide whether to feel blessed to have seen them or horrified at the prospect of the winter weather they may have portended!

  15. As Busylizie, I wonder who would want to hack into such a site and try to bring it down.
    Glad to see that everything is back to normal and thanks to BD for that.
    Therefore my favourite today shall be 10a.
    Don’t let them get at you.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

    1. The hackers must be xtremely nice people (they may be reading the Chinese translation).
      To use a saying “They want stuffing with a ragman’s 25a, broad end first”.
      I guess they are the 2016 equivalent of the youths who used to run keys down the side of cars.

        1. Euphonium is & would be even more appropriate in the circumstances.
          However always thought the reference was to a rag & bone man.

  16. An enjoyable and reasonably straightforward solve this morning. No electronic assistance required apart from Googling 2d and 11a, neither of which had I heard before but which came from the wordplay. Some lovely clue constructions today and a good workout to end the week.

    Favourites today for me: 4a, 12a and the two long down clues 5 and 9. COTD, though, is 3d which I loved.

    Well done to the setter and to BD, as ever, to BD

  17. Today’s puzzle has been a real treat, even though I was held up in the nw corner.Loved the long clues. Thank you Virgilius and BD.

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