ST 2880 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2880 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2880 (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    Current measure coming from a legislator before (6)
The A from the clue followed by a legislator and a poetic word for before

4a    Instruments showing parts of organism, hiding nothing (6)
Parts of an organism around (hiding) O (nothing)

11a    On first of January, the writer has to dance (4)
Our first New Year influenced clue is a charade of the initial letter (first) of J[anuary] followed by the shortened form of “the setter has”

12a    Timely statement of intent about what you’re working on (10)
A statement of intent that is common at this time of year is derived from a two-letter word meaning about and the very thing that you are working on right this moment

16a    Shop for food using strange dialect where some Germans live (12)
An anagram (strange) of DIALECT followed by a German city

21a    Austerity measure covering end of year, in short (4)
We should all, by now, be aware of this austerity measure – just put it around (covering) the final letter (end) of [yea]R

23a    In middle of explanation, altered subject? (8)
A specific type of hidden answer construction (in middle) requires there to be as many letters before the answer as follow it

25a    Pound in new year in disarray, pretty much (6)
The symbol that represents a pound sterling inside N(ew) and an anagram (in disarray) of YEAR


1d    Sailor did his thing, we hear — descended using rope (8)
One of our usual sailors is followed by what sounds like (we hear) what he did on the sea

2d    Prepare to set off in 2017, for example (5)
Two definitions – a verb meaning to prepare to set off a firearm or other explosive device and a characteristic of the number 2017 that last happened in 2011 and will not recur until 2027

6d    Without restrictions, I’m in dark to a greater extent (9)
Insert I’M into a phrase (3,4) that suggests being darker

9d    Difference isn’t changing, in manner of speaking (11)
An anagram (changing) of ISN’T inside a manner of speaking that many would say was sadly lacking in today’s media

14d    Peculiar piece of music for 2017, say (3,6)
An adjective meaning peculiar and a piece of music give a characteristic of the number 2017 that last happened in 2015 and this time will recur as soon as 2019

15d    Somehow bear fury that’ll be shorter this year than last (8)
An anagram (somehow) of BEAR FURY gives something that’ll be shorter this year than last (as it has fewer days)

19d    New Year award, perhaps happening in part of day (6)
A two-letter word meaning happening inside a part of the day

21d    Church with gold covering one section of it (5)
CH(urch) followed by the heraldic term for gold around I (one) gives a section of a church

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  Today two more from the memory bank!  
  ARVE Error: need id and provider
  ARVE Error: need id and provider

35 comments on “ST 2880 (Hints)

  1. Thanks for the tips, not needed today as I found this puzzle relatively benign.

    May I wish you a happy new year, with thanks for your Herculean efforts last year, fighting off the internet demons.

  2. Gentle start to 2017 for me. Brief but enjoyable.

    COTD was 12a.

    Thanks to setter & BD for hints & nostalgia: not familiar with Ralph Donner though.

  3. Another enjoyable offering for this first puzzle of the year and with a bit of a theme but not one that dominates. I can’t fault the wordplay and nothing jarred in terms of fairness – though perhaps a few of the surfaces don’t read quite as smoothly as usual.

    Amongst those that stood out, I thought both occurrences of 2017 were in clever clues – 2d and 14d, 17d was smooth and 18d cunningly misleading. Silver medal goes to 13a, not for difficulty but for an elegant clue but COTD – and a lovely illustration in BD’s review – is 1d which made me laugh.

    Thanks to setter and BD.

  4. My last one in and my favourite is 23a. Thanks Virgilius and BD.

    The best clue so far this year! ?

  5. A very Happy New Year to setters, bloggers, commenters and lurkers.

    What a lovely way to begin the crosswording year. The kind difficulty level is probably just as well, given the number of sore heads doubtless around.

    I liked the themed clues, even as I cheer the end of seasonal themes for a while.

    2016 was a long one indeed, and not just because of 15d. It was quite strange to watch the clock go to 23:59:60 last night … for a second it seemed as though the year would never end. It was something of a relief when it did!

    Thanks to Virgilius for the puzzle and to Big Dave for the blog.

  6. A Happy New Year to all! Using my granddaughter’s methodology, only 27 sleeps until the Birthday Bash.

    For me, this a very straightforward and enjoyable puzzle, collecting full bonus points when I submitted on-line – */***.

    Not overlooking 15d, I liked the three clues that referred to the year that has just started. However, my long favourite is 13a and my short favourite is 21d.

    Thanks to Virgilius for a gentle start to the year and to BD.

  7. Well spotted, Organum! I wondered if anyone would. The spectre that will haunt 2017?

    1. I didn’t, but when I read Organum’s post, I thought how clever is that! Well done, Mr. Greer, you are a star.

    2. And probably 2018, 2019, 2020 etc I fear. As Mum used to say “It’s being so cheerful keeps you going”
      Thanks for many hours pleasure & Happy New Year.

    3. I finished the puzzle then did a double take as I was putting it to one side. Really enjoyable and clever, thank you!

      Yes, 2017 is the beginning of a voyage into the unknown…

  8. Virgillus has continued in 2017 by maintaining his consistent standard of excellence. This wasn’t tough but it was very enjoyable with a nice Nina too. 2d was my favourite.

    Happy New Year to all, and many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  9. Once again the lurker in the across clues got me, being the last in.
    Liked the references to 2017.
    Happy new year and thanks to all.

  10. Another gem, so enjoyable. What a way to start the year.
    I got 2d wrong, but now I’ve got it, thanks to BD’s hints, I think it’s outstanding. I’m still not going to choose a fave, there are too many and Kath will get cross with me.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and, of course, heaps of thanks to BD.
    I was asleep by ten o’clock last night, so my head is clear. I wish everyone all the best for 2017.

  11. A fine start to the year from the master setter. Not hard but very entertaining. Missed the second line nina but that’s about par for the course for me. Never remember to look for such things. */**** from me. The seasonal references were all very good but hopefully they will now be retired for the next 11 months or so.

    Best puzzle of the year IMHO.

    Many thanks to Mr Greer for the puzzle and to BD for the blog. Happy New Year to them and also to anyone else who is silly enough to read my posts or even my puzzle blogs, you are all much appreciated.

      1. Went to the pub. Thought about it and decided to stay in the pub. Caught the end of The Eagle Has Landed but I probably know the script better than Michael Caine so it wasn’t too entertaining.

  12. I agree with anyone who didn’t find this at all difficult but did find it very enjoyable.
    Well done to Organum – I certainly didn’t spot that one.
    On to more general stuff – I can’t spell 16a but at least I know I can’t – and for some reason I got into a pickle with 21a which was my last one.
    I liked 10a (because it made me laugh) and 6 and 15d. My favourite was 14d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD and, for the last time, Happy New Year to all.
    Rain with lumps in it and 3C in Oxford – off to light fire.

  13. Thanks to everyone for feedback throughout 2016, to Big Dave for his commitment and organizational skills, CrypticSue and others for reviews, and to my editor, Phil McNeill, who spares my blushes often enough and generally exercises careful oversight.

  14. I did 90% of this in double-quick time, held up by 10a, 19d, 22a.
    Never did get 10a, had to cheat, no idea why, it’s not as though it was particularly difficult!!
    The hint for 19d didn’t help and I had no idea what paving meant in 22a.
    In the end I had to resort to the online hint (i.e. cheat).
    I should have got 19d and got 22a when the penny dropped as to the alternative use of ‘****’.
    I enjoyed the 2017 clues…
    So all in all, poor effort today.
    Thanks BD and Virgilius.
    Grrrrr – bad start to 2017….

  15. Very enjoyable, loved the new year references. I thought 2d was a great spot.

    Many thanks virgules & BD

  16. Broadcasting live from Clermont Ferrand.
    A very happy new year to each and every member of our crossword community.
    Missed the Nina too.
    Thanks to Virgilius for a good start of 2017.
    Thanks to BD for the invaluable blog.

  17. A very neat and tidy puzzle, silky smooth surfaces. The 2nd line is the cherry on the icing on the cake.

    Liked ’em all, but 17d & 22a are my favourites.

    Thanks to all concerned as ever.

  18. Loved it. Many thanks to Virgilius for consistently lovely Sunday puzzles all year, to BD for all his hard work throughout the year, and to all the bloggers who have entertained and informed us. My stand-out today was 2D. Happy New Year!

  19. An easy start to the year in crossword land but not in my front yard where snow has accumulated overnight requiring hard labour to clear up. Thanks to the setter and BD for the hints. A happy and peaceful new year to all those who enjoy this excellent site.

  20. Virgilius has set the bar high for the first puzzle of 2017. I loved the 2nd line word appearance. Great work by Mr Greer and well spotted Organum. 2 down probably my favourite of many finely constructed clues. 2*/5* from me, with thanks to BD and the man who makes Sundays enjoyable.

  21. Yes, 2d was my favourite in this first crossword of the new year. Excellent as usual.
    Thanks to Virgilius for maintaining such a high standard of challenge.
    And thanks to BD for the hints and for the ongoing battle to keep this wonderful site ticking along.
    Happy New Year to you all.

  22. An enjoyable, fairly gentle start to 2017. Did I notice the Nina? No I did not, but nicely done!

  23. A good puzzle to start the year off. One of those which entertains me over breakfast and missing answers come to mind over lunch. 13a was the favorite. Always nice when the setter pops in.

  24. Thanks to Virgilius and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but quite gentle. Lots of smiles along the way. Good Nina, didn’t notice it myself. Last in was 23a. Favourite was 6d, very amusing. Was 2*/3* for me.

  25. Gentle easing in to 2017 from the maestro.
    2d was my favourite with a mention for 14d. Never looked for a Nina until Organum pointed it out – well spotted!
    Thought 6d was a little dubious but that’s a minor niggle.

    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  26. A Very Happy New Year to all. Our new year resolution is to get back on the blog. The end of 2016 was incredibly busy for us with numerous house guests and all sorts of irritating distractions getting in the way of finishing puzzles in time to comment! We finished this one this evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to Big Dave and to Virgilius for a gentle start to the year.

  27. Thanks for pointing out the nina-spent ages looking for a hidden word in 2 and 14 down !
    Enjoyable puzzle, not too difficult but entertaining.
    Thanks to Big Dave and to Virgilius.

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