ST 2881 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2881 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2881 (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    Having faulty maps in island, use this to navigate (7)
An anagram (faulty) of maps inside a Greek island


5a    Result of slow work in second part of plane, perhaps (7)
A verb meaning to second is followed by what might once have been part of a tree such as (perhaps) the plane

11a    Socialist’s first to be embraced by lofty opponent? It’s hard to believe (4,5)
The initial letter (first) of S[ocialist] inside an adjective meaning lofty and a political opponent of the Socialist

13a    One letting clutch out unusually early (5)
This clutch consists of eggs and the one letting them out is an anagram (unusually) of EARLY

17a    Blow hot and cold, harmful in desert? (9)
An adjective meaning harmful inside a verb meaning to desert or abandon

23a    Note in appendix that’s a problem for user (9)
… this is a problem is for a user of drugs!

25a    Member of group having pub drink, we hear (7)
Split as (2,5) this sounds like (we hear) a pub and a drink one might enjoy in said pub

26a    Author‘s new volume, including a book revised (7)
To get this Russian author put N(ew) and V(olume) around an anagram (revised) of A BOOK

28a    German city‘s Irish quarter (7)
Two definitions where the only difference is that the German city has an umlaut


1d    What Germany and Greece have in common, such as euros (7)
Two definitions – the first concerning the initial letters and the second as a currency

5d    Spoils child, putting in love and time (5)
Spoils here is a noun not a verb – start with a child and insert O (love) and T(ime)

6d    Team of workers in Irish city means to clear bottleneck (9)
Split as (4’1,4) this could be a team of workers belonging to an Irish city

14d    Exemplary person‘s list covering European fashion (4,5)
A four-letter list around (covering) E(uropean) and a fashion

16d    Crazily you spend millions in London, for instance (9)
An anagram (crazily) of YOU SPEND M(illions) gives a word describing London when referring to novelist (John Griffith) Chaney

18d    Young woman one encountered in volume, such as Jane Eyre (7)
A young woman and I (one) inside the abbreviation for a metric unit of volume

20d    Brake hard, going into something motorist tries to avoid (7)
This lesser-known definition of brake is derived by putting H(ard) into something a motorist tries to avoid getting

21d    A batch of deliveries after hours for royal house (7)
A batch of deliveries in cricket (2,4) preceded by H(ours)

24d    Ursa Minor appearing above an islander (5)
A small bear (ursa minor) followed by (appearing above in a down clue) the AN from the clue

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  Today a couple of ballads
 You Can Have Her by Roy Hamilton and Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me by Mel Carter
  ARVE Error: need id and provider
  ARVE Error: need id and provider

41 comments on “ST 2881 (Hints)

  1. Plenty of head scratching and use of the Small Red Book for this very enjoyable puzzle; but only one use of electronic assistance – **/****.

    22a an oldie but goodie. Favourite 21d, although I also enjoyed the ‘double’ homophone of 25a.

    Thanks to Virgilius for a very good cranial workout and to BD.

  2. The Telegraph setters remain in a relatively benign mood. Today’s puzzle completed well within the time allowed on the web site but plenty of fun. Elegant surfaces throughout.

    I agree with Senf: 22a seems to make regular appearances here and something similar to 10a also cropped up recently, though it’s nicely constructed here.

    Lots of excellent contenders for COTD: 1d is clever, 5d is superbly smooth, 7d is unusual and not a solution I recall ever seeing before, 20d is brilliant in its misdirection. I’m tempted by Senf’s nomination for favourite – 21d is very nice – but I’m going for 17a for yet another excellent surface.

    Thanks in abundance to both Virgilius and Big D.

    1. I thought about commenting on 10a as an oldie but goodie, but, as I recall (no guarantee of accuracy), previous ‘appearances’ have been in the singular.

  3. Am I alone in thinking that referring to the web site bonus points time breaches the comment etiquette? It is after all a precise measure of time, well-known to anyone who uses the site. Maybe you don’t agree, which is fine, but I don’t think much of the trend anyway.

    As for the puzzle, I do think highly of that. It slipped down a treat at the top, but some underneath required a bit more head-scratching. Smiles at 3d and 7d, and a little education at 20d, the definition of which was new to me.

    Many thanks to the ever-brilliant Virgilius, and to the no-so-bad-himself BD :) . Happy Sunday all.

    1. Kitty – I consider that it as a matter of how one refers to the web site bonus points time, especially on Saturday and Sunday. For example, today, Mark says he completed ‘well within the time allowed;’ and only he knows what that subjective term means. Since we do not know the ‘final answer,’ does that breach comment etiquette? Perhaps a topic for some philosophical discussion in three weeks, less a day; after at least two pints or glasses of wine.

      1. I just meant that since it’s specific and known, it’s no different to using the phrase “x minutes.”

        (Yes, there is debate to be had about discussion of times, but that’s for another time and place, and not what I wanted to start above.)

    2. Ha. The pedant in me would observe I made no mention of the bonus point time so I could have been referring to some other web-related time frame (?). Or I could have punctuated badly and intended to say ‘completed well’ in the sense of ‘finished smoothly’.

      But, it’s a fair cop! I had gathered that this was an acceptable phrase but, if it’s causing upset, I shall desist forthwith.

      1. I like your pedantry, Mark, but am not sure you can claim “the website” to be anything else! As for whether or not it is acceptable, I’ve no idea – that is up to BD. Just putting in my two pennies’ worth. :)

    3. I’m with you on this, Kitty. One of our very earliest posts said we completed the back-pager and the Toughie in under an hour. That was edited, rightly, and we got a mild telling off for it. Yet nowhere did it reveal the time for either.

  4. I had an unusual experience with this puzzle in that I went through the across clues and only got three of them but then I got all but one of the downs! It was the lesser-known definition of brake that eluded me until I had some checkers. Perhaps it was because I was on my own as pommette’s off to the UK again for parental visit. No real favourite as it’s all pretty good stuff and I’ll give it a ****/**** rating for the acrosses and */**** for the downs..

    I too completed well within the time allowed on the web site but I’m not saying how well within. Actually, I agree with Kitty that it’s really a breach of site etiquette to tell everyone you solved it within the 45 minutes. Thin end of the wedge IMHO.

    Thanks to Virgilius and BD.

  5. 2*/5*. Utterly brilliant as ever and impossible to pick a favourite. Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD.

  6. I thought this was Virgilius letting us all off lightly today i.e. nothing that caused too much trouble.
    I was lucky in knowing the 20d ‘brake’ – we used to walk in one which was also by the river – very good for a water loving collie.
    The logic behind 26a only became obvious once I realised that I hadn’t spelt him properly at the first attempt.
    I liked 11a and 20d and my favourite was 24d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to BD.
    Making marmalade so in a seriously sticky mess – oh dear – better get back to it.

    1. PS Just spotted the last bit of pommers’ comment. The thin end of the wedge is one of those expressions that I misinterpreted for years and years. I thought it meant getting a raw deal – well, if you got the thin end of a wedge of cake you wouldn’t be getting as much as everyone else would you?

      1. So I suppose it’s not a breach of the site’s comment etiquette to call it “a piece of cake”


      2. That brought me up short, Kath. I’ve been believing your original premise all my life! Having just looked it up, I’m actually rather disappointed – much prefer the ‘raw deal’ idea.

      3. Def of the phrase from Collins:-

        “anything unimportant in itself that implies the start of something much larger”

        1. Yes, I know – I wasn’t arguing, honest Guv. It’s just that until a couple of years ago, or thereabouts, I was totally wrong about what it meant. There’s another one, too, that I had wrong for ages but can’t quite remember what it is now. Oh dear . . . :unsure:

      4. I think this may be a confusion with “the short end of the stick” which is, according to Collins, “the worst of a deal”

  7. Wotta lotta good stuff here, as usual from Mr. Greer. I didn’t find it easy, needed to check the spelling of 26a and I didn’t know the “why” of 16d, but I did know the “brake” in 20d.
    I found the SW corner the most difficult, why I don’t know, what’s so difficult about 17d or 18d? I felt so dim when I got the answers.
    Fave? That’s too hard to choose, maybe 24d or 1d or 4d? See what I mean?
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints, and explaining 16d.

  8. Obviously having a ‘thick’ day as I needed BD’s help to parse the second part of 5a and to explain the ‘London’ reference in 16a.
    Didn’t know the other author either – or the definition at 20d.

    Oh dear – I blame it on the fact that daughter and son-in-law left today after their lovely long Christmas/New Year stay. My way of coping when I’m really upset is to embark on a frenzy of cleaning – I’m exhausted now!

    Plenty of ticks on my list – 13,15,17&25a plus 2,5&18d. Think I can safely say that I enjoyed this one!
    Thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the required nudges.

    1. Jane, google the “other author” and, if you’re old enough, you’ll recognize some of his books.

      1. Goodness, you’re right, Merusa. White Fang upset me so much I could never bring myself to re-read it!

          1. No – I quite intentionally avoided watching it. Dreadful wimp where animals are concerned.

      2. I only know the one book of his, but I’m a chemist so probably verging on the illiterate. Although I did know the periodic table quite well until senility set in.

  9. Superb puzzle, so well clued. Had to rely on the hints to explain the London reference, that was new to me but so clever.
    For me ***\****
    Thx to all.

  10. Another cracker from the Maestro. Nothing too difficult but lots to think about. Many thanks to Virgilius and to BD for the hints. ***/**** from us.

  11. Brilliant today, great crossword and finished ‘sans hints’, great tonic after yesterday’s poor effort.
    SE corner took twice as long as the rest of the puzzle, not until the penny drop moment of what Ursa Minor meant did I crack it.
    Lovely clues, had never heard of 26a, or the German part of 28a.
    Particularly liked 1d.
    Thanks Virgilius and BD

  12. Like Jane, I press-ganged our son into assisting with cleaning our micro-venetian blinds in the bathroom (job-and-a-half) then – by way of reward – walked pooch two miles to the local for a wee half of fine ale. (not allowed any more these days – 14 units per week and that’s your lot!) The ST crossword was completed between us and what a joy, as usual. Superlatively smooth and silky like a plate of food from a Michelin-starred chef. Balanced flavours, perfectly seasoned, and nothing that might stick in the throat. **/*********
    Thank you Virgilius. Loved the Ursa Minor clue esp.

  13. Another great Sunday offering. 3*/4*. Our favourites were 6d and 16d.

    Now that the solving times on the website have been revealed, those of us who never use it will know that those claims of “1*(or 2*), under the limit” are not actually as impressive as they sounded before today.

    Thanks to BD for the hints, not needed, and Virgilius for yet another class offering.

  14. Over all too soon, but fun while it lasted: 1*/3.5*. As a sailor, I enjoyed 27a. 20d was good too, but I think 18d deserves the prize. Thanks to Virgilius, and of course to BD.

  15. Another good Sunday puzzle, that I found perhaps a little more difficult than par, though by a whisker. Fun, inventive clues as ever, too many good clues to pick a favourite.

  16. A delightful way to round off the week (or is it begin a new week?) with just enough grey matter fodder. SE corner was last to be sorted out. Failed to completely parse 13a and 16d. Several appealing clues but 24d was Fav. Perhaps I will in future desist from awarding stars for fear of upsetting Kitty & Co. Thank you Virgilius and BD. ?/?.

    1. Star all you like, Angel – just don’t say how many minutes your stars mean. :)

      I might start rating puzzles in hippopotamuses.

  17. Loved it. I was left with SE but solved them in the end. Managed without hints but I did have to look up German cities. After I got that I solved 16d but needed BD’s hint to understand why. Did not know the author but easy to work out from the clue. Favourites 15a and 6 and 24d.

  18. Lovely Sunday fare from the great man! I found it to be a bit on the gentle side but it was still excellent fun. My fave was 25* and overall 2/3.5*.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to BD for the hints.

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