ST 2884 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2884 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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Morning all

How-doo from a sunny and slightly frosty Warrington!

It was a nice day yesterday with some lovely guests, fabulous cakes and macarons and good convivial fun.  A slightly messy journey home last night made me decidedly grumpy but the beauty of the day has restored by bonhomie!

Down to busness. I need to ask a favour.   Have you ever wanted to set a puzzle but felt you couldn’t?  Here’s your chance to have a small go.  I have put together a special puzzle which will appear in the near future and all the clues will be supplied by visitors to this site, including you!

If you drop me a mail, or say so in a post below, I’ll send you a word and you can have a go at writing a clue which will be used in the puzzle.I have about twenty words left to offer.  I’m also happy to help you with any queries you may have and no-one will be able to identify your clue if you don’t want to be identified. Go on have a go!

Now on to today’s puzzle.  Well up to our Sunday Supremo’s high standard and a delightful solve. All of the first three across clues are sort of linked which may or may not help!  I have chosen a clue or two from each quarter of the puzzle to try and help and without labouring the point too much, please follow BD’s instructions in red.  

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             Workers demonstrating tool first taken from set (6)
The name for a tool used by some outdoor workers, particularly road menders, need to take the word set minus its first letter to what are being seen around lots of US airports today!

10a          African citizen that’s so attached to another (8)
The name for a resident of East Africa can be found by taking SO and adding the name of a citizen of West Africa!

11a          Set around bit of UK that’s friendly (9)
A word meaning set, as in solidify, usually used with a wound or bleeding goes round the abbreviation for part of the UK that isn’t on the mainland.  This gives a word meaning amiable or friendly.

13a          Bug a sort of doctor about onset of illness (5)
This was the last one to explain and as I was about to sing for help, it  hit me. The answer is fairly obvious – but take A, add the name of the qualification an academic doctor gets and insert I to give the name of a garden pest.

14a          Fire in study — get tired helping (13)
Nice simple word sum (though I dd look at an anagram of STUDY GET TIRED  to start with!)  A word for the sort of fire  found in The Towering Inferno (I still haven’t got over the fact that Steve McQueen copped  for it!) is found by taking a word for Study, adding one that means get tired and adding a helping or portion of something.

17a          Somehow heal it with apt cure having beneficial effect (13)
Ah, here’s the anagram for a long answer clue!  Jiggle round the letters of APT CURE and HEAL IT to give a phrase quite appropriate for those words!

21a          Ahead of time, be concerned it shows where text is lacking (5)
Another wordsum.  Take a word meaning worry or bother about and add T.  This gives a mark used by printers.

24a          Parrot pointless score by old English composer, we hear (8)
The name for a small member of the parrot family is found by taking the word for zero in some sports and adding a homophone of a composer of dry classical music named Thomas.

27a          Brave grabbing European in a nasty way (6)
We finish the acrosses with a word for brave or butch or masculine and putting it round E (for European.  This gives a word meaning in a poor-spirited way.


1d            With little sound, wild cat making attack suddenly (6)
Take the musical abbreviation for quietly and add the alternative name for the snow leopard to give what my cat likes to do on the little dog when she annoys him.  Well one of the things! 

3d            Like area put right on map as festival quarter (7)
An adjective for one of the directions is found by taking the name of aChristian festiva and adding a compass point in short.

5d            Worker otherwise employed as doctor on boat (11)
Another clue in line with the first three acrosses.   The abbreviation for a doctor (especially In the forces) goes before a type of small boat to give someone who has a secret or alternative job.

8d            Fierce argument that may be heard in church before service (4-4)
This made me smile.   What you hear before going into church is the name for an unseemly row. Where have I had one of those recently?  ;)

15d         Odd if no males could be found in this Crown dependency! (4,2,3)
Probably clue of the day!  The name for part of the UK is an anagram of IF NO MALES!

16d         Perfectionist inserting line in attachable notice (8)
Take a type of attachable badge (made of Fablon?) and put an L (line) inside to give someone who is a perfectionist.  It often goes with “…for punishment!”

18d         Live surrounded by opposition in French resort (7)
The name for a lovely French holiday place is found by taking a short word for live or dwell and putting it inside something that means those against or opposing something/

22d         Jet flier (5)
You’re looking for the name of a bird that is the colour of Jet, the stone.

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 – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

  Today a couple of off-the-wall hits.  



  1. Senf
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Apparently the ‘Doom Bar’ ale consumed yesterday did not kill off too many brain cells meaning that this very enjoyable puzzle could be completed at a gentle canter. Favourite 5d. Thanks to Virgilius and Tilsit.

    Also, thanks to BD for a great party yesterday and best wishes to everyone I met for the first time.

    Another also, there is a rumour that there will be a different ‘Hinter and Tipper’ next Sunday.

  2. Faraday
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    What an early set of hints. Well done Tilsit. I find sleep difficult after alcohol but I shouldn’t judge everyone by my poor standards 😂
    Mr V is wonderful. I rarely read and write his clues but logical toil is always satisfyingly rewarded. The icing on the cake was completing the NE corner last to discover the joy that is 8d.
    And Margaret, guess what – the DT App is telling me that I scored 00/30 last Sunday. I’m beginning to feel very inadequate 😤😤😂 You have to laugh or else you’d cry!
    P.S. With some fear and trepidation, laced with feelings of potential inadequacy, can I have a word please Tilsit….

    • Margaret
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear Faraday. I hadn’t actually got round to checking until I saw your post. I’m told I got sentinel wrong last week – well not according to gnomethang I didn’t! I was ok yesterday, a full house. What are we going to do about them? I despair. I’m surprised there are not more of us, however.

      • Faraday
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        I found the email addresses for their customer services and digital services and sent the same email to both. I’ve received automated replies from both with the promise that they will get back to me. Watch this space. I’ll report any progress!

  3. Angellov
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    This was an enjoyable challenge in which the Southern half caused less headache than the North. 21a now added to my vocabulary. First thought was for a similar but different expression for 8d. Thanks “Sunday Supremo” and Tilsit for your excellent stand-in hinting. Glad a good time was had by all at the Birthday Bash. 👍

  4. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I concur with Tilsit’s opening remarks about the great company and the splendid cakes yesterday.

    I found this puzzle today very enjoyable but at the harder end of the Sunday spectrum (4*/5*), although some of the difficulty may well have been self-inflicted after yesterday’s beer consumption.

    I’ve never come across 17a before with the addition of the last two letters. Fighting it out for my choice of favourite were 5d & 8d, with 5d the winner by a nose.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit.

    • Senf
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      RD – I agree on 17a. To me, the last two letters make on odd looking/sounding word which apparently means the same as the word without the last two letters.

    • Kath
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I agree with RD and Senf about the last couple of letters of 17a – surely it’s an adjective anyway? :unsure:
      Really lovely to meet both of you yesterday and be able to put faces to names. :smile:

      • Senf
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Kath – I think it is an adjective. However, on checking my brand new, purchased two days ago, BRB, it is not listed! Only the word without the last two letters is shown.

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          Hope you won’t have to pay for excess baggage when you take it back to Winnipeg.
          It’s was great to meet you.

          • Senf
            Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            jean-luc – Merci beaucoup. I see that there was a clue in today’s puzzle that you should have no problems with (18d).

            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

              Absolutely. Only a couple of stops away on the train from Toulon.

  5. Wahoo
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    When I opened this online last night the Telegraph showed a rating of 1*/1* – which alarmed me as it certainly wasn’t that. It was changed to 5*/4* this morning!

    Anyway, I loved it all but was pushed well into 2 time by a typing error in 9a (mixing the first two letters) which made me try to use an anagram for the last three letters of 1d until I saw the mistake and, by 20d where I stupidly became fixated by trying to find a bloke’s name to kick off things until the penny dropped. (It was very late last night!)

    Favourite? Probably 12d just ahead of many others!

    Thanks to Virgilius and Tilsit and hope those who attended the Birthday bash all had a great time.

  6. Mary
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have a go Tilsit :-)

    • spindrift
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      me too

    • Orphan Annie
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      me too please

    • Tantalus
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Us two too

    • Kath
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I’ve got one in an envelope, Tilsit – it’s lurking somewhere in the bottom of my ‘skip’ which is how my Pet Lambs refer to my bag.
      I’ll email it to you – the clue, not the skip!

      • Tantalus
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I think he sends the words to us, we send back the clue.
        The other way round would only be attempted in Todmorden.

        • Kath
          Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          No – not for those who were in London yesterday. There were words in envelopes for us to invent clues for – we could either give the envelopes back to him yesterday or email our clues later.

      • Senf
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Surely, it would be much more polite to refer it as a ‘Mary Poppins’ bag.

    • Angellov
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Count me in too please.

    • hoofityoudonkey
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Me too please, Tilsit

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        And me too please if you haven’T got to 20 by now!
        It could go under the nom de guerre of “Eclectic” perhaps.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      And us. Hope we’re not too late (or go for a bigger grid).

    • Mcmillibar
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      May I please?

  7. Toadson
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Witty and enjoyable (as Sunday puzzles usually are when I get round to doing them). Held myself up for a long time by putting an alternative first word in 12d, but got there in the end. Thanks to all, glad the gathering went well.

  8. Sally louis
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks V for another fab crossword. As always, my first glance is oh gosh and then it starts to unravel so beautifully. Thanks also to Tilsit. I would love to try a clue if there are any left!

  9. Margaret
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Very much enjoyed this today. Had to consult Mr. Google for 24a and put a completely wrong answer in for 7d (well it made sense to me) and that held me up in the top right corner until I realised the error of my ways.

    Very many thanks to Tilsit and the setter and hope you all had a great time yesterday.

    • Merusa
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Betcha I had the same answer for 7d, soon corrected when I got 10a.

      • Margaret
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Yes Merusa, it was 10a that put me straight too

  10. Tantalus
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Delightful start to the morning even if slightly androcentric. Thanks to v and t.
    Question to the colonies: should we organize a tenth birthday bash somewhere stateside?

    Mr & Ms T

    • Senf
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      What about number 9 (yesterday was only number 8)? Or, do you think that it might take that long to organise?

      Of course the big question, where? The Canadians are at least spread from Ottawa to Vancouver.

      • Wahoo
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        You would all be welcome in the Caribbean. Much warmer here in January!

        • Tantalus
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:56 am | Permalink

          Perfect. Our vote then is #9 will be at Wahoo’s place.

          • Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

            The Bridge House has already been booked for 27th January 2018!

            • Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

              If I’m anywhere I’ll be there.

  11. Kath
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed this – not too tricky and not too straightforward either – just right.
    I was slow to justify quite a few of my answers – 1a (or for goodness sake, Kath, why) and 3d (ditto).
    I spent a long time trying to make sense of a wrong answer for 11a.
    I liked 13 and 14a and 5d. My favourite was 8d because it made me laugh.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit.

    It was a lovely day in London at the birthday bash yesterday – really good to see lots of people who I’ve met before and to put names to faces of quite a few new ones too – I won’t mention any in particular for fear of leaving someone out.
    I think three cheers for BD are in order for all the work he does to keep this blog up and running and for organising yesterday. :good:

  12. Attila the Hun
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’ve obviously made a hash of either 20d or 25a, because I can’t get the last checking letter to agree. Of course, it might also be because I caught myself a very painful blow on the head straightening up under an open cupboard door. The real tragedy being, I opened it!

    • Angellov
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      I feel for you – I did the same thing a while ago and wow did it hurt! 🤕

  13. Merusa
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    This one was such a pleasure to solve, it just flowed so nicely.
    Such a lot of good stuff here; special mention to 5d and 15d, how smooth was that, but fave is 5d for the huge guffaw.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit for his hints.
    Glad you had so much fun yesterday, I was so envious.

    Do you hear that noise? That’s the sound of thousands of stampeding feet, rushing to join the ISIS cause.

    • Merusa
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      P.S. It is freezing here – 55F, overcast and damp, much like an English summer day. I was so late getting started today.

  14. crypticsue
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Tilsit has asked me to let interested clue writers that he will be sending out the words this evening

  15. KiwiColin
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tilsit, If there are any words left by now could you send one to me please.

    Excellent Sunday puzzle and much enjoyed as always.
    Thanks Virgilius and Tilsit.

  16. Heno
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Virgilius, every week it’s another gem, how does he do it. 8d made me laugh, last in was 20d. Favourite was 10a. Was 2*/4* for me. Tilsit, please send a word if there’s any left.

  17. Ora Meringue
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Glad you all enjoyed the bash.

    I found this quite tough…but I am not having my best week.
    Got there in the end.

    Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit.

  18. Gwizz
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Smashing crossword from our Sunday setter supremo! My favourite clue was 11a but there were so many that could have made the podium. 4/4* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit for his hints.
    I’m glad yesterday went well.

  19. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Took a while to sort out the last two in the SE corner and had the second word wrong at first in 12d.
    The parrot was new to me.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit.
    Had a great time in London and was home by 1pm today. Went voting, had a little sleep and got up to solve crosswords again.

  20. Young Salopian
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I did this superb and slightly tricky Virgilian offering this morning before driving to Birmingham for a sensational concert, from which we have just returned. Last one in was 27a, favourite in keeping with others was 5d, and overall 3.5*/4.5*.

    Many thanks to Virgilius for another masterpiece, and to Tilsit for his hard work after a dodgy trip home yesterday.

  21. tilsit
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I have sent everyone a clue.

    There are still some more available and you can have a second if you have got the bug.

    • Faraday
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tilsit
      My word request was rather buried at the end of my comment. Is it too late to join the party?

    • LabradorsruleOK
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Tilsit, just woke up considerably jet-lagged to read the blog. Would appreciate adding to your list please.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Have we missed the boat? Still happy to do one or even two.

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tilsit – Pleased to meet you on Saturday.
      I now have 6 candidates for a clue to the rather awkward word in my envelope.
      Which do I choose; the most fiendish, the funniest or the smoothest surface? I am reluctant to resort to anagrams, obviously.

      Or should I send them all in and let you decide which you think best fits with your composition?

      Thanks for the challenge, and should you have any left, I wouldn’t mind another one. Can’t be any more awkward a word to clue! Thanks again.

  22. Jon_S
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable, reasonably straightforward puzzle to wile away a particularly wet Sunday. Favourite clue 20d.

  23. Aunty Marge
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    20d and 25a last to go in – took forever and am now wondering why!!!

  24. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Solving at some ungodly hour between dozing off in 4 hour stopover in Schipol took me into 10* time but got there. Liked 5d and 24a.
    Did nobody video any of the birthday bash or would that be classified? Wish I could have been there.
    Thanks to Virgilius & Tilsit for hints.

  25. Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Just got back. Amazing how clues I couldn’t focus on when on the train slipped in once at home.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Tilsit for the sterling work hosting the weekend hints.

    Last but never least, thanks to BD for making all this possible, and all of you who make it so special. I had as good a weekend as it was possible to have. Hugs to you all.

  26. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Bobby Boris Pickett looks pretty weird!!!

  27. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Another cracking Sunday puzzle.
    I needed a couple of hints. Driving 350 miles to Devon and back over the weekend rendered by brain to mush this evening.
    Sounds like everyone had a great time at the meeting, so sorry I missed it.
    Belated congratulations to my team, Millwall and my local team, Sutton United on their progress in the FA cup…
    8d my fav…
    Many thanks to Tilsit and Virgilius.

  28. Sheffieldsy
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Another great Sunday offering. Was it just us, or was this harder than usual? 3.5*/4*.

    Favourite was 10a. A classic Virgilius clue – you do exactly what it says in the clue and the answer pops out, except that it’s so subtly hidden you can’t see the instructions that are in plain sight. Wonderful.

    Thanks to Tilsit for the review and V for the puzzle.

  29. florence
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Phew. Well at least I finished on the same day I started. I thought that 21a was new to me, but to my shame it has been used before, I obviously just didn’t commit it to memory. Favourite was 8d. Thank you Virgilius for the challenge, and Tilsit for the much needed review. Glad everyone had such a lovely time yesterday. Next time maybe.

  30. Mcmillibar
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    You all seemed to have had a grand day out… wished I’d been able to come and say hello.

    Spot on Sheffieldsy, completely agree with the rating. A wee smidge harder than usual but better too if that is possible. I love the way Virgilius prefers long words rather than multi-word answers.

    Though certainly no wizz at these things, I have been doing them I since 1988. I have never seen more consistently excellent clueing. A delight to solve and Sunday’s are unmissable for me.

    Thanks V. And Tilsit. Like your idea. Hope there are some left.

  31. Catherine Kyle
    Posted February 5, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Hi there. Are there any words left for the write a clue crossword mentioned on 30 th Jan? Thanks. Cathy

    • Posted February 5, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Catherine

      I’ve forwarded your request to Tilsit

  32. maarvarq
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Gosh, my local paper takes a long time (Jan 29 to Mar 5) to publish the DT Sunday crossword. Re: the clue for 24ac – “a composer of dry classical music” – I know many that would disagree that his music is dry – “named Thomas” – are you thinking of his elder friend amid mentor, Tallis, perchance? This composer’s first name is William.