ST 2885 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2885 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2885 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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Since his first taste of blogging last November, Senf has been asking if he can do more.  At the recent Birthday Bash I suggested that he might like to take over the Sunday Hints, and he rapidly agreed.  In the eight years of the blog, prior to today, there have been 417 sets of Sunday Hints and I have done 401 of them, so it’s time to hand over the baton.  Welcome to the team Senf.  BD

Good Sunday morning from Winnipeg. At the Birthday Bash last week, BD offered me a regular ‘spot’ on Sundays, so here I am. Temperatures here are still cycling around ‘seasonal normal,’ a high of -18C today, sunshine during the day, and flurries this evening.

I thought the Rugby yesterday was somewhat disappointing, partially spoiled by the commentators and ‘experts.’ Why is it that it now takes a small army to do what Bill McLaren did amazingly well on his own? Although a little early in the proceedings, England might end up having to give a big thank you to Scotland.

A typical and very enjoyable Sunday puzzle from Virgilius which I completed at gentle gallop. Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in red at the bottom of the hints!

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 Info about mature people embracing a middle course , (6,4)
Three letter synonym for info around a three letter synonym for mature and a three letter synonym for people containing ‘A’ give a philosophically desirable middle ground propounded by this chap.


9a Workers’ ill-gotten gains? (4,3)
What an employee receives when he or she is unable to work through illness.

12a Disarming type succeeding with article in university catalogue (13)
A three letter word for university and a four letter catalogue containing a five letter synonym for succeeding in terms of time and one of the indefinite articles.

15a After start of holidays, time-sharing numbers increase (8)
‘H’ from holidays and two numbers that share ‘T’ (time) as last and first letters.

17a Shot finishes off fair rally in court (8)
A synonym for shot in the sense of having a go and the last letters of faiR and rallY give the former court that had jurisdiction over matters of equity.

22a Conservative arranged intro, perhaps, for business association (2-11)
The one letter abbreviation for Conservative and an anagram (arranged) of INTRO PERHAPS.

25a Vegetable, so to speak, carelessly cooked (7)
A homophone of a vegetable that suggests something has been partially burned.


27a Relating to part of body that’s used in certain test in a lab (10)
A gutsy lurker (that’s used in) contained in the last five words.


1d Attempt call for peace, producing surprised reaction (4)
A two letter attempt and two letters seeking peace (and quiet).

2d One who doesn’t have, we hear, glossy coat (7)
A homophone for a person without something is a shiny surface finish.

4d Call requesting help in part of shortest month (6)
The shortest month in terms of length in letters and 24 hours give the international radio call in times of emergency.

8d Check money put into second trip on board (10)
A three letter slang word for money contained in the one letter for second and a relaxing voyage.

11d Revision of attitude that’s produced by major operation (6,2,5)
Or surgery first performed by Dr Christiaan Barnard.


16d Fellow endlessly annoying American statesman (8)
Single letter for fellow and a synonym for annoying, with its last letter removed, give the American statesman who liked to fly kites.


21d Supposedly authoritative source making nothing clear, curiously (6)
One letter nothing and an anagram (curiously) of clear; the Greek one resided at Delphi.

23d Current party line as object of veneration (4)
The electrical symbol for current, the two letter party, and one letter for line.

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54 comments on “ST 2885 (Hints)

  1. As usual an enjoyable Sunday morning exercise from Mr V. 11d amused me, there were a couple of good lurkers but I thought it was lacking the usual classic until I solved 15a as my last clue. I thought this clue was very clever.
    And now for Margaret’s weekly bulletin about the state of the DT App. Apologies to paper solvers. The email reply from the DT suggested I remove unwanted apps from my iPad to improve its performance. I duly complied although there weren’t many. On checking last Saturdays solution all was well, 28/28 scored. On checking last Sunday’s solution all was not well, 00/29 scored. I have now enquired as to why the speed of my iPad, which I don’t perceive to be a problem anyway, would affect the ability of their software to recognise a correct solution. Watch this space 😤😂

    Thank you Senf for your hints and a big thank you to BD for past efforts. I’m sure your Sunday’s will seem much longer now😂

    1. Use the odd-numbered letters (in odd places) of targeted to come up with an arboreal description of which plane is an example.

  2. Enjoyable as always on a Sunday. I found this much easier than Brendan in the Guardian yesterday. (Does he usually make things harder in the other place?) Thanks to Senf for his early posting and to Virgilius/Brendan.

  3. Another gem from the maestro and a nice surprise in the shape of a new, regular blogger. It was lovely to meet you last weekend.
    A few clues in the SW held out on me for a while, along with 8d (a Kath ‘dim’ moment there!) but all in place in the usual length of time.

    Really liked 9a plus 1&11d but the winner is 15a for its brilliant and accurate surface read.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf – great to have you on board.

    1. Meant to mention – whilst it may not be my favourite sport, I did laugh over the ‘What does the ref mean’ article in this week’s Radio Times.

  4. I tend to run out of superlatives on a Sunday when describing these excellent puzzles. I thought a couple of the clues were quite tough, and the parsing if not the understanding of them pushed this up the difficulty grading, so 3*/4* from me overall. I loved 15a. So elegant and clever, and 1a was my last in and favourite.

    Many thanks Virgilius for another sparking crossword and to Senf for his hints.

  5. I only comment sporadically on the weekend hints, but now is a good time to give a big thank you to BD for all of his 401 sets of Sunday enlightenment. Thanks and welcome to Senf and, last but not least, thanks to Virgilius.

  6. 13d in the Newspaper is completely different from the on-line version which is a fairly straight-forward anagram.

    Newspaper – ‘Second-rate skill gets one a rocket, for example’ (10)
    On-line – ‘Rocket, for example, RAF accepts must be redesigned’ (10)

    Bit of a ricket!

    1. Michael – a not infrequent occurrence. When I was solving the puzzle, I did think that the clue as written on-line (which, given where I live, is my source) was not one of the best clues in Virgilius’ offering today. So, now I am wondering which version ‘came first’ and, something I am always suspicious of in these cases, was there any significant editorial participation.

    2. I’d really like someone to parse the paper version for me, please.

      I bunged it in , as is my wont.

      1. The one letter abbreviation for second, a four letter synonym for rate (speed), and a synonym for skill.

      2. The paper version of 8d – the definition is ‘rocket, for example’. Begin with the usual one letter abbreviation for S(econd), follow that with a four letter word meaning rate or speed and then finish it off with another word for skill or expertise.

            1. You notice that I went with the theory that Ora had the solution so I just told her to work it out by splitting it, rather than giving her a full on parsing explanation

              1. Sorry to be so tardy in replying.

                Thank you all for your help…..and yes, I did have the solution but could not see the parsing for toffee.

  7. 3*/5*. Wonderful entertainment as ever from our Sunday maestro. For me the top half went in very smoothly but the bottom half took a lot of teasing out. 16d was my last one in, after struggling to turn the “fellow” into a man’s name which made the parsing impossible.

    15a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and welcome to Senf to the blogging chair with thanks particularly for explaining 16d.

  8. I will insist on mis-spelling the American statesman …which certainly interfered with the parsing of 16d.
    (Hope that wasn’t naughty.)

    Having overcome that, though, this was one of the rare occasions when I could solve a Sunday puzzle without external help. I almost always enjoy them ,though, so many thanks to the setter and to Senf for his excellent blog.

  9. I thought this was slightly trickier than the last few Sundays have been, particularly in the bottom left corner.
    17a and 16d were my last ones.
    I missed the lurking 27a – no surprises there.
    Dimness struck with 19a – the ‘soldiers’ that I saw to begin with were the third and fourth letters rather than second and third.
    26a is the kind of clue that always fools me.
    I liked 6 and 27a and 1d. My favourite was 11a.
    With thanks to Virgilius and thanks and welcome to Senf. Thanks also to BD for all his Sunday hints up until now.

  10. Last answer just fell in, much to my surprise as I thought this was very tough at first, but it slowly came together, and finished over breakfast. Normally I return at lunch to finish, so a enjoyable puzzle for me today. Congrats on your Sunday role Senf, and hope Big Dave is enjoying his Sundays off.

  11. I never thought that I would find “convoluted clues” in a Virgilius crossword … but today 10a is the exception … but I still remain one of the faithful followers of the Sunday Maestro!

    Still struggling with the Brendan in yesterday’s Guardian … may have to seek help from Answerbank?

    Welcome to Senf to the Sunday blogging chair!

  12. My usual Sunday entertainment has not disappointed.
    Loved 17a, 15a and many more, but 11d is fave.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for his maiden Sunday blog, good fun.
    Many, many thanks to BD for all his past Sunday offerings, stellar work!

  13. Welcome back to Senf and thanks for explaining the meaning of 1a.
    Hope that Gazza is happy with 25a. Definitely sounds posh to me.
    Thanks to Virgilius.

    1. Forgot to thank BD for all the past Sundays and for introducing me to Virgilius by sending me the crossword every week before I subscribed to the Telegraph online.

  14. Needed help on 17a (got hooked on thinking it started with c and ended with t – and that was it really – just not thinking on a broad enough canvas)

    Otherwise ok – would say 3*/3* for me.

    My favourite was 25a. i love this stuff!

  15. Very enjoyable although needed help to parse 16d – thanks Senf. Thanks also to Virgilius for a good workout. Our temperatures are well below seasonal averages but nothing like east of the Rockies.

  16. Very good workout for me with SW corner a hold-up. 15a very clever & my COTD.
    This electronic version v hardcopy issue I fell needs explanation. We’re both penned by Virgilius? If not why the difference. Surely the editor could comment.
    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf for explanations, a couple of which parsed bung-ins.

  17. Thanks to all those who have commented. Writing hints for a Virgilius puzzle is fun but with some challenges because I found that well written clues are not that easy to de-construct. I think that, this afternoon (my time), I will reward myself with a nice glass of Taylor Fladgate 2011 Port, and, probably, another glass later on.

  18. Another great Sunday treat from Vigilius. Lots of smiles in this solve, of which I will pick 24a as my favourite. Thanks to Virgilius for the puzzle, thanks to Senf for the hints and pictures, and especial thanks to Big Dave for his quadruple century of Sunday blogs.

  19. Another fun, breezy solve from Virgilius. 1ac was new to me, but fairly clued. 17ac proved to be a little tricky at the end, mostly of my own doing because I was looking to do something else with ‘court’, but the rest of the time I was pretty much on the setter’s wavelength.

  20. As usual, a witty and interesting Sunday treat. 2*/4* for my money, and I particularly enjoyed 9a and 16d. Many thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf – a splendid Sunday debut, if I’m any judge.

  21. Usual brilliant stuff from Virgilius. We got held up by a couple of wrong answers but got there in the end.
    Congrats to Senf for the hints on his Sunday debut!

  22. Virgilius is excellent as ever and I especially admired 15a for its beautiful combination of a great surface with ingenious parsing.
    I am pretty sure of my answer to 18d but not clear on its parsing – i.e. how the “copy” is generated by my answer.
    Many thanks Senf and Virgilius.

  23. If I had included a hint for 18a, it would have been something like this:

    Okay for verse to be included in copy (7) – a three letter synonym for in favour of and a one letter abbreviation for verse inside an almost ‘usual suspect’ for copy.

  24. I forgot to add my thanks to BD for giving me the insight to Virgilius’ wavelength over the past six months plus.

    Whilst Senf has given a superb set of hints I will miss the dips into nostalgia provided from BD’s archive as I looked forward to them. Could I ask that BD continue to append them somewhere each week please?

  25. Family party prevented me from getting around to this until now hence was glad that it was no big deal but enjoyable nevertheless – thanks for that Virgilius 🌹. Failed to parse 18d so appreciated your help Senf in Comment 27 above and great to look forward to more of your Sunday hints 🌹. Thank you BD for your past Sunday help – what dedication to have masterminded 401 sets of hints. It’s good to know you may now possibly have a little more weekend time to yourself 🌹.

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