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ST 2889 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2889 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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Good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where it is trying to warm up, with some success, but we did sink to minus 22C, plus some wind chill, on Thursday morning. 

For those of you who might be considering purchasing a BRB; back in December, I was considering purchasing a BRB while I was in London for the Birthday Bash in January.  So, I sent an e-mail to Chambers, on December 6th, to ask, as the 13th Edition was published in 2014 (with a revision in 2016), if there was a 14th Edition in the pipeline.  Apart from an (automated) acknowledgment with a promise to respond as soon as possible, there was no response before the BB, so I took the plunge anyway and purchased the only copy of the Revised 13th Edition that Foyles had in stock at its Charing Cross Road ‘flagship’ store.  Finally, 10 days ago, Chambers’ version of as soon as possible came to pass with a prediction that a 14th edition is projected for publication in 2019.  So, if you want a BRB, but want the latest and greatest, you will have quite a time to wait for it.

Another very typical and very enjoyable Sunday puzzle from Virgilius with, for me, the benevolence I hoped for in yesterday’s blog and lots of good clues that made it difficult to select the ones to hint on.

My favourite is 26a, my first one in.

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 It’s enforced as naughty child does wrong (7)
The usual three letter naughty child followed by an anagram (wrong) of DOES.

9a Weight attached to expert coder’s work (7)
The four letter option for a metric unit of mass follows a three letter expert to give what ‘drives’ a computer (so I understand that the Americanism is acceptable).

10a After initial course, study little (7)
One of the possible first courses of a meal followed by the usual three letter study gives a word for a small quantity (which, if not in a crossword, should have an appropriately placed cedilla accent).

12a In essence, miller’s conclusion it’s what he needs (5)
A four letter synonym for in essence, or the essentials of a situation, containing the last letter (conclusion) of milleR.

15a Players stupidly sent a singularly useless instrument? (9)
A group of players in the theatre followed by an anagram (stupidly) of SENT A gives a musical device frequently used by flamenco dancers (that, apparently, Virgilius has a low regard for).

22a Bishop, for instance, protecting one left in site of Italian cathedral (5)
One for Rabbit Dave –  one of the terms for a game piece containing the single letters for one and left gives an Italian cathedral city.

26a Craft of forceful diplomacy (7)
A small armed vessel which was often deployed during periods of international tension/negotiations. (I changed the underlining in the clue several times!)

28a Author mostly told story with no end of flair (7)
A Russian author made up of told without its last letter (mostly) followed by story without the R (with no end of flair).


1d My admission of being dated produces standoff (7)
The concatenation of how one might say that one is out of date.

2d Tender pair, shortly before proposal (7)
The two letter abbreviation for pair (shortly) followed by a synonym for proposal or suggestion.

4d Friar from Caribbean island (9)
A religious order which can also indicate an inhabitant of one of the Windward Islands (not the Republic which is part of an island with a different name).

6d Awfully rough girl’s timer with tiny moving parts (9)
Anagram (awfully) of ROUGH and one of the usual synonyms for girl gives an old fashioned timer which had to be turned over when the ‘tiny moving parts’ had run from top to bottom.

16d Bit of incidental information is turned over with pleasure (9)
IS from the clue inverted (turned over) and a synonym for pleasure gives information or an illustration.

18d Intimate letters from Rome redistributed in city further south (7)
A synonym for intimate as a noun followed by an anagram (redistributed) of ROME gives a southern Italian city (not on the mainland).

21d Important judge hiding old intolerant attitudes (7)
A three letter (slang?) synonym for important, and a three letter synonym for judge with a single letter for old between them.

24d Preserve a lake as waterway (5)
A three letter synonym for preserve (in reference to fruit and veg), the A from the clue, and a single letter for lake is where one might find narrow boats.

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Today’s musical moment was ‘prompted’ by a billboard I saw, during my recent travels, for Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits appearing at a casino in Delaware.  Here they are from a ‘few’ years ago.



57 comments on “ST 2889 (Hints)

  1. Hi from a wet and miserable South London.
    This was a typically excellent Virgilius offering that went in fine.
    The only struggle I had was last in 17a, and I still can’t parse.
    I could not do yesterday’s at all, partly because I started at 9 o’clock in the evening, but mainly because I couldn’t get my head around any of yesterday’s clues, even after reading the hints, but student of this art will probably say that today’s was harder than yesterday’s. One thing I must improve is adapting to differing cluing styles.
    Many thanks Senf for the usual great set of hints and to Virgilius for the puzzle

    1. If you have the right solution for 17a, you are putting a word meaning suitable and a ‘unit’ in an ‘alternating’ way in the letters of CID and that’s all I’m going to say because it is Sunday

  2. Another Sunday, another superlative puzzle from Virgilius. This one went in quite smoothly, and I particularly liked 26a. I would rate this 2.5*/4* overall, with many thanks to the aforementioned and Senf for hs hints.

  3. 3*/5*. Tip-top quality as ever from start to finish on a Sunday with the SE corner putting up the biggest fight. Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    P.S. Senf, I don’t think Virgilius is intending to belittle the use of 15a. The clue is simply implying that one of them on its own is useless.

    1. RD – Thanks for the PS. Agreed, when I was completing the hints (last night, my time) my brain was not responding very well.

    2. A castanet isn’t like a crash cymbal. The result might not be up to scratch but a single one does make a sound on its own.

  4. As always with Mr V perseverance pays its dividends eventually. I thought 17a across was clever, 6d amused me and my answer to 5a totally mystified me! I looked eagerly for a hint from Senf for elucidation and there wasn’t one making me think that I must be the densest person in the world and then suddenly, in a road to Damascus moment, the significance of “source of notes” became clear. Very clever.
    Thank you to all involved as usual.

    1. Finished the puzzle, but I am looking and looking again, and still cannot see ‘source of notes’!

      1. It’s a prize one so I can’t help, when it hits you it will be a big d’oh moment…

    2. Faraday (and others) – with the guidance from The Master (BD) on how many hints to give for a prize puzzle (8 in each direction) it is often not easy to decide which ones to include. And, what was ‘difficult’ for me may be easy for others. So, this week 5a did not make my cut.

      1. A very fair comment. I’m now struggling to understand why I couldn’t see the logic of 5a sooner! I guess this is why we find these pesky puzzles so addictive 😂

  5. After an absolute soaking for the second day running on the early dog walk this was the perfect pick-me-up. Great puzzle, an interesting, taxing-enough & satisfying solve for me.

    Of many good clues 5a was my COTD although I suppose some consider there is an across the pond “expression” in it but I think it has been in before. Treading on dangerous ground not sure I agree with RD re 15a. Except to say the singular is defined it is difficult to say why on a Sunday.

    Thanks to Virgilius & Senf for reviving my spirits – and the sun is shining!

  6. He never fails us, does he – a master of his craft.
    The only problem was one I gave myself – carelessly writing the answer for 16d into the space for 14d – must concentrate harder!
    Eleven ticks on my paper from which I can’t pick out just one, so I’ll leave it at that for fear of giving Kath apoplexy.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf – I agree with RD over 15a (which made me chuckle) and cringed over the reminder of Herman’s Hermits. Judging by the audience reaction, they had plenty of fans without me, anyway! Hard to believe that they’re still touring.

  7. I whizzed through lots of this and then ground to a complete halt with my last few answers – that happens so often on Sundays, and Wednesdays.
    Like others the ‘source of notes’ in 5a foxed me for a while – is it really an Americanism?
    I didn’t know the ‘incidental information’ bit of 16d and to say the only meaning that I know would see me in the naughty corner.
    Neither did I know the ‘forceful diplomacy’ meaning of 26a.
    I did think that there were an awful lot of anagrams – I don’t mind as I like them but I’m surprised that no-one else has mentioned it.
    I liked 15 and 19a and 21d – out of loyalty and maternal pride I have to mention 14d but my favourite was 23d.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.
    Rain has stopped and it’s almost sunny now – off to play in the greenhouse.

    1. Kath – Wikipedia would suggest that 5a is an international term. As to anagram count, here’s a thought, is it a ‘tribute’ to the overall quality of a puzzle that the number of anagrams does or does not register?

      Same for me on 16d (my ‘new’ BRB gets a good work out for Sunday blogging).

      1. The number of anagrams is something I always notice – it has a lot to do with how tricky I find a crossword as I almost always end up getting them first and can then keep going.

  8. What a mixed day weatherwise with beautiful sunshine interspersed with heavy showers. Managed this with much pleasure and not too much aggro but I did need a nudge or two in the SE. I don’t play the relevant game so failed to parse 22d although that piece is I believe a chestnut in that context. Thanks Virgilius and Senf.

  9. Well, for some reason this was almost a R&W for me – unheard of for a Sunday. As others have said, I didn’t know 16d, and the source of notes took a while, otherwise straightforward.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  10. I can ditto RD again.

    A couple of definitions to check after the event, which is rare-ish on Sunday, but smiles all the way, with the source of notes the last thing twigged.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  11. I should be walking the Dales today but after tripping over the kerb I have a fat lip chipped teeth a sore mouth and a cracked rib. So plenty of time to do the crossword watching the river Wharfe flow past. There was beer. Possibly nearly enough. Well done Wharfdale beating local rivals Harrogate in what must be the prettiest setting for a Rugby club in England.
    A fine puzzle although the author and the diplomatic craft held out for too long and the source of the notes remains unclear.
    Ta to the setter and ta to Send who’s blog I will now read but I probably will not listen to the track offered at the end. Maybe I will listen to some of the great work produced by Dylan in the seventies and every decade thereafter.

    1. MP – hope you have a speedy recovery. Attempting to be as ‘oblique’ as possible for a prize puzzle, the source of notes is 50 years old this year.

    2. Sorry to hear about the injuries – hope you recover soon. Just one question was the beer taken before the kerb incident or as a form of pain relief afterwards?

      1. Strangely enough, I was also wondering about that!
        Sorry for your injuries, MP, and commiserations to the saintly Sharon who is doubtless tending to you.

    3. Sorry MP to hear of the injuries. Nothing worse than to have a well-earned break messed up because of an accident. You took the obsession with things K a little too far perhaps.

      Swift recovery beer perhaps doesn’t taste the same through a straw. .

    4. Thanks everybody. I am sore all over but the rib is very painful indeed. I suppose the twelve hour drinking session may have something to do with the trip. Saint Sharon is looking after me as she prepares tonight’s banquet for a dozen people.

  12. I got it in the end Senf. I was only using the First and last letters of the word. Once I used the right number it jumped out.

  13. Lovely stuff, as usual. 16D was new to me also. SW corner took a little longer than the rest of the puzzle. 25A, 26A and 28A are my favorites. Thanks Virgilius and Senf.

  14. Bliss, loved every minute of it. Somehow after bad week I was on Mr B’s wavelength and it all fell into place. Far too many goodies to risk picking a favourite, thanks to Virgilius and Senf. By the way as I have arthritic paws I have BRB and thesaurus as an app which I find extremely useful.

  15. The usual high quality crossword from the master. No real hitches, except by not reading 20d properly 28a became somewhat awkward. D’oh! 5a was my fave, and overall 2.5/3.5*
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for his hints.
    Hermans Hermits…. Ouch! Did I really rush out and buy it when it first came out?
    Yep! Sure did…

  16. Enjoyed the sunday puzzle as always. I did it after Radler’s NTSPP, so in comparison it seemed straightforward. I think the source of notes was also my last to parse, and i didn’t know the diplomacy.

    Many thanks Virgilius and Senf

  17. What a weekend! Finished this one, like yesterday, with no electronic help, but did need a few of Senf’s hints, thank you. 5a was my favorite for cleverness. Guess I will have to have a stab at the GK over lunch…

  18. Wow. First pass nothing but then got a toe hold with 24d and gradually finished SE, NE, NW then SW. On reflection a great workout and enjoyable. Favourites were 10,12,15a&6d. Thanks to Senf and Virgilius. Light flurries this morning are actually about 5in of snow. It’s March – what’s going on?

  19. My only problem was with 3d.
    The rest was pretty much a read and write.
    Loved the construction in 17a and favourite is the definition of 15a.
    23d was very good too.
    Thanks to our Sunday master and to Senf for the hints.
    Wish a swift recovery for Miffypops. A cracked rib means no more laughing for a while and no sneezing either.

  20. Really enjoyed this until 23d which I just couldn’t fathom! Then, inspired by Miffypops I played some Dylan and he was singing “Gonna change my way of thinking”! Genius – got it before the end of the track. Thanks to all and my usual thanks to BD and his band of bloggers. I still can’t believe I’m completing these crosswords more often than not, although Friday’s did require fresh batteries in the crossword solver!

  21. Great puzzle….like others, got 5a but couldn’t parse – then the penny dropped! Very clever (the clue, not me)…also liked 10a…..***/***

  22. Great puzzle….like others, got 5a but couldn\’t parse – then the penny dropped! Very clever (the clue, not me)…also liked 10a…..***/***

  23. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Virgilius. Most entertaining, the only difficulty I had was having the wrong two letters at the end of 21d, once I realised what the correct ones were, I was able to finish with 28a. So many great clues, but my favourite was 19a. Was 2*/4* for me.

  24. Ah, another lovely Sunday offering. I so look forward to these.
    I remember 26a from history lessons in school, a long time ago, coined by Lord Palmerston I believe. I hope I haven’t crossed the dreaded red line.
    So many to like, 5a and 15a were so clever, but fave was 23a, natch.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for his professional hints.

  25. Sundays are different. The pace and priorities of the day are changed from normal weekdays. Forgive me, you’ll have to picture the scene: late in the day after a stiff walk with friends (to the top of Blackdown hill) and home to the fire, Mahler’s 2nd playing and with a glass of red, settle down to Sunday’s crossword by ‘Virgenius’ who remains apart from other setters in that I normally don’t want his puzzles to end – like savouring a special wine. As ever, it did not disappoint. All the clues are noteworthy but one I particularly liked was 2d, 12a and 15a. Hell, even the symmetry
    of the block is ‘pretty’. Thanks for another lovely crossword and thanks for Senf for his Sunday duty.

  26. Good stuff as ever from Virgilius, with much whizzing by pleasurably. 17ac gave a little pause for thought at the close, together with 26ac, 16d and 18d. The former was very nicely done, I thought.

  27. A joy, as always, but surely towards the generous end of V’s output. 1*/4.5* by my reckoning. I loved 1d, and quite probably am, and the “source of notes” in 5a. Many thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  28. Great puzzle Virgilius. Thanks Senf for the review. Too many favourites to mention. Get well soon Miffypops, and hope all has gone well for Saint Sharon.

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