ST 2901 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2901 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2901 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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Good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where Mother Nature is still being very kind to us – and a very Happy Birthday to Mary. 

Another very enjoyable, but perhaps not so typical, Sunday offering that is probably the trickiest Virgilius puzzle that I have had to solve and blog since I took over the Sunday spot from BD back in February, with a handful of anagrams (including partials), a couple of lurkers, and what I thought was a slightly odd homophone element to one of the answers.

My favourite is 22a.

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 Consider making first pair of denims free (10)
The first two letters of DEnims (making first pair of) and a synonym for free (from confinement?).

2a High priest? (4)
A priest who comes from a mountainous country.

10a Like you said, sheltered by sailor in storm (7)
Two letter synonym for like, a four letter synonym for sailor containing (sheltered by) a single letter homophone (said) of you.

12a Created impressions for digital records (13)
Created records for use in identification.

15a In state of exhaustion catnap won’t relieve? (3-5)
A term for exhausted in which the first word is another favourite pet.

22a Products of a fertile imagination? (13)
Original thoughts or works that might be ‘cherished.’ 

25a Cancel a golfer’s last round (7)
Synonym for cancel, A from the clue, and the last letter of golfeR – nothing to do with the game of golf.

27a Outline of plan showing opportunities for success outside university (10)
A single word for opportunities for success containing (outside) the single letter for university.


1d Work out information (4)
As (2,2), a synonymic phrase for work out.

3d Former PM so inept I revised good marks (7,6)
The last Labour PM followed by an anagram (revised) of SO INEPT I give ‘informal’ good marks – I did have a thought that ‘so inept’ was a description of said PM.

7d Neighbouring landowner is a bishop, say (7)
A from the clue, a single letter for bishop (commonly used in chess), and a synonym for say.

8d Unassisted learner in American car was doing something (10)
A (shortened) synonym, mostly used by Americans, for car and a two word synonymic phrase for was doing something (performing).

13d Honest sailor, with love, over bad upset (5,5)
The favourite two letters for sailor, the single letter for love as a tennis score, and an anagram (upset) of OVER BAD.

16d Person wavering gets it at this point, interrupting doctor (8)
One of the two letter abbreviations for doctor containing (interrupting) IT from the clue and a single word for at this point.

20d Piece of hair enclosed in covering letter (7)
One of the lurkers, the other is 4d, (enclosed in) in the last two words of the clue.

23d Inspiration for love in bedrooms — nothing odd there (4)
A Greek god using (in) the even-numbered (nothing odd there) letters of bedrooms.

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After the horrific event in Manchester on Monday evening, I thought long and hard about a selection for this week and took some advice, both temporal and spiritual:

50 comments on “ST 2901 (Hints)

  1. Another good Sunday puzzle, but I had the feeling that some of the clues were slightly unusual (probably just me). Liked the music Senf, glad you didn’t choose Nimrod as it usually reduces me to a snivelling wreck..

    1. Nimrod – my favourite of the Enigma Variations – you never know, it might appear in the middle of June close to the anniversary of the first performance of the suite.

      1. Oh, I agree Senf, a most beautiful piece of music. I, too, am a snivelling wreck when I hear it, Toadson.

  2. Trickier than usual but all great entertainment.

    Happy Birthday Mary

    PS: Senf – I thought the blog was a ‘political comment free’ zone

  3. :phew: I found that really difficult and had to have a wander round the garden half way through hoping for inspiration.
    I’ve never heard of 8d, I started off with the wrong second word for 9a and haven’t seen 22a as a plural before.
    I was completely dim with 6a and just couldn’t see the ‘high’ bit at all.
    Found the 4a lurker without too much trouble – it was that that sorted out my wrong 9a – but missed the second one.
    I was very slow with the long 11a anagram.
    Altogether a really good crossword but jolly tricky, I’d say.
    I liked 12a and 21 and 23d. My favourite was 15a.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    1. PS Happy Birthday, Mary – hope you’re having a lovely day and that you pop in to say hello.

    2. Kath, sorry, but isn’t saying 4d is a lurker tantamount to giving a fairly direct hint for a clue Senf left unmentioned? Naughty step?

  4. Nice to see a more challenging puzzle on a Sunday. Favourite clue 3d, that made me chuckle most of the morning.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  5. It’s now 12:05 BST – so how come that the hints and tips from Winnipeg, Manitoba have already arrived?

    Thanks, senf.

    1. The wonders of technology and WordPress. The hints were completed around 9:00pm CDT (yesterday)/3:00am BST (while I was still compos mentis) and then submitted with a scheduled publishing time of 10:00am BST (while I was sleeping).

  6. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle that I found very tricky. Needed the hints for 6a & 8d, had never heard of the latter. Also needed electronic help for 21d, which was last in. Favourite was 15a. Was 4*/3* for me.

  7. I agree with Senf that this was much trickier than our normal Sunday fare. I found the left hand side relatively straightforward but the right hand side proved to be a real challenge, but it was all very enjoyable as ever. My rating is 4*/5*.

    8d was a new word for me but very fairly clued. 22a was my favourite, with 15a a close second.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  8. Pleased to see that others found this tricky – not just me having an ‘off’ day!
    Like Kath, I hadn’t heard of the plural of 22a and although I did know of the adjectival version of 8d (somewhere in the dark recesses of the grey matter) the word as a noun had never occurred to me.
    I also got a bit stuck over the ‘high’ bit of 6a and opted for the wrong second word in 9a until 3d set me straight.

    Think I enjoyed this once I’d got over the initial shock! Top three places went to 1,22&27a.
    Thanks to the Sunday maestro and to Senf for making the difficult decisions over which clues to pick out for extra hints and which piece of music would be appropriate to remember Monday’s tragedy. The outpouring of music, songs and poems since that event has been quite amazing and really has brought people together.

    On an entirely different tack – many happy returns to Mary, hope you’re having a lovely day.

  9. Trickier than usual but enjoyable. Took a while to unravel the eastern half but got there in the end. Needed to look up 8d to make sure my bung in was correct. Thanks to Senf and Virgilius.

  10. This was good! A real tussle worthy of the back page for a Sunday. Some lovely head scratching moments (?) with 3d and 15a both vying for COTD for me. 4/5* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  11. Blimey, that was hard but, as the norm for Virgilius, most enjoyable.
    I have to be the stupidest person alive: my first thought for 3d was the correct answer, but I had pencilled in the word break as 6/7 which completely threw me. When I got the checking letters, I still didn’t write it in, thinking it had to be wrong, and I had the PM right. Grrrr, I could kick myself. Memo to self, pay attention in future.
    I had to use gizmo to get 8d, even then I had to look it up. Fave was 15a, but many more deserve honourable mention.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for his hints.

    Very, very Happy Birthday Mary!

  12. I agree with Senf and others that this was a bit tricky. We went through the acrosses and only put in four answers, and one of those was wrong which didn’t help :sad: fortunately the downs did a rescue bid but it still took us about twice as long as normal to get to the end, which was 8d and dredged from the depths of memory.

    Favourite was the so inept Prime Minister where I had exactly the same thought as Senf. :lol:

    Good fun though so I’ll go for ***/**** with thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  13. Dead heat between 3d and 12a for my COTD. In common with my fellow commenters, this was one of the hardest puzzles I have completed for some time. The quality as always on a Sunday was of the highest order, and hugely entertaining, so 4*/5* overall from me.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  14. LHS presented few problems but RHS was a different kettle of fish. Overall a nicely testing and entertaining workout to fill the gap whilst welcome rain (not much though) stopped gardening play. I’m biting my tongue re 3d! 25a has a clever surface and was Fav for me. I’m with Jane in having initially tried to use wrong second word for 9a. Thank you Virgilius and Senf.

  15. As usual, Virgilius on fine form. I didn’t find it particularly taxing but it did take a while to get going.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius **/****

  16. Cripes! that got me thinking. Managed it in a one-er though and rated it very highly. ***** . with a **** for difficulty. 22a best clue (but I am sure I have seen that one before – worthy of being trundled out again though). Thanks Virgenius, great skill and artistry as ever and you notched it up a peg this time to test your following. Bravo!

  17. I was held up by 8d for awhile but the penny finally dropped. Several candidates for top clue but 8d and 15a stood out for me.

  18. A really good and challenging puzzle today; glad to see some of you found it tricky too, not a ‘just me’ day.
    Having got the NW corner, and some of the SW + NE, accidentally clicked the “submit anyway” button. Doh!
    So am now frozen in cyberspace till I print and finish.
    3d held me up for a while as had the wrong definition.
    Liked 15a, 22a, but no fav at the mo. 4*/4* so far.
    Many thanks to Virgilius, and Senf for the excellent hints.

        1. I did too, eventually, but it took me for ever to see the ‘high’ bit. :roll: oh dear!

  19. I really think that Virgilius is flexing his muscles with this one – the trickiest Sunday crossword that I remember for some time.
    Really glad that it wasn’t a ‘just me’ day – there are quite enough of those.

  20. Thank you so much to Dave and all for all my birthday wishes, I am only just starting this but who knows with a glass or two of prosecco the old brain may function better … hwyl all :-)

  21. Unusually I had to look at the hints to finish this one ; thank goodness they included 6a , because I had put in an RC version and as a result it meant 7 and 8 were left in limbo .Excuse the religious themed comments !!! but then again the clue was about priests. Thanks Senf and what I presumed was a Virgilius offering

  22. Yep, trickier than usual, still don’t have 8d which makes me think I’ve gone wrong somewhere with the checkers. Liked 3d politics aside.
    Thanks Virgilius, Mr M and Happy Birthday Mary, it matters not that I don’t know you.

    1. LR You may well not have gone wrong with 8d – it’s probably not a word that springs immediately to mind – it comprises three words. I may be risking the naughty corner on your behalf!

    2. Thank you LBR … I was a regular on the blog in its early days when I had just started doing cryptic crosswords and its due to Dave, Gnomey, Prolixic, Gazza, Sue to name but a few that I came to understand and enjoy them so much indeed we had great fun on the blog and I was often in the ‘naughty corner’ :-)

  23. Well I agree with Katy’s assessment of jolly tricky, definitely on the hard side today, had to really work on this today. 96F here so not much gardening getting done. 22a was a new expression for me.

  24. Trickier than normal but still a class above and hugely enjoyable.

    Thanks Senf and Virgilius.

  25. All but 19a done. I have two answers but can’t work out why. Any hints welcome.

    1. Material is the definition. A three letter pop culture synonym for fantastic and an adjective for deep in colour with its last letter removed (cut).

  26. Finished it after two seatings. One early this morning and the second very late at night.
    Very enjoyable and a triple def to boot.
    No problem with 8d. In France we all are. Well, we have to be, given the education we get!
    Mind you it’s like crossword solving before the age of the blog. Remember sitting all alone in my corner.
    3d made me laugh too.
    First time I see the river in English.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints.

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