ST 2903 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2903 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2903 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where we have had some very welcome rain in the last couple of days.

Another very enjoyable puzzle with Virgilius in a more benevolent frame of mind compared to the last couple of Sundays.  The usual handful of anagrams (including one partial), couple of lurkers, and homophone.  Completed unassisted apart from that from the Chambers organization; but, to ensure the hints are error free, I enlisted the support of the results of the efforts of those fine folks in Dalwhinnie (16 year, double matured Distillers Edition).

I might not be able to participate much in responding to comments as I have a ‘hot date’ with my (6 year old) grand-daughter; we are going to Winnipeg Zoo!

My favourite is 12a.

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:


7a First and foremost, partly represent (5,3)
The first lurker (partly) found in the first three words of the clue.

10a Many people in the wrong — we backed out (6)
A single word for many people found by removing (out) the reversal (backed) of we from the fourth and fifth words of clue

12a Support behind club, non-executive director? (4-4,6)
A personal support in a rearmost location and a golf club give someone who might criticise one’s particular abilities.

15a Pain recurring in stomach each evening (4)
The second lurker and it is ‘doubled’ (recurring in) found in the last three words of the clue.

19a Instrument that’s plucked or one that’s blown, not loudly at first (4)
A woodwind instrument that has the first letter, which is the single letter for musically loud, removed.

23a Hard book — after all, that’s an indication of quality (8)
 The single letter for hard and ALL from the clue followed by (after) one of the first four NT books.

27a American city less British, in short? The reverse (6)
Combine a synonymic phrase (3,2) for less (than) and the single letter (in short) for British and then reverse it – OK, it’s also a British town, as are many American cities, but it needs to be this way for a smooth surface.

28a Ability to figure menu out, not lacking spice (8)
Anagram (out) of MENU and a single word for not lacking spice (risqué).


1d Leaders of unions treat apprentices harshly in Western state (4)
The initial letters (leaders of) the third to sixth words of the clue.

2d Open University joined by new rugby forward (6)
The single letters for university and new followed by a member of the second row of a scrum – lots of detail to help Kath and any one else who needs it.

5d Classical quartet in sensual festive occasion (8)
A synonym for sensual containing (in) the Roman numeral for four (classical quartet).

6d Resorting to change around West Berlin, for example (10)
Anagram (to change) of RESORTING containing (around) the single letter for west is the occupation of the individual responsible for White Christmas.

8d First gear (3,4)
The item of clothing claimed to have been worn by the first couple.

16d Aspect of fairness, English characteristic (8)
The single letter for English and a synonym for characteristic.

18d Mausoleum site shown in indistinct drawing (7)
A three letter synonym (frequently used by Kath) for indistinct containing (shown in) the location of a famous mausoleum.

22d Change route of flier on time (6)
A type of, rather than a particular, bird and the single letter for time.

26d Want to take it easy when head’s away (4)
A single word for take it easy with the first letter removed (when head’s away).

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.

Mick Jagger still going, at the O2 Arena November 2012:


40 comments on “ST 2903 (Hints)

  1. Indeed a little more gentle than recent Sunday puzzles, but still arguably the most witty of the week. Enjoy the day out Senf, your granddaughter is old enough to remember it for the rest of her life. Special times, really.

  2. I too liked 12a and also 6d, partly because it took time for the penny to drop. I thought 20a was an impressive clue and thank you Senf for explaining 27a to me. Another wonderful start to a Sunday morning from Mr V.

  3. As benign a puzzle as one could wish for on a breezy Sunday morning in Nottingham. Favourite clue was 8d closely followed by 12a. Thanks Senf for explaining 18d which I should have known having visited the said site and mausoleum only four months ago.

  4. A very enjoyable puzzle today, except it took a long while for the penny to drop re 28a, doh!

    1. Despite getting the right answer and reading the hint, still can’t fathom the second part of the answer’s parsing

      1. Look again at the last four letters of your answer and the last three words of the clue.

        1. Thank you. My only defence for missing the obvious is having half on eye on the cricket, so just not concentrating properly

      2. Some obfuscation from Virgilius. Not lacking spice = spicy – but not in reference to food.

  5. Goodness knows how I managed to dredge up the rugby forward from the murky depths – shame that the same could not be said of the Berliner, who took quite a while to surface.
    Rather liked the classical quartet in 5d but, like other commenters, I opted for 12a as favourite.

    Many thanks to the Sunday maestro and to Senf for the blog. Bet I know who’ll be the most tired after the zoo trip!

    PS Nice to see that the old rocker is still paying due homage after all these years!

  6. I needed the hint for 23a and when I managed that the 3 unhinted clues I was stuck on dropped in. other than that and a mispelled 28a I fairly romped through the rest. Thanks to Senf and setter.

    Enjoy the zoo you could always try the old trick of getting your grand daughter to ask one of the keepers if Mr Raff is there today.
    Mr G Raff or Mrs Lyon Mrs C Lyon. most zookeepers know all of these but are usually happy to play along.

  7. 3*/5*. Sheer brilliance! What more could one ask for on a Sunday morning?

    I needed Senf’s hint to understand why my answer to 27a was right. 6d was my favourite with 10a & 8d also on the podium.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

      1. Thanks very much, Jane.

        After being away in Poland for a few days I did pop in briefly on Friday. I was out from 10:00 yesterday until the early hours of this morning at a family celebration so I am feeling more than a little fragile today!

  8. Lovely stuff, done while taking advantage of the cooler early morning sunshine before the temp soars into the mid-90’s later. 12A and 6D were my favorites…and I did need the hint to parse 27A. Many thanks to Senf and Virgilius.

  9. A pop puzzle solved in Bourton On The Water where we are staying for a couple of days in order to delay our return home. Favourite clue the one about Berlin. I do like the doubling of lurkers that our setter employs. Thanks to the setter and the blogger.

    1. Ah, I remember visiting BOTW as a young girl on one of our trips to England. I remember it as such a magical place.

  10. Super-duper puzzle again from Virgilius. I found it a bit tricky to get a toehold, but once I did, it was all plain sailing.
    I needed your hints, Senf, to “get” 27a, how clever is that!
    I thought 8d took the cake for brevity, but my fave was 12a, runner up 6d.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf, let us know how the visit to the zoo goes!

  11. I haven’t been able to get ‘here’ for several hours but it doesn’t look as if others have had the same trouble.
    Oh well – here now so will make the most of it. I thought this was an even more enjoyable Sunday crossword than usual, if that’s possible.
    10a takes lurking to a new level – first find its ‘lurkiness’, then reverse it and then take it out.
    23 and 27a took a while and I made a total pig’s ear out of 13d to begin with.
    I liked 19a and 8d. My favourite was either 12a or 6d – pretty much the same as most of you.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to Senf, especially for the extra help for 2d. I hope you have fun at the zoo with your grand-daughter.

    1. The site was down for an hour or so, ironically on the day that I increased the available resources (or maybe that was why!).

        1. This morning I added 25gb disk space to the site, along with 2 more cpus taking the total to 5. Unfortunately the hosting company reduced the ram from 5gb to 1gb at the same time, causing the subsequent problems. All is well again.

  12. Late on parade today as I had problems accessing the site. Must be me as no one else has reported a problem.

    Another masterpiece from Virgilius, with all his trademark brilliance. 6d was my favourite of many fine clues. Like others it took me a while to establish a firm base from which to work, but the wait was welll worth it, so 3*/5* seems fair.

    Many thanks to Virgilius for yet another in a very long line of hugely entertaining Sunday crosswords,and to Senf.

    1. I posted this as Kath reported her access problems above. Nice to know I am not alone.

      1. I too had problems accessing the site. I gave up and went dog-walking and gardening instead. I also struggled with 28a, but mainly because I put *** on the end!

  13. Was I alone in thinking 2d might have been derived from the hooker in the front row? I didn’t know about the second row chap until I looked in the dictionary.

  14. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle that I found very tricky. Needed the hints for 10a,8&18d and electronic help for 3d. Was 4*/3* for me.

  15. Enjoyed it as much as senf enjoyed his single malt I’m sure.
    Favourite 6d. Everytime I see his name it reminds me of Stepping Out. Must have seen that play everyday for more than 2 years.
    The first gear in 8d made me laugh.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to senf.

  16. Perfect end to a beautiful day – sitting in the sunshine accompanied by glass(es) of Bianco from Campania and sussing out Virgilius’ pleasant poser. Sticking point was the NW corner. 3d didn’t dawn on me nor indeed stupidly did 8d. Fav was 6d but will refrain from saying why for fear of being consigned to the naughty corner. Thank you Virgilius for a fun time and Senf for sorting a couple for me.

  17. Not difficult (1*) but witty and quirky, so entertaining to solve (4*). I had several candidates marked for possible favouritism, but all were displaced by 6d (my last one in). Many thanks to Virgilius – how do you maintain the standard? – and to Senf.

  18. Many thanks for all comments about maintaining my standard. At any point when you feel otherwise, do please let me know — the more specific the comments, the more helpful they will be.

    Thanks to Senf and BD. Senf, we’re going to a wedding in Calgary (in my wife’s family) in early July. Could be tense with divergent political views.

    Did I mention that on 26 June I will have puzzles in both the Times and the New York Times? The latter is a very different genre and I got a lot of patient help from Will Shortz, their crossword editor.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I am enjoying being the Sunday blogger and ‘creating’ explanations for your excellent clues, while maintaining ‘crypticity,’ and, each week, there are a few that can be quite challenging such as today’s ‘non-executive director’ and ‘not less British.’

      Congratulations on your ‘double’ Times Monday. I have heard Will Shortz, with a weekly word puzzle, on a Sunday morning (US) National Public Radio news programme. If radio voices are anything to go by, he sounds a very pleasant individual.

      Good luck in Calgary. There is a lot of politics in Canada right now but, thankfully, nothing like what is developing in the UK as a result of last week. Politics should be ‘left at the door’ at something like a family wedding; hopefully, that will happen for you.

    2. It’s so thoughtful of you to pop in, we do appreciate it.
      I find the NY Times puzzles can sometimes be impossible, but I’m also told that Monday’s are usually kinder.
      The political views in Canada can hardly be more divergent than they are here!

  19. Oops, nearly forgot after having been rebuffed earlier. Yet another lovely challenge from the Sunday maestro. My favourite has to be ‘first gear’ and overall 3/4*.
    Many thanks to Mr Greer, and to Senf for the hints.

  20. Lovely puzzle. Last in (by far) was 6d. Favourite once I found it. A number of misdirections cleverly including “resorting” which could have been an anagram indicator rather than fodder. I also spent a lot of time on 18d and resorted to Google to find synonyms for mausoleum and museum sites rather than thinking about a particular one. Second favourite 28a. Got it when I got over my original thought for the last three letters. A satisfying solve. Thanks to setter (particularly for popping in) and for Senf’s hints which I always enjoy reading to check I have correctly parsed.

  21. So late completing this on Tuesday!!! Work is very busy at the moment as I am off to Menorca with the grandchildren tomorrow.
    I got the wrong ending to 28a which held me up.
    Fav was 10a.
    Thanks to all.

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