ST 2904 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2904 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2904 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg.

Another very enjoyable puzzle with Virgilius back in a tricky frame of mind – the usual handful of anagrams (including a few partials), a lurker, and a (brilliant) double homophone, with one or two oldies but goodies/recent repeats. 

After blogging on the last two Fridays, I needed to remember that I only had to solve half of the clues for today’s blog :wink: :smile: .

Two favourites – 12a and 14d.

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 Stop fighting provided fleet is around (6)
A synonym for fleet (of foot) containing (is around) a two letter synonym for provided.

4a Guy, before end of service, left place of worship (6)
A synonym for guy (male), the last letter (end of) of servicE, and the single letter for left.

10a Open discussion about British fish (6)
The single letter for British and a freshwater fish.

12a Painting, say, in church, again apply green or yellow (10)
What a painting is a form of (say), contained by (in) the generic abbreviation for church and a synonym for apply again gives colours (or liqueurs).

13a State that’s perfect? It’s fine prior to anarchy (12)
The single letter for fine and a synonym for anarchy.

20a Minor thoroughfare that is hidden by trees, bizarrely (4,6)
The Latin for that is (not the abbreviation) contained by an anagram (bizarrely) of TREES.

23a To some extent, soothes piano player on stage (8)
The lurker (to some extent) contained in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.

25a How workers are rewarded, securing pound in secondary action (2-4)
A two word phrase (2,3) for how workers are rewarded containing (securing) the single letter for pound – not a term that I am familiar with.


1d In all likelihood, supporting learner in child (8)
A three letter synonym for supporting, and the single letter for learner in a synonym for a (very) young child.

3d Female, possibly a niece — she’s committed to union (7)
The single letter for female and an anagram (possibly) of A NIECE.

5d Frequent visitor rather put in shade (7)
A synonymic phrase (1,3) for rather inserted in (put in) a synonym for shade (colour) – the synonymic phrase is in the LRB.

9d Couple holding hands in carriage are not obvious (11)
A simple type of horse-drawn carriage containing (in) partners from a card game, followed by the abbreviated form of are not.

14d Predicament over arithmetic problem pronounced good for you (9)
A homophone (pronounced) of what one might be in when in a predicament and a homophone (pronounced again) of an arithmetic problem.

18d Flower-girl carrying article in supple way (7)
A flower which is also a girl’s name containing (carrying) a definite article.

21d Land in Asia in plane that’s gone astray (5)
Anagram (that’s gone astray) of PLANE.

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Tomorrow is the 118th anniversary of the first performance of one of Sir Edward Elgar’s best works, so here, from the Enigma Suite, is the ninth Variation – Nimrod:


50 comments on “ST 2904 (Hints)

  1. 3*/5*. Wonderful stuff throughout with the SW the last to fall. 14d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  2. So much to enjoy in this puzzle. I was pleased to figure out 12a as I am no expert on alcoholic beverages. There were several clues that I liked – 5d, 9d and 14d. Thanks to the setter and Senf to whom I would like to say that all his skittishg nags were feeding contentedly in the paddock while I was solving .

  3. Another good one. I also liked 14d (and several others). I even managed to work out a bit of Latin along the way! Nimrod ‘did me in’ as usual, so thanks for that – I think – Senf.

  4. Virgilius would like us to tell him if a puzzle of his ever fails to live up to standard. I’ve no idea how I’d do that – but this is yet another happy occasion where I don’t have to. :good:

    I did it while waiting for the night to cool enough to allow sleep, so any associated thoughts have now dissolved in dreams. In any case, it’s a prize puzzle and it’s too hot for the naughty corner. I am instead going to find a shady corner and wait until the thermometer once again reads “bearable” …

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints.

  5. A lovely start to Father’s Day. In 20a across the abbreviation dominated my thought processes for too long before the penny dropped. 14d was for me the Mr V special that we’ve come to expect from him.
    Thank you Senf for the hints as usual. Did the young lady in 18d ever unbend?

    1. In reference to the young lady – that would be nice to know, but it was just a photo I found through an on-line search using a term related to the clue. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have searched for a video.

  6. I also found this trickier than recent Sundays, but no less enjoyable for that.

    My personal favourites were 1a and 13a.

    Many thanks to Mr Greer and to Senf.

    1. Welcome to the blog

      I don’t think I can improve on Senf’s hint for 25a without being sent to the Naughty Corner

    2. Welcome from me as well.

      If I had to nominate an ‘odd’ clue, 25a would probably be my selection. I solved it after getting the checkers from the three down clues. The four letter part was obvious, but it was ‘I suppose it has to be **’ for the two letter part which was confirmed when I submitted my solution through the puzzle web site.

      The answer does show up in on-line searches as meeting the definition.

  7. Slow to get out of the starting gate but once “off” it was a really enjoyable race to the finish. 12a my Fav although not really a fan of the ecclesiastical product. Thank you very much Virgilius and Senf. The Nimrod video was heart-rendingly beautiful both visibly and tonally, particularly at this sombre time in the U.K. 💐

    1. I have to own up to the fact that the selection of Nimrod was made well in advance of the Grenfell fire and it was selected for somewhat flippant reasons; but I agree it has turned out to be quite appropriate.

  8. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A fantastic puzzle as usual from Virgilius. I found this very tricky, but most enjoyable. Needed the hints for 13a&14d. Electronic help for 19d. Favourite was 12a. Was 3*/5* for me.

  9. I was well down into the bottom half before finding a toe-hold in this one and encountered a few rather tricky little numbers along the way, all of which only added to the pleasure of completing yet another exceptional puzzle from the Sunday maestro.

    Top place for me went to 25a with 21a & 9d in hot pursuit.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for diligently solving half of the puzzle!
    Nimrod almost reduced me to tears as always.

    1. Re Nimrod, I so agree Jane. It’s quintessentially English, isn’t it? Why does bursting with emotion make us weep?

  10. Like Jane I too only got to tenuous grips with this one once I reached the bottom of the grid. Thereafter things improved somewhat. An excellent crossword from the Sunday maestro with some lovely clues including 12 and 13a, but my favourite was 14d.
    3/5* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  11. Thank you Senf – and thank you for Nimrod.
    Can thoroughly recommend a visit to Elgar’s house – very understated (no potpouri!),
    you get to listen to the music and leave in a very mellow mood…………….

  12. i couldn’t make any sense of 25a either but then i realised I stupidly entered the wrong ending for 15d – makes a lot of difference.

    I also liked the 14d homophone, 12a brought back memories (strong stuff), thought 20a was clever and loads more to like

    Many thanks Virgilius and Senf

  13. Great crossword, typical of the usual Sunday high standard. Thanks Senf for explaining 9d, the answer was self-evident but I needed your hint to explain it.
    I found this much easier than yesterday’s puzzle. Once I am off-wavelength they become impossible, Virgilius’ style just works for me.
    Thanks tongue aforementioned Senf and Virgilius.
    Currently 34 in Minorca.

    1. 9d was interesting because my immediate thought on reading the clue was that the definition was ‘not obvious’ rather than just ‘obvious’ – so, finding an antonym for the actual answer would have been nothing short of impossible.

  14. I am away at the moment, and have been following the tragic event at home. My son is a firefighter previously based at Chelsea, now Croydon, so was only called in for emergency cover, he didn’t actually have to attend the fire.
    However many of his former colleagues at Chelsea did attend and some have been traumatised by what they experienced, I just hope and pray that in time they will be able to put this behind them.
    So please, all, spare a moment to reflect on the job that the fire service do to protect us all. Hopefully lessons will be learnt.

    1. Firefighters and lifeboatmen are the two groups of people who have my complete admiration. They go in when everyone else is running away. Courageous or what?

      1. – and let us never forget that many of them (particularly in the RNLI) are volunteers who have to hold down day-jobs as well.

  15. Good Sunday offering as always – so thanks to Virgilius for the CW and Senf for the hints.
    I’d never heard of 25a and had trouble parsing 9d – so thanks for that Senf.

    HOT HOT HOT here – Summer has arrived with a vengeance. Currently 33c on our naya in the shade! :(
    Off to watch a “bad film” in the lounge with my trusty air-con!

  16. Off topic I know but I just had a rather strange experience.
    Went to the local as usual on a Sunday lunch and there was a football match on the telly – Athletico Madrid v Real Sociedad. I’d been watching for about two minutes when I suddenly realised that the players are all children! I asked Manolo (landlord) and he told me they are the under-13 teams! It looked just like a normal La Liga match. These guys are Good, with a well- deserved capital G. I shouldn’t really refer to them as guys as it soon became clear that the Athletico goalie is a girl and there are three other girls on the pitch.
    Remarkable :yes:

  17. I agree with anyone else who found this a tad (don’t want to go to the naughty corner) trickier than recent Sundays – just as good as usual.
    I was quite a long way through reading the clues before getting more than a handful of answers.
    Even after having the answers to 24a and 2d it took me ages and ages to see why – thought I was going to have to come here and beg for explanations.
    I liked 20 and 21 and 5 and 14d. My favourite was 2d.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.
    I’m too hot – it may not be 33C as it seems to be at pommers and pomette’s but it is 29.8 in Oxford.

  18. Minor panic reading Senf’s comment but feeling brave I picked up my trusty pencil. Must be wavelength thing but I thoroughly enjoyed it and only needed very small amount of assistance. As usual far to many favourites to risk picking one. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf, wish it would cool down because I keep dropping off to sleep.

  19. Normally, I am dead on Virgilius’s wavelength, but today it took ages to get a toehold, and there were two holes, 24a and 25a. No hint for 24a, so I’ll have to wait for CS’s review.
    I also found that some answers were pretty difficult to see the “why”, unusual for Mr.Greer. Still don’t see 2d.
    Nonetheless, a great puzzle, lots to like, fave is 14d, but 12a and 21a were right up there.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for helping unravel some, e.g. 9d!

  20. Entertaining crossword. 2d my favourite. Last 2 in were 19d (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) and 24a (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)

    1. Please read BD’s instructions in red about not putting alternative hints etc in your comments

  21. Every Sunday I finish the .excellent Virgilus crossword but always with an answer I don’t understand which never has a hint! This week is no exception, I don’t get 24a at all, not even sure if my answer is correct, it’s a complete mystery.
    Bit too many religious references for my taste this week.
    Thx to all.
    PS what on earth is a synomic phrase, is that even English!

    1. synonymic – a phrase consisting of synonyms

      I’ve already had to xxx someone who over-explained 24a so I’ll have to be careful. If you have the right solution for 24a, and there aren’t many opportunities with those checking letters, ask Mrs B about your solution and the last word of the clue.

      1. Thanks for that, CS. Another one sorted. I don’t know why I had such a problem “getting” the answers today, Vigilius is normally so cut and dried. Maybe just an off day, I certainly hope so.

  22. Bit of a slog this but very enjoyable. My rating is 3/4.5 It certainly gave my grey cells a good workout and feel better for it. All done and dusted save 25A which will be revealed in the review. Thanks to Senf for the blog – much needed and appreciated!

    1. Parts of body (definition), and irritating remarks about it (6)
      A synonym for irritating (personal) remarks containing (about) it.

  23. I found this easier than we’ve had on a Sunday for a while, to swim against the tide. * for difficulty, and that with 24ac alone taking a quarter of the time, and enjoyable as ever.

  24. I don’t usually get the Sunday paper, but I’m glad I did now. This was very enjoyable. Favourite clue was 13a.
    Thanks for the hints.

  25. Top end of 1* difficulty, and 4* for satisfaction. My favourite was 12a, but so many of the clues gave me the frisson familiar to a regular solver of Virgilius puzzles. My thanks to him, and to Senf.

  26. There is a one word synonym for 25a which is in more common usage which I cannot put here due to it being a prize puzzle!

  27. Virgenius near his best but a bit tougher than is the nom. Got there in the end but 25a still eludes me. If I miss a puzzle during the week I can live with it but I can never let a Sunday go unsolved. Great stuff.

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