ST 2909 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2909 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2909 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where we have been having a mixture of summer sunshine and storms/heavy showers.  

Another very enjoyable puzzle, but probably the trickiest Virgilius puzzle for quite a while – the usual handful of anagrams (including two partials), one lurker, and three homophones (including one partial). As there were only 28 clues today, I decided to complete the whole puzzle instead of just what I needed to do to provide the hints.

My favourite – 13d.

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 In particular, pieces rewritten by friend (10)
An easy partial anagram to start (rewritten) of PIECES followed by a synonym of friend.

9a Like serious people, learn best when beginners are absent (7)
The combination of the fourth and fifth words of the clue with their initial letters removed (when beginners are absent).

10a Shielded old-fashioned fellow, visibly embarrassed (7)
A type of old-fashioned fellow followed by the colour of one’s face when embarrassed.

14a Solvent, with nothing put into a place to live (6)
A from the clue and a type of place to live containing (with . . . put into) the single letter for nothing gives financial security.

19a Facility for religious group that’s on head’s side (6)
A single word for each side of the head.

22a Beautiful opening shot showing religious event (6,7)
A synonym for beautiful and the start of any court based game.

26a Cause of current disturbance in troubled dynasty (4)
The only lurker (in) in the last two words of the clue.

27a Variety shows stars met on, curiously (10)
An anagram (shows . . . curiously) of STARS MET ON.


1d Briefly, I had heard and seen (4)
A homophone (heard) of an abbreviated (briefly) form of I had.

3d Instructing boys and girls, commander wrongly cautioned a learner (13)
A two letter abbreviation for commander, an anagram (wrongly) of CAUTIONED, A from the clue, and the single letter for learner to finish.

5d Severely scold after delicate fabric is cut roughly (8)
A type of delicate fabric followed by a synonym for (severely) scold (which is in Chambers Big and Little).

11d Pence for example invested, price changing (4-9)
Nothing to do with coinage – an anagram (changing) of INVESTED PRICE gives the position of someone who is number two in a hierarchy.

13d Hurtful old kind of message that creates barrier (6,4)
A synonym for hurtful (when applied to a comment, for example) and an informal type of message that pre-dates faxes and e-mails.

16d Full of anxiety turning up for final courses (8)
A single word for full of anxiety reversed (turning up).

20d Said you must be in danger with drug, lacking maturity (7)
Single letter homophone (said) of you contained by (must be in) a synonym for danger and the single letter for a recreational pharmaceutical.

23d Short note from young woman (4)
A double definition, the second is a somewhat derogatory term for a young woman or girl.

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I have been thinking about posting this relaxing 1968 classic from Fleetwood Mac for some time (it may help to calm the nerves of those watching the fourth round of The Open today, maybe I should have posted it last Sunday for the last day of you know what):

36 comments on “ST 2909 (Hints)

  1. Such a great crossword again, very much what we have come to expect on a Sunday.
    This went in without too many problems. The only unusual occurrence is that I think I managed to parse every clue!
    9a – Was very clever, a head-scratcher until I read the clue again!
    22a – Not heard the expression, and took some getting until the penny dropped
    16d – Brilliant clue, probably an old chestnut to the more experienced, but new to me and last in, certainly my favourite
    23d – Was a new definition to me
    12a – Appealed to me, seen this use of the second part of the answer a few times
    Many thanks for the blog to Senf and to Giovanni

  2. Very enjoyable – 13d and 16d especially. Now back to clearing the decks for the 10 day grandchildren invasion 😂

    Thanks as usual to all involved.

  3. Another lovely Sunday puzzle – I’m intrigued however as to how the hint-giver selects a number of the more difficult clues if he normally only solves half the puzzle??

    Lots of favourites including those others have mentioned but I think 11d deserves a mention

    1. Well it all started with a comment I made in my preamble (on DT 28449) when I was substituting for Deep Threat – ‘This means I have to solve all the clues rather than just approximately half of them as I do on Sundays (just kidding).’

      Without naming names, a certain lady from Anglesey picked up on this and we have been continuing a sort of dialogue on it ever since (including today).

      And seriously, I was just kidding.

      1. I thought that might be the case but as it continued over the weeks you do have to ask the question

  4. Very satisfied to complete this as I found this fairly difficult. Got very little at first but persistence paid off. Lots of wonderful clues especially 12a and 13d and 22a. I think I will give top prize to 13d as it taxed me the most.

  5. Didn’t find this the easiest one from the Sunday maestro but the only real problem was entirely self-inflicted – daren’t go into detail on a prize day so suffice to say that the 19/20 duo were the last to fall. Think I may also be missing some nuance in 4d.

    Podium places went to 15a plus 11,13&16d.

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf – particularly for the excellent Fleetwood Mac and accompanying clip. Black-browed Albatross if I’m not mistaken.
    So noble of you to complete the entire puzzle today although I have often pondered the question posed by CS – perhaps you enlist the help of a PA who solves the puzzle first and then tells you which clues he/she found the most difficult?

    1. Lady Jane – thank you for your kind comment, but, seriously, when I first made a comment about solving only half the puzzle I was just kidding (see my response to CS above).

      And, believe me, when I solve the puzzle on a Saturday evening, there is no-one around offering to help me for love or money. I suppose now I will have to swear an oath on the BRB to substantiate that.

      1. As they say ‘you can’t kid a kidder’ – never believed you for a moment but the banter was fun whilst it lasted.
        My next line would have been to enquire as to whether your PA was featured in your avatar!

    2. The 19/20 duo were the last to fall for me as well, considering we’ve had 19a before, really dim of me.

  6. 23d reminded me so much of the Two Ronnies crossword sketch on the train with the nun

  7. Certainly the toughest for some time. Cannot understand why the 2nd part of 4d refers to scold, not in my copy of the BRB. Last one in was that pesky 4 letter clue 23d, that was in the BRB. Best clue for me was 12a, a real smiler.
    Very enjoyable as always on a Sunday, ***/*****.
    Thx to all concerned.

    1. xxxx may not be in the BRB entry for scold, but scold is in the BRB entry for xxxx.

    2. Think you’ll find that the BRB has three different entries for the word in question, Brian. Today’s version of it is listed as no. 2.

    3. Either I am doing a different crossword puzzle or the paper version carries a variation to the online version, because I can find nothing that remotely refers to ‘scold’ in 4 down. 5 down might do though – at least. In my paper it does. Nothing too difficult in an enjoyable apres dinner solve.Thanks to setter and Senf.

  8. Very enjoyable as one is accustomed to expect on a Sunday, only the SW corner proved a little stubborn to yield.

    My top three, in clue order, were 4d, 11d and 13d.

    Many thanks to Mr Greer and to Senf.

  9. Hard to pick a winner from three down clues – 11.13 and 16. All brilliant and inventive. I agree with Senf that this was a little harder than usual, but that merely increased the enjoyment. This was 3*/5* for me, with many thanks to Virgilius for another masterpiece and to Senf.

  10. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, such a good standard every Sunday. Found this quite tricky, had to grind out a lot of the answers. Favourite was 17a, very subtle. Last in was 19a. Was 3.5*/4* for me.

  11. Smashing puzzle! Great fun to do and moreover, to complete. 17a was my fave; very clever.
    2.5/4* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints.

  12. very enjoyable as always on a Sunday and a great write-up

    many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for solving all the clues

  13. Lovely Sunday entertainment again.
    Out of an abundance of great clues, my fave was 4d, but 13d and 22a following close behind.
    I won’t mention the spelling of the second word in 12a; that’s known as fighting a losing battle.
    Thanks to Virgilius for the fun and Senf for the hints and tips.

  14. Very slow start but then I thoroughly enjoyed doing battle with this – best for a while. 11d has been somewhat sidelined so didn’t immediately occur to me. SE required a couple of pointers. Favs – 12a in spite of spelling, 22a and 1d. Many thanks to Virgilius and Mustard.

  15. Virgenius! What a great puzzle. ***/*****. Wonderful stuff. 11 & 2d notable. This was hard to finish as I was watching advertising on NBC with a bit of The Open in between.
    Finish it, I did though with no help other than the ‘mute’ button.
    Thank you to the Picasso of puzzles.. again.

  16. 2*/5*. Just back after a few days away to find this absolutely brilliant puzzle which was not too difficult but a joy from start to finish. Once again almost any clue could be selected as a favourite but for me the best of the bunch were 4d, 11d, 13d & 16d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Send.

  17. Definite for first place is 13d but many more. Thought I would not finish without help but I did. Last two in 14a and then 2d. The latter was a real puzzler. My only other query is that I do not still understand the reference to Pence in 11d. Just got it!!!!! My capital letter is correct. Thanks Virgilius and Senf. Did not need the hints but enjoy reading – and still did not get the parsing of 11d after the hint! What fun!

  18. A lot easier to the north than to the south, where I made rather heavy weather of things. Good as always, of course, from Virgilius.

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