ST 2913 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2913 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2913 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg; a somewhat mixed bag of weather this week – mostly sunny but a rainy start to Wednesday, a foggy start to Thursday, and a thundery start to Friday.

Another very enjoyable, but quite tricky Virgilius puzzle, which required assistance from a (not so) wee dram of The Balvenie – a ‘full’ suite of 32 clues with less anagrams than usual, a couple of lurkers, and a homophone. It was quite difficult to choose which clues to hint on.

My joint  favourites – 19a and 20d – equally brilliant!

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 Turn rough when one’s car is wrecked (7)
A reasonably simple anagram to start (is wrecked) of ONE’S CAR (ignore the apostrophe).

9a Gather in front of dramatic scenes of Japanese blaze (7)
A synonym for gather (as in deduce) precedes a two letter term for traditional Japanese drama (new to me, but straight out of the BRB).

12a Holding part of flier distributed in capital only (5)
One of the lurkers (distributed in) the last two words of the clue (the other lurker is 5d).

15a Report a form of knowledge found in Asian city (9)
A synonym of report (as in explosion), A from the clue, and a single word synonym for form of knowledge (with report as the first word of the clue, I started by thinking that this might be a homophone).

19a Back became reconciled to missing kick in cup? (5)
A single word synonym for became reconciled to reversed (back) gives an abbreviated term for a drink that is missing something.

23a Person after good deal with more off, pocketing profit (9)
A term for with more off (in terms of less clothing?) containing (pocketing) a synonym for profit.

26a Leaves producer as original costume supplier (3,4)
The source used by the first couple to cover their embarrassment.

28a Child attached to friend without reservation (7)
One of the synonyms for child and one of the usual synonyms for friend.


1d Argument against covering lips bright red (7)
A three letter synonym for argument against containing (covering) a synonym for lips (nothing to do with the face).

4d Dread of the new phone let loose old prejudice, mostly (9)
An anagram of PHONE (let loose), the single letter for old, and a synonym for prejudice with the last letter removed (mostly).

7d The lines at the heart of old, old tragedy (7)
The single letter for old repeated then containing (at the heart of) THE from the clue and an abbreviation for lines.

14d Desert traveler roamed haphazardly in arid setting (9)
A synonym of arid containing (in . . . setting) an anagram (haphazardly) of ROAMED.

18d In which one parks without any charge (7)
A double definition, the first should be where a vehicle’s gear selector is placed when parking (except in an automatic).

20d Every answer here has one such letter — that’s key (7)
Consider the enumeration of all the answers and the answer to this clue applies to the position of one letter in all the answers (ignoring spaces).

23d Money raised, we hear (5)
The homophone (we hear) of raised gives a slang term for money.

24d Mythical ship on time, in a manner of speaking (5)
The ship captained by Jason and the single letter for time gives a synonym for slang.

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Today is the birthday of Isaac Hayes (1942-2008); here, recommended by our favourite Anglesonian, is Soul Man, one of his compositions (with David Porter), that was recorded by Sam and Dave in 1967 (this video from 1974):

66 comments on “ST 2913 (Hints)

  1. I can’t say that I’m very happy with 18 down – that’s not what I was taught…

    1. Apparently, Virgilius and I were taught the same way, and turn the wheels a tad on a hill so that the car would not run straight down.

      1. I also was taught many years ago to leave the wheels turned in, and leave in gear, either reverse or first, depending on whether you were uphill or downhill. Nevertheless another superb Sunday puzzle. This is
        the first time I have ever ” pedanted? ” about a Virgilius clue.

        1. Thank you – my own photo when said sculpture was on (temporary) exhibition in the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

    2. Had I parked in gear when I took my driving test 52 years ago, I would have failed.

      These days, my two automatics are parked in Park and my manual-shift car is parked in reverse.

  2. Well this had me beat, and it was Senf’s favourites, 19a & 20d, that had me stumped.

    And I agree with Steve above, Virgilus clearly wasn’t taught by the same instructor as I was. Many thanks to him and Senf.

  3. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle that I found quite tricky at the end. I was completely beaten by 17a and 18d. I think I’ve got 20d correct, but I don’t understand the hint. Can anyone explain without going to naughty corner. Was 3*/3* for me.

    1. Perhaps my hint was a little cryptic. Look at the enumerations of the answers, after adding those for the two word answers; they are all *** numbers – so every answer has one letter which is in the ****** of it. (Fill in the *** and ******)

  4. Once again the wittiest puzzle of the week is on a Sunday. Particularly liked the similarly themed 2d and 20d. Ta to all.

  5. Very enjoyable but quite tricky 3*/3* for me also. Senf’s favourites were last two in. My favourite was 17a. Thanks to Virgilus and Senf.

  6. The Sunday puzzles have increased in trickiness over the past six months or so, and that’s no bad thing since they are prize puzzles. I had lots of ticks on my page, including 15, 17, 19 and 22A, and 18 and 20D. My favorites are 19A and 20D. Thanks to Senf and the splendid Virgilius.

  7. Another excellent puzzle from the Sunday setter. Several contenders for top clue. In addition to those mentioned by the hinterland I liked 17a, 26a and the leaf producer.

  8. Just finished dancing round the kitchen to the strains of Soul Man – thank you, Senf.
    Definitely the maestro in slightly trickier mode – had to guess at the term at 24d so have now learned that along with a new way to perfectly describe what I suffer from – not just with phones, also computers and an array of other stuff!

    Our desert traveller has certainly been popular recently – another of those weird coincidences I suppose.
    Plenty to enjoy but no particular favourite to point out.

    Thanks to Virgilius and to our over-worked reviewer.

      1. Jane’s original comment has been redacted as surely mentioning wording in recent clues is straying into alternative clue territory.

        I might be exhausted but I’m still awake!! CS

  9. Another really great Sunday crossword.
    I thought this was much trickier than the last few Sundays have been – probably something to do with the scarcity of anagrams.
    I think I’ve only ever seen the 9a Japanese drama spelt with an extra letter.
    Needed the hint to ‘get’ 20d properly – I had the general idea but was only looking at the words of that particular clue rather than all the answers.
    I found one of the lurkers, 5d, easily enough but missed the second until I had alternate letters in.
    Having learnt to drive in a very old A35 van we had to park in gear – the hand brake had stopped working years before.
    I liked 22a as it’s what our Younger Lamb is always called.
    Also liked 15, 17 and 19a and 2 and 4d.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  10. 3*/5* for this excellent, clever, thought-provoking and entertaining Virgilius offering. There are so many outstanding clues that it seems disingenuous to pick a favourite, but the laurel wreath goes to 19a.

    I am running out of superlatives to describe these Sunday puzzles, so thank you Virgilius for another gem and to Senf for his hints.

  11. Virgilius and I must think the same (poor Virgilius, before anyone says it!!), as I never have too many problems with Sundays and today was no exception. I found this much easier than yesterday, for example.
    Lots of super clues, I still don’t quite get 20d, what happens if an answer has an even number of letters??
    My favourite was 8d, it was last in and the ‘gold’ bit scratching my head until the penny dropped.
    A slight grumble about 18d, as I never park in the answer, drives ‘er indoors nuts when she starts the car!!
    Many thanks Senf and Virgilius

    1. Ref your query on 20d, then the answer would not work/apply, but today (here) every answer has . . .

  12. Still, no access yet to the crossword site the telegraph password does not work and I have asked them to send me a new one, as I live in Vancouver I do not want to phone them

  13. I thought this the trickiest Sunday for some time, not helped by the fact that three across and three down clues ended up on another piece of paper.

    Thanks to Virgilius for the entertaining battle – not sure what to pick as favourites 2d was typically Virgilian and I did like the surface reading of 5d too

    1. I might be mistaken, but I think this is the first time for quite a while that we have had a ‘full’ suite of 32 clues from any setter (and almost definitely from Virgilius).

        1. I not sure where I got it from, but I think the (unwritten?) guidance for back pagers is 28 to 32 clues.

          1. Sorry for being a tad ignorant of these things…but presumably 32 clues is the maximum a 15×15 grid can hold??

            1. I don’t know what the maximum is, but Crossword Compiler has a 40-clue grid in its library, and Rookie Corner 102, mentioned above, has 42.

              1. Quick math suggests that the highest density (min 3 letter answers), is for 16 blocks of 3×3 answers each = 96 (each block has 3 across and three down answers). Then each block needs to be connected at least once to a neighbor block – reducing the answer count by 15. Max answers therefore seems to be is 81.

                Or integrate for max value of
                ((Block-size x2) x (Block-count)^2)-(Block-count-1)

                Where block count = integer [(15+1)/(Block-size +1)]

                1. May have found an 86 answer solution:

                  25 blocks but the center axes are three squares. So 16 2x2s, 8 3x2s and 1 3×3. Total answers = 110 less 24 for interconnects.

                1. I appreciate all the information, but my comment was in reference to back pagers only. In my (almost) six months of Sunday, plus a few weekdays, blogging I have not seen more than 32 and on the low side down to 27 (Virgilius last week).

              2. think I have found a 100 answer grid using staggered 3 letter answers diagonally in the grid like a “Yankee” signal flag – will send to BD for posterity

  14. 3*/5*. Utterly brilliant – again! A short selection from my many ticked clues : 17a, 19a, 2d & 5d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  15. After good day yesterday my brain refused to work today, no reflection on Virgilius and Senf so thanks to them and thanks to supertoy which came to my rescue. Off to GK from yesterday which got abandoned because I found super book on Kindle which I had not read.

  16. Recovering slowly from a rather late night. I had to have several attempts to finish this one, but I enjoyed the challenge. 20d was my favourite. Very clever. Thank you Virgilius, your puzzles never fail to entertain. Thank you too Senf for the review.

  17. I’m with Hoofit on this one. Not particularly taxing, but that could’ve been due to me not having the usual 2 or 3 stubborn clues to solve at the end.

    Excellent as usual, with thanks to senf and Virgilius 1.5*/4.5*

  18. Well it has to be 20d for me. Even after Senf’s kind steer it’s taken me all day to see it.


  19. I so look forward to my Sunday treat and Virgilius never lets us down. I agree, today’s was decidedly trickier.
    I struggled with the SE corner because I had the second word in 26a wrong. I revisited the clue and tumbled to my error and it all sorted.
    I liked it all, but particularly 15a and 17a, however, 20d takes the clever award.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for his hints.

    1. Good evening Merusa! Just wanted to acknowledge your kind comments. Fifi is indeed a lovely little lady, very naughty at times but we love her to bits.

  20. Didn’t enjoy this at all today, definitely very tricky.

    But my brain is only half working as our elderly cat became quite ill yesterday and is in the animal hospital now, and will be there for a couple of days. I think we are nearing that dreaded time in all pet owners lives when you have to decide what is best for them, rather than best for you. Hopefully the intravenous fluids will help, but his list of problems as growing. Oh dear.

    1. Poor you, Lizzie – it’s a rotten place to be in. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision but it sounds as though it could be a tough one.

    2. Oh dear, oh dear from me too. I feel so sorry for you, it is so distressing when a furry friend is ill. Please keep us in the loop as to how he is doing.

  21. Wow, this was indeed a challenging offering! Doable though but certainly tickled my grey cells. My favourite was 19a closely followed by 17ã – so clever! 15a reminded me of our times in the Jewel in the Crown – used to go there once a month – oh dear, naughty corner here I come. 24d was easy for me… Many thanks to Virgilius for a much enjoyable early mental working out and to Senf for the hints. 2.5*/4*

    1. No – a single letter for spades and a word that would indicate that they have been put on the table in a card game.

  22. Completed in 2* time but somehow felt a bit tougher. After a pretty gory day, sailing back from Fowey Regatta in steadily worsening sea and rain, l wasn’t really in the mood to enjoy it. Nevertheless, my thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

    1. my husband was sailing in Fowey regatta Salty Dog. What were you sailing? They left their boat in Fowey to be retrieved next weekend.

  23. Into **** time here, and wasn’t it good! Last in 17ac and 18d – though with the latter, surely not?

  24. Damned fine crossword puzzle – as ever. Gold standard. Where would the Cryptic world be without you.

  25. I must be stupid. Was left with two. Got 16d eventually which became one of my favourites. About to trawl the BRB for 17a. No-one has mentioned it so assume it is easy! If in the meantime anyone can proffer me some assistance in case I cannot find it or give up I shall be grateful…..
    Thanks Virgilius and Senf and to all of you despite not mentioning my blind spot….

    1. I expect to hear the penny hitting the floor here in Winnipeg – look at the initial letters (leaders), those of the first two are a . . .

      1. Well put, Senf – I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t put me back in the naughty corner!

      2. The penny hit the floor very hard indeed! I had been looking for first letters spelling out the answer which clearly did not work. Good to know and now I do I think I have seen a similar one before.

  26. Fabulous puzzle, very difficult but so well clued.
    For me ****/*****
    Nothing else needs saying.
    Thx to all

  27. Busy weekend so only just got around to tackling this and wow was it ever taxing. Once I got off the ground however I hugely enjoyed the struggle and surprised myself by finishing. So maniy excellent clues but my special mention goes to 17a, 26a and 5d. Many, many thanks Virgilius and Senf.

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