ST 2923 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2923 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2923 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg – some wild, even wintry weather this week – as shown by my car on Thursday morning – with more in the forecast.

A typically excellent Virgilius in which he has, once again, been quite tricky with some good misdirection and obfuscation. The usual handful of anagrams, including partials, and only one lurker.

My joint-favourites – 17a, 21a, 3d, and 15d plus a few more I could have added.

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:


8a Simplify calculation by increasing number in assembly (5-2)
The process to simplify the result of a calcuation.

12a Game that’s handled by person in hot seat? (5)
A double definition, the first is a card game.

14a Plant old bishop and priest put in US city (7)
A US city frequently abbreviated to two letters containing (put in) the single letters for old and bishop, and an OT priest.

17a Smooth, cold, and undecided about HM in session with reporters (5,10)
A synonym for smooth (clothing), the single letter for cold, and a two word phrase for undecided containing (about) alternate two letters for HM.

24a King taken in by light-headed religious ascetic (5)
The single letter for king contained (taken in) by a term defining hair colour.

27a Times can be read on this — other paper put back (7)
A tabloid newspaper and a synonym for put reversed (back).

28a Criticise article about expert that deals with all complaints (7)
The increasingly frequent synonym for criticize and the single letter article containing a synonym for expert.


1d Religious leader embracing right, right? Right (6)
A religious leader containing (embracing) the single letter for right, followed by the single letter for right.

3d Counselled about conclusions of the lower court being made known (10)
A synonym for counselled containing (about) the last letters of fifth to seventh words of the clue.

6d Means to raise a large wild animal (6)
A tool used for raising an object, A from the clue, and a single letter for large.

7d Reduction, as incorporated in formal ruling (8)
A formal ruling containing (incorporated in) AS from the clue.

15d Pub repeatedly is disrupted by an uncivilised lot (10)
A synonym for pub repeated, and IS from the clue containing (disrupted by) AN from the clue.

17d Not advocating war, if one’s in treaty (8)
A synonym for treaty containing (in) IF from the clue and the single letter for one and S from the clue.

22d Expert navigator needed in fleet as mandated (6)
The lurker in (needed in) the last three words of the clue.

25d Attack with ultimate in air support (4)
The last (ultimate in) letter of aiR and a synonym for support.

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Number One from October 1972, with one of the oldest ‘pop stars’ ever (this appears to be from the TOTP end of the year ’round-up’):


75 comments on “ST 2923 (Hints)

  1. Can’t believe I’m first here today- where is everyone? I enjoyed this and thanks very much to Senf, Virgilius and BD.

    Can’t entirely parse my answers to 9d and 26a so was hoping they’d get a mention.

    While I’m here I wanted to say thanks to Mr K for the very interesting surveys. I seem to be in the majority groups throughout from memory.

    I solve on my iPad and I’ve seen today, yet again, that I got 0 out of 32 correct answers last Sunday. Quite an achievement isn’t it? So according to them I’ve made up 32 incorrect words which fit together perfectly in the grid!

    1. 9d – includes the poetic form of a synonym for possibly (so says Chambers LRB).

      26a – The reduced (cut) name of the flower is a synonym for happy.

      1. Re: 9d
        No doubt about the answer, due to the noble person. Ok with the first letter. It seems the last three letters come from a contracted 4 letter word (a tenuous synonym for possibly) with the second one replaced with an apostrophe, which is then dropped. Dodgy.

    2. Margaret, if you can consistently get 32 random words to fit a crossword grid perhaps you should consider becoming a setter? :wink:

    3. Thanks both. I thought that was the case with 9d, but it didn’t feel comfortable. However on checking my electronic version of Chambers I see it’s there (only going one way, however).

      26a I felt the final letters of the answer should have been dealt with in the clue, but looking again I see how it works. Thanks for the assistance.

    4. Glad that you like the surveys, Margaret. The results of the second one will be posted on Tuesday morning.

  2. Thanks Senf.
    A great pleasure and the usual great puzzle from Virgilius.
    Last in was 5d, I am still not sure of the relevance of the second half of the dd.
    24a was a new definition for me.
    Fav was 21a when the penny dropped, but I suspect an old chestnut to the more experienced.
    Thanks to Virgilius too.

    1. 5d – not a theatre you pay to sit in.

      21a – definitely an oldie but goodie in this form or similar.

      1. Hi Senf, yes I guessed the theatre but I did not realise that the answer was a precursor to the event in there

      1. BD hasn’t said it so much lately, but he used to regularly point out that if you start your ‘help’ with the word ‘think’ you are straying into alternative clue territory

      2. We two too have been found guilty of using the “think” term – found guilty and banished to the naughty corner. Better to underline but doesn’t seem to work.

        A synonym for fighting plus the abbreviation for power, makes a word for (underlined) corrupt (end underline)

        Go Vettel

  3. 2* / 4.5*. Yet another top quality Sunday puzzle with just a very minor niggle regarding a repetition. Not only was expert used twice for the same synonym, the two occurrences actually intersected! I’m another in the can’t fully parse 9d camp.

    Picking a favourite is as ever on a Sunday the most difficult task as we are always spoilt for choice. My short list is 8a, 21a, 1d & 16d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    1. P.S. I see Senf has replied to comment #1 above about 9d. Thanks Senf, but it’s not in my BRB.

        1. Thanks very much, CS. Yes, it’s in my BRB too in that guise, but being a rabbit of very little brain that’s a step too far for me.

      1. ‘Possibly’ is in the BRB under the the full form of the poetic word. I think it works as in ‘How can I possibly thank you?’.

      2. Same as CS and Gazza, plus my comment at #1 was referring to the Crossword Dictionary (which I refer to as the L(ittle)RB).

  4. I seem to be in good company today … struggled to parse 9d and 26a.

    Isn’t 8a a double definition?

      1. Since it’s hyphenated the answer must be a noun so I can’t see how it can be a double definition.

        1. Gazza, my BRB gives both definitions for the hyphenated answer. As it’s Sunday I can’t quote the entry verbatim as I’m too busy to go to the naughty corner…

            1. I’d be willing to bet at least 50p that you don’t! In fact if I had 50p for every time someone had promised to come back …..I’m not sure what I’d do …. but I’d certainly have quite a bit of change in my purse

              1. I think I’ve only promised once to come back about a prize puzzle and I did. I’ll promise again now and try to keep up my 100% record!

  5. The difficulties surrounding 9d and 26a took the shine of this Virgilius offering a little bit for me. They had to be what they were, so time was not impacted, but parsing them satisfactorily took too long, so 2* /4* for me. 1d my favourite clue.

    Thanks Virgilius and Senf.

    1. I have looked at 26a again and I think I was trying to read too much into it, to make it harder than it actually is, so I withdraw my earlier comment about this clue. For completeness’ sake I will bung on an extra half a star to the enjoyment.

  6. I doubted this was the master. Virtually all Lego words except 8a 11a (anagram) 4d 5d 16d and 22d (lurker). Lack of variety spoiled some of the fun. Nevertheless, the “right right right” and “product of mine” were amusing.
    2½* / 2½*
    Great work, Senf

    1. I agree that this didn’t seem like a Virgilius production. We had a similar clue to 26a in a Saturday prize puzzle a couple of months ago – I wonder whether the same setter is responsible?

  7. As usual I enjoyed this offering from the Sunday setter which I found reasonably straightforward. Unlike yesterday I had no difficulty deciphering the anagrams and this helped me as Senf would say canter to the finish.

  8. I also complete the crossword on my iPad and also seem to have got a whole grid of incorrect answers last week 🙄

  9. I thought this paled in comparison to yesterday’s crossword. Like many above, I found 9d and 26a lacking the crispness of wordplay that we usually see on a Sunday. However, I did like 28a and 22d. Thanks to the setter and to Senf.

  10. I normally enjoy Sunday puzzles but this has me beat. Managed about half with the hints but the rest is a complete mystery.
    Way too tough for me!

  11. I loved it all. I always enjoy the Sunday challenge.
    I’ve been following the discussion re 26a and 9d with interest.
    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf. We’ve been having it cooler down here as well.

  12. Found this quite (**) easy. Bottom half easier than the top. Enjoyable solve. Really liked 3 down, and my last one in.

  13. As with others I am not sure about the answers I have bunged in for 9d and 26a. I’m pretty sure I have the gist just not 100% on homophones and or plural forms. Other than that the rest was not too tricky. 11a my fave today if only because the anagram didn’t leap out of the page. 16d ran it close too.
    Thanks to Senf and the setter whoever that may be.

  14. I thought that unusually today’s crossword lacked a little sparkle and at times while doing it I wondered whether it really was the work of the Sunday maestro. However I duly completed it and allowing for the affects of 28a I’ll nominate that as my favourite.
    2/3.5* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius (hopefully), and to Senf for the hints etc.

  15. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but quite tricky in places. Couldn’t parse 9d&26a, despite reading the comments above. Favourite was 1d. Was 3 ✳ /3 ✳ for me.

  16. Completed at a near R&W pace before dawn today but just getting round to the blog 12 hrs later. What’s the collective noun for experts – a confusion maybe? – anyway there were too many of them in the SE corner. Three I counted.
    It did not occur to me that this was not the work of V, but I did think it was unusually easy. Enjoyable though.

  17. I enjoyed this and it hadn’t occurred to me to doubt that it was set by Virgilius – 1d certainly feels like one of his.
    Being out of routine, i.e. not starting it until quite late having been in the garden all day, always makes a difference to how difficult I find a crossword.
    There weren’t very many anagrams which also adds to the difficulty level for me.
    Like others I had trouble justifying my answers to 9d and 26a and I’ve been trained so well by the blog that I always dither before doing a ‘bung in’.
    9d turns out to be a case of ‘should have looked it up’ and I think I was trying to read more into 26a than there is.
    I messed up 27a which caused serious trouble until I saw what I’d done – don’t ask!
    I particularly liked 17 and 27a and 1 and 6d. My favourite was 15d.
    Thanks to Virgilius (I think) and to Senf.
    Quite cold here tonight so smug as all my tender plants are snuggled up in the greenhouse and we’re just about to light a fire.

  18. Noone has mentioned 10 across which I am still stuck on,no hint for it either.

    1. Virginia, split your (one word) answer into two sections and then look at “theory oddly” for the first section and “people “ for the second section. Hope that has not sent me to the naughty corner – got to prepare for work tomorrow

    2. Virginia, welcome from me too.

      For 10a, take the odd letters of “theory” and follow with a generic word for “people” to give you the answer which is a synonym of “street”.

  19. Yes, 9d and 26ac seemed a little odd, look forward to the full review for those. Overall though about ** for difficulty, and no, it didn’t feel like this was one of Virgilius’. An enjoyable diversion nevertheless.

  20. On the gentle side for this setter, but a pleasant way to spend the time it took me to sip my way to the bottom of a whisky. 1/3.5, and my favourite 27a. Thanks to V and S.

  21. It didn’t feel like a Virgilius to me. Were there any lurkers ?
    I liked 1d.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  22. This took me little while to get off the ground, and then it all fell into place nicely. I’d worked out 22d, but then had to googlething it to check. Silly really, as it was so obvious. Couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Thank you Virgilius and Senf.

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