ST 2930 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2930 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2930 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg – where we will have a White Christmas even if it does not snow on the day, the snow that we do have will not be disappearing any time soon.

Another excellent Virgilius puzzle, probably the trickiest that I have hinted on since I started being the Sunday blogger back in February – the usual handful of anagrams, one (partial) homophone, one lurker, and some double unches.  

My joint favourites – 9a, 11a, and 8d

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 Contacting a head in syndicate (8)
A single word for a head contained by (in) a synonym of syndicate.

9a Begin minimal account of my visit to restaurant? (8)
Written as (2,2,1,3), how one might describe a visit to a restaurant.

11a Spectators may pick it up, but not other players, it seems (5,7)
Something the audience hears but, apparently, others in a play do not.

15a Dog hiding its lead in South Coast resort (6)
A South Coast resort containing (hiding) the first letter (its lead) of Dog – I am not convinced that the ‘resort’ is actually a resort.

17a Be rude, in a way? That’s characteristic (5)
A double definition, the first is one method of being rude.

20a On coast, it grows economy (6)
Another double definition, the first, as a wild flower, is found in coastal locations.

23a Editor initially prevented me changing what’s composed (4-8)
The first letter (initially) of Editor followed by an anagram (changing) of PREVENTED ME.

28a Charming language we speak, shortly before becoming mature (8)
An abbreviated (shortly) form of our language followed by a single word for becoming mature.


2d Drunk reposes after consuming second strong drink (8)
An anagram (drunk) of REPOSES containing (after consuming) the single letter for second.

3d Environmental issue has two characters in conversation switching positions (12)
Two letters in conversation change positions.

6d Outstanding moment, greeting said spy (4,4)
A homophone (said) of an informal greeting and a synonym for spy.

8d Unequalled, like the House of Commons (8)
The House of Commons does not have anyone from ‘that other place’ so it is . . . 

14d It’s defined as ‘official order‘ in one dictionary (5)
The lurker (in) found in the last two words of the clue.

17d Pitiful way quote’s brought up (8)
A type of way followed by a synonym for quote reversed (brought up).

22d Part of fiddle or racket (6)
Something that is common to both items.

25d Long for source of needles (4)
A double definition to finish, the second is a type of tree.

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As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

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At this festive time of the year, all over Canada and the US, there are radio stations that play Christmas ‘hits’ (using the term loosely) from some time in November (it gets earlier each year) to December 25th and this one is heard often; it suggests what those who do not make Santa’s Nice List might find under the tree on Christmas Day:


50 comments on “ST 2930 (Hints)

  1. Greetings to Senf and everyone from Belfast, where I’m visiting family — I lived there between 1954 and 2000. It’s now a thriving city, so different from the time of “the troubles”.

    1. Thank you sir. I had the opportunity to visit Belfast several times during the ‘transition period’ in the late 1990s. Happy memories of The Crown, Morrison’s Spirit Grocery, and a few similar places.

      And, thank you for your excellent Sunday challenges.

    2. Best wishes to you as well, Mr Greer, and very many thanks for all the pleasure you’ve brought to us during 2017.

    3. Mr Greer, it’s always a pleasure when you drop in to our blog. In your guise as Virgilius you manage to make every Sunday special and today is no exception.

      My “Big Dave” rating for today’s puzzle is 3* / 5*. I found it nicely challenging and hugely enjoyable. 16d was my last one in as the answer is a word I once knew and had long forgotten but eventually I pulled it from the depths of my memory.

      Picking a favourite is, as always on a Sunday, the hardest part as most if not all of the clues come into consideration. I’ll just mention 9a for its inventiveness and 7d for its perfect brevity.

      Many thanks both to Virgilius and to Senf.

      P.S. I read in today’s Sunday Telegraph that tomorrow’s back-pager will be Rufus’ last as he is taking his much deserved retirement from his prolific crossword setting career. Whoever steps into the Monday slot has a very hard act to follow.

      1. Thanks for the info, RD. One of our ‘gang’ in particular is going to be extremely disappointed by the news.

    4. Hello Brian. Thanks for the fun and the challenges you have set us through the years. Belfast has a lot to offer. Do try to get to see The Millenium Clock better known as The Alice Clock. Sawyers delicatessen is in the same square and also worth a visit.

    5. Thank you so much for popping in. Your Sunday offerings have given me so much pleasure and I look forward to them.

    6. Hi Brian, How very kind of you. I for one devour and savour your work almost every Sunday in the DT. Thank you very much for challenge and enjoyment each week. Have a great break with your family. Health and happiness in the year to come.

    7. Hello Mr Greer thanks for “popping in”. I always look forward to attempting to solve your puzzles on a Sunday. They are always a delight. Merry Xmas and a happy New Year.

  2. Seasons’ Greetings to you too Brian. We visit Belfast quite a lot as our No1 son and his family live just outside Enniskillen

    I have to disagree with our blogger as I thought this was the most ‘straightforward’ Sunday puzzle ever I have different favourites to him too.

    Just had a lovely sunny walk round the marshes – so frosty here that driving further afield for our walk was definitely not recommended. Now back to wrapping presents etc

    1. Based on my measurement scale, when solving has to be put ‘on hold’ because supper time has arrived, as happened with this one, it has become a tricky puzzle.

  3. I agree with Senf about this being at the tricky end of Virglius’ setting spectrum, but as always, the quality of the clues and the fun of unravelling them increased the enjoyment, so 4* /5* overall. So many sparkling clues it is as tough as ever to pick out a winner, but 9a stands out for me.

    Many thanks to BG for a wonderful year of Sunday crosswords, and to Senf.

  4. I did not find it very tricky, nor did I find it entirely straightforward. It was, however, as entertaining as ever on a Sunday. Thank you Virgilius and the galloping Senf.

  5. I’m with CS on this one – must have been on wavelength today. Only slight hold up was with 19d where I’d convinced myself from the checkers in place that ‘saliva’ was going to play a part in the answer!
    Not very keen on 21a but that was the only slight niggle.

    Tops for me were 9a, although it’s probably a chestnut (very seasonal!) and 27a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for another great blog – No.1 daughter and her partner get involved every year in a Christmas ‘do’ at the local pub where the theme is Christmas sweaters. I suppose it’s somewhat easier than fancy dress!

  6. I too found today’s offering quite straightforward and completed in ** time, but for some reason that I really can’t fathom, I would give it ***** on the enjoyment scale.

    As others have already mentioned, 9a is brilliant and should become an Oldie but Goodie.

    Many thanks to the compiler and Senf.

  7. As always on a Sunday this was a treat from beginning to end. In agreement with, it seems, everyone else I thought 9a was an absolute corker. I also enjoyed 11a which made me smile, but actual there were none I didn’t like. How lovely of our wonderful Sunday setter to be the first to pop in. Many thanks to him, not just for today but for every Sunday and many thanks to Senf for his early Sunday blogs.

  8. Possibly the most enjoyable Virgilius puzzle of all time. Sheer genius.

    I agree that 9a was a masterstroke.

    Thanks to all for brightening up a dismal Somerset day.

  9. Could a kind person with the dead tree version of this crossword confirm that the closing date for entries is, as it would normally be if it wasn’t Christmas, in eleven days time on the 28th December?

    thank you

  10. I didn’t find this puzzle particularly tricky but I thought it great fun to solve with plenty of excellent clueing throughout.

    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf 1.5*/4.5*

  11. I’m in the tricky camp but hugely enjoyable, which it always is on Sundays.
    I’m with Jane on 21a, there is such a word but it sounds clumsy.
    My fave was 11a, but I have to agree that 9a is brilliant.
    Thanks to Virgilius for the fun and Senf for the hints.

  12. The first crossword I’ve done since last Sunday’s – to say that it’s been quite a week probably covers it.
    I’m slightly inclined to say this was a bit trickier than usual – either that or I’ve got out of practice terribly quickly.
    1 and 9a caused trouble, I was slow with 15a – couldn’t ‘see’ the resort – and I missed a couple of anagram indicators.
    I think my favourite was either 6 or 7d but with so many good clues it’s difficult to pick out any particular ones.
    With thanks to Virgilius for another wonderful crossword and for calling in and to Senf for the hints.

      1. Hi,
        10a is a double def.
        A four letter word for a turn or the kind of doctor such as Mr Campbell was to Tony Blair.

  13. Some exceptionally clever wordplay in a extremely enjoyable puzzle. My favourite clues were 9a, 15a and 22d, but several others ran them close.

    Many thanks to Mr Greer both for the puzzle and for dropping by, and to Senf (I think the resort does qualify as a resort actually!).

    My joy at finishing the puzzle was tempered considerably by reading the article by Andrew Baker (son of former BBC newsreader Richard, incidentally) concerning Roger Squires’ impending retirement from the Telegraph after 31 years. Thanks to RD for signposting it. I’m sure that there will be many tributes paid on the Blog tomorrow.

  14. I find myself out of line with the majority as I thought this distinctly tricky and felt some of the clues were a bit amateurish and clunky. I was in fact surprised to discover it was a Virgilius. I do however have to admit that on rereading with the benefit of my solutions it did have a better feel to it.. Thank you Virgilius for the puzzle and Senf for the hints.

  15. Agree with Senf, much the hardest Sunday puzzle since I started doing this, it did not strike me as a Virgilius puzzle as I normally get so much Sunday enjoyment.
    Thanks all, hopefully back to normal next week.

  16. Took me a while to get going with this offering but I got a foothold in the South Downs and found my stride. I did have to tell myself to “fear not, this is Virgilius and the puzzle will reward patience and method” indeed it did with the last in being 17a and the clue earning no less than three ticks being 1a. Another gold standard cryptic. ***/*****
    Thank you V and Senf for the blog.

  17. Managed to solve this crossword, have breakfast with No1 only daughter, work from 9.30am to 4pm, find all the Xmas presents I had to buy and now ready to go out for dinner with friends.
    Fond memories of Belfast too as my sister spent a year studying there.
    15a made me think of Framboise whom I managed to see on Saturday before her, Mr Framboise and Fifi return to England for the festive season. Fifi the dog is a cross cocker/15a. So big now. And what a beautiful coat.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  18. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A lovely puzzle as usual from Virgilius. I found a few clues very tricky, but got there in the end. Last in was 19d. I liked 15a, but my favourite was 9a. Was 3*/5* for me.

  19. Quite a tussle today. I think I have the answer to 16d but I can’t see how it fits with the first part of the clue.

    I’d be grateful if someone could explain it to me. Thanks.

    1. Dulce Et Decorum
      Wilfred Owen

      Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
      Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
      Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
      And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
      Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
      But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
      Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
      Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

      Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
      Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
      But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
      And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
      Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
      As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

      In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
      He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

      If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
      Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
      And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
      His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
      If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
      Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
      Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
      Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
      My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
      To children ardent for some desperate glory,
      The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
      Pro patria mori.

      1. Wilfred Owen, brilliant poet but so dark. I love that poem but feel so sad after reading it, it was a sad time.

  20. Having got off to a very slow start, I was relieved when everything started to fall in place. I was surprised to find I had managed to finish, so quite high on the smugness level, don’t often manage that on a Sunday. Lots of tricky clues but nothing weird or sporty. Very enjoyable from Virgilius and thanks to Senf for the hints as usual.

  21. Very slow to start, but once I had a few in to the south of the grid progress was fair to middling. :-) As enjoyable as ever from Virgilius.

  22. A splendid Sunday puzzle, not difficult but a pleasure from start to finish. 1*/4.5*, and 9a – which made me smile – was my favourite. Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  23. A slow start but we worked clockwise and got motoring around the bottom of the grid. The result was 2* / 4*.

    Lots of favourites, all mentioned in various posts above. Overall, a treasure.

    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  24. Smashing! Great variety of clues as usual including the odd ‘gimme’ or two as well as a few brain workers. 8d was my top clue and overall 2.5/4.5*
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints.

    1. It sure is, but as this is a Prize Crossword, you can’t say so “out loud” until after the closing date

    1. You gave five letters of the answer. The instructions in red do say ‘do not give any answer, whether whole, partial or ….

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