ST 2931 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2931 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2931 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning and a Very Happy Christmas to all (fellow bloggers, regular commenters, and lurkers alike) from Winnipeg – where the brass monkeys are having trouble keeping hold of their balls.

Another excellent Virgilius puzzle for his second to last of the year; a little on the tricky side with plenty of ‘seasonal references’ to provoke the grumpies into making comments. A somewhat unusual grid giving only 12 Acrosses but 18 Downs – the usual handful of anagrams (including partials), one lurker (oops, I missed one – I should have said two lurkers – see Comment 3 below), but no homophones.  

My joint favourites – 10a, 11a, 23a, 5d, 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 Concerned about losing after opening exchange in seasonal performance (5-7)
A nice gentle start – a synonym for concerned containing (about) losing with the initial letters swapped (opening exchange).

10a Spoil a maid Beatles serenaded consuming good cocktail (9)
A synonym for spoil, A from the clue, and a maid from a Beatles song containing (consuming) the single letter for good.

12a Thing inserted in hose near location of fire (8,6)
A term for what is found in a type of hose hung near the fire at this time of year.

16a Writer including apter parts rearranged for pantomime (5,3)
A writing instrument containing (including) an anagram (parts rearranged) of APTER.

23a It doesn’t allow overnight delivery by traditional route (7,7)
A house with this source of warmth may not have the feature ‘normally’ used for delivery tonight.

28a Worksite busy at this time that has maximal latitude (5,4)
The reputed location of a certain workshop.

29a Falsely depict as miser that’s recycled gift (12)
An anagram of (that’s recycled) MISER followed by a synonym of gift.


2d Person in isolated state, sadly then another, briefly (7)
A synonym for sadly followed by one of the abbreviations for a(nother) US state – that is in the BRB!

4d Pinched what’s rubbishy in Santa’s transport (8)
An alternate term for Santa’s transport containing (in) a (slang) synonym for rubbishy.

5d Is able to put up with Frenchwoman in part of aircraft (7)
A single word for is able reversed (put up) and the French female pronoun.

7d Chaps wishing you Merry Christmas, finally (4)
The answer is found from the last letters (finally) of four words in the clue. 

13d Deliberately ignore second most important issue (4)
The single letter for second and a single word synonym for most important issue.

17d Small person giving instruction that may be needed in kitchen (8)
The single letter for small and a person who instructs.

19d Someone not working on Christmas feature about one (7)
A two letter alternative to on (as in concerning) and a key feature of Christmas containing (about) a single letter for one.

22d Group of people singing about deity (6)
A single letter for about and an Egyptian deity.

26d White Christmas, say, initially forecast in London, maybe (4)
And, a nice gentle and appropriate finish – the answer is found from the first letters (initially) of four words of the clue.

(Yes, I know the song first ‘appeared’ in a different cinematographic experience in 1942)

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

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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Not too difficult to choose a music video for today, originally from 1973, Slade – 


44 comments on “ST 2931 (Hints)

  1. Another excellent puzzle from Mr V. I enjoy the seasonal references of which there were many, either in the solutions or the clueing. Favourite of the day was 23a 🎄😂
    A very Happy Christmas and many thanks to all involved.

  2. 23a was my favourite once the penny dropped. It had to be what it was, but it took a while before I saw it. Apart from that, this was very straightforward, as enjoyable as ever and lovely and seasonal. 2* /4* from me with thanks to Virgilius for the year of Sunday crosswords and to Senf for his hard work.

    A very Happy Christmas to all who use this great site. 🎄🎄

  3. If you are going to have seasons clues to upset the grumpies, then you can’t do better than this splendid collection from the Sunday Maestro

    Thanks to Senf – there are actually two lurkers (I’ve already drafted the review as the rest of the day is going to be filled with cooking and other preparations. Now off round the sunny marshes to wear off a few calories before our traditional Christmas Eve Seafood Tea – this year with Vegan alternative!)

    Happy Christmas to Virgilius – thank you for all the fun in 2017 – looking forward to 2018

    1. Yes there are two lurkers. In my defence, I wrote in the one I missed (an oldie but goodie) after reading the first word of the clue and then it did not make the cut for a hint today.

  4. Done the crossword, done the walk, now off for a spot of trotting for grayling on the beautiful River Derwent. What a start to Christmas Eve!
    Loved this Sunday offering – a great workout, seasonally stuffed with some chuckle – inspiring clues. **/*****

    Happy Christmas to all from a warm and windy Hope Valley.

  5. Happy Christmas to Big Dave, Senf, Crypticsue, and everyone.
    And thanks to everyone for all the feedback through 2017.

    1. Happy Christmas to you and your family and thanks for all the pleasure that you have brought us over the past year and for many years before that.

    2. Thank you, greatly appreciated, and, a very Happy Christmas to you and all the other setters and your families.

    3. Many thanks, Mr Greer for a seasonal masterpiece. All the very best of wishes to you and yours for Christmas.

    4. Happy Christmas to you and your’s Brian. You have brought me a lot of enjoyment over the years. Like being given a mini Michaelangelo sculpture to unwrap each Sunday.
      Thank you indeed.

  6. I never tire of Christmas-themed puzzles, and this one was superb.

    My favourites were 14a, 4d and 22d. The subtlety in 23a took a while to sink in before the penny finally dropped.

    Many thanks and Season’s Greetings to Virgilius and Senf, and a very Merry Christmas to everyone else.

  7. Lovely crossword. Loads of festive references. Just the ticket. Feeling quite Christmassy now. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf and Happy Christmas to all.

  8. A bubbly festive crossword to warm up with before doing battle with tomorrow’s specials.

    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

    Merry Christmas to all the lovely contributors and lurkers here.

  9. Trust the maestro to come up with a Christmas themed puzzle that I doubt could even offend the ‘bah humbugs’.
    So many gems to choose from but I think 23a takes the holly wreath – oh, how well I remember trying to convince the children that Father Christmas would still find a way to bring their presents despite the absence of an open fireplace in the home we had when they were small.

    Many thanks to Virgilius (especially for the doubtless unintended name check for No 2 daughter in 11a!) and to Senf for the festive blog.

    Very best of wishes to all who contribute to the BD blog in whatever capacity. Here’s to another successful year in 2018. Hope to catch up with many of you at the Birthday bash in January.

  10. A very nice christmas crossword thanks to Virgilius for many a brain stretching every Sunday and thanks to Senf too. I agree that 23a is up there for COTD but 10a and 4d merit a mention too. Not solved 6d yet but as its unhinted it will be easier than my brain works at the moment. Off to prepare some chestnut stuffing for tomorrow and I expect an answer to come while I’m squidging the ingredients.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all here.

  11. Thanks, Virgilius for another splendid puzzle, thanks to Senf for his review, and a very merry Christmas to all!

    1. I’ve been thinking of you in the frosty NE. I hope it hasn’t been too bad, despite the weather reports.

  12. Crumbs, I thought this was going to be a lengthy challenge but suddenly with the aid of various seasonal references hey presto it all fell into place having provided a lot of fun along the way. Mr. Google was needed to confirm 5d and likewise Senf to parse 23a – d’oh! Now to task of peeling 4 dozen quails’ eggs. Thanks for another winner Virgilius and Senf for help in finally getting there. Merry Christmas everyone 🎄🕊🎁 and Cheers 🍾🍷🥃🍺 – take your pick!

  13. 2* / 5*++. What a cracker! Sheer brilliance from start to finish. I had ticks by almost every clue, with double ticks for 10a, 11a, 14a, 4d and 22d.

    Beating all those off for my choice of favourite was the magnificent 23a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf, and Merry Christmas to one and all.

  14. A lovely puzzle with some great clues. Tops to 10and 23a. */****. Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf and a Happy Christmas to all.

  15. Happy Christmas to all.

    This puzzle should go into a Hall of Fame, if one exists.

    Only one question, was Santa’s transport not a sleigh. Bah humbug :)))

  16. Super festive fun crossword. Spot on as usual. Yep, 23a sits atop my Christmas tree.

    I get a lot out of this site which is an oasis of fun, decency, camaraderie in an increasingly bonkers world. Thank you to all who make it what it is. Happy Christmas.

  17. I loved this seasonal offering which for some reason took me slightly longer than the normal Sunday. My last one in was 8d and that’s probably because it’s a word I absolutely despise, can’t say more on a Sunday because I definitely can’t be consigned to the naughty corner today.

    My thanks to Senf for parsing 7d which had to be what it was but I couldn’t see why – how stupid was that as it’s a Virgilius signature.

    Agree with everyone that the magnificent 23a takes the laurels.

    Merry Christmas everyone involved with this site and I hope Father Christmas brings you all everything you wish for

    1. Yes 8d grated a bit with me too. I have opted to go with the Greek initial interpretation rather than the lazy almost textspeak abomination.

  18. Lovely puzzle ..and I only needed one hint! Hurrah!

    Seasons greetings to all and thanks to Virgilus and to Senf.

  19. That one took top prize, it was just superb. The bottom half went in very quickly but the top half took much longer.
    What about that 23a then, isn’t that just brilliant? I also thought 10a was right up there as well.
    Thanks to Virgilius for the fun and to Senf for his hints, especially for explaining 1a, I didn’t think that was easy at all.

    1. P.S. I wished everyone a very Merry Christmas yesterday, but some were missing, so here goes again! All my best wishes to all you lovely people, be merry and bright!

  20. Great fun, as we have come to expect on a Sunday. I liked 23a, but my favourite today was 25d. He may turn out to be an oldie but goodie, but today is the first time I’ve encountered him.

    Thanks to Virgilius for the entertainment, to Senf for the hints, and best wishes for a great holiday season to everyone in the BD community.

  21. Haven’t done any crossword for a while but wanted to wish everyone a Happy Christmas.

    1. Best of wishes to you as well, JL – we know you don’t have much time to spare at this time of year.
      Hope you got my recent email?

  22. Apologies for the recent absence, I cannot post from my Android tablet when BD has the site in lock-down.
    I did not find this as easy as most, but completed in the end, I put it down to a night being entertained by Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Wendy,Tinkerbell et at, in the company of hundreds of screaming kids at Redhill. Dave Myers of Hairy Bikers fame, should stick to cooking as he was the worst Pantomime villain I have ever seen.
    Thanks to all, and a happy Christmas to one and all.

  23. Just stuck on 2 clues (11a and 6d) on which brain is refusing to cooperate. However enjoyed this seasonal offering between baking and cleaning ready for family gathering on Boxing Day. Breaking with tradition and making Jamie Oliver’s Walnut Coffee cake… coffee cake over here is not coffee flavored, just meant to be eaten with a cup of coffee. Hoping the American son in laws will enjoy, as they are not partial to Christmas pud. We love it of course.

    Would not have got 5d without help from my resident plane buff.

    Here’s wishing one and all a Very Happy Christmas. Hoping you all have plenty of good company, food and that Father Christmas is kind to you.

    1. 11ac is something referred to in your neck of the woods that kids are fond of – the extreme letters of Christmasy are used with a conjunction within.

      6d is a container type of clue using a reversal (up) of a quick look inside a synonym of private.

      Hope that’s acceptable and Merry Christmas to all.

  24. Great stuff as ever on a Sunday, finish time */**, though I got a little stuck here and there while solving. The seasonal references perfect for the day. Merry Christmas everybody! :-)

  25. Virgilius excelled himself today. Not just the occasional Christmassy clue to give a nod to the season, but an entire puzzle stuffed as full of joy, humour, and seaonal good cheer as a Christmas day itself. This entire creation deserves some sort of special award but I loved 23 and 12 in particular. Many thanks Virgilius and Senf.

  26. Well – a bit late here, or am I just a bit early? Whatever – I’ll be the first to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas for today.
    Another terrific Sunday crossword.
    Far too late to go on at length so night night all and sleep well – hope that Father Christmas doesn’t wake anyone up.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

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