ST 2939 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2939 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2939 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg – where in the middle of the week it got warm enough for snow, so it did; and where, on St Valentine’s Day (the first day of Lent), you could buy a heart shaped pizza for your beloved.

Same as last week, a benevolent Virgilius has provided another excellent puzzle – the usual number of anagrams, one lurker, one homophone, and some crickety content.  Another one of those Sundays when it was difficult to decide what not to hint on.

Candidates for favourite – all of them!

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 As the PM, I replaced fellow on board (8)
A simple anagram (replaced) to start of AS THE PM I.

9a Everybody used their brains — not reaching conclusions, however (8)
A synonym for everybody and a single word for used brains with their last letters removed (not reaching conclusions).

11a Sportsman’s complaint? Trainer can cover it up (8,4)
The type of trainer shown in the picture can cover up the complaint.

15a Pain streaker runs without (6)
A double definition, the first is a pain occasionally experienced when exercising.

20a Mistakes in text are holding sailor back (6)
ARE from the clue containing (holding) the three letter favourite term for a sailor all reversed (back).

21a People of little importance for school of the future? (5,3)
A double definition (I think), the second relates to a group of tiny swimmers.

23a Sample of people irritated by silly notices (5-7)
A synonym for irritated and an anagram (silly) of NOTICES.

28a Legal document about trial regarded as awful (8)
A type of legal document containing (about) a synonym for trial.


2d Repeatedly pronounced present for statement of agreement (4,4)
The homophone (pronounced) of a synonym for present repeated.

4d Joyce, for example, has car in US and runs over husband (6)
The abbreviated term for a car in the US and the single letter for (crickety) runs containing (over) the single letter for husband.

6d Finishing courses, upset and under pressure (8)
The final courses of meals (which might be the prescription for the answer) reversed (upset).

7d Capital on the Continent used by entrepreneur, often (4)
The lurker (used by) found in the last words of the clue.

14d French writer turned up damaging information, as follows (5)
A three letter synonym for damaging information reversed (turned up) and AS from the clue.

17d Negotiate with a couple of partners in area (8)
A from the clue and two partners from that card game contained by (in) a type of area of land

24d Finishes off solo in total disarray, just and no more (4)
The last letters (finishes off) of four words in the clue.

25d Amusing person, such as joker (4)
A type of joker as found in a deck.

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Number One in January 1964, from the “vanguard of the ‘Tottenham Sound'” (so says Wikipedia) taking on the ‘Mersey Beat’ from Liverpool – has the makings of a Premier League fixture:



56 comments on “ST 2939 (Hints)

  1. Completed at a gallop – by my own slow/low standards – only real delay caused by an incorrect bung-ing on 11a. I have only recently started doing the Sunday cryptic and, as acknowledged by the readership here, it is consistently excellent.

    CoTD 15a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  2. Completed at full inpulse rather than warp speed.
    13a has been bunged in but not fully parsed, mainly because I always doubt my spelling of 3d.
    11a and 23a my faves today.
    Quite misty and a hard frost (for UK if not Canada) first thing but clearing nicely now.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius.

  3. just finished & what a lovely way to start off a Sunday,my CO Day goes to 11A. Many thanks to the setter & Senf for his hints.

  4. 2* / 5*. What is there to say about the Sunday cryptic that hasn’t been said before? Quite simply – superb!

    Favourite: either 15a or 23a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    1. Ditto. Excellent as usual.

      Remind me not to challenge you to a game of chess next January RD. 60 move endgame – I hope you won!

      Thanks Virgilius and Senf for the review.

  5. What a joy! A sunny Sunday and a superb crossword from the master. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf. One question: 26a on the iPad version, presumably a lurker but can’t find it and haven’t bought the paper version.

    1. 26a – not a lurker, no over thinking required, the middle letter of fifteenth and a (sporting) synonym of century.

  6. Delightful – thanks Virgilius. Hoped there might have been a hint of the why or wherefore of the 26a chestnut in this context but I did appreciate your hint Virgilius to parse 6d which I am sure is also a chestnut. My Fav was definitely 15a. TVM both setter and hinter.

    1. D’oh Senf re 26a parse thanks to your hint to Crack On which I have just seen and indeed also now to me above. 😲. Should also have thanked you rather than Virgilius re 6d.

  7. I thought this was going to be a personal record time wise as I fairly sailed through…. that is until I got to my last one at 13a and it took ages for me to see that I had put the wrong answer in for 14d.

    As others have said, the usual superb Sunday fare . If I had to pick a favourite, I’d probably go for 21a.

    Thanks as always to Senf and to our genius Sunday setter

    1. I guess you had put in another French writer much loved by crossword setters for 14d. My shortcut to eliminate would be to look at the tense of the likely answer for 13a which Hey Presto! gives you a good start to 14d. Having said that 13a was my last one in but very good.

  8. 2.5* /5* for this brilliant offering from our resident Sunday supremo. It is so easy to run out of superlatives when trying to comment on Virgilius’ puzzles, but they really are that good. I cannot remember the last time I did not award a 5* for enjoyment to one of his puzzles. His consistency is truly awesome. I went through the whole puzzle again but could not identify one clue that stood out above the rest, so I nominate all of them.

    Many thanks Virgilius, and to Senf.

    1. If you click on REPLY just above, for example, Senf’s reply to you, it keeps the comment thread together

  9. Very gentle, but clever and fun to solve.
    Thanks for puzzle and hints.
    Is there a wordplay in the non cryptic, if there is,its passed me by?

        1. I’m sorry, I did not understand ‘Is there a wordplay in the non-cryptic’ – should there be a clue number in there?

  10. 14d always makes me think of “The Shawshank Redemption”.

    A nice little canter for a Sunday, finished easily in ** time. I don’t know why I shied away from them for so long. I Somehow always had the impression that the Sunday cryptics were impenetrable.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  11. Great puzzle as always on a Sunday.

    Had a little trouble parsing 6d, 21a and 26a , all cleared up by Senf.

    Thanks to Senf and to Virgilus.

  12. 13a & 17d were the last to fall in this Sunday masterpiece.

    So many potential favourites to opt for but the laurels will probably adorn 21a.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the blog – not sorry that I missed out on a heart-shaped Valentine pizza!

    PS I always had a slight suspicion that Dave Clark was an animated cardboard cut-out…….

    1. Fortunately, I was still ‘full’ from the pancakes, sausages, and ice cream from the previous evening!

  13. A great Sunday crossword, as usual, and I agree that it’s very much Virgilius in fluffy mode.
    I spent far too long trying to justify the wrong answer for 17a and was slow to see why my answer to 26a was right.
    The first word of 3d is yet another of those that I know I can’t spell so I alway check it – at least I know that I do need to check.
    True to form I missed the 7d lurker.
    I particularly liked 15 and 23a and 14d. My favourite was 9a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

      1. It wasn’t too bad really. As soon as I yelled to husband he went and switched the water off so minimal damage – nothing that a bit of paint won’t sort out. Then our lovely plumber came and dealt with it – the problems of living in an old house.

  14. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle as usual from Virgilius. Managed it with no problems, until I was left with 17a&d,14d and 13a. These four took longer for me to solve than the rest of the puzzle. Last in was 13a. Favourite was 9a, quite subtle. Was 3*/5* for me.

  15. More than the usual number of anagrams , I thought , which made it easier.
    Thanks to all concerned.

    1. Five anagrams, one of which was a partial, typical for Virgilius; he usually includes four or five.

  16. I wonder how many times the fifteenth century college has appeared in crosswordland? Virgilius’ clue may be the best yet! Simply brilliant!

  17. Another great puzzle, following on from yesterday’s delight. Only held up at 7d when I was mistaking thinking I was looking for a capital city. Bunged in Oslo which of course got inked out when 9a went in. Two favourites today (sorry Kath), 15a and 27a.
    I am so grateful for these crosswords and this site for helping distract me from the events of last week. Thank you to all for kind comments.

    1. I thought 7d particularly good as, although I did not bung it in, I was fixed on the usual Scandinavian capital ending in an O. It was only when thinking that it might be a lurker that the penny dropped.

  18. Since becoming a regular Sunday solver, I can’t recall a more straightforward puzzle from Mr Greer than this one, but that’s not to diminish its quality in any way, there were some cracking clues as always.

    Top of the pile for me were 9a, 11a and 27a, with 21a just behind.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf. The comment about heart-shaped pizzas reminded me that I read last week that this year is the first time since 1945 that St Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday have coincided, but it will happen again in both 2024 and 2029.

  19. A super Sunday puzzle from Virgilius that had everything. Not the most taxing but doesn’t need to be to make it a delight. Seemed to be on the wavelength and had no issues with any of the clues all very fair, and good fun most importantly.

    Clue of the day: Really liked a lot of them but going with 27a.

    Rating: 2.5* / 4.5*

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius.

  20. Over far too soon which doesn’t happen that often on a Sunday! Fun to do with 9a being top clue. 2/4* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  21. Rattled through this in very satisfactory style. So feeling smug. Only real hold out was 13a which was rendered substantially simpler once I had inserted the correct French writer at 14d. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  22. The usual fabulous Sunday entertainment. A very benevolent Virgilius today.
    Senf, I so agree with you – fave? All of them, so many smiles. Though I think that 15a and 21a deserve a mention.
    Pat on the back for me, I spelt 3d correctly without having to look it up. How did that happen?
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf, loved it all.

  23. I absolutely loved this. I don’t know how many stars are allowed for enjoyment but all of them. Laughed out loud at some of them.
    9a 15a 23a and 27a
    Did not understand why 6d was correct even though I had it right.
    Thanks for the explanation.
    Favourite 9a
    Not keen on 18a as the surface read have me something else…
    Admittedly not an animal so soon saw the error of my ways.
    Thanks to both.

  24. Held up in the NE corner for a short while as I had the wrong complaint in 11a. Reading the review, I wasn’t the only one. All sorted once 8d was in place. Felt disappointed when it was over, only because I’d enjoyed it so much I wanted to carry on. Thank you Virgilius for yet another entertaining puzzle. Thank you too Senf for the review. Spring has arrived. Our two ducks George and Mildred have returned today from wherever they spend winter.

  25. I didn’t find this one hitting the heights that are so often reached on a Sunday. 16a isn’t even cryptic and there seemed to be more straightforward clues than usual. On the other hand, their presence did result in a PB solving time, so I’m not complaining. My favourite was the original 21a and I had 9a in the runner-up spot. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  26. An enjoyable gallop through crosswordland, with only a few momentary pauses for breath at 23ac and finally 15ac. Overall * for difficulty, and top marks for entertainment value.

  27. Some superbly worded clues, but very easy to unravel. I particularly enjoyed 6d, 9 & 21a. Many ‘chuckle’ moments throughout the whole puzzle, which was most appreciated after a tiring day. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf. You mentioned Lent in your pre- am Senf – that sees me off the gin el al until Easter – ah well, only 41 more days to go. :-)

  28. I agree with Mr K, this was the easiest V offering I can remember and left me feeling a teeny bit disappointed – only because my expectation of a Sunday Sizzler that dazzles and delights did not quite happen. We all see these things quite differently. Indeed, on another day I wonder if I would too but
    I do hope there is not some dastardly editorial intervention at work here.

  29. Unlike Saturday’s I completed this at a Senf gallop. Much pleasure throughout although over quickly. No bad thing as I am behind with the weekend papers. I have circled 9, 13 and 27 across and 7, 12 and 22d. Thanks Virgilius.

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