ST 2939 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2939

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2939

A full review by crypticsue

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This puzzle was published on 18th February 2018

BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Rabbit Dave asked what there is to say about a Sunday puzzle that hasn’t already been said. Goodness only knows – Gnomey and I certainly struggle most weeks to think of something new and original to say. I will say that, of all the clues we bloggers have to explain, however sneakily wonderful Virgilius makes them, his clues are certainly some of the more straightforward to explain, unlike some setters where you need a bit of a lie down between explanations!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    As the PM, I replaced fellow on board (8)
SHIPMATE – An anagram (replaced) of AS THE PM I

9a    Everybody used their brains — not reaching conclusions, however (8)
ALTHOUGH – The words ALL (everybody) THOUGHT (used their brains) not reaching their conclusions or stopping before their last letters

10a    Accompanied by piano, song for man and wife, for instance (4)
PAIR – AIR (song) accompanied by P (piano)

11a    Sportsman’s complaint? Trainer can cover it up (8,4)
ATHLETES FOOT – A shoe could cover it too!

13a    Announced poor marks, then was concerned about learner (8)
DECLARED – D E (poor marks, as opposed to A, B or C) CARED (was concerned) ‘about’ L (learner)

15a    Pain streaker runs without (6)
STITCH – A streaker would run without a stitch of clothing and may when doing so get an exercised-induced pain

16a    Kind of examination, of the type that dentist does (4)
ORAL – Not a written examination, whether academic or dental

17a    In short spell, I had easily dominated (5)
TIMID – Another chop a letter of clue – TIMe (‘short’ spell) followed by ID (I had)

18a    Cold-blooded animal‘s current temperature (4)
NEWT – NEW (current) T (temperature)

20a    Mistakes in text are holding sailor back (6)
ERRATA – A reversal (back) of ARE (from the clue) ‘holding’ TAR (sailor)

21a    People of little importance for school of the future? (5,3)
SMALL FRY – The first definition comes straight from the BRB; the second relates to a swarm of young, who could be fish who’d be members of a future ‘school’

23a    Sample of people irritated by silly notices (5-7)
CROSS-SECTION – CROSS (irritated by) and an anagram (silly) of NOTICES

26a    College, from middle of fifteenth century (4)
ETON – E (the middle letter of fiftEenth and TON (century). How nice to have some original wordplay for this old friend of the crossword setter/solver

27a    Sincere changes, inserting line that moderates report (8)
SILENCER – An anagram (changes) of SINCERE into which is inserted L (line)

28a    Legal document about trial regarded as awful (8)
DETESTED – DEED (legal document) ‘goes about’ TEST (trial)


2d    Repeatedly pronounced present for statement of agreement (4,4)
HEAR HEAR – A homophone of HERE repeatedly

3d    Similar pieces of music for gymnastic event (8,4)
PARALLEL BARS – PARALLEL (similar) BARS (pieces of music)

4d    Joyce, for example, has car in US and runs over husband (6)
AUTHOR – AUTO (car in US) and R (runs) go over H (husband)

5d    Moderate support for work of artist finally reduced by pound (4)
EASE – Reduce an EASEL (support for work of artist) by removing the final letter, an abbreviation for Pound Sterling

6d    Finishing courses, upset and under pressure (8)
STRESSED – because as everyone knows DESSERTS is STRESSED backwards (upset in a Down clue)

7d    Capital on the Continent used by entrepreneur, often (4)
EURO – Used by entreprenEUR Often

8d    Chic, getting tangled up with that small talk (8)
CHITCHAT – An anagram (getting tangled up) of CHIC with THAT

12d    Amiability as short day closes without punishment for pupil (12)
FRIENDLINESS – FRI (short Friday) ENDS (closes) ‘without’ LINES (punishment for pupil)

14d    French writer turned up damaging information, as follows (5)
DUMAS – A reversal (turned up in a Down clue) of MUD (damaging information) followed by AS (from the clue)

16d    Players together after part of cricket match? It’s not clear (8)
OVERCAST – CAST (players together) go after OVER (part of cricket match)

17d    Negotiate with a couple of partners in area (8)
TRANSACT – A (from the clue) and NS (a couple of bridge playing partners) go in TRACT (area)

19d    Haphazardly wore drab set of clothes (8)
WARDROBE – An anagram (haphazardly) of WORE DRAB

22d    Get out of carriage, say, that’s on fire (6)
ALIGHT – A verb or an adjective, depends which definition you go for

24d    Finishes off solo in total disarray, just and no more (4)
ONLY – The finishes of solO iN totaL disarraY

25d    Amusing person, such as joker (4)
CARD – A joker whether a person or a playing card

Although I have collaborated with Fred twelve times and Antony five times, this particular review marks my 700th solo crossword review. The vast majority have been reviews of weekend prize puzzles, which very rarely attract any comments, although looking at the post viewing figures, literally hundreds of people look at them every week. However, the only comments we get are when my friend is ‘late on parade’, we make a mistake, someone has an issue with a particular clue which they couldn’t raise until after the closing date for submissions, but more often than not, someone telling us off for not hiding the solutions!

When I reach one of these blogging milestones, I always smile because, back in 2010, when I was first approached by BD about being a blogger, we agreed that I was probably too busy to take on the role. As I always say to him, I wonder how many blogs I’d have done if I had had time?!



7 comments on “ST 2939

  1. 700 solo reviews – blimey – that’s a lot! Congratulations to you, CS, and thanks for this one too.
    As you so rightly say in your introduction it is always difficult to find something new to say about Sunday crosswords – maybe I won’t try.
    Having found the paper with this crossword in it I have so many clues with little red blobs beside them that there are just too many to mention.
    I think my favourite was probably 15a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to CS and well done again on the astonishing milestone.

  2. Well done Sue!
    Virgilius is one of my top three setters; one can’t help but admire his skillful wordplay and wonderful surfaces.
    A star cruciverbalist blogging a star setter – sublime.
    Many, many thanks.

  3. Congratulations on the milestone, Sue. I’m impressed: 700 is quite a total. I’d have to go some to catch you up (which actually will never happen while I’m appearing once a week to your twice or thrice) .

    Thanks for this and the other reviews.

    (As for only commenting when you’ve made a mistake, well, I’m not even going to look!)

  4. Well done on the first 700 Sue.

    I agree with you that Virgilius’ clues are reasonably straightforward to explain, although he does occasionally bowl a googly, but, recently, there was a comment on a Sunday that my hints were ‘more cryptic than the clues.’ Oh well, it’s a cryptic prize puzzle so why shouldn’t the hints be cryptic (not that I think they are).

  5. Congrats on the milestone, Sue.

    The last bit of your penultimate paragraph reminded me that we got this comment in an answer to Q12 on the recent survey:

    One thing annoys me with the blog. Why, for prize puzzles after the week is done, are the solutions not posted in the same way as the daily crosswords with the answers obscured? This is really annoying when one is stuck on a clue with no help on the day and the only option is consequently to just be given the answer.

  6. I managed to engineer a brief respite at work to read the hints properly and to recall this fine puzzle. Like CS, I thought that 26a was brilliant. I’m wondering if the entire clue could be underlined? Since Eton was founded in 1440 I concluded that the clue was intended by Virgilius to be a semi-&lit.

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