ST 2956 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2956 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2956 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg –  where we had a pretty decent storm on Thursday evening/night with 40mm of rain in some parts of the city and very large hail with lots of damage in surrounding areas.

If you are in need of a thorough cranial workout, here it is – almost certainly the toughest Virgilius while I have been in the ‘Sunday seat.’  Some absolute gems (not all hinted) – less than the usual number of anagrams, two lurkers, and one homophone.

Standout joint favourites – 8a and 17a.

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 Stoat beheaded and trisected? (7)
Absolute gem number one – remove the S from STOAT (beheaded), divide what remains (trisected) into three parts (2,1,1) for which there is a single word synonym.

11a Conflict leading to the fall of Paris (6,3)
Not the city, but the guy who fell in love with a Greek Queen causing a conflict.

12a Lasting result of cutting fine garment (5)
The mark on the skin after a bad cut and the single letter for fine – I am not totally convinced that the answer is a garment.

17a Work to improve appearances in theatre (8,7)
Another absolute gem – an, often elective, type of work carried out in the ‘other’ type of theatre.

19a After start of picture, I, for example, limited range of colours (7)
The first letter (start) of Picture followed by (after) what I is an example of written as (1,6) with the last consonant removed (limited).

24a Chapter finished that’s supposedly not representative of book (5)
The single letter for chapter and a synonym for finished.

28a Performance of the day in team excited by drug (7)
An anagram (excited) of IN TEAM and the favourite single letter drug.


1d Without European vote, don’t change that group of players (6)
An ‘editorial’ word that indicates restoring text marked for deletion (don’t change) containing (without) the single letter for European and the letter used when marking a ballot.

2d For this entitled female, what symbolises dollar? (8)
Another absolute gem – a description of the dollar sign (3,2,3) rewritten as a single word.

5d Lines flower-girl enunciated (4)
The homophone (enunciated) of a flower that is also a girl’s name.

6d Extract from pagoda kimono taken back for Japanese VIP (6)
One of the lurkers (the other is 27a) which is also reversed (extract from . . . taken back) found in the rest of the clue.

15d Value of a piece of text for poet (10)
A synonym for a piece of text followed by a synonym for value.

17d Size limit put on one place where many live (8)
A synonym for limit, followed by (put on) a single letter for one and a generic place where many live.

22d Artist who reveals another aspect of something? (6)
A person who might handle an object to show another aspect of it.

25d E.g. major row, making a stink (4)
A double triple definition – the second third is a synonym for stink – thanks to Gazza and CS.

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.

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

Don Mclean started two weeks at Number One 46 years ago today, on June 17, 1972:



61 comments on “ST 2956 (Hints)

  1. Definitely found this the trickiest Virgilius for some time. It certainly was up to his usual high standard and was an enjoyable solve for me after I got going with it.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius 3.5*/4.5*

  2. Wow, that was tough going. Needed the hints for 1d, 2d and 8a. Beautiful clues once I’d twigged to them. This must be one of the hardest I’ve seen since I started doing these three years ago.

  3. Just when you think Virgilius can’t possibly get any better he comes up with this one – absolutely superb. Thanks to him and to Senf.

    I took 25d to be a triple definition.

    1. I agree with you – not only about the whole crossword but also about the triple definition

      Lucky Gnomethang – getting to enjoy this one twice.

    2. Thanks Gazza and CS, hint updated – by the time I reached 25d my brain was extremely fatigued (although consumption of a favourite cocktail (based on mother’s ruin) may have contributed to the situation).

  4. WOW . What a great crossword . Started off with the wonderful 1A and just kept on going .
    Confess that the hints were needed to be explain some clues .
    Top marks from me for originality and inventiveness .
    Surely , 2D is a classic and gets my vote as COTD.
    Thanks and appreciation to V & S .

  5. Needed the hint for 2d (brilliant though), and cannot fully explain 18d, so beaten by this one. Despite that I thought it was outstanding. Thanks to all.

    1. Same detail 18d causing me grief.
      Sorted the rest out with help from hints.
      Thanks Senf and Virgilius.

    2. Another absolute gem. An abbreviation for (genealogical?) succeeded contained by (in) a synonym of splitting (as in departing).

        1. Can see the splitting bit but cannot see the genealogical abbreviation. Is it a single letter I wonder?

            1. Got this with Senf’s hint and the other comments. It was my first choice answer but there are other synonyms for current and I just could not parse. Shall plod on. Not yet had recourse to other hints but it is a distinct possibility.

      1. Thanks for that explanation. Despite having the right answer last night I just couldn’t see it; like you on 25d, maybe my accompanying snifter (the one made from Caribbean sugar) didn’t help.

        Tough in places but overall brilliant. So much to smile about including a few old chestnuts (like 7d and 17a) but 19a just about got pole position for me.

        Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

      2. Now that the penny has dropped I realise that genealogically speaking there are numerous words which can be abbreviated in the same way.

  6. If Virgilius was any sharper he would cut himself. Thx for the hints for 8a and 2d, I had the right answers but had no idea why!
    Still don’t understand 16d but I do have an answer.
    Very tough but really clever and very enjoyable on the whole.

    1. First two letters are an abbreviation of first three words. Reverse them and I assume you can parse the rest.

  7. Jeepers, that was a rude awakening for the old grey matter on a Sunday morning!
    Made things even more difficult for myself by plonking the answer for 5d into the slot for 9d – the NE corner became quite a problem as a result. Silly, silly girl.

    Got there eventually and will award joint honours to 8a & 2d.

    Many thanks to the genius that is Virgilius and to Senf for what must have been quite a task! Enjoyed listening to Don Mclean again.

  8. 4* / 5*. I’ve run out of superlatives for Sundays.

    My page was littered with ticks with my choice for favourite being a tricky decision to try to select one from 2d, 3d, 7d & 25d, but they all got trumped by 8a, my last one in.

    Many thanks to the genius that is Virgilius and to Senf for what must have been quite a task! Enjoyed listening to Don Mclean again. [Ack. Jane]

  9. Re 12d and its status as a garment – I wore a pretty lilac one yesterday as part of my outfit for a Thanksgiving Service for a friend’s husband following instructions that we were to wear ‘jolly’ clothes so I’d definitely call it a garment

    1. Thanks CS. To me, with my dismal fashion IQ, 12a is an accessory. However, after a reasonable night’s sleep, I do remember that there are variations, almost always worn by ladies, that are at the garment end of the fashion spectrum.

  10. Wow that was a real effort but I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and surprised myself by finally getting there. I do have to admit however that I needed help with some explanations and even now I still can’t parse 18d, nonsensical talk in 10a or fabulous in 26a. Can’t pick a Fav winner from 19a, 21a, 2d, and 25d. Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  11. Wow, that was tough. The fact that I finished all but 5 of the clues still leaves me with enormous satisfaction, especially after reading the comments above.

    Much kudos to whoever finished this one without help.

    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  12. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very nice puzzle, that I found really difficult. Needed the hints and lots of electronic help to finish. Was 4*/3* for me.

  13. :phew: very difficult and :smile: another absolutely brilliant crossword.
    This one has taken me ages.
    8a couldn’t have been anything else but I needed the hint to explain it and likewise with 18d – splitting, oh, of course.
    The small number of anagrams probably contributed to the difficulty level, for me anyway.
    Now that I understand it 8a has to be in my list of outstanding clues and I’ll add 7d. My favourite was 2d.
    With thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  14. Was left with five remaining in NW. had an answer for 2d but could not parse. I checked the hint and found I was right. Then needed the hint for 8a which I solved. This gave me 3d which I should have got with the other checkers. That made 13a easy followed rapidly by 1d. My satisfaction was only diminished by not solving unaided but not too disheartened in light of the other comments.

  15. Brilliant crossie but spoiled a bit by 19a. Since when was I used to clue “x xxxxxx” and not just “xxxxxx”?
    So, in future, we will have to remember that whenever a noun is clued there may be an A, or even a THE or AN in front of it? Thin end of a wedge methinks.

    Otherwise one of Mr Greer’s best so many thanks to him and also to Senf. Sorry about the weather in Winnipeg but we had similar a couple of weeks ago.

      1. I did think that I had put too much into the hint but as I had included the very obvious picture hint I decided to leave it as is.

      2. I’ve had this conversation with BD many years ago but personally I don’t think we should be giving hints for prize puzzles at all. On a Sat or Sun the blog should just have the explanations of the previous week’s puzzle.

        225 don’t hint the FT and Grauniad prizers.

        Just me I suppose.

        1. Well, as it obviously knows what we are doing, it would appear that the Telegraph puzzle organization is ‘comfortable’ with what we do.

          One concern I do have for the prize blogs (and being ‘aired’ for the first time) is the way the number of hints ‘creeps up’ from the nominal 50% once the blog is published and comments like ‘Any chance of a hint for 9a?’ are posted. Invariably, someone will respond. Perhaps, this should be discouraged/prohibited with redaction of the responses if they do appear.

          1. The DT just want a load of entries so they get the email addresses for marketing purposes. If our hints increase the number of correct solves that’s OK by them.
            Anyway, giving the hints must increase the submissions so why don’t we just give the answers as we do with the mid-week puzzles?

            1. Please don’t stop the hints for the prize puzzles. The prize is a pen (well the Saturday one is at any rate – no idea what Sunday’s is as I don’t buy the paper)! It’s not like anyone’s going to able to retire on the proceeds….

  16. Thanks to everyone for the good wishes for the wedding. Everything went brilliantly. I am now sitting on our balcony in Crete.
    As far as the crossword goes, miles over my head.
    Thanks all

    1. Delighted to hear that all went well, Hoofit. Many congratulations to both of you and hope you have an equally enjoyable honeymoon.

  17. ***/*****. Initially I despaired having read through all the clues but slowly it fell into place. My favourites were 8a, 2&7d. Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf. It’s going to be scorcher today and I suspect for much of the week.

  18. What a wonderful crossword! It took me a good while to get a grip and I needed Senf’s hint to help understand the second part of solving 8a. 2d would have been top clue but 8a topped it.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  19. Another brilliant Sunday puzzle with some stunningly brilliant clues.

    My double ticks went to 13a, 21a and 2d, with 8a (of course) earning a triple.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  20. 7d was the last to parse as the answer was quite obvious from the checkers. A big clang that made it my favourite.
    Loved the double wordplay in 26a.
    So Virgilius.
    Thanks for a great Sunday solve.
    It’s father’s day here and no1 only daughter came back to live at home for the summer.
    I’m blessed.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to senf.

  21. Late start after a trip to lavender farm to top up herb garden. Def V tough today. I have 7 unhinted clues left so I think it will take a bit more cogitation to get there but I enjoyed what I have done so far. Sometimes I need to accept that a prize puzzle won’t fall over too easily.
    Thanks Senf and Virgilius.

  22. Did not think I was going to make it – and would not were it not for the hint for 8a. A beautiful clue but as things stands beyond me!

  23. Thank you Senf and setter.

    Our tiny brains this morning put the wrong homophone in 5d. Which rather made the intersecting garment a bit tricky to solve.

  24. Way above my pay grade.

    Any chance of a hint for 9d?
    I have a answer, but cannot for the life of me parse it.

    Thanks to Senf and the marvellous Virgilus.

    1. Hi Ora,
      9d is a reversal of the letter usually associated with new and a three letter word meaning fashion.

  25. Blimey, that was unexpectedly difficult for a Sunday Telegraph puzzle. I got there in the end, but in about three times the expected duration. Good throughout, mind. 2d raised a smile.

  26. Is 8a legal? The entire clue is (clever) wordplay, but I’m not seeing a definition?

    Found this a challenging and enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. I think I agree with you but we should probably keep the discussion until the full review comes out.

    2. Probably not Ximenean but it’s my favourite clue for a long time. Perhaps I’ve been doing too many Grauniad crossies.

    3. An outstanding puzzle – so, so clever. Did complete it eventually but absolutely failed to parse 8a, 2d and 18d and very grateful therefore for Senf’s hints.
      I do agree with Mr K’s query regarding the lack of a definition for 8a. Perhaps the word ‘Quite!’ At the end of the clue would have prevented some furious head scratching . . . (But it is still a damnably clever clue.)
      Many thanks to the awesome setter and to the awesome solver/hinter Senf.

  27. Brilliant puzzle !
    Submitted OK but left with three to explain why-shall wait for the full blog Thursday week.

  28. That was tough. I almost gave up, but glad I didn’t. Got there in the end with a bit of help. Many thanks Virgilius and Senf. Big ticks to 2d and 5d. If I’ve got the answer right, 5d reminded me of school dinners. The fritter sort.

  29. I just love this setter. I needed a lot of electronic help plus the hints to finish but the clues are pretty much all genius level in terms of creativity.

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