ST 2959 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2959 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2959 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where yesterday I went to an Air Show approximately 90 km west of Winnipeg which was most enjoyable except for the temperature of  33 degrees, felt like 44 degrees with humidity index.

Some more trickiness, hinting as well as solving, from Virgilius, it must be time for some benevolence.  Less than the usual number of anagrams, one lurker, and no homophones.

Candidates for favourite – 23a, 5d, and 17d.

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 What’s good in dish topped with pastry covering? (6)
The single letter for good contained by (in) a dish that is topped with pastry with a synonym of covering to finish.

10a Short suit or vest being worn (97)
A synonym for vest and a single word for being worn.

13a Insert minute sketch in it (7)
The single letter for minute and a type of sketch contained (in) by IT from the clue.

18a Reverse as taken to heart by less polished campaigner (8)
AS from the clue reversed (reverse) and inserted into (taken to heart by) a single word for less polished.

23a Significant reason for not eating in restaurant (7))
Written as (2,5) a reason that one is unable to eat in a restaurant.

25a Male with an indication of scholarly achievement, not youth (7)
A synonym for male and an item of academic regalia.

28a Tired holding power supported by arms (8)
A synonym for tired containing (holding) the single letter for power and a single word for supported by.

29a Reached finish with no difficulty, breaking record (6)
A single word for no difficulty contained by (breaking) a type of (non-vinyl) record.


1d It’s addressed by message — other side often has a view (8)
An item sent in the mail that has the message and address side by side.

2d Non-specific info on Central American? (7)
A synonym for info and the central letters of American.

5d Endlessly wine and dine people in bar? Blow that! (4,10)
Wine and dine with their last letters removed (endlessly) and a synonym for people contained by (in) a type of bar.

6d Barely finished performance in sporting outfit (5)
A double definition, the second is a term for clothing worn by a sports team.

8d Present put on a tree, oddly (6)
A single word for put on, A from the clue, and the odd letters of tree.

17d Went hunting, as happened before (8)
Another double definition – the second might refer to an earlier event and the first is in the BRB.

19d Drink everything contained by overturned canisters (7)
The lurker (everything contained by) and then it’s reversed (overturned) found in the last word of the clue.

24d Triumphant cry from British dominating home game (5)
The single letter for British, the favourite two letter word for home, and a Chinese game – I am not quite sure why dominating is in the clue.

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The Equals, something of a one hit wonder – the song that includes the exhortation to ‘cook with gas’ (around 1′ 55″), at the end of the first week of a three week run at number one on this day in 1968:



50 comments on “ST 2959 (Hints)

  1. I parsed the first part of 25a as M(ale) with AN from the clue – I think both work.

    I also took dominating in 24d as over.

    An enjoyable puzzle, but not one of my favourites from Virgilius.

    1. There seemed to be a lack of the usual Virgilius sparkle today.

      I was mulling over both options for 25a, so I ‘tossed a coin’ and it gave me what I used in the hint.

      If nothing else, I thought that dominating was a slightly odd word to be used in a relatively simple three part charade in 24d.

  2. Phew! I agree Senf, it is time for some benevolence.

    I have to admit to finding this puzzle a bit of a slog in places but it was a finely crafted piece of work nonetheless.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius 3.5*/4*

  3. Today , hot in more ways than one today and flushed with success at finishing .
    I was not helped by putting the wrong tense for 4a and misspelling 16d .
    SW corner last to finish . Favourites 5d and 19d for different reasons .
    Score ****/**** .Still cannot parse all of 15a
    Thanks to everyone

    1. 15a Took in gold found in berth? (8)
      Insert our usual heraldic gold into what could be a berth (2’1,3).

      1. Thanks . The first 3 letters combined with the last 3 were unknown to me but appear when googled . The answer was obvious but not the why

  4. Perhaps not my favourite Virgilius puzzle – some of the clueing didn’t seem quite as tight as we’ve come to expect from the maestro. Still, he does set the bar very high for himself and it was nevertheless a very competent offering.

    I’m in total agreement with Senf over the top three – 23a plus 5&17d got ticks from me. 14a was my LOI – silly girl!

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. Also thanks for my favourite Acker Bilk tune and the reminder of my disco days courtesy of The Equals.

  5. 3* / 4.5*. Nice to be able to sit outside and solve this very enjoyable puzzle which had a few tough bits to wrestle with. 23a earned a big grin and 5d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf, also to Gazza for explaining how the first three letters in 15a are derived.

  6. Tough going again today. I’m still not sure that I’ve got 15a right so will have to wait for the answer next week, 23a just edging ahead in the favourite stakes.
    I think I need a lie down now.
    Thanks for the invaluable blog.

      1. Clipped is the instruction to tell you to remove the last letter from a particular member of the clergy, leaving you with a printing term for the right hand page (eg page three) in a book

        1. Thank you, I was convinced my answer xxxxxxxxxx for 2 down was correct! IDIOT!

  7. I got 4 answers, similar to yesterday.
    Time to find an alternative weekend paper suitable to my level, I think.
    Thanks all.

      1. Blame my brain more like.
        I have no problem with it, it’s good that the experts get a chance to stretch their grey cells.
        No good for the likes of me, though, I need to find an alternative.

        1. I wouldn’t be too concerned hoofit. That puzzle yesterday took me longer than Beam + Sparks combined and I’m sure that the hot weather doesn’t aid the solving process. Today’s was tricky but I’m sure you and others (me included) will have faith restored in our solving abilities in the next few days. Have a try at the Everyman if you feel like it.

  8. I managed just three answers on my first pass through. After much pen-sucking and head banging I got there, without the use of electrons. However, after finishing, I did have to spend a quiet moment of reflection, for the many millions of neurones who died in today’s battle.

    I would like to report on how long this took, but my stop-watch only measures minutes and hours – a calendar would be of more use.

    Without doubt the hardest I have ever completed. COTD is definitely 15a for the “berth”.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  9. This was nearly as much of a struggle as yesterday’s horror but considerably more entertaining. Perhaps the heat is playing havoc with my grey matter, or lack of it, or have we been set tougher tasks recently? Clues which helped to make this less of an ordeal included 10a, 23a and 6d. Thank you Virgilius (I think!) and Senf.

  10. I was so fed up with yesterday’s puzzle that I didn’t even comment. Got up today hoping for something a tad more benevolent to enjoy during breakfast. Nope. Another one too tough for me. Thank goodness the boys are now coming out of the cave and England won their game. But still speechless about that useless bunch who spent a day in a country house giving the country away.

    1. I was thinking about sending a letter to No.10 to express my feelings – but didn’t want Special Branch breaking my door down at 4 a.m.

    2. We always seem to agree re the crosswords! I’m all at sea with this one, from my fave setter, and have given up. Not only can I not see without the damned magnifying glass, but my iPad is all haywire and I’m too untechie and stupid to know how to fix it. I’ll take a leaf out of your book and print the GK to see if that brings back my self-esteem!

  11. Phew that was very hard work, however with an enormous amount of assistance I filled in all the little lights. Heaven only knows whether or not I am correct only time and CS at the end of the week will tell.
    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf for a amusing Sunday afternoon.

  12. Virgilius with tricky hat on and not as entertaining as usual. It’s not that I dislike harder crosswords but this one just lacked the bit of sparkle that I’ve come to expect on a Sunday. ****/*** from me.

    Some nice stuff though so thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  13. I’m afraid I agree with Hoofit……too hard for me today and yesterday.
    Needed every one of Senf’s excellent hints and then some electronic assistance.

    Puts you off a bit when they are so hard.

    Thanks to the setter and to Senf.

  14. I found this very tricky,and was staring at a blank grid for some time before solving my first clue. Hoofit and others that struggled should not feel too discouraged, Sunday puzzles are normally not quite this tough.

    My top three comprised 11a, 23a and, my overall favourite, the superb 5d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  15. Glad I’m not the only one struggling this weekend, with today only marginally easier than yesterday. Thought I was losing it! Good to finish both, though.

  16. Forgot to say big thanks to Senf for the great clip at 5d, a lovely memory from my youth, and still one of my favourite pieces of music, and musician.

  17. There is a crossword god after all. I never have much luck with the GK, but having failed dismally with both weekend Cryptics I decided to have a go. Happily romped through it today, improving my spirits no end. Hope Kath has a go at it as she will love 28a.

  18. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle from Virgilius, but very difficult. Still stuck on 20&25a and 17&21d, despite reading the hints. Also needed the hints for 18,23,28&29a and 19d. Favourite was 11a. Was 3*/5* for me.

    1. Got them all now. Brain clicked into gear, and used electronic help. Had never heard of the item of gear in 25a.

  19. Hello.
    Long term lurker and massive fan of this invaluable blog.
    I’m afraid this was just way to tough for me today. Not sure why this one encouraged me to ‘break cover’ but there we are.

    Thanks to the setter and Senf for the hints.

    1. Welcome to the blog Don. Virgilius can affect us all in different ways. Now that you have de-lurked, we look forward to seeing more of you.

    2. Well done for breaking cover under such difficult circumstances.I’ve managed all of five clues today. My favourite clue of the five is 5d. I used to play the oboe, so it was a given. Many thanks Virgilius and Senf.

  20. An enjoyable puzzle that gave me a little difficulty here and there, and notably in the SW corner. Overall a little above par for a Sunday, but not a real monster…

  21. I’m so glad I’m not the only one – this was really tough – what worries me is that I seem to be saying that more and more often.
    Too hot, too tired and anyway it’s too late to go on at length now so thanks to Virgilius and to Senf and night night all.

  22. Normally when I’m doing ‘catch-up’ I seem to cruise through the challenge. But not today doing ysterday’s! I eventually completed having realized that I put an incorrects answer in the grid for 17d. Which really messed things up!
    I’ll take 15a as fave.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and also to Senf for the hints.

  23. Can the veritable setters of crosswords take on board the fact that a CD is not a record. It’s not the first time!

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