ST 2970 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2970 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2970 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where it has been a week to retrieve the sweaters from summer storage as the last days of summer were unseasonably cool and the first days of autumn will follow suit.

Even with some oldies but goodies, another tricky puzzle from Virgilius this week;  the high end of his typical number of anagrams, one lurker, and one homophone in a well balanced set of 32 clues.

Joint favourites – 1a and 27a.

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 Solemn excerpt from clip of ace director (2-5)
We start with the lurker (excerpt from) found in the rest of the clue.

5a Flier‘s circuit with part of RAF (7)
A synonym of circuit and an organisational part of the RAF.

11a Fire hazard, thus ward off danger (5-4)
Written as (9), a term for something that could be a fire hazard.

12a Frenchman’s expression when making presentation (5)
A single French word used when making a ‘reveal’ in a presentation.

13a Final acts on board for some in crew (5)
A double definition – the first is related to RD’s favourite board game.

17a Change over years, say, in flying instrument (9)
A synonym of change containing (over) a synonym of years.

23a Unattractive, cold, and innocuous (9)
Ignore the commas as it is not a triple definition – the single letter for cold and a synonym of innocuous.

25a Ugly sight very well concealed in electronic product of mine (7)
A single word for very well contained by (concealed in) a single letter for electronic and the product of a type of mine.

28a Like John, Paul or George, isn’t taken in by cunning (7)
Not that John, Paul, or George – an informal form of isn’t contained by (taken in by) a synonym of cunning.


1d Spirit shown by an MP, tho’ with constituents in disarray (7)
An anagram (shown by . . . with constituents in disarray) of AN MP THO’.

3d Stuff in chapter about destiny (5)
The two letter abbreviation for chapter containing (about) a three letter synonym of destiny.

4d Rattle male in party with sudden attack (9)
The single letter for male contained by (in) a type of party (with music) and a type of sudden attack.

6d European place to keep wine event with flexible support (4,5)
The favourite European and one place where wine might be stored.

8d Start overlapping with lots in country (7)
A four letter word that may be the start of something with its last letter sharing the first letter of a synonym of lots.

17d Simple description of Higgins, as Eliza would say (7)
The homophone (as Eliza would say) of a term that Miss Doolittle might use to describe Mr Higgins.

18d US writer, author switching parts without energy (7)
An anagram (switching parts) of AUTHOR containing (without) the single letter for energy.

20d Poet‘s line, for example, is in French also (7)
The single letter for line, the Latin abbreviation of for example, and IS from the clue contained by a two letter French word that can be used to mean also.

24d City in which I am upset — is that so? (5)
Not sure about this one – the contraction of I am reversed (upset) containing (in which) a (1,2) response to is that so?

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.

Chas Hodges, of Chas and Dave, passed away yesterday, so, in memoriam:


54 comments on “ST 2970 (Hints)

  1. Golf rained off this morning so a rare early start on Virgilius. First pass yielded only one answer and I thought this might be a real stinker. But then managed to get a toe-hold via the anagrams and a strong coffee. And then everything fell beautifully into place.

    Some top-class clues as usual but thought this puzzle was particularly good, even by the setter’s exceptionally high standards.

    Thought 10a, 12a, 19a, 27a, 2d, 6d, 24d were all worthy of a podium place. COTD = 15a. LOI = 11a

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the blog (and the parsing of 8d).

  2. Doable but quite hard, I thought.
    I am ashamed to be very nearly caught out by a lurker.
    Loved 17a and 17d.
    Many thanks Virgilius and Senf for the review.

  3. I parsed 24d as a reversal (upset) of a short way of saying I am followed by a way of questioning this statement

  4. Slow off the mark today but then steady progress and a fast finish .
    1A , which I missed first time round , made me smile the most .
    Lots of clues to admire with 25a my favourite .
    Hot and sunny in the Canaries again today !! Am I missing the rain ?
    A big NO .
    Thanks to everyone .

  5. Irritating pop up blew my first comment away.
    Enjoyable puzzle completed unaided bar a couple of reverse parsings 11a and 24d not 100% understood but confidently bunged in.
    1a 2d and 18d my podium today.
    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius.

  6. Many Happy Returns to Orphan Annie – hope you’ve come out from under the stairs to celebrate!
    The first few dropped in easily enough but then there was quite a pause before I managed to get going again.
    I did consult the BRB over 11a – didn’t know that the answer was something used as kindling.

    17d got my vote today although there were, as always, several contenders.

    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the blog – that Chas and Dave song also featured on ITV’s News at Ten last night. Great minds and all that!
    PS Thanks also to CS for the parsing of 24d – makes sense to me now.

      1. I was fine with the ‘thus ward off danger’ just didn’t see where the ‘fire hazard’ fitted in. If there is a second part to the proverb it’s not something I can recall hearing and Mr G doesn’t seem to know it either!

        1. The full proverb (saying) is Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ.

          I think the 11a fire hazard is a bit of a Virgiliusian definition stretch.

          1. I’m not sure where a proverb fits into this. Surely a way of warding off danger could if not split 5,4 be a fire hazard

          2. Sorry, we were talking about different proverbs. I thought you were referring to 11a!
            As for the other one – I wouldn’t dream of tarring you with that brush.

    1. Thank you, I have actually taken up permanent residence apart from the occasional excursion to replenish the tissues. Waning eyesight means I am probably coming to the end of my crossword days, DT subscription cancelled.

      1. That is so sad to hear, Annie. Can you not increase the font size on your computer to allow you to carry on? Another thought is that the DT have produced a couple of books of large print puzzles – perhaps those would keep you going for a while?

      2. Of dear, so sorry. i decided a long time ago that I will switch to audio books when I can no longer read, but not being able to do the crosswords would be very sad. Wish you all the best.

      3. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday, Annie.
        I’m so sorry about the eyes, we’ll miss you, but I understand. After my glaucoma surgery, before I got my new glasses, I struggled with reading, using magnifying glasses, most awkward. Good luck.

      4. That’s very sad, Annie. I do hope the eye sight can struggle on for a while, you are going to be much missed.

  7. Oh dear, managed only three answers today. So far the other side of tricky it’s untrue.
    For me **********/*
    Thx for the hints

    1. Did you try putting the crossword down for a couple of hours and then coming back to it. It is amazing what you can ‘see’ after a break.

      1. I’ll have a go but really I am not sure where to start. Can’t even understand some of the hints! I will persevere, it’s the first Virgilius for ages that has beaten me.

        1. Ok been out, walked the dog, thought carefully about the hints and now filled in the grid with what I hope are the right answers. However, my answer to 17d bears no relation to Simple. I can see this would be a cockney way of how Eliza would describe the good Professor but ‘simple’? There are any number of others where I can only parse part of the clue. I think this must be the DTs revenge for yesterday’s R&W.
          Very very tricky.

          1. I too thought this was payback for yesterday’s pleasant puzzle. I almost gave up today after the first pass, but hope to get it done after the next coffee.

  8. Enjoyed this enormously as I always do on a Sunday. Thanks to Senf and Virgilius.

    By the way Senf I wonder if we have different clues for 21d as mine’s not a lurker but an anagram

  9. On a separate issue……..

    Just checked the answers to last week’s Sunday electronic puzzle only to find I got 27/28 because BLOOD DONOR was allegedly incorrect. Presumably because someone somewhere says it’s BLOOD DONER, which looks like a very underdone kebab to me.

    Am I wrong? Happy to be corrected, though.

    1. Well you’re very lucky Mark to have only got one wrong according to The Telegraph, because for months and months and months now they mark my crossword as not having a single correct answer for both Saturday and Sunday puzzles! I never realised I was so utterly stupid!!

      1. That’s very interesting – I had a spell of those but been ok recently. It is galling when one puts in slightly the wrong answer merely because of a typo, then discovers the error of one’s ways a week later to find 27/28. I know it’s prize money at stake but I still forlornly crave a tick if all is well before I press the dreaded submit button. Never made so many mistakes with a pencil!
        Thought today’s was super but probably got it wrong.

    2. Feeling smug as apparently I got 28/28 last Sunday including BLOOD DONOR 😂
      I think that when this happened to me sometime ago I had to reload the App. Still doesn’t help me win the prize though…..

      1. I have reloaded the app dozens of times because for a few weeks now I’ve been sending a screenshot of my apparently 100% incorrect grid to the DT. They kept coming back and telling me to reload the app despite my continually informing them that it doesn’t work. Nevertheless I’d keep on trying it.

        They have now told me that they have no idea why it keeps happening but they’ll keep investigating, so I’ve taken pity on them and stopped sending the screenshots.

  10. Great puzzle from a master. Stinker to get started but the anagrams worked and I managed to finish unaided even although I hadn’t heard of 18d. I rather liked 1a, 19a and 17d but I will go with 11a for gold medal position.

  11. I agree it was a very nice workout. I started off by thinking 2d was a winter sport but 9a put me right. I did like 1a. Thanks to Setter and Senf. I am sorry to hear about Orphan Annie’s failing eyesight. I assume it is more serious than cataracts, I have had both eyes done with amazing results. Best of luck anyway.

  12. Slow for us today. Managed it all without any help but had never heard of 11a as kindling and not keen on 3d. Stuff? It could be anything. Or are we missing the point?
    Thanks CS for explaining 24d – couldn’t parse this at all.
    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius for the workout.

    1. Strange about 24d, I saw it on the screen while waiting for the piece of paper to appear out of the printer, parsed it, wrote it straight in, and marked it as a ‘clue I really liked’

  13. ****/****. Great puzzle if hard to get a toe hold on first pass. 17&27a were favourites. 24d was a bit of a stretch. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  14. Not my scene again today so threw in the towel and sought help to finish. 27a amused when the penny dropped. After a deluge this morning in West Sussex we are now enjoying beautiful sunshine – the organisers of the cancelled Velo South must be cursing but we local residents are relieved. 🚴🏻‍♂️🚴🏻‍♂️🚴🏻‍♂️🚴🏻‍♂️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️

  15. A lovely puzzle which revealed itself by slow degrees. Thanks to both the setter and to Senf whose hints allowed my to finish it off (3d and 11a were evading me, the former of which I still don’t quite get).

    By the way Senf, mousing over your images reveals the answer, something you might want to look into.

    1. Welcome to the blog John. You might have to modify your name to avoid duplication.
      As for ‘mousing’ revealing answers, FAQ 9.1 will give some background.

  16. Looking at the comments pleased to have completed this today albeit with a couple of hints. Very slow start but thanks to the anagrams got a foothold and managed to see it out. First in 1a last in 18d thought there was some excellent clues but certainly not a walk in the park puzzle. Thanks for Senf’s help with 12a and 20d. All in all a testing but really good and I reckon a do’able puzzle as usual from Virgilius.

    Clues of the day: 27a (Loved that) / 2d

    Rating: 4* / 4*

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius

  17. Strange crossword. Found most of this too easy and some a bit tricky. Needed to think about 3d. Why is the answer a piece of material.
    Never heard of 15a. Kindling yes.
    20d needed a bit of thought
    6d. Could not think of a wine one of these
    I always find V a bit clunky.
    Thanks for the hints.
    Ps how do you know how many are actually correct

    1. I use the DT web site so, when I have completed a puzzle, I am able to submit the solution and the site will tell me if there any incorrect answers which I can then correct and resubmit.

  18. Amazing, I found this to be more on the benign side of Virgilius! Week after week, I struggle while others say it’s a walk in the park, and today the consensus is that it’s a tricky Virgilius. Live and learn.
    The only two bung ins that I needed Senf’s help to parse were 17a and 25a, but the answers were obvious. Some, e.g. 22a, we’ve had quite recently.
    Not sure I want to choose a fave, loved it all, but 1a and 27a do deserve honourable mention for the cleverness.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the entertainment.

  19. To buck the trend, consistently the least enjoyable of the week for me as it ends as a succession of bung-ins and little feeling of achievement when it’s completed. CS’s review tends to come after it has receded to the depths of my memory.
    Thanks all.

    1. Did Miss Doolittle use the word to describe professor Higgins?? Or am I missing the point (as usual on a Sunday)???

      1. I think I managed to parse everything in the end, so apologies to Virgilius, very clever and I hope I can get onto a better wavelength soon.

        1. If you put the word as Higgins rather than Eliza would have said it, you do get some interesting results

  20. The payback for Saturday’s very easy cryptic, but eventually managed without help after coming back to it this morning. Favourites 8d & 27a.
    Very enjoyable, thanks to all

  21. I was expecting a tough workout but somehow everything seemed to go in quite easily. I think 6d is my favourite.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

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