ST 2977 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2977 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2977 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where ice is starting to form on the rivers and we are rapidly heading for the period of a few months when our maximums are all minuses.

Welcome to what I am reliably informed is the 536th and, as we know, the final Sunday offering from Virgilius  – superbly excellent to the end, slightly above average for anagrams (but three are partials), one lurker and no homophones, with some double unches.

Some answers relate to the occasion – in his 16d Virgilius says 1a and 8d 28a.

Now for some fun crossword trivia – I am also reliably informed that Virgilius is only the third Sunday Telegraph setter in its 57 years and 9 months history.

Joint favourites – 11a and 12d – two very fine charades.

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 Most of the UN okay changing response in present situation (5,3)
An anagram (changing) of THe with its last letter removed (most of) and UN OKAY.

11a What those in charge do to allow judge to cover offence retrospectively (12)
Synonyms for allow and judge containing (to cover) a type of offence reversed (retrospectively).

15a Pass line entering English part of church (6)
The single letter for line inserted (entering) into the single letter for English and part of a church.

17a Great heat shown in temperature scale, invariably (5)
The single letter for one of the temperature scales and a (perhaps slightly stretched) synonym for invariably.

20a Wielder of rod showing irritation about student (6)
A type of irritation containing (about) a single letter that can be used for a synonym of student.

23a So captain set out for remote base on round-the-world trip (5,7)
An anagram (out) of SO CAPTAIN SET.

27a Bearer of terse report from crazy and diabolical situation (8)
A synonym of crazy and a single word for a diabolical situation.

28a Without exception, people held by police very on edge (8)
The lurker (held by) found in the rest of the clue.


2d In mess, card out of order, use this instead? (4,4)
An anagram (out of order) of CARD contained by (in) a synonym of mess.

3d Unlike most things sold in bars, like chocolate (3-9)
How one might describe a bar of chocolate which is not what most things sold in bars are.

5d Supported by leaders of union, picket office next (4)
Initial letters (leaders) of four words in the clue.

6d It makes the speaker promise to embrace new ties, for example (8)
The objective pronoun to indicate the speaker and a synonym of promise containing (to embrace) the single letter for new.

12d Fool you finally call in bank in sympathetic way (12)
A synonym of fool, the last letter (finally) of yoU, and a synonym of call all contained by (in) a synonym of bank (as in depend).

16d Small pale child good giving ultimate performance (4,4)
The single letter for small, a synonym of pale, a (male) child), and the single letter for good.

22d Fine service, including baked dish for each person (6)
A single word for a fine service (in a court game) containing (including) a single word for a baked dish.

25d Showing skill in piece of furniture (apart from first time) (4)
A piece of furniture with its first letter (apart from first) removed which happens to be the single letter for time.

Thank you Mr Greer; it has been a great pleasure to blog the last 93 of your Sunday puzzles – Senf.

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For this Remembrance Day (no apologies, it’s the same as last year), The Central Band of the Royal Air Force – The Evening Hymn, Last Post, and Sunset:

(If you see a Mickey Mouse in the top LH corner, that is YouTube (I think it is the logo of the person who posted it), and I wish I knew the code to suppress it, if there is one.)

37 comments on “ST 2977 (Hints)

  1. Such a pleasure to solve, and as always very entertaining.

    Many thanks to Virgilius for the relentless, impeccable crosswords you have produced week after week, and the many hours of enjoyment you have given.

    You have set the bar very high for your successor. Best wishes !

  2. Congratulations.

    Flew through today’s offering with 22D pride of place .

    Well done Wales , hard luck England ( lucky last week , unlucky this week )

    Thanks to everyone .

  3. A sad day for we devotees of Virgilius, but what a way to depart. I am not going to pick a favourite as each clue is a reminder of his brilliant and careful compilation skills. Suffice to say he will be greatly missed, but leaves behind a legacy of masterpieces of the art of crossword compiling.

    Thank you, Brian, for ten years of excellence. Thanks, too, to Senf for today’s hints.

  4. Well put above YS… hear, hear.

    Mr Brian Greer aka Virgilius… Bravo! You will be gone from the Sunday slot but you will never be forgotten.

    Thank you. I wish I could know in advance when you will be setting in The Times and Guardian and I would go out and buy the paper.

    Fare thee well.

  5. I echo the thanks to Virgilius for many fine crosswords and today’s 16d. Entertaining one today – not too difficult. Special mentions to 6d and 22d with top spot to 21a.

  6. A very big 1a Mr V. for the hours of joy and torment that you have provided with your excellent weekly demonstrations of the art of compiling. Will Sunday mornings ever be the same again?

  7. Managed this before I even got out of my pit. Every clue was a gem and I guess it will be a while before I solve a Sunday with such alacrity. Thanks to Virgilius for entertaining us for so long. The two five letter clues in the middle were my LOI and 2d and 22d my faves of a huge long list.
    Thanks too to Senf for explanations and help parsing and here’s hoping Virgilius’ successor brings us as much fun.

  8. Loved, loved, loved this. As others have said, I am really going to miss our Sunday genius. Long life and good health to you, Mr. G

    Thanks also to Senf, of course

  9. Having already thanked Virgilius for all the wonderful crosswords at the end of my review of ST 2975, I’m going to add that once again, we have a treat of a Sunday crossword, this one having particular clues relating to the end of an era. Thank you for all the fun – you’ll be a very hard act to follow

    I’ve just checked and Gnomey and I have been reviewing the Sunday puzzle since January 2011 – now if only I was any good at sums, I’d tell you exactly how many lovely crosswords that amounts to! :scratch:

  10. Brilliant as always, thanks Virgilius. Maybe you will pop back one day with an unannounced surprise guest contribution? Whatever you do now with your spare time, have fun doing it!

  11. Brian, it is said that you should quit whilst at the top, and, sad though it is for us solvers, you have certainly done that with a final magnificent offering for us to enjoy. Sundays will never be quite the same again and we are really going to miss your wonderful Virgilius puzzles.

    Is there any chance you might be able to get to Big Dave’s Tenth Birthday Bash in London on 26th January? It would be so nice to be able to meet you and to thank you in person.

    Heartfelt thanks and warmest wishes for your future.

  12. It is we who should be thanking you, Mr Greer, not the other way around! It has been a great pleasure to solve your Sunday masterpieces and I can only echo RD’s request that you consider joining us in London for the big 10th Birthday Bash in January so that we can tell you as much in person.

  13. A delightful 16d from Virgilius and too many potential favourites to list so I’ll just say thank you to him and also to Senf for the blog.
    Played the video clip just after 11am as seemed fitting – brought tears to my eyes as ever.

  14. Thankyou everyone for all the kind comments this and last week. Especial thanks to Senf, crypticsue, Gnomethang and all the other reviewers and regulars. And of course to Big Dave who created and maintains the platform for this community.. And to Phil McNeill who patiently and meticulously edited me throughout, saved many a blush and contributed many improvements to clues.
    I’ve been constructing crosswords for over fifty years now, and will continue to enjoy doing so, but real deadlines are very different from the elastic ones of my academic work, and producing puzzles that meet my own standards, and more importantly yours, takes longer than it used to. On Sunday mornings I will really miss seeing what everyone had to say.

    1. We will miss you!

      According to my calculations this is your 501st Sunday puzzle – regular Sunday puzzles 2479 – 2977 plus Christmas puzzles 100003 and 100008.

  15. Not quite up to the heights of last week but very very enjoyable nonetheless.
    Always such clever clues. Sunday will not be the same.
    My sincere thx to Virgilius for the pleasure he has brought to our Sundays.

  16. Have just printed off the puzzle for later, but just wanted to say thanks to Mr Greer. I always used to think the (better) Thursday puzzles were the best of the week, but recently have been thinking that of the Sunday crosswords. It often said here, but if you try and tick the better clues on a Sunday, you end up with too many to list. Best Wishes for the future.

  17. ****/****. The usual very high standard and elegant misdirection. I wonder if next Sunday’s setter feels nervous 😀. Thank you to Virgilius and Senf. It’s going to be a cold attendance at the Legion this morning.

  18. Young Salopian and Rabbit Dave said it all for Mr. Greer’s 16d. I shall miss our Sunday setter very much, I “understood” him and was on wavelength most of the time. Today’s was a true gem, loved it all, particularly the 1a and 8d combo. Thank you for all the past fun.

  19. Only started solving the Sunday crossword when I joined the blog and have fond memories of that time as BD used to send me the PDF version.
    Decided then to subscribe to the Telegraph website just to get the chance to solve Virgilius as I was still getting the dead tree version as some call it.
    Remember having problems with those 15 letter words for which Virgilius was so fond of at that time.
    Shall miss you too.
    Thanks for all the crosswords and thanks to senf for the hints.

  20. Thank you Mr Greer for all your wonderful Sunday crosswords. They have been a pleasure to solve every time.
    Today’s was no different, 6d was top clue for me and completion was thus duly celebrated!
    Thank you again.
    Oh, and Senf for the hints….

  21. Another cracking crossword, so many great clues, I am lost in admiration for a master of his craft.
    All the best for the next stage of your life, Virgilius, you are a tough act to follow.
    P.S. thanks Senf for the hints

  22. Very late to attempt the puzzle, but I wasn’t going to miss Mr Greer’s valedictory Sunday crossword for anything.

    Such a fitting 8d/16d, as Jane rightly says, a 1a from us would seem much more appropriate.

    My picks of today’s clues were 18a, 23a, 3d and 24d.

    Thank you once again, Virgilius and, of course, Senf.

  23. Thank you for all your Sunday treats Virgilius, and this one was no exception. An entertaining solve. Thanks too Senf.

  24. I haven’t had time to do today’s crossword yet – just popped in quickly to see what others had to say.
    I’m glad that I did otherwise I would have missed the chance to say how much I have enjoyed the Virgilius Sunday crosswords – thank you, Mr Greer.

  25. When one gets treated to such superb offerings every week they become a part of the fabric. When the supply ceases, it makes the loss keener. We shall miss Virgilius’s constant excellence and wish him all the best.

    Thanks too to Senf who has had the enviable job of providing hints for so long.

  26. Thank you from me too. I was left with four to solve this morning having had a late start yesterday evening. They were all down clues 6 8 19 and 22. I have circled at least 10 favourites so shall select 9a. Unlike some others I have never been on the right wavelength or even on the same page! However my brain has enjoyed the excercise and hope to see you in January. Thanks Senf – I wonder what challenges you will have next Sunday?

  27. At the end of a long and emotional Remembrance Day I am afraid I threw in the towel on Virgilius’ swan-song. I did however much enjoy a quick read of the hints and the RAF Band composition before turning in. Thank you Virgilius for so many past pleasures and Senf for the hints.

    1. Have just found time to have another look at Virgilius’ final offering and managed to complete without too much effort and much enjoyment. 22d was Fav.

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