ST 2905 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2905 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2905 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg; apparently summer is here, but, so far, it has been wet and windy, and somewhat on the cool side.

Another very enjoyable puzzle, with Virgilius back in a benevolent frame of mind, which I tackled with my usual diligence – the usual handful of anagrams (including a pair of partials), a lurker, a homophone (both not in the hints), a double definition, and a  few oldies but goodies/recent repeats. 

My favourites – 11a, 15a, 23a, and 24d (as the blogger I’m allowed multiple selections, at least I think I am).

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 Digs without good spade, say, in shed (7)
Digs from the clue with the first letter of Good removed (without), and what a spade is when it is with fifty-one others.

9a Large number or small number in poor shape I’m turning over (7)
Two letter abbreviation (small) for number, a three letter synonym for in poor shape (in health terms), and I’M from the clue, without the ‘, all reversed (turning over).

11a Protection for canines, for example, that’s used by boxer (9)
Oral protection for pugilists and others.

15a The point of this fastener isn’t discernible when it’s used (6,3)
A device used to fasten items that, for example, used to be used by mothers (but I don’t think they do any more).

17a China going after evil activity involving rackets in court (9)
A synonym for evil followed by (after) a brand of products from Staffs.

23a Clearly admitting one with forbearance (9)
A synonym for clearly (often used with obvious) containing (admitting) the single letter for one.

25a Great actor the writer cast in more demanding musical role? (7)
A musical play first performed in the 1960s about a demanding young person containing (cast in) the single letter for the writer.

28a Crime, it’s clear, ruined US city (7)
Anagram of CLEAR (ruined) and two letters for an east coast US city – ‘it’s’ in the clue sort of identifies the anagram material but appears to be mostly there for the surface.


1d Injured, angry, upset, old (7)
A three letter synonym for angry reversed (upset) and a synonym for old.

2d Unaccompanied maiden performing for wise ruler (7)
A synonym for unaccompanied, the single letter for maiden (especially in cricket), and the two letter synonym for performing.

4d Resident perturbed about new service for eaters (6,3)
Anagram (perturbed) of RESIDENT containing (about) the single letter for new.

6d Mutual upset about Dickensian child making final demand (9)
Anagram (upset) of MUTUAL containing (about) a tiny Dickensian character.

8d What answers like this do, poorly (3-4)
A double definition, the second may be used when a person is unwell.

17d Benefit with everyone aboard light aircraft? (7)
A synonym for a benefit containing (with . . . aboard) a synonym for everyone – don’t forget the ‘?’ at the end of the clue.

21d Reward for author‘s allegiance, having changed sides initially (7)
A synonym for allegiance with the initial letter changed from one side to the other.

24d European educational foundation concealing old mistake (5)
The single letter for European, the single letter that is repeated three times for the foundation of education containing (concealing) the single letter for old.

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50 years ago, in the middle of a 6 week ‘run’ at Number 1 in the charts. Hands up all those who were ‘pop pickers’ with Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman on a Sunday afternoon:

53 comments on “ST 2905 (Hints)

  1. I agree that this was at the easier end of Virgilius’ setting spectrum, but no less than mjoyable as a result. So many fine clues, but 11a gets my nod for the COTD. Overall this was 1.5*/5* for me, with many thanks for to the Sunday maestro for his consistency and excellence, and to Senf for his review s early hints.

  2. As usual, a wonderful start to the day. The logic of 21d puzzled me for a while until the penny dropped. Favourites were 20d and 26a.
    Thank you to all involved.

  3. I am in agreement with YS regarding his rating 1.5*/5* for yet another in an endless line of brilliant Sunday offerings.

    With some justification one could reasonably pick any of the 32 clues as a favourite but my longish short list of the best of them is: 11a, 26a, 1d, 8d, 21d & 24d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    P.S. Having had an enforced crossword-free day yesterday (due to my eldest granddaughter’s 8th birthday party, which was huge fun but lasted all day and evening), I now plan to tackle yesterday’s cryptic and NTSPP.

  4. I have come to expect more of a tussle on a Sunday but this did not put up much of a fight. Thanks to Senf for making me appreciate the cleverness of 24d which I put in without bothering to make sense of. I thought both 11a and 15a were excellent.

  5. A pleasant exercise with no hold-ups in the East but I stalled on a couple in the NW. Great surface reading for 11a which became my Fav. Thank you Virgilius and Senf.

  6. Superbly clued, a master-class in the setter’s art I thought.

    My two personal favourites were 11a and 3d, but there many other candidates in contention.

    Many thanks to Mr Greer and to Senf.

    1. Hear hear.

      11a took a while since we haven’t heard thar word for 30 years.

      Mr & Mrs T

  7. The crossword didn’t take much longer than the Procul Harum recording.
    Thank you Senf, Virgilius and BD.

  8. Unusually for a Sunday I sped through the top half before slowing down a bit with the rest. Still a very good crossword though! 1d was my favourite; 2/4* overall.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  9. Virgilius must have known that I’d have a moderately sore head this morning. This went down very nicely indeed. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  10. This Sunday pearl did not need a pot of coffee, only a cup of rosie to complete (it was luke-warm at the end though). The crossword was anything but, so thankee to Virgilius for this less fiendish but still perfectly-formed offering. 1.5 * / 4*
    I am going to opt for 23d as the prettiest clue for its simplicity and almost-topicality.
    Thanks Senf for the blog and I hope you get a break in the weather.

  11. Certainly on the easier side of a Sunday puzzle but very good for all that.
    Most enjoyable and no misunderstood clues. My personal fav was 26a.
    Thx to all.

  12. As usual, a masterpiece from the maestro and – as usual – I can’t bear to single out any particular clue for favouritism.
    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for explaining the half that he solved!

    Have to admit that I am one who hadn’t heard the third and fourth verse of Whiter Shade of Pale before today but the title perfectly describes the face of my younger daughter this morning – but in her defence, she had just given birth to my first grandchild only a few hours before!

    PS Yes, Senf – I was an avid Sunday afternoon pop-picker!

      1. Blue – which is going to take a bit of getting used to – very much all girls on my side of the family!

        1. Congratulations. Based on today’s birthday party, I’d say be prepared to be surrounded by lots of dinosaurs and Disney Cars trucks and duvet covers 😉

    1. Congratulations on new arrival, what with Kath and now you as grannies wonder who will be the next grandparent to own up. :rose:

      1. Thank you, Annie – I don’t actually think that many grandparents would ever pass up the opportunity to own up/brag!

    2. Many congratulations, Jane. With three granddaughters and a fourth due in August I could do with a grandson if ever you want to swap!

      1. Right now I’d willingly swap, RD. I just have visions of slugs, snails and endless cold days spent trying to look enthusiastic on touch-lines!
        Only joking, of course – there’s a little bit of me and a huge bit of my adored daughter in that little mite.

    3. Congrats! I have no children so no chance of grands, but I am honourary granny to nine-year-old twin girls and it’s a load of fun. Enjoy, you’re going to get a lot of pleasure.

      1. Thanks, Merusa – I fully intend to get all the pleasure and leave the hard work to Mum & Dad!

  13. I don’t usually do Sunday’s but I loved this.
    Favourites 13 and 27 across
    Thanks to both

  14. Very enjoyable as usual on Sunday, at the easier end of Virgilius’ scale.
    I enjoyed 25a as I remember going to watch the outer part of the answer as a young lad.
    Hot news of the day (apart from Jane’s great news) is that I have a smooth snake in my compost bin!!
    Thanks all.

    1. Wow – that’s a really rare find these days, Hoofit, do you live near heathland?

      1. Oops! The girls have just come back from a hack and told me not to be so stupid, it’s a slow worm!! Sorry about that, Jane, but I am still quite excited.

        1. Must admit, I did wonder. If it’s any consolation, I was just as excited when I found a slow worm in my daughter’s garden on IOW – such a beautiful golden creature.

  15. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A cracker of a puzzle as usual from Virgilius, I don’t know how he keeps the standard so high. A thoroughly enjoyable solve. Just needed the hints to parse 17a, had never heard of the brand of pottery, but managed to get it. Favourite was 26a. Last in was 5d. Was 1.5*/5* for me.

  16. Virgilius is truly a master of his art. Yes, easier today but hugely enjoyable.
    There’s so much to like that its hard to choose a fave, maybe 15a, but I could have chosen any.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for his blogging duties today.

  17. No real issues with this one but did not excite me. I went through it in a workman-like fashion, corner by corner. Put in one or two without knowing why especially 24d which I would not have understood without Senf’s explanation. I thought 11a and 15a were barely cryptic. Thanks setter and Senf. Kept me amused while husband is besporting himself in Cornwall and putting me off clearing out a bedroom for my two young grandsons next weekend! Must get on…….Congrats Jane – I had no experience of boys (little ones anyway) until becoming a grandparent but love them and trying to get to grips with Star Wars.

  18. Just popping in to do a quick comment – a bit busy round here at the moment so not really concentrating but the usual good Sunday crossword.
    Needless to say I missed the lurking 10a.
    Never heard of 11a but it looks disgusting and if they didn’t have to beat each other up then it wouldn’t be needed.
    I got rather tangled up with 17a – kept thinking that ‘China’ was rhyming slang because it usually is.
    I liked 15 and 19a and 1 and 5d. I really liked 26a and 3d but what passes as a brain has turned to mush so can’t decide.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.
    PS Well done to Jane’s daughter.

  19. Really enjoyed this from Virgilius, and thanks to Senf’s hints I was able to get past the few holdouts. 27a was probably my favorite, but a lot of clever clues I thought.

  20. All seemed pretty straightforward. No particular favourites. However I have no clue as to the answer to 5d. Any help would be appreciated.

  21. Ok got it now. Looked up the synonyms. What a strange word. Never come across this before. No doubt others will tell me otherwise

    1. Definitely an unusual word. I have heard it before, but not very often and not for quite a while. The BRB suggests Old English with German and/or Russian roots.

  22. An enjoyable, pretty breezy solve. I’d not heard of that meaning of 5d before, but it couldn’t be anything else.

    1. I’d not heard of that use before either, but I almost used another wild animal , one vowel different. That made equally little sense also !

  23. Gentle, but a pleasure to tackle: 1*/4*. As so often with this setter, l struggled to get a foothold for a few minutes, but then it all went in quite smoothly. I enjoyed 5a – a good Wodehouse-ish sort of word. VMTs to Virgilius, and to Senf (for whom l trust the weather will pick up in short order).

  24. Never done a Virgilus before. Glad I did, though. Liked it very much. 2*/4*.
    Thanks to V and Senf in one of my favourite countries.
    Many congratulations Jane – boys are much less trouble than girls, believe me.

  25. Just finished up on Monday morning, was too tired last night. Overall, very enjoyable.
    **/**** , thanks to setter and Senf.

    I see my lovely icon has been changed ! I did like that face, too. Pourquoi anyone ?

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