ST 2887 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2887 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2887 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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Good Sunday morning from Winnipeg.  The winter festival is underway, but unseasonably warm temperatures, 10 degrees above normal, are restricting some of the events and everything is starting to melt. 

The training wheels have been taken off and thrown into the nearest snow drift (before it melts)!

Another very typical and very enjoyable Sunday puzzle from Virgilius which I was able to complete at a fast canter, but there was some head scratching to understand the parsing of some of the answers before I could write the hints.

My favourite is 20a (which was one of the parsing head scratchers).

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:


7a Last word in food and source of water (8)
A synonym for food, and where one might draw water create a parting wish.

11a Almost cancel insignificant examination (8)
A synonym for cancel (or clean) with its last letter removed (almost) and insignificant in size.

12a Rationality was unusually seen in training facility (7,7)
Anagram (unusually) of RATIONALITY WAS is a place where a mode of transport stops.

15a Go mad when turned back (4)
Reversal (turned back) of flying mammals that are also used as a synonym for mad.

20a A great shot inside box by US player (7,7)
A significant person who was assassinated by an actor while at the theatre.

23a Laws in parts of America restricting organisation of workers (8)
The body that oversees the organization of workers missing its last letter (restricting) inside the 50 territories that make up the USA.

25a Provoke statement of where local stands (6)
Homophone (statement) of a type of public house and its location.

28a Fellow became different, started to function unreliably (8)
The single letter for fellow and an adjective that describes having become different.


1d For example, fly in section including front of aircraft (4)
A three letter word for section containing the first letter (front of) aircraft is what an angler uses to attract fish.

3d Applauds, with odd exceptions, what’s beneficial (4)
Deletions (with odd exceptions) of odd letters of APPLAUDS create a term for beneficial.

5d Visibly in pain, I object after heartless conflict (8)
A three letter conflict with the middle letter removed (heartless), I from the clue, and one of Virgilius’ favourite synonyms for an object.

6d Old projectile making member of clergy yell audibly (10)
Homophone (audibly) of a more senior clergyman and a type of yell gives what would sit on a brass monkey.

8d Initially elm, then other trees, rot (7)
The first letter (initially) of Elm, followed by two three letter trees gives a word for nonsense.

13d Putting time into art somehow, energetic and able to draw (10)
Anagram (somehow) of art containing single letter for time followed by a synonym for energetic result in a synonym for alluring.

18d Of minimal importance, as opposed to one in suit (7)
A suit which is a type of hearing containing the letter that is used for one and the letter that indicates a contest between teams.

22d Prestige as result of long standing in court (6)
A synonym for long (desire) inside (standing in) the abbreviation for court.

26d Set of digits starts off 2,1,8,7 (4)
The starting letters of the numerals in the clue are the appendages to the feet.


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First, the disclaimer – my sister is six years older than me, so, in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, I had to ‘put up with’ the music of Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, Marty Wilde, etc.  However, I consider that the Shadows have become timeless, and this track (which I think was on the first album) is magnificent.  I tried, without success, to find an actual video (other than a so-called ‘tribute’ by someone else); enjoy it regardless.

47 comments on “ST 2887 (Hints)

  1. I found this puzzle towards the harder end of the Virgilius spectrum but a real treat to solve.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius 3*/4.5*

  2. 2*/4*. The normal tip-top standard from our consistently wonderful Sunday setter today. I bunged in 20a with no idea why it was right other than it fitted until I read Senf’s hint. Until then I was struggling to select a favourite from so many good clues, but 20a has now leap-frogged all the others into first place.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    1. Hear hear, well said. We have never heard of 8d in this context – is this a Britishism some here are so fond of?

        1. Maybe we have been in the colonies too long since neither of us have ever heard this usage. Thanks for the help.

          Mrs & Mr T

          1. It’s an expression that the wonderful P.G.Wodehouse uses frequently in his quintessentially English novels, but as he spent a lot of his life in America I would have thought it might have cropped up a bit over there.

          2. Broadly equivalent to the Americanism(?) that has the same four letter ending, but a three letter four legged animal to begin with.

            1. I’m pretty sure that word too crops up widely in PGW’s vocabulary. He had a particular penchant for the animals in question.

  3. Very enjoyable. I started well but then struggled, for reasons that I don’t fully understand, to complete the last missing three clues. 20a was undoubtedly a Mr V classic if perhaps a little macabre for a Sunday morning.
    My iPad app thinks that I had one mistake last Saturday (I didn’t) but all was well on Sunday. Yippee! I think it’s vagaries have won and I’m surrendering!
    Thank you to all involved

  4. A great puzzle from a great setter, 20a is one of the best and cleverest clues I have ever seen. I put it in without knowing why, until I saw the hint.

  5. Thought that this was another excellent Sunday puzzle. 8d was easily filled in from the wordplay, but I had to then write it out horizontally to actually recognize the word. Strange how that happens. I’ve been solving a few antipodean crosswords of late, and helpfully I’d just met a clue very similar to 12a in one of them. I gave ticks to 11a, 1d, 21d, 22d, and 26d. The stand-out favourite today for me is 20a. Brilliant. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

    1. I did the same with 8d, made no sense from the wordplay until I wrote it out, a real ‘doh’ moment…

  6. Great mixture of the gettable and the thought-provoking.

    Like most 20a was a bung-in until I read the hint, even then I had to read it twice for the quarter to drop. Coincidentally those watching Great American Train Journeys last week saw a fascinating glimpse of his early life.

    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf for the hints and the nostalgia.

  7. Wonderful stuff from the Sunday Superstar. I found it in general a bit easier-going than many Sundays, but maybe I was just a bit more awake than usual.

    Thanks for Virgilius for the usual excellent qulity puzzle and to Senf for a great blog – I did think that in 23a, restricting is a container indicator, with the worker’s organisation just two letters. I’d have probably underlined the whole of 20a too, since it’s a cryptic definition, but that’s a matter of taste.

    1. Thanks K. 20a is such a clever, bordering on devious, clue that it took some time to unscramble. It was only when I ‘got’ that ‘great’ was being used as a noun that the parsing became clear. Even then, the length of the underlining varied during the preparation of the hints. In the end, I tossed a mental coin and short won, but I wasn’t entirely convinced.

  8. Great entertainment as usual for a Sunday. With 20a, should not the whole clue be underlined as the definition?
    We are having a warm spell in the UK, too.
    Thank you Senf and Virgilius.

  9. Senf

    Your comment about your sister reminded me about a concert that I went to a few years ago with my sister, who is eight years younger than me. The Crickets played I Fought the Law, which they issued on their In Style with The Crickets album, and she was singing along with it. When I asked her how she knew it, her reply was “Do you realise how many times you played it?”.

  10. Given the problems accessing the NTSPP yesterday afternoon, this is just to let anyone who wants to solve it without hints that they have until about 3.30 to do so (I’m going to be in the lovely sunny garden for an hour or so before I add the review)

  11. Yet another perfect Sunday puzzle, with 1d causing the most head-scratching for me.
    11 clues gained big ticks as I went along – 8&26d fighting it out for first place.

    Many thanks to the Sunday maestro, Virgilius, and to Senf, who I have to say is doing remarkably well sans training wheels!

    1. Senf needs training wheels (stabilizers) like a brick needs feelings – old Lancashire idiom.

  12. Lots to do today so was pleased to solve this over a solo lunch. Virgilius has set us a fun challenge – thank you – which I just managed to complete without hints except for, as others have said, parsing 20a (TVM Senf) and that certainly has to be Fav for me too. Now on with the motley.

  13. 20A is without doubt the star of the show for me (and has relevance to my particular locale). I was a bit perplexed at first, as I was reading the first three words of the clue together until I read the hint. I also liked 6D, 8D, and 26A a lot. Thanks, Senf.

  14. Almost wanted to give up as I was very slow at first pass, but after I read Senf’s hints it all started to fall into place. Tough going but enjoyable. 20a was clever, but doubt I would have got it without the hint.

  15. I had decided that 20a was about a sports star of some sort, probably tennis, and therefore impossible for me (who knows nothing). Then I looked at the blog, saw the picture, laughed, and mentally kicked myself. What a brilliant clue and how easily I was misled. Thank you Senf and Virgilius.

  16. Wonderful puzzle as usual from Virgilius. We hit a brick wall mid-way through but got there in the end.
    It was nothing to do with Burnley though.
    Thanks to Senf for the review.

  17. I loved it, every ;little last bit of it. I even got 1d which raised a smile. Far too many to risk picking a favourite, although I nearly didn’t start it having read a few of the comments already on the blog. Thanks to Mr V and Senf – just one question what on earth do I do with the rest of the afternoon? Will start by making cup of tea and see where that gets me. :phew:

  18. I found this trickier than the normal Sunday but hugely enjoyable, as usual.
    I never did get 1d, how dim can one get.
    Along with others, I bunged in 20a without really understanding, so thanks Senf for that. It’s right up there with so many other clever ones, loved 12a and 26d in particular, but I think 20a takes the top spot.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints.

  19. ***/****. I found this quite tough but very enjoyable as the pennies dropped. Favourites were 20a, 8&26d, the latter because my mathematical mind started looking for sequences until the d’oh momemt. Thanks to Senf for the review and Virgilius for another top class puzzle.

  20. Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, quite tricky. Managed it all except the last word of 20a, was convinced it was a sports star or a musician, brilliant clue. I was convinced that 7a contained a biblical last word, great misdirection. Thought long and hard before the penny dropped on 8a. Three clues made me laugh, 11a,6&24d. Favourite was 26d. Was 3.5*/4* for me.

    1. I took waaay too long trying to get that Biblical last word into food! Note to self (again): when your idea is not working, change tack!

  21. Funny how the brain works. In 20a the box made me think of booth and two and two came together.CQFD as we say here: Ce Qu’il Fallait Démontrer.
    Thanks to Virgilius for a super Sunday crossword and to Senf for the hints.

  22. Today has been awful …it just hasn’t clicked. Yet when I start looking at the prompts it’ll probably all click into place. How is it that one day can be ‘easy’ and the next a nightmare?

  23. About average difficulty for a Sunday, and thoroughly enjoyable. LOI 20ac, that I only got with all the checking letters. 7ac was one of those where I threw common sense out of the window, and started trying to construct all sorts of odd words with a different sort of last word as part of the answer. Doh.

  24. As often happens with this, my favourite setter, I found this almost impenetrable at first. Once you get a foothold, however, it becomes perfectly soluble. In the end, I finished in 2* time. On the enjoyment front, however, I feel moved to award the maximum 5*. 20a was certainly my favourite, with honourable mentions for 8d and 26d. With the latter, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one jotting down the first letters of the solutions to what seemed to be four clues! Many thanks to Virgilius, and Big Dave.

  25. 20a easily the best clue of many fine constructions in this brilliant Virgilius composition. I had a slow start, but then picked up the pace once I had got into the rhythm of the puzzle. 2.5*/5* from me overall, with many thanks to the genius that is Virgilius and of course BD.

    1. Another superb Sunday crossword.
      Many great clues, as above 8d is the pick of the bunch, 20a was a great clue too…I needed all the checkers
      I needed a couple of nudges in the right direction, my brain (and body) was cream-crackered due to a grim day clearing my partner’s recently deceased mother’s flat. I can’t believe it’s Monday again in a few hours.
      Thanks to Senf for a brilliant set of clues and Virgilius for a superb crossword.

    2. I agree with you about 8d. Best clue for me.
      20a was just too convoluted for me.

      Sorry about your house clearing, that’s an awful job. Sorry for the reason for it too.

  26. Finally got round to doing this one tonight.
    Struggled with this, needing a lot of electronic help and some hints, but can see that it is a cracker.

    Thanks to Virgilus and to Senf.

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