ST 2896 (Hints)


Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2896 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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Good Sunday morning from Winnipeg on this St George’s Day – thanks to BD for the Rose in the banner.  The weather is still crazy here; 17 degrees and sunshine on Friday, 3 degrees and mixed precipitation (a.k.a. rain, sleet, and snow) yesterday, with a promise of 4 degrees and sunshine today.

Yesterday, I enjoyed doing something I really like – judging at the Manitoba Schools Science Fair.  It is amazing what the young scientists get into and how good they are at presenting their projects.

Another very enjoyable and very typical Sunday puzzle from Virgilius; I think that he is in a very benevolent frame of mind this week with a couple of lurkers, not too many anagrams, and Kath’s favourite Oxonian making an appearance.

My favourite is 13a (with 4a and 21d joint runners-up).

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 Part of lab of fine researcher (6)
A nice way to start, with a simple lurker contained in (part of) the third to fifth words of the clue.

8a It’s hard, still, with all locks removed (8)
The single letter for hard followed by a synonym for still when it might indicate the calm before the storm.

12a Garment technocrat redesigned (10)
Anagram (redesigned) of TECHNOCRAT.

13a Livid because of bruising, dismal, also sad (5-3-4)
A hyphenated string of synonyms of the last three words of the clue.

16a Some fieldwork producing monarchist spiel? (12)
Using a long handled tool that when split (5,3,4) could be a presentation to support a monarch. 

21a Diminutive daughter in dock, for example (4)
The synonym for diminutive (popular north of the border) and the single letter for daughter give an unwanted plant.

23a Attempt to include a garment that’s absurd imitation (8)
A three letter synonym for attempt containing a type of under-garment.

25a Run after swimmer or ice-hockey player, say (6)
The definition is an example of (say) the cricket notation for what is scored following a type of fish.


1d Carry sort of bale, within limits of what one can take (8)
A synonym for carry (a load) and an anagram (sort of) of BALE.

3d Reluctance to move in time is holding it up (7)
IN from the clue, a three letter synonym for time containing IT reversed (up). 

6d Notice threat to king in random inspection (4,5)
A synonym for notice and a potential end-game situation in a (popular?) board game.

9d Profligate type raced around new seaside plant (11)
A three letter synonym for raced containing (around) the single letter for new and a plant found on the seashore (BRB verified).

14d Round off, I agree, in excellent style (9)
A synonym for round off, I from the clue, and a synonym for agree (on numbers).

17d Decisively beat in recount, with constituents reorganised (7)
Anagram (with constituents reorganized) of RECOUNT – I think this is the longest anagram indicator I have ever seen.

18d Be entitled to command as soldier, having got away from king (7)
A single word synonym for having got away from and one of the single letters for king.

21d What is cut by combine, ultimately? (5)
WHAT from the clue containing the last letter (ultimately) of combinE.

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This week’s selection was prompted by 1d in DT 28406 on Thursday:



  1. neveracrossword
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Just wanted to be the first on the scene. Thanks to Virgilius for a fine, if gentle, puzzle – and to Senf for his blog.

  2. Faraday
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    A lovely gentle start to Sunday morning. I was privileged to be on Mr V’s wavelength and it all progressed fairly smoothly. 8a, 16a and 17d get special mentions from me today. Thank you to all involved.

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    1.5*/4*. Gentle but hugely enjoyable as ever on a Sunday. 16a was my favourite, with 8a runner-up.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  4. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Probably the gentlest Virgilius ever for me. I usually have a tussle on Sundays & I haven’t improved that much I’m sure – so it must be the setter in benign mood.
    Will go for 1a as my COTD but nothing produced “Doh” moments or raised a smile.
    Thanks to Virgilius and Senf for review.
    No to see if Virgin can get the London Marathon tracker app to work so I see how son & wife are doing ( and son can get under 3 hours) – its driving me 8a.

  5. dutch
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Gentle but plenty to like as usual. I think 16a is my favourite but also liked the all-in-one at 21d. Lots of ticks.

    Many thanks Virgilius and Senf

  6. Posted April 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    When you have finished this puzzle – why not have a go at the Special Puzzle I have just added to the site? It has a very topical theme.

    • jane
      Posted April 23, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I’m not even going to look at it until I’ve finished cleaning all these wretched blinds. I’m really not…………..

      • Kath
        Posted April 23, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Hmm – you mean just like I wasn’t going to look at the NTSPP last night? Now I don’t mind that I did as we have another crossword. :smile:

        • jane
          Posted April 23, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          Well – something like that. The Alchemi was far more appealing than a bucket of suds and the rubber gloves!

    • stanXYZ
      Posted April 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Mon Dieu! Not yet another puzzle to attempt while watching the London Marathon!

      I wonder how Dada is faring?

      He must be on the Downs by now. [See Kitty’s blog for Toughie No 1792]

  7. jane
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Ditto to Dutch’s comments and choice for the top spots.
    11a & 2d were the last to fall but not by a great deal.
    Kath will be happy to see the great man putting in another appearance!

    Thanks to Virgilius for the usual Sunday entertainment and to Senf for the words and music.

  8. Kath
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree that for a Sunday this one was pretty straightforward and the usual good fun.
    I admit to getting stuck with a few in the bottom right corner.
    Also admit to missing the hidden 1a for ages but, on the plus side, managed to catch 24a.
    Spent too long trying to fit D into a short word meaning dock for 21a – dim.
    For a while I thought 25a was going to be a specific ice-hockey player or a position in the game which would have beaten me.
    I liked 1a (out of loyalty to my Elder Lamb) and 16a and 9 and 19d. My favourite was 13a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.
    I’m going to try to make myself do some useful bits in the garden before having a look at Alchemi’s SP.

  9. Young Salopian
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    2*/4* overall and the popular 16a as my favourite. This might be at the easier end of the Virgilian spectrum, but it still has his hallmark brilliance and entertainment. Thanks to Virgilius for another excellent Sunday puzzle, and to Senf for his partial review.

  10. florence
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    4a and 7d were the last answers, but probably shouldn’t have been. Not sure why I made such hard work of them. I got hooked on abbreviations for 4a. 16a made me smile so that’s my favourite. Off to clean the kitchen, after carving a duck for lunch. I seem to have grease everywhere. Many thanks Virgilius and Senf.

  11. BusyLizzie
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    1d and 11a were last in. Held up for a while as I bunged in the wrong answer to 5d, which made 4a across unworkable. Thanks to Senf’s hint re Kath’s favorite Oxford chap, it all became clear. Favorite was 16a although I didn’t see it at first pass. Did need some hints so not as satisfying as yesterday. Might have a go at the new puzzle later over lunch.

  12. Merusa
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I found this decidedly tricky today, but for the life of me I can’t see why! I did finish it by gnawing away until I had an epiphany. As usual, so many clever clues, how is it possible to choose just one? Though, 1a, 2d and 21d stood out.
    Thanks to Virgilius for the fun and Senf for his pics.

    We have rain today, so badly needed, my grass looks like straw!
    Happy St. George’s Day to you all.

  13. John Bee
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Fairly flew through this one today in another NT teashop (Beningborough Hall) A waitress who was a bit new gave me the time to rattle through all but the SE corner and even they dropped in before the lemon drizzle was finished. 16a/13a equal fave 5 d least fave (reminded me of work tomorrow). thanks to Senf and Setter for a pleasant romp through crosswordland. Sunny day here and bluebells at their best. I am going to follow the Tour de Yorkshire next weekend so may not check in here but I will be having a go at the crosswords while I wait for a couple of hundred cyclists to whizz past at 35 mph

  14. silvanus
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable and very solver-friendly too.

    My two favourites were 20a and 21d.

    Many thanks to Mr. Greer and to Senf.

  15. Angellov
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Completed first half over breakfast and have just polished off the rest prior to pouring a pre-prandial noggin. Nothing too taxing for the fraying grey matter but a pleasant enough challenge. No outstanding Fav. Thank you Virgilius and Senf.

  16. Jon_S
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Virgilius most definitely in gentle mood, though no less enjoyable. Particularly liked 16ac.

  17. Hoofityoudonkey
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I started this first thing and rattled off the top half in no time. I decided to leave the rest until after my foursomes golf match, giving me a fun end to the day.
    What I didn’t bank on was leaving my brain on the golf course, as a result the bottom half was something of a struggle.
    Moral of the story, is do the crossword in the morning with a fresh brain.
    Usual Sunday excellence, favourite was 16a.
    Many thanks Senf and Virgilius.
    On another subject, the vegetables badly need a downpour, cold, dry days are no good this time of year.

    • LabradorsruleOK
      Posted April 23, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Note they are already talking of droughts & hosepipe bans so water before its too late.
      Hope you remembered the old adage about the secret of foursomes success, pick a partner who is better than you.

      • Hoofityoudonkey
        Posted April 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        We won, but only because we were slightly less dreadful than our opponents.

        • LabradorsruleOK
          Posted April 23, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          …..or play opponents who are worse – forgot that bit!

  18. mcmillibar
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Hello all from a cool and overcast Washington. I have been to busy recently to make an appearance which some people are probably quite pleased about but I am back today to pay homage to Virgenius and his lovely, if easier than usual, offering. Lots to admire as ever with the simple flow of some clues being just lovely. 1.5/4 and fav being probably 16a which I was sure was anagramatical although the numbers did not work.

  19. Salty Dog
    Posted April 23, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Not difficult, but as smile-inducing as always with this setter. I made this 1*/4*, and my favourite was 18d. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  20. Weekendwanda
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Lovely day here. I agree with Gentle for today’s offering from Virgilius. 16 and 20a probably my favourites. No real problems although thought I would not get 11a till it popped into my head.Should also mention 8a – very clever clue. I was on the fringes ot it for a while until I eventually clicked. Last one in was 22a and a good one it was too.