ST 2974 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2974 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2974 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where it is still November in October except for Thursday when we had a day of August in October and broke a 104 year old record for October 18th with a temperature 23.6 degrees!  Unfortunately, your blogger could not enjoy the ‘tropical’ conditions as he was attending an all day Engineering Conference!

The usual superlatives – six anagrams, but two are partials, two lurkers – a single and a double, but no homophones.

Joint favourites – 22a and 8d.

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 Left inside after first of rustics makes witty remark (10)
The single letter for left inserted (inside) after the first letter of a collective noun for rustics.

10a Foreign character not favouring Italian wine (7)
A three letter word for a foreign (alphabetic) character and a single word for not favouring.

14a North American city has some power returning in old area (6)
A unit of power reversed (returning) and contained by (in) the single letters for old and area.

15a Mathematician, for example, having come back and cracked theorem (not hard) (8))
The abbreviation of the Latin expression for say reversed (having come back) and an anagram (cracked) of ThEOREM without the H (not hard).

17a Large part of one’s inheritance — get excited when it’s cut (8)
I had to think long and hard about this one – a single part of one’s (biological) inheritance and a single word for get excited with the last letter removed (when it’s cut).

22a Have no place for speaker I endlessly label lazy (13)
A single word for have no, place for speaker written as (1,4), I from the clue, and a synonym of label with the last letter removed (endlessly).

26a Something to eat in food I shared is here, sooner or later (4)
The double lurker, the single is 19a, (in . . . sooner or later) found in the rest of the clue.

27a Typo led men astray in preparation for battle (10)
An anagram (astray) of TYPO LED MEN.


1d Man captured, moving rook in advanced position on board (4)
The three letter abbreviation for a captured man (soldier) containing (moving . . . in) the single letter for rook in RD’s favourite game.

3d Somehow hears about cold war tirade that allows the force to go in (6,7)
An anagram (somehow) of HEARS containing (about) the single letter for cold, WAR from the clue, and a synonym of tirade.

5d Place for relaxation or enjoyable activity, in short, on ship (8)
An abbreviated form (in short) of a single word for enjoyable activity followed by (on) a type of ship.

8d What we need to survive — paper money? (5,5)
An informal term for a type of paper and a slang term for money.

11d In stupid way, securing degree, as expressed in particular language (13)
A single word for in stupid way containing (securing) an advanced degree.

18d Core family member having upset top couple and me, royally (7)
A family member with its first two (top couple) letters reversed (upset) and how the Queen might say (royally) me.

21d Convenient American energy extracted from coal, say, and sent North (6)
One of the two letter abbreviations for American and what coal is a type of with the single letter for energy removed (extracted) and moved up (sent North – it’s a down clue) in the answer.

23d Worst as verb, not as adjective (4)
A synonym of worst as a verb, but not as an adjective.

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As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

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Manfred Mann, the person not the group, born Manfred Sepse Lubowitz, is 78 years young today and here is the group with a Number 2 Hit from 1965 (apparently it was written by whatsisname, but I found that out after I selected it):

34 comments on “ST 2974 (Hints)

  1. 5* / 5*. Crikey that was really tough today but absolutely wonderful from start to finish.

    Almost any selection of three clues would form a formidable podium, but my choices for the crème de la crème are 22a, 26a & 23d. I was going to use an English phrase instead of crème de la crème but haven’t got time to spare today to be sent to the naughty corner.

    Many thanks to Virgilius to Senf.

  2. To quote RD – ‘crikey’!
    This was definitely solved by nibbling away at it – not a single chunk fell into my lap.
    Took ages to sort out the parsing of 1a even after I’d got the answer and -although it’s quite logical – I don’t recall ever hearing of a 15a.

    My top two are the same as our blogger’s – 22a & 8d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius for the challenge and to Senf for the hard work. I do hope Kath finds time to pop in to enjoy the singalong with Paul Jones!

  3. 22a is of a kind that is easier to write than to pronounce.
    Still stuck on 20d.
    Favourite 17a.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to senf for the hints.

    1. 20d – the definition is “fell” as a present tense verb. A 4-letter word for a piece of wood followed by a 3-letter word for …

      That’s enough help, I think. Hopefully not too much?

      1. Thanks Stan.
        The term was new to me and looking at the BRB this word had quite a messy past.

        1. I have seen this in use in the past. Not a pleasant sight.
          On his retirement, the owner gave it to me.
          Now fettled and hanging on the wall, awaiting any who mean us unwell.

  4. Bottom half harder than the top and I needed a lot of electronic and mustard based help. Thanks Senf and to Virgilius for the test.
    15a my fave today.

  5. I can confidently say that this is the hardest Telegraph crossword (not Toughie) that I have encountered in many years. I was off the scale time-wise, but the challenge was a positive delight and ultimately it was very rewarding to complete. If I must pick a favourite it is the superlative 22a.

    Many, many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf.

  6. Wow , got there finally . SW corner held out the longest .
    Pleased to note the previous remarks regarding the level of difficulty as I thought it was me suffering from a late night which involved a fantastic Children in Need quiz hosted by Alan Dedlicoat at our Village Hall .
    Picking a favourite is also hard but I will go for 3D .
    Thanks to everyone .

  7. Now I’m living in the US I can solve the puzzle from 6pm the day before – probably around the same time as our esteemed blogger tackles it.

    I found this pretty tricky to get to grips with and it took me a fair while to unpick it all but enjoyment was had along the way.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius 3.5*/4*

    1. When I woke up this morning I had an email from here posting the hints at 02:26. I think BD put a block on it coz I got a blank page when I first went for a hint. But either way an impressive bit of work by Senf to solve parse hint and blog that in such a time. And an equally impressive set by Virgilius.

      1. Your blogger’s brain became disconnected from his eyes, or vice versa, at 8:26pm Saturday evening his time and he mistakenly ‘published’ instead of ‘scheduled’ but he was able to correct the situation.

        And, remember, I only have to solve, parse, and hint on half of the puzzle!

  8. Way above my pay grade, and doubtful I could complete without electronic help. Only 10 answers penned in so far. Might return later, but probably going to bin this one, ☹️

  9. As the late great Anthony Hancock would say “Stone me!
    That was tough but very enjoyable eventually. For me *****/*****
    Needed some electronic help I must admit.
    Thx to Virgilius for a real brain workout but could we make it just a little easier next Sunday.

  10. Second attempt to post?

    *****/*****. Outstanding! This was the hardest puzzle this year for me. And also the most rewarding. I needed a ton of electronic help and a couple of pointers from Senf (thanks). Thanks also to Virgilius for a real mental workout.

  11. I’m so grateful for those who rated it as a “Crikey” puzzle, RD and Jane! I thought I was losing it.
    Without a doubt my fave is 22a, I just did what I was told to do and it opened out the west side. Even so, I had to use some electronic help along the way when I got bogged down.
    I’m feeling quite smug now, time for a dip in the pool.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for his help.

  12. This weekend’s two prize puzzles have been the hardest that I’ve encountered for quite a long time. Whether starting late in the day made a difference or not I don’t know, but after these two my brain hurts. Thanks to both setters and hinters, who’s help was much appreciated. Now for that refreshing gin and the last remaining laps of the Grand Prix, 😉😉

  13. Sundays too difficult for me now, time to find another challenge.
    Even the hints are too difficult for me.
    Thanks all.

  14. Wall to wall sunshine today so a perfect day to celebrate after a family christening in Canterbury cathedral. Came belatedly to today’s enigma which was tough but there have been worse and it was certainly worth the hassle for the fun to be had along the way. I have reservations about 17a, 18d and 20d. Favs 9a and 8d. Thank you Virgilius and Senf.

    1. Canterbury was particularly warm and sunny this morning, especially considering it is October

  15. A tour de force of a puzzle and tough with it. It’s a good job we started earlier than normal on a Sunday as we needed almost double our normal time to finish it and only just avoided recourse to Senf’s hints. What a delight.

    Too many good things to mention them all, but we did think ‘room for improvement’ was outstanding, to use my old friend Vancoverbc’s term.

    Many thanks to Virgilius ans Senf.

    1. …. it’s a long time since I did a performance review but you’re quite right about the use of this expression 😀

  16. I had a bit of trouble with top LH corner and needed your push in the right direction for 1d and then 1a fell into place. So thanks for that, mustard man and to the setter for an enjoyable crossword. I really liked 22a, a lovely word.

  17. Wow! I need a rest. That was a real challenge and a half. I admit I had to call on all manners of assistance to complete. Great crossword!
    22a was certainly the stand out for me.
    Thanks to Virgilius, and to Senf for the hints.

  18. I did not have time to look at this yesterday, so saved it for this morning.

    As others have said, wow, crikey, outstanding…..!

    Many thanks to Virgilius for this excellent puzzle, and to Senf.

  19. I have often wondered whether enjoyment of a cryptic puzzle is related to difficulty. Specifically, if it’s tricky it is less enjoyable. Yesterday’s Virgilius proves that this is not necessarily the case.

    I found this very stretching and had to resort to the hints to complete the last couple of clues. What a great challenge though.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the hints.

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