ST 2983 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2983 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2983 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where it was warm enough for rain on Wednesday but, after that temporary aberration, we went back to snow all day yesterday.

A very Happy Christmas to Big Dave, Chris Lancaster, all setters, bloggers, and participants in the world’s biggest and best crossword blog.

This week Dada has given us a very straightforward, very enjoyable, seasonal puzzle (but that will probably stir up the curmudgeons), although he does appear to like grids that result in asymmetrical clue lists – with more than a sprinkling of anagrams (including a partial), and two lurkers, one a reversal, but no homophones.

Joint favourites – 1d and 17d.

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:


6a Christmas favourite thing: tinsel for decorating (6,5)
An anagram to start (for decorating) of THING: TINSEL

11a Yank featuring in one ripping tale that’s emotional (4-6)
A synonym of yank inserted into (featuring in) a single word for one (who is) ripping.

15a Seasonal good wishes, remarks inspiring leaders in pretty lacklustre institution (11)
A synonym of remarks containing (inspiring) the initial letters (leaders in) of the last words in the clue.

21a Somewhat disliked, a mean pantomime character (4)
The lurker (somewhat) contained in three words in the clue.

22a Collapse of art trade we just survive (5,5)
An anagram (collapse of) ART TRADE WE.

27a Failure, Christmas dinner (6)
A double definition, the first is a slang synonym of a failure.

28a Mad on Christmas, those likely to enjoy the Queen’s Speech? (11)
An anagram (mad) of ON CHRISTMAS.


1d Wallet ultimately secreted by Scrooge — that’s what you’d call him (6)
The last letter (ultimately) of walleT inserted into (secreted by) a nounal description of Scrooge.

2d Order always coming up after Christmas time (6)
The (poetic/literary?) contraction of a synonym of always, reversed (coming up) placed after the abbreviated form of the month that Christmas falls in.

4d Hang about, that is for stockings, say? (8)
If you are looking for a homophone (say) stop looking – a single word for hang about followed by the abbreviated form of the Latin for that is.

7d Set up bar for party (5)
The reversal (set up) of a type of bar.

13d Carver with some beef in kitchen to be served up (5)
The reverse lurker (with some . . . to be served up) found in the words ‘sandwiched’ between the lurker/reversal indicators.

17d Pantomime horse’s rear in difficult part, writer has admitted (5,3)
A type of writer (used by a writer) containing (has admitted) an anagram (difficult) of PART containing (in) the last letter (rear) of horsE.

18d Certainly not getting wife present! (3)
A single short word for certainly not and the single letter for wife.

23d Particular Christmas film seen in Irish house (6)
A two letter Christmas film (news to me, I don’t think I have seen it at any time of the year) contained by (seen in) the lower house of the Irish parliament.

26d Arrest Christmas saint? (4)
A double definition to finish – the first is a slang synonym of arrest.

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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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José Feliciano expressing Season’s Greetings as only he can:


41 comments on “ST 2983 (Hints)

  1. Not wholly convinced that was Dada as the whole thing took less time to complete than it took to solve two of the clues last week. Perhaps an early Christmas present.
    Thank to Senf for all his hints this year and coping with the ‘hospital pass’ that is hinting the Dada Sunday puzzle so admirably.
    Thanks also to Dada, enjoyable with a good seasonal flavour.

  2. Did this puzzle last night before lights out. Possibly my quickest completion ever but some nice seasonal fun.
    Happy Christmas to all.

    1. Ditto and, despite what is said in 3 below, Dada I hope you are having a nice Christmas holiday somewhere.

  3. I wasn’t going to bother after the last few Sunday puzzles, but this one fell into place a lot quicker than expected. Still a pleasure to complete and I’ve got a lot to do today so a quick smile and sense of achievement (for my lowly abilities) is enough.
    Thanks to all involved at setting and blogging. Some of these crosswords take some solving, and then to give clues that don’t make it too obvious takes a bit of doing.
    Merry Christmas to all.

      1. The Telegraph Puzzles page would disagree with you as I saw something yesterday (which due to the mysteries of their site I can’t find again) to say that John Halpern’s Christmas crossword would be here today

      2. I have a theory which involves (dangerous) thinking. After the first two or three Sunday puzzles by Dada, I suggested, in a CS review I think, that Virgilius’s retirement had been a little unexpected and Dada had a few Toughies ‘laying around’ which became Sunday puzzles. The extension of that theory is that today’s puzzle would have been tomorrow’s puzzle, prepared in advance, if Virgilius had not retired and Dada was still setting Monday puzzles.

        1. Knowing how far in advance setters prepare crosswords (one of mine has over 60 waiting for me to test) and, for example, the number of crosswords still in the Petitjean vault, it seems unlikely that however short notice was given, there would not have still been sufficient Virgilius puzzles waiting to be published to cover the interregnum

      3. Chris Lancaster tweeted this morning:

        After yesterday’s festive puzzle challenges including the Giant GK by @Kate_Mepham, there are more in today’s Sunday @Telegraph, including a Christmas-themed cryptic from @crosswordpaul, as well as a seasonal Enigmatic Variations.

        1. Just to clarify for those still in doubt … @crosswordpaul on Twitter is John Halpern aka Paul in the Guardian and Dada in the Telegraph.

          So it’s definitely Dada today.

  4. Can’t believe this was Dada as, for me this was a ** solve.
    I was all psyched up for ***** but wasted effort.
    Still, an enjoyable Christmas puzzle.
    Many thanks to the setter, and to Senf for the review.

  5. Whoever it was, thank you. Not the most difficult solve but that’s no bad thing at this hectic time of the year.
    I thought that to produce 28 clues with well over two thirds having a Christmas theme in one way or another was no mean feat. I enjoyed it.
    Thank you to all involved as usual.

  6. Kitty referred to the grid layout in last Tuesday’s Toughie from Mr Halpern as resembling a Christmas bauble and I reckon this is his second bauble for the tree. Very enjoyable it was too – I do like the occasional nod to the festive season.

    Plenty to choose from for a favourite but I confess that 18d made me laugh the most.

    Thanks to Dada and a very merry Christmas to you. Thanks also to Senf for an equally festive blog and the musical accompaniments – enjoy your Canadian Christmas.

  7. No curmudgeonly comments here, a slightly less taxing puzzle appreciated when so much else is to be done. I needed the hints for a couple and 7d was last one in though for the life of me I don’t see why. Maybe too much (7d)ry last night picked my brain.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada and everyone else here. Hope you all have a good one.

  8. Very gentle for a Sunday puzzle, but enjoyable nonetheless. I think I counted 7 anagrams and 1 partial. A little excessive in my opinion. 2d was the only one that gave me pause for thought, so I will nominate that as my favourite.Merry Christmas everyone.

  9. I approached this with the usual and recent sense of Sunday trepidation, but quickly realised that was totally misplaced as the setter was in an exceptionally benign and seasonal mood. All good fun and enjoyable to complete, if over a little too quickly. Like Jane above, 18d produced the biggest laugh.

    Thanks to whomsoever compiled this, and to Senf; and Merry Christmas to all who read and contribute to this wonderful site. 🎄🥂

    1. At first glance your wine glasses emoticon looked like e leggy Turkey looking over its shoulder for the butchers knife!

  10. Good Christmas fare. No problems with this one although 6 ac was my LOI and took a little time as I had the wrong second word for a while.

    Thanks to all on the blog and the setters. Buona Natale!

    1. Correction: that should be Buon Natale, but I think in the dialect here they use the feminine!

  11. 1* / 4*. As Senf says this was a very straightforward, very enjoyable, seasonal puzzle. I see no reason not to attribute this to Dada. He has shown himself capable of producing puzzles ranging from light to fiendish with this one clearly at the light end in keeping with a seasonal puzzle (although, like Senf, I don’t know why the film in 23d is considered a “Christmas film”).

    Lots to enjoy here and my favourite is 25a, with 15a, 28a & 4d jostling for the podium places.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. Released in the UK in December 1982 so many people would have gone to see it over Christmas?

      1. Possibly that it has become “standard” Christmas TV offering (probably relegated to Dave or somesuch channel)?

  12. I firmly believe that you don’t leave the pub until you’ve finished the crossword, and that’s backfired on me today: a single pint problem, but all the more enjoyable for it.
    28a was the first of several favourites.
    Peace on earth, goodwill to all, glad tidings of comfort and joy etc

  13. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. A very easy puzzle to put us in a good mood for Christmas. 10a was a new word for me, but managed to get it from the fodder. I had the most trouble with 2d, but eventually saw the wordplay. Favourite was 8a. Was 1*/3* for me. Compliments of the season to everyone.

  14. **/****. Enjoyable solve with lots of seasonal answers. Can’t have been a Dada puzzle in my view and seemingly most others. Thanks anyway to the setter for a pleasant stroll and to Senf for the hints. Our weather is now benign but while walking the dogs yesterday I saw at least 3 homes which will need their roofs replaced due to tree damage.

  15. I thought that if I dipped in and out of this one, it would last me for the long trip up north. I only got as far as Biggleswade. Still, enjoyable whilst it lasted. Many thanks setter and Senf.

  16. I enjoyed this more than recent Sundays and completed with minimal outside help so question it is in fact a Dada offering. NW corner was last to yield. My Fav was 28a. Had forgotten the 27a failure. Thank you to the setter (whomever he/she may be!) and also to Senf. I may not get around to cruciverbal pursuits tomorrow so now wish Big Dave and all your setters and bloggers a Very Happy Christmas.🎄

  17. My heart sank when I first looked at thiis crossword, but as themed crosswords go it wasn’t too bad! 28a was my favourite.
    Thanks to Dada, and to Senf for the hints.

  18. Just right for the season – light and festive. */***
    Thanks to all. Enjoy the festivities everyone.

  19. Approached with trepidation today, having failed abysmally the last few Sundays, but ho ho ho. What a lovely surprise, a puzzle that I could do with very little help. Whether it is a Christmas gift from Dada, or someone else, a big thank you from me, and to Senf of course. Last in was 24d as I went down the glittery road by mistake. Not sure that 15a are necessarily seasonal. Better get on with the baking now.

  20. For anyone who hasn’t access to the print version of the newspaper, the standfirst for today’s puzzles pages starts as follows:

    “Welcome to our Christmas concoction, with John Halpern’s fiendish seasonal Cryptic Crossword.”

    Hope that clears things up. Happy Christmas to all!

    1. Fiendish isn’t a word that’s going to feature in my blog of this friendly themed crossword.

      Happy Christmas to you and Dada

    2. Same as CS – definitely not fiendish. And, I hope that term does not apply to next Sunday’s puzzle!

  21. Yes , I thought this was going to be a toughie but it was a softie yet pleasurable crossword .

    No favourite yet 28A brought a. big smile .

    Greetings to everyone .

  22. I haven’t done a Sunday puzzle for a couple of weeks, but I spoke with my friend in Wales who said how good today’s was, so I printed it off and wasn’t sorry. Much fun and I loved the seasonal theme.
    As I’m a 28a, I’ve chosen that as fave, but I think 25a deserves honorable mention.
    Thanks to DaDa and to Senf for his hints and pics.
    Merry Christmas to all, have lots of fun.

  23. Seasonal, solveable, pleasurable fun. Perfect for today
    Thanks to Dada & Senf for hints.

      1. Merusa,
        After 3 days nnot reallyat my age recovering from ops. Is a bit like getting onto Dada’s wavelength it takes time. I took the dogs for their 6.30am walkies, so I’m getting there.
        Thanks for the thoughts

  24. An enjoyable puzzle, more like the Sunday Telegraphs of old. Surely the film mentioned at 23d isn’t a Christmas one? The only scenes I can remember are set at Halloween.

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