ST 2984 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

ST 2984 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2984 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, more snow and more cold.

Our esteemed DT crossword editor described last Sunday’s Dada puzzle as ‘fiendish’ (which it wasn’t) but, based on that assessment, today’s puzzle is diabolical (which it is) – only 26 clues, for which I am giving 16 hints so there should be no need for ‘supplementary’ requests (and the naughty corner should  remain empty) – four anagrams, one lurker, and two homophones (one of them an absolutely brilliant double homophone).

Candidates for favourite – 23a, 2d, and 18d.

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 Test round part is going round (7)
A (verbal) test surrounding (round) a synonym of part.

8a Comfortable thing, executive admits, work on newspaper (7)
A synonym of executive that we saw quite recently (in a Dada puzzle?) contains (admits) a comfortable item of furniture.

11a Party saving minute deposit(4)
A UK political party containing (saving) the single letter for minute.

12a Bugs Bunny’s opening song impressing cutie, occasionally (8)
The initial letter (opening) of Bunny and an operatic song containing (impressing) an alternate selection (occasionally) of letters from cutie.

14a Coarse ground initially wet (6)
The initial letter of Ground and a synonym for wet (weather).

20a King George holding on, no ruler (8)
The regnal cipher of King George containing a synonym of on and NO from the clue.

23a Main villain in opera and songs from Germany on the radio? (10)
An opera (by a German composer, I think it was actually an operatic series) and a homophone (on the radio) of the German for song or songs.

26a Parrot I breed, it’s caged (7)
A synonymic phrase for I breed containing (caged) IT from the clue.


1d Eleven ways artist lifted (7)
One of the types of ways (that are travelled on) and the usual two latter artist all reversed (lifted) – a big groan when the penny dropped on this one.

2d By the sound of it, important little bird (4)
The absolutely brilliant double homophone (by the sound of it) that sounds like the combination of synonyms of important and little.

5d Old music lover in band, her age mysterious (10)
An anagram (mysterious) of BAND, HER AGE.

6d One of thirteen in England, I am on duty (7)
The lurker (in) found in the rest of the clue.

13d Match decider ultimately in cup — might it be? (10)
A synonym of match and the last letter (ultimately) of decider contained by (in) a type of cup.

17d Nutty fruit (7)
A double definition – I don’t think I have to say anything else.

18d Perfect place for the swine, in fairness (7)
A (verbal) synonym of perfect and where swine ‘live.’

24d Flip that is a drink (4)
I am not sure about this one, but the web site accepted my answer – the reversal (flip) of a (2’1) synonym of that is and A from the clue.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

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

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

Del Shannon (remember him?), born on this day in 1934, with his only UK number one from 1961:


80 comments on “ST 2984 (Hints)

  1. Thank you SENF for your comments and hints.Funnily enough I found it fairly straightforward,just got into it I guess.LOI 8A,made me smile. I then went for a walk on the beach,nice breezy warm day.Greetings from Capetown

  2. Try again .

    Agree with Yarpi above as finished without any major problem apart from putting the wrong 3 first letters in 4D .

    Very enjoyable , lots of smiles with several outstanding clues so unfair to pick one favourite .

    Respect to the Setter . Thanks Senf , hope the weather improves .

    HNY everyone and trust 2019 continues with more excellent crosswords .

    1. Welcome to the blog

      Not sure why you can’t see the hints etc – have you tried turning off your computer/device and then turning it back on again and trying BD’s site again?

  3. :phew:
    5*/2.5*. Another very tough Toughie after last Sunday’s respite. This took me 4 separate sittings and, although it is a very clever crossword with lots to admire, I’m not sure that it is what I’m looking for on a Sunday.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  4. I agree with Rabbit Dave.
    Found this very difficult, but once sorted, with too much electric help and reference to excellent hints couldn’t see why…wavelength issue?
    Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  5. I started off thinking this was tricky but finished in the sort of time I might have spent on a less-straightforward Virgilius Sunday puzzle so the difficulty level was about right for me on a Sunday.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  6. Yet another dreadful Sunday puzzle that leaves me baffled. Really makes me long for our previous setter whose puzzles were tough but solvable by the less experienced of us. This guy is so far above by ability as to be in the stratosphere. Yet another one for the experts to enjoy leaving nothing to the rest of us. Please Mr Crossword editor, if you are going to use this setter, could you include another cryptic which isn’t in the Toughie category?
    Would like to say thank you for the hints but I didn’t understand most of them.

    1. And, I don’t understand the last sentence of your comment even though you have made it, or similar, many times!

      1. What I mean is that they are getting me personally no closer to the answer. I fully realise that it is a prize puzzle so the hints are not meant to give the answer merely point you in the right direction but for instance saying that something is a double definition is not helpful if neither definition is hinted.
        I have nothing but admiration for those who provide the hints, I doubt I could achieve the right level of help without giving away the answer. It is simply that when the puzzle is as tough as this one, I personally need help.

        1. Given the number of times the 17d double definition clue has appeared, I do agree with Senf that no further explanation is required

          1. A Google search of this site produces many similar clues where ‘nutty’ and some fruit mean the same thing

            1. 17d was, in my opinion, the easiest clue and hardly needed the pointer’double definition’.
              I say this because most of the others were very hard.
              Almost there.
              Thanks Dada and Senf for the review.

    2. This is my favourite setter and it took me a long time to get into his crosswords (in other newspapers). Even now with the hints I still can’t solve 8ac but I will persist until I get it. If there isn’t a challenge, what is there?

      Thanks Dada and Senf and editor please keep this Sunday challenge going.

    3. I agree, I feel as if the DT has hijacked my Sunday Cryptic. Strangely they give two Cryptics on a Monday now. It would make a lot of us happier if they moved the extra one to Sundays, so those of us that aren’t Einsteins can at least have some hope of completing.

  7. Set off at a cracking pace but had definitely slowed to a sideways shuffle by the time the last few finally fell.
    Some clever clues in the likes of 23a but not very keen on 1d.

    Top two here were 2&18d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for his hard work. The dancing and hair styles in the Del Shannon clip were certainly blasts from the past!

  8. I found this mixed, some answers were very straightforward, others less so but I eventually got there without any help. My last one in was 17d which was so obvious when the penny finally dropped!

  9. Yes a tough challenge again but very enjoyable. At the upper end of my abilities, but got there in the end and submitted it.
    Thanks to the setter and Hints.
    As an aside, I am in the UK at present but have still received zero scores for the last four prize solutions submitted, so bang goes my previous theory. Is anyone else experiencing this phenomenon? I really don’t need an ego feed for getting a perfect score, but it would be nice to know whether my ( usually) correct solutions are going into the prize draw ok?

    1. Others have previously made the same comment on zero scores for submissions and I sometime suffer the same but cannot reason why .
      So you are not alone .
      Perhaps “an insider” can offer an explanation and confirm if prize entries are being received if nil points are shown .

    2. Here’s a thought – have you gone back to the site later to ‘view’ the puzzle and does it still say zero?

      1. Yes – what I would like Mr Lancaster to reassure me about ( or otherwise) is whether they are being accepted into the prize draw?

  10. Not too difficult today … but I still failed to win any “time bonus points.”

    Does anyone care about the leaderboards on puzzles.telegraph? It somehow makes me nervous when I know that there is a clock ticking away in the background.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  11. Tough, certainly, but doable after a lot of lateral thinking. Dada certainly offers a different sort of challenge to his illustrious predecessor, but I am enjoying the challenge and refuse to be beaten. 2d my favourite clue by some distance.

    Many thanks to Dada for the considerable tussle and to Senf.

  12. Well I didn’t find that as hard as some of our recent Sunday offerings. 2d was my fave today and I imagine it has at least 2 other hinters in 3d of it. Podium places to 19a and 18d. I needed Senf to help with a few, 1d and 18d for example. Not sure I fully understand 22a either. I imagine one of the homophones in 25a may not work for everyone.
    Thanks to Dada too.

  13. Not quite as tricky as I originally thought but I needed to come back to it several tmes throughout the morning before finally finishing it. Senf’s help was appreciated to confirm 8a. I have to say that these Sunday puzzles have expanded my horizons and I feel more open to trying more difficult clues.

  14. We started to solve Dada’s like a jigsaw, chose a piece then find where to put it – not vice versa. Today’s was lemon squeezy – except 8a. 2D was our fav for two reasons.

    Thanks to the confused dead fans. And HNY to all from Boston Mass.

    Mr & Mrs T

  15. I crossed the finished line with just a bit of e-help for 13D and 8A. Tough, but I perservated, as a certain person would say. 25A, 2D and 18D are by picks. Thanks Dada and Senf.

  16. Also liked 2d! Altogether v enjoyable puzzle. Don’t think 25a is a good clue as I don’t know why I have the answer but it can’t be anything else. Can anyone explain it a bit more. I get the auditor but not the rest.

    Thanks to the setter.

    1. Not sure if I was censured here but I did reply earlier. You have the answer so take two letters of the alphabet and concentrate on the pronunciation and you will have the answer.

  17. Well started off with three in, the hints gave me four more.
    Back to see if any more hints sink in.
    As someone said above, on the verge of giving up on a Sunday.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  18. Well I’ll go along with diabolical. Got exactly none at first pass, and only 5 with hints. Yes, if I wanted to look for electronic help I could get there in the end, but reap zero satisfaction. The DT, disappointingly for us lesser mortals, has clearly chosen to create a Sunday Toughie and have it masquerade as the Sunday Cryptic. Going to give Sundays a miss in future, but that is annoying too as I pay for the DT, plus more for the puzzle subscription, just to get these. Oh dear.

  19. I found this to be a mixed bag. Some great clues: COTD 2d as Senf points out (also 25a), 5d and 23a.

    But I found the rest a hard slog. Not keen on 1d and really not keen on 8a – I shall refrain from saying why for fear of banishment to the salt mines 😳

    11a was a new word for me (but very gettable). LOI: 11a (nice tricky little clue).

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints.

  20. Started off in trepidation but found it quite easy, Got stuck on 17d (why I’ve no idea). 23a caused me grief until I saw a hint above (thanks) about a homophone for two letters of the alphabet which confirmed my guess. I’m not sure that auditor is a good way of indicating that it “sounds like” Just stuck with 22a now. Is it the name of an apple?. If it is then, that’s a bit unfair. Thanks to all, although much easier I still find the setters style a bit overly clever and too much reliant on crosswordland clues. Plain English would be great. Or does he play bridge as well. 2 no trumps.

  21. *****/***. This took two sittings, lots of pen sucking, electronic help and Senf to explain a couple of my bung-ins. I thought 25a was better than 2d mainly because I got the latter almost straightaway. Not over keen on 1d though. Thanks to Dada for the workout and Senf for the hints.

  22. Popping in to see if it’s a ‘just me’ day – I seem to be having quite a lot of them at the moment! I haven’t read any hints yet or read the comments properly but have had a quick look to get the general flavour. Hugely relieved to find that it’s not just me so back to it now.

  23. We don’t usually comment on the prize puzzles but could not let this one pass by without saying how much we appreciated and enjoyed it, as well as confessing that 2d (our favourite of course) was one of the last ones for us to twig.
    Many thanks Dada and Senf.

  24. Liked the homophone in 2d but wasn’t keen on the one in 25a though.
    Still stuck on the apple in 22a. Need further research on that 3 letter synonym of cover. Not sure that the one I am thinking about is the right one. And the apple I have in mind has another word before. Oh dear. Won’t be able to sleep.
    Never mind.
    Really enjoyed the crossword.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints.

    1. You have to look for a different kind of cover … Not a lid, not a hat but something that wraps. I don’t particularly like this type of clue.

    2. JL – I hate the thought that you will be unable to sleep but I also hate the thought of being in the naughty corner all on my own so I’ll be careful.
      Stone Waller is right – it’s a different kind of cover – a very specific one used for a very specific purpose and is needed in sub-zero temperatures.

      1. Thanks Kath.
        But sub-zero temperatures just don’t exist where I live. It would kill off all the palm trees and we don’t want that do we?

        1. Yes – I did wonder if you were far enough south to ever need that kind of thing but, yet again, my geographical general knowledge has let me down.
          I think you’re thinking of the right kind of apple – it certainly can have another word in front of it. I also think that they originally came from New Zealand.
          What a lot of blather about a four word answer about a silly old apple – and, no, we don’t want to kill off all the palm trees.

          1. Thanks Kath, got it now and not an obscure apple either. Its just that when you have to think of an apple, all that comes up is Cox

          2. The apple started off as a Golden Delicious and then someone found one with a few red stripes. The variety was developed and selected from there to give the brilliant red varieties we now have. We used to grow them in our orcharding days in Nelson.

        2. We don’t have sub zero temps here that often, but the palm trees in this area are all dying from the Palm Weevil!

          We used to have a problem with the Procesionary Pine Moth/catepillar but last year we had 3/4 days of -4C and they seem to have gone.

          1. I know. So sad. I lost both my Phoenix Datifolia over the last few years. They were well over 100 years old. The magnificent Lebanese Cedar however is still a gigantic nest for these striped caterpillars. In fact we found one roaming around alone only last week.

            1. I don’t know where you are but if in Northern hemisphere they will descend from the tree about the 21st March and bury themselves in the ground. Don’t touch as they are dangerous but when they have formed the nest in the ground you may be able to deal with them.

  25. Suddenly there it was – finished – well, maybe not very suddenly.
    I ended up really enjoying today’s crossword – I think the trouble I have is partly to do with wave-length (I’ve always found this setter difficult) but it’s also to do with expectation and for the last few weeks I’ve known that I’m going to have a battle, so I do!
    Every time I got an answer that I’d struggled with (that’s most of them) I couldn’t see why I’d had a problem with it.
    Right – that’s enough of my ramblings for today except to say that I really will remember the blasted 8a ‘executive’ now – think I’ve said that before.
    Clues that stood out for me included 12, 19 and 25a and 2 and 18d. My favourite was 4d.
    With thanks to Dada and to Senf – I think you’re very brave to take this on.

    1. Kath, are you new to Dada? Have you not solved him in the Grauniad or FT? I have found him the best challenge since Araucaria passed away and always seek his crosswords.

      1. Oh – I replied to you and it’s disappeared – rats!
        No, I’m not totally new to Dada but I try to restrict my crosswords to one or two a day otherwise other stuff that needs doing would never get done if you know what I mean!
        Dada has, for a while I think, set DT Toughies and I’ve always had a battle with them. I don’t ever see the FT and usually only see the Guardian when I’m having coffee with a crossword solving friend who does it every day – he was a great fan of Araucaria crosswords.

        1. The internet can be a mystery sometimes!

          I know what you mean. We can overdo it sometimes. But I look out for Dada’s crosswords in all papers as they give me the greatest satisfaction.

    2. Well Kath, I look at some of the Ray T puzzles, like Thursday’s, and think rather Kath (or pommers or Falcon) than me. As I have said before, the challenge is solving the puzzle in the first place and as, on a Sunday, I only have to solve half of the clues . . .

      1. Interesting, Senf.
        I completed last Thursday’s Ray-T with recourse to just one hint, for confirmation only. No problem. Yet I could do little of this.
        I used to struggle with Ray-T, but thanks to the hints, gradually got on wavelength. Unfortunately the answers to Sunday’s puzzle don’t come out for a while so the moment is lost.
        I shall persevere thought, I just hope no one says that those of us who can’t do Dada’s ‘are not trying’ like that chap a couple of weeks back.

        1. I too used to struggle with RayT puzzles but slowly got “on wavelength” and I now really enjoy the challenge.

          I think Dada has quite a different style to many of the DT setters but there are enough seasoned solvers on this site who really rate his puzzles so I will also be persevering.

        2. Yes I think you hit the nail on the head. As it is a Sunday puzzle, by the time the solution comes out we have all forgotten about it, so it doesn’t become the usual learning experience.

  26. Got there in the end with less hassle in the East than in the West but have to say I didn’t find enjoyment in solving today. 23a was Fav with 25a running up. Hope for more fun tomorrow. Thank you (sort of!) Dada and Senf.

  27. Brilliant! I loved this puzzle. Took me ages to solve but boy, what a sense of achievement! 25a floated my boat.
    Thanks to Dada, and to Senf for the hints.

  28. Tricky in places, but not diabolical. Just like a Virgilius when he sometimes offered something a bit tougher.

  29. One bald Florence. Been tearing my hair out all day. I managed to finish this, but had a lot of electronic help. I completed the grid. That’s all I can say. Many thanks setter and Senf.

  30. I read much of the blog, including what Brian had said, prior to even attempting today’s puzzle and on that basis I almost decided to give it a miss as it seemed that it may well be beyond me too. But no, once again the pure bloody mindedness in me said to have a go – and you know what? I finished it. Okay it took a wee bit of electronic help, but I’m not proud. In the old days it would have been a dictionary and a thesaurus, but this is the 21st century! A couple of sessions with the Antiques Road Show and Dragon’s Den in between and it was solved. And so now to bed, satisfied with my efforts. Thanks to Dada for a tough workout and thanks to our ‘Canadian interpreter’ too. Nice one folks :-)

  31. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. A very very difficult puzzle. Just managed to get 10 answers myself, and another 10 from the hints. Still leaves me with 6 unsolved. I’ll just have to wait until the review next week. Makes me feel like a beginner again, no fun at all. Sunday used to be my favourite puzzle, but alas, not any more.

  32. I thought this was a super crossword with some great clues. I found it really tough, and (three days later) have decided I eventually need to look at the hints to help with my final two clues, having picked it up again several times while doing the Monday and Tuesday offerings.
    It is always interesting to see all the comments, which often vary wildly. I cannot understand comments like ‘It is not fair’ or ‘The hints do not help’. Firstly, if you cannot see how to do something, it does not mean it is not fair. It is a challenge. Some crosswords are straightforward and some are a lot more difficult. Personally, I like the challenge of attempting a tough crossword, and sometimes I need help with it, but that is how hopefully I shall improve at doing them. Secondly, the hints are obviously a big help. The first one, for example, 7a, even states that it is a verbal test you are looking for (the usual one, at that) and tells you to put it around a synonym of ‘part’. That all seems to me like a very helpful hint, and I do not see what more one could expect, apart from stating the answer.
    So thank you to Senf for the hints (especially for my last two). Also thanks to Dada for an excellent crossword with some very nice clues. Please continue to give us a challenge with the Sunday crossword. I have always found Virgilus’ Sunday crosswords very enjoyable and they were almost always my favourite of the week, so another setter with some very well-designed clues is great news.
    (Sorry for the long ramble but I do not post very often).

    1. Thank you for your comment, greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, because of its ‘lateness’ it will not be seen and read by too many others. You should post something similar on a Sunday.

      1. Thanks, Senf. It was late because I do not always attempt the crosswords on the day, and in some cases get stuck but leave them lying around so I can keep having another go as I do not like to concede defeat.

      1. Thanks. I’ll note that. I did not realise it would appear on the site in the same format.

Comments are closed.