ST 2985 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2985 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2985 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where we started 2019 at minus 27 degrees, -38 degrees with wind chill, before having another heat wave and reaching plus 3 degrees on Thursday – but it didn’t last.

With the Six Nations Tournament a few weeks away and the RWC later in the year, time for some rugby trivia.  Apart from the obvious 6 Northern hemisphere and 2 Southern hemisphere countries, which other three countries have participated in every finals tournament, including this year?  Hint – not South Africa as, for ‘political’ reasons, it did not play in the first two tournaments.  Answer at the bottom of the hints.

The first Love It or Hate It Sunday puzzle of 2019; personally, I loved it.  Dada has given us another of his asymmetrical (more downs than acrosses) puzzles with a slightly above average number of anagrams (including partials) and one lurker.

Candidates for favourite – 12a, 17a, and 18d (an oldie but goodie?).

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:


8a Working, he got ridiculously busy (2,3,2)
A two letter word for working followed by an anagram (ridiculously) of HE GOT.

11a Croon about boat’s artwork (9)
A synonym of croon containing (about) a type of sailing boat.

12a Spud that’s less hard: I’m not sure (5)
ThAT minus (less) the single letter for hard followed by two letters that can indicate being unsure.

14a Alpine slipper concealing funny bags (7)
An item of winter sports equipment that is akin to a tea tray (not the one GB won Olympic medals in last year) containing (concealing) a synonym of funny.

17a One or two perhaps I’d written about in sexy book (8,7)
I’D (without the apostrophe) from the clue reversed (written about) contained by (in) a synonym of sexy followed by an OT book (in the Pentateuch).

21a Rat pack member? (5)
A double definition, the second is an alternative name for the lowest value honour card in a pack.

27a Get under someone’s skin, as perfume? (7)
Another double definition – see the illustration for the second.

28a Stop voting system happening (7)
A two letter abbreviation for a voting system followed by a synonym of happening.


1d Endless pole, problem for marsupial (6)
A type of pole with its last letter removed (endless) followed by a type of (simple arithmetical) problem.

4d Look to break up wrong crowd — in which everyone joins in? (9)
A two letter synonym of look inserted into (to break up) synonyms of wrong and crowd.

5d Piano sonata sounding terrific initially, listen! (4)
An interjection made up of the first letters (initially) of four words in the clue.

7d Might a low budget film be so dark? (8)
How one might describe a dark night.

9d Partly provides for old poet (4)
The lurker (partly) found in one word in the clue.

17d Fixed PC yet? Do I check text for errors? (4-4)
An anagram (fixed) of PC YET? DO I.

18d Digger once impressing a judge (8)
How one might describe a former (once) digger containing (impressing) A from the clue

22d Scalp important figure (6)
Remove (scalp) the first letter of a synonym of important.

25d Money to pay, ruined (4)
A double definition to finish – the second might relate to furnishing materials.

Rugby trivia answer – Argentina, Japan, and Canada!

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From the Village People, the first number one of 1979:


29 comments on “ST 2985 (Hints)

  1. What a delightful crossword , full of humour , trickery and satisfaction in solving .

    Every clue a favourite .

    Thanks to everyone .

  2. The muse was definitely with me this morning as I whizzed through this one without any hold ups. Would love to believe that I’m getting onto our Sunday setter’s wavelength but I somehow doubt it.

    Too many goodies to pick a favourite – hope I’m saying the same next week!

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf. Love it or loathe it, The Village People’s YMCA always got folk onto the dance floor.

  3. Greetings from Capetown.Thanks to Senf for tips and rugby trivia,which I got.No Boks of course,which you explained.Another great puzzle from Dada which I really enjoyed.Loi 23d,Needed Senf hint for 22d,as to what the final letter was as I could not parse it.

  4. Nothing too difficult here, a puzzle to ease us into the New Year. Enjoyable, too. Thank you Dada and Senf.

  5. 3*/4*…..
    got held up in the NE for some reason;
    lots of good clues-perhaps 21A (rat pack member?) for a COD.

  6. What a delightful crossword just the thing to cheer up a mid winters day.I managed to complete with the assistance of a couple of hints. Many thanks to Dada & Senf.

  7. Loved it! Struggled with Spud a bit but otherwise a medium stroll with three genuine chucklers.
    And another bonus – managed 28/28 for last Sunday’s puzzle so now awaiting the email confirming my prize!
    Off to buy a Lottery ticket, just in case.


  8. Was this a more gentle offering than usual for a Sunday or did I just manage to get on the right wavelength at last? Whatever, although very tricky it was enjoyable to solve. Mrs Bs answer to 4d was quite innovative I thought – *********!
    Thx for the hints which were needed for a couple and to the setter for giving us a bit more in line with back page standards.

  9. 2.5*/4*. That’s how I like a Sunday cryptic crossword – nicely challenging and a lot of fun!

    Podium places go to 12a, 17a & 21a as the best of a very good selection.

    Many thanks to Dada. Please keep them coming like this! Thanks too to Senf.

  10. Struggled a bit with this and needed several hints to get a full grid even if I haven’t parsed all. I did struggle most in NE mainly because I was trying to make a brand of potato crisps fit in.
    Also a few others are still best guesses but time to make a bacon butty.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  11. Ah, that’s more like a Sunday cryptic crossword puzzle. A really entertaining solve with nothing too devious. I felt spoilt for choice as regards picking a favourite, so I’ll simply say that I enjoyed the whole thing. Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  12. Having skipped last Sunday I found this a thoroughly enjoyable challenge.
    The Alpine slipper gave me a Doh moment as did 18d.
    Thank you to DaDa & Senf

  13. Most enjoyable.
    Tantalisingly ingenious clueing.
    Much humour.
    Got there, eventually, unaided, last in 14a, constructed the word not knowing part, a new word for me.
    Very many thanks indeed, Dada, a **** and bit for me.
    Thanks, Senf, for the review.

  14. Everyone seems to have enjoyed this one … however, the comments were far more interesting when most people disliked the Sunday Dada.

    Dada seems to have the great skill of adjusting the level of difficulty to the wishes of the commentariat. Thanks.

    1. We recall fondly the grumbly comments of 2018…

      Mr & Mrs T

      Senf: are your temps in Fahrenheit?

  15. Rarely on this setter’s wavelength and unlike Jane I certainly didn’t ‘whizz’ through but did just manage to meet the challenge. Tried to use another almost appropriate solution to 7d but that rendered an unlikely end to 10a. 25d ? ruined. Thank you Dada and Senf.

  16. Terrific challenge for a soggy Sunday. Loads of excellent, thought-provoking clues. Perfect for a Prize Puzzle. 17a my favourite and 25d my last one in.

    Thanks very much to Dada and to Senf.

  17. JH seems to be on a roll at the moment, the last Paul production was equally enjoyable.

    Thanks to him and to Senf

  18. I agree that this wasn’t as difficult as the last few Sundays but it was tricky enough for me and I certainly didn’t whizz through it.
    I enjoyed the crossword and thought there were lots of good clues but didn’t really have a particular favourite.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  19. I took a long time to solve this, but I cannot complain about any of the clues. Just me having an off day.

    I did like 17ac.

    Thanks Dada and Senf

  20. I was very slow, with this one, but that might have been a result of last nights 12th night party. No overall favourite. Thanks Dada and Senf.

  21. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, very tricky, but doable. Needed the hints or electronic help for 11&17a and 2,4,7,18,25d. Favourite was 21a. Was 4*/3* for me.

  22. Thanks so much for the hints, without which we should never have managed to solve this crossword, which we found much more difficult than usual ( though perhaps not more difficult than other recent Sunday offerings).

  23. ****/****. I needed a couple of hints to get to the end but overall this was enjoyable. Thanks to Dada and Senf for the pointers.

  24. Thanks Dada and Our Man in Winnipeg. Found this more doable than previous asundays. Managed most of it but without help was left with 21a and 18 and 22d. Usual trick of leaving it and going back did not work so resorted to the hints. I ought to have got 18d unaided and cannot explain why it eluded me. I had actually thought of 22d but could not justify the answer without the hint. 21a just never considered that sort of pack. Favourites 13 14 17 and 28a and 3 4 and 20d. Of those I would award the crown to 17a.

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