ST 2986 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2986 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2986 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where the snow disposal mountains are growing steadily.  The city has four snow disposal sites with a total capacity of 1,700,000 cubic metres (although I am not sure that there should be a height limit restricting volume on an open air site) which is approximately equivalent to 20 Royal Albert Halls.

Today, Dada has given us a Virgilius like puzzle, but with his style of cluing, containing nine anagrams (five of them partials) with some not so obvious indicators that may take some time to identify, three homophones one of which may not pass a litmus test, and one lurker.

Candidates for favourite – 10a, 5d, and 21d.

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 Bed delivery discussed? (5)
We start with one of the homophones (discussed) of a type of delivery.

4a Smart wrapping paper going in large quantities (9)
A synonym of smart (as in pain) containing (wrapping) a quantity of paper.

10a Wood pigeon’s head cradled by bloke (5)
The initial letter (head) of Pigeon inserted into (cradled by) a synonym of bloke – OK, I had to include this one.

12a Support true reforms after move quickly backfiring (7)
An anagram (reforms) of TRUE after a single word for move quickly reversed (backfiring).

18a Driver perhaps hit reversing, then hit again (4,4)
A synonym of hit (as in punish) reversed (reversing) followed by another (then . . . again) synonym of hit.

20a Feeder scoffing last of dessert, perfect! (4,2)
An item used when eating (feeder) containing (scoffing) the final letter (last of) of desserT.

26a Case left behind large rooms, unopened (5)
The single letter for left after (behind) the plural of a type of large room (which may contain plants and seating) with its first letter removed (unopened).

28a Percentage turned around, saving dosh initially in hospitals (9)
An anagram (around) of TURNED containing (saving) the first letter (initially) of Dosh all contained by (in) two of the single letter for hospital.

29a Related item hotel at Bangkok perhaps reported? (3-2)
The second homophone (perhaps reported) of a type of hotel in the country where Bangkok is located.


1d Invoice Gabon produced for flooded channel in Oz (9)
A synonym of invoice followed by an anagram (produced) of GABON.

2d Dangerous rig unfinished, limit to achievement? (5)
RIg from the clue with the last letter deleted (unfinished) and a word that is used in a phrase to describe the limit to achievement.

5d Seriously consider space in rowing team, after audition? (8)
The third homophone, which may not pass a litmus test, IN from the clue ‘sandwiched’ between the homophonic pair (after audition) of a synonym of space and a term for a rowing team.

7d Audacious banking rules originally, not wise (9)
A synonym of audacious containing (banking) the initial letter (originally) of Rules.

14d Son-in-law and I suspect one supported old US president (9)
An anagram (suspect) of SON-IN-LAW and I.

16d Chant revealed spinster or bachelor? (9)
A synonym of chant and a synonymic phrase (3,2) of revealed.

21d Praise suggestion to carry double in lift (7)
A type of suggestion containing a synonym of double all reversed (in lift)

23d Somewhat ecstatic at changes in contract (5)
The lurker (somewhat) found in the rest of the clue.

25d Path where first of twigs collected by rake (5)
The initial (first) letter of Twigs inserted into (collected by) a synonym of rake (not the garden tool kind).

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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.

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.

Dame Shirley Bassey, 82 years young on Tuesday the 8th, at the 1971 Royal Variety Performance:



38 comments on “ST 2986 (Hints)

  1. Well, I’m jiggered…
    I had a glance at this to convince myself that this was beyond me with plan B being the NTSPP today, and I finished it. I agree with Senf, quite Virgilius like.
    Now I have finished a Dada puzzle, I can retire!!
    A couple I could not parse that don’t have hints, ho hum.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  2. This felt like the good old days when Virgilius was in charge on Sundays. A very enjoyable challenge. Thank you Dada and Senf.

  3. 3* / 4*. Excellent! This was nicely challenging and great fun despite a couple of strange surfaces.

    Re: 19d, I think the convention is that it should specify 23d although it’s not hard to see which of the two 23 clues it is referring to.

    My podium comprises 15a, 27a & 5d with the latter getting the accolade of my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  4. Definitely more like Virgilius – even down to needing two sheets of paper to print it out!
    Have to admit that I’ve never heard anyone refer to a 27a.

    Favourite was 15a.

    Thanks to Dada (?) and to Senf for the blog. That’s some hairstyle that Ms Bassey is sporting!

    1. Jane, if you select print preview (right click on the print image) and it shows 1 of 2 pages, you can modify the printout (normally to 95%) to reduce the puzzle to a single sheet.

  5. This grew on me as I proceeded through . Lots to appreciate and smile/groan at but I expect a few grumbles when I read the comments .

    5D favourite .

    Thanks to everyone .

  6. Very enjoyable and not too demanding – just what I want on a Sunday morning!

    Many thanks to Dada, and to Senf.

  7. Enjoyable – just challenging enough. I have nothing to grumble about. Special mentions to 28a, 21d, 15a and 4a with top spot going to 5d.,

  8. Not a lot to add just a fine puzzle that seemed hard at first but was solved steadily NW SW SE with the NE holding out til I took a hint which revealed my problem was a wrong bung in for 15a. I wont discuss it here as I am sworn off cake until the Birthday Bash (too much Christmas Cake).
    I think the best way to tackle a Dada is to not try to complete in a hurry. It might not always fit with busy Sundays with lots to do but coming back a few times is usually enlightening.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  9. Well with the help of the excellent hints and considerable electronic aid I have finally completed this very difficult puzzle. However, I do not understand the answers to 30a and 23d or the relevance of the first 3 letters in 17d.
    Must admit to an audible groan when solving 29a, dreadful pun.
    I agree that this is much more like the much loved Virgilius puzzles than the ones produced by Dada whose puzzles I find far too tough and much too wordy.
    Thx to all

    1. My crossword hasn’t got a 30a ??
      23d – there are various meanings of the word contract – see if Mrs B can link your solution to the definition or else I’d suggest you do what I always suggest, although you will have to work through quite a few definitions to reach the correct one
      17d If something is wrong, it can be said to be xxx

  10. I don’t usually get along with Dada but today was a different kettle of fish and I did enjoy the challenge. Can’t pick an outright Fav from 29a, 5d and 16d. Thank you Dada (let’s have more of the same/similar please) and Senf – you have an abundance of the white stuff whilst we are enjoying above average temperatures although I gather that’s set to change next week.

  11. A reasonably gentle Sunday workout which was enjoyable to solve.

    Thanks to Senf and Dada 2*/4*

  12. A nicely balanced, challenging and very enjoyable puzzle this morning. 1d and 10a are competing for my COTD.

    I think that we are now entering a period of relative ease from our setter, as I suspect that the first two or three were plucked from a Toughie pile when Virgilius left so abruptly, leaving a gaping hole which needed filling. The last few weeks have been excellent, pitched at just the right level IMHO.

    Thanks very much to Dada and Senf.

  13. I’d just like to say that the so-called dodgy homophone in 5d works perfectly in my accent.

    I came here to check the analysis for 21d. I had the right answer, though.

    1. 5d worked for me too; but, there are one or two among us, who are the custodians of the homophone litmus paper, who might not agree.

  14. Unfortunately put in the usual form of 27a which made solving 21d impossible. Not heard of this form of relative before. Favourite clue 15a. Thanks to all.

      1. Me too – I’m also a 27a several times over but have always just been Kath to all of them. Our family doesn’t ‘do’ the second word whichever generation we’re talking about!!!

        1. PS – My Dad would have said, “Anyone can call me anything they like as long as it’s not early”!

  15. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. When I first looked at this puzzle, I thought that I wasn’t going to get any answers at all. I persevered and eventually was 3 answers short. Needed the hints for 21d, and electronic help for 17d. A very enjoyable puzzle with a lot of humour. Liked 15a&5d,but my favourite was 18a. Was 4*/4* for me.

  16. I agree with all those who found this an enjoyable challenge. However, it took me for ever to escape from the NW corner because I started with a different, and I think valid, dog that flew in 3d. Many thanks to all.

  17. I really enjoyed this one – not a doddle by any means but ‘doable’.
    I was very slow to get going but then it all went quite well, certainly in comparison to the last few weeks – not sure if I’m getting more used to Dada’s clues or if they’re getting easier – probably the latter.
    I did need the hint to explain 21d.
    I agree with others who haven’t come across the first bit of 27a before but it is in the BRB – I know because I’ve looked.
    Clues that stood out for me today included 15a and 3 and 16d – my favourite is one of those but I’m not quite sure which one.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  18. Once I’d made the first couple of entries everything flowed along nicely. Dare I say that it was a bit too straight forward? Ah well, next time…
    15a was my favourite.
    Thanks to Dada, and to DT for the hints.

  19. Managed to post twice but third one disappeared so I shall try again. Completed without difficulty. I find it difference that the compiler as the Dada who took over from Virgilius. I was left with five in the NE and SW after the first attempt but completed after lunch. I thought 4a was the most difficult to solve as there were a number of different ways of looking at it. Thanks to Dada if indeed it is he. Thanks to Senf for the parsing of 21d. Answer obvious but the parsing less so.

  20. I am going to say before I even look at the comments that I can’t believe it’s a Dada puzzle. I completed it without help, slowly but surely and I enjoyed it!
    No dreary synonyms every other clue.
    Thanks to Senf and the setter.

  21. This was quite challenging in places but more relaxing than recent Sunday puzzles have been. Thank you for the hint to 10 a, which eluded me but was obviously a gift to Senf. This enabled me to finsh the puzzle; a rare occurrence on Sundays.

  22. ****/****. Enjoyable if tricky with a couple of standout clues for me (5&19d). Thanks to Dada and Senf for the clues – what happened to 25d?

  23. Came this after extremely enjoyable soccer match this afternoon. Today’s offering nearly as enjoyable as the result that was 20a for me.
    Many thanks to setter and Senf for the hints etc

      1. One man’s meat etc. Hoofs. But it’s only a game and I’m sure BD is a very magnanimous host. Great game though & as an ex goalkeeper good to see one i fluence the result so much.

  24. Yes, just like old times, ideal level of difficulty for the end of the week. Back to the Sunday Telegraph after a brief retreat to the Saturday – can’t do both! Most enjoyable, thanks to Senf and Dada.

  25. I’m probably making a wrong analogy, but I feel sometimes that making a start on a cryptic crossword puzzle can be a bit like trying to pull off that little foil strip from a fresh pint of milk . . . . . sometimes it’s so easy and other times it’s bloomin
    difficult to get a start. For me at least today’s was the latter. I read several clues and used some electronic help before finding a way in. Once I solved two or three clues I felt I was really motoring and ended up completing in good time. A thoroughly enjoyable solve, with 27 across and 16 down as a couple of my favourite clues, but 17 down was my clue of the day. 19 down was clever, but 1 across gave me that ‘FFS’ moment. Thanks Dada and thanks Senf too. Night all. 😊

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