ST 2987 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2987 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2987 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where, with extreme low temperatures and wind chills, the weather forecasts are including time for frostbite on exposed skin (10 minutes or less).

Today, Dada has provided us a Toughie type of puzzle, and when I thought I had finished I had to rely on web site submission for confirmation, containing two anagrams (one of them a partial), one homophone, and one lurker.

Candidates for favourite – 11a, 18a, and 15d.

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 Trees in a thicket cleared initially (2,5)
The plural of a type of tree contained by (in) A from the clue and ThickeT from the clue with its ‘interior’ letters removed (cleared).

10a Canopy closing off border for three months (9)
A type of canopy (usually over a bed) containing (closing off) a synonym of border.

11a Good-looking woman has been identified as cleaner (10)
I think woman might be doing double duty – a perhaps non-PC word for a good looking woman and (3,3) how one might say woman has been identified.

14a Without control, public disorder descended (127)
A single word for public disorder and a synonym of descended (when applied to precipitation).

18a For example, setter’s warmer breakfast-time drink? (4,2,3,3)
What setter is an example of and what keeps it warm.

22a Individual that’s struck with equal criticism (10)
A verbal synonym of equal and a synonym of criticism.

27a Benefactor clutches at benefactor! (7)
A type of benefactor containing (clutches) AT from the clue.

28a Fine year after day in command (7)
The single letter for day contained by (in) a synonym of command followed by the single letter for year.


1d Needing no introduction, procession covering Chopin’s first passage (6)
A type of procession with the first letter removed (needing no introduction) containing (covering) the initial letter (‘s first) of Chopin.

2d Complete language spoken? (6)
The homophone (spoken) of a (European) language.

3d File containing personal feature and current picture (4,6)
A type of file containing a personal feature (of which we have two) and a type of current – I am not convinced by this one but my answer was accepted by the web site.

5d Focus of activity in great course, incomplete (9)
A synonym of great and a (main) course of a meal with the last letter removed (incomplete).

7d Better off female keeping fashionable (8)
A synonym of off followed by the third person singular female pronoun containing (keeping) a synonym of fashionable.

15d Fan heading for trouble runs into old player (9)
The initial letter (heading for) of Trouble and the single letter for (crickety) runs inserted into a (2-5) term for an old player.

16d Grand seeing you on beach (8)
The archaic form of you followed by a synonym of beach.

20d Spare space around pub (6)
A synonym of space containing (around) a type of pub – and the answer is in the Small Red Book listing for spare.

24d Test failing, cancel amendment (4)
An anagram (failing) of TEST.

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.

Status Quo, one or two displaying hairy, or lack of hairy, chests, one week at number one starting January 18th, 1975:


64 comments on “ST 2987 (Hints)

  1. :phew: We are back to Dada in Toughie mode today. This put up quite a fight but was reasonably enjoyable overall.

    Senf, I took “picture” in 3d to be a film and “good-looking” in 11a can refer to either sex so no political incorrectness is involved!

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. Thanks RD and CS.

      That usage of ‘picture’ did not occur to me and until 10 minutes ago I had never heard of the one in question.

      I considered that woman is doing double duty in 11a because, with BRB support, ‘good looking’ is an adjectival phrase and the word ‘generated’ for the answer is a noun so I was looking for grammatical correctness, but, perhaps, Dada wasn’t.

        1. Thanks, Gazza. Oddly enough, that’s how I parsed it too when I was solving but I’d already forgotten that when commenting. :sad:

  2. If only Dada’s Toughies were as tricky as this. For some reason the SE corner took quite a while to fall.

    I’ve marked one favourite – 18a – but may have a few more when I’ve finished drafting the review

  3. What a ridiculously difficult crossword that is out of most peoples ability I suspect. I do find this sort of puzzle on a Sunday somewhat elitist.

    1. Could I please ask you to give the Dada Toughie which will be published on Tuesday a go and see what you think

          1. It’s subjective, but I’d definitely say so.

            (Of course, next Tuesday’s one will probably now turn out to be a stinker … )

    2. Brian, instead of getting your knickers in a twist, print off the NTSPP and save it for Sunday. I did yesterday’s this morning and it was a treat.

  4. Back to being trickier and like CS my difficulties were in the SE – the rest of the puzzle I found to be fairly straightforward.

    Thanks to Senf and Dada 3*/4*

  5. Made it but with a lot of help. Thank you Senf. I’m finding it difficult to get on Dada’s wavelength. Also can’t make up my mind whether 18a is good clueing or not. A cup of Rosie is all I crave first thing in the morning.

  6. Like CS and JonP I had trouble in the SE which probably took as long as the rest of the puzzle put together. I needed Senf to clarify my answer to 3d, but all in all an enjoyable tussle so many thanks to setter and hinter

  7. I really enjoyed this one and had no problems beyond the final parsing of 3d – many thanks to RD for the enlightenment on that one!

    Podium places going to 18a plus 23d which amused me.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the blog. Sorry, I wasn’t quite up to doing a head-banging routine this morning but the Status Quo clip evoked many memories.

    For anyone with a bit of crosswording time left today, I can recommend the offering from our own Prolixic in the Independent.

  8. I was delayed by fixating on the wrong type of procession for 1d but got there in the end. Needed help from Senf to parse 10a since I’d never heard of the canopy.. Thank you to him and Dada.

  9. Quite a tough Sunday Cryptic. I had to leave it and come back toit. With the help of the thesaurus, I managed to find the 6 missing clues, apart from 6d. Most of the awkward ones were in the South East corner for me too.

  10. Tough certainly, but very doable if you stick at it. Like CS, the SE corner was my downfall in time terms, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Really liked 22a.

    Thanks Dada and Senf.

  11. I enjoyed this, finding it a good challenge without being off the scale for difficulty (though it’s true that Dada’s Toughies generally put up a little less resistance).

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  12. With seven across clues in fairly quickly last night I thought Dada had given us an easy one. Then the challenge started! And what a great challenge it was. Once the “individual” had been eventually worked out, I found the SE corner ok. It was 5d and 10a that took me ages and of course I had no idea why my answer to 3D was correct. So 5star enjoyment for me and the time doesn’t really matter. Thanks to Dada and Senf – stay warm and safe.

  13. This was quite tough but I enjoyed the solve. Favourites were 9ac, 11ac, 18ac and 23dn. Managed to parse an answer for 3dn but had to google it for confirmation. Not sure I like the definition in 21ac but no-one else seems to have been concerned – what am I missing?

    Thanks Dada and Senf

    1. Look up your solution to 21a in the dictionary – the definition you want is one of many listed

    2. I thought that the definition in 21a was a little weak but it is usage that has become quite common since stores like MFI (is it still in business?) and Ikea arrived on the scene.

      1. MFI went out of business some years ago, but one of its erstwhile divisions, Howdens, is thriving and sells many a 21a

  14. A few weeks ago I would gladly have had Dada locked up in Siberia. Now, I’ll buy him a pint if ever I meet him. His Sunday offerings are better than a good roast. Tasty and satisfying, with the occasional tough, but even tastier bits.

    Many thanks.

  15. Getting there slowly with DaDa but today needed a couple of hints to keep me going. Not a film buff so 3d lost me.
    Too tough to be enjoyable but those I did get unaided at least gave satisfaction.
    Thanks to DaDa & Senf.

  16. Last Sunday was an absolute joy, this was like going to the dentist.
    I finished through shear bloody-minded determination, albeit with a couple of hints.
    I probably parsed about 50% of this.
    Just a shame I completed the NTSPP yesterday.
    Just hope I don’t get accused if giving up again!!
    Thanks all.

    1. Suggest you change your dentist Hoofs.
      Mine did away with the string round the door knob years ago.

  17. I make 3d the feature we have two of. File as in a synonym of rank and file and a current of air put together to make a ‘picture’.

      1. Thanks Senf, the penny has finally dropped.
        Superb film. A masterclass in film direction by the great man.

      2. It was, sorry that was a comment on the move that sat around in some interweb ether before appearing.

  18. 4d a fave today as I was in the Salts mill having coffee as I solved it the creator of which, Mr Salt being of that ilk.
    Def a bit tougher again today and I still have a few to do.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada

  19. Mixed feelings today. Having almost decided not to attempt this, given lack of success with recent Sundays, I was agreeably surprised that I managed to solve 10 unaided, and a further 8 with Senf’s hints, thank you. Not even close to be as enjoyable as yesterday’s puzzle though. Perhaps I am slowly getting on Dada’s wavelength.

    Not sure about the PC fuss re 11a, the four letter term at the start of the word wouldn’t bother me at all.

  20. Started off the day with a tough game of indoor bowls then home to face a less tough crossword. Yes , lost the bowls match but finished the crossword in a reasonable time and thoroughly enjoyed both .

    Agree with Senf’s favourites but glad to miss the Artic conditions .

    Some very interesting comments to date .

    Thanks to everyone .

  21. There’s a danger when reading some of the comments, especially those from Brian, before even attempting to solve a crossword puzzle, in not bothering to ‘test the water’ first. I’d almost decided to give it a miss, but curiosity took the better of me and I got stuck in. Slowly, very slowly it all unravelled albeit with some electronic help. I have to say that after a week of fairly gettable crossword puzzles, one that offers more of a challenge is most welcome, especially on a day when available time is not an issue. I for one enjoyed this puzzle and can now relax with a nice g and t. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  22. For me this was a slog from beginning to end with no light relief. Somehow battled through but with no sense of satisfaction on completion. Several clues were too clever by half. I am tempted to give Sunday cruciverbal challenges a miss in future. Thank you Dada and Senf.

  23. I can’t see any real difference between Paul and Dada (JH), so it seems to me we now have a Graun back pager for the DT Sunday slot.

    Whilst I don’t mind the puzzles as such, I do think there is a little playfulness missing which we were treated to with Virgilius which is a bit of a shame.

    JH’s puzzles, for me, are a little mechanical and surfaces don’t seem to be top priority for him.

    *Puts head below parapet and waits for some flak*

  24. Help! Sitting in Stanstead airport we have completed all of this ( phew!) except 17 down, to which there is no hint or even a comment from any of you clever clogs. Any chance of a hint? We still have two trains till Durham so some enlightenment would be welcome … 🙂

    1. A shortened version of “I had” drawn up (in a down clue) followed by a synonym of “ideal”.

  25. Gosh this was tough Have only just finished it! But only started at 4pm after going to friends for a lovely lunch. Thanks to all for great brainstretcher.

  26. I loved it but did find it pretty tricky – today’s excuse is that I’m knackered – late last night and have spent today with the Elder Lamb, her partner and our eighteen month old grandson.
    I think everything else has already been said so I’ll just mention a few clues – 9, 18 and 22a and 8, 13, 16 and 23d – my favourite is one of those.
    With thanks to Dada and to Senf.
    Really glad to see that everything is working again – the last time I looked was very early yesterday evening. Well done and thank you to whoever (?) fixed it.

  27. I also found it very difficult and I am prepared to accept that some puzzles will be beyond my solving level .Otherwise there would no progression .
    But I , very unPC , really disliked 11a . Because it’s so bloody true .
    Rant ended .
    Thanks to all concerned .

    1. I think if you watch the film Four Weddings And A Funeral you will hear a male referring to another as a “****”.

      1. Do you really have to asterisk it ?I have watched that film , several times and enjoyed it .. go on just spell it out … we forgive you in advance .

        1. No, because he would be giving part of the answer for which there is no forgiveness as it’s a prize puzzle.

  28. Got round to this late in the day and got a bit stuck so had to leave it for a while. Our son was visiting for dinner and with some inspired guessing and solving from him got us going again to polish it off. Generally enjoyed it but do miss the sense of fun that V displayed each week. 18a Fave today.
    It does not seem long ago when I was trying to pass on my enthusiasm for Cryptics
    to him as a boy and teen. He’s 23 now and soon I will be passing my solving sticks on to him. Such a joy to see.
    Just finished 15 hours of hard work in the garden installing ducted wiring to a NestCam – had to get on with it as those little blue tits want to get busy.
    Thanks to Jack Frost and Dada.

  29. Phew! That was hard work! I enjoyed the challenge with several glasses of wine which ultimately got me to the finishing line.
    18a was fave.
    Thanks to Dada for the brain ache, and to Senf for making sense.

  30. Thanks to Senf for the excellent hints. Needed quite a few. Started this in bed and did not get very far. Too busy til now to finish. Found it a bit of a slog but got there eventually. The construction of the clues is logical but some synonyms require a lot o thought

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