ST 2989 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2989 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2989 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg.  Last month, Tantalus asked me which temperature scale I was using in my weather reports.  Well, on Wednesday it did not matter as we started the day at minus 40 degrees, thankfully, we have warmed up somewhat since then except that it went from ‘too cold to snow’ to ‘let it snow (some more)’ as a snow-bearing ‘Colorado Low’ is on its way!

Today is the second anniversary, well close enough for government work, of my Sunday blogging which began with ST 2885 on February 5, 2017 and Dada has given us a Toughie, at least I thought it was, with some ‘stretched’ synonyms, a handful of anagrams, two homophones, and one lurker (not hinted, but should be reasonably obvious).

Candidates for favourite – 9a, 27a (an oldie but goodie?), 4d, and 7d.

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 Some piping hot wraps rolled off (11)
A synonym of hot (referring to a liquid?) containing (wraps) OFF from the clue reversed (rolled).

9a County flock diminished, as some might say? (14)
A homophone (as some might say) of how a farmer might say that a flock was smaller (diminished).

13a File useless in the end, hammer nails (4)
A synonym of hammer contains (nails) the last letter (in the end) of useleS.

17a Top bounder? (6)
A double definition – the first is an item of clothing.

20a Preening string of feathers, smart (8)
A string of feathers used as a decorative item of clothing and a synonym of smart.

22a Support vehicle heading west, kilometre behind (4)
A type of vehicle reversed (heading west) followed by an abbreviation for kilometre (which is not the one I am familiar with).

27a Present a woman’s leg, perhaps? (8,6)
A tongue in cheek (perhaps?) double definition – the first is a small (Christmas) present.

28a Clever Dick blitzed tyrants with spam (6-5)
An anagram (blitzed . . . with) of TYRANTS and SPAM.


2d Huge 4WD car, the real cost laughable? (7,7)
An anagram (laughable) of CAR, THE REAL COST gives a slang term for a 4WD vehicle (used in an urban environment).

4d Cricket side hit out (2,6)
One of the ‘sides’ of a cricket pitch and a synonym for hit.

7d Frustrating thing, redundancy process? (14))
Perhaps(?) written as (3-11) the process of making employees redundant.

8d Vaulted ceiling of green repeated in building of pale red (11)
The first letter (ceiling) of Green repeated and inserted into (in) an anagram (building) OF PALE RED

10d Domestic restriction in the main covered by period on holiday (5,6)
A single word for the main inserted into a (time) period and a single word for on holiday.

18d Good to confine son, sports official has claimed — buzzy little nipper? (8)
The single letter for son contained by (has claimed) the short form of a sports official all contained by (to confine) a synonym of good.

21d In audition, person singing note (6)
The second homophone (in audition) of a male singer.

26d Mediterranean island fit for uprising? (4)
A synonym of fit reversed (for uprising).

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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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Graham Nash (The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and Young)) was 77 yesterday, here is C, S, & N with Marrakesh Express released in 1969 not long after they had got together:


64 comments on “ST 2989 (Hints)

  1. After a slow start appreciation and progress grew with the exception of the mysterious ( to me ) 9A .

    A number of excellent clues makes the COTD difficult but will pick 8D .

    Thanks to everyone .

        1. Thank you. I suppose it depends how you pronounce the answer – I was thinking of the other way to say it.

      1. It’s a three word homophone – say it to yourself .
        I struggled with 14d , and I’m not certain that I’ve got 19a correct.
        Other than that ,fair and fun .
        Thanks to the setter and Senf

            1. All was going well until 19ac. Then I came here and realised that my 14dn was wrong. Got it now so thanks for the hint. I liked 1ac, 9ac (with an accent!) and 27ac.

              But I cannot for the life of me find the lurker mentioned by Senf. Anybody?

              Also cannot parse 6dn. It can’t be the lurker I am sure as I have 1a and 9ac.

              Enjoyable nonetheless.

              Thanks Dada and Senf

              PS first attempt to post failed (The website cannot display this page) so I have resorted to my usual method of editing in Notepad, copying/pasting just in case it happens again.

        1. I made it impossible to parse by convincing myself the third word was the last four letters. Once I realised that error, penny thankfully dropped

  2. I thought this was very difficult today; more of a challenge than I would normally relish on a lazy Sunday morning…

    Thanks to Dada, and to Senf. I wonder what weather conditions face my Spanish neighbour who is currently in Whitehorse. He starts his 430 mile trek today on foot, in the annual Yukon Arctic Ultra Challenge. Rather him than me…!

  3. An excellent Sunday puzzle which didn’t cause me too many problems although I did get nicely led up the garden path for a while with 8d and had an incorrect, but equally valid, answer for 22a.
    Wonder whether one of our bloggers is going to claim royalties for 27a!

    Particularly liked 2&7d but top prize goes to the glorious homogroan at 9a.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the blog and the musical interlude. Happy anniversary!

    1. Re 22a Jane, I also originally put in an incorrect answer which I thought worked perfectly well.

  4. 5*/2.5*. This year you never know what you are going to get on a Sunday. After last Sunday’s excellent puzzle, which was nicely challenging and fun, I was hoping that might have marked a new beginning, but alas no. For me this one was a curate’s egg both in terms of difficulty and enjoyment/

    If you split the grid diagonally from bottom left to top right I completed the half to the right of that line in a reasonable time but with only one answer in on the other side (plus the absolutely awful 9a, which I had no idea how to parse until much later – when the penny did drop I snorted with derision).

    Most of the second half was like drawing teeth. Why is “laughable” an anagram indicator? I detest the answer to 5d with a passion.

    On the whole it was a very clever puzzle but a lot of it was not much fun, I’m sorry to say. I did like 8d & 10d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. Given the derision that was aimed at owners of a particular huge 4WD (no longer in production) resident in a particular London Borough, I consider that laughable is a perfect anagram indicator that makes a very good clue. Any other indicator would not have had the same impact.

  5. My goodness, this one really was a challenge, but that makes for enormous satisfaction on completing.

    Took me ages to understand my answer to 9a and the homophone definitely doesn’t work for me.

    As others have said, too many good clues to isolate any, but last one in was 1a and I was beginning to think I’d never get it.

    Had to resort to pen and paper for quite a few of these.

    Many thanks to Senf and the setter.

  6. Once more completed with help from the hints but I continue to find this setters puzzles both very difficult and tedious. The most fun is having found an answer trying to work out the twisted wordplay.
    Makes me yearn for the good old days of Virgilius.
    Many thanks for the hints.

  7. Can’t believe Graham Nash is 77, happy birthday Graham. Saw them in the 60s and they were great. Shame you had to choose probably the worst recording of Marrakesh ever made.

  8. This was a bit of a snorter in more ways than one. I had a similar experience to Rabbit Dave in terms of the diagonal divide and found the whole NW corner difficult to solve. Or perhaps the early morning temperature of 23 F has made my brain go into hibernation. I liked 9a but found too many slang terms and colloquialisms (2d,5d, 21d and 27a) for my taste. Thanks to Senf for helping me to parse a couple of the clues.

  9. Everyman in the Observer today is free and back-page level for any who, like me, are not at a level for Sunday Dada.

    1. I find that I get so brain-dead looking at clues I can’t fathom by the time I get to one I would normally solve I can’t get that one either.

    2. Glad i’m not the only one with a low opinion of Dada puzzles.
      They should be left for the weekday Toughies.

      1. I agree Brian, I’d sooner see Jay on a Sunday, they’re always a treat. JH’s are often slightly uncomfortable for me.

        1. I agree. Just popped to see the torture I missed, and I’m so glad I saved a sheet of paper. Jay on a Sunday would be sheer bliss!

  10. As others have said my difficulties were with 14d and 19a. Hints gave me answers but still not 100% convinced. The homophone didn’t work oop north. 6d had a NW dialect word pencilled in til the penny dropped. With Senf’s help I am getting a bit further each Sunday and a bit more enjoyment too. Still a bit more to go though.
    Thanks Dada and Senf. Back to the MPP.

    1. I consider that another key to understanding Dada is to remember to look at the full review, from Cryptic Sue or gnomethang, on Thursday of the next week.

      1. And, for me at least, don’t look for over complications as I don’t think Dada is deliberately trying to be fiendish!

    2. I just had to look back at this again. At this time of day in the U.K. nobody will see this. But, John, if you say 9a with a Salford accent, or maybe at a pinch, a scouse, do you not think it works? Particularly if you say “our kid” afterwards?

  11. Thanks to Senf I did get to within 19a and 14d of crossing the line.
    My efforts were not helped by having a wrong answer for 22a which was, in my view as acceptable as the answer required.
    In my view DaDa is simply not a pleasure to someone of my ability. That is not a moan but acceptance of my limitations. At my age it is too late to teach me new tricks. I am struggling to keep the ones I have already mastered.
    Thanks to setter and especially Senf. Winnipeg got a very good press on Great Canadian Railway Journeys last week.

    1. ‘short’ means abbreviated so a word meaning over has the same meaning (I was going to add something here that would send me to the NC so I won’t!) as an abbreviated A

  12. I thought this was a great offering from Dada. Not having got 1a straight away, I started at the bottom which fell into place quite quickly and then progressed smoothly to the top. I think I’ll try that tactic with Dada again.

    I parsed 9a across correctly (I think) but haven’t bothered to look up what I think must be an extended definition of one of the main words.

    Spent too long on the simple 13a.

    Loved the use of ceiling and nails.

    And had a laugh thinking of Saint Sharon.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf. It’s a pleasant 76F here this morning; I love this cool weather!

    1. Assuming that I am thinking of the same main word as you are, it is nothing to do with extended definition it is down to pronunciation.

      1. Looked at it again and it’s now obvious. Last night I thought the final part of the answer was a pronunciation of a four letter word. Stupid of me. So I didn’t follow my golden rule mentioned above I.e don’t look for over complications. Thanks.

  13. I am afraid I continue to be completely out of sync with Dada crosswords – obtuse clues and no fun at all which makes for a disappointing Sunday. 27a (Fav) and 28a provided a couple of lighter moments. Thank you Dada and Senf.

  14. ****/***. Got there in the end but as one other commented it was like drawing teeth. 9a worked for me but 5d didn’t. Thanks to the setter and Senf for the hints. It’s balmy here on the SW coast compared to the rest of Canada and we managed to get out of England just before the weather hit 😎

  15. Well I liked this crossword so there! Some excellent clues, some clues that had to be teased out and a few that were mind bending made for an excellent challenge. 9d just pipped 2d for the podium.
    Thanks to Dada, and to Senf for the hints.

  16. I found this very tricky especially as I put the wrong answer in for 22a. Some were great clues though, although disliked 5d. The preening one was a mystery as I had it by doing it 3 and 5 but pronouncing like that so it sounded ridiculous! Does anyone else find they do that?

  17. Well I found this fairly difficult. I completed it but had to take a leap of faith with 14d and 19a, my last ones in. I am still not completely happy with my answers but will submit it anyway. 9a gets the nod for my COTD. The relative toughness increased the sense of achievement but possibly at the expense of the usual enjoyment I derive from these Sunday puzzles.

    Thanks to Dada for the considerable challenge and to Senf.

  18. Must’ve been roughly on wavelength as I didn’t find this particularly tricky – wasn’t a walk in the park either though in fairness.

    Thanks to Senf and Dada ***/***

  19. Thanks to Senf for the hints. However, I’m inclined to agree with others who found this in the Toughie category, not at all what our Sunday Cryptic should be. Just a Toughie pretending to be a Sunday Cryptic. Fine if you are extra smart and like them tough, a big disappointment if you don’t. I keep coming back to see if we have got something more like Virgilius’ offerings, but sadly no. I could have finished if I had persevered and used electronic help, but what’s the point in that. Oh dear.

    Do hope everyone in managing to keep warm in this brutal winter you all seem to be suffering.

    1. Completely agree, we completed this only with so much electronic help that we felt like frauds, so no sense of achievement. If we felt we had learned from the experience it would perhaps mitigate the guilt, but sadly ….

    2. I do feel somewhat miffed with the DT now that Virgilius’ Sunday puzzle that was the highlight of the week, is replaced by a puzzle that is simply a long, unenjoyable grind.
      Lizzie, have a look at Everyman in the Observer next Sunday, it’s good fun.

  20. At the risk of angering the gods of Crypiticism pls can some kind soul give me a little hint for 14d?? Following the usual rules of course. Twelve hours is quite enough of my Sunday to devote to dead ends and lost causes.

    I can’t find anything above which helps…

    I’m on WEST so maybe a tad late in the day.

  21. PS being from oop North, I found 9A quite brilliant. It’s lovely how accent can change a language from Queens English to Gobbledygook.

    I now love Dada.

  22. If this was a Toughie it would be a fairly easy one near the start of the week, but it’s certainly still more taxing than I want on a Sunday… Good, but not what I was expecting.

  23. A bit tricky? Yes. Impossible? No. At the end of the day it’s a prize crossword puzzle. I saved this one to ‘do’ this evening whilst t’other half watched Midwives (not a programme that appeals to me as a bloke) I needed a couple of hints and a confirming parse to get me started, but thereon in it was plain sailing with little to scare the horses. I like Dada’s puzzles, both back page cryptic and Toughies – something to get my teeth into. I had several favourites, which included 9 across (I am a Midlander, so no dialectual problem there) 27 across was quite brilliant as was 1 across. No complaints from me, simply thanks to Dada and to Senf also for pointing me in the right direction.

  24. Found this doable with thought. We think Dada’s Toughies are settling down to a difficulty level comparable with those of Virgilius. 3*/4*

    Thanks to Senf and Dada

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