ST 3020 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3020 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3020 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where we are seeing definite signs of the approaching Autumn – the leaves are beginning to change colour and I had the car heater on for most of the week.

It might just be me, and perhaps my brain had been addled by the NTSPP and MPP, but I found this quite challenging, especially in the West – six anagrams (one partial), one lurker, and no homophones.

Candidates for favourite – 18a, 3d, and 9d.

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 Grate pickle (6)
A double definition to start – the second relates to a tricky situation.

10a Mark joins club with scowl (9)
A type of (dancing) club followed by (joins . . . with) a synonym of scowl.

11a Inviting contempt in the end, a dirty abode (5)
The last letter (in the end) of contempT, A from the clue, and a farm animal’s (dirty) abode.

14a Composition being shown in cinema (5)
A three letter composition, often in poem form, followed by a two letter word for being shown.

18a Exciting story embraced by Queen, accommodating type? (8)
An informal synonym of exciting followed by an untrue story inserted into (embraced by) HM’s regnal cipher.

23a Close, don’t open without locks (7)
A single word for without locks (on top of one’s head) with the first letter removed (don’t open).

26a Energy member invested in expression of surprise (5)
A parliamentarian inserted into (invested in) an expression of surprise.

28a So, perhaps rain wets various things? (8)
Written as (3,5) if the rain wets then the . . . .

29a A mushroom with the other ingredients? (2,4)
A from the clue followed by a synonym of (non-fungal) mushroom.


1d Wrong dose ain’t calming someone down (8)
An anagram (wrong) of DOSE AIN’T.

3d Maybe he’s topping cake with no filling, say (9)
What he is an example of (maybe) preceding (topping) CakE with the ‘interior’ letters removed (no filling).

6d Polish off attack having dispensed with leader (3,2)
A (4,2) synonymic phrase of attack with the first letter removed (having dispensed with leader).

9d One floored by cleaner? That’s painful (10,4)
A body part of a human cleaner that may come into contact with the floor during her duties (the answer is in the feminine).

16d A strip under bottom of small washer (9)
A from the clue and a synonym of strip all after (under) the last letter (bottom of) smalL.

19d Boaters in Ransome novel (7)
Some brilliant misdirection, at least I thought so – an anagram (novel) of RANSOME.

22d Powerful businessmen working in pubs (6)
A two letter word for working contained by (in) a synonym of pubs.

24d Located in file, the registration number (5)
The lurker (located in) found in the rest of the clue.


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The eternally youthful Rod Stewart, now 74 years old, started 4 weeks at number one on September 6, 1975 – this is from a concert in Montréal, Québec in December 2013 (I remember seeing him at a concert in Edmonton, Alberta in 1996):


43 comments on “ST 3020 (Hints)

  1. This was indeed challenging and I shall be interested to read other comments. If I was Brian I probably would have given up as I found no instant solutions. My first one in was 1d which was ironic. This led to more but light dawned after I got the two long down clues. Helped by anagrams when I found them. Was left with five in the NW the last in being 10a even with all the checkers. I enjoyed but then I enjoyed yesterday. Out and out favourite was 16d. Also 24a when the penny dropped. Seen this before but had forgotten. Thanks setter that was great and thanks Senf. I shall now read your hints to check I’m right

      1. Good. Just goes to show that our crossword brains all work differently. Sunday’s was great when I got into it but took a time to do so.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this very witty offering.

    Along with the NTSPP 500 a great weekend of puzzling.

  3. This was very challenging (**** for difficulty for me) and, although I rarely use the electronic thesaurus, I needed it for 4 of these clues. At times, as in 3d, I wondered if a crystal ball or a pack of tarot cards might be of more help than the standard reference works. Some of the clues were very clever (9d was my favourite) and I enjoyed the tussle of working them out. As Senf said, the West was the most difficult part of the puzzle and I found this much less enjoyable, as a number of difficult clues crossed one another (so **/*** for enjoyment) . I needed Senf’s help to get my last one,3d so thanks to him. Thanks also to the setter for a masterpiece of obfuscation.

  4. Enjoyed with the clever 17d my COTD closely followed by 21D . Last in the 3D & 14A combo .

    Not as difficult as yesterday’s but of a worthy standard for a prize crossword . Incidentally JH , back to full marks for last weekend , no reason why though .

    1. I had full marks for both of last weekend’s puzzles too KFB and that’s been a few weeks now. However I’m not holding my breath for next weekend because I did an update on my iPad yesterday and I often wonder if that’s what causes the problem, although I can’t see why it should

    2. No such luck for me – zeros for both last weekend!
      Going to have to take up scrabble.

  5. Dada being not only a bit quirky but quite tricky today! Seemed to be quite a few letter insertions or word decapitations. And for some, e.g. 10a and 23a, I needed all the checkers (and a visit to the dictionary for the ending to 10a).

    3d, 9d and 14a on the podium and I’ll make 14a favourite simply remembering my youth. 3*/4*. Thanks to Dada for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Senf who I will now read.

  6. Another very good puzzle from our Sunday setter in which, like Weekend Wanda, it was 10a that held out on me until the very end.
    14a made me smile but I thought the very clever 19d deserved the top slot today – well spotted, Dada.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf – I still enjoy listening to Rod!

  7. A bit of a step-up in difficulty with the RHS going straight in but the LHS holding out for quite some time.

    Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from Dada with thanks to him and Senf 2.5*/4*

  8. Nicely challenging but somewhat lacking in lighter moments. Got there in the East ahead of the West where wrong composition for 14a screwed things up and thinking around incorrect sort of number in 24d made this a bung-in. Thanks Dada and Senf.

  9. I found this a bit hard going, but still finished in ***/**** time without any help. And a two word clue for the first answer? That’s plain naughty!

    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

    1. Yes Malcolm I am usually OK with these but when each word has a number of different meanings finding one word which is a synonym of both can be a struggle!

  10. For me a million times better than yesterdays horror, personally I really hope we don’t see yesterdays setter again.
    This was not easy but very logical. As always I struggled with the alternative meaning of number in 24d but best clue for me was 23a because it made me smile.
    Very enjoyable. Thx for the hints in reminding me re 24d.
    Thx to all

  11. Like others I had the whole of the right side in with 9d and everything to the left of it a mystery, until the light slowly began to dawn and they gradually fell one by one.

    One of these days that number is not going to catch me out, but it always raises a smile when the penny drops. Again, like others I needed the dictionary for the end of 10a. I thought 12a was very clever. My last one in was 14a.

    Very enjoyable indeed. Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  12. 3*/4*. This was nicely challenging and great fun. 19d was my favourite of a very good selection indeed.
    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  13. I too found this a bit of a struggle at first but got the two long ones down the middle then inched my way through the bottom half. I had 3 choices for the lurker in 24d and it took a while to find the right one.
    I needed a couple of hints to get going again in the top half but got there in the end.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada.
    Weather here sunny but cooler autumn is not far away now.

  14. I did this in fits and starts, bafflement, then three following in fairly close succession, bafflement again and so on. I could only see one answer for 3d but couldn’t reconcile it at all but the hint gave me the ‘missing link’.
    Thanks to all.

  15. Nice puzzle, fairly clued as one expects and no real holdups encountered. I liked 28a so that’s my top clue.
    Thanks to Dada, and to Senf for the hints.

  16. No real hold ups today and my picks are all down clues…3, 9 and 19. Thanks Dada and Senf.

  17. We are lucky that Dada is such a worthy successor to Virgilius.
    This was everything that yesterday’s horror wasn’t. Clever, witty and beautifully clued.
    I have a mental block over ‘county’, constantly reading it as ‘counRry’, so that made the long anagram somewhat tricky.
    This came as light relief from watching England’s impression of a drowning swimmer in the cricket, the Ashes staying deservedly down under.
    Thanks all.

    1. I did the same with “county” and “country”. I put it down to a little too much vino at dinner last night!

  18. A challenging puzzle but enjoyable despite it. Some clever clues on offer and my favourite, once it dawned on me, was 28a. I have submitted yet again but, as I have never won the pen, without a great deal of hope.

    Thank you to all concerned.

  19. Agree that the western side was very tricky. Bunged some in but couldn’t parse them so thanks Senf for help with that on 10 and 14a and 3d. It’s taken me hours for the mists to clear on 24d.
    Think the brain cells are still addled from yesterday, much preferred this one so thank you setter.

  20. Another absolute stunner from Dada, albeit more difficult than of late. I woke up suddenly after only putting 3 clues in on the first pass. All clues solvable with application & they did have a logical conclusion.
    Thanks to Dada & Senf for review & direction on a few!
    Favs 5d, 13ac

  21. sadly this is the first one I have failed to complete. 13a, 29a (in spite of hint), 17d and 21d all defeated me. COTD was 3d – very clever. Thanks Dada and Senf

  22. Weirdly, I often discover I’ve done better on days when several others report it’s harder than usual! It’s rare for me to finish a Dada (or indeed any crossword) without any hints, but somehow I did today, in a single session.

    So thank you to Dada for deploying the precise amount of twistedness that apparently resonates with my brain, and for so many enjoyable clues.

    I loved the cleverness of 3d, the brilliant misdirection of 19d, the surface of 21d, the ‘d’oh’ moment of 24d (“number!”), and 25a for the astonishment of discovering two such different words actually being so similar. My favourite was the silliness of 26a.

    And thank you to Senf for including the 3 I didn’t fully grasp the wordplay of in the hints; very thoughtful of you not to make me wait till a week on Thursday for the explanations.

    1. Horses for courses when it comes to how difficult, or easy, we individually find each puzzle!
      And, as to knowing which 3 you would have some head scratching over – pure coincidence.

  23. The first crossword that I’ve had time to do since last Wednesday – real life has taken over again .
    I agree that the left side was trickier than the other one.
    I got very few answers on the first read through but then things improved, albeit pretty slowly.
    For no good reason 14a was my last answer and 10 and 18a also caused some trouble.
    I think that 3d was my favourite but there were so many good clues that it’s difficult to choose.
    With thanks to Dada and too Senf.
    Some of the earlier comments talk about yesterday’s ‘horror’ so now I’m intrigued – no time to do it now as we’re out this evening but it might be the first thing that I do tomorrow.

  24. No doubt this was on the tricky, nay, very tricky side. Fortunately, 5d and 9d started me off, the anagram in 5d solved itself, and got me going. In the end I only had 1d solved in the NW and needed a hint to get me going again, which Senf kindly gave me with his excellent hint for 10a.
    I did find it enjoyable, please Dada, don’t take this as licence to start setting unsolvable puzzles in the future. The cleverness of this puzzle made it fun to solve.
    Very hard to choose a fave, maybe 9d for the smile worthiness or 20a for cleverness.
    Thanks to Dada for the fun and Senf for helping me, I only got 14a ‘cos of the pic!

  25. I found this one even more difficult than yesterday’s horror.
    Got the bottom half in relatively quickly then needed Senf’s hints for some in the top.

    Not enjoyable for me again I’m afraid.

    Thanks to the setter and to Senf.

  26. A bit of a tussle but a thoroughly enjoyable one, much more so than yesterday’s horror. 5d was my clue of the day and once that was solved, I was on my way. Thanks as ever to Dada for a great crossword and to Senf.

  27. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the review and hints. What a super puzzle, took me forever, but I got there in the end. I liked 15a, but my favourite was 3d. Was 4*/4* for me.

  28. Perhaps I should change my name to contrary Mary – I found yesterday’s puzzle much easier than this tricky one from Dada. Not happy with 10a and 24d. North east corner was last in, and favourite clue was 21d,, probably because I miss them. Thanks to Dad and Senf.

  29. Like many, I had a problem with 10a, (last in), but twigged thanks to Shakespeare when I remembered the ending was in one of his plays which I did many many years ago!
    I liked the long down clues very much!
    Thanks to Senf, and the setter – glad to report it’s Spring here.

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