ST 3031 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3031 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3031 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where Winter is beginning to take a firmer grip with more of the fluffy white stuff form of precipitation.

For me, Dada beyond quirky this week, it was almost like turning the clock back 12 months – I counted only two anagrams (one of then partial), one lurker, and two homophones – with a symmetric 32 clues and 18 hints I hope you will be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 20a, 25a, and 1d.

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 Dictator free from blemish? (6)
When the answer is written as (2-4) it could mean to free from blemish.

9a Exam the night before has broken everyone (1,5)
A three letter term for the night before inserted into (has broken) a synonym for everyone.

10a Dreadful fools recoiling before sovereign (8)
A synonym of fools reversed (recoiling) and placed before a (male) sovereign.

17a Decent message about drones, I gathered (12)
A (pre-email) type of (urgent) message containing (about) an anagram (gathered) of DRONES I.

20a Search in gospel to protect love — what’s that ? (8,4)
A type of search, IN from the clue, and the second gospel containing (to protect) the letter used to indicate the score of love in a racquet game.

23a Castle where villain guillotined (4)
A type of villain with its initial (head) letter removed (guillotined).

25a Celebrity like a couch potato, they say? (4)
A homophone (they say) of an adjective for how one might describe a couch potato.

29a Modern painting perhaps showing stretch of Italian river? (3,3)
Cruciverbalists’ favourite Italian river followed by a term that could perhaps be a synonym of stretch as it relates to a river.

31a Run, taking overnight bags (6)
The lurker (bags) found in the rest of the clue.


1d Failing ward, it’s suggested? (8)
WARD from the clue could become (it’s suggested) a failing if reversed.

3d By the sound of it, poem due (4)
A homophone (by the sound of it) of a type of poem

7d Caught — as toe may be? (6)
How one might describe a toe if it has its ‘horny plate’ attached.

15d Negative quantity in heavenly body one mile up (5)
Our illuminating heavenly body, the single letter for one, and the abbreviation for mile all reversed (up).

16d Aircraft, fifth blueprint? (5)
A synonym of blueprint followed by the letter that could indicate its fifth iteration.

18d Scoundrel about right, willing cheat, say? (4,4)
A three letter scoundrel containing (about) the single letter for right and a synonym of willing.

19d As ‘Lark Rise’ showing ends, reveal basic framework (8)
The last letters (showing ends) of the first three words of the clue and a (3,2) synonymic phrase for reveal.

22d Down second wine (6)
A two letter synonym of (a) second and a type of wine.

27d Engine off the rails (4)
A double definition – the first is an abbreviation for a type of engine.

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.

Billy Connolly, with a parody of a song originally performed by American country singer Tammy Wynette, enjoyed one week at number one starting November 22, 1975:


53 comments on “ST 3031 (Hints)

  1. Loved it ! Lots of smiles of satisfaction , amusement and for ingenuity.

    Solid start then a few moments of inspiration led to finishing faster than initially expected .

    Quite a few candidates for favourites but will pick 18D for the realisation .

    Thanks Senf and well done Dada

  2. This took me longer than usual for a Sunday, but it was well worth while on a miserable morning. Hugely rewarding to complete and very enjoyable, it’s difficulty, for me, enhancing the fun. So many cracking clues, but I will nominate 18d as it was my last one in. Good lurker too at 31a.

    Many thanks to Dada for the challenge and to Senf.

  3. 3*/3*. This was a bit of curate’s egg for me but fortunately the good bits considerably outweighed the hmms. I found some parts straightforward and others very challenging.

    23a produced a very big sigh :negative: and I thought 7d & 26d were a bit dodgy :unsure:

    On the plus side, 1a, 20a, 29a, 1d, 16d & 18d all earned double ticks. :good:

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. Bit of bishop’s bacon perhaps?

      Thanks to all from a wet and windy Boston – feels like a rainy day on the moors.

      Mr & Mrs T

  4. A 3*\4* for me. Loved 1D and 20A and 22D were also fun to cheer me up after our cricketing humiliation in Kiwiland. It’s a good time to be a sporting kiwi at the moment. Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  5. Dear me that was tough even for a Sunday. My only comment was i thought 26d weak.
    Quite fun with some clever clues but my horses are definitely now very skittish.
    Thx to all

    1. As per Young Salopian above, really. In fact, I thought this was the best puzzle of the week. To each their own I suppose. Enjoy the rest of the weekend all.

  6. Problems in the SW with a wrong book making a mess of several answers but the rest flowed quite well.
    Similar 20a’s to RD and it took a long time for several pennies to drop.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada

  7. Certainly had to put my thinking cap on when I got to the bottom half of this one. In particular, that pesky 18d fooled me yet again – I should have learnt that one by now!
    Plenty of enjoyment here and I’ve got quite a crowded podium – 1,29&30a sharing the space with 1,11&16d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the blog. I used to be quite a Billy Connolly fan until he went through a ‘blue’ phase which really turned me off. I recall going to see him in a one-man show where he stood on a blacked out stage with a single spotlight illuminating his face and did nothing but repeat f*** at intervals for 10 or more minutes. Can’t say that appealed in the slightest although others in the audience were ‘rolling in the aisles’.

  8. The North was considerably less difficult than the south, which took me a long time to complete. I found a few dodgy synonyms held me up and some of the wording of the clues was clunky to the point of impenetrability. So its ***/* for me today. Several clues merited a ‘hm’ from me (17a, 20a and 18d) and there were no cleatr favourites. Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  9. I’m with Chriscross on several counts in that the North was less troublesome than the South plus I found several clues (e.g. 10a, 14a, 31a, 1d, 16d and 26d) to be questionable and for my part the whole was uninspiring. 1a is nearest I came to a Fav. Thank you Dada and Senf.

    1. 🤭 Apologies Dada, having now properly read Senf’s hint and seen Debbiedob’s comment (No. 13) re 31a I withdraw my criticism of that.

  10. It is rare that I find myself looking for help with a whole corner blank. As others have mentioned, it was the SW that caused me a problem, big time.

    The grid didn’t help. it being one of those which isolates each corner, connecting them with just a single answer each, which gave me just two checkers in the SW.

    Having to give up with six unfilled answers, I really don’t think I am in any position to give the puzzle a rating.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

      1. Yep, I would imagine so Malcolm

        Janie – try an internet search for your answer and the word you don’t ‘get’. The ‘say?’ is a definition by example indication
        We can’t give additional hints on prize puzzles a per the bold red instructions
        Don’t think that’s falling foul of the rules, hope not

  11. On my first pass I only managed 3 definite answers and I wasn’t feeling optimistic, but with dogged determination I managed to complete it all – although I still can’t parse 18d to my satisfaction. I tend to agree that SW was the stickiest corner. I really liked 20a and the brilliant lurker at 31a – which I’d still be struggling with had it not been for Senf.
    Thanks to Senf and to Dada.

  12. Well this tested my little grey cells! However, a wonderful puzzle that I enjoyed immensely. Plenty of head scratching and moments of enlightenment. I thought 20a was brilliant so that is my favourite clue. Agree with Janie’s comment about 18d – didn’t gel with me either.

    Like others, the SW proved problematic for me.

    Grateful thanks to the setter and to Senf for the hints.

  13. Fabulous puzzle with so many marvelous clues, 20a and 28a for instance. I struggled the most with 13a strangely. 31a tops the lot for me. ****/*****

  14. Great enjoyment today and I loved 20a. I finished it ‘all by my own’ as my girls used to say but still enjoy reading everyone’s comments. Thanks to all.

  15. Brilliant! I must have had my quirky head on today as slowly but surely this puzzle fell nicely into place.
    I thought (& I know some will disagree) the surfaces were spot on & revealed the answer.
    Great fun great enjoyment
    Grateful thanks to Dada for Sunday enjoyment & Senf for his review

  16. ***/** for me. Some clues seemed stretched to me others quite good with some humour. 10a and 30a my favourites.

  17. I thought this was a very good Sunday crossword and didn’t find it as difficult as some have been – must have just been on the right wave-length today.
    No quiddities from me – the word popped into my head – learnt it in a Toughie (Micawber, I think) a very long time ago and thought it was about time it was used.
    My last answer was 31a :roll: and I was very slow with 14a – another :roll:
    I’m not sure about 30a – I think my answer is right and I ‘get’ the ‘middle of campsite’ bit but can’t make much sense of the rest of it – am I being dim?
    I particularly appreciated 20a and 2 and 6d. My favourite was 1a because it made me laugh.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

      1. Yes – I’ve got that far “all my own self” and I’ve also got the reason for the first and last letters of the answer – it’s the rest of it that’s still a bit of a mystery.

  18. What a weekend!
    Three months worth of rain in 48h or so.
    Luckily the town centre wasn’t affected but my thoughts are with all these people who suffered the same fate as Pommers and Pommette.
    Caught up with the last few crosswords today and just saw that a Gazza is due for printing.
    Needed help for the second word in 18d and thanks to the blog, I now have a completed grid.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  19. Fab. Did some digital pencil chewing equivalent over 18d and 31a, but when penny dropped, I took my hat off to Dada.
    Thanks to him and Senf for the hints, and to all for the blog.

  20. I started off running in the north, but south pulled me up pretty sharpish. I was left with two unsolved in the SE, the lurker at 31a and the cheat at 18d. So obvious now I’ve got the answer.
    There was a lot to like, 20a and 28a were notable, but I think 1a was most smile worthy and my first one in.
    Thanks to Dada for the fun and to Senf for his help in completing.

  21. Can’t believe I didn’t get the second part of 18d or 31a. 1a was my favourite. Thanks to Dada for an excellent puzzle and Senf for the hints.

  22. Great crossword in which I did nothing to help myself until I realised that the red priest was not who I first thought of!
    From there on everything made sense with 31a being my favourite.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.
    Curses Moriarty, I was hoping that the new IOS update would resolve ‘the’ problem… but no such luck.

    1. 14a took me for ever which made me cross with myself when I ‘saw’ it – the clever chaps would call it a double definition. Port is a shipping term and it’s also a word that means ‘ran out’ as in disappeared. About to have supper now but if no-one else has helped with 8d I will a bit later.

      1. 8d is a 3 lettered member + a three letter word for demolished as in a plate of food. The definition is mostly associated with the Vatican.

  23. Got off to a good start in the top half, and like a lot of others, found the bottom tougher. Actually incomprehensible regarding 28a, 30a, 18d and 30d. Frustrated I did succumb to electronic help, but still can’t see the hows and whys. There surely were other ways to clue these. Loved yesterday’s puzzle, but not so much today. Prefer Dada when he is a tad more benevolent.

  24. Excellent today as many have noted, a clue as to the parsing of 28a would be welcome.
    Thanks all

    1. Look up the fourth word in the clue in the dictionary and be prepared to work through the long list of definitions

  25. Difficult but doable, as everybody else north harder than south. Favourite probably 4a. Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  26. Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, although had quite a struggle with the last few and needed Senf’s hint for 31a, my last one in. Stupid, as I was thinking earlier of Miffypops’s advice to look for a lurker when all else fails. I think my favourite was 20a but there were plenty of others I liked. Many thanks to Dada and Senf. I nearly didn’t bother to attempt it, after reading Senf’s rather daunting introduction – so glad I did.

  27. Loved it – my birthday today, and proof that at least my brain still has the capacity to work!
    A good test, with many chuckles and reports to my non- cruciverbalist better half who seldom appreciates the humour I perceive.
    Still can’t submit my solutions other than by email.

    1. I’m with you – it’s so frustrating when the non-crosswordy-other-half just doesn’t ‘get it’.
      Never mind – happy birthday to you.

  28. SW corner was the last to complete and still not sure if I have parsed 30a correctly. Enjoyable but with one or two “dodgy” clues.
    Thank goodness we have varying tastes because I particularly enjoyed 1a together with 19 & 21d.
    For those who, like me, cannot submit crosswords directly using my iPad, I offer the following from the horses mouth:
    1. Take a snapshot of the completed puzzle.
    2. Email this to “prize.puzzles@”
    3. In the subject box place the name and number of the puzzle with a space between the two e.g. ST 3031.
    Awfully boring but this may be of help. The nice lady on the phone could give me no idea when the problem would be solved.

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