ST 3087 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3087 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3087 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where after a very chilly start to the week on Monday we settled down to slightly above seasonal average temperatures for the rest of the week.

Keep staying safe everyone and a Happy Christmas or whatever you celebrate at this time of year. 

I took a little while to get going but, on balance, I consider that Dada is benevolent today with a couple of ‘seasonal’ clues which are probably more by accident than design.  I counted seven anagrams (four partials), two lurkers (one reversed), no homophones, and some Cockney rhyming slang – all in an asymmetric 28 clues, with 16 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 17a, 26a, 3d, and 19d.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, a number of the more difficult clues have been selected and hints provided for them.

Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in red at the bottom of the hints!

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 Greek character wanting snatch of Messiah played backwards (5)
We start with the reverse lurker (wanting snatch of . . . backwards) found in two words in the clue.

10a House coming up on end of road (8)
A single word for coming up placed after (on) the last letter (end) of roaD.

11a A Norwegian’s principal spruce in NI county (6)
A from the clue, the first letter (principal) of Norwegian, and a verbal synonym of spruce.

14a Band welcomed by little cheer (7)
A type of (metal or wooden) band inserted into (welcomed by) a Northern (very North of Watford Gap) synonym of little.

17a One’s interstellar flight (6)
The single letter for one is inserted into (inter) a synonym of stellar.

21a Looming, like a helicopter perhaps? (2,3,3)
How a helicopter in flight might be described (like a . . . perhaps).

23a Condition in full finally accepted by PM (6)
The last letter (finally) of fulL inserted into (accepted by) the PM who could perhaps be blamed for Brexit :wink:

24a Designs with gentle touch added to fliers (8)
A single word for a gentle touch followed by (added to) more than one of the illustrated flier.

28a Crooked, like gardens (5)
A two letter adverbial synonym of like and the famous (Royal) Gardens.


2d Argument after smashing of bowl easy to understand (7)
A three letter argument placed after an anagram (smashing) of BOWL.

3d Hepburn character put tree on skip? (5,9)
A type of tree, often linked with ivy, placed before (put . . . on) a synonym(?) of skip.

7d Present somewhat uninspiring, I verified (4)
The lurker (somewhat) found in three words in the clue.

8d Hit riding waves, those going in while others out? (14)
A synonym of hit placed before (riding) types of waves.

15d Tricky chip is to a green (9)
An anagram (tricky) of CHIP IS TO A.

20d African capital exciting you, and capital in Europe (7)
An anagram (exciting) of YOU, AND and the first letter (capital in) Europe – gives the capital of Cameroon, but you all know that don’t you.

22d See fruit (4)
A double definition to finish – the second is illustrated below.

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Something a little whimsical this week, extracts from 57 classical compositions by 33 composers, represented by their mugshots, in just over 6 minutes. Hmm, I wonder if I could sometimes describe Dada as whimsical:

63 comments on “ST 3087 (Hints)

  1. A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle for the last Sunday before Christmas, with lots of wily but gettable clues of different varieties (2*/5*). 3d and 8d were very amusing clues and I enjoyed 20d because I always like geographical clues. Thanks to Senf for the hints and to Dada for another great puzzle.

  2. 2.5*/4*. I really enjoyed this with 17a my favourite. I needed electronic help for 20d and had the feeling that perhaps it was a grid-filler.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  3. Lovely Dada today–maybe anything with the divine Audrey H in it turns out that way for me. This was pleasantly quick but enjoyable, with the two long answers winning top honours, followed by some chuckles with 19d and 26a. Best wishes to Senf and Dada for Christmas, and thanks for a great year from both of you. * / ****

    Clemson University 34, Notre Dame University 10. Hooray!

  4. Excellent fun from Dada this morning with some sparkling clues. I have to pick 3d as my favourite just because I love the name with 17a as a very close second. I have certainly expanded my knowledge of obscure African capitals.

    Many thanks to the aforementioned and to Senf.

  5. I needed electronic help with 20D (new to me) and also 12A (no excuse for that). Enjoyed this overall. Thanks Senf and Dada.

    Happy Christmas, everyone! I hope you are still able to celebrate in your tier, at least a little.

  6. I had this completed in *** time, except for 3d. The first word was gettable, but not the second. A character from a 60 year old film that is hardly ever shown these days? Please.

    I managed to drag 20a out of the memory, but wasn’t too sure about the spelling until I had all the checkers.

    Other than those, A very fair puzzle, I thought.

    Many thanks to the setter and Senf.

        1. An incredibly gifted writer who let the demons of the literary world possess him in more ways than one. The same talent who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s also shocked the world with In Cold Blood, but my favourite Capote work is the hauntingly moving short story ‘A Christmas Memory’. If you haven’t read it, it would be a special treat for this season. I often read it to my classes just before the holiday break.

      1. Yes and one of the classic all time films. It was the first movie we saw together back in 1962, still a pair of starry eyed teenagers.

        1. I have mentioned the fabulous Mrs B on a number of occasions. She never does either the Saturday or Sunday as she says they are too hard and no fun and she positively runs screaming from anything by Ray T. However, she usually completes most of the weekday puzzles.

    1. I’ve never seen the film (which is about 15 years older than I am), and was expecting not to know this, but the character is so famous that somehow even I have heard of her. As general knowledge goes, I think its at least as reasonable to include as many of the things we encounter in crosswords.

      Thank you Dada and Senf.

      1. I’m with you on this one Smylers. I don’t remember films even when I have seen them but this is a famous book by a celebrated author followed by a classic film and a musical. I answered it with only two or three checkers and it was a great help.

  7. A very enjoyable exercise with some interesting clues as in 8d. My last one in and I was still trying to make a word out of the first three of the clue. **/**** Favourite 3d. The flower girl who she played in the film with Rex Harrison would also fit the spaces! Christmas in tier 4 will be the same as every other day here, sadly. Best wishes and thanks to all.

  8. Not quite as tough as a usual Sunday but it will do. A very enjoyable puzzle though with lots of clever clues inc 14a and my fav 19d. Never heard of 20d but the clever wordplay sorted it out and a trip to Google confirmed. My only slight carp is that 22d was very weak (and the usual problem that I was left with 6 unfinished clues so then looked at the hints and found none were covered. What is the criteria for the weekend hints, how do the hinters decide which ones to omit?)
    Thx to all
    PS love the snowflakes!!

    1. Encore une fois!
      In response to your comment last Sunday I wrote this:
      “In reply to your comment ‘although the ones I would have liked hinting were missing,’ and similar ones such as ‘the hints were mostly for those I already solved,’ I can only say that, in the two and a bit years that I have been Sunday blogging Dada, I appear to have got completely on his wavelength. So, I mostly find that, in any given puzzle, that the clues are all to the same standard of difficulty, or lack of same, so what I try to do, as I say in my preamble, is to sprinkle the hints throughout the grid so that you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues. If you have mostly solved the ones I have hinted then you must be at the same point, more or less.”
      Plus, of course, per BD’s instructions, there are always hints for the first and last clues in each direction.

      1. You forgot also to mention Senf that you, like I would assume the great majority of us, haven’t been blessed with the ability to mind read any one particular solver ;-) ;-)

      2. Senf
        Might I suggest you do your usual random selection of clues you are going to review and then publish the hints for the remainder.
        Thanks for the hints that have allowed me to enjoy my Sunday solves again and a Happy Christmas to you and the rapid steed.

        1. Hmm, an interesting suggestion but I suspect that somewhere out there is the antiBrian who will say “I was left with 6 unfinished clues so then looked at the hints and found none were covered”!

          Thank you for your thanks and Christmas greeting and I wish you and yours the same.

      3. I agree. I find there is little point in asking questions or making comments if one does not then trouble to read the response. Having said that, it did help when you could read follow up comment. I still have the button pressed but does not seem to work

      4. Thanks Senf. I used to think that hints were given for the harder clues. But I often lament that the hints are for those I have already figured out on my own. Which just illustrates how differently we all approach each clue. What one finds easy, another finds hard, and vice versa. All I know, is it is sometimes the hints that get me back on track, so thanks.

      5. Is it really more than 2 years since Dada began on Sunday? How time flies…..does anyone remember that first puzzle that had many threatening to cancel their Telegraph subscription? This one was typical Dada, clever and difficult, but always eminently solvable! My favourite setter.

        1. Yes – November 18, 2018. I remember it well, but not fondly! While not knowing how much ‘notice’ Virgilius gave of his retirement from Sundays, I have always suspected that Dada’s first Sunday was a Toughie that he had laying around and it was rapidly reclassified as a Sunday Prize puzzle.

      6. Must just be me then. I did notice that the mussing clues always seem to be in the same are today it was the top right.

  9. A most enjoyable solve despite having to seek help with the African capital – well done to those who knew it.
    The two long down clues were my picks with a nod to 17&26a plus 19d for their humour. Having looked at the long list of synonyms for whimsical, I think Senf would be more than justified in using it to describe our setter on any given Sunday!

    Thanks and festive wishes to Dada and similarly to Senf. I really laughed at the Classical Mashup with all those little heads bobbling up and down the staves and I’m always up for a slice of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Mind you, I would have seriously fallen out with the young lady concerned if she hadn’t changed her mind and gone back to look for Cat!

  10. Slow start working yet again from the bottom up but once a few fell the rest followed without too much bother. The Cameroon capital needed Mr G to confirm the spelling & I didn’t immediately twig the anagram indicator but otherwise no parsing issues. Enjoyed the long downs at 3&8 but the picks for me were the misleading surface at 15d plus Brian’s choices of 14a & 19d.
    With thanks to Dada for his consistent fine puzzles each Sunday throughout the year & to Senf for explaining them.
    Ps lovely gentle Everyman to recommend

  11. Another two halves day for me. The west went in first brew but the east required a bit of thought and a nudge to get 8d and 20d. Thanks to Senf for the hints and music and Thanks to Dada for another fine puzzle the GK was fine by me and not too heavy on the dreaded Christmas clues. 21a and 19d my favourites today

  12. Great Sunday fun from Dada, suitably challenging.
    So, ***/*****
    Thanks for 3d which started me off.
    Many thanks, Dada, and also to Senf for the entertaining review.

  13. What a gentle, but totally enjoyable Sunday Prize Puzzle. 3d takes me way back to the days when I was about 16 and seeing my very first ‘lady-love’ in the days when it was almost a mad scramble to get to a back row seat first on a Saturday evening at the local ‘pictures’. Favourite clues inclued 3d, 8d, 12a & 4a – but 3d gets my top vote for purely nostalgic reasons. Thanks Dada, it hit the spot for me today and thanks to Senf too.

  14. What a wonderful puzzle from Dada. As usual it took a while for me to break into it but once I had it came together gradually. I knew the first word in 3d although I have never seen the film. It took a while for the second to come but once it did I knew it was correct. I think the character has been spoken of many times and not always in conjunction with the film. I have a kind of race memory of the name. There were some very good clues and I loved the simple subtlety of 17a. I had to check 20d with Mr. G. as I had never heard of it but it could be nothing else given the clue. My COTD is 22a.

    Grateful thanks to Dada for a thoroughly enjoyable challenge. Thank also to Senf for the hints and classical mashup.

  15. Many thanks to Dada for a very enjoyable Sunday outing that took a while to open ( a little my wife’s presents!). Lately I seem to be filling in the lower half of the grid first,,, could be just warming up.
    Thanks to Senf for his review, stay safe.
    I send all best wishes to setters, reviewers, BD and of course fellow bloggers, from a South Hampshire where I’m in Tears 4. Be safe!

  16. To put it bluntly and to borrow Senf’s wording finished this at a gallop … */***** Enjoyable solve as I completed this with no hold ups at all and no hints as they were not even published yet. Definitely a Christmas gift from Dada this week as not a hint of quirkiness anywhere. Very satisfying.
    COTD include 11a, 17a, 26a, 3d & 19d that reminded me of the character of DCI Frost! … this the winner this week but an honourable mention to 3d for the seasonality of the answer.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf
    Happy Christmas to you both (as we wend our way through PHO in BC and the UK go through Tiers 1-4)

  17. Only the SE corner caused a hold up otherwise a friendly Sunday morning puzzle thank you Dada. Thanks to Senf as well.

    For those who liked 3d I have only the following message.

    When Katharine Hepburn appeared in a play on Broadway, ’Dorothy Parker remarked : “Miss Hepburn ran the whole gamut of emotions—from A to B.” As I never saw Katherine Hepburn in a play I would repeat this with Audrey. A wooden actor if ever there was one.

        1. But she would if she were alive and in today’s febrile world it would be ugly, true, and very funny.

  18. Slightly benevolent Dada for me, especially West half. East took some teasing out but got there in the end.
    Dredged up 3d from somewhere, although don’t remember, seeing the film. Needed Mr G to confirm 20d.
    COTD was 17a.
    Thanks, and Christmas greetings, to Dada & Senf.

  19. Thanks to Dada for an excellent puzzle and I must improve my knowledge of African cities … thanks also to Senf

  20. Seems to be alot of agreement about this one. I also sailed through with hesitation on a few. I missed the subtly concealed revered lurker and checked my answer with Senf’s hints. Did not like 22d but l can’t really fault the synonym. 8d came to me in a flash and my favourite alongside 3 and 19d. Not sure whether this is so well-known to our friends from other lands. (The rhyming slang rather than the product).14 19 and 26a also floated my boat. Thank you Dada, Senf, BD, and all who travail on our behalf throughout the year. I am only sorry that Big Dave’s Annual Birthday bash will not take place next year unless, like HM the Queen, he has two birthdays. It is a great disappointment second only to the fact that we were installed for Christmas/New Year in Cornwall with all the goodies before the latest restrictions meaning that my grandsons will not be here. I shall sit forlornly looking at their presents – opening by Zoom would not be the same at all.

    1. I had a three-way landmark birthday party on zoom last month with cake and candles in all three houses which worked well

      1. Some things do work but seeing my grandsons on Zoom makes me more upset! I did have a successful Zoom party a couple of weeks ago. There is an annual lunch for Past Presidents of the Notts Law Society, some of whom are in their 90s. On the same date we were invited to a Cheese and Wine, the ingredients for which arrived in a hamper earlier in the week. I was amazed at how the very elderly had embraced the technology and we had a record turn out (or turn in). Everyone was on form – we had breakout chat groups – and all went well. I did, however, spot the arms and hands of some wives who were helping to set up and maintain the call! Best of all – no-one died which did happen on one sad previous occasion.

    2. On Friday, in a Skype call, my brother and I, he in Somerset and me in Manitoba, will share a toast of not so wee drams – a tradition that we started twenty plus years ago when we had to rely on the telephone to be able to speak to each other.

  21. Oh Wanda this has been a horrid year all round, but make the most of wonderful Cornwall, our happiest family memories come from there. A very nice crossword once again, done after a marathon walk round the village delivering Christmas cards. I clocked up 4,964 steps – the furthest I have been on my new knee. I was jolly glad to get back home and enjoy a good Whisky Mac and sit down with the crossword. Very clever word play as usual Dada, and thank you for all your diversions during the year and thanks also to Senf for your analysis, I hope you and everyone else has as good a Christmas as we can make out of this dire situation. I have just heard that the teenager next door who boards at her Cambridge school, has come home with the virus. A bit too close for comfort! My younger grandson doing physics at Aberystwyth is now stuck there over Christmas and cannot get to join his brother in Kings Norton. I don’t think even Hitler imposed such restrictions on us during WWII – yes, we could have all been killed in our beds but at least we were not prohibited from seeing and hugging our grandparents!

  22. I would never put benevolent and Dada in the same sentence. Having said that, with some hair pulling, I did enjoy this puzzle, with COTD shared by 23a for being topical and 3d, for being nostalgic for us. The first movie we saw as a couple, aged just 15 and 17. And he still puts up with me all these years later 😊.

    Sympathies to those unable to share Christmas with their families. Both daughters and their families live within 30 minutes of us, but we have decided not to join with either this year, but at least it was our decision. We have received little or no guidance on this over here, just doing what we think will be safer for all.

  23. Nice crossword today, Dada at moderate level.
    Only needed help with the African city.

    Here in East London it’s a bit “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”.

    (Tier 4 fears). 🤓

    Thanks setter and Senf.

  24. I can’t believe this was a Dada offering! My only hold up has been 25a, even with a word search I can’t get it. I might have to check with Dan’s words, or I can just wait for the review.
    I had to look up the African city; I knew it, even remembered NSI the 3-letter IATA code, but couldn’t remember how to spell it.
    Without a doubt, my fave is 3d, which I solved right away.
    Thank you Dada, does this mean I’m getting on wavelength after all those tortuous solves? Thanks Senf for the hints and tips, particularly the music!

    1. A colleague of mine who taught history made annual trips to Cameroon and always brought back terrific stories of life there in the capital, so I also knew the capital. Did your flights take you there?

  25. Apart from the unknown and not in my ‘helpful book’ which has capital cities in it this was, for me, not too tricky.
    Everything else has already been said, I think.
    I’m now probably grumpier and more fed-up than I’ve ever been in my life so off now in case it’s infectious!
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  26. I’m afraid that I couldn’t get on with this puzzle at all….clearly swimming against the tide here.
    Struggled through with the help of Senf’s hints and the electronic aids.
    Season’s Greetings to all.
    Thanks to Senf and to Dada.

  27. At the easier end of Dada’s spectrum, but no less enjoyable for that.
    As ever, beautifully clued. Forgotten most of it after starting this morning followed by an interlude for golf. Finished off this evening.
    Didn’t know the African capital so had to turn to Google.
    Thanks all.

  28. A very enjoyable solve that I thought was at the easier end of the Dada spectrum.

    I was sorry to hear about the Tier 4 status for some in the UK – here’s to hoping that it slows down this ghastly thing. Here in Tennessee, you would hardly know there’s a pandemic unless you looked at the alarming daily statistics – hardly a mask in sight in some areas….

    I sent my mum some flowers back in Kent that wishes her a Merry Christmas and a Happy Fourth Tier…. I hope she finds it vaguely amusing.

    Thanks to Senf and Dada. Don’t comment much these days but I still regularly read the blog and continue to enjoy it.

    Keep safe everybody.

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