ST 3096 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3096 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3096 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where it has gradually warmed up since last Sunday and tomorrow we are ‘promised’ a T-shirt and Shorts high temperature of plus 6 degrees. :wink:  

Last Sunday I reported that Worldpay had processed my puzzle subscription correctly and on time and now it would appear that they have managed to communicate that occurrence to the Daily Telegraph and my subscription is continuing uninterrupted – wonders will never cease.

Keep staying safe everyone. 

For me, Dada was quirky this week with a sprinkling of Hmms.  I counted five anagrams (two partials), one lurker, and no homophones – all in a symmetric 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 – 14a,18a, 3d, 4d, and 7d.

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 Plan for site (11)
A three letter synonym of for and a synonym of site.

11a Criedlike whales? (9)
A sort of double definition(?) – the first is the past tense of a verb and the second is an adjective that could be used to describe a feature of whales – note the ?

12a Group in nightgear messed around (9)
An anagram (messed around) of NIGHTGEAR.

16a Exercise component, boring thing (5,3)
A type of (military) exercise and a synonym of component.

18a Make-up collection in powder room writer, say, recalled (4,4)
A three letter informal synonym of powder room, a type of writer (as in writing implement), and the two letter Latin abbreviation that is equivalent to say, all reversed (recalled) – worthy of our esteemed editor’s Newsletter Clue of the Week.

24a Pain contained by nurse, person at the back (4-5)
A three letter synonym of pain inserted into (contained by) a six letter synonym of nurse – Hmm – but they are in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary.

26a Language modulations adopted by staff (9)
A synonym of modulations contained (adopted) by a type of staff (not the human kind).

28a Awful, as words of those silenced? (11)
If people have been told to be silent then their words are a single term for cannot be spoken.


1d Slam chicken or turkey in oven? (5)
A double definition(?) – the first relates to slamming verbally.

5d Violence in outskirts of Turkey, within which one getting a grip? (8)
Take the first and last letters (outskirts) of TurkeY and insert a word that can describe the action of one person getting a grip of another – not in the BRB, so it gets a Hmm.

7d Howling animals, target of derision (8,5)
A synonym of howling and the collective noun for some (farm) animals.

9d Film review intact, I argued (9,4)
An anagram (review) of INTACT, I ARGUED.

15d Dancing, one kidnapped by band of criminals? (8)
The Roman numeral for one inserted into (kidnapped by) a (3,4) band of criminals undertaking a particular crime.

17d Don’t release Spirit in the Sky? (6,2)
A type of container for an alcoholic spirit and a two letter word that could indicate that something is in the Sky – I thought about making this a double definition, but I decided that the second part was too much of a stretch and merited a Hmm instead.

22d Pictures a little basic in emails (6)
The lurker (a little) found in the rest of the clue.

24d Attractive thing, Latino’s principal accent (5)
A single four letter word for something that is attractive (as in attracting a lot of interest) and the first letter (principal) of Latino.

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.

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If you don’t understand, or don’t wish to comply with, the conventions for commenting on weekend prize puzzles then save yourself a lot of trouble and don’t leave a comment.

Today is the 88th anniversary of the birth of American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who passed away in 2003.  This is from a concert in London in 1968 with a song that reached number 2 in the UK in that year:

88 comments on “ST 3096 (Hints)

  1. I found this Dada puzzle quirky too, Senf. The clues were wily and absorbing and took a little longer than usual to work out (2.5*/4*). It was an enjoyable process and 11a was particularly humorous and 26 was well disguised. However my joint COTD’S were 19a and 3d, both really well constructed. Thanks to Senf for the second day running and to Dada for another fascinating set of clues.

  2. 3*/4*. I started off with the top half going in smoothly after which the bottom half put up much more of a fight, particularly the SW corner. I enjoyed it a lot with 1a, 16a, 18a, 3d & 17d battling for a place on the podium.

    Many thanks to Dada and to an overworked Senf.

  3. A reasonably steady solve for a Dada puzzle with, for a change, no parsing issues or prolonged head scratching & finished just shy of 2.5* time. The customary array of quality clues which I can’t say I found particularly quirky (any more so than usual) – 7&19d plus 17&23a were my picks. Remember seeing 9d in the theatre at the Donmar when it premiered. The film didn’t match the stage in my view – written as a two hander & JW was sensational. Today’s albums: Blueprint (Rory Gallagher) & Bad Man’s Blood (Ray Bonneville)
    Thanks to Dad & to Senf for stint number two.
    PS will hazard a guess Terence gets 21d quicker than most of us.

  4. A real mixed bag for me today with a couple earning ‘hmms’ – 15&21d – and others making me laugh out loud. 1&11a plus 7&17d made it onto the podium.

    Thanks to Dada and to our hard-working Senf for the hints. Nice to be reminded of the 9d film and to hear Ms Simone again.

  5. A game of two halves. The top was tricky but solvable but the bottom half was far beyond my solving abilities. So many very complex clues such as 18a (either the cleverest clue or the worst clue of all time) and 15d.
    Definitely not my favourite Sunday as I found myself unable to complete it even with the hints.
    Thx for the hints

    1. I consider that 18a is a very clever clue. As it often does ‘in’ separates the definition and word play and the latter is a three part charade that has to be reversed after ‘assembly.’ Not even close to being ‘the worst clue of all time.’

      1. Agreed re: 18a. On the other hand 15d could be the worst clue of all time. It is apparently a word but one I have never heard. I would always say “They were doing the *****”. Also the ***/**** description of a band of criminals is not one I ever heard used, even during a few years as a criminal lawyer before I went straight. I am familiar with another four letter word (and not a rude one) or a six letter one in common usage. I do not mind stretched synonyms, misdirections or just plain quirky but, having struggled to complete the SE quadrant unaided, 15d was one clue too far even with the photographic evidence! Favourites were 11 18 and 26a and 3d.

  6. I had precisely the same thought regarding 21d! 15d held me up the longest making it a ***/*** I’m still not entirely convinced but it can’t be anything else. No more quirky than we have come to expect from dada. I liked 18a but my favourite today is 3d. Thanks to all.

    1. Similar to you 18a, 15d and 3d were my final three in, despite having all the checking letters and being pretty sure if the final four letters 3d still eluded me for a while! I’m in the 18a being a brilliant clue camp, and I also liked 15d once I worked it out.

      1. 3d ‘Hardy character’ can usually mean only one thing so, if your memory has room, store it for future reference.

  7. When is a “Hmm” really, on reflection, an “Aha!” – such as 17d, 21d and 11a maybe – and not just daft (such as 15d)?

    In a few places this felt a little more like Mr H being Paul rather than Dada?

    Anyway, enjoyable, for the most part with 4d (for its surface) just beating 18a and 28a to the top spot.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf. Enjoy your warm weather.

    1. A ‘hmm’ for me relates to a clue I didn’t like for one reason or another. ‘Aha’ is reserved for those that require a ‘penny drop’ moment!

      1. Exactly. I just meant that perhaps sometimes one might initially have a bit of a H’mm about a clue, but on reflection maybe after a PDM or, as likely, a better analysis of the clue, then one has an uplifting Aha!

        P.S. We could do with a bit of an uplift nowadays!

        P.P.S. Reminder to self….Try to get out of the house at least once before September.

  8. Toughish for me, trying to watch the tennis at the same time probably didn’t help.
    Like Brian top half easier than bottom but to me both doable in overall *** time.
    Join the 15d detractors. Surely a word no one will have ever used as a verb?21d I didn’t care for either (but a certain cat nurse won’t object).
    18a produced a “doh” moment and gets my COTD.
    Thanks Dada and, of course, Senf.
    Beautiful sunny day up here with little wind. Looking forward to the beach walk later.

    1. LROK, I did wonder about 18d, but, when I checked the BRB, the root is listed as a verb as well as a noun.

      1. RD thank you.
        I didn’t doubt that, Dada would not have used it otherwise.
        I just don’t think anyone would consider using it as a verb (obviously except a stetter in a corner).

  9. *I have a question – what do people mean when they say a crossword has a ‘smooth surface’? I see this regularly and have often wondered about it.
    Today’s Sunday puzzle was great fun to unravel, with the exception of the excellent 18a over which I nearly 11a. I am grateful to Senf for helping me with that one.
    Hooray for 21d!

    Looks like Lola will be going back to the vet on Tuesday so there (I hope) will not be much to report until then.

    Today’s soundtrack: Kate Bush – Aerial

    Thanks to Dada, and Senf with his daring choice of clothing.

    1. The experts will probably correct me but I’ve always taken it to mean where the setter successfully fools you into reading it as a sentence because the wordplay instructions are cleverly disguised to fit in with the narrative. Silvanus & Jay are particularly adept at this.

      1. Ah, yes I see – leading one into reading it as if a full sentence and not breaking it up into the actual clue, and the cryptic bit pointing to the clue…

  10. Quirky? I’ll say. After my first pass through I seriously thought about giving up, I think I had about six answers. But then I realised that I had nothing else to do.

    Perseverance paid off, and I got there in the end, but it took a full ***** time. My last in was 15d, what a horrible word. I can’t even find one to give my COTD vote to.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

    1. It was always a sure sign that you’d over indulged on the cheap but free table wine at the Christmas party & disco if you got involved in 15d

    1. It doesn’t appear to have made it into the BRB yet but to say someone or something is 23a is synonymous with saying they or it is a dead duck which is in the BRB.
      One on-line source suggests that usage of the term first occurred in the USA, where else, in the late 1980s.

      1. I’ve always assumed (possibly incorrectly) that this usage for 23a derives from the fact that ‘brown bread’ is rhyming slang for dead.

  11. I agree with Senf about Dada being quirky today. I struggled with it a bit but got there with the aid of the hints. Like others, I wondered about 15d. It just didn’t seem right somehow and I had a different letter which I only discovered after I solved one of the crossers. I like 3d but my COTD is most definitely 18a, which I thought was an absolute belter. I had the wrong second word for 7d and that held me up for quite a while.

    Many thanks to Dada for an enjoyable challenge and thanks to Senf for the hints and a weekend of duties.

  12. A challenging Sunday crossword (***/***) mostly completed left to right with a few ‘hmms’ requiring head scratching 4d, 5d, 17d, 18a. Going with 25d as fav today.
    Thx to setter and Senf.

  13. Is it just me!!
    The top line of both the general knowledge and the cryptic are right on the centrefold.
    I’ve complained to the Telegraph but no joy!

    1. No, it’s not just you, Alan. I find it annoying when the pen won’t write properly on the top line because there is nothing underneath it.

      1. I’m fed up with it too. Quite often, my Sunday puzzles section has the top line of the puzzle grid along the fold. E ven if you refold it, it’s impossible to write on the paper, let alone submit your solution in the prize draw.

        1. Oh me too, me too. It irritates me no end and then I think, calm down. There are worse things in the world today. But this is annoying me here and now!

    2. I’ve mentioned this a couple of times. The redesigned page has probably been done by someone who has never considered that people need to fold a paper, and then need to write on it!

      1. I quite agree. It always used to be ok, but sometime ago, when the Telegraph re-formatted their puzzles pages, it became very user unfriendly.

    3. Mine was worse than usual this week. The groove caused by the fold was deeper than usual as if someone had ironed it to stop me from filling in the top line. Other people have also complained about the size of the print used for the clues.

  14. Senf, I think the hint for 12a needs amending, as the answer is only an anagram of nightgear, not ‘in nightgear’.
    I enjoyed solving this, creeping into 3* for me. Like others, I found a few clues in the SW took longer to work out, and my favourite by a mile is 18a. Thanks to Dada and Senf

  15. I found this Dada crossword a bit of a head scratcher, but not too quirky … although???
    Rate this a 2.5*/**** for me. Some really clever and convoluted clues, that led to a good Saturday evening of solving.
    Clues of note include 14a, 18a, 28a, 3d(very clever) & 15d (a hmm clue nonetheless) and liked 25d as well. Winner is 18a or maybe 3d … that was a clever one too.

    Really enjoyed this solve and thanks to Dada for another great puzzle and to Senf for hints

  16. Enjoyable reasonably quick solve for me today. The word in 5d not found in the BRB? applies to all the members of my family and has been used to describe what we are for many years. Thanks to the setter and Senf

  17. A little late today to add anything new, other than to say this was an enjoyable if slightly tricky puzzle, particularly, for me, the SE corner which pushed out my solving time. 17d was my favourite, and I now have that Norman Greenbaum song in my head for the rest of the day.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

    1. Hadn’t made the Norman Greenbaum connection YS.
      Can’t get it out of my head either now, thanks a million!
      Theme for the afternoon dog walk, poor Biggles!

    2. I came really close to including a video of said song but I decided that it was not directly relevant to the answer, not that that usually matters, and, if LrOK’s comment is anything to go by, there would be very few, like zero, thanks for the earworm, but, here it is anyway:

  18. We were in the “hard but enjoyable” camp this afternoon with the exception of 15d which I had but dismissed it until all the checkers were in place and it couldn’t be anything else. Hey ho! Favourite was 18a. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  19. As others have commented, 15d a ghastly word. I couldn’t bear doing this at parties as I am so ticklish. 18a very clever and my COTD. Feeling a bit down as have just cleared out my allotment shed for the last time after 20 years but with 2 replacement hips too tricky to get up and down, very sad day. There are so many pigeons and no-one to shoot them everything has to be covered it had become a bit disheartening. Still the weather is lovely.

  20. Too many hmm moments for me today, such a contrast to yesterday’s lovely treat. Not sure I have the will to continue right now. Even the Quickie is putting up a fight. Will set aside and perhaps some light bulb moments will occur over lunch.

  21. How can I be so busy when I am not doing anything? Anyway, here I am – agreeing with so many of you. Didn’t like 15d it was my last in, loved 18a, doubtful about 23a but it had to be etc. DD2 came over with her two schnauzers and brought a pot of mussel chowder and some garlic bread so hurrah, easy meal tonight. We had a nice spell of sunshine this morning and I planted the Forsythia the old lady gave me yesterday and sent up a little prayer that I see it bloom next year. Sorry you have to give up your allotment, Manders, because of your hips. I’ll be picking your brains soon as my hip is driving me mad and I am having an x-ray on Tuesday. No sooner get the knee done than the hip goes, it’s all too much. Thanks to Senf for his busy weekend on our behalf and to Dada for a nice Sunday puzzle.

  22. I thought that 15d, which was my LOI, was either brilliant as all get-out or a sign of setter-desperation, but since I can’t imagine Dada ever being desperate, I’ll opt for the former. In fact, I thought that there were many scintillating touches today–notably, 18, 26, & 28a–plus 21d & 5d, my COTD. Very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Senf and Dada. 2.5* / 4*

  23. May I ask a question? As an online user of the Telegraph’s crosswords, the PDF or printable form I see never has the name of the setter on it. I presume the print version does? And is there any way of seeing online who set it?


    1. The Toughie setters are all shown both on the Puzzles Site under ‘The Knowledge’ and on the home page of BD’s blog on the RH side at the bottom

      We know that the Monday cryptics are usually set by Campbell, Tuesdays vary between a couple of setters, Wednesdays are always Jay, Thursdays are Ray T one week and Giovanni the next, Fridays can be proXimal, Zandio or Silvanus, Saturdays can be Cephas, Donnybrook, Chalicea and possibly AN Other.

      Sundays are always Dada

  24. 15d definitely sounds more 26a than English. Quite a mouthful.
    My last two were 25d which was new to me and 27a as the synonym didn’t come readily.
    7d gave me a hard time as I pictured the target to be a carrot in front of a donkey until the penny dropped.
    Favourite a toss between 2d and 12a as both made me smile.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  25. Not sure I understand some of the comments made about Dada each week. “Quirky”, “ a few hmmmms” etc.

    I understand he stretches synonyms some times ..but don’t several setters do that? Seems to me that sometimes he gets criticised when people simply don’t like his clues or find them difficult.

    I think his clues can be difficult but often clever and amusing. If my quirky you really mean different is that fair? They’re all different, surely that’s part of the attraction

    1. I think quirky means a bit unusual and since three out of four (at least) Sundays are described as such then they probably stop being it and “hmmms” feel like doubting the setter which feels rather rude since I’m pretty sure that very few of us have ever tried to set one – that’s my grump for today over and out of the way.

    2. Yes I agree. Dada’s clues can be very difficult being often both elusive and fiendishly allusive.

      Today my SW corner is almost bare but since I have absolutely no idea of what he is getting at I can’t be bothered to look at the hints, always finding with Dada that the hints are as difficult to decipher as his clues.

      I can usually finish four or five puzzles a week without hints and five or six with hints but finishing a Dada is an indication of benevolence beyond the call of duty for him.

      1. The first Dada puzzles were lost on me, fortunately they weren’t on Senf or CS. By persevering & looking at the hints for many weeks I can now finish 90% of them unaided.
        In my view the hints are why this site is so popular. I would suggest that if, when you can’t solve a clue, you can’t be bothered to look at the hints you miss the point of the site.
        Personally I always read the hints and all posts before I post myself. Sometimes they are more entertaining than the crossword, always the reviews are enlightening in some way.

        1. I commented that when I look at the hints they are usually as difficult to decipher as the clues.

          I am quite aware of how the hints help us to understand the methods of the setters otherwise I wouldn’t have remarked on using the hints in my response to Bankside.

          Or did you not read that part? Or just ignored it to make a virtuous point?

          1. No I read it that was a response to Banksie & didn’t ignore it.
            My point was about the statement that you couldn’t be bothered to look at the hints [on Dada days] saying they are “as difficult to decipher” as the clues (ie they are effectively useless to you). I can’t really see that but you clearly do.
            I thought a response that it is Senf’s (and CS’s) hints that are responsible for my (and many others’) understanding of Dada was justified
            Every week many others have similarly posted they are indebted to Senf and CS (see Merusa below).
            You obviously see things differently & it would be a strange world if we were all the same.
            One thing though, I always thought all northerners were virtuous

            1. Northerners virtuous? No we have learned over a long time, the Harrying of the North, the Pilgrimage of Grace, the so called dirty industries we had foisted on us and then taken away, and the abuse we always receive, that we can lie down and be walked over or we can stand and fight our corner.

              A northerner who doesn’t has too much blood in them from south of the Humber / Mersey line.

      2. Instead of a sweeping generalisation, an indication of what you consider as a hint that is difficult to decipher would be appreciated.

        Considering today’s clues, let me offer some perspective as the blogger:
        12a – an anagram, as uncomplicated as it gets.
        18a – one of the more complex hints of the day, but it identifies the elements of a charade that have to be reversed after ‘assembly’ (also see my response to Brian on this one).
        5d – a bit of a challenge to identify the word that has to be inserted into the ‘outskirts’ of Turkey without giving too much away, it is a Prize puzzle after all.

        If you don’t already do so, I would strongly recommend that you read the ‘plain language’ reviews of Cryptic Sue and gnomethang which are published after the submission deadline they can increase the understanding of how Dada’s brain works.

        1. Senf,
          With the treatment have come days of insomnia so I decided to try & induce sleep by looking back over the month of Corky comments about the quality of the hints for Sunday:
          ST 3092 #8: “…needed hints for two & surprise surprise Senf had hinted both today……. so thank you very much Senf”
          ST 3093 #6: “12a & 2d held out until the hints……many thanks to Senf who provided the key.
          ST 3095 #11: “Very challenging and needed Senf’s hints to complete the last sixth (sic)……. Thanks to Dada and Senf for his invaluable help.”
          So even the author would suggest his criticism was groundless!
          It didn’t work – still wide awake. Back to my Rebus.

  26. Good description of this puzzle by others as “quirky” but still enjoyable and pleased to complete!
    Thanks to Dada for the challenge and to Senf for the blog & hints.

  27. I did better with this than I usually do with Dada; full disclosure, still with e-help, I don’t think I’ll ever solve a Dada without help.
    I needed help for 15d, awful word, I would never have got it. Agreed 18a is brilliant, alas, I had the first letter wrong at 19d, only managed to correct it when I got help for 18a.
    I liked lots, 11a amused, it brought to mind St. Trinian’s, but I think fave is 3d.
    Thank you Dada for our Sunday entertainment, and heaps of thanks to Senf for unravelling some.

  28. I confess that the bottom half of this one caused grief, quite a lot of it – the top was much easier, for me anyway.
    My main trouble was in the bottom left corner and didn’t get sorted out until I realised that 18 and 23a both depended on 19d – once I saw that I had the wrong first word all became miraculously clear. Oh dear! Dim!
    11a made me laugh and it was nice to have a picture of 12a as I’d forgotten what one of those looked like.
    My favourite was 7d.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  29. I found this a little tricky today – perhaps solving it with a gin & tonic in my hand at the same time didn’t help.

    I thought spirit in 17d was referring to courage or pluck rather than an alcoholic container, but then again I couldn’t find an online thesaurus that agreed with me.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  30. Some (for me) difficult clues and some straightforward ones made this a stimulating exercise. I did struggle with the parsing of 18a and 24a initially but the penny did drop eventually. The SE corner was last in. Fortunately, 7d and 9d fell into my lap more or less immediately. Thanks to Senf and to the setter.

  31. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable, but quite tricky puzzle. I almost gave up at one point, but soldiered on and managed to finish it in the end. Last in was 15d. Favourite was 18a. Was 3* /3* for me.

  32. Many thanks for your nice wishes yesterday Carolyn, Manders, Senf, SteveC, RD, Chriscross, LROK, Huntsman, Merusa, J-L and Robert Clark. I look forward to rejoining the clan.

  33. I was all over the place with this one today, but struggled on. I liked 4d, but wasn’t keen on 15d. Thanks go to Dada and Senf.

  34. Another enjoyable Sunday puzzle. COTD 18a, followed by the earworm-inducing 17d. Thanks Senf & Dada – consistently my favourite setter.

      1. I’m a bit of a one-trick pony in that respect. Thanks for the welcome & glad to see you’re now a convert to the joys of Dada

  35. Hooray! – I’ve finished this with electronic help only once and two inspirations from Mr. Th. Hard work but really enjoyable with many great clues. LOI and fav 18a. Many thanks to setter and to
    senf for the overtime – I will enjoy reading the hints in due course.

  36. 3*/3*….
    liked 7D “Howling animals, target of derision (8,5)”…reminds me of an Alsation dog we once had who used to bay at the full moon ! ..bay rather than howl and smile at rather than a target of derision though.

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