ST 3103 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3103 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3103 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where we are about to ‘catch up’ (I use the term loosely) with our neighbouring Provinces and enter a Third Wave of Covid partly because of Canada’s pitiful vaccination rate – as of yesterday, Canada is 35th, compared to the UK’s 7th, in the ‘league table’ of vaccination rates by country.  And, then there’s the 10 – 25 cms of snow we are forecast to get starting this evening and ending on Tuesday morning! 

Keep staying safe everyone.

For me, Dada is quirky with a number of Hmms and plenty of ‘?’ to be taken account of while using his own special thesaurus.  I counted three anagrams (one partial), two lurkers (one reversed), and two 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 – 12a, 15a, 8d, 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 Joint not functioning, get to work (7,4)
A (finger) joint and a single word often used when a system, for example, is not functioning.

9a Marketing wickedness has secured a win (7)
A two letter abbreviated form of a type of marketing(?) and a four letter synonym of wickedness containing (has secured) A from the clue.

12a Looking back, what Jack Sprat’s wife did about fine material (7)
From the nursery rhyme, decide what Jack Sprat’s wife did containing (about) the single letter for Fine all reversed (looking back).

15a Secured by belt, reversing down — motorist slower? (5,4)
A synonym of down reversed (reversing) and inserted into (secured by) a five letter synonym of belt.

20a Vital organsurvivor? (5)
A double definition – the first is illustrated and the second deserves its ‘?’.

24a Holiday camp performer acted or juggled (7)
An anagram (juggled) of ACTED OR.

26a Tailored 24 Across, some style (3,4)
An anagram (tailored) of the answer of (or the anagram material of) 24a.

27a Tory privilege and one able to soar? (5-6)
A synonym of privilege and a descriptive noun for one able to soar.


2d In tree house, are becoming most familiar? (7)
ARE from the clue inserted into (in) a tree house (used by a bird)?

4d Stretcher orderly craftily has nicked (5)
The ‘forward’ lurker (has nicked) found in two words in the clue – the reverse lurker not hinted by me is 14a.

5d Worshipped, from above and below? (7)
A palindromic (from above and below as it’s a down clue) synonym of worshipped.

6d Audible greeting for spectator (6)
One of the homophones (audible) of a slang type of greeting – the other homophone not hinted by me is 13a.

8d Female, a little lower? (6)
The term for the illustrated female little ‘lower’.

16d Please access article in container (9)
A synonym of access and one of the indefinite articles inserted into (in) a type of container.

19d Old knight, artist and old actress (7)
The usual two letter artist and the (stage) surname of the illustrated ‘old actress’ (who was married to Larry O).

23d Mammal, foxy dropping tail (5)
A synonym of foxy, as used when referring to behaviour, with the last letter removed (dropping tail).

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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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A random selection today from Irish singer, songwriter, record producer and musician Enya, recommended to me, not that it needed much recommending, by a friend:


66 comments on “ST 3103 (Hints)

  1. This was Dada in a very wily frame of mind, but, while not the easiest of puzzles, it was highly enjoyable(2.5*/5*). I really liked 15a, once the penny dropped and it was with great delight that I finally got 23d, after going through lots of possibilities. 9a was another well disguised clue but my joint COTD’s were 1a and 8d ( I’ve lost count of the mumber of times that I’ve been caught ou by the latter type of clue). Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. The vaccination situation must be very frustrating for you if your lagging behind the other provinces. Having made a Horlicks of it, Europe is even worse off.

  2. Started off hating this one but decided to persevere (no idea why!). Then when I switched to the bottom things started to gel. Certainly very difficult and quirky. Still think 13a is a dreadful clue on so many levels. Far too many leaps of faith for my taste.
    Not my favourite but can respect it. Anyway so much better than yesterdays horror.
    Thx for the much needed hints for some of the top clues.

  3. For the first time this was Dada in an incredibly benign mood. Finished without needing hints. For me ** but only just that. Liked the four outer 11 letter clues but the palindrome at 5d is my favourite today.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

    If it wasn’t for the snow and the continuing snow showers I would be going into the garden to catch up with this year’s sowing and planting but heyho it looks like another day lost to the weather.

    1. I was going to mow the lawn but its too wet from the deluge we had yesterday. I’ve pruned the less tender plants but am reluctant to trim the others back because of the hard frosts we’ve been having. Maybe I’ll get some weeding done.

      1. I will try to continue laying the path round our newly installed summershed. It’s far too small to be called anything with house in it and gazebo is far too fancy a term for North Yorkshire. Good luck with the weeding.

        1. I managed to cut out some dead wood this morning but it’s now trying to snow so indoor jobs this afternoon.

  4. Initially thought this was going to be brisk solve but the north had a good deal more bite than the south for me. 1a eventually proved the key to progress there & unlike the last 2 days it was a finish in a respectable *** time. Perhaps not quite up there with some recent Sundays but still plenty to like in this one with 5,6&18d my picks of today’s crop.
    Thanks to Dada & Senf

  5. Having needed all 3 hints to finish the quickie today, I was anticipating an absolute nightmare of a puzzle from dada with the cryptic. Curiously, It came together very quickly. I’ll be interested to see what Robert makes of 6d. I haven’t heard that greeting in years but it was certainly used in South London where I grew up and is doubtless familiar to CC. I’m learning that the trick with dada is to look for the least obvious as in 8d. I agree with Brian, 13a is pretty dire. 5d is clever but my favourite goes to 12a. **/*** Thanks to all.

    1. When I was a little boy (guttersnipe) my friends father Mr Turner always greeted anyone and everyone with the word at 6d as in “xxxxxxx cock ow’re ya doin”

      1. Yes exactly. Never heard it over here of course. At least my first 36 years does sometimes help me solve these crosswords.

    2. Greta, my year teaching at the U of Nottingham, almost 50 years ago now, taught me all kinds of memorable expressions that I have, quite inexplicably, retained, and 6d is one of them. 13a was much tougher for me than 6d.

      1. It is surprising how much useless information we all retain really. And the less said about 13a the better. American spelling or otherwise.

  6. Nothing to do with today’s excellent puzzle. Chris Lancaster has just owned up to compiling yesterday’s Saturday Prize Puzzle

  7. 3*/4*. Nicely challenging and great fun. 12a was my favourite with 1a & 5d joining it on the podium.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  8. I enjoyed this puzzle very much. A lovely ‘follow the clues and you get the answers’ crossword. No knowledge of fifth century Turkish rulers required.

    The BBC forecasts ‘sunny intervals and a gentle breeze’. Foolishly, we shall put our faith in that and head out for a stroll, and so anyone in the South East should expect thunderstorms.

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: Delius – Brigg Fair.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf (awful to hear of your ‘Third Wave’)

    1. I won’t bother putting the washing out then, Terence. You’ve just put the mockers on that!

  9. I’d certainly agree with Senf’s description of this one as ‘quirky’ and to be honest I don’t think our setter quite pulled it off with 13a.
    Quite a few laughs along the way and respect for 5d, not the most obvious of palindromes.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and the soothing sound of Enya.

  10. One of these days, I’ll remember the British spelling (as opposed to the American) of 13a, which I mostly managed today. Lovely puzzle, tricky in places, but witty and most enjoyable. My reaction rate since Jab 2 six days ago is slowly improving but completing Dada today took me into 4* time. Favourites: 19d, 27a, and 1a, with lots of contenders. Thanks to Senf and Dada. **** / ****

    1. Strange, I had my first (Pfizer) vaccination last Tuesday and my reaction to it was only a little worse than the average flu shot.

      1. Perhaps the fact that I’ll be 83 before long has something to do with my overall sluggishness. The first Pfizer jab was much less debilitating than the second. Glad you fared so well.

  11. Thought this was going to be really tough at first glance, but it came together steadily. Not really sure about the synonym for “the rest” in 20d, but the answer must be what it is.
    I really like 13a, but then I’m always up for a cheesy pun/wordplay, and it made me laugh/groan.
    Other favourites are 1a, 12a, and the 24/26a combo.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  12. Tough but enjoyable for me. I wonder if our friends across the pond have heard of 7d. I thought the term had been beaten by political correctness. I did like 12a and this is my COTD. Others I liked were 1a and 22a. 11d was slightly difficult as that part of the puzzle was not printed in the paper.

    My thanks to Dada for the challenge and thanks to Senf for the hints, which I did not need today.

    1. I just about got a column of spaces for 11d but the frame of the grid was missing on that right hand side. It was covered in inky smudges. Why can’t they go back to the top right hand side, where they used to print the puzzle?

      1. It would be good to see it back there. Let’s hope Mr. Lancaster reads these comments and those made last Sunday about the position of the cryptic. If he reads them, though, will action be taken?

        1. Comments were made last week including a direct plea to Mr Lancaster, and on other occasions. There’s so much wrong with the new layout, I may get the Times when my sub runs out. Not difficult to fix.

    2. Indeed – the first use of the “eye” word was American so this was an easy clue.

      And thankfully the pudding was one of the few items of British Cuisine that did not make the voyage. Unlike “English muffins” (crumpets with the wrong recipe) or “English biscuits” (scones with the wrong recipe)…

      Mr & Mrs T
      Grateful Dead Fans as ever.

      1. There are muffins and there are crumpets. So, I would suggest that the North American ‘English Muffin’ is an imitation of a muffin rather than a crumpet.

        However, a scone (however you pronounce it) is not a biscuit (not even the Cheddar Bay variety that is served in Red Lobster restaurants).

    3. Hi Steve. See my comment to Greta, re 7d, above #5. Oops, I’m sorry, I thought you meant 6d. Yes, I know all about 7d–for the same reason I knew 6d. It was served at the SCR, Cripps Hall, where I was a Moral Tutor at the U of Nottingham. Not my favourite thing, though.

  13. I made hard work of this at the beginning until I established a foothold, then things fell quickly into place. 12a was my top clue from a good selection, and the whole grid was pleasingly awkward in places and a rewarding solve. An honourable mention in dispatches too, to 5d.

    Grateful thanks to Dada for the fun and to Senf.

  14. This was fun. Thank you to Dada. My favourite clue was 12A; I don’t think I’d heard of the word before, but the instructions worked brilliantly.

    And thank you to Senf. I came to a halt with the bottom-right corner looking quite bare, but one hint there was enough to unstick me and the rest came along nicely.

    Final day of the school holidays round these parts — got to get back into the routine tomorrow, then remember to go for my haircut. (The 8yo also had an appointment, but the person he was booked with has announced they aren’t returning to our barbers, so he’s going to have to stay hairy for longer.)

      1. Thanks. Given my lack of fashion knowledge, a crossword could feature the current most popular material for party dresses and I still probably wouldn’t know it.

        Also: What’s a party?

        1. Frocks with tiered skirts were popular in 12a, with a trim of some kind on each tier sometimes.

  15. About middle of the road Dada for me. Slow start but then smoothing progress once I realised I had to 1a. Finished in ** / ** time & *** / **** enjoyment
    5d my COTD
    Thanks to Dada for the work out and Senf for the hints.
    As regards COVID, it appears we got the vaccine thing right. The law of averages says we would get something right eventually.

  16. I always enjoy Dada’s puzzles and this is no exception…..less meccano and more lateral thinking involved compared with others, challenging and amusing….

  17. I had about half of this done and had come to a complete standstill and decided to read the hints. They, of course, covered the clues I had already answered but then I read Steve C’s comment about 7d being politically incorrect and the answer sprang to mind and I finished the whole thing spit spot. I agree that the placing of ‘our’ puzzle is very bad and I invariably manage to pierce the paper several times along the top row. Please move it either up or down Dear Sir. I did think we might drive to Ely (that city so beloved by crossword compilers) this afternoon but overcome with great lassitude at the thought of going anywhere. Is this what it is going to be like? Many thanks to setter and Senf for the diversion.

  18. Just remembered that the mother of the beautiful actress was a beautician and she did the make up for me and my bridesmaids when we got married! How’s that for trivia?

      1. I DID actually, my first job was working for a film producer in Golden Square and all sorts of stars came to
        the office. and I sometimes went to Elstree. I remember seeing the big tank with aeroplanes on pieces of string
        used for filming one of the the Battle of Britain films. Dirk Bogarde was a regular visitor – they were reading and
        considering the script of The Servant but I was not allowed to look at the script as it was not considered ‘nice’
        material for a young woman to see!!! I also remember him coming into the office looking very tanned and saying
        he had discovered a delightful unspoilt little village in Spain called Torremolinos. I got him to write it down for me
        hoping I could go there one day!

    1. Fantastic anecdote!

      In my first year at university somebody on my corridor had been in a TV ad for Chicken Tonight.

  19. We’re in the “quirky but enjoyable” camp this afternoon. Not too many hold-ups unlike yesterday’s which we didn’t start until late, due to me being on a working party pulling fallen trees out of a river, and didn’t finish until this afternoon. Favourite was 12a. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  20. I am at odds with our esteemed blogger I that I found this decidedly ‘unquirky’ to the extent that I got a bonus from the online site for time taken to completely. A rarity for this mediocre solver.
    I agree a few ‘hmmmss’ but it was so long ago I have forgotten.
    Thanks both.

    1. ‘Quirky’ may relate to solving time or it may not. Today it related to, as I said in my preamble, ‘a number of Hmms and plenty of ‘?’ to be taken account of while using his own special thesaurus.’

  21. Just goes to prove how different we all are. I had already solved all the clues for which Senf provided the hints, but luckily this was another great Dada offering, just requiring some deep and sometimes off the track thought. Very enjoyable. My biggest hold up was 20d which I’ve never heard used. Haven’t had 7d since first or second trip home years ago. Friends are always bemused by our obsession with fish and chips, smoked haddock, roast lamb, and anything with custard when we visit. Thanks to Dada for a splendid Sunday puzzle, and to Senf. Hope your vaccination rates improve soon. Grandchildren, age 16 and 19 getting their first Pfizer shots next Tuesday here. Just as well, as Florida new Covid cases are still some of the worst in the US.

    1. But did it lead you to the correct, as illustrated, answer?

      My source for confirmation was the entry for foxy in Chambers Crossword Dictionary. OK, it doesn’t guarantee that they are synonymous but it does show that they have been used interchangeably in previous crosswords.

  22. I surprised myself by getting to grips with a Dada puzzle but like Senf I did have a few hmms along the way e.g. 13a, 27a, 4d 6d etc. South came through before North. Couple of Favs – 1a and 11d. Feel guilty staying inside and looking at such beautiful sunshine outside but wow it’s still chilly here in W. Sussex and apparently more of the same to come. Thank you Dada and Senf.

  23. For me today this was definitely a quirkier offering from Dada, especially with a few hmm’s on definitions/synonyms. ***/**** my rating today. Did require a couple of hints (more to check the bung in was right), but I did need a couple to assist in the solve too Clues I liked were 1a, 13a, 15a, 17a & 7d with 13a my winner and 1a a great runner up.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for hints … (and enjoy your snow … as this week on the West Coast we are expecting nothing but sun and temps in the low 20’s … Yay!!!!

  24. My first crack at this in bed this morning yielded just 7! In order to get a supermarket delivery slot I have to remember to log in as near to about 4 am as possible every Sunday morning and I forgot until about 6.30 so was in a panic. Its for 8 May for goodness sake but the slots just get nabbed so quickly. I got it OK but I think the stress got me in a bit of a dither – God what a sad person. Later I settled back down and slowly finished it. I had quite a lot of hmms. I cannot do the Quickie puzzle at all as there are too many answers (e.g. animal 5 letters, could be anything) but usually with the cryptic you know when you have the answer. With this puzzle today there were several I wasn’t completely sure about. 12a was my COTD. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  25. I liked this, with a couple holding me up at the end – 8d favourite, 2d LOI.
    Thanks Senf, and Dada for the puzzle

  26. The ‘quick’ crossword proved to be anything but, and the cryptic was just that. Quirky seems to have become a term of criticism, but It’s refreshing to me to have a different style of composition which forces you to think outside of the usual box. So thanks to Dada, Senf and fellow bloggers.

  27. Well, this beat me. I completed the NW corner and a few other, then got a hint or two to get going again but still can’t complete. I’m going to use e-help to finish it and call it a day.
    There were some fun along the way. I knew 7d, my brother had it at his school, with the usual schoolboy humour. I thought 1a and 12a were smile worthy.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf for the puzzle and the help. We’ve been promised thunderstorms this afternoon, I’ve forgotten what a rainy day is like, so very welcome.

  28. Foinished this completely unaidedalthough with difficulty. However anything would appear easy after what Brian called “the horror of yesterday”. Lots of excellent clues,, perhaps the best 15a. Thanks to Dada for an enjoyable brain teaser and to Senf for the hints although they were not needed.

  29. A very rare occurrence today…I managed to complete a Sunday Cryptic alone and unaided!

    I’m doing it today because I have awful dental problems …..a difficult extraction of a lower molar followed by a dry socket and an infection. Trust me this is a world of pain that no one wants to experience. Dentist this morning (fourth visit in 6 days, including one to the emergency dentist on Saturday) cleaned the socket and dressed it again…….a process that would surely have induced anyone to give up any secrets they ever had…and after a couple of hours I finally have some respite from the pain. Instructions are to come back for more of the same on Wednesday if the pain persists…..which does not sound hopeful to me. Talk about being miserable…..but I did the crossword ….so a tiny hurrah!

  30. 3*/4*…was surprised to finish this having failed to complete the quickie…
    liked 22A ” Drink alongside empty barrel is wine (7)”….brings to mind the closing stages of a heavy drinking session.

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