ST 3120 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3120 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3120 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where a weather summary for July was provided during the week – July was the 21st consecutive month of below average precipitation and the ‘dryest’ and the second ‘hottest’ month of that ilk in the 148 years since record keeping began, which has all lead to a plague of grasshoppers for the farmers to contend with..

Keep staying safe everyone.

For me, Dada is slightly quirky this week if only because of the somewhat strange grid.   I counted two anagrams (one partial), one lurker, and one homophone – all in a very asymmetric 31 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, 23a, 4d, and 22d.

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:


7a After little time ship set off (7)
A term, which the BRB describes as a combining form, for a type of ship placed after the single letter for (little) Time.

10a Towelling fabric cut, one row (7)
A type of towelling fabric, which is also a diminutive form of a man’s name, with the last letter removed (cut) and a synonym of one (as in a playing card?).

13a Visual science test follows work on book (9)
A three letter synonym of test follows all of the two letter abbreviation for a (musical) work and a four letter type of book.

16a Clean up throne seen in a mess during banquet (7,4,4)
An anagram (in a mess) of THRONE SEEN inserted into (during) a synonym of banquet.

21a Proper to defend a king of myth (5)
A synonym of proper, which is often ‘coupled’ with proper in a phrase, containing (to defend) A from the clue.

26a Officer: bit of a nut, by the sound of it? (7)
The homophone (by the sound of it) of a single word for a bit of a nut.

28a Still bald, scratching head (7)
A synonym of bald with the first letter removed (scratching head).


1d Rugby player in deadlock situation? (5-3)
A double definition – the first is an alternative name for one of the half backs.

3d Corporation screened by agent in squat (6)
A three letter abbreviation of an informal synonym of corporation (as in body) contained (screened) by a type of (secret) agent.

4d My bits (6)
A double definition – the first is an interjection.

6d Some tables, seriously lower (6)
The lurker (some) found in two words in the clue.

9d Chunk saved by crone served up for tramp (7)
A synonym of chunk contained (saved) by a three letter synonym of crone reversed (served up).

17d Friendly message preceded by reflective query? (8)
A type of message, which is probably not used any more, placed after (preceded by) a (2,1) query (about oneself?).

19d Colonist, one footing the bill? (7)
A double definition – the second could refer to someone paying a bill.

22d Woman earned about a million (6)
A synonym of earned containing (about) all of A from the clue and the single letter for Million.

25d Overcook fish (4)
And, after all that, we have a straightforward double definition to finish which we have probably seen before, I know I have used this illustration before.

Quick Crossword pun:


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I doubt that Alexander Borodin (1833 – 1887), Russian Chemist by day and Composer by night, would have ever imagined that some of his music would ‘feature’ in a 20th century musical. But that is what happened; several of his compositions were adapted, I supposed that sounds better than plagiarised or appropriated, for the 1953 musical Kismet. This is the Second Movement Scherzo: Allegro from Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2 in D Major played by the Kontras Quartet. The melody of the song from Kismet should be fairly obvious; if it isn’t, it’s Baubles, Bangles, and Beads:

51 comments on “ST 3120 (Hints)

  1. A good challenge with many clever clues as well as a few ‘gimmes’. My favourite has to be 9 down.

  2. I have not been doing cryptics long, but just looking at 4D is making me wonder if anyone knows what is the least number of letters there has ever been in a cryptic clue ?

  3. 2*/4*. Great fun on a miserable wet day here in London. Is this really August?

    4d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. We are having the most extraordinary weather – what is happening? It is really autumnal here today with occasional heavy downpours. It doesn’t bode well for Dahlia Day at the end of the month. I am a three times winner. Was!

  4. For the 2nd week running a much quicker solve than I’m used to with Mr H. I thought it an excellent puzzle, succinctly clued throughout & with a couple of head scratchers thrown in for good measure. 7,12,13&27a along with 9,20,22&24d would be my ticks with 13a narrowly pipping Bertie’s pick, 9d, for top spot.
    Thanks to our Sunday duo.
    Ps Dada as Paul in top form in yesterday’s Graun prize puzzle. Not impenetrable (as is often the case, for me anyway) & with 1 clue certainly & maybe 2 unsuitable for the Telegraph & which appealed to my puerile sense of humour.

  5. I enjoyed this scattering of old chestnuts throughout a very friendly Dada today. One of my favourite American cities and a nugget from one of my favourite poems highlight my top choices; 12a and 9d. I also liked 16a. It was smooth sailing for me by one of our most consistent setters: always sharp, always cool. Thanks to Senf and Dada. ** / ****

    The weather has returned to August-normal, Charleston-style–very warm, dry and fair, very tolerable–and I’m happy about that.

      1. Merida, in reply to your query yesterday, my maiden name was Angus and very proud of the Scottish connection we were brought up to be! All the Angus girls were christened Margaret something and then called by our second names. Confusing or what? No wonder I am all mixed up. I wish I had been known as Margaret.

  6. I enjoyed this puzzle, a rather gentle one by Dada standards, with the northern half going ineasier than the southern (2.5*/4*). I liked the geographical clue at 12a, the terse 23d and the anagram at 16a but 13a was my COTD, as I found first 3 letters easy to get but it took a while fore the whole word to become clear. Thank you to Senf for the hint and to Dada for anither Sunday treat.

  7. Dada on top form today I thought with some lovely misdirection sprinkled throughout, quite tricky in places but still had it all in well before my early morning sea swim.
    I have to take issue with the dated interpretation of 18d, I’ve met quite a few relatively young and glamorous ones in my time! Lots to like though including the 28a chestnut plus 3,5,21&24d.
    Many thanks to Dada and Senf

      1. Hi Daisygirl
        That’s exactly what I was doing, saying that there are many very attractive 18d of all ages, who I certainly wouldn’t classify as “old women”.

  8. Dada in fairly benign mood this morning but he has still given us a most enjoyable puzzle ti cheer up a dull day. Hard to look beyond the admirably brief and slightly risqué 4d to find a favourite clue.

    My thanks to the aforementioned and to Senf.

  9. That was very tough top right and bottom left but very clever. Still can’t see the definition in 21d and I thought 10a a dreadful clue.
    On the whole enjoyable and pleased to complete it. Not my favourite DADA but certainly not the worst.
    Thx to all

      1. Not sure I get it. Surely the 1st letter is the force the next 5 the lift but where does the close off fit? The whole seems undefined.

        1. 21d the definition is the final word – you’ll need to go through quite a long list of definitions in the BRB to understand the link between it and the definition. A verb meaning to force into which is inserted (to close off) A (from the clue)

          1. Ah and there was I thinking I was being smart by looking for crossword lands shortening for power.
            Thx for the help.

        2. A five letter synonym of force containing (to close off) A from the clue and the answer must be from Dada’s personal thesaurus!

  10. Some benevolence from our setter today with quite a few to smile at and several ‘chestnut’ types in the lower reaches.
    Medals here went to 4,9&22d. There was a girl in my year at school who had a most unfortunate way of walking and I’m afraid we all referred to her as 9d – children can be so cruel at times.

    Thanks to Dada and to our hard-working Senf for the hints – I enjoyed the musical interlude and will doubtless be humming it all day.

  11. Most enjoyable and finished unaided. Some quirkiness, as Senf has noted, with just the right amount of head scratching. As ever with Dada, it took me a while to get going. To my shame, I took far too long to solve 23d. I had plenty of ticks by clues today such as 10a, 12a, 13a, 16a and 20d. However, my COTD is the simple, effective and quite delightful 4d.

    My thanks to Dada for the mental exercise and to Senf for the hints.

  12. I always struggle with Dada, but I made a complete mess of this one by putting in the wrong answer for 2D (my answer seemed Dada-ish at the time) and then putting the answer to 27A in 25A. No wonder I didn’t finish! Roll on Monday.

  13. Excellent crossword!

    Thanks Dada and Senf.

    I wonder what caused the heat 148 years ago? The flooding in Germany too had precedents:'s_flood

    This happened about 100 km from Schuld – the town hit hardest this year.

    It’s 42C here in the Gargano now, but It’s not unusual to have African heat in Southern Italy – we will still eat out under the vines😎🍷🍷🍷

        1. Just touched 44 … retired indoors to a steady 26 (not air-conditioned!) and Saturday’s Grauniad🍷🍷🍷

  14. I found this quite querky and NE took the longest mainly because I couldn’t get 3d until I eventually realised I had the wrong two letters at the end of 13a. Pouring again now – wonderful summer isn’t it!

  15. I’ve missed your comments over the past couple of weeks – I’ve had a house full of family who have all abandoned the idea of holidaying abroad. It’s been really nice to be able to go out and do normal things for the first time in ages. Anyway, the puzzle. Fairly kind by dada’s standards with some seriously quirky clues. I liked 4d and 12a but my favourite is 13a for its construction. Thanks to all.

  16. We found this as straightforward as they come, maybe we were just on the right wavelength for once. Favourite was 13a. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  17. We thoroughly enjoyed this, quirky yet straightforward in parts. 9d made me smile, my grandmother used to tell me not to 9d as young ladies should not do it – lovely word. Struggled to get my head round 21d but finally worked it out. Funny, I was talking on Friday to a 26a who spent several years in 11a and I told him it was one of my best ever holidays. Many thanks to the setter for entertainment during our lunch with rain pounding on the conservatory roof and to Senf for his help.

  18. If you are not a rugby fan and not up on mythical king’s you are probably like me, and up the creek without a paddle. Didn’t get 9d either. A bit of a slog to get past the finish line to be honest. Found this to be on the tougher end of Dada puzzles. However COTD was 23a, a lovely cryptic clue. Thanks to Senf for doing double duty this weekend.

  19. Thank you Dada and Senf for a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon doing clues and watching recorded Olympic highlights! 4d as my CotD

  20. Yikes! This was the toughest Dada puzzle in a long time and I am usually right on his wavelength.
    Today this was 3.5*/**** for me.
    Found it really quite quirky today and very tricky in parts. New word in 24a for me.
    Clues to like include 7a, 13a, 16a, 23a & 4d with winner 16a.
    Even thought this was a tough puzzle, it was nicely clued, even if I was a bit thick to figure out what Dada was getting at.
    He never disappoints!

    Thanks to Dada and Senf for helping me along

  21. I thought Dada was very benevolent today, usually I can’t finish but I did today. I didn’t know the rugby but “deadlock” gave me 1d, and 24d was new but it had to be. I knew the mythical king and the Carrol word, so those helped. I liked 13a and 16a, that opened it up a lot.
    Thank you Dada for the fun and Senf for the enlightenment where needed and the music.

  22. Uncomfortably difficult as usual for Dada on Sunday but I managed to finish it which is a rare occurrence.

    13a my favourite with 12a a very honourable mention. No sharing of gold medals for me.

    Thanks to Senf for his weekend work and to Dada for making it possible for me to solve one of his puzzles.

  23. Oh dear. I am not having a good weekend this week, cruciverbally at least.
    I was rubbish yesterday and even more rubbish today. Sigh.
    Never mind, I will continue trying my best.

    Thanks to Senf, almost all of whose hints I had to use, and to the setter.

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