ST 3136 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3136 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3136 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where it looks like we will have a White Christmas because of the snow we already have on the ground, which will probably stay until the Spring thaw, but that doesn’t count in my book.  A White Christmas is snow falling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Keep staying safe everyone.

For me, after the last couple of weeks, Dada is back to business as usual but he did include a sprinkling of oldies but goodies.  I counted five anagrams (one partial), two lurkers (one reversed), and one homophone – all in a somewhat asymmetric 29 clues; with 15 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 9a, 16a, 23a, 27a, 18d. and the Pun probably made the grade this week.

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:


9a Capital never safeguarded by locks, ultimately lost (5)
A two letter synonym of never contained (safeguarded) by a synonym of locks (as in on one’s head) with the last letter removed (ultimately lost).

11a Back sore at first, one crying (7)
One of the oldies but goodies and a sporty clue – the first letter of Sore and a one word term equivalent to one crying.

14a Blighter’s puppet, is one wearing cap? (9)
A synonym for blighter including the possessive S and a synonym for puppet (plus the illustration).

16a Game whose winner won’t have had a shot (7,8)
If 14a got a ‘?’ I consider this deserves one too – a game(?) involving a not fully loaded weapon (won’t have had a shot).

25a Auditor’s painting jug (7)
The homophone (auditor’s) of a synonym of painting.

27a An on-line figure? (9)
A type of figure which when it is included in a fractional expression is above or on (the) line.

28a Monsters of ghastly reputation, enormous size originally (5)
A cluing device which Dada seems to use every Sunday – the first letters (originally) of five words in the clue.


1d Part of Macbeth usually like that (4)
The lurker (part of) found in two words in the clue.

2d An educational officer on the mountains (6)
AN from the clue and an educational officer – head of faculty?

4d Imitate rock, music genre served up (6)
A three letter rock (the BRB says a rocky height) and a music genre all reversed (served up).

8d Keen driver later hoped to go travelling (10)
An anagram (to go travelling) of LATER HOPED.

15d Dribbling Italian wingers in Salerno about to net five (10)
An anagram (about) of ITALIAN and the first and last letters of (wingers in) SalernO containing (to net) the Roman numeral for five.

18d Chocolate: one hardened in minute (8)
The letter used to represent one and a three letter synonym of hardened all contained by (in) a synonym of minute (as a record of, for example, a discussion).

24d Some land in water, carried towards the surface? (4))
The reverse lurker (in . . . towards the surface) found in two words in the clue.

26d Wine was revolting! (4)
A double definition to finish – the first is a four letter generic type of wine.

Quick Crossword Pun:


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In 2007, American Bluegrass singer Alison Krauss and English Rock singer Robert Plant collaborated on an album, Raising Sand, and we had a track from it, Gone, Gone, Gone written by Phil and Don Everly, just over 4 years ago. Fourteen years later, they have just released a new collaborative album, Raise the Roof, and this is a track from it, Can’t Let Go written by Randy Weeks:

66 comments on “ST 3136 (Hints)

  1. The NW almost took me into 3* time for this superb Dada puzzle but the hardest thing was selecting a podium with such a plethora of stonkers to choose from.
    I seem to remember 27a coming up very recently.
    Loved 11,13&21a plus 22d with top spot going to the LOL 3d… brilliant.
    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  2. 3.5*/4*. I found the NW corner really tough, and it took my time up to over 3*. It was good fun as usual and my only bit of 3d is that I can’t see how 25a is a homophone as the two critical consonants appear in a different order in the two words.

    21a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

        1. Just had another look Huntsman and have now got it yippee! Very clever I think. Now out to posh lunch to use up voucher before end of year. Back later

      1. As Yogi Berra once famously said “ It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

        Today’s 27a is the same solution as 4d in yesterday’s Shabbo NTSPP.

  3. In the words of the immortal Anthony A Hancock STONE ME! This was so tough that I was very grateful for the hints as most of the clues were impenetrable. This was DADA at his worst. Do we have a new Crossword Editor at the DT who has an intense dislike of the readers? Yesterdays and todays puzzles were beyond the pale.
    The only decent clue for me was 16a, the rest I shall consign to the dustbin of memory.
    Thx for the much needed hints.

    1. Brian not sure if you ever look at the Big Dave puzzles but yesterday’s Shabbo NTSPP was excellent & am fairly confident would meet with your approval.

          1. To judge from the timings of your two comments, you only gave the NTSPP four minutes before admitting defeat. Come on, Brian, the setter deserved more than that!

            1. I believe patience is a virtue and something Brian seems to lack. If I gave up after 4 mins I would solve nothing. I have been looking at today’s for hours on and solved all without help apart from 26d and 2a. I know a wine that fits the checkers but don’t get the wordplay. I resorted to the hint for 2d but still don’t get it.

            2. Well following your comment I went back and tried again for 20 minutes with the solving of 3 clues. I stand by my original comment.

  4. Last in 14a took me into **** time.
    Excellent puzzle and very mentally challenging.
    Loved 16a.
    Many thanks Dada and Senf for the review.

  5. Fiendish. ****/** Far too many answers were, “well it could be” but I could have done with more of Senf’s hints to know why. 8d had me trying to make an anagram out “keen driver” for too long before that penny dropped. No favourite, just amazed to get it finished. Thanks to all.

  6. Well I reckon he pulled this one out of Graun puzzles file because I found it very challenging & not just in the NW. It took me well into Toughie time but was hugely satisfying to finish with everything eventually parsed. Like Stephen I thought it an excellent puzzle & full of head scratchers. Big ticks for me were 9,14,16&21a plus 2,3,17&18d.
    Thanks to D&S for top quality entertainment.

  7. Dada back to his wily ways and this took several injections of caffeine. 14a & 3d were the last to fall here – checkers and light bulbs definitely required!
    Top billing shared between 21a & 18d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and music. Sprinkle of snow on the tops this morning but I doubt it will linger.

  8. Well that gave a tough workout for the brain cells! I bet I lost a few of them during the battle. Nevertheless, it was a most enjoyable challenge even though I had to have electronic help with a few. 14a was a stunner but my COTD is Beethoven.

    Grateful thanks to Dada for the challenge and to Senf for the much needed hints.

    I cleared Safari’s cache last night so my details were lost. Put me into moderation. 😳

    1. Your comment went into moderation for a different ‘ending’ to your email address ‘’ instead of ‘’ – both should work from now on.

  9. Well into Toughie territory for me. Needed e help for 3d (critically up the wrong tree) so technically a DNF.
    Much to Mrs LrOK’s annoyance (as snow clearing was needed on our 1 in 4 drive) this took close on ***** time.with **** satisfaction that I got within one.
    27a & 3d my joi t COTDs.
    16a a game? Never in a month of Sundays for me.
    Thank you Dada and Senf. Re your snow, in my book. If there’s snow on the ground on Christmas morning or snow falls on Christmas Day then it’s a white Christmas, don’t care what the bookies say.

      1. It was a game for those making them play it.
        Thanks Dada, this was a real toughie. Just 3d to go and I know it is staring me in the face. Thanks also to Senf, though one further clue would be helpful!

  10. Like others, the NW quadrant was last to fall, with 2 and 3d the final entries. I thought this was Dada at his absolute best, full of awkward misdirection and clever constructions. 21a was easily my favourite clue this morning.

    My thanks to the aforementioned for a fine challenge, and to Senf.

  11. Wow, that was tough. After ***** time I was just two short, the connected 4d & 14a. Senf’s hints came to my rescue.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  12. Very tough for me. Took two sittings and still needed some electronic help to finish. Never heard of 8d, nor the terms in 14a, nor what kind of ‘back’ 11a refers to. Not a good showing, I’m afraid. Very depressing, but thanks to Senf for his hints and to Dada for making me squirm. ***** / **

    1. Agreed, Robert. There were so many like that, “it has to be” was the mantra today. Swimming in molasses.

  13. Certainly tougher than we’ve been used to lately from Dada.
    I did need some electronic help to get over the line. ****/**
    Big question marks over the homophone in 25a, the game in16a and the blighter synonym.

    Thanks to Dada for the challenge and Senf for enabling me to validate some of my parsing.

  14. Cracking puzzle but quite tricky in places. Not sure the ‘the game’ is a game. Finally got 3d which is my COTD. Thanks to Dada and Senf. (Spoiler redacted)

    1. Thank you for spoiling the results show this evening for those of us who like to wait and see

      1. OMG, so very sorry, it has felt like Monday all day. Can you completely delete or redact my comment please CS – I am a complete nerd so please get rid of it quickly, thank you.

      2. I absolutely agree with you Sue, to the extent I almost wish you had redacted the comment. Very disappointing for a Strictly fan to ruin it for others.

        Comment crossed with the redaction, thanks but too late for me. Hopefully not for others

  15. Very very tricky for us with lots of reverse engineering. Favourite was 3d our last in. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  16. Not the most benevolent Dada today but with Senf’s help all becomes clear,
    3d is my favourite today.
    A few flakes of snow here but more is falling in Leeds and York nearby.
    Just had a nice pub lunch with Niece and Mama Bee for her 85th Birthday.
    I had a rather nice 18d of Lamb

  17. It’s the second very snowy day here in the Peaks where local advice is to ‘cabin up’ and keep warm – with tea and crossword in my case! As usual on a Sunday my first reaction was help! I can’t do this, but I have learnt with Dada it’s a case of sticking at it and gently teasing out the answers – the longer I stare at his clever clues the more they make sense. I’d never heard of 11a in that context before but it had to be. Last one in was 14a but favourite by a whisker was 16a. Many thanks to Dada for stretching my brain and to Senf – hoping very much that our snow won’t stay around as long as yours!

  18. Well that was tough! It took me three sittings and help from the husband. And I had to look up the parsing of 15D – I’m kicking myself now! But I thought it was a great puzzle and a very satisfying solve.

  19. Well at this point I am in the DNF category as the SW has me stumped with 3 across clues and 3d clues not solved. Definitely a VERY tough, somewhat quirky Dada this week. 4*/3* at the present.
    Will revisit later in the afternoon. Giving up for now with 7 to go to finish, (one in NW not done either).
    Favourite clues so far include 16a, 3d & 7d with 3d winner … for now.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

    1. … poured myself a third coffee and then I had an epiphany !

      The SW just came together as I finally got 27a … now my winner overall for the day !!
      Then the rest fell into place with 17d and finally the NE with 8d … neither of which come up under anagram checkers, so with some head scratching finally got them. My words were correct for the anagrams, but eluded the electronic checkers.
      All done.

      Now off to watch The Beatles: Get Back … done episode one and it was great!

      1. It seems that setters are getting very inventive when it comes to anagram indicators and I would estimate that 50%, or more, do not appear in the variously available lists.

  20. Great clues especially 16a but 13d knocked me out as I assumed the boxing period was a bout. Never mind, onwards and downwards; thank you Dada and Senf

    1. You’re not alone – I had ‘a bout’ pencilled in for quite a while, just couldn’t find enough letters to go with it!

      1. I had the two boxing terms together, the right five letter word in front of your first idea. Of course it did not parse so got there eventually.

  21. No enjoyment for me today. Too many strange clues, i.e. 16a a game? And cannot fathom out the whys of 3d. In all, too much hard work. That’s three cryptics this week that were really Toughies, which is ok if you are clever enough to solve them unaided, but not for this mere mortal. Hoping for something more doable tomorrow. Thanks to Dada and to Senf, for the very much needed hints.

    1. I can’t see the point of the Toughie, I thought they were designed to appeal to the crossword masters, while the back pager was for the lesser mortals for fun. I think we’re flogging a dead horse here, this is my final word on the subject (I hope).

  22. Naturally, I needed too much e-help than I like but I finished all except 17d, I have no idea what that can be. I did much better than I expected, does that mean I’m getting on Dada’s wavelength? If so, that is very, very worrisome! I had so many bungins I’m not sure they count. We haven’t seen 16a for a while, definitely not a game.
    Thanks to Dada, and oodles of appreciation for Senf’s help.
    I’ve been thinking that we haven’t seen Tantalus in Boston nor ExpatChris in Virginia for a long, long time. I hope they’re all safe and well.

    1. I agree re 17d. For the life of me I can’t see it.
      Sometimes clues can be just a shade or two too convoluted to give enjoyment.
      Nevertheless, the setter’s offering and the hints are much appreciated and everyone’s comments greatly appreciated, including Brian’s, the delightful Eeyore of the blog.
      Oh dear, two ‘appreciated’. Ah well, too late in the day to come up with a synonym.

        1. Here’s a nudge – it’s an anagram (rocks) – I will leave you to work it out from there.

          You might also be interested in the comments at 22 on anagram indicators.

          1. Thank you so much.
            Yes, I read all the comments and twigged it is an anagram but I was using the wrong words. Doh!

  23. Gordon above says “this was a real toughie”. I repeat my recent remark, can the toughie please be left on the toughie page and the lesser mortals be given a chance on the back pager. Even using the hints and e-help I finally gave up when less than half-way through. Thanks to setter and Senf.

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