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ST 3145

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3145

A full review by Rahmat Ali

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This puzzle was published on 30th Jan 2022

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Kolkata. Dada’s Sunday puzzle appeared somewhat more straightforward this time but as usual, I enjoyed solving it. I now have the pleasure of presenting to you a full review of the same and would be happy to have your valuable comments.

I was inquisitive about the ‘fair’ games, such as ‘Test Your Strength’ and ‘Hook a Duck‘ that appear as part of the clue of 1d and hence visited the net to know their details. ‘Test Your Strength’ as a game of attraction in funfairs, carnivals and amusement parks is also known by other names, namely, ‘Strongman Game’, ‘High Striker’ and ‘Strength Tester’. A contestant uses a mallet or hammer to hit a button or puck on the base. The button is attached to a lever which causes a weight to fly up a tower. The contestant tries their best to ring the bell suspended on top of the tower. If the lever is struck with enough force, the puck will rise high enough to hit the bell, denoting a success. There are different scores written on the side of the tower indicating the level of power of any player, such as ‘wimp’, ‘strong’, ‘Hercules’ etc. Again, ‘Hook a Duck‘ as a traditional fairground stall game is also known as ‘Duck Pond’. A number of rubber ducks, having metal rings fastened to their heads, are let to float in a water trough. Despite their identical appearance, a few among them have each a hidden mark on their base. A contestant tries to capture the ducks using a pole with a hook at one end. Ducks with hidden marks are the winning ducks; those without them are the losing ducks. The contestant gets three attempts. Three winning ducks ensure the contestant to a top prize; two to a middle prize and one entitles them to getting a low prize.

B as the response to ‘black’ that is part of the wordplay to the clue of 7d is, in fact, the abbreviation of black on lead pencils and pencil makers use various combinations to tell us about the strong or light presence of graphite in them. I was aware of the most celebrated ‘HB’ pencils that have strong graphite and colour dark black as ‘hard black’. But now I got to know from the net the other types of pencils, such as ‘HH’ as ‘very hard’, ‘BBB’ as ‘really, really black’. Higher the number and more the darkness in are the features of ‘B’ pencils and lighter the colour and harder the lead are those of ‘H’ pencils. Furthermore, there are pencils in ‘H’ and ‘B’ series like H, 2H, 3H etc and B, 2B, 3B etc respectively.

‘Ream’ as the answer to ‘paper’ that forms part of the wordplay to the clue of 22d is actually a quantity of sheets of the same size and quality. Previously, there used to be 21 quires in a ream with each quire comprising 24 sheets of paper. International standards organisations define the ream, also called a ‘long ream’ with 500 identical sheets, as a total of 20 quires of 25 sheets. This is gradually replacing the old value of a ‘short ream’ with 480 identical sheets, as a total of 20 quires of 24 sheets. According to an old UK and US unit, a perfect team was equal to 516 sheets.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Gutless Swiss caught by sword remains petrified? (6)
FOSSIL: S[WIS]S as having no guts or innards (gutless) with the removal of the inner letters is held or pulled in (caught) by FOIL (sword) as a light, blunt-edged fencing sword with a button on its point direct to the definition of the remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form

4a    Lovely top mark realistic, first in Russian bagged (8)
ADORABLE: A (top mark) as a mark that means excellent, given to something of the highest quality, especially school work followed by DOABLE (realistic) as practical or capable of being done or carried out having captured or taken in (bagged) the initial or first letter (first) in R[USSIAN], leading to the definition of an adjective meaning inspiring great affection or delight

9a    Animal is generally undernourished, and needing affection primarily (6)
IGUANA: The primary or first letters (primarily) of Is Generally Undernourished, And Needing Affection guide to the definition of a large thick-tongued grey-green arboreal lizard of tropical America, having a row of spines along its back

10a    Step welcomed by wise contemporary (5-3)
SPACE-AGE: PACE (step) as a single step taken when walking or running is entertained or taken in (welcomed) by SAGE (wise) as a usually old man of great wisdom, leading to the definition of the present time when exploration of, and ability to travel in, space upto the limit of and beyond the earth’s atmosphere are increasing

12a    Fortitude in little bits? (4)
GRIT: Double definition; the first meaning unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger and the second referring to small particles of sand or stone

13a    Bar celebration backfires (5)
LEVER: REVEL (celebration) as a riotous feast or merrymaking, especially with drinking and dancing rebounds (backfires) as a reversal in the across clue, taking to the definition of a rigid bar resting on a pivot, used to move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other

14a    Very rare offensive (4)
BLUE: Double definition; the first being a cut of meat referring to the blue steak which is dark in colour, close to purple and just warm, spongy with no resistance and almost raw on the inside, with a light charring on the outside and the second meaning of a film, joke or story that is having sexual or pornographic content

17a    Stuck in ditch, an outing ruined for climber (8,4)
MOUNTAIN GOAT: An anagram (ruined) of AN OUTING confined (stuck) in MOAT (ditch) as a deep, wide ditch surrounding a castle, fort or town, typically filled with water and intended as a defence against attack, arriving at the definition of a sure-footed goatlike animal of the Rocky Mountains of genus Oreamnus or any of various wild goats of mountainous regions

20a    Name in heading dead stupid, reason kept secret (6,6)
HIDDEN AGENDA: N (name) as the abbreviation for name is placed inside (in) an anagram (stupid) of HEADING DEAD, taking to the definition of a noun meaning concealed or secret intentions behind a person’s actions or statements

23a    Enthusiastic about switching it on (4)
INTO: An anagram (switching) of IT ON guides to the colloquial definition of a preposition meaning interested in or enthusiastic about something

24a    Short fibre in a tangle (5)
BRIEF: An anagram (a tangle) of FIBRE unfolds the definition of an adjective meaning short in length or extent, usually of a piece of clothing

25a    Drink punch (4)
SLUG: Double definition; the first being an amount of alcoholic drink that is gulped or poured and the second a hard blow

28a    Names changed, including individual plants (8)
ANEMONES: An anagram (changed) of NAMES containing (including) ONE (individual) as an individual person or thing lead to the definition of plants of the buttercup family which typically have brightly coloured flowers and deeply divided leaves

29a    Unknown number visiting European city retire (4,2)
TURN IN: N (unknown number) as an indefinite number, especially in a series in mathematics staying in (visiting) TURIN (European city) as a city and important business and cultural centre in northern Italy, arriving at the colloquial definition meaning to go to bed

30a    Party elected to punch crony, bully (8)
DOMINATE: DO (party) as an informal term for a party or other social event in parts followed by IN (elected) as a member of the party in office to perforate or get inside (punch) MATE (crony) as a friend or companion, taking to the definition of a verb meaning to aggressively dominate or intimidate someone perceived as vulnerable

31a    Pen top on rubber in shade of pink (6)
CORRAL: The first letter (top) of (on) R[UBBER] is put inside (in) CORAL (shade of pink) as a deep orange-pink colour or the pinkish-red colour of red coral, leading to the definition of a pen for livestock, especially cattle or horses, on a farm or ranch


1d    Acceptable target in ‘Test Your Strength’ or ‘Hook a Duck’? (4,4)
FAIR GAME: A strongman game as an attraction used in funfairs, amusement parks and carnivals (Test Your Strength) or a traditional fairground stall game (Hook a Duck) cryptically leads to the definition of GAME OF FAIR or FAIR GAME meaning a legitimate object for attack or ridicule

2d    Counterfeit note of debtor banked by team (8)
SPURIOUS: IOU (note of debtor) as a signed slip of paper or other document acknowledging a debt, especially of money, kept in reserve (banked) by SPURS (team) as the short name of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club based in Tottenham, London that competes in the Premier League, taking to the definition of an adjective meaning false or fake or not being what is purports to be

3d    A little bonsai on Asian island (4)
IONA: Part of or hidden inside (a little) bonsaI ON Asian shows the definition of a small island in the Inner Hebrides, off the Ross of Mull on the western coats of Scotland

5d    Double jeopardy has caught people almost entirely off guard, initially (12)
DOPPELGÄNGER: DANGER (jeopardy) has taken in (caught) a combo of PEOPL[E] having most of the letters (almost entirely) as an anagram (off) and G[UARD] as the first or initial letter (initially), arriving at the definition of a ghostly double of a human person

6d    Shake pebble (4)
ROCK: Double definition; the first being a verb pertaining to a building or region to shake or cause to shake or vibrate, especially because of an impact, earthquake or explosion and the second referring to a stone of any size

7d    Black bird, hunter (6)
BEAGLE: A charade of B (black) as the abbreviation of black on lead pencils to indicate softness and EAGLE (bird) as a large bird of prey with a massive hooked bill and long broad wings, known for its keen sight and powerful soaring flight, leading to the definition of a small hound of a breed with a short coat, used for hunting hares

8d    Old rotten tree in West Country city (6)
EXETER: EX (old) as a prefix indicating of a person or thing no longer what they were but still living followed by an anagram (rotten) of TREE, taking to the definition of a city in Devon, West Country that is a loosely defined area of south-western England

11d    Let your hair down more, chaps, little time for feeling of uncertainty! (12)
BEWILDERMENT: Be bolder or BE WILDER (let your hair down more) as to forget reserve and speak or behave more freely is followed by MEN (chaps) as male members of a workforce or team and T (little time) as the symbol for time in physics in a charade, arriving at the definition of a noun meaning a feeling of being perplexed and confused

15d    Step one nailed by luminary (5)
STAIR: I (one) as the Roman numeral for one is caught (nailed) by STAR (luminary) as any of those heavenly bodies visible by night that are really gaseous masses generating heat and light, taking to the definition of a single step in a set of stairs

16d    Dude, try fruit (5)
MANGO: A charade of MAN (dude) as a guy or man, often as a form of address and GO (try) as an attempt or try at something leads to the definition of a yellowish-red fleshy fruit of a tropical, originally East Indian tree Mangifera indica

18d    Monorail gag? (3-5)
ONE-LINER: Double definition; the first being a noun referring to a railway line using a single track that leads to the second a colloquial noun meaning a joke delivered in one sentence

19d    Alarming shifts, disputable (8)
MARGINAL: An anagram (shifts) of ALARMING guides to the definition of an adjective meaning doubtful, borderline or very narrow

21d    Supersorcerer (6)
WIZARD: Double definition; the second being a noun meaning a man who practises witchcraft or magic, leading to the first an adjective meaning wonderful, delightful or excellent

22d    Empty sheet, paper for school class (6)
STREAM: Vacant or containing nothing (empty) as having removed the inner letters of S[HEE]T followed by REAM (paper) as a large quantity of paper, leading to the definition of a noun meaning division of pupils on the roll of a school consisting of those of roughly equal ability or similar bent, or those following a particular course of study

26d    Number working, twelve (4)
NOON: A charade of NO (number) as the abbreviation for number and ON (working) as functioning or allowing connection, supply or operation takes to the definition of a noun meaning midday or twelve o’clock in the daytime

27d    Cuddle old author (4)
HUGO: A charade of HUG (cuddle) as to squeeze someone tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection and O (old) as the abbreviation of O as in OT or Old Testament guides to the definition of the French novelist who was also a poet, essayist, playwright and dramatist of the Romantic movement and famous for his novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

There were several clues that I liked in this puzzle such as 1a, 4a, 17a, 23a, 31a, 1d, 2d, 3d, 5d, 8d and the best of the lot 11d. Thanks once again to Dada for the entertainment and to BD for the encouragement. Looking forward to being here again. Have a pleasant day.

7 comments on “ST 3145

  1. Thank you so much for your detailed review. I always struggle with this setter so your explanations have helped my learning. Thank you again for going to so much trouble.

    1. Thank you so much, jan, for liking my detailed review. I always have pleasure, not trouble, in writing my reviews and am delighted to learn that you have understood my explanations well.

  2. As I said I would in the in the blog on January 30th, this is the explanation of the reference to a film in the hint I provided for 29a.

    The hint was as follows – ‘The single letter for an unknown number (rather than an unknown?) inserted into (visiting) a European City (which used to have an unusual vehicle test track) – Beware – any mention of a particular film will probably be redacted.’

    As Rahmat Ali tells us above, the European city is Turin.

    As noted in the comments, the clue and the answer did not make any reference to a film but the illustration I added to the hint did in a, perhaps oblique, manner as I showed an aerial view of the FIAT test track on top of the Lingotto building in Turin which featured in The Italian Job, during the ‘getaway’ sequences, starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward.

    The Lingotto building was originally a FIAT manufacturing facility but has been restored into a modern complex, with concert halls, theatre, a convention centre, shopping arcades and a hotel.

    As always, thanks to Rahmat Ali for his full review of ST 3145.

    1. That was a nice presentation, Senf. And as always, thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation on the review.

  3. Many thanks, as ever, Rahmat for your entertaining and comprehensive review. Rare steaks again! And thanks to Dada for another top puzzle.

  4. 4*/2*…..
    liked 9A ” Animal is generally undernourished, and needing affection primarily (6) “

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