ST 3171 (full review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3171 (full review)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3171

A full review by Rahmat Ali

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This puzzle was published on 31st July 2022

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Kolkata. A slightly tougher Sunday puzzle of Dada, but overall an enjoyable one to solve. I now have the pleasure of presenting to you a full review of the same and would be delighted to have your valuable suggestions and comments.

‘Haircut’, the answer to the clue of 7a, reminded me of my very early childhood days when I used to have my haircut sitting on a small wooden stool of height only one foot at a roadside corner under the open sky. I remember on one of those days when I was hardly five, the barber telling my uncle that my hair was very beautiful. I suppose he meant of the thick growth. I remembered being taken by my uncle to a salon in the locality for the first time for a haircut when I was an adolescent. Haircut mattered to me and I learnt to keep it up with the style of the day for long many years. In my late thirties, hairstyle had, however, become almost a trivial matter in my life despite still having a fuller head of thick hair. ‘Haircut’ again reminded me of my days in the late forties and early fifties when I was posted, seriatim, in two of the recovery branches of the bank for a total period of five years. But that had nothing to do with style since that was not the same haircut. I learnt about and became familiar with this different haircut that is an informal term referring to a reduction in the stated value of an asset when mortgaged as security for repayment of a loan. It is most commonly used when referencing the difference in percentage between the market value of an asset and the amount that can be used as collateral for a loan. The difference has to be taken into consideration because market prices change over time and the bank factors this fluctuation into their analysis and valuation for risk mitigation. A haircut is implemented on the value of the assets of a borrower to ensure that the bank is adequately covered with collateral in the event the value of the assets goes south. Stressed assets erode profitability and haircut is one of the finest options in our country to address the problems of those assets that are non-performing.

I wanted to know more about Nero the ‘fiddler’, the answer to the clue of 17d, rather than Nero the emperor and had to visit the net. I learnt that in the summer of AD 64, Rome was devastated by a huge fire that lasted six days. Half the city’s population was rendered homeless and the blaze destroyed seventy per cent of the buildings. The Romans wanted someone to blame and they looked to their already despised emperor. The notion that Nero ‘fiddled’ while Rome burned is unlikely to be true, because violins were invented 1,500 years after Rome was devastated. But Nero had, indeed, a great passion for music and enjoyed playing the cithara, a stringed instrument like a lyre that was probably replaced by the more universally recognised word ‘fiddle’ with the passage of time.

I also learnt that ‘Bourbon’, the answer to the clue of 18d, derives its name from the French Bourbon dynasty, although the precise inspiration is uncertain since contenders include ‘Bourbon County’ in Kentucky and ‘Bourbon Street’ in New Orleans, both of which are named after the dynasty. The name ‘Bourbon’ was not applied until the 1850s and the Kentucky etymology was not advanced until the 1850s.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Helmet worn by Irish copper — style! (7)
HAIRCUT: HAT (helmet) as a helmet or a strong, hard or padded protective hat that complements the skull in protecting the human brain and worn by soldiers, firefighters, divers, motor cyclists etc taken as a cover (worn) by a combo of IR (Irish) as the abbreviation for Irish and CU (copper) as the chemical symbol for copper, arriving at the definition of the style in which a person’s hair is cut

8a    Work of art that’s beautiful, though first scratched? (7)
ETCHING: [F]ETCHING (beautiful) as an adjective meaning very attractive or beautiful though having F as the first letter (first) removed (scratched), taking to the definition of the act or process of cutting or carving a pattern, picture, text etc into a smooth surface, especially on metal or glass, using acid or a sharp instrument

10a    Thin piece of wood put behind something identical (10)
MATCHSTICK: STICK (piece of wood) as a thin piece of wood that has fallen or been cut off a tree or that is used for support in walking or as a weapon placed after (put behind) MATCH (something identical) as something that resembles or corresponds to another, taking to the definition of an adjective meaning
thin and straight, especially of figures drawn with single strokes

11a    Drink some sentimental octogenarian knocked over (4)
COLA: Part of or hidden inside (some)
sentimentAL OCtogenarian that is caused to overturn (knocked over) as a reversal in the across clue reveals the definition of a brown carbonated drink that is flavoured with vanilla, cinnamon, citrus oils and other flavourings

12a    Hope for power in cult (8)
PROSPECT: PRO (for) as the Latin root word for the preposition ‘for’ followed by P (power) as the symbol for power in physics put inside (in) SECT (cult) as a religious group that has separated from a larger religion and is considered to have a particular set of religious beliefs fetch the definition of a noun meaning the possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring

14a    Anxious, personal pride about office having backfired (2,4)
ON EDGE: EGO (personal pride) as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance seen around (about) DEN (office) as a room, often secluded, in a house or apartment, designed to provide a quiet, comfortable and informal atmosphere for conversation, reading, writing etc, both having rebounded (backfired) as a reversal in the across clue, arriving at the definition of an adjective meaning nervous or worried

15a    Where one’s heading to India, sent abroad (11)
DESTINATION: An anagram (abroad) of TO INDIA SENT guides to the definition of the place to which someone is going or being sent

19a    Drink
with a horrid taste? (6)
BITTER: Double definition; the second being an adjective meaning having a sharp, pungent and horrible taste that leads to the first a noun referring to beer that is strongly flavoured with the use of dried cones or flowers of the hop or a twining climbing plant giving it a bitter taste

20a    Complete race for some charity (8)
DONATION: A charade of DO (complete) as work on something and bring it to completion and NATION (race) as a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory, arriving at the definition of a noun meaning something that is given to a charity, especially a sum of money

22a    Great actor resting, by the sound of it? (4)
IDOL: IDLE (resting) as an adjective meaning lazy or avoiding work and serving as a homophone heard by the audience (by the sound of it) guides to the definition of a celebrated person, particularly from the entertainment world, who is admired, loved or revered greatly

23a    Reference that’s indicatory, with arrangement of letters? (10)
DICTIONARY: An anagram (arrangement of letters) of INDICATORY takes to the definition of a reference book containing the words of a language alphabetically arranged, along with their meanings, etymology etc

25a    Shocking in-house reforms (7)
HEINOUS: An anagram (reforms) of IN HOUSE leads to the definition of an adjective meaning very shocking and immoral

26a    Space where Othello, for example, returned on stage (7)
LEGROOM: MOOR (Othello, for example) as someone with darker skin than an Englishman, who could be from Africa, from the Middle East or even from Spain as during the time of Shakespeare; Othello his character being an example in his tragedy of the same name came back (returned) as a reversal in the across clue placed after (on) LEG (stage) as a stage of a competition, arriving at the definition of space in which a seated person can put their legs, as in a car, plane, theatre etc


1d    Black taxi in Hackney, say (7)
MACABRE: CAB (taxi) as a car driven by a person whose job is to take passengers where they want to go in exchange for money is placed inside (in) MARE (Hackney, say) as the female of the horse used for routine riding or driving like the example of a hackney, leading to the definition of an adjective meaning gruesome, ghastly, grim or horrifying

2d    Reptilian old fogey on the radio? (4)
CROC: CROCK (old fogey) as a colloquial term for a person who is old or broken-down and serving as a homophone heard by the audience (on the radio) takes to the definition of an informal and short term for the name of an animal with a long tail, hard skin and very big jaws and belonging to the class Reptilia

3d    Antipodean, also in French and English (6)
AUSSIE: A charade of AUSSI (also in French) as the adverb ‘too’ or ‘also’ in the French language and E (English) as the abbreviation for English guides to the definition of a slang term for an Australian

4d    Observation of suspect starter in savoury meal to go (5-3)
STAKE-OUT: The beginning or starting letter (starter) of S[AVOURY] followed by TAKE OUT (meal to go) as the takeaway or food that is cooked and sold by a restaurant or store to be eaten elsewhere take to the definition of an informal noun meaning a period of secret surveillance of a building or an area by police in order to observe someone’s activities

5d    Back away, bird having escaped? (7,3)
CHICKEN OUT: A charade of CHICKEN (bird) as a type of bird commonly raised by people or kept on a farm for its eggs or its meat and OUT (having escaped) as having escaped from an embarrassing or difficult situation leads to the definition of an informal term for a phrasal verb meaning to decide not to do something because one is afraid

6d    A diary kept in whatever relationship helping to explain (7)
ANALOGY: A combo of A from the clue and LOG (diary) as a regular or systematic record is retained inside (kept in) ANY (whatever) as used to express a lack of restriction in selecting one of a specified class, guiding to the definition of a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification

9d    Session with nothing for defenceless individual (7,4)
SITTING DUCK: A charade of SITTING (session) as a session or meeting as of a court or a spell of posing for an artist etc and (with) DUCK (nothing) as a batsman’s score of nought in cricket leads to the definition of person with no protection against an attack or other source of danger

13d    One of those active during strenuous exercise was tangled in knots (5,5)
SWEAT GLAND: An anagram (in knots) of WAS TANGLED guides to the definition of any of the glands producing sweat that activates within eight minutes of high-intensity exercise in the heat

16d    All in Detroit upset about unemployment, primarily (5,3)
TIRED OUT: An anagram (upset) of DETROIT is placed around (about) the first or primary letter (primarily) of U[NEMPLOYMENT], taking to the definition of an adjective meaning tired or fatigued and very much in need of rest or sleep

17d    Musician, 24 Down supposedly? (7)
FIDDLER: Double definition; legend has it (supposedly) as a popular belief held and not necessarily true that Nero (24 Down) as the answer to the clue of 24d, fiddled while Rome burned, here endorsing the emperor to the second definition on being a person who also played the fiddle or some similar instrument, obviously during his leisure hours that leads to the first referring to a musician who plays the violin, including one who plays folk music

18d    Biscuit
that’s alcoholic? (7)
BOURBON: Double definition; the first being two chocolate-flavoured pieces of biscuit with chocolate-cream between and the second a type of American whiskey, a barrel-aged distilled liquor made primarily from maize and rye

21d    Caught, felon ultimately suffered (6)
NAILED: The final or ultimate letter (ultimately) of [FELO]N followed by AILED (suffered) as suffered ill health lead to the definition of a verb in the past tense meaning caught a person and proved that they had been breaking the law

24d    Emperor certainly not impressing queen (4)
NERO: NO (certainly not) as a sentence substitute used to indicate denial, negation or refusal instilling in (impressing) ER (queen) as the abbreviation for Elizabeth Regina, the name taken on by Queen Elizabeth upon ascending the throne; the word ‘regina’ being the Latin name for queen, taking to the definition of the fifth Roman emperor and final emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, reigning from AD 54 until his death in AD 68

There were several clues that I liked in this puzzle such as 8a, 10a, 19a, 23a, 26a, 1d, 6d, 9d, 13d, 16d and 19d; the best of the lot being 1d. Thanks once again to Dada for the entertainment, to BD for the encouragement and to Gazza for the assistance. Looking forward to being here again. Have a nice day.

4 comments on “ST 3171 (full review)

  1. Thanks for another excellent review.

    I might have caused some consternation on Sunday, July 31st when my hint read ‘A particular type of an alcoholic drink that contributes a letter to the phonetic alphabet.’

    ‘W’ in the NATO phonetic alphabet, but used by most organisations using radio communications, is Whiskey (the alcoholic drink from, in this case, the USA (not Ireland)) not Whisky (from Scotland).

    1. Of course, silly me. So obvious. Glad to see your explanation; I hadn’t been able to sleep since!

  2. 3*/4* for the cryptic and a dnf for the quickie…
    liked 13D “One of those active during strenuous exercise was tangled in knots (5,5)”

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