ST 3178 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3178 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3178 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where it is just about time to get the pullovers out and hope that the moths haven’t been munching on them, the woollen ones that is, during the summer.

For me, Dada back to being friendly, with his version of an anagram fest – seven altogether (four partials), two lurkers (one reversed), and one homophone – all in a slightly asymmetric 30 clues; with 14 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidate for favourite – 15a!

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 Comfortable seat Conservative surprisingly held: it’s free (12)
The single letter for (politically) Conservative and an anagram of HELD: IT’S FREE.

9a Character with edge in game (9)
A synonym for character (in a play?) and (with) a synonym of edge (as a geographical feature?).

15a North American princess in ancient civilisation (8)
The two letter abbreviated form of the name of a princess inserted into (in) an ancient civilization in the Ancient Near East during the late 2nd millennium BC.

18a Weaken soil in land (4,4)
Soil which comes from the ‘third rock from the sun’ inserted into a synonym of land (as in gain?).

21a Shoe: lose it, disaster! (4-4)
A single four letter word for lose it and another four letter word for disaster.

27a A soldier, say, filling new crate easily (2,1,6)
A from the clue followed by a six legged soldier (say) inserted into (filling) an anagram (new) of CRATE.

28a Immediately at that place, further in the past (5,3,4)
A single word for at that place followed by a (3,4) phrase for further in the past.


1d Super money (7)
A double definition – the second refers to money that might be invested.

4d Offensive letter you read, polite last of all (4)
The last letters (last of all) of four words in the clue.

6d Enjoy young setter from Hollywood, say? (3,2)
The two letter abbreviated form of the US city that Hollywood is part of and a three letter four legged young setter.

14d Stop cutting allowance in bank (8)
A three letter verbal synonym of stop contained by (cutting) a synonym of allowance (that students used to get when they went to university – I’m not sure if they still do).

16d Man spared wrong sign in text (9)
An anagram (wrong) of MAN SPARED.

18d Breakfast nonsense? (6)
A double definition – the first is a breakfast item that is probably more popular over here.

22d Scottish runner just out of the medals, we hear? (5)
The homophone (we hear) of the position (in a race?) that is the first not qualify for a medal.

25d Some ruler, a Jaipur prince (4)
The (forward) lurker (some) found in three words in the clue.

Quick Crossword Pun:


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Ronald Binge (1910 – 1979) was a British composer and arranger of light music. In 1951 he composed a piece that was simply titled Andante cantabile. A year later, the name was prophetically changed by the composer to The Elizabethan Serenade to reflect the post-war optimism of a New Elizabethan Age that began with the accession of HM Queen Elizabeth II in February 1952 (from Wikipedia):

42 comments on “ST 3178 (Hints)

  1. This was certainly no 11a. After a slight dip in form last week Dada back to his best for me.
    Completed prior to a bracing sea swim, my biggest problem was deciding what NOT to put on my podium. In a strong field my winners are 21a plus 6&20d with top spot going to 13a. Great stuff. Thanks setter and Senf.

  2. Loved the top half but the lower portion was more of a struggle needing the excellent hints. Still cannot understand what the answer to 24d has to do with contract.
    Best clue for me was 15a. Nice to see some science and no churchy clues.
    Thx to all

    1. 24d…..I’m not at liberty to say but they are definitely synonymous in one sense Brian (two verbs).

      1. Ah now I see, contract in the sense of [redacted as you’ve given too much away!] totally passed me by, DOH!

  3. A delightful puzzle to start a sunny day in Oxon. Mrs T is still in Boston so I can gorge on real bacon without the commentary.

    Mr T

  4. Enjoyable and confidence building, lightish puzzle.
    21a brought a smile.
    Of 13 and 18a and 6 and 7d, 18a is, by a whisker, the COTD.
    Many thanks Dada and Senf.

  5. Very enjoyable Sunday fare from our setter – though I’ll pass on sampling the 18d, thank you!
    Top three for me were 12,15&21a.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and delightful music – exactly right for this weekend.

  6. Senf, another top quality review! I was just wondering about 14d: I took this to be a synonym of stop inserted into (cutting) a synonym of allowance. I always assumed that “cutting” was an insertion indicator (as opposed to a container) only, but could well be wrong? I don’t have access to an “official” list of these things, just those on the internet.

    1. In the 12th Edition of the BRB, ‘cut’ is shown in the list of insertion indicators. It doesn’t appear in the list of containment indicators. My review (as opposed to Senf’s hints) refers to cutting as an insertion indicator

      1. *I do own what I assume is the 12th Edition of the BRB, but it doesn’t actually state that in the front of the book. It was first published by Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd in 1993; reprinted in 1993, 1994 (twice), 1995 and 1997. I purchased my copy on 24.8.1997. But it doesn’t contain the crossword lists you mention – maybe they were omitted in the later reprints?

        1. The best lists of indicators I have found, which I probably need to consult more often, are in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary.

            1. If Wikipedia is correct, you do not have a 12th edition – ‘The twelfth edition of The Chambers Dictionary was published in August 2011.’

    2. I often get somewhat lazy on a Saturday evening usually and perhaps because in parallel to solving and hinting I am enjoying some grain or grape liquefied product. Yesterday it was a very pleasant Red from Orange in the Rhône valley a little North of Avignon, which I had ‘cracked open’ earlier in the day. C’est la vie!

  7. Our regular Sunday setter on absolutely top form this morning, with a sparkling and entertaining puzzle that kept on giving. I don’t need to look beyond the clever and inventive 21a for a favourite clue.

    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  8. For me, a very gentle puzzle from Dada again this week.
    Nothing to scare the horses at 1.5*/4*

    Favourites were many, but I singled out 15a (I had to!), 23a, 26a, 6d & 22d — with winner 22d

    Lots of mis-direction in this one as well as many cleverly constructed clues.
    A fun solve for my Saturday night.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  9. Well unlike Senf I didn’t seem to find this one that easy going chiefly due to brain fog with 4 clues Fully agree with others it was a return to top form after last week. Agree with all of Stephen’s picks & I’d add 1&13a. I rather liked the surface of 1a & wonder if with the answer there was an intentional allusion to the parliamentary constituency (held in the past by the likes of Benn & Varley) where it would be a surprise if the Tories ever won.
    Thanks to D&S

  10. Is there not a link between 15a and 27a, with the latter being a phrase often used by our blogger today?

  11. Certainly Dada was not on friendly form for me, but that’s my problem. Had to consult Senf’s hints with just under half to do. He helped on two or four but that left five or so still to do which I was determined to do by electronic means or foul. It is now finished!

    18 and 19a my favourites today as I managed a just a smidgen of lateral thinking in both. Lateral thinking in those clues I hear you cry in amazement ; but for me it is.

    Thank you to Senf and Dada for their excellent contributions.

  12. Im in the same boat as Corky and Huntsman, not only was this more difficult than usual for Dada, but I finished it without really understanding some of the clues. So thanks to Senf for the hints and I look forward to the full review. There were some good clues, my favourites being 18a, 16d13d and 5d. Thanks tto Dada for arefreshingly different SPP.

  13. Dada didn’t tax me as much as on occasions and I did enjoy this. 11a failure is surely only a transatlantic synonym and there is more U.S./Canadian association with 18d – I wonder in fact if any bloggers have 18d for breakfast. It takes me back to days living in N.Y.C. and combining them with maple syrup and bacon! My little Fav was 6d. Thank you Dada and Senf.

    1. The BRB says ‘chiefly N Am‘ for 11a, so, not entirely confined to over here – perhaps the bets are being hedged, and there is no regional attribution for 18d. However, I did make an appropriate comment in my hint.

  14. I had two bites at this one, half was done at lunchtime then DD2 came to see if we were still alive
    on her return from holiday – their Sri Lankan trip was cancelled three days before they were due to fly
    so they went to the Dordogne instead. When she and the dogs had left I polished it off and agree with
    all the ‘favourites’ which have been listed, especially 1 & 27a. I really must buy one of these special
    Crossword dictionaries, I make do with a very large Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus. We were going
    to drive up to Coventry today to visit DD1 – still in hospital – but George was not feeling up to it and I had the
    bright idea of ringing the Chaplains office and a very kind young woman went to visit her this afternoon
    and then telephoned me to report back. I was moved to tears. So you see, Brian, the church does have a place in the overall scheme of things!

      1. The church is very important, often at unexpected moments. Hope your daughter is stable now Daisy 💐

  15. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, that I found very tricky. Needed the hints for 9a & 14d, and to parse 4d. Had a guess at 23a, still not sure if it’s correct. Favourite was 27a. Was 3* / 4* for me.

  16. A bit late starting today after running my dog in a working test and coming second. 😁Straightforward and enjoyable. Favourite was 15a. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  17. I wouldn’t go so far as to say straightforward as some commenters have but I didn’t have quite as much trouble as I sometimes do with a Sunday crossword – maybe things are improving . . .
    I admit to having difficulty understanding the hint for 18a – am I being dim!
    Lots of good clues today, particularly 9 and 28a and 6 and 14d. My favourite was 21a.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  18. Very doable for a Dada puzzle and enjoyable to boot. My favourite was obviously 15a. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  19. Didn’t flow for me, but eventually got the grid filled and everything parsed. Many smiles, with the largest coming from 6d.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  20. Very late today but enjoyed Dada’s usual wiliness last night, with 1, 9, & 13a topping the board for me. Thanks to Senf and Dada. *** / ***

  21. Despite being half asleep, I managed most of this unaided. Am I finally getting the hang of Dada’s style? Just needed a couple of hints to complete it. Thanks Dada and Senf.

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