ST 3204 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3204 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3204 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where, while it may be the last full day of Winter today, Old Man Winter does not seem willing to allow the change of season to take place.  We have had below seasonal temperatures and more snow with high winds.  This has resulted in blowing snow and closure of highways in ‘open country.’

For me, and I stress for me, Dada providing a real head scratcher still with his personal thesaurus – with four anagrams (three partials), one lurker (reversed), and two homophones, all in a symmetric 28 clues; with 14 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 8a, 11a, 24a, 3d, and 19d.

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 Bird having fight after fight, aggressive type (11)
A ‘verbal’ fight placed after a verbal synonym of fight (as in practice for the noble art), all followed by a single word term for an aggressive type (of person).

7a Drink Robespierre’s blood, draught knocked back (7
The word that Robespierre would use for blood followed by a three letter synonym of draught reversed (knocked back).

11a Snap cue in indignation, messing up, first of all (9)
A theatrical cue inserted into (in) the initial letters (first of all) of three words in the clue.

18a Loamy ground around holy sanctuary of ancient Greece (7)
An anagram (ground) of LOAMY containing (around) a two letter term for holy (amongst other things).

20a Dizzy spell and attack of illness after a sudden change (9)
A single word term for dizzy spell followed by a term for attack of illness placed after A from the clue.

21a Knight and waif flayed in Middle Eastern city (5)
A three letter verbal synonym for knight and what remains when the outer letters are removed (flayed) from wAIf.

24a Unexpected blow for straw user? (6,5)
A single word term for straw user (in a drink) and a type of blow (using a fist)? – or is blow doing ‘double duty’ as part of the definition and a synonym for the second word of the answer?


1d Luminous ultimately, except when dark (7)
The last letter (ultimately) of luminouS and a synonym of except.

4d Reportedly, performer delivering monologue in jacket, say? (7)
A homophone (reportedly) of a performer delivering a monologue (over a musical background?).

5d Fine to go up? (9)
A single word term equivalent to fine to go up (that applies to an aircraft that is safe to fly?).

7d Device predicting election, revolutionary more set to engage left or right? (11)
An anagram (revolutionary) of MORE SET containing (to engage) a term that could be combined with left or right (politically)?

13d Stiff drink required after fluffing of line, lid off cognac! (9)
The short name of a (sparkling) drink placed (required) after an anagram (fluffing, well move one letter) of LINE, followed by the first letter (lid off) Cognac.

18d Rock formation revealed before harvest (7)
A three letter synonym of revealed placed before a synonym of harvest.

21d Sap in cedar essentially drops (5)
The middle letter (essentially) of ceDar and the (liquid) drops that fall from the sky.

Quick Crossword Pun:


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Heard while walking through a shopping mall on Thursday; one of Blondie’s three number ones from 1980 being performed here at a concert in Rotterdam in 1997:

107 comments on “ST 3204 (Hints)
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  1. Very enjoyable though quite tricky with lots of very clever misdirection throughout. In fact, I wonder if Dada got his envelope mixed up with his upcoming Tuesday Toughie!
    Took me a while to unlock 1a/1d but that was the key for me as it enabled the completion of the North, which I found more difficult than South.
    In a strong field my podium contenders are 1,11&12a plus 1&5d. Great stuff.
    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

    1. Yes, lots of misdirection ! Have only just finished it though it put up a hell of a struggle. Definitely the most difficult Sunday prize crossword but worth the effort in terms of the satisfaction in actually finishing it without resorting to the hints. 13 and 16 were the most troublesome, Favourite clue 7a, 21d was the coup d’etat ! Thanks

  2. My, just completed, draft review of this crossword does mention the fact that I thought that Dada had put his Toughie for next Tuesday in the wrong envelope. It will be interesting to see what Toughie 3209 brings

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

    Happy Mothering Sunday

    1. oops I have just hit the wrong button on the Toughie Hints. has it been published already or have I managed to stop it?

        1. Thanks I had the date set as yesterday and I got the email immediately, but I have rescheduled it for 13:30 I am taking Mama Bee out for Mother’s Day Lunch, would you be so kind to make sure it turns up?

  3. I thought this was quite tricky today. It was one of those puzzles from which in the early stages I was deriving little pleasure, but by the time I had finished, I actually quite liked it. Last one in – 5d.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf. 3*/4* for me.

      1. Me too – needed Senf’s hint for 5d. Found this tough going especially in the north, but I like a challenge. COTD for me was 7a as I enjoyed dredging my limited French vocabulary to get the answer. Thanks Dada, thanks Senf.

  4. OMG, as near impossible as makes little difference. I’m off to watch the grass grow, it will be more fun than this!
    Thx for the hints

  5. I found this week’s puzzle to be somewhat “thinky” too, but I ploughed on through thanks to the hints. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve got my crossword head on today because I’ve also been looking blank at a few other cryptic puzzles today.

    ETA-good to see I’m not the only one to struggle with it.

  6. It took a long time to break into this and it looks like a Toughie in all but name. I don’t usually have the time to do the Toughie, so itmade a change aand it was quite gratifying to finish it with no help apart from the Thesaurus. The misdirection was brilliant and the unusual synonyms were much in evidence. I liked 18a, 21a, 3d and 7d. Thanks to Senf and Dada and i will now go and lie down in a darkened room with some reviving sal volatile (if I can find any).

      1. Ibelieve I’ve guzzled all rhe gin. It will have to be Jim’s Laphroaig. We need to celebrate his birthday last Tiesday.😏

        1. Is that a Freudian slip – did you give him a Tie? 😉 George would happily join you in a Laphroaig – just his cup of tea.

          1. It’s the only Scotch I really like, Daisy. I gave Jim a book called The Road, which explores the incredible concentration of Roman roads in Hertfordshire. His short term memory has been so severely damaged by 5 bouts of encephalitis that he can no longer enjoy novels but he enjoys military and Roman history ecause the basic facts are still there in his long term memory (located in a different part of the brain).

  7. By jingo, that really was hard going.
    Got there eventually unaided but in 5* time.
    Too many excellent brain teasers to select one as COTD.
    Many thanks to Dada for the terrific challenge and to Senf,

  8. A proper Prize Puzzle and very enjoyable with clever misdirections throughout – thanks to Dada and Senf.
    Heading my list of ‘likes’ were 1a, 7a, 12a, 21a and 16d.

  9. 4*/4.5*. This was quite a struggle, but rewarding to complete with 5d my last one in.

    My podium comprises 1a, 12a, 1d & 5d.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  10. This was really hard going for me. Finished without hints despite temptation but with a very furrowed brow!
    Just happy to have got there on the end. Now a dog walk!

  11. A real mixed bag for me with some goodies, some ‘hmms’ and one unknown Americanism at 24a. Really thought 24a was going to have something to do with the little piggies and the big, bad wolf!
    Rosettes handed out to 1&7a plus 5&19d.
    That 7d will be featuring in our lives again only too soon………

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and music – don’t think Blondie has aged particularly well!

    1. I thought it would be the wolf and the little piggy too! Found this much more difficult than recent Sundaysr

    2. Jane, are you aware that the Irish Country books total 16! I’ve downloaded three more but not sure I’ll get to 16!

      1. Yes – I’ve got a list that I keep ticking off! A couple of them are more like short stories and only seem to be available as audio books so I’ll be leaving those alone, I like my books to have proper pages to turn.

  12. That was a struggle! Just one clue in after my first pass, then gradually ground it down! I’m not sure how 24a works, as hinted by Senf ‘blow’ must be doing double duty but I think overall its rather clumsy.

    1. I am already looking forward with interest to CS’s interpretation of 24a in the ‘full review’ in 10 days time.

  13. Gave up! Way, way, way above my pay grade. I will have to refer it to a specialist.

    Many thanks Dada but I am afraid I could not do it justice, Thank you, Senf for making sense of some of it for me.

  14. Hardest one for absolutely ages! Took me three separate visits to complete. Nearly didn’t start at all after only getting one clue on the initial read through. Would not give it up though, and glad I didn’t as it turned out to be a belter. Favourites for me today were 5d and 7a. Thanks to the setter, brilliant puzzle

  15. What a belter of a puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed this second work out of the day after a 10 mile run in the glorious spring sunshine. Yes it was a challenging but worthy of being a prize puzzle to finish off the week.


    Fav 21a LOI 13d

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  16. Just a poor crossword – clues that don’t parse and feasible alternative answers . Almost as bad as the Ref’s decision in the rugby yesterday .

  17. Goodness me that was a struggle but I did finish in the end but needed a couple of the hints to get there so thanks CS. Watched a few clips yesterday of the ‘best’ of Comic Relief – hate to think what the worst bits were. It was all unbelievable drivel, quite quite ghastly. I’m not a football fan but I do hope those people waving their fish win today!

  18. For me, and I stress for me ™ this was very challenging. Toast and orange juice with no bits were long consumed before I added in 2d (I know! But I just couldn’t see it!) to complete this tricky fellow.

    Because she is that kind of gal, H has requested we watch Brighton v Grimsby before The Youngster and I take her out for cocktails and then a late lunch/early supper.

    Thanks to Dada and The Man From Manitoba.

    1. Is “late lunch/early supper” a genteelism for “tea”? I’m never quite sure with these meal designations.

          1. Hang on! As a guy who has his roots in Yorkshire, I have to go further.

            Daily meals were:-

            Breakfast – bacon and eggs, fried bread, black pudding, tea and toast

            Dinner (not yer mamby pamby southern “lunch”) – Two meat and veg or such delights as Toad in the Hole with spuds and gravy.

            Tea – Any one of Welsh rarebit, egg and bacon pie, fish and chips or scrambled eggs on toast (real toast using bread from the baker in the next block).

            Supper – homemade cake and hot chocolate.

  19. I hate to think what a difficult Dada will be. After two run throughs had just about half but enough checkers to manage to finish rather haphazardly. Honourable mentions only to ones I solved myself. 24a may be an Americanism but as it describes exactly what it is that floors your glibness it is fine. 15a and 2d are the other ones.

    Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  20. Not just me then. This was certainly one of the hardest Sunday puzzles for a while, and as always, perseverance brought its own reward in the completion of the grid. 21a was one of my final entries and my absolute favourite.

    Thanks to Dada for a proper challenge and to Senf.

  21. We too had only one answer on first pass, ours was 14a. As some answers revealed themselves more became apparent, eventually leading to completion. Very difficult but ultimately rewarding. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  22. That was way beyond me, to put it mildly!
    Thanks to Dada (I think!) and thanks to CS for the review that I can look out the remaining answers – there are quite a few that I don’t ‘get’.

  23. 1a went in immediately but the self congratulation was very short lived. Dada’s elastic synonyms never fail to amaze me and I needed a little electronic help today but perseverance paid off and I didn’t need to resort to the hints. You know I don’t time myself but this must be up there with my longest solves. I’d never heard of the phrase at 24a but when I guessed the context of the first half Mr Mhids (not usually much help!) came to the rescue.I liked the wonderful anagram at 9d and the misleading 15a. Robespierre threw me somewhat – it could have been anyone from that era but I liked the clue. Thank you to Dada and Senf.

  24. It’s been a long time awaiting … finally, a Dada puzzle that is worthy of Paul in the Guardian!

    Lots to enjoy today. More of the same next weekend, please.

  25. I am so glad it is not just me. I wondered if something had happened to my brain today and came on to see if I was being a wimp. It is a huge relief to see that you all think this is at the challenging end. I managed to the south half bar one clue and a few in the north but now have stopped banging my head on a brick wall and will use the hints to try and restart.

    many thanks to Senf for rescuing me I may yet finish and thanks to Dada for reminding me I still have much to learn!!

  26. I am afraid I did not enjoy this and I don’t often say that. I did resort to some of Senf’s hints. After the time it took me to finish yesterday’s I had only got two answers. One of them was 7a. Luckily I know where Robespierre came from and the language. I had two possibles for 12a reduced to one when I got the third letter. Can’t parse it though so may be wrong. Particularly object to 24a. I normally love solving long clues with two or more words. I have never heard of this and now know why as it is an Americanism. As well as 7a I liked 8 and 23a. Especially thanks to Senf and to Dada for the effort he no doubt put in.

  27. Woah, where did that come from?! Though going by the comments it wasn’t just me who found this a real challenge – I thought I was having a real off-day until I checked the comments here… To be honest, even with difficulty aside, this wasn’t for me – stretched synonyms (8a, 10a, 3d, 16d etc.), obscure references (7a, 14a) and clues I just didn’t like (5d, 16d). ****/**

  28. Reassuring to know I am not alone in finding this a veritable slog from beginning to end – unlike Jezza I never got to like it. I gave up halfway through but a return trip this p.m. did in fact produce the goods with NW yielding last. Come to think of it I suppose 11a can be termed snap and was surprised to find 13d is a valid word including a strong (?) drink! 7d was bunged in at the start but then found the parsing somewhat tortuous. None worthy of Fav status in my book. Thank you nevertheless Dada and Senf.

  29. I’ve never said ‘Crikey!’ before (though I’ve longed for the chance), and now the time has come. The toughest Dada ever for me. Had to step away from it. Read a short story by Somerset Maugham. (Have you read him lately? Great stuff, as SL might say.) Returned to the puzzle and hit the same wall. Well and truly flattened by this one. Ended up seeking help from my online letter reveal and had to use all 5. And ‘finished’ the monster. That election device was my LOI (which of course I’d never heard of and never want to again). Thanks to Dada for the 24a, my COTD, and to today’s blogger. ***** / **

    On the other hand, I finished the Sunday Toughie by Zandio in good time, all on my own, and loved it.

  30. Like other I found this a bit hard going but I got there in the end. Particularly liked 7a and as it happens we had decided to have a very late lunch and it was a 15a chowder. A nice sunny day here in Cambridgeshire, even did a bit in the garden. Our grass is totally wrecked by big birds digging up chafer bug larvae, it looks like ploughed field 😳 thanks to Messrs Dada & Senf. No, that reads wrongly – they are not responsible for the state of the grass! You know what I mean. Elder grandson visited his mother this morning and rang me so that I could talk to her. But she got very agitated and was saying no, no, you’re not my mother so it was rather distressing. She cannot relate a telephone voice to a person any more.

    1. Oh Daisy I feel so sad for you. It must be so distressing for you. It is not the normal order of life.

      1. Yes, WW & BL – it is a bit of a bummer as they say! Thank the Lord for Friends and Crosswords (and gin)

        1. It’s distressing enough to experience thhe mental decline of loved ones but I can only imagine how difficult it i in one’s child, Daisy. I’m sure the fact that you and your family visit your daughter and are involved inwatching out for her welfare has a big impact on her quality of life, even if she isn’t always conscious of it

  31. Hi all…familiarity with Paul in the G certainly helped, just missing Paul’s vulgarity!
    Nice workout.
    Thanks Senf and Dada.

      1. Hi Jane, there was an offer of £5 for the year that seemed to good to pass up.
        Nice to see some of the old faces still around and I see Brian has not changed!
        How is Big Dave?

        1. Hi again,
          No – Brian doesn’t change! As for BD, since his bad fall and hospital sojourns last year we haven’t heard from him beyond a message relayed by CS on the blog’s birthday. We do have a trio of caretakers (Mr K, Gazza & CS) who are doing an excellent job of keeping the blog running in his absence but no news to report other than that BD is soldiering on.

    1. Hi Hoofs,
      Always look out for your comments on the Graun puzzles. Agree this one was very Paul(ish). The Sky Blues look like they might give your mob a bit of scrap for a play off spot. Good to see you here.

      1. Hi H…I have a sneaking feeling for the Sky Blues, considering the start to the season they had…

    2. Hoofs! How wonderful to see you back! I do hope this heralds your return to the blog. I agree with Jane. Please don’t be a stranger, my friend. 👍

  32. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. Must have been a Toughie, I can’t do this at all. I solved one clue, 22a, then looked at the hints. Looked the rest of the across clues up on the Internet. Then managed to get all bar three of the down clues from the checkers.

  33. Talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous…. Such fun yesterday, and the a crash back to reality with something that should really be in the Toughie slot. So disappointing.

    1. Ah, BL – the joys and disappointments of cryptic crosswords! We may moan but we love them all! 😎

  34. Can anyone answer this question for me….

    If I sign up at renewal time on the new puzzle site for one of the fabulous deals ranging from £1 – £5, if I would still have access to the old site to to get the better (original) puzzle layout?
    Or would I just have access to the new site?

    Thanks in advance

    1. We pay the DT sub, which includes the puzzles. Right now I still use the old site is as is far superior to the “brilliant new puzzle site”. When I lose access to the old site I probably won’t renew, as the new site is useless for anyone wanting to print and solve, rather than solve on line.

        1. I don’t like solving online, either. I need the paper to scribble my anagram workings on, tick the clues I like and generally make notes. The paper is covered with ink by the time I’ve finished!

          You can’t do that on an iPad! :grin:

          1. Actually you can! Since the latest IOS update you can have 2 or more windows open at a time, provided you have a suitable iPad. So I can now have the crossword and the notes app open side by side and use my Apple Pencil to write notes and solve anagrams. FUH (fairly useful husband aka Gadget boy) has been trying to tempt me away from paper for a few months and I resisted for ages as like you I thought I could only do crosswords on paper. I still walk to get the paper in the morning for old times sake!

            1. Yes, and you can download books to read as well, which I’ll do in a pinch when our library has all the latest books checked out. But I still much prefer to have an actual book in my hand to read. Can’t teach this old dog new tricks.

            2. Sorry, MTF but I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to the backpager. I use my MacBook and iPad for other things but the DT puzzle has always been preferred on paper. Mind you, the way DT is pushing the online subscription at the moment I wonder how long it will be before the dead tree version is scrapped.

              1. I was exactly like that particularly as I had a real affinity to my crossword pencil. My husband persuaded me to try and and after several weeks of a hybrid version I have found it ok. I also think it is one reason I have got better as I can do the check answer feature to ensure I have only put right answers in (not at weekends of course!). I completely agree that it won’t be for everyone and I would not be able to do it without being able to write notes at the same time. I do not use the puzzle site just the puzzles in the telegraph app.

    2. I subscribed to the new site when there was a special offer a couple of months ago thinking that the old site would cease to exist. A couple of weeks ago my subscription to the old site was automatically renewed for another year so I now have both

      1. I am dreading the inevitable demise of the old site, the new one doesn’t update at midnight. If I have to wait until morning to start the puzzle it is going to delay hinty blogs until later than normal.
        And thanks for keeping an eye on mine while I was having a Mothering Sunday Lunch with Mama Bee. The horseradish on the beef is repeating on me but I am steadily plodding through this with Senf’s help. Thanks to Dada and Senf

    3. Hi – I renewed a month early in December to take advantage of the M&S voucher offer. It has made no difference to my ability to access the old well-designed site, so I am still able to avoid entirely the new kindergarten effort.

      World pay, or whoever they are, still took a renewal payment in January though, so I kicked up a stink to get that payment refunded. Can’t understand why DT use such an appalling payment system / provider. Ah well.

  35. It took me much longer than usual but I finished it unaided! Having now read all your comments I’m feeling very smug and rather pleased with myself! No doubt I’ll experience the fall soon so I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts!
    Thanks to Dada for the experience and Send for the help fully parsing a couple.

  36. Late start on this one due to other matters at hand … and gosh this was a tough one … maybe a Toughie … 4*/3*

    Needed lots of hints and help from Mr G
    Wasn’t as enjoyable today as I find most Dada puzzles

    Certainly has his own thesaurus working OT today
    No real favourites other than 10a, 5d & 18d with winner 10a

    If you missed it, please see my query in 36 … TIA

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  37. Excellent puzzle. Tough going down south & hardly plain sailing t’up north either but hugely satisfying to battle through to completion. That’s successive Sundays where Dada seems to have considerably upped the difficulty level from what we’ve come accustomed to of late. 7d not fully parsed as had no idea the first bit was French for claret & at 24a didn’t fully twig the straw user bit either. 7d my fav for reminding me of the great Canadian psephologist Robert McKenzie.
    Thanks to D&S

  38. Crumbs that was a slog. I’m one of those who starts at the bottom of the downs and the first one I could solve was 22a. I very nearly gave up as it was so impenetrable. Some of the answers seemed unparsable as the synonyms were so stretched and I didn’t trust that my answers were correct. However like a dog with a bone I kept at it and finished but truly can’t say I enjoyed it at all. With thanks to our setter and Senf.

  39. I really needed the hints for this one, but got there in the end and was pleased with self for finishing it

    1. You’ve changed your alias since your previous comments so this needed moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

  40. As one of those with a tiny brain I was entirely flummoxed by this. However with great determination,
    help from the hints and an enormous amount of electronic help I somehow got to the finish. Just a hard slog, no pleasure. What a shame after yesterday’s very enjoyable solve. Thanks to Dada for this toughie in the wrong place, and to Senf.

  41. Glad it wasn’t just me! 6 on the first pass, but then stated at it for a long time before any more solved themselves. E-help was required for 4 and 5d to complete, and I was about to search for the last answer when it jumped out. A long solve for this.

  42. Shellshocked! After 3 passes and none solved, about to give up when we figured out an anagram. After that the rest s.l.o.w.l.y fell into place. Toughest Dada for a long while.

  43. Toughest yet for me. It is Wednesday and only half done and usually complete on Sunday. Will have to resort to clues for first time. I hope this is not a trend setter. Thanks to Dada and Senf. By the way I have seen the comments on 24a, cracked it this morning as it is an expression I have used before. Now for the clues.

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