ST 3206 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3206 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3206 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where, during March, we did not have a single day where the temperature got above zero degrees.  The last time this happened was in 1899.

Take last week’s introduction delete Chalicea and insert Cephas, for me, and I stress for me, but presumably for many others, yesterday’s Cephas was but temporary relief, once again Dada providing a head scratcher – with eight anagrams (three partials), one lurker (reversed), and no homophones, all in a symmetric 26 clues; with 13 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 11a, 19a, 1d, 3d, and 24d.

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:


7a Notion, however, irrelevant in the end (7)
A synonym of however followed by the last letter (in the end) of irrelevanT.

10a Reason behind daft vehicle (10)
A nounal synonym of reason placed after (behind) a slang synonym of daft.

15a During test, question playing something fine and catchy? (8,3)
An anagram (playing) of QUESTION inserted into (during) the abbreviated form of the vehicle inspection test first introduced on a voluntary basis in 1960.

20a Number of holes he has teeing off? (8)
An anagram (off) of HE and (has) TEEING.

23a Romantic slur italicised (10)
Just when you thought you knew every anagram indicator, here’s a new one (I think) – an anagram (slur) of ITALICISED.

26a Describe old lover, not much to look at (7)
Our favourite two letters for old lover and a single word term equivalent to not much to look at.


1d Little round band — yes! (7)
A synonym of little (favoured by those North of the border) containing (round) a type of band (non-musical).

3d All but one of three covers on seat (6)
Three with the last letter deleted (all but one of) contains (covers) ON from the clue.

4d Defeat later remedied in court (8)
An anagram (remedied) of LATER inserted into (in) a verbal synonym of court.

6d European runner, say, grabbing lead gets inspired, initially (7)
Runner as a type of vegetable (say) containing (grabbing) the first letters (initially) of Lead Gets Inspired.

17d Bird atop cheese (7)
A common name for several species of birds found in brackish or saline wetlands in warm or hot climates and a two letter synonym of atop.

18d Again consider position under minister, head of industry (7)
A synonym of position (on a chair) placed after (under) all of the abbreviated form of the honorific of an Anglican or Methodist minister and the first letter (head) of Industry.

24d Song that’s very long cut by half (4)
A two letter synonym of very and LONG from the clue with half of it deleted (cut), I will leave you to decide which half.

Quick Crossword Pun:


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Danish author Hans Christian Andersen was born on this day in 1805. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his literary fairy tales. So here is an extract from the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen starring Danny Kaye, although Andersen’s Emperor got changed to King for the film, presumably a lot easier ‘to work’ into a song:

76 comments on “ST 3206 (Hints)
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  1. Very enjoyable, a puzzle on first read through I thought may be more difficult than it actually was but still a reasonable challenge, my only problem being a tad slow to see how 6d worked.
    As per on Sunday, I liked several. I thought 20a (which I took as a semi &lit) &9d were clever but my podium is 15a plus 1&3d.
    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

    1. Late to this but no need to write anything as first comment up mirrors my thoughts precisely- even down to the choices & the 6d parsing.
      Thanks to D&S

  2. Huge thanks to Dada (and Senf) for a highly enjoyable romp. Perfect Sunday fare. And not wanting to sound grumpy, because it was a brilliant clue, but surely a 15A isn’t actually catchy. Quite the opposite, no?!

  3. 2* /4*. I enjoyed this a lot but I found a huge contrast in level of difficulty. Three quarters were done and dusted in par 1* time for me but the NW was a totally different kettle of fish at par 5* with the whole thing taking me just over 2* time.

    Just one question – is 23a really a synonym of “romantic”?

    9d was my favourite with special mentions for 11a & 1d.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. 23a – I was going to say yes, if you have a copy of Dada’s personal thesaurus but he has support from Chambers as the words are in each others’ entries in the Small Red Book.

    2. Absolutely yes, the 23a answer is a synonym of romantic – listed in both Chambers and Collins Online thesauri. But the question should be “is it a pecise defintion?”

  4. Too many brilliant clues, great surfaces, to single any one out as COTD.
    Took some time to actually get started.
    But then, needed to deeply mine the grey matter to completion.
    Some very crafty and elusive anagram indicators which added time to this.
    Last in, 25a and 9d.
    Little excuse for the former as it was, perhaps, an easier clue.
    In summary, 3.5*/5*
    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  5. I admit defeat, way way above my pay grade. Don’t even understand the hints, what’s a nounal synonym?

    1. In 10a, reason can be a noun or a verb. I am trying, but apparently failing, to help you by indicating that you need to find a synonym of reason when it is used as a noun, rather than a verb. Apparently you may be beyond help.

    2. This one is made infinitely worse with the almost exclusive use of vowels as checking letters. Dada must have been in a really filthy mood when he wrote this one!

      1. Hi Brian. I’m almost wiping the tears from my eyes after reading this little thread. Made my day it did. The answer is so obvious that I really cannot understand exactly where you find the difficulty. I actually ‘made up’ a similar clue thirty of forty years ago, just for the fun of it in order to test my better half when we were playing Christmas games. Super puzzle and not overly complicated IMHO. My favourite was of course 10a, but there again I am an anorak (I hate the word really) train enthusiast!!! :-) :-) :-) Thank you Dada and Senf – nice Sunday entertainment betwixt times keeping an eye on the oven.

        1. You know me, SB. I have read your post but all I want to know is what is in the oven? 🥩🧆🍗🍰. 😎

          1. I did a shoulder of lamb on a rack over a mixture of soft veg and ‘stuff’, plus a few slices of chorizo, then served it with tagliatelle and a dollop of spinach in garlic butter. Yum – but me breff stinks now, lol, lol.

  6. Like RD, I got stuck in the NW corner for quite a time but got there in the end. There were some really clever clues. My favourites were 9d, 15a,v4d and13d, although I I wasnt so keen on 1d. Thanks to Senf for the hints and to Dada for what was, for me, agood and absorbing challenge.

  7. I loved this crossword – I didn’t find it as easy as some of the BD bloggers above as there were a number of clues that really made me think and took time to solve. I put 1d, 4d, 6d and LOI 25a in this category. All the more rewarding as a result when I eventually completed the grid. COTD for me 15a for the combination of the anagram and cryptic test reference. Thanks Dada, thanks Senf. Another entry for me then in the SPP lottery where I estimate I have a one in 20,000 chance of winning.

  8. We struggled to a finish and though two up, we took an age. I don’t think much of “romantic” in everyday usage at least.

  9. I didn’t get on with this at all, I’m afraid.

    Thank you, Dada – not your fault I could not solve this. Thanks to Senf for making some sense of it for me.

  10. Made quite rapid progress until coming up short with 1d which took an age to fall.
    Felt like something of an anagram fest at times which will no doubt please some of our number.
    Rosettes were handed out here to 11a plus 9&17d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and music – Mr Andersen’s tales have certainly stood the test of time.

    1. As ABBA reminds us “you feel like you win when you lose”

      The answer is synonymous with defeats no matter your nationality.

        1. Found it a difficult finish today. I’m a fairly new to crosswording. I was recently laid up for 6 weeks so had time to do them daily. My parents do the Telegraph Cryptic everyday by 10 o clock. I’m not at their levels yet.

      1. What do you understand Buzza by someone meeting his 4d – surely not a victory?! Sorry have just read Clueless comment below.

      2. Oh, I like your alias, PT! However, as Senf has already asked, what are your thoughts on the rest of the puzzle?

        I do hope we hear from you again. 👍

    2. Have you heard the expression “when someone has met their xxxxxxxx”? In this context it’s always defeat…

      1. I had a friend who referred to meeting his wife as “when I met my xxxxxxxxx”, she wasn’t exactly over the moon!

    3. Careful, Buzza! These days there can be no such thing as a victory. It upsets those who have lost.

      The woke police will be knocking on your door at dawn tomorrow. 😎

  11. Stuck on 6d for absolutely ages as I had spelt the sponge wrong! – I thought it was a funny old parsing. Anyway thanks to all, very enjoyable. Yearly treat, have just been to Wells and bought fish and chips from Frenchies and had them watching the boats in Wells harbour – glorious day if rather chilly.

      1. I was a bit puzzled by that clue, since a sponge, being derived from a marine animal, cannot be synonymous with something that Monty Don grows in his greenhouse?

    1. Last visited Wells in the early 1990’s with my daughter (approx 6 or 7yrs old) as we were visiting my grandmother in Norfolk. I remember we bought fish & chips there, but not sure the name of the shop all that time ago, but they were really good, wrapped in newspaper, and we did the same as you … watched the boats in the harbour. Good memories. Was a glorious autumn day when we were there.

  12. WAH! Can you hear that cry of anguish across the land? That’s me having spent half of my lifetime staring at 15a and weeping uncontrollably as a result. Oh, when I solved 15a after spending over thirty years poring over it, the feeling was of great euphoria, as if I had tasted ambrosia delivered from the heavens above, or as if Chelsea had won a home game.

    For me, and I stress for me ⟨™⟩ this crossword was tougher than the twelve labours of Hercules (I checked with Hercules and he agrees. He said cleaning the Augean stables was a breeze in comparison).

    We are going out for a lovely walk in the Surrey Hills and I shall attempt to banish all memories of this crossword from my weakened psyche.

    Thanks to Dada and The Man From Manitoba.

    1. My immediate thought on reading ‘cry of anguish’ was that it was in connection with your visit to SW6 yesterday. Although, I have nothing to brag about as the better team from SW6 also did not do well yesterday.

  13. This was too much of a struggle for me to find it really enjoyable.I had less than half the answers and had spent a good amount of time before resorting to the hints. They proved extremely helpful and from then on it became plain sailing. I have to agree with Brian concerning the difficulty in solving when the majority of checking letters are vowels. I’m not a fan of anagram heavy puzzles though you would think that they would make solving easier. Podium places today go to 6d and 15a. My absolute favourite was 9d for the feeling of satisfaction on solving. Many thanks to Dada for the challenge and Senf for the much needed help.

  14. Difficult in places but no obscure words, nothing for Terence to add to his list. Last in was 6d. A satisfying solve with some delights on the way. Hard to pick a favourite but we’ll go with 4d just ahead of numerous other contenders. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  15. This did make my brain ache somewhat but completed unaided apart from searching synonyms eg the one for daft. I had not heard of this. Last one in was 4d which was easy once I had the last letter. I should have spotted the anagram earlier in 15a. I thought of something fine and scratchy for the second word but the first was a long time coming. Favourites 12 and 15 and 1 6 9 and 21d. Thanks Senf although I’m glad I didn’t need the hints and thanks of course to Dada.

  16. Lately, I seem to have made all kinds of blunders on my Sunday comments, so I must write with particular care, lest I start to suffer from SPP cryptic paranoia. The Quickie’s pun rather suits me today. I didn’t care much for today’s Dada, and by the time I reached 25a, which ought to have been one of the simplest to solve, I just drew a total blank, gave up in despair, and sought two letter-reveals. Haven’t had to do that in a Dada in a very long time. Perhaps I’m just overpuzzled and need a break. Thanks to all for your forbearance. Hope to see you soon.

    1. Please don’t say you’re taking a break? I do enjoy your posts! Speaking as one who regularly opens maw and places both feet in, surely your blunders have been very minor, I certainly can’t remember any. Please reconsider.

      1. I’m sure he won’t do it, Merusa, perhaps he’s just reserving time to read the first couple of tales about Ballybucklebo which he has finally not been able to resist!

          1. Please don’t leave, Robert. I haven’t noticed any faux pas on your part and, as Merusa says, I too enjoy your posts.

            Have a word with Kinky and see what she says! ☘️☘️

  17. Finally completed but with the very helpful hints and a bit of google. I am pleased I battled through and afterwards could not see why I had made quite such heavy weather of it. I think it is because I cannot always decide which word in the clue is the answer because they are so cleverly written, for instance 3d took ages to crack.

    Many thanks to Dada (I hope one day my brain will learn to be in line with yours and to Senf for getting me across the line.

  18. I have returned to the DT crossword after some twenty years. Back then, I bought the newspaper daily and spent most of the commute to work on the train staring at the back page, pen in hand. If I was unable to solve the puzzle I had to wait until the next day when the solution was printed. Now, I can resort to Big Dave or even press a button from the online menu to reveal the answers. As a result, I often give in too readily and peek. But I enjoy reading the blog comments, apart from when I really struggle to complete three quarters of the crossword to then find many bloggers finished it before they had buttered their breakfast toast. Today’s puzzle was a good example of all of this,

    1. Your comment went into moderation because you used a different e-mail address – both should work from now on.

    2. I wouldn’t worry too much. Stick with blog & you will improve in leaps & bounds. I used to labour with the paper puzzle to make the daily commute more bearable & rarely finished it. This site & the hints/explanations + comments is a free tutorial. Shame I can’t find a free service to improve my golf.

  19. For me this was a trickier puzzle for Dada than normal with a bit of his quirkiness thrown in, but overall a nice puzzle to tussle with. Some really good clues today despite some of the negative comments I see in the blog.

    For me 2*/4.5* today

    Favourites were many but my top five include 10a, 14a, 15a, 4d & 17d with winner 15a
    Lots to chuckle at in this one and a fun solve for a Sunday

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  20. A mixed bag for me. Half went in after some pondering, and I began to think it might be a benevolent Dada for a change. But then I ground to a halt. Went for help on 8a and 25a, and decided I would never have got there if I stared at it all day. Enjoyed the half I did complete on my own though. We’ve been suffering an extremely dry winter here, and were overjoyed to get a nice steady downpour last night. You could almost hear the plants sighing with relief 😊.

  21. I ploughed through this and eventually got there (bar 1d) but with few lighter moments. One day I will learn not to bung in unparsed solutions which today caused me stupidly to use wrong first four letters in 10a. The quest for novel anagram indicators seems to continue apace resulting in dodgy ‘slur’ in 23a. Thank you Dada and Senf.

    1. I was held up by the first part of 10a and never did get it, needed Senf, but now I wonder how I could have been so dumb.

  22. Very tricky, but I could solve a few spotted around the grid, this gave me checking letters, having to use ehelp word search too much for my liking. I was DNF in the NW, I needed Senf’s help to close out that corner. I think 1d is a little unfair but I do like it! I don’t know a lot about golf but 20a was one of my first in, first was 8a, at long last I’ve remembered the jazz fan.
    Thanks Dada, and mucho gracias Senf for unravelling so much.

  23. Found it a bit harder than usual but haven’t been beaten by Dada for a long time.
    Don’t use 15a, although I should as I get them all year round.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  24. I did not get around to looking at this until early evening. Apart from a couple that required some thought, I found this fairly straightforward. My last one in was 25a.

    A very enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  25. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. I needed help on 6 answers, and I would never have got any of them unaided. Is it me, or is every puzzle lately turning into a Toughie? A real slog. Was 5* / 2* for me.

  26. A tricky one today. Faves 9d and 15a. Loving the posts today 😂 keeping me very amused. Also feeling very 25a after a fantastic Toon win ⚽️

  27. Well I found the quick crossword difficult so I knew that I’d struggle with the prize crossword! Thanks to Senf for the extra help and to Dada. I’ve only just started and wanted to see what everyone else thought as I couldn’t get many answers on first go, so I’ll get another hot water bottle and a cup of tea and have another go. Lovely moon and lots of stars tonight. Am about to start reading How to kill your family.

  28. I have to admit that I am pleased with myself with having finished this obviously difficult puzzle, although with quite a lot of help, although not from the hints because I often find on prize days the hints only give help on the clues I have already solved. This was a real head scratcher so I don’t have a fav because everything was at the same level of difficulty. Thanks to Dada and Senf I will now enjoy reading the hints and the comments.

  29. Really got stuck in the NE corner, having got one or two wrong and needed the hints to put us on the right track. Thanks for that.

    Much prefer Blakeney to Wells – hence the avatar.

  30. Still working at this tough nut averaging an hour a day. Just 1d and 8 a to solve without hints. Favourite being a feathered friend is 17d. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

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