ST 3244 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3244 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3244 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

Miyo-manitowi-kîsikanisi        Minobii Niibaa Anama’e Giizhiigad       Juullimi Pilluarit

A very good Christmas Eve morning from Winnipeg where all the ‘nasty’ weather seems to be passing by to the East of us and many are clinging to the hope that there will still be two centimetres of snow on the ground to meet the minimum Canadian definition of a White Christmas.

For me, and I stress for me, with the assistance of a wee dram of a 15 year old Single Malt from the highest distillery in Scotland, Dada quite friendly – another anagram fest – eight (five partials), two lurkers (one reversed), and no 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.  But, if you were expecting/hoping for something seasonal prepare to be disappointed.

Candidates for favourite – 1a. 16a, 28a, 17d, and 25d.

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 the 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 Gravy goodness in remains of food (11)
A synonym of gravy when both are used as slang terms for something else and a synonym of goodness when used as an interjection.

11a Ruby cut fish (3,6)
Ruby as a colour a type of hair style (cut).

12a Figurine in op art, surprisingly a high price (3,6)
A four letter synonym of figurine inserted into (in) an anagram (surprisingly) of OP ART.

18a I am on phone, still (8)
The abbreviated form of I AM from the clue placed before (on) a type of phone.

24a Irish premier, his ace reforms to follow universal principle (9)
The almost unpronounceable – an anagram (reforms) of HIS ACE placed after (to follow) a three letter universal principle.

26a In parts dry, Latino rum (9)
Borrowed from across the Channel, a term for dry applied to wine and an anagram (rum) of LATINO.

28a First of challenges that hurt King Edward, say — lazybones! (5,6)
The first letter of Challenges, an interjection for that hurt, and what King Edward is a type of (say).


2d Approach rugby union joke the wrong way (3-2)
The two letter abbreviation of Rugby Union and a three letter joke reversed (the wrong way).

5d Outsider, criminal rounded on leader in gymkhana (8)
An anagram (criminal) of ROUNDED placed before (on) the first letter (leader) of (in) Gymkhana.

7d Principal in Canada, one entering Toronto, isn’t bothered — twisted individual? (13)
The first letter (principal) in Canada, and the Roman numeral for one inserted into (entering) an anagram (bothered) of TORONTO, ISN’T.

8d Dreadful, like a doughnut filled with jam, ultimately (8)
Another ‘borrowing’ from across the Channel – a (1, 2) term equivalent to like a, a synonym of doughnut containing (filled with) the last letter (ultimately) of jaM.

9d One of several hands, each forward (8,5)
One of several hands as illustrated and a (1,4) way of saying each when referring to distribution of some form of assets.

19d Mexican food: something sharp on it with last of tabasco (7)
Something sharp which might be a rough projection placed before (on) IT from the clue and (with) the last letter of tabascO.

25d A part of a company, very skilful (5)
A from the clue and the four letter abbreviated form of part of a company.

Quick Crossword Pun:


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From the 2021 Royal Carols: Together at Christmas, in Westminster Abbey, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as she was at the time, and Tom Walker perform For Those Who Can’t Be Here, magnificent:

59 comments on “ST 3244 (Hints)
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  1. Very enjoyable and relatively gentle Christmas Eve puzzle.
    I liked several but I’ll mention 14&16a plus 17&21d (first time I’ve seen cushioned as a containment indicator)
    Many thanks and a Happy Christmas to Dada and Senf.

  2. Well that was good fun, with 1a my final entry and the usual IVS (irritable vowel syndrome) in closing out 24a. The aforementioned 1a was my co-favourite along with 2d.

    Many thanks to Dada for the non-seasonal offering and Senf.

  3. 2*/3.5*. This was good fun, despite a few odd surfaces along the way, and not too tricky.

    21d was my last one in as I spent ages unsuccessfully trying to parse an alternative phrase meaning “arrive” which fitted with the checking letters. It’s very difficult sometimes to reject something that seems to work, but I did manage to convince myself in the end that my first idea was wrong.

    1a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada for this puzzle and for keeping us royally entertained every Sunday. Many thanks too to Senf.

    Merry Christmas one and all!

  4. Enjoyable in spite of the excessive number of anagrams (my count reached nine which is almost one in three clues) – thanks to Dada and Senf.
    Top clues for me were 1a, 11a and 28a.

    1. Yes, I missed one, which was a ‘partial’ and I missed that another was a ‘partial’ – so nine with seven partials. When completing the blog I began to wonder if Dada, and our esteemed editor, consider that a partial anagram counts as a half. So today the anagram ‘count’ would be five and a half.

      Feel free to ignore this silly passing thought.

  5. Definitely on wavelength this morning and I enjoyed this puzzle without too much hold up. That I said I rather let the side down by failing to parse 17D, the answer was clear but for the life of me I still can’t see the parsing. Similarly for 24A I needed outside assistance to get the spelling right.
    9D was my favourite but I also enjoyed 1A, 12A, 16A, 26A (for the surface), 6D (for amusement) and 8&9D – so quite a lot really.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf, and happy Christmas to one and all.

  6. A not too challenging Christmas Eve puzzle (unlike the Toughie).

    Favourites 28a (that’s me!), 3d and 8d.

    Snow mostly gone in coastal areas of NE Scotland so no White Christmas for us.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf – enjoy your Dalwhinnie.

  7. Lovely puzzle. Did half the clues quickly for me then very slow for the second half. MER at DREADFUL as a synonym for 8d ? Thank to setter and blogger

  8. I was just counting my sheep before this afternoon’s Crib Service when I noticed this. I hand the sheep round to children with instructions to look after them until the shepherds come out looking for their sheep. I noticed this one is called Brian. Take a bow, Brian. It gave me an idea that any future sheep I collect could be named after Big Davers. Of course, some of you don’t have suitable names (I think we already have a Steve) but Merusa would be a lovely sheep name as would Manders. Sorry, irrelevant waffle.

  9. Note to self (1): must learn how to spell 24a. Note to self (2): must be less of a 28a in the new year.
    This was a nice early Christmas present. First one in 13a….last one 9d (with hint needed for one letter). My favourite was 7d: it was great fun parsing it.
    Festive wishes and thanks to all bloggers, who have continued to help me with my crossword skills over this year.
    Thanks to the setter and hinter.

  10. Loved YS’s IVS comment re 24a – ditto here. Pretty straightforward but very enjoyable nonetheless with 1a my fav as love a bit of gravy goodness. The rain relented so a pre lunch walk around a breezy Loch Katrine was possible this morning.
    Thanks to D&S for all of their guzzles & blogs throughout the year.

  11. I found this one very easy for a Sunday, but very entertaining nonetheless. Favourite for me was 11a.
    Do we get a puzzle tomorrow? can’t remember, maybe someone can let me know.
    Merry Christmas to all here, have fun, stay safe.

    1. Yes – an on-line puzzle tomorrow.

      Some years ago Christmas day puzzles were given a unique ‘out of sequence’ number in the 100,000s as I may recall incorrectly. But that was abandoned and the normal sequence returned so tomorrow’s will be 30492.

  12. This was right up my strasse. George is deeply envious of the single malt, on his lads lunch at the pub days when I’m out with the ladies, they all go back to one of the lads who always gives them Dalwhinnie. I totally agree with Senf’s list of winners, but my top vote goes to 16a. Off to the Crib Service shortly, it doesn’t start until 3 but families start arriving at 2. All the children are hyper- excited but every year George (tetchy overworked innkeeper) says seeing their faces gazing at the real baby is magical. I am just herding them all and hoping the donkey doesn’t poo in the aisle – I have rubber gloves and bag in coat pocket. It happened some years ago and I had to remove it with my bare hands before they all came round again and walked through it. Everyone said it was the best thing they’d ever seen. Reading at midnight mass so must fit an a nap then Happy Christmas to one and all and huge thanks to Setters and Hinters all.

      1. We had to make sure they were happy to have everyone taking photographs. It takes as long for the people to come and see the tableau as the service itself. My feet hurt.

        1. Oh Daisy, that is lovely! Thank you for sharing. A real baby! You did say you were looking for one but wasn’t sure you’d actually do it. You must have had loads of fun.

  13. Maybe not the easiest Dada for Christmas Eve, but not his hardest either. Right in the middle. Some head scratching and a few just write in.


    Favourites include 18a, 26a, 28a, 3d, 7d & 16d – with winner 3d but could have been any of them.

    Thanks to Dada & Senf for blog/hints

    Unlikely I will get to post for the Christmas Day puzzle, but I will do it …. so wishing all on this site a Happy Christmas to you and yours … enjoy and relax.

  14. Not sure where this morning went but don’t seem to have achieved very much – makes me feel very guilty when I read about what DG has already packed into her Christmas Eve!
    Gentle puzzle from our Sunday man to round off the year with podium places going to 1,18&26a. Also nice of our charming Princess of Wales to play the piano for us today.

    Many thanks to both Dada and Senf for our entertainment throughout the year and a very Merry Christmas to you both.

    1. She is so talented. I think our Prince of Wales made the perfect choice. (Though I do wish she’d cut that hair! I’ll bet he loves it.)

  15. Well, I’m going against the consensus to say that, for me, this was a bit of a slog. Not on the wavelength at all today. Whilst the east went in relatively swiftly, the west was a tussle until 7d capitulated. Loi was 22d after looking for everything except the simplest answer. Thanks to Dada and Senf. Merry Christmas all.

  16. Love the snowflakes. Too many fun clues to pick a clear favourite – perhaps the lazybones 28a.
    Seasonal greetings to all cruciverbalists here and everywhere.

  17. The lovely Dada is back! He went AWOL there for a bit, this is more like it. I only needed a little ehelp; for a start, I’ll never be able to spell 24a, but I did know the answer right away. I’ll try to remember your mnemonic Sue, no guarantees! I had to use an anagram solver for 7d, despite scratches all over my paper, I just couldn’t crack it. It’s hard to choose a fave there’s so much choice, I liked 3d, but 28a has to take top spot.
    Thank you Dada, welcome back, and much appreciation to Senf for his help unravelling some.

    1. What’s the matter with me!
      Wishing all in our wonderful community a very Happy Christmas, enjoy your day and I hope Santa is good to you!

  18. A lovely Christmas Eve puzzle which I managed which must mean Dada was either being kind or I just happened to have my antennae/ antlers pointing in the right direction today. 1a my favourite with lots in second place. I have achieved a lot of pealing of vegetables so far and not much else.

    Many thanks to Dada for all the Sunday entertainment and to Senf for the consistently excellent hints, best wishes for a happy Christmas to you.

    I would also like to send my best wishes to all the setters, bloggers and those who comment who make this such a special place to be part of, I hope you all have a happy Christmas.

  19. For once I’ve completed the puzzle in daylight hours so am taking this opportunity to pop in to say that I really enjoyed todays challenge and thought it a fine and clever puzzle for this stormy Christmas Eve . Thank you to Dada for setting it and to Senf for the hints, and thank you to all our setters and hinters for their sterling work throughout the year.
    I’d like to wish all my fellow solvers and our hinters and setters the most festive of festive seasons and send my best wishes to those who who have, or who’s families have, health problems, may the New Year bring better times. Also remembering those who have left us this year, they are missed. Have a Merry and Bright Christmas everyone 🎄🎅🏻🧚‍♀️

  20. Light and enjoyable, although far too many anagrams; great surfaces, plenty of wit and humour. Podium places to 26a, 8d & 15d.

    Many thanks and merry Christmas to Senf and, presumably, Dada. Indeed merry Christmas to all bloggers, posters and lurkers, with best wishes in particular to SteveC & Mrs SC.

  21. We completed this fairly easily but were held up by the parsing for several one of them being 11a and became favourite once the penny dropped. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  22. Thanks to Senf and Dada for the last guzzle before the big day ( I am saving the EV for when my brain is sharper) I too would wish all the best for bloggers setters and commenters past and present and hope that Santa is good to you all

  23. I thought the required synonym for gravy in 1a was buried with ‘groovy’. But in the spirit of Christmas I am going to forgive the American slang and note it is in the BRB and that the clue is nicely succinct. Perhaps I should watch re-runs of Austin Powers films. 12a is another Americanism, which I have rarely heard used. I suspect American English might be more readily adopted in the Home Counties than where I live. But 12a has seemingly lost its (to me, more understandable) original sense, which was what you had left to spend after all your outgoings had been paid i.e. the margin after the labour, the cost of production, the taxes, the mortgage, etc (so more associated with what you could afford really). Anyway enough rambling. I found this hard work for some reason (perhaps brain is on holiday) – thanks for the hints Senf. Merry Christmas all.

  24. Before really looking at the puzzle as I printed it off, my wife asked for a clue and immediately came back with the answer to 1a. Took me ages and the checkers to get it and parse it!
    Liked 7 and 8d but fave is 28a.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf, who also gets Pic of the Day for 7d.
    Season’s greetings to one and all.

  25. I didn’t find this as easy as most above, but I was rushing through it somewhat as there is a lot I need to fit into my day today. Particularly liked 1a and 28a. Thanks to Dada and Senf. Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and hope Father Christmas is kind to you all 🎄🎅 🔔.

  26. Despite it taking me some time to complete it was a most enjoyable guzzle and another attempt at winning The Mythical.

    Thank you, Dada for the fun and Senf for the hints.

    Mrs. C is having potassium intravenously and she says she feels better. She is still somewhat confused, though.

    My grateful thanks to all of you who have wished her well.

    A Happy Christmas to you all. 🎄🎅🏻

    1. Happy Christmas to you both, though I’m sure it’s not going to be a barrel-load of fun in hospital. Here’s hoping for her continued improvement, at least she’s feeling a little better.m

    2. I didn’t manage to do the guzzle today as I was out at a friends birthday party. But I wish you all a merry Christmas and good wishes to Mr and Mrs C. I hope you spend the day together.

  27. I read the blog every day but don’t post because I am generally about 2 weeks behind ‘real time’. Decided to do today’s on the right day as a festive treat.
    Managed to finish after a slow start – 9d was the last one in, I always struggle with spelling of 24a and 19d was my favourite.
    A very Happy Christmas to all you wonderful bloggers.

  28. 🎄 Got nowhere with this yesterday but insomnia enabled me to make light work of it early this morning. Once again forgot 11a cut and also needed help to spell 24a however not sure CS’ system would help! Joint Favs 28a and 9d. Altogether good fun. Thank you Dada and Senf for this one and indeed for all your combined past contributions to this fab blog. Have a very Happy Christmas everyone 🎄


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