ST 3121 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3121 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3121 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where we have had some rain, somewhere between 30mm and 40mm but a mere drop in the bucket compared to what we actually need, then a couple of strange days which started off with single digit temperatures, and now we are back in the 30s!

Keep staying safe everyone.

For me, Dada is quirky this week with his personal thesaurus in use again – but 17a should be a ‘write in’ for just about everybody.   I counted six anagrams (one partial), two lurkers (one reversed), and no homophones – all in an asymmetric 29 clues; with 15 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 17a, 3d, 16d, and 17d.

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:


8a Error’s back due to a false display of data (4-3)
The last letter (‘s back) of erroR followed by an anagram (false) of DUE TO A.

11a Frightening figure in bank after vehicle impounded in half a tick? (9)
A three letter synonym of bank placed after all of a three letter vehicle which has been inserted into (impounded in) half of a single word for a tick (of time).

13a Greek character is absent in this Greek letter (5)
Delete (absent in) IS from THis and follow what remains with a Greek letter to give another Greek letter (character).

14a Massage round edges of brow, vigorously (7)
An anagram (vigorously) of all of ROUND and the first and last letters (edges) of BroW.

19a Cat hair covering wig, trimmed at the front (7)
A lock of hair containing wIG with the first letter removed (trimmed at the front).

27a Pick up figure in lift (7)
A single word for pick up (as in the use of the otic organ) followed by a three letter figure (as in numeral).

28a Life earnings originally spent (7)
A synonym of earnings (not necessarily from employment) with the first letter removed (originally spent).


1d First of nails pulled from gift fixed earlier (6)
A synonym of gift which includes the first letter of Nails which has to be removed (pulled from).

3d About to fill in puzzle, jumbo, say (3,7)
The two letter term for about inserted into (to fill in) a three letter verbal synonym of puzzle (which we have seen before) followed by a synonym of jumbo.

4d OK in the main, others way different (9)
An anagram (different) of OTHERS WAY.

6d Mexican, say, in Lisbon, Italian heading north (6)
The reversed lurker (in . . . heading north) found in two words in the clue – the lurker, not hinted by me, is 7d.

15d Lovely sense of humour, feature required in request (10)
A three letter term for sense of humour and a four letter (facial) feature all inserted into (required in) a synonym of request.

18d Phone signal gone in outskirts of Tadcaster, unfortunately (8)
An anagram (unfortunately) of all of GONE IN and the first and last letters (outskirts) of TadcasteR.

23d I become faint after lifting skirt (4)
I from the clue and a three letter term for become faint all reversed (after lifting).

25d Bear: little one ending in cave (4)
A three letter term for little one and the last letter of (ending in) cavE.

Quick Crossword pun:


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A probably lesser known work by Igor Stravinsky, Scherzo à la Russe, originally written as part of a film score in 1944 after he had moved to the USA in 1939. When the film project was aborted, Stravinsky decided to re-orchestrate it as a jazz piece for the Paul Whiteman Band. Then, Stravinsky decided to arrange it again in 1945 for symphony orchestra for it to be published and premiered in 1946 at San Francisco. I came across it as the closing bars of the Main Theme are often used in a CBC Radio music programme as ‘filler,’ with some Classical DJ (if there is such a thing) voice over, leading up to an ‘on the hour’ News Bulletin. This is a particularly good rendition by The President’s Own United States Marine Corps Band, and, yes, the ending is very abrupt:

38 comments on “ST 3121 (Hints)

  1. I quite enjoyed this crossword, although I found the eastern half less accessible than the western half. There were indeed some quirky synonyms and some great misdirection too (3*/4*). I liked 3d and 4d but the COTD was 14a, which had me baffled for a while until the penny dropped. Thanks to Senf for the hints and to Dada for another good SPP.

  2. Dada at his brilliant best today for me, I loved this, full of guile and clever misdirection. Have to admit to a 13a bung in though.
    4d floated my boat, so to speak, as did 13,19&28a plus 20d but top spot goes to the excellent 3d, a clue of the week contender.
    Many thanks Dada and Senf for a great start to a Sunday morning.

  3. A steady solve, for a Sunday, and all completed in *** time. I wasn’t too happy about the ‘Jumbo’ in 3d but I suppose it works. 15d was another matter, and I wasn’t able to parse it at first, until the pennies dropped. It is, therefore, my COTD.

    Many thanks to the setter and Senf.

  4. A puzzle of varying difficulties for me. Parts were quite straightforward but he beat me in the end for 12a and 5d which I had to Google and still do not understand. Really disliked 27a which I thought a perfectly dreadful clue.
    One of those puzzles that leave you vaguely unsatisfied. Not the best Dada I thought.
    Thx for the hints which I needed for a couple (as always the ones I got stuck on were not hinted!).

    1. 12a….”handle” is a name….A plus a verb to skipper reversed
      5d…. a number as in make numb reversed plus A

  5. A steady solve for me too. *** /*** 22d held me up longer than it should have done. The anagrams were very good and my favourite is 15d. The construction of 14a is neat. Favourite 15d. Thanks to all.

  6. As is often the way, it was a couple of the shorter clues that caused the most trouble – today it was the ‘number’ in 5d and the ‘skipper’ in 12a. Also found it hard to reconcile myself to the definition in 17d which seemed rather a stretch.
    An extra cup of coffee was definitely required to sort out the stragglers and I picked out 3d to sit on top of the pile.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hinty bits. Not sure about that piece of Stravinsky…………

    1. Hmmm, Marine Corps Band? My Father will be turning in his urn. Martial bands should provide the music to accompany marching. I have yet to see a marching band with violins, guitars, a harp and a piano.

  7. A very enjoyable solve today. Agree with Brian about 27a though. Although I finished still cannot parse 3d – I get the jumbo but not the rest. Still bristling at paying 24 pounds for 2 six inch pies which weren’t even very nice.

    1. Hoping to avoid naughty corner I read the bit before jumbo as two synonyms – about inside puzzle – however that does grate a bit.

  8. 3.5*/4*. This was as enjoyable as ever for a Sunday but I found parts of it decidedly tricky today. 12a was my last to parse because I had forgotten that “skipper” can also be used as a verb.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  9. Found this tough, and plodded my way through it very slowly. The puzzles are a bit of a slog for me at the moment as I can’t find many clues that make me smile let alone LOL. Cue Eddie Cochrane & “Summertime Blues”. Hopefully it is just a phase as the puzzles themselves I find reasonably fair with no obscure GK.
    Was up the wrong tree trying to parse 3d although I had the answer right so thank you Senf for putting me right.
    Thank you Dada and Senf.

    1. I have an old vinyl album of Eddie Cochrane songs. He was one of my early favourites but died so tragically whilst on tour in the UK.

      1. CC
        A boy in my class had “cut a disc” of Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” which our local milk bar had put on their juke box. This was before EC sang it in “The Girl Can’t Help It”.
        Always a fan, as you say he died after a car crash in Chippenham.

      2. David John Harman, the policeman who was first on the scene of the crash later became Dave Dee of “Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch”.

        1. I did not know that, thanks SC.
          Another piece of trivia that I will likely never need again (so will probably remember).

          1. Another piece of trivia for you, LROK. David Harman apparently started to teach himself to play guitar on Eddie Cochran’s impounded Gretsch.

  10. Well, I made a veritable hash out of the NE corner–just after my brand-new coffeepot began spewing like Kilauea (that’s my excuse, anyway)–but I did thoroughly enjoy this most unusual display of craft and guile by our Sunday master, even though I needed help and a bit of my grandmother’s Merciful Guidance! to finish. I particularly liked 15d and 17d. Thanks to Senf and to Dada, with a difference. **** / ****

    1. Sorry about the coffee pot. I have a phobia about new appliances. They usually sit in my kitchen, ideally in a cupboard, for months before I decide to bite the bullet and use them. I treated myself to an electric Icecream churn when I retired. It was ten years before it saw the light of day, and now I make 4 tubs a month.

  11. I struggled with this and needed e-help for a few so not that enjoyable for me. Unlike Brian and Manders, I thought 27a was ok. I needed to wait for checkers before I could solve 17a so not a write in for me, Senf. The clue I didn’t understand at first was 15d. It became my COTD once the penny dropped.

    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  12. In the main parsing was more difficult than solving with 12a and 5d proving the most troublesome. Enjoyable though. As others 3d was our favourite. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  13. If the puzzles set by Dada are regularly quirky then surely they should be tagged as a normal/regular/usual/routine etc. Dada? Just asking for a friend.

    They’re usually difficult for me but managed this one on my own as Senf hadn’t provided hints for my missing ones so had to use electronic help.

    Thanks as always to the quirky/normal/usual etc. Dada.

  14. Definitely no stroll in the park, this one. 12a and 7d were my two holdouts, and the whole puzzle had the feel of a tougher than average Sunday grid. That said, it was a very worthwhile challenge and extremely enjoyable. 18d was my favourite ahead of 3d.

    My thanks to Dada and Senf.

  15. Always enjoy the Sunday challenge and this was no exception. 5d and 12a last in when the pennies dropped on the stretched synonyms. Thankfully we have seen very little general knowledge needed of late nor obscure words that can only be solved with ehelp. Long may it continue!
    Thanks to all.

  16. Trickier than his last couple but after a slowish start all parsed & solved in just over *** time. Thought it top notch with the exception of 17d where I’m in agreement with Jane than the answer struggles even to qualify as tenuous. Plenty of ticks for me – 11,13&17a along with 3&15d were the standouts. Time for an afternoon snooze methinks after a good walk around the Ayot St Lawrence countryside with the reward of a cracking roast beef Sunday lunch & a nice pint in the Brocket Arms.
    Thanks to D&S

  17. Indeed a very quirky Dada today with the SE area my last in with much difficulty. ***/**** 18d held me up forever as was trying to use the hint Senf gave in the outer letters of the city in question, as that was how i read the clue, but nothing was coming up.
    Favourites today include 24a, 2, 5d & 18d (when the penny finally dropped with a THUD!), thus my winner with 5d a close runner up

    Thanks to Dada and Senf

  18. Really enjoyed this Dada challenge during a refreshing afternoon mug of tea whilst the rain refreshes the outdoors!

    It was all over somewhat too soon, with some lovely puns (27a) and lurkers (6d, 7d), while 18d is too often true here in E Cornwall, let alone in Tadcaster. I misread the first word of 7d as being part of 8d, got the answer nonetheless, filled it in with a smile and raised eyebrow, then realised my mistake …

    Everything was so fairly clued, I thought, often just following the instructions, and appreciating the smooth surface reads. HMs to 12a, the freebie 17a, 28a, 3d, 15d and 22d, with COTD for me being the wonderful 2d.

    1.5* / 3.5*

    Many thanks to Dada for a lovely, if all too brief, Sunday puzzle, and to Senf for the review.

  19. This looked v difficult at the outset but found a way in in the SE corner and then proceeded methodically clockwise. Took a bit of time to sort out NE but eventually twigged. Favorite 17a.

  20. Began, as is my wont, reading through the across clues with nil return until I reached 17a which went straight in and thus provided a helpful starting point and finally became Fav in company with 4d. I do agree again with Senf re Dada’s personal thesaurus or perhaps poetic licence. Admit to bunging in 8a. 2d collector, well I suppose so?! After its frequent recent appearances I should have remembered 5d number. Altogether worth the tussle with NE proving most thorny. Thank you Dada and Senf (enjoyed US Marine Corps jazzy rendering of Scherzo à la Russe even if they do use untraditional military instruments which in fact often happens in both their and the Royal Marines concert performances). Thank you Dada and Senf.

  21. Finished ok, but without much enjoyment. Despair was setting in until I got 17a, my first answer, and then it slowly came together. I had the same problems as others, 5d, 17a and 3d. I had 5d, but still can’t see a number in there. Thanks to Dada and Senf. Please will the crossword gods send us a nice easy start to the week tomorrow? I’ve pulled out too much hair this week…

    1. 5d anaesthetic? I sense that the powers that be are gradually upping the hardship of DT Cryptics but no complaints.

      1. I’ve noticed that too, A. The screw is gradually being tightened. It was most apparent last week.

  22. I found this challenging partly because of 28a, 23d and 13a and partly because I decided to concurrently watch my beloved Spurs play Man City! 2d as CotD thank you Dada and Senf

  23. There was I thinking that Dada had on his friendly cap today, maybe I’m getting on wavelength? Not at all easy but I only had to use e-help for 18d, got it wrong anyway, never thought of that. My 18d is Sadie shouting, it causes much embarrassment in doctors’ offices if I forget to mute! I feel quite clever solving all that, hard to choose a fave, but I suppose 17a qualifies.
    Thank you Dada, I enjoyed that, and to Senf for unravelling a few.

  24. 4/2.5. This took a lot of teasing out and a good deal of electronic help. Parsing was also a challenge for a few of these and not sure I got all these correct. Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  25. Once again I am glad to see that others are exhausted by this Toughie week of back pagers. Please Mr. Chris Lancaster can we have a few days for the lesser mortals to enjoy? With some help from the hints (there was one I actually needed help for) and quite a lot of e-help I finally managed to struggle to a finish, checking on some of the parsing afterwards. Thanks to setter and Senf for all their hard work.

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