ST 3171 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3171 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3171 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg where we are enjoying a three day holiday weekend, quite what the reason is I am not absolutely certain but I’ll take it anyway.

For me, Dada providing a bit of a head scratcher especially with two in the NE and one in the SW, with five anagrams (one partial), one lurker (reversed), and two 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 – 8a, 26a, 6d, and 9d.

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 Helmet worn by Irish copper — style! (7)
The two letters for Irish and the chemical symbol for copper all inserted into (worn by) what helmet can be considered to be a type of.

10a Thin piece of wood put behind something identical (10)
A type of a piece of wood placed after (put behind) a single word term for something identical.

14a Anxious, personal pride about office having backfired (2,4)
A three letter word for personal pride containing (about) a type of (home) office all reversed (having backfired).

15a Where one’s heading to India, sent abroad (11)
An anagram (abroad) of TO INDIA, SENT.

22a Great actor resting, by the sound of it? (4)
A homophone (by the sound of it) of a synonym of resting.

26a Space where Othello, for example, returned on stage (7)
Knowledge of Shakespeare required – a term for Othello’s ancestry (for example) reversed (returned) and placed after (on) a synonym of stage (but nothing to do with theatre).


1d Black taxi in Hackney, say (7)
A three letter synonym of taxi inserted into (in) a female type of hackney (say).

5d Back away, bird having escaped? (7,3)
A type of bird and a synonym of escaped.

6d A diary kept in whatever relationship helping to explain (7)
A from the clue and a three letter synonym of diary all inserted into (kept in) a three letter term equivalent to whatever.

9d Session with nothing for defenceless individual (7,4)
A synonym of session (as in posing for an artist?) and (with) crickety nothing.

13d One of those active during strenuous exercise was tangled in knots (5,5)
An anagram (in knots) of WAS TANGLED – this is probably the longest definition I have had to write a hint for in all the puzzles I have blogged.

18d Biscuit that’s alcoholic? (7)
A particular type of an alcoholic drink that contributes a letter to the phonetic alphabet.

23d Emperor certainly not impressing queen (4)
A two letter term for certainly not containing (impressing) HM’s regnal cypher.

Quick Crossword Pun:


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Talented actor and singer Bernard Cribbins OBE passed away on Wednesday at the grand age of 93.  Very well known as the narrator of the adventures of the furry residents of SW19 he also achieved the most appearances as reader on Jackanory. In films, he is probably best known for portraying Albert Perks, the station porter in the 1970 version of The Railway Children. He also appeared in three Carry On films and in Doctor Who on both the small and large screens. And a whole lot more. In 1962, he had pop chart success with three comic songs – this is one of them:


47 comments on “ST 3171 (Hints)
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  1. Thanks to setter and Senf. I don’t understand your clue to 18d. Is the phonetic alphabet different in Canada?

    1. Probably one of my hints where Brian would complain that it was more cryptic than the clue, but he didn’t today.

      I was going to provide an illustration of the answer but as its name is invariably ‘stamped’ into it that would have been too obvious which might result in complaints from others about the illustrations making it too easy.

      As my ancestors would say – c’est la vie!

        1. I will try to remember to provide a full explanation as a comment in the full review in 10 days time. In the meantime, doing an e-search for ‘phonetic alphabet’ may help.

  2. Loved it. Dada in top form for me.
    A plethora of podium contenders, I’ll highlight 4,5,9& the LOL 13d, but to nick one of Robert’s “not a dud in the grid”.
    Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  3. I nearly gave up several timeson this Toughie in sheeps’ clothing. Some of the clues were rather contrived and I needed electronic help from Danword to break into the NW corner. There were a few noteworthy clues, the 17d and 24d combination and 4d, the latter being the only thing in the puzzle to make me smile. Frankly, if it’s this much hard work, a puzzle is no longer fun as a backpager, although it will suit those who like more of a challenge. However, I thought that was what the Toughie was for. Perhaps we have reached a point where the Telegraph needs to provide a Toughie and a backpager every day.

    1. For me, my yardstick on ‘toughness’ of Dada Sunday puzzles is his very first, November 18, 2018 (ST 2978) and today’s was probably about three quarters of the way there but not close enough to be considered a Toughie.

      A large number of unchecked first letters, which seems to be becoming a Dada habit, probably wouldn’t help – 16 out of the 26.

    2. Actually, having complained quite often (annoyingly I know) that we often get a Toughie masquerading as a cryptic, surprisingly I just finished this one 😊.

    3. Just reading your nice comment yesterday and the exhortation to have a strong drink made me smile. The delightful friend of my brother’s who put us up greeted us when we arrived in the middle of nowhere with the words ‘I dare say you could do with a stiffener!’ I have only ever read that in books!

  4. This was a pleasingly testing and greatly enjoyable puzzle for a grey Sunday morning, sprinkled with some excellent, thoughtful clues, some of which were quite difficult to solve. I think 13d has to take top spot for the terrific surface reading.

    My thanks to Dada for the fun and to Senf.

  5. 3.5*/4*. This was as enjoyable as ever on a Sunday although I found the NW corner particularly challenging taking me above my 3* time.

    4d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  6. Our setter threw in a few curved balls to keep us on our toes today but the result was an enjoyable brain exercise.
    Podium places here went to 26a plus 1,4&16d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and the amusing tribute to Bernard Cribbins – I was rather fond of his Hole in the Ground as well!

  7. I found this a trifle tougher than recent Dada puzzles but as always some very clever clues. It’s debatable if 8d is a very clever clue or a dreadful one! Personally I tend toward the latter view but others will disagree.
    Whatever, it was great fun once I got started.
    Thx to all

    1. As there is no 8d, I presume you mean 8a and I consider it to be a clever clue with the interpretation of the last three words giving some pause for thought.

  8. Gentle and straightforward start to the morning from Dada, much quicker than the quickie for me! COTD 1d. Now for the Toughie after that warm-up.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf

  9. Sufficiently challenging and very enjoyable.
    23a, 26a, 1d and 3d were my pick of a very good bunch.
    Thanks to setter and Senf.

    1. Well done on your puzzle in today’s Indy, I do hope a few more BD’ers pop across to take a look at it.

  10. I found this very tricky and not particularly enjoyable but hey ho you can’t win them all. Thanks to all. I have just watched a squirrel carrying what looked like a pink chipolatta across our patio. Then, 5 minutes later it was back with another so I went outside and crouched round the corner. Yes back it came and stopped a foot in front of me and it was actually carrying a little pink baby and was moving all 5 of them from one side of the garden to the other. They are so destructive but I hadn’t the heart to do anything about it so I have another little squirrel family growing up here, nicking my bulbs etc.

    1. I’ve just seen one hanging upside down,
      on the bird feeder pole, trying to extract sunflower seeds from a very small porthole in the bird feeder, with its paw . I’m off to spray the feeders with Hot Nuts chill pepper spray. No I’m not kidding, that’s the name on the can (I’ve had that conversation before!). It’s a highly effective squirrel deterrent spray.

      1. Our garden is surrounded by nut trees – we should have called the house Hazels. Squirrels are a constant nuisance, rats with fluffy tails and good PR thanks to B Potter.

  11. This was a little out of my reach so I needed help hither and thither. I found the ‘Quickie’ rather strenuous so perhaps I am simply malfunctioning today.

    Thanks to Dada and The Man From Manitoba.

    1. I must admit that I 5d on the Quickie solving just enough to get and confirm the ‘contributors’ to the pun. Today’s was quite a challenge especially the first word.

      1. I loved today’s Quickie — especially its little theme of ‘Oz bird’, ‘Oz Marsupial’, and then just ‘Oz’, which led me on far more than it really should’ve done (and of course the pun as well).

  12. I have warmed a bit to Dada but do find his wavelength difficult to access. Anyway I made it in the end with the exception of full parsing for 1a, 6d and 24a bung-ins. Thank you Dada and Senf for your help which I looked at following my completion.

  13. Being a Dada puzzle, I expected to start slowly. I did but then, instead of speeding up, I came to a complete stop. So, I am going to buck the trend here to say I found this to be impenetrable. The ones I did manage to solve were dragged kicking and screaming from their lairs and I lost the will to live. Even going out to do some gardening did not help.

    Thank you, Dada but you beat me fair and square today. Thank you, Senf for the hints.

    I will probably look at the puzzle again later but I’m no holding out much hope.

  14. A Toughie in all but name.
    The NW corner held out for ages to put me solidly into 5* time.
    Brilliance everywhere eg 7a, 26a and 1d.
    Many thanks, Dada and Senf.

  15. Quickie tougher today than the Cryptic, and I missed the pun altogether, but thoroughly enjoyed the main show, with 4d, 1d, & 16 d all yielding to my COTD, 13d, which was my LOI and which I LOL’d over. Thanks to Senf and Dada. ** / ****

    The Sunday Toughie is a work of art, and I finished it unaided (for a change). It also has the Clue of the Week as its clincher–that would be last week’s highlight.

  16. I haven’t tackled this yet as I am with Mama Bee listening to the Brass Band down by the river in Wetherby, but I am interested to know if the Toughie today is as hard as the Dada. I shall be having a go at this later so haven’t had a look at the hints.

    1. I’d say that the Toughie is a bit more highbrow than the Cryptic, and I finished the latter in half the time that the former took. Enjoyed both, but in very different ways. Robyn’s little masterpiece peaks on two occasions, with 13a & 27a. Nothing quite that apical in Dada today. But each compiler has genial ways (‘genial’ used in the Coleridgean sense) that I deeply admire.

  17. I’m intrigued to know what held up Senf in the NE and SW. very varied comments today including those which we favoured. My LOI was 1d but all solved quite quickly without hints or aids. Parsing did not elude me either save for 26a which took a bit of teasing out too. I got the answer but thought that “for example” was part of it which left me with a letter unaccounted for. No comparison between this and my early attempts at Dada. As one of our former commentators used to say “It is worth persevering”. Favourites 1 10 and 19a and 9 13 and 18d. Thanks Dada and Senf.

  18. We really found this a hard slog with 1d and 10 & 12a needing a prod from Senf. Top of the pile of clever clues was 13d and oh how I struggled with 7a before the penny dropped. I had gone all through the mediaeval armour! Thanks to Messrs Setter and Hinter. It must have helped using my DT prize pen to fill in the grid. (Emoji of smug face).

  19. My goodness, shocked myself by finishing this one over breakfast, having got only 4 answers at the first pass. Alright, I did need some hints, but nothing else, so very enjoyable and satisfying. Once I used a few hints I had enough checkers to fill in the blanks. I had the answer on the top of my tongue to 18d from the beginning, but it took a while and a couple of checkers before the light bulb went off. Haven’t had one for many years. Thanks very much to Dada and Senf.

  20. Definitely one of Dada’s more quirky efforts today, but a lot of fun solving.
    2*/5* today for me.

    Podium favourites today include 8a, 19a, 16d, 17d & 18d which were all very clever clues I thought … with 18d the winner … but all were very good … hard to pick just one.

    Sad to hear Bernard Cribbens is gone … I liked him and especially the song Senf chose today

    Thanks to Dada and Senf for the hints.

  21. Really tough – this has taken me a very long time and several times I almost gave up – then finished!!!
    4d was my last one and just decided to have a last look and did it.
    I think my favourite was probably 16d – if only it’s because how I feel today!
    Thanks to Dada for the crossword and to Senf for the hints.

    1. Oh Kath, I am sorry you are 16d. I put it down to the weather! But think about the state you
      were in about a year ago and how far you have come. Onwards and upwards…………….

  22. Smooth clueing as always from Dada with 18d as last one in – and my favourite snack so I am ashamed! Thank you also Senf

  23. Top notch puzzle – one from his top drawer. Found the north trickier than down south with the pennies a wee bit reluctant to drop at 8a & 5d. 1d was my clear favourite.
    Thanks to D&S

  24. Needed the hints for 1d and 26a……doubt if I would ever have got them without Senf’s help.
    But that is pretty good for me when it is a Dada puzzle.

    Thanks to Senf and to Dada.

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