NTSPP – 004 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 004

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 004

A Bonus Puzzle by Anax

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Welcome to the fourth in what has become an excellent series of weekly puzzles.  Telegraph setters themselves have been known to dip in, perhaps to see how it really should be done!

This one dropped unexpectedly into my mailbox recently.  Anax thought he would try his hand at writing an easier puzzle.  Easier that what?  You might well ask.  Easier than his usual fare.  Is it easy – that’s for you to judge.

The Bonus puzzle by Anax available here

Anax should need no introduction to regulars, but if you would like to know a little more about him just select “The Bloggers” from the “Pages” in the sidebar.

Feel free to leave comments about this puzzle. I have set Anax up as the “owner” of this post  so that he gets all the emails! (An email is sent by WordPress to the owner of a post each time a comment is left.)

39 comments on “NTSPP – 004

  1. Dave,

    Not sure if this is me but when I click on the link: “The Bonus puzzle by Anax available here”, I don’t get the puzzle, only the page from which I clicked!

  2. Anax,
    I think you succeeded brilliantly in your aim. To answer your question it took me about a quarter of the time of an “Independent Anax”, but it was very entertaining (my favourite clues: 6a, 4d and 11d). Personally, I had to think a bit more about the definitions (5d and 11d, for example) than the wordplay.
    Thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle.

  3. Anax,

    Brilliant crossword – highly enjoyable and it made you think without tearing your hair out! I agree with Gazza about 5d and 11d – I think the definition for 11d particularly could have been less obscure given your stated aim. Favourite clues were 6a and 18a. Many thanks for the challenge.

  4. Phew – have finally got the answer to one clue!… I think. It’s 6d and I can see what is happening with “forced” and “dreadful lies” but cant work out how “spy” evolves … better use pencil for now i guess! With the suggestion that this is an easyish puzzle I was hoping for great things today but …..
    Also as hopefully accepted member of the CC – may I ask for general advice. My failing/tendancy is to “use” the actual words written in the clue and then sometimes anagram them (sorry for bad grammer here) or move around as sometimes indicated and sometimes this is all that is required. Often of course an inspired guess works and once I check in with Big D’s brackets I can see how it was. But, often as not I see that I have to come up with a synonym of the word/s in the clue and then chuck that round a bit and of course there are many synonyms for any word. Could it be that there is some indication within the clue that I am going to have to “change” given word/think of synonym rather than use the actual words there but play around with them. Hard to put this lucidly without going for longest comment of the year. Hope I have made some sense with my request, but have a hunch could have put it better. Here’s hoping.

    1. Sarah, if you remove from your answer the bits relating to ‘forced’ and ‘dreadful lies’ you will hopefully see how ‘spy’ evolves … as in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

      1. Serves me right for relying on rusty school spelling – I did have the right word and now I have the right letters! Thanks Tilly.

    2. (This comment uses minor hints about clues in this puzzle to explain things)

      If you have to replace a word with a synonym, there’s usually no indication of that – if there was, it would make life too easy for the experienced solvers! (It would also make the clues read in a fairly clunky way because something meaning “another word for” would have to appear dozens of times in each set of clues.) But there is an indication in many of the clues where you have to do something with the content of a word or words – anagram indicators, hidden word indicators and so on. So absence of such indications increases the probability that you need another word with the same meaning.

      It’s worth remembering that when you need a synonym or similar, there are various possibilities which you might need to make the answer:

      * an abbreviation of the word in the clue (or occasionally an abbreviation for a synonym like Quiet=P by way of piano) – lookng at the first 8 acrosses in this puzzle, 5 of them include an abbreviation. Some words lead to multiple abbreviations – there’s one in 11A which often leads to something a bit more subtle than the obvious abbreviation used here.
      * a true synonym – another word meaning exactly the same thing – e.g. “forced” or “spy” in your solved 6D.
      * a member of a class, or a class – for example, 12’s fuel really means “type of fuel”. Going the other way and using something like “Spaniel” in the clue to indicate dog in the answer, most setters will put something like “Spaniel, for instance”
      * whimsy – 6A’s “speed trap” is not what the answer means, but something it might mean given a bit of imagination.

      When you’ve run out of the anagrams and hidden words, it can be worth trying “definition guessing”. There are two types of guessing here – guessing the words in the clue that make the def., and then guessing the word they define. But give it a go – you’ve always got the word-length(s) to cut down the possibilities, and your guess will imply something about what the rest of the clue has to do – usually provide another def or the wordplay.

      For guessing the words that make def., you probably know already that the def. is nearly always at the beginning or end of the clue. In many cases, it will be just one or two words long – that gives you four possibles of which one is very probably the def. Except for the cryptic definitions, there are only 4 clues in this puzzle with defs longer than 4 words. In an Anax puzzle in the Times or Indie, I think there would be more long defs.

      1. Thank you Peter, :smile: that has given me food for thought and will really help – will print off your wise words and keep inside my dictionary alongside Big D’s guide. Thanks again for such a swift response. Could there be a more helpful blog?

      2. Oooooh its so frustrating but in a weirdly enjoyable way! In 12a I can see exactly what is happening with the fuel as it were and am sure I have the word but can’t marry up the remaining letters with “simple” – can only see them as an anagram of something that can’t surely be right!

        1. Sarah
          After “fuel” in the clue, there’s a 2-letter word that needs to go in the answer after your fuel.

          1. Now I get it! Goodness I seem to be making hard work of this …… onwards….. Thanks Gazza.

            1. OMG – got one! Being a bit of an old hippy paid of for 4d. Virtual “Yes!” attached to this post. :smile: :smile:

  5. I’d expect a typical anax puzzle to take me 20-30 minutes, but did this in 10 (almost exactly), so you;ve succeeded in your aim. 11D was my last in so I’d probably also votes for a clearer def. there, though the pattern of checking letters is a difficult too.

  6. Anax – Many thanks for a perfect post-prandial delight. Favourites 18a, 4d and 6a (one of whom just sat next to me at a restaurant on his mobile phone!)

  7. Many thanks for your comments, everyone, and delighted to know that most of you seemed to have enjoyed it.

    Before the puzzle went live BD expressed concern over one of the defs used at 5d and, although I fought its corner, it’s interesting (and informative) to see others had misgivings too – so I’m proved wrong yet again! It’s one of those meanings which only becomes apparent within a certain context (so, think of “It’s no good/it’s no —; I’ll have to re-write this one”).
    As for 11d; yes, it was an awful word when it appeared in the grid and just as awful when I tried to write the clue – one of those where there doesn’t appear to be a straight definition that doesn’t give the answer away almost comically. Peter’s very apposite observation about the checking letters makes me feel slightly foolish as it was something I didn’t twig when I wrote the clue.

    Incidentally, Peter and Sarah both mention the “fuel” used at 12a. Although the component used can indeed be a type of fuel, my thinking was to use instead the Americanism that typically replaces “fuel”.

    1. Not sure if this thread is still running, but just in case, Anax could you explain 19a up to the question mark. I am now looking at the interative reveal, slowly though as my computer is only showing reveal letter and not reveal words also ..so slow progress … but its still worthwhile for me to see all those I couldnt get! Thank you.

      1. Sarah,

        You need a word for “want” (as in a dearth of something), which covers (surrounds) an abbreviation for “that is” and a letter indicating “second class”, to give the answer.

        1. Now I get it (may get a tee-shirt with that written on – tho being careful which queues i join wearing it!)
          Thanks, Prolixic.

  8. Lots of fun here. Like the Giovanni switch in my head, there is an anax switch which I need to find to start thinking sideways about definitions.
    18a was thouroughly excellent and the simplicity of 8a was beguiling.
    I had to resort to help on 11d – I still am unsure of the definition here of ‘having lost heat’.

    1. gnomethang
      Think of heat as being a period of sexual excitement, e.g. a female animal being “on heat”.

      1. Thanks gazza, thats about as far as I got but couldn’t quite stretch any further! I suppose I get it but don’t really like it.

  9. First comment on this excellent blog. Pleased to complete over half the puzzle myself and then had to make heavy use of the “reveal” button. If anyone still reading this, can anyone explain 14a (i got the comedian part but can’t see how ‘last to memorise lines’ fits in. 18a was a beauty :)

    1. Welcome to the blog Wigwag

      E is the last letter of memorisE and lines, in crosswordese, are the railway, abbreviated to RY

    2. Glad you asked that Wigwag as I too was puzzling over the “lines”.. On the interactive I only seem to have reveal letter and not reveal word – perhaps its set up that way – are you getting the same? In some ways its making me think for myself more but aggravating the mouse clickers wrist ailment!!

      1. yes, I only get reveal one word too. Sometimes all I need is one or two extra letters to help me get (guess!) the answer, but the last few clues were a bit labour intensive!

  10. Well done Anax…my first time at doing..um still only 1/2 way through but loved 22a…will keep going till I grasp it.

  11. Aaah! Its coming together now I had please move out as being elapse…seen now its something else…anybody else slip into that one?

  12. Just a quick note on solving times/difficutly.
    I printed this off after a few cold drinks last night and went to bed cursing you, anax!. I had only got 23a, 19a and 20d – surely the man has slipped a stinker in by mistake?.
    In the sober light of Sunday morning I sat down with a cuppa and had all but 11d in after about 30 minutes with a couple of interruptions. This is longer than most DT Cryptics – I probably solve 90% or so faster than this.
    I can probably spot your crosswords now, and this did have a number of hallmarks (you didn’t have anything to do with the Times on the 17th Feb did you?) but this was a good deal more straightforward most of your others that I have attempted.

  13. A neatly and elegantly clued puzzle from the consummate professional among the NTSPP setters. It took me about a third the usual time to solve an Anax compilation, but there were a lot of nicely deceptive definitions and plenty of humour in there.
    I am surprised you should find it more difficult to write simpler clues. As you say, there are are some devices you won’t use, but on the other hand you won’t need to try so hard to disguise the devices you do use. How long did this puzzle take you to compile compared to your standard fare?

  14. Hi guys. Sorry I haven’t been able to drop by earlier; today was the opening meeting of the Buxton Raceway season so I was up there doing my photography thing, then getting the pics edited and uploaded this evening – finished about 15 minutes ago.

    Good question about the time taken, Radler. I didn’t really make a note because it was a bit on-and-off, but it was spread over about 3 days so it was perhaps a day or two quicker than I’m used to. On the face of it that suggests it was easier to do, but my memory of the setting is that it felt pretty tough and, in fairness, I’d need to write a dozen or so puzzles of this type to get a better feel for it.

  15. Thanks for this puzzle Anax. I did some of it last weekend and came back to it again today. I did have to resort to the review for some help!
    I have been doing the DT on and off for ages, but I usually can’t finish it without some help! I am trying to get better and this puzzle was very educational.
    Enjoyed 21a, 13d and 4d very much!

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