NTSPP – 007 Review

NTSPP – 007 Review

No, there’s no Bond theme! by Anax

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Anax says that he wanted to create a puzzle magazine crossword that they would consider a “mega-tough” cryptic puzzle. He wisely added, “we all know that what passes for mega-tough in a puzzle mag is probably on the easy side for solvers of quality daily newspaper cryptics. So here was the challenge; how advanced could I make the clues while sticking to the notion that they were to be not quite as hard as it might say on the tin?”

Personally, I found this a lot easier than Anax’s previous puzzle, NTSPP – 004. It was nonetheless enjoyable and well clued. There are a few minor comments below but this is an excellent introduction to an Anax puzzle – a lot of his playfulness, some of his hidden indicators and enjoyment all around.


9a A strong hold on (9)
{PERSEVERE} – A strong hold on invites us to find a more emphatic version of the words “hold on”.  Doh!  Many thanks to Anax for pointing out my blunder and apologies missing his nicely hidden wordplay.  The answer is a charade of another word for “a” (as in apples are £1 a pound) followed by another word for strong.

10a Stir cold and hot water in this? (5)
{CHURN} – Simple charade of the letters for Cold and Hot plus a vessel that might hold water to give a word meaning stir.

11a Such hotel worst at resort? (3-4)
{TWO STAR} – An anagram of “worst at” indicated by “resort” gives us this type of hotel – one that might have a poor rating. I’m not to sure about “resort” as an anagram indicator. What do you think?

12a Well-armed type unexpectedly cops out (7)
{OCTOPUS} – Well-armed type is a cryptic definition of a multi-armed animal that is also given as an anagram “unexpected” of “cops out”.

13a Where people discuss history, outside university (5)
{FORUM} – A container and contents clue. A word for history (as in a criminal record) is placed around an abbreviation for university to give a place where people may discuss things.

14a Claimant’s obvious 1 (9)
{PLAINTIFF} – The definition is “claimant” made up from a simple charade of “obvious” plus another word having the same meaning as 1d.

16a Heading off for seaside resort? Absolutely! (5,2)
{RIGHT ON} – Take a well known South Coast resort and remove the first letter for a word meaning absolutely.

18a Reportedly more daring challenge for climbers (7)
{BOULDER} – A homophone (sounds like) for more daring gives something that climbers might climb (in an ironic sense as climbing this would hardly be daring!)

19a Menacing organ used when playing (9)
{DANGEROUS} – The definition is menacing made from an anagram (when playing) of “organ used”

21a Get married in church after buffet (5)
{HITCH} – A charade of another word for “buffet” (in the sense of strike, not food,) plus an abbreviation of church gives us another word meaning to get married.

23a Mo isn’t about to meet social worker (7)
{INSTANT} – An anagram of isn’t (about) plus one of crossword land’s well-known social workers (the other is a bee) gives us a word meaning “mo” (as in “just a mo”)

25a One bent nail stops it opening (7)
{INITIAL} – A charade of I (one) plus an anagram (bent) of nail around the word “it” gives us a word meaning opening (in the sense of first rather than a door).

27a Yorkshire city is a pioneer in broadcasting? (5)
{LEEDS} – A homophone (sounds like) of “is a pioneer” (in broadcasting being the indicator) {LEADS} gives us the chief city of the county of Yorkshire.

28a That’s odd – breeze blocks aren’t crumbling (9)
{WITHSTAND} – This is one of the more complex clues. We want an anagram of that’s (indicated by odd) and put word meaning breeze around it (indicated by blocks) to give another word meaning “aren’t crumbling”. Putting the wordplay indicators after the key words leads to a set of instructions to the solver that are slightly in Yoda speak.


1d Was hawking handbags (4)
{SPAT} – A double definition. We want a word meaning was hawking (not selling, more expectorating!) that has the same meaning as handbags (in the sense of a contretemps).

2d Protection is right during intimacy (6)
{ARMOUR} – Take an abbreviation for right and put it inside a French word for intimacy to give a word meaning protection.

3d Stretch into the middle distance? (10)
{CENTIMETRE} – A word for stretch (as in a prison sentence) is placed inside another word for middle to give a unit of measurement (distance?) common abbreviated cm.

4d Turtle quietly occupying landscape (8)
{TERRAPIN} – Take the usual one letter for abbreviation and put it inside a word for landscape to give the name of a kind of turtle.

5d It might be designed for ‘ead! (6)
{FEDORA} – An anagram (designed) of “for ead” gives us the name of a hat that might be worn on the said ‘ead.

6d Small bed for someone in the UK (4)
{SCOT} – An abbreviation for small plus a word for a baby’s bed gives us a word for one of the northern inhabitants of the UK.

7d Given drink, carried on (8)
{SUPPLIED} – A word for drink (as a verb) plus a word for carried on (as in carried on a trade) gives us another word for given.

8d Sort of hand that’s shuffled etc. (3,2,5)
{AND SO FORTH} – An anagram of “sort of hand” indicated by “that’s shuffled” gives us a word for etc. The etc. at the end is very easy to overlook as the word for which we need to find the definition.

13d One colour in accessories makes you escape exercises (4,6)
{FIRE DRILLS} – A word for accessories (something frilly perhaps) containing an I followed by a colour gives us escape exercises that have to be carried out regularly to ensure people know how to leave the building in case there is a conflagration.

15d Most blue ribbons have nothing to wrap (10)
{NAUGHTIEST} – A word for nothing places around a word for ribbons gives us another word meaning most blue (as in the most risqué). This is another clue that has a touch of the Yoda about it. One setter (who shall remain nameless) builds entire puzzles using this form of cluing. You need to get your brain into a different gear to solve them. The occasional use of this form of cluing here slowed me down a little!

17d Criminal’s good – strange criminal! (8)
{GANGSTER} – An abbreviation for good plus an anagram (criminal) of strange gives us the name of another criminal, such as Al Capone.

18d Leader of band helps musicians (8)
{BASSISTS} – The first letter of band (leader of) plus a word for helps gives us the name of musicians who play the lower notes in group.

20d Too far away, almost – in Canada! (6)
{OTTAWA} – A word for too far (as in over the top) plus the first three letters of away (almost) gives us the name of a city in Canada.

22d I want a free country (6)
{TAIWAN} – An anagram of “I want a” (free) gives us the name of a country. I like this clue because this country was formed by those who wanted freedom from the communist state in China.

24d Piece of metal, soldered too (4)
{ALSO} – A word hidden in “metal, soldered” (indicated by “piece of”) gives us another word meaning “too”.

26d Where one’s bathing cap ought to be seen (4)
{LIDO} – A word for cap plus a letter meaning “nought” (clued rather too obliquely as ought) allow us to see a place where one’s bathing.

Favourite clues for me were 22d, 20d, 21a, 1d but top of the pops for me this week was 15d.


  1. Posted March 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Good work! There’s only one construction that proved elusive; for 9a it’s a charade – find another word for “a” in “Fuel is £1 a litre” then add a 6-letter word meaning strong/harsh.

    • Prolixic
      Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Ah, the dreaded “a” = “per”. Rats, I missed that one. I do, however, remain amazed at the ability of the brain to make seemingly logical but erroneous conclusions to reach the right answer! I will amend the notes.

      • gnomethang
        Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        NIce review! – I was just going to point out the a/per!
        Thanks to you both!

      • Posted March 28, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the review…..Helped me see the clues in a slightly different light…still have never used the word spats or heard of it. Thanks for explaining 26a…it was driving me mad!

  2. gnomethang
    Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Is that Stephen King at 18d??

    • prolixic
      Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      No idea – I was more interested in the fish – a “bass”, as it would happen!

      • gnomethang
        Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        Looks like him!.
        He has the sam Trout Mask Replica.

        • gnomethang
          Posted March 27, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          Ah! – Photoshopped image of Cliff Williams from AC/DC. I can go to bed now!

  3. Lea
    Posted March 28, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Prolixic – sorry to be a nit picker but haven’t you misspelled 3d in the brackets? It should be “re” shouldn’t it?

    • Lea
      Posted March 28, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Sorry – I should have also said – 19d means that 3d ends in e not r.

  4. Lea
    Posted March 28, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle – excellent review – thanks Anax and Prolixic.

    Got stuck on 15d and even with the cross letters had to check your hint. Had no problem with 28a as got 20d quite easily.

    Really liked 14a.

  5. Werm
    Posted March 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I think 17d is an anagram of strange not criminal ;-) Thanks for the puzzle and the review.

    • Posted March 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      That’s what it says in the review!

      We use the convention of putting the anagram indicator, criminal in this case, in brackets to explain the wordplay.

      • prolixic
        Posted March 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, that’s my fault. Werm was correct – I had the word “strange” in brackets and went in and edited the post. I then got side tracked and forgot to post here that I had corrected it. Mea Culpa, etc.

  6. Posted April 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review. Had to admit defeat on quite a few of these and it was excellent to find out how they were solved.

  7. PJ
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness for Anax today, with nothing available from the DT server and not even the option of an older crossword. Was it the Paddington fire?
    This was my second NTSPP and with just a little help, the first one I completed.
    Favourites were 11a and 13d.
    I like the idea of same day checks, too. This will be my Saturday puzzle from now on.
    Many thanks.