NTSPP – 009 Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 009 Review

NTSPP – 009 Review

Spot the Links by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment *****

Given the preamble’s listing of 7 “true” and 4 “sort of” theme answers, plus the task of identifying extra words in all but one of the clues, I feared this was going to be a nightmare to solve, but it turned into a puzzle of moderate difficulty and some exceptionally imaginative clue-writing. I really do hope Tilsit has some more puzzles in the bank because if they’re anything like this we’re in for bags of fun in the tradition of the best cryptic crosswords.

On a first read through the clues only 2d gave an immediate answer and, strangely, I didn’t even notice the extra word! This is a feature that shone through consistently – in nearly all cases those extras were well hidden. It was a closer examination of 3d that got me into the theme (cleverly alluded to in the title) and after that the fears of a monster solve proved unfounded.

My favourite clues are in blue and I’ve added extra “click to highlight” parts which will reveal the extra word in each clue.


8a     Savage creature stirred near tame newborn (3-5)
{MAN-EATER} A straightforward anagram (“stirred”) of NEAR TAME, made tricky by the clever use of the extra word “NEWBORN“.

9a    One leaves one who leaves; ideally whence one leaves! (6)
{RUNWAY} A person (often a child) who suddenly leaves home could be a RUNAWAY. Subtract a single-letter word meaning “one” and you’ll see the part of an airport from which you’d leave for a flight. The extra word is “IDEALLY“.

10a    Sit alongside Little Woman in causing a commotion (6)
{ADJOIN} JO is a shortened form of a woman’s name (hence Little Woman) and this is placed inside the second of two words which can be read as “a commotion” (a lot of noise). The highly deceptive hidden word is “CAUSING“.

11a    Swallows most cash spent knowingly (8)
{STOMACHS} I like the definition “swallows” here, which is used figuratively – to swallow as in to accept. It’s an anagram of MOST CASH, with “spent” the creatively used indicator. The extra word is “KNOWINGLY“.

12a    Stunned, as Malcolm Nash was famously half-a-dozen times! (3,3,3)
{HIT FOR SIX} A fairly easy double definition but Tilsit has taken the time to offer an expansive second meaning which relates to a spectacular over of cricket. The extra word “FAMOUSLY” is of course valid as part of this second definition but isn’t a requirement.

13a    Amazingly tender topless chest (5)
{OFFER} Having just returned from Italy with a very suntanned face and neck this struck a chord! This lovely clue leads to a word which can be a verb or noun meaning “tender”, and to find it we remove the first letter of a type of chest (often associated with storing money). The extra word is “AMAZINGLY“.

15a    Title of Liberal opposition work studies? (7)
{SHADOWS} This is the only clue that left me a tad puzzled. The answer suggests two meanings; those in an opposing political party, and “studies” as in, perhaps, follows closely. Neither definition feels particularly tight and I felt I was doing a lot of lateral thinking to make the link. The extra word here is “LIBERAL“.

17a    Olive deliberately stuffed into fish… (7)
{HOYLAKE} This is superbly done. As a theme answer it has no definition and the extra word “DELIBERATELY” helps to create an amusing surface reading whose wordplay takes the surname of Popeye’s love Olive and places her inside HAKE (a type of fish).

20a    …often quietly in a timely fashion (5)
{SPOON} The occasional slip into a clueing faux pas isn’t something to be alarmed about – it happens. For this answer we place the musical abbreviation that represents “quietly” into SOON (in a timely fashion). Here, “in” is doing double duty as a container indicator and part of the definition for SOON, but I can’t imagine anyone being unduly held up by it. The extra word is “OFTEN“.

22a    It’s unusual that Juno became shy when Psyche replaced Queen (9)
{DIFFIDENT} I threw myself off the scent for intersecting answers here by opting for the wrong choice of pre- and post-wordplay answers. The actual definition is “shy” (as in “modest”); if we take the word DIFFERENT and change the part that’s an abbreviation used for “Queen” with the psychoanalyst’s word for the “psyche” we have the answer – unfortunately I did it the wrong way round! The extra word is “JUNO“.

25a    From here the reality often appeared heavenly (8)
{ETHEREAL} A nicely hidden answer in “here the reality”, with the extra word “OFTEN” doing its best to muddy the waters.

26a    Dire happenings found somewhere in California casually (6)
{LAIDLY} One obscure answer in a crossword is OK by me – it’s a new word to store in the memory bank. “Somewhere in California” refers to Los Angeles (we want just the abbreviation) and “casually” is IDLY. The answer is a Scottish spelling of LOATHLY, itself an archaic word meaning “hideous” or “loathsome”. The extra word is “HAPPENINGS“.

27a    Author and film director Lee collaborated naturally in this Asian city (9)
{PENANG} One of the trickiest clues to break down but it’s more straightforward than it looks. PEN and “author” are frequent crosswordland synonyms, and to this we add the first name of a popular film director whose surname is LEE (at least in the order in which we tend to read such a name!). For the Asian city add these two bits together (so they “collaborate”) and ignore the extra word “NATURALLY“.

28a    This form of diesel transport turned out practicable after losing broken tip (5,3)
{CABLE CAR} This one really threw me because of the extra word “DIESEL“. The answer is anagram (turned out) of PRACTICABLE after we remove the jumbled up letters of TIP.


1d    Found on beach, heartless hag’s about (8)
{SANDWICH} What would you typically find on a beach? Add WITCH but remove the middle letter (so it’s “heartless”) and drop the extra word “ABOUT” to find this theme answer.

2d    Release the little French gentleman (3,3)
{LET OFF} Given how smoothly this one reads I’m surprised it was the first answer I got. The wordplay uses LE (“the” in French) and a word for a (posh) gentleman. At first I completely overlooked the extra word “LITTLE“.

3d    Turn sternwards, not having a right to young Prince William’s old haunt (2,7)
{ST ANDREWS} An anagram of STERNWARDS but without one instance of the letter R (right). The extra word here is “YOUNG“.

4d    Theoretically difficult start to suffer Rabies (7)
{BRASSIE} “Difficult” is the anagram indicator here, referring to S (the start of the word “suffer”) and RABIES, and although the surface reading isn’t great I like the way the extra word “THEORETICALLY” is used.

5d    Unfit or ideally not (5)
{TROON} Beautifully hidden anagram using no more than OR and NOT (the extra word is “IDEALLY“) to create a clue whose reading makes perfect logical sense.

6d    Peacemakers left appalling General without authority (8)
{UNLAWFUL} Another excellent surface reading with concise, absolutely straightforward wordplay which uses UN (Peacemakers), L (left) and a word meaning “appalling”. It’s a brilliant use of the extra word “GENERAL” to make this a super-smooth clue.

7d    Dish of potato pie’s evidently not soft (6)

{MASHIE} Same as for 6d – simple construction but a bang-on story with a touch of humour. Take a dish of (more specifically a way of serving) potato, then PIE but without the P (musically, “soft”). Once more Tilsit has created a clever deception by using the extra word “EVIDENTLY“.

14d    See preamble (4-5)

{GOLF-CLUBS} As will have become apparent as you solved this, the second word of this answer can be read in two ways. I’ll say no more!
16d    Maybe deacon is responsible for relating to cleric’s patch? (8)
{DIOCESAN} Marvellous anagram of DEACON IS which ties in so closely to the answer itself, defined as “relating to a cleric’s patch?” The extra word this time is “RESPONSIBLE” which, again, is very cleverly used.

18d    Play family witnessing regal disaster (4,4)
{KING LEAR} Not such a smooth reading this time but I’m only saying that because the preceding handful of clues have really sparkled. The answer (a play) consists of KIN (family) and an anagram of REGAL. The extra word is “WITNESSING“.

19d    To beat one comprehensively, after obscure point (7)
{NIBLICK} This theme answer is made up of LICK (to beat one comprehensively) after the “point” of e.g. a pen. The extra word is “OBSCURE“.

21d    Speak after start of operatic performance (6)
{PUTTER} Another really deceptive construction here where the extra word “OPERATIC” throws you off the scent very effectively. After the first letter of “performance” place a word meaning to speak or to make a vocal noise. Super surface reading yet again.

23d    Dexter’s detective followed impulse (6)
{DRIVER} Go on, admit it – you were convinced this had something to do with Insp. Morse. Well done Tilsit for a fantastic piece of devilry. Dexter in this clue refers to the right hand of something, so use the abbreviation for “right” and place it after a word meaning “impulse”. The extra word is the highly appropriate “DETECTIVE“.

24d    Woman’s satin skirt (5)
{WEDGE} And another real corker to finish. All that’s needed is the single letter abbreviation for “woman” and a word meaning the “skirt” or “border” of something. The naughty fly in the ointment is that extra word “SATIN“.

This really was a delight to solve and I’m not just saying that to “be nice” – I mean it. Almost perfect clueing throughout and as satisfying to work through before I spotted the theme as afterwards.

Great stuff Tilsit – let’s have some more!

11 comments on “NTSPP – 009 Review

  1. Thanks Anax – the one I was puzzled about was 6d but I forgot about taking out the extra word – now it makes sense.

    Excellent review – thank you.

    And well done again Tilsit – those extra words were very clever. Anax – I like your depiction of the final one!!

  2. Thanks Dean for the Review. Just a quickie. The “Little Woman” in 10a, is Jo from Louisa M Alcott’s book of the same name!

  3. Thanks Anax and Tilsit. I thought this imaginatively but fairly clued throughout – 23dn was perhaps my favourite, but there were many to choose from.
    The extra word in each clue certainly made the puzzle significantly harder, as did having very few of the initial letters checked. (My extremely limited knowledge of golf was another factor.)
    But a very enjoyable solve and I look forward to more.

    1. Thanks for the review Anax…..Did you have a great time in Italy? fraid the first answer I got was st Andrews which made me back off from the puzzle as limited knowledge of golf….also had to go from Beta stage to live on one of my websites so fancied an easy challenge…but the clues I did get were well thought out…so next time Tilsit…not too many sporting terms?…but I shall look forward to your next puzzle.

  4. I haven’t bothered looking at the NTSPP puzzles before… and I won’t be looking again.

    This crossword puzzle has all the features that make it a complete waste of time from my perspective. For a start, you have to have the theme for the rest of the puzzle to make sense – and the theme is un-clued. Then it turns out the theme is to do with golf, which means I am terminally disadvantaged. Then it turns out that the answers that are to do with the theme don’t actually have definitions within the clues(!). And to top it all, there are irrelevant words thrown in for no reason other than to make the puzzle harder.

    Or to rephrase: impossibly difficult.

    By the time a crossword puzzle has become impossible to the point where, even looking at the answers, you don’t understand the clues – it has lost its reason for being in existence in the first place.

    To me it’s the difference between accessible jazz, and the “other” type of jazz (which George Melly once described as “a fire in a pet shop”). Having wandered into Ronnie Scott’s once too often when the squeaky jazz was in evidence, I determined that I would just stay away – and I have.

    And so with crosswords such as these: having had a peek at the NTSPP, I shan’t be coming back.

    1. Hi Kell,

      Shame you didn’t find this puzzle enjoyable. I must say that it is a hard one and I have no knowledge of golf, so I am struggling a bit. I am persevering with it (with a bit of help from the review – thanks Anax). There are plenty of clues here that can be solved without knowing the theme (I enjoyed 28a and 18d for instance and I am hoping to get some more later!)
      The NTSPP puzzles are excellent learning tools, I’ve enjoyed all of them and doing them (along with the comments and reviews) has certainly improved my solving skills.
      Also it’s partly about admiring the ingenuity of the setter!

  5. Kell,

    I appreciate that themed crosswords are not everyone’s cup of tea (with apologies to the setter who I seem to recall loathes this beverage). This was a more difficult themed crossword given the additional words hidden in the clues as well as the two strands of themed clues without proper definitions.

    That said, I would encourage you not to give up on the NTSPP series. Not all of them are themed and they vary in their range of difficulty. Anax has provided one tough regular cryptic and two gentler ones. I have set one themed puzzle and two regular cryptic crosswords that cater for a range of solving abilities. Radler has produced some tough themed crosswords in the series.

    You can find the list of current NTSPP series here: http://bigdave44.com/crosswords/

    Not everyone will enjoy all of the crosswords and, ultimately, the most important thing is that you solve the ones that you find enjoyable. Have a look at some of the other NTSPP series and see if there are any that tickle your fancy.

  6. As a long time novice to cryptic crosswords, this particular variety of having a theme with extra words left me somewhere in left field. So i understand where Kell is coming from, and i do have a rather extensive knowledge of that wonderful game of golf. However, knowledge is one thing, obscure answers to clues that have little or no bearing to the answers are another thing completely. Will be sticking to bog standard Crossies now….no offence!!!!!!

  7. Further to above, i persisted with this and finished it ( at 6 in the morning I might add ) with the aid of some of the hints…..still very obscure though.

  8. Kell and Son of BD – sorry to hear that this puzzle didn’t float your barge. I guess thematics aren’t to everyone’s taste, but in many cases (this puzzle particularly) they are far less daunting than they first appear.

    Let’s start with the theme. It is by no means an obscure one and the golfing knowledge required is no more than that you might need for a moderate pub quiz. The only obscure answer in the grid is at 26a (non-thematic) but Tilsit has tried – successfully I think – to make the clue straightforward. Yes, I had to use Chambers to get it, but occasional recourse to a dictionary to find an answer is common to a great many crosswords.

    As for the extra words, this is the sort of thing that can easily make you think you have no chance of success, but it can prove to be extremely helpful. There’s something about the way Tilsit constructed the clues which I thought very astute; precious few give-aways at first but they were in the right places and the extra words weren’t hard to spot. Given a small handful of these I was prepared to play a little game of hangman and try to think of other letters that could link them together to form words. As it turned out the last of the three names was the first to gradually fall into place and it was tremendously helpful in confirming the theme; it was also very helpful in trying to spot the extra words in the other clues. Even more, this aspect of the puzzle was an enjoyable add-on; a miniature game to be played in conjunction with the main crossword.

    The comment that the puzzle contained answers with clues “that have little or no bearing on the answers” is, I’d respectfully say, slightly odd – that is precisely what cryptic clue-writers attempt to do; to create clues that deliberately attempt to steer you away from the answers.

    Finally, this type of themed puzzle can offer the greatest reward if you’re prepared to persist with it. There is huge satisfaction to be had by successfully completing a crossword which you initially thought was going to defeat you.

  9. Well I got back on Sunday early evening from a second weekend of golfing away, printed this off and ventured to my local for a couple of pints and to pick up my weekends winnings!.
    Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle – thank you Tilsit.

    I got the theme quite quickly and started that at 3d. For me it was quite easy to spot the Niblicks and Mashies although at first I was looking for ‘whacking places’ rather than ‘whacking sticks’.

    Re: themed puzzles, I usually enjoy them but would not like to do them every day – a bit like your favourite Ice-cream.

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