NTSPP – 012 Review

NTSPP – 012 Review

A Puzzle by Prolixic

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Many thanks to Prolixic for providing us with another really good puzzle for a wet Bank Holiday Saturday. We’re getting used to his clever wordplay, lovely bits of misdirection and very smooth (and witty) surface readings, as well as the good variety of clue types. If I have one minor criticism it’s that the cryptic definitions (16a and 6d) don’t quite come up to the excellent standard of the other clues, but as Tilsit has explained in the past, good cryptic definitions are the most difficult clues to produce.

In terms of difficulty I would rate this one **** on the Daily Cryptic scale. I know that some comments have been left already, but I’m sure that Prolixic would welcome as much feedback as you can provide.

Across Clues

1a Confuse – a dance album to be remastered (14)
DISCOMBOBULATE –  a wonderfully onomatopoeic verb meaning to confuse or disconcert is DISCO (dance) followed by an anagram (remastered) of ALBUM TO BE.

10a  Chef typically consumes stout (5)
HEFTY – hidden (consumes) in the clue.

11a  Fruit display area sailor finds in Spain (9)
NECTARINE – the display area is the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) – add TAR (sailor), IN and E (IVR code for Spain).

12a  Mad French caper (7)
FRANTIC – a charade of FR (abbreviation for France) and ANTIC (caper).

13a  Moving aimlessly a large number get closer to rioting after some blood’s spilt (7)
MILLING – to mill means to move in an aimless manner. Put together MILLION (a large number) and the last letter (closer) of riotinG and then remove (spilt) the O (blood group). I like the use of some blood to mean a blood group.

14a  Basic instincts get one to back a fool (5)
IDIOT – in psychoanalysis the ID is the part of the mind in which instinctive impulses and desires are manifest (basic instincts) – add I (one) and then a reversal (back) of TO.

16a  The origin of the opium trade? (5,4)
POPPY SEED – a gentle cryptic definition of what the production of opium starts from.

19a  The exact observance of etiquette’s strangely unpolitic (9)
PUNCTILIO – an anagram (strangely) of UNPOLITIC gives us a noun (from which the adjective punctilious comes) meaning a fine point of conduct or procedure.

20a  Old divine describes a heartless article (5)
DATED – the definition is old. Put DD (Doctor of Divinity, theologian, divine) around (describes) A and T(h)E (heartless definite article).

22a  Way-out sometimes found at the end of the bar? (7)
OFFBEAT – double definition, the second a cryptic reference to an unaccented beat in a musical bar.

25a  Take in East End trial of a stud? (7)
EARRING – put R (take) in how a Cockney might pronounce hearing (trial).

27a  Laughed at poodle man groomed (9)
LAMPOONED – an anagram (groomed) of POODLE MAN.

28a  Looking back some verses omitted Old Testament prophet (5)
MOSES – hidden (some) and reversed (looking back) in the clue.

29a  Form of dressing we rectors confused with impudence (9,5)
WORCESTER SAUCE – an anagram (confused) of WE RECTORS is followed by SAUCE (impudence).

Down Clues

2d  Increase in turgidity of style (9)
INFLATION – double definition.

3d  Weep over empty papist’s tomb? (5)
CRYPT – CRY (weep) ahead of (over, in a down clue) the outer letters (empty) of P(apis)T.

4d  Public workers’ union comes back to large company over wage cut and start of lay-offs (9)
MUNICIPAL – the definition is public (which confused me at first, since I thought that municipal meant “relating to local government”, but Chambers Crossword Dictionary does show “public” against it). Start with the reversal (comes back) of the (mine)workers’ union and add ICI (a large chemical company), PA(y) (wage which is cut) and L(ay-offs).

5d  Philosopher’s only child found by river (5)
OCCAM – students of the DIY COW entries will have discovered only last week that OC stands for only child. Add the river that flows through Cambridge to get the name of the English philosopher William of Occam who is best known for having a razor (actually Occam’s Razor is the principle that in explaining something as few assumptions as possible should be made.).

6d  Such pleasure is pure (9)
UNALLOYED – weakish cryptic definition.

7d  Broken bail, one excuse for not being there (5)
ALIBI – an anagram (broken) of BAIL is followed by I (one).

8d  Revealed undergraduate’s aim is to rise about noon (7)
EMERGED – I have just a small nit-pick with this one – emerged doesn’t directly mean revealed, but it can mean “was revealed” as in the sentence “it emerged (was revealed) that she was a secret lemonade drinker”. Reverse (to rise) DEGREE (undergraduate’s aim) around M (meridiem, the latin word for noon, as used in a.m. and p.m.).

9d  Look as quiet civilian’s decapitated (6)
SHUFTI – start with SH (quiet!, keep it down!) and add (m)UFTI (a civilian, person not in uniform, without the initial letter, i.e. decapitated) to get a word, from Arabic, meaning a look or glance.

15d  Part played by Elliot dancing around Queen after end of ballet (5,4)
TITLE ROLE – an anagram (dancing) of ELLIOT goes round ER (Queen) and all this comes after the last letter (end) of balleT to get the part in a play or film after whom it is named. There’s a clever allusion to Billy Elliot here.

17d  Confirmed the German for animal food (9)
PROVENDER – a charade of PROVEN (confirmed) and DER (German definite article).

18d  Such evidence perhaps excited inner vices (9)
EXTRINSIC – this is an example of a compound anagram which is fast becoming Prolixic’s trademark. An anagram (perhaps) of EXCITED INNER VICES will give you a two-word phrase of which you’ve been given the second word, i.e. evidence – or, to make it simpler to solve, remove the letters of EVIDENCE from EXCITED INNER VICES and make an anagram (perhaps) of what remains.

19d  Relief for needy indigent policeman? (4,3)
POOR LAW – double definition, the second cryptic, based on the fact that in some circles a policeman is known as “the law”.

21d  Mull over an abstract (6)
DIGEST – double definition.

23d  Father squeezes bird inside thigh! (5)
FEMUR – put the abbreviation for father (in the religious sense) around (squeezes) EMU (bird) to get the thigh bone. Very droll.

24d  Principle sustained over borders of Egypt (5)
TENET – TEN is short for tenuto, a musical instruction meaning sustained. Add the outer letters (borders) of E(gyp)T.

26d  Artist grabs drunken bum for dance (5)
RUMBA – RA (Royal Academician, artist) goes around (grabs) an anagram (drunken) of BUM.

The clues I liked best included 1a, 13a, 8d, 15d and 23d, but my favourite is 29a.


  1. Claire
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Gazza – I was struggling to understand a few of these! & thanks again Prolixic for a good challenge on a rainy Sunday afternoon :-)

  2. Prolixic
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    I have been rather tardy at expressing my thanks to Gazza for his highly complimentary review. When I read the opening paragraph, I thought he must have been reviewing a different puzzle to the one I set! I’ll take on board the comments regarding cryptic definitions. I try to use them sparingly – they are rather hit and miss affairs.

    Thanks too for all the other comments on the initial thread when the puzzle was set last Saturday.

  3. Posted May 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I took pretty well exactly my Times average time to complete the puzzle. There were some tricky meanings in there, like “turgidity of style” for “inflation”, but only one little niggle – for me, the Times method with “of” as a linkword is worth following – “{def} of {wordplay}” is the only order they permit, as the idea is that the answer, which corresponds to the def, is made of the wordplay components, but not the other way round – like a drink of rum and coke, but not rum and coke of a drink.

    Cryptic definitions are rather a matter of taste – these two, although a bit weak, both seemed fairly easy to solve, so might have helped people get started.

    • Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply


      I found your comment interesting, especially as I test-solved this one.

      I pointed out exactly the same thing in the original clue for 26d “Bachelor supports spirit of dance” but totally missed 25a.

      2d was changed from “turgidity of prose” to “turgidity of style” as this was an exact definition from Chambers.

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