NTSPP – 020 Review
A Puzzle by Anax
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I thought that this one was a real treat from Anax and would have fitted well into an end-of-week Toughie slot. As he warned there are a number of obscure answers, but, as he also promised, the wordplay for these is reasonably straightforward. Then there’s the theme – the first answer I got was 1d and I took this to mean that the across answers would contain the names of famous bridges (Rialto, Tower, Waterloo, Beau?) but I should have realised that Anax is far more devious than that (and 1d does spell out very precisely what to look for!). If you haven’t spotted the theme, then see the bottom of the review.
1a Not a posh restaurant, but offers trout accordingly? (6)
BISTRO – I got the answer to this from the definition but struggled with the wordplay until rescued by a strong hint from BD. It’s a bit like one of those old IQ questions. “But” is to “trout” as B IS … (to) TRO.
4a A notice seen in court lobby (8)
PERSUADE – the definition is lobby, as a verb meaning to try to influence. Put AD (a notice) inside PERSUE (to court or woo). Persue (so Chambers says) is an old spelling of pursue.
9a Amazing home English composer had (1,5,3)
I NEVER DID – the answer is a colloquial expression meaning “Well, I am surprised!” (amazing). It’s a charade of IN (home), E(nglish), an Italian composer and D (had, as in she’D).
11a Turn back and admit weather’s beginning to get colder (5)
RAWER – reverse (turn) REAR (a synonym for back) and put the first letter (beginning) of Weather inside.
12a They empty drains (7)
GUTTERS – double definition.
13a Get a new clutch modified by pilot? (7)
WINGMAN – a wingman is someone who flies adjacent to and just behind the leader in a flying formation like the Red Arrows, so he’s by (the) pilot. String together WIN (get) and A N(ew) which surround (clutch) GM (genetically modified).
14a One saving power in here wasted ours too (9)
SUPERHERO – the definition is one saving, like Superman. It’s an anagram (wasted) of HERE and OURS (as a sort of afterthought!) around P(ower).
17a President being interrupted by mother (5)
ADAMS – the surname of the second President of the USA (and also that of his son, who was the sixth President) is AS (being, a mainly American usage, for example, “Being that you’re going to the mall, …”) around an animal mother.
19a Rapid developer takes some time to learn (5)
METOL – hidden (some) in the clue is a soluble white compound used as a photographic developer.
20a Not a subject that is set in the French primary school? (9)
LIEGELESS – an old adjective describing someone who owed no duty of service to a feudal lord (not a subject). Put IE (Id. Est., that is) and GEL (a verb to set) inside LES (the French) and add the first letter (primary) of School.
25a Author is back on board (7)
PENSION – this clue is more full of red herrings than a barrel full of red herrings! The definition is board or lodging. Start with PEN (author, as a verb) then add IS reversed (back) and ON.
27a Graduate in America’s unfit to drive here? (5)
DUBAI – put BA inside the American abbreviation for drunk-driving DUI (driving under the influence).
28a Conifer, ideally in ground (9)
LEYLANDII – an anagram (ground) of IDEALLY IN produces this fast growing Leyland cypress conifer.
29a Initially confused man behind shield, perhaps? (4,4)
RIOT GEAR – an example (perhaps) of this is shield. It’s a Spoonerism (initially confused, i.e. with initial letters swapped) of something sounding like Guy at Rear (man behind).
30a Gum in empty latrine (6)
CHICLE – “in”, i.e. trendy, is CHIC. Add the outer letters only (empty) of LatrinE to get the milky latex from the sapodilla tree, used to make chewing gum.
1d Those crossed by those going across (7)
BRIDGES – the hint to the hidden theme.
2d Best part of club where, oddly, good men go around with marijuana (5,4)
SWEET SPOT – this is the ideal place on a club, bat or racket where you should hit the ball. Use the odd letters (oddly) of WhErE surrounded by STS (saints, good men) with POT (marijuana) following.
3d Steward on vigil (5)
REEVE – an old steward or estate manager is made from RE (on) and EVE (vigil in Christian tradition, when observers stay awake on the eve of a religious festival as a devotional exercise).
5d Wind up with nothing, having raised finance (5)
ENDOW – the definition is finance as a verb. It’s END (wind up) followed by W(ith) and O (nothing) which have to be reversed (raised, in a down clue).
6d Mum’s fury about dye, sometimes a problem with washing (9)
SHRINKAGE – the ’s here is the possessive in the surface reading but stands for “has” in the wordplay. So, it’s SH (keep mum!) and RAGE (fury) about INK (dye).
7d Floating while I’m swallowing a little bit of water (5)
ASWIM – a rarely-used adjective meaning floating or swimming is constructed from AS (while) and I’M with W(ater) in the middle (swallowing).
8d Do the wrong thing with small jobs (7)
ERRANDS – a charade of ERR (do the wrong thing), AND (with) and S(mall).
10d Once unfaithful, dallies unpredictably (7)
DISLEAL – an old word meaning unfaithful or disloyal is an anagram (unpredictably) of DALLIES.
15d Loving girl, he’s in for trouble (9)
RELISHING – the definition is loving. It’s an anagram (for trouble) of GIRL HE’S IN.
16d Apply too much screw pressure, always following on (7)
OVERPAY – screw is a slang word for pay, so the answer is a way of saying apply too much screw. It’s P(ressure) and AY (always) after OVER (on).
18d Irregular copier of poems will pen one (9)
APERIODIC – a word used in physics to describe a potentially oscillating system which is damped to prevent vibration (do I sound as if I understand this?) is made from APER (copier) and ODIC (relating to poems) around (will pen) I (one).
19d (One of) crazy men receiving cheers? (7)
MATADOR – put TA (thanks, cheers) inside MAD (crazy) and OR (other ranks, men). This is an excellent semi all-in-one clue.
21d Train users in the morning (7)
SUNRISE – an anagram (train) of USERS IN.
23d So there is nothing opening up – nothing (2-3)
YA-BOO – an exclamation, often followed by sucks, meaning so there! Put O (nothing) and BAY (opening in the coastline) together and then reverse them (up, in a down clue), then add a further O (nothing).
24d During rehearsals actors dance (5)
SALSA – hidden word.
26d Under cow, horse (5)
NEATH – the definition is under. String together NEAT (archaic term for a bovine animal) and H(orse). This is the only clue in the puzzle where I can’t really make anything out of the surface reading.
The clues I liked included 9a, 20a, 25a, 27a and 19d, but my favourite is 6d. Thanks to Anax for a very entertaining puzzle.
And if you still haven’t spotted the hidden theme, 1d does spell it out exactly. The across answers appear in pairs on alternate rows of the grid. Spanning (bridging) each pair of clues is a type of bridge (e.g. Rope in row 1, Draw in row 3, etc.).