NTSPP – 023 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 023 (Review)

NTSPP – 023 (Review)

A Puzzle By Prolixic

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Good Evening All! Prolixic has given us another very enjoyable puzzle for the NTSPP series. I found slightly tougher than his last but there is nothing really problematical that I can see having reviewed it a few weeks after test solving it.

I must apologise for the lateness of delivery of this review as my weekend ended up being slightly sidelined from the intended path. To this end I have kept with the ‘Hints and Tips’ style that I started but may be occasionally more explicit on giving the wordplay.


1 Agent found on line? (7)
{SLEEPER} – A double definition to start with. The first is a spy who lives in a foreign country for years before coming active and the second is a long wooden support for a railway track

5 A large number dismiss horrible flu (7)
{SACKFUL} – Take a word for dismiss or fire (from a job) and add an anagram (terrible) of flu to get an informal word for a large number

9 Story of local nursing a bishop (9)
{NARRATIVE} – A word for storyline, either spoken or in a book, is formed by placing A Right Reverend (the correct form of address for a Bishop) inside a word for an indigenous member of a country

10 Explosive hot egg (1-4)
{H-BOMB} – Take H for ‘hot’ and a synonym for an explosive device or mine (unknown to me but it is in Chambers) to get another explosive as dropped on Hiroshima for example

11 Produce a herb about the end of June (7)
{ACHIEVE} – A word for produce or manage to do something is found by placing the end of JunE in a herb of the onion family used in cooking. This was in my opinion an excellent clue as it looks like it might be an anagram of A HERB Circa and junE. Good deception!

12 Marital odds on upper-class girl (7)
{ESPOUSAL} – A long charade here. Start with SP (Starting Price or ODDS) then O (a possible abbreviation of On) then U (for upper-class) and finally a short girl’s name

13 Image of non-nuclear radiation (5)
{PHOTO} – Think of a type of radiation (that allows us to see) and remove the N (non-nuclear). This will give you a word for an image or holiday snap.

14 Fish always changing hands (3)
{EEL} – Take the poetic way of saying ‘always/ever’ and replace the Right with Left (changing sides). This gives a type of fish.

16 Some drab masons returned to dance (5)
{SAMBA} – A dance is reversed and hidden in ‘some drab masons’

18 Card game’s humourless with two royals (5)
{POKER} – I struggled with this but the clue is very fair. Take PO for humourless (as in po-faced) and add abbreviations for a king and our current monarch which will lead to a card game.

20 Endlessly raise old Norse character (3)
{LIF} – I believe that one of our Toughie setters gave us ‘RAGNAROK’ in the last few months. This Norse mortal character will escape this Scandanavian destruction by hiding in the forest with his missus!. Remove the final later from a verb meaning to ‘raise’ or ‘pick up’

21 Measured and prepared paper (5)
{SIZED} – A double definition for ‘measured up’ and ‘set the printing area’ for a piece of paper that requires printing (finger’s crossed that I read this correctly!). Thanks to Prolixic for pointing out that ‘size’ is a weak glue or emulsion for stiffening paper and also for preparing walls prior to wallpapering in order to prevent over-absorption. The verb is the action of so doing.

23 Kinky bra I own gives illusory hope! (7)
{RAINBOW} – The less said about why Prolixic thought of this clue the better!. Make an anagram (Kinky) of BRA I OWN to get a point on the horizon where you can rarely find a pot of gold – that’s your illusory hope!

26 About to take a vast arrangement of neckwear (7)
{CRAVATS} – There is a lovely bit of wordplay here. We want a plural noun for neckwear, as sported by men usually. It is a charade of C (about, circa) then R (Take from Recipe which I will invite you to look up in Big Dave’s Mine!) followed by an anagram of A VAST (indicated by the word arrangement). Very nice surface reading here Sir!

27 Nice he got one account of the lower intestine (5)
{ILIAC} – An adjective describing part of the lower intestine. ‘Nice’ has been disguised at the start of the clue with a capital letter so although you think it means ‘pleasant’ or even ‘precise’ it is actually an adjective to describe the French (i.e. from Nice} for ‘he’ which is IL. Then add I (one) and AC (Account).

28 Without men taking unfair slice, get higher still (9)
{EXCELSIOR} – A Latin interjection meaning ‘Higher Still’. Take the usual prefix for ‘without’ and one of Crosswordland’s two letter abbreviations for soldiers (men), then add in between an anagram (indicated by unfair) of SLICE

29 To satisfy sex appeal, return it to goddess (7)
{SATIATE} – A verb meaning to quench or satisfy is formed by taking an abbreviation of Sex Appeal , then the reversal of IT (good deception here as ‘Sex appeal’ can also be described as IT!) then the Greek goddess of mischief. I have a minor quibble here since the answer and the definition (satisfy) are both effectively from the same stem. Unfortunately I did not notice this on the ‘test solve’ that I had a few weeks ago because I didn’t actually solve the clue then!)

30 State paper? (7)
{EXPRESS} – A nice double definition



1 Browner paper found by the French representative (7)
{SUNLAMP} – The browner in question is an artificial tanning device. Take a UK Tabloid newspaper and follow it with a French personal pronoun and an abbreviation for a UK representative in the House of Commons

2 The arrow shot by king on embankment (9)
{EARTHWORK} – A word for any man-made embankment such as you might find alongside a railway line or a reservoir. Make an anagram (shot – nice!) of THE ARROW and follow it with one of the two abbreviations for King

3 Identify nasty smell in service of vespers for the dead (7)
{PLACEBO}. This was a definition of the word that was new to me, meaning ‘vespers for the dead’. A synonym of identify followed by an abbreviation for body odour.

4 Rallies he organised to make trouble (5,4)
{RAISE HELL} – An anagram (organized) of RALLIES HE gives a verb meaning to cause trouble or make devilry.  I like this a lot!

5 Plans for stormtroopers to hire muscle (5)
{SPECS} – I like the use of ‘hire’ here as an insertion indicator (think of hiring as taking someone on board). In this case the Schutzstaffel (german stormtroopers) in an abbreviated form need to take on an abbreviation for a chest muscle to yield an abbreviated word for plans.

6 Old American companies co-host a broadcast (7)
{CAHOOTS} – Another word where the definition was new to me. An anagram (broadcast) of COHOST A gives an obsolete word for a partnership or company. We now only really see this word meaning ‘collusion’ (in ________ with).

7 What to do when you get the bit between your teeth (5)
{FLOSS} – One of the clues of the puzzle for me!. A cryptic indication of what you are doing if you have a small bit of cotton between your teeth.

8 Nothing’s liable to change a flower (7)
{LOBELIA} – This flower (a plant not the river!) is an anagram (changes) of O (nothing) and LIABLE.

15 Learner takes one iron round course from start to finish (4,5)
{LIFE-CYCLE} – A charade of L for learner + I (one) + FE (the chemical symbol for Iron) then CYCLE (a round course) gives one a  phrase meaning ‘From start to finish’ in terms of the full development of an entity

17 Middle East zones get a baseball team some finance (9)
{MEZZANINE} – Another meaning with which I was unfamiliar!. ________ Finance is an unsecured high interest loan that got us all into a bit of trouble. It is also a charade of an abbreviation of Middle East, then  two Zones, followed by the number of players in a baseball side.

18 East-end inventions (7)
{PORKIES} – One of the later ones for me! – East End <anything> is either an instruction to remove an Haitch or else is a sign of ‘Cockerney’ Rhyming Slang. The latter is required here and invention means ‘lies’. The answer is an abbreviation of said rhyming slang.

19 Novel rioter found in Wales (7)
{REBECCA} – Yet one more unknown to me! The novel by Daphne du Maurier is also the leader of the Welsh who demolished the tollgates in 1843

21 Protest before the judge, “It’s a mess” (5-2)
{SNARL-UP} – If you protest at someone then you can snarl at them. Adding to that being ‘_ before the Beak’ gives us a phrase for a mess, particularly a traffic jam.

22 Leaves barren regions (7)
{DESERTS} – A double definition here meaning ‘leaves’ and ‘barren regions’. I hope that nobody was imprudent enough to consider ‘barren’ as an anagram indicator for (REGIONS = IGNORES)! I know that I didn’t!

24 Dictator to return nana (5)
{IDIOT} – Our ‘nana’ is a fool, ass, dolt or simpleton. Take the first name of an African dictator and then turn around the letters of  TO

25 At which point prostitute lacking love takes drug instead (5)
{WHERE} – The definition is ‘At which point’. We need a slang term for a prostitute and then remove O for love (lacking), replacing it with E (for Energy)

My favourites included 7d 1d (for the definition) and 4d. Keep up the good work my man!

13 comments on “NTSPP – 023 (Review)

  1. My thanks to Gnomethang for his review. Two points. The first is that I failed to check the use of SS for stormtroopers thoroughly. As Gazza correctly pointed out they were not the SS.

    The other is the use of SIZED for prepared paper. The intended wordplay used sized in the sense of applying the coating to paper that stops it being too water absorbant.

  2. Gnomethang obviously didn’t have a dad who did a lot of wallpapering as I remember “sizing” from quite a lot of my childhood!. I loved this puzzle and the review isn’t bad either! Thanks to both for the fun.

      1. My dad was a fan of words (and a long term Times solver) so its obviously where I get my fondness for the unusual vocabulary which helps with puzzle solving.

  3. Thanks to Prolixic and Gnomethang. I am the dimwit who wrote in IGNORES initially for 22d (bows head in shame!).

  4. Am I being dense? 26a: How do you get from Take to R?

    ” R (Take from Recipe which I will invite you to look up in Big Dave’s Mine!)”. Where in the Mine?

    1. Probably in the yet-to-be-published section on Latin phrases!

      On old prescriptions, the instruction “take one wing of a bat” the “take” would be represented by the Latin word “recipe”, usually abbreviated to ℞, Rx or R. This practise had carried forward to modern prescriptions.

  5. I was feeling bereft after I finished todays puzzle so started on this. It was good fun – enjoyed doing it – thank you to both of you – Prolixic for an excellent puzzle and Gnomethang for the review. I struggled with 18d but got there in the end. I really enjoyed 3d (knew one definition for it but not the other) 6d which was straightforward for me and 15d just because…

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