NTSPP – 024 (Review)

NTSPP – 024

A puzzle by Anax

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

One of Anax’s fortes is his ability to create clues that seamlessly merge definition, wordplay and link words. Looking at one of his clues you can never sure where one part of the clue ends and the other begins. In today’s cracker of a puzzle (pun intended), this ability comes to the fore with so many good clues it is difficult to pick favourites. Ones that I particularly enjoyed for the wordplay or surface reading are highlighted in blue.

There is a theme in this crossword. A number of the clues rely on definitions that are not given in the clues themselves but are defined by the wordplay in the clue (not the answer) to 22d.

1a Tyre’s initially bald and wobbly – one to watch (9)
{BYSTANDER} – One to watch (a reference to a spectator) is an anagram (wobbly) of TYRES + B (initially bald) + AND

6a Stop and do something rude? (5)
{POINT}- A double definition. Stop (used in the sense of a punctuation mark) shares a meaning with a gesture that your parents and teachers probably told you that it was rude to do.

9a Guides recall sailor in his environment (7)
{ATLASES} – The definition is guides (as in a book of maps). The wordplay is another name for sailor inside a word describing the environment where a sailor would be found with all of this reversed (recalled).

10a Head-on smash not far ahead of new driver (7)
{FRONTAL} – A word meaning head-on is defined by an anagram (smash) of NOT FAR with a letter than indicates a new driver who has not passed his or her driving test.

11a Attend boxing club, causing delight (7)
{BEWITCH} – The wordplay here requires a phrase meaning to attend (**** **) around (boxing) a one letter abbreviation for club.

12a Caught news flash that’s going around (see 22) (6)
{CRANNY} – This is one of the theme clues. The answer is a word that means a crack (in the sense of a crevice). The wordplay is devious. Take a one letter abbreviation for caught. We also need a one letter abbreviation for new but double it as the wordplay requires news and add around this a word meaning flash (as in a beam of light).

13a Smart, so gets dug in (7,7)
{BRISTOL FASHION} – A word meaning smart (as in “All ship shape and ….”) is the answer. Shy retiring person that I am, Big Dave kindly pointed me in the direction of the vulgar wordplay that this clue involves! An obscure meaning of “dug” is a breast. Take another word (cockney rhyming slang this time) for a breast and add another word for “in” as is the latest style, to get the answer.

17a Shocked hotelier: My! Lord Lucan? (3,6,5)
{OLD MOTHER RILEY} – Another beautifully deceptive clue. The answer is a character played by Arthur Lucan. It is made up from an anagram (shocked) of HOTELIER MY LORD. I love the way the surface reading works with this clue as well.

18a Line breaks do, a bit (6)
{PARTLY} – A word meaning a bit is made up from a word meaning do (in the sense of a reception) around (breaks) an abbreviation for line.

19a A dry dock with nothing in it (see 22) (7)
{ATTEMPT} – Another theme word. We want a word meaning crack in the sense of having a shot at. The word play is the letter A plus an abbreviation for dry (in the sense of free of alcohol) plus a word meaning with nothing in it with the final letter removed (dock). The words dry and dock have been cleverly put together to try and made the solver read them as one. You need to lift and separate the words to solve the clue.

23a Disapprove of training (see 22) (7)
{DECRYPT}- Another theme word. We want a word meaning crack in the sense of unravelling a code. The word play is a simple charade of words for disapprove and training.

24a Original belief in a prostitute one’s married (7)
{ATOMISM} – The definition is a “original belief”. The wordplay is a charade of A, a word meaning a prostitute (more usually applied to a male cat!), a short way of writing one’s and an abbreviation for married.

25a This is so unusual in a puzzle (5)
{POSER} – The little word “a” in the clue is significant. We need another word for a (as in cherries are £3 a pound). Put an anagram of SO inside (this bit is not difficult!) to give a word meaning puzzle. The whole clue hangs together with the “this is” as an &lit.

26a Work, and be sacked (see 22) (5,4)
{BREAK DOWN} – Another theme word. We need a word meaning crack as in crack a nut. The wordplay is an anagram (sacked) of WORK AND BE. Another clue where you need to be careful and look to see where the join lies.


1d Expect to grasp answer (see 22) (4)
{BEAT} – Another theme word. A word meaning crack in the sense of overcome comes from a word meaning “expect” around (to grasp) a one letter abbreviation for answer.

2d She’s heartlessly hiding old meal ticket (see 22) (5)
{SOLVE} – Another theme word with crack having meaning of decoding something. Take the outside letters of SHE (heartlessly) and put inside them (hiding) an abbreviation for old and an abbreviation for luncheon vouchers (meal ticket).

3d Separating cells is basic, so nearly disastrous (10,5)
{ABSCISSION LAYER} – I had to look the meaning of this word up once I had the wordplay cracked! A technical term for “separating cells” is an anagram (disastrous) of IS BASIC SO NEARLY.

4d This hot and cold liquid is a kitchen cleaner (9)
{DISHCLOTH} – The definition here is a kitchen cleaner. The wordplay is an anagram (liquid) of THIS HOT + C (cold).

5d Runs 12 in (see 22) (4)
{RIFT} – Another theme word with crack meaning crevice here. The wordplay requires an abbreviation for runs and another way of expressing 12 in(ches). Brilliant use of 12 in.

6d Rolling Stone genre? (11,4)
{PROGRESSIVE ROCK} – Words meaning rolling and a stone put together describe a type of music that does not (hence the question mark) describe the music of the Rolling Stones.

7d One isn’t even odd total (9)
{INTENSIVE} – The definition is total (in the sense of unremitting). The answer is found from an anagram (odd) of ISNT EVEN following an I (for one).

8d Agreeing to recall good time, keeping partner in (8)
{TALLYING} – A word meaning agreeing comes from abbreviations for Good and Time (reversing their order – recall). Inside the abbreviations we put (keeping) a word for partner and IN.

14d Changes path in secret, rickety fencing put up free (9)
{REDIRECTS} – The surface reading here is not the smoothest but the wordplay is lovely. The definition is a word meaning “changes path”. Take an anagram (rickety) of SECRETLY and put this outside (fencing) a word meaning free that is reversed (put up) in the answer.

15d Hair not in curlers, say (see 22) (5-4)
{FIRST RATE}- Another theme word with crack here meaning excellent. The answer is a homophone of words meaning hair (FUR) plus not in curlers (STRAIGHT).

16d Engine thus prepared for stock car? (6,2)
{SOUPED UP} – a stock car may have a specially tuned and modified engine that is described as this. If we think of another meaning for stock (as in a broth or this word), the engine could also be described thus.

20d Electoral system, one that’s second best (5)
{PRIMO} – A word meaning best (remember to lift and separate the second from best) is made up from a type of voting system + I (one) + a word for second (as in a brief interval of time).

21d Jolly good man on top (see 22) (4)
{STAB} – Another theme word. Here crack is used in the sense of an attempt at something. Take an abbreviation for sailor and on top put an abbreviation for a good man.

22d Warning from setter – cracks appearing (4)

{OMEN} – This defines the theme but the answer is a word meaning warning. Put a word meaning the setter inside (cracks) a word meaning appearing (as in ** stage).


  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Can only repeat what I just said on the NTSPP comments page – a lovely cogitating diversion from what I should have been doing this afternoon.

    • gazza
      Posted July 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree. Thanks to Anax and Prolixic. My diversion was from two of the Elgar puzzles from yesterday, which will now have to wait until tomorrow!

  2. Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    Lovely puzzle, anax, and thanks for the review Prolixic.
    I would never have gotten 17a without crunching the anagram electronically!.
    25a and 9a were among many favourites but 16d did it for me!

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