NTSPP – 043 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 043 (Review)

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 043

Sloggers & Betters by Elgar

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

This crossword was produced by John Henderson, better known to Daily Telegraph readers as Elgar, in honour of the 7th Sloggers and Betters meeting.  The meeting itself celebrated the fifth anniversary of Peter Biddlecombe’s Times for the Times crossword blog.  In attendance from the far side of the world was one of the bloggers – Uncle Yap – who gets a mention in one of the clues.

You do need to know a little of the solvers and setters world to understand some of the clues.  I have added some background information below.  There is also a NINA around the perimeter of the grid that spells out {BLOGGER / SETTER / SLOGGER / BETTER}.


8a ‘Empty’ Crucible adds to Indy setter’s glow (8)
{RADIANCE} – The definition here is “glow”.  It comes from the outside letters of “Crucible” (empty) after the name of one of the regular setters of cryptic crosswords in the Independent.  Crucible is a setter for the Guardian cryptic crossword.  There is a possible allusion here also to Glow-worm who sets crosswords for the Independent and also for the Telegraph Toughie under the pseudonym Firefly.

9a Sun-Mail, FT-Times, Azed-Listener sets? Not the first fruit (6)
{RANGES} – The first part of the clue here gives possible definitions by example of the answer.  The wordplay requires the name of a citrus fruit in the plural minus the first letter.

10a Our mother is using hall for training in secure service (7,8)
{ENGLISH LANGUAGE} – Our mother here is our mother tongue.  Take an angram (for training) of “using hall” and put it inside a word meaning “secure service”, as in to hire someone’s services.  Very appropriate for cruciverbalists, although a working knowledge of common French, German, Spanish, Latin and Greek words is required or (if solving a Myops crossword – Scottish terms).  Sadly, and despite Mary’s best efforts, Welsh does not usually figure in the setter’s armoury of foreign tongues.

11a When cycling, join web discussion on Bible Studies examination at 16? (6)
{TRIPOS} – The answer here is the name for the examinations at Cambridge – where 16 College may be found.  It comes from a word meaning to join a web discussion after an abbreviation for bible studies as a school subject.  You then need to cycle the last letter to the beginning.  I am assuming that this is what cycling means but if you know better, do let me know!

12a Stretch formed by drying lake commanded by Weekend pad (4,4)
{SALT FLAT} – The definition here is a “stretch formed by drying”.  Take one of the days of the weekend and put an abbreviation for lake inside it (commanded by).  Next take a word for “pad”, as in somewhere to live, to find the answer.

13a Routine to which Phi has, on vacation, reverted (6)
{SHTICK} – A bit of deviousness here!  Phi is the pseudonym of Paul Henderson who sets for the Independent and the Listener under this name.  In the Daily Telegraph, he is better known as Kcit.  Take this latter name and add on the outside letters of “has” (on vacation) and then reverse the entirety of this reverted) to get a Yiddish word for a comedy routine.

15a Cinephile, amongst others, curiously examines time (6)
{PRIEST} – Cinephile (also known as Aruacaria in the Guardian) is Revd. John Graham.  It is his non-secular calling that is the answer to this clue.  Take a word meaning “curious examines”, as in to stick your nose into something, followed by the letter t (for time).  John is one of the select band of ordained clergy who have set crosswords.

18a Checker wholly subjected to verbal attack? (4,4)
{TORE INTO} – The answer is a word describing a verbal attack.  It comes from a word meaning a “checker” (as may be used to check the progress of a horse) inside a word meaning wholly (as in, in ****).

20a City man’s not very far through Apex (6)
{SUMMIT} – A word meaning “Apex” comes from a derogatory term of a city man based on what they wear with a word describing a small measurement (not very far) inside.  Apex is the pseudonym of the late Eric Chalkley (1917-2006) who set crosswords in The Listener and elsewhere

22a Letter-learning exercises with a peculiar arrangement (7,8)
{ETERNAL TRIANGE} – This peculiar arrangement between three lovers is an anagram (exercises) of “letter learning” plus an A.

23a Exactly what Uncle Yap does about Nimrod’s lack of humour? (4,2)
{BANG ON} – A word meaning exactly may also describe someone ranting – perhaps Uncle Yap when reviewing Nimrod’s crosswords? Uncle Yap is a regular blogger on Fifteen Squared.  Nimrod is Elgar’s alter ego when setting crossword for the Independent.

24a It’s Araucaria for Paul and me, entering clue  -ultimately right choice (6-2)
{EITHER OR} – A word expressing a choice of two alternatives is found from the final letter of clue plus an r for right.  Inside these two letters include IT and how Elgar and Paul regard Araucaria (a form of **** worship perhaps).  Paul is the pseudonym of John Halpern who sets crosswords for the Guardian.


1d Standard role played by Big Dave when things get nasty? (6)
{BANNER} – A word for a standard or flag may also describe Big Dave when he prevents someone contributing to the Big Dave Crossword Blog.  Big Dave edits the worlds most successful crossword blog.  He was recently interviewed on the Crossword Unclued blog.  You can read the interview here.

2d Fabulous destination of traveller, on receiving definitions of out of and in bed from the south? (8)
{LILLIPUT} – This fabulous destination was visited by Gulliver on his travels.  If you are out of bed you are **, if you in bed you may be ***.  Put these two definitions of out of an in bed reversed (from the south) inside a word meaning on (as a light may be when switched on).

3d Cryptic Sue’s no responsibilities (6)
{ONUSES} – An anagram (cryptic) of “sue’s no” gives a word meaning responsibilities.  Cryptic Sue is one of the regular bloggers on Big Dave’s Crossword Blog.

4d Broken leg, Tees, so sod off! (3,4)
{GET LOST} – An anagram (broken) of leg + TT (Tees) + so gives a word meaning sod off.  Tees is the pseudonym of Paul Bringloe who sets crosswords for the Independent.

5d Having had fine analysis of Io in newspaper written up? (8)
{GRANULAR} – A word describing the satellite of Jupiter Io inside a three letter word describing a newspaper is all reversed “written up” to give a word meaning having had a fine analysis.  Io is Elgar’s alter ego when he sets crosswords for the Financial Times.

6d In opening up, the conclusions of flashling are overwhelming (6)
{ENGULF} – Take a word meaning an opening – as in the outlet from a chimney or pipe and reverse it.  Inside add the final two letters (conclusions) of the word flashling to give a word meaning overwhelming.  Flashing is the pseudonym of one of the bloggers on Fifteen Squared.

7d Laughing about Eimi finally attracting heavenly body (quite bright)! (3,5)
{RED GIANT} – Put a word meaning laughing around a two letter abbreviation for Eimi’s job on the Independent and the final letter of attracting to give the name of a large star.  Eimi is the pseudonym of Mike Hutchinson who is crossword editor for the Independent and who sets crossword for the paper.  There may also be a reference here to Mike’s new significant other!

13d In which survey occurs @ random? (5,3)
{SCOUT CAR} – A vehicle from which a survey may be carried out comes from an anagram (random) of occurs + AT (@ sign).

14d In a measured line, “Jetdoc [- at last! -] “attached to compiler in in-crowd” (8)
{CONGAING} – A word meaning performing a dance in a measured line comes from the final letter of Jetdoc plus a word meaning in-crowd with an I (for the compiler) inside.  Jetdoc, who blogs on Fifteen Squared, is married to the compiler of this crossword, John Henderson.  She had the singular honour of having every major newspaper’s crossword set by her husband to be appearing on the day of her wedding all themed to the bride!

16d ‘Messiah’ Manley finally shot emu when outed? (8)
{EMMANUEL} – A word meaning Messiah comes from an anagram (outed) of Manley without the final Y (finally shot) and emu.  Don Manley is the crossword editor for the Church Times and sets for all the major papers under the pseudonyms Duck, Pasquale, Quixote, Bradman, and Giovanni.

17d New women-free weblog about to set up deal illegally (7)
{BOOTLEG} – A word meaning to deal illegally comes from an anagram (new) of weblog without the W (women free) around the word TO that have been reversed (set up).

19d Make solvers see red, say? Composer’s up for it (6)
{ENRAGE} – Take the abbreviation for say and the name of a composer and reverse the lot (up for it) to give a word meaning make someone see red.  The reference here to solvers may refer to the way they sometimes vent their spleen on blogs about self-indulgent setters who produce crosswords that only two or three people in the country can solve and who pander to the elite.  I can’t think who might have a beef about such solvers!

20d Quietly enjoying the nature of Japan (6)
{SHINTO} – The nature of Japan comes from a word meaning quietly (as may be hissed to get someone to quieten down followed by a word meaning that you are enjoying something.

21d Dave is this slack, and Biddlecombe’s extremely pissed off. The blocks here aren’t black! (6)
{IGLOO} – Take the description of Dave of fame on this blog and a word meaning slack.  From them remove the outer letters of BiddlecombE (extremely pissed off).  The resulting word gives the name of a building whose building blocks are cold and white.  Peter Biddlecombe is a former champion solver of the Times Cryptic crossword, blogger and crossword setter for the Church Times.

8 comments on “NTSPP – 043 (Review)

  1. It took me from Wednesday lunchtime to Saturday morning to sort out this puzzle and finally finish it. I think it would have taken me another week to sort out all the word play so well done Prolixic. I have posted my thoughts and thanks etc on the Comments for this puzzle so will just conclude with thanking Prolixic for a fabulous review.

    1. It was a close run thing on some of the clues. It is amazing how writing the blog helps clarify what the wordplay is.

  2. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and for explaining where LIT came from in 2d (also for pointing out the Nina which, as usual, I’d totally missed).

  3. Blimus! Even though I had this puzzle for slightly longer than perhaps I ought I still only managed about half before coming here. Looking at it now it is a tour de force which I am sure gave a lot of pleasure to all at the sloggers and betters.
    Thanks Elgar and Prolixic!.

  4. I agree with your analysis of 11a, Prolixic. I don’t think I’ve seen that device in a crossword before.

    I got stuck on 14d and 18a. Perhaps with a couple more hours! I was very grateful for the blog to help me out as I did this for the fun of it all not to insist I got everything without help, and I certainly benefitted from the background information on page 2 of the NTSPP 43 puzzle page. Don’t think I’d have understood 13a without it or your description above.

    Nice work, Elgar and Prolixic.

  5. Solving this was good entertainment at the pub last week, working mostly in tandem with Mrs Elgar. The moment of inspiration was writing BLOGGER above the top row of unches and SETTER down the right hand side. Apart from not realising the S and B would swap on the other two sides, we were then (comparatively) flying along.

  6. I emailed John today for the solution and he sent me here, but I had another crack at it on the train tonight and got all but a few. I don’t think I’d have ever got 13A, as I didn’t know Phi used another pseudonym, but I was kicking myself over a couple of others, e.g. 13D where I parsed it correctly but couldn’t work the anagram out. Spotting the Nina was a major breakthrough, and I guessed straight away that it would swap the S & B in the second half.

    Kudos to all who finished it without help.

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