NTSPP – 045 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 045 (Review)

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 045 (Review)

A Puzzle by Isla

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This week we have a sterling quality debut puzzle from Isla – hopefully the first of many.  In his post on the “Comments” thread, Isla acknowledges some help from a more experienced cruciverbalist.  However, to produce such a good puzzle, the initial version must have been spectacular to start with.  In one or two places, I think I detected the hand of Anax in the final version of clues – was he our rising star’s mentor for this puzzle?

This puzzle was certainly at the tough end of the spectrum with some delightful wordplay with only a couple of possibly too obscure references.

Finally, my apologies for the late arrival of the review.  I have been busy preparing Christmas services.


1a Cut back gel, no good in hair that stands up (6)
{HACKLES} – A word to describe hair that stands up comes from a word meaning cut followed by gel reversed (back) without the first letter (no good).

4a Arsenal keeper’s third amazing calamity (8)
{MAGAZINE} – A word for an arsenal comes from an anagram (calamity) amazing plus the third letter of keeper’s.

10a When blotto, seal lips around a straw to get the rest? (9)
{PAILLASSE} – A straw mattress on which you may lie to get come rest is an anagram (when blotto) of seal lips around the letter A.  The use of the question mark here indicates that the defintion is slightly oblique.

11a Wipe the floor with flash young boxer? (3,2)
{MOP UP} – A word that means to wipe the floor comes from a word meaning flash (as in I will do this in a flash) followed by a description of a young boxer dog.  I loved the surface reading of this clue.

12a Travellers’ protector’s crazy as shrubs (2,8,4)
{ST ANTHONY’S NUTS} – A word describing a shrub that produce pignuts comes from one of the patron saints of travellers plus a word meaning crazy.  I got this from the checking letters.  The saint is one of the lesser known patron saints of travellers, the most well known being St Christopher.  The association with pignuts comes from him also being the patron saint of swineherds.  Two obscure references made this a difficult clue to get without the checking letters.

14a Series of tests remains (5)
{ASHES} – A double definition.  A series of test matches currently being contested in Australia is the same as a word describing remains.

16a Train pupils to throw a ball, perhaps? (4,2,3)
{CAST AN EYE} – Training your pupils (as in looking over something) comes from a word meaning throw and a representative example of a kind of ball (used to look at things).  I found the definition “train pupils” a little tenuous as the meaning of looking over something.

18a I’m ready, you sound unprepared… (9)
{IMPROPTU} – A word meaning unprepared (as may describe a performance given without rehearsal) comes from the “I’m” in the clue, a word meaning ready (as in on time) and a letter that sounds like you.

20a …ready to be shot at dawn (5)
{ONSET} – A double definition.  A word meaning ready to be shot (as in ready to be filmed) might also describe the beginning (or dawn) of something.

21a Between flights a plane parks in airfields (7,7)
{LANDING GROUNDS} – Airfields may be described by the answer to this clue.  The answer comes from what you may find between flights of stairs (a plane referring to a flat surface) with a word that may describe parks.

25a Tot has area for play (5)
{DRAMA} – A word for a play comes from a word meaning tot (as in a tot of whiskey) plus an abbreviation for area.

26a Dictator over east provokes horrific tableau finally (9)
{CEAUCESCU} – A word meaning provokes (as in makes happen) is put over an abbreviation for east followed by the final letters of horrific tableau.  The result is the name of a Romanian dictator.

27a Hearing related to blocking diary radical union leader’s penned (8)
{AUDITORY} – A word meaning hearing related comes from an anagram of diary with the word “to” inside (blocking) with the letter U inside as well (union leader’s penned).

28a Entertained a thought (6)
{AMUSED} – A word meaning entertained (which Queen Victoria allegedly was not) comes from the letter A plus a word meaning thought.


1d Jesus the man: extremely hairy, pale, undressed (10)
{HYPOSTASIS} – A word to describe Jesus the man comes from the outside letters of hairy plus a word meaning pale (as in a part of a fence) and a word meaning undressed (without any dressing on it or untreated / unprepared (2,2)).  I loved the misdirection of “pale” here.

2d Tea cups at home? (5)
{CHINA} – A lovely clue this one.  A word describing your tea cups comes from another word for tea around (cups) a word meaning at home.  Simple and beautifully executed all-in-one clue.

3d Records contain recent indication of new driver (1-6)
{L-PLATES} – A indication on a car that a new driver is learning to drive comes from a word for records within which (contain) is a word meaning recent.

5d No-name linen, absurd copying (5)
{APERY} – A word meaning copying comes from a word describing linen from which the initial N (no-name) has been removed.

6d Gammon I ate produced pungent gas (7)
{AMMONIA} – A pungent gas is hidden (produced) inside gammon I ate.

7d Busy Lizzie’s over-eager, starts to scramble for time (9)
{IMPATIENS} – The botanical name for a Busy Lizzie comes from a word meaning over-eager where the final T is replaced by the letter S (starts to scramble).  A minor point is that starts to scramble would usually indicate more than one letter.

8d See unknown after supernatural vision (4)
{ESPY} – A word meaning see (as in spot something) comes from a word describing supernatural vision (extrasensory perception) with an indication of something that is unknown in algebra.

9d Coats, pants cover high fashion (5,3)
{ASCOT CAP} – A high fashion (something that would be worn on the head) comes from an anagram (pants) of coats and a word meaning cover. ue!

13d Killer band had a quest – to rock the world, ultimately (5,5)
{DEATH SQUAD} – A band of people intent on killing comes from an anagram (to rock) of had a quest followed by a final D (the world ultimately).

15d Careless fellow not about to guess (9)
{HAPHAZARD} – A word meaning careless comes from a word describing a fellow without the initial letter C (not about) followed by a word meaning to guess.

17d Russians purge army marshals, power transferred in the teeth of this? (4,4)
{SPUR GEAR} – A word for part of a mechanism that is used to transfer power in a machine is hidden (marshals) inside Russians purge army.  This was a well hidden hidden word and an unusual hidden word indicator.

19d Ancient race of colonial England (3,4)
{OLD DART} – A colonial word for England comes from a word meaning ancient and word meaning race.  The derivation of the phrase in unknown but it may be a corruption of *** dirt to describe England.

20d Eating flower in such a manner reversed problem in marsupial (7)
{OPOSSUM} – A word describing a marsupial comes from a word meaning “in such manner” which has been reversed with the name of a river inside (eating flower) followed by a word describing a mathematical problem.

22d More appealing as queen under arrest, king set free (5)
{NICER} – A word meaning more appealing comes from a slang word for arrest from which the K has been removed (king set free) followed by (under – this is a down clue) the usual two letter abbreviation for our dear Queen.

23d Bows and bouquets (5)
{NOSES} – A double definition.  A word meaning bows (as in the front of something) shares a name with bouquets (related to smell). Again a simple but effective clue.

24d Fancy fish are (4)
{IDEA} – A word meaning fancy (as in a thought or notion) comes from the name of a fish plus an abbreviation of “are” (as in an area of land).

5 comments on “NTSPP – 045 (Review)

  1. 7d “Starts to scrabble for time” was my contribution. The problem was that it was preceded by “Busy Lizzie is” so “start to scramble” wouldn’t work. If there is a problem it is, as I realised afterward, that there are two Ts in impatient, so perhaps it should have been “… for the last time”.

    1. Perhaps “… over eager, but doesn’t finish on time” would have been a solution.
      However, really enjoyed the puzzle and don’t want to nit-pick.

      1. Just got home from work and realised my last comment was nonsense. Should have said
        “Busy Lizzie’s over eager but fails to finish second”

  2. Great review.

    I like the understated “slightly oblique” in 10a, and 16a is certainly two different senses – I gave it a perhaps and a question mark.

    Two clues were meant to be semi-all-in-ones:
    26a: I vaguely remember from 1989 (perhaps wrongly) on the evening news Ceausescu was dragged outside into a dirty courtyard, stood against a wall and gunned down. A horrific tableau, provoked by 45 years of communisn.

    1d: Mediaeval artists’ depictions of Jesus during/after crucifixion often portray him as bearded, long-haired, very pale, and naked except for a strategic loin-cloth.

  3. Just finished this puzzle, having printed it out to take it to work. I really enjoyed it – and brilliant to see “Hypostasis” as an answer!

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