NTSPP – 046 (Comments) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 046 (Comments)

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 046

A Christmas Special by Prolixic

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Welcome to the forty sixth in our series of weekly puzzles.

Prolixic has prepared a special Christmas puzzle – enjoy!

The puzzle by Prolixic is available by clicking here:

NTSPP - 046

Feel free to leave comments about this puzzle.

14 comments on “NTSPP – 046 (Comments)

  1. I might be accused of bias but, although its slightly tough, it’s well worth a post Christmas lunch solve, so please give it ago.

  2. Could I add a pubilc thank you to Big Dave for running the NTSPP series and for allowing we amateur setters to contribute puzzles. I hope that you have all had as much fun solving the crosswords as we have had creating them.

    Apologies to Franco if I have put you off the series. Don’t be put off by one clue and try some of the other puzzles.

  3. Thanks, Prolixic. Enjoyed this after all the family left and i cleared up.

    I agree with you about the NTSPP series. Brightens up Saturday.

    By the way, like Gnomethang’s avatar!

  4. Prolixic, Anax has said it would help if people posted more on the NTSPP puzzles even if we can’t finish them so here goes.
    This was far too difficult for me. I managed about half before resorting to the hints and even then couldn’t finish. This doesn’t mean I think it a bad crossword, just that your crossword brain works on a far higher level than mine. To put that into context, I can complete the DT cryptic 99% of the time and about 60% of Toughies so if you’re aiming for a particular standard I hope this helps you in the future.
    Anyway, thanks for the challenge (the bits I solved were enjoyable) and best wishes for the New Year. I’ll certainly have a go at your next offering!

    1. Prolixic/Anax: NTSPP puzzles:

      I agree with Pommers’ comments above! I have now stopped attempting these puzzles because they are usually far too difficult for me! Compared with pommers I usually score about 95% cryptic and 50% Toughie.

      This is by no means a criticism, just my opinion! Hope you appreciate the feedback!

      PS. Where can we (humble solvers) find out how setters set about the business of compiling a crossword? It would be fascinating to know!

    2. Pommers & Franco

      Thanks for the feedback. To answer Franco’s question first, if you follow this link there are two articles by Anax that discuss the anatomy of a crossword and the process of setting one:


      In general, when I set a NTSPP, I aiming for something more challenging than the back page puzzle. This particular puzzle was more difficult than some / most of mine according to my test solvers. Partly this was from fitting the seasonal message in the first letter of each clue and partly down to some more obscure words in the grid itself. From your comments it looks as though the difficulty level is about right in terms of where the puzzle is pitched. A better comparison would be to try my two preceding ones that I am told were a little gentler :)

      Another thing to bear in mind is that it takes time to get used to a setter’s style. Having solved more of Anax’s crosswords, I am now more aware of the devices he uses so make more progress towards solving them.

      1. Prolixic, Thanks for the reply. Looking forward to reading “the anatomy of a crossword” – I should have known that this information was somewhere on BD’s site.

        With reference to getting used to a setter’s style: Yesterday’s Toughie by Micawber – I read through all the clues at least twice before finally putting “pencil” to paper!

        1. Franco, please read the ‘anatomy’ and ‘actually setting’ as the articles are thouroughly excellent!
          I’ll add my tuppence ha’porth regarding the NTSPP tomorrow having marshalled my sober thoughts.The series is invaluable to solvers and setters, in my opinion as a test solver since they allow budding setters to get just that feel for the audience that they need. Watch this space…..

      2. Great! From your comment it looks as though you got the difficulty level of this puzzle just about where you wanted it so well done.
        I have read the articles by Anax and found them fascinating and educational, well worth a read.
        Unlike Franco I certainly haven’t given up on NTSPP and actually enjoy it when a clue comes together for me. Just because I rarely complete one I don’t see a reason not to ‘have a go’!. I agree about your previous puzzles being a bit gentler and I did actually complete one of them after a lot of persevation!
        You keep them coming and I’ll keep trying!

  5. Hi, I only had time to dabble and peer over a couple of clues when my PinC had a crack at this near Christmas, but found my blank copy and had a go today and thought I’d provide my feedback and thank Prolixic.

    I made reasonable progress in the NE, then SE, then SW corners and found it enjoyable earlier this afternoon and learned one or two things (stelae, romano, Golgotha being vaguely familiar, not firm knowledge).

    Really liked 17d, which I got partly by guesswork, but don’t think I’ve seen LUI clued from French, let alone so well hidden.
    15d – I still don’t think I understand the first half of the homophone, but perhaps it’s outside my vocabulary and I’ve tried searching a few possible spellings and failed to find it.
    24d another nice one.
    Don’t think I’ve seen IM=texting used before, but enjoyed 13a especially the Spanish waiter.

    I completely missed the message in bold letters – a lovely touch.

    When I came back to it, I struggled especially to find a way into the NW corner. I was going to use a hint or two but saw 8a in plain text (I probably would’ve got it myself with “French wine” in the clue in case that info helps you when you’re aiming to make it a little easier or trying to provide an ‘in’ to help the solver get going in each corner), but I didn’t have the time to persevere and was trying in vain to find varieties that might fit). I don’t think I’d have got 2d’s wordplay without the hints. I got 3d when my PinC was solving a fortnight ago but found it harder without checking letters on my own solve today.

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