NTSPP – 059 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 059 (Review)

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 059

Epics by Retiarius

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A warm welcome to our latest Saturday Setter. A blogger blogging a blogger turned setter needs to be careful in what he says. Fortunately Retiarius has made an excellent debut with this nicely themed crossword so there is no need to sharpen the pencil.


1a Ambassador’s terrible year without girl (8)
{EMISSARY} – Another word for an ambassador comes from an anagram (terrible) of year around (without) a word for a girl.

5a See 12a.

9a Educate intensively in 12 venue? (8)
{HOTHOUSE} – A word meaning to educate intensively might whimsically describe the venue where the answer to 12a may be eaten.

10a Publican might raise a glass to these spirited distributors (6)
{OPTICS} – A gentle cryptic definition in of the drinks dispenser that a publican uses to fill a glass with a measure of spirits.

12a/5a Attempt to ingratiate dog with extremely risky indulgence (5,6)
{CURRY FAVOUR} – A phrase meaning an attempt to ingratiate comes from a charade of a three letter word for a dog, the outer letters (extremely) of risky followed by a word meaning an indulgence.

13a Ignorant king hiding in a French lair returns (9)
{UNLEARNED} – A word meaning ignorant (in the sense of uneducated) comes from putting the name of a famous Shakespearian king inside the French for a and a word for a lair that is reversed (returns) in the answer.

14a/21d Mad, mad jury hear about very loud spice girl? (6,7)
{MADHUR JAFFREY} – This spice girl is noted for her ingredients used to make a 12a. The name can be found from taking the first mad in the clue and then adding an anagram (mad) of jury hear around the musical notation for very loud.

16a Bamboo-lover swallows arsenic 12 (7)
{PASANDA} – This type of 12 comes from an animal that loves eating bamboo around the chemical symbol for arsenic.

19a Idleness: I note it’s returned in time (7)
{INERTIA} – A word meaning idleness comes from the letter I in the clue, an abbreviation for note and the word it reversed (returned) inside a word for a long period of time.

21a Lower bailiwick’s top (6)
{JERSEY} – A triple definition. Crossword-land’s lower (a breed of cattle) shares a name with a word that describes a top that you might wear and a word that describes the legal status of one of the Channel Islands.

23a Food spies ordered to kill (7,2)
{DISPOSE OF} – A phrase meaning to kill comes from an anagram (ordered) of food spies.

25a Island hosts model 12 (5)
{BALTI} – Another form of 12 comes from the name of an Indonesian island inside which (hosts) is a letter associated with model and the Ford motor car.

26a Be extremely randy for old servant in uniform (6)
{LIVERY} – The definition here is “Old servant in uniform”. It comes from a charade of a word meaning be (or exist) followed by the outer letters (extremely) of randy.

27a Rile a bishop’s first organiser (8)
{ARRANGER} – A word for an organiser comes from the letter a in the clue and the two letter abbreviation for a bishop (Right Reverend) coming before (first) another word for rile.

28a Decorative horn a Texan carries (6)
{ORNATE} – A word meaning decorative is hidden inside (carried) the words hORN A TExan.

29a Unsullied young Clegg might’ve earned this epithet at choir practice, say (8)
{HYGENIC} – A word meaning unsullied can be found as follows. If a young Nick Clegg (as a boy treble in the church choir) could hit with perfect clarity he might have been known as HIGH-G NICK. Take a homophone of this phrase to find the answer.


1d English caught in this branch of philosophy (6)
{ETHICS} – A branch of philosophy comes from an abbreviation for English followed by the this in the clue inside which is placed an abbreviation for caught.

2d A frenetic arrangement links man and machine (9)
{INTERFACE} – Something that links man and machine comes from an anagram (arrangement) of a frenetic.

3d Theatrical cast includes old women (5)
{SHOWY} – A word meaning theatrical comes from a word meaning cast (in the sense of throw) inside which (includes) you put the abbreviations for old and women.

4d About unusual cures: a lifesaver (7)
{RESCUER} – A word for a person who might be a lifesaver comes from the two letter abbreviation for about followed by an anagram (unusual) of cures.

6d A quiet cheer’s right for judge (9)
{APPRAISER} – A word for a judge comes from the a in the clue, an abbreviation for quiet, a word meaning cheer and a final abbreviation for right.

7d/25d Pilgrim follows Bono in bizarre accompaniment to 12 (5,5)
{ONION BHAJI} – A tasty side dish eaten with a 12 comes from an anagram (bizarre) of bono in followed by a word used to describe a pilgrim to Mecca.

8d Leftover aid lures deviant (8)
{RESIDUAL} – A word meaning leftover comes from an anagram (deviant) of aid lures.

11d Unexpected deviation leads to big leap in profits (4)
{BLIP} – A word meaning an unexpected deviation comes from the first letters (leads to) Big Leap In Profits.

15a Eager for 12 to go? (3,2,4)
{HOT TO TROT} – A word meaning eager might whimsically describe a takeaway involving a 12 (or possibly that peculiar burning sensation in the lower regions that comes when you need an urgent visit somewhere some hours after eating a 12!)

17d Provoke garrison’s leader with superior new weapon (6-3)
{NEEDLE-GUN} – A phrase describing a weapon comes from a word meaning provoke, the first letter of garrison an abbreviation for superior (or upper class) and an abbreviation for new.

18d Cheap wine holds old boy up 12 (8)
{VINDALOO} – Another type of 12 comes from a four letter word used to describe cheap wine inside which (holds) you put an abbreviation for old and a three letter word for a boy reversing these in the answer (up).

20d Declared competent for victim (4)
{ABEL} – This victim (slain by Cain) is a homophone (declared) of a word meaning competent.

21d See 14a

22d Daft critic’s a lemon? (6)
{CITRIC} – A word describing a lemon or similar fruit comes from an anagram (daft) of critic.

24d The Count of Cardinal Crimes? (5)
{SEVEN} – The capitalisation of Count here is intended to deceive! The answer is the number (count) of deadly sins (cardinal crimes).

25d See 7d.

A fine puzzle. My favourite clues were 14a/21d and 29a. Let us know your favourites and drop a comment or to to encourage our new setter.

11 comments on “NTSPP – 059 (Review)

  1. I did enjoy solving this one, although at the end I did feel a little peckish. The 14/21 combo was very good, I thought, The only one I had trouble getting was 29a but I thought it was a very good puzzle from Retarius and look forward to more of the same, please. Thanks to Prolixic for the review too.

  2. I really enjoyed solving this one.

    In terms of difficulty it’s relatively straightforward, but the themed clues added just enough “spice” to enhance the experience.

    I hope that everyone has a go at this puzzle; it’s very accessible and great fun.

    Thanks to Retiarius, and to Prolixic for the exposition.

    1. I forgot to mention in the review that the title “EPICS” is, of course “Mixed spice”..

  3. I enjoyed this too although I’ve never heard the expression at 15d. Would it be really pedantic to notice that, from the answers given, the intersect of 21d and 27a doesn’t match up ? Thanks for the review and more from Retiarius please.

  4. Thanks all for the kind comments! Special thanks to CrypticSue, Gazza, Prolixic and Big Dave himself for their invaluable suggestions earlier on. Do hope to compile another before too long!

  5. Many thanks to Retiarius for the puzzle. I rarely find the time to look at the extra Saturday puzzle, but with the sun shining, the family out shopping, it was a good opportunity to sit in the garden and look at this with a cold beer. Favourite clue 14a/21d. I failed on 29a (apart from the last 3 letters, I doubt I would have cracked it)
    Thanks also to Prolixic for the review.

  6. Apologies for being dense, buy I just cannot find the NTSPP anywhere in the ST. Whereabouts is it?

    1. Hi Lizzie – welcome to the blog.
      The NTSPP puzzles are only available on this site. NTSPP – 059 can be found in the blog “NTSPP – 059 (Comments)”. To find previous NTSPP puzzles search for NTSPP using the search facility in the right-hand panel.

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