NTSPP – 073 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 073 (Review)

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 073

A Puzzle by Gazza

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Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Gazza is back with his third NTSPP and does not disappoint. Given that he would not be reviewing this one he has ensured that the reviewer will be able to maintain gazza’s own high standard of pictoral hints and I intend not to disappoint.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a Moves to retain nucleus of Countdown in planned programmes (7)
{BUDGETS} – A verb meaning moves including (retaining) the middle part (essence) of counTdown leads to a planned financial programme.

5a Defective hearing? Not I – it’s the wind (7)
{MISTRAL} – A French wind. Remove I from a court hearing that has been declared null and void (is defective).

9a Worship a dancing latin duo (9)
{ADULATION} – A followed by an anagram (Dancing, appositely) of LATIN DUO for a form of hero-worship.

10a Assassin took out henchman in jail (5)
{NINJA} – The dangerous martial artist (and life-long enemy of all pirates if you believe the internet meme!) can be removed (taken out from) from the last three words.

11a Cultivated a plot (7)
{SCHEMED} – Nothing to do with gardening, a gentle cryptic definition of what a mastermind or machinator did.

12a Skipping regular reunion forums can be harmful(7)
{RUINOUS} – Removing every other letter from “REUNION FORUMS” leads to an adjective meaning devastating or extremely bad for you.

13a Sign that nothing’s wrong after detective comes across suspicious joint (9)
{DRUMSTICK} – A poultry joint not a reefer!. Put a synonym of suspicious or odd in D(etective) S(ergeant), the DS is coming across i.e. around, and then add the sign for a correct answer (nothing’s wrong = all is right).

15a Degenerate graduate tucking into Mars? (2,3)
{GO BAD} – Degenerate here is a verb not a noun. Put one of crosswordland’s usual graduate abbreviations inside the type of being of which Mars is an example.

17a Track the leader in training (5)
{PISTE} – Consider how the leader (or winner) is denoted on e.g. a podium. Then place this into an abbreviation for physical jerks (training) which will lead you to a sports track particularly associated with skiing.

19a Pretty young thing, easy to catch for a lark? (5,4)
{DOLLY BIRD} – Well it wouldn’t be a gazza production without one of these would it?. This attractive young female (often seen toting a brolly at the start of the Moto GP) is a charade of an easy catch in cricket and also a lark, one of our feathered friends.

22a Reserve’s second time back in shape (7)
{RHOMBUS} – A special case parallelogram and also an orthodiagonal quadrilateral (yep, the definition is ‘shape’!). Reverse an informal word for a football team’s reserve, a short word for second or flash, and another short form of a length of time.

25a Win over the French follows mini-defeat initially around the end of March (7)
{WHEEDLE} – Quite complicated wordplay to get to a verb meaning to win over with platitudes. Place the end of marcH inside a synonym of mini/small and D(efeat) and follow all of this with one of the French definite articles.

26a Here in parts of Canada the monarch appears more distant (5)
{ICIER} – Good surface reading. How one might say ‘here’ in certain Canadian provinces (they don’t all speak English) and the abbreviation of our current monarch leads us to an adjective meaning ‘more distant’ or less friendly.

27a Scratched and pinched (9)
{WITHDRAWN} – A double definition. Scratched a competition and also descriptive of a pinched face on a person.

28a Charm old actress after golf (7)
{GLAMOUR} – The old actress starred in ‘The Jungle Princess’ which made her famous. Place her surname after G (Golf in the NATO phonetic alphabet) to get a word for charm or allure.

29a A theologian, hampered by short sight, say, gets upset (7)
{SADDENS} – The theologian is a Divinitas Doctor (Doctor of Divinity). You need to put A and his initials inside a shortened word for what sight (say) is an example of. The definition is ‘gets upset’ or ‘brings down’.


1d Cooked rare seabird (7)
{BRAISED} – What a horrible thought! An anagram (rare) of SEABIRD is also of a method of cooking in the past tense.

2d Crowds round speaker with sugary fare (9)
{DOUGHNUTS} – This is a double definition, the first of which was unknown to me. A verb meaning ‘To surround the speaker in a televised parliamentary session in order to make him look supported or popular’. The second is a cake beloved of Homer Simpson.

3d Totals are up or I’m a Dutchman (7)
{ERASMUS} – A Dutch Rennaissance Humanist and theologian and Catholic priest. Reverse a word (UP) for totals and ARE. The OR is used as a link to the definition – it is either or .

4d Daughter’s in inspired form and ready to iron (4-5)
{SPIN-DRIED} – An anagram (form) of INSPIRED with D(aughter) inserted gives us an description of clothes that are ready to iron after being washed.

5d Patch of copper (5)
{MANOR} – A cryptic definition of how Det Insp Jack Regan might describe his stomping ground.

6d Vice suprem0’s going down (7)
{SINKING} – A charade of a vice (as opposed to a virtue) and a ruler (supremo) means going down. The apostrophe -s means ‘is’ as in ‘means ‘ as a link word between wordplay and definition.

7d Eth’s beloved party’s musical theme (5)
{RONDO} – Eth’s beloved is the name of her long-standing fiancé in ‘The Glums’, a radio sketch featured in “Take It From Here”. Add a synonym for party to find a musical theme.

8d Foreign dailies communicated effectively (7)
{LIAISED} – An anagram (foreign) of DAILIES also means ‘communicated effectively’ between two parties. Something that probably doesn’t happen with most au-pairs!.

14d I stalk two criminal power units (9)
{KILOWATTS} – Gazza practices what he preaches and doesn’t include too many anagrams but here is another one. A criminal anagram of I STALK TWO makes an SI unit of power (in the plural).

16d Black broadcast from irrational boyfriend (5,4)
{BLIND DATE} – Nice definition here!. We need a TV programme associated with Cilla Black. The wordplay is a synonym for Irrational (as in “***** to the fact…”) and a word for a boyfriend or who you are stepping out with for the evening.

17d Gingerbread group’s first placement (7)
{PARKING} – Placement is the definition, think of an informal way of saying ‘Placing one’s behind’!. The wordplay includes an unfamiliar (to me) word for a gingerbread cake from the North of England followed by the first letter of Group (group’s first)

18d Stop me getting back to save try (7)
{EMBARGO} – Reversing ME (getting back), a word meaning save or except and a synonym for try or attempt leads to a stoppage of goods or trade, usually between borders.

20d Gave proceeds to journalist (7)
{YIELDED} – Gave ground or softened. Start with a noun meaning proceeds or profit and add the usual Crosswordland abbreviation for the top journalist on a newspaper.

21d Spanish “dragons’ den” – a Sun fabrication? (7)
{DUENNAS} – A lovely definition!. These Spanish Dragons are actually older women who act as chaperones or guardians (well they are all dragons aren’t they!). Another anagram (fabrication) of DEN A SUN. A nice lift and separate required between definition and wordplay.

23d Board provides late news of European agreements (5)
{OUIJA} – A well treated old favourite for the equipment used in a séance (the board that provides late (i.e. dead news). It is comprised of the word Yes in two European languages.

24d Channel cover-up threw establishment (5)
{SEWER} – This underground channel or duct is hidden and reversed in (is covered in and UP in) thREW EStablishment.

A very pleasant solve from gazza and one that will appeal to all solving abilities. I hope to see another one soon.

10 comments on “NTSPP – 073 (Review)

  1. Many thanks to Gazza for another very enjoyable crossword. Favourite clues were 3d and 26a. Thanks also to the Gnome for the review. I have been out most of the day attending our curate’s priesting and party afterwards so was not able to attend to my Saturday duties.

    1. Prolixic is too modest – he actually created a puzzle for the recipient of the ordination which included his full name and many other relevant clues. It was, as usual, excellent.

  2. Thanks to The Gnome for the excellent review (and pics). Thanks also to all who left comments.

  3. Gazza – excellent puzzle. Still got a few to sort out in the SW corner but otherwise tricky but fair.
    Not resorted to the hints yet – will keep persevating.

  4. Hi Gazza – now got there after a few more glasses of the red stuff and much use of the phrase “Gazza – you tricky little rascal!” (actually not as polite as that but there may be women and children reading this blog!).
    Excellent puzzle, as pommette said, and I really enjoyed it, You should do more!
    Thanks muchly and also to the gnome for the hints which I didn’t need but were nice to know were there as a back-up if required.
    Last in was 17d which is a bit silly as I’m from Manchester and grew up on Parkin!!!! My post on the comments blog said I’d just got it but I had POSTING (placement as in job) which didn’t help in the slightest!

      1. Glad I’m not alone! The phrase used was actually – ‘Gazza, you devious child born out of wedlock’ or words to that effect!

  5. A very enjoyable puzzle! Must admit that I failed in the NW corner and had to seek assistance from the review!
    I would rate this somewhere between a back-pager and a Toughie! Looking forward to the next one! Thanks to G & g.

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