NTSPP – 166 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 166

NTSPP – 166

A Puzzle by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

NTSPP - 166

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Gazza has borrowed the hob-nailed boots today with a challenging but excellent crossword which is also a pangram.


8 Fantasist getting strong backing for first time in subordinate group (8)
{MINORITY} – A word meaning strong (also a metal) is reversed (backing) and replaces the first T (time) in the surname of a character who leads a fantasy life in the book by James Thurber.

9 Your old dad takes priority following a deficiency in care (6)
{APATHY} – The A from the clue is followed by a two letter word for dad and the old English word for your.

10 Sadly we lack Paul’s buzz in the morning (4-2,4)
{WAKE-UP CALL} – An anagram (sadly) of WE LACK PAUL.

11 Go drinking, shrugging off adverse reaction (4)
{ZING} – A word for drinking has the first three letters for an adverse reaction removed (shrugging off).

12 A spot of backfiring from engine block’s not serious (6)
{BENIGN} – The answer is hidden (a spot of) and reversed (backfiring) inside ENGINE BLOCK

14 Historic Dutch demands in States? (8)
{EXCLAIMS} – … ignore the misleading capitalisation of States! A two letter word for a former wife (historic Dutch) is followed by a word meaning demands.

15 Current chaplain’s absorbed in interminable hunt for tarts (7)
{QUICHES} – … that real men don’t eat. The single letter used to indicate current in physics and the two letter abbreviation for a chaplain go inside (absorbed in) a five letter word for a hunt with the final letter removed (interminable).

17 Holds good lands (7)
{OBTAINS} – A double definition of “holds good” and “lands – as in secures”

20 ‘Bugs have a role’ admitted by old spy chief (8)
{BACTERIA} – A three letter word for a role goes inside the surname of an old Soviet spy chief.

22 Restores some bits that had been dropped … (6)
{UNZIPS} – I think that this is a cryptic definition. If anyone has a better suggestion, let me know. In computing terms if you compress a file, the compression algorithm drops duplicate bits (information codes in the file). The answer describes the process of restoring the compressed file.

24 … and initial selections to be remastered include Maddy’s ‘All Around My Hat‘ (4)
{BRIM} – The first letters (initial selections to) Be Remastered Include Maddy.

25 Craftily hugged a pet as means of checking bottom (5,5)
{DEPTH GAUGE} – An anagram (craftily) of HUGGED A PET.

27 Artificially boosted babies’ hearts with functioning circuit (6)
{BIONIC} – The central two letters (hearts) of BABIES followed by a two letter word meaning functioning and the abbreviation for an integrated circuit.

28 Cited official loused up (8)
{REFERRED} – The abbreviation for a match official followed by a word meaning loused up.


1 Struggle to conceal decline in looks (6)
{VISAGE} – A three letter word meaning decline or fall goes inside (to conceal) a three letter word for struggle.

2 In Boulogne I caught decent cod (4)
{JOKE} – An abbreviation meaning decent goes inside the French (in Boulogne) pronoun for I.

3 Old vid which would be unacceptable nowadays (8)
{SIXPENCE} – You need to read vid as 6d to give the name of a coin that would be unacceptable nowadays.

4 One-time strategy involved wheels (7)
{GYRATES} – An anagram (involved) of STRATEGY with only one of the Ts (one-time).

5 Apprentice taken in by new cigar-making plant (6)
{GARLIC} – The abbreviation for an apprentice or learner goes inside an anagram (new) of CIGAR.

6 Spying woman engaged in repeated snoring, artist begins to create a hullabaloo (10)
{RAZZMATAZZ} – The two letter abbreviation for an artist is followed by two sets of the letters used to indicate snoring. Inside this (engaged) you add the first name of a famous woman spy.

7 Mate and crew make delivery (8)
{CHINAMAN} – … a type of bowling action in cricket. The Cockney word for a mate is followed by a three letter word meaning to crew.

13 Summon workers embroiled in internal agitation (10)
{INCITEMENT} – A word meaning summon followed by a word for workers goes inside the abbreviation for internal.

16 Plucky Ms. Stubbs went to pieces on air (8)
{UNAFRAID} – The first name of the actress Ms Stubbs is followed by a homophone (on air) of frayed (went to pieces).

18 Scarper after boy’s initial rejection (5-3)
{BRUSH-OFF} – The first letter (initial) of boy is followed by a phrase meaning scarper.

19 I followed confusing RAC map to get drink (7)
{CAMPARI} – An anagram (confusing) of RAC MAP is followed by an I.

21 Embarrassed? Take steps to get into shape (6)
{REDACT} – The colour you go when embarrassed is followed by a word meaning take steps.

23 Freeze the French government’s artificial support (3,3)
{PEG LEG} – A word meaning freeze (or hold in place) is followed by the French for the and the abbreviation for government.

26 Washington does U-turn in alert – wrong! (4)
{AWRY} – A word meaning alert (or cautious) has the first two letters (the abbreviation for WashingtonState reversed (does U-turn).

18 comments on “NTSPP – 166

  1. A very entertainingt crossword as usual from Gazza – my top favourite d’oh moment (of several) has to be 16d. Thanks once again to Gazza for the puzzle (and to Prolixic in advance for the review.)

  2. The image for 23d took me back about 45 years when I was convinced Rolf really did have 3 legs! Thanks to Prolixic & to Gazza for brightening up a very dull & overcast afternoon in West Bridgford,.

  3. Good puzzle with some excellent clues; I loved vid.

    Thanks Prolixic – especially for the parsing of UNZIPS. I didn’t know Mr Beria; probably just as well! I failed to spot the pangram.

  4. A gazza puzzle is a great way to cheer up yet another wet miserable Saturday afternoon.
    I didn’t quite manage to finish it but wasn’t too far off. Apart from 11a all the four letter answers involved several four letter words of my own!
    16d really made me laugh – tried to explain it to husband but :roll:
    With thanks to gazza and Prolixic.

  5. Found this very tough but fair and enjoyable .Particular faves 16d and 23d .
    Thanks Gazza for the mental battering and the smiles and Prolixic for the clarification .

  6. You beat us Gazza. We did not get 8a even though we had considered Walter. Had declaims instead of exclaims for 14a, which made 4d impossible for us. Really enjoyed the challenge, thought 2d and 3d particularly good.
    Thanks Gazza and Prolixic.
    We’re off now for a between-showers Sunday walk around the estuary.

  7. On first reading i assumed that this puzzle was going to be straightforward.
    Many thanks to Gazza for reminding me the meaning of assume.
    Required help from Prolixic to complete. Thanks to all concerned.

  8. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and to all who commented. Sorry if it was a bit trickier than I intended – I’ll try to make the next one a bit easier.

    1. Sorry for the late reply to your comment, but I have only just read the blogs
      over the last few days.
      I do hope that your blog was in jest, I personally believe your crossword was set correctly.
      On first reading I managed 6 without problem, then completed (with the use of my Bradfords) the majority of the remainder. This then left me with 5.
      I then employed my usual method of writing the clue out and trying to analyse each word.
      I still failed with 2, I then resorted to the hints from Prolixic.
      Please do not dilute your crosswords.
      I fully intend to beat you next time.

      1. Can the Solver ever “beat” the Setter? (2)


        [I’m always more than happy with a draw.]

        1. The setter will ask questions.
          It is then our task to answer those questions .
          If we do, we win. If not , we fail.
          I will always try to “beat” the setter, but secretly hope I always fail.

        2. Sandy Balfour wrote:

          The Point of Crosswords

          Someone once asked me what, if anything, was the point of crosswords? A setter once came close to giving the sort of answer that made sense to me. “A crossword composer,” he said, “is entering a game in which the point is to lose gracefully.” Of course he was speaking as a setter and he was addressing a specific problem, which is that the clues one sets should be neither too hard nor too easy. If the solver can’t solve them, then there is ‘no point’. If on the other hand they are too easy for the solver then the ‘point’ is similarly diminished. But what, I wonder, is the point for the solver?

          If the intention of the setter is ‘to lose gracefully’, then presumably the solver must hope to win. But he too must do it ‘gracefully’, which is to say that in the process of solving a clue or a puzzle he must acknowledge the artistry and invention of the setter. The perfect clue, so they say, is one whose solution eludes the solver for a time but which will, when he finally solves it, elicit a ‘groan of satisfaction’ or (its close cousin) a ‘smile of dismay’. And yet this is curious terminology for really there are no winners or losers in crosswords.

  9. Cracking puzzle loads of wit and some nicely devious clues.
    Needed hints to solve the last three in but it definitely lightened a miserable Saturday afternoon and some of this morning.

    Thanks to Prolixic for a splendid review and to Gazza for a lovely puzzle.

  10. I was left with six that I couldn’t figure out. Some were D’oh moments when I saw the answer, some, like 8A, were Whaat!!! moments. I tend to get a bit antsy with clues like7D that require specialist British sports knowledge. I don’t want easier puzzles. I like to be tested. I’d just like to have a reasonable chance to complete without resorting to google. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the battle on the whole and appreciate Gazza taking the time to compile and Prolixic for the review.

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