NTSPP – 169 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 169

NTSPP – 169

Origin by Elgar

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

NTSPP - 169

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This puzzle was especially compiled for, and distributed at, today’s Sloggers & Betters meeting in Manchester.

A review of this puzzle follows.

If you haven’t ever attended a Sloggers and Betters gathering (and why not?) you will have missed the opportunity to have a great time with fellow crossword enthusiasts, drink great beer and marvel at how setters of such difficult crosswords can be so nice and friendly in real life.   The most devious of all the setters – Elgar/Enigmatist/Nimrod/Io  – usually provides a themed crossword for people to solve during the afternoon – and sits watching by the sidelines to see how you are getting on, which as you can imagine really gets the cryptic grey matter flowing (not!).

I needed a small lie down after I read the instructions but slowly started to fill in the grid while the pennies dropped one by one to the floor.  Start to fill in the Acrosses and you soon notice that there are a number of  hidden words within the longer solutions which, as the instructions say, have a common source.   You will find as you solve the Down clues that you can’t spell some of the solutions properly.  Rereading the instructions, you realize that replacing eight of  the themed words with the one word ‘origin’ of these ‘items’  (those at today’s venue ought to get this word without any trouble!) means  you can then insert  the Down solutions correctly.   As he says, the ninth of the   ‘theme’ words has a different origin.

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           Recognise   date (3)
{SEE}   A double definition.

3a           Combustible bullion, if far apart from the East, snatched (8,3)
{PARAFFIN OIL}   A reversal (from the East) hidden in bulLION  IF FAR APart.

9a           My first wife goes ahead and drinks a lot of wine – do I dig? (9)
{EXCAVATOR}   Follow the two words used to refer to a previous wife, by an interjection meaning ‘my!’ into which is inserted A (from the clue) and a large vessel or tank (a lot of wine).

10a         Neat     Scottish chap‘s sung a medley (5)
{ANGUS}   Neat here refers to cattle rather than tidiness.   An anagram (medley) of SUNG A gives both a type of cattle and a Scottish Christian name.


11/23 Hard up against walls (4-4)
{CAST-IRON}  Insert (walls) a word meaning up in the sense up or out of bed  into an adverb meaning against.

12a         Mrs Lovett’s speciality is accompanied by ale and wine (10)
{PIESPORTER}    The speciality of Mrs Lovett’s kitchen was  a type of baked goods which were used to dispose of the  victims of a certain wicked barber.  These  should be  followed by a dark brown malt beer to produce a Mosel wine.

15a         Tell fibs about loudspeaker, as on note, quite sensibly (6,2,6)
{LISTEN TO REASON}   Insert  a person with a loud powerful voice (named after a Greek herald in Homer’s Iliad) into a verb meaning to tell fibs and follow with AS ON (from the clue)

19a         Send to Coventry ornate wedding cake – nearly lost! (14)
{DISACKNOWLEDGE}  An anagram (ornate) of WEDDING CAKE and LOS (nearly LOSt).

21a         Gives Kipling hero gun to subdue a dude effecting a particular stance (4,6)
{ARMS AKIMBO}  Provides with a gun , A (from the clue) , the hero of a Kipling novel, and a US slang  familiar term of address for a man (dude).  This is the clue where the themed article has a different ‘origin’ to the other eight.

arms akimbo

23a         See 11

26a         Kebab fills me and mine, thanks (5)
{PITTA}  A mine followed by a babyish way of saying thank you.


27a         Slicing select joint fine, having eaten too much already (5-4)
{CHOCK-FULL}  Insert (slicing) a joint on the hind leg of a quadruped and the abbreviation for Fine  into a verb meaning to select or pick out and destroy.

29a         Nimrod & co crazy to engage secretary for a very short time (11)
{MICROSECOND}   An anagram (crazy) of NIMROD  CO and the three letter abbreviation for secretary.

30a         We designate liberal Latin lecturer a top swinger! (3)
{ELS}   Say out loud the names (we designate) of the initial letters of Liberal, Latin and Lecturer  and you should get the surname of a  former No 1  golfer (top swinger) found in cryptic crosswords probably as often as on the golf course.


1d           My daughters can differentiate smell, etc at work (4,4)
{STEM CELL}  An anagram (at work) of SMELL ETC produces a unit of life which gives rise to others that differentiate (one of those definitions that did need thinking about!)

2d           Unity doubled up, comprehending verse’s final words (5)
{ENVOI}  The concluding part of a poem or book –   A reversal of two words (1 and 3) denoting unity with V (verse) inserted.   This is one of those down clues that doesn’t fit in unless you put the theme word into 9a.

3/25d    Plant went underneath the Atlantic Ocean (8)
{POND WEED}   Follow a facetious way of referring to the Atlantic Ocean with  an informal way of saying urinated (went).   Another one that needs the theme word inserting into 9a.


4d           Merkel’s primary corruption (3)
{ROT}   The English word for a type of corruption is the German word for a primary colour (Angela Merkel being the Chancellor of Germany).

5d           Types, wanting copy (5)
{FORMS}    a preposition meaning, amongst other definitions, wanting followed by the abbreviation for manuscript (copy).

6d           Am I Belgian? Awfully likely! (10)
{IMAGINABLE }– An anagram (awfully) of AM I BELGIAN.  This was the solution that set me on the right track for the theme.

7d           Daphne‘s two under a bowl (9)
{EAGLEWOOD}  A large spreading tree of the Daphne family   –   Follow the golfing term for a score two under [par ] with a bowl used in a game played on greens.

8d           Cutlers strangely abandoned by Charlie Sheen (6)
{LUSTRE}   Remove C (Charlie) from [c]UTLERS and make an anagram (strangely) of the remaining letters.

13d         Introduction of cafe proprietor in wartime seeking woman for peacetime? (5)
{IRENE}   How the cafe owner in ‘Allo ‘Allo might have referred to himself (1, 4) is the name of the Greek goddess of peace and wealth.    Another one where you need the theme word inserted, this time into 15a and 19a.

14d         Surreal Art (Mk III) – it’s one of Cook’s discoveries (10)
{KIRITIMATI}  The place Captain Cook called Christmas Island is an anagram of ART MK III and IT.

16d         Disgraceful – Enigmatist’s hard core, not before time, engaged by Viz (9)
{STIGMATICViz is a Latin word meaning namely –  you need the two-letter abbreviation for another Latin word meaning the same thing, into which should be inserted the abbreviation for Time, followed by(ie not before time) the middle six letters (hard core) of enIGMATIst.  Interestingly, having never studied Latin, the only time I have ever encountered the word to be abbreviated is in crosswords set by Elgar or one of his alter egos!

17d         Figure disguised by peculiar homburg (5)
{RHOMB}   An equilateral parallelogram is hidden (disguised by) peculiaR HOMBurg.


18d         Artist only deployed in midfield by Liverpool FC (8)
{REYNOLDS}   Insert an anagram (deployed) of ONLY into the nickname of Liverpool FC.

20d         Old N American Indian ready with strengthener of signals…I think (6)
{WAMPUM} The name of the beads etc that the old Native Americans used as money (ready) .   The single letter meaning With, the informal way of referring to a device that increases the carrier wave in radio transmissions, and a interjection used by speakers when momentarily hesitating or in doubt (I think).


22d         The man with the mic identifying many Scots for a start? (5)
{EMCEE}  The master of ceremonies (the man with the microphone) if said out loud would start to spell many a Scottish surname.   Again, another clue where inserting themed words into the Across clues enables the correct solution in the downs.

24d         Such a wine makes little internal difference to rascal (5)
{ROUGE}   The French word for red wine is obtained by changing over the third and fourth letters of a rascal or mischievous person.

25d         See 3

28d         Language Department toured by this setter in heretofore unmentioned guise (3)
{IDO}  An international language developed from Esperanto.    Insert D (department) into the one remaining  ‘alias’ which our lovely setter hasn’t fitted into any other clue in this puzzle (heretofore unmentioned guise).

Thanks once again to Elgar.   His themed words were parafinoil,  excavator,  castiron, Piesporter, listen to reason (a deep-red Spanish wine in my experience only found in crosswords),  disacknowledge, arms akimbo, chock-full  and microsecond – all of which are made from fruit of the VINE  (the name of the venue for today’s gathering) apart from SAKI which is made from RICE.


14 comments on “NTSPP – 169

  1. A pleasant solve, spoilt very slightly by the solecism of including saki as a wine when it’s technically a beer.

    1. WINE is not the themed ‘origin’ word you are looking for, so it is perfectly acceptable to include saki.

      1. If you were to pay attention to the instructions, it’s a themed *group of products*, of which eight have a common origin. If wine isn’t the themed group of products intended to cover all nine words to be altered, what do you think it is?

        1. Speaking as someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in reading the instructions(several times), solving the puzzle and preparing the review, I know I am correct. Read the final paragraph of my review and all should become clear – the particular point of relevance here being “their four letter ‘origin’ ”

          As you know, Elgar always links his theme to the venue of the S&B (that’s another reason I know I am right.)

          1. The instructions clearly differentiate between “group of products” for all nine, and “common origin” for eight of them.

            A lot of people refer to saki/sake as “rice wine”, which is a solecism. Chambers does not include the phrase, and specifically refers to “rice beer”, which has the same definition as saki/sake.

            But since you’re right and I’m wrong, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what the “group of products” is if it’s not “wine”.

            1. The instructions clearly state that solvers should substitute the nine four-letter members of a theme group of products with “their four-letter origin” – they are indeed wines, made from grapes, which come from a vine – in one case a different origin from the other eight.

              The varieties of wine should therefore be replaced by VINE, their origin and the S&B meeting place, except for saki, whose origin is rice.

              1. I’m entirely aware of how the grid is to be completed.

                My point is that the themed group of products appears to be “wines” – as you yourself have implied in your final sentence – and saki is actually a beer. But since I’m wrong and you’re right, I need you to explain what the themed group of products is if it isn’t “wines”.

                1. The themed group of products would appear to be alcoholic drinks, of which eight originate from vine and one from rice.

                  1. To me, that’s an unnecessarily – and uncharacteristically for Enigmatist – loose grouping. Using alcoholic drinks looks to me like weaselling out of a common solecism.

                    1. I really don’t see what the problem is and understood I was looking for nine drinks with their origin, one of which is rice, the remainder having the “origin” of the vine.

                      Given that that was compiled and written during a train journey from London to Manchester, I suspect most other setters would have just about designed the grid, let alone write challenging and enjoyable and clever clues..

  2. Didn’t really have time today!! Needless to say that is a euphemism for knowing that I didn’t stand a chance!
    I do hope that everyone has had/is having a good time in Manchester.
    Has anyone else noticed that the DT just inside the back page puzzle is No 27,169 and that the NTSPP is No 169? Numbers always jump out and bite me.

  3. In reply to Tilsit :

    (The Reply Button doesn’t work – nor Permalink)

    I hope that he was on the slow train!

  4. Thanks to both Elgar and crypticsue. I’ve finally managed to finish this, though without fully parsing every clue. A strenuous workout, well up to the usual S&B special standard – and a splendid blog.

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