NTSPP – 173 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 173

NTSPP – 173

A Puzzle by Prolixic

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NTSPP - 173

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle follows

It’s been nearly a year since I first  met this crossword and it was nice to revisit it as it is  both an entertainment and an education.  It helps  to have Chambers by your side as there are a number of words that don’t appear in lesser dictionaries, well they certainly aren’t in the office Concise Collins!  The need to consult the BRB  because of several unknown spellings did make me (finally!!) notice how clever our lovely setter had been.   If you can’t see what I mean, all is explained at the end of the review.



1 French director’s expression of contempt over “Metropolis” (7)
{HABITAT} – ‘Metropolis’ isn’t the name of a film by the French director, it is the definition!  Follow a famous film director (Mr Hulot’s Holiday is the one I remember) with an expression of contempt and then reverse the lot (over) to get one of the meanings of ‘metropolis’.

5 Sing about farewell charivari (3-1-3)
{RAT-A-TAT} – A confused noise, din or knocking sound.  Here sing means to betray or divulge secret information on and you need a synonym  for this into which is inserted an informal or childish way of saying goodbye.

9 Flower seen in Anglo-Saxon territory (5)
{ASTER} –  The abbreviation for Anglo-Saxon followed by the abbreviation for territory.


10 Without a doubt carelessly loses troops (9)
{OBVIOUSLY} –    Remove the abbreviation for Light Infantry (loses troops) from an adverb meaning carelessly or forgetfully.

11 Sleepy companion found in Manx harbour (3)
{DOC} – A companion  of Sleepy indicates tht you are looking for another of the Seven Dwarfs –  ‘Manx’ in a crossword clue is usually an indication that you have to remove the last letter of a word (a Manx cat has no tail!).   Here  you need to remove the last letter from a harbour or wharf.


12 Gawp at unlimited bouncing breasts! (5)
{STARE} –Remove the outside letters of bREASTs (unlimited) and then make an anagram (bouncing) of the remaining letters.


13 Formerly restrained by nuclear strategy (5)
{EARST} –   An obsolete form of an  adverb meaning formerly, at one time, is hidden in  (restrained by) nuclEAR STrategy.

14 Rook and decapitated animal become rancid (5)
{REAST} –   A verb meaning to become rancid, especially (apparently)  of bacon.   The abbreviation for Rook followed by a general term for animal from which the initial letter has been removed (decapitated).

16 Our nephew is in trouble then (9)
{WHEREUPON} – An anagram (in trouble) of OUR NEPHEW.

19 German actuaries almost fool veteran (9)
{GERIATRIC} –  The three letter abbreviation for German, the abbreviation for the Institute of Actuaries and almost all of the letters of a synonym for fool (as a verb, not a noun).

20 Direct sister to swallow drink (5)
{STEAR} –  Insert the British favourite hotdrink  between the two letters of the abbreviation for sister to get an archaic form of a verb meaning to direct or move in the direction required.

22 Three times a monstrosity (5)
{TERAS} –   The abbreviation for Time, a period of time and S (because it is timeS).   Clear wordplay for a noun I didn’t know, defined in Chambers,  as in the clue, as a monstrosity.

24 Awards marks but not 100 (5)
{ARETS} –     Awards here relates to part of a verb meaning to award or assign.  Remove the Roman numeral for 100 from the printer’s mark used to show where something has to be inserted.

26 Lady left Arab rulers to return for some sport (3)
{SKI} – Remove the female personal pronoun (lady left) from some Arab rulers and then reverse the remaining letters to get a winter sport.


27 Being unfulfilled, illegally rustled from dilapidated industrial estate (9)
{INSATIATE} –  An anagram (dilapidated) of INDUSTRIAL ESTATE once you have removed (illegally) the letters of RUSTLED.

29 Assesses   taxes (5)
{RATES} –   Double definitions.

30 Hopeful message we will receive first (3,4)
{GET WELL} –   A synonym for receive precedes (receive first) a shortened way of saying ‘we will’.

31 Engineer altered a machine part (7)
{TREADLE} –   An anagram (engineer) of ALTERED.



1 The German follows grey-haired collector (7)
{HOARDER} – An archaic way of saying old, grey-haired with age,  followed by the German word for ‘the’.

2 Supporter‘s hit song about husband and companion (4,5)
{BATH CHAIR} –   A verb meaning to hit with a type of club, the abbreviations for Husband and Companion of Honour, and a song.

3 Weeds regularly found in Stranraer square (5)
{TARES} –  What I always think of as ‘Biblical’ weeds are found in the regular or even letters of Stranraer square.

4 Result of Parisian lust? (6,3)
{TROJAN WAR} – If you know your Greek mythology, this lovely cryptic definition should make you smile as much as I did.  It is my favourite clue and so good that I think I ought to let you wait for the d’oh moment too!

Helen and Paris

5 Show regret about first lady leaving Spain (5)
{REVUE} – Insert the name of the first lady on earth into a verb meaning to regret.  Then remove the IVR Code for Spain at the end of her name and you should be left with a light entertainment show.

6 In Halifax anything written up is a couplet (3)
{TWO} –  Here you need to know the Yorkshire dialect way of saying ‘anything’ which should then be reversed (written up).

7 Stunner thanks the queen (5)
{TASER} –  The plural of a childish way of saying thank you followed by the cipher of our current Queen.

8 Behave badly in test? (3,2,2)
{TRY IT ON} –   Double definition – To test someone’s tolerance levels; to test, for example, whether an item of clothing fits.

13 Quits game after opener’s dismissal (5)
{EVENS} –   Remove the initial letter (opener’s dismissal) from a rugby union match played with a particular number of players.

15 Runs and ladders (5)
{TEARS} –   Another double definition –   runs at great speed; ladders or rips in a stocking.

17 Cement Rex mixed is crap! (9)
{EXCREMENT} –   An anagram (mixed) of CEMENT REX gives us the formal way of referring to waste matter.

18 Fixer for boss and reporter – quite the reverse! (5,4)
{PRESS STUD} –   Something to fix two parts of an item of clothing together, can if the two words are reversed mean a boss in the sense of an ornamental knob and a  reporter (member of the news media).

press stud

19 Clothing divided amongst ringleaders (1-6)
{G-STRING} –   A very tiny piece of clothing is hidden (divided amongst)   amonGST RINGleaders.

21 Engineers debate second edition? (7)
{REISSUE} – The abbreviation for Royal Engineers followed by a subject for debate or point of dispute.

23 One in recess took exams again (5)
{RESAT} –   Insert A (one) into a break or recess.

24 Help yourself to what sister reportedly took (5)
{AVAIL} –  A homophone (reportedly) of what someone ‘takes’ when they become a nun (sister).

25 Oriental craft has picked up Duncan’s hay (5)
{STRAE} –   The Scottish word for hay (Duncan being originally a Scottish name) is a reversal (picked up) of E (oriental) and a synonym for craft.

(Duncan the ) Straw (bear)

[He’s made of the correct material and looks like his name might be Duncan to me!]

28 Match   fixing (3)
{TIE} –   A double definition that shouldn’t need any explanation!


Lovers, and indeed haters, of anagrams should have  noticed something particularly special about the solutions to thirteen of the clues.

8 comments on “NTSPP – 173

  1. Thanks to Prolixic for an entertaining puzzle for which I did need several references to the BRB whilst watching the Lions’ opening game in Hong Kong. My favourite clue (accompanied by a resounding d’oh) was the excellent 4d.

  2. Feel that we were a threesome solving this one this morning. BRB was a very significant member of our team. However we did get them all. 24a and 25d were our last two in. An enjoyable tussle. Off for a walk now to blow away (literally we’re afraid) the cobwebs.
    Thanks Prolixic and CS.

  3. Many thanks to Crypticsue for the review and for all the comments.

    Chambers lists 14 words that can be made up from the letters A E R S T. The 14th, treas. was not included as it is an abbreviation. I was amazed to find a grid that would include the 13 remaining words and would enable the remainder of the grid to be filled without adding further obscure words. As some of the theme words were unusual, it was probably a little harder than usual. I hoped that if solvers spotted the theme, it may have helped with some of the more obscure entries.

    I have no evidence to prove this, but I suspect that as a ratio of number of one word anagrams / number of letters, the A E R S T combination gives the highest ratio for any of the words in Chambers.

    1. We are feeling so stupid. Although we completed and enjoyed the puzzle, we had totally failed to register the recurrent AERST theme until we read your comment this morning. Even with Sue pointing towards it in her review. What cleverness!
      Thanks again Prolixic.

      1. I was a little puzzled when I had three or four of these answers and Prolixic hadn’t used the obvious “anagram of the answer to another clue” trick – then the penny dropped.

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