NTSPP – 200 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 200

NTSPP – 200

A Jumbo Puzzle by Hydra

– + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

NTSPP - 200

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Crypticsue, with a detailed breakdown of who set each clue, follows.

Back in February 2010, Big Dave announced that as many solvers miss having a second puzzle on Saturdays, he would introduce the Not The Saturday Prize Puzzles.  To mark the 200th puzzle, eighteen of the setters who have provided crosswords for us to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon  have combined as Hydra to produce this wonderful celebration Jumbo.



1a           Both think about 1% of this (3,3-9,6)
{THE TWO-HUNDREDTH PUZZLE}   Two words meaning ‘both’and a word meaning think or muse go around , the number which 1% of something represents, to give the thing we are solving here.

12a         Recalled first rate bird, assumed sex goddess (8)
{LAETITIA}  A reversal (recalled) of the two letters meaning first rate and a  type of duck (bird) with the resulting letters then having the humorous synonym for sex appeal inserted.

13a         Vacuous right seek reformed left winger (7)
{KESTREL}  An anagram (reformed) of RT (vacuous or empty right) SEEK followed by L (left).

14a         Make insecure peacekeepers run away (6)
{UNBOLT}   The two letters by which the world’s peacekeeping organisation is known followed by a verb meaning to run away or escape.

15a         Criticise housing student and retired artist in flat (6)
{PLANAR}  Insert the letter by which a student (particularly of driving) is known into a verb meaning to criticise harshly and follow with a reversal for the two letters meaning an artist so useful to crossword setters.

16a         Water grass in London park (7)
{HYDRATE}    Here the grass is someone who informs on someone else – the ‘informer’ should be inserted into a famous London park.

17a         Needle workers making bucks (8)
{GALLANTS}  Bucks here are lively young men.   A verb meaning to needle or irritate followed by some of crosswordland’s favourite workers.

18a         Material Girl disparagingly referred to priesthood (10)
{BROADCLOTH}   North American slang (disparagingly referred to)  for a woman and a term for the clergy.

19a         Working class routine makes public discontent (6,6)
{SOCIAL UNREST}  An anagram (working) of CLASS ROUTINE.

22a         Show sangfroid and overlook a small fight – winning through cheek? (4,1,5,5,3)
{KEEP A STIFF UPPER LIPA charade and a half –   A reversal (over) of a synonym for look , A (from the clue), the abbreviation for small, a slight squabble (fight), an adverb meaning winning, ahead, a word meaning through, by means of, and a slang way of saying insolence or cheek.

25a         Bay to copulate with a stallion – endlessly (4)
{COVE}  Remove the final letter (endlessly) from a verb meaning to copulate with a stallion.

27a         My predecessor ultimately known for jolly appearance (6)
{VENEER}   ‘My predecessor’ is the solution to 26d –   Take that word and replace the two letter abbreviation for a Royal Marine (jolly being an informal way of referring to a Royal Marine) and replace with the ultimate letter of known.

29a         Such a mix-up with Ecstasy could make you unsafe(5)
{SNAFU}  If you added an E (with Ecstasy) to the military slang for chaos (mix-up) an anagram of the resulting letters could make you  UNSAFE.

31a         Where’s a good place to shop? It’s here in Whitby and Linlithgow (4,6)
{TOWN CENTRE}    Whitby and Linlithgow are both examples of urban areas bigger or less rural than a village.   Look at them carefully and think about where the word it appears in both of them.

33a         Was evasive about sport star’s initial investments (5,5)
{HEDGE FUNDS}  Insert into the past participle of a verb meaning to be evasive, a synonym for pleasure or enjoyment (sport) and the initial letter of star.

35a         Dutch cap, perhaps, for babe retiring content (5)
{BERET}   A type of hat is hidden in the content of baBE  RETiring.

36a         You dubious lovers (6)
{SOLVER}   An anagram (dubious) of LOVERS produces you, or me or….

38a         Knockout lad mag’s returned (4)
{STUN}   A reversal (returned) of a magazine found on the top shelf in the newsagents (so I understand!)

39a         Dependable soldier when having to observe action (7,2,9)
{REGULAR AS CLOCKWORK}   A term for a permanent member of the army (soldier), a conjunction meaning when, a slang word meaning to observe, and physical effort (action).

43a         Seeing gender organised through creative use of this? (8,4)
{DESIGNER GENE}  An anagram (organised) of SEEING GENDER.

46a         Maybe driving habits turned safer today (4,6)
{ROAD SAFETY}  An anagram (turned) of SAFER TODAY.

48a         Constantine’s mother’s powerless trained elephants (2,6)
{ST HELENA}    Remove the P (powerless) from ELEPHANTS and make an anagram (trained) of the remaining letters.

50a         Old bishop consuming tea with daughter in fruit garden (7)
{ORCHARD}   Start with O (old), then insert  another name for tea between the two letters of the abbreviated title of a bishop, and finish with D (daughter).

51a         Wood and seaweed on the beach (6)
{ASHORE}    A type of tree plus some seaweed I’ve only met in crosswords!

52a         Habit of cross editor in outback (6)
{TUXEDO}   Insert the single letter which looks like  a cross and the abbreviation for editor into a reversal (back) of OUT.

53a         We have new tap originally for a water point (7)
{HYDRANT}   ‘We’ here being the second reference to today’s  group of setters –   Follow their name with the initial letters of New and Tap.

54a         Servant’s happening to move master right in the centre of boat (8)
{AMIDSHIP}  Take a  female servant and a word meaning following the latest trends (happening) and move the M (master)  at the front along one space to the right.

55a         Ask dumb chav everything about what we all want to say (6,4,4,3,4)



1d           Preview of talkshow reveals angry Italians like extremely rude leaders (7)
{TRAILER}  The leaders of Talkshow Reveals Angry Italians Like Extremely Rude.

2d           Some deadbeat in Gap pleasuring Granny Smith? (6,5)
{EATING APPLE}  The fruit, of which Granny Smith is an example (as indicated by the ?) is hidden in some of deadbEAT  IN GAP PLEasuring.

3d           Erica West concocted sorbets (5,4)
{WATER ICES}  An anagram (concocted) of ERICA WEST.

4d           Former PM taken by bird song with no end of complicated devices (5-8)
{HEATH-ROBINSON}   A former Conservative Prime Minister, a favourite garden bird and the first three letters of SONg (with no end).

5d           Does he prepare a salad without dressing? (5,4)
{NAKED CHEF}   A cryptic definition with a  image I could do without!

6d           Wretches seeing plastic scar too, nearly (7)
{RASCALS}   an anagram (plastic) of SCAR followed by almost all of a word meaning too.

7d           Song for one free in retirement (5)
{DIRGE}   The two letters used to mean ‘for one’ and a verb meaning free of are all reversed (in retirement).

8d           Ambition of flag to capture glory at sea (4,5)
{HOLY GRAIL}   Insert  an anagram (at sea) of GLORY into a verb meaning to flag or call from a distance .

9d           Ace sleuth puts us off arresting last of the criminals in a remake of “The _____ _____” (5,8)
{USUAL SUSPECTS}  The missing words are obtained from an anagram (remake of)  ACE SLEUTH PUTS US around S (the last of the criminals).  This is a compound anagram where the THE and the answer make an anagram of the first part of the clue.

10d         Overwhelmed by endless love, bachelor’s a wild animal (5)

{ZEBRA}  Insert the abbreviation for Bachelor into almost all of a word meaning nothing (love) and finish with A (from the clue).

11d         Old stones coming out of climbing footwear worn by drunk (7)
{EOLITHS}  Insert a verb meaning drunk into a reversal (climbing) of a type of footwear.

20d         Guy goes from one city to another (7)
{CHESTER}  Remove a guy from one Northern city to get another city.

21d         Lethal substance found in tars, formerly a big concern (5)
{RICIN}   Insert an old chemical company (formerly a big concern)  into the abbreviation for that part of the armed forces where sailors (tars) are employed.

23d         First Lady joins the others for summit (7)
{EVEREST}   The first lady on earth joins a way of saying ‘the others’

24d         Traditionally a lead worker in soft wood (7)
{PLUMBER}  Originally a worker in lead, this person now installs and mends pipes etc and other things connected with drainage  –  P (the musical instruction to play softly) and wood sawn or split for use.

26d         Extremely short pool master (7)
{VERMEER}  An old master –   the first three letters (short)  of a word meaning extremely and a pool or lake.

28d         Companion mistakenly broke free once (9,4)
{REFERENCE BOOK}  An anagram (mistakenly) of BROKE FREE ONCE.    Where would we be without our companion, the BRB?

30d         Reprieve for a bishop taking crack (7)
{ABSOLVE}  A (from the clue) the abbreviation for Bishop, and crack as in work out this clue.

32d         Traditional building material – but lad wanted a change (6,3,4)
{WATTLE AND DAUB}  An anagram (change) of BUT LAD WANTED A.

34d         Fifty per cent of privates on island make spirits (5)
{GENII}   Half of the ‘proper’ word for one’s private parts and I (island).  

37d         Regulatory framework requires safe low heat perhaps (3,2,3,3)
{LAW OF THE SEA}  an anagram (perhaps) of SAFE LOW HEAT.

40d         Leading Russian pieces of Grieg or Bach evaluated (9)
{GORBACHEV}   Hidden in pieces of GrieG OR BACH EValuated.

41d         Scornful of Three Kings leaving island with barrel on credit (9)
{SARCASTIC}   Remove the abbreviation for King from each of  three words – a Channel Island, a type of barrel, and a slang term for delayed credit and join together the letters you have left.

42d         Falling for jacket worn by scoundrel (9)
{CASCADING}   Insert a scoundrel into an outside covering (jacket).

44d         Unstable nutters put into care (7)
{ENTRUST}   An anagram (unstable) of NUTTERS.

45d         Call out late with demand (7)
{EXCLAIM}    A prefix meaning former (late) and a demand.

47d         Machine‘s endless orbit in air (7)
{TURBINE}  Remove the outside letters of oRBIt and insert the middle letters into a musical air.

49d         A&E admit soldiers returning for detox treatment (5)
{ENEMA}  A reversal (returning) of A and E with uncommissioned soldiers inserted.

50d         Senior soldiers capture port from French (5
{OLDER}  Insert between the two letters by which ordinary soldiers are referred to (particularly in crosswords),  the single letter denoting the side represented by port, and the French word for ‘from’ .


Thank you to all the wonderful setters  – did you guess who set which clues??

Across:   1, 12 and 13 – Radler; 14, 15 and 16 – Qix; 17, 18 and 29 – Toro; 22, 25 and 27 – Hieroglyph; 29, 31 and 33 – Bufo; 35, 36 and 38 Windsurfer; 39, 42, 53 and 54 – Prolixic; 43 and 46 – Tilsit; 48, 50 and 51 – Commoner;  55 – Alchemi

Down:  1 and 2 – Alchemi; 3, 4 and 5 – Wiglaf; 6, 7 and 8 – Donk; 9, 10 and 11 – eXternal; 20, 21 and 23 – Gervase;  24. 26 and 28 – Chaz; 30, 32 and 34 – Gazza; 37, 40 and 41 –   Prolixic;  42, 43 and 45 – Retarius; 47, 49 and 50 – Vigo.

I have often  said that there should be T-shirts bearing the slogan “Big Dave changed my [crosswording] life” as I am not the only person for whom this is true.   In addition to providing a wonderful resource and meeting place for those ‘stuck on’ crosswords (in more senses than one),  the NTSPP series has  given a chance to so many amateur setters, several of whom have gone on to become regular setters for The Independentwouldn’t it be great to see one or more of them in the Telegraph too?   So as 55a says “Thanks very much Big Dave” from all of us.

Although a number of people having provided crosswords, several  of them taking a turn at reviewing too – it is probably a good time to  also thank Prolixic  for his work on  the NTSPPs,  as  if he isn’t providing the crossword for us to solve, or organising collaborations like today’s puzzle, more often than not he’s providing the review (nearly 40 NTSPPs and just  over 130 reviews).

It has been interesting to not only originally test and now explain the clues of this crossword, but also to look back over the past 200 crosswords – who set them, the various themes, and even who wrote the reviews.   I wonder what the next 100 NTSPPs will bring us  – I for one can’t wait!


14 comments on “NTSPP – 200

  1. What a fun way to while away some time on a dreary Saturday afternoon.

    Thanks to all the setters.

    I echo 55a, the creator of a great site which has improved my skill levels no end, and provided many happy hours of entertainment.

  2. What an absolute gem. I sat down with the intention of just having a quick peek at one or two clues and putting it aside for later. That was a mistake….. By bed-time there was just 27a left to parse, which fell to overnight cogitation. A puzzle stacked to the brim with very clever clues.
    Thoroughly endorse the sentiment expressed in 55a, as Colmce says above.
    Many thanks to the many heads that make up the Hydra and to whoever coordinated the team, (suspect it was Crypticsue).

    1. I only tested it and typed the review – Prolixic is responsible for coordinating the cruciverbal ‘elves’.

  3. What a tour de force – thanks and congratulations to all who contributed to this, including CS.
    I echo everything she has said in her closing paragraphs as well as the sentiment in 55a.
    I have to admit to being defeated by the blasted 12a goddess and the beastly 11d stones – it makes me so cross with myself when I get that close and then fall at the last hurdle, or two.
    I’m now completely worn out but tomorrow I’m going to look at who set which clues after having had a go at deciding for myself – I have a few suspicions already.
    Yet again many thanks to all.

  4. Many thanks for the kind words, and a special thanks to Prolixic for assembling this magnificent puzzle.

    Watch out in the next 7 days for the latest graduate from the NTSPP school to appear in the national press.

  5. Thanks to Prolixic for producing such a good grid. This worked surprisingly well, I thought, given the range of different setters.

    Thanks crypticsue – a Herculean task well accomplished!

    And big thanks to Big Dave for providing such a lively and useful site.

  6. On behalf of all the heads of the Hydra, my thanks to Crypticsue for the blog and the kind comments. One person who has been overlooked is Alchemi who produced the grid for us to provide the clues for – our thanks should also go to him.

    My own personal thanks to the setters for responding so willingly to the challenge of providing the clues and weathering the editing process.

    Above all further thanks to Big Dave first for providing the opportunity for us to cut our teeth in producing weekly puzzles and secondly for not requesting any changes to the final version of the grid!

  7. Many thanks to Crypticsue for the review, to Prolixic for co-ordinating the puzzle, to Alchemi for putting together a cracking grid and to Big Dave for all the work that goes into this site. Here’s to another double century!

  8. Congratulations and very appreciative thanks to the many-headed Hydra, Crypticsue, Prolixic and Alchemi. And congratulations and a very special thank you to Big Dave. I concur with everything which has been said above.
    What a fascinating and absorbing puzzle this was! I did need three hints, and explanations of the word-play of four of my answers. Otherwise all was well. Time was, not so long ago, when these NTSPP were too difficult for me. This wonderful site certainly has enhanced my enjoyment of crossword puzzles.

  9. Just like to add my thanks, too. Nice work by Alchemi, Prolixic and crypticsue for getting this put together and reviewed. My gratitude goes out to BD for providing such an excellent site and for publishing the work of budding setters. I am happy to see the ongoing success of the series and hope it continues in the same vein. Sue, I would happily wear a t-shirt if you have a spare one.

  10. Thank you from me too. Lovely grid from Alchemi, excellent co-ordination by Prolixic and comprehensive review by crypticsue. Thanks also to Big Dave for being such a wonderful host and to everyone who dwells here for being so very welcoming.

  11. Echo all of the above ,just got to this for various reasons .Well done to all concerned and many thanks to all going forward .Still got one infuriating clue to solve in the MPP
    So must move on .Cheers .

  12. Well said eXternal, Vigo and Only Fools (and nice “budding” gag, eXternal). Thanks as ever to Prolixic and Crypticsue, but above all to BD, online begetter of this wonderful site that has done so much to democratise access to setting and solving.

  13. Thanks to Hydra and to CrypticSue for the review and hints. A super puzzle, with some great clues and plenty of humour. I was pleased to say that I only needed five hints to finish. I completed the bottom half, then found the top more difficult. Too many favourites to mention. Thanks also to Big Dave for all his sterling work throughout the year, I echo 55a.

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