NTSPP – 210

NTSPP – 210

Two Birthday Puzzles by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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NTSPP – 210a NTSPP – 210b


Prolixic brought not one but two special puzzles with him to Bristol last week.  I couldn’t choose which one to publish, so here are both of them.  BD

Each puzzle is available by clicking on the appropriate grid.

Reviews of both puzzles follow.

NTSPP 201a is the first of two crosswords produced by Prolixic for the Blog’s  Birthday Bash in Bristol – no alliteration in the crossword but a very helpful Nina* which, for once, I spotted quite early on in the solving process.


 8a        Spar’s informal home(4)
{GAFF}  The spar to which the head of a fore-and-aft sail is fastened or a slang term for a house.

9a           Folk he ties up –   people such as these (3,5,2)
{THE LIKES OF}  An anagram (up) of FOLK HE TIES.

10a         Overdrawn with debts – that’s offensive (6)
{ODIOUS}   The two letters used to represent overdrawn followed by  slips of paper acknowledging debts.

11a         Police force arrests second hero returning with composer (8)
{MELODIST}   Insert into the abbreviated way one might refer to the London police force,   a reversal (returning)of  the abbreviation for second and  a hero.

12a         Complaint of peers touring old island (8)
{LORDOSIS}  A curvature of the spinal column –   Peers of the realm with the abbreviation for old and a two letter abbreviation for island inserted (touring).

14a         Old Liverpool player’s not about for pitch invasion? (6)
{INRUSH}   Remove the A (not about) from the name of a past Liverpool player that even this non-football fan had heard of.

16a         Exhausted when left sleeping! (4)
{BLED}   The abbreviation for left  is inserted into the place where most of us sleep.

17a         Copying a sound (5)
{APING}   A (from the clue) and a sharp ringing sound.

18a         Live back to back with broadcaster (4)
{BEEB}   Two lots of a verb meaning to exist, the second one reversed (back to back) produce the informal way we refer to the BBC.

19a         Something amazing trendy councillor left that’s safe to eat (6)
{EDIBLE}   ‘Left’ indicates the removal of both  a two-letter word meaning trendy and the abbreviation for councillor from a adjective meaning amazing or unbelievable.

21a         Criminal tags (8)
{GRAFFITI}   A cryptic definition of names (tags) and other artwork illegally painted on walls etc.

23a         Strangely mishear about Bishop’s Jewish custom (8)
{HEBRAISM}   An anagram (strangely) of MISHEAR with the abbreviation for Bishop inserted.

26a         Cut back with soldiers (6)
{TAILOR}  To cut clothes to fit exactly.   The back end of a dog, for example and the abbreviation for ordinary soldiers.

27a         Send back impressive pips? (4,6)
{TIME SIGNAL}   A reversal (back) of a verb meaning to send out and an adjective meaning impressive, remarkable.

28a         N-number returned after tax? (4)
{NETT}   N-number is the indication that you need to repeat the first letter of a number and then reverse it (returned).


1d           Unsentimental broad I held goes to pieces (4-6)
{HARD-BOILED}  An anagram (goes to pieces) of BROAD I HELD.

2d           Provided an fine old newsreader with education (8)
{AFFORDED}   A + the abbreviation for Fine + a lady who used to read the news + the abbreviation for education.

3d           Secret Intelligence Service upholds instruction to reader with drooping eyelids (6)
{PTOSIS}  A instruction to a reader to tell them to look overleaf is followed by (upholds) the abbreviation for the Secret Intelligence Service.

4d           A male hairdo (4)
{PERM}  A here means each, a head, and a preposition meaning this should be placed before the abbreviation for male.

5d           Soft   furnishing (8)
{YIELDING}  Soft or compliant;   furnishing or giving.

6d           Guard in Slough before communist uprising (6)
{FENDER}  A guard in front of a hearth –   Misleading capitals here –   this slough is a marsh or muddy hollow –  it should be followed by a reversal (uprising)  of the colour associated with communism.

7d           Particles found in 40% of surgical procedures (4)
{IONS}  Four of the ten letters (40%)  of some surgical procedures.

13d         Policeman‘s undercover operation! (5)
{STING}    The ‘police man’ is the group’s  lead singer;  his stage name can also be used to mean an informal police trap for criminals.

15d         Spooner’s message warning of an addiction to cakes (5,5)
{SWEET TOOTH}  Spooner would swap the first letters of a small message sent using social media and an obsolete term for a  warning or augury.

17d         Marauding pirate provided drink  (8)
{APERITIF}  An anagram (marauding ) of PIRATE and a word meaning perhaps, supposing that.

18d         Get to know teacher before Saturday morning!? (8)
{BEFRIEND}   A teacher probably has been awarded  the degree of Bachelor of Education, the abbreviation for which should be placed before an abbreviated day and time that comes before Saturday starts.

20d         Carried over large island (6)
{BORNEO}    Another way of saying carried followed by the abbreviation for Over in a game of cricket.

22d         Attorney and associate welcome the Italian king of the barbarians(6)
{ATTILA}   An ancient barbarian king –   Abbreviations for attorney (3) and associate (1)with the abbreviation for Italian inserted.

24d         Leading lady keeps note for Arab chieftain (4)
{EMIR}  The regnal cipher of our ‘leading lady’ the Queen with a musical note inserted.

25d         Masses held by German youths (4)
{MANY}   Hidden in (held by) GerMAN Youths.

*Around the perimeter of the crossword it says “Happy Fifth Birthday for the Blog”.

 Bristol 8 Feb 007Bufo, Gnomethang, Me, Prolixic, Big Dave and Gazza

 The crosswords are on the table!

NTSPP 201b is the second special   birthday puzzle –  this one was themed rather than having a message round the outside.    I found this one more straightforward than the first but judging by the reactions of Andy, Gnomey  and others last week, I may be alone in thinking this!


1a           Our team of British lumberjacks (8)
{BLOGGERS}   The abbreviation for British and some lumberjacks.

6a/21a  A virgin’s originally found in bed with GI cavorting with our host (3,4)
{BIG DAVE}   Insert A from the clue and the initial (originally) letter of Virgin into an anagram (cavorting) of BED and GI.

10a         Take   ecstasy (9)
{TRANSPORT}  Two meanings of this verb –   take in the sense of carry; or ecstasy/strong emotion.

11a         Old underground network get a new leader (5)
{RETRO}   Change the first letter (get a new leader) of an urban railway system to get an adjective meaning reminiscent of the past (old).

12a         Outrageous hotelier briefly eats dull rice (7)
{BASMATI}  The first four letters of Mr Fawlty’s (outrageous hotelier) Christian name with a synonym for dull (normally used in connection with a flat surface)  inserted.

13a         Gave a second chance to that lady returning one drink (7)
{REHIRED}  Employed again  – a reversal (returning) of the female pronoun (that lady) I (one) and a type of wine.

14a         Sound that is primarily odd, if not kinky (4)
{OINK}  The noise made by a pig is the initial letters (primarily) of Odd If Not Kinky.

15a         A bit of ash seen in beds and chairs (8)
{MANAGERS}   Chairs here being people rather than items of furniture.    Insert the first letter (a bit) of Ash into food troughs used by cows and horses, one of which was used as a bed by the infant  Jesus.

19a         Wise king abdicates for new citizen (8)
{NATIONAL}   Remove R (Rex, king abdicates) from a word meaning wise or sane, and replace with the abbreviation for New.

21a         See 6

25a         Many rays and bream originally brought back to port (7)
{BRISTOL}   Our venue!   A reversal (brought back) of a synonym for many, the abbreviation for Infra red light (rays) and B (bream originally).

26a         Flyer finds area through gaining height (7)
{AVIATOR}   The abbreviation for Area, a preposition meaning through, by way of,  and finally a hill or rocky height.

27a/6d  Stirring third foxtrot by Faith gives a reason for us to celebrate (5,8)
{FIFTH BIRTHDAY}  An anagram (stirring) of THIRD + F (Foxtrot being the word used for this letter In the NATO Phonetic Alphabet)  and BY FAITH.

28a         Notice soldier’s escort (9)
{ATTENDANT]   A verb meaning to take notice and an insect often referred to as a soldier, especially in crosswordland.

29a         Nieces regularly born (3)
{NEE}   The odd (regular) letters of NiEcEs.

30a         Powerful unit  seen in the heart of brickworks (8)
{KILOWATT]   The abbreviation for a unit of power is found in the middle two letters of bricKWorks.


2d           Affair of hero touring Australian islands (7)
{LIAISON}   Insert into a person of unusual courage (hero) A (Australian) and the abbreviation for islands we met in the first of these two crosswords.

3d           One who gave Flanders & Swann another turn? (6)
{GASMAN}  A cryptic definition relating to  one of Flanders & Swann’s songs (known to me and Prolixic-  I did enjoy watching him trying to explain the song to someone without giving away the answer!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyeMFSzPgGc   is worth a watch if you don’t know it.

4d           Steamy books kept by George Orwell (6)
{EROTIC}   Insert the abbreviation for the Old Testament (books) into George Orwell’s Christian name (bearing in mind that George Orwell was a pseudonym!)

5d           One of seven speak about a despicable person (8)
{SATURDAY}   Seven being the number of  days in a  week –   Insert a vulgar slang word for a despicable person into a verb meaning to speak.

7d           Escape from rampaging street-fighter after losing torn T-Shirt (3,4)
{GET FREE}  The letters T SHIRT are torn or removed from STREET FIGHTER and an anagram (rampaging) made of the letters you have left.

8d           Reportedly removed the middle from a series of notes (5)
{CHORD}   A homophone (reportedly) of how you might say you removed the middle from an apple.

9d           Pig-headed artist briefly meets old sailors (8)
{STUBBORN}  Remove the final letter (briefly)from an English artist best known for his paintings of horses, add an O (old) and the abbreviation for the Royal Navy (sailors).

16d         Chemical test area is destroyed (8)
{STEARATE}   An anagram (is destroyed) of TEST AREA .

17d         Form of tap coming from p-pump? (4-4)
{SOFT-SHOE}  Tap dancing done in a particular type of shoe.   P is the musical instruction to play something quietly and pump is an example of footwear.

18d         Distinctive quality of Jerry and Nick (8)
{HALLMARK}    Jerry,  the American model and actress (also known for being Mrs Mick Jagger),   followed by a notch or sign (nick).

20d         Part of an aeroplane that can crash first according to Spooner (4,3)
{TAIL FIN}    Swap the initial letters (grrr – it’s a Spoonerism –again!) of a verb meaning to crash or prove deficient, and another word for a can.

22d         Appeal of anti-tank leaflet (7)
{ATTRACT}   The abbreviation for Anti-Tank and a leaflet, usually political or religious.

23d         Group taken aback by cycle track (6)
{CARTEL}   Hidden and reversed in  (taken aback by) cycLE TRACk.

24d         Minister’s present is an unimportant thing (6)
{MINNOW}   A three-letter abbreviation for minister and a way of saying at the present time.

25d         Beats   experts (5)
{BUFFS}  Beats or strikes (especially with a dull sound) or experts, enthusiasts or fans.

Thanks once again to Prolixic for two splendid  celebratory puzzles.      Sorry no illustrations today but the Word document has run into 6 pages so goodness knows how long this would be with pictures too.





  1. spindrift
    Posted February 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    thank you BD & Prolixic – you have now given Mrs S grounds for divorce based on my neglect. I’ve already done the DT and I’ve saved the FT for later and now I’ve got not one but two NTSPPs! Good job there’s no Six Nations action or she would be halfway up the MI to her mother’s by now!

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Tell her you are doing me a favour as you can then comment on both the puzzles and the reviews which I am currently preparing.

      Mr CS wouldn’t dare say anything today about anything I do as he is deep in the doghouse after forgetting to pick me up from work yesterday afternoon. You’d have thought, apart from anything else, he’d have noticed the unusual appearance of the bright yellow car outside the house in working hours.

  2. Alchemi
    Posted February 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzles both, but I think I prefer a to b.

  3. andy
    Posted February 15, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Ha, I still maintain that a was more straightforward (ish) than b. On b I totally missed the homophone at 8d and 16d was a lucky guess. In my defence your honour, I did complete these on return journey but being stuck outside Slough for an hour then getting to Kings Cross to find a succession of cancelled trains (no crews) might just have addled the solving process. Thanks to Prolixic, and Sue for todays dissection

  4. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Two really good puzzles that gave us quite a fight. 210a would have been a lot easier for us we had thought to look for a NINA. Kicking ourselves as it is so blooming obvious now. 15a on 210b was the last to yield but it did eventually.
    Thanks Prolixic and CS.

  5. Colmce
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Good morning CS , how quiet it is this morning, no wind battering the eaves or rain beating against windows.

    Many thanks for the reviews, needed for about six answers that completely foxed me and some wordplay that I’d missed.

    Two very nice clever puzzles right at the the top of my solving ability, but great fun.

    Thanks to Prolixic or is it prolific?

  6. judy
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I only “do” the crosswords as I go to bed, hence submitting to blog the next day. Enjoyed both crosswords. But loved the pictures of your meeting especially the cake!

    • gazza
      Posted February 16, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      You’ve shortened your alias so your comment required moderation. Both aliases should work from now on.

  7. Catnap
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Not one but two NTSPPs to savour this weekend. And what a treat that has been! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    I got on well with both puzzles, and was delighted when I discovered the nina in 210a. It seems to me so very clever to be able to compile a puzzle with excellent clues and tuck in a hidden message. I had all the answers to 210a but I needed your explanations, CS, for 21a, 13d, and for the abbreviation in 18d. I managed to parse the remainder correctly.

    I thoroughly enjoyed 210b as well. There were two clues for which I needed the answer — 15a and 17d. I also needed the explanation for the abbreviation in 25a. For the rest, I had the correct word play. Fave clues in this were 12a, 3d, 4d, and 5d. (Both Catnaps have just been been having a good chortle, listening to 3d!)

    Much appreciation for your excellent reviews CS. I find them invaluable.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    These were really splendid Birthday puzzles, Prolixic. Thank you so much. Thank you, too, for beaming through the photos of the Birthday celebrations, not to mention that special cake. A fine tribute to Big Dave and the Blog.

    (Apologies. I’ve not entered my email address correctly. I blame my light touch and tiny print! That’s my excuse, anyway…)

    • Posted February 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Just one full stop missing from your email address and you become a new person! Sorted now, but you need to correct your email next time.

      • Catnap
        Posted February 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Very sorry for that, Big Dave. Will do so. Am banished to the naughty corner.

  8. Kath
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m very much in the 210b being far more straightforward than 210a.
    I did really badly with the first one – missed the nina even though I should have had the wit to go hunting for something along those lines – and was just a complete failure.
    I finished the second one apart from 17d.
    Anyway, enough waffle so thanks to Prolixic and CS.

  9. Prolixic
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Crypticsue for the review (and test solves) and to all for your kind comments. After his appreciative and appreciated comments Catnap is excused the naughty corner!

    When I had prepared the first crossword, Sue commented that it was a little tricky in places so I tried to produce a second crossword with simpler wordplay – obviously with mixed results.

    Setter at work – notice evil grin


  10. AKMild
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Good to have double fare! Didn’t understand the reference in 3d (210b) but have just played the YouTube clip and laughed myself silly!

    Thanks to both Prolixic and CrypticSue.

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog AKMild

  11. Ginny
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks, Prolixic and Cryptic Sue, for these, particularly in the form of interactive grids. I enjoyed the photos and was particularly impressed by the cake,!

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog ginny555