NTSPP – 227 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 227

NTSPP – 227

A Puzzle by Toro

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

A warm welcome back to Toro with an inventive and fun crossword to entertain us.  Lots of clues to enjoy but 26a is fantastic and qualifies as the top clue for me.


1 Scrap of land has tenants (5)
ISLET – Split 2,3 the answer indicates that a property has tenants.

4 Millions go in and play, play, play (9)
PYGMALION – An anagram (play) of M[illions] GO IN PLAY.

9 Flight path of seabird following slick (7)
PATTERN – A three letter word meaning slick followed by a four letter word for a seabird.

10 Sit on fence and get soiled by tar (7)
ABSTAIN – A two letter abbreviation for a seaman (tar) followed by a word meaning get soiled.

11 A bit of a hand? Appreciate it! (5)
DIGIT – A three letter word meaning appreciate followed by the IT from the clue.

12 Most buoyant lake in Switzerland is French (9)
CHEERIEST – The IVR code for Switzerland followed by the French for the word “is” inside which you include the name of a lake.

13 Ethnic clan on windswept plain (3-9)
NON-TECHNICAL – An anagram (windswept) of ETHNIC CLAN ON.

17 Preparation for unqualified success? (6,2,4)
SCHOOL OF LIFE – A cryptic definition of where a person who has not received a formal education get his or her knowledge for success.

22 Performing in musical is against some people’s principles (2-7)
UN-ISLAMIC – An anagram (performing) of IN MUSICAL.

24 Shop window material changing hands (5)
GRASS – Replace the L in the material that is used in windows with an R (changing hands).

25 City grandees converted mere into marshland (7)
FREEMEN – An anagram (converted) of MERE inside a three letter word for marshland.

26 Woman introducing fly in my soup? (7)
THERESA – From the old start of a joke – Waiter – There’s a fly in my soup.

27 Lousy tune rendered without much conviction (9)
TENUOUSLY – An anagram (rendered) of LOUSY TUNE.

28 Write off to heads of the Alliance and Leicester (5)
TOTAL – The TO from the clue followed by the first letters (heads of) The Alliance Leicester.


1 Saucy politician, nude, revelling in it (8)
IMPUDENT – The usual abbreviation for a member of parliament and an anagram (revelling) of NUDE goes inside the IT from the clue.

2 Drunk at gin cocktail party (8)
LITIGANT – A three letter word meaning drunk followed by an anagram (cocktail) of AT GIN.

3 A bit of Goethe at Reading Playhouse (7)
THEATRE – The answer is hidden inside (a bit of) GOETHE AT READING.

4 Feature-length Disney classic (9)
PINOCCHIO – A cryptic definition of the boy whose nose grew when he lied.

5 Gee whizz! Amazing thing! (5)
GRACE – … from the John Newton hymn.  A G (gee) followed by a word meaning whizz.

6 Gangster flees one country for another (7)
AUSTRIA – … another country.  Remove the name of Mr Capone from a country in the Southern hemisphere.

7 Setter’s no spring chicken, as revealed by medical scan (6)
IMAGED – A two letter abbreviation for I AM (setter’s) followed by a word meaning that someone is no spring chicken.

8 Musicians arranged in tens? No (6)
NONETS – An anagram (arranged) of TENS NO.

14 Unwell with severe chill, taking temperature by insertion in a naughty way (9)
ILLICITLY – A three letter word meaning unwell followed by a word meaning with a severe chill inside which you add (taking or by insertion – take your pick) of the abbreviation for temperature.

15 Part of a joint of meat in dressing (8)
LIGAMENT – A type of meat – usually a type of bird meat inside a four letter word for a surgical dressing.

16 Shellfish suffer after three months without oxygen (3,5)
SEA SNAIL – Three months may be season.  Remove the O (without oxygen) and follow this with a word meaning suffer.

18 University leaves physicist with zero capital (7)
COLOMBO – The name of the physicist who have his name to the unit of electrical charge without the U (university leaves) followed by an O (zero).

19 Fancy hospital taken over by soldiers in combat (7)
FIGMENT –  Another word for a combat has the H (hospital) replaced (taken over by) a word for soldiers.

20 Business attire (6)
OUTFIT – A double definition of a business and another word for a set of clothes or attire.

21 Homer‘s uncast spell? (6)
PIGEON – Another word for iron before it is cast followed by a word for a period of time or spell.

23 Impersonators present script without any backing (5)
MYNAS – A two letter abbreviation for manuscript goes around (without) a reversal of the ANY from the clue.


26 comments on “NTSPP – 227

  1. Review done and well done Toro. 26a must be be d’oh moment of the week – still chuckling at it.

  2. Excellent puzzle with some great surface readings – thanks to Toro. I particularly liked 4d (pity I can’t spell it), 24a and the brilliant 26a.

  3. This crossword is an old friend of mine but I would agree that the d’oh moment that is 26a is briliant.

  4. Cheers for the puzzle, Toro. Enjoyable solve with lots of nice surfaces – 26a & 7d raised a chuckle for the PDM and the surface respectively. Look forward to your next one.

  5. All done (correctly, I hope) and thoroughly enjoyed. The SW corner gave me the most trouble and I have failed to fully parse 21D as yet. 15D hit close to home since I no longer have any in an 11A joint. I also really liked 18D and of course 23A. Thanks, Toro! Looking forward to tomorrow’s review.

  6. I found this a pretty tricky solve, but some very good constructions.

    I think I have seen similar clues before for 1a and 6d. I particularly liked 10a, 16d, 19d, 23d and, of course, the outrageous 26a.

  7. What a weird puzzle. SW corner an absolute pig and the rest of it easy as pie. (Not that easy is a bad thing: with Toro’s clueing panache, easy is still a pleasure to solve.) I’m sure it was unconscious, but to have all the mindbenders concentrated in one corner is a mite disconcerting!

  8. I really enjoyed this – I also found it at the top end of difficulty for me but most NTSPP’s are.
    First read through yielded two answers – I almost gave up at that point but sheer bloody-mindedness wouldn’t let me.
    I’m now cross with myself as I have four answers that I can’t quite explain, one of them being 26a which everyone else thinks is wonderful. Damn – will have to wait until tomorrow – patience is not one of my virtues!
    Too many good clues to pick out any particular ones so thanks to Toro and, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. Kath you might find a hint to 26a in our comment below which we were writing at the same time as you were.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      1. Thanks but no – still don’t get it. I really must be dim – let’s hope it’s just today! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  9. We both roared with laughter when we eventually found the waiter in 26a. Brilliant. Enjoyed the surface reading of 4a. Generally found the bottom half more difficult than the top half but all of it excellent fun.
    Many thanks Toro.

    1. Oh no – more people going on about 26a – I have an answer but, just to use what I learnt a few minutes ago, no PDM yet. I must be stupid. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      1. At the risk of being censured, I just have to see if I can help you out a bit. Break your answer down into two words, so…XXXXX’X X.

      2. *Potential spoilers*

        Hey Kath – If you look at the letters of the woman that is the answer and add an apostrophe and a space to her name it should help. Then you’ll get the prefix to the joke that makes up the other half of the clue. And don’t feel stupid, it took me ages with a lot of staring blankly at it, some hair pulling, and enough pacing up and down to warrant a new carpet before I got it.

      3. Thanks so much Expat Chris, Hoskins and Prolixic – I would never have worked that out for myself – I was at least right about something – I’m stupid! Brilliant clue now that I finally understand it.

        1. You’re far from stupid! We all have those ‘total blank’ times. Heck, I know I do.

  10. Loved this puzzle! It was tricky in places, but so enjoyable to work out the wordplay. Super clues, such as 4a, 24a, 25a, 26a, 4d and 5d.

    I managed to complete this correctly without hints. Having worked out 18d from the wordplay, I did then use Google to check on the French physicist. I also needed confirmation that a sea snail was a shellfish!

    Thank you very much, Toro. Loved your previous puzzle — this present one even more so. Thank you very much, too, Prolixic, for your super review. Always much valued.

  11. Thank you to everyone who took the time to solve and comment, and especially to Prolixic for his review and selection of clips and illustrations. (Blogging the last two Tuesday Toughies has brought home to me how much time that can take, and he does an awful lot of it.)

    Two commenters found the SW corner much harder than the rest. That certainly was unconscious – I should and will think harder in future about how the clues are distributed across the grid in terms of difficulty. Having said that, crypticsue had a diametrically different reaction when she test-solved – it was the opposite, NE corner she found “a beast”!

    It’s nice to hear that THERESA caused amusement. I had my own PDM when staring at the word and thinking how to clue it. Thanks Hoskins for that handy acronym!

    1. A word of warning: I doubt it’s a good idea to make a conscious effort to distribute hard and easy clues around the grid. You’re not the kind of setter who tries to make every clue hard – you’re very happy with a neat and elegant clue which happens to be pretty easy. The way you clue, I’d think it very unlikely that you’d end up with all the hard ones in one corner very often; it’s a bit more likely than all the oxygen atoms in a room suddenly deciding to congregate in one corner, but not much. If you try and consciously influence the difficulty levels of your clues, you run the risk of unbalancing the puzzle in a way you don’t want: at the moment, you’re producing a nicely-graded variety, and it was just an accident that the distribution wasn’t as even as usual.

      1. Especially as, when I test-solved this, a) I didn’t think the SW corner was particularly difficult and b) the clues for 14 and 21 down were subsequently improved with a view to making them easier to solve.

    2. Purely as a solver, may I make an observation. To thine own self be true. Surely there’s no compulsion for every clue in a crossword to be of even difficulty?

      Speaking for myself, it is par for the course to find part of a puzzle much more difficult than the rest. This is across the board for all setters. In fact, there is a certain Toughie which I still have on ice, hoping for a PDM. Half of it went like silk. The other half I find fiendish. I am not alone in this. Looking through the other solvers’ comments, not one has found it ‘weird’. To the contrary, it has received praises like ‘masterful’ and ‘brilliant’.

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