NTSPP – 246 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 246

NTSPP – 246

Sloggers & Betters 7 by Elgar

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This puzzle was distributed at the S&B meeting in York yesterday

[The “7” in the title is not an indication that this is the seventh such meeting but is a reference to 7 down in the puzzle!.]

A review by crypticue follows.

The instructions –   Welcome, one and all, to 25 (3,4,7) […or 6 26 10, as it may confusingly be known].

Nine clues contain a word that is superfluous to normal solving. In conjunction with a tenth (normally clued) answer, each of these words should provide extra help in arriving at the solution.

 The first thing to remember when solving this puzzle is that it was intended to be solved by attendees at the York S&B Gathering, a mixed lot of setters, bloggers, commenters and even lurkers, who probably tried to solve it in groups of two, three or more, and possibly  might not have taken quite as long as you or your lonely blogger did to sort it all out.

 As the instructions say, nine of the clues have an extra word in them, which for the purposes of this review I have highlighted in red in order to assist those still struggling.   Each of these clues can be solved using the wordplay, or by making an anagram of the superfluous word with the tenth ‘normally clued’ answer – if you aren’t sure which one this is, although the theme should make it obvious, click here to reveal all –  YORK.

 As for the first line of the ‘welcome’   the 3, 4, 7 is the enumeration of the title given by Elgar to the gathering THE YORK MEETING which is an anagram (as it may confusingly be known) of the solutions of 6d, 26a and 10a.


8a           In kill, forward knockout punches back, so making palest shots count (10)
STROKEPLAY   An alternative method of golf scoring, this one not using the number of holes won.   Either put the two letters meaning knock out into an adjective meaning forward or saucy, reverse them (back) and insert into a verb meaning to kill.   Or the solution is an anagram of this clue’s ‘superfluous’ word  and the ‘extra’ word.

9a           Desire to make it the end of the radius bone (4)
EROS   The end of the, the abbreviation for radius and the Latin word for bone.


10a         Drag in m/kg/s dragged out much longer (4)
TREK   Drag here being a long hard journey.   Write out in full the abbreviated measurements in the clue METRE KILOGRAM and you will find the solution hidden therein.

11a         These ruddy enormous birds cradling secesh president lost mind on drug! (4,6)
ROSY CHEEKS Insert into an alternative spelling for those enormous birds from Arabian legends, a word for the mind with the P at the front removed (President lost) and an E (ecstasy).   Again, if the wordplay is too complicated, just follow the anagram process as before.

rosy cheeks

12a         It’s my intention to live without air transport (7)
BIPLANE   Insert an expression meaning I intend (to do something) into a small word meaning to live.


13a         In film, Klinger finally winning the heart of Hawkeye Pierce (5)
PRICK   Misleading capital time. An informal term for a picture (film) has the final letter of Klinger inserted, the result then followed by the ‘heart’ of Hawkeye, to produce a verb meaning to pierce.   Nice reference to the old MASH series.

15a         Something deceptively lovely running in 25, say? (7)
ROSEBAY Another name for the beautifully flowered (but deceptively lovely because it is poisonous!)  oleander plant is produced by making an anagram of 25a and SAY. The final three letters are the colour of a horse that might run at the racecourse in 25.

16a         On backing, tips for 7 and 25 come off – second favourites in cocktail bar! (3,4)
ROB ROYS Cocktails made from whisky, vermouth and Angostura bitters  –   remove the tip of (first letter of) the solution to 25a, the tip (last letter) from the solution to 7d, reverse them both and add the abbreviation for Second.

19a         A basic wooden item, it’s turned to Britain (5)
SABOT   ‘Basic’ presumably because it is a simple wooden shoe that goes on a foot (base). ‘It ‘ here is one of the informal terms for sex appeal, the abbreviation for which should be followed by the abbreviation for Britain and a reversal (turned) of TO from the clue.

21a         Race cunningly – head round the quick way! (4,3)
NEAR CUT   An old-fashioned way of referring to a quicker route –   An anagram (cunningly) of RACE inserted into an informal term for the head.

22a         Ordinary man wading into disputation endlessly and for ever (7-3)
WORKING-DAY   The ‘top’ man in a game of chess is inserted into a word meaning a verbal discussion with the S at the end removed(disputation endlessly) followed by a Scottish or Northern English word meaning forever.   Or you can choose the anagram option.

25a         O’Brien’s sure to be in this mix! (4)
EBOR   An anagram (mix) of IN plus the solution is sure to give us OBRIEN.       The solution is the Latin name of 7d.  The &Lit refers to the successful racehorse trainer Aidan O’Brien.  The solution is also the name of a handicap race that is the 7d racecourse’s annual showpiece.

26a         Barbarian irritated husband (4)
GOTH   An informal way of saying irritated followed by the abbreviation for husband.

27a         Excess of Excesses: The Dulcet Truth (4,6)
COLD TURKEY   I love the first definition –   what you still have in the fridge even after you’ve eaten your fill of all the Christmas goodies ; the second definition meaning the plain unvarnished truth.   If you can’t see the wordplay, well then, go for the anagram option.

cold turkey

1d           Sun King’s interrupting typical reaction to Labour proposal boosts children’s entertainment! (10)
STORYBOOKS   The abbreviation for Sun, some discontented sounds produced by the political party who might oppose a Labour proposal, and the abbreviation for King plus S (king’s).   Lovely bit of wordplay which anyone using the ‘anagram option’ will sadly have missed.


2d           Opening Kentucky Classic letter Pipe entered “Fantasy” (5,3)
PORKY PIE   Insert into an opening in the skin, the abbreviation for the State of Kentucky, and the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet to get the Cockney rhyming slang for a lie (fantasy).   (Martin) Pipe is another successful racehorse trainer.

3d           Forgetting inevitability of funeral, dresses down (5,5)
TEARS APART An phrase that might mean aside from a manifestation of sorrowful emotion is more usually used to mean criticises vehemently or destructively.

4d           Minor celebrity‘s the reverse of 9 (1-6)
B-LISTER   ‘The reverse of 9, the reverse of 9’, I muttered to myself until the penny clanged loudly to the floor.   Remove the hyphen from your answer , reverse your solution to 9a and . … d’oh!!

5d           See Raleigh’s state, spending a bit of private time together (4)
SYNC   Remove the P (spending a bit of private) from a verb meaning to see.   Then think and think until the Eureka moment strikes and then go online to confirm that the last two letters are the abbreviation of the US State of which Raleigh is the capital city.

6d           An Arabian citizen, I’ll support the old people (6)
YEMENI   The ‘old’ word for the, a word meaning people and then I from the clue at the end (I’ll support…)

7d           Which of 25 and 11? 25 (4)
YORK   25 is the abbreviated Latin name for this city – to get the vital word needed to help solve nine other clues, write down how you might choose between the 25th and 11th letters of the alphabet.


13d         Good Protea relations accepting sport back are all right settling in? It’s very simple (10)
PROKARYOTE   A unicellular organism without a nucleus containing chromosomes but with its DNA lying freely in the protoplasm. Where would we be without the BRB?      I went for the anagram option/checking letters/Chambers to get this one, and then wrote down the solution on a clean piece of paper and scribbled and muttered until I worked out that you could also take the abbreviation for public relations, the two letters signifying that something is acceptable, good, and ARE (from the clue), the latter having a verb meaning to sport reversed (back) inside.

14d         One dictating “pull” in part of Florida skeets operations (10)
KEYSTROKES Operations I’ve made in order to create this review!   Insert the lead rower in a boat crew (the one who sets the pace of the oars, so ‘one dictating pull’) into the Florida islands.

17d         Agriculturalist’s tip, not a cert in garden science (8)
ROCKETRY The ‘tip’ of agriculturalist  (the T not the A at the front!) inserted into a garden feature.


18           Soaring rackets smothering Fen city with nastiness (7)
SNIDELY   A reversal (soaring) of some loud jarring noises (rackets) going over (smothering) the Fenland city quite often seen in Crosswordland as a ‘see’.

20d         Indian paymaster drunk in Paris with tipsy Sikh (6)
BUKSHI   Here we stray not only into alternative spellings, but also foreign languages.   An alternative spelling for an Indian paymaster is obtained by following the French word for drunk (as in had had a drink, not an inebriate) with an anagram (tipsy) of SIKH.

23d         Stop top broker ignoring the odds (4)
OBOE   An organ stop of a similar tone to the musical instrument of the same name is obtained by ignoring the odd letters of tOp BrOkEr.

24d         The devil    to catch (4)
NICK   A lovely uncomplicated double definition.

Elgar might wish to note that I spent longer solving this puzzle than any other puzzle for a very long time.   Mr CS didn’t see much of me yesterday as I spent a good couple of hours muttering and typing in order to produce what I hope are correct explanations.

31 comments on “NTSPP – 246

  1. My first big mistake of the day … I printed out today’s NTSPP without reading who the setter was!

    Oh! Dear! Where is the recycling bin?

  2. Almost too rich for my blood, that one. There are three or four where saying I have the slightest idea why that’s the answer is probably an exaggeration. Only being able to spot about four of the superfluous words and being completely in the dark about what might conceivably connect them almost certainly didn’t help.

    Excellent, even if I have to admit to coming off second best..

      1. Having seen the review, I now understand why I couldn’t see a connection between the superfluous words, as well as why I couldn’t make any sense of the YEMENI GOTH… homophone (which wasn’t a homophone but an anagram).

        I was feeling rather sluggish yesterday, and I thought that taking xxxxxxxxxxx over this puzzle was evidence of a befogged brain. But Azed only took the usual xx minutes, so I think it was just bloody tough.

        1. Hi Alchemi, I think you may get your wrist slapped by BD for mentioning timings! Also, I can’t tell you how depressing it is for those of us lesser mortals who are struggling to keep a toe-hold on the bottom rung of the crossword ladder. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

          1. Actually, I put the timings in in order to try and comfort those who were having trouble. While I’m not Mark Goodliffe, I’m a fast solver of difficult puzzles, so I thought that if I confessed how hard I found this puzzle and related it to my usual solving time of a puzzle which a lot of people here wouldn’t even attempt, those who were having trouble even getting a toehold might feel less inadequate at being defeated by this. Azed is the usually the hardest straight puzzle that appears each week, so if this puzzle took me twice as long as a standard Azed, it must be damn hard.

  3. OK – that’s me defeated. So far I’ve got two answers and I’m not really sure about either of those. Think I’ll ask Hanni if there’s room in her corner for an extra person.
    I’ll keep trying over the weekend, but don’t hold out much hope. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    1. Jane you are more than welcome in my corner. I’ve decided I’m going to equip it with a drinks cabinet and a very comfy sofa. Do you prefer lime or lemon with a G & T?
      After finishing the Saturday puzzle with few hiccups, I sat down an hour ago and attempted this one. That was a mistake. Seven clues so far and three of them are complete guesses, and by guesses I mean I suspect they’re wrong! :-(

      1. I’ve been looking at it on and off all day. So far, I’ve remembered the tv series with Hawkeye, learnt the name of the confederate president (once I’d looked up secesh) and discovered a new really rude word courtesy of 14a. Looking at 4 possibles, so you’re way ahead of me.
        Lime, please. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        1. You have impeccable taste. :-). Oh God I haven’t got 14a yet! I am struggling to parse pretty much all of the clues I have left.
          Tomorrow is another day and I will persevere, and then I’ll go back to my corner. After I’ve thrown Mephisto in the bin.
          P.S…in my corner golf talk is banned. ;-)

            1. Sorry, Hanni, I meant 14d – not 14a! Whilst desperately trying to fit what turned out to be the superfluous word into the answer, I sought electronic help for an alternative definition – quite an eye-opener! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif
              As you will see below, I gave up on the whole thing this morning. Just as well – it was hard enough with CS’s help! Thought of you when I got to the answer for 8a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif
              No doubt see you in the corner again over the coming days. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  4. Good fun, and far superior to some of the other stuff around at the moment.

    Nice puzzle to mark a nice day. No doubt pics will be circulated in due course.

    1. Thanks for the review Sue. Nice to see the explanations for what took us so much time this morning. We had got most of the NW half of the grid and very little on the SE. In retrospect we think we did pretty well at that.
      Thanks Elgar for the challenge and again Sue for explaining it all.

  5. I have two 4-letter answers penciled in and two maybes after a couple of hours of pick up and put down. I may give it another go tomorrow but I have a feeling it may be an “insider” puzzle.

  6. I’m struggling on with this one, though identifying the redundant words is proving very tricky for me. I’d like to say a particular thank you to Big Dave for taking the time to chat to my wife, Jennifer, at York yesterday. As she is not a crossword freak, like the rest of us, it helped to make her feel included in the event. Very thoughtful, and appreciated.

  7. With only 5 answers in, I let CS’s review walk me through it (many thanks for all your hard work!). Too many unknown words/definitions to cope with when you haven’t got far enough through to bring the ‘anagram’ option into play. Having said that – once you know the ‘secret’ it makes Elgar’s contribution here even more impressive. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif On the upside, the 5 answers I got were correct!
    By the way, CS – I think there’s a couple of typos (16a answer and 6d clue).

  8. Finally completed without resorting to aids, but ‘By guess and by God’ hardly covers how I got there, and my attempted parsing of 6d was wrong. I think it will probably be difficult to slip the answer to 13d into a conversation in the foreseeable future.
    Thanks for the message Sue, and for explaining the aspects of the crossword that I missed.

  9. Awesome puzzle – what a feat of setting! Many thanks to crypticsue for reminding me of the answers.

    Luckily at the S&B meeting I was sitting on a table with expert solvers who figured it all out! A bit beyond my pay grade, though.

    George @9, just talk to me for 10 min and I’m sure I might use the 13d word, but then again I am a biological scientist.

  10. Well, I got five answers. “Nuff said. At least they were correct. All of my admiration is reserved for CS, not only for solving this monster unaided but then on top of that being able to explain the clues so well.

    1. Hi Chris, funny that we both got 5 answers! Mine were 12&13a, 4,18 & 24d (with a possible at 23d). Wonder how that compares with yours?

    2. 1D, 4D, 18D, 24D and 26A. Annoyed with myself for not getting 5D because I know very well what State Raleigh is in so had the abbreviation part easily but just couldn’t “see” the rest! I’ve been discombobulated all day because I was convinced our clocks went back last night and couldn’t understand this morning why my computer didn’t auto-correct the clock. It’s been all down hill from there.

      Never mind…there’s a rookie puzzle to look forward to later this evening.

      1. Now wondering why my comment went into moderation! Oh, well. It’s been that kind of day…

        1. We agreed on three out of the five so I guess we have to assume that those were the ‘easiest’ ones! Isn’t ‘discombobulate’ just the best word ever. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif
          Don’t get me started on ‘clock-changing’ – I seem to have spent the bigger part of the day rifling through instruction manuals for the electronic gadgets that don’t auto-correct. Yes – I know I changed them all in the Spring, but I often have problems with yesterday, never mind six months ago!
          Not to worry about the ‘moderation’ thingy – it happens to me with almost every post. Maybe the server just has me down as a potential trouble-maker. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

  11. Very nice and cleverly constructed puzzle. That was lots of fun to solve.

    I didn’t find it as tricky as Friday’s Toughie by the same setter, but two Elgar puzzles on successive days is cause for celebration.

  12. I think I am there, whilst cursing and spitting feathers at yet another delay at Doncaster on the way back from the do yesterday I sat on the station and made inroads, the grid is filled but still to unravel the nuances.

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