NTSPP – 260 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 260

NTSPP – 260

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This puzzle has been set especially for the Blog Birthday Party at the Bridge House in Little Venice, and copies were circulated at the venue.
Windsurfer has also written a special puzzle which I hope to be able to publish next Saturday.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows:

It is only fitting that Prolixic, the setter who has done more NTSPPs than most, not to mention the considerable number of reviews, should provide this special Birthday Puzzle for us to solve.

This is the weekend when he’d normally provide his End of Year Summary – his Quinquennial Report (yes it really has been five years) can be found at the end of the review.


1a           Couple cover heartless scoundrel with cheese (6)
BRIDGE    There are lots of informal terms for scoundrel – here you want the one meaning like a canine, from which you should remove the middle letter (heartless) and insert into a type of French cheese.


4a           Stop pound dropping with bank’s gearing mechanism (8)
COGWHEEL A verb meaning to obstruct [usually with thick or sticky matter] with the L removed (dropping the L used to represent £ = pound), the abbreviation for with and a verb meaning to bank or lean over.

10a         It can be found in ravioli or apricot tagine (7)
RICOTTA An Italian cheese often used to stuff ravioli is hidden in apRICOT TAgine.

11a         Insect has to work hard carrying bread back (4,3)
LION ANT   Put some Indian bread into a verb meaning to work hard and then reverse (back) the result.

12a         Talk into substituting hearts for clubs in trick (4)
HOAX Change the C at the start of a verb meaning to talk into with an H (substituting Hearts for Clubs).

13a         Flier swooped balletically over dry lake (7,3)
SPOTTED OWL An anagram (balletically) of SWOOPED into which is inserted the two letters used to mean ‘dry’ in the sense of not drinking alcohol; the result is then followed by the abbreviation for Lake.

spotted owl

15a         Mail arrives containing memorandum of understanding (6)
ARMOUR   Not post but chain mail.   The abbreviation for arrives into which is inserted (containing) the abbreviation for Memorandum Of Understanding.

16a         Terrible to-do about Sandhurst lackey (7)
DOORMAT   An anagram (terrible) of TO DO into which is inserted the abbreviation for the Royal Military Academy which has its home at Sandhurst.

20a         Nothing in East Coast city is bad (7)
NAUGHTY   An archaic way of saying nothing inserted into the abbreviation for an American East Coast city.


21a         Start of basketball game results in warning (3-3)
TIP-OFF   The act of starting a basketball game – the ball is put into play by the referee throwing it high between two opposing players; a warning or hint, especially one given confidentially.

24a         Moloch’s ram sacrificed for mistress (10)
SCHOOLMARM   An anagram (sacrificed) of MOLOCHS RAM.

26a         Stage animals making a comeback (4)
STEP A reversal (making a comeback) of domestic animals generally.

28a         Important rugby agents visiting Sri Lanka (7)
CRUCIAL   The abbreviation for rugby union and the American intelligence gathering agency inserted into (visiting) the IVR code for Sri Lanka. It helps if you know what the original name of Sri Lanka was!

29a         Poor actor parting company is a goat (7)
CHAMOIS A poor actor inserted into the abbreviation for company and the result followed by IS (from the clue).

30a         Invigorate doughboy in serene setting (8)
ENERGISE   A doughboy is an informal term for a member of the US Army – the usual abbreviation for such a soldier is inserted into an anagram (setting) of SERENE.

31a         Deductions from wages pinched by five Europeans in Italian city (6)
VENICE   The abbreviated way of referred to deductions from your pay is inserted between the Roman numeral for five and two lots of E (Europeans).
1d           Reportedly bed old American actress for anniversary (8)
BIRTHDAY   A homophone (reportedly) of a bed found in a vessel or train followed by the surname of an American actress/singer who has been around for a while!

2d           Inadequate flow of blood – one ends up nursing awful ache (9)
ISCHAEMIA   I (one) and a reversal (up) of a word meaning ends in the sense of intentions, into which is inserted an anagram (awful) of ACHE.

3d           Barbarian scored his goal! (4)
GOTH –   Another word for scored, followed by the shape of a goal in a game played by teams of which the Barbarians are an example.


5d           Demand leaders of Italian government leave for sacrifice (8)
OBLATION   Remove the ‘leaders’ of Italian and Government from a demand or requirement.

6d           Question the French over small amount of cereal? (10)
WHOLEGRAIN   The word used when asking ‘which person’ (question), the French word for ‘the’ and the smallest avoirdupois weight.

7d           Leaders of Egham Residents Association take opium as a source of inspiration (5)
ERATO   The Muse of Lyric Poetry (a source of inspiration) is obtained from the ‘leaders’ of Egham Residents Association take opium.

8d           Thallium found in low-fat peanuts (6)
LITTLE   The chemical symbol for Thallium inserted into an American way of saying low-fat.

9d           Bohemian leaves India for America with a smile? (5)
HAPPY Removed I for India from a bohemian and replace with A for America.


14d         Shooting with Bren-gun, I go amok (10)
BURGEONING An anagram (amok) of BREN GUN I GO.

17d         With stronger reason, a castle on independent island is invaded by soldiers (1,8)
A FORTIORI    A (from the clue) a type of castle, the abbreviations for Independent and Island, between which is inserted the usual abbreviation for Other Ranks of soldiers.

18d         Encouragement to raise hat during court proceedings (8)
STIMULUS   This particular hat goes on a chimney and should be inserted into some law court proceedings and then the whole lot reversed (raise).

19d         Striking pose with headless stiff is unconventional (3-5)
OFF-PISTE An anagram (striking) of POSE and TIFF (headless tells you to remove the S from stiff).

22d         Spirit drunk by tipsy chef (6)
PSYCHE   Drunk by, or found hidden in, tiPSY CHEf

23d         Helpful person with a stretcher? (5)
BRICK   Double definition – one an informal term for a helpful person and the other a piece of building material.

25d         Call    home (5)
HOUSE   A bingo call or where you live.

27d         Anglicans eat a vitamin tablet.
CAKE   The Church of England ‘eat’ A (from the clue) and a vitamin.


Now we are five

As well as being the sixth birthday of the blog, this weekend also marks a notable landmark, the Quinquennial of the Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle.  As is therefore customary, an end of term review follows.

The continuing success of the NTSPP led the headmaster, Big Dave, to open an preparatory school that meets once a week on Mondays.  The Rookie Corner gives potential pupils the opportunity to submit crosswords for solvers to solve that have not been through any editorial process.  This has been a tremendous success and two students, Soup and Imsety have  joined the NTSPP as setters.  Others will, I am sure, follow.   Bucko and Chalicea have also made their debut appearances during the year.

Old boys and girls of the school continue to provide sterling support week by week producing high quality crosswords.  After a flurry of graduations in previous years to the national press, this year has not seen any major promotions although Radler has continued to make forays into the Inquisitor territory.  Thanks are also due to John Henderson (editor of the Inquisitor crosswords and known to us as Elgar) for publicising the work of Big Dave in publishing crosswords from new setters.  He has also provided several crosswords for the NTSPP.

It is hard to believe that our headmaster remains largely invisible (actually it is very hard to believe that he could ever be invisible) working behind the scenes to ensure that crosswords are published each Saturday and Monday with the monthly prize puzzle as well.  Thanks, as ever, are due to him for his work in nurturing new talent.

The school is also staffed by a friendly matron, Crypticsue.  As a solver (though sadly not as a setter) she does a tremendous amount of test solving and reviewing the NTSPP each week when Prolixic or one of the other nationally published setters has set the crossword.

As the NTSPP enters its sixth year, we continue to look forward to the delights that our setters bring us each week.


33 comments on “NTSPP – 260

  1. Hope everyone has a brilliant time at 1a 25d today. Behave yourselves or 24a CS will have you off the 20a 26a and out on the 16a.
    Wonder how many will go a 8d 19d trying to find the way home tonight!

    9d 1d to you all and many thanks to Prolixic for today’s NTSPP – you deserve a large drink and some 27d. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  2. A quick glance at the clock tells us that about now the survivors at the Bridge House will be just pouring their last drinks. Hope you have all had a great time.
    We made a few wild guesses after reading the heading for this puzzle and they all turned out to be correct when we worked through the wordplay. The last one in, and it really had us scratching our heads, was 18d. The use of the word for a hat was new to us, but we did know its more common (at least north of the border) meaning. Really good fun.
    Thanks Prolixic.

    1. SO pleased you joined me, 2Ks – I was starting to think I was the only one doing the NTSPP today! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif
      Still trying to figure out the correct parsing for 3&5d but at least I’ve got a completed grid.

      Bet there’s a few ‘tired & emotional’ bodies weaving their way around London at the moment. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        1. Glad you enjoyed it, BD. If it weren’t for you, none of this would exist – and what a terrible shame that would be. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

      1. We are not quite sure of exactly how to justify the last letter for 3d either. The first three letters are a synonym for scored. For 5d, remove a couple of letters, clued as ‘leaders’, from inside a word meaning a demand to give you the answer. Cheers.

        1. Thanks, 2Ks – all becomes clear re: 5d now!
          3d – I got the first three letters as you did and then just bunged on the last letter to give a definition of a barbarian……………after I’d waded through reams of info. on various rugby teams. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif No doubt there’s rather more to it than that!

            1. It didn’t. I had a look at the original comment and edited it a bit so it looks more like the letter but it still doesn’t reproduce correctly on the blog page

        2. So we were on the right track after all. It should have been more obvious to us than to most, considering where we come from.

  3. I needed Mr. Expat’s help for the first three letters of 4A (Fly didn’t work) , then 4D fell into place. Those were my last two in. And thanks to the visual aid, I now understand the reasoning behind the last letter of 3D. Thanks, CS and BD! I, too am unfamiliar with the hat in 18D. Although I saw the theme clues quickly, it still took some time to complete the grid. Now that I understand it, I am definitely leaning towards the clever 3D as my favorite clue. Many thanks to Prolixic. Looking forward to the review, and to seeing pics of the Birthday Bash.

  4. It was good to meet you Prolixic, and thanks for a very entertaining anniversary puzzle :-)

    Like a few others it seems, 4a and 3d had me doing some serious head scratching, but I got there in the end !

    The abbreviation for Sri Lanka is a new one for me, but I presume it stems from its previous name ?

  5. Apologies to all waiting for the review, but I’ve had a lovely lie in. Got up to be told by Mr CS that there isn’t much in the fridge so a quick visit to Sainsbury’s is required before I am alllowed back to crossword duties.

  6. Fab birthday crossword! It was a lot of fun and, I confess, a bit of head scratching, especially in the north east corner. Thankfully, the pennies dropped with loud clangs. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it kept me absorbed for ages.Thank you very much, Prolixic. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    I much look forward to CS’s review. After what sounds like a splendid birthday celebration plus CS’s extremely yummy cake, a late lie-in is more than well deserved.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  7. Just wanted to thank BD for a very enjoyable afternoon at the Bridge House yesterday. It was great to be able to match faces to names – everyone was so friendly and Sue’s cake and Jean-Luc’s macaroons were first class. I hope to move from being a ‘lurker’ over the next year…

  8. Well done, CS – that cake looks amazing! Sounds as though it went down extremely well with the assembled throng.
    Can’t believe that you’ve still found time to do the review – Sainsbury’s must have been reasonably quiet this morning!
    3d is still making me chuckle. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    ps Think the hint at 23d needs a little touching up.

    1. Thanks Jane – it wasn’t until I was loading the dishwasher just now that the penny dropped as to what you meant – hint now corrected.

      I drafted the review 10 days ago (one of the benefits of having test solved it) and so it was just a case of adding the draft to the posting system and adding some pictures.

  9. I had to be a bit “resourceful” to get a few of these, but enjoyed it immensely. It was relaxing to have the answers in the preamble to give a nice foothold.

    I didn’t know the chimney hat, and had forgotten the way of starting basketball. The stretcher part of 23d required investigation, and I completely failed to see the right meaning of mail in 15a. Didn’t know the Sandhurst or Sri Lanka abbreviations either, and probably a couple of other bits I’ve forgotten.

    Very enjoyable – thanks, Prolixic, and to CS for the review.

    The cake may look like a 6, but I can confirm it was a 10!

  10. Congratulations to Big Dave and his band of bloggers on your 6th birthday and what looks to have been a very successful celebration. The cake looks wonderful, and the cake board is great, too.

    Well, I had a question mark against my answer for 23D, and I was indeed way off mark. In my defense, I thought it entirely possible that W (with) +RACK (instrument of torture) could be some new British slang for a helpful person.

    Many thanks to CS for the review, and to Prolixic for the lovely puzzle.

  11. Congratulations to BD and all the crew. It’s great to hear that a good time was had by all yesterday, and I’m very sorry to have missed it. I shall definitely do my best to attend a future gathering. CS, can you put some names to the faces in the picture above please? I can identify several of them but not all.

    Many thanks to Prolixic for this excellent puzzle and the end of term review. I eventually completed it but was very grateful for CS’s help for the wordplay for several “bung it in” answers – 4a, 20a, 28a, 3d & 8d.

    1. Left to right:

      Crypticsue, Prolixic, Bufo, Miffypops, BD, Deep Threat, Kath and Gazza

      Toro turned up, but was too late to be included in this picture.

  12. My thanks to Crypticsue for the review and to everyone for the kind comments. It was great to see so many familiar and new faces at Bridge House yesterday. I will be back in more ways the one next week!

  13. Hello Kath! Good to be able to put a face to the name at last! We regular solvers all probably have a mental picture each other and are probably wildly off mark! It would be fun to have a gallery where we could (easily, for the non techies like me) post head shots and a very brief bio.

  14. Happy Birthday to BD’s Blog.
    To all the bloggers and NTSPP/Rookies Corner setters – thanks for making this a great place to come and play !
    Looks like you all had a great time yesterday – and CS that cake looks amazing. Well done you!
    PS great photo – what a motley crew you are ! :)

  15. Many thanks Prolixic for an enjoyable solve and to BD for a great meeting in Little Venice.

    And thanks to crypticsue for a good blog and patiently test solving some of the grids.

    I had a great time at the meeting, best wishes to everyone there and to the posters here.

  16. Remember solving Prolixic’s crossword with Windsurfer, Dutch and two great North London guys, just after solving Windsurfer’s offering with Prolixic, Kitty and Dutch. Four heads are better than one.
    Must remember to team up with Framboise next time she comes to Hyères.
    Both crossword were topical and a real joy.
    Thanks to both setters and to CS for the review.

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