NTSPP – 262

NTSPP – 262

A Puzzle by Gazza

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

1 Moment of anxiety in coach when grating sound heard from the rear (7,3,4)
SQUEAKY BUM TIME – A cryptic definition of the edge of the seat moment at the end of the season coined by Sir Alex Ferguson.

10 Horny thing essentially beset by early signs of real obliteration (5)
RHINO – The inner letters (essentially) of “thing” have the first letters (early signs) of Real Obliteration put around them (beset by).  If horny on its own is the definition, an adjective is defining a noun.  If thing is part of the definition, it is doing double duty as part of the wordplay too.

11 Misconstrue why heartless Italian prepared ambush (3,2,4)
LAY IN WAIT – An anagram (misconstrue) of WY (why heartless or without its middle letter) ITALIAN.

12 Combine to take advantage of the sunshine? (4,3)
MAKE HAY – Double definition, the first being what a combine harvester does.

13 Press release by PM at one point stopped early gossip (7)
PRATTLE – The abbreviation for press release followed by the surname of Sir Clement with the final letter removed (stopped early).

14 Southwest Airlines entertain one on flight (5)
STAIR – The answer is hidden inside (entertain – should this be entertains?) SOUTHWEST AIRLINES.

16 Divorced wife failed to adjust, abandoning daughter to be a scrubber (9)
EXFOLIATE – A two letter word for a former wife followed by an anagram (adjust) of FAILED TO after removing the D (abandoning daughter).

19 Revolutionary speculates about head of state’s military headgear (3,6)
RED BERETS – The colour associated with a left wing revolutionary followed by a four letter word for speculates or gambles around the abbreviation for the Queen (head of state).

20 Following a record recession South Africa’s getting square (5)
PLAZA – Reverse (recession) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for a long playing record and follow this with the IVR code for South Africa.

22 Thump Conservative tosser (7)
CLOBBER – The one letter abbreviation for conservative followed by a word for someone who throws something.

25 Draw round oven for hot snack (7)
TOASTIE – Another word for a draw in a football or other game goes around an oven where hops are prepared.

27 Runs in excitement to hear radio (9)
DIARRHOEA – An anagram (excitement to) HEAR RADIO.

28 Bishop is a poser and gets heated when lying (5)
BASKS – The one letter abbreviation for Bishop followed by a word meaning poses a question.

29 Cover for hunter or detective? (11,3)
DEERSTALKER HAT – A thinly veiled cryptic definition of the type of hat worn by Sherlock Holmes.


2 Brisk rub down offering a spot of risk (9)
QUICKSAND – A word meaning brisk or fast followed by a word meaning to rub down or smooth a surface.

3 Local line loops round outside quiet period (5)
EPOCH – Reverse (loops around) the line on the floor used by darts players in the pub (local line) around the abbreviation for quiet.

4 House number one (6,3)
KELLYS EYE – The phrase used in Bingo (house) for the number one.

5 With nothing to be lost encourage to acquire the lot (3,2)
BUY UP – Remove the O (with nothing to be lost) from an expression meaning to encourage.

6 Lot of underwear problems experienced by accident-prone drinker? (4,1,4)
MANY A SLIP – The first part of the expression that ends twixt the cup and lip could indicate lots of underwear.

7 To nod off during sex is tactless (5)
INAPT – A word meaning to nod off inside a two letter euphemism for sex.

8 Desperate old lover may possibly hold maiden captive (7)
EXTREME – A word letter word for an old lover (very similar to 16a) followed by the type of plant of which May is an example around the abbreviation for maiden.  I think that the convention is that setters can capitalise a word to mislead but should not put a proper noun (such as the name of the tree) into lower case to do so.

9 My doctor’s gripped by baseless obsession (6)
CRUMBS – A two letter abbreviation for Bachelor of Medicine (doctor) inside (gripped by) a word for obsession with the final H removed (baseless).

15 Beer marks disfigured boards (not for the first time) (2-7)
RE-EMBARKS – An anagram (disfigured) of BEER MARKS.

17 Sprinter hopes for this record after Ramadan say (4,5)
FAST TRACK – Another word for a record or piece of music after what people do during Ramadan as a period of abstinence.

18 Incontinent, slovenly Santa probably murdered Grand Duchess! (9)
ANASTASIA – In the name of a continent (incontinent – reviewer sucks through gritted teeth) add an anagram (slovenly) of SANTA.

19 Retired and made a fresh start on the lawn, rumour has it (7)
RECEDED – A homophone (rumour has it) of RE-SEEDED (made a fresh start on lawn).

21 Language is moderated to camouflage long-lived discrimination (6)
AGEISM – The answer is hidden inside (to camouflage) LANGUAGE IS MODERATED.

23 Periodically you’ve a stye looking like an egg (5)
OVATE – The even letters (periodically) of YOU’VE A STYE

24 Southern port that’s fine for Bavarian wine (5)
RIOJA – A South American port followed by the German for yes.

26 Room has no central heating – see that as a warning (5)
AMBER – Remove the abbreviation for central heating from the front of a word meaning a room.



  1. windsurfer23
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza, interesting puzzle.

    The bottom half went in smoothly but I didn’t know 1A or 4D, so that slowed things up.

    I particularly liked 6, 22 & 26. Not sure I am parsing 3 & 27 correctly.

    • Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      In 3 Down, the “local line” is a line on the floor of a pub (local) that has a dartboard!

      In 27 Across the deinition is (the) runs and it’s an anagram.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Thanks BD. 3d is very clever.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
        I was typing my comment below when you were answering windsurfer.

      • windsurfer23
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks BD, 3D very good when you understand it! Unaccountably, I didn’t spot that 27A was an anagram. I got the runs (although not now ;) )

  2. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    3*/5*. A magnificent pangram, Gazza! Great surfaces with lots of laughs and peppered with innuendo. I particularly enjoyed 1a, 12a, 22a, 27a, 7d, 9d (last one in – my was that hard to spot the definition) and 18d. I had better qualify that by saying that 27a is not usually something to be enjoyed.

    Like windsurfer23, I haven’t been able to parse 3d fully, nor can I quite unravel 8d. I’ll wait with bated breath for the review.

    Well done and many thanks, Gazza.

    • pommers
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Re 8d, the may is another word for hawthorn.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        D’oh! Of course. Thanks pommers.

  3. Franco
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    More innuendos than in a RayT – we like that!

    27a – Got in a bit of a mess on this one … how many ways are there to spell it?

  4. Rick
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful stuff Gazza. Cheeky and irreverant with not a Greek god or obscure ecclesiastical reference in sight! Great fun and a breath of fresh air.

  5. pommers
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I reckon this is your best-ever puzzle Gazza and it was hugely enjoyable, even if not over-taxing. Lots of great clues and I’m still grinning about 22a, 27a and 4d to name but a few :lol:

    Favourite has to be 7d for its wonderful surface :lol:

    Only hold up was caused by putting EXIST for 7d. Well, in my defence it is hidden (during) in sEX IS Tactless – it was a “bung it in and parse it later” job. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif (Note to self – if it ain’t parsed it don’t go in).

    Many thanks for the fun Gazza – can’t wait for your next one.

  6. Colmce
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    The clues make you laugh, the answers make you laugh, and it is solvable with a bit of thought…what’s not to like?

    Many thanks Gazza

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Loved it, even though I could not parse 3D or 8D and I’m not sure of my rationale for 14A. Very pleased with myself for working out 1A, which is new to me, from the checking letters, but I had to Google to confirm. I have many checks by the ones I like best, but I think 1A, 2D and 18D come out tops. Super puzzle Gazza! You are far and away my favorite NTSPP setter because you always leave me laughing.

    • Jane
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris – for 14a you’re looking for one of those answers that Kath reckons she can rarely find!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! Completely missed that.

      • Kath
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        Really sorry Jane and Expat Chris – this is becoming an epidemic . . . .

        • Kath
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

          . . . before long it will be pandemic – oh dear!!

          • pommers
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:15 am | Permalink

            er . . . I found one that wasn’t an answer, Oh dear indeed http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  8. Jane
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Loved every minute of it, despite having to guess at 1a and discovering that I’m still incapable of spelling 27a.

    Just one thing – I’ve got several alternatives for 9d but can’t justify any of them. Can someone help?

    So many potential favourites to choose from – maybe I’ll go for 2 or 7d.

    Many thanks, Gazza – you made my day. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Rick
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Gosh Jane, I think you’ll say ‘crikey’ when you see it!

    • Expat Chris
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Re 9D, Here’s how I parsed it. The definition is My. Take a 2-letter abbreviation for a medical doctor and tuck it inside the first 4 letters of a 7-letter word for the kind of obsession that Richard the Lionheart had that came close to bankrupting the Treasury.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Although Richard the Lionheart’s obsession is a very inventive interpretation, I suspect that Gazza intends us to remove the last letter from a shorter word meaning infatuation.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure you’re right, and I’m sure someone will tell me why mine doesn’t work according to the rules, but I like it!

      • Franco
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        9d – I parsed it differently … I agree that the definition is “My” … but isn’t the baseless obsession CRUS(H) – it is St Valentines Day.

    • Jane
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Many thanks everyone, it was ‘obsession’ that was the sticking point in my parsing and now it seems I have two choices!

      You are quite probably correct RD – but I do rather like the Richard the Lionheart analogy.

  9. Hilary
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Cannot wait for tomorrow to see what an idiot I am, 1ac has completely defeated me and as everyone else has solved it I will probably be spending the day in the cupboard under the stairs shame faced once again. In mitigation it is my first attempt at a NTSPP. Onwards and upwards to quote a well used phrase.

    • Jane
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the NTSPP gang, Hilary – it’s always great fun to give these a go.
      I hadn’t heard of 1a before and guessed it from the checking letters. It’s a somewhat ‘cheeky’ expression coined to describe a spectator wriggling round in their seat during tense moments of a sports match. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

      • Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        A feeling that is familiar to all Spurs supporters!

        • Rick
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          Usually experienced from a hiding place behind the sofa in our house!

  10. Hilary
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for Google suggestion – it worked perfectly, I now have a completed grid but only tomorrow will show whether or not I am right.

  11. Gordon
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle Gazza. Needed help above to understand 3d. Missed the pangram because I spelled 20a with an S, giving somewhat unsatisfactory answer, but I can’t parse it to spell it with a Z. Please help.

    • Jane
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      It’s those pesky IVR codes again!

      • Gordon
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Grrr. Thanks Jane. How did Saudi Arabia beat them to it?

        • Jane
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Maybe they paid for it in oil?

        • pommers
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          It’s from Zuid Afrika – Dutch for South Africa. (Afrikaans is Suid Afrika)

          • Jane
            Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            I knew there’d be a sensible answer – thanks, Pommers. Now that I’ve bothered to look, I also discover that Saudi Arabia uses KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) so I guess that leaves SA still up for grabs!

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    We just loved it. Smiled, chuckled and laughed out loud as we solved it with our Sunday morning breakfast. 1a set the mood, and the biggest guffaw was when we picked that 27a was an anagram with runs as the definition. Totally failed to pick the pangram. Excellent fun.
    Thanks Gazza.

    • pommers
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      I was giggling so much I never thought to check for a pangram, not that I ever do. :grin:

  13. Sprocker
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic stuff, had me chuckling throughout. Best NTSPP I can recall, with the only problem being I had far too many favourite clues to mention. Thanks Gazza! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  14. Kath
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I loved most of it apart from 1a because I can’t do it – I’m really fed-up with myself about it as everyone else has got it . . .
    If I could get 1a it might help me with 5d which is one of the other two that I can’t do – 28a being the other one.
    I think this is one of those “how can you be so dim” and “oh dear” days.
    Brilliant puzzle, gazza – lots to laugh about which is sometimes lacking in other crosswords, and that’s all I’m saying!
    SO many good clues that I’m struggling to pick out any in particular, let alone just one favourite, so in no particular order 12a (because of the misdirection of combine) 22 and 27a and 2 and 7d.
    Thanks and congratulations to gazza, yet again.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      I think 5D may be the key to you getting 1A. For the first word of 5D, think of a 4-letter maritime navigational aid that also means ‘encourage’ and remove the ‘o’ (nothing to be lost).

      • pommers
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        Be afraid, be very afraid – you might be the next one press ganged into the blogging team – look what happened to Kath http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        • Expat Chris
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:16 am | Permalink

          Heaven forfend!

          • pommers
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:24 am | Permalink

            If you want a try at it I’ll share a blog with you any time http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

            • Expat Chris
              Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:43 am | Permalink

              That is more than generous, and I am flattered by the offer. The fact of the matter is that I still have a demanding full-time job and could not guarantee availability. Add to that, having been an expat for so many years does take me out of the loop when it comes to being up on the more modern British expressions. However, I am usually a dab hand at most things US related! Call me in a couple of years!

              • pommers
                Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:51 am | Permalink

                You are in the diary http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  15. pommers
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Prolixic – re 10a, I had the same thoughts about THING doing a bit of double duty but I forgave Gazza because of the wonderful surface reading, especially as the beast in question is on the verge of being obliterated. It’s really an &lit.

  16. Expat Chris
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Re 29A, I am ready to be corrected, but isn’t a deerstalker a cap rather than a hat?

    • pommers
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:21 am | Permalink

      Correct, but it’s one for the pedant’s corner I think. Of course, one could argue that HAT is a generic word for headgear which would include the subspecies of cap so the clue is OK. Leave it to the pedants as far as I’m concerned – it worked for me and it raised a smile as well.

      • Rick
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Could I just peek out from pedants’ corner to add that combine harvesters don’t make hay? They combine the cutting, threshing and winnowing of cereals in one operation, hence the name. Hay is just mown grass cut with a giant lawnmower. I missed it first time through as the answer went in from def and word count.

  17. Jane
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – don’t think I’ll be trying out Bear’s quicksand trick any time soon!

    I’ve been looking into the origins of that line for darts players. Some of the suggested reasons behind it are hilarious – I particularly liked the one about the spitting distance!

  18. Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    In 3 down the OCHE (local line) needs to be cycled (loops) into E-OCH before the P (quiet) is inserted.

  19. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Many thanks for your review, Prolixic. For 3d the local line is not reversed, its final letter is looped round to go outside the abbreviation for quiet.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Bother! BD beat me to it.

  20. silvanus
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Gazza – that was great fun to solve and the wordplay was excellent :-)

    I was hoping to see 1a appear in a puzzle at some stage and therefore it was extremely satisfying to witness its appearance !

    Well done indeed.

  21. Kath
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Feeling much better this morning!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif
    I don’t mind not getting an answer that I know I would never ever ever have got!
    I should have got 5d and husband eventually did 28a which is another one that I should have managed “all my own self”!
    Thanks to Prolixic and to Expat Chris for her hints.

    • Hilary
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Delighted to hear that you are feeling better this morning. I have to admit that i found 1ac via Google and also needed this morning’s help to explain what I had put in for several other answers. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  22. gazza
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to all who commented and to Prolixic for the review.

    I wrote the ‘squeaky bum’ clue about 3 years ago but thought that many people wouldn’t recognise it so I didn’t use it. Then last October Elkamere (Toughie 1269) used the phrase as an answer:
    End-of-season nerves make my sub quite erratic (7,3,4)
    so I took that as a green light and stuck the clue in.
    As pommers suggested I intended 10a to be a semi-all-in-one with the whole clue being the definition.
    The main definition for 6d is meant to be ‘lot of underwear’ with ‘problems experienced by accident-prone drinker?’ being a second definition.

  23. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Gazza.
    That was great fun.
    Guessed 1a from the checking letters though. And a couple were more or less bunged in.
    I laughed at 27a. Not an easy word to put in a crossword.
    I’ll make it my favourite with 26d. So smooth.
    As for the blog. I liked the crusade from Expat Chris. I had the same problem with 14a. I thought it was Star Airways with one inside.
    For 29a I wrote cap also.
    Didn’t spot the pangram either because I had the same problem with 20a. I just knew it couldn’t be an ‘S’.
    I could carry on commenting all night about it but decided to spare you.

  24. Toro
    Posted February 16, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Another hugely refreshing and enjoyable puzzle from Gazza with his signature mix of deceptive wordplay, cleverly concealed definitions and Sid James humour.

    I agree with Prolixic that 10a involves double duty (even if read as a semi-&lit), but BRB and Oxford Online both list “may” in lower case meaning hawthorn (8d). Re. 14a, you could argue that since the hidden solution spans two words, the plural “entertain” is fair. (I’m a bit less convinced about plural “hold” in 8d since it is only a one-word container.) I also agree with Prolixic (and disagree with Gazza!) that the definition in 6d has to be the second part, since that – and not “a lot of underwear” – is the sense of “many a slip” as an established phrase. By the same principle, I feel that 17d doesn’t clue the dictionary meaning of “fast track”, and is therefore not really legit. All of which nitpicking took nothing away from my appreciation of the puzzle.

    Missed the pangram (always do), and looked in vain for wordplay in 1a, not knowing that the phrase was associated with Ferguson. 4d was also new to me, or at least rang only a distant bell.

    Great fun and look forward to Gazza’s next one.