NTSPP – 273 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 273

NTSPP – 273

A Puzzle by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Many thanks to Gazza for entertaining us Ray T style.  I don’t know about you but I found this on the tough side, taking longer than most Toughies take to solve.  There is a Nina around the perimeter of the grid with the title of an autobiographical play by John Mortimer.


5 Spanish chap’s not about to invest in Queen Victoria’s style diamonds (6)
RHOMBI – A Spanish word for a man loses the RE (not about) at the end and the remaining letters go inside (invest in) the a style or title of Queen Victoria (Regina Imperatrix – Queen and Empress).

7 Leaving harbour to crush a soft foe … (3,2,3)
OFF TO SEA – An anagram (to crush) of A SOFT FOE.

9 … by all means. Crew comes round, seeing sense (8)
EYESIGHT – A word for a rowing crew goes around a word meaning “by all means”.

10 Fancy man on Long Island … (6)
LIKING – A man or piece on a chessboard goes after (on in an across clue) the abbreviation for Long Island.

11 … approved of restrained look (4,2,6)
HELD IN REGARD – A two word phrase meaning restrained followed by a word meaning look.

13 Non-professional proxy symbolises change in Japan (3,3)
TEN YEN – Remove the three letter abbreviation for professional from proxy and expand the remaining letters from the abbreviations to words.

15 Get the message concerning boxing – very violent (6)
SEVERE – A word meaning “get the message” or understand is followed by a two letter word meaning on or concerning and this goes around (boxing) the abbreviation for very.

18 Being attractive to reptiles, pole dancing can make her rich initially (5,7)
SNAKE CHARMER – One of the poles (as in a compass direction) is followed by an anagram (dancing) of CAN MAKE HER R (rich initially).

21 Virtually nothing put in charity tin at first (6)
ALMOST – The letter representing nothing goes inside a word for charity and this is followed by the first letter of tin.

22 Get turned on by students’ tango in carnival city though disheartened beforehand (6,2)
THRILL TO – The outer letters (disheartened) of though go before the repeated abbreviation for student (as students is in the plural) and the letter in the NATO phonetic alphabet for Tango, these letter being inside (in) a Brazilian city noted for carnivals.

23 Promoted and introduced to beer down under? (8)
FOSTERED – A double definition, part cryptic and fanciful, the second definition being a way of saying someone might have been given a particular brand of Australian beer.

24 Carriage and pair from Austria trail last in trial (6)
LANDAU – The AND from the clue and the first pair of letters from Austria go after (trail) the last letter in trial.


1 In a funny way morning exercise does limit your openings (8)
AMUSEDLY – The abbreviation for morning followed by a word meaning exercise and the first letters (openings) of Does Limit Your.

2 Chaste high-flier … (6)
VIRGIN – A double definition, the high –flyer being Richard Branson’s airline.

3 … dumps dude with no capital and piles (8)
OFFLOADS – A word for a dude or upper-class person has the first letter removed (with no capital) and this is followed by a word meaning piles (as in lots of something).

4 Portion of curry or kedgeree sent to the pavilion? (6)
YORKED – The answer is hidden in CURRY OR KEDGEREE.

6 Coward’s acts that can bring tears to one’s eyes (3,5)
HAY FEVER – A seasonal disorder that brings tears and sneezing the spring and summer is also the name of a play (consisting of several acts) by Noel Coward.

7 First Open University exam has directions written upside down (6)
OUTSET – The abbreviation for Open University followed by a word for an exam with the inner letters (which are compass directions) in opposite order (written upside down).

8 On Geordieland sign of indecision can get the bird (4)
ERNE – A verbal sound indicating indecision followed by the area of the country where Geordies are to be found.

12 Teenager turned to drink … (5,3)
GREEN TEA – An anagram (turned) of TEENAGER.

14 … not far off end of school holidays? (4-4)
NEAR-TERM – A semi-&lit clue.  An expression meaning not far-off also cryptically means not far off the end of the school holidays.

16 Victor nearly messed up embracing new sweetheart among the troops (4,4)
VERA LYNN – The abbreviation for Victor followed by an anagram (messed up) of NEARLY around the abbreviation for new.

17 Put in the shade, Norman is having a nap (6)
BESTED – The French (Norman) word for “is” goes inside a word meaning having a nap.  If you are wondering where the containment indicator is, if you are having a nap you are possibly IN ???.

18 Special place to go for youngster with zits? (6)
SPOTTY – The abbreviation for special followed by an item used by toddlers to go to the loo.

19 Usher in Prince and Duke to entertain first lady (6)
HERALD – An term for Prince Henry followed by the abbreviation for Duke around the abbreviation for the Queen (first lady).

20 Too wrapped up in Hello’s lacklustre content? (4)
ALSO – The answer is hidden and reversed (wrapped up in … content) in HELLOS LACKLUSTER.

18 comments on “NTSPP – 273

  1. Really super stuff, thanks Gazza.

    I gave up and cheated to get the last few and will need the review for a couple of stubborn parsings, unless I can figure them out in the meantime.

    There is a long list of clues I loved, including 18a, 22a, 3d, 12d, 16d and 18d, and I also enjoyed unravelling the nina.

  2. This all started off really well but now I’m completely stuck – http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif the right side is where all my problems are – the left side is almost done.
    Have just lit the fire and opened bottle of wine – supper soon – things can only get better and will carry on later.
    Wish me luck – it looks as if I might need it. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    1. No – damn and blast it. Yet again problems with lefts and rights – please just swap all references to lefts and rights in my previous comment. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif
      Will I ever learn – probably not!

  3. Thanks Gazza, nice one! My first reaction was, what a strange grid but of course it was to accommodate the NINA, which was a help in getting the last ones.

    Some very nice clues here. I particularly liked 16, the 18s & 22.

    Only just now understood the parsing of 5, another good one!

  4. 13a is the one that is staring us in the face with two blank squares mocking us. Getting the NINA had given us the first letter but even that was not enough. No more time to spend on it as it is time for our last beach walk before heading to Wellington to stay with family for the final night before catching our flight on Monday. But we will keep cogitating. A really good fun clever puzzle from Gazza once again. Thanks.

  5. Thanks Gazza, I really enjoyed the challenge.
    I love the construction of 18a (being attractive..) 1d (in a funny way) and 15a (get the message) and others come to think of it.
    I like the way you have to stop at every word in order to find the indicators.
    Just read the review and I had RESTED for 17d: RED for the shade and EST for the Norman is. I’ll have a look at that Bested thing.
    Great puzzle.
    Thanks again

  6. What a joy! Thank you so much, Gazza, for a wonderful puzzle which was both challenging (4*) and great fun (5*). PLEASE keep them coming!

    Just like Kath (once she had oriented herself correctly!), I found the left hand side tougher than the right, and, like the 2Ks, for 13a I had five certain letters for the six letter answer but couldn’t decide if the missing one was N or A. Many thanks to Prolixic for his excellent review and for sorting this one out for me. Also I didn’t understand how the last letter in 5a was derived, but Google came to my rescue for this one.

    It was hard to choose from such a superb selection but 18a was my favourite.

    The only thing I don’t understand is why S is OK as an abbreviation for special. Last time I queried an abbreviation (M for money) Gazza you quite correctly advised me to check my BRB. This time I did just that and it’s not there!

    I have often commented that charades are my least favourite type of clue, but Gazza you have made me realise that it’s not charades per se that I dislike. The way some setters construct them they can be dull and formulaic. You have a great ability to make them fun with smooth and amusing surface readings.

    1. It is there, but as a capital letter:

      S or S. abbrev

      Soprano (music)
      Spades (cards)
      Strangeness (physics)
      Sweden (IVR)

      1. Many thanks, BD. Sadly, my edition does not show:

        Soprano (music)

        but includes:



        1. That one has been moved:

          S symbol

          Entropy (physics)
          (as a medieval Roman numeral) 7 or 70
          Siemens (SI unit)
          Sulphur (chem)
          (in the form $) dollar

  7. “She who must be obeyed” was not very impressed by how long it took me to solve this one!

    Great stuff from gazza!

    Missed the nina! Of course! Favourite amongst many – the spotty one.

    (Still need some help on how to parse the “Ten Yen” one.)

    1. Ten Yen – Doh – I finally understand it!

      Thanks again to gazza and also to Prolixic for the review!

  8. Thanks gazza, great fun and not trivial! I missed 13a (proxy). Also started with the unsatisfactory rested for 17d, hard to move away from it. I liked ” sweetheart Among the troops” (16d). I had to go back and find the nina after kitty’s alert, brilliant.

    Many thanks and also to prolixic for the review

  9. I suspect Gazza must have had good fun setting this. It was certainly a lot of fun to solve. I especially liked 6d, 7d,12d/14d, 16d, and 18a, amongst others.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    I didn’t find this puzzle all that easy. I needed the answer to 17d, and an explanation of the parsing of 5a and 13a. Otherwise, I managed all right without help. I am particularly pleased because in the past I have struggled to do Gazza’s puzzles and sometimes failed completely.

    Big thanks to Gazza for a most enjoyable puzzle. Most appreciative thanks to Prolixic for the invaluable and fine elucidation.

  10. I thought that was brilliant, and really difficult.
    I ended up with a couple of gaps and the wrong answer for 17d – and I missed the significance of ‘Norman’.
    Couldn’t do 13a or 1d. I needed the hints to explain quite a few more of my answers.
    6d took for ever – having got 9a all I could think of was that the first word had to be ‘cry’.
    Even knowing that there was a Nina I couldn’t find it for ages.
    Found the 4d hidden answer – that’s another bit of cricket that I’ve learnt but will I remember it? Probably not.
    So many good clues that it’s a bit tricky to pick out any in particular but maybe 10 and 23a. My favourite was 18 but haven’t decided yet whether I mean down or across.
    With thanks and congratulations to Gazza, for the crossword, and to Prolixic for all the sorting out.

  11. Thanks to all who commented and thanks also to Prolixic for the excellently-illustrated review (especially for Spotty Muldoon).
    Most people seemed to think it was quite difficult – I’m sorry about that, it wasn’t my intention but I find it hard to judge how difficult my puzzles are. I’ll try hard to make the next one a bit easier.

  12. I am gutted. I just could not get into this at all. I had a grand total of 8 answers. Gazza, I am a big fan of your puzzles, but this one left me in the dust.

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