NTSPP – 280 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 280

NTSPP – 280

Last Rites of Spring by Windsurfer

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle follows:

Apparently, 13 answers are spring related.  I think I have found all of them but some are a little on the unknown side and I may have found a 14th (engineering related) one in 18d.  Windsurfer set quite a challenge with this crossword.  There was quite a bit of libertarian cluing with nouns as anagram indicators, lift and separate clues, etc which may not have found favour with all solvers but it was all good fun to get to grips with.


9 Christopher misses local production as singer (9)
CHORISTER – An anagram (production) of CHRISTOPHER after removing the abbreviation for public house (misses local).

**10 Lance reviewed being “honest” (5)
CLEAN – An anagram (reviewed) of LANCE.

**11 It has many layers of workings I visit (5)
ONION – A word for working is repeated and an I is included (visit).

**12 Push-ups in Spring from saucy beauties reportedly (9)
BLUEBELLS – A word meaning saucy when applied to jokes followed by a homophone (reportedly) of another word for beautiful girls (beauties).

**13 On this gives overall self-confidence (7)
BALANCE – A word that can follow “on” to mean overall can also mean self-confidence.

**14 Yellow one is not to be counted, so they say (7)
CHICKEN – The word (in the singular) that in the plural should not be counted before they hatch in the well known proverb.

**17 Swell sleep provided by this 19ac (5)
WATER – The type of 19a that could lead to a nights sleep as though you were on the waves.  This clue does not quite work for me as I don’t think that swell or swell sleep is the same as the answer.

**19 Posh lady retires for rest maybe (3)
BED – Reverse (retires) a word for a young posh lady.

**20 They’re sometimes forgotten when playing (5)
LINES – An semi-cryptic definition of something an actor might forget when playing.

**21 Short horsey animal seen at the start of Autumn (7)
EQUINOX – A word meaning horsey has its final letter removed (short) and is followed by another type of bovine animal.

22 Footwear accessory put together at last (7)
FINALLY – The abbreviation for foot followed by another word for wear (foot/wear) and a word for an accessory or colleague.

24 Medley etc for Len written by composer (5,4)
TENOR CLEF – An anagram (medley) of ETC FOR LEN.

**26 Mount exhausted by the sound of it (5)
BOARD – A homophone (by the sound of it) of bored (exhausted).  I don’t really think that the answer is synonymous with mount.

28 Oscar blocks captain’s return to dribble (5)
DROOL – Reverse (return) a word for a captain (really?) and include (blocks) the letter represented by Oscar in the phonetic alphabet.

29 Repulsive rating given to ugly hornet, right? (9)
ABHORRENT – A two letter abbreviation for a sailor or rating followed by an anagram (ugly) of HORNET R (right).


1 Reply from score 0-2 initially? (4)
ECHO – A word meaning score or engrave followed by the O from the clue and removing the T (–2 (two) initially).

2 Cordial found in demijohn bottle (6)
JOVIAL – Half (demi) of JOHN followed by a word meaning a small bottle.

3 End of the series? (7,3)
WINNING RUN – What might end a test series with victory of the batting team.

4 Most gifted, good man relocated to top firm (6)
STABLE – A word meaning most gifted has the ST (good man) moved from the bottom to the top of the word.

5 Wiped the floor with tissue at first on crude treatment (8)
TROUNCED – The first letter of tissue followed by an anagram (treatment) of ON CRUDE.

6 One doesn’t strike leading scrum captain at breakdown! (4)
SCAB – The initial letters (leading) of Scrum Captain At Breakdown.

7 Ken sails in storm for cover (8)
SEALSKIN – An anagram (in storm) of KEN SAILS.

8 This load might also undo actions (4)
ONUS – An anagram (actions) of ASLO UNDO would lead to the answer (this) and LOAD.  To get the answer, therefore, removed the letters in LOAD from ALSO UNDO and rearrange the letters that are left.

13 Singer‘s knife (5)
BOWIE – A double definition, the first being the singer behind Ziggy Stardust.

15 Started out on Crete possibly (6-4)
ISLAND-BORN – An semi-cryptic definition of the birthplace of someone on a land mass such as Crete.

16 Mean as Tyson appears? (5)
NASTY – The answer appears in MEAN AS TYSON.

**18 Part of war machine not run-in potentially (8)
TRUNNION – An anagram (potentially) of NOT RUN IN.

19 Tuck into beef with buffalo top pizza filling (3,5)
BOX PLEAT – Put another word for a buffalo (same word as used in 21a) and the first letter (top) of pizza inside (filling) a word meaning beef or complain.

22 Notes ambassadress’s last position? (6)
FIFTHS – A position that you might come in a race followed by the last letter of ambassadress.

**23 State of gun that’s worth a lot of money (6)
LOADED – A word that describes a gun with bullets in it is also a term for worth a lot of money.

**24 About to change course (4)
TIDE – Reverse (about) a word meaning to change or alter something.

**25 A bit funny Penny’s missing toilet perhaps (4)
ROLL – A word that can follow toilet (for a type of paper) comes from a word meaning a bit funny without the initial D (Penny’s missing).

27 Make a comeback, get a deal, keeps partner! (4)
DATE – The answer is reversed (make a comeback) and hidden (keeps) inside GET A DEAL.

27 comments on “NTSPP – 280

  1. Thanks to Windsurfer for an enjoyable puzzle. I counted 12 thematically-linked answers but I may have missed a few. I can’t parse 1d (but I shall keep working away at it) and I’m probably missing something in 15d because I can’t see how my answer is cryptic.

    1. Hi gazza

      Thanks for the comments. There are supposed to be 13, which include 19A & 20, both of which are a little unusual. For 1d you need to spell ‘2.’ 15d is probably rather weak – the only double meaning is the ‘started out,’ which was supposed to give a picture of a walk or some such. It obviously wasn’t too obvious though as Kath didn’t get it straight away.

  2. I enjoyed this – thanks Windsurfer.
    I can’t do 26a or 15d although the first word of that one is pretty obvious – at least I think it is.
    So far I’ve got 11 answers that fit in with the theme – maybe one of the two that I can’t do makes another one.
    I can’t make sense of quite a few of my answers so will have to wait for the review.
    I really liked 14 and 21a and 13d – never heard of the knife – will try to remember it for future use. My favourite is 12a.

  3. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif Tricky or what? After last night’s festivities I’m a bit surprised I finished but I can only see 11 themed answers so I must be missing something pretty obvious. On the bright side, I do know how 1d works.

    Anyway, thanks Windsurfer. Now for the darkened room.

  4. I’ve found 12 linked answers. I don’t see how 1d works. I found this a mix of relatively straightforward and a bit of ‘tough for the wrong reasons’.

    Thanks to WIndsurfer and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. You need to split the clue for 1 down as:

      Reply from [score] + [0] – [2 initially]

      Windsurfer did offer alternatives when I commented on it, but I thought I would see how it went.

  5. OMG, it was 20a that I missed, and me a sailor too :oops:

    Now Windsurfer has said there are 13 I’m still missing one.

  6. Nice work. Particularly liked 29A and 13D. Got 12 themed clues. Nice balance of clue types and varying difficulty between them, which I like. Thanks!

  7. Well this one has delayed our Sunday morning walk by quite a considerable amount. We did achieve a completion eventually and found 12 of the theme words, 20a was the one that we missed. As ever, the four letter words seemed to give us the biggest problems, SW corner being the last to yield. Good challenge, good fun.
    Thanks Windsurfer.

  8. I’m having all sorts of trouble with the bottom half of this! And I haven’t yet identified a theme. I’m soldiering on, so maybe by tomorrow I will have done better.

    On the plus side, I parsed 1D all by my own self.

  9. Well, it’s not yet midnight here so still today. It’s not so much that I couldn’t finish it ( I did reveal one letter and I was left with the first word of 3D and 18D and several bung-ins that I couldn’t parse), but in the end there was just something about this puzzle that didn’t sit well with me overall. Having read the review, I think that some of the clues were just too loosey goosey for my taste. And I still have no idea what the theme is! Thank you to whoever did the review ( no name posted yet). Sorry, windsurfer, this was not my cuppa.

  10. Thanks Prolixic for a good blog. Well done for spotting a 14th themed word in 18d. I can’t remember now if this was intentional or not. Expat Chris, Prolixic revealed above that the theme word was ‘Spring’ which can precede 14 of the answers.

    Some clarifications:

    In 17A, the definition is encompassed in the whole clue i.e. a water bed provides ‘swell sleep.’

    In 22, the footwear is a fin, as worn when swimming (otherwise, flippers.)

    As for mount=board, I think you can just about say that you mounted a train – at least in this neck of the woods.

    I know that some don’t like nouns as anagram indicators but there are plenty of them in Chambers. Perhaps it is the position, some say that nounal anagrinds should always precede the fodder. As I said yesterday, 15d was not sufficiently cryptic but I got a bit stuck with cluing that one. Mea culpa!

    Anyway, thanks to Prolixic and all the other respondents. It’s great to get the feedback to find what works well and what is not liked. It’s difficult when one already knows the answers!

  11. P.S. I know that one shouldn’t rely on Thesauruses as they sometimes give very weird synonyms, but board=mount or mount=board is in Collins, Oxford, Chambers and Bradford’s.

  12. I was happy with mount=board, more worried about bored=exhausted.
    but there is a lot of strange and loose clueing that held me up, e.g. 22d clues sfifth, as far as I can see. I got fin=footwear, but you need to go footwear=flipper, then find a slang word for that which is a big ask. 24a I think you need “is something” written by composer. 27a, somehow need “making a comeback”, or “make a comeback in”. Not sure about “might” in 8a (what does that mean?), unless “also” is doing double duty. 23a i think loaded = has a lot of money, not worth a lot of money, and you don’t need “that’s”. 6d, acrostics are pretty flexible for surface but I don’t understand this one. 16d, hidden word indicator doesn’t quite work and funny double duty stuff, doesn’t work as &lit for me.

    I know windsurfer, so i hope(!) he is comfortable with me honestly voicing my quibbles. It made for a slightly unsatisfactory solve. I got 12 themed clues having missed 20a. I did this in the pub with a friend and it was good entertainment. Favourite clues are 2d, 4d, 5d, 24d.

    Thanks windsurfer – as always, I am am impressed with the effort involved in the production of any puzzle, you are far more prolific than I. Good luck and looking forward to the next one.

    1. I thought that 22d was indicating that the last position/letter in ambassadress’s was a FIFTH S

    2. Hi Dutch
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m always grateful for good, honest feedback, which hopefully will lead to improved clues in the future. My responses to your comments below:
      ‘He was bored/exhausted with life’ or some such
      22d, as Gazza points out, the last position in ambassadress’s is the FIFTH ‘S’
      Neither Chambers nor Oxford gives fin=flipper as slang. I did originally have ‘shoe’ but Big Dave thought that was a bridge too far. I think you’ll find that fin is an everyday word used by divers/swimmers etc and would be encompassed by footwear
      The definition in 24a is ‘that’s written by composer.’ I would argue that the ‘that’ fulfils the role of ‘something,’ although ‘something is’ is probably better.
      I think you mean 8 down: This was an attempt at a composite anagram but I agree it was not very well written.
      I think you mean 27down: this was slightly gimmicky but the statement ‘Make a comeback’ was meant to be an imperative for the solver – obviously it didn’t work for you!
      I think you mean 23down. ‘This guy is loaded’ does mean he has a lot of money but I would argue that it also means he is worth a lot of money. The ‘that’s’ is a linker between the two definitions. The surface doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me without it.
      6d Maybe you didn’t understand this one – the definition (of scab) is ‘one doesn’t strike.’ The rest relates to rugby where you have breakdowns sometimes after a scrum.
      16d The point of &lits is that by their nature there is always double-duty since the clue gives both the definition and the wordplay. Whether the ‘appears’ is enough in that position to indicate a hidden word is a reasonable point but I thought the question mark would alert solvers to that possibility.
      I better list the following 14 (*thanks to Prolixic) theme words that can be preceded by ‘SPRING’:

      1. Thanks for that. I missed the cleverness of 22d. I don’t see a “that’s” in 24a in the version I printed. thanks for all the other clarifications. got the def & wordplay in 6d but my rugby is poor – I remain unsure who a “leading scrum captain” is. My understanding of an &lit is that both def and wordplay occupy the entire clue, and for me 6d might work if “appears” read better cryptically.

        Just one person’s perspective, hope it’s useful, and thanks again for puzzle.

        1. Windsurfer usually provides me with a Crossword Compiler file, but for some reason i received two pdfs for this one. I copied the clues from the first pdf, but in the second, annotated, version 24a reads “Medley etc for Len that’s written by composer”. I hope that explains the misunderstanding and I’ll change it soon (late changes involve quite a lot of work)..

          1. many thanks BD – that explains it, and makes the clue completely fine. Always grateful for all the effort you put in.

  13. Got the answer to 1d but I hadn’t completely parsed since I had missed the all-important little “-” very clever.

  14. Post-review, I’ve identified 12 themed answers. The only other one that seems possible is 12A, since that’s when they bloom. 20A also applies to tunnels, and I’m more familiar with that definition.

  15. Bluebells, hmm. All of the others actually contain the word ‘spring’. Bluebells are just bluebells as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never heard them referred to as Spring bluebells.

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