NTSPP – 289 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 289

NTSPP – 289

A Puzzle by Knut

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I met Knut at a recent meeting in Birmingham.  He has had several puzzles published in The Independent and he has kindly submitted this puzzle for the NTSPP series.

BD and Knut;Baerchen

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows.

I have solved Knut’s puzzles when they’ve appeared in the Independent, but a couple of times they’ve been the subject of my ‘three goes and in the recycling’ rule.   This one took me into Toughie-time territory but I got there in the end.


1a           Scottish side St. Johnstone finally exposed top FIFA corruption (4,4)
EAST FIFE   Corruption indicates that an anagram is required – rearrange ST, the final letter of Johnstone, the ‘top’ of exposed, and FIFA.  All those childhood Saturdays in front of the Grandstand football results weren’t wasted as it was easy to write in the team, but harder to work out the ‘why’.

5a           It has Bill Voce in a tangle at first (6)
AVOCET   Sneaky capitals time with the B for bill –   VOCE (from the clue) put inside A (from the clue)and the first letter of tangle.


10a         Notorious murderer captures leader of Rolling Stones (5)
CAIRN   The first person in the Bible to commit murder (notorious murderer) captures the ‘leader’ of rolling.

11a         Shot a curler…it netted! (9)
RETICULAR An adjective meaning netted is an anagram (shot) of A CURLER IT.

12a         First class return required to get in? (5,4)
ENTRY FORM   You’d need this to get into a competition, for example, but it could also refer to one’s first class at school.

13a         A few lines about old music hall (5)
ODEON   A few lines of verse followed by a preposition meaning about.

14a         Something washed out tin over there (6)
CANYON   A ravine that’s been ‘washed out’ by the action of water over many years.   Another word for tin and a poetic or dialect word meaning over there.

15a         Fakir relies on this source of growth (7)
NAILBED   A portion of skin on which a particular growth on your finger or toe rests could also be something that a fakir might lie on while meditating.

bed of nails

18a         Dying to know about liberal arts dropping Brit-pop! (3,4)
ALL EARS   Remove BRIT (dropping Brit) and then rearrange (pop being an anagram indicator) the remaining letters in LIBERAL ARTS.   Shouldn’t this  clue have included something to tell us that the letters BRIT weren’t in that order.

20a         Little girl eats bananas and an ice cream (6)
SUNDAE   A little girl (just like me ;) ) ‘eats’ an anagram (bananas) of AND.

22a         Somewhere to drink for those on a diet? (5)
LOCAL   Your nearest hostelry might if split 2-3 mean something prepared for a dieter.

24a         Model introduced to one from US city not unknown – she has plenty of contacts! (9)
NETWORKER A model car known by its initial introduced to someone from a US city, once you have removed the Y (not unknown).

25a         Worried, presuming they’re attacking (9)
IMPUGNERS   An anagram (worried) of PRESUMING.

26a         German paper that is missing report of The Occupation (5)
DWELT Remove the two letters meaning that is from a famous German newspaper to get part of a verb meaning inhabited  for a long time (occupation).

27a         Little bird’s song gets rid of Norwegian birds (6)
EGRETS   Remove the abbreviation for Norwegian from the English title of an Edith Piaf (Little Bird) song.


28a         His pony’s gone for therapy (8)
HYPNOSIS   A type of therapy is an anagram (gone) of HIS PONYS


1d           Pass key cut (6)
ESCHEW The key at the top left of your computer keyboard followed by a verb meaning to cut with blows.

2d           US city Tuscaloosa in T’Pau live shows (5,4)
SAINT PAUL   A US city is hidden in TuscalooSA IN TPAU Live

3d           Austen heroine shone in this novel? (5,2,8)
FANNY BY GASLIGHT   A novel by Michel Sadleir written in 1940, a fictional exploration of Victorian prostitution.   The heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park followed with a description of how the Victorian lady might have been lit (shone in this).

4d           Abandoned in favour of Ms Doone (almost) (7)
FORLORN   A way of saying in favour of followed by almost all of Ms Doone’s Christian name.

6d           One from Australian state capital setting for 3, 4 19 (9,6)
VICTORIAN LONDON   Someone from an particular Australian state followed by the capital of Britain. The solution was fairly obvious and I did know 3d was set there, but it wasn’t until I had to investigoogle to find out who wrote 3d, that the rest of this clue made sense when I discovered that our author also penned a work called 4d 19d. I do think that a cryptic crossword should be capable of being solved, and, especially, parsed, without having to look up things on the internet.

Victorian London

7d           How to get smaller iceberg lettuce – first hollow out (5)
CALVE  I’ve always been amused by the fact that a broken off ‘baby’ iceberg is a calf so it made this clue particularly straightforward. Insert the first letter of lettuce into a hollow in a rock.

iceberg and calf

8d           He’d try on awful dirge (8)
THRENODY   An anagram (awful) of HED TRY ON.

9d           Will sacked offensive character outside plant production line (6)
STAMEN Take another name for a will and remove a three-letter offensive character from the outside and you should be left with part of the reproduction system of a flowering plant.


16d         Boycott going over point? That’s threatening! (9)
BLACKNESS Another verb meaning to ban (boycott) followed by a headland (point).

17d         Train on tube is a source of noxious fumes (8)
TAILPIPE   Another word for a train or queue goes on a type of tube.

19d         Hardy girl threw up over a Parisian boulevard (6)
SUNSET   A reversal (threw up) of one of Thomas Hardy’s most famous ‘girls’ into which is inserted the French (Parisian)word for the indefinite article (a).   I thought of adding a picture relevant to the ‘boulevard’ in question but I thought this view of Kampot in Cambodia seen by No2 son every evening would be much nicer.


20d         Meet Saturday….is Friday vacant? (7)
SATISFY   The abbreviated way of referring to Saturday, IS (from the clue) and the outside letters (vacant) of FridaY.

21d         Coach goes round pothole, known for being treacherous (6)
BRUTUS   This character known for his treachery (especially if, like me, you studied Julius Caesar for O Level) is obtained by putting a type of coach round a furrow or pothole in the road.

23d         Bud can be saucy! (5)
CAPER   An edible flower bud used, for example, in tartare sauce.

25 comments on “NTSPP – 289

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks Knut. There were lots of ‘penny drop’ moments and from some great clues I’ll pick out 12a, 26a, 27a and 21d.

  2. Cricket, football, Jane Austen & Thomas Hardy … loved it … but I still cannot parse 7d.

    I should have been doing something more useful … but I have no regrets ..I really enjoyed this very Tough but entertaining puzzle from Knut !

    1. The definition of 7d is ‘How to get smaller iceberg”. Put a hollow or cavity outside the first letter of lettuce.

  3. Well that took a bit of effort. A bit of investigoogling needed in places (eg 1a and 26a and 3d) but we did eventually get it all sorted out. Some very clever wordplay. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Knut.

  4. Tough one – I’m still short of six answers and getting really, really frustrated!
    So far, my nominations would be for 18a plus 17&21d.
    Thanks to Knut (although right now I hate you!!!). http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    1. OK – I’ve got a completed grid now, but I’m really not very sure about some of them. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif
      I await enlightenment in the morning!

  5. Not many people around to welcome Knut.
    Definitely harder than the one some of us tried in the Indy on pommers recommendation.
    There are a couple I can’t parse and as it’s review time soon, I shall be waiting.
    In the meantime, I really enjoyed it and my favourite is 19d.
    Needed google also for a few like the bird in 5a and the book in 3a, after having exhausted all the possibilities with Daylight.
    Nice to see our friend CS making an appearance.
    Can’t say the same thing about the two murderers.
    Thanks to Knut.

  6. Evening all. Started this early this morning and I’ve just come back to it after a busy day of shopping with my grandson for school clothes and getting ready for our trip home (not to mention a long nap after a rather liquid late lunch!). I’m finding it slow going, but enjoying it so far. Big smile for 24A that I just sorted out! Back later.

  7. I must be absolutely insane but having a bit of time this morning decided to try my hand at this, quite why I don’t know bearing in mind some of the comments from much more experienced solvers than me. I have a fair sprinkling of answers so await review with bated breath.

  8. Many thanks for the review, CS. I’d got it right (bar the wrong ending on 1d) but needed your help to fully parse 24&26a plus 6d. The German newspaper was one that I had to ask Mr. Google about and I didn’t know the ‘offensive’ word at 9d, so that was a bit of a bung in.
    Good puzzle – although certainly not the easiest of NTSPPs! Well done, Knut.

  9. Well, in the end I needed several hints to complete this and too much time to get as far as I did. I did like 7D, 21D and 24A though. Thanks to Knut and to CS for the needed review.

  10. Thanks to CS for the well-illustrated review. For 18a I took the definition to be just ‘dying to know’ with ‘about’ being the anagram indicator and ‘pop’ telling us that the dropped letters were not in their original order.

  11. Dear Knut – Thank you for boggling my poor old brain on a Sunday morning, I had put this aside as being well beyond me but finding a few minutes this morning decided to tackle it. The top left hand corner defeated me, I failed to find 10a and 1d is not a word I use very frequently, had to resort to a fair amount of electronic help but I feel a deserve a small pat on the back and a must try harder recommendation for next time. Thanks to CS for deboggling me.

  12. Hello everyone,
    Thanks for the comments and thanks to @crypticsue for the blog (I really like the pics). I’m still very much trying to find my feet in this game, and one area which I feel is particularly tricky is getting the “right” level of degree of difficulty; this was intended to be Saturday broadsheet/prize level.
    I hope that the clues were at least mostly “fair”, although I plead guilty to a nasty bit of spoof capitalisation with the Bill Voce part of the clue for AVOCET.
    The clue for ALL EARS was intended to be parsed as suggested by Gazza, with “pop” as a subsidiary anagram indicator; “about” as the primary.
    @Jane – please don’t hate me; at least not yet.
    Warmest thanks to Big Dave for exhibiting plenty of patience; anyone who didn’t like this puzzle wouldn’t want to see it in its original format…..
    Finally, I’ll be in the Indy again on Sept 3rd. with something completely different – probably easier, but for adults only.
    Best wishes,

    1. Great to meet you, please don’t leave it too long before you come back and completely bamboozle us again.

    2. Knut, if you ever find out how to get the difficulty level of a puzzle “right”, could you let me know, because I’ve got no idea? What I have to do is compose lots of puzzles and use the feedback from test-solvers to find out how hard they are, and then pick which ones seem most appropriate for the Indy, FT or here (and I’m in the Indy tomorrow, so presumably Eimi thinks that one’s reasonably benign).

      I have to say I had no idea about Sadleir’s novel at 4/19, but I thought this was good fun.

    3. I would have said welcome earlier, but our visitors left a couple of hours ago and watching the recording of the Belgian Grand Prix took precedence

    4. Don’t worry, Knut – I only ‘hated’ you until I’d finally got to the completion! A very clever puzzle and I’m certainly up for more. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  13. Thanks for an entertaining tough puzzle, Knut and for your review, CS. My interpretation of 9d was that the ‘offensive’ part of the clue referred to an action that took place in Saigon in 1968 during the Vietnam war at the time of the lunar new year, rather than it being a word for an offensive character.

    1. AKMild

      9d – Will sacked offensive character outside plant production line (6)

      I also thought it was something to do with the TET offensive in the Vietnam war

      Maybe the clue should read:

      Will sacked offensive character(s) outside plant production line (6)

      Probably wrong … as usual!

        1. That was what I came up with as well – in fairness, that’s Mr. Google’s answer, I didn’t know!

  14. Non, rien de rien, je ne regrette rien.
    I kick myself for not seeing the allusion in 27a.
    Thanks to CS for the review.

  15. Thanks to Knut and CS, I did need help to understand some of my answers. As to difficulty level, that’s bound to be a very personal thing but as a fairly novice solver I found this more Toughie than backpager.

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