NTSPP – 297 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 297

NTSPP – 297

A Puzzle by Beet

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows:

Many thanks to Beet whose love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a number of solutions referring to the series.  It was good to see Beet at the Times Crossword Championships drinks.


1 Lupin? It’s weed. Once half is cut – on reflection it could be lupin (8)
WEREWOLF – Half of the word weed followed by a reversal (on reflection) of a word of which a botanical lupin is an example (could be).

8 High and dry? Silver bullet offers solution (7)
AGROUND – The chemical symbol for silver followed by another word for a bullet.

9 Brian rails endlessly, unfortunate for someone who values silence (9)
LIBRARIAN – An anagram (unfortunate) of BRIAN RAIL, the final letter being removed (endlessly) from rails.

10 Setter is informal young woman (3)
GEL – Double definition, the first being another word for a setting agent for hair, for example and the second an informal term for a young woman.

11 Spot on place where you don’t want one (2,3,4)
ON THE NOSE – Double definition, the second being a cryptic allusion to where you don’t want a pimple.

12 Can reduce sex by a third – still promiscuous (5)
LOOSE – Another word for a can or lavatory followed by the first two letters (reduce by a third) of sex.

13 It’s made of flour or flower (7)
BLOOMER – Double definition, the first being a type of loaf and the second being another word for a flower.

15 Well-built with neat even spread (6)
BUFFET – A four letter slang word meaning well-built followed by the even letters of neat. (this would be better as evenly neat spread).

19 “Tool” is derogatory comment when someone has cut line (6)
SANDER – Remove (when someone – you the solver – has cut) the abbreviation for line from a word meaning a derogatory spoken comment.

20 One must be home by sunrise (5 a.m.) before people inside rouse – early starters (7)
VAMPIRE – The Roman numeral for 5 followed by the AM from the clue and the initial letters (starters) of People Inside Rouse Early.

23 Heron relocated to foreign river (5)
RHONE – An anagram (relocated) of HERON.

25 Reportedly impoverished and struggling artist produced these works (9)
PORTRAITS – A homophone (reportedly) of POOR followed by an anagram (struggling) of ARTIST.

27 Risk indicators include something slippy underfoot (3)
SKI – The answer is hidden in RISK INDICATORS.  As Dutch points out, if you reduce this to wordplay include definition, the cryptic wording does not work but the words include the answer so some latitude may be permitted here but “risk indicator includes” avoids any ambiguity.

28 Tree-hugger put gnarled oak before arable cultivation (5,4)
KOALA BEAR – An anagram (gnarled) of OAK followed by an anagram (cultivation) of ARABLE.

29 Mrs Simpson besieged at seaside destination (7)
MARGATE – The name of Homer Simpson’s wife goes around (besieged) the AT from the clue.

30 Put foreign money in bank just a moment ago (8)
RECENTLY – The name for an American coin inside a word meaning to bank on or trust.


1 Pattern of goodness overcoming evil (6)
WILLOW – A three letter exclamation meaning goodness goes around (overcoming) a word meaning evil.  Does overcoming mean around in a down clue?

2 Beet has bravo for Cyborg (5)
ROBOT – A word describing sugar beet or any other vegetable that grows underground includes (has) the letter represented by Bravo in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

3 Drunk her brown ale without any resistance as a stiffener (9)
WHALEBONE – An anagram (drunk) of HER BROWN ALE after removing the Rs (without any resistance).

4 Dial stopped temporarily? (4,4)
LAID OVER – A reverse clue of a sort though some indication of this such as “Presumably” or “Setter’s”  would have been helpful.  A phrase meaning stopped temporarily could produce a cryptic clue that would produce dial as the resulting word.

5 Twitter troll has change of heart (5)
TRILL – Change the central letter (change of heart) in troll.

6 This underdog makes a lot of noise (9)
SUBWOOFER – Another word for under and another word for dog for something that makes a lot of noise.

7 Strange chaps drain tankards for remnants (8)
ODDMENTS – A word meaning strange followed by a word meaning chaps and the outer letters (drain) of tankards.

8 Financial backer gives penniless Peter leg up (5)
ANGEL – Remover the P (penniless) from the eponymous boy who never grew up and reverse the LEG from the clue.  Perhaps an indication that Peter is a definition by example would be helpful here.

14 Middle England drones on about Eastenders? (9)
LONDONERS – An anagram (about) of L (middle of England) DRONES ON.  Some editors would not accepts middle on its own as an indicator for the central letter.

16 U R but not “you are”? (5-4)
UPPER CASE – A lot going on in this clue.  The answer indicates the difference in typography of U R and you are.  However, cleverly, the letters U and R are the outer letters of the first word of the solution and the second letter is an outer letter indicator.  Perhaps an indicator such as “Cryptically U R…” would have indicated more clearly that the solution produces a reverse clue.

17 Cyberspace pseudonym a champion blogger ends up going by: “Cryptic Sue” (8)
USERNAME – An anagram (cryptic) of SUE followed by a reversal (up) of the last letters (ends) of Cyberspace pseudonym a champion blogger.  The whole clue is an extended definition of the answer otherwise you end up with either “Cryptic Sue” being a definition by example which is (a) doing double duty apart of the wordplay and the definition and (b) wrong as “crypticsue” does not use a space in her pseudonym or “Cyberspace pseudonym” is the definition and doing double duty as part of the solution.  This is one of four grid entries where there is less than 50% cross-checking in the solution and a double-unch as well which can make the grid more difficult to solve but this was balanced by clear clues.

18 Confusingly, both air and e.g. car (8)
CARRIAGE – An anagram (confusingly) of AIR EG CAR.  The answer is another word for the air or demeanour of someone and a type of transport such as a car.

21 Based in Home Counties, regressive political party drops leader – dope (5)
SPIKE – Reverse (regressive) the name of a political party without the first letter (drops leader) and put it inside the abbreviation for the location of the Home Counties.

22 Place for butt scratching – hotel off the beaten track (6)
ASTRAY – Remove the abbreviation for hotel from a place where smokers put their cigarette butts.

24 Drugs influence student’s work (5)
ESSAY – The plural representation of Ecstasy followed by a word meaning influence or sway.

26 That is result of crash diets (2,3)
ID EST – An anagram (crash) of DIETS.

63 comments on “NTSPP – 297

  1. A lovely puzzle with very smooth surfaces and some great laughs – thanks Beet. I particularly enjoyed 9a, 12a, 28a and 22d.

  2. Great stuff, Beet – although it always helps when I remember which generation you come from! Mrs. Simpson is always ‘Wallis’ to me and I struggle to get words like 6d. Loved the name checks you fitted in – especially Brian, although sadly I don’t think he ventures into NTSPP territory!
    Personal favourites are 9,11,20&28a plus the simple, but effective, 26d.
    I wonder whether today’s revellers are getting a copy of this?
    So nice to see another of your puzzles – you really are coming on in ‘leaps and bounds’. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  3. I thought this was absolutely brilliant – I may be having a dim day but I did think it was a bit trickier than Beet’s crosswords have been up to now.
    I admit that I had to ask the nice helpful Mr Google about a couple of things – Mrs Simpson and Cyborg.
    I haven’t quite managed to unravel my answers to 1 or 15a and am only half happy about my 1d although I think they’re right.
    So many good clues that I just have to put them all down – 9 (for obvious reasons!), 11,20 and 28a and 5, 6 and 22d – I couldn’t possibly pick just one favourite out of that lot.
    Well done yet again to Beet. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    1. Most impressed that you got 6d so easily, Kath. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
      In retrospect I should also have added 6&22d to my long list of potential favourites – it’s getting a bit crowded on the podium!

      1. Forgot to add – I think 1d contains a shared letter (overcoming) between the two required elements and I reckon that 15a contains a word for well-built that you and I would probably regard as more to do with being naked plus the even letters of ‘neat’. I could, of course, be completely wrong. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
        By the way – I love the ‘quote of the day’. How very true!

        1. For 1d you need a virtual exclamation mark after ‘goodness’ and ‘overcoming’ means containing.

            1. Moving swiftly along – 1a. I’ve got that as – reverse your answer then cut off the half-word as instructed by the clue. Any good, Gazza?

              1. One half of the third word in the clue, then reverse what a lupin is an example of. You might be surprised by the solution!

                    1. No need to apologise, Toro – I confuse myself at times
                      Just as well I don’t get let loose on any of the blogging – can you imagine the chaos that would ensue! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

      2. I only know 6d because although in our house it’s called the ‘growly machine’ I do know what it’s real name is! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

        1. . . . its real name not it’s before anyone picks me up on that one. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif I know perfectly well but the fingers just automatically put in the apostrophe and I’ve only just noticed.

          1. Not to worry, Kath. I reckon that most of the members of Pedants’ Corner are otherwise engaged – either watching rugby or getting persisted at The George! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  4. Very enjoyable, took some thought but some very clever clues.
    Thx to the setter for the namecheck ?

    1. Thought the temptation might prove too great to resist, Brian! Well done for making time for this one – hopefully you’ll join the NTSPP/Rookie gang on a more regular basis in future. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  5. That was such fun! Many lovely clues, but the underdog in 6d takes the crown (and the biscuit!). Quite a tussle in the top half, especially the outrageous 1a, but so well worth it.

    Thanks Beet. You take such evident delight in setting and it comes across. I find your style really refreshing, and genuinely inspiring. (The last time I sat down to write a puzzle it was as a direct result of having solved one of yours.)

  6. Thanks Beet for a good puzzle with some excellent clues.

    Slight niggle about the grid. 6,7,14&17 have two consecutive unchecked lights but that didn’t really spoil the fun.

    I wasted quite a lot of time looking at lupins – nice idea!

    I liked Mrs Simpson, the underdog and U R.

  7. Thanks beet for a lovely bit of fun. I liked “can reduce sex”, “struggling artist”, “tree-hugger”, “Mrs Simpson besieged”, “foreign money in bank”, “butt scratching” and many more. I hadn’t heard of the well-built (like Jane) but it’s in brb.. I thought 20a was very cute as was 1a, though I struggled a bit with lupin/lupine… Should we not have a lupine somewhere?

    27a, I never quite know whether in the cryptic reading we are also allowed to take the containment fodder as a plural rather than a single entity, but you could avoid the issue with “risk indicator includes”.

    4d is a qm sufficient to indicate a reverse clue?

    16d don’t you need a “seen in” or something? Or maybe the qm is doing this again.

    Brilliant puzzle, I’ve done most of the dailies and this beets the lot.

    1. ah, I didn’t think lupin could reference the answer but with a capital i now see it could be a character from a blockbuster book & movie series.

        1. Thanks Jane – all without incident. Just to clarify I did not join in with all the kids, worrying about unintentional pirouettes etc, instead I was fully equipped for my own battle with the daily crosswords. I already had my share of adrenaline just getting this organised. One of the other parents did participate, but gave up soon complaining that the other side was cheating. All the same, I came home as exhausted as anyone else.

          All my attempts at passing on an aversion to weapons to the kids seem to have gone down the drain. They had a blast though, so to speak.

    2. Oops sounds like my “bung in a question mark and it’ll be fine” technique has been rumbled

  8. Wow! That was great.
    Thanks to Beet for a super crossword
    Very original and refreshing.
    Lovely surface.
    Thanks again.

  9. Lovely stuff Beet. We really enjoyed that. Not a quick solve but lots to keep us chuckling.
    Finished just in time to watch ‘The Match’ which is being broadcast free to air here so we get to see it for a change. We feel sorry for Gazza and all the other Wales supporters. So everyone can now get behind our team please, with the exception of Jean Luc.

  10. What fun this was! Lots of chuckles and lots of check marks besides my picks. 17D was the last one to fall and I kicked myself when I got it, though I still can’t parse the whole thing (I get the cryptic sue bit, though). Biggest smile came from 9A (sorry, Brian!) but I also loved 12A, 28A, 30A and 22D. Thanks Beet for a super and very accomplished puzzle.

    Now back to the kitchen and soup and pate making for the freezer.

    1. Hi Chris – how’s the soup and pate coming along? With 25d, as you say, the CS bit is fine. I assumed that the second word is a term for a blogger with its last letter moved up to the beginning. Not a synonym I’m familiar with but then, maybe if I was Beet’s age….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      1. Pate and soup are done…and awesome, if I say so myself. The soup is three mushroom with sherry, involving fesh crimini, portabella, shitake mushrooms and dried porcini (OK. I used four). It’s a favorite and freezes beautifully. Never made chicken liver pate before, but it turned out really well. As for 17D, I think we’ll have to wait for the review. I do hope it’s not an “insider” name.

        1. Those sound good, Chris. Maybe you should send the recipes to BD for inclusion in the Kitchen link? I’d certainly like to have a go at the mushroom soup – never found a recipe that I thought would freeze well.

          1. i have the cook book, but if you Google Williams Sonoma three-mushroom soup with sherry, the recipe will pop up. I make a lot, so I use a lot more mushrooms and more stock…play it by ear for the consistency. I also simmer it for a lot longer. I blend it very well ( I only ever freeze blended soups) , and omit the half-and-half since I’m freezing it. I don’t add the half-and-half (single cream with a bit of milk will do if you don’t get half and half over there) until reheating to serve. Pate is Jacques Petin’s recipe and very simple.

  11. Thanks for the lovely comments all. I had a great time at the meet up yesterday and Cryptic Sue read me out some comments and said the reception was good. Sorry about the unches, I knew it was naughty but I got myself into a bit of a pickle in one corner and that’s the only way I could get out of it. My knuckles were duly rapped by big Dave and Prolixic yesterday. I also have to apologise for the clue length. I am trying to be good about this now, but my puzzles have got all out of sync and this one was written some time ago when I was still in my War and Peace phase. I promise I am not slipping back into bad habits.

    Thanks to Sprocker, Silvanus and CrypticSue for test solving; Brian, Cyborg and Sue again for inspiring some clues; and to Prolixic for the review (I already got the highlights at the pub yesterday)

  12. Great stuff,
    At least as good as Glastonbury, which was a high point. I don’t see anything wrong with long clues, as long as they are done well like these, and there are not too many of them. Loads of highlights, 11a, 12a, 20a, 25a, 30a, 6d and 22d in particular, and I’m going for 22d as my favourite. Some libertarian indicators in there (e.g. 14d, 15a), some people have strong opinions on these, and I had no idea what was going on definition wise in 1a pre-Google (despite my 17d, which is unrelated to HP, I haven’t read the books or seen the films).
    Many thanks Beet, are you still doing everything on Excel? Christmas is coming…

      1. The village in Yorkshire where I grew up – although this was apparently what J.K. Rowling named her character after

        1. Complete with Catherine Parr’s castle before she moved down south (thank you Wikipedia). Makes for a good 17d indeed.:)

  13. I think it would be impossible not to have enjoyed that! Done with invention, fun and brio – thank you Beet. For what it’s worth, the longer clues happpened to be among my favourites – especially 1a, 25a and 17d.

  14. Buffy!

    A really enjoyable crossword, thanks Beet. Top theme. You’ve made me nostalgic now: I want to go and secrete myself away in a dark room with all the dvds and not emerge again until March.

    I did grab a couple of letter hints, most notably for 4d. Listing favourites might take a while, but they would certainly include 12a, 15a, 28a, 1d, 5d, 22d and 24d.

    Thanks again Beet, and congratulations on another corker.

    P.S. It was good to see you yesterday :).

    1. You were best hope of someone to spot the theme Kitty, and you didn’t let me down! Lovely to see you yesterday too.

      1. I nearly missed it too! That would have really annoyed me.

        It’s such a shame uxername isn’t a word, but I did smile at sander. Actually, the imperfect fits to the theme can often be the most entertaining. Buffet http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif.

    2. Just as well someone’s more up to date than us ‘oldies’! Have just looked at a brief synopsis and can now see where a lot of the references come in. Another gold star for Beet! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    3. Ah! I did think there were some suspicious creatures, but I don’t watch near enough TV to have clinched that. Well spotted kitty, and nice one beet

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic and I was relieved to see that I’d got there with the parsing – although 17d took a large hint from Dutch!
    Just as a matter of interest, Beet, how many themed answers were there? I got the werewolf and the vampire and I guess 15a was near enough to the leading lady’s name – then I found Willow and Sander (although I think that had a different initial letter in the series?).
    Were there any others?
    Well done again – you must be pleased with the lack of adverse criticisms in the review.

    1. Well *spoiler alert* if anyone is planning on watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer any time soon – which I would highly recommend.

      Buffy (BUFFET) is a teenage girl chosen to be the VAMPIRE slayer. Her best friends are WILLOW and Xander (SANDER) and her mentor is Giles the school LIBRARIAN. Teenage hormones being what they are, things get complicated as Willow’s boyfriend is a WEREWOLF and Buffy’s love interests / nemeses at various points in the series are two vampires; ANGEL and SPIKE.

      1. Crikey – even more kudos to Beet for smuggling all that into the grid. I don’t feel too badly about not spotting the theme, because I never watched the programme.

  16. Thanks prolixic, and the puzzle was even more clever than I had first noticed – well done again beet.

  17. I have only just found time to look at this, and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Very well done, Beet.

    I was unsure about two answers:

    1) For 10a, I took “setter” to mean Beet, i.e. a “gal”. Surely “gel” is not a real word for a girl, just a posh pronunciation of “gal”?

    2) I “bunged” in the first four letters of 15a, despite being unsure how these equated to “well-built”. It’s not in my BRB, but Google reveals it is an informal Americanism.

    Those apart, I thought all the rest of the clues were excellent with great surface readings. I have lots of asterisks littering my page marking potential favourites, and I have come up with a short list of 1a, 13a, 16d & 18d.

    Superb entertainment, with Harry Potter and Buffy the icing on the cake! Many thanks to Beet and to Prolixic for his review.

    1. I was happy with ‘buff’ in 15a for the simple reason that I happened to know it! With 10a I think you have a point; within crosswords (at least) I have only met ‘gal’ as being informal and ‘gel’ as being posh.

    2. Hi RD,
      The online Oxford dictionary has, as it’s third definition of ‘gel’, British informal noun – an upper class or well bred girl or young woman. I would think Beet checked it out – it would surely have been easy enough for her to dream up an alternative clue if she had thought it necessary?

      1. I considered two different versions “posh young woman” and “informal young woman” and since the surface reading referred to myself as the setter I decided informal was more fitting.

  18. Thanks to Prolixic for the explanations.
    Only spotted a bit of the theme with the werewolf, the vampire, the spike and the silver bullet. But no garlic! The buck stopped here.
    Congrats to Beet.

  19. So the lovely and clever Beet is a fan of concerts in the mud and ridding the world from the devil’s pawns. As a [flower] child of the 60’s, my concert days are far behind me…though I have been to Woodstock a couple of times in recent years and would you believe there are people still there who never left after THE event. I also abandoned any interest in vampires after reading my first Ann Rice book. I’m hoping that underneath all that rock concert energy and garlic and silver bullet enthusiasm lurks a heart that also cherishes something this mere mortal can relate to for the next themed puzzle! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  20. Thanks to Beet and to Prolixic for the review and hints. I really enjoyed what I could do, but needed 6 hints to finish. I’m afraid the theme went over my head, as I’ve never seen the programme. Great references to the blog though. Favourite was 17d. Was 4*/4* for me.

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