NTSPP – 301

NTSPP – 301

Crumpled Heap by Vigo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This is Vigo’s first NTSPP puzzle since her debut in The Independent.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows:

Vigo’s introduction said:  “Crumpled Heap is named in honour of the first clue I ever wrote that crypticsue put a star next to when she test-solved  it. (I treasure them when they do appear!).”

I can’t find the crossword with this particular clue in it, but I did find the first one I ever test-solved for Vigo back in October 2013  and, far be it from me to call her a fibber, but there were two clues meriting a * in that one too!!   This week’s NTSPP is an enjoyable pangram which I solved all over again as I couldn’t find the original test grid, before giving the week’s  ‘crumpled heap’ my full attention.


1a           Angus’s regular treatment of acne makes little difference (6)
NUANCE   The regular letters of aNgUs followed by an anagram (treatment of) ACNE.

4a           Work place back in use (6)
OFFICE   Split the workplace 3,3 and you get an expression meaning the opposite of postponed (back in use)

Wear it Pink 2015 003

8a           Twist in groin results in crumpled heap in need of attention (7)
IRONING   An anagram (twist) of IN GROIN.


9a           Rifle continued to fire (7)
RANSACK   Another way of saying continued plus a word meaning dismiss (fire).

11a         Thorough police force has one copper with tortured soul (10)
METICULOUS   The abbreviation for the police force in London, the letter that looks like a number one, the chemical symbol for copper and an anagram (tortured) of SOUL.

12a         Sense negative energy surrounding Scotland’s leader (4)
NOSE   The word used when being negative, and the abbreviation for Energy, ‘surround’ the leading letter of Scotland.

13a         Colourist holds right to salon equipment (5)
DRYER   Insert an R (holds right) into someone who stains something a different colour

hair dryer

14a         An A & E gown growing bacterium from septic tank? (8)
ANAEROBE   AN A E (all from the clue) and a gown.

16a         I have a partner that’s flawed (8)
IMPAIRED   Combine the words used when you’d say you had a partner.

18a         Kiss  damaged flesh (5)
GRAZE   To pass lightly along the surface of (kiss) or a scrape on the surface of the skin.


20a         Idiot takes in quietly dangerous creatures (4)
ASPS   The musical abbreviation meaning to play quietly inserted into an idiot.

21a         City scoundrel suffering in Post Office slip-up (10)
PECCADILLO   A trifling misdemeanour –   Insert into the abbreviation for Post Office, the letters used in the postcode of the area of London where the ‘city’ can be found, a scoundrel and another way of saying ailing (suffering).

23a         Intended to suppress initial naughtiness and be an angel (7)
FINANCE  These angels back  theatrical ventures – insert the first letter (initial) of Naughtiness into a  lady’s “intended”.

24a         Capacitor endlessly churned out farinaceous substance (7)
TAPIOCA   Remove the ends of CAPACITOR and make an anagram (churned out) of the letters you have left.

25a         Bashful about blunder making drink (6)
SHERRY   Insert a way of saying blunder or mistake into an alternative for bashful.

26a         Flies in the morning finding rubbish (6)
JETSAM   Travels by plane (flies) and the abbreviation used to indicate morning.


1d           Fibrous cord within inner ventricle (5)
NERVE   Hidden within inNER VEntricle

2d           Night in Paris following an unknown payment (7)
ANNUITY   AN (from the clue) followed by the French (in Paris) word for night and a mathematical unknown.

3d           Champion to take in queen and queen’s men (9)
CONQUEROR   A slang term meaning to take in, an abbreviation for queen, the regnal cipher for our current queen, and the two letters used to mean ordinary ranks of soldiers (men).


5d           ` Female fish unravels (5)
FRAYS   The abbreviation for Female and some flat-bodied fish.


6d           Containers lacking firm and robust base spill out more nuts (7)
INSANER     Remove the abbreviation for company (lacking firm) and the ‘base’ of robust from CONTAINERS and then make an anagram (out) of the remaining letters.

7d           Old guy takes in American minor (9)
EXCUSABLE   A prefix meaning former (old) and a rope (guy) into which is inserted the abbreviation for the United States.

10d         Commanding Officer cut after battle shows lack of valour (9)
COWARDICE   The abbreviation for Commanding Officer, a state of conflict (battle)  and a verb meaning to cut into small cubes.

13d         Servantsdisagreements (9)
DOMESTICS   House servants or an informal term for some disagreements


15d         Drive up the wall using tank found in dilapidated garage (9)
AGGRAVATE   A large vessel or tank inserted into an anagram (dilapidated) of GARAGE.

17d         Cool down cooked sausage (7)
ASSUAGE   An anagram (cooked) of SAUSAGE

19d         Friendships barmaid regularly restricts (7)
AMITIES   The regular letters of bArMaId followed by a verb meaning restricts

21d         One taking steps to go over backwards (5)
PACER   A reversal (backwards) of a verb meaning to go over the chief points again.

22d         Alternate site, lacking finish, starting to moulder (5)
LOCUM   Remove the final letter (lacking finish) of a Latin word meaning site and replace with the ‘start’ of Moulder.


  1. Gazza
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Super puzzle and a pangram to boot – thanks Vigo. The surface readings are excellent. My last answer was 14a because I was trying to use septic tank as rhyming slang. Best of some excellent clues for me are 8a, 23a and 3d.

  2. dutch
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Very nice Vigo

    and yes, 8a stands out as a favourite! My last one in was 16a, also very nice. The puzzle wasn’t overly taxing and had lovely aha moments, beautiful surfaces and cleverly disguised definitions. I liked 21a (post office slip up), 1d (treatment of acne making little difference), 23a (intended to suppress initial naughtiness and be an angel), 2d (night in paris…), 7d (american minor) and much much more.

    And I noticed the pangram for once

    Many thanks Vigo, lovely stuff.

  3. Kitty
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff – thanks Vigo. Just the right level of difficulty to provide an enjoyable diversion on this dismal wet and grey day.

    Farinaceous was a new or forgotten word for me, and 7d was my last in.

    My favourite is 16a, narrowly beating off 23a.

    11a and 21a are up there too, and of course, the titular 8a.

    Many thanks Vigo, and thanks in advance for the review.

  4. windsurfer23
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Vigo and CS in advance.

    Good straightforward puzzle with characteristic smooth surfaces. I got a little stuck in the NE corner; the definition for 7d seemed a bit odd but it’s in Chambers, so perhaps it’s just me being odd.

    Lots of nice clues; I think my favourites were 23, 7 & 9 with honours also to 8. The pangram helped me with 26.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted November 14, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      How many favourites?! You’ll be in trouble when Kath gets here.

      • windsurfer23
        Posted November 14, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        I blame the Web

  5. Rabbit Dave
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I too was held up a bit in the NE corner, but overall this was a lovely pangram which was not too difficult. I very much enjoyed it all – except for 6d, which for me was rather too convoluted. 14a made me laugh, and I thought 8a, 9a, 23a, 7d, & 13d were excellent.

    Well done Vigo and thanks for the entertainment.

  6. Jane
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    That was delightful, Vigo, thank you very much.
    Quite happy to admit that I had to consult Mr. G about farinaceous substances and stuff that grows in septic tanks, but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment.
    List of potential favourites is ridiculously long so I’ll content myself with mentions for 4,8,11&16a plus 2&10d.

    Off to deal with my own ‘twist in groin’ now!

  7. Hilary
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Too clever by half for me I am obviously in the minus entry level, got a few answers but have no idea about pangram roll on the decode tomorrow when my stupidity will be revealed. OH has given paper back so I will see what sort of a mess I can make of that. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Can I just ask, before you give up with the NTSPP and indeed the other puzzles and resort to your box of tissues, have you tried putting the crossword down for an hour or so and seeing how you get on again when you come back to it? There is a part of your brain tucked away at the back somewhere that carries on working out the clues while the rest of your brain concentrates on something else entirely. Why not give it a go – it’ll save money on all those tissues.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted November 14, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        I absolutely agree with your advice. There’s been many a time when I think I will never solve a particular clue and I sleep on it only to find the answer pops into my head as I’m waking up. I also get inspiration in the shower!

      • Hilary
        Posted November 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Silly me I have just reread the definition of pangram again in FAQs to realise that I had effectively forgotten what it was and was looking for the wrong thing. Perhaps I am not that bad. Thank you for advice. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Just super! Loads of favorites, including 8A, 14A ( I actually knew the word!), 21A, 6D, 7D, and 22D. Coincidentally 24A also appears in a DT puzzle today. Thanks, Vigo, especially for the quirkiness! I thoroughly enjoyed the unraveling process.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff that we really enjoyed. 7d and 14a were our last two in and we’ll vote for 14a as our favourite. We had picked the pangram.
    Thanks Vigo.

  10. Una
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable, I was listing all my likes but in truth them all really.I am going to pick 7d as my favourite.
    Thanks Vigo.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  11. Maize
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff. Consistently high standard of clues which makes it hard to pick a favourite.
    Vigo, you’re clearly an expert at the daisy chain style of charade clue – like 11a, 14a, 21a, 3d and 10d; each subtly different in construction style and each with a smooth surface, but, apart from the clue in the title, I’d give my vote to 9a – straightforward wordplay with a completely deceptive surface – perfect!.

  12. silvanus
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant, Vigo.

    Not as difficult as I was expecting, and as others have said it was full of excellent constructions and flawless surfaces. Music to my ears!

    Especially nice to see your “crumpled heap” featuring in one of the clues. The “farinaceous substance” in 24a also appeared in Friday’s Giovanni backpager coincidentally.

    Difficult to choose a favourite, but I’ll plump for 23a.

    Many thanks for a superbly entertaining crossword.

  13. dutch
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Many thanks for the excellent review CS. Reading all the clues again highlighted the exquisite surface constructions. A joy and an inspiration.

  14. Jane
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Thank you, CS – goodness knows how you find the time to test solve/review so many puzzles!
    Any particular clues that earned a * from you this time?

  15. Hilary
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you CS for confirming that despite my initials fears I had solved this little masterpiece also for your encouraging words. In future I will take your advice and not panic but set aside and come back. Thanks also to Vigo look forward to next one.

  16. Hilary
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Sorry email address went in wrong

    • Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Already sorted!

      • Hilary
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Thank you.

  17. Vigo
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks to CS for the review – due to computer meltdown I don’t have a record of the original puzzle in which the crumpled heap featured but it is he first star I remember getting on a test solve. Thank you also to everyone for your comments and, of course, to Big Dave for being such a wonderful host!

    V x

    • Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      I’ve just sent you (and CS) a copy of Vigo 2.

      • Vigo
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Thank you. I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to solve it though! First read through I could only see three answers. V

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      We could argue about this all day – I think Vigo 2 must be on my work computer but at home I have my solved grid of Vigo 1 dated 20 October 2013 with stars by both 4d and 17d.

      • Vigo
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        I believe you. It’s obviously not just my computer’s memory that’s failing…

  18. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Many thanks to Vigo for this very refreshing and well deserved break as the whole country seems to be at a standstill.
    The NE corner gave me a lot of problems as I put ” inanest” in 6d.
    CS seems to have made the same mistake in her review.
    The pangram helped as I was still missing K, Z, X,and B.
    Agree that the surface was wonderful and favourite is 8a.
    Thanks to Vigo for cheering me up and to CS for the review.

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Well spotted – I have corrected my undeliberate mistake now.

  19. Kath
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    A bit late here today but just had to whizz in quickly to say how much I enjoyed this one.
    It just shows how a crossword doesn’t need to be so difficult as to make all of us tear our hair out to be enjoyable.
    I knew what farinaceous meant and had met 14a before.
    I was slow with 21a.
    I liked 1a and 13d. My favourite was the crumpled heap.
    With thanks and congratulations to Vigo for setting such a good crossword and to CS for the review.