NTSPP – 303

NTSPP – 303

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows.

Time for Prolixic to return once again to the Saturday afternoon slot.


1a           Be annoyed with frivolous reform (3,3,5)
SEE THE LIGHT   Split a word meaning to boil with anger (be annoyed) and follow with a synonym for frivolous.

7a           Father’s fine about Vogue (3)
FAD   Reverse (about) an informal way of referring to your father and the abbreviation for fine.

9a           Quits sport after leader is dismissed (5)
EVENS   ‘Dismiss’ or remove the first letter  (leader) from a type of rugby union with fewer players than the ‘usual’ fifteen.

10a         Island with a genuine shipwreck (3,6)
NEW GUINEA   An anagram (shipwreck) of A GENUINE and W (with)

11a         Four notes about a private meeting (4-1-4)
TETE-A-TETE   Four lots of the seventh note in the sol-fa scale put about A (from the clue).


12a         Courtyard seen in workshop at Iona (5)
PATIO   Hidden (seen) in workshoP AT IOna


13a         Perfect blend of peanut oil the Spanish exported (7)
UTOPIAN An anagram (blend) of PEANUT OIL without the EL (the Spanish definite article being ‘exported’).

15a         Pretentious manner regularly employed by swindler (4)
SIDE   The regular letters of SwInDlEr.

18a         Nearest  store (4)
NEXT   A double definition – without a capital, we have an adjective meaning nearest; with a capital N, a well-known high street store, although saying that, their logo has a small n too!


20a         Jack’s heartless superior embracing sex with Saturn’s son (7)
JUPITER   The abbreviation for a Jack in a game of cards and another word for superior with its middle letter removed (heartless) into which is inserted one of the informal ways of referring to sex.

23a         These trees supply processed steel and paper (5)
APPLE   To get these trees you need to take the words STEEL and PAPER, remove TREES and make an anagram (processed) of the letters you have left.   An anagram (supply) of the solution and TREES produces STEEL and PAPER.


24a         Naval officer hiding gold in toilet (9)
COMMODORE   The heraldic term for gold hidden in a chair containing a chamberpot (toilet)

26a         Annoy a good king with a tax direction (9)
AGGRAVATE   A (from the clue) GR (George Rex, King),  A (from the clue) a tax on the increase of price on goods or services, and a compass direction.

27a         Mavis offered harbour for dispatch boat (5)
AVISO   A historical advice-boat is hidden in mAVIS Offered.

28a         Vital part of pontoon (3)
ACE  Part of the best possible hand in a game of pontoon.

29a         Organised supermarket under canvas is open (11)
TRANSPARENT   Organised and a particular supermarket are put inside (under) a canvas structure used in camping.

1d           Range of presumably new computers crashed (8)
SPECTRUM   If something is presumably new, it is not ‘old’ – this is our setter’s way of telling you to remove the O before you make an anagram (crashed) of COMPUTERS.


2d           Particle of silver and gold alloy (8)
ELECTRON   Hands up who else knew the particle but didn’t know the same word meant a natural alloy of gold and silver used in ancient times? I’ve noted it down for future reference.

3d           Herd tramples a plant (5)
HOSTA   A herd or large crowd  tramples  or goes over  A (from the clue).

4d           Lighter network performance is reported (7)
LANTERN  A Local Area [computer] Network and a homophone (is reported) of performance.


5d           Witnesses costermongers getting new start (7)
GAWKERS    People who stare and gape at something are obtained by  changing the first letter (getting new start)  of some people who offer goods for sale on the street (costermongers sell fruit or other wares from barrows).

6d           Broke wind whilst riding – that’s false (7-2)
TRUMPED-UP A slang expression meaning broke wind and a way of saying on horseback.

7d           Fixed penalty drinking Martini? (6)
FINITE   Crossword setters like Martini and other brands of Italian vermouth because it means they can use the two-letter way of referring to this drink (particularly when added to gin) and, in this case, insert it into a penalty.

8d           Draco has split pullover (6)
DRAGON   Split this Northern constellation 4, 2 and you’d have an expression meaning pull over.


14d         Crude top removed from pit prop crushes worker (9)
INELEGANT   Remove the first letter (top removed) from a coal pit, follow with a type of prop or support and one of crosswordland’s favourite workers.

16d         No pirate deployed poison (8)
ATROPINE   An anagram (deployed) of NO PIRATE.

17d         Lavish with alcohol in seaside tax haven (4,4)
FREE PORT   Another word for lavish and some fortified wine (alcohol)

19d         Attending a college function comes up with musical piece (7)
TOCCATA   Another way of saying attending, A from the clue, the abbreviation for college and the abbreviation for cotangent (trigonometrical function).

20d         Joining cables and cable knits? (7)
JUMPERS   Cables used to start cars using another battery or knits which may have a cable pattern.


21d         Tomorrow‘s article about divine food – on the contrary (6)
MANANA   Contrary to the first part of the wordplay, the miraculous Biblical food goes ‘about’ the indefinite article.

22d         Climax of an elegist briefly describing Earth Goddess (6)
APOGEE   Almost all (briefly) of someone who writes mournful poems (elegist) into which is inserted (describes) one of the alternative spellings for the goddess or personification of Earth in Greek mythology.

25d         Old Bob sits in tree overlooking a foreign port (5)
OSAKA   The abbreviation for the coin we used to know as a ‘Bob’ inserted into a tree and followed by (overlooking) A (from the clue).

Thanks once again to Prolixic for the usual mix of entertainment and education   I have added the ‘obscure’ definitions to my memory banks as , based on past experience, these words will appear in one or other of the national crosswords in due course.



  1. Jane
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Bravo, Prolixic – I always think it’s extremely noble of you to submit an NTSPP for the site in the full knowledge that all of our Rookies will be going through it with a fine toothcomb in an attempt to find any error that you might previously have criticised in their own work!

    I did have to check with Mr. Google over 27a and part of 22d and wasted a bit of time on an attempt to get Mr. Malfoy involved with 8d, but the rest fell into place quite well – with the odd penny-drop moment along the way.

    Favourite by a mile is 1a with 29a running into second place.
    Many thanks for the Saturday afternoon entertainment. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  2. dutch
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Struggling in SW, 22d & 23a

    • Gazza
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      22d definition is ‘climax’
      23a is a compound anagram.

    • dutch
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Thanks got it now

  3. dutch
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I liked 1a, though the definition I thought might have been better. 10a works beautifully. I liked 6d, though surface isn’t great.

    However, there was a lot I didn’t like, and as jane says, this is a tricky position in the face of being the moderator of rookie puzzles ( many of which have been better than this).

    Tramples (3d)? Crushes (14d)? doesn’t work for me.

    Use of brand names? not to be encouraged

    Surface readings? 20a, 22d, 14d, and more pretty yucky.

    9a, I think quits = even, the extra s doesn’t work for me.

    27a seems to be a historical term which is not indicated

    What is “presumably new” doing in 1d?

    I dont get 2d, 23a is trees doing double duty?

    Sorry Prolixic, not my cup of tea

    • Jane
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dutch,
      I may be wrong (I often am!) but with 1d I took it to be an anagram of computers minus the ‘O’ for old.
      2d I thought of electroplating.
      Any good?

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Quite a lot of your questions are answered in the review, but I’ll let you wait for most of them. For now I would say:
      9a look in the dictionary
      2d ditto
      23a is as Gazza has said, a compound anagram.

      • windsurfer23
        Posted November 28, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Hi CS, should this not strictly be ‘this tree’s’ or some such to indicate a compound anagram?

    • dutch
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, despite being a scientist I had never heard of the other meaning for 2d, I think selecting obscure meanings is poor clueing.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted November 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        You’re very grumpy today, Dutch, and more than a little unkind in your comments on the setter, it seems to me. If anyone should grumble about brand names, it should those of us not based in the UK but I had absolutely no problem with the two store names mentioned. Easy enough to work out and check.

        • Jane
          Posted November 28, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          Must admit – I was a little surprised by some of the remarks.

      • dutch
        Posted November 28, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        my opinions, nothing more. everyone is free to disagree. i would be less grumpy if i thought the puzzle was excellent, and prolixic should be a role model. i don’t think my comments were unkind, i focussed on the puzzle.

  4. windsurfer23
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Prolixic, enjoyable puzzle.

    My favourites were 1a, 4a &6d. I’m another scientist never having heard of the alternative definition of 2d but it’s in Chambers, so fair game. In 3d I think ‘tramples on’ would have helped the solver. I’m not sure about the ‘under’ in 29. If it’s an insertion indicator, I’ve never seen it used like that before.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      29a If you’re ‘under canvas’ you’re IN ****.

      • windsurfer23
        Posted November 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza, I thought there must have been something going on.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    All done now, but I am still cogitating over the parsing of four of them. Not saying which because I’d rather see if I can work them out by myself before the review. 1A took me a long time to….well, you get my drift. It’s my favorite so far. Thanks, Prolixic. You won’t hear any grumbles from me.

  6. Kath
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    No grumbles from me either.
    Just popped in to see what people were saying – I’m about half way through but now need to sort myself out – friends here for supper quite soon – probably ought to get a bit of shifty on . . .
    Back tomorrow – I think 1a is brilliant even though it gave me a headache trying to work out why – sneaky or what?
    Have a nice evening all.

  7. KiwiColin
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Well that took me quite a long time and BRB had to work quite hard. Got a real surprise when I was having no luck with Ag, Au or OR in 2d and then looked in BRB and found the explanation there. Think there is one that needs a bit more thought on the parsing but that will have to wait until after a Sunday morning walk. Really enjoyed it.
    Thanks Prolixic.

    • KiwiColin
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      The walk and BRB when I got back helped parsing the last one. I did not know the short version of the Earth goddess.

  8. Jane
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, CS. My online dictionary didn’t give that definition of 2d (I know, I should get a BRB!) so I apologise to Dutch for my attempt with electroplating. However I did, possibly for the first time, remember that wretched LAN and it seems I had got the right idea for 23a.
    Just a couple of things – I think your explanation of 10a is missing the ‘W’ and isn’t the abb. in 26a referring to specific kings rather then simply King?
    Many thanks again to both Prolixic and yourself – I love these NTSPPs.

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 29, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Sorted thank you

  9. Gazza
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Prolixic for the puzzle and to CS for the review. Those of us who were introduced to the world of peeking and poking in the 1980s should have noticed a theme.

    • Kath
      Posted November 29, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      What does that mean? I do hope that it’s not going to be one of those things that I’d have been better off not knowing! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      • Jane
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        I’m guessing (hoping) it’s something to do with computers, otherwise it’s just way too much information about Sir Knight’s past history. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

      • Gazza
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Most of the ‘early’ personal computers came with a built-in Basic language with ‘peek’ and ‘poke’ being two of the instructions available.

        • Jane
          Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          That’s something of a relief, Gazza, but please note that I was prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

          • Kath
            Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            I really haven’t led a sheltered life at all but I’ve learnt things/words/slang on this blog that I could never have made up in a million years so I no longer give anyone the benefit of the doubt! Oh dear!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

  10. Rabbit Dave
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I found this very tough (which nicely offset Saturday’s R&W cryptic) and largely enjoyable. A small number of clues didn’t work for me. Notably I didn’t like 10a which contains indirect anagram fodder (with = w), and I agree with Dutch about the extra S in 9a.

    Although the wordplay for 6d is a bit clunky, that is more than made up for by the excellent schoolboy humour. The excellent 1a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Prolixic and to CS.

    P.S. CS, you’ve left out the G for good in your parsing of 26a.

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, CS. I needed it for parsing 23A and 2D. And thanks again to Prolixic for an enjoyable puzzle.

    I am pleased when I can properly parse all the clues, but in all honesty I don’t get hung up about it if I can’t. And I don’t spend time dwelling on what might be construed as a setter error either. There’s usually more than one way of looking at things. I reckon that anyone who can set puzzles that most people seem to enjoy deserves respect. I’m just happy to be a middle-of-the road solver who’s main objective is to have some fun. If I learn something new along the way, so much the better.

    • Kath
      Posted November 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink


  12. dutch
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I still don’t think 23a works, trees is doing double duty and there is no cryptic indication that says “take the answer plus trees to give an anagram of steel and paper” (if the intention is a compound anagram). Alternatively, if the intention is a subtractive anagram, there is no indication to remove trees from steel and paper. Either way, the definition is unacceptably used in the word play (double duty). Steel isn’t very good in the surface either.

    Many thanks CS, your review is highly appreciated as always

    • Posted November 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      I think that the definition in 23a is “these” as a demonstrative adjective, so “these” + TREES supply STEEL and PAPER

      • dutch
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        yes i’d like to think so, but these=apple? sorry, the trees are too involved in def + wordplay.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I can’t see how trees is doing double duty. The clue is simply saying: the answer + trees (i.e. apple trees) deliver (supply) an anagram (processed) of steel and paper. Compound anagrams are far from being my favourite type of clue but this is how they work.

      • dutch
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think these works as the answer – I don’t want to argue, I am just saying it did not work for me – a great concept poorly implemented.

        • Toro
          Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t do the puzzle but I’m sure I’d have had the same reaction as Dutch to that clue. Surely the definition must be either “these” (the rest of the clue being wordplay) or the whole of the clue (semi-all-in-one). Since it’s neither, “trees” is doing unfair double duty. Double duty is fair when it embraces the whole clue in an all-in-one or semi-all-in-one (where the wordplay enhances the definition) but as a rule I don’t think you can present the solver with a halfway house. It’s not all-in-one in that case, and we would need a name for this new clue type.

          Not that most solvers give two hoots about such niceties, but for those of us who are interested in the technical side of clueing, these debates can be quite good fun, as long it’s all in good humour!

          • Toro
            Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            ADDENDUM: And I claim no less an authority than, you’ve guessed it, Prolixic! Here’s his comment to a Gazza clue from NTSPP 262:

            10 Horny thing essentially beset by early signs of real obliteration (5)
            RHINO – The inner letters (essentially) of “thing” have the first letters (early signs) of Real Obliteration put around them (beset by). If horny on its own is the definition, an adjective is defining a noun. IF THING IS PART OF THE DEFINITION, IT IS DOING DOUBLE DUTY AS PART OF THE WORDPLAY TOO.

            • Gazza
              Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              I’m not sure that it’s relevant to the current discussion but I intended that clue to be a semi-all-in-one with the whole clue being the definition (relating to the rhino being an endangered species).

              • Toro
                Posted November 30, 2015 at 1:04 am | Permalink

                Hi Gazza. Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply any slight to that clue. It was the point Prolixic made that I wanted to highlight.

        • dutch
          Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


  13. Kath
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Right – time to try again – I keep getting the error thingie.
    I really enjoyed this.
    I ended up with gaps instead of answers for 23a and 21 and 22d and needed the hints to explain a few others.
    Even having read the hint I’m still a bit at sea with 22d – I know I’m probably being dim, again, but . . .
    Quite a few new words/meanings in this one – my BRB hasn’t been used so much for one crossword for quite a long time.
    My favourite was 1a and I also liked 10a.
    With thanks to Prolixic and to CS.

    • Jane
      Posted November 29, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I had two alternatives for 22d.
      Either it’s an elegist= A POE(t) – (last letter off for briefly) with one of the spellings for the Earth Goddess (GE) inserted
      Or it’s an elegist=A POE (as in Edgar A.) containing a shortened (briefly) version of the name of the Earth Goddess (GE).
      I’m inclined towards the latter but could well be wrong!

      • Jane
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Just to add to the confusion, the wretched woman also spells her name GEE so that adds a couple more alternatives to the mix!

        • Kath
          Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Having googled Earth Goddesses I lost interest when she started spitting at people and so never really found the right spelling – that’ll just teach me to dig a bit further – oh well!

      • crypticsue
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        I thought ‘briefly’ meant we were looking for a ‘short’ POEt but then one could argue that perhaps we normally refer to Edgar Allan Poe ‘briefy’ as Poe. Either way, we all know which three letters we need to put the version of the Earth Goddess inside.

        • Jane
          Posted November 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          Maybe Prolixic will let us know what he intended?

          • dutch
            Posted November 29, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            bad clue – sorry

            • Kath
              Posted November 29, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

              I don’t want to be argumentative at all, or to get into any of the ‘what’s OK in a clue or otherwise’ because I really don’t understand enough about it but I just don’t think that Prolixic ‘does’ bad clues. If we can’t get it we’re not smart enough.

              • dutch
                Posted November 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                i’m smart enough Kath, and so are you.

              • crypticsue
                Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

                Enough please if only for the sake of my email inbox. I think we all know who thinks what about which clue without going on and on any more

                • dutch
                  Posted November 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

                  thanks CS, what do you think is the function of a crossword blog?

                  • Posted November 30, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

                    I think CS is trying to politely tell you that you have made your point and that it is probably best to stop now. Don’t forget that your opinion is subjective – I particularly liked 23 Across but appreciate that others may not.

  14. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    The across clues went in quite well but it was a totally different story for the downs.
    Not only I couldn’t get a few of them, the parsing still eludes me.
    Mind you, I have a bit of a sore head after last night’s great dinner at home with Mrs and Mr Framboise.
    Thanks to Prolixic and to CS for the explanations.

    • dutch
      Posted November 29, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      i’m very jealous of the great dinners you have with the framboises – i’m going to have to come over to feel better

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        You’re more than welcome.
        And last night was comfort food at it’s best.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

          Intrigued. What is comfort food to the French?

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

            It was a real Franc Comtois dinner.
            Morilles mushroom cooked in white wine and cream with a chunk of country bread. ( croute aux morilles)
            Morteau sausages with steamed vegetables and Cancoillotte.
            Plate of Mont d’or, Comté and Morbier cheeses.
            Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and red gooseberries crumble with vanilla ice cream.
            White Hermitage from Enzo Fayard and Red Morgon from Lapierre.
            Dinner lasted 5 hours.
            Didn’t see the time pass at all.

            • crypticsue
              Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink


            • Expat Chris
              Posted November 29, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

              Well, that would certainly comfort me, and then some!

      • dutch
        Posted November 29, 2015 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        i’m on my way

  15. Encota
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Prolixic – I enjoyed that a lot. I always like precision clueing such as yours, plus a bit of word searching (I can confess to not knowing the despatch-boat and having forgotten the alloy!)
    Finally I’ve seen the technique you’ve used in 8d before but haven’t got the hang of setting them yet – I must try some!

    – ACTEON –