NTSPP – 305

NTSPP – 305

A Puzzle by Gazza

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Apologies for the late review.  A busy weekend with two services, Christmas lights and decorations to put up and domestic duties have delayed its production.


1 Spooner’s startled his chef and ruined his chances (6,3,5)
COOKED HIS GOOSE – Reverse the initial sounds (Spooner’s) of goosed (startled) his cook (chef).  A little cheeky that the whole of the second word replaced the first part of the second.

10 Absolute quiet’s wanted in club (5)
UTTER – Remove (wanted) the abbreviation for quiet from a type of golf club.

11 Thumping victory by government crushes totally opposition party leaders (9)
WALLOPING – A three letter word for victory and the abbreviation for good go around (crushes) another word for totally and the initial letters (leaders) of opposition and party.

12 Older females on the prowl are a scourge not fully resolved (7)
COUGARS – An anagram (resolved) of A SCOURG (scourge not fully indicating removing the final letter).

13 Rhyming lines penned by Matt Tuck? (7)
TRIPLET – Inside (penned by) MaTT Tuck are three letters that give the answer when spelled out.

14 Boozer’s in charge of Brazilian region (5)
PUBIC – Another word for a public house followed by the abbreviation for in charge.  Not a clue to provide an illustration for.

16 Begrudges poor people organising a sweep? (9)
DEBUGGERS – An anagram (poor) of BEGRUDGES.

19 Insinuates about players making heaps on the ground (9)
WORMCASTS – A five letter word for insinuates goes around a word for actors or players.

20 Met founder in discussions covering introduction of damage control (5)
PEDAL – A homophone (in discussions) of the founder of the Metropolitan Police goes around the first letter (introduction of) damage.

22 Pan made of base metal’s neither English nor European (7)
LAMBAST – An anagram (made of) BAS MTAL – base metal without the Es (English and European).

25 “Moore put that up” muttered Cockney intellectual (7)
EYEBROW – How Roger Moore acted by raising part of his body (no tittering there at the back) is how a Cockney would say highbrow (intellectual).

27 Flash motor car attracts new bird (9)
CORMORANT – An anagram (flash) of MOTOR CAR with the abbreviation for new inside.

28 Scrap of stage curtain’s pulled back to provide respite (5)
TRUCE – The answer is hidden (scrap of) and reverse (pulled back) inside STAGE CURTAIN.

29 Single US soldier in any pub’s unsafe – a butt to get conned (3,1,3,2,1,4)
BUY A PIG IN A POKE – The letter representing one (single) and the abbreviation for a US soldier go inside an anagram (unsafe) of ANY PUB then follow this with the A from the clue and another word for butt or nudge.


2 Striking miners (a third from Berkshire) are in a majority (9)
OUTNUMBER – A phrase 3,3 suggesting striking miners followed by the first three letters (a third from) Berkshire.

3 Smuggling weapon in car brings retribution (5)
KARMA – A three letter word for a weapon inside a two letter name of a Ford car.

4 Negative aspects of teams being relegated? (9)
DOWNSIDES – Split 4,5 this word would suggest teams dropping from a higher to a lower league.

5 Small atoll has a tenant (5)
ISLET – Split 2, 3 this word suggest that a property has a tenant.

6 Wound in body’s getting bigger (7,2)
GROWING UP – A four letter word for wound goes inside a five letter word for a body or assembly of people.

7 College window (5)
ORIEL – Double definition of a type of window and an Oxford college.

8 Home Secretary supports cardinal in divisions (7)
EIGHTHS – The abbreviation for Home Secretary goes underneath a cardinal number to give a word for divisions or fractions.

9 Centre covering that hides driver’s nuts (6)
HUBCAP – A cryptic definition of the part of the car that covers the wheel nuts.

15 Tip a band to be on top of the world (4-1-4)
COCK-A-HOOP – A word meaning tip, the A from the clue and a word meaning a band.

17 Get bowled over by top cricket side (catching little) (2,5,2)
BE SWEET ON – A four-letter word meaning top and a side on the cricket field includes (catching) a three letter word meaning little).

18 Flier composed by left-winger that’s upset over nothing (5,4)
EIDER DUCK – The colour for the left-wing and the abbreviation for that is are reversed (upset) and followed by a cricketing term for nothing.

19 Movement raised novice to be young philanderer? (4,3)
WOLF CUB – Reverse (raised) another word for a tide, current or movement and follow this with another word for a novice.

21 Inconspicuous island liable to flooding? (3-3)
LOW-KEY – The type of island of the Florida coast that would be most prone to flooding.

23 Drunken Conservative comes in for Queen’s forgiveness (5)
MERCY – A five letter word for drunken has the one of the letters that is an abbreviation for a queen replaced by the single letter abbreviation for conservative.

24 Fly over houses with vibrating sound (5)
TWANG – Reverse (over) a type of fly and include (houses) the abbreviation for with.

26 Polish off the claret you sip intermittently (3,2)
EAT UP – Every third letter (intermittently) of THE CLARET YOU SIP.


  1. silvanus
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant, full of humour as one would expect, and superbly crafted. Many congratulations indeed, Gazza.

    I started ticking the clues I liked, but then gave up when I realised it was just about every single one! So many clever constructions. 9d and 14a were truly laughter-inducing, but my overall favourite was 25a, memories of Spitting Image came flooding back!

    Thank you for such excellent entertainment, Gazza.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t agree more, Silvanus! This was superb in every way from start to finish. Well done indeed, Gazza.

  2. Kath
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant – I absolutely loved it – I thought it was quite tricky.
    I thought the top half was easier than the bottom and got completely bogged down at the end with the bottom left corner.
    Last ones in were 19a – just couldn’t see it – 27a – missed anagram indicator http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif and 17d – just plain dim!
    Wasn’t sure about my 12a as it’s not a meaning I know but Mr Google has obviously had some dodgy encounters.
    If my 13a is right I’m not sure why.
    I liked most of these clues but particularly 12 and 25a and 2, 6 and 9d.
    My favourite by miles was 1a – I know I’m in the minority in liking Spoonerisms but surely even those who don’t will love this one.
    With thanks and a massive http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif to Gazza.

    • Jane
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      13a – maybe you’re looking at the wrong sort of ‘pen’?

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Kath, assuming you have got 13a right the wordplay rather than the answer is the sort of construction that you often miss. I thought it was very clever and my favourite favourite!

    • Kath
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Jane and RD but still http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif and oh dear!
      Just can’t sort it out at all – BD’s principle suggests that my answer is wrong i.e. if you can’t explain your answer it’s wrong, or at least likely to be.
      Yet again http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif but have just lit fire and off for some wine, some supper and the dancing!

      • Jane
        Posted December 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Will your answer split 6,1?

        • Kath
          Posted December 12, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Aaaarghhh – I do love gazza very much but . . .
          Thanks so much Jane – this was driving me nuts http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

          • Jane
            Posted December 12, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink


          • Rabbit Dave
            Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            Glad you got there in the end!
            Don’t know why but your comment brought to mind Gazza’s clue 9d :wink:
            Not that it applies to you, I should hasten to add.

  3. Jane
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Think I’ve got some 12 clues vying for podium places so it’s easier just to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this one, Gazza.
    Not a write-in by any means and, for once, I couldn’t rely on guessing the multi-word answers to give me a start.
    I’m not usually a fan of Spoonerisms but that one was delightful – well done indeed. There were also two or three clues that Mr. T would have been proud to lay claim to. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif
    Many thanks for the fun on a thoroughly wet and miserable day.

  4. Hilary
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Beaten into submission by bottom right hand corner, roll on tomorrow and the answers. Thanks Gazza. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  5. KiwiColin
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff. Laughed all the way through.
    Many thanks Gazza.

  6. dutch
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Gazza, a delight. I’ve been running around, my father arrived today from Holland for a two week stay that will include Xmas, and I kept trying to find 5 mins to continue the puzzle. All done now. Some classic clues of the type that really hook you to want to make you continue the puzzle (e.g. 14a, 16a, 9d – long, long ago I had a band called the hubcats) – all good stuff, and some subtleties i really liked (a scourge not fully resolved). What a pleasure, many thanks

  7. Encota
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable & humorous – thanks Gazza. I got started in the SE corner.; 8d was LOI. Loved the 13a ‘Bullet for my Valentine’ surface – had me confused/fooled for ages! Great defs. at 14a, 16a, 9d – for some reason not all of them feature in the national dailies ;-) http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

  8. Una
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Gazza 14a how naughty !
    I liked it though it really was very very hard.
    BTW, I have finished looking at ” the killing ” , I agree that parts 1 and 3 were the best. What do you recommend I watch next on Netflix ?

    • Gazza
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      I’m afraid that I know nothing of Netflix or what’s available on it, but if you haven’t seen The Bridge I’d certainly recommend that. I think that it’s even better than The Killing. We’re currently 80% of the way through Series 3 on the BBC and I’m totally hooked – the performance of Sofia Helin is awesome.
      Another series that I really enjoyed (and I don’t know if it’s available on Netflix) is Line of Duty.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Gazza! We’re always looking for good British shows on Netflix. They’re usually a couple of years behind when they air over there. I have a long list of titles saved. I checked out Line of Duty and it’s available. Now in my queue.

        Una, we just watched The Great Train Robbery. Interesting approach. Disc 1 is from the perspective of the robbers and Disc 2 from the police. We really enjoyed it. Another good series is the American version of House of Cards. Didn’t think I’d enjoy it after the superb British version, but it’s really rather good.

        • Una
          Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          Netflix got me hooked with House of Cards ! I am awaiting season 4.You both recommended Line of Duty , so that is a must.Thanks !

      • Una
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that. Netflix is a 10 euro a month service where you can watch quite a number of films and TV shows . As my husband and I have very different watching habits , I find it very useful and relaxing.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Had a very busy day but decided to finish this little diamond from Gazza.
    Really great clues and lots of laughs and d’oh moments alike.
    In 25a, I was after the wrong Moore and was trying to fit “enry” in the word. But then a little star lit up in the sky. Biggest d’oh moment of them all.
    The Brazilian had me in fits. Very naughty.
    Can’t list all my favourites and it’s really time for bed.
    Thanks for the great fun.

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Got to this late because the day has been a “clean the house and put the finishing touches to Christmas” day. Just a joy! The puzzle, not the cleaning. 14A earned an “ooh, Betty” and a huge smile from me (though I have to wonder what the review illustrations will bring), loved 20A, too, but 25A is my favorite. Ta much to Jane above for helping me to parse 13A. How clever is that? Thanks, Gazza. You brightened my day.

  11. windsurfer23
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza, great fun.

    Even after overnight reflection, I can’t get the Spoonerism. One internet dictionary tells me that a Spoonerised third word means a part of the female anatomy, but I can’t make that tally with chef. I’ll have to wait for the review unless someone wants to give me a hint. Is the name of a chef involved?

    I liked 9 & 14 among others.

    • Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Whole words are swapped, not just initial letters.

    • Jane
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Oh – you’re trying to make it far too complicated! Try simply shifting the order of two of the words and you should be almost there.

      • windsurfer23
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Ha ha; I’ve never seen a Spoonerism before with whole word exchanges

        • stanXYZ
          Posted December 13, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          Thanks all – with your help – I finally understand the Spoonerism!

          Now I cant stop laughing!

          Thanks to gazza for an extremely witty, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable crossword!

  12. Encota
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I hope it is appropriate to ask other solvers here: is anyone else ‘investing’ (perhaps pronounced ‘wasting’?) time on the GCHQ Christmas puzzle? Annoyingly addictive!


    I keep coming back to BD’s Blog every few hours to give the brain a chance to cool down…

    • Kitty
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I spent a while on it yesterday. The first couple of parts are simple enough, but then it gets crazy. I used context-appropriate means to get through to part 5, but not sure how long I have available to devote to that one. My to do list is even longer…

      • Encota
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Agreed re. the crazy bit! I am trying (and usually failing) to limit myself to one Part 5 puzzle a day at present… Only trouble is, in some cases I still don’t even understand the question! The word ones are ‘almost’ ok; after that …

        As for my long and ever-growing To Do list, I got my permission by adding ‘Solve GCHQ Xmas Puzzle’ onto the list (right under ‘Put up and decorate the Xmas tree’ and ‘Complete the BD December Monthly Prize Puzzle’) ;-)

        Best of luck!

    • Jane
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Hi Encota, I always leave well alone when ‘numbers’ are involved but my neighbour, who is an expert with Sudoku puzzles (she has a system that seems foolproof!), reckons that she whizzed through it. Unfortunately, like myself, her electronic equipment of one sort and another is so basic that she can’t ‘read’ how to proceed to the next stage.
      I console myself with the knowledge that she is absolutely useless when confronted with a ‘cryptic’!

      • Kitty
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jane. You can also console yourself with the fact that cryptic skills are a must at the later stages. If you like I can email you the links so you can have a look.

        • Jane
          Posted December 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          Wow – you mean she might actually have to ask me for help? Sounds good to me! I’m sure BD will pass on my email address to you.

          • Kitty
            Posted December 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink


      • Encota
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Not enough tech to get her to Part 2 – that’s not fair!

        Were the Part 1 pattern to be entered – even if desperate manually – at one’s local friendly QR Code reader e.g. Web QR online, it would resolve to http://www.gchq.gov.uk/puzz/Pages/index.aspx Then the fun really starts…(ho ho ho!)

        • Jane
          Posted December 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the info – I’ll pass on the links and then it’s up to her! I’ll have to wait and see whether she comes knocking on the door for some ‘cryptic’ assistance – and hope to goodness that I can help!

  13. Kitty
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Great crossword – thanks Gazza.

    All I will say about 1a is that I spent ages looking for a spoonerism. Aargh!

    I used a few letter hints to get me over the line after I hit a bit of a road block, but enjoyed the journey.

    There were some delightfully cheeky ones which caused chuckles. Brazilian region indeed!

    Many thanks again for the entertainment.

  14. Maize
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Bravo and thank you Gazza both for the fun and for setting a high bar indeed. :)
    Many favourites – I felt moved to put a tick by nearly every clue and I gave six a double tick which is very rare for me! Namely 12a, 13a, 14a, 25a, 9d and 23d. 9d in particular drew my admiration because I know how difficult a straight cryptic clue is to pull off, but this was disguised behind a surface that looked like elements of wordplay.
    1a was new to me – has that sort of Spooner been done before, I wonder? It must be one of innovation or foul or something that’s part of the canon…I know not which!

  15. Kath
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Prolixic for the review and, again, to Gazza for the great crossword.
    I now know quite a lot about Matt Tuck – say no more, I think! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif
    We don’t get these gems i.e. Gazza’s NTSPP’s very often but they’re well worth waiting for. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  16. Jane
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Late on parade again, Prolixic, what can I say! Only that it really doesn’t matter – we’re just so grateful for your input and consummate abilities. I sometimes wonder how, when it’s an NTSPP and not a Rookie puzzle, you manage to refrain from making any comments.
    Like Kath, I now know more than I ever wanted to about Matt Tuck (although the penny obviously dropped for me before it did for her) and I also know quite a lot about various politicians etc. called Moore. My only knowledge of Roger of that ilk comes from watching The Saint and that was longer ago than I care to remember! Not my favourite actor and he was never, ever going to be convincing as Bond!
    There will be some sadness in the ranks – and possibly lost bets – that you didn’t come up with a pic. for 14a. Probably very wise, unless you had put up a map of Brazil or a native of same!

    Many thanks to you and also, yet again, to the star of the puzzle, our very own Gazza. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  17. Gazza
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Prolixic for the review and to all those who commented. I’m glad that the puzzle seemed to be well received.

    • Jane
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Well received?!!!! Come on, knight in shining armour, we LOVED it. Thank you so much.

    • dutch
      Posted December 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Jane is right

  18. stanXYZ
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    25a – I went for Sir Patrick Moore– but maybe too high-brow?

    The monocle led me astray!

    • Jane
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Actually, that would suit me much better, Stan – Gazza hasn’t so far offered an opinion. Maybe he will?

      • Gazza
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        I actually had Roger Moore, famous for his raised eyebrow, in mind

        • Jane
          Posted December 14, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

          Thanks, Gazza – maybe if I’d ever watched Spitting Image (obviously plenty of people found it amusing!) I’d have known what you were ‘going on about’. Didn’t matter, I found plenty of other candidates with suitable eyebrow raising habits and the answer had to be what it was. That was one of the delights of this puzzle – there was always a way in for everyone. I’d never heard of 16a but it couldn’t be anything else!

  19. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Prolixic for the review.
    As my previous comment suggested, I went for Sir Patrick Moore after dismissing Henri Moore.
    Never thought of the wooden actor. In retrospect, only his eyebrows are doing the acting.
    Thanks to Gazza again.