NTSPP – 310

NTSPP – 310

A Puzzle by Toro

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by a very sleepy Prolixic follow.

Apologies for the brevity of the review. The shenanigans of my eldest son meant that I did not get to bed till gone 2:30 am. It was a fantastic crossword to which I cannot do full justice at the moment with a pictorial review.


1/6 Unwind with large one in pub (8,4)
WATERING HOLE – An anagram (unwind) of WITH LARGE ONE

10 Old time artist and silent movie actor (5)
EXTRA – A two letter abbreviation for old and the abbreviations for time and an artist

11 Daring commercial enterprise (9)
ADVENTURE – A two letter word for a commercial or publicity followed by another word for enterprise.

12 Where everyone’s gone to see entertainer tango in ballroom wear (5,4)
GHOST TOWN – Another word for an entertainer or emcee and the letter represented by Tango in the phonetic alphabet inside another word for a dress worn to a ball.

13 What links South America with El Salvador? (5)
ANDES – A definition of the mountain range, the wordplay being another word for with and the abbreviation for El Salvador.

14 Not Shetland or Rum, nor Skye (7)
ORKNEYS – An anagram (rum) of NOR SKYE.

16 Midge deterrent introduced after hot month’s forecast (7)
AUGURED – One of the hottest months of the year followed by the surname of the singer Midge and the first letter (introduced) of deterrent.

18 Inuits unfamilar with a hot country (7)
TUNISIA – An anagram (unfamiliar) of INUITS followed by the A from the clue.

20 Make appearance in play about one cold seducer (7)
ENTICER – Another word for going on the stage in a play around the letter for one and the abbreviation for cold.

22 Toro gets to divulge a tool of his trade (5)
ROGET – The author of a thesaurus is hidden (to divulge) in TORO GETS.

24 Shared belief of government number-crunchers in what they do? (9)
CONSENUS – The abbreviation for the Office of National Statistics (government number crunchers) inside the name of a periodic statistics gathering exercise that they carry out.

26 I flex, pat and soothe (9)
OSTEOPATH – An anagram (flex) of PAT SOOTHE with the whole clue providing the definition.

27 Here in France, about to turn more wintry (5)
ICIER – The French word for here followed by a reversal (to turn) of a two letter word meaning about.

28 Pious air a certain man conveyed (4)
HYMN – A homophone (conveyed) of him (a certain man)

29 Threats and violence in attempt to conceal goods in shade (8)
THUGGERY – A Russian doll clue – A word meaning to attempt includes (to conceal) a word for a shade or colour which itself includes two Gs (goods).


2 Pair beginning to romp in refuge for bestial couples — pretty graphic! (7)
ARTWORK – Another word for a pair and the first letter (beginning to) of romp inside the boat that resuced lots of animals.

3 Precision cutting tool tossed up and caught on head (9)
EXACTNESS – Reverse (tossed up) a cutting tool and put this on the abbreviation for caught and another word for a head of land.

4 Role in Otello filled by lead in Madame Butterfly (5)
IMAGO – One of the characters in Otello includes the first letter (lead in) Madame.

5 Just William in relation to Shakespeare, for example (5,4)
GIVEN NAME – Another expression for a person’s first name.

6 Natural hair colouring shows through when naked (5)
HENNA – The answer is hidden in (shows through) WHEN NAKED.

7 Regularly loaf with less than clean clothes (7)
LAUNDER – The odd letters (regularly) in loaf followed by a word meaning less than.

8 Referring to comic or tragic chapter in French history (5,2,6)
REIGN OF TERROR – An anagram (comic) of REFERRING TO.

9 Holiday location that could give you disease (7,6)
SEASIDE RESORT – A reverse anagram clue. This holiday location when expressed as an anagram clue could give DISEASE as the answer.

15 The night sky depicted by potato printing? (4,5)
STAR CHART – Split (6,3) the answer might indicate a print made from a potato!

17 Drawing of Russian empress unclad and straddled by horse (9)
GATHERING – The name of a Russian empress with the first and last letters removed inside a two letter word for a horse.

19 Oddly deficient ending that play gives us when it’s performed? (7)
NIGHTLY – An the even letters (oddly deficient) in eNdInG tHaT pLaY.

21 She manages till she consumes one in a saloon perhaps (7)
CASHIER – The letter representing one inside the she from the clue inside another word for a vehicle of which saloon is an example.

23 Old Norse character who thunders in the skies above Norway (5)
THORN – The name of the thunder God over the abbreviation for Norway.

25 Indian statesman raised poultry and game (5)
NEHRU – Reverse (raised) another word for a bird (poultry) and follow with the abbreviation for a game or sport.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I tested this puzzle so long ago (Feb 2015) that I didn’t remember it until I got to 17d. Incidentally according to Lucy Worsley’s programme on the Romanov’s, the empress in question had far too many lovers to have time to do what she is rumoured to have done with the horse.

    Thanks to Toro for the crossword and Prolixic in advance for the review.

    Toro – Searching through my emails to find this one which you referred to as a ‘long overdue puzzle’, I think the ‘next’ one is even more overdue!

  2. Toro
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    :oops: I wasn’t exactly prolific in 2015, was I? I must set more this year :mail:

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Toro, many thanks for an absolutely splendid puzzle, which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. The wordplay for 2d is pretty graphic – and utterly hilarious. I love the joke in 24a but I can’t fully parse the middle bit, so I need to wait for Prolixic’s review tomorrow for that.

    I messed up to start with by putting in “first name” for 5d, but the checking letters soon showed me the error of my ways. The old Norse character in 23d had me reaching for my BRB for verification of the answer.

    My only query is regarding 4d. It’s a great surface, and I understand the link but does “butterfly” really define the answer?

    I haven’t got time to list all my contenders for favourite but 10a, 9d & 15d were right up there. However, 16a is, in my opinion, a pretty much perfect clue, and is my runaway winner and candidate for clue of the year.

    Bravo Toro, and, yes, you must set more this year please!

    • dutch
      Posted January 16, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      24a – brb has the abbreviation

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted January 16, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Mine doesn’t :sad:

      • dutch
        Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        online Collins also has it

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted January 17, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          Having read Prolixic’s review, I now understand why I couldn’t find the abbreviation either in my BRB or in online Collins. I was looking for SENS, on the perhaps rather cynical basis that what government number-crunchers do is con us!!! So what I thought was the intended joke wasn’t one at all.
          Many thanks Prolixic for putting me out of my misery!

          • stanXYZ
            Posted January 17, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            I also thought it was Con …. us.

            Brilliant puzzle from Toro!

            My favourite, without a doubt, was 9d – very partial to reverse anagrams.

            ps. Prolixic … 24a is missing an “s” in the solution

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      P.S. I meant to mention that it’s quite a coincidence to see Madame Butterfly putting in an appearance in both the DT back-pager and in the NTSPP on the same day. Spooky!

      • Toro
        Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Thank you both – a very heartening reaction, because I wasn’t sure what I thought about this puzzle. RD, it’s my fault not yours that you put in a perfectly good answer to 5a (I should have clued it unambiguously), and you’re quite right that 4a could be any insect in its adult stage (had I known, I would have put a question mark on the end to indicate that a butterfly is only one example). Dutch, yes, perhaps I could have used ‘the Shetlands’ rather than ‘Shetland’. I’ll look it up.

  4. dutch
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Toro – absolutely brilliant! I ticked 18 clues I found particularly outstanding, so not much point mentioning them – oh what the heck: across 1,10,12,16,22,26,28,29, down 4,6,7,8,9,15,17,19,21,23. An excellent puzzle with smooth surfaces, humour, and great definitions. Amazing definitions include 10a, 12a, 6d, 19d, 21d. Took me a while to see Midge, excellent. Some beautifully disguised anagrams as well (e.g. 1a, 8a). Loved the semi all-in-one at 26a, and the well-executed reverse clue in 9d.

    Do people say Shetlands? – would match the answer. I’ve been told by pedants (see what I just did?) that Inuit already implies the plural and Inuits is not a word (though it keeps appearing in crosswords)

    One thing I really appreciate is when clues like 1/6 are in a single row or column, thanks for that.

    A delight to solve, many thanks

  5. Jane
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Here comes another long list of ticks – 1/6,10,12,16,24,26,29a plus 2,5,7,15,17,19,21d. 8d misses out simply because I didn’t know the comic!
    Fantastic stuff, Toro and quite brilliant surface reads. Many thanks for making a miserable, cold day very much brighter.
    More, please!

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Surely 8d deserves a tick? Comic is an anagram indicator.

      • Jane
        Posted January 16, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        Really? Blessed if I can find the fodder. The answer is, however, the name of a series of comic books (1957) which I assumed that everyone (except me) had probably heard of before!

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted January 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          In that case it’s an even more clever clue than I first thought. “Referring to” is the fodder, which is followed by “or” from the clue.

          • Toro
            Posted January 16, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

            That’s the second time today I’ve been credited with an unintended reference in a crossword clue! One of my entries in a clue-writing competition was taken as a reference to the series Dickensian, which was also fortuitous.

            Jane, thank you for solving and for your kind comments.

            • Jane
              Posted January 16, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

              You’re welcome, Toro – it was a great puzzle to solve.
              If I were you, I’d have just claimed the credit for the extra reference. :whistle:

          • Jane
            Posted January 16, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

            Certainly is, in my opinion as well – now that you’ve helped me overcome the blind spot with the anagram!
            Thanks, RD – I owe you a drink a week on Saturday. :good:

  6. pommers
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Very nice indeed. Too much good stuff to pick a favourite.

    Bring on the next one as soon as you like.

  7. Hilary
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Well I have filled in all the little boxes with letters but I wish I was confident that they are the correct ones. Roll on tomorrow when all will be revealed.

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    First time I tackle a Toro.
    And it was great fun.
    The SW corner was the last to yield and I was wondering why, if Toro was a 26a, he would need to use a 22a ??? D’oh.
    Not sure about 28a. I think it might be a homophone. Will have to wait for the review.
    The anagrams and the letter jumps were brilliant. A lot of great clues.
    Thanks to Toro.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant. We laughed all the way through which means that there was quite a lot of laughing. Just loved 17d. We were quite disappointed when we found out from Stephen Fry on QI some time ago that the story about the horse was almost certainly apocryphal, but it still made a great clue.
    Many thanks Toro.

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Put me in the “absolutely brilliant” camp! This was so much fun to unravel. However, I have three that I cannot fully parse; 16A, 24A, and 9D. I can’t pick a favorite because there are just too many wonderful clues. Many thanks Toro!

  11. windsurfer23
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Very nice puzzle that I managed to do even when tired.

    Lots to like and I only managed at the end to see that 8d was a very impressive anagram. I particularly enjoyed 12a, 9d & 19d. I also liked the bestial couples romping about.

    Small niggle about ‘introduced’ in 16a, which I think may be inaccurate (?) ‘Deterrent’s introduction’ would have been unambiguous.

  12. Maize
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    My first of your crosswords Toro, and I can only agree with all the praise lavished on this beautifully crafted and polished puzzle. Every clue was a joy, yup, every clue. Hard to pick a favourite – maybe 8d, 1/6a, 15d, 16a or 17d – too many to choose from really.
    If forced to find fault, I would only say that half a dozen clues were pretty much write ins. They were typified by 23d – I know the answer is quite obscure but the wordplay meant it did rather jump off the page. So that shortens the pleasure somewhat. But of course easier clues offer less experienced solvers a foothold and 23d has a perfect surface reading, so it’s not a criticism, just a reflection of the predicament a setter here must face. Really admire your work. Bravo!

  13. Hanni
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink


    I rarely, if ever, do the NTSPP but Jane said that I should make time for this one. And trust me when I say that this woman is always right!

    Toro, why the h*** do you not set puzzles more often? 2d is just brilliant, but I liked so much more. So much so that Kath might kill me. Cheers Toro.

  14. Kitty
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Well, what can I say? Awesome crossword, Toro :yahoo: .

    So many brilliant clues that I couldn’t even start to pick a favourite, but will just mention the biggest laughs which were 2d, 15d and 17d.

    I had the same question as RD about 4d (and the same experiences with other clues), but that’s a small thing. Totally missed the anagram in 8d (even though I looked for one), and assumed it was a comic but unlike Jane I couldn’t find it. I didn’t know that the rune was Nordic (only knew him as the Old English Y of Ye Olde) but that was easy to check.

    Thanks to Toro – and congratulations. Thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  15. Gazza
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant – great surfaces and laughs galore. If we’d had this one as a Telegraph back-pager we’d have been over the moon. I rarely choose anagrams as my favourite clues but 1/6a, 14a and 8d were so well disguised and with such natural surfaces that I have to pick them, together with 12a, 2d and 17d.
    Thanks to Toro for a real treat.

  16. spindrift
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Toro – a breath of fresh air – “again please” in the words of the Spanish Infanta

  17. dutch
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Many thanks Prolixic for the perfect review even though you were exhausted – hope all works out

  18. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Prolixic for the review and to Toro again for the super crossword.

  19. Snape
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Excellent, excellent, excellent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a puzzle that I could do (albeit with my usual electronic help) with so many wonderful clues. Plus I was also helped by reading some of the comments before I started. Great anagrams and reverse anagrams, clever lurkers, plus everything else. I tried to do a podium, but there were so many vying for 3rd that I failed, but 2nd was 15d, and my favourite was 17d.
    And I’ve just seen the review has appeared, thanks to Prolixic, I will no doubt have more laughs with the couple I couldn’t parse. Thanks Toro, great stuff.

  20. Jane
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks, Prolixic – sounds as though you are now reaping the ‘rewards’ of having raised a son up to the dizzying heights of supposed adulthood. Been there, done that – only in my case it was daughters and one worries even more about them!!!

    Hope that Toro is hard at work on his next NTSPP? :yes:

  21. Beet
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Really wonderful puzzle Toro. Just the right level of difficulty for me and almost very clue caused a smile. I particularly liked the silent movie actor, the very sneaky anagram at 1/6, and the potato print.

  22. Toro
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the hints Prolixic – embellishing a post with pics comes a very distant third behind looking after self and family. (I often find myself having to take the same shortcut on Tuesdays.)

    A couple of small notes: 8d is the anagram plus the OR from the clue, and in 12a the entertainer is one who entertains guests rather than an emcee (or at least that was the thinking).

    This puzzle has gone down vastly better than I expected. I actually withdrew it last time round and quickly wrote another one instead that appeared as my last NTSPP.

    Huge thanks to everyone who solved it and took the time and trouble to comment. Oh, and apologies to any Inuit (not Inuits) reading – thanks Dutch for that observation.

    • Jane
      Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Can’t believe that you actually withdrew that brilliant puzzle, Toro! In that case, perhaps you have a drawer full of withdrawn puzzles that we could get to enjoy?

      • Toro
        Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        I do have bits and pieces from my first flurry of activity in 2013 but as Sue says I’ve done precious little since. I really will try to pull my finger out this year, and I’m grateful to you and Hanni for the encouragement.

        • Hanni
          Posted January 17, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Like Jane said, I can’t believe you withdrew that…(she’s always right), best puzzle I’ve solved in a long while in any publication. What a joy.

          Many thanks to Jane, Prolixic for a great blog and to Toro. More please?

  23. Hilary
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Toro and Prolixic for the most delightful work out that I have had for ages, after my doubt yesterday I was thrilled to find that I had got it right. It was interesting that as I wrote the answers in the parsing came to me – big step forward. Happy little old lady. :yahoo:

    • Jane
      Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Great stuff, Hilary. I’m sure Al will be proud of you!

    • Toro
      Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Keep at it and enjoy! :good:

      • stanXYZ
        Posted January 17, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink


        As a matter of interest … what was your favourite clue?

        • Toro
          Posted January 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          Hi Stan – not sure I had one. Perhaps OSTEOPATH (26a), because I managed to avoid the temptation to do something with MASHED POTATOES (which must have been done). I think it’s quite a common experience among setters that the clues that give you most pleasure are those where you are condemned to a certain difficult-looking word late on in the filling and clueing process, and you surprise yourself by grinding out a decent clue. I quite liked NIGHTLY (19d) for that reason.

          In many ways setting is like solving, but in reverse: you start with a word and rack your brains to come up with a solution to clueing it. Somewhere on this site is very nice write-up by the great Anax/Elkamere on the crossword-setting process. I’ll see if I can find the link.

          • Toro
            Posted January 17, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
            • Jane
              Posted January 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

              Thanks for the link, Toro, that was quite a fascinating read. However, it just served to re-enforce my belief in the superior brain power of our setters – no way it would lead me to think that I could emulate any of you!

            • stanXYZ
              Posted January 17, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

              Thanks for that, Toro!

              i’ve printed it out and will read it in full … probably in the nearest “watering hole”

            • Gazza
              Posted January 17, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

              A few weeks later Anax gave us a fascinating (and extremely useful) account of his setting process for one specific crossword – see here.

              • Toro
                Posted January 17, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

                That IS fascinating – good on him for doing that, and thanks Gazza for sharing it.

              • Jane
                Posted January 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

                Goodness – that took some time to read over, but what a revelation. Greatest of respect to Dean
                aka Anax/Elkamere for taking time out to guide us through his thought processes when setting a puzzle. Thank you, Gazza, that was much appreciated.

            • Expat Chris
              Posted January 17, 2016 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

              Fascinating, indeed. When I first started doing the cryptic 50 years ago, I had a mental image of a professor-type with glasses pushed up on forehead, wearing a cardigan and slippers and sitting in a study piled high with books, sharpened pencils at the ready. Norman Rockwell would have done him justice. Time has changed the tools perhaps, but the need for absolute focus has not changed. At least these days you can mute the ringing phone! Thanks, Toro.

  24. silvanus
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I rarely have the time to attempt weekend puzzles, but having seen the fulsome praise lavished on this one, I felt I had to find space for it, albeit later than most! I’m absolutely glad that I did – it was superb.

    It seems slightly wrong to single out individual clues, since all were of such a high standard, but the ones I liked the most were 2d, 15d and 21d.

    Like Maize, I have not tackled a Toro puzzle before and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I will certainly look out for the next one with great interest!

    Many congratulations, Toro.

  25. Expat Chris
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sorting out my parsing problems, Prolixic. I have not heard of the Midge in 16A before and was not familiar with the ONS in 24A. I could see the anagram in 9D but that was as far as I got. Clever clue, that. Again, congrats to Toro for a superb puzzle.