NTSPP – 313

NTSPP – 313

Birthday Puzzle by Prolixic

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This puzzle was distributed to those attending last week’s Birthday Bash.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows

I’d already seen the draft celebratory crossword earlier in the week, and the version handed out in the pub didn’t have the useful message about the enumeration on it, so it was rather fun to watch other solvers try to work out what the 28/4 21/3 was all about – as I said to Gnomey ‘think differently about the clues and remember what today is’.


1a           Historic structures Wren sanctioned to be rebuilt after 28/4 (5,7,7)
7 ANCIENT WONDERS   An anagram (to be rebuilt) of WREN SANCTIONED goes after the number you get after you have divided 28 by 4.

7 ancient wonders

9a           14/2 talked about dioceses acquiring 50 bible fastenings (5,5)
7 SEALS   More division produces that number again, this time followed by a homophone (talked about) of some dioceses into which is inserted (acquiring) the Roman numeral for 50.   These fastenings originate in a phrase in the Book of Revelation that refers to xxxxx symbolic xxxxx that secure the book or scroll, that John of Patmos saw in his Revelation of Jesus Christ

7 seals

10a         Grandiose prince returned before princess got back (3-2-3)
LAH-DI-DAH   A reversal of an informal way of referring to the Shakespearean Prince who became Henry V, the abbreviated and informal way we refer to the late Princess of Wales, and another reversal (back) this time of a way of saying ‘got’.

11a         21/3 nurses in Victoria line station (5,7)
7 SISTERS   That sum again followed by some senior nurses.

14a         Glitch in bottling fruit (6)
LITCHI ‘Bottling’ indicates that the fruit is hidden in gLITCH In


16a         Original Clue: A quirk Ottoman effected?
Revised Clue: A quirk Ottoman effected is seen at the end of speech? (9,4) See comment 8 below.
QUOTATION MARK   An anagram (effected) of A QUIRK OTTOMAN

21a/17d Offering modern course in energy (6)
VICTIM   This sacrificial offering is obtained by inserting the abbreviated way of referring to the ‘modern’ course of Information and Communications Technology into an informal term for energy or vigour.

22a         Latest output the mine processed (2-2-3-6)
UP-TO-THE-MINUTE An anagram (processed)of OUTPUT THE MINE.

25a         Analyses astronomical distances without using the speed of light (6)
PARSES   Remove the letter used to represent the speed of light from some astronomical distances.

27a         Greek university teacher runs away with 28/4 to see leading economies (5,2,5)
GROUP OF 7   The abbreviation for Greek, the abbreviation for the University offering part-time study, and the informal way of referring to a teacher at such a university, without the letter R (runs off), all finished off with the result of another bit of division.

29a         Ritchie Neville for one is excellent (4-4)
FIVE-STAR     Ritchie Neville being one member of a pop group with the same name as an indication of the highest rank or quality (excellent).   And yes I did have to check that he was!

30a         This year ______ Don Manley’s fifth 21/3 – it’s a cause for celebration (2,3,5)
WE ARE 7   A verb meaning to put on (don), the fifth letter of ManlEy and another chance to remember a particular times table, if you’ve had enough of dividing numbers.

31a         Chinamen get fit running 14/2 film (3,11,5)
THE MAGNIFICENT 7   An anagram (running) of CHINAMEN GET FIT followed by ‘that’ number again.

magnificient 7


2d           Francis maybe has time for one to help (6)
ASSIST   Change the letter at the end of the home of St Francis from an I to a T (time for one)

3d           Attacks part of a contract we hear (5)
CLAWS   Part of a verb meaning attacks by scratching is a homophone (we hear) of part of a contract.

4d           Extended manuscript’s spaces originally (3)
EMS   Some spaces used by printers are found in the original letters of Extended Manuscript Spaces.

5d           Prepares  registers (5)
TILLS   Prepares/works the land; cash registers.


6d           Brothel lover embraces Desdemona’s husband (7)
OTHELLO   The Moor who loved not wisely, but too well is ‘embraced’ in brOTHEL LOver.

7d           Import a Ford in South Africa (5)
DRIFT   Import here means the meaning or implication of words used; the solution can also mean a ford in South Africa.


8d           Familiar routines of church in remote area (8)
SCHTICKS   Insert the abbreviation for church into an informal term for remote rural areas.

12d         Time to defeat old interfering person (5)
TROUT   Put a verb meaning to defeat after the abbreviation for time.

13d         Be excited about earl’s old rifle (5)
REAVE An archaic verb meaning to rob and plunder is obtained by inserting the abbreviation for Earl into an informal way of writing or speaking about with great enthusiasm.

15d         Stretch or bird (5)
CRANE A verb meaning to stretch the neck in order to see better or the bird of the same name, whose neck is already stretched.


16d         Shop with a queue reportedly going round Arab state (5)
QATAR   A reversal (going round) of a verb meaning to shop or inform on, A (from the clue) and a homophone (reportedly of queue.

17d         See 21

18d         Here in France, old King is more remote? (5)
ICIER   The French word for here followed by the regnal cipher of an old King. (Makes a nice change from the current Queen!)

19d         New aquarium regularly overlooked in Pacific island (5)
NAURU   N (new) followed by the odd letters (regularly overlooked) of AqUaRiUm.

20d         Dog’s home drops lard originally as a source of obesity? (5,3)
PUPPY FAT   A young dog followed by a home on one storey of a building without the L (drops Lard originally)

23d         Subject of tweet – Mark’s after cannabis (7)
HASHTAG   I’ve not been lured into the world of Twitter yet but I do know that people use this symbol to make it easier to find messages on a particular topic.   Another word for cannabis followed by an identifying mark.


24d         Result of pronouncedly petite females’shocking treatment (6)
EFFECT     If you say out loud (pronouncedly) the abbreviation for female, follow it with another of the same abbreviation and then the abbreviation for some ‘shocking’ treatment.

26d         Be annoyed by second eleven? (5)
STEAM   The abbreviation for second and what eleven sportspeople could collectively be known as.

27d         Cook’s dressed fish with reduction of catmint (5)
GARNI   An originally French expression used by a cook to mean something is dressed or trimmed with something, followed by a mint-like plant used to attract cats with its last letter removed (reduction).

28d         Fifth option for flier? (5)
PLANE   If you’ve used options A B C and D what would be your next choice?

30d         Ladies gathering to welcome oriental dynasty (3)
WEI   E (eastern, oriental) inserted into an abbreviation for an organisation of ladies who gather or meet regularly.




  1. dutch
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    And what a delightful puzzle this was. The filled grid looks pleasingly symmetric. I enjoyed this immensely. I don’t yet understand 28d, and i am not sure i can see an appropriate definition for 16a. Too many lovely clues to name favourites

    Lots of fun, many thanks prolixic

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 6, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      I hope you’ve got your shin pads handy as you are going to kick yourself when you spot the reasoning behind 28d.

      • dutch
        Posted February 6, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        ok got it – doh.

  2. windsurfer23
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Congrats Prolixic; it took me a little while to see what was going on here.

    I don’t need shin pads for 28. I’ve only just got Don Manley’s fifth; nice one!

  3. Jane
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness I’ve had this one since last Saturday – took a long while for the revelation to occur!
    Many thanks, Prolixic, all done now but I’m still worrying at a couple of the parsings – Don Manley being one of them.

  4. Maize
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Super outside of the box thinking from our guru – loved it – although I spent way too long thinking 21/3 etc referred to 21a/3d etc., which was the whole idea, I guess!
    Amongst my favourites were 1a, 2d, 25a, 28d and the super-smooth 10a. Like Dutch, I can’t see the definition at 16a.
    Many thanks Prolixic, and happy birthday again to the best crossword site there is. :)

  5. silvanus
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Having picked up a printed copy last Saturday, I had the pleasure of solving it a week ago, and once the use of 14/2, 21/3, 28/4 had been understood, it wasn’t quite as tricky as I initially thought. It was extremely enjoyable and a very worthy celebratory puzzle indeed.

    My personal favourite was 31a, as it’s an excellent anagram.

    Many thanks Prolixic.

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    Very late getting on to this as other things have been taking up our time but we did eventually sit down and attack it. It took a long time to work out what was actually going on in many of the clues (despite the preamble) but when we did get that it began to make a lot more sense and we started to make progress. All done now although, like Dutch, still wonder about definition for 16a. Great fun, much appreciated.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Not my cup of tea at all, I’m afraid. Puzzles like this make my eyes cross and my head ache.

  8. Prolixic
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Apologies to all for 16a where I seem to have suffered a complete craft moment!

    By way of an edited clue:

    A quirk Ottoman effected is seen at the end of speech?

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 7, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Apologies from me too, especially to the extremely busy Prolixic.

      There was a particularly short turnround time for this test solve, and not helped by the three separate people who came to my office door and said ‘when you’ve finished your lunch hour, could you just …’, for some reason my brain looked at this clue, saw the qu… mark and thought ‘that’s one of those sneaky punctuation clues’ and moved on to parse the rest of the clues. What I should have done of course, was included ’16a – where is the “?’ in the list of queries to raise with our lovely setter.

    • dutch
      Posted February 7, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      did not detract from the pure enjoyment

    • Posted February 7, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Now updated.

  9. Gazza
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I was sure that I’d picked up a copy of this at Bridge House to do later but when I looked for it on the train it was not to be found. So, today was my first chance to have a go at it and very impressive it is. I’d never heard of Ritchie Neville but apart from that it all went in fairly smoothly once I’d twigged the numeric twist. Thanks to Prolixic for the enjoyment. Top clues for me were 10a, 30a and 16d.

  10. dutch
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review CS – reminded me of the fun clues.

  11. Beet
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    |I am the right age to remember 5ive – yes that’s how they wrote it – and even I had to dig deep into the memory banks to recover Ritchie Neville. Thanks Prolixic!

  12. Jane
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, CS, – particularly for the parsing of 25a (I didn’t know the astronomical distance) and the ford in 7d.
    My favourite was 20d if only for the picture it conjured up!

  13. spindrift
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of Ritchie Neville in all my chuff so I was never going to complete this without CS. Thanks to her 7 to Prolixic for an entertaining puzzle but I must away now to watch the Ireland v Wales game (and with a middle name like Quin i think you all know who I’ll be supporting).

  14. andy
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    First saw this whilst being berated by CrypticSue into “just think of the day”, with Prolixic sat next to me whilst I spluttered Into another pint and I said I can’t do this. Think it was Hitchin on way home when I stopped thinking sevenTH and many pennies did drop. Had to investigoogle the five star . Thanks to CSue and Prolixic

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 9, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      “berated”???? – surely you mean “being helpfully assisted”?

  15. Heno
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Prolixic and to CrypticSue for the review and hints. I normally find the Prolixic Toughies much too difficult, but this was a delight. Still tricky enough though. I did some of it on the tube on my way to the Finchley Squash Finals. I thought all the enumerations were wrong for all the “linked” clues. It was only the next day that the penny dropped, brilliant. I stupidly got 25a wrong and put in parse, doh. I had never heard of of Mr Neville, and guessed the answer as “fine wine”. That stopped me getting 23&27d, I still don’t understand the latter. I actually wrote in “question mark” for 16a, then realised it didn’t fit. Then thought of the answer, but couldn’t parse it. Had never heard of 8d. Superb puzzle, that I’ll always remember for the enumeration trick on the blog’s 7th Birthday.