NTSPP – 314 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 314

NTSPP – 314

Cunningly Echoed by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows:

The following prologue was typed yesterday afternoon, before all the comments about the obviousness of the anagrams and the visit from this week’s setter – I had the pleasure of meeting Chalicea at the Birthday Bash and so was looking forward to solving and reviewing the crossword.

‘Cunningly’ doesn’t appear in the BRB’s list of Anagram Indicators but it was fairly obvious quite early on in the solving process that some of the solutions were anagrams of previous ones, or in some cases the actual word that had to be arranged in the earlier clue, which made solving the Across clues very easy.  The Downs, however, required quite a bit more work!



1a           Surprisingly spots mail deliveries (5)
POSTS An anagram (surprising) of SPOTS


4a           Troubled emigrants issuing in a flow (9)
STREAMING An anagram (troubled) of EMIGRANTS.

9a           Poet’s reluctance to work; sidles about, essentially inert (7)
IDLESSE A poetic term for reluctance to work is an anagram (about ) of SIDLES followed by the ‘essential’ letter of inErt

10a         Seasoning  area of coastal land regularly covered by tide (7)
SALTING   The act of seasoning with a particular substance or a coastal meadow flooded by the tides


11a         In a whirl, canoe immense expanse of water (5)
OCEAN   An anagram (in a whirl) of CANOE – one of Crosswordland’s “old favourite” clues.

13a         Feels about blindly not initially grasping strings of onions, for example (5)
ROPES   Remove the G (not initially Grasping) from a word meaning feels about blindly.


15a         Devoured  god! (3)
ATE   The past participle of a verb meaning devoured or the Greek goddess of vengeance and mischief.

16a         Practical skill of exceptional tar (3)
ART   An anagram (exceptional) of TAR

17a         Reveal some incredible tongue-twisters (3,2)
LET ON   Hidden in some incredibLE TONgue-twisters

19a         Muslim leader, woman previously mentioned and independent king (5)
SHEIK  The female named before and the abbreviations for Independent and King.

21a         In poetry hastens, taking in kilometre walking tours (5)
HIKES A poetical verb meaning hastens into which is inserted (taking in) the abbreviation for Kilometre.


23a         Slow passage of fasting season before start of overeating (5)
LENTO   The season when we fast or give up good things goes before the ‘start’ of Overeating.

24a         Seaman‘s unusual art (3)
TAR   An anagram (unusual) of ART

25a         Swallow penalty from time to time (3)
EAT   The even (from time to time) letters of pEnAlTy

26a         Reproductive body‘s curious poser (5)
SPORE   An anagram (curious) of POSER

28a         Rough ocean for light paddled boat (5)
CANOE   An anagram (rough) of OCEAN.

29a         Abusing    the proposing of candidates (7)
SLATING Abusing or commenting on unfavourably; in the USA, the preliminary listing of candidates.

31a         Internal combustion engines‘ tiny differences in pitch crossing line (7)
DIESELS     Tiny differences in pitch put round an L (crossing Line)

33a         Frantically streaming people leaving their country (9)
EMIGRANTS   An anagram (frantically) of STREAMING

34a         Locates unusual posts (5)
SPOTS   An anagram (unusual) of POSTS.

1d           Irritating US shrub‘s malignant influence remains (6,3)
POISON ASH  I’d heard of xxxxxx ivy but not this particular swamp shrub – a malignant influence followed by some remains of burnt wood.

2d           Prominent saint, a foreigner at heart (7)
SALIENT   A foreigner is inserted into the ‘heart’ of the abbreviation for saint.

3d           Awareness of something primarily unserviceable (3)
SUS   A slang term for awareness of doubtful behaviour – Something ‘primarily) followed by the abbreviation meaning unserviceable.

4d           Spiky shoot of singular fruit (5)
SPEAR   The abbreviation for singular followed by a type of fruit.

5d           Notes US land set aside by treaty for native peoples (3)
RES   The second notes of the tonic sol-fa scale or the US informal abbreviation for some land set aside for native peoples.

6d           Book of maps finally short of a bit of technology (5)
ATLAS   Remove the T (short a bit of Technology) from an expression meaning finally.


7d           Take as a model one friend possessing sex appeal (7)
IMITATE   I (one) followed by a friend into which is inserted (possessing) one of the Crosswordland favourite informal terms for sex appeal.

8d           Dance band’s engagement to perform grunge regularly (5)
GIGUE   A slang term for an engagement of a band followed by the regular (third and sixth) letters of grUngE.

12d         Winter fruit lines developed (5)
NELIS A variety of pear that doesn’t ripen until winter is obtained from an anagram (developed) of LINES.

14d         Absence of bite turning up in this edible Mexican nut (5)
PINON   An edible pine seed – reverse (turning up in a Down clue) NO NIP (absence of bite)

18d         Public utility‘s sample of pastel colours (5)
TELCO A sample or part of pasTEL COlours

19d         Person seemingly indifferent to emotions, thus including tax officer (5)
STOIC   Insert (including) the abbreviation for Tax Officer into a Latin term meaning thus.

20d         Reeks and mess problematically combined in urban cycle races (9)
KERMESSES   Cycle races held in urban areas. Problematically indicated to me that the solution might be an anagram of REEKS and MESS but we actually need an anagram of REEKS into which is inserted (combined) MESS (from the clue).


22d         In trouble, walk to one Indian police station (7)
KOTWALI   An anagram (in trouble) of WALK TO followed by the letter that looks like a number one.

24d         Hybrid fruit‘s pungency and new look, ignoring the odds (7)
TANGELO   A synonym for pungency, and the even letters (ignoring the odds) of nEw LoOk


25d         Result of tennis rules occasionally (5)
ENSUE   The even (occasionally) letters of tEnNiS rUlEs

26d         Participant in snow sport, maybe riskiest when it’s sadly lacking (5)
SKIER   Remove the letters of ITS (sadly indicates that they aren’t in that order) from RISKIEST and then make an anagram (maybe) of the remaining letters.


27d         Curious episodes (not peculiarly ESP); distinctive expression of intellectual character of group (5)
EIDOS An anagram (curious) of EPISODES once you have removed the ESP (peculiarly being used to indicate that the letters aren’t in that order)

30d         Shoot at wandering gnu (3)
GUN   An anagram (wandering) of GNU.

32d         Measurements of spinning tailless duck (3)
EMS   These printers’ measurements are obtained by reversing (spinning) almost all (tailless) of a type of duck.


I’ve seen crosswords before where one solution was an anagram of another but not quite as obviously as in this one.   As for the ‘unknowns’ in the Down clues, I don’t think I’ve used a dictionary so much when reviewing a crossword for some time!   The question is will I remember any of the unknown words if I ever see them again?

PS: I typed this about three hours before I solved another crossword in which I found that one of the required solutions was a word from this NTSPP. Never heard of it before and then it turns up twice in one day! I think I’d better put the rest of the ‘unknowns’ into that part of my memory bank reserved for words that might be required at some time in the future.

41 comments on “NTSPP – 314

  1. Well that was a lot of fun and not too tricky. It got even easier once I’d twigged what was going on and what the title was all about – very clever and a construction I’d not come across before. As I did my usual and started by going through the acrosses it was 24a that gave the game away.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for a most enjoyable and clever puzzle.

    BTW, all but one of the answers are in Collins on-line dictionary.

  2. As I proceeded through the puzzle, it became evident that it must have recently been diagnosed with split-personality disorder. Owing to the constraints of the format, the across clues were incredibly easy and inevitably anagram-laden, whilst the down answers (presumably to fill the grid?) were full of obscurities and it became a chore to be honest to have to check so many words to see if they actually existed. I can put 8d, 12d, 14d, 18d, 20d, 22d and 27d all in that category, unfortunately, although luckily I had come across 24d before! I’m also firmly of the opinion that three-letter anagrams should be avoided at all costs.

    I admire the clever concept and its technical execution, but I’m sorry to say that I didn’t particularly enjoy the challenge, so many apologies Chalicea.

  3. I twigged quite early on (4A/33A gave the game away for me) and it was a help with some of the other pairs. I thought it was very clever and really enjoyed it. I was not bothered by all the anagrams and obscure words because the overall puzzle was fun to work out. Thanks Chalicea!

  4. Sorry, but I’m definitely with Silvanus on this one. The concept was very brave, but I felt that the execution suffered greatly from the necessary constraints. Looked at dispassionately, the solver was faced with a puzzle that ranged from the ridiculously easy (3& 4 letter anagrams) to the totally bizarre (Urdu word for a police station) with virtually nothing in between.

    Apologies, Chalicea, I have got far more enjoyment from your previous puzzles.

    1. Sorry – I should, of course, have referred to 3&5 letter anagrams. Maths was never my strong point. :wacko:

  5. Very clever … but maybe too clever by half.

    I hate to think how long it takes a setter to compile such a puzzle.

    I’m very pleased that I’m just a mere solver!

    Thanks to Chalicea!

    ps. There are 40 clues in this 15 x 15 grid. Is this the maximum possible?

    1. While it is probably not the maximum possible, it is the one with the most words in the set provided by Crossword Compiler, which also has two 36-word grids, one with 37 words and one with 38 words.

  6. The Birmingham had two grids with 40 words and one with an amazing 50 words. They were not often used. They only publish weekly now with a 13×13 double crossword.

  7. Given that the premise of the puzzle is that symmetrically-placed across answers are anagrams of each other, I’m afraid it makes no sense to use anagrams in the across clues.

  8. A sparkling achievement in terms of grid construction but as a solving experience it was a little odd and didn’t feel particularly satisfying. Why? I think it was because either the clues were very easy (no real thrill in getting those) or because the solutions needed checking with Google or whatever – again not much thrill in that.
    However, there was definitely delight to be had in realising and then revealing the conceit of the puzzle, so many thanks for that Chalicea.

  9. We are in total agreement with the comment from Maize above except we would have said ‘concept’ instead of ‘conceit’ which is probably what was meant anyway.

    1. Ha! I’m sticking to my guns, and prefer conceit (BRB: A witty thought, esp, affected or ingenious, a fanciful idea). :)

  10. Thanks Chalicea; nice idea, but as noted above the issue is with the obscurities generated in the down clues. I still don’t understand the definition in 20d, it doesn’t seem to be what is in the online explanations.

    I also agree it is fairly pointless to have 3-letter word anagrams unless the answer is something very obscure that can’t be clued any other way.

    Anyway, despite the reservations a good development of an interesting idea.

    1. Hi Windsurfer,
      Keep replying to you over the wrong clue!
      My guess on 20d is that Chalicea is equating ‘urban’ with ‘road’ – not remotely synonymous in my opinion!

      1. Well the definition I’d seen previously was: ‘an annual fair and festival of a town or commune,’ however I see the BRB says ‘a cycle race held in an urban area!’

    2. BRB definition: n a cycle race held in an urban area. [Flem]

      I’m a keen follower of cycling … but my Flemish is not so good.

      1. The on-line definition I read was that it was a road race but not necessarily confined to urban roads. Obviously, I defer to the BRB which I should have consulted instead of taking the lazy option!

        1. Had you started solving cryptic crosswords when there wasn’t such a thing as the internet, you’d always look things up in a dictionary/reference book first. I also think you remember ‘stuff’ better if you’ve gone to the trouble of looking it up n a book – with the internet, there is a feeling that you don’t need to remember it because it is only a click away.

  11. I knew in my heart of hearts I should have stayed clear but I plunged in and wish that I had gone straight to GK. I have got a selection of answers but cannot really justify most them. Hey Ho. :cry:

    1. Dear Hilary

      Blow your nose and then read the comments above and then look at all the ‘echoes’ in your solutions. You should be able to get all the Across answers once you realise what Chalicea is up to.


      1. I have done what you said, I had the pairs in already and by a serious Google session I have found several other answers but only tomorrow will tell whether or not my apparent brainstorm are correct. Some very obscure words but thanks to beloved BRB I only have one problem left. :phew:

  12. Dear friends, I am, of course, as always reading the mixed reviews and taking note. One of you usually picks up a real flaw and I certainly agree that I should have avoided using an anagram when one half of the crossword was ‘anagrams of the other half”. The conceit/concept came about as there was such a positive response to my last NTSPP where I used palindromes or palindromic phrases but obviously this one was easier and didn’t appeal so much. The choice of grid usually depends on what is available that fits the setting requirement and here, the three-letter words worked well.
    Warning, I am thinking up something really mean for my next one which (if Big Dave doesn’t throw it out) will elicit at least one and probably many groans from all.

  13. Many thanks for the review, CS and I take on board what you said about using a reference book in preference to a quick Google search.
    Glad to see that I am not the only one who feels more comfortable with an ‘H’ on the end of 19a! :wink:

    1. Thank you.

      Checking which spelling comex first in the BRB (it is the one with the H!) I discover that one of the definitions is the splendid “girl’s young man or ideal film hero (old slang)”

      1. I guess that’ll be the ‘Sheik of Araby’ – although the first picture that comes to mind is one of Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia!

          1. As you say – but I never did quite appreciate the attraction there. Peter O’Toole in flowing robes, galloping across the proverbial plains, seemed far more appealing.

  14. Many thanks, Cryptic Sue – for your delicious cake at the Birthday Bash too. It is great now being able to put faces to names. The NTSPP reviews are, as I have said before, a real joy for the setter. Hilary, if my next one gets past Big Dave’s vet, it is specially for you, so please have a go :wink:

    1. Now there’s a challenge issued, Chalicea! We’ll all be making sure Hilary gives it her best shot. :yes:

      1. Hecky thump, bulk order for tissues going in and I will clean the cupboard under the stairs out in preparation.

  15. Only realised what was going on when I spotted the connection between 11a and 28a. That’s the problem when you solve corner after corner.
    Although the across clues were quite simple, it’s in the down clues that I found some really good construction.
    Liked 2d a lot followed by the “absence of bite” in 14d but favourite is 26d as it’s definitely riskier to practice this sport if there is no snow. Great surface.
    Thanks to Chalicea and to CS for the review.

  16. Just catching up. Thanks Chalicea – I really enjoyed that! Perhaps ‘from the ridiculous to the sublime’ applies (and I mean that as a compliment) – from three-letter anagrams of RTA to Flemish-derived words for urban cycle races and Hindi-derived words for a police station. I think my favourite was 10a, not least in that it deceived me for a while, posing as multiple clue types, before spotting it as a dd.

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