NTSPP – 327 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 327

NTSPP – 327

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:

Prolixic makes a welcome return to the Saturday afternoon spot, and not just because it gives me the chance to use one of my favourite photos from last summer.


1a           Excited electrons briefly flame up providing light (11,4)
FLUORESCENT LAMP   An anagram (excited) of ELCTRONS FLAMe  UP (briefly telling us to remove the last letter of flame)

fluorescent lamp

9a           Principally air detection radar is for those off course (6)
ADRIFT    The ‘principals’ of Air Detection Radar Is For Those

10a         One who protests about alien shopkeeper? (8)
RETAILER    Someone who protests in a ranting manner goes about Mr Spielberg’s alien.

11a         Agent given on-line access with initial key (8)
DELEGATE     One of the keys on your computer keyboard, the letter used to denote electronic/over the internet  and an entrance (access)

14a         Homeless organisation accommodates its saviour? (6)
LESSOR   Someone who rents a property to someone homeless would be their saviour.   He (or she) is hidden in (accommodated by) homeLESS ORganisation

17a         Drunk going by the bar produces a reason for everything? (3,4,6)
BIG BANG THEORY   An anagram (drunk) of GOING BY THE BAR

20a         A poetic character heartlessly intended to stop funfair (9,4)
AMUSEMENT PARK   A (from the clue), an inspiring poetic character, a synonym for intended without  its ‘heart’ or middle letter, and a verb meaning to stop in the sense of place and leave.

Amusement park

23a         Plant disease I reportedly see in country (6)
RUSTIC   A fungal plant disease, I (from the clue) and the letter that sounds like see (reportedly)

25a         Provided unknown dish without right type of condiment (3,5)
SOY SAUCE   An adverb, conjunction or interjection meaning provided, a mathematical unknown and a particular type of dish without the R (right) at the end.

soy sauce

28a         Encourage test that is to include tax (8)
MOTIVATE   The abbreviation for the annual test on your vehicle, and the abbreviated way of saying that is, into which is inserted a tax.

29a         Top off plaster vase with reddish-brown colour (6)
AUBURN    Remove the ‘top’ or first letter from some plaster and then add a vase.

30a         Report of Greek character’s dastardly con baffled police (3,8,4)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD   A homophone (report) of the thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet followed by an anagram (baffled) of DASTARDLY CON

New Scotland Yard


2d           Steps taken to remove head from cyst? (6)
LADDER   Another ‘remove the head’ clue,  this time from a type of cyst (the definition can be found in the Collins Dictionary).


3d           Suppose compliance is oddly deficient (5)
OPINE    Oddly deficient indicates that we need the even letters only of cOmPlIaNcE

4d           Additional passage court omitted (5)
EXTRA   The abbreviation for court is omitted from a passage selected from a book, for example.

5d           Heals final pair returning with plague (5)
CURSE   Reverse the last two letters of part of a verb meaning heals.

6d           Prohibit consumption of drug in short memo (7)
NOTELET    Insert (consumption of) the abbreviation for Ecstasy (drug) into a simple way of saying prohibit.

7d           Retreats from west coast city’s US tax men (5)
LAIRS   The abbreviation for an American west coast city followed by the abbreviation for the US tax collectors.

8d           Described predatory lunatic (9)
PORTRAYED   An anagram (lunatic) of PREDATORY

12d         Unionist in European concert stands up to dance (5)
GIGUE  An 18th century lively dance form –   Insert the abbreviation for Unionist between the abbreviation for European and a concert (usually a one-off performance by a band or pop group) and then reverse  (stands up in a Down clue)

13d         Vocally supports badger (5)
TEASE    Here badger is a verb meaning to pester or worry –  a homophone (vocally) of some supports used when playing golf.

15d         Beginning to sip white wine in jar (5)
SHOCK   Another ‘is it a noun, or is it as here a verb?’ definition –   the ‘beginning’ to Sip and some German white wine.

16d         Skiffle group who worked with the Stones? (9)
QUARRYMEN    John Lennon’s original skiffle group could also be people who  worked with  stones.


17d         British toboggans maybe no good for sportsmen (5)
BLUES   Sports people who’ve represented the Universities of Oxford and  Cambridge (or Harrow School)   are obtained by removing the G (no good) from some B (British) toboggans

18d         Hit   dog (3,2)
GET TO    A double definition that makes me glad Brian doesn’t solve NTSPPs.  Hit here meaning arrive at, reach a place and dog to worry or plague.

19d         Toilet   chairs? (5)
HEADS   Nautical term for ships toilets or people in authority (chairs)

21d         Toy Prolixic is able to put into business (7)
MECCANO   The pronoun Prolixic might  use, followed by an abbreviated business into which is insered a verb meaning ‘is able to’


22d         Cricket official is more upset describing century (6)
SCORER   The abbreviation for Century is inserted into a way of saying more upset.

24d         Gets   kindling? (5)
TWIGS    Understands (gets) or small pieces of wood used as kindling

25d         Brace erected in Fleet Street (5)
STEEL   Hidden and reversed (erected in)  fLEET Street

26d         Long story involving Spain (5)
YEARN     A lengthy story into which is inserted (involving) the IVR code for Spain

27d         Turkish official carries American graduate into church (5)
ABBEY   A Turkish governor (official) carries (or holds up) the American abbreviation for a Bachelor of Arts



On Friday, Prolixic and I discussed  the fact  that his NTSPP End of Year Review  was due a few weeks ago, but had been missed mainly due to the fact that I‘d reviewed the Saturday puzzles around that time. 

The success of the NTSPP slot means that more of the regular NTSPP  setters have gone on to have their crosswords published in national newspapers, which in turn has led to my reviewing the majority of any NTSPPs provided by ‘published’ setters,  including Prolixic puzzles such as this one.   Looking at the full list of NTSPPs,  Prolixic puzzles used to appear far more frequently than they do now, mainly due to the wealth of talent vying for the Saturday afternoon position – this particular puzzle is only his fourth one since April 2015.    There have been some  promotions to this slot for members of Rookie Corner, and I’m sure there’ll be lots more of them in the next year, given how good the Monday puzzles are these days.

Once again we have  to thank Big Dave for providing us with the opportunity for Saturday lunch time diversions and to all their setters for the enjoyment they bring to our Saturday afternoon solving.

PS:  Isn’t it time for another Gazza, or a Bufo, or a …  and didn’t Chalicea promise us a special puzzle? 

29 comments on “NTSPP – 327

  1. having overcome my initial disappointment upon seeing that the puzzle wasn’t themed around the Eurovision Song Contest, I pressed on regardless with this enjoyable puzzle.
    I can’t find a theme, although I was on the look-out for one when I solved 17a (I’ve never seen it, though) and of course the somewhat horrible grid with its double-unch-Fest is normally suspicious in this regard.
    24 and 29 were probably my favourites; many thanks to Prolixic

    1. If this crossword had been themed on 17a, it wouldn’t have appeared here for a year or two as it would be too close to the publication of Indy 9216 by Math.

  2. An absolute pleasure to solve, and finished early in my day so that I can enjoy the sunshine that has finally put in an appearance. 16D is my top pick, with 11A close behind. Thanks Prolixic!

  3. Very entertaining and not too tricky I thought. So many well-crafted clues, but I picked out four in particular, 1a, 17a, 30a and 16d.

    Great stuff, Prolixic, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Many thanks.

  4. Good stuff as expected from Prolixic and not too difficult although I’m not sure that I’ve got the full parsing of 18d.
    Tick list as I went along included 17,20&28a plus 17&24d.

    Many thanks to Prolixic – the Rookies will doubtless be going through this one with a fine tooth comb!

  5. Thanks Prolixic; very enjoyable solve – it’s nice when the first across answer goes in smoothly.

    I also particularly enjoyed 16d among others. Nice compact clue in 24.

  6. Many thanks Prolixic – i didn’t find this all that straightforward! I really liked 1a, because of the all-in-one nature of the excited electrons briefly flaming up providing light. I also liked 17a (drunk going by the bar), great surface. Others I enjoyed were 16d, 17d, 24d, 21d, 19d, and many more good clues.

    I wasn’t too keen on cyst (2d) though it’s listed as a synonym in brb thesaurus. I wasn’t convinced ‘consumption of drug’ (6d) really worked, ‘consuming drug’ would work for me. I wasn’t at all keen on 18d, but such is the nature of double definitions.

    Hadn’t heard of the dance in 12d so that took me longer than it should have, and i kicked myself in the head when i finally saw 13d (vocally supports badger).

    I found 27d (turkish official) a hard clue. I had the answer, but took me a while to find the components, neither of which I knew, and parse correctly.

    Strictly, you may not need ‘reportedly’ in 23d because this meaning of ‘see’ is in brb (as it is for all of its friends).

    I agree with baerchen, especially leading double-unches (16d)

    thanks again, very enjoyable

  7. Very enjoyable. I’ve struggled to get very far with some of Prolixic’s, but this was more in my range. Glad I was able to have chance to do it after we bowled the oppo out for 35. Like the DT, I found the top half far more straightforward than the bottom, and struggled particularly with the 5-letters ones, even when I had the 3 checking letters. 19d defeated me, and a few are unparsed. I did like 1a, 4d, 8d, 13d, 15d and 25d. Cheers to Prolixic for the puzzle, and to Prolixic for the review when it appears – or perhaps it might be someone else?

  8. Lovely crossword to solve during my break.
    The five letter words in 18, 19 and 24d were also the hardest to get.
    Had to resort to Google to find the Skiffle Band. Forgot about their original name.
    Very elegant anagrams.
    10a made me smile as I watched MIB not long ago.
    Put a tick next to 5d, 15d and 24d.
    Thanks to Prolixic for the great fun.

  9. Good fun and much enjoyed. The long anagrams took me longer than I expected they would, the mark of a good anangram. The last two to go in were 12d and 13d, both very clever and joint favourites.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  10. Yup, probably a bit easier than I was expecting when I saw the name, but a real treat nonetheless . Plenty to enjoy and take notes on! Particularly impressive were the &Lit at 1a, the super-smooth charade at 20a, the clever & fun in a wish-I’d-thought-of-it kind of a way 16d and the best double definition I’ve seen in quite a while at 24d. However, for some reason 14d really tickled me, So I’d pick it as my favourite. Many thanks Prolixic.

  11. I enjoyed this a lot, and much to admire. Agree with others that the anagrams were impressively handled, with my favourite 17A for the excellent amusing surface. Other ticks: 24D (great stuff, does it need the QM?), 26D (punchy, smooth surface), 17D (great surface/WP combo), 10A (another neat surface/WP combo, again does it need the QM?). Being picky, a couple of devices I was less keen on: 6D (consumption of – obvious enough but makes the clue less smooth for me), 21D (to put into – same). And a couple of bits I don’t get: 18D (don’t get this at all), 25A (provided = so, in what sense?).

    Many thanks Prolixic

      1. Thanks for pointing that out – I was coming at it from the other way round, and had looked up ‘Provided’ after failing to make the link, which didn’t yield any help. Can you put me out of my misery and give me an example of where they might be equivalent – would be a useful bit of ammo for future!

  12. Many thanks, CS – have to admit that, for once, Brian wouldn’t have been the only one complaining about 18d, I wasn’t too keen on it either! Just a small niggle in an otherwise most enjoyable puzzle.

    Rookies and NTSPPs are one of the highlights of the week for me – so many different styles to tackle and so fascinating to watch the progress of some of our newbies who make the jump from Rookie to NTSPP to published papers in a seemingly very short space of time. Both they and we have a lot to thank BD for!

  13. In answer to Crypticsue’s question, yes there are many goodies waiting in the queue including puzzles from:
    and not forgetting
    Alchemi and Radler.

    Any broadsheet newspaper would be pleased to have these puzzles, but they will be available only on this website.

    Next week’s puzzle is one that has been especially compiled for the Derby S&B.

  14. many thanks CS for the review. I guess the last picture must be your favourite from last year

        1. Dreamland at Margate not long after it reopened last summer. A lovely family Twighlight Ticket visit last August – the ‘riders’ are my eldest nephew and his girlfriend.

          1. Thanks to CS for the review and Prolixic for the puzzle,

            For once I read the review until the very end.

            Gazza, Bufo and Chalicea would all be most welcome. And what about another alphabetical from Hieroglyph?

  15. My thanks to Crypticsue for the test solve (and Gazza too) and for all your comments. This was originally destined for the Independent but the disparity between the number of across clues to down clues (12/20) meant that it was not acceptable for publication. Interestingly, the Times and the Independent don’t allow double unches at the beginning of words but are happy with them within words. The Telegraph has a number of stock grids with double unches at the start of words.

    My original notes say that there was no theme or nina with this one. The appearance of “big bang theory” was a pure co-incidence though I did set this in November last year so was not even subconsciously influenced by the recent on in the Independent.

  16. The top half went in much more quickly than the bottom for me. My favourites were 25a, 16d and 24d. 12d was a new word for me and I managed to guess 14a from the def without spotting that it was a hidden word – doh!

    Thanks Prolixic

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