NTSPP – 335

NTSPP – 335

Thinking Laterally by Phibs

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(Updated Monday, 11th July)

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

No-one can say that you don’t get a lot of variety in this NTSPP slot.  It was never my intention that they should all  be able to be solved in the time it takes to drink a pot of tea, indeed the original idea was to provide a Saturday “Toughie”, and this one was definitely on the harder side of the spectrum, but very rewarding to all who persevered.


1a TV channel picked up by satellite dish pointing the wrong way (4)
SIDE: hidden (picked up by) and reversed (pointing the wrong way) inside the clue

4a Taking on only a little fluid, can’t pee freely (10)
ACCEPTANCE: the A from the clue followed by a little (metric) amount of fluid and an anagram (freely) of CAN’T PEE

9a Sophisticated girl ‘coming out’ during live broadcast (8)
DEBONAIR: the three-letter shortened form of a girl who is ‘coming out’ into ‘society’ followed by a phrase meaning during a live broadcast

10a See preamble (5)
LIGHT: “blonde”

11a With nothing to spend, Hanni’s heading for York? (5)
HOUSE: O (nothing) and a verb meaning to spend or consume preceded by (loosely, with) Hanni’s initial letter (heading)

12a US clan excited with me as personification of their homeland (5,3)
UNCLE SAM: an anagram (excited) of US CLAN with ME

13a Loves to go inside dens of debauchery (8)
SWEETIES: a verb meaning to go or relieve oneself inside an alternative spelling of some dens of iniquity

15a See preamble (6)
MASTER: “to get the better of”

17a See preamble (6)
SWITCH: “rod”

19a Getting stuck into bubbly or a Lamb’s Navy Rum (8)
ABNORMAL: an anagram (bubbly) of OR A LAMB with N(avy) inserted (getting stuck into)

21a Old boy knocked back whisky and a lot of canned drink in Spar (8)
BOWSPRIT: the reversal (knocked back) of the abbreviation for Old Boy followed by the letter represented by Whisky in the NATO Phonetic alphabet and most (a lot) of the brand name of a canned drink – I have just noticed that in the NATO Phonetic alphabet Whiskey is spelt with an E, while everyone knows that real Whisky has no E

23a Wind section short of breath at first after overture to Guillaume Tell (5)
GRASS: start with a section of an orchestra for wind instruments (not woodwind!), drop (short of) the initial letter (at first) of B[reath] and instead add the initial letter (overture) of G[uillaume]

24a See preamble (5)
COURT: “train, as in entourage”

25a Dislike state pension having pound deducted (8)
AVERSION: a verb meaning to state followed by [PEN]SION without (having … deducted) the PEN (pound)

26a Top rock band’s inspired singular lack of interest (10)
STOLIDNESS: the top of, say, a jar inside (‘s/is inspired) a world-famous rock band followed by S(ingular)

27a Vicious, perhaps leader of evil faction (4)
SIDE: the first name of, for example (perhaps), Vicious, a member of the Sex Pistols, followed by the initial letter (leader) of E[vil]


2d Sliding around in Sochi we could produce this (3,4)
ICE SHOW: an anagram (sliding around) of SOCHI WE – the “in” seems to be there solely for the benefit of the surface reading

3d Out to lunch, one let mum pay (9)
EMOLUMENT: an anagram (out to lunch) of ONE LET MUM

4d Become less worried about bishop getting introduction to actress (5)
ABATE: a verb meaning worried or hassled around he chess notation for Bishop and the initial letter of (introduction to) A[ctress]

5d To support company of entertainers having limited money, flog a little illustration in London gallery (15)
CIRCUMSTANTIATE: put a company of entertainers around (having limited) M(oney) then add a verb meaning to flog or beat and finally the initial letter (a little) of I[llustration] inside a London gallery

6d In retrospect, term I originally learnt when collared by fellow with truncheon? (9)
POLICEMAN: the reversal (In retrospect) of all the following – a term or title then I from the clue and the initial letter (originally) of L[earnt] inside (collared by) a three-letter word for a fellow with a truncheon – the setter intended this as &Lit (all-in-one); it doesn’t quite work for me

7d Bend to fiddle with flies (5)
ANGLE: a verb meaning to fiddle without (flies) the W(ith) – OK, I bet I wasn’t the only one that thought “to fiddle with flies” was a second definition!

8d Dwelling too much on one close to snoozing in middle of concerto (7)
COTTAGE: the three-letter abbreviation for “too much”, A (one) and the final letter of (close to) [snoozing]G inside the middle two letters of [con]CE[rto]

14d Was left at home of lady informally teaching erotic drawing for beginners (9)
INHERITED: our usual two-letter word meaning at home followed by the pronoun meaning of the lady and the initial letters (beginners) of four words in the clue

16d Call for help tackling area with rampant grass and weeds (9)
SARGASSOS: put a three-letter abbreviation used as a call for help around (tackling) A(rea) and an anagram (rampant) of GRASS

18d Wife not allowed to catch glimpse of obscene Constable print (7)
WOODCUT: W(ife) and a word meaning not allowed around (to catch) the initial letter (glimpse) of O[bscene] and a Detective Constable

20d A degree of doubt initially surrounding finish of Usain Bolt (7)
ABSCOND: the A from the clue followed by a science degree and the initial letters of O[f] D[oubt], the latter around the final letter of [Usai]N

22d Technique university introduced for independent mind (5)
SKULL: start with a technique and replace (introduced for) the U(niversity) with I(ndependent) – the definition is a very weak synonym that could, perhaps, replace “mind” in “out of one’s mind”

23d Judge harangues security guards (5)
GUESS: hidden (guards) inside the clue

While I enjoyed the challenge and the idea behind “thinking laterally” I did think that rather too much use was made of initial, middle and final letter constructs (seventeen letters in total, most of them being initial letters) – I regard these as cheap constructs that should be used sparingly. If you still haven’t worked out the Nina then Click here! The unclued words complete the connection from SIDE to SIDE, through SIDELIGHT, LIGHTHOUSE, HOUSEMASTER, MASTER-SWITCH, SWITCHGRASS, GRASS COURT and COURTSIDE.


  1. dutch
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Phibs,

    got there in the end and everything now parsed, and I believe I have the unclued lights..

    I’m not sure I’ve fully appreciated the significance of the title, though I noted the 1a / 27a pair, which may explain it. Some tricky parsing, took me a while to understand 18d and 26a as well as 5d.

    I look forward to the review to check everything.

    Definitely toughie-grade!

    Congratulations and thanks again

    • Posted July 9, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Try 1a-10a, 10a-11a and work your way to 27a. OK, I didn’t see it either.

      • Phibs
        Posted July 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

        …originally I wasn’t going to provide any ‘clue-type indications’ at all for the unclued entries, but I felt that in the interests of reassuring solvers that they had correctly completed their lateral journey ‘from 1a to 27a’ there should probably be a ‘cross-check’, hence the definitions…

      • dutch
        Posted July 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

        aah! My lateral thinking was switched off.

        very nice Phibs
        thanks Dave

  2. Gazza
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Phibs (I think!) – I certainly found this a Toughie (possibly due to trying to solve it whilst watching the Tour de France). I’ve got a full grid, including the unclued entries, but I feel I must be missing something. I presume that 1a and 27a are ‘thinking laterally’. I’m not sure how the unclued entry for ‘train’ matches the word I’ve got or why those four specific entries needed to be unclued..
    Top clue for me (for the amusing definition) is 7d.

    • dutch
      Posted July 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I had the same problem – train as in retinue or entourage?

      • Gazza
        Posted July 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I suppose so, but Mrs Bradford doesn’t list them in either direction.

  3. windsurfer23
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Phibs, yes, not one to be done while watching sport I think.

    A nice idea but unfortunately I don’t think most people will follow your lateral thinking – and I hate unclued solutions but that is probably just me.

    Some nice clues, I liked 4A although I think the ‘only’ could be omitted. I’ve only just got the parsing of 7 – nice!

  4. Jane
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Finally staggered across the finishing line but it took a long time and I’m not sure that I would have spotted the ‘lateral thinking’ without the hint from BD!
    No-one’s commented on the 22d synonym – it doesn’t really work for me.
    Thanks, Phibs – that was quite a challenge.

  5. Maize
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you Phibs. Nice idea, which, even if not helped by watching the Tour de France, would have certainly been well suited to being on the sidelines at Wimbledon today.

    Got there eventually, with 17a/23a being one of those where, once I saw it I felt I’d always known it, even if I didn’t recognise it when I first saw it (if that makes any sense!).
    Several nice clues with podium finishes in my book for 9a &13a whilst my COD went to 20d – very nice.

  6. KiwiColin
    Posted July 9, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A real challenge for me that I eventually completed after dogged determination and electronic help. Totally missed the leapfrog sequence from top to bottom and admire the cleverness of it now that it has been pointed out.
    Thanks Phibs.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 12:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Oh dear, as Kath would say. My choice of words is a bit more Anglo Saxon! I can’t do this at all. I have four answers and am rapidly losing the will to live. I will persevere a bit longer, though. The fog may yet lift.

  8. Hanni
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Jeepers I found bits of this very difficult and made a complete mess of the end game for a bit.

    But I really rather enjoyed it.

    Highlights are the brilliant 7d, 18d, 19, 21 and 25a. Favourite is obviously 11a.

    Many thanks to Phibs (extra biscuit allowed) and to BD in advance for the blog.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

      11a was just for you it seems.

      • Hanni
        Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Had no idea either so it was a lovely surprise! Totally thrilled. :smile:

        Has the temp abated in Hyeres yet? Wait shouldn’t you be watching football. Even I know the final is on.

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

          The match seems to drag on and on. Like the few customers I have left.
          Very hot still but and the air is not moving. Eerie feeling of total stillness.
          The Euro will finish on the penalties no doubt. How boring is that?

          • Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Penalties – that was wishful thinking!


            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Now I understand why it went so quiet.

    • ListB
      Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Extra biscuit?

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 9:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Finished it this afternoon and found it quite a tussle.
    Eventually managed to get in synch with Phibs and steadily filled the grid.
    Took a while to understand what was going on as I was trying to make sense of only the four unclued answers and though of something electrical only.
    Looking at the blog helped to read the grid as it should to get the gist.
    Thanks to Phibs and to BD in advance for the explanations.

  10. Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    Definitely a Toughie, and I needed help to finish. I also needed the comments to see the path between 1a and 27a. I’m not disappointed though, because other things comfirm that my lateral thinking is in fine form.

    I can’t pick a favourite, but 11a produced the biggest laugh. Thanks to the famous Frogman and also to BD for providing the extra help in the comments and then the full review after a busy weekend.

  11. Gazza
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the write-up, BD. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that 7d was a double definition – I’m rather sorry that wasn’t the intention because I thought the second “definition” was amusing.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Perhaps Phibs missed a good opportunity for an all-in-one with “Fiddle with flies” as the clue.

    • Hanni
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I assumed it was a double definition too. :oops:

      Thanks again to Phibs and to BD for a great blog.

  12. Expat Chris
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I did persevere and I did complete the grid eventually, but it was a long hard road. I certainly needed the blog for some parsing. I don’t think I would have struggled on were it not for reading the earlier comment from Big Dave about lateral thinking. That got me going again. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it because it was like pulling teeth for me, but I do appreciate that it was very cleverly done. Thanks Phibs, and many thanks to BD for the enlightenment.

  13. Phibs
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My thanks to everyone who attempted/completed this, my second blocked puzzle, and to all who have provided feedback, which is much appreciated. Thanks also to BD for the excellent notes. In retrospect, I think the title/preamble should have offered more guidance in terms of the requirement to go from ‘SIDE to SIDE’, as well as the fact that the definitions provided for the unclued lights were there only as a cross-check.

    A few points:

    21a – of course, the old boy should have been knocking back ‘whiskey’ rather than ‘whisky’ – mea culpa :oops:

    2d – ‘Sliding around’ is intended as a compound noun, the wordplay to be read as ‘[A] sliding around in Sochi we could produce this?’

    6d – I was rather charmed by the idea here, but I have to agree that the execution didn’t really work :cry:

    7d – I hadn’t considered the fishing ‘angle’ of the last three words…I think ‘Fiddle with flies?’ might be just a tad too vague definition-wise, but then again…

    22d – the definition here came from Collins, which gives the solution as ‘the head regarded as the mind or intelligence’, but I agree that it’s probably too much of a stretch

    Thanks again all, I will do my best to incorporate the feedback into future blocked puzzles…and I now have the assistance of a test solver who will I hope curb my worst (cruciverbal) excesses!!

  14. Jane
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks for the review, BD. Don’t know about pots of tea but it did get easier once I was well down the bottle of wine!

  15. JollySwagman
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 3:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    The most enjoyable solve I’ve had in a long time. Every egg a bird.

    Actually my fave was 6d – obviously it doesn’t work according to any conventional classification – but why should it – especially when signalled with a question mark. When you find that those letters can be played with like that the urge to share it with the world must be irresistible.

    Many thanks – please allocate more time to blocked puzzles in future – rather than those dreadful barred-grid fiddle-with-the-words-before-you-write-them-in things. Clearly you couldn’t resist a preamble – at least you didn’t have us colour it in afterwards.

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