NTSPP – 336

NTSPP – 336

A Puzzle by Snape

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome at last to Snape to the ranks of the NTSPP.  An enjoyable puzzle with Snape’s usual humour and inventive cluing.


1 Sour as two singles separately covered by rock band (6)
ACIDIC – Insert two letters I (singles) in different places in AC/DC (rock band).

4 Tumour resulting from mutation of a mole means English sun is ignored (8)
MELANOMA – An anagram (mutation of) A MOLE MEANS after removing the abbreviations for English and sun.

9 Easy task to keep Luxembourg secure (6)
CLINCH – Another word for easy around (to keep) the international code for Luxembourg.

10 Barman does extremely badly – these help him stay afloat (8)
ARMBANDS – An anagram (badly) of BARMAN DS (the outer letters – extremely – of does).

12 Alien leaves scene in pain (5)
STING – Remove (leaves) ET (alien) from a word meaning scene.

13 Instrument of mealtime terror (9)
ALTIMETER – An anagram (terror) of MEALTIME.  Not sure that terror is a particularly good anagram indicator.

14 Point away from the crowd to expose fabrication by Republican (7)
OUTLIER – A three letter word meaning to expose followed by another word for a fib or fabrication and the abbreviation for republican.

15 Batter and fry? (4)
COOK – Double definition, the batter being the name of a cricketer.

19 Extremely excited to get liquid lunch (4)
SOUP – A two letter word meaning extremely followed by a two letter word meaning excited.

21 Pretend to be posh at Eton, initially, to get things started (7)
ACTUATE – A phrase 3,1 meaning pretend to be posh followed by the at from the clue and the first letter (initially) of Eton.

24 Increasingly brazen finish to game in underwear (9)
BRASSIERE – A word meaning increasingly brazen followed by the last letter (finish to) of game.

26 Arrests Spike, Brad, and Jimmy? (5)
NAILS – Each of Spike, Brad and Jimmy (the actor / singer) in the plural (there are three of them).

27 Unusual measure affected card game (8)
DECAGRAM – An anagram (affected) of CARD GAME.

28 Peeping Tom saw her start turning insatiable (6)
GODIVA – A two letter word meaning start followed by a reversal (turning) of a word meaning eager or insatiable.

29 Why James Bond can’t marry his boss in error (8)
MISTAKEN – Split 1,2,5, this would indicate that James Bond’s boss is spoken for.

30 Institute legal proceedings over rubbish work of art (6)
STATUE – A three letter word meaning institute legal proceedings around (over) a three letter word meaning rubbish.


1 Some dances torment great-grandmother? (8)
ANCESTOR – The answer is hidden in (some) the words DANCES TORMENT.

2 Begin description of restaurant one has sampled? (8)
INITIATE – Split 1,2,1,3, this could be your description of a restaurant in which you have eaten.

3 Disguised criminal noticing nothing (9)
INCOGNITO – An anagram (criminal) of NOTICING O (O = nothing).

5 Wandering in Morecambe, collecting grass (7)
ERRATIC – The name of the comedian Morecambe around (collecting) a three letter word for a grass or despicable person.

6 Protein in an egg, but not in 78? (5)
ALBUM – Remove the IN from the word describing the protein in the egg white.

7 Busy, near to collapsing (6)
ORNATE – An anagram (collapsing) of NEARTO.

8 Soften the blow of brother’s degree being retracted (6)
ABSORB – Reverse (being retracted) a shorted way of saying brothers and the name of a university degree.

11 Spaces required in Aintree carnival (4)
FAIR – The spaces in Aintree give you A IN TREE as the means of finding solution.

16 Complete the precursors to a hat-trick ball? (3-3-3)
OUT-AND-OUT – If a hat-trick is getting three people out, this could be the pre-cursor.

17 Bird, for example, located flower on top of tree (8)
SATARIST – A three letter word meaning located followed by a four letter type of flower and the first letter (top) of tree.

18 A 90s British band in audition to try to convince doubters (8)
PERSUADE – A three letter word meaning A followed by a homophone of Suede (90s band).

20 Clergyman is punctual? (7)
PRELATE – If you are punctual you are before being over time.  Three letters for before and four for being over time will give you the answer.

21 Naked partygoers, say (4)
AVER – Remove the outer letters (naked) from ravers (partygoers).

22 I’m hiding crack and ecstasy in the same place (6)
IBIDEM – A three letter word for a crack at something and the abbreviation for ecstasy inside the IM from the clue.

23 Political meeting about punch-ups oddly ignored (6)
CAUCUS – A two letter abbreviation meaning about followed by the even letters (oddly ignored) of PUNCH-UPS.

25 Letter from America is returned with guinea included (5)
SIGMA – Reverse (returned) a two letter abbreviation for America and the IS from the clue and include an abbreviation for guinea (though this is not given in Chambers or Collins).


  1. Gazza
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent puzzle with a good number of penny drop moments – thanks Snape. Although I knew the Bird and Batter I suspect that some may think them a bit unfair.
    I have lots of ‘likes’ but I’ll restrict my list to 19a, 26a and 22d with 11d being my runaway favourite.

  2. windsurfer23
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Snape for an entertaining puzzle.

    I too liked 19a. I’m not sure I understand where the last letter of 26a comes from in the wordplay. I’m still waiting for the PDM of 11d, which hasn’t yet occurred. I also liked 29a.

    • crypticsue
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The last letter of 26a relates to the fact that there are three xxxxx in the clue.

      • windsurfer23
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Of course, thanks Sue

  3. Encota
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great puzzle – thanks Snape!
    I too am stuck with parsing the Aintree one. Loads of good clues; I especially liked the partygoers one!

    • Gazza
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Introduce a couple of spaces to Aintree.

      • crypticsue
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

        D’oh and thank you

      • windsurfer23
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza for putting me out of my misery.

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good fun, despite having to do too much googling to check people I didn’t know. I have no idea how 11D is parsed. My picks are 19A, 29A and 20D. I thought 4A was rather clever. Thanks Snape!

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Split ‘Aintree’ as 1,2,4 – that should do the trick :)

      • Expat Chris
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Oh! Thank you. Now I can get on with my day.

      • Encota
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink | Reply


  5. crypticsue
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable thank you Snape. My particular favourite has to be 29a.

  6. Shropshirelad
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As the Saturday puzzle didn’t put up a fight, I have the time to venture into NTSPP territory. I have to say Snape, I do like your puzzles as they certainly don’t lack humour :good: . Loved the ‘tumour’ and the ‘barman’s swimming aids’.

    Lovely puzzle.

  7. dutch
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well done Snape – excellent stuff

    I approve of the indication in 11a – happy no-one has suggested it should just be ‘aintree carnival’ – brilliant clue

    I didn’t manage to find crack (22d) and guinea (25d) in brb but perhaps they are elsewhere

    And I may be missing something in 28a.

    I liked 29a 21d

    A most enjoyable puzzle delightfully characterised by your usual style, congratulations.

  8. Jane
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A puzzle of two halves for me. Top went in fine but, like Chris, I had to do quite a lot of ‘looking up’ from there on. Fortunately, I knew two out of three in 26a but the batter, bird and British band were unknowns.
    Nevertheless, plenty to enjoy – 29a & 20d particularly appealed but 11d (once the penny finally dropped!) takes the laurel wreath.

    Many thanks, Snape.

  9. Rabbit Dave
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well done again, Snape. I really enjoyed this with lots of humour and very inventive clue constructions. I agree with many of Jane’s comments although I did know the batter, the Bird and both bands, which helped.

    One niggle is that I very much dislike this use of batter almost as much as I detest the erroneous use of castle to describe a chess piece. However even Michael Vaughan has very regrettably adopted the term batter during his commentaries so I will reluctantly admit defeat on this one.

    The outstanding 29a is the jewel in the crown among very many fine clues.

    Many thanks, Snape

    • Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There are far worse abuses of the English language perpetrated by sports commentators. The one that always makes me cringe is to medal as a verb.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’m with you all the way on that one BD.

        ‘Work the goalkeeper’, ‘the lad done good’ and ‘he’s got a good left/right peg’ are also up there.

      • Hanni
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Podium as a verb. Party as a verb. And this is coming from me!

        Snape, looking forward to solving this tomorrow.

  10. snape
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you for all the kind comments.

    I realise that the Bird is less likely to be known outside the UK. I have a sort of test, Family Fortunes style, where I think if I were to name 5 famous examples (architects, glam rock stars, whatever) would they be one of them, and I think he probably would in this case – perhaps down to lack of competition. (Swift, Lehrer, possibly TW3 people, erm…)

    I know what RD means about batter, but it is in BRB, and I suspect it has been used for a long long time, and disliked by others for just as long. I thought this example was probably fair given that he is the current England captain, and is the highest English Test run scorer of all time. Perhaps there is too much cricket in crosswords (just back from a nice game in Sutton Bonington myself) – Beet thinks so! Thanks to Beet, Silvanus and Sprocker for test solving this. I sent it to Hoskins a while ago, and he didn’t like the grid so didn’t accept it, but kindly pointed out a couple of weaknesses in clues too, which I rewrote.

  11. baerchen
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    hi Snape,
    Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, however (constructive criticism alert) it should never have made it off the drawing board since the grid is unsuitable, and I am very much with Hoskins in this regard

    • Gazza
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink | Reply

      Could you explain what you (and Hoskins) mean by ‘the grid is unsuitable’? It seems perfectly fine to me, though I don’t usually take any notice of a grid unless I’m looking for a Nina.

      • snape
        Posted July 17, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink | Reply

        The four corners are pretty much cut off from the rest of the puzzle. It is very fair comment, so I am now looking out for this (and Crossword Compiler has a lot worse in its selection) but I looked over a few NTSPP puzzles and saw that grids such as this didn’t cause consternation. As I was happy with the rest of it I decided to submit it.
        I went through CC’s grids. There are about half which are ‘Nina’ grids, many four corner grids, several with very limited variety of word length plus a few others I didn’t like. I think I found single figures of ones I liked. The Times apparently has the best selection.

        • Encota
          Posted July 17, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink | Reply

          I agree with The Times ones being excellent – I usually pick one of those when I’m using Sympathy for blocked puzzles.

      • baerchen
        Posted July 17, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink | Reply

        I guess we are all different as solvers; the grid is always the first thing I look at, and I don’t like this one. It has four mini-sections and I don’t think I could see it being deemed as suitable for publication in a proper comic, although I could be wrong.
        Just my point of view.

        • Posted July 17, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink | Reply

          Most of judge a puzzle on its merits rather than just obsessing about the grid. Some grids do hamper solving, but I wouldn’t put this one in that category.

    • Posted July 17, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink | Reply

      I see nothing wrong with the grid – no answer has less than fifty percent checking and there are two ways into each quarter. Hoskins missed out on a great puzzle, perhaps he should have concentrated on the quality of the clues rather than complaining about the grid. The Telegraph has many grids far worse than this.

    • crypticsue
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve just rummaged under a pile of yesterday’s crosswords to find out what the grid looked like as I too never consciously look at a grid until I’ve been through the Acrosses and then the Downs, and sometimes even then I don’t seem to notice anything particular about them.

      This one certainly didn’t strike me as particularly ‘cornery’, probably because there were quite a few R&W clues in the Acrosses and so the solving process just ‘flowed’.

    • snape
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I should emphasise that Harry was very helpful in his comments to me, and said he would put it on if I was forceful, but strongly suggested I reconsider due to the grid. For his site he wants to make sure that guest puzzles nail it in every way, and this didn’t. I did wonder if it perhaps looks slightly worse than it is due to the 2 entries to the corners intersecting, but made sure that there were entry clues in each section – although possibly the SE is a bit lacking in this regard.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted July 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Grids never bother me – bad clueing does. Perhaps Hoskins should look to his own clue constructions before commenting. IE – his puzzle in last weeks Sunday Times was abysmal – however did it get past Peter Biddlecombe.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I can only speak for myself, though I suspect I am far from alone among those of us who are merely solvers. Analyzing the grid structure ahead of beginning the solving process is the last thing I would think to do. And personally disliking a particular grid is one thing, and your prerogative. Dismissing it as “unsuitable” for publication on that basis is quite another.

      I am interested as to what, in your opinion, constitutes a “proper comic.”

      • baerchen
        Posted July 17, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

        hi Expat Chris,
        I wasn’t aware that voicing an opinion which was remotely critical and obviously “off-piste” from the love-in thang that you have got going on here was such a big deal- not a mistake I’ll be repeating, ciao

        good luck with your future as a setter, which I hope will be fun for you and me

        • Posted July 17, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Nothing wrong with expressing an opinion – getting upset with those who disagree with that opinion is something else.

  12. dutch
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    many thanks for the review Prolixic – I think 13a is a lurker

    but I can see now why I couldn’t parse Lolita for 28a

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s how I parsed it – a very good ‘lurker’ I may add. 13a – that is :)

  13. Jane
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks, Prolixic – turns out I did know the satirist, just not his name!
    An excellent puzzle from Snape, thank goodness Hoskins left it for us to enjoy.

  14. Encota
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Prolixic. And thanks again Snape.

  15. snape
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks for the review Prolixic. Sincere apologies to Hoskins, and to baerchen. I just wanted to acknowledge the help Hoskins had given me, but shouldn’t have mentioned the perfectly fair and helpful criticism made in private.

  16. Posted July 18, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations to Snape on an excellent crossword. I found it a nice level of difficulty although I sought some help in the SW, and needed the review to fully explain 16d. Likes are plentiful, but I think my favourite is 29a.

    I have seen considerably less friendly grids, so no complaints there. I find it interesting how the grid can have such a profound effect on the solve.

    Many thanks to Snape for a most enjoyable puzzle and to Prolixic for the review.

  17. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations to Snape for making it to the Saturday slot.
    Very enjoyable but have to agree that it took me a long time to get into the SE corner and needed a bit of help.
    Not the first time we get this kind of grid and certainly not the last either.
    All part of the fun.
    Thanks also to prolixic for the review.

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