NTSPP – 348 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

NTSPP – 348

NTSPP – 348

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prolixic returns to Saturday afternoon in fairly friendly mode, but with the usual requirement for an educational visit to the BRB.


1a           Church twinned with reactionary English diocese in Cheshire? (6)
CHEESE The abbreviation for church twinned with or linked to a reversal (reactionary of the abbreviation for English and another word for diocese


4a           Medical officer sells to indigenous people (7)
MOHAWKS The abbreviation for Medical Officer followed by a verb meaning carries around to sell


9a           Free a French lecturer in base (7)
UNCLAMP The French indefinite article followed by the abbreviation for Lecturer inserted into a temporary (sometimes military) base

10a         Better game for school is quicker (7)
NIMBLER Take someone who bets and change the first three letters from a collective noun for a school of whales to an old, possibly Chinese, game, where two players take alternate goes at removing objects from a pile or row

11a         Emotionless father swallows Ecstasy (4)
DEAD An informal name for your father ‘swallows’ the abbreviation for Ecstasy

12a         Reviews three directions following brief study (10)
REASSESSES Brief indicates that we need almost all of a word meaning study and follow it with three compass directions

14a         Yield upset after parts are exchanged (6)
OUTPUT Reverse the two parts of an expression meaning to upset or offend

15a         Bows kept in war chests (6) ARCHES Lurking (kept) in wARCHESts

19a         Sacked old bishops after drinking wine – on the contrary (6)
ROBBED On the contrary, indicates that the particular type of wine is drinking  the abbreviation for Old and two lots of the chess abbreviation for Bishop

20a         Copy books on old queen (6)
PARROT To copy or repeat by rote – the abbreviation for the books in the first part of the bible goes on or after the last wife of Henry VIII (old queen)

23a         Lizards left tree until sloth returned (10)
LACERTILIA The abbreviation for Left, a tree of the maple genus, a short way of saying until and a reversal (returned) of the name of the three-toed slothlacertilia

25a         Tease group of ladies in Trinidad and Tobago (4)
TWIT The abbreviation for an association of ladies inserted into the abbreviation for Trinidad and Tobago

27a         Henry leaves bird for rustic woman (7)
PEASANT Remove the abbreviation for Henry from a richly-coloured game bird

28a         Composer welcomes Victor Emmanuel at first in port (2,5)
LE HAVRE Insert the letter represented by  Victor in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet into the composer best known for The Merry Widow and finish off the result with first letter of Emanuel.

29a         Vote for essential means of universal access (7)
PASSKEY A way of saying vote for something followed by an adjective meaning essential

30a         Exhibits flipping temper tantrums (6)
SPORTS Exhibits in the sense of wears – a reversal (flipping) of some temper tantrums


1d           College friend of Harry carried old Scottish pot (8)
CAULDRON The abbreviation for College, and the name of Harry Potter’s friend into which is inserted (carried) the Scottish word for old


2d           Charming person‘s record about Jackie? (9)
 ENCHANTER Insert the Jackie the martial artist/actor into a verb meaning to record

3d           Bits of specially prepared anodyne meat (4)
SPAM The first bits of Specially Prepared Anodyne Meat give us a meat product containing bits of pork combined with spices


4d           Small cars go for service (8)
MINISTRY Small cars followed by a verb meaning to have a go

5d           Meatloaf cut up to include French sea fish (10)
HAMMERHEAD Some meat, the French word for sea and the part of the body informally referred to as your loaf

6d           Goes with lover’s message after son moves south (5)
WALKS Back in the day, lovers would write an abbreviated message on the back of an envelope containing a love letter, to show that it had been sealed with a loving kiss.   Simply move the S at the front to the end (south in a Down clue)


7d           Force worries (6)
STRESS Force or emotional pressure (worries)

8d           In court with a drug (5)
UPPER ‘In court’ followed by the preposition meaning for each (a)

13d         Latin sailor embraces brown feller (10)
LUMBERJACK  Insert (embraces) an earthy brown colour between the abbreviation for Latin and an informal name for a sailor


16d         Warder finished with cheat (5,4)
SCREW OVER A slang term for a prison officer followed by a way of saying finished

17d         Soldiers in another shot at office (8)
REGISTRY Put some American soldiers between the abbreviation for the Royal Engineers (another [lot of soldiers]) and a shot or attempt.

18d         Hesitates when Geoff Capes and Michelle Carter maybe hop off (8)
STUTTERS Remove HOP from the way you’d refer to Geoff Capes and Michelle Carter when they are on the athletics field.


21d         My friends may be magnificent (4-2)
   SLAP-UP if you follow the instruction in your solution which means something lavish or sumptuous you’ll find some friends

22d         Reckless escapade – one for adult (5)
SILLY Swap the A (adult) in a jaunt or escapade for an I (1 for Adult)

24d         Catholic girl in group (5)
CLASS The abbreviation for Catholic and a girl

26d         Betray Home Secretary over work (4)
SHOP A slang term meaning to betray or inform against someone is obtained by reversing (over) the abbreviation for Home Secretary over the abbreviation for work.

As Windsurfer noticed (although the two original testers of this puzzle didn’t!)  Prolixic has included a ghost theme in the solutions.  If you didn’t spot it either then There are a number of Monty Python related solutions as follows: Dead Parrot, Spam, Lumberjack, Cheese Shop, Upper Class Twit and Ministry [of] Silly Walks


19 comments on “NTSPP – 348

  1. Well done and many thanks, Prolixic, for a first rate offering which I found less tough than most of your puzzles but still extremely enjoyable with great surfaces throughout, cunning misdirections and lots of humour. Please keep them coming!

    I wasn’t sure about the use of “bits” in 3d. This seemed a bit vague to me as a specific indicator. I needed electronic help to bung in the rather obscure 23a, my last one in, which I still can’t fully parse. I am also struggling to parse 10a fully.

    My page is littered with ticks, and the clues which have earned double ticks are: 1a, 14a, 1d, 5d & 13d any which could take the mantle of my favourite.

    1. Many thanks CS for your review which has put me out of my misery regarding the parsing of 10a & 23a.

      The best I could come up with for 10a was to replace the four letters of GAME with NIME (National Institute of Multimedia Education) which I thought might be considered as a school, but I wasn’t happy that the four letters were split even though they were in the right order!

      No wonder I couldn’t parse 23a! Not only is the answer obscure, but two elements of the wordplay are as well.

      1. The sloth is our setter’s animal of the moment as he appears in another of his puzzles I tested last week.

  2. Thanks Prolixic; there seems to be a sort of 11,20 theme here.

    Two tough ones were 8 & 22 where there are only 2 out of 5 checkers. I’m not sure I’ve quite got 8 – any connection with shoes?

    I also thought ‘bits’ in 3d was a bit (deliberately?) misleading.

    Lots of lovely clues. I particularly liked the friends in 21 and the meatloaf in 5.

  3. That was fun – thank you, Prolixic,
    RD doesn’t think it was as tricky as some of yours – it was more than tricky enough for me.
    I have a few answers that I can’t explain and I can’t do 6d – will have to wait for the review tomorrow.
    I’ve never heard of the 23a lizard – thank goodness for some knowledge of trees and the very useful scrabble sloth!
    I thought 5 and 13d were brilliant.
    Thanks again to Prolixic and in advance to whoever is doing the review tomorrow.

  4. Very enjoyable puzzle. This is like having a toughie on Saturday, which to me is most welcome. I hadn’t heard of 23a but the conciseness of the wordplay made it entirely fair. Thanks Prolixic

  5. The animals in 23a had us chasing all around the forest (and the BRB) to eventually make sense of it all. It also took a while to sort out the wordplay for 10a as we were initially trying to substitute the wrong number of letters. Similar problems with the number of letters to use in 12a had us scratching our heads as well. A good level of difficulty for us and heaps to chuckle over and enjoy.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  6. A Prolixic puzzle is always fun to tackle and this one didn’t disappoint, although if I’m brutally honest I didn’t think it quite matched the very high standard of most of his previous recent efforts. I agree with Windsurfer about the ghost theme, it was very clever to include so many such references.

    The lizard was new to me, as was Ms. Carter and the game in 10a, so full marks to anyone who didn’t need to resort to Google.

    My favourite clue was 4d.

    Many thanks, Prolixic.

  7. I would have found 1D a lot easier if I hadn’t read the last word of the clue as “port”. Very nice puzzle.

  8. Thanks for the review, CS.
    I couldn’t see why my 10a was right – I see what you mean with your rather euphemistic comment about an ‘educational’ visit to the BRB.
    I never did get 6d which was silly but I know what Prolixic and Gazza often mean when ‘goes’ is in a clue and since I had the first letter – well, need I say more?
    Thanks again to both Prolixic and CS.

  9. Good spot by Windsurfer & Silvanus on the ghost theme, which completely passed me by.
    So Sue, I’m not sure if your picture for 13d was exactly what Prolixic had in mind!

    What didn’t pass me by though was that this was the first crossword I’ve ever done (well at least since I’ve been taking notice of such things) to be completely anagram free – which is quite an accomplishment and, given P’s mention of that possibility in his excellent construction guide, doubtless deliberate. Thank you, I’ve been looking forward to that for ages!

    Like Rabbit Dave my page is littered with ticks – more than 20! – but my 3 with double ticks were 14a, 30a and 2d.

    Many thanks Prolixic – very enjoyable indeed.

    Oh, and I too failed to properly parse 10a, though the answer was clear enough and, as with 23a, I learnt something new. :)

    1. We had not noticed the lack of anagrams either.
      Ray Terrell in his guise of RayT does use anagrams but when he puts his Beam hat on and sets Toughies he does not use any.

  10. Thank you Prolixic for a very enjoyable puzzle, and to CS for the review. The right hand side went in much quicker than the left, which started to yield when I read the comment about a theme, plus I started to use electronic help. I had no idea about a couple of the parsings.
    Favourites were 4d and 6d.
    I think there are a couple more themed answers in there – 2d (Tim), and probably 27a as well, both from the same film.

  11. I had the wrong ending for 23A (…tidae) so couldn’t get 20D, and parsing 10A was above my pay grade. Totally missed the ghost theme because 11/20 is the only reference I’m aware of. Oddly, when I’d finished I had no ticks on the page, but in retrospect I’m going for 13D (as much for the pic as for the clue!). Thanks Prolixic and CS.

  12. Thanks to one and all for the comments and to Gazza and Crypticsue for the test solving and, to the latter, for the review.

Comments are closed.