NTSPP – 354 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 354

NTSPP – 354

A Puzzle by Snape

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

On the day that Maize becomes the second graduate of the Rookie Academy to have a puzzle published in the Independent we have another puzzle from Snape who, as Eccles, was the first.


Thank you to Snape for a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon diversion indeed – some splendid surface readings and definitions, and equally important for the blogger, lots of  very good picture opportunities. 


1a           Dopey throws back one old penny (6)
STUPID A reversal of a way of saying throws a large shot followed by the letter that looks like a one and the abbreviation for an old pre-decimal penny

5a           Violent row about British pig (4,4)
WILD BOAR   A synonym for violent and a verb meaning to row a boat goes ‘about’ the abbreviation for British

9a           Reserve suit for Noddy Holder? (8)
BOOKCASE Splendid definition – another way of saying reserve and a [law] suit


10a         Head out of amusement park? Just the opposite (6)
UNFAIR The opposite of just is obtained by taking the head of an amusement park ‘out’ or away

11a         With ease, messed around oil producer (6,4)
SESAME SEED An anagram (around) of EASE MESSED

12a         Regularly repairing net (4)
EARN – The regular or even letters of repairing

13a         Look at edges of piebald weaving pattern (5,3)
 POLKA DOT  An anagram (weaving) of LOOK AT and the edges or outside letters of PiebalD


16a         Religious lessons taking place next to church’s small alcove (6)
RECESS The abbreviation for religious lessons goes next to the abbreviation for the Church of England, not forgetting the S (church’S) and the abbreviation for Small

17a         Remnant of bad wound (6)
OFFCUT  Bad in the sense of not fit to eat and an incision or wound

19a         Grooming product does not begin to conceal defects in image (8)
AIRBRUSH Remove the first letter (does not begin) from something you’d use to groom a particular part of your body

21a         Eye part of divine female (4)
IRIS Part of the eye or the Goddess of the Rainbow (divine female)

22a         Outspokenly referring to member of One Direction believing that everything is meaningless? (10)
NIHILISTIC  A homophone of the Christian name of one of the members of One Direction and the fact that he might be thick (thanks Jane).  And yes, I did have to look him up!

25a         Movement in Post Office branch (3,3)
POP ART The abbreviation for Post Office and a verb meaning to divide or branch


26a         Free love a sin in European country (8)
SLOVENIA An anagram (free) of LOVE A SIN

27a         Everybody stop! I am showcasing a frightening place (8)
DYSTOPIA  Showcasing indicating we are looking for a lurker in everyboDY STOP I Am

28a         Ill-will embodies Republican spirit (6)
SPRITE  Lasting ill-will ‘embodies’ or takes in the abbreviation for Republican



2d           Collection of treasures disintegrating over time (5)
TROVE An anagram (disintegrating) of OVER and T (time).  A particularly confusing piece of wordplay – was the word ‘over’ in a Down clue trying to deceive us into making us think we have to reverse something; did only  needing the abbreviation (T)  and not the whole word time  make this clue stray into indirect anagram territory? 

3d           Real pressure for Switzerland in period of game (5)
PUKKA  Remove the IVR Code for Switzerland from a period of time in a polo match and replace with the abbreviation for Pressure


4d           Suppressed Earl, third in line, thrown out in impasse (4,3)
DEAD END  Take a word meaning suppressed.   This has three E’s in it and you need to ‘throw out’ the third one of them (line can mean a row of written or printed characters)

5d           Upon which occasion is wife on heat about to be restrained? (7)
WHEREAT  The abbreviation for Wife and HEAT (from the clue) the latter ‘restraining’ the two letters meaning ‘about’ especially in an email subject line

6d           Make a gross mistake removing top and taking a wash (7)
 LAUNDER Remove the ‘top’ or first letter from a gross mistake and insert an A (taking A) into the remaining letters


7d           Batter fish, apart from the tail, in fast food outlet? (6,3)
BUFFET CAR A food outlet often found on a fast train – a verb meaning to batter and almost all (apart from the tail or last letter) of an edible freshwater fish

8d           They’re potential victims of a sting, as it’s a rip-off? (9)
APIARISTS  And don’t I know it as the beekeeping Mr CS has had two bouts of anaphylactic shock from stings!  An anagram (off) of AS IT’S A RIP

14d         Provide Conservative a bit of service (9)
OFFERTORY  A verb meaning to provide for acceptance and one of the abbreviated ways we’d refer to a member of the Conservative Party

15d         Stops using prostitute to get going (4-5)
KICK-START Frees oneself from a habit (stops using) and an informal way of referring to a prostitute

18d         Bowl spinner in sleeveless shirt (4,3)
TANK TOP A large bowl or basin and a toy that spins


19d         Mishap has Ian’s contents in disorder (7)
APHASIA An inability to speak or understand words (disorder) is lurking in mishAP HAS IAn, caused by illness or damage

20d         King of kids’ TV initially needing some deodorants (4-3)
ROLL-ONS A children’s television king (I think we had some of the books too) plus the initial letters of Needing and Some


23d         Besmirch brand admitting scam, finally (5)
SMEAR Insert the final letter of scam into a verb meaning to brand with something hot


24d         It is out of five hundred and ten he’s likely to score zero (5)
IDIOT  IT (from the clue) goes ‘out’ of (outside) the Roman numeral for 500 and the letters that look like a number ten

41 comments on “NTSPP – 354

  1. Thanks Snape – a very pleasant lunchtime solve. Top clues for me were 3d, 8d and my favourite, 9a. I can’t fully parse 4d and, if I’ve understood it correctly, you need to know (or in my case look up) the nationality of the band member in 22a in order to be able to parse it.

  2. Superb stuff as ever, Snape, a very enjoyable solve.

    I thought 10a, 22a and 6d were very clever, but my actual ticks went to 5a, 9a, 19a, 25a, 26a, 3d, 7d, 8d and 15d. My favourite vote, after a little deliberation, goes to 3d for the ultra smooth surface. Just one slight quibble, the definition in 18d, but I’m open to being persuaded it’s ok.

    Congratulations to Snape on another excellent product, and to Maize (the master of the multiple pangram) on his debut in the Indy.

    1. I see that 18d might be considered a “shirt” on the other side of the Atlantic, but I don’t think it is over here!

  3. So many ticks – 5&17a plus 8d to mention just a few – but they all pale by the side of 9a. Brilliant clue, Snape!
    Like Gazza, I can’t fully parse 4d and have to admit that I can’t get 5d. I’m wondering whether it’s an occasion I know nothing about.
    I was OK on One Direction but had to brush up on my knowledge of kids TV!

    Many thanks, Snape and heartiest congratulations to both you and Maize on your ‘promotions’.

    1. You don’t need any special knowledge for 5d
      4d you need a word for suppressed from which you throw something out

      1. 4d – thank you for making me look at it differently!
        5d – that’s a blow, I was rather hoping for an unknown. Think I need to walk away from it for a while.

  4. So – 4d – do I explain it or leave it for you to read my review in the morning – decisions, decisions

    1. I’ve just got it, CS, so don’t explain on my account. Clever bit of misdirection which I suspect Gazza may have fallen for as well!

  5. Thanks to Snape (aka Eccles)

    The “hidden” clues were so cleverly hidden that I had to cheat!

    My favourite – 7d – the “fast food outlet” one.

    1. It’s most reassuring to see that many others found 19d & 27a very difficult to find.

      Thanks again to Snape and thanks also to CS for the review.

  6. Well done Snape!

    I got about two-thirds of the way through when I realised I had seen this puzzle before. Not that that helped me, I had to resolve the whole thing and funnily enough I was held up by the same things that held me up the first time.

    There is a lot that I like: 10a, 19a, 21a, 26a, 2d, 5d, 6d (although I think gross is unnecessary), 8d, 15d and more

    the reference in 20a was beyond me, I didn’t grow up here

    An excellent puzzle which would look at home in the dailies

    1. 6d – have a look in the BRB ;)
      I think you mean 20d – why not see if your children know the king??

      1. CS – clues can but don’t have to follow brb definitions – all I was thinking here is that the clue would have been fine with one less word, should brevity be an ideal – but it clearly works as is.

        I’ll ask the kids! – I assumed for whatever reason this was a dated show (probably because I’d never heard of it, i suppose)

  7. Cheers for the comments so far. 6d didn’t originally have ‘gross’ in, but my test solver (some Dutch bloke) suggested it would make a good addition, and I agreed. ;-)
    The West Bridgford hockey club beer festival is calling urgently – sadly Sarah Hughes is missing because of a yeast infection, but I intend to sample quite a few of the others.
    Congratulations to Maize on an awesome debut. Not sure how that can be topped.

    1. thanks Snape for a very enjoyable puzzle (I eventually decided that the Fiat nina across the waistline wasn’t some devilish Snapery). I can only echo the praise for the extraordinary puzzle by Maize, which knocks an otherwise interesting Graun puzzle into the also-ran classification

    2. ah, well, be careful how much you listen to test solvers, they’re as inconsistent as Boris Johnson, with similar hair.

      seriously, great puzzle, with or without gross. Told you I didn’t remember it today.

      I hope Sarah gets better soon

  8. I absolutely loved this. It took two sittings split by a cold, damp period clearing leaves off the lawn.

    Lovely surfaces, great humour, some delightfully tricky cluing, my page littered with ticks. What more could you ask from a NTSPP puzzle?

    Sadly for my sanity one of my early answers was to put the wrong second word for 7d assuming the fish which lost its tail was a barb which made 16a look impossible for a while.

    I can’t quite get my mind round the parsing for 2d as the abbreviation for time appears at the wrong end of the answer. I didn’t know the king in 20d but the answer couldn’t have been anything else and Google enlightened me.

    My short list of the best of the best is 19a, 26a, 4d, 8d, 15d & 18d with 9a my outright favourite.

    Brilliant, Snape. Well done and thank you.

      1. Yes, me too – disintegrating “over” followed by t(ime). I ruled out t being part of the anagram fodder as that would make it partially indirect, but with hindsight I assume that must be the explanation..

        1. Many thanks for the excellent review CS, and particularly for mentioning that 2d might be straying into indirect anagram territory!

          1. I think using T for time as part of the anagram fodder is ok. Here are Prolixic’s views on indirect anagrams:
            The same care with indirect anagrams has to be taken with abbreviations. For example, British for BR is acceptable but the same letters clued as “old transport company” would be indirect (even British can be open to interpretation as British can be abbreviated B or BR so that the solver has to decide which letters are used to make up the answer).
            Some setters will take the view that the abbreviation should begin with the same letter as the full word so that “second” for S would be usable but not “entropy” for S. Other setters may only use single letter abbreviations.
            As a general rule, as soon as you start defining part of the letters to be rearranged cryptically (other than by a direct abbreviation) you are straying into the indirect anagram territory.

  9. A brilliant crossword – I haven’t finished it yet – some of the bottom right corner and most of the top left are defeating me at the moment.
    Need to go now so back tomorrow.
    In the meantime thanks very much to Snape and, in advance, to CS for the hints and answers which I suspect I might need.

  10. I enjoyed this a lot. I was totally off track on 19D and spent too long trying to make an anagram out of “has Ian’s” until I finally got it sorted. I don’t understand 3D. I’m sure of my answer but what’s Switzerland got to do with it? Don’t tell me! I’ll wait for the review. 9A was my favorite, and 8D was up there too. Thanks Snape!

  11. A real joy.
    Learned a few new words along the way.
    Ticked so many, it’s hard to choose a favourite.
    Thanks to Snape for this super crossword.

  12. Done in fits and starts during the day while away painting for family and a grandson knew a lot more about the 22a band than I did. Ashamed to say that a lurker 19d was my last one to spot. Excellent fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Snape.

  13. Thanks Snape; excellent puzzle.

    All the bottom half went in smoothly, except for the GK in 20.

    Got a bit stuck in the NW corner, and like many others got nicely misled by the ‘third in line’ in 4.

  14. Many thanks for the review, CS, particularly the pics. Loved the 9a Noddy holder but can only imagine that the pic at 6d is a still from a fantasy film!
    I did eventually get 5d but can’t say that I liked it. Having said that, I can confirm that there is a dearth of alternatives for those checkers……
    In 21a I thought it was intended as ‘Niall is thick’ as pronounced with a strong Irish accent. I suspect that might be what Gazza also thought?

    Thanks again, Snape, more please!

    1. That was my thought on 21a, Jane, which is why I needed to check that the relevant band member is Irish.

  15. I finally finished this one with a couple of MP’s ‘bung-ins’ which I needed the hints to understand.
    Not only did I take ages to see the lurker in 19d but I missed it completely in 27a – the answer had to be what it was but . . .
    My favourite by a million miles was 9a. I also liked 5a and 15d.
    Thanks and congratulations to Snape and thanks, too, to CS for sorting out a few of my answers for me.

  16. Thank you for the review, CS, and for the appropriate pictures. Bee-keeping is a risky hobby if stings cause anaphylactic shocks!
    19a was just meant to be ‘Niall-istic’ (referring to Niall) homophone, but in retrospect was a weak clue. Glad everyone seemed to enjoy the puzzle despite that.

  17. Thanks for the review CS.
    Incidentally, when I checked Rollo, I found a Viking king of that name who was also the first Duke of Normandy.
    Never seen the cartoon though.
    Thanks again to Snape.

  18. A top quality puzzle, which I very much enjoyed but did not find easy.

    I loved the third in line in 4d, which took some pondering to identify. My favourite is the same as many: 9a. Other ticks go to 25a, 26a, 28a, 8d, 15d, 19d. When I solved 24d, I said 24d!

    Thanks to Snape for the fun and to CS for the review.

  19. Apologies for tardy commenting – where’s my sense of solidarity eh?

    Loved this puzzle Snape – full of your characteristic humour. You are the master of packing fun into a clue.

    My tickers today were: 1a, 9a (arf), 13a, 16a, 19a, 26a (arf), 28a (topical), 3d (clever), 6d (great image), 7d, 8d (nicely done), 14d, 15d (arf again – typical Snape!), 20d and my last one in 24d. But actually my two favourites were the multiple word hiddens at 27a and 19d – both brilliantly disguised.

    Fantastic that you haven’t forgotten our Alma Mater – I look forward to your next one, whether here or in ‘another place’.

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