NTSPP – 356 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 356

NTSPP – 356

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Silvanus once again shows his skill at setting with lots of inventive clues and smiles along the way.


1 Spanish question French nobleman in anti-terrorist case – it holds water (8)
AQUEDUCT – A three letter word used by the Spanish to ask a question and the French for duke (nobleman) go inside the outer letters (case) of anti-terrorist.

5 Hush envelops court, initially silencing rushing sound (6)
SWOOSH – A two letter word meaning hush includes (envelops) a word meaning to court someone romantically and the first letter (initially) of silencing.

9 It’s obvious author is behind recall of assistant (8)
APPARENT – A word meaning author (in the sense of progenitor) goes after (behind) a reversal (recall of) a two letter word for an assistant.

10 Around Manila, birthdays reveal characteristic of people (6)
TRIBAL – The answer is hidden (reveal) and reversed (around) in MANILA BIRTHDAYS.

12 Syrup man adopts proudly to begin with (5)
MAPLE – A four letter word for man includes (adopts) the initial letter (to begin with) of proudly.

13 Subdue by force five hundred fleeing port (9)
OVERPOWER – Alongside (by) a word meaning force add the name of a port in the south-east of England after removing (fleeing) the roman numeral for five hundred.

14 Fellow needs cow to supply the cream (6)
FLOWER – The abbreviation for fellow followed by a five letter word for a cow – be reference to the sound a cow makes.  Cream as in the pick or best of something can also be used as in the title of a collection of poems by Katherine Tynan.

16 Kenneth Williams possibly rejected help – extreme behaviour in front of everyone (7)
DIARIST – Reverse a three letter word meaning help and follow it with the last letter (extreme) of behaviour and the abbreviation for first (in front of everyone).

19 Game of wits? (7)
MARBLES – Double definition, the first involving spherical glass or china objects and second more frequently used in the expression, “the’ve lost their …..”.

21 Exhibit symptom of nausea if wife leaves miserable individual (6)
WRETCH – If you removed the abbreviation for wife from the answer you would have word meaning to be sick (exhibit symptom of nausea).

23 Evidence of volcanic activity perhaps from an exceptionally warm May? (3,6)
HOT SPRING – The answer might be indicative of a warm season of the year.

25 Genuine cover-up concerning past (5)
SINCE – Remover (cover-up) a two letter word meaning concerning from the end of a word meaning genuine.

26 Company relocating to Peru (6)
TROUPE – An anagram (relocating) of TO PERU.

27 Ring Army about joining up (8)
MARRYING – An anagram (about) of RING ARMY.

28 Spooner’s garden tool struck companion (6)
COHORT – Reverse the sounds of the initial syllables (Spooner’s) in the words HOE (garden tool) CAUGHT (struck).

29 Insincere fluency is blessing in disguise (8)
GLIBNESS – An anagram (in disguise) of BLESSING.


1 Weaponry supporting gangster is frightening (6)
ALARMS – Another word for weaponry goes under (supports) the first name of Mr Capone (gangster).

2 Disliked hollow uneven tree outside university (9)
UNPOPULAR – The outer letters (hollow) of uneven followed by the name of a tree in the willow family that goes around (outside) the abbreviation for university.

3 Government blocks dreadful song (5)
DIRGE – The abbreviation for government goes inside (blocks) a word meaning dreadful.

4 Honesty of banks non-existent in scam – Andy got hurt (7)
CANDOUR – Remove the outer letters from (banks non-existent in) sCAm aNDy gOt hURt. 

6 Plan site for factory? (9)
WORKPLACE – A four letter word for plan followed by a five letter word for site.

7 Unpleasant smell trailing bull over wide river-bend (5)
OXBOW – A two letter word for an unpleasant underarm smell goes after (trailing) a two letter word for a bull with all of this letter going over the abbreviation for wide.

8 Laughter from term describing sex-appeal (8)
HILARITY – The name of one of the Oxford academic terms around (describing) a two letter form for sex-appeal.

11 Indecent, blue Swede is regularly exposed (4)
LEWD – The even letters (regularly exposed) in bLuE sWeDe.

15 Flock maybe with everyone on an exam (9)
WALLPAPER – The abbreviation for with followed by a word meaning everyone and another word for an exam.

17 Vincent gets tip-off I possess a stimulant (9)
INCENTIVE – Remove the first letter (gets tip-off) from Vincent and followed by a contraction meaning I possess.

18 Stressed chimp ate bananas (8)
EMPHATIC – An anagram (bananas) of CHIMP ATE.

20 Hide, asking to be discovered (4)
SKIN – The answer is hidden (to be discovered) inside ASKING.

21 German dog chases away wingless bird (7)
WAGTAIL – The abbreviation for German and a word meaning to dog or follow goes after chases the inner letters (wingless) of away.

22 Considers carefully stated methods (6)
WEIGHS – A homophone (stated) of ways (methods).

24 Jag, if lost by youngster, can trigger financial compensation (5)
TOOTH – A cryptic reference to the dental compensation sought by the young following the loss of the answer with jag being the formal definition.

25 Clean plant involving change of tap (5)
SCRUB – Replace the H in a type of plant with a C (change of tap being Hot for Cold).

31 comments on “NTSPP – 356

  1. Thanks Silvanus – very enjoyable. Lots to like here – I’ll nominate 19a, 4d, 20d and 21d but my favourite, for the d’oh moment, is 24d.

  2. Very enjoyable – many thanks Silvanus. 24d was my last one in and prompted a palm on forehead moment – very good.

    My list of favourites is similar to but slightly different from Gazza’s pick; i.e.19a, 29a, 4d, 8d, 15d, 21d and 25d.

    And I think I must be missing something with the second half of 13a…

    1. Subdue is the definition, not “subdue by force”- by (i.e. in front of) force put a port without the D (five hundred) – see Dutch at #4, you were not alone.

      1. Thanks BD. I’ve eventually come to realise that these things are usually just me being dim!

  3. I was just about to get started on the MPP when I noticed this puzzle which I decided to tackle first and found extremely enjoyable from start to finish. With smooth surfaces throughout (except perhaps for 10a, which seemed a bit strained to me) combined with lots of humour and splendid misdirections, this was pitched at a nicely challenging level. I found the SW corner the toughest with 24d my last one in.

    Some of the parsing took a bit of head scratching to resolve, but all the pennies finally dropped except for the first syllable of 6d which I don’t think quite equates to “plan”.

    1a made me realise that I had forgotten how to spell the answer, and of course it reminded me of the very recent sad loss of the wonderful Andrew Sachs.

    I had lots of ticks, and double ticks were awarded to 1a, 19a, 29a, 4d, 20d, 21d & 24d. My favourite of these was 19a with 1a a close second.

    Brilliant stuff, Silvanus. Many thanks and very well done.

  4. Many thanks silvanus for sharing a most enjoyable puzzle. My favourites are pretty accurately expressed by the previous comments

    I did think there were some stretchy definitions (author, struck, cream, plan) – for me that detracts from enjoyment (we’re all different).

    It is a sad thing that a lovely puzzle can be marred by a single clue. As always i might be missing something, but in 10a I think the cryptic grammar requires reveals (others may argue). I think that characteristic, although it can be an adjective itself, turns the def into a noun. ‘of people’ would have worked as a def for me. The surface hardly grabbed me, so i think that had you been critical, you might have replaced this clue to the benefit of the puzzle.

    I was absolutely delighted with 20d – a lovely clue. I also especially liked 29a – very very nice.

    Like others, I thought 24d offered a brilliant penny drop moment.

    is 21a the wrong way round? It seems to me that as is, it clues the 5-letter word.

    I don’t see where the last two letters in 12a come from. I almost thought the same of the last 5 letters in 13a, until i thought perhaps i shouldn’t see ‘subdue by force’ as the def.

    Many thanks silvanus – I enjoyed this very much (though i got distracted by the football)

    every puzzle is a major achievement – congratulations

    1. Dutch, in terms of definitions, I think author, struck and cream are all fine, but not plan. The BRB gives, inter alia:

      – Author : a person who brings anything into being
      – C**** (present tense) : to strike, hit
      – 14a : the best of anything

      1. I agree they work (and i agree with your comment on plan). My personal view is that I really like definitions that are misleading but in terms of accuracy really nail the answer, rather than being a distant(?) synonym. I could be ruder and say that I think distant synonyms are cheap.

        1. Personally I think that both struck and cream fit your description to a T of misleading synonyms which are 100% accurate. I would certainly use both C**** and F***** with these meanings (they are not meant to be rude words; I just don’t want to give the game away to anyone who reads these comments before finishing the puzzle!) Author perhaps is a little more distant but I’m still comfortable with it.

  5. Loved every minute of it, Silvanus. I note there are a few comments about stretched synonyms – what’s the odd one of those to a Mr. T devotee!
    Took a while to sort out the taps and you successfully took me quite a long way down the garden path with 27&29a.
    I also hadn’t realised just how many other definitions there are for an E-type!

    Big ticks for all of the ones that others have mentioned, my top of the pops being 19a.
    Thank you so much.

  6. We learnt something we did not know about Kenneth Williams and of course we would disagree with the seasonal attribution in 23a. The penny drop moment with 24d was the last piece of the puzzle for us. We did look to see whether we had a pangram but there seem to be a couple of letters that did not make it. Really good fun and much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Silvanus.

  7. Thanks Silvanus; very enjoyable.

    It took me a moment or two to parse 4 & 24, but well worth the effort.

    In 16, I wondered whether this should have been ‘extreme of?’

    I can see Dutch’s point about 21, although it kind of works. Might have been clearer if turned around, methinks.

  8. Many thanks to everyone who has tackled the puzzle so far, and special thanks to those who have taken the trouble to leave such encouraging comments. Sorry for contributing quite late, but I’ve been out today without the means to respond until now.

    For my NTSPP debut, I have to admit that I did experiment with a few stretched synonyms, but if all but one can pass RD’s eagle eye then they can’t be that stretched I suppose! It’s interesting that, rightly or wrongly, “plan” is shown in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary as a synonym for the first part of the definition in 6d, but not the other way round – normally I would only include those that match both ways if I felt one was dubious.

    Thanks of course also to BD for setting everything up and to CS (?) in advance for the review. I’m very excited at the prospect of my first puzzle to have accompanying illustrations, I believe I remember Maize saying something similar a few months back. Last but certainly not least, a big thank you to Beet and Sprocker for their test solving time earlier in the year (this one’s been patiently waiting a while!).

  9. I loved it – not easy by any means but it’s kept me happy, occupied and generally out of the way for some time – really quite a long time.
    I’m going to suggest that Silvanus should be crowned king of tricky to spot anagrams – or maybe I’m being dim, which is, of course, always possible.
    I don’t get my answers for 16 or 25a or, most annoyingly of all, 24d – the annoying bit is that it seems to be the favourite of most others.
    I liked 19a and 4 and 8d. My favourite was 18d because it made me laugh.
    With thanks and :good: to Silvanus and thanks in advance to whoever is in charge tomorrow.

    1. Prolixic is reviewing this one which is probably a good thing as I haven’t had time to look at it yet.

  10. Many thanks, Silvanus, for a really enjoyable puzzle. My favourites were actually the full anagrams, which I thought were very elegantly done. Of the others, I’ll pick out 25a, as no-one else has. I still haven’t worked out how cream equals the answer, though.

  11. Many thanks to Prolixic for his review and his excellent selection of pictures.

    Like RD, I also felt great sadness at the news of the death of Andrew Sachs, and I did have a mental image of Manuel as I was drafting the clue for 1a, but obviously had no idea that, by a twist of fate, its publication should coincide with him leaving us. RIP indeed.

  12. Many thanks for the well-illustrated review, Prolixic – nice pic of a Grey Wagtail.
    The wallpaper brought back memories. Years ago, my in-laws had their hall, stairs and landing decorated in the design you showed and my two girls were constantly in trouble for picking off bits of the flock!
    Goodness – the Tooth Fairy has upped the ante since I last had to pay out on her behalf!

    Thanks again, Silvanus – hope it’s not too long before your next one.

  13. Thanks silvanus and Prolixic – I thought this was really great. So many excellent clues that any shortlist would quickly turn into a longlist, so I’ll just spotlight my favourite, the beautiful 20d.

  14. I copied this at the library on Saturday lunchtime, solved it sporadically and finally finished whilst half watching the snooker on Sunday afternoon. And I have to say I found it excellent – good, challenging clues and very entertaining/enjoyable, certainly better than many of the DT back-pagers. Prolixic has made no italicised comments, which means all the clues are flawless. My favourite of a really good bunch was 11d: a well hidden alternate lurker with an amusing and naughtily suggestive surface – a la Ray T. My only very slight quibble, which is just an idiosyncratic observation, is that the surface of 12a is a tad iffy (though it does work). I’d have gone for an all-out “food theme” with something like: Man eats prawn cocktail starter, then has syrup. But I suppose I’ll be told that effort is flawed.

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