NTSPP – 364 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 364

NTSPP – 364

A Brace of Birthday Puzzles by Prolixic and Windsurfer

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  NTSPP – 364a
by Prolixic

NTSPP – 364b
by Windsurfer



This year I was offered special Birthday puzzles by Prolixic and Windsurfer.  They were distributed at the Eighth Birthday Bash, but you didn’t have to attend to get hold of them, as they are both here. BD

Each puzzle is available by clicking on the appropriate grid.

As both puzzles appear on the same blog post, I have decided to do the same with the reviews.  Hints for puzzle 364a appear first so you will need to scroll quite a way down the page to find the hints for puzzle 364b.

I didn’t have an lot of time to spare today to blog one puzzle let alone two so the following reviews have been prepared quite hurriedly. I’ve spotted quite a few errors as I’ve prepared this for publishing and won’t be the slightest bit offended if anyone wants to point out the ones I’ve almost definitely missed!


NTSPP 364a

A Puzzle by Prolixic


 The first of our two celebratory puzzles has a Nina at the top and the bottom of the grid, the latter being required to help solve some of the clues.


9a           Article removed from lewd relative (5)
UNCLE Remove the indefinite article from a word meaning lewd

10a         Each naval deployment results in barrage (9)
AVALANCHE An anagram (deployment) of EACH NAVAL

11a         One under canvas or many in flats? (7)
TENANTS Another use of the indefinite article (one), this term inserted into some temporary canvas dwellings

12a         Sauce is returned by sullen traveller (7)
PILGRIM  A reversal (is returned)of an informal word for cheek (as is sauce) followed by a synonym for sullen

13a         A chaplain enters church store (5)
   CACHE A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for chaplain ‘enter’ the abbreviation for the Church of England

15a         Worried by the bottom we hear (3)
ATE   A word meaning worried could be a homophone of the bottom row Nina

16a         Leasehold enfranchisement in year’s gone by – quite the reverse (5)
OLDEN Lurking in leasehOLD ENfranchisement – 

17a         Special constable holds a bag (3)
SAC Insert A (holds a) into the abbreviation for Special Constable

19a         Wines’ temperature is most important (7)
GRAVES   The name of a particular French wine and the abbreviation for Temperature

20a         Jolly representation of Hindu deity, not half (3)
TAR A jolly is another name for a sailor and can be obtained  here  by removing the first half of a manifestation of a Hindu deity

22a         Axe article about sacred tree (5)
ABORT Insert the name of a sacred tree I’d never heard of into the abbreviation for article

23a         Key report of the bottom line (3)
AIT This particular key is a small island – another homophone of the word indicated by the bottom line Nina

24a         All express disapproval with note (5)
TUTTI A musical instruction meaning ‘all’ – a verb meaning to express disapproval followed by a musical note

26a         Forces drug carriers to swallow small bit of crack (7)
MUSCLES Some drug carriers ‘swallow’ the abbreviation for Small and a ‘bit’ (the first letter of) Crack

28a         Briefly set out west coast company’s social security payments (7)
LACONIC   An abbreviated way of describing a company found in a city  on the West Coast of America, followed by the abbreviation for National Insurance Contributions (social security payments)

30a         Bird‘s sentimental courtship account (9)
SPOONBILL An old-fashioned slang term meaning to kiss and cuddle (sentimental courtship) and an account

31a         Laundry device right by Yorkshire river (5)
AIRER The name of a Yorkshire river followed by the abbreviation for right


1d           Young men hold up extravagant bottoms (8)
BUTTOCKS insert the three-letter abbreviated way of saying that something is extravagant into an archaic term for robust spirited young men.

2d           Venerated element involved in type of architecture (6)
ICONIC The abbreviation for the element Carbon inserted into some classical architecture

3d           Check on a member of… (4)
REIN The two letters used to mean on the subject of and the preposition that would indicate that one was a member of something

4d           … US police unit returning whips (4)
TAWS A reversal (returning) of the abbreviation for an American police unit used against highly armed criminals, employing military-style weapons and tactics

5d           Match lit up before celebration – the top line? (5,5)
HAPPY EVENT A word meaning lit up, excited, goes before a match – the solution being a description of the Nina in the top line

6d           Courier carries a dish from India (4)
DAHL A (from the clue) carried by a courier company known by its initials

7d           Authorise destruction of picture postcard without support perhaps (8)
ACCREDIT An anagram (destruction) of PICTURE POSTCARD once you have removed the letters (without) SUPPORT, the ‘perhaps’ in the clue indicating that they are not in that order in the anagram fodder

8d           Guards   old farmers (6)
YEOMEN Double definition

14d         This year’s top line women leaving power (5)
EIGHT Remove W (women leaving) from some power

15d         Poetical description of drunken sea captain (10)
ANAPAESTIC An anagram (drunken) of SEA CAPTAIN

16d         Supermarket’s change of heart about group (5)
OCTET Change the S in the middle of the name of a well-known supermarket to a T and then reverse (about) the result

18d         Weapon has symbol on front (8)
CROSSBOW A symbol on top of the front of a ship

21d         Attack Arabia in recording Ticket to ride (8)
RAILCARD A verb meaning to attack and a type of recording, the latter having the abbreviation for Arabia inserted into it

22d         Practically prize position princes purged (6)
ALMOST Remove the P (princes purged) from the starts of two words (hence the princes plural) one meaning a symbol of victory (prize) and the other a position

25d         Holding broken tureen (6)
TENURE An anagram (broken) of TUREEN

27d         Piece of all-in-one floor covering (4)
LINO – Lurking as a piece of alL IN One

28d         Outstanding example of      singer (4)
LULU An outstanding example of a person or thing or the stage name of the singer originally known as Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie

29d         Stop Charlie bringing up seafood (4)
CRAB A reversal (bringing up) of a verb meaning to stop and the letter represented in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet by Charlie


NTSPP 364b

A Puzzle by Windsurfer


The second celebratory puzzle –  also with a Nina –  which in this case helped me with the solving of several clues when it became obvious that the name of our ‘leader’ might appear in the squares of Column 1, thus enabling me to work out the rest of the message BIG DAVE’S EIGHTHBIRTHDAY BASH OK

Your blogger has quite a few niggles with this crossword, including the considerable number of reversals.


8a           Worker’s clothes roughly reported in cave (6)
BEWARE The BRB defines ‘cave’ as a school slang interjection, the meaning of which can be obtained from homophones (roughly reported) of a worker insect and some clothes

9/31       Italian colourful bird’s old, taken off encircling sun (6)
TUSCAN I thought if you split two halves of a word over two clues, each separate half had to make proper words and the first half of this Italian doesn’t.   Remove the O from a colourful bird and insert (encircling) the abbreviation for Sun (in a different place to that originally taken by the O, although the clues doesn’t exactly make that clear.

10a         A motoring organisation roundabout? (4)
AREA The A in the clue represents an abbreviation – the whole word can be obtained by putting one of our motoring associations round the two letters used to mean ‘about’, especially in email subject boxes

11a         Noble ignored promises and took in show (10)
ILLUSTRATE Remove the IOUS (ignored promises) from an adjective meaning noble and replace with part of a verb meaning ‘took in’

12a         Actor lady regularly aloof (4)
COLD The regular letters of aCtOr LaDy

13a         Distributing wine during pop concert (6)
GIVING Insert the French word for wine into a slang term for a one-off pop concert

16a         Pieceworker with German husband muscles in at the beginning (8)
GUNSMITH Well-developed muscles of the upper arm, the German word for with and the abbreviation for Husband

17a         Whizz about, engaged in studies for mushrooms (7)
DEEPENS Mushrooms is defined by the BRB as a verb meaning to expand, increase or spread with remarkable or disconcerting rapidity, and I don’t think that the solution quite means this.   Either way, reverse an informal way of saying urinate  (whizz) insert into some studies (the rooms not the actual studying)

18a         African tree fruit that woman added to fish, contrarily (4,3)
SHEA NUT The 3rd person pronoun female (that woman) added to a reversal (contrarily) of a type of fish

22a         Abrupt old barman curiously eccentric (8)
ABNORMAL An anagram (curiously) of OL (abrupt indicating that you don’t require the last letter of old) and BARMAN

25a         Actress Trudie is good person to return trust (6)
STYLER Mrs Sting’s surname is obtained by following the abbreviation for a good person with yet another reversal, this time of a verb meaning to trust

26a         Star sign, for instance American (4)
VEGA A sign that can either be an indication of victory or something more impolite, the abbreviation meaning for example (for instance) and the abbreviation for American gives us the first magnitude star

27a         Residence I built that’s in front of last settlement (6,4)
DECREE NISI An anagram (built) of RESIDENCE I

30a         Others retiring behind schedule (2,2)
ET AL A Latin term meaning ‘and other people or things’ is, as indicated by retiring, yet another reversal, this time of a word meaning behind schedule

31 See 9

32a         Almost frightening, a head of bombardier beetle (6)
SCARAB Almost all of a word meaning frightening, A from the clue and the ‘head’ of Bombardier


1d           Welsh mascot jumped up showing bottom (4)
KEEL A reversal (jumped up) of the Welsh national emblem that isn’t a daffodil

2d           Pacific island beginning to open a hospital and university (4)
OAHU The ‘beginning’ of Opening, A (from the clue) and the abbreviations for Hospital and University

3d           Figure on the page almost misconstrued (8)
HEPTAGON An anagram (misconstrued) of ON THE PAGe (almost indicating the need to drop the final E from page)

4d           Unusual way to go on rushed climb, for example (7)
STRANGE The abbreviation for street (way) goes on another way of saying rushed and (yet another) reversal, this time the abbreviation for For Example

5d           Back English trains, dropping independent models (6)
ASTERN An anagram (models) of E (English) and TRANS (the clue tells you to drop the I for independent from trains)

6d           This makes man copy unsuitable people (3,7)
BAD COMPANY The first word of the solution could be used as an anagram indicator ‘this makes’ and the second word is an anagram (unsuitable) of MAN COPY

7d           Shout to everyone around, still entertains (4,2)
YELL AT A reversal (well there’s a surprise) of a word meaning everyone inserted into (entertains) by a word meaning still

14d         Diamond turned up in Aztec institute (3)
ICE A hidden reversal this time – a slang term for diamonds ‘turns up’ lurking in AztEC Institute

15d         Setter’s expert with love, nurses left doubtful (10)
IMPROBABLE The way our setter would say he was.., an abbreviated expert, and an informal term for a girlfriend (love), the latter ‘embracing’ the abbreviation for Left

19d         Dope makes surprised sounds (8)
HASHEESH Two surprised sounds – one with two letters that I’ve used occasionally and the other I think is probably more an Americanism.  Once you have the checking letters, there isn’t a lot else you could write in for a word matching the definition

20d         Milk service (3)
USE A double definition clue

21d         Half-heartedly clapping bad putting (7)
PLACING Half-heartedly indicates the need to remove one of the Ps in the middle of CLAPPING and ‘bad’ indicates the need to rearrange the remaining letters to get a word meaning putting.  Is it a coincidence that the anagram indicator here is the word you need for the first part of 6d?

23d         Table at supper included carps (6)
BLEATS Carps in the sense of moans – another lurker ‘taBLE AT Supper

24d         Heard eye doctor came before 9/31 rulers (6)
MEDICI A rare term for a physician goes before a homophone (heard) of eye

28d         Clever cow (4)
NEAT Another double definition – another word for clever or ingenious; the second definition requiring the word that everyone says ‘I didn’t know xxxx referred to cattle’

29d         Henry has plastic ruler (4)
SHAH An anagram (plastic) of H (Henry) and HAS 

I am grateful to Prolixic for his assistance on Saturday afternoon – not least when he pointed out that if I wrote the right letters in the right squares for 15d, I’d then be able to solve 17a!  


16 comments on “NTSPP – 364

  1. We have been with you all in spirit as we have been sitting in our kitchen on a Sunday morning, working on the same two puzzles that we see spread out on the table in Prolixic’s photos. We did the Windsurfer one first and really enjoyed and then had a significant battle to sort out the Prolixic offering. 15d was a real challenge. Found and appreciated the Nina.
    Many thanks to both setters.
    Best wishes to everyone at Little Venice.

  2. Since there seems to be nobody else around today but we over-the-ponders, I thought I’d check in, though I don’t have much to report. I have a few left in the Prolixic puzzle and I confess to being bogged down. 1D is my favorite so far. I took a peek at Windsurfer’s contribution earlier, and I think I’ll go back to it for a while before dinner and whatever Neflix delivered to the mailbox today. Hope y’all are having a lovely time!

  3. The main reason for the lack of comments is, of course, as Prolixic and I discussed this afternoon, everyone who’d normally comment was too busy catching up with old friends and new, not to mention drinking beer, eating cake and delicious macarons to solve the puzzles

    There will be time for them to comment (hangovers/over indulgence in oriental feasts permitting) as I have quite a lot of things I’d normally fit into two days of a weekend to try and achieve tomorrow, not to mention having two NTSPPs to review rather than the normal one, so the reviews might not be up quite as promptly as normal, and they’ll definitely not be illustrated.

    Off to bed now as it has been a very long but enjoyable day.

  4. Wow. I confess to revealing the first letter of the second word of 5D to finish this off. The bottom line was a big penny drop moment. 1D is still in top place. I’m afraid this has not left much time for Windsurfer, but with my sleep patterns there’s always the middle of the night. Thanks Prolixic. Another superb puzzle and I even found the nina early enough to make a difference.

  5. It was great to see so many familiar faces and a few new ones yesterday in such convivial surroundings as always.

    I started both puzzles simultaneously late last night but made little headway and a tough struggle looked in prospect, however, as is often the case, a good night’s sleep and a rested brain meant that the answers began to flow more smoothly this morning, and the respective Ninas helped considerably.

    Prolixic’s traditional birthday offering never disappoints, and three clues stood out for me – 1d (like Expat Chris), the clever 7d and the alliterative 22d.

    Windsurfer’s puzzle offered different challenges and was equally enjoyable, although personally I didn’t like the splitting of 9a/31a. My favourite was 16a, I loved the use of “pieceworker”.

    Thanks to both the anniversary setters and to everyone, especially BD, for making yesterday such an enjoyable occasion. I hope that certain heads are not too sore this morning, but I fear they just might be!

  6. Windsurfer’s puzzle is all done now. Looking for, and finding, the nina very early helped considerably. Like Silvanus, I didn’t like the 9/31 split. 16a was the last in and while I also liked the “pieceworker” I can’t parse the answer. I’m not convinced that the answer for 17a is synonymous with mushrooms. I did like 10A and 28d made me smile. Thanks Windsurfer.

  7. Lots of lovely clues – as we would expect from these two fine setters – but for me this was all about the Ninas. Both left me wondering what the last few letters of their sentences might be and both delivered – many thanks.

    I did enjoy the maths in Prolixic’s and then to see the homophones and pair of numerical down lights in the centre put the icing on the birthday cake, so to speak. And then the cherry on the top (spotted by my teenage son, to give him credit) was the pattern of lights forming an eight in the middle – very nifty!

    Top clues for me were Windsurfer’s build-your-own anagram at 8d and Prolixic’s subtractive anagram at 7d. Many thanks both.

    And of course congratulations to Big Dave himself. One of these days I’ll drag myself up from Cornwall and show I’m a real person who’s as fond of a pint as anyone!

    1. I am glad to see one person spotted the visual clue to the theme in the centre of the crossword!

  8. I finally got round to the Windsurfer puzzle this afternoon (My intentions to tackle these puzzles on the train journey home always remain just good intentions). I enjoyed it – thanks Windsurfer.
    Like others I wasn’t keen on 9/31a because 9a isn’t a real word on its own. I like 8a, 16a and 6d but my favourite is the clever 10a.

  9. Many thanks to Big Dave and crypticsue for a great blog. It was good to see a number of people at the party, although unfortunately I had to leave fairly early. I hadn’t realised until I read the blog that I had used so many reversals. I hope that didn’t spoil the enjoyment.

    Obviously TUS is a bit obscure but it is a proper noun, meaning an ancient city in Iran, a river in Spain etc. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tus, although I appreciate it will thus not be found in most dictionaries.

    The sense of 17a is as in ‘his love for his wife mushrooms and is in both Chambers and Oxford Thesauruses.

    I enjoyed Prolixic’s puzzle and couldn’t get the ‘bottom line’ for a long time – very clever.

  10. Thank to Crypticsue and to Gazza for the test solve and to all for the comments. I was great to see many new faces and familiar faces at the Bridge yesterday. Extra thanks to Crypticsue for blogging two puzzles in one weekend.

  11. Well, we certainly enjoyed these two – Windsurfer’s yesterday and Proloxic’s just now. We finished both, or at least we had an answer in every light. Then we read CS’s blog and discover that our bung-in of pentagon was wrong. Otherwise, full marks and no hints needed. C’est la vie.

    Mr Sheffieldsy had a fair few beers last night in sympathy with all you lucky lot down there. Mrs Sheffieldsy is dieting and turns her nose up at alcohol in bulk right now, albeit temporarily we suspect.

    We did spot the four way reference around the centre of Prolixic’s puzzle and with the double Nina he gets a house point for cleverness. Well done both setters and thank to CS for the double review.

  12. And just finished prolixic’s – many thanks. I liked the top line / bottom line stuff though i had to be reminded of the island homophone. I thought the drunken sea captain was a great find. I think 1d is my favourite.

    Many thanks

    thanks also to CS for the reviews

    1. With regard to the island homophone, you obviously didn’t solve the clues on the cake!!

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