NTSPP – 375 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 375

NTSPP – 375

A Puzzle by Drummond

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Drummond has been “promoted” from Rooker Corner to the NTSPP panel for this, his third puzzle.

A review by Prolixic follows:

Big Dave sent me a copy of this a week or so ago to see if I thought it was better as a NTSPP or a Rookie crossword.  I was unanimous in my opinion that it was both tough and worthy of a place in the NTSPP.  It would seem from the comments so far, that I was right.  Therefore, a big welcome to Drummond to the pages of the NTSPP.  You have fully justified your promotion with this crossword.


9 Of course, part requires dressing up – it’s a panto (9)
ANTIPASTO – An anagram (requires dressing up) of ITS A PANTO.

10 Counting every second in fear – you die in 8 (5)
ERODE – … a synonym for the answer to 8d.  The second letters (counting every second) of FEARYOUDIE.

11 Good opening for a new, unknown writer’s work (7)
FANZINE – A four letter word meaning good includes (opening for) the A from the clue, the abbreviation for new and a letter representing an unknown quantity.

12 One airborne chick, dropping guts, blocks gutter (7)
FLICKER – The outer letters (dropping guts) of chick go inside (blocks) another word for a pilot or one airborne.

13 Don’t panic about skirts not fitting (5)
INAPT – The answer is hidden (skirts) and reversed (about) in DON’T PANIC.

14 Brutal dictator with belt caught in killing machine? (9)
MOUSETRAP – A homophone (caught) of MAO (brutal dictator) and STRAP (belt).

16 Aristos subsequently attempt to besiege state border (3,6,6)
THE LANDED GENTRY – A four letter word meaning subsequently and a three letter word meaning try go around (to besiege) a four letter word meaning a state or nation and a four letter word for a border.

19 Small flaky gold filling perished and came loose (9)
DISLODGED – The abbreviation for small and an anagram (flaky) of GOLD go inside (filling) a dour letter word meaning perished.

21 Wags start to regret wearing heels (5)
CARDS – The initial letter (start to) of regret goes inside another word for heels or disreputable people.

22 Delaysthey hold things up (7)
SHELVES – Double definition of delays and an item of furniture on which you can put things.

23 Sink top partially trapped so taps must be removed (7)
TORPEDO – Remove (partially) the last letter in top and follow it with the letters in trapped so after removing (must be removed) the letters in taps.

24 Free pay (5)
CLEAR – Double definition meaning to free or release and to pay (as you might an outstanding bill).

25 Jumping a metre, insect goes around swarm (9)
AMBUSHING – The A from the clue and the abbreviation for metre followed by a three letter word for an insect around a four letter word meaning to swarm or climb up.


1 Slow beating dealt with force (4-6)
HALF-WITTED – An anagram (beating) of DEALT WITH F (the abbreviation for force).

2 Old time rock and roll’s beginning to go out of fashion (5-3)
STONE-AGE – A five letter word for a rock followed by a word meaning fashion after removing (to go out) the first letter (beginning) of roll.

3 Well that’s no good – it’s missing one bolt (6)
SPRINT – A six letter word for a well or source of water and the IT from the clue after removing the abbreviation for good and an I (missing one).

4 Land that is surrounding Senegal’s borders (4)
ISLE – The abbreviation for that is around (surrounding) the outer letters (borders) of Senegal.

5 Prisoner’s body discovered – DA’s left baffled (10)
CONFOUNDED – A phrase 3, 5, 4 that might mean that a body of a prisoner has been discovered after removing the letters in DA.

6 Go on vacation, somewhere accommodating family dog (8)
PEKINESE – A three letter word meaning to go or to urinate followed by the outer letters (on vacation) of somewhere include a three letter word for family.

7 Workerone who may go in to detail? (6)
DOCKER – Double definition of someone who might work at a port and one who might go in for removing tails (de-tails).

8 Stand scratching if wife goes on a run (4)
WEAR – Remove (scratching) the IF from wife and follow this with the A from the clue and the abbreviation for run.

14 Moving drama about a gas cylinder’s first 4 (10)
MADAGASCAR – … an example of the answer to 4d.  An anagram (moving) of DRAMA around the A GAS from the clue and the first letter (first) of cylinders.

15 Settle for buzzing in anticipation? (3,2,3,2)
PAY AS YOU GO – Cryptic definition of how you may pay for making phone calls (buzzing).

17 Balm goes, every day, internally for soothing – this? (4,4)
ALOE VERA – The inner letters (internally) of the first to fourth letters of the clue.

18 Mass recruit to be prepared for growth in Asia (8)
TURMERIC – An anagram (to be prepared) of M (the abbreviation for mass) RECRUIT.

20 Fix drain covers leaking in the middle (6)
SKEWER – A five letter word for a foul water drain goes around (covers) the middle letter of leaking.

21 Pet chinchilla – reclusive species, content to go unnoticed (6)
CARESS – The outer letters (content to go unnoticed) in the second, third and fourth words of the clue.

22 Cultists determined to protect their leader? (4)
SECT – A three letter word meaning determined around (to protect) the first letter (their leader) of cultists.

23 Intro of Rattle and Hum coming from troubadour’s instrument (4)
TUBA – Remove the first letter (intro of) rattle and a five letter word for a hum or smell from the letters in troubadour.

26 comments on “NTSPP – 375

  1. I found this one pretty tough but with some cracking clues – thanks Drummond. I still have three clues that I can’t fully parse. I particularly liked 21a, 6d, 20d and 21d.

  2. My word, this is good, Drummond. Still wrestling with the NW corner – if only the penny would drop over 1d I think I’d be home and dry. Maybe a cup of coffee will help………….

      1. Got there just before your comment posted, Prolixic. How appropriate for that particular clue to be my sticking point!

    1. All done and I had to give up putting ticks by clues – too many of them. 16a possibly just leads the field but there at least 8 others hard on its heels and I keep changing the pecking order.

      Thank you very much for this one, Drummond – your promotion from the Rookie ranks has been well and truly justified.

      I do hope that Silvanus finds time for this over the weekend – I think he will be as satisfied as I was by the surface reads.

  3. Just popping in to see how others are getting on.
    I’m stuck now – I’ve done the bottom half but the top is looking rather pathetic.
    Off to do something different/useful now and maybe what passes as the brain will do a spot of sorting out without my noticing.
    Back later . . .

  4. :phew:
    My goodness that was tough, but well worth the effort. It took several enjoyable sessions to work through this and I would rate it 5*/4*. There were a lot of interesting ideas, some very well disguised definitions, brilliant surfaces throughout and some nice touches of humour.

    Some specific comments:

    9a “Part” seems to me to be padding
    11a Assuming that I have correctly identified “writer’s work” as the definition, I am not sure it is an accurate description of the answer
    14a I have bunged in the answer but have no idea at all how it is parsed
    16a “nn” is the usual abbreviation for subsequently so I don’t think this otherwise excellent clue quite works
    2d I can’t fully parse this
    6d This is a really amusing clue, but I can’t help thinking it needs to read “go on vacating somewhere …” which gives a less good surface

    My page is littered with ticks, but just to mention a few extra special clues: 24a is a brilliant DD; 7d is superb; as is 15d.

    Many thanks for the great entertainment and very well done, Drummond. You are a Toughie-meister in the making!

    1. I take back my comment about 16a as the penny has just dropped that the first word of the answer has nothing to with “state border”.

    2. For 14a ‘caught’ indicates a homophone so you need a homophone of a Chinese dictator followed by a homophone of a verb to beat.
      2d another word for rock then remove the beginning of roll from a word meaning fashion or the latest trend.

      1. Ah! Thanks very much, Gazza.

        For 2d I was trying to work round the idea that “to go out of fashion” led to “age”.

        I was puzzled by your answer to the second part of 14a until I realised you had made a typo – easily done!

    3. yes, I thought 6d needed “Go somewhere on vacation accommodating family dog” for that little extra smoothness

  5. :phew: I’m with RD on this one – I found it very difficult – really good fun too but it’s put paid to doing much else today.
    I’ve now finished and by that I mean I have answers for all the clues rather than that I understand all of them.
    I don’t think any of my answers are wrong but I can’t make sense of 12 and 23a and 5 and 23d.
    Gazza has sorted out my 14a – thanks to him and I thought it was a great clue now that I ‘get’ it.
    I liked 21a and 6, 7 and 21d. I think my favourite was 15d.
    With thanks and a big :good: to Drummond and thanks in advance to Prolixic too.

  6. Really good fun and suspect that it was the nicely disguised definitions that helped to increase the difficulty level.
    Thanks Drummond.

  7. I’m still struggling with this. Less than halfway through. I just cant seem to get on wavelength.

  8. I’ve been fairly busy today, so I was probably going to give this one a miss (apologies to Drummond) until I saw Jane’s tempting invitation above, and therefore I’m quite late to the party.

    Jane and RD are right to praise the surfaces, and with the possible exceptions of 14d and 17d, I’m equally impressed, but then I remember well their quality in Drummond’s previous Rookie puzzles, as well as his excellent disguised container indicators.

    I also found this a tough solve, and as KiwiColin has mentioned, this was principally due to “disguised definitions”, although I felt that “stretched synonyms”, a la RayT, would be a more appropriate term for many of them. It’s always a setter’s prerogative, of course, how tricky he or she wants to make their puzzles, but I felt Drummond’s choice of definitions meant this puzzle was less enjoyable than his last one, and I had a question mark with “SS” (for stretched synonym) written beside around one third of the clues. The Small Red Book (Chambers Crossword Dictionary) is often a good yardstick as to how close definitions are, and I have to say that many in this puzzle didn’t feature in its various lists.

    There was naturally much to admire, and amongst my numerous single ticks, I awarded double ticks to 6d and 23d.

    Many thanks, Drummond.

  9. Many thanks Drummond, brilliant puzzle that I enjoyed immensely, especially surfaces like 2d, 21a, 22a – excellent

    i was not so keen on 7d.

    many thanks Prolixic for a great review

  10. I certainly found this challenging and ended up with two I couldn’t solve –11A and 20D. Z was the only typical unknown I didn’t consider for 11A and if I had I think I would have discarded it because the result would have been what to me was a nonsense word. No excuse for not getting 20D. I was also wrong on 3D, having put ‘spoilt’ in. I have lots on ticks on my page, including 9 and 12A and 2, 6, 7, and 23D. Thanks, Drummond. That was quite a workout for me and required lots of perseverance, particularly in the parsing. Many thanks to Prolixic for the review also.

  11. Very enjoyable indeed, thank you. It was tricky and i made liberal use of the reveal button. My favourite was 21 a

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – I’m glad that you backed Drummond’s promotion to the NTSPP slot.
    Interesting to read the comment from Silvanus re: ‘stretched synonyms, a la Ray T’. Maybe that explains why I enjoyed this one so much!

    1. Hi Jane, I find it interesting that someone who is such a stickler (quite rightly) for smooth surfaces can also be very liberal when it comes to stretched synonyms. Such positions are by no means mutually exclusive of course, but I still find it fascinating how each solver has their pet likes and dislikes. I think RD is fairly similar to you actually (at least as far as surfaces and definitions go!), but perhaps not quite so liberal, especially with unindicated Americanisms!! Often with RayT, he is forced to resort to stretching his synonyms by having to use a single word definition to satisfy his eight word clue limitation, but I think in Drummond’s case he was deliberately looking to up the ante in the difficulty stakes. Fair play to him for that, I would have preferred something a little more solver-friendly, but he is perfectly entitled to go down whichever path he chooses.

  13. Many thanks to everyone for your comments, and particularly Big Dave and Prolixic for your time and trouble.

  14. Excellent puzzle pitched, for me, at a very satisfying level of difficulty. Which means I was able to finish it without recourse to electronic aids, but not without a lengthy mental tussle. Mind you, I couldn’t parse 5d without Prolixic’s help above – thank you P.
    As has been said, there were indeed a few stretched synonyms – the link between ‘gutter’ and ‘flicker’ in 12a and also ‘swarm’ and ‘shin’ in 25a both left me nonplussed, but it was clear enough what had to be entered in both cases.
    Loads of ticks by the clues, with podium finishes for 10a, 14a, 16a, and if I’m allowed a fourth, then the delightful 8d.

    1. Hi Maize,
      I suspect that the possible examples of stretched synonyms you suggested could be rather age-related. From my aged perspective, they were quite straightforward!

      1. Thanks Jane – you prompted me to look in the BRB whereupon there they both were – a flickering candle can be said to gutter and to shin is indeed to swarm. So that’s not really stretched synonyms at all, just alternative definitions to the ones I already knew.
        I so wish I could claim youth as an excuse for my ignorance, but alas it’s just, well, not knowing (and not bothering to look them up!)

      2. I agree that the definitions as used here are well known but would suggest to Jane that it has probably more to do with the books we’ve read rather than our age!

  15. Thanks Drummond, nice debut for the NTSPP. Thanks also to Prolixic for a sparkling review.

    I thought I could just do a lazy solve on Sunday morning, but no, this was very difficult!

    Some really good ideas; I ticked 7, 17 & 21d among others.

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