NTSPP – 376 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 376

NTSPP – 376

Poor Sport by Chalicea

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Chalicea returns with a themed crossword – you don’t need to notice the theme to solve the puzzle, but once you realise that ‘poor’ is an anagram indicator, the title of the puzzle is very clear 😉.  What also helps with this one is having a Scottish relative or being a fan of Scottish themed books or television programmes, great sources of ‘interesting’ words  – fortunately for your blogger, both applied to me!



7a           Unusually cool new punctuation mark (5)
COLON An anagram (unusually) of COOL and N (new)

8a           Royal Engineers trouble in Dounreay with particle make over (9)
REFASHION You need here to know that Dounreay is in Scotland and then to know the Scottish dialect word (as used in Dounreay, and certain books and/or television programmes in the past) for trouble.   This four-letter word (which my granny used a lot!) should be inserted between the abbreviation for the Royal Engineers and an electrically-charged particle.  Given our editor’s current lack of visual synchronisation, I think we can forgive the non-corrected typo in the original clue which didn’t affect the ability to solve the clue one bit.

10a         Not completely tolerate a North American fine quality smoke (6)
HAVANA Almost all of a word meaning tolerate, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for North America

11a         Snack food; starters of salad and waffles infants consume happily (8)
SANDWICH The ‘starters’ of Salad AND Waffles Infants Consume Happily – a bit cheekily misleading because you need all of AND not just its starter.  I’m sure somewhere I’ve got a photograph of me eating said snack item in said themed place but I can’t track it down

12a         Musicians regularly still to be paid, making animal noises (8)
MIAOWING The first, fourth and seventh letters (regularly indicating that you miss out two letters in between each of the letters you need) of MusIciAns and a word meaning ‘still to be paid’

13a         Wheel’s rubber cushion to wear out we’re told (4)
TYRE A homophone (we’re told) of a verb meaning to wear out

15a         Disorganised priests continue obstinately despite opposition (7)
PERSIST An anagram (disorganised) of PRIESTS

17a         Partly see, yes, or encounter something offensive (7)
EYESORE Lurking, partly, in seE YES OR Encounter

20a         Recalled mosquito’s sting (4)
TANG A reversal (recalled) of another word for a non-bloodsucking mosquito

22a         Flawless direction of Edinburgh spectacles with no limits (8)
AIRTIGHT A four-letter Scottish word meaning direction and some spectacles without their outside letters (no limits)

25a         Wag in Scotland welcoming comical rime; humorous Irish one (8)
LIMERICK A Scottish word for a wag ‘welcoming’ an anagram (comical) of RIME

26a         Iron in the Highlands filling outsides of curious heaps of stones (6)
CAIRNS The Scots form of iron filling or inserted into the outside letters of CuriouS

27a         Chilli pepper party in place where coaster might be found (9)
ANCHORAGE A type of dried Mexican chilli pepper and a (slang Australian) word for a party

28a         World War 1 aircraft arrived and left (5)
CAMEL Easy-peasy and nice wordplay for the splendidly-named World War 1 aircraft – part of a verb meaning arrived and the abbreviation for Left


1d           One delivering high-minded lessons, stingy fellow welcoming type of examination (9)
MORALISER As the clue clearly says, you need a stingy fellow ‘welcoming’ a type of examination

2d           Cooked mashed potatoes sadly phased out for other nightshade family fruits (8)
TOMATOES An anagram (cooked) of MASHED POTATOES once you have removed (out) the letters of the word PHASED, sadly indicating that they aren’t in that order in MASHED POTATOES.  Thank you to our setter for responding to my request to be able to use a particular photograph.   There’s another photo  of one of these 24ds on the kitchen scales weighing in at 3lb 6oz but this is the one I’ve been waiting since last summer to be able to use for solution-illustrating purposes.

3d           Communication of muddle associated with mature years (7)
MESSAGE A muddle ‘associated with’ mature years

4d           Mother during visit central cohesive source of support (8)
MAINSTAY An informal term for a mother and a way of saying during visit (2,4)

5d           One pointing out   short fall of rain (6)
SHOWER Same spelling, different pronunciation!

6d           Effeminate fellow in old fashioned pink not at first understood (5)
PONCE Remove the A and U (not At first Understood) from a poppy colour (old-fashioned pink) and, in addition to the effeminate fellow, you’ll get one of the themed places.  I’m still not convinced I have the ‘removing’ explanation correct – might it have been easier to mention the lack of gold, for example?

Thanks Gazza – remove the U (understood) at first from a verb meaning to pink or pierce. Sometimes the BRB is not as much of a friend as you’d like it to be.

9d           Wise men‘s incomplete enchantment (4)
MAGI Just truncate (incomplete) some enchantment

14d         Charlemagne surprisingly rejecting most excellent divine messenger of highest rank (9)
ARCHANGEL An anagram (surprisingly) of CHARLEMAGNE once you have rejected the letters used in the abbreviation for Most Excellent

16d         Italian courtesy title‘s singular origins sorted out (8)
SIGNIORI An anagram (sorted out) of I (one, singular) ORIGINS.   The title in the solution is plural – presumably there shouldn’t be an apostrophe in the clue?

18d         Self-destructive lad I upset after openings of southern university’s introductory courses (8)
SUICIDAL A reversal (upset in a Down clue) of LAD I (from the clue) goes after the openings of Southern University’s Introductory Courses

19d         Dad cooked good cake to put into container (7)
PACKAGE Another informal name for a dad plus an anagram (cooked) of G (good) CAKE

21d         Letters he sporadically posted up in high mountain areas (6)
ALEPHS The first letter of the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets – the letters of HE are inserted separately (sporadically) in some high mountain areas

23d         Inside cable cars, climbing regular traverse of fixed course (4)
RACE Found reversed (climbing) inside  cable CARs

24d         One heart of adamantine in great person with exceptional powers (5)
GIANT I (one) and the heart of adamANtine go in the abbreviation for great



Colon is in Panama

Havana – Cuba

Sandwich – Kent

Tyre – Lebanon

Tang – there’s Jing Tang in China and Tanga in Tanzania, and Mrs Bradford lists Tang in her list of ports, but Mr Google and I couldn’t find it, and Mr CS consulted various atlases of different vintages and he couldn’t turn up anything either

Limerick – Republic of Ireland

Cairns – Australia

Anchorage – Alaska

Ponce – Puerto Rico

Archangel – Russia



39 comments on “NTSPP – 376

  1. Thanks to Chalicea for the puzzle.

    I must admit that I needed MacChambers to verify some of the wordplay.

    I think I have found all the “Poor Sports” … but maybe I have missed one or two.

  2. Thanks Chalicea. I was going along merrily until I hit the SW corner and the last three took longer than the rest of the puzzle. And I’ve just this minute twigged the significance of the title so I’m now on the hunt.

  3. Thanks Chalicea; I’ve got 8 out of 10 so far.

    Very entertaining; some Scottish words I needed to check in Chambers. The ‘party’ in 27 is an Oz/NZ expression according to my Oxford Thesaurus.

  4. Thanks chalicea

    recognised place names but not sure of the poor sport theme yet, though sandwich is pushing me in one direction.

    learned lots of Scottish expressions.

    thought some of the definitions were excessively wordy, e.g. 4d, 23d. Thought the ‘and’ was cheeky in 11a and hadn’t come across the abbreviation in 14d before, but it’s in chambers. Something weird about the plural in 16d – maybe should be titles instead of title’s.

    good saturday entertainment, thanks and congratulations

  5. I found the bottom half quite a bit trickier than the top half and had to do a lot of checking for all the Scottish words. I eventually found (with Mrs Bradford’s assistance) each poor sport. Thanks to Chalicea for the entertainment – top clues for me were 12a and 21d.
    I went down an interesting route in initially parsing 22a, trying to make ‘direction of Edinburgh’ be A1. D’oh!

    1. Oh dear – I was still heading up the A1………
      Actually, I’ve got three or four still to parse correctly – mostly in the SW corner.

  6. Although this was clearly an impressive composition, I am sorry to say that most of it was not my cup of tea at all with a lot of very wordy cluing; some over-long definitions (e.g. 4d & 23d); and some unnecessary padding (e.g.: “despite opposition” in 15a & “other nightshade family” in 2d). I assume the extra “e” in 8a is a typo, and, as Dutch comments, 16d appears to have a singular definition and a plural answer. I can’t fully parse either 27a or 6d, but I will check back tomorrow when the review appears. I have no idea what Poor Sport is all about and have no time now to look any further.

    Mrs RD’s first husband was a Scot so thankfully she proved to be a very good source of obscure Scottish vocabulary.

    I did like 1d, and 12a was my runaway favourite.

    Thanks to Chalicea for what must have taken a lot of time and hard work to create, and I do hope that others will have enjoyed it.

    1. Many thanks CS for your review which helped me to understand the parsing of 27a (unindicated Aussie slang :negative: ) and 6d (it’s a very long time since I last came across that colour), but I’m still unsure why “despite opposition” in 15a & “other nightshade family” in 2d are needed.

      20a was my one missing Poor Sport and, like CS, I couldn’t find reference to it anywhere except with a Jing in front.

  7. I haven’t got as far as the NTSPP yet – I’ve been gardening all day, just for a change.
    I’m trying to make myself keep it and save it up for tomorrow but, as I’m ‘Home Alone’ this weekend, that might not work.
    Sounds as if this could be a tricky one.
    I’m going to adopt CS’s MO with a themed crossword i.e. – solve the crossword and then sort out the theme.
    Back tomorrow for sure or later if I get lonely. Oh dear – that sounds a bit pathetic – what a feeble weeble I am. :sad:

  8. I finished the puzzle some time ago and since then have been staring at it and scratching my head but for the life of me can’t spot any suggestion of a theme. Some of the Scottish words and phrases were a bit of a challenge but did manage to get them all sorted. Enjoyed the solve and plan to come back to it later in the hope that my subconscious will keep working on the theme.
    Thanks Chalicea.

      1. Thanks Sue. That was enough of a nudge and I now know what I am looking for and have found most of them. Will need Google help for the rest.

  9. I have 8 of the themed answers and the last two are proving elusive. I need to find out who this Mrs Bradford is!

        1. There is a Kindle version and a companion volume called Bradford’s Crossword Lists. Both are invaluable for my solving.

  10. Sorry Rabbit Dave not to have given you your cup of tea. The ‘other nightshade family’ in 2d was part of a rather special clue that was added (with its solution) after the initial puzzle was completed – as I am sure Cryptic Sue will explain tomorrow. When Big Dave first spoke to me about NTSPP puzzles, he stipulated that blocked puzzles were required with no theme or ‘Listener-style endgame’ attached but he has since said that a theme is acceptable so long as it isn’t essential to the solving of the puzzle. So that is what I aim at, as I feel that a plain cryptic is available in almost any newspaper you buy, borrow or beg. The important thing is being able to complete your solve, and, honestly, it doesn’t matter in this case if you don’t realize what the poor ‘sport’ (or, say, rough, lively, or ludicrous sport) is hinting at.
    Sorry about the excess of Scottish words but I think it is great if those south of the border get the occasional nudge to remind them that another version of the language is current elsewhere. I’ll try to keep the next one relatively home-counties. I’m happy to have given most of these old friends a happy solve.

    1. Thank you for a very enjoyable puzzle and one that filled in a gap left by an unusually early finish to this week’s lovely IQ puzzle. Indeed a recent IQ puzzle was fairly packed with words from north of the border.

      I’d encourage solvers to tackle puzzles like this as part of a stepping stone to tackling either Toughies or making the transition to barred puzzles and their mysteries. Chalicea’s puzzles are always fair and fairly accessible, even if the words used may not exactly be in common usage. I think I have tackled four or five that have published this year, including a recent EV and every single one was an enjoyable challenge.

    2. Amazing what a break will do! Mrs RD and I went to the theatre tonight and during the interval (whilst eating an ice cream) it hit me what was meant by “poor sport”. As soon as I got home I immediately identified nine. The final one is still proving elusive and none of my short list of three picks up anything when Googled.

    3. Thanks Chalicea

      for me, it was ‘”well, i guess that must be some kind of Scottish word” (which would be then surprisingly be confirmed by Chambers) – they were all nicely indicated.

      The theme was a nice extra bit of fun.

  11. An interesting mixture for me of easy and the difficult. It was the Scottish dialect words which provided the challenges – none were known to me, so they had to be deduced by working backwards from the solution and the rest of the wordplay- I rather liked that.
    Finally, there was the issue of the theme. I have seven of the ten, but am slightly unsure whether the title is saying what I think it is. I suppose it has to be…
    Anyhow, thanks for the diverting challenge Chalicea – 12a, which fell in my Goldilocks zone for difficulty was my favourite.

  12. Had a great time with this until I came to 22a and some of the SW corner. Think I’ve got the correct answers but the parsing is a different matter all together. As for the theme – maybe I need to sleep on that one.
    Thank you, Chalicea, even though I obviously still have some work to do!

  13. Thanks Chalicea.
    As Tilsit said, your crosswords are always fairly clued and the parsing logical.
    Thought the “and” in 11a was a bit naughty too.
    Fun theme.
    Thanks also to CS for the forthcoming review.

  14. Rabbit Dave, I really recommend Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary. She is a wonderful lady who has compiled useful lists all her life and her books are sheer joy just to read and an invaluable aid when some devious setter gives you a series of linked names in a theme and you can’t identify the last one. I use her dictionary as much as Chambers (to set and solve).

      1. RD – I would also recommend Chamber’s crossword dictionary.
        This is similar in content to Mrs Bradford but has the benefit of listing the words not in alphabetical order but in the number of letters contained in the words.

        As for the NTSPP I’ll have to wait for the review in order to understand half of my answers!

        Thanks to Chalicea & Prolixic.

        1. Of course your Chambers Crossword Dictionary has the added advantage of helping keep our Friday backpage setter in the lifestyle to which he’s accustomed.

          Speaking of the Don, you could also get a copy of his original Crossword Manual (slightly different to the Dictionary) which is really helpful at making the move to tackling harder and themed puzzles.

          Currently £2.75 on eBay.

          And speaking of which I’m off to do Azed which is available for free at the Guardian website. I’ve already tackled today’s ST and it’s rather good fun.

          1. Thanks Tilsit. I bought the Crossword Manual a few years ago & it was a game changer for my skill set ( to use management jargon!)

            1. I too have just ordered Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary.

              Chalicea, maybe you should ask Mrs B. for commission on this week’s sales?

              Thanks to CS for the review.

  15. The overnight cogitation certainly helped – I have now stopped heading up the A1 to Edinburgh and discovered several Scottish expressions that I hadn’t previously known. As for the ‘poor sports’ – once you get past the first half dozen it becomes a case of ‘wow, who knew’ or at least it did for me. There were a couple that I found rather hard to believe!

    The only persistent niggle is over the correct letter to use at the end of 16d – the BRB doesn’t seem to like any of the alternatives I’ve come up with so far.

    Thanks again, Chalicea – that turned out to be rather tougher than I’d anticipated!

  16. Thanks to CS for the explanations. I think that the unfortunately named themed place in 6d comes not from the colour pink but from an old fashioned verb to pink or pierce (pounce) from which we just have to remove the U.

  17. Thank you for the review CS. I guessed at 20A being a port but I couldn’t find it by itself on Goggle either. I also missed 7A. I knew 14D because it came up in a clue not too long ago. I had a query by 6D for the parsing so thanks to you and Gazza for sorting that out. Thanks again to Chalicea. I will be ordering a copy of Mrs B. on line this week!

    That’s one 24D 2D, CS! Did it retain its flavor?

    1. The tomatoes did indeed have a wonderful flavour – and they kept well too, which was good as we had our usual tomato mountain to deal with last year. Mr CS promises he hasn’t planted so many seeds this year, but like all the other years we’ve been married, I don’t believe him at all.

  18. Many thanks for the review, CS and thank you to Gazza for the explanation of 6d (not a word I’ve come across before).
    I couldn’t decide between Tang and Tanga as both are shown in the grid but I did also find Port Howe in Nova Scotia. Nothing to actually verify that it is a working port but I added it to the list!

  19. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, Chalicea.

    I liked many of the clues. 8a made my smile, having Scots kin and friends. I remember being told ‘”Dinna fash” yourself’. Actually, several memories were invoked by various clues. My late Dad greatly enjoyed the occasional 10a, and Mr Catnap’s late father flew a 28a in World War I at the tender age of seventeen or eighteen. (There also used to be (maybe still is?) a brand of cigarettes with a picture of the 28a.)

    My fave clue has to be 12a because I love cats!

    I had the right answer but not the correct parsing for 6d, and I didn’t get 21d at all, so I much appreciate your explanations, CS. I didn’t spot the theme. Otherwise I had no problems.

    A really lovely puzzle and an equally lovely blog. Big thanks to you both, Chalicea and CS.

  20. You can all call me dim if you like but I never quite caught on to the theme.
    I ended up with about four answers I couldn’t do – my excuse is that I started it really late last night.
    With thanks to Chalicea for a very inventive crossword which I enjoyed a lot and to CS for explaining the theme and the answers that I didn’t get.

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