NTSPP – 386 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 386

NTSPP – 386

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prolixic returns to Saturday afternoon with a crossword which requires quite a lot of ‘is there such a thing/person as …?’, the need for the obscurities becoming clear when you notice that all of the Across solutions can be linked



1a           Hospital department removing centre of stye is negligent (6)
CASUAL   Remove the two letters in the centre of sTYe from another way of referring to the hospital’s A&E Department

4a           Argue about King and Queen’s employee (6)
WORKER  A reversal (about)  of a word meaning to argue, the chess abbreviation for King and the regnal cipher of our current Queen

8a           Investigates head of Trinity for Father Brown? (6)
PRIEST A verb meaning investigates or examines with impertinent curiosity plus the ‘head’ of Trinity – Father Brown being the GK Chesterton character who as well as being an amateur detective had the ‘day job’ in the solution

9a           Perforation found in Warhol etching (4)
HOLE  Found lurking in WarHOL Etching

10a         Determined to be published (3)
OUT  One of the double definitions being more well-used with this meaning than the other.   I quite liked the original triple-definition version of this clue which had ‘abroad’ at the end

13a         Safety experts touring Open University building (5)
HOUSE The abbreviation for the experts at the Health and Safety Executive ‘touring’ the abbreviation for the Open University

15a         Cover of urn in case is smashed (9)
INSURANCE An anagram (is smashed) of URN IN CASE

17a         I express hesitation after advertising space becomes costly (7)
PREMIUM  I (from the clue) and an informal expression of hesitation go after the two-letters used to mean advertising and a printer’s space the width of an M

19a         Relative describes Conservative leader in story (7)
ACCOUNT A female relation ‘describes’ or goes round the abbreviations for Conservation and Commanding Officer (leader)

22a         Crew with a German boss (7)
MANAGER A male crew member, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for German

25a         Intimate places I fondled (7)
SPECIAL An anagram (fondled) of PLACES I

27a         Jolly time including soldiers in procedure (9)
TREATMENT A jolly time ‘including’ some soldiers

29a         Found a foundry? (5)
PLANT Another double definition

31a         Regularly uproot grass (3)
POT  The sort of grass you ought not to find growing on your lawn is found in the regular letters of uPrOoT

33a         Try starters of smoked haddock on toast (4)
SHOT The ‘starters’ of Smoked Haddock On Toast

34a         Chance to observe gain by US index (6)
WINDOW  Another word for gain and the first part of an American index providing financial information

36a         Poles providing accommodation for native American vet (6)
SCREEN The abbreviations for the two poles ‘provide accommodation’ for someone from a particular Native American group

37a         You maybe a lay preacher (6)
READER  ‘you maybe’ refers to us not as solvers but as people looking at, for example, this clue


1d           Gets to dance in police station (7)
COPSHOP  Another way of saying gets or catches followed by an informal term for a dance

2d           Attack legal process (7)
SEIZURE  A sudden fit of illness or the act of taking legal possession of something

3d           Notices a musician’s instruction (3)
ADS Abbreviated notices – A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for the instruction to a musician to repeat a passage from the sign (dal segno)

4d           Clubs formed by Hazel and Olive? (5)
WOODS  Here Hazel and Olive aren’t girls but types of tree!

5d           Pinch out the top of firm Mediterranean plant (3)
RUE Remove the top of another word for firm in the sense of absolute

6d           I remove all lines from symbolic story (3)
EGO Remove ALL and the abbreviation for railway (lines) from a narrative or other work of art intended to be understood symbolically

7d           Editor’s amendment retains ‘on’ in passage (6)
STREET The two-letters used to mean on [the subject of] inserted into the word an editor or proof reader would use to indicate that something that had been deleted should be returned to the original version

11d         Simpler form of electrical device (6)
DIMMER Not so bright or the switch that makes a light not so bright

12d         Dip a piece of organza in starchy substance (4)
SAGO A synonym for dip and a piece (the first letter) of Organza

14d         Base man’s stretching out (5)
EKING The symbol for the natural system of logarithms followed by the top man on a chess board

16d         Reportedly you see rector entering church (3)
URC  Insert the abbreviation for Rector into the letters you hear (reportedly) when you say ‘you’ and ‘see’ out loud to get the abbreviation for a particular Christian church

18d         Look up geological feature (3)
AIR a reversal of a look produces a geographical term for a drowned valley

19d         Benefits of sixth-form exam groups (6)
ASSETS  Split your solution 2,4 and you’d get groups of lower sixth form students taking particular examinations

20d         Almost disturbing sycophant (5)
CREEP Almost all of a word meaning disturbing in the sense of eerily mysterious

21d         American supports return of popular Welsh girl (3)
NIA The abbreviation for American ‘supports’ a reversal of the two-letter word meaning that something is popular

22d         Police work on start of e-fit for face (6)
METOPE  The abbreviation for the London Police force, the abbreviation for work and the ‘start’ of E-fit gives a term for the forehead or face generally

23d         Nursemaid’s expressions of surprise (4)
AYAH Two expressions of surprise go together to produce an Indian nursemaid

24d         Headless steer in wood (3)
ELM Remove the ‘head’ from a word meaning to steer a boat

26d         Elizabethan poet and preacher behind conflict (7)
LATEWAR   A synonym for being behind time and some conflict go together to give us the surname of an Elizabethan churchman, academic and poet

28d         Archaically separate English piece of meat (5)
ELOIN the abbreviation for English and a particular cut of meat produce an archaic term meaning to separate and remove

30d         Another chemical found in Alzheimer’s disease (5)
ADDED  The abbreviation for the chemical dicholorophenyldichloroethylene is inserted (found) in the abbreviation for Alzheimer’s Disease.   You can understand why the chemical got abbreviated – I’d just finished typing it in and was double-checking I’d got it correct when the computer turned itself off so I had to type it all in again once it restarted :(

32d         Mathematical function returned telecommunications code (3)
TOC Reverse the abbreviation for the mathematical function that is a cotangent and you get the telecommunications code for signalling the letter t

33d         Listen to Native American girl (3)
SUE A homophone (listen to) a Native American

35d         Diaries oddly overlooked anger (3)
IRE Oddly overlooked indicates that you need the even letters of dIaRiEs



19 comments on “NTSPP – 386

  1. Exellent clueing throughout …started off at pace but got bogged down in SW and a couple of the wee ones for a while. Very enjoyable !

  2. Made good use of my brb and Google on this one – learned lots of new abbreviations as well.

    Many thanks Prolixic, and looking forward to the review to check my answers

  3. Great fun as ever, many thanks indeed Prolixic. I’m not a huge fan of three-letter words in puzzles at the best of times, so when I saw that there were ten here, my heart did sink a tad, although I soon put that to one side.

    Like Dutch, my reference books were well-thumbed for this one too, I found that the Down clues were considerably tougher than the Across ones, at least that’s where all my obscurities were to be found.

    Top of the pile for me, by a long way, was 1d.

  4. Thanks Prolixic; nice setting, I wondered why there were so many three letter words until I saw all the phrases, which necessitated breaking symmetry in one part. That accounts also for some unusual words as fillers. I can’t say that I knew 26d.

    The enumeration for 1d is that given in Chambers, but in some other dictionaries it is 3,4 or 3-4.

    Enjoyable solve; I particularly liked 17a and 6d.

  5. I think it fair to say that, in general, a Prolixic crossword lies a little beyond my ability level. Therefore, having completed all but two clues in this, I think I have done a good deal better than usual. With great respect, I confess that the obscurities do nothing to add to my enjoyment, and I strongly suspect that the two I am left with fall into this category. I do agree that the clueing is wonderful. Many thanks to Prolixic, and I, too, am looking forward to tomorrow’s review!

      1. I am confident you will overtake me! For me, the ecstasy in almost finishing was worth the agony!

  6. We had the wrong hesitation for the end of 17a which stopped us getting 11d. Can’t remember a time when BRB had to work so hard checking on obscure abbreviations which did detract from the enjoyment a little and 26d needed a bit of research too.
    Amazed when we got to the end to discover the cleverness that links all of the across answers. It would have been a big help if we had twigged this a bit earlier.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  7. A bit busy so lagging well behind the rest of you.
    If/when there’s a bit of spare time over the next day or two I will persevere before looking at the review and answers.
    A Prolixic NTSPP seems to be a 14a in the back pager these days so I intend to make the most of this one even though it’s causing a spot of bother.
    With thanks to Prolixic and, in advance, to whoever is doing the review.
    Back whenever time allows.
    PS I think 6d is brilliant.

  8. Finally got there having collected five new words and one new phrase along the way.
    Advice to anyone who has yet to make a start – approach this one in the reverse manner to a Jay puzzle!

    1d gets my nomination for top slot.

    Thanks, Prolixic – it’s been a tough day with both you and Alchemi to tackle!

  9. Many thanks for the review, CS. I think Prolixic was being even more clever than you gave him credit for as all the across words can be teamed up with either the word before or the word after them. The 4/8a combo was the one that I had to check.

    Took me ages to find the poet – what an unfortunate name – and I failed on 32d having entered TAC for which I found some justification but obviously not enough. As for the chemical – I left it to CS to tell me its name, I was happy enough to get a reasonable answer!

    Think I might have enumerated 19d as 1,1,4 in the hints but perhaps I’d be wrong.

    A real workout, Prolixic, which I enjoyed despite the abundance of difficult 3 letter answers!

    1. Review now amended – but if I’d got it all right, what would you do on a Sunday morning??

      1. Generally speaking, you’d be right, CS – although on this particular Sunday morning I really should be getting my act together in preparation for the long journey to IOW tomorrow. My first chance to play at being ‘Granny’!

        1. And in my defence, Mr CS picked up a horrendous lurgy on the plane back from Belfast which he’s very kindly passed on to me so its a wonder I can solve a puzzle, let alone explain it.

          Have fun being Granny

  10. Everything has been happening at once! Hence I’m only part way through this and studiously avoiding looking at CS’s review and the comments. It is thoroughly entertaining, as are all Prolixic’s puzzles.Thus far my joint faves are 8a and 6d. I’m greatly looking forward to being able to complete it…

    Much appreciation to Prolixic and to CS in advance.

  11. Mega sympathies with retyping the chemical – but unfortunately it has to be ethylene not methylene for the abbreviation to work!

    Many thanks for a great review

  12. Many thanks to setter and reviewer both. Very much enjoyed. :)

    Terrific grid fill. Whilst solving I just thought it was pairs of across lights on each row… then I wondered about ‘out’ in row 3 and ‘window’ in row 13 – what were they doing there? Whereupon I realised the cleverness of the whole sequence. Marvellous.

    The clues had quite a mix of ‘gimmes’ on the one hand and head-scratchers on the other. As with others, the SE corner held me up the longest, with a couple, like 30d, bunged in without understanding, so thanks Sue for the impressive explanations. Lots of fun along the way too.

    Personally I didn’t mind the three-letterers; I believe they’re not usually allowed in India, but then again didn’t Io (aka Enigmatist, Nimrod) call himself that in a kind of protest at not being allowed to use a two-letter word in a grid fill once?

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