NTSPP – 390 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 390

NTSPP – 390

A Puzzle by Tilsit

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Tilsit has had many a general knowledge crossword published in the Independent, not to mention providing quiz questions when required, so it is not surprising that this cryptic crossword gives us several opportunities to learn something new.

He’s on his holidays at the moment, without much internet access, but I’m sure he’ll respond to comments when he’s back home again.


1a           Consider a noon gathering for this performer (6,7)
 SINEAD O’CONNOR An anagram (gathering) of CONSIDER A NOON

10a         Praise contents of each bag (7)
 ACCLAIM The ‘contents’ of eACh and one of the meanings of the verb ‘to bag’

11a         A rat initially following bin round? (7)
 ANNULAR Here ‘bin’ is a verb meaning to do away with and another example of this meaning should be followed by A (from the clue) and R (rat ‘initially’)

12a         Crack soldier is imperfect, perhaps? (5)
 FUNGI Crack here means enjoyable activity and should be followed by the abbreviation for an American soldier.  Two things – I’d never heard of the imperfect type of ‘mushroom’ and I also thought that some indication of the nationality of the soldier might be required

13a         Uncomfortable, like someone inclined to follow? (8)
 SHEEPISH An adjective meaning embarrassed through doing something wrong, might also describe someone inclined to follow like a particular ruminant animal is known to do

15a         Celebrated potter somehow devises vat (5,5)
 STEVE DAVIS A potter of snooker balls is obtained from an anagram (somehow) of DEVISES VAT

16a         Trips don t start on these dates? (4)
 IDES To get some Roman dates, remove the letter at the start of some trips or travels

18a         Where to see original Olympians alongside stormy Styx (4)
 XYST A bit of history here – a covered portico used by the Ancient Greeks (original Olympians) for their exercises is an anagram (stormy) of STYX

20a         Patron‘s last bit of mutton featured in meat, with ham maybe (10)
 BENEFACTOR The ‘last bit’ of muttoN featured or inserted into a particular type of meat and followed with a performer who may not be very good at their job (ham perhaps)

22a         Thrilling when minister finally departs and leader of Conservatives joins complex (8)
 ECLECTIC Remove the R (minister finally departs) from a word meaning thrilling and then the ‘leader’ of Conservative joins the remaining letters, a bit further down the word

24a         Alternatively, no prebuilt path (5)
 ORBIT Here ‘alternatively’ means ‘by way of alternative’ which in turn leads you (eventually!) to spot that you need the even letters of nO pReBuIlT

26a         Cogitate somehow after I leave home (7)
 COTTAGE An anagram (somehow) of COGITATE once the I has ‘left home’

27a         Unusual music-maker doesn’t have manual starter inside (7)
 THEREIN Remove the M (doesn’t have Manual ‘starter’) from an electronic musical instrument played by moving the hands around two antennae to vary pitch and volume

28a         Stopping ruler could be one of its aims? (8,5)
 SPLINTER GROUP A particular well-hidden anagram (could be) in this nice &Lit clue – you need to rearrange STOPPING RULER


2d           What Father might use to provoke outrage (7)
 INCENSE A verb meaning to provoke outrage might be something a priest (father) might use

3d           Former marine turns out to be one who tries (8)
 EXAMINER A way of saying former followed by an anagram (turns out) of MARINE

4d           Starts to drill and make plans for dealing with this? (4)
 DAMP The starts to Drill And Make Plans produce something that may well need a drill to help you plan to deal with it

5d           Shuffled cards while holding hearts, my holding of diamonds dropped quickly (5-5)
 CRASH-DIVED An anagram (shuffled) of CARDS ‘holding’ the abbreviation for Diamonds and another way of saying I have (my holding)

6d           Unconnected evenly for a moment (5)
 NONCE The even letters of uNcOnNeCtEd

7d           Winger‘s con switching German agreement for nothing (7)
 OILBIRD I hadn’t heard of this bird, either with its common name or its more formal one – to get another name for the guacharo, switch the German word for yes (agreement) at the start of another word for a prisoner (con) with an O (nothing)

8d           3d – alternative way of seeing musical? (4,1,8)
 HALF A SIXPENCE Once you realise that the d after the 3 refers to old pennies, you should be able to ‘see’ the old musical

9d           Scoring from a tight corner’s difficult. (13)
 ORCHESTRATING An anagram (difficult) of A TIGHT CORNERS

14d         Left cinema terrible film? (10)
 MALEFICENT A film I’d never heard of (and it doesn’t sound my type of thing, being a dark fantasy film giving us the untold story of the villain in Sleeping Beauty) – an anagram (terrible) of LEFT CINEMA

17d         One may be out to disrupt BA routes? (8)
 SABOTEUR An anagram (either ‘out’ or ‘disrupt’ could be the indicator) of BA ROUTES

19d         What may be the end of it featured in Squeeze’s comeback (5,2)
 SPLIT UP IT (from the clue) ‘featured’ in a reversal (comeback) of part of a verb meaning Squeeze’s (don’t forget the S at the end)

21d         Scene of drama before gold altar, perhaps (7)
 TABLEAU Another word for an altar goes before the chemical symbol for gold

23d         Somewhere to sleep holds a single meat-eater (5)
 COATI Somewhere (for a child perhaps) to sleep holds A (from the clue) and the result is finished with an I (single) to give us a meat-eating animal that’s been in quite a few cryptic crosswords lately

25d         Former Russian head sees changes at top for big name (4)
 STAR Swap over the two letters at the ‘top’ of a former Russian leader


32 comments on “NTSPP – 390

  1. A really enjoyable puzzle – thanks Tilsit. I learnt several things during the solving process – the meaning of 18a, that 7d is a winger and that 14d is the name of a film. Top clues for me were 10a, 11a and 8d.

  2. Ditto to all Gazza’s comments – and leader board – although I do have to add the unusual music maker to my list of new things to learn.

    Many thanks, Tilsit.

      1. I think I did but had completely forgotten it. I seem to remember now that it featured in a fairly recent TV documentary – a Nightjar that isn’t really a Nightjar!

    1. Same for me too, Gazza & Jane (except that I have seen Joe Bonamassa play the unusual music maker on several occasions so I was familiar with that).

      I still can’t fully parse 24a, and, it’s probably just me, but I think the enumeration for 1a is not very fair.

      Many thanks, Tilsit. This was a lot of fun.

  3. Thanks Tilsit,

    A joy and an education. Loi was 12a, I wasn’t sure my answer fit the def.

  4. Very enjoyable, even if it was a little anagram-heavy, but the excellence of the surfaces more than compensated. I gave ticks to 11a, 3d, 8d, 9d and 17d, with my overall favourite, 14d, receiving too ticks when I discovered it was actually a film!

    I suspect that the enumeration for 1a was deliberately put as 6,7 to avoid it being too obvious? My repetition radar bleeped at “somehow” being twice used as an anagram indicator, but it didn’t take the gloss away from a very entertaining puzzle.

    Many thanks, Tilsit.

  5. It seems I’m the only one who’s really struggling with this. :sad:
    So far I only have a very small handful of answers – maybe some of Mary’s ‘perservation’ is needed.
    Back later, or tomorrow . . .

  6. Thanks Tilsit; enjoyable but quite tough.

    I don’t really get 12a – the imperfect part.

      1. Thanks Sue; although I’ve worked on these, I’ve never come across this before.

  7. Could parse very little, not a problem with the crossword, just my inexperience.
    Thanks Tilsit

  8. We had trouble in the SE corner and were beaten by 27a. We found we could justify either ‘former Russian head’ or ‘big name’ as definition for 25d and this gave us some uncertainty. A few things we learnt along the way and certainly not a quick solve. Challenging and fun sums it up for us.
    Thanks Tilsit.

  9. Excellent puzzle Tilsit – many thanks, and I can’t remember the last of yours, so this felt like a first encounter :)

    My favourite of the (several) anagrams was 28a for its &Lit-ishness, but the real stand-outs were 20a – very nicely worked, and 8d – a brilliantly disguised definition which sent most of us, I’m prepared to bet, off to consult with 3 down. Other favourites were 11a, 22a, 27a and 6d.

    Just one question – and I’m by no means sure of the answer – isn’t the solution to 16a, somewhat counter-intuitively, a singular noun?

    1. Apparently Ides is a plural which functions as singular – make of that what you will!

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS. A couple of letters need adding to the answer for 11a but all else seems present and correct!
    Like you, I don’t think I’ll be bothering to track down a copy of the 14d film.

    Thanks again to Tilsit – hope you’re enjoying your holiday.

  11. I almost got there in the end although it really took me a very long time.
    I was defeated by a few in the bottom left corner.
    Thanks to Tilsit for the crossword and to CS for the hints (and a few answers).

  12. Like Kath, this took me a very long time and I was defeated by several in the bottom left corner — and, alas, by the brilliant 8d.

    I really enjoyed the three-quarters I was able to solve. I’m indebted to CS for answers and explanations for the remainder.

    Appreciative thanks to Tilsit and to CS.

  13. Not surprised that I didn’t get 27a: I put Tsar in 25d.
    It was great to solve a Tilsit. Been such a long time.
    Thanks for the fun and to CS for the review.

  14. Thanks Tilsit – great fun. I enjoyed the clever anagrams and the ‘borders’.

  15. Thank you all for the comments.

    Sorry not to reply sooner, but I was in the depths of the Lake District enjoying a break in Wasdale.

    I realise the puzzle was probably a little heavy on anagrams.

    I am in the throes of putting together the next collaboration puzzle which will hopefully appear to tax you over the Festive Season. I’ll put out an appeal for clue writers in due course.

    Thanks again!

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