NTSPP – 394 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 394

NTSPP – 394

A Puzzle by Radler

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


You know what you are going to get when you see Radler’s name at the top of a crossword – something that’s not that easy to solve and, particularly this week, quite a few clues that aren’t easy to explain either. Radler is aware of my views on his joining in with the Hoskins method of including very obvious innuendo in crossword clues, but judging from the [fewer than normal for an NTSPP] comments I may be in a minority.


1a     Overheard teacher near barrier checking on skirt length (13)
 CIRCUMFERENCE ‘Skirt length’ being the distance round the rim or skirt of something. A homophone (overheard) of the way you might address a teacher, a preposition meaning near, the two-letter word meaning on the subject of, and a barrier

9a     Radler’s diamonds went for gold? (5)
 MINED – How our setter might refer to something belonging to him (Radler’s) and the abbreviation for Diamonds in a pack of cards

10a     Number left in tally less total declared over (6-3)
 TWENTY-TWO All you lucky solvers who looked at the checking letters and just wrote in the number, leaving me to explain how you got there. Here goes: A verb meaning left goes inside TALLY once you have removed the three-letter word meaning total from the middle, followed by a homophone (declared) of a word meaning ‘over’ in the sense of in addition

11a     Toy with charge left (4)
 FEEL A charge and the abbreviation for Left

12a     Say the word and finally clear (10)
 PRONOUNCED A verb meaning ‘say the word’ and the final letter of anD

14a     Month touring Belgium then another in the French capital (9)
 LJUBLJANA Insert (touring) the IVR Code for Belgium into the abbreviated seventh month of the year, then add the abbreviated first month of the year, and insert the result into the French female define article (‘the’ French) and you should be left with  the capital of Slovenia

16a     It’s difficult taking time off to get ready for it (5)
 HORNY Remove the T (taking Time off) from an adjective meaning difficult

17a     Have affair? It’s about passion (5)
 CHEAT The single letter Latin abbreviation for about, followed by some passion

19a     Hearing test result, German manufacturer reviewed damage and repair (9)
 AUDIOGRAM A German car manufacturer, a reversal (reviewed) of a verb meaning to damage and a verb meaning to repair in the sense of take oneself somewhere

21a     They used to brighten career entries here (10)
 RUSHLIGHTS A verb meaning to hurry (career) and the word used in Crosswordland to indicate the individual letter squares on the grid

23a     Soft rock instrumental comprising quartet (4)
 TALC Four letters (a quartet) lurking in instrumenTAL Comprising

25a     Nelson’s unopened eye, lost somewhere submerged in legend (9)
 LYONNESSE An anagram (lost) of NELSONS and YE (‘unopened’ telling you not to use the first E of eye)

26a     Buff? Cloth covering privates (5)
 KHAKI A colour (buff) that also describes the material used to cover privates and other ranks of soldier in the army

27a     They obstruct swimmers dressing, perhaps writing marks (6,7)
FRENCH LETTERS A type of salad dressing and some marks used in writing


1d     Start again: complete 1 across (4,4,6)
 COME FULL CIRCLE What you do if you complete the solution to 1a

2d     Poet’s work, composing an ode during game (7)
 RONDEAU An anagram (composing) of AN ODE inserted into (during) an abbreviation for a particular game

3d     Remove wrapping and start to use new implement (4)
 UNDO The ‘start’ of Use, the abbreviation for New and a verb meaning to implement

4d     Whiff of fear to dismissed American (5)
 FETOR The A (American) is dismissed from FEAR and replaced by TO (from the clue)

5d     German region, Ruhr, oddly English away from sea (9)
 RHEINLAND The odd letters of RuHr, the abbreviation for English and an adjective meaning away from the sea

6d     Topless embraces, Charlie and chum with boobs disappointing (3,4,3)
 NOT MUCH COP A way of saying ‘topless’ embraces the letter in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet represented by Charlie and an anagram (with boobs) of CHUM

7d     Write up list and throw in bottom of kitchen drawer (7)
 ENTICER  Someone who ‘draws’ – a reversal (write up) of a verb meaning to list from memory into which is ‘thrown’ the ‘bottom’ of kitchen

8d     Hilton’s fiction quoting bargain room reflected comparatively cheap things (7,2,5)
 GOODBYE MR CHIPS The title of James Hilton’s novel is obtained from a homophone (quoting) of a bargain, a reversal (reflected) of the abbreviation for room, and the last word in an expression meaning comparatively cheap

13d     Wind down refreshed Uncle, acquired energy (10)
 FLATULENCE Another way of saying down, an anagram (refreshed) of UNCLE and E (energy)

15d     What makes the smart less pernickety? Wacky ecigs (9)
 ANALGESIC   Smart here referring to a sharp or stinging pain.  Another way of saying pernickety or fixed on detail followed by an anagram (wacky) of ECIGS

18d     Harry (wealthy man) heads off to unwind (4,3)
 EASE OFF Remove the ‘heads’ or first letters from a verb meaning to harry and a wealthy man

20d     Booze – after first we are all drunk (4,3)
 REAL ALE You don’t need the first letter of WE but you need to put the second (E) with ARE ALL and an anagram (drunk) will produce the required solution

22d     Part of bodyguard‘s brief, guarding country’s leader (1-4)
 T-CELL A verb meaning to brief ‘guarding’ the leader or first letter of Country

24d     Turn king into model (4)
SKIT The abbreviation for King in chess notation inserted into a verb meaning to model [for an artist, for example]

14 comments on “NTSPP – 394

  1. What could be more entertaining on a Bank Holiday weekend than a puzzle by Radler? There are some great clues here (some producing dirty laughs) – I’ll pick out 16a, 13d, 15d and my favourite 27a (‘they obstruct swimmers” indeed). My last answer was 8d because my knowledge of Hiltons starts and ends with Conrad and Paris – so I got it largely from the crossers then had to check who’d written the fiction. I didn’t know the 4d and 21a words but the wordplay allowed me to get them.
    Many thanks to Radler for the enjoyment.

  2. You certainly don’t make them any easier as time goes by, Radler!
    As is often the way, I now have a completed grid but about five of the answers are still a complete mystery on the parsing front. My paper is liberally strewn with ‘workings out’ – some of which don’t even make any sense to me in retrospect!

    Loved the 1a/1d combo and 12a in particular – also enjoyed the couple of rather risqué inclusions.
    Many thanks, Radler – I shall battle on with the parsing.

  3. Wow. I always find Radler’s puzzles very difficult, and I was on the point of giving up on a number of occasions – most notably when 2d was my only successful entry for quite some time. However, in the end, I managed to finish it, and I am very glad I persevered. Like Jane, there are some parsings that I look forward to seeing in the review in order to see why they are what they are. (For instance, I have all of the checkers (and an entry) in 27a, but for the moment I don’t see any swimmers). Thank you for what ended up being a very enjoyable challenge.

    1. Assuming you’ve entered the correct answer in 27a, think what that is used as a slang expression to describe. Then you should ‘see’ the relevant swimmers!

  4. That had us working very hard and roaring with laughter. The final penny-drop moment was with 16a when we twigged what the IT in the clue was about. A couple of new words, the same ones that Gazza mentions and we did not know the 25a place.
    Excellent fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Radler.

  5. I’m still working on it. It’s Radler’s fault. I had to stop for a while and compose myself after solving 27A.

  6. Just unraveled the last two (6D and 16A) at silly o’clock here so my need for actual hints is just for the parsing of a couple. I thought this was very difficult but so much fun it was well worth persevering. I didn’t mind the “naughty” bits at all. Some new words at 14A, 21A, 25A, 4D and 22D, but all (eventually) solvable. I liked the 1A/1D combo particularly, also 13D and 15D, but my favorite is 27A. Thanks for the laughs, Radler, and thanks in advance to CS for the review which I’m now about to read.

  7. Many thanks for the review, CS. I went to bed with only one left unparsed and am now so cross with myself – I had ‘joy’ as the last word of 6d.
    Take your point about the ‘Hoskins route’. I thought the odd smattering in this one was OK but I would be sad to see Radler getting too involved with that genre.

    Fine-toothed comb picked up on a couple – your hint for 1a needs to include the wordplay for ‘on’ and the 5d answer needs one of the alternative spellings to be used. Also, perhaps the hint for 26a needs to mention that the answer is also a noun that describes the cloth used for army uniforms.

    Thanks again to Radler for the challenge.

  8. Many thanks for the feedback and thank you to Sue for the review

    The puzzle started off as an idea to include nationalities (German measles, Spanish customs etc.) In the event, I wasn’t happy with my grid fills, and only 27a survived. I added a few other (I hope, mildly) risque answers to make it look like the puzzle had some planned coherence

    1. Good of you to pop in, Radler. The nationalities idea sounds appealing, shame the grid fill didn’t work for you.
      I don’t think you ever need to worry about ‘planned coherence’ in your puzzles – you always ‘plan’ to make them difficult and you consistently achieve that goal!

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