NTSPP – 399 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

NTSPP – 399

NTSPP – 399

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


I’ve been trying to remember which quiz it was where, if you got three questions correct, you got a bonus mark. An extremely quick search of the NTSPP archive would appear to indicate that the previous occasion Prolixic got to review three NTSPPs in a row was January 2016 (the sightings of two in a row these days are quite rare), but instead of a bonus mark, he gets to move from the blogger’s chair to the setter’s seat with this ‘hot off the setter’s pen’ crossword.


1a     Slanderous gent disconcerted doctors (6,8)
DENTAL SURGEONS An anagram (disconcerted) of SLANDEROUS GENT

10a     Regret hesitant sound in my French (5)
MOURN One of the two-letter words we’d use to indicate hesitation inserted into the French word for my

11a     Don’t give prominence to secondary movement (9)
UNDERPLAY A proposition meaning lower in rank (secondary) and some movement

12a     Tennis organiser seen in paper with a mistress (7)
SULTANA The abbreviation for the UK’s tennis organization inserted into a newspaper and the result finished off with A (from the clue)

13a     Time to include doctorate about English shrub (7)
EPHEDRA A shrub I’d never heard of apparently used for medical preparations is obtained by putting the abbreviation for English into the abbreviation for a doctorate and then inserting the result into an extended period of time

14a     In low spirits, darker aura is regularly observed (5)
DREAR The regular letters of DaRkEr AuRa

16a     Moodier outburst about alien space traveller (9)
METEOROID An anagram (outburst) of MOODIER goes about the famous film alien so useful to setters of cryptic crosswords

19a     Thrill obtained when one has work in gallery (9)
TITILLATE I (one) and a verb meaning to work the land inserted into the name of an art gallery

20a     Prepare to con (3-2)
SET-UP Double definition time

22a     Print journalist’s admission? (7)
IMPRESS Split this verb meaning to print 2, 5 and you’d get an admission from a journalist

25a     Welsh man returns after run (7)
RENEGUE Sneakily, welsh here is a verb meaning to fail to pay a debt. A reversal of a man’s name follows the abbreviation for Run

27a     Popular with dodgy vicar! (9)
INCUMBENT A synonym for popular, a preposition meaning with and a slang term for dodgy

28a     Pester speaker to take time off (5)
ANNOY Remove the T for time from a type of public address system (speaker)

29a    Blameless expert follows Irish traveller with spliff (14)
IRREPROACHABLE An adjective used as an alternative to expert follows the abbreviations for Irish and a commercial traveller, and a slang word for a cannabis cigarette (spliff)


2d    Excited by European edict that is supported by conservationists (9)
EBULLIENT The abbreviation for European, a papal edict and the short way of saying that is are all supported by the abbreviation for the usual Crosswordland conservationists

3d     Friendly place in Hatton Garden (5)
TONGA This friendly place can be found lurking in HatTON GArden. Tonga became known as the Friendly Islands because of the welcome given to Captain Cook on his first visit in 1773 – not least because apparently he wasn’t killed as the chiefs couldn’t make up their minds how to do so. I only have to hear the name Tonga to be reminded of the film of the smiling Queen Salote riding in an open coach in the pouring rain at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.

4d     Cancer cure’s not right with Amelia in trouble (9)
LEUCAEMIA Remove the R from CURE (not right) and then an anagram (in trouble) of the remaining letters and AMELIA will give you an alternative spelling (which I had a hard time to find but tracked down in the end) for a type of cancer

5d     One expected to be extreme (5)
UNDUE The dialect for ‘one’ [the one that appears regularly but people always either claim not to know or assume that a bit of unindicated French has made its way into the clue*] followed by a synonym for expected [*Dutch may wish to note that this particular hint was typed on Thursday lunchtime, long before he’d done the crossword or made his comments]

6d     Younger years of female gangsters (9)
GIRLHOODS One of those ‘do I underline’ the third and fourth words too’ clues – anyway if you split these younger years 4, 5 you’ll understand the reference to female gangsters

7d     Lexicon describes the Italian for lubricated (5)
OILED The abbreviated way we’d refer to a particular dictionary (lexicon) ‘describes’ or goes round the Italian definite article

8d     Soaring grass seen around Kentucky (7)
SKYWARD A stretch of turf or grass ‘seen around’ the abbreviation for the State of Kentucky

9d    Prostitute leaves madhouse cavorting and laughing? (6)
AMUSED Remove the two-letter informal term for a prostitute (interestingly not recognised by the office’s copy of Collins Concise Dictionary) from MADHOUSE and an anagram (cavorting) of the remaining letters may describe why you might be laughing.

15d     Help Redcap to adopt a plan (6,3)
RELIEF MAP A synonym for help followed by the abbreviation for the type of Army person a recap is, the latter having A from the clue inserted (adopted)

17d     Not practical to call up support for the soldiers (9)
THEORETIC THE (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Other Ranks of soldiers are supported by or go on top of (in a Down clue) a reversal (up) of a verb meaning to call

18d     Shape of label on fizzy cola bottles (9)
OCTAGONAL An anagram (fizzy) of COLA goes around a label and ON (from the clue)

19d`     I put up with Liberal returned in Georgian city (7)
TBILISI I (from the clue) and a verb meaning to put up goes around a reversal (returned) of one of the abbreviations for Liberal

21d    With extraction of crushed berries, reprehensibly brewed an organic compound (6)
PHENYL Remove the letters BERRIES from REPREHENSIBLY (crushed telling you that they are mixed up in that word) and an anagram (brewed) of the remaining letters will give you an organic compound

23d     Horse expert found in Puerto Rico (5)
PACER A horse trained to move with a specific gait. Inset an expert into the abbreviation for Puerto Rico

24d     Notes arranged for Trump’s shorthand typist (5)
STENO An anagram (arranged) of NOTES produces the way in which President Trump and other Americans would refer to a shorthand typist

26d     Name a song about South African native (5)
NYALA The abbreviation for name and a reversal (about) of A (from the clue) and a song or melody

26 comments on “NTSPP – 399

  1. I’m not sure that you’re ever going to be allowed to live down one of those clues, Prolixic! Excellent, and my top candidate for favourite.
    I did have to check out a couple of unfamiliar spellings and learned a little more about flora and the dark world of drugs, but this was a most enjoyable NTSPP from our ‘rookie tutor’.

    Very many thanks to our popular dodgy vicar!

  2. Thanks Prolixic, an enjoyable solve. I liked 25a and 26d, and many more.
    Had to check the bush, the cancer spelling, and the unusual (to me) 17d.

    Bit surprised about swapping languages in 5d, having an adjective as an answer in 18d, and I don’t think of 21d as a compound, you don’t get it in isolation, only as part of a compound – a radical if you like. Isn’t the answer to 8d a direction?

    I didn’t know the islands were friendly (though I’d expect nothing less) but I see that dates back to capt cook days.

    All great fun

  3. Thanks Prolixic – very enjoyable, solved before breakfast. I think Lady Jane might be referring to 19a, but I would also question where/how you obtained your knowledge of recreational pharmaceuticals for 29a.

  4. Very good – you didn’t trip me up this time, Polixic! Some dictionary thumbing was required for the unusual spellings. I particularly liked the PHD one, last one in.
    Many thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle, as one would expect from our (tor)mentor.

  5. :phew: That was tough but very enjoyable. It needed a lot of persistence but it paid off in the end.

    I can’t fully parse 29a and I don’t understand why the place in 3d is friendly. I am sure all be revealed by CS tomorrow. I don’t think the answer to 21d is strictly an organic compound, but I guess that’s a bit of setter’s licence and the wordplay is brilliant.

    It’s not possible to pick a single favourite from such a good selection, but I’ll give 27a a special mention for its humour.

    Many thanks for a splendid challenge, Prolixic, which was great fun to solve

    1. Hi RD, I read 29a as:
      Irish – IR
      traveller – REP
      spliff – ROACH (though the roach is the butt, not the cannabis cigarette itself – not that I know, really, just guessing)
      expert – ABLE

      As it’s practically the end of the day, and it’s not a prize puzzle, I don’t think that’s naughty step time.
      Have a good weekend :smile:

      1. Thanks LBR. I got the 1st, 2nd & 4th bits of the charade, but I was in blissful innocence regarding the 3rd part.

  6. Thanks Prolixic, very enjoyable crossword.

    I didn’t know that definition for 12, and very strange spelling for 4d (never used these days, as far as I’m aware.)

    I liked the thrill in the gallery and the dodgy vicar, of course!

  7. I’m stuck on 15D, my last one in! I’m not giving up, though so no hints please. I found it very tough in places and had to resort to the BRB for spelling checks more than once. Very satisfying, though. Right now, 27A and 29A have top spots. Thanks Prolixic.

  8. Very late getting on to it this week but so glad that we did make the time to print it out when we got home. Really enjoyed it.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  9. Many thanks for your review, CS, particularly for the explanation of “friendly” in 3d. I suppose without that qualifier the answer could equally well have been Ongar.

    BTW, do you mean “… third and fourth words …” in your comment for 6d?

    1. Definitely not – I blame the boss who kept popping into my office, during my lunchtime, to ‘help’ :roll:

      1. While we are on the topic Sue. We think it is the Italian definite article rather than an abbreviation that is inside the lexicon in 7d.

  10. Many thanks, CS – is the pic for 27a something from an old TV show, it didn’t look familiar to me.

    I think the boss must have ‘helped’ with the hint for 2d as well – shouldn’t it read ‘supported’ rather than ‘supposed’?

      1. No, I haven’t. I quite enjoyed the first couple of series (despite ‘dear old Brucie’ who always set my teeth on edge) but once the audience voting descended into a matter of who they felt the most sorry for or who gave them the biggest laugh, rather than who was the best dancer, I gave up on it.

  11. Excellent entertainment even if it I did find it slightly trickier than Prolixic’s most recent NTSPPs.

    Favourite clue for me was 18d.

    Many thanks to Prolixic and to CS for the review.

  12. I always thoroughly enjoy Prolixic’s crosswords. I thought this was excellent and most entertaining. My fave was 27a which really made me chortle. (It also brought back memories of some of the complaints made against ‘dodgy vicars’ in old records…) I rather enjoyed working out 9d and 21d. As for 19a, another big laugh! Many appreciative thanks, Prolixic.

    Super review, CS, for which thank you very much. I parsed 26d down incorrectly and ended up with ‘Nyasa’ instead. Oh dear! In spite of having all the checking letters, I still couldn’t work out 6d and had to have help. It’s a lovely clue. I had no other problems, pleased to say.

  13. Bit confused about 20a. The hyphenated answer is a noun, but prepare and to con are both verbs. What am I missing?

    1. The definition could just be ‘con’ which can be a noun, with ‘prepare’ being wordplay and ‘to’ being a link word (although I now see from the BRB that ‘prepare’ can also be an archaic noun meaning preparation).
      A more likely explanation, however, is that one of the test solvers was not terribly diligent. :D

      1. Thanks, Gazza. I wondered about that parsing, but the structure wordplay to definition didn’t feel quite right. Your second possibility looks more likely :)

        1. As Sir Humphrey almost said – I can only speak for the one whom the current writer is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.

Comments are closed.