NTSPP – 400 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 400

NTSPP – 400

A Puzzle by Quaiteaux

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.



Quaiteaux makes a rare visit to the Saturday afternoon slot – her last visit was in June 2013. Until I spotted the Nina, I thought the three clues without a definition referred to titles of books/films. It turned out that the titles were all taken from lines in works by the gentleman revealed in the top and bottom rows of the solved grid.

The introduction and the review were drafted yesterday afternoon. I returned home from a lovely autumn walk in the woods this morning to find BD had forwarded me the following email extract from Quaiteaux:

“Don’t know whether you’re a fan of Ernest Dowson, a local lad around here, with a recently restored grave. Not many people are, apart from those who did the restoration, as he’s nearly as much of a period piece as Swinburne. But he did have a knack for lines that were nicked by others as titles for books/films, so most people know something of him without realising it. So, if you want to publish this 150th anniversary puzzle in 2017, you will delight all three of his admirers.”


7a     Is 29ac or 22 first or second, possibly? (8)
 ORDINALS The solution to 22d is an anagram indicator telling you to rearrange IS and OR (both taken from the clue) and the solution to 29a

9a     Represent how pact went quiet (3,3)
 ACT OUT Describing what you’d do to take the musical abbreviation meaning quietly from PACT

10a     See 13

11a     See 31

13/10/21     Reason does find ways to go into rehab (4,2,4,3,5)
 DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES An anagram (to go into rehab) of REASON DOES FIND WAYS – a 1952 addiction melodrama film, the title coming from “Vitae Summa Brevis” (1896)

16a     Denounce management pay scale (8)
 EXECRATE Split a synonym for denounce 4,4 to get a description of a management pay scale

19a     Flatulence followed when he got it wrong (4,4,3,4)
GONE WITH THE WIND Another book/film title – some flatulence follows an anagram (wrong) of WHEN HE GOT IT – from the poem Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae, third stanza (1894).

21a     See 13

23a     Parboil pet (6)
 CODDLE A double definition although I’d disagree with the first one as I don’t think cooking gently over hot water is the same as parboiling. The second definition means to pamper as does the solution.

25a     Birds in trees began flying about (5,5)
 BRANT GEESE An anagram (flying about) of TREES BEGAN gives an alternative name for a large member of the duck family

29a         See 31

30a     No beginning, middle, end, only the start, or starter (6)
 ENTRÉE Remove the first letter (no beginning) from a synonym for middle, followed by E (only [using] the ‘start’ of End)

31/11/29     Make adjustments to grants and alter earnings (8,2,1,7,4)
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND The third of our clues of a kind without definition. An anagram (make adjustments to) of GRANTS AND ALTER EARNINGS


1d     Heartless porn or great art? (6)
 EROICA Remove the middle letter (heartless) from some porn to get Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 (great art?)

2d     In case of recapture, documents are carried (4)
 RIDE An abbreviation for some documents inserted into the ‘case’ of RecapturE

3d     Activist responsible for first signs reading No Access Zone Interdite (4)
 NAZI The first ‘signs’ of No Access Zone Interdite

4d     As the World Turns returns teachers are gutted (4)
 EAST The direction in which the world turns – a reversal (returns) of the outside letters of TeacherS and ArE

5d     Colonnade somewhat appeals to aesthetes (4)
 STOA Lurking somewhat in appealS TO Aesthetes

6d    W-what’s tough enough to withstand intense heat? (8)
 TUNGSTEN The element with the highest melting point, formerly known as Wolfram, which is why its chemical symbol is a W

8d     This is about wage adjustments in controversial press statements intended for a wider audience (5,8)
 STAGE WHISPERS An anagram (adjustments) of THIS and WAGE followed by another anagram (controversial) of PRESS

12d     My ascending bird (3)
 ROC An enormous bird of Arabian legend is a reversal (ascending in a Down clue) of an interjection of surprise (my)

14d     Speak offensively and answer misleadingly, hiding name (5)
 SWEAR An anagram (misleadingly) of ANSWER without the N (hiding Name)

15d     Turns loud, showing insolence and a bit of spite (5)
 FLIPS The musical abbreviation meaning loud, some insolence and the first letter (a bit of) Spite

17d     Principles extremely 4 here in Rome (5)
 ETHIC The ‘extreme’ letters of your solution to 4d and the Latin word (as used in Rome) for here

18d     Argued about word having English content (5)
 ROWED An anagram (about) of WORD having the abbreviation for English put inside (content)

20d     Have experienced stigma getting cheaper products (3-5)
 OWN-BRAND A verb meaning have and a stigma

22/27     Extremely unpleasant to be taken in by nasty chap when initially seen as childish (3,4)
 OUTGREW The extreme letters of UnpleasanT are ‘taken in’ by a nasty chap from fairy tales, the initial letter of When being added at the end

24d     Meagre fodder of international entente (6)
 LENTEN Lurking in internationaL ENTENte

26d     14 regularly rose for emperor (4)
 NERO Write out the number 14 and you’ll find that the word rose in the clue is telling you that one of Crosswordland’s favourite emperors is to be found reversed in the ‘regular’ letters of that word

27d     See 22

28d Get across, regularly dropping Toby jugs (4)
 EARS Drop the odd letters from gEt AcRoSs

29d     Floor patterns inverted in common illusion (4)
LINO Lurking in reverse (inverted) in commON ILlusion

24 comments on “NTSPP – 400

  1. Thank goodness the site is accessible again. I’ve been suffering withdrawal systems all afternoon.

    My word that was very impressive, Quaiteaux. It was very challenging and great fun with the three clues lacking definition providing a superb platform for the puzzle.

    My page is littered with ticks, with double ticks awarded to: 7a, 9a, 19a (LOL!), 23a (LOL again!), 6d (very clever definition), 8d (what a super smooth surface and it is a very rare thing indeed for me to enjoy a 15 word charade so much) & 17d.

    I can’t parse 30a, and I wasn’t sure until I had a checker in place which way up to put 12d. It also took me a while to come up with a sentence which was able to convince me that 2d was synonymous with “are carried”.

    – 25a were new birds for me.
    – I’m not convinced by the definition for 22/27 (for which in any event I would have thought the answer should be one word).
    – Is 29d really “floor patterns”? I would have thought “floor covering” might have been more appropriate.
    – Did you need to use a French word in the clue for 3d? (I must admit I can’t think of a suitable alternative except perhaps for the rather obscure “interdicted”)

    Thank you so much, Quaiteaux, for submitting such a superb NTSPP puzzle to BD for our enjoyment.

    1. My parsing of 30a is that it’s a synonym for middle without its starting letter followed by the just the start of ‘end’.

      1. Yes, that’s the way I worked it out as well. I seem to recall that we’ve had debates about the answer in a previous puzzle!

  2. Hi Quaiteaux
    I’ve just solved this online without special instructions, so I was baffled for a while. Once I realised what the long ones were about (I got the long one across the middle first), it all fell into place. Quite good fun, not knowing what was going on, and particularly with some quite tricky cluing.
    Thanks very much

  3. Thanks very much for the entertaining puzzle, Quaiteaux. I didn’t know one of the three undefined answers so had to enlist the help of Mr Google for that one. Nice to see the relevant Nina as well. Top clues for me were 19a and 26d.

  4. I’m trying to work up the same sort of enthusiasm for this as RD has shown but rather failing.

    I suppose I started out in the wrong frame of mind because I don’t care for inter-dependent clues, especially those that have long answers dotted about across the grid. The fact that I’d never heard of one of the three ‘clues of a kind’ is my fault but didn’t help!

    I didn’t think that 22/27 worked very well, questioned the ‘patterns’ in 29d and didn’t care at all for 20d.

    Grump over – there was certainly some very clever word play in the ‘normal’ part of the puzzle and I chose 16&25a as my top two.

    Thank you, Quaiteaux – I’d certainly like to see more of your work (minus the 3 of a kind structures!).

  5. We took one look at this and groaned. Then we sat down and started it. The first few answers came very slowly and then we concentrated on the long ones and a flash of inspiration gave us 19a. This was enough to show us the theme for the undefined answers and it was relatively plain sailing from then on with smiles chuckles and doh moments all the way. Really good fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Quaiteaux.

  6. Well done Quaiteaux. After I got the first novel I imagined we would have three by the same author, but that soon proved not to be the case. I was unfamiliar the the Nina poet, but what a great way of linking the undefined answers – thanks for the education. Quite an achievement, congratulations.

    I got there in the end but some of the parsing took me a while.

    A couple of definitions seemed odd to me so I’m likely missing something, I look forward to the review.

    I really liked 7a, 30a, 6d for their quirkiness but also simpler ones like 16a.

    I had 12d in the wrong way around at first but soon corrected.

  7. If there was such a thing as a ‘NTSPP Toughie’ then this would surely qualify.

    I’ve got gaps for 7a, 25a, 22d & 28d with several other of my answers circled in red awaiting the review.
    Thanks Quaiteaux.

  8. Many thanks, CS, particularly for the parsing of 7a which had eluded me.
    I shared your reservations regarding ‘parboil’.

    For anyone who may be interested, the bird at 25a is a N. American variation of the more familiar Brent Goose which is a Winter visitor to the UK. Referred to as a Black Brant, it has more defined colour markings and many people believe that it should be separately classified.

    Thanks again to Quaiteaux – I promise to take a look at some of Mr Dowson’s work!

  9. I made a very slow start on this. Solving long anagrams is not something I relish the prospect of (mainly because I’m hopeless at even quite short anagrams) so I was hoping to get lots of checkers in place and get to them that way. In the end, I had to do the work, but 31a jumped out at me fairly easily, and 19a was also friendly. With those in place, I was able to get the rest steadily.

    So bad am I at anagrams that it was even an anagram that was last in: 7a. What a nerr-brain I can be!

    Some tricky bits, so was very pleased to fill the grid on my own, but I failed to parse 26d. Not remotely the hardest bit. I refer you to the line above!

    I’m another who doesn’t think “patterns” works in 29d.

    I liked 25a and 30a, and unlike Jane also liked 20d and 22d/27d

    It wasn’t until the end that I found the nina, and I enjoyed reading about him after the solve.

    Thanks to Quaiteaux for the impressive gridfill and proper work-out, and to CS for the review.

  10. Many thanks CS for a lovely review.

    I agree with parboil, it was one of the definitions I wasn’t sure about – happy with parboil= blanch, but that got me nowhere.

    I also think Lino is a material rather than a pattern.

    I think the definition for 2d has to be “are carried” to have any chance of this working in the correct tense
    ( ride with the wind, are carried with the wind)

    I thought 28a the definition would need to be Toby jugs, Cockney rhyming slang for mugs, so ears as an answer was news to me but could be my unfamiliarity.

    I still don’t see why Out grew (3,4) = seen as childish. The opposite would seem to be the case to me.

    Those were the defs I referred to in my ealier comment, any illumination welcome.

    1. I agree about 2d, and also about lino. Linocut is a pattern, but lino is only given as an abbreviation for linoleum, which is the floor-covering, not the pattern.

      I think if you have outgrown something you might be said to now see that thing as childish.

          1. I’m happy with outgrew meaning ‘saw as childish’ but I can’t make ‘seen as childish’ work.

          2. ‘When I became a man, I put away childish things’ (Corinthians) – does that help?

            Toby jug is apparently not only Cockney clang for ‘mug’ (face) but also for ‘lug’ (ear).

            1. Ah – didn’t find that either, but it makes sense. My pub friends say that they think of ears when someone says Toby jugs, and they are always my most trusted source….

  11. I have only just finished this (well almost finished because I failed on 7A) after much picking up and putting down since yesterday. I found it almost impossible in places and only landed of the right answer because of the checkers. Parsing of several was also beyond me. Therefore I can’t say it was high on the enjoyment level for me though I recognize it was very clever. There was, however a kind of perverse pleasure in getting as far as I did. Of course, I missed the nina completely. I hope another opportunity presents itself to tackle a Quaiteaux puzzle some time soon, but meanwhile I thank her and many thanks to CS for the excellent and enlightening review.

  12. What a pleasure that was. I read the preamble but had never heard of Dowson – nor did I even know what his trade might have been. In the event I got all the answers fomr the wordplays – then later checked Wikipedia.

    I like poetry – so I’m surprised not to even have heard of him. I haven’t done it yet but it will undoubtedly stick in my mind and in time I’ll read some of his work – he seems to be very highly spoken of by many better known authorities.

    8d (which came late) was my favourite.

    Many thanks.

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