NTSPP – 415 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 415

NTSPP – 415

A Puzzle by Gazza

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.


1 Gripped by the ear and given a smack (6)
RAPPED – A homophone (by the ear) of RAPT (gripped).

5 Struggling? Press One for answer (8)
RESPONSE – An anagram (struggling) of PRESS ONE.

9 Number Ten’s backing cable network (8)
ETHERNET – A five letter for for something that numbs (number) followed by a reversal (is backing) of the TEN from the clue.

10 Mark and Adam disturbed by film (3,3)
MAD MAX – An anagram (disturbed) of M (Mark) ADAM followed by the letter that represents multiplication (by).

11 Rudely pokes around stage and struts about (5-5)
GOOSE-STEPS – A six letter word meaning to poke or pinch someone in a rude or lewd manner around a four letter word for a stage or part of a series of events.

12 Derelict house providing accommodation for second person (4)
THOU – The answer is hidden (providing accommodation for) in DERELICT HOUSE.

13 Resorted to cunning ruse in contract (8)
DEPLOYED – A four letter word for a cunning ruse inside a four letter word for contract.

16 Depressed French artist travels west carrying what’s left of goods (6)
SAGGED – A reversal (travels west) of the name of a French artist includes (carrying) the leftmost letter of goods.

17 Britain leads United States in committal proceedings (6)
BURIAL – The abbreviations for Britain, United, Rhode Island and Alabama (the latter two being states).

19 Confounded figure out on bail regularly (8)
INFERNAL – A five letter word meaning figure out or deduce followed by the the even letters (regularly) of ON BAIL.

21 Struggle with concept … (4)
VIEW – A three letter word meaning struggle followed by the abbreviation for with.

22 … of giving chocolate (4,6)
SOFT CENTRE – This type of chocolate if used as a cryptic instruction would give OF from a four letter word.

25 Releases cry of encouragement (4,2)
LETS GO – Double definition.

26 Thus China becomes a weak … (8)
CHINLESS – A description of removing the CHIN from CHINA to give the A from the clue.

27 … power, sure to be broken by Frenchman’s extensive range (8)
PYRENEES – The abbreviation for power and a three letter word meaning sure or OK include (bto be broken by) a four letter French name (think of the cafe owner in Allo Allo.

28 Number ten, short of century, centrally contracted by Essex coach (6)
NINETY – The number (ten short of 100 (a century) is also (in Roman numerals) found in the centre of ESSEX COACH.


2 Inclined to throw up excessively every year (3,2)
APT TO – Reverse (to throw up) the abbreviations for Over The Top (excessively) and Per Annum (every year).

3 Uncovers what bats and sloths do! (5)
PEELS – Bats and Sloths SLEEP upside down.

4 House is dirty after 24 hours being unoccupied (7)
DYNASTY – The outer letters (unoccupied) of a period of 24 hours followed by a five letter meaning dirty.

5 Tire of Trump having superficial make-over (7)
RETREAD – A cryptic definition of a type of temporary repair that would be made to a tyre in the US (Tire of Trump).

6 Crack troops taking out most of change in Russian drinks machine for snacks (7)
SAMOSAS – The Russian drinks machine is a SAMOVAR.  Remove the final three letters (most of VARY or change) and replace them (taking) with the abbreviation for Special Air Service (crack troops).

7 Veteran‘s an experienced producer? (3,6)
OLD STAGER – A person who has spent many years putting on shows might be described as this kind of veteran.

8 Casualty could be pensioner during very quiet period … (4,5)
SOAP OPERA – A three letter abbreviation for an old age pensioner inside a two letter word meaning very followed by the musical abbreviation for quiet and a three letter word for a long period of time.

14 … see about American brought in breathing in a perplexing way (9)
ELUSIVELY – A Russian doll type of clue!  A three letter word for an East England diocese (see) around a four letter word meaning breathing that, itself includes (brought in) a two letter abbreviation for American.

15 Erased detail was reconstructed (4,5)
LAID WASTE – An anagram (reconstructed) of DETAIL WAS.

18 Nimble, returning supremo’s silk clothes (7)
LISSOME – The answer is hidden (clothes) and reversed (returning) in SUPREMOS SILK.

19 Swear briefly following facts becoming clear (2,5)
IN FOCUS – A four letter word meaning facts followed by a four letter word meaning swear with the final letter word removed (briefly).

20 Fellow director’s call for dissension (7)
FACTION – The abbreviation for fellow followed by the call a film director makes to begin filming.

23 Macron’s refusal to curb party political extremists is material (5)
NYLON – The French word for no (Macron’s refusal) includes (to curb) the final letters (extremists) of Party and Political.

24 What’s needed when one’s not up to the mark (5)
RESIT – What you may need to do if you don’t get enough marks in an exam.

31 comments on “NTSPP – 415

  1. Very clever, Gazza, but then I would expect nothing less from my shining knight!
    I did have to write out some of the answers and stare at them for a while before the machinations of your brain became clear and there are still two that I don’t think I’ve completely nailed but absolutely nothing is going to knock 3d off the top of the pile – oh, how I laughed!

    Many thanks and looking forward to seeing you next weekend.

  2. As ever, a Gazza puzzle will always brighten an otherwise miserably wet midwinter’s day. So much to enjoy, my page is littered with ticks, with 12a, 17a, 25a, 3d, 5d, 6d and 19d earning my particular plaudits. I also loved the ellipsis-linked clues, they were exceptionally well executed.

    I think the BBC may argue with the definition in 8d (to them it’s “quality drama”), but I totally concur with the setter’s interpretation!

    Terrific stuff, many thanks Gazza. I also look forward to seeing you again in a week’s time.

    P.S. Very pleased to see that RD is a “happy bunny” once more after his problems yesterday.

  3. Thanks gazza, most enjoyable. This was my top priority today when I saw the setter. Lovely clues. I ticked 5a, 9a, 12a, 2d, 3D, 18d, but I stopped ticking after a while.

    I haven’t sorted out the Russian drinks machine yet but I’ll give it another go.

    Quality stuff many thanks

  4. Thanks Gazza; very entertaining but difficult. The NE went in smoothly but the rest took a while longer.

    Some great ideas here; I ticked 5a, 17a, 19s and 22a.

    I thought 6d was a bit convoluted, and I’m not sure that ‘taking’ really gives the right order if I have parsed correctly; maybe take is bidirectional?

    Sorry I can’t join you all next week due to family commitments – have a good one!

  5. Enormously entertaining and quite tough for me. Still have a couple of question marks so will ponder. My short list for favourite is not short, but the winner is definitely 3d.

    Many thanks Gazza and in advance to Prolixic. See you next weekend. :)

  6. No time today but I’ve printed the puzzle and will give it a go in the local tomorrow. I always like Gazza’s puzzles. :good:

  7. As always great stuff from Gazza.

    My favourite was the “Tire of Trump” one. And the “chocolate” one was nearly as good.

    Still a few that I don’t understand including everyone else’s favourite 3d.

    But being an Essex cricket aficionado, the wordplay in 28a still eludes me despite finding the definition straightaway.

    Many thanks, Gazza … looking forward to the review.

  8. What a treat! Everything you could ask for from a crossword on a miserable day – nicely challenging, accurate cluing, wonderful surfaces, deviousness, humour, a very well disguised indication of an American spelling, etc., etc…

    15d reminded me of reading Caesar’s Gallic Wars in Latin at school – vasto, vastare, vastavi, vastatus sum .

    I can’t fully unravel the wordplay for my answers to 17a, 28a & 6d so will look forward to tomorrow’s review.

    As Kitty has already said, my short list for favourite is not short, but the winner is definitely 3d.

    Many thanks, Gazza, and please keep them coming.

    1. i’m also not seeing 6d, though the answer is clear.
      17a – split United States
      28a – triple def
      hope that helps without spoiling

      1. Thanks very much, Dutch.

        17a – I had split United States. It made no sense to me and it still makes no sense.
        28a – D’oh! I thought it might be a TD. I got the first two quickly and couldn’t make any sense of the third. That’s absolutely brilliant.

        1. Ah – for the first time I understand 17a – at least I think I do.
          The first letter is B(ritain), the second is U(nited), and then you need two two letter abbreviations for US states.

          1. Thanks, Kath, that never occurred to me. Gazza is a devious so and so …

            … and very clever.

      1. many thanks Jane – it was in the back of my head somewhere but i couldn’t quite retrieve it, makes sense now.

        so in response to windsurfer@4, ‘taking out’ seems to me to be a substitution rather than an order thing

  9. 3d brilliant and my favourite, and lots of others not far behind. Started at 1.30, surprised to see it’s dark now! I’m looking forward to another one by Gazza. Many thanks

  10. Lovely puzzle with some great ideas and wordplay – 9a, 25a, 28a, 16a (loved “what’s left of goods”), 22a – although took ages to get that, even with most of the crossers. But the best of the lot has to be 3d. Brilliant.

    Like others I’m struggling with how 6d works, and like Rabbit Dave with 17a, despite Dutch’s hint. Can only see one of the definitions in 28a, which doubtless means it’s extremely clever and ought to be in the top line of this post.

    Knowing nothing of films 10a took me a while to hit on the correct second word, despite the last letter being indicated in a way I’ve used myself more than once. Doh.

    One query – I’d have thought “extremists” in 23d would indicate both ends of a word rather than last letters. Can it mean either or would I simply be using it incorrectly that way?

  11. A brilliant Gazza crossword – they always are – now I wish I’d saved it up for tomorrow but I didn’t.
    This has taken me a very long time but it’s cold, it’s wet and it’s January so so what?
    The top left corner took me the longest – apart from 3d which I got fairly quickly I had almost no answers in for ages.
    I still have three and a bit answers that I don’t understand – I’m sure all will become clear tomorrow.
    My favourite, along with everyone else, is 3d but 11a made me laugh too.
    With thanks and a big :good: to Gazza and thanks, in advance, to whoever does tomorrow’s review.

  12. Brilliant and excellent have both already been used but we still want to use them too. Off for our Sunday morning walk now with still a couple to sort out the final bits of parsing and plenty to recall and chuckle over along the way.
    Thanks Gazza.

  13. Thanks Gazza, great stuff, and difficult. I got stuck and had to reveal the second letter in 20d, but managed to complete after that.. I think I’ve got to the bottom of all except the Essex coach. I liked the China one and 3d best

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and for the walk down memory lane via the musical clips.
    I hadn’t managed to sort out the Essex coach and am now duly kicking myself!

    Thanks again to Gazza for the masterpiece – 3d is definitely my clue of the year.

    PS If anyone has time the answer for 11a needs to be pluralised and the hint for 19a is missing a bit – think the ending contains the even letters of oN bAiL.

  15. Thanks Gazza for making us work hard–this was a tough puzzle! Much more so than a certain national prize one of the day, if the time it took me is anything to go by. (I thought 24d was TONIC, which works too and threw me off track with the ones across it!) Some high-quality wordplay here, and lots of fun; in short, a very satisfying puzzle. Much has already been said about 3d, but for sheer use of words, my favourite was 5d. I look forward to your next puzzle.

  16. Thanks prolixic for the usual through review. I hadn’t made the connection between 8d and 4d.

    15d has the answer in the hint.

    1. Thanks Prolixic. I’d never heard of that Russian tea machine, but as I can’t stand the stuff I’ve managed quite well without it. And as I’d guessed the Essex cricket clue is indeed a belter.

  17. Excellent Gazza – thank you. Lots to like but I noted 9a, 3d, 19d, 2d, 16a & 12a in particular.
    Wonderfully imaginative and varied, a masterclass.
    Still a few I don’t understand, so time to go through the review… thanks also to Prolixic

  18. Many thanks to all who commented and to Prolixic for the review. I hope to see lots of you next Saturday.

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