NTSPP – 417 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 417

NTSPP – 417

A Puzzle by Jaffa

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome to the latest graduate from the Rookie corner to the pages of the NTSPP as Jaffa brings us his latest crossword.  Thank you to him and to all who have commented on his debut here.  I will not repeat the points made during the review.


9 Message from the nesting box (5)
TWEET – Extended definition, the first part being a message with a maximum limit of 140 characters and the second the sound a bird would make to attract it parents to get food

10/36 Triple winner revealed in murder review (3,3)
RED RUM – Reverse the letters (review) in MURDER.  This horse won the Grand National three times.

11 Groan badly for gas (5)
ARGON – An anagram (badly) of GROAN.

12 AA follower unaided finds seafood (7)
ABALONE – The first A from AA then a B (a follower) followed by a word meaning unaided.

14 Confusing info describing one ship leads to rupture (7)
FISSION – An anagram (confusing) of INFO around (describing) the letter representing one and the abbreviation for steam ship.

15 Farm crossing we’re told for those going up to higher places (8)
OXBRIDGE – Split 2, 6 this could describe a structure to enable cattle to cross a river.  The answer can describe those going to prestigious universities.

18 Shots of course once seen in old papers (5)
CHIPS – Double definition for golf shots and the type of food once served in old newspapers.

21/22 Verbal command to embrace assailant in secrecy (6-6)
HUGGER MUGGER – A homophone (verbal) of HUG A (command to embrace) followed by a word for an assailant.

25 The question’s said to be a product of the V&A (5)
WATTS – A homophone (said) of “WHAT’S” (the questions).  The solution is a measurement of electrical power calculated by multiplying voltage (V) and amperes (A).

27 Musical Mama with trimmed curls manufactures clerical garb (8)
CASSOCKS – The first name of one of the members of the Mama and Papas and a soloist in her own right followed by a five letter word for curls or hair with the first letter removed (trimmed).

I did not wear one of these this morning when performing full immersion baptism for six adults and then baptising a baby!

30 Pores expel oxygen from love apple in South America (7)
STOMATA – Remove (expel) the O (Oxygen) from the first known as a love apple and put the letters that remain in the abbreviations for South and America.

32 Paul Simon, in 1970, became ingenuous (7)
ARTLESS – A description of Paul Simon without his partner Mr Garfunkle.

35 Seasonal pest occurring in Central Georgia (5)
MIDGE – A three letter prefix meaning central followed by the IVR code for Georgia.

36 See 10

37 Former pupil leaves the Head’s side to create doggerel (5)
VERSE – Remove (leaves) the abbreviation for Old Boy (former pupil) from the description of the side of a coin on which the Queen’s head is stamped.


1 Smoker from Vietnam (4)
ETNA – The answer is hidden in (from) VIETNAM.

2 Back English first, Greek second (4)
BETA – A three letter word meaning back as in gambling followed by the first letter of the English alphabet.

3 Soothing action of No.8 between Putney and Mortlake (8)
STROKING – The action of an oarsman at Number 8 in a boat race that takes place between Mortlake and Putney involving the answer to 15a.

4 Native American‘s bottomless basket (4)
CREE – Remove the final letter (bottomless) from a type of basket used to hold fish.

5 Criticised if you accept help to improve the mind? (5)
EDIFY – The answer is hidden in (accept) in CRITICISED IF YOU.

6 To understand a clue with constant astronomical measurement (6)
PARSEC – A five letter word describing unraveling the cryptic grammar of a clue followed by the letter representing “constant”.

7 Primarily under glass, lights improve the cultivation of this crop (4)
UGLI – The initial letters (primarily) of the second to fifth words of the clue.

8 Not initiating nonsense generates individuality (7)
ONENESS – An anagram (generates) of NONSENSE after removing the first letter (non initiating).

13 Present protection for the crown jewels (3)
BOX – Double definition, the second being something used to protect the groin.

16 Popular sandwich with a French filling is pointless (5)
BLUNT – The abbreviation for Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (popular sandwich) with the French masculine form of A inside (filling).

17 Reported money transfer helps with  guidance (4)
GYRO – A homophone (reported) of GIRO (money transfer).

19 Vile account incorporating information about the small intestine
ILEAC – The answer is hidden (incorporating) in VILE ACCOUNT.

20 A girl, not good, is a literary heroine (4)
EMMA – Remove the G (not good) from the start of a girl’s name to give the name of the eponymous heroine of a novel.

23 Minister acquires compact deputy to be used for cooking (3,5)
GAS STOVE – The surname of the minister who at the time of typing is the Minster for Environment, Food and Rural affairs but (given the number of reshuffles may be something else by the time you read this) includes (acquires) the abbreviation (compact) for assistant (deputy).


24 Most woe can be produced from those struggling with 8 (7)
TWOSOME – An anagram (can be produced) of MOST WOE.  Not convinced by the definition here.  If they are the solution, they won’t be struggling with the solution to 8.

26 Rattled fish in tin (6)
SHAKEN – A four letter name for a type of fish inside the chemical symbol for tin.

28 Little falcon, once filmed, regularly ascending from Sheikh (3)
KES – The odd letters reversed (regularly ascending) in SHEIKH.

29 Ex-politician, without his socialist label, heads north to create youngster (5)
BAIRN – Remove the abbreviation for Labour (his socialist label) from the surname of the former leader of the Labour Party and follow it with the abbreviation for North.

31 The chances of a theologian being involved in map making (4)
ODDS – The abbreviation for doctor of divinity (theologian) inside the abbreviation for Ordnance Survey.  

32 The highest point of tossed mace (4)
ACME – An anagram (tossed) of MACE.

33 Priest poetically associated with currency (4)
EZRA – Extended definition – The name of an Old Testament priest is also the first name of the poet Mr Pound (associated with currency).

34 Glimpses Oxford and London maybe but not Cambridge and Southampton (4)
SEES – The first two examples are dioceses and the second two are not.

30 comments on “NTSPP – 417

  1. Welcome to the NTSPP ranks, Jaffa.

    I really enjoyed this despite my initial misgivings when seeing that only two clues were longer than seven letters. My ticks went to 32a, 35a, 1d, 13d, 16d and 23d. 30a was a word I didn’t know previously. The 21/22a combo produced the widest smile.

    A couple of small quibbles – the cryptic grammar in 5d requires “would” (or something similar) before “accept” to make it work, and the indefinite article at the start of 20d was entirely superfluous I felt.

    Congratulations and many thanks, Jaffa.

    1. 5d accept is a funny hidden indicator – it implies something active, whereas, of course, the answer is already hidden, no fresh action is required. ‘has accepted’ might be more passive, but doesn’t fit surface.

      my preference would have been accepts, since i think of fodder as singular, but apparently it is not wrong (just ugly, to me) to think of fodder as plural (letters, words). the ‘would accept’ addresses that.

  2. Very enjoyable, favourite 25a – I was successfully misled for some time; 13d also worthy of mention.
    Thanks Jaffa.

    1. i think the second ‘the’ in 25a is perhaps unfairly misleading, it should have been omitted imho

        1. This is a very clever device. I maintain that including the “the” over-emphasises the museum unfairly. “product of volts and amps” would be a more natural reading to generate the answer and does not harm the clue.

          But this is nit-picking. I do think it is a cracking clue. It was definitely solvable, so many would say that makes it ok.

  3. thanks jaffa. Great stuff, many thanks. congratulations.

    i saw the answer to 29d but didn’t parse, and child and youth aren’t quite the same.

    I loved 21/22 and also really liked 32a. i also really liked 25a, brilliant mislead, but as mentioned above i don’t think the second ‘the’ is fair.

    I liked 15a though the ‘we’re told’ sounds like a homophone indicator, not sure what it is doing there.

    grid has some words with more unchecked than checked letters, worth making those clues easy.

    6d to me the answer is something you have to do before you understand the clue, the answer just means dividing into components (which can lead to understanding)

    Thanks again and well done.

  4. Thank you, Jaffa, for cheering up a beastly wet and cold afternoon – I enjoyed this very much.
    The top half went in reasonably easily, the bottom right corner was OK and then I ground to a complete halt with bottom left.
    I had to ask Mr Google about 25a.
    I loved the ‘Musical Mama’ – she had such an amazing voice – nice clue too.
    Paul Simon is wonderful, ingenuous or otherwise.
    I think my favourite was probably 21/22a.
    Thanks again to Jaffa and, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

    1. PS – I’ve just spotted a gap. I can’t do 33d – I have two possibilities in my head but can’t explain either of them so maybe they’re both wrong.

      1. 33d is the name of an Old Testament priest and also the first name of a poet whose surname is a well-known currency.

        1. Thanks Gazza – need to trot off and ask Mr Google about what I now think the answer has to be.

  5. Thanks Jaffa; entertaining solve. I thought at the beginning this was going to be very straightforward but I then slowed down a bit, not helped by failing to solve 21/22 early on – BTW Collins says this definition of secrecy is archaic although it is in the ODE, which is a good guide to current usage. Perhaps confusion would be a safer definition.

    I think the definition in 15 is not quite right. Something like ‘Farm crossing maybe in higher places’ might suffice. I ticked 3, 18, 25 (although I agree the second ‘the’ is not needed), 32A and the somewhat left-field 12.

    At one point, I thought a pangram was on, which helped me to solve 33 as I’m not very good on priests.

  6. Not going to pretend that I managed this without a bit of help on the parsing front from Mr Google but I certainly enjoyed the ride.
    Still not sure about the ‘English first’ in 2d – can one of you clever devils explain it to me, please!

    Podium places went to 21/22 (wonderfully descriptive phrase) plus 32&35a along with 16d.

    Thanks to Jaffa for a very ‘different’ crossword – much appreciated.

    1. Synonym for back (as in wager) and first letter of the English (Latin?) alphabet gives second of the Greek alphabet.

      1. Thanks, Senf – I was trying to take the ‘first of English’ rather more literally which, of course, didn’t match up with the ‘Greek second’.

  7. Definitely a challenge and, although every square is filled in, I am still slightly mystified by some of the answers (assuming they are all correct). So, I look forward to the review tomorrow.

    Favourite – 32a.

    Thanks to Jaffa and tomorrow’s reviewer (not sure who it might be).

  8. Thank you for all the comments so far. It’s always interesting to see how other people view your “baby”. I think I always reach a stage with any crossword where I can no longer see the wood from the trees and objectivity becomes difficult.
    I was truly shocked this morning to see that I’d made it to the NTSPP. A big thank you to BD and others who have made this possible. My flabber was well and truly gasted😂
    I’m away from home at present so I’ll try and comment further after tomorrow’s review.

  9. Bravo Jaffa. I have been very busy today and almost decided not to look at this but I’m very pleased I did as I really enjoyed it. I found it nicely challenging with plenty of novel ideas.

    Many of my comments have already been made above regarding a few points of detail, e.g. the second “the” not needed in 25a; the “A” not needed in 20d; and the containment indicator not quite working in 5d.

    My page is littered with ticks and I have given double ticks to 21/22a, 25a, 32a, 2d, 13d, 16d, 33d. Those who know me will understand why 13d was my favourite.

    Many thanks, Jaffa. This was a top-drawer puzzle.

  10. I have three left that I may or may not solve before the review is posted. A few too may “connect the dots” clues for my taste.

  11. I enjoyed this – thanks Jaffa.

    After a fairly gentle ride I came up short with two to go. I think I had to reveal a letter to get 29d and after staring at 33d I eventually lost patience, revealing a letter there too. I also needed help with the mechanics of 3d. So a sting in the tail.

    Some lovely touches. My favourites are 25a (minus the second “the” as has been mentioned), 32a, 21a/22a, 2d and 13d.

    By the way, you might find something to interest you in tomorrow’s Indy puzzle …

    Thanks again Jaffa, and thanks Prolixic for the review.

    1. I’m intrigued. I’ll take a look at the Independent tomorrow. Thank you for your kind words.

  12. Oh dear!
    I was barking up the wrong tree completely with 33d – I had two possibilities and they were both wrong and, although I had the right answer for 25a it was for all the wrong reasons.
    Thanks again to Jaffa for the crossword and to Prolixic for showing me just how wrong it’s possible to be.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and I’m relieved to note that I hadn’t missed something important in my reading of 24d.

    Despite the undoubted value of some of our modern Health & Safety regulations, I still think 18a’s tasted SO much better out of newspaper!

  14. A rather late post but I’ve just returned from the Land that the Internet Forgot – well my father-in-law’s house in SW Scotland…
    Thank you for all your kind comments and the justifiable queries. 25a certainly generated an interesting debate.
    Thanks also to Prolixic for a very colourful review! As I try to master the dark arts of compiling your italics are extremely helpful. I don’t always attempt the Rookie Corner puzzles but I always look at your reviews and try to learn from them.
    It is very encouraging when the Gods and Goddesses of the Blog (which you are) are so encouraging. Thank you once again and special thanks to BD (a.k.a Zeus?😂)

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