NTSPP – 419 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 419

NTSPP – 419

A Puzzle by Starhorse

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Although this is only Starhorse’s second appearance in the NTSPP series, he is an assured setter and today’s crossword word not have been out-out-place in a daily newspaper.


1 City senseless to conceal transfer details (7)
LAUNDER – The abbreviation for Los Angeles followed by a word meaning senseless as you would be if you have had an anaesthetic.

5 Catches parents out (7)
ENTRAPS – An anagram (out) of PARENTS.

9 Guide caught in Asian country nearly ripped apart (9)
INDICATOR – The abbreviation for caught inside the name of an Asian country followed by a  word meaning ripped apart with the final letter removed (nearly).

10 Pay back man who keeps track of the minutes? (5)
TIMER – Reverse (back) a word meaning pay.

11 Forgotten heap recycled, it’s the best available (3-2-3-5)
TOP-OF-THE-RANGE – An anagram (recycled) of FORGOTTEN HEAP.

13 Protection from season down under? (8)
AUSPICES – If down under is “in Australia” you can add a word meaning season inside the three letter abbreviation for that country.

14 Black sign that points to old grave (6)
BARROW – The abbreviation for black followed by a sign that points.

17 Women in specs?  Not good (6)
LASSES – A word for specs without the abbreviation for good.

19 Hardy girl given time inside following hooker’s complaints (8)
PROTESTS – The name of one of Thomas Hardy’s heroines includes (given … inside) the abbreviation for time and the resulting letters go after (following) a three letter word for a hooker.

22 A state of inebriation defined by Proust? (7,6)
DRUNKEN STUPOR – A reverse anagram where the solution (as an anagram clue) would give PROUST.

25 She’s entitled to possess depressant daughter mislaid (5)
OWNER – A word meaning a depressant without (mislaid) the abbreviation for daughter.

26 Basically, retired head has broken into popular Eastern Church (2,7)
IN ESSENCE – Reverse a word for a cape or head of land inside a two letter word meaning popular and the abbreviations for Eastern and Church.

27 Stop up for the last few moves (7)
ENDGAME – A three letter word meaning stop followed by a word meaning up for or ready to do something.

28 Digs: an awful place to live in the outskirts of Sheerness (7)
SHOVELS – A five letter word for an awful place to live inside the first and last letters (outskirts) of Sheerness.


1 Put down (face up) (4)
LAID – Reverse (up) a word for a face (as in the face of a watch).

2 Happy meeting son for the latest news (7)
UPDATES – A two letter word meaning happy followed by a four letter word for meeting and the abbreviation for Son.

3 Evicted criminal covering up record that’s misleading (9)
DECEPTIVE – An anagram (criminal) of EVICTED around (covering up) the abbreviation for an extended play record.

4 Informer provided papers containing minimal evidence as agreed (8)
RATIFIED – A three letter word for an informer followed by a two letter word meaning provided and a two letter word for papers around the first letter (minimal) of evidence.

5 It picks up your outdated description of coarse language (6)
EARTHY – A three letter word for the hearing organ (it picks things up) followed by the old word for your.

6 Guardian reader often treats us to starters from the south (5)
TUTOR – A reversal (from the South) of the first letters (starters) of the second to sixth words of the clue.

7 Former charity worker‘s controversial role with man (7)
ALMONER – An anagram (controversial) of ROLE MAN.

8 Savvy, like London cabbies? (10)
STREETWISE – As London cabbies have to know the location of every street, the could be described as this word for savvy.

12 Bill was responsible for unfinished accommodation and limited choice of food (5,1’4)
TABLE D’HOTE – A three letter word for a bar bill followed by a three letter word meaning was responsible for and a five letter word for accommodation with the final letter removed (unfinished).

15 Course in Italy opposed by overseas leader (9)
ANTIPASTO – A four letter word meaning opposed followed by a four letter word meaning by (as in “gone by or gone ????” and the first letter (leader) of overseas.

16 Start to train dogs or horses (8)
TROTTERS – The first letter (start to) of train and a seven letter word for dogs or undesirable people.

18 Rushed to secure vessel that’s abandoned (7)
SPURNED – A four letter word meaning rushed around (to secure) a three letter word for a vessel or vase.

20 Bizarre selection by first couple on Strictly (7)
STRANGE – A five letter word for a selection or variety of something after (by) the first two letters (first couple on) of Strictly.

21 It’s not typical of peacekeepers to give online approval (6)
UNLIKE – The abbreviation for United Nations (peacekeepers) followed by a word meaning to approve a post on Facebook.

23 Kismet‘s more relaxed in audition (5)
KARMA – A homophone (in audition) of CALMER (more relaxed).

24 County borders? (4)
BEDS – Double definition of the shortened name of a Country and garden borders.

31 comments on “NTSPP – 419

  1. Most enjoyable start to your NTSPP ‘career’, Starhorse, and I’ve got 7 big ticks on my sheet against 17,19&22a along with 1,4,21&24d. 22a has to be the star of the show – extremely well constructed.

    I do like to see the attention you pay to surface reads and the only slight quibble I had was with the definition at 6d. I did briefly wonder about ‘on’ in 20d but decided it was probably OK.

    Many thanks, Starhorse, and hope you’ll be treating us to another ‘star’ performance very soon!

      1. Thank you, Prolixic, strange that Chambers doesn’t list the solution under the definitions of guardian.

  2. Starhorse’s second NTSPP appearance and a good one it was too

    Fitted in perfectly round lunch and the skeleton bob final leaving plenty of time (once my friend has finished her lunch) for a lovely sunshiny walk round the marshes.

    Thank you for the crossword and in advance to Prolixic for the review (three in a row and a bonus mark?)

    1. Apologies – I had forgotten that the last puzzle from the Starhorse stable had come from his new quarters!

  3. Very enjoyable, much more enjoyable than the West Brom/Southampton FA Cup tie I am watching.

    I really liked 22a (very clever), 5d, and 15d.

    I seem to remember that there has been discussion in the past on whether 1d is equivalent to face up. Of course my memory may be failing me, can anyone else offer anything?

    I had some initial thoughts about the ‘quality’ of the homophone in 23d, but, now, it works for me.

    Thanks and well done Starhorse, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    Well, the FA Cup tie has suddenly ‘perked up’ (at the 58 minute mark) a goal for each side within a couple of minutes.

  4. I thought that was really good – thank you Starhorse.
    I fell into every single trap, including not ‘seeing’ the anagram in 3d and thought I was after a city in 1a.
    Think I’m probably missing something in 27a although I’m reasonably sure my answer is OK.
    I particularly liked 13 and 22a and 2 and 20d. I think my favourite was 28a.
    Thanks again to Starhorse for the crossword and, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

    1. Hi Kath,
      I think that with 27a you need to look at the first word of the clue to get the start of your answer and then the following TWO words of the clue for the second part. Took me a while to see it that way!

  5. Highly accomplished and, more importantly, highly enjoyable. Many thanks Starhorse.
    My podium finishers were 14a, 28a, 20d, 24d all tying for bronze medal, 9a took silver and in Lizzie Yarnold spot was 22a.
    I don’t quite get the definition in 13a, but that’s probably me being dim!

    1. Well 13a is the IVR code for the down under country containing a synonym for season (as in cooking) but the ‘insertion’ instruction is not abundantly clear to me.

      1. I think, from my conversations with Mr Google, that the two parts of the answer are sharing one of the letters?

        1. Edit to the above – I was looking at IVR codes but the first two letters do appear to be an ‘acceptable’ abbreviation of the country itself, although the BRB doesn’t appear to list it as such.

  6. Nice one, Starhorse. Solving your puzzle generated many laugh-out-loud moments. I have along list of ticks: 1a, 13a, 19a, 22a, 25a, 1d, 5d, 15d, 23d, and I join pretty much everybody above in singling out the outstanding 22a for extra praise. I learned a new word at 7d, which is always satisfying.

    Thanks to Starhorse for brightening up my Saturday, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the forthcoming review.

  7. Great stuff, Starhorse. This was really enjoyable and pitched at a nicely challenging level of difficulty.

    I’ve got three answers that I haven’t been able to parse fully and will look forward to tomorrow’s review for enlightenment. 27a is a nice clue but the definition is not quite accurate. In the most recent game I played the 27a lasted for nearly 60 moves.

    I had lots of ticks, and my favourite was the outstanding 22a.

    Well done, Starhorse, and many thanks.

  8. Our last one in was the one that almost relates to our part of the world 13a. Excellent fun from start to finish and very much appreciated.
    Thanks Starhorse.

  9. Very enjoyable indeed, Starhorse, your puzzles are always a delight to tackle and the surfaces are never less than ultra-smooth. It’s a brave setter though who includes a chess-related clue without seeking RD’s seal of approval first!

    My top clues were 1a, 22a (I’m sure I’ve seen a variation of it before though), 28a and 16d. It was a pity that I kept my repetition radar switched on, as it bleeped when seeing “start to” and “starters” both used as first letter indicators.

    Thank you for the great entertainment, Starhorse.

  10. Very enjoyable – many thanks Starhorse! I particularly liked a couple of the anagrams – tidy.

    PS I’ll be away the next couple of Mondays but back to enjoy & comment upon RCs in March. I’m still feeling slightly pleased with myself following recently being surprised to be informed that I’d got all 2017 Listener puzzles correct. What should my 2018 target be? All (polite) suggestions gratefully received :-) [That’s enough smugness from me!!]

  11. An enjoyable workout with no real problems. I guess the topicality of the surface of 7d was fortuitous. I liked 22ac – what I refer to as a ‘reverse engineered’ clue. Surprised, though, to see the enumeration of 12d with an apostrophe as in most if not all papers it would be a straight (5,5); the general consensus being that an apostrophe makes it too easy – not that I’m complaining! When I saw 8dn I thought the answer might be ‘knowledgeable’ except it that had too many letters; it took a few moments for the correct answer to occur to me.

    Thanks, Starhorse. I’ll look forward to your next appearance.

  12. Many thanks Prolixic for the review and to all who have commented. I very much appreciate the feedback.

    Kudos to Rabbit Dave for sticking it out in a 60-move endgame; I would definitely have shaken hands on a draw after 10 and opened a bottle of wine.

  13. A very polished and enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Starhorse and to Prolixic for the early review. The only clue that doesn’t work for me is the ‘homophone’ at 23d. My podium places go to 13a, 5d and 22a with the last being on the top step.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for pointing out the error of my ways in 13a where – as you doubtless guessed – my seasoning was spices rather than spice!

    Hope your setting career moves on in leaps and bounds, Starhorse, but please favour us with more NTSPPs from time to time!

  15. I am ashamed to admit that after staring at the last three in the top left corner for far too long, I revealed the first letter of 1D, and then the rest fell into place. Splendid puzzle. My top spot has to go to 22A , but I also particularly liked 4D and 8D. Many thanks Starhorse, and thanks to Prolixic for another masterly review.

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