NTSPP – 420 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 420

NTSPP – 420

Oldies by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Oldies but …….

A much trickier puzzle from Phibs this time which I think has quite a lot to do with fitting the Oldies of the theme into the grid. If you haven’t worked out who or where they are yet, there’s a helpful completed puzzle at the bottom of the review.


1a Quality issue held back British plugs (6)
TIMBRE A reversal (held back) of a verb meaning issue into which is inserted (plugs) an abbreviation for British

4a Carry out Eastern fellow following shocking treatment (6)
EFFECT The abbreviations for Eastern Fellow and Following and the abbreviated way of referring to some ‘shocking’ medical treatment

8a Spelling quite good? Entering bee indicated (7)
BESPOKE The abbreviation for spelling and an informal way of saying quite good are inserted into (enter) BEE (from the clue)

9a Persons unknown knocking off caps of several traffic wardens (7)
RANGERS remove the ‘caps’ of Several and Traffic from some unknown persons

11a Right variety of ale? (4)
REAL The abbreviation for Right and an anagram (variety) of ALE produce the only sort of ale you’d want to drink!

12a Ambush nearly always involved unknown quantity (6)
WAYLAY An anagram (involved) of nearly all of ALWAYs followed by a mathematical unknown quantity

14a Crafty move by player lacking good reach (5)
AMBIT Remove (lacking) the G for good from a crafty move by a chess player

16a Offered more than love by very tipsy bride (7)
OVERBID The letter used to indicate a score of love, the abbreviation for very and an anagram (tipsy) of BRIDE

18a Rub bruised arse (nursing term for ‘bottom’) (5)
SMEAR An anagram (bruised) of ARSE ‘nursing’ the bottom of term  the M at the end (term) of bottoM

20a Bikini, possibly secured by Sellotape, twisting around (5)
ATOLL Found reversed (twisting around) inside (secured by) SeLLOTApe

23a Paddy Ashdown on vacation inhibited by not drinking strong spirit (7)
TANTRUM On vacation indicates that you only need the outside letters of AshdowN which should be inserted into (inhibited by) the two-letters used to indicate not drinking alcohol, the result them followed with a strong spirit

24a Carried in case of punting accident (5)
PRANG A verb meaning carried inserted into the outside letters (case) of PuntinG

26a Eager Australian turned peculiar after leaving university (6)
ARDENT The abbreviation for Australian followed by an anagram (peculiar) of TURNED, leaving out the U for University

28a Morgan conceivably doing away with starter on steering column (4)
PIER I’ve written on my piece of paper ‘unfair??’ because I’m not sure how well our overseas friends will know this particular Morgan. A male Christian name, Mr Morgan the broadcaster being an example, doing away with the S that is the ‘starter’ of Steering

30a In English (Advanced) Phibs settles for B or C, perhaps (A no longer an option) (7)
ELEMENT The abbreviation for English,  a verb meaning advanced (sneaky capital time), how Phibs would refer to himself. B BORON and C CARBON are symbols of two examples of the solution but A isn’t

31a See preamble (7)

32a Frightful girls in novel order latest in corsetry (6)
GRISLY An anagram (in novel order) of GIRLS followed by the last letter (latest) in corsetrY

33a Abstaining from sex in class is hard (6)
CHASTE The abbreviation for Hard inserted into a social class


1d Definite only about snogging nothing with warty appearance (8)
TUBEROUS A reversal (about) of synonyms for definite and only ‘snogging’ O (nothing)

2d Brazilian racing driver regularly cut corner, creating carnage (8)
MASSACRE A Brazilian racing driver and the regular letters of CoRnEr

3d Beginning to go off, having bagged duck? He could be! (4)
ROOT A verb meaning to go off into which is inserted (bagged) the number used to indicate a duck in cricket. Thank you to RD for pointing out that Mr Root is a cricketer which I’d forgotten yesterday afternoon when I was typing the review

4d Sign on piece of kitchen roll (5)
ENROL Lurking in a piece of kitchEN ROLl

5d Emptied flats hiding criminal and many a sweet girl? (5,5)
FANNY ADAMS Empty out the word FlatS and insert (hiding) an anagram (criminal) of AND MANY A

6d Angel Inn’s piano replaced by American pop diva (6)
CHERUB Take another word for an inn and replace the P for Piano with the American pop diva so beloved by crossword setters everywhere for her useful addition to wordplay and solutions

7d Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown’s housing expert – not exactly a big fish (8)
CETACEAN The abbreviation for Chancellor of the Exchequer, another word for the colour brown, the later ‘housing’ an expert

10d Barney Rubble finally quitting series (4)
SPAT Remove the E (RubblE ‘finally’) from the end of a series

13d Customs taking time to suppress European people offering home security? (10)
MORTGAGEES Insert into some customs or manners, the abbreviation for time, a verb meaning to suppress and the abbreviation for European

15d Shakespeare perhaps avoiding wife trouble (3)
ILL The informal way we might refer to Mr Shakespeare ‘avoiding’ or without the abbreviation for Wife

17d Peer group push aggressively to restrict number backing American (8)
BARONAGE A verb meaning to push aggressively restricts a reversal (back) of an abbreviation for number and the abbreviation for America

19d Guy wanting new king hurt (3)
MAR Remove (wanting) the N for New from another word for guy and replace with the abbreviation for King in a chess game

21d Sod diet! I fancy nuts! (8)
ODDITIES An anagram (fancy) of SOD DIET I

22d Heading for Edgbaston after 50- over game (8)
LACROSSE The ‘heading’ for Edgbaston goes after the Roman numeral for 50 and another way of saying over. In answer to someone’s  question about why this game appears so often in British crosswords, my nephew is one of many people who play it regularly so it is obviously more popular than you’d think

24d Put Chambers on top of encyclopaedia (4)
POSE Here the capital C in Chambers is there to mislead because these particular chambers are what my granny would call a gazunder. An informal term for these items goes on the top of Encyclopaedia

25d Eminem maybe losing head and holding a show up (6)
APPEAR Eminem is an example of a particular type of performer, the first letter of which should be lost and the A (from the clue) inserted into the remaining letters

27d Covering for dolly taking too much off her trolley (5)
DOTTY The outside letters (covering for) of DollY taking a three-letter way of saying too much

29d Peterborough U? (4)
POSH Peterborough United Football Club are known as this term which can quite often be represented in crosswords by the letter U

Did you spot where they were hiding?? 

30 comments on “NTSPP – 420

  1. Fairly tricky, but this was one of those puzzles where having a theme certainly lessened the difficulty factor. I had suspicions as to what 31a might be about halfway through the puzzle, and it definitely helped with several of the remaining answers.

    My two favourite clues were 3d and 24d. A slight disappointment in such an excellent puzzle was seeing “housing” used twice as a containment indicator in the space of three clues.

    Many thanks to Phibs for a stiff challenge but an enjoyable one.

    1. D’oh! How careless of me. After I’ve written the clues I do a check for repetition of abbreviations and indicators (which usually throws up a couple of issues, almost invariably in clues where the duplicates are impossible to replace :eek: ), but I think on this occasion I subsequently rewrote the clue for 7d and then failed miserably on the due diligence…for ‘housing’ in 5d please imagine ‘accommodating’ or ‘hiding’… :sad:

  2. Unlike our clever Sylvanus, I guessed 31a from the checkers and then worked backwards to find the three performers – all done after I’d filled the grid!

    The Brazilian driver and Peterborough crowd required input from Mr G and I very much doubt that I’ve fully parsed 30a but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

    Podium places handed out to 23a & 5d.

    Many thanks, Phibs, that was great fun.

  3. Very clever, a bit tricky in places and a lot of fun. Favourite has to be 5d – sweet girl indeed :lol:

    Just an observation – lacrosse is very much a minority sport in the UK so how come it turns up in crosswords so often – that’s twice this week!

    Thanks Phibs, I really enjoyed it.

  4. Considerably trickier than I was expecting from Phibs, but every bit as enjoyable.

    I got 29d from the U? and had to google Peterborough plus the answer to understand it.

    Lots of favourites: 11a 16a 33a, 5d, 21d and 24d.

    Many thanks to Phibs and in advance to CS for the review.

  5. Quite hard but had a stroke of luck by solving the right side first and spotted a familiar name. 31a fell straight away and the two others slowly fitted in.
    Loved the Paddy Ashdown clue.
    Thanks to Phibs for the fun.

  6. Certainly quite a challenge for us and excellent fun. It was not until we had the grid filled with the last one being 31a that we had any idea what names we were looking for. And the we got an extra laugh when we twigged the significance of the puzzle title. Very clever.
    Many thanks Phibs.

  7. I have about two-thirds of this. I have ground to a halt with no ideas on who or what the constituents of the theme may be. I think I have to give up, and wait for enlightenment tomorrow.

  8. Nice one, thanks Phibs. I didn’t have a clue what was going on until after finishing, since I didn’t get Peterborough U till the end and assumed that 31a was **L**** to go with the oldies.

  9. Many thanks Phibs. Lots of fine clues, but the real winner was the ruse of those tracked theme characters – very nicely done indeed!

  10. I came to this late after a very busy day and was in two minds whether to give it a miss or not. I’m very glad I decided to tackle it as it was nicely challenging and a lot of fun. Great respect is due for fitting in the three performers.

    It all fell into place nicely but I’ve got a couple of only partially parsed answers which I will need to check when the review appears later.

    3d was my last one in and favourite.

    Very well done, Phibs, and many thanks for the fun.

    1. Many thanks to Anon (CS?) for the review.
      22d is fine by me, and I can’t recall ever having questioned it – but my memory is not what it was. :sad:

      For 3d I simply took the “He” to mean that the answer could be a cricketer (the current England Test captain) who is leaving the field have been dismissed for a duck, but perhaps that is a bit of an unfair definition by example?

      In 30a, I don’t think the review needs “part of”.

      1. Thank you – I’ve adjusted my hints.

        As for being Anon, the process of adding my hints to the already existing NTSPP post has quite a lot to remember and I nearly always forget to change from ‘Admin’ to ‘crypticsue’.

  11. Extremely enjoyable – thanks Phibs. I twigged who the oldies were about two-thirds of the way through but then had a job finding the third member because I thought their forename had a different spelling.
    Lots of ‘like a lot’ clues – I’ll just mention 23a, 5d and 24d.

  12. 13a: the solution[s] do not offer home security – they offer money and take security. It is the -ors who offer security.

    1. I did actually use the ‘reveal a letter’ facility yesterday to make sure I had the right solution as that thought had occurred to me too

  13. Thanks to CS for the write-up.
    I presume from the wording (“no longer”) of the 30a clue that A was at one time used as the chemical symbol for an element – does anyone know what this was?

  14. Many thanks for the review, CS. I was going to ask about the ‘no longer’ in 30a but see now that Gazza beat me to it!

    By the way – I’d agree with you over 22d. A good friend of mine has played regularly throughout his life and now – in his late sixties – still coaches a thriving junior team. He never seems to be short of youngsters wanting the opportunity to play in a match.

  15. Thanks to CS for the review, and to all who attempted the puzzle, particularly those who have provided feedback.

    To clarify the intention in 4d, the first part Is a complete clue for the entry, with ‘Beginning’ as the definition, while the second part provides an additional indication referring to the England test captain.

    I felt that Mr Morgan had broader ‘celebrity’ status as the winner of the US Celebrity Apprentice and host of his own CNN programme for several years, but I offer my apologies to those unlucky enough not to be familiar with him.

    Regarding 13d, I was relying on the Chambers definition of the (singular form of the) solution as ‘someone who gives or grants a mortgage’ (give=’offer’, mortgage=’home security?’), but if I had my time over again I would definitely use something less confusing and more accurate! :wacko:

  16. Many thanks, CS, for the review. Little wonder I was having trouble – I was not familiar with the group in question in 31a, nor its members, and nor the several other U.K. references; the cricketer in 3d (I had, but dismissed, the correct answer because I could not account for the ‘Beginning’ from the clue), Morgan in 28a, the soccer reference in 29d, and 24d escapes me as well. I’m glad others enjoyed this, and I should have been able to do a little more than I did, but on the whole I was left feeling a little disappointed.

  17. Quite a challenge, needing two sessions separated by a night’s sleep. In the end I twigged the first of the three performers almost simultaneously with 31ac. Didn’t know the racing driver but did know tle Peterborough reference.

    I parsed 18ac differently. I took ‘term’ in its meaning of ‘end’ (the first one given in Chambers) so that the M was the end of ‘bottom’ rather than the bottom of ‘term’. Which makes more sense in an across clue.

    1. You interpreted the indication of M in 18ac as I intended it, ie the letter at the end (‘term’) of ‘bottom’. I ‘m not sure that it works the other way round, even for a down entry.

  18. The only problem with a quizz within a quizz is that if I get the answer I usually give up.
    That was the case for me and now that I have read the review I seem to have passed quite a few by.
    30a was one of them so was the wonderfully funny 27d.
    A really great crossword on second reading.
    Thanks again to Phibs and to CS for the review.

  19. Thanks Phibs, that was an interesting challenge! Not exactly helped by my writing in BARONESS at 17d despite having analysed the clue correctly. One of those where I had to keep putting it down and coming back to it over about three days to get it done. Real joy when the theme finally emerged.

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