NTSPP – 422 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 422

NTSPP – 422

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Silvanus returns to Saturday afternoon with a crossword that fitted in nicely to that period between eating lunch and ‘must get on with the housework’.

However,if young Silvanus was a member of my creche and had sent this pangram to me to test, one of the main queries he’d have received back from me was whether having so many clues where we are required to chop off the outside letters, keep the outside letters while removing the middle letters, and so on, was several too many. My favourite clue (which didn’t require any such actions), is the splendid d’oh-moment-inducing 25d

I typed this early Saturday afternoon and then having seen so many comments about the good mix of clues, I looked again at the crossword and listed how many of each type of clue there are. I’d have to agree that there is a good variety, and that some of the removal indicators are good, but I still think there’s a bit too much “disheartening” going on – well that’s just how I found it both when solving, parsing and then drafting the review.


1a One surveying walls possibly ripped toilets out (13)
LEPIDOPTERIST An anagram (out) of RIPPED TOILETS produces someone who studies particular insects, of which walls are, possibly, an example

10a Performed dance, trendy from time to time (5)
ACTED From time to time indicates that we need alternate letters from dAnCeTrEnDy

11a Gruelling competition‘s not a thrill somehow, fifty dropping out (9)
TRIATHLON An anagram (somehow) of NOT A THRILl once you have removed one of the letters used by the Romans to represent the number fifty

12a Canadian Arctic sources ridicule in French where to find local wildlife (7)
CARIBOU The ‘sources’ of Canadian and Arctic, a verb meaning to ridicule and the French word for where go together to produce wildlife local to the Canadian Arctic

13a Commotion outside, reversing Honda’s rear clipped bay tree (7)
AVOCADO Put another word for commotion outside a reversal of the ‘rear’ letter of Honda and almost all (clipped) of a small coastal inlet (bay)

14a Influence progress when joining society (4)
SWAY Another word for progress joining (in an Across clue so going after) the abbreviation for Society

15a Passed over section of newspaper (10)
OBITUARIES A cryptic definition of the section of the newspaper where tributes to those recently passed over can be found

19a Trick question disheartened regulars after unravelling Euro champions (10)
CONQUERORS A verb meaning to trick, the abbreviation for question, the outside letters (disheartened) of RegularS, the latter going after an anagram (unravelling) of EURO

20a Recognize old women on fringes of Kensington (4)
KNOW The abbreviations for Old and Women go on or after the ‘fringes’ of KensingtoN

23a English RAF pal developed attachment to headgear (7)
EARFLAP The abbreviation for English followed by an anagram (developed) of RAF PAL

26a Immoderate texts uncovered directed at engineers (7)
EXTREME Uncover or remove the outside letters from tEXTs and ‘direct them at’ or put them in front of the abbreviation for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

27a European bound to make athletics event (4,5)
POLE VAULT A European and a verb meaning to bound in the sense of leaping

28a Mineral‘s near South American capital, not US city (5)
TOPAZ TO (near) and a South American capital once you’ve removed the two-letter abbreviation for a US West Coast city. My personal repetition radar picked up on the fact that I’ve seen a clue like this fairly recently but I can’t remember where, so if no-one else remembers it, people who solve a lot of crosswords may wish to watch several possible spaces as it is probably a clue in one of the many crosswords I’ve tested lately!

29a Exceptional run, approaching level set formerly in school (13)
EXTRAORDINARY A type of cricket run where the batsman doesn’t actually run, and a level of examination we took back in the days before GCSEs


2d Taking white powder, talent certain to amuse (9)
ENTERTAIN Remove (taking) the letters of TALC (white powder) and you’ll find the solution lurking in talENT cERTAIN

3d Content to rent bed nightly, upset and owing money (2,4)
IN DEBT A reversal (upset) of the content to renTBED NIghtly

4d Exceed general anaesthetic? (9)
OUTNUMBER Another word for public (general) followed by the way an anaesthetic is often referred to in crossword clues

5d Man-eater rumoured in large area of forest (5)
TAIGA A homophone (rumoured) of a man-eating animal

6d Sensible subject number at first denied right to enter (8)
RATIONAL Take a subject of a particular country, remove the N (number at first denied) and replace it (enter) an R (right)

7d Starts to swing athletic legs sexily attempting dance (5)
SALSA The ‘starts’ to Swing Athletic Legs Sexily Attempting

8d Group caught half-cut on cruise regularly (6)
CAUCUS Cut away the second half of CAUght and follow with the regular letters of CrUiSe

9d Appreciates girl being protected by nurses (6)
ENJOYS A girl’s name being ‘protected by’ or inserted into the abbreviation for some enrolled nurses

16d Pestered dentist more about removing central incisors (9)
TORMENTED An anagram (about) of DENTisT MORE once you have removed the two letters at the centre of incISors

17d Host popular zoo employee, receiving recognition at last (9)
INNKEEPER The two-letter word meaning popular and a zoo employer, ‘receiving’ or having inserted between them the last letter of recognitioN. Yes I know he’s a publican not an innkeeper, but its such a nice picture of Saint Sharon.


18d Top police officer’s instruction to motorist? (8)
PULLOVER Well I suppose an old friend of the crossword solver makes a nice change from all that letter-removing. Split your solution 4, 4 and the second part of this well-worn clue will make sense










19d Weird native American seen by empty property (6)
CREEPY A Native American seen by the outside letters (empty) of PropertY

21d Reportedly leaks clever scheme (6)
WHEEZE I’m not sure quite how some commenters might pronounce this homophone (reportedly) but to me another way of saying passes water (leaks) sounds the same as a clever scheme

22d Drug cost a tiny bit (6)
STATIN The drugs that made Mr CS so ill they nearly finished him off can be found lurking in a bit of coST A TINy

24d King carries note to be less formal (5)
RELAX Insert a musical note into the Latin word for King

25d God, on reflection what this screen character represents (5)
PLUTO On the cinema screen, this particular character is represented by a reversal (on reflection) of god


37 comments on “NTSPP – 422

  1. Excellent lunchtime entertainment with a nice mixture of gentle clues giving a way in and some clues with more complicated wordplay – thanks Silvanus. The clues I particularly liked were 15a, 18d and 25d.

  2. Liked this a lot.

    Especially, the last ones in … namely 18d, 22d and 21d.

    But, of course, top honours go to 18d – LOL.

    ps Looking for the last bits of the pangram helped with a few of them.

  3. This setter always serves up his puzzles at just the right temperature and consistency – another delightful solve for me.
    It was also an object lesson in how to construct a pangram without resorting to obscurities, I didn’t even realise it was there until checking after completion.

    Learned something new in the correct pronunciation of 5d!

    Thought 22d was very topical and I’ve awarded podium places to 15a plus 4,18&25d.

    Many thanks, Silvanus, hope the next one’s not too far away.

  4. A good crossword – thanks, Silvanus.
    As Gazza has already said there was a good mixture of clues – a few straightforward ones to get going on, then lots of middling ones and then my last three which I have answers for but don’t quite get why although I think they’re right.
    I missed the pangram, just for a change.
    I think my favourite is either 15a or 18d. I also liked 20a – short and sweet and reminds of the the Ralph McTell “Streets of London”.
    Thanks again to Silvanus and in advance to CS.

  5. A most agreeable puzzle indeed, and I agree with the comments above too. Many thanks Silvanus.

    25d beats 18d to be my favourite.

    Thanks in advance to CS for the review.

  6. Noting that a pangram was likely and still lacking one letter was a help with sorting out 9d. 29a took us a little while to sort out the parsing as, although we had heard of the former tests, had never bothered to think what the abbreviation stood for. The walls in 1a also new to us but a quick Google check showed we had disentangled the fodder correctly. A real pleasure to solve and much appreciated.
    Thanks Silvanus

  7. Many thanks as always to those who have tackled the puzzle and especially to those who have taken the trouble to comment, I’m glad you all seem to like it!

    Thanks also to CS in advance for her review, to BD for setting everything up and to my loyal band of test solvers whose contribution is invaluable.

    I probably need to send another soon to BD in order to book a future place in his growing queue, now that recent Rookie graduates have swelled the NTSPP ranks!

  8. Very enjoyable, completed in two sessions either side of volunteering at a ‘Spaghetti Bridge’ competition which resulted in a $25,000 donation to the local food bank.

    I missed the pangram, but then, I always do (and, don’t ever ask me to detect a Nina).

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 19a, and 4d (13a almost made the list) – and the winner is 12a.

    Thanks to Silvanus.

  9. Feeling very thick right now. I had to resort to crossword solver for 1A and I have no clue where walls comes in. I’ve never heard of 5D (had to reveal letters) and had to work to then parse 13A. On the plus side, 15A, 18D and 21D made me laugh. Thanks Silvanus. My fault that I didn’t do justice to your puzzle.

  10. What an excellent puzzle, a really fun set of clues. Particularly enjoyed 15a and 25d.
    Still have yet to satisfactorily parse a clue or two (though fairly confident with the straight definitions) so eagerly await CS’s review.
    Thanks Silvanus!

  11. Well, that was fun. While I got the grid filled without too much of a struggle, there are still a few parses and a handful of synonyms that I’ll need to sleep on. Highlights for me were the laugh-out-loud 15a, the deletion mechanism in 2d, both lurkers, knowing 5d from a song by The Decemberists, the novel use of caught in 8d, “receiving recognition at last” in 17d, and, last but certainly not least, the reflected god in 25d. Thank you Silvanus for an enjoyable and original puzzle.

  12. Similar experience here. Pangram hunting helped with 9d 1a bunged in from checkers but not sure if I would survey walls before buddleia for the subject. 8d and 14a evade me too but I’ll check the revue.
    Thanks Silvanus And CS too.

    1. Live and learn moment is finding out that Wall is a type of butterfly.
      13a stretched me the most putting various parts reversed or not together took me a while. Thanks to Silvanus and Sue.

  13. Many thanks to CS for her review and superb accompanying pictures. Even if some of the clues may have been “disheartened”, I’m pleased that the solvers didn’t appear to be!

    Just one small correction to the parsing of 2d – it isn’t the abbreviation for cocaine that’s removed in the wordplay (although the surface wanted the solver to think of that particular white powder), but it’s the word for a different type of white powder (i.e. talc).

    Thanks again to all.

    1. I do like to leave something for Jane to find ;) (well that’s my excuse anyway) but you’ve beaten her to it!

      1. Only just – waylaid by Mother’s Day phone calls from the daughters!
        Thanks for the review, CS. Have to say that the ‘disheartening’ element didn’t appear to me to be an issue – I was too busy enjoying the solve.

        Thanks again to Silvanus for a great puzzle.

  14. Excellent stuff so thanks to Silvanus and to CS for the review. 21d was fav with 12a and 25d in the medals.

    In 2d I thought the white powder was TALC. If you remove it from TALentCertain you’re left with the answer.

    1. I’ve edited the hint since you looked at it and typed your comment.

      Do people still use talc?

        1. It’s very useful for wafting under the armpits prior to shaving off those pesky little hairs but perhaps that’s a comment best suited to a different time and place!

              1. When one son is in Northern Ireland and the other is in Amsterdam, your husband is a pescatarian, and you want to eat meat, there’s not a lot of choice left as to who should cook

                1. Easy – the chef in the restaurant which serves both fish and meat, with your share of the bill paid for by the absent sons!

  15. A very nice puzzle all round. We enjoyed 2d and laughed at 21d.

    We managed to fully parse all the clues except 6d, which was an obvious bung-in anyway.

    It’s a pleasure to see a setter other than the standard ones in action, if only to see some other ways of clueing.

    Thanks to CS for the review and Silvanus for the 2d.

  16. is baby powder the same as talc?

    Just finished this. I thought the 1a person was staring at his/her framed collection on the walls.

    I didn’t know you could say passed over. not in brb. I thought it was passed away (in brb)

    Yes, I also saw TOPAZ recently, using TO from the clue and the rest similar – can’t find it on fifteen squared. near=to stumped me, well, it had to be.

    In 4d I thought out=unconscious, hence a ‘general’ anaesthetic, general=out seems a bit of a stretch to me but then my interpretation probably is too.

    6d does right “enter”?

    Took me a while to find the girl because of course i hadn’t detected the pangram.

    Wheeze a new meaning for me

    I liked 7d, 8d, 22d

    Many thanks Silvanus and CS

    1. Hi Dutch,
      Yes – baby powder is talc, minus any perfume element.
      Pass over is definitely an entry in the 13th edition of the BRB – just checked. Think it’s a shortened form of ‘pass over to the other side’ – religious connotation.

      4d – I looked on it as ‘exceed’ for one definition and then ‘out number’ (anaesthetic that puts one ‘out’). Umm – I’m sure that Silvanus could explain that one more correctly!
      6d – I think ‘Right’ is entering into the place vacated by the first of ‘Number’.
      1a – Wall Brown butterflies are very pretty creatures – small but beautifully marked and they do favour settling on warm walls.

  17. I found this good fun and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have plenty of approval ticks and have singled out 15a, 8d, 18d and 25d for special mention. I also rather liked 4d! I hadn’t heard of the ‘large area of forest’.

    I had no problems with the wordplay save for 6d. Here I had the answer but was at a loss how to parse it. Oh dear! Should have known the synonym for ‘subject’. (I didn’t use any kind of help other than BRB for 4d. Perhaps I should have!)

    Huge thanks to Sylvanus for an excellent NTSPP, and grateful thanks to CS for her excellent review.

  18. Hi Sue, I’m curious about why you label 18d well-worn? Was it done to death in the days before crosswords were available online? I can find only four previous appearances where today’s two meanings are paired, and of those only one mentions police.

  19. Lovely clues from the consistently engaging and entertaining Silvanus, hitting the sweet spot every time.

    Re your ‘repetition radar’ on 28a, CS, one candidate might be a certain puzzle you recently test-solved from a Corn related setter in Cornwall. A case of Great minds think alike? Or maybe fools seldom differ!

  20. Thanks Silvanus for an excellent crossword. ‘Talent certain to amuse’ seems like a fair description of you!

  21. A straightforward enjoyable solve in under half an hour. No complaints or niggles about clues or clue types. And only spotted the pangram after completing it. Thanks, Silvanus.

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