NTSPP – 431 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 431

NTSPP – 431

A Puzzle by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A quick review from Prolixic follows.

No illustrations today as I have three services to attend and am in the middle of grandchild sitting – one asleep beside me and the other running around determined to make enough noise to wake the other one up!


6 Retired Rabbi unnecessarily admits zip malfunction (5)
ENNUI – The answer is hidden (admits) and reversed (retired) in RABBI UNNECESSARILY.

7 Auntie’s got a problem with this match fee (5,3)
EQUAL PAY – Another word for match and another word for fee to give a gender related remuneration issue that is being highlighted by the fees paid at the BBC (Auntie).

10 Boyfriend once caught carrying can for living in the past (7)
EXTINCT – A two letter prefix for a former boyfriend and the abbreviation for caught include (carrying) another word for a can.

11 Foreign character contracted to probe alleged scandal in newspaper (7)
GAZETTE – The Greek character for Z in English with the final letter removed (contracted) inside (to probe) a four letter word often used to represent a scandal in the press (after Watergate).

12 American cedar chopped up to make crate? (4-3)
USED CAR – The abbreviation for United States (American) followed by an anagram (chopped up) of CEDAR.

13 Subject of selfie with 19? Not quite! (3,4)
VAN GOGH – A cryptic definition of the artist who cut of one of his ears and painted a self-portrait with his bandaged ear.

14 Four courses? (1,6,4)
A SQUARE MEAL – Cryptic definition of a filling meal by reference to a four sided shape.

19 Concentrating hard when guarding student king (3,4)
ALL EARS – A two letter word meaning when around (guarding) the abbreviation for student and a four letter Shakespearean king.

21 With due respect coach is leader only until competition resumes (4,3)
PACE CAR – A four letter Latin word meaning with due respect and a three letter word for a railway carriage or coach.

23 Function in Britain and Germany as net contributor (7)
BLOGGER – A three letter word for a mathematical function inside the single letter abbreviation for Britain and the three letter abbreviation or Germany.

25 With wound covered judge takes over from first of September (7)
INJURED – A seven letter word meaning covered in terms of fire, theft, etc with the first letter of September being replaced by the abbreviation for judge.

26 Scientist joins copper to unmask young trooper (3,5)
CUB SCOUT – The chemical symbol for copper followed by the abbreviation for Bachelor of Science and a three letter word meaning to unmask.

27 Sweet-talk grasping father to go for a drink (5)
LATTE – A seven letter word meaning to sweet-talk someone with the abbreviation for father removed (one letter from the front and one letter from the back.


1 All articles in English anticipate academic denunciation (8)
ANATHEMA – An A, AN and THE (all articles in English) followed by (anticipate) the abbreviation for Master of Arts (academic).

2 Opt for porridge and shed two kilos – it’s a doddle (6)
PICNIC – A four letter word meaning choose or opt for and a four letter word for a prison each with a K removed from the end (shed two kilos).

3 One losing all week at Royal Ascot may have experienced such (6,4)
BETTER DAYS – Cryptic definition in several senses.

4 Neat product, good after dark (4)
DUNG – A three letter word meaning dark followed by the abbreviation for good.

5 President‘s found alternative backing (6)
CASTRO – A four letter word meaning found (in the metal working sense of the word) followed by a reversal (backing) of a word expressing an alternative.

6 Tour of France broadcast’s something to behold (6)
EYEFUL – A homophone (broadcast) of the name of a famous French tower (tour of France).

8 Tablet constructed by religious school in assorted bits of Lego (7)
LOZENGE – The name of a Buddhist religious school inside an anagram (assorted bits of) of LEGO.

9 Foolishly lied about husband’s capital (5)
DELHI – An anagram (foolishly) of LIED around the abbreviation for husband.

13 Grapple with head’s policies (10)
VIEWPOINTS – A three letter word meaning to grapple followed by the abbreviation for with and a five letter word for a head of land with the S from the ’s at the end.

15 Appointed bodies question Apple’s first duff Operating System (7)
QUANGOS – A two letter abbreviation for question followed by the first letter (repetition radar alert) of Apple, the abbreviation for no good and the abbreviation for operating system.

16 Produce nourishment for young Queen for first time in distress (8)
LACERATE  A seven letter word meaning producing breast milk with the first T replaced by the abbreviation for the current queen.

17 West gets to grips with revolutionary times perhaps (5)
MAYBE – The first name of the film actress whose surname was west included (gets to grips with) a reversal (revolutionary) of a two letter word meaning times in the sense of multiplication.

18 French papers, say, turned up in place of the milk (6)
FRIDGE – A two letter word abbreviation for French followed by a two letter word for papers and a reversal (turned up) of a two letter abbreviation for say or for example.

20 Call on Google to improve (4,2)
LOOK UPTripe Triple definition, the first meaning to visit, the second to search for something on-line and third meaning to get better.

22 Persuade little woman to split cold beer (6)
CAJOLE – A diminutive form of Josephine (little worman) inside (to split) the abbreviation for cold and a three letter word for beer

24 Rush to run over before green light (4)
ROOK  -The abbreviation for run and over followed by a two letter word meaning to give the green light to something.

36 comments on “NTSPP – 431

  1. As I wasn’t really feeling like crosswording today, I was rather hoping for a missable ntspp, but nope – couldn’t pass up a Gazza puzzle.

    Every bit as brilliant as expected, but I found it pretty tough. Didn’t help myself by missing the ‘s in the clue for 6d and confidently inputting the wrong answer. Argh. Loved it though.

    So many pennies dropped (like the zip malfunction of 6a) that, collecting them now, it’s hard to select the shiniest but I have narrowed my list of favourites to 7a, 13a and 2d.

    Thanks to Gazza for the fun and in advance to CS for the review.

    1. Gazza is not a nationally-published setter and so convention dictates that Prolixic can do the review this week

      1. I know he isn’t but Gazza should be a nationally published setter – he’s an awful lot better and more fun than some others.

  2. Kitty took the words out of my mouth – so many pennies dropped here that I’m flat broke!
    Choose a favourite or even make a short list – absolutely no chance.

    Many, many thanks, Gazza – and lucky Prolixic to get to review this one.

  3. Currently stuck in the SE corner & I may have to do few reveals to complete this excellent puzzle. Favourite clue is 6a just for the imagery it brings to mind. Thanks Gazza & to Proilxic in advance

  4. Loved the whole puzzle, but the 13a/19a combo stood out for me. LOL

    Still struggling with the definition of 6a but I understand the wordplay.

    Many Thanks to Gazza!

    1. I’m still struggling with the 6a – definition.

      Zip malfunction? Help, please!

      My failure to understand it is becoming rather boring.

  5. Congratulations Gazza on this brilliant pangram

    It wasn’t easy, but very rewarding. Some absolutely fantastic penny drop moments of which 7a and 13a were my favourites. Also really liked 12a, 25a, 6d, 17d

    I did think 1a was a bit too clever and I had to read “grasping father to go” several times. I thought “Tour de France” would have been perfectly acceptable.

    I did need my brb for a few (e.g. 21a, 24d)

    Excellent entertainment, many many thanks Gazza

  6. I think this was probably the trickiest Gazza puzzle I’ve tackled, but I was determined to finish without any electronic assistance, even if it took twice the normal time. I’d be interested to know if our setter consciously upped the difficulty level this time?

    Excellently clued and very rewarding to solve as always. My podium threesome comprised 13a (I got it before 19a!), 2d and 6d.

    Many thanks indeed, Gazza.

  7. :phew: Gazza that was a very tough pangram but great fun with pennies dropping all over the place.

    I have bunged in 27a but I can’t parse my answer, and I have given up completely on 21a despite being very sure that I have four of the required seven letters. The rest though were all brilliant and my short list is 6a (great definition), 7a, 13a & 2d but that’s not to say that any of the others didn’t deserve a mention.

    Well done again, Gazza, and thank you. You’ve helped me to pass away a miserably wet afternoon. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. P.S. I meant to add that I don’t think 13d means “policies”. For me, 13d are opinions not courses of actions . I have found the equivalence in a online Thesaurus but my BRB doesn’t seem to support this definition.

      1. 13d. Chambers Thesaurus: Viewpoint (a) = Stance (b). Policy (c) = Stance (b). So, a = b and b = c. But does a = c? They both also mean “position”. I’ll let others decide.

  8. Plenty to like, 13a stood out for me but it is in very good company. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    Thank you Gazza for a great puzzle.

  9. Had I not spotted that today’s NTSPP was set by Gazza I might have done ‘useful stuff’ instead but I had to do this one – I always love his crosswords.
    I thought it was more difficult than his usually are but that could very easily be one of those ‘just me then’ things as my brain is not fully operational at the moment.
    It has taken me a very long time (but I have cut the grass as well) and there are a couple of answers where I think I’m missing something.
    I can’t do 24d even though I have the first and third letters – dim or what?
    My favourite(s) have to be the 13a/23a combination – that’s what I call devious! There are too many other good ones to pick out any in particular.
    With very many thanks to Gazza and, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

  10. Classy stuff, and quite hard.
    To pick a couple – opt for porridge, FOI, and subject of selfie, LOI. In between, French papers brilliant.
    Thanks, really enjoyed it.

  11. Much too difficult for me which is a shame as I have much time on my hands this weekend as (the soon to be) Mrs.Hoofit is away.
    Looking forward to going through the hints as I always do.

      1. Hi Jane. It’s the14th June.
        I think all is on track for the big day, I am off on a ‘stag day’ on Thursday with my two sons to watch Sussex play Kent at cricket, so I will probably have to give Giovanni a miss next Friday.
        Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday.

  12. Excellent puzzle, thanks Gazza. Lots to like, super smooth surfaces and a pangram to boot! Particularly liked 6a, 7a, 12a, 13a, 3d and, biggest penny-drop, 6d.

  13. Many thanks for finding time to post the review in amongst all the other commitments, Prolixic – much appreciated as always.

    Thanks again to Gazza for the puzzle.

  14. Thanks to all who commented and to Prolixic for the decipherment (I’m rather hurt that you considered 20d to be tripe :D ).
    To answer silvanus’s question – I didn’t consciously intend to up the difficulty level, though I do find it very difficult to gauge the difficulty of my own puzzles.

  15. Finallt got round to this after a gruelling session scraping mouldy silicone from round the shower and resealing it. Needed plenty of hints to finish but loved most of them. 6a 2d and 6d get my vote but a case could be made for many others.
    I needed the hint to parse 27a and then as well as the 7 letter word with father removed I noticed the answer is a rekrul in the first two words!
    Sweet-talk back gardens to go for a drink (5) is not as good as Gazza but pleased me.

  16. Very late commenting. We were away all day yesterday and although we made an early start to solving had to put it aside until we returned home last night. Excellent puzzle and a considerable challenge which we thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed.
    Many thanks Gazza and Prolixic.

  17. Ah – 27a – if in doubt and you can’t explain your answer look for a lurker, or a reversed one, even if there’s no indication that it might be (grasping, perhaps) . . . . oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I know that I miss them but when I invent them I know it’s getting bad. :roll: and :oops:

  18. Phew! I sparred sporadically with this over the past couple of days, finally completing this morning over my breakfast porridge. I got all the answers but there were 2 which I couldn’t parse fully. Very tough but very enjoyable – a like an occasional “war of attrition”. A cracking puzzle!

  19. PS. 27a. This is one of those “deletion” clues which also contains a (accidental?) reverse lurker. Did you notice that when you composed it, Gazza? I’m sure you did…

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