NTSPP – 438 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 438

NTSPP – 438

A Puzzle by Italicus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

A delightful themed crossword from Italicus.  After a long busy weekend, I have not time to do full justice to the clues with illustrations, for which apologies.


8 A 7 27 met Hemingway (4)
PAPA – Double definition, the first from the fairytale and the second the nickname of Ernest Hemingway.

9 7 Celts paced about (10)
SPECTACLED – An anagram (about) of CELTS PACED.

10 Journalist infiltrates discredited IT organisation (6)
EDITOR – The answer is hidden in (infiltrates) DISCREDITED IT ORGANISATION.

11 Exploit primary colour, painting float (4,4)
MILK CART – A four letter word meaning to exploit followed by the first letter (primary) of colour and a three letter word that describes a painting.

12 Perennial wintery weather leads to sudden decline (8)
SNOWDROP – A four letter word for wintery weather before (leads to) a four letter word for a sudden decline.

14 Shoddy attempt to enclose wood (6)
TRASHY – A three letter word meaning to attempt around (to enclose) a three letter type of wood.

16 Good man receiving a year’s reprieve (4)
STAY – The abbreviation for saint (good man) followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for year.

17 Airline toilet’s 7 (5)
BALOO – The abbreviation for British Airways followed by a three letter word for a toilet.

18 Small 7 has acre on island (4)
CUBA – The name of the young of a 7 followed by the abbreviation for acre.

19 7s have them regularly sent out by son (6)
SNOUTS – The odd letters (regularly) in SENT followed by the OUT from the clue and the abbreviation for son.

21 Famous film about alien resistance; it is studied by NASA (8)
ROCKETRY – The name of a famous boxing film about the abbreviation for extra terrestrial (alien) and the abbreviation for resistance.

23 Exercise in a gym; it takes energy and zest (8)
APPETITE – The abbreviation for physical exercise (exercise) inside the A from the clue and the abbreviation for physical training (gym) followed by the IT from the clue and the abbreviation for energy.

26 Retired LA woman runs show (6)
REVEAL – Reverse (retired) the LA from the clue, a three letter woman’s name and the abbreviation for runs.

27 One who confronted 7s with rifles, protecting elderly setter (10)
GOLDILOCKS – The name of a type of pistol in the plural around (protecting) a three letter word for elderly and the person pronoun for the setter.

28 Bookish type is European, but no Romeo (4)
GEEK – The name of a denizen of a European country without the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet.


1 Unnecessary words in definitions? One hundred and seven? (10)
PADDINGTON – A seven letter word for unnecessary words followed by a three letter word meaning one hundred.

2 Feel free to choose actor for role of Gulliver (8)
CASTAWAY – Split 4,4, this would give an imperative phrase giving someone freedom to chose an actor for a role.

3 Moneylender has certain standing in ancient city (6)
USURER – A four letter word meaning certain inside a two letter ancient biblical city.  I am not certain that the standing helps here.

4 Drink with moderation initially, like the Chicago 7s (4)
TEAM – A three letter non-alcoholic drink followed by the first letter (initially) of moderation.

5 Heel trashed toilet at bottom of street (8)
STILETTO – The abbreviation for street followed by an anagram (trashed) of TOILET.

6 A government agency accepts account of typical suburban avenue (6)
ACACIA – The A from the clue and a three letter abbreviation for an American government agency around (accepts) the abbreviation for account.

7 Report of naked prowler in the woods (4)
BEAR – A homophone (report of) of BARE (naked prowler).

13 Heartless official breaks the average 7 (5)
POLAR – The outer letters (heartless) of official inside (breaks) a three letter word for average.

15 Breathes in laboriously, as a 7 does (10)
HIBERNATES – An anagram (laboriously) of BREATHES IN.

17 Prepare to roast infirm inside fortress (8)
BASTILLE – A three letter word meaning infirm inside a five letter word meaning prepare to roast.

18 Wielding a gavel in church creates division (8)
CLEAVAGE – An anagram (wielding) of A GAVEL inside the abbreviation for church.

20 Overturns positive results (6)
UPENDS – A two letter word meaning positive followed by a four letter word meaning results.

22 Is concerned about small pet (6)
CARESS – A five letter word meaning is concerned around (about) the abbreviation for small.

24 Turning circle for 7 (4)
POOH – Reverse (turning) a word meaning a circle.

25 Every middle of March Caesar’s resurrected (4)
EACH – The answer is hidden (middle of) and reversed (resurrected) in MARCH CAESAR.

23 comments on “NTSPP – 438

  1. Really enjoyable puzzle with a well-worked theme and smooth surfaces throughout – thanks Italicus. I have loads of ticks on my printout but I’ll just mention 21a, 1d, 3d and 18d.

  2. Lovely puzzle, lovely theme. I particularly liked 1d (though i thought the unnecessary words could be anywhere in the clue) and also the 8a / 28a combination (though i imagined pistols rather than rifles, but that could be my ignorance). Some great surfaces, eg. 7d, 15d.

    a most enjoyable solve. It was Chicago (4d) that gave me the theme.

    Well done and many thanks

  3. Really enjoyable, thanks Italicus.

    Surprised that I knew so many members of the family “ursidae”.

    17d – not sure about “prepare to roast” – I thought it came later in the cooking process.

    However, lots of great clues and very smooth surfaces throughout.

    My favourite three 7’s were 1d, 8a and 24d.

  4. Just got to love the theme haven’t you! I now have an earworm about a picnic but I can happily live with that.

    I did need to check on the rifles and haven’t heard of the second word of 11a being used as an alternative but the answer was obvious enough.

    17a made me smile but my top three were 12a plus 2&3d. So many other contenders but I can’t choose them all!

    Many thanks, Italicus – you’re definitely not a 7 of little brain!

  5. What fun! Lots of ticks on my page too. My top clues were 8A, 1D and 18D. I did look in vain for a certain ‘better than the average” bear! Great stuff Italicus.

  6. A lovely puzzle indeed with a pleasing theme, great stuff as always from this particular setter.

    Like today’s backpager, I was held up a little in the SW corner, but everything else flowed smoothly.

    Plenty of ticks on my printed page as well – 21a, 26a, 28a, 2d, 3d, 7d and 22d, but my overall favourite was 1d.

    Many thanks Italicus.

  7. Great puzzle Italicus.
    Stuck on last one 8a
    Enjoyed the theme, but favourite is 18d

    1. 8a Ernest Hemingway has a nickname, which serves as a definition. ‘A 7 27 met’ refers to one of three 7’s that 27 met, the one with the bed that is too hard. Does that help?

  8. A very enjoyable exercise. I don’t normally have time to try the NTSPP but as I had decided to watch France v Argentina I combined the two, both with pleasing outcomes.
    Like Dutch I was confused by rifles in 27a but we’re obviously very peaceable chappies who don’t understand such things. The solution made me smile but my LOL moment was 24d as I unleashed my inner schoolboy 😂

  9. That was excellent fun. We got onto the theme as soon as we looked at 7d and then enjoyed finding all the clever variations that Italicus had managed to slot into the grid.
    Thanks Italicus.

  10. Thanks to one and all for the positive comments – they have made me almost as happy as watching Portugal (i.e. Ronaldo) go out of the World Cup

  11. Yes, very enjoyable and the ursine theme was easier to crack than the avian one in today’s Indy. I was a bit thick in needing a wordfinder for 2dn (facepalm moment when I got it) and had to google for the nickname at 8ac. Thanks, Italicus.

  12. I like theme puzzles.
    Forgot to say on the other side that I also started the Puck in the Graun. Similar.
    I like this kind of puzzles.
    Great fun they are.

  13. Brilliant and great fun!

    Loved the theme and, having written cryptic crosswords for Golf Monthly back in the day, I know how difficult it is to squeeze in a respectable number of themed clues/answers.

    Ticks all over the place from me but in particular I loved the simplicity in 24d and the humour in 17a.

    Very enjoyable and a puzzle of the highest quality.

    Many thanks, Italicus!

  14. Exellent stuff so Ta to Italicus.

    Just a shame my favourites Yogi and Booboo coudln’t make it to the party.

  15. I don’t normally like themed crosswords because I take ages identifying the theme and then find it’s something I don’t know anything about anyway – I really enjoyed this one.
    Loads of lovely clues and plenty that made me laugh which is always good – 17a and 1d particularly.
    With thanks to Italicus for such a good crossword (and the laughs) and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review.

  16. Brilliant! This was hugely entertaining. I had lots of ticks all over my page and 1d was my favourite. Many thanks, Italicus.

  17. Thank you for the review, Prolixic. So sorry that we didn’t get the pictures but still extremely grateful that you managed to bring us the decryption.
    Good scores on the doors for Italicus!

  18. Thanks to Prolixic for his kind review and apologies to all the Yogi bear fans out there! I did try to get a slight reference to him in 13d with the ‘average 7’. Will try to work him (or Booboo) into some future crossword!

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