NTSPP – 444 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 444

NTSPP – 444

A Puzzle by Prolixic

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

While on his recent break, Prolixic set himself some holiday homework and this nice NTSPP is the result. Even if you didn’t know where he went, there are several clues that give the game away


1a Cover over a vestment for transport (5,4)
CANAL BOAT A cover (for example an outer garment) goes over a priest’s long-sleeved white vestment. Here you need to remember the grammatical rule that if a word starts with an A,  then the indefinite article before it should be AN not A

6a Run briefly after covering game (5)
RUGBY The covering can be a small floor mat or a slang term for a toupee, and should be followed by almost all (briefly) of a run made from a ball that passes the batsman but is not struck or touched by him or even her

9a Space found in clubs for troublemakers (7)
MENACES The printer’s space that is the width of a letter N is found inside some heavy war clubs

10a Annoyed expression over short fairy returning costume (7)
LEOTARD Reverse (returning) an annoyed expression, the (short) abbreviation for over and a fairy

11a Strong drink Penny cut (4)
RUMP A cut of meat is obtained by following some strong drink with the abbreviation for penny

12a Notary public in European country involves each environmental group (10)
GREENPEACE The abbreviation for Notary Public and the abbreviated way of saying each inserted into a European country

15a Docked in complex (8)
DETAILED An adjective meaning complex could also describe an animal after it had been docked

16a Inclined to be surrounded by Oslo pedestrians (6)
SLOPED Lurking in (surrounded by) OSLO PEDestrians

20a On-line outlets for games? (6)
EVENTS Take the letter used to indicate that something is electronic or used on the internet (on-line) and add some outlets

22a Encourage groups to find gametes (3-5)
EGG-CELLS A verb meaning to encourage and some groups (the BRB says ‘especially of espionage personnel’)

24a Norway’s aircraft industry bringing Government in for guidance (10)
NAVIGATION The IVR code for Norway and another word for the aircraft industry, bringing in or having inserted the abbreviation for Government

26a Monty regularly in charge of hearing (4)
OTIC The regular letters of mOnTy followed by the abbreviated way of saying in charge

28a Make new use of lesson pattern? (7)
RECYCLE The abbreviated way of referring to a scripture lesson and a pattern or recurring series

29a Stout editor redesigned vaulted roof (7)
TESTUDO An anagram (redesigned) of STOUT ED

30a Head off wild child’s blunder (5)
ERROR Remove the head or first letter from a wild child

31a Covering for computer (9)
MACINTOSH A waterproof covering or the full name of a family of PCs


1d Edible crab gum turned this blue (9)
CAMBRIDGE An anagram (turned) of EDIBLE CRAB GUM will give you the solution plus the word BLUE

2d Shortened form of nautical mile is something 1,852,000,000,000 times smaller (9)
NANOMETRE The abbreviation for nautical mile is also the same as that for a much much smaller measurement

3d Securely fasten gate (4)
LOCK A double definition clue, the second bit probably influenced by where our setter was when he was writing this clue!

4d One who sees objection supported by waiter in paper (8)
OBSERVER The abbreviation for objection supported by (on top of in a Down clue) a person who waits at tables

5d Director‘s row about Liberals (6)
TILLER Two lots of the abbreviation for liberal (liberals plural) go inside a row or layer

6d Trio re-formed musical group The Kettlers?! (4,6)
RIOT POLICE An anagram (reformed) of TRIO and a musical group – kettlers referring to people who confine protestors into a small area as a form of crowd control

7d On the way back Clara Vaughan smuggles tropical tree (5)
GUAVA Lurking (smuggles) in reverse (on the way back) in ClarA VAUGhan

8d Call leaders of Yemen over Dutch lecturer’s expulsion (5)
YODLE An alternative spelling of a particular call is obtained from the leaders of Yemen Over Dutch Lecturer’s Expulsion

13d Signal to form a line broadcast (3)
CUE A homophone (broadcast) of a verb meaning to form a line

14d A vet racing around in this (7,3)
VINTAGE CAR An anagram (around) of A VET RACING

17d Revolutionary poor built a means of state control (9)
POLITBURO An anagram (revolutionary) of POOR BUILT A

18d Cleaner‘s hollow, cold and reluctant (4-5)
DISH-CLOTH A hollow, the abbreviation for cold and another way of saying reluctant

19d One knowing sceptic (8) <
AGNOSTIC A (one) and an adjective meaning having knowledge

21d Cato’s way to remove bottom from medicine bottle (3)
VIA Cato was a Roman and to get the road he’d have walked along you just remove the bottom or last letter from a medicine bottle

23d Small flower? (6)
STREAM A cryptic definition of a small body of running water

24d Carer has nothing for upper-class Scandinavian (5)
NORSE Change the U (upper-class) in a carer for O (nothing)

25d Confused agent leaves 14 for cleric (5)
VICAR If you remove (leaves) the letters AGENT (confused telling you that they aren’t in that order) from your solution to 14d you’ll be left with a member of the clergy

27d Jack’s child creating a data-exchange format (4)
JSON The abbreviation for Jack in a pack of playing cards and a male child

21 comments on “NTSPP – 444

  1. Not a comment on the puzzle, which I will solve later.

    Thank you all for your kind words last week. To my amazement, I was discharged from hospital yesterday – the way I was feeling last Saturday, I’d have expected to be in at least another ten days. But after a slow start, my recovery is proceeding very well indeed. I’m glad so many people enjoyed the MPP – it definitely gave me a boost.

    1. Great news. I hope that the recovery continues as it has started. And, thanks again for the MPP.

  2. A little bit of a head scratcher with, for me, some obscurities in the SE.

    However, it provided some alternative entertainment while watching a not very entertaining Newcastle-Spurs match.

    Favourite – 12a.

    Thanks Prolixic and CS(?) in advance for the review.

  3. Found this one quite hard and still have a couple of bits of parsing I’m not sure about.

    I liked the surface read of 10a, the covering in 31a and the 14d racing vet – put me in mind of All Creatures Great and Small.

    Thanks to Prolixic for the challenge.

  4. We have it all sorted apart from the parsing of 1d. Pretty sure we have the right answer so will keep working on it during our Sunday morning beach walk in glorious sunny conditions. We had to use Google for 27d but the wordplay put us on the right track.
    Plenty to keep us both challenged and amused.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  5. A fine puzzle from one of my favourite setters, very much enjoyed.
    Still can’t parse either 1d or 2d though…

        1. And there it is in his Setters Guide.
          Can’t remember encountering it before, but duly noted for next time!

  6. Very enjoyable and not overly taxing – only the spelling of 8d had me reaching for the dictionary. Still doesn’t look right to me!

    Thanks Prolixic

  7. Much as I enjoyed the solve, this didn’t feel like a usual Prolixic puzzle to me, clues like 31a, 3d and 23d I would have expected to to have been far less straightforward. Maybe that was intentional to compensate for other, more complicated constructions, but overall I can’t remember a Prolixic crossword that I found quite as solver-friendly. Having said that, 27d was entirely new to me, as was the “objection” in 4d, and I’ve been struggling with the same couple of parsings as others. My favourite clue was 6d.

    Many thanks to Prolixic.

    1. There is a possible reason for this not feeling like a ‘usual’ Prolixic puzzle, but I’ll let him do the explaining

  8. Many thanks for the review, CS. Must admit, I’d forgotten how Prolixic spent his hols although he did mention it on the blog.
    There is also a film director by the name of Tiller Russell so perhaps 5d counts as a double definition?
    Think the ‘mile’ has gone awol from the 2d hint?

    Thanks again to Prolixic for the puzzle.

  9. First and most importantly, it is good to hear that Alchemi is on the mend and I hope that the recovery continues apace.

    Thanks to CrypticSue for the review. As a number of the solutions attest, I set this whilst on a canal boat holiday navigating around the waterways near Rugby. It was something of a challenge to set using only an iPhone but I managed to set the grid, clues and send off to CrypticSue and Gazza for review from the canal side and complete the edits in a pub to send off when I was back home.

    If anyone has time, I am also on-line today having set the Independent on Sunday crossword in my guise of Kairos.

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