NTSPP – 450 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 450

NTSPP – 450

A Puzzle by Radler

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Radler returns to Saturday afternoon with what I described, when I first met it back at the end of July, as “a proper beast of a crossword“. Apparently if I’d spotted the ghost theme, I might have done better, but at the time of drafting this review, early on Saturday afternoon (not to mention publishing it on Sunday morning), it would appear that so far it remains undiscovered


1a Send back suckers heading for Corfu and Rhodes (5)
CECIL A reversal (send back) of some blood-sucking insects and the ‘heading’ for Corfu

4a Good-looker, single gets good man to be dirty (9)
DISHONEST An informal term for a good-looking person, a single number and the abbreviation for a good man (or woman, come to that)

9a One carried ID and green form (9)
PASSENGER A form of ID and an anagram (form) of GREEN

10a Fruit crop (5)
PRUNE A dried fruit or a verb meaning to trim

11a Massage somewhere I kiss (5)
REIKI A type of massage found in somewheRE I KIss

12a Pampered, massaged, overwhelming one’s fantasy (4-5)
PIPE-DREAM An anagram (massaged) of PAMPERED ‘overwhelming’ or taking in I (one)

13a He painted couple catching balls (8)
MAGRITTE A verb meaning to couple ‘catching’ some strength of character (balls)

15a As part of network agreement, originally accepted line (5)
NODAL A motion of agreement and the original letters of Accepted and Line

17a I’m obliged to follow the letter (5)
THETA An informal way of saying I’m obliged follows THE (from the clue)

19a Popular hit – not all of it – time’s brief (8)
INSTRUCT A way of saying popular, trendy, almost all of a synonym for hit and the abbreviation (brief) for Time

21a Infidelity: struggle to curb with regard to desire (9)
TREACHERY A verb meaning to struggle ‘curbs’ or goes round the two-letter word meaning with regard to, and a desire or longing

24a Joke about silly me getting fine (5)
SPOOF A reversal (about) of an exclamation drawing attention to a mistake (silly me) followed by the abbreviation for Fine

26a Reflection of Radler’s condition (5)
IMAGE Split your solution 2,3 and you’d get a way in which our setter might refer to his condition

27a Nazi laws damaged Dutch nation (9)
SWAZILAND An anagram (damaged) of NAZI LAWS followed by the abbreviation for Dutch

28a What one does in galleries by design? (9)
SPECTATE Some galleries follow an abbreviated design

29a Girl to provide replacement after current wife leaves (5)
IRENE A verb meaning to provide replacement without the W (wife leaves) goes after the abbreviation for electrical current


1d Roughly every one gets pickled (5)
CAPER The Latin abbreviation meaning about (roughly) followed by another meaning for each (every)

2d Company whisper of impressive takings is correct (9)
CASTIGATE A theatrical company, the first letter (a whisper) of Impressive and the total amount of money paid for entrance to a game (takings)

3d Learner collided with stranger! Not so certain (7)
LEERIER The abbreviation for Learner ‘collided with’ stranger in the sense of frightening or causing fear

4d Appreciate having advantage, get out of bed? (3,2)
DIG UP An informal way of saying appreciate with another way of saying having advantage

5d Society on druggies: they must kick the habit (9)
STRIPPERS The abbreviation for Society goes on some people experiencing the hallucinatory effects of drugs

6d Notice river ‘orse upset one in centre of town (7)
OPPIDAN A town dweller – a reversal (upset) of an abbreviated notice, an animal known as a river [h]orse without the H, the result followed by the ‘centre’ of oNe

7d Beethoven’s second fiddle duet? (In practice it’s played by one) (5)
ETUDE The second letter of Beethoven and an anagram (fiddle) of DUET

8d Current Queen entering short road to palace (7)
THERMAL The regnal cipher of our current Queen inserted into almost all (short) of the road that leads to Buckingham Palace

14d Brushes, comb, mirror, can-opener… Australian sent packing (6,3)
TOILET SET Remove the A (Australian sent packing) from the thing that ‘opens’ a lavatory (can-opener) – I bet that these days there aren’t many young ladies given this as a twenty-first birthday present – I’ve got two packed away somewhere!

16d Art-deco building features, to a degree (9)
DOCTORATE An anagram (building) of ART DECO around (features) TO (from the clue)

17d Boobs, having set it twice in error (7)
TITTIES An anagram (in error) of SET IT IT (the Word spelling and grammar checker should note that I did mean to include the word IT twice as instructed by the clue)

18d Old social worker takes in nice characters freely (7)
ANCIENT One of Crosswordland’s social workers ‘takes in’ an anagram (freely) of NICE

20d Institute bolsters earning pre-tax (less tips) for music producer (7)
ROSSINI The abbreviation for Institute goes under (bolsters) a way of saying earning pre-tax without its first and last letters (less tips)

22d Secret agent stakes out floor of Chateau (5)
ETAGE Stakes out indicates the possibility of a lurker in secrET AGEnt

23d Revolutionary times want to change ultimate direction (5)
YEARS Change the compass direction at the end of a verb meaning to long for (want)

25d Avoid butter, cream and sugar combination (5)
FUDGE A verb meaning to avoid or a tasty sweet made from butter, cream and sugar combined


References to the theme based around this painting by Rene Magritte were placed throughout the grid:


Also known as ‘The Treachery of Images’


24 comments on “NTSPP – 450

  1. I do enjoy a good Radler (actually they’re all good) and I did enjoy this one. As usual there are lots of penny drop moments. My ticks went to 24a, 4d, 8d and 20d with my favourite being 14d.
    Thanks to Radler for the entertainment.

  2. One or two unusual words and a bit of GK made for a slightly tricky solve – I had to reveal one or two letters. 14d is my pick of the bunch too.

    Thanks Radler

  3. Needed to search for inspiration over 13a and ask Mr G about the ‘orse and the town in 6d but everything else went well – at least until BD mentioned the ghost theme…………

    Podium places went to 24a plus 5,8 & 25d.

    Many thanks to Radler for the challenge.

  4. Now we know there is a ghost theme we will have to look for it, but will wait until after our beach walk to do that. Thoroughly enjoyed the solve with penny-drop moments all over the place. Too many really good clues to list them all.
    Thanks Radler for the challenge and the fun.

  5. Loved the subtlety in 4, 5, 9 & 16 – what a good puzzle!

    Theme? Oh dear, failed again! I’ll have another look …

  6. No wonder we could not get the ghost theme. It was a good thing that it was not needed for solving.

    Would like to point out an amazing coincidence.
    If you click on the comment recently placed by Gully Foyle on puzzle 28734 and then scroll up to the last pic we used there in the hints it will become clear what we are talking about.

  7. Thanks to CS for the review and thanks again to Radler for the very enjoyable puzzle. I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time looking for the ghost theme – I could have looked from now until Christmas without finding it.

    1. I’ve very similar thoughts, Gazza! Not knowing the English title made it even more of a problem for me.

  8. Thanks Radler; very nice idea and well hidden. Tough but enjoyable solve.

    As soon as I saw the artist, I thought of ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ but although I saw the connection with 12a I didn’t get any further.

    I especially liked the can opener and I also ticked 5, 13 & 19. I also liked the wordplay in 6d although I didn’t know the word itself.

  9. Many thanks for the review, CS, and also for unveiling the theme which, like Gazza, I would never have found. In my case that’s because I’m unfamiliar with the painting (and quite frankly I wouldn’t give it house room!).

    Couple of questions –
    11a Is there no indicator or are we being asked to mentally separate ‘somewhere’ into two words? I thought that was considered a no-no with most editors.
    26a I can’t see that it makes sense unless a ‘D’ were to be added at the end of the answer.

    Thanks again to Radler – sorry to be such an art philistine!

    1. Your questions would be best answered by Radler. I just do my best to solve his puzzles (this one took me four separate goes – and you know my rule about three goes and in the recycling) and explaining them takes even more brain power

        1. 11a – My rule on combining words is that they shoulld break down naturally, so somewhere -> some where is OK but Boatman’s notorious hasten -> has ten is not.

          26a – I think the intention in this clue is to combine I’m (Radler’s / Radler is) and age (condition) and not consider the two parts as a phrase (Radler’s condition).

          1. Thanks, BD, I’m quite happy with those interpretations. One of the best things about this site is that there’s always someone around to offer assistance.

            1. Unlike the puzzles in Rookie Corner, BD edits the NTSPP and MPP puzzles, so if there had been a problem with interpretation, Radler would have been the first to know

  10. Many thanks to all for the comments

    For my part, a theme often provides a starting point for designing and filling the grid. I hope too that it provides a little interest, if not during the solve, then when all is revealed in the review.

    Jane – Big Dave beat me to it, and has answered both your questions. However, maybe in hindsight I’d have added a question mark to 11a

    Thank you to Crypticsue for the review and to BD for preparing the puzzle for publication

    1. Hi Radler,
      Nice of you to pop in – you know I always enjoy your fiendish puzzles!
      Hope you might make it for the big 10th Birthday Bash in January?

        1. That’s good to hear. I’m still toting around the MPP prize I won on one of your puzzles – getting really filled up with signatures these days! it will certainly be in evidence again in January.

  11. Started this last night, didn’t get very far before sleep overtook me, but my subconscious must have been working on it because I completed it this morning without problems apart from checking 6dn in Chambers and not being able to parse 14dn (‘can-opener’ diverted me from the required meaning of ‘can’ despite it being part of the obvious answer).
    A most satisfying solve.

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