NTSPP – 451 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 451

NTSPP – 451

A Puzzle by Italicus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I’m not a fan of ‘solve one clue in order to be able to solve quite a few other clues’ so you can imagine what I said to Mr CS when I looked at this crossword.

This review was drafted before I read any of the comments on the blog



1a Surprisingly, Monaco still lacks a 24a (3,7)
TOM COLLINS An anagram (surprisingly) of MONaCO STILL (lacks an a tells you not to include the A in the letters to be rearranged)

6a Turned grass following son’s arrest (4)
STOP A reversal of a particular type of grass goes after (following) the abbreviation for son

10a Addition to some 24s; one originally calculated by weight (5)
TONIC The letter that looks like a number one and the original letter of Calculated go by a heavy weight

11a Curse mother country (9)
DAMNATION Synonyms for mother and country go together to make a curse which reminded me of my dad who used to add the words ‘of Faust’ at the end to try and convince us he wasn’t swearing

12a Standard nonsense hack mindlessly repeated (8)
PARROTED Words meaning standard and nonsense and the abbreviation for the ‘head’ hack on a newspaper

13a Christian type loses head and nerve (5)
OPTIC Remove the first letter (loses head) from a particular Christian type

15a Communal toilet‘s right in the middle of Hispanic quarter (7)
LATRINE The abbreviation for right put in the middle of another word for Hispanic and one of the quarters of the compass

17a A large hotel in trendy part of 24a (7)
ALCOHOL A (from the clue) the abbreviation for Large, followed by another word for trendy into which is inserted the abbreviation for Hotel

19a Bird circling North Indian state is a booby (3,4)
OWN GOAL A type of bird circling or going round the abbreviation for North and an Indian state

21a Fine report editor cut short (7)
SHEARED A homophone (report) for a word meaning fine followed by the abbreviated way we refer to a newspaper editor – yes, the one we met five clues ago!

22a Shouts about rights? No, quite the opposite! (5)
YELLS I liked this clue – As instructed, don’t insert two Rs (rights) into No – put two lots of the opposite side into the opposite of No

24a E.g. Old Cuban changing tack in wind (8)
COCKTAIL An anagram (changing) of TACK inserted into a verb meaning to wind

27a Ways of speaking about retired detective’s misfortunes (9)
ACCIDENTS Some ways of speaking go about a reversal (retired) abbreviation for a detective

28a Hazard‘s girlfriend, say, meeting the Queen (5)
WAGER Sadly, I think that hazard is doing double duty here as both the definition and part of the wordplay. The girlfriend of a footballer such as Eden Hazard for example (say) meeting the regnal cipher of our current Queen

29a University layabout takes English (4)
YALE A reversal (about) of LAY followed by (takes) the abbreviation for English

30a Chap in IRA’s desperate to keep independent 24 (10)
CAIPIRINHA The only 24 I hadn’t heard of before today – so the question was, should I use an anagram solver (desperate being the indicator) to rearrange CHAP IN IRA and an I (independent) or go straight for a list of 24s in Mrs Bradford? I think you can guess what I did


1d Add small quantities of 17a (4)
TOTS A verb meaning to add (usually followed with up) and the abbreviation for small

2d Male headgear with brown 24a (9)
MANHATTAN A male person, a form of headgear and another word for brown

3d 20’s literary companion gets award (5)
OSCAR This award has the same name as part of the title of a Booker prize winning novel, the female companion being the solution to 20d

4d Naughty girl is tardy, holding Edward up (7)
LADETTE Another word for tardy ‘holding’ a reversal (up in a Down clue) of a diminutive form of Edward

5d Miners help international revolutionary in old African kingdom (7)
NUMIDIA Neither Mr CS nor I had heard of this ancient kingdom of North Africa, which corresponds to most of present-day Algeria. However, the wordplay is very clear and helpful – the abbreviation for the miners’ union followed by a reversal (revolutionary) of some help and the abbreviation for International

7d Pervert‘s dance (5)
TWIST A verb meaning to pervert or a dance from the late 50s to early 60s

8d Pain-riddled attorney takes coke in 24a (4,6)
PINA COLADA An anagram (riddled) of PAIN followed by the abbreviation for District Attorney, into which is inserted (takes) the word that accompanies a drink of fizzy coke

9d Sound of suffering in uncovered carriage (8)
BAROUCHE The sound you’d make when causing yourself suffering inserted into another word for uncovered

14d The Queen of 17a (6,4)
BLOODY MARY The name by which Mary Tudor was known is also a type of 17a

16d Press face King Edmund II (8)
IRONSIDE A verb meaning to press and one face of something. Another discussion over the lunch table – as we didn’t remember this king at all – although it turned out we did know more about his father

18d Prince captured by dashing old knight is talking incessantly (7,2)
HARPING ON The abbreviation for Prince ‘captured’ by a way of saying dashing in the sense of running fast, followed by the abbreviations for Old and knight (in chess notation)

20d Girl writing rational article defending Newton (7)
LUCINDA – I solved this one as a result of solving 3d and realising what the literary reference was. The clue asks you to do is write an adjective meaning rational and an indefinite article and then insert (depending) symbol for the SI Unit of Force (Newton)

21d Tries to win favour with drinks (5,2)
SUCKS UP To be ingratiatingly nice to; or part of a verb meaning drinks

23d Close establishment selling 17a (5)
LOCAL An adjective meaning close or nearby; an informal term for your nearest establishment selling 17a

25d Bits of flax oddly abandoned near loom (5)
TOWER Some prepared flax fibres followed by the even (oddly abandoned) letters of nEaR

26d Inspector Callahan catches killer (4)
ORCA A lurker to finish with – did you spot the killer whale caught by InspectOR CAllahan

The search engine I used to select the images of 24s obviously thinks I must be planning quite a party as I hadn’t got far down the list before I only had to type a letter or two and the next 24 I needed to illustrate appeared as a search suggestion.

31 comments on “NTSPP – 451

  1. Some nifty clues which I enjoyed, fave probably the relatively simple 6a or the boob.

    I am not a fan of themed (names etc) puzzles, or multiple cross-references so this one is not really my cup of tea, sorry to say.

    However, I do appreciate that this is a well put together crossword, so well done and thank you Italicus

  2. Thanks Italicus; nice setting to get in all the themed entries. Inevitably, one ends up with some slightly unusual words, like 9.

    I got into the theme via 8d and luckily I had a list of 24s, otherwise I might have got a bit stuck, especially with 30.

    Some very nice clues; I ticked 15, 19 & 29 although there were many other good ones.

  3. I was looking forward so much to another puzzle from a setter whom I think is one of the brightest stars to have come out of Rookie Corner in recent times but, on this occasion, I was to be rather disappointed.
    I’m not a fan of inter-related clues in a puzzle as the whole solve can revolve around the solver’s ability to crack one particular clue. In this case it was 24a and I confess to not knowing either that or one of the other 24’s in the grid.
    My other problem came with the 20d/3d combo. ‘Girl writing’ in the former led me to an author (one whose work I love but is perhaps not as appealing to the male contingent on the blog!) but I know that her other half is not 3d so the clue for that meant having to look for another 20a – not one I’ve come across previously.

    Fortunately, there were still some touches of the setter I’ve come to admire – 11,12,19&21a went up on my podium today.

    Thanks to Italicus and apologies for not really appreciating this one.

    1. Hi Jane,
      please don’t apologise for not enjoying this! You are always more than generous in your comments about my puzzles, so I’m sorry this one wasn’t up your street. I tend to pick themes that are close to my heart (or perhaps liver, in this case), so I realise they won’t necessarily appeal to all. Anyway, glad there were a few clues in there that you enjoyed. I’m curious to know who the author you referred to is. Is the surname Riley?

      1. Hi Italicus,
        Yes indeed – and her husband’s name is Stephen which sadly didn’t fit either the definition or the enumeration of 3d!

  4. Many thanks Italicus, and well done on the theme. I appropriately solved this in the pub with a friend earlier. Like windsurfer, I got the theme from 8d, my second one in after 6a. I did wonder whether 13a might originally have been destined as another 24 theme clue?

    I knew 30a but could I spell it? hell no. I had first entered CA (about) for the first 2 letters of 22a – corrected as soon as it was clear what 14d had to be. I’d never heard of 5d or 8d – but very clearly clued.

    I think my favourite clue is 15a. I was’t sure of my answer to 21d – i expect it is right. 3d has a different font for some reason – assumed this was editing rather than anything significant.

    Great stuff, thanks again

    1. Hi Dutch,
      glad you enjoyed the theme. You are right about 13a, I had tried to link it in with something about ‘measure by eye’, but couldn’t get a decent surface out of it. As for the font change in 3d, that is probably my fault. I’m still struggling to get my head round the Crossword Compiler software and copied in a few clues from a Word document. Glad you liked 15a. Wasn’t sure if ‘Hispanic’ was a fair synonym.
      Off to the pub myself now to enjoy a few pints!

  5. I believe Italicus knows that I am a great admirer of his puzzles, but like LBR and Jane, I’m not a huge fan of too many inter-related clues either, and this meant that the enjoyment factor for me was less than I’d hoped. You can’t win ’em all I suppose!

    The theme didn’t become clear to me until I’d got 1a (about half way through the solve). I had never heard of 9d or 30a before.

    Despite not being as enthused as I usually am with an Italicus creation, I still thought there were many great clues, and my pick of the crop were 6a, 13a, 19a and 22a, which I thought was really excellent.

    Many thanks, Italicus.

  6. Another one here who is not too partial “first you have to solve this…” puzzles. My “in’ was also 8d, which I like but only once or twice a year. I generally don’t do the sweet drinks. I’m just a plain old whisky girl. Anyhoo…if I have to choose a favorite I’d go with 16D. Overall, not really my cup of bootleg gin, but I kinda sorta mostly liked it, so thanks Italicus.

    Oh…and 30A was a bung it. Never heard of it. I may request it at my local redneck bar just for the hell of it.

  7. Been away for the weekend so very late getting on to this one. We were making snails pace progress for ages, working through the non-themed clues to try and get a few checkers to point us in the right direction. Finally it was 14d that opened up the whole puzzle for us and plain sailing from there on. Plenty to enjoy.
    Thanks Italicus.

  8. A nice afternoon puzzle to take me up to wine o’ clock. I personally quite like this style of themed cryptic so long as the ‘key’ is not too obscure. I raise my glass to 6a, 11a, 29a and 8d. 30a eludes me still…I will await the review. Thanks, Italicus, for another fine piece of work.

    (As a footnote, I was listening to BH on radio 4 over the summer. Paddy O’ Connell was doing a feature on cocktails, during which his guest expert revealed the origin of the word ‘cocktail’…most interesting…and the funniest bit of radio I had heard for some time! )

  9. I found it rather frustrating to get into this because of all the cross-references but once the theme identified itself I enjoyed the puzzle – thanks Italicus. I’d never heard of 30a or the 20d/3d couple but the wordplay makes them gettable (although I’m not sure about ‘writing’ in 20d).
    Is Hazard not doing double duty in 28a or have I misunderstood the clue?
    The clues I liked best were 19a and 22a.

  10. Thanks Italicus
    I liked the extra tariff provided by the linked clues. I also like carriages and Carey so found it all very enjoyable. My way in was 1a, which I hadn’t heard of but got from the anagram and then looked up. 25 and 28 needed a bit of thought at the end, both quite satisfying.

  11. Many thanks for the review, CS – interesting to learn that you are another of us who doesn’t particularly favour this type of puzzle construction.
    I didn’t have a ‘double duty’ problem with 28a simply because I’ve never heard of the footballer you mentioned – I just got there from the definition of hazard, a ‘girlfriend’ and HM.
    Of course I used an anagram solver for 30a – with an unchecked first letter and the fact that I hadn’t solved 21d at that point it seemed by far the easiest route to take!

  12. Very enjoyable, despite some unknowns, the only one ungettable from wordplay being the unusually spelt 30a which I finally succumbed to Reveal to get. The other unknowns were the book, which didn’t matter in the end (got OSCAR from ____R + def), “bits of flax” (got it from “loom”), NUMIDIA (wordplay crystal clear, interesting to learn of) and BAROUCHE, which I did recognise once construct from wordplay.

    I don’t see the problem with 28a: Hazard = WAGER = WAG (gf, say) + ER (the Queen).

    Loved the Faustian non-swearing anecdote, Sue.

    Favourite was the relatively simple 29a, YALE for its surface.

    Really clean cluing throughout Thanks, Italicus.

  13. Many thanks to CS for the review and apologies to those of you who don’t enjoy this type of puzzle. I think that perhaps it depends on the accessibility of the topic. For example, the puzzle I did on ‘Bears’ worked on exactly the same principle, but there were far fewer complaints about it.
    As for the double duty in the Hazard clue, I guess it depends if you see WAG as an abbreviation ‘Wives And Girlfriends’ (as in a male only party invitation – No WAGs), or more in the tabloid sense ‘a footballer’s wife or girlfriend’ . I used it in the first sense. The fact that Eden Hazard is a footballer, I thought, just added to the surface reading.
    All the best to one and all

    1. Hi Italicus,

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here regarding accessibility. The “Bears” puzzle contained far fewer, if any, obscurities, whereas this one would have required quite a bit more Googling or consulting lists of 24s etc.

      If a puzzle is to be themed, I much prefer a ghost theme or one which doesn’t depend on solving a particular clue first to identify the theme, but I shall always look forward to solving a puzzle of yours in whatever style you choose!

  14. Quite an enjoyable puzzle even though I don’t go for 24s myself (I prefer real ale) and I thought the clue to 14dn should have referred to 24, not 17. The only one I needed an anagram solver for was 30ac; I’d not heard of it before but was interested to learn its Brazilian origin. The name, by the way, comes from a Brazilian Portuguese word that can be roughly translated as ‘country bumpkin’ or ‘hillbilly’ and is used in that sense to describe the ‘Little Train’ in one of the Bachianas Brasileras by Villa-Lobos. Oh, and I couldn’t parse 25dn so thanks, CS, for the explanation. Clue of the day was 20dn. Nice one, Italicus.

    1. Yes, but like Chambers it defines it as an abbreviation for a wife or girlfriend of a sports player not just as an abbreviation for a wife or girlfriend.

      1. That’s quite a sharp point, and technically sound. I can only say that it didn’t give me any trouble, though I did get to it from the def first and I’m not sure I would have got to WAG just from girlfriend.

      2. I don’t know a lot of footballers by name but I did know this one to the extent that I thought Hazard – footballer – girlfriend – WAG plus Her Majesty. The realisation that it meant that hazard was also the definition was the second part of the solving process

      3. Even so, it’s in the dictionary as wife and girlfriend, so ‘girlfriend, say’ can stand alone to indicate it. Hazard is a helpful nudge but it’s not doing double duty to the extent that the clue is deficient without it.

  15. Just got an email from Wire, very kindly letting me know that one of my clues from the Indy was featured as ‘Clue of the Week’ in The Week magazine!.What an honour!

        1. I still haven’t solved this ‘clue of the week’ despite staring at it sternly in a vain effort that it might give itself up. congratuations on both counts – i thought the puzzle was most enjoyable.

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