NTSPP – 452 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 452

NTSPP – 452

Roll-Call by Artix

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today’s puzzle contains a large amount of general (and not so general) knowledge.  Each clue leads to the surname of someone alive or dead, real or fictional.  The enumeration relates to the surname, but it is the corresponding given name that must be entered in the grid.  For example, if the person was Elvis Presley, the clue enumeration would have been (7), the clue would lead to PRESLEY and ELVIS would be entered into the grid.  Six of the answers use definitions that are unrelated to the person concerned.  It is unlikely that this puzzle will be solved without using an online search engine.

A review by crypticsue follows:

This was a “read the instructions…

Clue answers produce surnames whose corresponding given names form grid entries. The enumerations given are those of the surnames.
Most of the definitions are relevant to the person concerned, but six of the answers use unrelated definitions

.. groan a lot, have a metaphorical lie down and then bite the bullet and start muttering” for considerably longer than I’d want to spend on many a crossword and especially an NTSPP, particularly this weekend when my time to produce a helpful blog is limited. However, I’ve muttered and muttered, asked Mr CS a few times ‘Is there an x called y?’, done quite a bit of investigoogling and in the end, revealed some of the letters on five clues in order to finish the crossword and type the hints and publish the blog before the loveliest grandson in the world, and his equally lovely baby sister, take over my Sunday.

I like a general knowledge crossword, I love a cryptic crossword, but to combine the two in such a way that the poor solver, even with some very nice helpful clues, has to spend time checking so many of the solutions, for me anyway, takes away all the joy to be found in finishing crosswords.

Sorry Artix, I can’t imagine how many hours you took to create this crossword feat, what with finding the people, inserting their Christian names into a grid, writing clues for their surnames and so on – but as you can see from the [few so far] comments and this review, sadly the Roll-Call crossword didn’t seem to be anyone’s cup of tea. It might have worked better as a Monthly Prize Puzzle as then we might have felt more inclined to devote time to it, especially with the possibility of a reward at the end.


1a In court, she slams rapper before start of suit (8)
SERENA [WILLIAMS] A rapper who normally splits his name 4, 1, 2 goes before the letter at the start of Suit

4a Did he make list, thus evacuating core left in trouble? (9)
OSKAR [SCHINDLER] Take a Latin word meaning thus and ‘evacuate’ the core or middle letter, follow with a verb meaning to trouble in the sense of prevent, into which is inserted the abbreviation for left

10a Tailless bird, flying backwards, is danger at sea (4)
ALBAN [BERG] Reverse (flying backwards) a type of bird without its last letter and you’ll get the surname of an Austrian composer I’d never heard of

11a Perhaps vendor’s table nearest to entrance offers beefcake (8)
SYLVESTER {STALLONE] Split this piece of beefcake’s surname 5,3 and you get a way of describing the first table at a boot fair for example, nearest to the entrance

12a Chap circumnavigating entirely round Earth? (8)
FERDINAND [MAGELLAN] A chap goes round (circumnavigating) the chemical symbol for germanium (I think) and a reversal of a way of saying entirely. I’m not sure about the symbol bit as the element in question appears to be a metal but I’ve lost the will to search any more for anything that might be either correct or helpful.

13a Object in sky by end of dark is all too clear (5)
FREYA [STARK] An object in the sky, followed by the ‘end’ of dark

14a Side with one former NBA star (7)
RASHEED [WALLACE] A side of a building, perhaps, plus the way a number one is named in a pack of playing cards

16a Room No. 19 for six-time Oscar nominee (6)
SISSY [SPACEK] Another word for room followed by the symbol for the chemical element which has the no 19. Anyone else count through the alphabet as far as the last letter of this surname and wonder why it wasn’t Room no 11?? Told you things were getting desperate. Mr CS came to my rescue again!

20a Ordinary folk adopting new family apparently better placed than them? (5)
INIGO [JONES] Slang for ordinary folk ‘adopting’ the abbreviation for new

21a Bombay-born writer’s piece about his national Twenty 20 tournament (7)
RUDYARD [KIPLING] A chess piece goes about the abbreviation for India’s (his nation’s) Twenty 20 cricket tournament

24a Base hiding Navy regiment’s Trident carrier? (6)
ETHEL [MERMAN] An adjective meaning base hides the abbreviation for the navy’s amphibious troops

26a Author of short stories may be forgetting book (9)
NATHANIEL [HAWTHORNE] No idea who this short story writer is but you need the type of tree which is also known as may, followed by the second letter of bE (from the clue) ‘forgetting book’ being the instruction to remove the B!

28a Fly to sting Hollywood vedette (7)
KATHERINE [HEPBURN] A slang term meaning fly in the sense of fashionable followed by a verb meaning to sting

29a Leaves, consumed by polite denial that’s rebuffed thesp (10)
RALPH [RICHARDSON] Some edible leaves ‘consumed’ by a reversal of a polite denial 2,3

30a Receiver’s half shot by this lawman… (4)
WYATT [EARP] Remove the final four letters from a type of receiver

31a …as cops somehow abandon criminal psychosexual intellectual (6)
ALDOUS [HUXLEY] Remove (abandon) the letters AS COPS (somehow telling you that they aren’t in that order) from PSYCHOSEXUAL and make an anagram (criminal) of the remaining letters


1d Draws airmen with upstanding personality (7)
STAMFORD [RAFFLES] The abbreviation for the airmen in our armed forces followed by a reversal (upstanding) of another word for personality

2d Wrongly advise Deptford novelist (6)
ROBERTSON [DAVIES] Another ‘who??’ The surname of the writer of the Deptford Trilogy (again, what??) is fortunately easily obtained from an anagram (wrongly) of ADVISE and then you just google the surname and Deptford

3d Folkabilly singer‘s grand guitar phrase dominates jazzy hit (8)
NANCI [GRIFFITH] The abbreviation for grand, a guitar phrase go over (dominates) an anagram (jazzy) of HIT

5d Foxhunter (et al) willingly eats dodo (7)
SIEGFRIED [SASSOON] The author of Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man – a synonym for willing ‘eats’ an idiot (dodo)

6d Undoubtedly outspoken bandleader (4)
ARTIE [SHAW] A homophone (outspoken) of another way of saying undoubtedly

7d Out of first pair of Argentinians, I led Hotspur’s midfield (7)
OSVALDO [ARDILES] The first two letters (pair of) ARgentinians, an anagram (hot) of I LED, and the letter in the mid(field) of hotSpur

8d Wife – she was named Louisa May – a great all-rounder for the WI (7) <
CLYDE [WALCOTT] The abbreviation for Wife, the surname of the author named Louisa May

9d “Yes-man” ambassador with record (4)
URIAH [HEEP] The Dickens’ character I always think of as being ‘umble – the abbreviation for an ambassador together with an extended play 45 record

15d Red chipmunk (in translation) who crooned to be released? (11)
ENGELBERT [HUMPERDINCK] Not content with making us spend hours on the crossword, Artix now wants us to suffer an earworm too! The singer who topped the charts with Please Release Me is obtained from an anagram (in translation) of RED CHIPMUNK

17d Did contents of crazy Cinzano cocktail cause this Italian chemist to react? (10)
STANISLAO [CANNIZZARO] Although Mr CS didn’t know his Christian name, he did know the surname I came up with from an anagram of RAZ (the ‘contents’ of cRAZy and CINZANO and then Google came to the rescue once again

18d Shoots, but surely not with these? (6)
BRITNEY [SPEARS] Shoots such as those produced by the asparagus plant, for example

19d He explored nearly half of Arctic country, largely ignoring its interior (6)
ADOLPHUS [GREELY] One of my former bosses wrote papers on polar exploration, and I remember typing one about the Lady Franklin Expedition, so I did know this particular explorer. Nearly half of an Arctic country, followed by the outside letters (ignoring its interior) of LargelY

22d First then third in natation, a gold in swimming – that’s only part of her CV! (9)
BECKY [ADLINGTON] An anagram (swimming) of the first and third letters of NaTation and A GOLD IN

23d Detective at start of 70’s assigned to … LAPD? (9)
ANGIE [DICKINSON] A slang term for a detective,  IN (at) S (the start of Seventies) and ON (assigned to)

25d Throw in app free? She investigated on screen (10)
HETTY [WAINTHROPP] An anagram (free) of THROW IN APP

27d “Complicated” artist‘s leaving ground (7)
AVRIL [LAVIGNE] Possibly another earworm opportunity – an anagram (ground) of LEAVING – Complicated being the title of her debut single

12 comments on “NTSPP – 452

    1. We’ve just got back from Bicester – fortunately the vile weather held off until today so my niece’s wedding yesterday was a lovely occasion in splendid sunshine

      I’ve printed off the puzzle as it is mine to review, read the ‘structions, and am off for a little lie down, before I actually work out what I have to do before I solve the clues.

      I may be some time…

  1. I got three answers quickly – 1 cricket related, one bit of GK I knew and one obvious anagram (but even the last of these needed Google to convert the surname into a first name). After a real slog I got a handful more and then gave up.

    I hope others will enjoy this as clearly it must have required a lot of effort to compile but it was not my cup of tea.

    As LBR says, thanks Artix.

  2. Thanks Artix; nice setting to get in all the themed entries.

    I did “solve” this by using the Check button a lot and an occasional letter indicator. It was quite fun at the beginning but I found it somewhat tiresome at the end using word searches or just bunging in a forename and seeing if I could think who it was.

    Some like 13 were pretty obscure if I’ve got the right one. I did like 1A and 11 among others.

    This was more like a Guardian Prize Puzzle (and more difficult than today’s). I think Sue might have to have an extended lie in.

  3. Dear goodness! I’ve got about two-thirds of the way through using a combination of Google, guesswork and divine inspiration but am not holding out much hope for the remainder.

    Thanks Artix but this really wasn’t for me.

  4. Sorry Artix but this was put in the round file. I like a challenge but bu##er a pantomime.

  5. Thanks Artix
    I loved it.
    I was thinking that I was going to have to say I enjoyed what I could do, but I’ve actually finished without revealing any, if doing a lot of Googling doesn’t count as revealing. I haven’t spent that long on it – a quick look last night to get started and then an hour or so this morning, so if anyone’s a bit stuck I’d encourage them to continue. On the whole the obvious search came up with the answer.
    I liked the idea of entering given names for surnames but it does make it difficult since you get no help from crossing letters when trying to solve clues from the wordplay. To add to this, some of the wordplay was also tricky, and I think you might have helped solvers a bit more here. Eg. I agree with CS that No. 19 for K is perverse. I assumed it was a mistake.
    Some very good clues, though. 10a, 12A, 14a, 23d + others.

  6. Thanks but no thanks, Artix.

    Appreciate all that went into the review CS. My eyes crossed just trying to sort your hints out!

  7. Well done Sue! I think the detective in 23d is a DICK, so to speak.

    With hindsight, most of the clues were well constructed, but as mucky @6 said, the lack of crossers for the answers made life very difficult.

    1. so it is. I’ll sort out the hint later when I’ve got two hands to type with, there’s a nearly 4 month old occupying my left arm/hand at the moment

      1. I’ve now corrected the hint for 23d. I’ve also been informed that apparently I’d ‘met’ the composer in 10a as Mr Manley included him the other Friday in DT 28856, although in my defence I’m not sure I’d have known his Christian name, not to mention the fact that I’ve solved at least 30 more crosswords in the intervening period.

  8. Many thanks for the review, CS, and all credit to you for solving it in its entirety. I thought it was simply too tough on so many levels plus – what really annoyed me – the setter started out by sticking rigidly to the full forenames of people and then lapsed in the bottom half and used shortened versions i.e. Becky for Rebecca in 22d.

    I was very surprised to see this puzzle in the NTSPP slot and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have thought it any more suitable as an MPP.

    By the way – I was with you in room 11, CS!

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