NTSPP – 476 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 476

NTSPP – 476

A Puzzle by Atrica

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

I think that this must be Atrica’s first NTSPP following his first appearance with a special puzzle for the New Year after graduating from the Rookie corner.  Even those who miss a theme unless it slaps them around the face with a piece of limp haddock would have spotted the spooky theme in the clues and many of the solutions.


1 Tremendous performance by lark (8)
GIGANTIC – A three letter word for a performance or concert followed by a five letter word for a lark or caper.

5 Naomi hates bad editing, regularly being rejected, causing a problem with inspiration (6)
ASTHMA – Reverse (being rejected) the even letters (regularly) in the first three words of the clue.

10 Locked up unlucky chap for act of treachery (6,3)
INSIDE JOB – A six letter word meaning locked up or in jail followed by the biblical character who was singularly unlucky and patient in the midst of his trials.

11 At the outset, let your rhymes include comic verse (5)
LYRIC – The initial letters (at the outset of the fourth to eighth words of the clue.

12 Make the sound of thunderous applause? (4)
CLAP – Semi-double definition with overlapping meanings for the sound of thunder and a word meaning to applaud.

13 Good advice for spy unexpectedly sent on tour (5,2,3)
TRUST NO ONE – An anagram (unexpectedly) of SENT ON TOUR.

15 Held back by lumpy, lopsided growth (5)
POLYP – The answer is hidden and reversed (held back by) LUMPY LOPSIDED.

16 Most unpleasant wine found in cosy home (8)
NASTIEST – A four letter type of sparkling wine inside (found in) a four letter word for a cosy home.

19 Traitor about to have meeting with spy chief?  I’m not sure (8)
INFORMER – A phrase 2,3,1 that could indicate that you have arrives to meet with a spy-chief followed by a two letter word used when expressing a verbal hesitation or uncertainty.

21 Parody of “Leaving with informal agreement” produces alarm (5)
SPOOK – A five letter word for a parody with the OF removed (leaving) followed by a two letter word used informally to express an agreement.

25 Gloomier when getting to grips with dull cosmological hypothesis (4,6)
DARK MATTER – A six letter word meaning gloomier around (getting to grips with) a four letter word meaning dull.

26 Brave man in love following that woman (4)
HERO – The letter representing zero or love after a three letter word meaning that woman.

28 A man with good manners: for example, James Bond (5)
AGENT – The A from the clue followed by a four letter word for a polite man.

29 Is page one misprinted in work of Blunt? (9)
ESPIONAGE – An anagram (misprinted) of IS PAGE ONE.

30 Guarantee result when Republican is included (6)
ENSURE – A five letter word meaning result includes the abbreviation for Republican.

31 Return in fascination (8)
INTEREST – Double definition for a financial return from an investment and a word meaning fascination.


1 Irritation follows disheartening glockenspiel malfunction (6)
GLITCH – The outer letters (disheartening) of glockenspiel  followed by a four letter word for an irritation.

2 Plainclothes thugs suggest a police cover-up (7)
GESTAPO – The answer is hidden in (cover-up) SUGGEST A POLICE.

3 Intersection on road he’s taken every so often (4)
NODE – The even letters (taken every so often) of ON ROAD HES

4 Judging others is wrong (6)
INJURY – A phrase 2,4 suggesting where you might be in court if judging others.

6 Extremely nonchalant elite spy tortured — he won’t talk (6,4)
SILENT TYPE – An anagram (tortured) of NT (the outer letters – extremely – of nonchalant ELITE SPY.

7 We hear call girl complain, pointing to bodily secretion (7)
HORMONE – An homophone (we hear) of WHORE (call girl) MOAN (complain).

8 Soldiers embracing one hundred Spanish people in the past (8)
ANCIENTS – A four letter word for insects sometimes described as soldiers around (embracing) the Spanish word for 100.

9 Terrible, embarrassingly awful ringers shuffled out (7)
ABYSMAL – An anagram (awful) of EMBARRASSINGLY after removing the letters (rearranged – hence shuffled) in RINGERS.

14 Dry theorem about apparatus for evaluating liquid (10)
HYDROMETER – An anagram (about) of DRY THEOREM.

17 Watch out for elephants possibly getting psychological abuse (4,4)
MIND GAME – A four letter word meaning watch out followed by a four letter word describing elephants (when they were hunted).

18 Lie down and roll around, perhaps, in experimental rig (4,3)
TEST BED – What you may be doing on a piece of bedroom furniture in the show room to see if it is suitable for sleeping.

20 Something that grips police, maybe I should have said earlier (7)
FORCEPS – A four letter word that describes a group such as the police followed by the abbreviation for expressing an afterthought (I should have said earlier).

22 In round numbers, at least nine reportedly consumed too much (7)
OVERATE – A homophone of OVER EIGHT (at least nine).

23 Perhaps blunderbuss prevailed in war, having shot pea partway through (6)
WEAPON – A three letter word meaning prevailed in war around (having … partway through) an anagram (shot) of PEA.

24 Overlapping screen open, revealing secret (6)
COVERT – Overlap the letters in cover (screen) and overt (open).

27 Chemical unit makes spicy chocolate sauce (4)
MOLE – Double definition for the number of molecules in a solution and the name of a Mexican sauce combining chocolate and chilli.

14 comments on “NTSPP – 476

  1. Thanks for a good puzzle, Atrica. Unusually for me I did spot the theme early on. Unfortunately that didn’t help me get 27d where I didn’t know either of the definitions and ended up revealing a couple of letters.
    My ticks were awarded to 10a, 2d and 20d.

  2. A perfectly pitched NTSPP crossword -I’ve met the chemical unit/chocolate sauce combo before so no hold ups at all

    Thanks to Atrica

  3. This was a very enjoyable themed puzzle, Atrica, and I thought it was at just the right level of difficulty for this slot.

    I can’t fully parse 18d.

    I thought that three clues in a row had some unnecessary surface padding: “maybe” in 20d; “in round numbers” in 22d; and “in war” in 23d.

    I have a lot of ticks on my page. Double ticks went to my favourite, 10a, as well as to 19a, 21a, 31a, 4d, 9d & 24d.

    Very well done and thanks for the fun, Atrica.

      1. Ah! I see. Thanks, BD, nicely disguised. It didn’t occur to me that “maybe” was qualifying “police” rather than what followed it.

  4. A nicely judged level for the NTSPP slot with some clues yielding easily and others holding out for quite a while.
    I definitely had to think long and hard to get the full parsing of 21a and am pleased to note that I wasn’t alone in not knowing either definition of 27d. The sauce in the latter doesn’t sound particularly appealing!

    Top two for me were 1&10a.

    Many thanks, Atrica, job well done!

  5. Thanks for an entertaining puzzle Atrica. I can’t explain why, but I think ‘perhaps’ in 20d would have read more naturally than ‘maybe’ (says your correspondent in pedants corner). I briefly pondered the singular/plural too.

    Thanks again, good fun puzzle.

  6. Entertaining puzzle with a lot of good clues.

    I had ticks for 19a, 21a, 2d, 4d, 7d & 20d, although I didn’t know the sauce.

    I’m not sure that the ‘elephants possibly’ applies these days – I hope not!

    Thanks Atrica; is your handle supposed to be ‘a tricker’ or is there some other derivation?

  7. Thanks to everyone who had a go at this one and made comments. Much appreciated!
    RD: I confess that “in war” probably is padding in 23d, but I think “in round numbers” is needed in 22d to confine the answer to integers — 8.001 satisfies the wordplay condition but is not “at least nine”.
    Windsurfer23: my handle is supposed to be a pun on “a tricker” and the scientific name of a common spider, Eratigena atrica (don’t Google it if you are an arachnophobe!). The latter is a tribute to a setter I greatly admire: Arachne in the Guardian.

  8. I got most of this but ground to a halt in the SW corner where some wordfinder help was needed to get things moving again, and elicited an ‘of course’ reaction. And although I was a chemist I didn’t get 27dn as I didn’t know the sauce and thought ‘unit’ in the clue meant the answer needed to include ‘one’.
    Thanks, Atrica, for an enjoyable challenge.

  9. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, especially the full break down of ‘leaving with informal agreement’ – clever clue.

    Thanks again also to Atrica for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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