NTSPP – 481 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 481

NTSPP – 481

A Puzzle by Radler

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Radler always provides a difficult crossword for us to solve but I found solving this one and then trying to write useful hints even trickier and more time-consuming than usual – although I will say that I did spot the majority of the themed solutions


1a Crows squawking force small British serviceman to retreat (5,3)
TALKS BIG A homophone (squawking) of a force causing torsion followed by the abbreviations for small and British and a reversal (to retreat) of an [unindicated American] serviceman

5a Crashed car, nearly died (6)
BANGED Almost all (nearly) of an informal term for a decrepit old car followed by the abbreviation for died

10a Mother and father falling out after kick-off? (5)
EARTH An anagram (falling out) of fATHER after the first letter has been removed (kick off)

11a Seller with dates to adjust twice regarding setback over game (9)
FRUITERER First take a word meaning right, insert the abbreviation for a particular game, and follow with two lots (twice) of the two-letter word meaning regarding or on the subject of

12a Warm up speaker’s device and party hosts smart response (9)
MICROWAVE A device used by a public speaker and a party attended by masses of people ‘hosts’ or has inserted a response you’d make when something smarts or hurts

13a Indian serving God rejected by Institute (5)
RAITA The ancient Egyptian sun god, the abbreviation for Institute and a reversal (rejected) of a preposition meaning by

14a Dim, wanting daughter to be centre of attraction (4)
CLOU A figurative term for a centre of attraction or main point of interest (thank you BRB) – A verb meaning to dim without the D (wanting Daughter)

16a Lack of industry: civil engineer on benefits sitting in pub (9)
INDOLENCE The abbreviation for Civil Engineer goes on or after some benefits sitting in a pub

19a Temperature readings revised future of nuclear reactors? (3,6)
RED GIANTS An anagram (revised) of T (temperature) READINGS (apparently the solution refers to the future for some stars)

21a Taste of watermelon, I’m soft and wet (4)
WIMP The first letter (taste) of Watermelon, IM (from the clue) and the musical abbreviation meaning soft

24a Shoe having scuffed toe and heel (5)
ROGUE ‘Having scuffed toe’ is the instruction to remove the first letter from a type of shoe

25a Disturbance around walls by potential poacher scaling up (9)
EXPANSION A reversal (around) of a disturbance into which is inserted (walls) the letter used to indicate by in a multiplication sum and a cooking vessel (poacher)

27a Soaring industry from East burning fuels quickly (9)
AEROSPACE A word meaning burning in the sense of painful is reversed (from East in an Across clue) and ‘fuels’ or goes inside an adverb meaning quickly

28a Millions seized by bank regulator (5)
TIMER The abbreviation for Million ‘seized by’ or placed inside a bank or level

29a Astronomer‘s core belief: life’s extraterrestrial origins (6)
HUBBLE A core followed by the origins of Belief Life’s Extraterrestrial

30a Just out of beer bottles and nothing’s left (5-3)
BRAND-NEW A preparation of beer ‘bottles’ AND (from the clue) and the left-hand letter of Nothing


1d Other people’s houses, right heating units (6)
THERMS Other people plus an S (people’s) ‘housing’ R (right)

2d Style metrically lacking force of poetry (7)
LYRICAL An anagram (style) of metRICALLY (lacking force tells you to remove the MET (police)

3d US boring man about boring quiet Missouri (5)
SCHMO The single-letter Latin abbreviation meaning about is inserted (boring) between a way of telling someone to be quiet and the abbreviation for the US State of Missouri

4d After puncture, then it gets one going? (9)
INFLATION IN (after), an informal term for a puncture, I (one) and the two-letter word used to indicate going or working

6d Fading light later, with fog widespread (9)
AFTERGLOW An anagram (widespread) of LATER with FOG

7d Involved good road in travels (7)
GORDIAN An anagram (travels) of G (good) ROAD IN

8d 500 to about 1000, ushered in by rampages? (4,4)
DARK AGES The Roman numeral for 500, an English abbreviation for about, the letter used to indicate 1,000 are inserted into a synonym for rampages

9d On getting to grips with University, student Rod graduated? (4)
RULE Sneaky capital time when it comes to Rod, graduated or otherwise. The two-letters used to mean on (the subject) of ‘get to grips with’ or have inserted the abbreviation for University and the letter used to indicate a student (especially one of driving)

15d Unlimited in valuer’s venturing (9)
UNIVERSAL An anagram (venturing) of IN VALUERS

17d Penny said bruised fruit go off (9)
DISAPPEAR An anagram (bruised) of P (penny) SAID followed by a type of fruit

18d Football club (e.g. Reading) supporter upset by swearing (8)
ARBROATH R (reading being one of the 3 Rs) and a supportive garment are reversed (upset in a Down clue) and followed by some swearing


20d Little nipper to trouble grumbler (3-4)
DOG-CRAB A verb meaning to trouble or plague followed by a ill-natured person (grumbler)

22d Cripple nurses left one sacked American worker (7)
MAILMAN A verb meaning to cripple ‘nurses’ the abbreviation for Left and I (one)

23d Arguing without a break (2,1,3)
IN A ROW This expression meaning without a break could describe someone arguing

25d Go native (language restricts) (4)
ELAN Lurking in nativE LANguage

26d Unacceptable lacking style (3,2)
NOT ON A way of saying that you have NO style, providing of course you remember the word no-one ever seems to know meaning style or fashion


Did you spot the cosmological theme??

23 comments on “NTSPP – 481

  1. The Radler fiend plus obscurities! Not only do I need to retreat to a darkened room, I need to take a large G&T plus a cold compress with me.

    So much to enjoy (in retrospect!) and I was particularly partial to 24a & 6d. As for the ‘potential poacher’ – words fail me.

    Thank you, Radler, that certainly solved the problem of what to do on a wet Saturday afternoon!

  2. I’m completely stuck now – will have another try later on, or tomorrow but I think I’m defeated as is usual for me with Radler’s crosswords. :sad:
    Thanks anyway to Radler.

  3. That was a really tough Sunday morning challenge for us but we refused to be beaten and eventually got it all sorted apart from a few details of the parsing which will have to wait until after our (somewhat delayed) beach walk. 8d took us forever as we could not get our minds past trying to use two Roman numerals.
    Too many good devious clues to even start to pick a favourite.
    Thanks Radler.

  4. I always enjoy a battle with Radler (and a battle it always is). The phrase ‘lift and separate’ might have been invented for him.
    My last answer was 14a because I didn’t know the term. I have ticks all over the place – I’ll just mention 27a, 30a and 18d with my favourite being 8d.
    Thanks Radler – do keep them coming.

  5. Thanks for the review, CS. Did I spot the theme? No, but I very rarely do unless I’m explicitly told that there is one. Even after consulting the BRB I can’t see how 8d relates to cosmology?
    It’s a shame that a puzzle of this quality attracts so few comments.

    1. Radler said “Somebody at the last Birthday Bash in London mentioned a fascination with cosmology, so I thought it would do as a hidden theme” so I took his word for it

  6. Many thanks for the review, CS, and for introducing me to a different meaning of 21a in line with the theme.
    I’m uncomfortable with in = after, doesn’t it need the addition of ‘the manner of’ to make sense?

    Thanks again to Radler for the challenge – it certainly was!

    I think there’s an extra ‘twice’ in the hint for 11a and I wasn’t sure about the underlining of the whole clue for 8d.

    1. refit is to repair again so repair twice. Then you need RE twice

      The solution years were ‘ushered in by rampages’ (frequent warfare) so it works as an all in one IMHO

      1. Where does the ‘refit’ come from – surely the first part of the answer is simply ‘fit’ around ‘RU’ which is followed by two instances of ‘regarding’ both reversed.

        1. So it is – but I will say in my defence it is one of those clues you groan at, try to hint and then have a lie down

  7. Well I didn’t finish this unaided, but I got enough to twig the theme nevertheless. Don’t know why 8d or 21a are themed answers? Thanks Radler.

    1. I don’t know why 8d is themed but the BRB has 21a as an abbreviation for ‘weakly interacting massive particles’ (whatever they are!).

  8. Thank you all for your feedback, and as always, a particular thank you to crypticsue for the write-up.

    I think the later comments have answered most of the questions relating to the relevance of certain answers to the theme. But in case any are unclear…
    Inflation was a period of rapid expansion of the universe an unimaginably short period of time after the Big Bang.
    Dark Ages refers to the time (several hundred millions of years) before the first stars came into being.
    Wimp is the name given to the theoretical particle that is the constituent of so-called Dark Matter. (The stuff that has been postulated to explain why the universe weighs a great deal more than the matter we can directly observe.)

    1. Hi Radler,

      Good of you to pop in, makes all the difference. Could I put in a plea for something a little less challenging than cosmology in your next one!

    2. Thank you Radler, I have found Dark Ages and WIMP now. (Whaaat?)

      Weighing the Universe? I’m doing OK if I can put a cheese and onion sandwich together, but I do like fluffy bunnies and crosswords.

  9. I will now stop beating myself up about managing so little of this fiendish crossword – even with CS’s excellent hints I still ended up having to look at some answers too.
    Did I spot the theme? No, of course I didn’t, I never do.
    Thanks anyway to Radler and thanks and admiration to CS.

  10. I eventually completed this last night — that is, all save one clue which was new to me.

    I enjoyed the puzzle very much despite it’s possibly being the most difficult one I have tackled. My first fifteen answers went in fairly readily. Thereafter it involved a great deal of head-scratching. I’m indebted to CS for a hint which enabled me to break my deadlock. I’m also grateful to the 2Kiwis for their comment at #3 re 8d. I too had been thinking round and round the same Roman numerals. On reading their remark, however, the penny suddenly dropped!

    My admiration and most appreciative thanks to CS for the review. I didn’t spot the theme, and I needed explanations for some of my answers which I couldn’t fully parse.

    My appreciative thanks too, to Radler, for a very difficult crossword that I simply could not bring myself to put down!
    I was on the verge of giving up several times, but kept being drawn back to it…

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