NTSPP – 498 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 498

NTSPP – 498

A Puzzle by Marg

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A day in the garden hacking back ivy, privet and laurel have delayed the production of this review.  Here it now is:


1 Makes up, but rapidly turns critical (5,2,1,4)
COMES TO A HEAD – A phrase (5,2) meaning makes (in the sense of the price payable for several items) followed by a five letter word meaning up that is split 1,4 in the solution.

9 Government’s main office? (9)
ADMIRALTY – The Government department responsible for the navy (main).

10 Limits on propaganda began as black and white issue (5)
PANDA – The first and last (limits on) letters of the third word of the clue with a conjunction between them to indicate both of them.

11 Deer meat regularly goes down well? (6)
BUCKET – A four letter word for a male deer followed by the even letters (regularly) of meat.

12 Bouncy boy given dab of mashed banana? (8)
BABYFOOD – An anagram (bouncy) of BOY DAB OF.

13 Excuse naked betrayals (6)
REASON – An eight letter word meaning betrayals with the outer letters removed (naked).

15 Backlash after opening of play wears on and on (8)
REACTION – The opening part of a play is included in (wears) a two letter word meaning on and the second on from the clue.

18 Vogue stumped by lady’s dressing without extravagance (8)
MODESTLY – A four letter word manning vogue followed by the abbreviation for stumped and the outer letters (dressing) of lady.

19 Big cup for small mouth? (6)
GOBLET – The solution could be a diminutive form of a slang word for the mouth if it ended let.

21 Be quiet and no looking! (3,1,4)
NOT A PEEP – Double definition of a phase meaning to be be quiet and a phrase meaning don’t look.

23 At first protestors showed youthful revolutionary spirit (6)
PSYCHE – The first letters of the third to fifth words of the clue followed by the well known South American revolutionary.

26 Sage family member invested in superior valuations (5)
ORVAL – The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue.

27 Warmed up for a run and eager to start (3,2,4)
HOT TO TROT – Semi-cryptic definition of warm up exercises for a run and a phrase meaning eager to start.

28 Trump’s fired up base creates disaster in America (8,4)
DUMPSTER FIRE – An anagram (up) of TRUMPS FIRED followed by the letter representing the base of natural logarithms.


1 Type of music made by Bach and R.E.M. (7)
CHAMBER – An anagram (made by) of BACH REM.

2 Copy note by note, more or less (5)
MIMIC – A repeated two letter word for a note on the musical scale followed by the single letter abbreviation for circa (more or less).

3 Examiners use “Sorry” very casually (9)
SURVEYORS – An anagram (casually) of USE SORRY V (very).

4 Solemn, humble, not large to begin with (4)
OWLY – Remove the initial L from a word meaning humble.

5 Blow for farmer? (8)
HAYMAKER – A type of boxing punch reminiscent of what a farmer does.

6 Use like cider? (5)
APPLY – Cider is made from apples so in the same way that something made from peaches could be peachy – cider might by thus described.

7 Party of peacekeepers causing annoyance (8)
UNSOCIAL – Split 2-6, the solution could describe a party held by the international peacekeeping organisation.

8 Pull up on space to park (6)
GARDEN – Reverse (up) a four letter word meaning to pull followed by a two letter printer’s space.

14 Extra publicity needed before seedy bar acquires appeal (8)
ADDITIVE – A two letter abbreviation for advertising followed by a four letter word for a seedy bar around a two letter word for sex appeal.

16 Lacking English, criminal took course providing quick overview (5,4)
COOKS TOUR – An anagram (criminal) of TOOK COURSE without the E (lacking English).

17 First-rate naughty bit (4-4)
BLUE-CHIP -A four letter word for something saucy or rude followed by a four letter word for a bit of something.

18 Servant‘s leg visible under skirt (6)
MINION – A side in cricket after (under) a four letter word for a short skirt.

20 Support foreign settler (7)
TRESTLE – An anagram (foreign) of SETTLER.

22 Sauce from Ukraine lifted dish (5)
PILAU – A reversal (lifted) of the IVR code for Ukraine and a three letter word for sauce or cheek.

24 Amazing! US soldier might do Queen’s bidding? (5)
CORGI – A three letter word meaning amazing followed by a two letter abbreviation for a US soldier.

25 A fool in Congress (2,2)
AT IT – The A from the clue followed by a three letter word for a fool.

30 comments on “NTSPP – 498

  1. A bit trickier than Marg’s previous NTSPPs but just as enjoyable.

    I could list several clues for favouritism but it would take too long, so I’ll just say thank you to Marg and, in advance, to Prolixic

  2. Great stuff and extremely enjoyable – thanks Marg. Even though there were several things down the bottom that I didn’t know (the 26a sage, the 27a phrase and the US disaster (28a)) it was the NE corner which gave me most problems.
    I ticked a whole host of clues – 11a, 15a, 19a, 6d and (what I’m sure will be Jane’s favourite) 25d.
    The surfaces are all pretty good but extra kudos for the brilliant 28a surface.

      1. Since I’ll be able to get my hands on Marg before you will, Jane, I’ll be happy to dish out an appropriate punishment on your behalf!

  3. Thanks Marg. Very enjoyable. Having solved on paper, I did have to ‘reveal’ some letters electronically to confirm, or not, my answers.
    Favourites – 15a, 27a, and (also with a smile) 25d!
    I realise that the last letter of the answer comes from base, but it is a little disappointing that the second word of 28a appears ‘as is’ in the anagram material.
    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks, Senf, and I’m sorry that you were disappointed by 28a. The overlap was deliberate. I hoped it might help solvers recall a phrase not often used in the UK.

  4. Some excellent clues here although I have to admit to not knowing the 5d blow or the 28a phrase. 27a rang a very faint bell but needed all the checkers and I wasn’t overly convinced by the first meaning of 1a or the definition of 7d. Not to worry, there was so much else that I did enjoy.

    Top of my list were 11&15a plus 6&14d with a rueful grin for 25d.

    Many thanks, Marg – hope it’s not too long before we see you again.

      1. It’s interesting that the clue would have worked equally well with the first word as ‘wakes’ rather than ‘makes’.

        1. It is interesting. I had “wakes” in an early attempt at clueing the answer. I changed it because “wakes up” and “wakes” can mean the same thing, and I worried that the ambiguity would make it harder to unscramble the wordplay.

      2. Goodness, I was nowhere near. My idea for the ‘first definition’ was – first word as it appears in the answer + into + one’s + last word of the answer. Ho hum – at least I got the right answer!

  5. I’ve been faffing around with this one in a leisurely (and enjoyable) way on and off all day.
    Now I’m stuck! :sad:
    I’ve got four that I can’t get at all so will leave it for now as I need to go and change to go out soon.
    I’m looking forward to finishing it off in the morning – either that or it’ll finish me off – not sure which.
    Thanks to Marg for the entertainment and diversion on a very hot Oxford afternoon and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic.

  6. I came unstuck on 12A and had to reveal letters. I still have no idea how to parse it. I must say also that after 40 years of living in the USA, I’ve never heard of 28A. I suppose it’s in the BRB though. Lots of fun elsewhere however. My favorites were 11A, 4D and 17D.

    1. 12a has two anagrams mixed together – ‘bouncy’ indicating one and ‘mashed’ the other

      1. CS, I intended 12a to be a single anagram with ‘bouncy’ as the indicator, and ‘mashed’ being part of the definition by example.

        Chris, I encountered 28a through its frequent use by the media to describe Trump’s 2016 campaign. It has also been used in The Telegraph a few times in recent years.

        1. I knew as I pressed Post Comment that I should have left well alone – in my defence I’ve had a very hectic few weeks. I also got side-tracked into remembering that, when serving your bouncy boy(s) mashed banana you should always use a J-Cloth as a bib as you’ll never get the little black marks out of any bib or piece of clothing.

  7. The pesky four letter 4d was the last one to hold out for us but the penny did finally drop. Really good fun to sort it all out with a couple of things (like the sage and the Ukraine IVR) that we had to check in BRB.
    Many thanks Marg.

  8. I’m another who finished with 4d. Interestingly, I misread “makes” in 1ac and subliminally turned it into “wakes”. I also thought 12a had two anagram indicators, but I can see how it works now. I live in the USA and got the first half of 28a easily, but the rest of the answer didn’t fill itself in for me. Overall a very enjoyable puzzle — thanks, Marg.

  9. Good stuff Marg! 26a had to be what it was given the phrase ‘invested in’ but I needed to consult the BRB to make sure.

    I’ll have to wait for the review before I can fully parse several of my answers.

    Enjoy the weekend everybody & remember that it’s the last public holiday before Christmas.

  10. Good stuff, a very enjoyable solve.

    My favourite clue was 19a, my last one in, like several others it seems, was 4d.

    Many thanks, Marg.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I always forget that you rarely comment on NTSPPs – I’m so used to you giving chapter and verse to the Rookies!

  12. Thanks to everyone who commented above, especially those who provided feedback on the highs and the lows of the puzzle. And thanks to Prolixic for his beautifully-illustrated review, especially the 18d pic and the Bach clip.

  13. Apologies for being so late to the party, but I was encouraged to have a go at this by some of the comments above. Very enjoyable, although some of the vocabulary was a bit challenging for me.
    I really enjoyed learning the meaning and derivation of 16d – I’m sure I should have known this but I didn’t. Every day a school day.
    NHO 28a.
    Mrs Shabbo is i/c the garden here so I should have asked her about 26a, although it was quite clear from the parsing.
    Ticks to 9a, 11a, 15a and 24d.
    Good fun.
    Many thanks, Marg and Prolixic.

    1. Thanks, Shabbo.

      26a was included only because I painted myself into a corner during the grid fill. I hoped that clueing it as lurker with 3 of the 5 letters checked would make finding the answer straightforward, even if verifying the definition would require a trip to the dictionary.

      I thought that 27a and 16d were well-known phrases in the UK and I tried to clue them simply to offset the challenge presented by 28a. The comments above, including yours, indicate that that approach didn’t quite work out as I intended. I’m still very much in the mode of figuring out how to create good puzzles, so I will learn from that miscalculation and hope to do better next time.

  14. In response to your request, Marg, I had actually earmarked this to do later when I have a printed copy. Alas! I’m sans printer at present. I did download it onto Across Lite on Saturday, but I’m really only happy with a hard copy. Perhaps I should try and break out of my comfort zone!!! Anyway, much appreciation in advance to Marg and to Prolixic.

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