NTSPP – 504 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 504

NTSPP – 504

A Puzzle by Skinny

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Quite a tricky NTSPP which I actually left to ‘cogitate’ for a while with many blank spaces in the grid. The solving process definitely didn’t flow, mainly because there was a fair bit of ‘that must be the solution, but I’ll have to check the BRB to make sure that x does mean y and so on


7a Firm holding stock essentially in reserve (5)
HOARD A synonym for the adjective firm into which is inserted the essential letter of stOck

8a Bigot has ‘black’ changed to new expression that sounds like another (9)
HOMOPHONE Take another word for a bigot and change the B for Black for an N for New

10a Pill regularly taken before fever – a serious one (6)
PLAGUE – The regular letters of PiLl go before a severe fever

11a A rabbit’s foot, possibly the result of taxidermist finally having animals butchered (8)
TALISMAN The final letter of taxidermist followed by an anagram (butchered) of ANIMALS

12a Completed examination of the countryside (8)
PASTORAL A synonym for completed or ended followed by a type of examination

13a Tide turns for Casanova (4)
WOLF A reversal (turns) of a current of water (tide) – The solution being a man who insatiably pursues and seduces women, just like Casanova

15a Power tool absorbs last bit of oil smear (7)
SLANDER A particular power tool ‘absorbs’ the last letter (bit) of oiL

17a Variable routine adopted by goatish fellow (7)
PROTEAN Something done from memory (routine) inserted into (adopted by) the Greek god of pastures, flocks and woods who is represented with a goat’s legs and feet and sometimes horns and ears

20a Stationer, haberdasher or pharmacy, primarily (4)
SHOP The initial letters (primarily) of each type of the solution

22a Soldier wearing coat, and Scotsman portrayed in David Copperfield for instance? (8)
MAGICIAN An abbreviated [and unindicated American] soldier inserted into a waterproof coat, the result followed by a Christian name often given to a Scotsman (although as someone pointed out on another blog the other day, the Scottish version usually has a second I)

25a Reduce charge about to be introduced by gallery (8)
TRUNCATE A verb meaning to charge and the single letter abbreviation for about are ‘introduced’ into the name of an art gallery

26a Being prosecuted or released? (6)
ISSUED Part of a verb meaning being followed by another meaning prosecuted

27a Not charged to be a member of Equity, perhaps (9)
UNIONISED Not electrically charged or a member of an organisation such as Equity

28a Go ahead and take snuff (5)
DOUSE A verb meaning to go ahead and another meaning take


1d Feature of pub there’s nothing left inside fit to drink (4,5)
POOL TABLE Insert the letter that represents nothing and the abbreviation for Left into an adjective meaning fit to drink

2d Seaside resort beginning to be trendy (8)
BRIGHTON Variations of clues like this about this particular seaside resort are starting to achieve chestnut status. The beginning letter of Be followed by an adjective meaning trendy or keeping in with the latest social, political, moral etc ideas or fashions

3d Aggressive landlord, one with beer lacking head (7)
HOSTILE A landlord, I (one) and some beer without the first letter (lacking head)

4d Is one chasing fellow, or running wild? (8)
FOLLOWER An anagram (running wild) of FELLOW OR

5d Screw which a carpenter may use (6)
CHISEL Screw and the solution are slang words meaning to cheat; the same word can also be a tool for a carpenter

6d As beer might be recorded, for the most part (2,3)
ON TAP Almost all (for the most part) of an expression meaning recorded

9d Bring up bird in conversation (4)
REAR A homophone (in conversation) of a flightless South American bird

14d Clay moulded with paste shows rigidity (9)
CATALEPSY A state of bodily rigidity is obtained from an anagram (moulded) of CLAY with PASTE

16d Part of pressure MP has is stress (8)
EMPHASIS Lurking in part of pressurE MP HAS IS – a shame that the end of the lurker doesn’t actually lurk!

18d Might it stock up with hard crackers? (8)
TUCKSHOP An anagram (crackers) of STOCK UP with H (hard)


19d Closure of shop amid sad demise of hampers (7)
IMPEDES The final letter (closure) of shoP goes inside an anagram (sad) of DEMISE

21d Party of women associated with new area of London (6)
HENDON A woman-only party and N (new)

23d Most of gunge is horrible (4)
GRIM Almost all of a word that I don’t think is actually the best synonym for gunge (and Mrs Bradford agrees with me!)

24d Scorn being fey? (5)
IRONY The first two letters of fey are the chemical symbol for a particular type of metal which should be followed with the Y – if I hadn’t solved 12a in Friday’s Toughie, I think the penny might have taken a lot longer to drop!


24 comments on “NTSPP – 504

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks Skinny.
    I ploughed through the top half like a dose of salts and thought it was going to be a breeze but the bottom half put up much more of a fight.
    My last clue was 24d which provoked what pommers would call a tea tray moment and is therefore my favourite. Other clues that I ticked were 22a, 1d, 2d, 16d and 21d.
    I’m not sure that 26a works grammatically.

  2. I found this quite tricky and indeed put it down and came back again to allow time for cogitation

    I particularly liked 21d and 24d – the solving of the latter helped by remembering 12a in yesterday’s Toughie. Variations on 2d are fast becoming chestnutty

    Thanks to Skinny and, in advance, to Prolixic

      1. Oh…[dearie me, or words to that effect] I’d have planned my afternoon differently if I’d realised. Never mind, as long as I can bash something out before Strictly/Laura Muir’s race.

        Thank you (I think)

  3. A very pleasant solve that suddenly became appreciably more difficult when it came to the SE corner where the BRB came out to check 17a & 14d.
    28a & 24d were the last to fall and my top two places went to 22a, which led me well down the garden path and the clever 1d.
    Not sure that the 18d would have many young customers with that sort of stock!

    Thanks, Skinny, a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

  4. I found this very challenging in parts but extremely enjoyable, even though the surface of 11a made me wince.

    I thought that 13a was a bit obscure, but, that apart, everything came together with perseverance.

    Jostling for podium positions were 22a, 27a, 21d & 24d.

    Many thanks to Skinny for the fun and in advance to whichever of Prolixic and CS draws the short straw.

  5. Thanks for comments all, very much appreciated.

    to Gazza @1 – 26a was a last minute (literally) change. I think it can be justified, but I can see how confusion may creep in. 24d was too tempting to resist, as was 1d. It was a fun puzzle to put together. Also – 27a has two spellings depending if you’re from this side of the pond or the other, though it makes no material difference to the puzzle.

    Thanks again,


    1. I’m probably being particularly dim but I still can’t think of a sentence in which ‘being prosecuted’ can be replaced by ‘is sued’.

  6. Also @Gazza @1 – I’m really hoping the tea-tray moment refers to the wonderful Bob Blackman.

    1. Thanks for that, Skinny. That is one weird bloke. I haven’t seen it before – I was referring to the fact that our reviewer pommers allegedly bangs his head with said tray when the penny drops on a tricky clue.

  7. This took me at least twice as long as the average back pager, and even then I needed a fair bit of electronic help plus a couple of bung ins and a “reveal” in the South. I thought it wouldn’t have been out of place on the Toughie page. I’d never heard of the synonym for Casanova and 28a is a total mystery.
    9a,11a, 15a, the inventive 26a plus the very clever 4d and19d get special ticks from me.

    Thanks to Skinny for the entertainment.

      1. Thank you LBR. I thought 26a was using a bit of “artistic license” and this follows suit.

  8. Thanks very much for the review, CS.

    After a bit of Googling I took 13a as referring to a wolf called Casanova in Yellowstone Park whose life was studied for a decade. Hence my comment about it being rather obscure. Your explanation is somewhat simpler and almost certainly the correct one!

  9. Thanks for the hints, CrypticSue. I haven’t finished it yet (so will probably need more of them) but for 25a I make it a 3-letter word meaning ‘charge’ [in the motion sense] followed by a singe letter indicating ‘about’ [as in ‘approximately’], all inserted into the gallery.

  10. An interesting puzzle. I got 9d wrong at first by putting in the bird not the homophone. I always get these round the wrong way.24d was very clever. I needed the hint to tell me I was right without knowing why.
    I must remember to look at these NTSPP’s more often.
    Hope you managed to watch Strictly, CS. Against all the odds it is proving more entertaining than I expected. No favourites yet.

  11. Many thanks for the well illustrated review, CS, no-one would ever guess that you hadn’t been expecting to have to make time for it!
    Despite tackling the relevant Toughie, it still took a long time for the penny to drop here over 24d and my 6d beer was definitely in a can.

    Thanks again to Skinny for the workout.

  12. Thank you Skinny and CrypticSue — I’ve now completed this (with many hints, but fewer than I need for some backpagers) and enjoyed the process.

    I liked pretty much all the clues others have mentioned above, with 1d being my favourite.

  13. Quite a challenge and some electronic help required before I finished it. Thanks, though, Skinny – see you at york again this year? Thanks, too, to CS.

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