NTSPP – 525 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 525

NTSPP – 525

A Puzzle by Hippogryph

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This is Hippogryph’s first puzzle since he graduated to the NTSPP series.

A review by a manure covered Prolixic follows.

Welcome to the NTSPP to Hippogryph.  A quick review today as I have been busy on the allotment.  A number of answers are related to the country revealed in the final row of the grid.


7 Exotic pepper pot almost gets a friend taken aback (8)
JALAPEÑO – A three letter word for a pot with the final letter removed (almost) followed by a reversal (take aback) of a three letter word meaning a and a three letter word for a friend.

9 Tequila is made from these silver birds (6)
AGAVES – The chemical symbol for silver followed by a four letter word for birds as a class of vertebrates.

10 Singer will do this twice on the radio, averagely well (2-2)
SO-SO – A homophone (on the radio) of what a Singer machine will do, repeated (twice).  As Singer is a definition by example, perhaps this should have been indicated.

11 Be an insect flying fast (10)
ABSTINENCE – An anagram (flying) of BE AN INSECT.

12 Once damaged margins of the sacrificial pool (6)
CENOTE – An anagram (damaged) of ONCE followed by the first and last letters (margins) of the.

14 In the firing line? (8)
SACKABLE – A cryptic definition of someone at risk of redundancy.

15 Exercises disorientate purists, losing resistance. (3-3)
SIT-UPS – An anagram (disorientates) of PURISTS after removing the R (losing resistance).

17 Italian, replacing American during immigration, documents sightseeing trips (6)
VISITS – A five letter word for documents that give permission to visit a country (immigration documents) with the single letter abbreviation for American replaced by the two letter abbreviation for Italian.

20 They got away with space hopping and cycling experience (8)
ESCAPEES – An anagram (hopping) of SPACE followed by a three letter word meaning experience with the first letter moved to the end (cycling).

22 Double trouble and strife? (6)
BIGAMY – Cryptic definition of the state of having two wives (double trouble and strife).

23 Good person ate cooked dates for appetizer (10)
BREADSTICK – A five letter word for a good person includes (ate) an anagram (cooked) of DATES.  Perhaps  eating would be a better containment indicator here.

24 Plant out a rose centre (4)
TARO – The central four characters of the second to fourth words of the clue.

25 In the lead, promoted and not Championship hopefuls over-promising. Villa? (6)
PANCHO – The initial letters (in the lead) of the fourth to ninth words of the clue.

26 Droll and funny host (8)
LANDLORD – An anagram (funny) of DROLL AND.


1 Spaniard on the up in Swiss city, dumping the French lady? (8)
BARONESS – A five letter word for a Spanish man reversed (on the up) inside a five letter name of a Swiss city without the French masculine singular form of the.

2 Shell company down-sized after not starting VAT returns (4)
TACO – The abbreviation (down-sized) of company after a reversal of the VAT from the clue without the initial letter (not starting).

3 Move near Hippogryph to get new identity (6)
RENAME – An anagram (move) of NEAR followed by a two letter for for the setter.

4 Musical nun joining Nile Rodgers’ outfit shortly to form band (8)
MARIACHI – The name of the nun in the Sound of Music followed by the name of the group established by Nile Rodger with the final letter removed (shortly).

5 Daily activity for most men – not hard maintaining dignity (4-6)
FACE-SAVING – Remove the abbreviation for hard for what many men do each day to remove hair from part of the body.

6 Limescale absorbs alcohol? (6)
MESCAL – The answer is hidden (absorbs) in the first word of the clue.

8 Eat away at alumni feasts regularly (6)
OBSESS – The abbreviation for old boy (pluralised as alumni is the plural form) followed by the event letters (regularly) of feasts.

13 Nothing remarkable but ale can be more important (10)
OUTBALANCE – The letter representing nothing followed by an anagram (remarkable) of BUT ALE CAN.

16 Writers gather here to view fight following panic, initially about empty seats (5,3)
PRESS BOX – A three letter word meaning to fight after (following) the initial letter of panic, a two letter word meaning about and the outer letters (empty) of seats.

18 Doctor injecting into painful radius. Old-hat! (8)
SOMBRERO – A two letter word abbreviation for doctor (bachelor of medicine) inside (injecting) a four letter word for painful followed by the abbreviation for radius and the abbreviation for old.  I think that injected would be better than injecting (which implies that the abbreviation for doctor receives the letters).  Some editors would not allow the definition to be joined to the wordplay with a hyphen.

19 One involved in slip up makes observation (6)
ESPIAL – The letter representing one inside (involved in) a five letter word for a slip that has been reversed (up).  A minor repetition of up as a reversal indicator.

21 Cry from creature half-consumed during kinky sex (6)
SCREAM – Half the letter in creature inside the abbreviation for sadomasochism (kinky sex).

22 Cycling endlessly on island wearing this? (6)
BIKINI – A six letter word for cycling final letter removed (endlessly) on the abbreviation for island.

24 Technetium stores aluminium powder (4)
TALC – The chemical symbol of technetium includes the chemical symbol for aluminium.

22 comments on “NTSPP – 525

  1. Perfect lunchtime solve – I’m just finishing a Peshwari Naan as I type this! I did like the ghost theme – just a shame we picked the wrong cuisine for our Saturday lunch

    Only one thing I had to check in the BRB – 12a – as to which way round the two consonants went! I did wonder to myself whether some of the clues were a bit ‘wordy’ but they weren’t as bad as some I’ve known in the past.

    Thanks to Hippogryph and, in advance, to Prolixic.

  2. Thanks Hippogryph. That was enjoyable with a nice theme (and relevant Nina). There were a few things I didn’t know – the sacrificial pool, Nile Rodgers’ outfit and the 24a plant but all were gettable with the help of checkers.
    My podium selections were 22a, 5d and 18d.

  3. Very well done, Hippogryph. You’ve certainly justified your promotion from Rookie Corner with this fine offering including a ghost theme and (mini) Nina.

    I needed to check 12a, 24a & 25a, but the answers were all fairly clued.

    I’m not sure if “injecting” quite works as an insertion indicator in 18d, and I’ll be interested to know what Prolixic thinks of this.

    Making it onto my podium are 10a, 11a & 26a.

    Many thanks, Hippogryph, for a puzzle which was nicely challenging in parts and all good fun.

  4. Entertaining puzzle with some thought required. A couple I had to check, which is about right for the NTSPP slot.
    25a was last in and I’m not 100% sure I’ve parsed it correctly.
    Well done and thanks

    1. 25a is just the leading letters of six words to get the nickname of Francisco Villa, the revolutionary leader.

      1. Who? I was miles off with that one then. It’s no secret that my bugbear is names and historical references (being something of a philistine), though I do accept one should learn, and not just complain
        Thanks for the elucidation Gazza

  5. Very enjoyable, solved at a steady pace combined with other Saturday morning activities.
    One minor gripe over, for me, the obscure Mr Rodgers in 4d.
    I really liked 10a, 22a, and 1d.
    Thanks Hippogryph.

  6. I think our setter pulled out all the stops for his debut NTSPP – and very enjoyable it was, although I was grateful to have Mr G on hand to assist with the sacrificial pool, Mr Rodger’s outfit and the 24a plant.
    Top two for me were 22a (brilliant!) and 5d.

    Well done, Hippogryph, that promotion was well deserved.

  7. That had us working hard and was a lot of fun too. Spotted the ghost theme but missed the Nina until Gazza pointed it out above.
    Thanks Hippogryph.

  8. I enjoyed this but it was really quite hard work – pleasantly so but still quite hard for me.
    I have 1d that I can’t do – I want to make it something but can’t justify it so it’s probably wrong – BD mantra!
    Like others I didn’t know 12a.
    I loved 22a and down and 5a although I struggled to find something that men do every day!
    I also loved 4d but thought that 23a was a pretty miserable starter.
    With thanks and well done to Hippogryph and, in advance, to Prolixic.
    PS I haven’t spotted a theme or a Nina yet but will have another look later – supper is ready.

  9. Absolutely great. Liked the theme (and spotted it early on). No quibbles, although it took a while to work out the parsing of 7ac, even though I saw the answer at once. Thanks, Hippogryph.

  10. all done but for 2d & 12a. like a pr~t i looked up hippogryph in brewer’s with no avail before looking at who the setter was! thank you.

  11. Thanks so much to everyone for your comments and feedback. There were a couple of the themed words which are not widely known so I’m really glad that you all enjoyed it and hope to be back with another one soon. Thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review and encouragement.

  12. Still not quite finished this, stuck in the NW but enjoyed what I’ve done. Saw the band in question 4d last summer at The Eden Project a day after The Stereophonics at the same venue…both terrific.
    The parsing of 21d took a bit of thinking about but very amusing when the penny dropped and I also liked the male daily activity. However my favourite was the very clever and funny 22a.
    Didn’t and still haven’t spotted either the theme or the Nina.
    Thanks for the fun Hippogryph.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Have to admit that the brand of sewing machine never entered my head – I was thinking of vocalists. No wonder I’d put an ‘umm’ alongside that one!
    Thanks again to Hippogryph for an excellent debut in the NTSPP slot.

  14. Thanks Prolixic, the sewing machine didn’t cross my mind – D’oh, a deer, a female deer…

    1. So 10ac is a good example of how to disguise the initial capital of a proper noun by making the said noun first word of the clue.

  15. Well done Hippogryph on getting your first NTSPP! I’ve been waiting quite a while for this one to appear, seeing as Hippogryph was kind enough to allow me to do a test-solve – didn’t know at the time that he’d gained a promotion!

    While test solving, I quickly spotted the ghost theme but entirely missed the nina. Silly me! Talk about staring you in the face!

  16. Congratulations to Hippogryph on your NTSPP debut. I really enjoyed this! I think 10a has to be my fave because it raised such a big smile.

    While many of the answers presented themselves without a problem, there were some clues I couldn’t do. I was not using a disctionary or any other frorm of help, so while I understood the wordplay, I was at a loss as to the answer. Some words, like the ‘sacrifical pool’, were new to me. As for 4d, I had the nun but not the end!

    Thanks to Prolixic’s excellent and well illustrated enlightenment, I now have a full grid.

    Many thanks to Hippogrypth and Prolixic.

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