NTSPP – 527 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 527

NTSPP – 527

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

There is a theme to this crossword which Prolixic originally set for the Birthday Bash back in January – if you solved it on the day, you’ll find that a couple of clues have changed since then. There are also a couple of indirectly themed clues which I’ve highlighted in green


1a Lively common entrance examination comes first (6)
VIVACE An oral examination goes before (first) the abbreviation for Common Entrance to give a musical-related word meaning lively

4a Beautiful boy‘s head found in the outskirts of Acapulco (6)
APOLLO Another word for head is found in the ‘outskirts’ of AcapulcO

9a Place with American advantage (4)
PLUS Two abbreviations – one for place and the other for American

10a Is definite about names (10)
IDENTIFIES An anagram (about) of IS DEFINITE

11a Goat’s back end lacking good coat (6)
ANORAK Remove the G (lacking good) from the name of a type of goat, and add the end of back

12a Variable tempo I inserted into musical piece (4,4)
TONE POEM An anagram (variable) of TEMPO into which is inserted ONE (I)

13a After 30 days tomboys ditch boy bands (9)
SEPTETTES An abbreviation for one of the months that has 30 days and a term for tomboys without the LAD (ditch boy) [7/11]

15a Parts covered by fragile g-strings (4)
LEGS Lurking in (covered by) fragiLE G-Strings

16a See 3d

17a Hear how saints may be displayed with gifts (9)
LARGESSES A homophone (hear) of how you might use a particular letter to show Saints plural

21/25a Players pay dance band (8,4)
FOOTBALL TEAM A verb meaning to pay for something, a dance and a band

22a Transfer back (6)
SECOND Double definition, the first referring to transferring someone to another post

24a Sweet talk queen to accept holiday (3-7)
JAW-BREAKER A verb meaning to talk at length and the regnal cipher of our current Queen, into which is inserted (to accept) a holiday

25a See 21a

26a Number of the French in uniform (6)
ELEVEN The French definite article inserted into a synonym for uniform

27a Bodies of water in the past when navy moved eastwards (6)
OCEANS An adverb meaning in the past and a synonym for when – to get the solution you’ll need to move the abbreviation for Navy from one word to the other (eastwards)


1d State has to open border (7)
VALANCE The abbreviation for the State of Virginia and a verb meaning to open with a particular surgical tool

2d Manager’s not great providing cover (5)
VISOR Remove the synonym for great from a manager

3d/16a Maybe on scrumpy briefly to limit disease (7,4)
CRICKET SIDE Truncate the ‘proper’ name for scrumpy and insert (to limit) a bone disease in children caused by a lack of Vitamin D

5d Obvious means to protect an invention (6)
PATENT Double definition

6d Looks after individual members of parliament (4,5)
LIFE PEERS A verb meaning looks goes after a synonym for individual

7d Identity of a head (7)
ONENESS An alternative meaning of a and a coastal ‘head’

8d Clement’s heroic and courteous (13)
GENTLEMANLIKE A word meaning clement or kind followed by an adjective meaning having the attributes of a male human (heroic)

14d Bet detail is inaccurate in report of current activities (4,5)
TIDE TABLE An anagram (is inaccurate) of BET DETAIL

16d Engineer holds gold for a fee (7)
STORAGE A charge for keeping goods – a verb meaning to engineer holds the heraldic word for gold

18d Bard’s acting strangely with this band (7)
GASTRIC An anagram (strangely) of BARDS ACTING will produce the solution and the word BAND

19d 9s pasta promotions lacking power (7)
ENNEADS A set of nine things – a type of pasta without the P (lacking power) and some abbreviated promotions [9/11]

20d Sex cell willing to entertain Elliot’s friend (6)
GAMETE An informal term meaning willing to act ‘entertains’ the friend of Elliot in the well-known film beloved of filmgoers and crossword setters alike!

23d Function with old reservists in service gear! (5)
COTTA An abbreviated trigonometrical function and the abbreviation for the old reservists go together to produce a short surplice

This was definitely the more difficult of the two Birthday Bash crosswords, but spotting all the ‘elevens’ definitely helped

27 comments on “NTSPP – 527

  1. This was very enjoyable indeed but by far the easiest Prolixic puzzle I have ever done.

    Before I hear howls of protest about that comment, I should point out that it is the second time I have solved it; it was one of his two puzzles handed out at this year’s Birthday Bash. The first time round I found it very tough indeed!!

    Assuming I am parsing 13a, correctly I can’t find any reference to the synonym needed for tomboy, although it is easy enough to intuit.

    The mini ghost theme is appropriate to the BB, and the answers for 12a, 19d & 23d were new to me (in January!)

    It was a pleasure to solve such a fine puzzle for the second time, and I have ticked a lot of clues. Fighting it out to get on the podium are 11a, 17a, 26a, 1d, 8d & 18d.

    Many thanks to Prolixic for a fun challenge.

      1. My BRB is the 13th Edition revised in 2016.
        I looked this up in January, I looked it up an hour or so ago, and I’ve just looked it up again. I still can’t find it …
        … perhaps I need to go to Specsavers?

        1. It’s definitely in the 13th edition – in fact it’s in twice with the second entry pointing back to the first. Are you sure you’re looking for the right word?

          1. Ah! I seem to have invented a new word, “boyette”, which parsed perfectly to give the answer. D’oh!

  2. That was very hard work indeed for me, but I did learn a few new tricks along the way
    Thanks for the challenge Prolixic

  3. Still got the sheet Prolixic handed out at the birthday bash, just four clues completed on that sheet. Will wait for the explanations tomorrow but quite definitely not my scene.

  4. Think I may be throwing in the towel – only a dozen or so reasonable answers written in and I’ve just about run out of ideas.
    Sorry, Prolixic, I know you can be tough but this one appears to be too tough for me to handle!

  5. Well that took us Hard Toughie time, a walk around the beach and then a modicum of electronic assistance before we could finally get it all sorted.
    Lots of great penny drop moments and a real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Prolixic.

    1. Hello Steve – Not The Saturday Prize Puzzle
      Might be an idea to not use all capitals in your handle

  6. Many thanks for the review and the explanations, CS. Probably just as well I gave up when I did – most of my thinking where the unsolved clues were concerned was a million miles away from the correct answers!

    Apologies, Prolixic, I did try very hard…………

  7. Many thanks for your review, CS. I don’t understand the two indirectly themed answers in your review in green, and the hidden numbers. Could you explain please?

    1. 9/11 is the date of the attack on the twin towers and 7/11 is the name of a US Convenience Store.

      1. Thanks very much, Gazza, although both connections to 11 seem somewhat tenuous to me.

      2. Sorry, Gazza, but I don’t understand what either of those bits of info have to do with the clues they stand alongside – can you elucidate further?

        1. One of the answers is a group of seven and the other a group of nine. Both 7 and 9 are linked indirectly to the theme (11) via 7/11 and 9/11.

          1. You are doing a great job Gazza of trying to explain the inexplicable! Full marks for ingenuity but I remain unconvinced. Surely that wasn’t Prolixic’s intention?

            1. When Prolixic emailed me yesterday to tell me which clues had changed since Gazza and I test solved this crossword, he also said “As well as the obvious themed entries, there are the indirect “septettes” 7/11 and “enneads” 9/11″

              I’m beginning to wish I’d kept that bit of information to myself :roll:

            2. When I test solved the puzzle I did identify the two “indirects” and Prolixic didn’t come back and tell me I was barking up the wrong tree.

          2. Thank you, Gazza, I’ll take your word for it, albeit reluctantly in this instance! I wish Prolixic would pop in to clarify his thinking.

            1. Don’t tempt fate Jane, it might be even more mind-boggling
              Excellent though it is, this puzzle is already knocking on the door of ‘a bit much’!

  8. Strewth! This made the Nimrod in Saturday’s Indy look like a beginner’s level crossword. Solving time getting on for two hours with liberal assistance from wordfinders and anagram solvers, plus Brewer and a thesaurus. And quite a few answers that I couldn’t parse. But I did manage to parse 3/16 once I got it and thought it was a brilliant clue.

  9. Failed miserably on this.
    Although NE and SW were fully solved,
    NW and SE were left with very few answers until I decided to give up.
    Would never have got them without CS’ thorough explanations.
    Maybe due to an overdose of crossword solving.
    Thanks to Prolixic and again to CS.

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