NTSPP – 529 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 529

NTSPP – 529

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue by Jaffa

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A scene of religious education by Prolixic follows.

Welcome all to the review.  Hope that you are keeping well and focussed during the lockdown and keeping your sanity.  Having the daily crosswords and the NTSPP helps to keep the brain focussed and so thanks are due to Jaffa for helping to occupy our time.

The idea behind the crossword was a good one.  Had the across clues before the Uxbridge definitions being more in keeping with the definitions themselves, it would have been a great one.  There was one or two places where I think that concentrating on the theme meant that Jaffa took his eye off the cryptic reading of the clues with some slightly jarring constructions.


8 Pontificated about exercise – a classical music loving soft toy (8)
OPERATED (OPERA TED) – A six letter word meaning spoke or pontificated around (about) the abbreviation for physical exercise.

9 Sad to say, vegetable the French ignored – I’ll check with the wife (6)
ALASKA – (I’LL ASK HER) – A four letter word meaning sad to sale followed by a four letter word for a green crinkly leaved vegetable without the final le (the French ignored).

11 Reportedly attractive to consume drink passed to the left –  award for a princess (9)
DYSTROPHY (DI’S TROPHY) – A homophone (reportedly) of “dishy” (attractive) includes (ton consume) a four letter word for an after-dinner drink reversed (passed to the left).

12 Game where time is lost but man is finally  captured – a wee dram (5)
WHISK (SHORT WHISK[Y]) – A five letter card game with out the final T (time is lost) followed by the abbreviation for King (man on a chessboard who is finally captured.  Perhaps and would be better than but.

13 Father’s mum takes a line – old folks’ home (7)
GRANARY (GRAN ERY like NUNNERY)— A four letter word for your Father’s mother followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for railway.

15 Deliberate offender on board – patron saint of expensive cars (7)
STROLLS (ST ROLLS) A five letter word for someone who stirs up dissension and creates offence on blogs inside the abbreviation for steamship.

16 Huge Robin Hood fan – gangster next door (13)
NEIGHBOURHOOD (NEIGHBOUR HOOD) – An anagram (fan) of HUGE ROBIN HOOD.  A shame that the final four words of the answer appear in the same order in the letters to be rearranged.

20 N to NE and S to SW – eight legged insects (7)
OCTANTS (OCT ANTS) – A description of the eighths as parts of the compass (N to NE and (S to SW).

22 Irishman wearing jerseys maybe  acts of bovine comfort (7)
COWPATS (COW PATS) – A three letter Irishman’s name has a description of the animals of which Jerseys are an example around it (wearing).  The rule is usually that a proper noun such as Jerseys should not be put into lower case.

24 Scepticism expressed between two knights and me – starter for car (5)
KHAKI (CAR KEY) – The abbreviation for Knight twice includes a two letter word for expressing scepticism followed by a single letter word that could replace me.

25 Dad online is confused – camp big cat (9)
DANDELION – (DANDY LION) – An anagram (is confused) of DAD ONLINE.

27 Almost against edge – others (6)
ANTHEM (AN[D] THEM) – A four letter word meaning against with the final letter removed (almost) followed by a three letter word for an edge.

28 Squad ran trial undercover for two 20s – four people shouting (8)
QUADRANT – The answer is hidden in (undercover) the first three words of the clue.  Not sure that undercover on its own works as a hidden word indicator.  As we have the Uxbridge definition, not sure why we also need the two 20s as a definition as well.


1 Cruft’s Best In ShowGreat Dane maybe (3,3)
TOP DOG – Double definition, the second by reference to the height of the breed.

2 Confusion leads to victory for fellow sailor perhaps (8)
MESSMATE – A four letter word for confusion followed by another word for victory on a chessboard.

3 Henry VIII approved of Norm for King (4)
PARR – A three letter word meaning average or the norm followed by a single letter abbreviation for King.  The for in the clue should have been omitted and the wordplay adjusted accordingly.  Not sure that Henry VIII approved of is the best of definitions.

4 Keenly make regular trips south of river (6)
DEEPLY – A three letter word meaning make regular trips after (south of) a three letter name of a river.

5 Rivers that might be blooming spectacular! (6,4)
FLOWER SHOW – A seven letter word that cryptically described rivers followed by a three letter word meaning that.

6 In a spin from 12 or 26? (6)
ASWIRL – Split 1,5, the answer could be another word for 12a or 26d.  The wordplay and the solution are too closely linked.

7 Foolish male, chortling when flying Down Under (7)
JACKASS – Double definition, the second being another name for the Kookaburra, an Australian bird.  Perhaps one chortling when flying… would have been better.

10 Unsettled husky first up to see the rising sun here? (6)
KYUSHU – A an anagram (unsettled) of HUSKY U (first UP).  One of my least favourite clue forms is an anagram of an unusual word or foreign place.  Even if technically correct, it is often unfair on the solver to have to try and guess which way the letters should go, even when checking letters are in place.

14 Dish of tangerines for Latin Americans (10)
ARGENTINES – An anagram (dish of) TANGERINES.

17 Next to 2nd XI being broadcast (6)
BESIDE – A homophone (broadcast) of B-SIDE (second eleven).

18 Instruments of Ordnance Survey securing a cairn that’s been vandalised (8)
OCARINAS – The abbreviation for Ordnance Survey includes (securing) the A for the clue and an anagram (that’s been vandalised) of CAIRN.

19 To engage with conversation is difficult with this (7)
LOCKJAW – Cryptic definition for another name for tetanus.

21 Features of sittar artist performing twice (6)
TRAITS – Anagrams (performing twice) of SITTAR and ARTISTS.

22 Odd client query not on track in Channel  ports (6)
CINQUE – The odd letters of client (you really need oddly not odd) followed by the QUERY from the clue without the abbreviation for railway (not on track – the on jars slightly – perhaps lost track in).

23 Seat lost and space taken up by government (6)
SENATE – An anagram (lost) of SEAT includes (taken) a two letter word for a space reversed (up)

26 Turn brought on by removal of lingerie top (4)
EDDY – A word for a combined form of underwear without the first letter (removal of top).

Richard Stilgoe had an interesting view on early social distancing in church.  If you want something to cheer you up, have a look at this.

38 comments on “NTSPP – 529

  1. My heart usually sinks when I see that there are ‘special instructions’ and even more so when they take up 8 lines of print but since the title is one of my favourite radio programmes I had a go at this one and enjoyed the process.
    Best laughs amongst the across ‘definitions’ were 12a, 22a and 25a. From the down clues my favourite was 21d.
    Thanks to Jaffa.

  2. The preamble was rather worrying but the puzzle is great fun. I finished the across clues way before the down clues! Almost like having two sets of wordplay. Favourites include 8a, 13a, 28a – I note these are different to Gazza’s which is a good thing – i mean, nothing to do with my appreciation of Gazza’s taste (he hastens to add), just that if people like different clues you obviously have more than just a handful of winners.

    Many thanks Jaffa!

  3. Don’t do crossword with instructions, I find the normal ones hard enough!
    Shame, at a loose end today, maybe the Guardian.

    1. Try ignoring all the instructions apart from the helpful ‘start with the Downs’ and see how you get on

        1. Well, I got most of the downs, but without proper definitions the across clues proved beyond me. Probably not knowing the radio program did not help.

          1. I’ve never listened to the programme but I was given a copy of the Dictionary a few years ago by a very nice man as a thank-you/Christmas present so I just used that, although not all the definitions are in the book but you can imagine them being there

  4. Gazza’s opening remarks summed up my feelings perfectly as I approached this with great trepidation. Then, almost instantly, the answer to 8a jumped out at me. I roared with laughter much to Mrs RD’s consternation and was hooked. This was certainly challenging but it was very clever indeed and really enjoyable with lots of laughs along the way.

    I have never before come across sitar spelt with two Ts, but I see it is listed in the BRB as a valid alternative.

    I have three parsing queries. I can’t see how the last three letters of the second word of 5d are derived; nor where the final letter of 12a comes from (unless the setter is making the heinous crime of assuming that a chess King can be captured). The definition for 7d is clear but I can’t understand any of the wordplay and suppose it might relate to some Australian slang.

    Very well done and many thanks, Jaffa. What a great way to while away the time whilst in lockdown. 👍

    1. I’m trying hard not to spoil Prolixic’s review-writing fun so I’ll only help a bit
      As I would say to Brian, see if looking up the last 3 letters of 5d in the BRB might relate to words 2, 3 and 4 in the clue
      I think he’s just being captured by being put in the solution
      7d isn’t exactly slang – again the BRB explains

      1. Thanks for trying CS, but I must be being stupid as I’m no clearer I’m afraid.

        5d – I did look it up in the BRB before posting and have done so again but it doesn’t help I’m sorry to say. I’ll wait for Prolixic’s review for an explanation.
        12a – I rejected that explanation because I had assumed captured in that sense would mean inserted.
        7d – Once again I looked up both the answer and both components of the answer in my BRB before posting with no enlightenment. Once again I’ll need to wait for Prolixic.

    2. Thank you for the comments RD and I’m sorry I haven’t tried to answer your queries earlier – it’s taken sometime to understand how my brain was working!
      5d I think when I wrote this I saw that the 7th definition of “how” in the BRB is “that” when it’s an adverb or conjunction so I used it. My wife, who knows about such things, reckons that I’m using it as a relative pronoun so I guess I may have sinned grammatically. That’s what happens when scientists try to be literate….
      12a I had hoped that “finally captured” was sufficient to determine the position of my random chessman. My chess playing ability peaked over 50 years ago but I do understand the point you are making about the king
      7d I think this works – well in my mind’s eye at least. I almost included something about Australian suppliers of cricket equipment
      Once again, thank you

      1. Thanks for replying, Jaffa. Now I understand it, I think 7d works cryptically although the surface is unconvincing.

        One thing I meant to mention yesterday and the pedant in me won’t allow me to let you get away with is “Chamber’s”! 👎👎👎. Were you a greengrocer in a former life?

        1. Gulp! A thousand apologies. I think my wife, the retired English teacher, may be sending me to the naughty step for 69 minutes 😂

      1. Sorry, Mucky, that is not correct. A king can never be captured. Checkmate ends the game before the king is captured. It occurs when a king is under attack and either (a) cannot move to another square where it is not attacked; or (b) the attack cannot be prevented either by capturing the attacking piece or by blocking the attack.

        1. Yep. Compare stalemate whereby the King is not under direct attack [ie check], but has no other legal move with any piece on the board
          Strong players in a losing position will aim firstly for a draw, then for stalemate since neither is a loss

        2. I was being needlessly provocative, for which I apologise. Cabin fever.
          I think of the procedures governing check and checkmate as being merely etiquette that has gained the status of rules by long use. Chess would be the same game without that etiquette, though. The aim is to capture the opposing king, and prevent the capture of your own.
          Without knowing its actual history, I imagine stalemate developed as a rule to cover a situation that was not necessarily foreseen when starting.

          1. This game has been around for thousands of years, stalemate was a well known tactic even then
            The King cannot be captured, only checkmate or stalemate
            A draw is usually achieved by 3 repeated moves such as perpetual check – wherever he puts his King, he can be checked again and be forced to move back to where he came from

  5. I’m a huge fan of the radio programme but I wasn’t a huge fan of this puzzle, unfortunately.

    It’s hard to make a case for more than a couple of the Across clues having acceptable surfaces, I don’t think whatever laughs are derived from the “homogroans” can trump the need for the clues to read well, it is meant to be a cryptic crossword after all.

    Sorry, Jaffa, I didn’t find this as pleasurable to solve as others seem to have done.

  6. In keeping with the theme, could this puzzle be titled “What the unorganized French carpenter was heard to say”?

  7. If nothing else, I’ve discovered that I’m not happy when there is no actual definition in the clue of the answer one needs to insert – quite discombobulating! Managed to get down to the last four but I’ve run out of inspired guesswork.
    I did enjoy the answers to 8,13&25a plus 1d but this style of crossword isn’t really for me.

    Thanks, Jaffa, sorry to be a damp squib!

  8. Our first reaction when we read the introduction was, “We don’t know the programme so are probably wasting our time but we’ll look at it anyway”. The downs in the bottom half slotted together reasonable smoothly and from there we managed to progress through to a complete solve.
    Thoroughly enjoyable and plenty of the across answers to chuckle over during our imminent beach walk.
    Thanks Jaffa.

  9. Thank you for all of the above comments. I think that when I put this crossword together I had an inkling that it might be like the Marmite of Crossword Land. I probably didn’t realise however quite how polarised the views would be!

    For those of you who enjoyed the humour, thank you. I’m glad that in these trying times I managed to raise your spirits a little. I’ll comment further tomorrow after the review.

  10. Never listened to the program but still managed well over 90% of this fun crossword.
    Only have 9a, 12a and 7d to go.
    I shall keep persevering.
    I always like a challenge even if it is above my abilities.
    Thanks to Jaffa. I don’t know if your name appeared in that program but it certainly did in Only fools and horses to describe one of the characters who couldn’t have children. Seedless apparently.

  11. Brilliant idea for a puzzle in the week of Barry Cryer’s 85th birthday. Sometimes I see cryptic definitions or homophones in “regular” puzzles and think they wouldn’t go amiss in the UED. In fact I found some of the across clues easier than the down ones.

    If you are a fan of the show as well as the various editions of UED there is also “Lyttleton’s Britain” by Iain Pattison which is a collection of the hilarious intros to the various places they visit.

  12. Well I’ve filled in the whole of the East and half of the West..I may come back to it, I don’t know. I enjoyed what I’ve done and appreciated the novelty but would I have preferred a “conventional” puzzle?…probably.
    I have a couple of parsing issues too, and can anyone explain the purpose of “not on track” in 22d….seems surplus to requirements to me.
    I particularly liked the homophone at 17d, plus 22 and 25a
    Thanks to Jaffa for the fun, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hi Stephen – the tracks are railway tracks, abbreviated to ry on maps, so take the word ‘query’ and remove ‘ry’ for the que bit of the answer. The first bit is the odd letters of ‘client’

    2. Many thanks for having a go and commenting. In 22d I needed to lose the last two letters of the third word.

  13. I just wish I had read the instruction (or even the title would have helped), about 3/4 way through I spotted what was going on, and the rest fell in fairly easily. I thought the whole thing was great fun.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and for taking an often brave stab at highlighting the definitions – such as they were!
    Delightful clip to finish – I can just imagine dear old Hyacinth being of the same opinion!

  15. Thank you as always Prolixic for you wonderful review (especially Richard Stilgoe) and the good advice contained therein.
    I accept that in the across clues the initial wordplay often bears little connection to the Uxbridge definition and this obviously is not normal practice but I suppose I was hoping to be allowed some poetic licence. One of my friends described it as a “double cryptic” but with no definition. I suppose the solver’s enjoyment is linked to their acceptance of this idea. Several people seemed to have found it amusing. Do the means justify the ends….?
    I discovered the Uxbridge English Dictionary by accident. My free “parish magazine” arrived on my doormat containing, on its jokes page, about twenty such definitions. These sowed the seed in my mind and I then discovered a couple of online versions and then purchased my own hard copy. It’s a wonderful book to dip in and out of – I highly recommend it. It never ceases to raise a smile. It is also a wonderful source of potential future homophones but it is currently self isolating in Guernsey whilst I do the same in Scotland.
    Thank you to all who have helped me produce this crossword and especially BD for this wonderful site.

  16. Thanks Jaffa.
    You set yourself a hard task with the structure of your across clues to make them read smoothly. I was certainly willing to give you licence, and found it good fun. Actually, I tried not to look at the first half of the clues, so didn’t really notice any disjunction. I managed to get about half of them from the UED defs.

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