NTSPP – 531 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 531

A Puzzle by Skinny

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a while since we had the pleasure of a Skinny NTSPP to solve (No 504 back in October 2019) and today’s perfectly fitted into a lunchtime solve, with the blogging notes scribbled on the print out while sitting in some glorious sunshine, listening to all the happy birds, like us enjoying the lack of traffic and aircraft noise

One of those crosswords that leaves you with a smile on your face at the end, which, in these scary and difficult times, is just what the solver ordered – thank you Skinny



6a At last, Jacob Marley cooked an apple (7)
BRAMLEY An anagram (cooked) of the last letter of jacoB and MARLEY produces a type of apple, two of which are waiting for me to decide whether to bake them or put into a delicious Eve’s Pudding

7a Explanation for boxer taking swings both ways (5)
ALIBI Crosswordland’s most useful boxer followed by the informal adjective meaning attracted to both sexes

9a Singer Isaac in audition for Blur (4)
HAZE Misleading capitals time as we are looking for a blur or mistiness obscuring vision which is a homophone (in audition) of the surname of Isaac, the late soul singer

10a Holding notes as I played with tunings (10)
SUSTAINING An anagram (played) of AS I with TUNINGS

11a Extent of reports about being too old (8)
COVERAGE The abbreviation meaning about followed by a way of saying being too old

13a Private patient likely to be here (6)
INWARD Merge a way (2,4) of describing where a hospital patient is likely to be

15a Weakens around these resorts? You’d hope not! (4)
SPAS A reversal (around) of part of a verb meaning weakens.

17a Vigour expressed in cover version (5)
VERVE Lurking in coVER VErsion

18a Part of window in which last bit of glass remains (4)
SASH The last bit of glasS and some remains

19a Rises from the grave in Y-Fronts? (6)
UNDIES Remove the hyphen from a way of saying rises from the grave – the ? at the end is, of course to indicate that one wouldn’t refer to Y-fronts as this type of abbreviated garment. Reminds me of a small boy too many years ago now to think about, telling me that ‘Mum – boys wear pants, girls wear knickers!’

20a One of a bunch for Doctor Cathy in Hospital? (8)
HYACINTH An anagram (doctor) of CATHY IN H(ospital)

23a She may be in top form (10)
SCHOOLGIRL A cryptic definition of a female pupil

26a Peer getting away with kidnapping at first (4)
GAWK Peer here is a verb meaning to stare and gape

27a Worried about school, so it’s said (5)
EATEN A homophone (so it’s said) of an English public school

28a Theologian follows martial art – he was a funny chap (3,4)
KEN DODD The abbreviation for Doctor of Divinity (theologian) follows the Japanese martial art of swordsmanship practised with bamboo staves, in 18th century armour and observing strict ritual


1d Composer home before wife and runner (10)
PADEREWSKI An informal term for a home, a literary way of saying before, the abbreviation for Wife and a runner (used on snow) produces the surname of a Polish pianist and composer – a composer whose name I know becauseI looked up many years ago when I was interested to find out why the pianist in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum – La-de-da Gunner Graham – had that nickname. Once read, filed away in the memory banks and not forgotten.

2d In the manner of music from Jamaica, a sizeable state (6)
ALASKA An expression meaning in the manner of followed by some Jamaican music similar to reggae

3d Watches from the heart of Switzerland? Of course (4)
EYES Despite the misleading surface reading, watches here is a verb, a synonym for which can be obtained from the letter at the heart of SwitzErland and a word of agreement (of course)

4d Amazing bust and backside in risque publication (8)
MAGAZINE An anagram (bust) of AMAZING followed by the ‘backside’ in risquE

5d Function announced for Leo, perhaps (4)
SIGN A homophone (announced) of a trigonometrical function of an angle

6d Party – you’re not coming? That would ___ (5)
BEANO A way of describing your inability to attend a party, would, if merged, produce an informal term for a rowdy jollification (party)

8d Pays no attention to topless Italian gentlemen (7)
IGNORES Skinny intends us to remove the first letter (topless) from some Italian gentlemen, the trouble is that the plural ends RI not RES, although this didn’t hold up the solve of this ‘old friend’ of the crossword solver

12d World of emotion, top to bottom (5)
EARTH Move the first (top) letter from some emotion or feelings to the bottom of the word

14d State in which nothing was chaotic (10)
WASHINGTON An anagram (chaotic) of NOTHING WAS

16d Pine after slate? That shows style (7)
PANACHE A verb meaning to pine for something goes after an informal term meaning to criticise harshly (slate)

17d A series of jars, perhaps, that’ll get you well lubricated (8)
VASELINE A series of jars might be a xxxx xxxx, join the two parts together to get a well-known lubricant

21d Ill at sea, though not sick to begin with (6)
AILING Remove the S (not sick to begin with) from a verb meaning at sea (on a vessel)

22d Pulled, with the intention of getting married… (5)
TOWED Merge a way of saying that you had the intention to get married

24d …and getting these – vows husband rejected (4)
OATS A slang term for sexual intercourse is obtained by ‘rejecting’ the H for Husband from some vows

25d Tattoo your head black (4)
INKY The substance used to tattoo followed by the head of Your

There is often discussion in Rookie Corner about whether a clue can be solved by definition and then the wordplay worked out or vice versa. There are at least four clues here where I solved from definition and then saw the wordplay, but that isn’t how I’ve hinted them. Which way round did you solve them?

27 comments on “NTSPP – 531

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks Skinny.
    I’m not convinced about the plural of the Italian gentlemen.
    My podium selections are 20a (which made me think of Kath), 4d, 17d and 24d.

  2. What a treat! With accurate cluing, smooth surfaces, and sprinkles of humour, this was just right for a lunchtime solve today.

    I agree with Gazza about 8d; the plural of signor is signori (or perhaps signors).

    Much to Mrs RD’s chagrin, I spent some time on 5d saying “lion” out loud, trying to come up with a homophone meaning function until the penny finally dropped.

    I had a long list of candidates for favourite: 19a, 20a, 3d, 17d & 24d but in the end 4d took first place.

    Many thanks, Skinny. Puzzles like this are very welcome during lockdown.

  3. Thanks Skinny, a very pleasant and witty puzzle. I agree 4d was particularly good. I also liked 1d, because it appears so often when filling grids in crossword compiler; I’ve always avoided it because it looks so tricky, but you managed a lovely simple clue.

  4. Had this setter earmarked as one to watch and I certainly wasn’t disappointed today – although the eyebrows were slightly raised when it came to 1d which I freely admit to having asked Mr Google about!
    So much to choose from for a favourite but I think 19a took the gold here. I’d also put in a mention for 6d which made me smile.

    Should I ever aspire to setting, I’d like to be able to construct a puzzle like this – many thanks, Skinny.

  5. Oh good, we have a do-able puzzle today after all. The dailies were a bit intimidating. Favourites were of course 17d and 4d, but I also really liked 10a. Last one in was the composer, I guessed a home and bingo.
    Many thanks

  6. A very enjoyable complement to the back pager. I am pleased to see that I was not the only one who had to seek some form of electronic assistance for 1d, well done Skinny for ‘fitting’ him in.
    Ditto to Gazza and RD on 8d.
    Favourite 5d – like RD, I went through several rounds of verbal gymnastics but fortunately, in my case, there was no one near to hear me.
    Thanks Skinny.

  7. Hello everyone, thanks for the kind words, very much appreciated, and thanks to Big Dave for the opportunity.

  8. I loved this – it kept me occupied and out of everyone’s way for quite a while.
    There’s one I can’t do – 4d – so cross with myself as it seems to be a favourite with lots of you and I want to know why so please could someone give me a shove in the right direction.
    I’m not sure that I ‘get’ 26a although I think my answer is probably right.
    Loads of good clues including 7, 9 and 24a and 6d. I think my favourite has to be 19a.
    Thanks very much to Skinny and, in advance to Prolixic, for the review tomorrow.

    1. 4d is an anagram and the definition is ‘publication’.
      26a is one of Ray T’s favourite clue types.

      1. Thanks so much Gazza – blimey, surely I should have got them. :oops:
        Now I can enjoy the evening without mithering away and driving the rest of my poor long suffering family completely loopy. :smile: to you and thanks again.

  9. Mostly very enjoyable, except for 27A which I really don’t get. I understand that a worry can eat at one or one can be eaten up by worry, but just eaten? I also fell at the fence on 5D and it was so clever. My favorites are 19A and 4D. Thanks Skinny.

  10. I thought this was an absolute cracker, full of humour and some great penny drop moments. Pleased with myself in that I not only have a full grid but have parsed them all.
    I really liked 7, 11 and 19a plus 2, 4, 5, 6 and 16d. Great stuff Skinny, and many thanks to you, and in advance to the reviewer.

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed. Thought 5d really clever as it was so misleading.
    Thanks and well done Skinny.

  12. That was a treat, just had to reveal the composer, cannot parse the answer either.
    Thanks Skinny.

    1. HYD, 1d is a very neat charade of a 3 letter word for somewhere you might live, a 3 letter word for before, an abbreviation of wife, and a 3 letter type of runner.

      1. Thanks RD, see it now…a bit dim on my behalf.
        Some cracking clues in this, I thought…

  13. Just to echo (belatedly) the earlier comments…

    I don’t often get the time for the NTSPP (one of the few benefits of quarantine) but when I do I generally enjoy them and make a mental note to try them more regularly.

    I thought this was top drawer – beautifully clued, nicely solve-able and sprinkled with humour. Loved 2d.

    Many thanks to Skinny – excellent stuff.

  14. Really enjoyed this puzzle. A nice mix of clue types and some proper laugh out loud moments. I constructed the answer to 1d from the wordplay and checked it online, but that apart the rest I found readily solvable. Favourites were 9a, 19a, 6d and 24d, with gold medal going to 4d. Thanks Skinny, and thank you Sue for the review.

  15. Thank you for the review, CS, I agree with you that this was just the sort of puzzle we need at the moment (or anytime, come to that!).
    Hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next Skinny puzzle.

  16. Just the job for a dragging afternoon in lockdown. Several smiley moments and fair clueing throughout.
    So good I reviewed it twice, the first time attached to someone else’s – sorry Letterbox Ray. It happens when I scroll down my iPad with my left hand that I end up in a box I didn’t intend.
    Anyway. Thanks Skinny. **/*****

    1. No problem HJ, it happens all the time – oh the luxury of a monitor and a keyboard!

  17. Almost got it all – not being familiar with the singer in 9ac the best I could think of was ‘fade’ which of course I couldn’t parse – but at least I realised the initial capital of ‘Blur’ was there to mislead.
    Thanks, Skinny and CS.

  18. I decided to give this a go, encouraged by the positive comments by others. I was not in the least bit disappointed.
    A really enjoyable puzzle with plenty of humour and some seaside postcard moments!
    Plenty of ticks from me, but top prize has to go to 4d.
    Great fun – please keep them coming, Skinny.

  19. Thanks to Skinny & B D

    I enjoyed this puzzle. Got stuck on 1D

    Did it whilst waiting for the plumber…………….so had plenty off time.

    D. D.

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