NTSPP – 539 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 539

A Puzzle by Starhorse

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

A perfect Saturday afternoon treat from Starhorse this weekend.  Many thanks to him for the entertainment.


1 Audibly criticize Scandinavian arrogance (7)
DISDAIN – A homophone (audibly) of dis (criticise) Dane (Scandinavian)

5 Police invoice for one guinea? (3,4)
OLD BILL – An invoice for an old amount of money equal to 21 shillings could be a description of the police.

9 Bombarded peacekeepers ferried out (5,4)
UNDER FIRE – The abbreviation for United National (peacekeepers) followed by an anagram (out) of ferried.

10 Inclined to allow article to be included (5)
LEANT – A three letter word meaning to allow includes the two letter indefinite article.

11 Pedigree has connection with Earl rather than King (7)
LINEAGE – A seven letter word for a connection has an E (Earl) in place of the K (King).

12 Spot something that attracts young swimmer (7)
TADPOLE – A three letter word for a spot or small amount followed by a four letter word for something magnetic that attracts things.

13 Dresses up kinkily, including new underwear (10)
SUSPENDERS – An anagram (kinkily) of DRESSES UP includes the abbreviation for new.

Contents removed to protect Gazza’s blood pressure

16 Prize in hand? (4)
PALM – Double definition of a prize and part of the hand.

19 Maximum offence taken on air (4)
PEAK – A homophone (on air) of PIQUE (offence taken).

20 Solution put on cheek? (6,4)
ANSWER BACK – A six letter word for a solution followed by a four letter word meaning to put money on a horse.

22 High Priest takes ecstasy for relief (7)
RESPITE – An anagram (high) of PRIEST includes the abbreviation for ecstasy.

23 Coppers securing retired sailor’s old weapon (7)
CUTLASS – The chemical symbol for copper with an S (as it is coppers) includes (securing) a reversal (retired) of a four letter word for a sailor.

25 Rejected shares in aquatic transport (5)
SLOOP – A reversal (rejected) of a five letter word for shares.

26 Working with the Church a plus, not for the first time (4,5)
ONCE AGAIN – A two letter word meaning working followed by the abbreviation for Church fo England, the A from the clue and a four letter word meaning plus.

27 Resists wandering around the Marches? (7)
SISTERS – An anagram (wandering) of RESISTS.

28 Performer‘s note on sitar distorted (7)
ARTISTE – An anagram (distorted) of SITAR followed by (on) a two letter musical note.


1 Shares drinks? (7,2)
DOUBLES UP – A six letter word for a large drink and a three letter word meaning to drink.

2 Means of travel between poles restricted by bruised ankle (5)
SEDAN – The answer is hidden in (restricted by) the last two words of the clue.

3 Broadcasts about food’s sky-high prices? (8)
AIRFARES – A four letter word meaning broadcasts around a four letter word for food.

4 Interference from one in the front of the plane (5)
NOISE – The letter representing one inside a four letter word for the front part of an aeroplane.

5 Depose Haitian leader involved in public spat (9)
OVERTHROW – The first letter (leader) of Haitian inside a five letter word meaning public and a three letter word meaning spat.

6 Fool died before escape (6)
DELUDE – The abbreviation for died followed by a five letter word meaning escape.

7 Very soon seaman surfaces with a lover (9)
INAMORATA – A phrase (2,1,2) meaning very soon followed by a reversal (surfaces) of a three letter word for a seaman and the A from the clue.

8 Endless praise for coffee? (5)
LATTE – A seven letter word for praise without the first and last letters (endless).

14 Pictures that might surprise a keeper? (9)
SNAPSHOTS – Split 4,5 the solution might be quick attempts on goal that surprise a goal keeper.

15 Treacherous secret agent?  Not me! (9)
DANGEROUS – The cartoon secret agent (6, 5) without (not) the ME.

17 Be rational – models could be perfect topless (4,5)
MAKE SENSE – A five letter word meaning models or creates followed by a five letter word of which perfect is a grammatical example) with the first letter removed (topless).

18 Sermon by one paid to go on a bit (8)
PROTRACT – A professional preacher might give this type of sermon (3-5)

21 Trendy tart, one defying convention? (6)
HIPPIE – A three letter word meaning trendy followed by a three letter word for a type of culinary tart.

22 Tricks husband out of original prints (5)
RUSES – The six letter word for the original prints of a film without the abbreviation for husband.

23 Businesses come together over a drink (5)
COCOA – The abbreviation for company twice (come together) followed by the A from the clue.

24 Bring together as many as six Shakesperian leading characters (5)
AMASS – The initial letters (leading characters) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

27 comments on “NTSPP – 539

  1. Great fun with some cracking clues – thanks Starhorse.
    Among many ticks I’d pick out 20a, 22a, 27a, 7d and 15d.
    I’m not sure that 5a works because I don’t think that a guinea was ever anything but a coin (but I might be wrong).
    May I recommend the MPP – it’s well worth the effort so do have a go.

    1. Gazza, I took the answer to 5a to be an invoice for the amount of a guinea.

  2. Thanks Starhorse, enjoyed this very much.

    Big smile at 15d, and i thought 27a was superb – top clue. Also particularly liked 4d.

    briefly confused in 17d, misled by thinking perfect had to do with bo derek movies and wondering about the last letter but soon twigged, very nice

    Great start to the weekend

    now to follow Gazza’s advice, I’d be a fool not to

  3. Great stuff, Starhorse. This was a lot of fun (which provided a pleasant break after quite a struggle to get through just over half of the MPP so far). Your nice brief cluing and accurate surfaces provided the icing on the cake.

    I needed to check that the answer to 22d with an H included does indeed mean “original prints”.

    My only query is that I can’t quite equate “put on” to mean the second word of 20a (assuming I’m parsing it correctly).

    I had a lot of ticks on my page, and my long podium list is 1a, 13a, 22a, 27a & 15d.

    Well done and thank you, Starhorse. Now back to the MPP part 2 …

      1. Thanks, Gazza. That was all I could think of but “put on” doesn’t quite work without the “money”.

  4. Thank you Starhorse. I enjoyed that.
    The near duplication of your clue for 23d during the week must have brought a wry smile to your face. I think it’s about to happen to me. I always tell myself it’s a case of “great minds” rather than “fools”. My puerile mind made 15d my favourite 😂

    1. Re 23d, Jay very cleverly clued it as
      ‘Drink firms on either side of America’

  5. I really enjoyed this, would have been a perfect Monday or Tuesday back pager, a very polished effort indeed.
    I liked a lot of it including the (double) homophone at 1a, 13a, the clever 20a and 27a. Top prize though probably goes to 15d for the laugh it induced when I parsed it.

  6. A fair bit better than quite a few of the recent DT back pagers in my view despite not being particularly taxing (though 19a still took me a while). Nice surfaces & well clued throughout I thought with 1a & 15d my pick of the clues.
    Most enjoyable.

  7. Great stuff. Thanks Starhorse.
    Liked the Very Soon in 7d, the Marshes in 27a and the Secret Agent in 15d.
    The bottom of the crossword was much harder than the top.
    In the right mood to start tackling Radler now.

  8. Good evening and thanks for the positive feedback.

    Can’t disagree with RD that the the put on/back is a bit of a stretch – but I think one can just about imagine saying “I’ll put on (name of horse)”. So yes, it’s a bit cheeky.

    I didn’t know that there was a similar clue to 23d recently – I don’t actually do much solving as I’m pretty useless at it; that’s why I prefer setting. The Jay clue is very clever.

    1. Didn’t seem an outrageous stretch to me, nor did it stop me getting the answer
      Several setters have told me that they are not good solvers – that has always baffled me as to why?
      Thanks again for the entertainment

  9. Many thanks for a most enjoyable NTSPP, Starhorse. It would be far less time-consuming for me to mention any clues that didn’t merit at least one ‘tick’ – although I can’t actually think of one!
    Can’t help but think that reverting to your original pseudonym has been the making of you!
    I forecast a very easy ride for Prolixic tomorrow.

  10. Thoroughly enjoyable Sunday morning solve for us. Lots and lots of ticks on our pages and te last one i was 19a.
    Thanks Starhorse.

  11. Well done Starhorse for an entertaining puzzle, well worthy of an early-week back page. Your journeyman clues were nicely done (23a, 2d, 21d 22d etc) and many were neatly crafted (13a, 22a,15d,17d etc) but the one I liked best was 7d, excellent start and nice surface. Thank you and hope to see you again.

  12. Many thanks, Prolixic, for your review of this very enjoyable NTSPP. So good of you to consider Gazza’s blood pressure when illustrating 13a – I’m sure he will be most appreciative!

    1. Yes – thanks to Prolixic for the review and the concern for my welfare, although I think my blood pressure could probably have survived seeing the content. :lol:

      1. Thanks indeed for the review Prolixic, it’s probably as well the perfect topless models were part of wordplay rather than a picture-seeking solution…. I shall have to see what I can come up with next time.

  13. Didn’t tackle this till almost asleep last night so had to finish it this morning, but it all came together nicely and was very enjoyable.
    One little quibble about 1ac: it’s only a homophone if ‘criticize’ is ‘diss’ and according to the BRB it can be diss or dis.
    Thanks, Starhorse and Prolixic.

  14. This is the first time i have tried a NTSPP and it was time well spent,


  15. Thanks Starhorse for a good cranial workout. I got off to a slow start yesterday morning but when I picked it up again this morning (my time), after sleeping on it and some encouragement from a fellow cruciverbalist, it all came together quite quickly.
    I really liked 20a and 15d.
    Thanks again and thanks to Prolixic for the review.
    Now, as RD said above, back to the MPP. Although I fear that is going to need more than one night of sleeping on it!

  16. I did this last evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. A most entertaining puzzle, Starhorse. I thought it was pitched at the right level.

    I liked many clues, for exampe 12a, 19a, 20a, 22a and 21d. The two I liked the most were 27a and 15d – both excellent and both beautifully illustrated in Prolixic’s review. Speaking of the latter, big chuckles at the comment on 13d!

    Appreciative thanks to Starhorse and very well done! And appreciative thanks to Prolixic for the analysis.

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