NTSPP – 542 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 542

A Puzzle by Harold

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Congratulations to Harold on his debut in the Independent of 15th June 2020.

This is Harold’s second NTSPP and his first since his debut appearance in the Independent earlier this month, which means that, as a nationally-published setter, this crossword and any future Harold NTSPPs will be reviewed by me rather than Prolixic. This one was an enjoyable lunchtime solve perfect for the NTSPP slot.


1     King abdicating from worldly circle becomes a subject (5)
TOPIC The abbreviated Latin word for king ‘abdicating’ from an imaginary circle around the world

4     Tim dreams about place on the river (9)
MIDSTREAM An anagram (about) of TIM DREAMS – I did wonder at first whether I was looking for an actual place on the river, but this is a place on, or in the centre of a river

9     Soldiers demand pork pies (9)
ORDERLIES A demand or instruction followed by some fibs (pork pies)

10     Scolded Greek character reversing in highway (5)
RATED The seventh letter of the Greek alphabet reversing in an abbreviated highway

11     Caricaturist describing general as dwarf (6)
SLEEPY I wouldn’t have thought many people would have known one of the pseudonyms of the caricaturist Sir Leslie Ward whose works were published in Vanity Fair between 1873 and 1911,  but it was possible to solve the clue from the definition and checking letters and then investigoogle.  Insert (describing) the American Confederate General so often found in crosswords into the pseudonym

12     Information leading to rector’s arrest by woman police officer (8)
GENDARME Some information followed by a woman (slang, pantomime or noble) into which is inserted the abbreviation for Rector

14     Complex arrangement for Tom’s sleeping accommodation (4,6)
CATS CRADLE This complex arrangement sounds like some sleeping accommodation for a small feline (Tom)

16     Good mark for a sucker (4)
TICK A mark a teacher might make by a good piece of work or a small sucking insect

19     Animated recollection of Ypres, omitting conclusion of battle (4)
SPRY An anagram (a re-collection) of YPReS, omitting the conclusion of battlE

20     It’s old (to be honest), unusual and English – facing East (10)
STONEHENGE  A very nice &Lit clue – an anagram (unusual) of HONEST followed by a three-letter abbreviation for English and the abbreviation for East

22     Thrilling vote curtailed costly … (8)
ELECTRIC A verb meaning to vote and almost all (curtailed) of a synonym for costly

23     … bid that hurt actor (6)
CALLOW A verb meaning to make a bid in a game of bridge, followed by an expression of pain (that hurt!)

26     Filler exchanges uniform for a pittance (5)
GROAT Some filler you might use when tiling ‘exchanges’ the letter represented by Uniform in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet for A (from the clue)

27     Something in barrel for redhead (6,3)
GINGER NUT The name of a type of biscuit (kept in a barrel or tin) is sometimes used informally to refer to someone with red hair

28     Speculators conceal gold in time, anticipating robberies (9)
THEORISTS The abbreviation for Time goes before (anticipating) some robberies into which is inserted the heraldic term for gold

29     Extent of contact by phone (5)
REACH An extent of stretch or a way of communicating by phone


1     Rash Scots in rebellion here? (9)
TROSSACHS An anagram (in rebellion) of RASH SCOTS

2     He’s a serviceman in more ways than one (5)
PADRE A member of the armed forces (serviceman) who also takes church services!  

3     Shell transporter at full speed (8)
CARAPACE A vehicle (transporter) and an adverb meaning at full speed

4     Girl‘s graduate credentials (4)
MAID A Master of Arts (graduate) and an abbreviated term for your personal credentials

5     Getting rid of unorthodox pill design (10)
DISPELLING An anagram (unorthodox) of PILL DESIGN

6     Harangue one in Deal (6)
TIRADE Misleading capitals time – insert I (one) into a verb meaning to deal in goods

7     Force bearer of charge to pursue old offence (9)
EXTORTION A bearer of an electrical charge goes after (to pursue) a prefix meaning former (old) and an old offence

8     Two couples abandon Cambridge for flighty camp companion (5)
MIDGE A small flying insect, which might be unwanted companions in your tent, is found by removing two pairs of letters from caMbrIDGE

13     Cases of game taking a different lead (10)
CARTRIDGES Change the first letter (taking a different lead) of some game birds

15     Welshman in castle over the border prioritising time for group (9)
THREESOME A Welsh man’s name inserted into a building where someone lives (which, if they are an Englishman may or may not be his castle ;) ), a T for time is then ‘prioritised’ or put in front

17     What uncle may do to pass the time (4,5)
KEEP WATCH An uncle or pawnbroker might well retain this timepiece

18     Flapper keeping warm in clothes (8)
WHEATEAR Some warmth kept in some clothing

21     Ancient Greeks used it to establish first of republics (6)
STATER A verb meaning to establish followed by the first letter of Republics

22     Unpack gym equipment for crew (5)
EIGHT Unpack or remove the outside letters from some gym equipment

24     Woman found in Berlin, dancing (5)
LINDA A woman (possibly my sister-in-law!) found in berLIN DAncing

25     Non-U relatives could be social climbers (4)
ANTS Remove the U (non-u) from some female relatives

21 comments on “NTSPP – 542

  1. A pleasant exercise on a showery day here in North Devon – thanks Harold. I didn’t know the 11a caricaturist and had to look him up.
    My ticked clues were 27a, 15d and 22d.

  2. A few bits of GK new to me which held me up for a while, enjoyable nevertheless
    Thanks for the entertainment Harold
    Lovely refreshing light summer rain over Denbeighs

  3. I did have to ask Mr G about the caricaturist and the bit of ancient Greek and also admit that I got hung up on using ‘putty’ for the 26a filler, but it all came together eventually.
    14a was my favourite for its humour followed by 27a & 18d.

    Thanks to Harold for his debut NTSPP.

  4. My ears twitched when I first read the clue for 15d, but thankfully this proved to have been unnecessary. This was a light but delightful NTSPP for which I only needed to check the caricaturist in 11a.

    My podium comprises 14a, 27a & 22d.

    Well done and many thanks, Harold, and in advance to, presumably, CS.

  5. RD may have found it light but I made hard work of it & resorted to a letter reveal (15d/26a checker) to crack my last 2.
    I thought this a great crossword with some clever clues, nothing too obscure (caricaturist excepted) & witty. My ticks were 9a,12a,14a, 27a,28a,3d & 18d & I liked all of the anagrams, none of which came easily to me. Don’t entirely understand 17d nor can I parse 15d but CS will explain in due course. I note that 18d is a 16d in today’s Prize puzzle according to Mr G – another titbit of knowledge acquired & soon to be forgotten.
    Many thanks .

    1. Looking up ‘uncle’ in the dictionary will probably help you understand 17d

    2. I confess to making the same reveal (15d/26a) 15d is tricky blighter and required much thought about Welshman and their castles before it made sense. a little bit harder than the (inside) back pager today and a little bit more enjoyable too.
      Thanks to Harold and CS

  6. Loved the cryptic definition @ 17d.

    17d was going to be my favourite clue until I discovered the two couples that abandoned Cambridge in 8d.

    Thank you, Harold.

  7. No walk in the park (for me anyway) but quirky and enjoyable. I have a couple where I’ll be interested to see if the reviewer confirms my parsings though.
    I liked 1, 9,16 & 27a, plus17d in particular, but my favourite was probably the smooth 22d.
    Many thanks to Harold the Barrel….sorry, couldn’t resist it!

  8. We had to work hard to crack this one, especially in the SW, but did eventually get it all sorted. The ancient Greek coin and the caricaturist were both new to us.
    All good fun.
    Thanks Harold.

  9. This was a cracker. A few easy ones to get started then quite a lot of clues that needed careful unravelling, but all very fair. I particularly liked 12, 20 and 28. Thanks, Harold, for the challenge and in advance to (presumably) CS for the review.

  10. Thank you very much to Sue for the review and to everyone else for their encouraging comments. I’m delighted that the puzzle proved to be an enjoyable challenge and very much hope to have another one published here before too long.

  11. Many thanks for the review, CS. One question if I may – isn’t ‘recollection’ being used in 19a as an instruction to rearrange the remaining letters of YPReS, rather than as a reversal indicator?

    1. I think I got caught up with the fact that three of the letters appear in 11a and didn’t cross off the letters properly which is what I usually do when checking anagrams.

      1. Thanks for the confirmation, CS, it was something that had given me pause for thought when solving the puzzle.

  12. Perhaps a scrap of clarification about 15dn which seems to have puzzled some people. In Wales, being in England is quite often referred to as being “dros y clawdd” – literally “over the dyke” – a reference to Offa’s Dyke, formerly (and still in places currently) the border between the two countries.

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