NTSPP – 543 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 543

A Puzzle by Jaffa

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prolixic’s review follows.

Our thanks to Jaffa for the Saturday entertainment.


1 Extremes of ageing, mature appearance (6)
SILVER – Double definition where the outer letters of ageing give the chemical symbol of a metal whose colour is associated with the hair of a mature person.

5 Sporty type on iron in Biarritz perhaps (6)
SURFER – Split 3,3 the solution would be how someone in France (in Biarritz, perhaps) might say on iron.

10 Marine grid used by the French to produce alga (3,6)
SEA GIRDLE – A three-letter word meaning marine followed by an anagram (used) of GRID and the French masculine singular of the.

11 School body adopting technology for bread production (5)
PITTA – The abbreviation for Parent Teachers Association (school body) includes the abbreviation for information technology.  The production here seems out of place.  Perhaps to make bread would have been better.

12 Colleen cutting blue rinse (4)
ERIN – The answer is hidden (cutting) in the final two words of the clue.  I think that there is a close enough connection between the name and a colleen.  The name means from the Island to the West, and is associated with Ireland.

13 Boxer with degree of conviction (5)
DOGMA – The animal of which a boxer is a definition by example followed by the abbreviation for master or arts (degree).  Perhaps a definition by example indicator could have been used here.

14 Old money, deposited in Australian banks, moved to and fro (4)
ANNA – The outer letters (banks) of Australian repeated with the second set of letters reversed (moved to and fro).  The deposited in seem like padding and could have been omitted.

17 Guy regularly stalked in disguise (6)
MANTLE – A three-letter word for a fellow followed by the even letters (regular) of stalked.

19 Shocking school reunion? (7)
OBSCENE – Split 2, 5 this might describe an old boys reunion.

21 Bluebottle Gin makes fellow partly drunk (7)
FLYTRAP – The abbreviation for fellow followed by an anagram (drunk) of PARTLY.

22 Red Sea in French Département (6)
MERLOT – Split 3, 3, you have the French for sea division or department.  I am not sure that having the “in French” between Sea and Département works to use the French for both words.

24 Angelic child is, without hesitation, something to angle for (4)
CHUB – Remove the two letter word for a verbal hesitation from a six-letter word for an angelic child.

25/9 Gareth Malone discombobulated by Basil Fawlty maybe (5,7)
HOTEL MANAGER – An anagram (discombobulated) of GARETH MALONE.  The structure wordplay by definition does not work particularly well.

27 Cutting tool reportedly is a paradox (4)
ADZE – A homophone of this cutting tool paradoxically give adds (the reverse of cutting).

30 First class component back below the knee (5)
TIBIA – Reverse (back) the two letters indicating  first class and a three-letter word meaning component.

31 Necessary medical action when a cute lion turns nasty? (9)
INOCULATE – An anagram (turns nasty) of A CUTE LION.  The definition would require inoculation as the solution.

32/33 Greek presents deceptively corrupting programmes (6,6)
TROJAN HORSES – Double definition of the present (pluralised) of the gift given by the Greeks at Troy and malicious software (corrupting programs).  In computing terms, the software should be programs.


2 Mrs Berry takes a drink – I reckon about….? A non-existent quantity which can be a bit complex (9,6)
IMAGINARY NUMBER – The first name of the TV chef Mrs Berry includes the A from the clue and a three-letter word for a drink all inside the I from the clue and a six letter word meaning reckon.

3 Conceal part of sister’s habit (4)
VEIL – Double definition, both very similar.

4/15 Pulsars perhaps, once endangered by video, but still broadcasting (5,5)
RADIO STARS – Elliptical clue by reference to a song by the Buggles – Video killed the …

5 Mates reconfigured space for Turkish bath (5,4)
STEAM ROOM – An anagram (reconfigured) of MATES followed by a four letter word for space.

6 Travellers counted when working out (4)
REPS – Double definition of commercial travellers and the abbreviation for repetitions – what you count in terms of a physical workout.

7 Understanding reached with friendly European under canvas in France (7,8)
ENTENTE CORDIALE – The French for under canvas below (under) a seven letter word meaning friendly and the abbreviation for European.  The under here is doing double duty as being a positional indicator and part of the wordplay.  There is perhaps too great a reliance in this crossword of using In France.

8 Neaps flowing – is Poplar quaking? (5)
APSEN – An anagram (flowing) of NEAPS.

9 See 25 Across

15 See 4

16 Shylock’s business usually viewed online (5)
USURY – The three letter abbreviation for usually over (on) the abbreviation for railway (line).

18 Explore with passion without spare parts – it could be a blast (9)
EXPLOSION – Remove the letters in spare from EXPLORE PASSION.

20 Shots perhaps, at Lord’s, which are surplus to requirements (7)
OFFCUTS – Double definition.  The greengrocer has lost one of his or her apostrophes, which has found its way into the clue.

23 Send up…or down (5)
REFER – A palindrome (up or down) of a word meaning to send or remit. 

26 Henry has vestment entirely cutback – it took  ages (5)
EPOCH – The abbreviation for Henry and a four letter type of cloak all reversed (cutback).  I am not sure that the “it took” should be here.  It does not add to the definition and is not a link between the wordplay and the definition.  I don’t think you need the entirely as the cutback can refer to all of the preceding wordplay.

28 For starters, have a diphtheria jab for Saudi trip (4)
HADJ – The initial letters (for starters) of the third to sixth words of the clue.

29 Geordie inflection has a rough edge (4)
BURR – Double definition.

36 comments on “NTSPP – 543

  1. We’re being spoilt today – firstly a superb Phibs puzzle as the MPP and now a very enjoyable NTSPP from Jaffa.
    I do have a couple of queries. Isn’t the answer to 31a a verb whereas the definition is a noun? and shouldn’t 32/33 have programs rather than programmes?
    I picked out the following 1a (a big d’oh when the penny dropped), 14a and 18d.
    Many thanks to Jaffa for the enjoyment.

    1. Hi Gazza – have you done Paul in the Graun today?
      Am (most surprisingly) within 2 of completion. The 19d/26a might just get me over the line…….

      1. There used to be (and probably still is) a convention that prize puzzles in other places weren’t discussed

        1. I understand that the Guardian isn’t currently awarding prizes, even though they still call Saturday’s puzzle the ‘Prize’. In the circumstances, surely Huntsman’s brief comment – no way a spoiler! – is OK?! I haven’t even looked at Paul yet, and I’m not the least bothered.

      2. As CS says we’re not supposed to give hints on other papers’ prize puzzles and the Guardian (like the Telegraph) has now gone back to awarding prizes. However, I can’t see that providing a single letter can do much harm, so I’d try C.

        1. Thanks – that did the trick though the down still took a while for the penny to drop.

  2. Good fun thanks Jaffa
    Like Gazza, I did notice 31a and 32/33 but kind of glossed over them
    I liked 1a too plus I thought 13a was pretty tidy
    Thanks again for an enjoyable not-too-stiff challenge

  3. Nice to see Jaffa back again although I missed some of the humour that was so apparent in his previous NTSPP.
    Same queries here as Gazza raised but it was only 31a that particularly bothered me.
    The bluebottle gin gets my vote for favourite with 19a back in reserve as we’ve seen it quite recently (not the setter’s fault!).

    Many thanks to Jaffa.

  4. Many thanks Jaffa, very pleasant

    I liked 5a. There does seem to be a Blue Bottle Gin (brand name, I hope) – but wouldn’t this be a definition by example, as should be 13a?

    I’m not sure i fully understood 12a and 27a, i’m probably being dense.

    i was happy to remember the old money from a recent elgar

    1. 27a is a sort of paradox in that it sounds as if it’s adding rather than cutting (subtracting).

      1. thanks, saw the lurker bit, just didn’t understand why Colleen (girl) could define a country

        1. The answer is also a girl’s name (e.g. Erin Brokovich) but I don’t think it’s a specifically Irish name so I’m not sure why Colleen is the definition rather than just girl.

          1. I think the original Gaelic name (several different spellings) means ‘from the island to the west’ so ‘colleen’ seems fair enough to me.

            1. ah, just seen jaffa’s explanation. feels like a lot going on – two meanings of a word in a hidden combing to give the definition – foxy

              1. Foxy! More like muddled thinking and not analysing it carefully enough but I’ll take it as a compliment 😂

  5. Thank you Jaffa for helping me to delay expending some brain cells on the MPP.
    I liked 13a, 22a, and 18d.
    Thanks again.

  6. I’m stuck now with a few to go, mainly at the top.
    I get cross with myself quite a lot but I get extra cross when everyone’s favourite answers are the ones that I can’t do and I want to know what little gems I’m missing! :sad:
    Back later or tomorrow but in the meantime thanks to Jaffa.

  7. This is my third puzzle today. All three have been very different but I have enjoyed all three.

    I didn’t know 10a. 32/33 surely should be “programs”, and, unless I am missing something I can’t see the need for “entirely” in 26d.

    My podium comprises 21a, 22a & 16d.

    Many thanks to Jaffa.

    1. RD – for 26d, I took it to be solve for Henry and vestment and then everything (entirely) is reversed (cutback) to provide the answer.

      1. Thanks, Senf, that makes sense. It turns something ambiguous into something unambiguous.

  8. 1a took ages for the penny to drop but once we were under way the rest of the puzzle flowed more smoothly with lots of chuckles along the way.
    Thanks Jaffa.

  9. Thank you very much for all of the above comments. It never ceases to amaze me that whenever I dip my toe into the NTSPP waters with a crossword that I’ve agonised over and analysed many times, in order to iron out any perceived problems, all you wise heads throw up very justifiable queries I had totally missed – and of course Prolixic is probably dreaming up even more….

    I’ll try to answer/apologise for some of these queries.

    31a – I’m probably guilty as charged. My only poor excuse is that this is what happens when scientists try to be literate!

    32a/33a – I did originally have a homophone indicator in this clue and I’m still confused about the programme/program dilemma. My reading of the BRB’s 5th and 6th definitions led me to omitting the indicator as I assumed these definitions seem to apply to both spellings, not just to program. I am still confused – it happens easily nowadays.

    19a – I’d missed that this had been seen recently but about three days after I sent this crossword to BD, 13a appeared in the DT with an almost identical clue. Great minds? Fools?

    21a – Yes, Bluebottle Gin does it exist. It’s distilled in Guernsey and is available, like most things, from Amazon! I fully expect that when I return to Covid free Guernsey on Wednesday my commission from its vastly improved sales will be waiting for me. I can dream. It has, predictably, a very large disturbing bluebottle on the label on its bluebottle but the gin does taste nice.

    12a – I think my “logic” was as follows. Erin is a girl’s name and a name for Ireland, oh, therefore an Irish girl, therefore a colleen!! Not the best thought processes I must admit, compounded by having a niece called Erin who is Scottish….

    26d – I think my logic agrees with that of Senf. Without “entirely” I think I’d have clued HEPOC not EPOCH. I may be wrong

    Once again thank you. I await the Judgement of Prolixic…

  10. Well I have a full grid, with a “congratulations” message but I must admit there were one or two that I didnt entirely understand, most of which have been discussed above. I hadn’t noticed the 31a “error”, I just took it as the imperative form of the verb (necessary) and to me it kind of worked.
    I thought the wordplay in 10a was very subtle and clever, I liked the cricketing ‘extras’ and the amusing 26/9 combination.
    Thanks Jaffa.

  11. Thanks to Jaffa for a fairly smooth offering this week. I’d never heard of 10a, though the wordplay is straightforward. and I’m puzzled as to the parsing of 21a (a “pair of docs” –> A D’s??) but no doubt this will be clarified.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, despite the couple of hiccups in 7&8d! The accompanying video clips were most enjoyable – good old Basil. Nice spot on the part of our setter for the anagram possibility.
    Thanks again to Jaffa for the puzzle.

  13. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and the video clips. Even though I’ve seen it countless times the Basil Fawlty clip still makes me laugh.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the apostrophe in 20d. The cricket ground is called Lord’s (it was founded by Thomas Lord).

  14. Thanks to Prolixic for the explanations and review. I’d never have figured out 21a’s indirect homophone, and it doesn’t quite ring true for me, I’m afraid: ADDS is a present tense verb, whilst CUTTING is a gerund. Oh well. I spotted that ‘boxer’ needs a DBE indicator, also that the grammar in 31a was slightly off (this last could have been remedied by simply adding ‘Take’ at the front of the clue).

    Oh and a point of detail. Never having heard of a 10a, I looked it up, and discovered that the picture you have attached is actually of something quite different called a VENUS GIRDLE, which I’d also never heard of. This is a totally different species, and an animal rather than an alga which is a plant! This is what you’re after, apparently. More familiar! As for me, I’d just say “seaweed”….

  15. Beaten by this one I’m afraid; embarrassed to say I failed to make the “AgeinG = Ag = a metal” connection and to get the double definition in 3dn. I did eventually go for the cutting tool in 27ac but couldn’t decide which of a (very) few palindromes was meant in 23d.
    The rest was OK, and I chuckled over the Gareth Malone anagram – I think I’ve seen it before, but not linked to Basil.
    Thanks, Jaffa and Prolixic.

  16. Thank you as ever Prolixic for your insightful and informative review. You make it look all so simple and straightforward and the advice offered is much appreciated. If only my compiler’s mind was so incisive!

    Also thank you to everyone who took time, on a busy crosswording Saturday, to comment. I think about a third of the clues were “mentioned in dispatches” so I guess I’ve pleased some of you some of the time which is surely the object of the exercise.
    The clues associated with the video clips were interesting. I think with the 25a/9a combination I swapped the wordplay and definition around about three times and predictably still got it wrong! I’d like to take credit for spotting the anagram but I actually heard Gareth Malone talk about it on television but I suppose I did note it down in my “clues book” for future use so I can take some credit. I can however honestly say that when I wrote the 4d/15d clue I did think “will we see the Buggles?” and we did. Also, thanks to Gazza and Dutch for their defence of my apostrophe in 20d, Thomas Lord would be proud of you…

    Finally of course, a big thank you to everyone who test solved this crossword for me and the advice you offered and naturally to Big Dave who makes all of this possible. You Sir, are a true hero!

  17. A very late comment from me to say I did enjoy this puzzle very much, Jaffa. My favourite was 1a, but I liked several others including 19a, 21a, 22a, 2d, 8d and 16d.
    I also enjoyed Proixlic’s review very much. I’ve never heard of the Buggles… oh dear! There’s always something new to learn!
    My appreciative thanks to both Jaffa and Prolixic.

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