NTSPP – 546 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 546

A Puzzle by Shabbo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Shabbo’s first NTSPP since he became a nationally published setter is an enjoyable crossword, perfectly pitched for the post-lunch solve, especially if you are a fan of anagrams and great surface readings


1     Test for 007’s boss after cutback (4)
EXAM James Bond’s boss goes after a reversal (back) of a verb meaning to cut

3     Detective, when retiring, falsifies papers and vanishes (10)
DISAPPEARS An abbreviated detective, a reversal (retiring) of a synonym for when, and an anagram (falsifies) of PAPERS

10     Cartels involved with Bordeaux wine (7)
CLARETS An anagram (involved) of CARTELS 

11     Attempt to protect old people is a disaster (7)
TRAGEDY An attempt ‘protects’ or goes round a word describing old people

12     Triumph before victory alongside first class student (7)
PREVAIL A preposition meaning before, the abbreviation for victory, a two-letter way of saying first class and the abbreviation for student

13     Weave tartan to make material for furniture (6)
RATTAN An anagram (weave) of TARTAN

15     Wife abandons solicitor’s bed (5)
LAYER The abbreviation for Wife ‘abandons’ a solicitor

16     Wrong to get in company car before treatment (9)
INCORRECT IN (from the clue), the abbreviation for company and an abbreviated [posh] car all go before an abbreviation for a type of treatment

18     County cricketers assembled glitzy Wurlitzer? (9)
GLAMORGAN Put together (assembled) a slang word meaning glitzy and the type of musical instrument made by Wurlitzer.  I tried to underline cricketers with a dotted line as it could be considered part of the definition but it didn’t transfer from my Word document to the review

21     Russian agrees to take tea in country cottage (5)
DACHA The Russian word of agreement and another word for tea

23     Decided short politician should be inside these days (6)
AGREED A truncated way of referring to a member of a particular political party inserted into the abbreviation for the current year numbering system (these days)

25     Managed to fire rifle (7)
RANSACK A way of saying managed followed by a verb meaning to fire

27     Weather conditions require wild clematis to be pruned (7)
CLIMATE Prune or remove the last letter from CLEMATIs and an anagram (wild) of the remaining letters will provide your solution

28     Warrior spirit from the east in volatile Asia (7)
SAMURAI A reversal (from the east) of a type of alcoholic spirit inserted into an anagram (volatile) of ASIA

29     Order large dress anyway (10)
REGARDLESS An anagram (order) of LARGE DRESS

30     Experienced general holds the advantage (4)
EDGE As the clue tells you, experiencED GEneral holds the solution


1     Artistry used to wriggle out of escape plea (10)
ESCAPOLOGY The abbreviated way we refer to the escape key on our computer keyboard followed by a plea expressing regret

2     The day came to change school (7)
ACADEMY An anagram (to change) of DAY CAME – I think the ‘the’ is required as part of the clue to make it a complete sentence, it doesn’t sound right without it

4     Linguist upset about noun that is offensive (9)
INSULTING An anagram (upset) of LINGUIST goes ‘about’ the abbreviation for Noun

5     Flower festival failed to open (5)
ASTER A church festival without its opening letter gives us this perennial favourite of the gardener [and the crossword setter 😉 ]

6     Column stripped of current wall covering (7)
PLASTER A square column stripped of the abbreviation for electrical current

7     Ordinary state is superior to Georgia up to a point (7)
AVERAGE A verb meaning to state positively goes before (is superior to in a Down clue) a reversal (up) of the abbreviation for the US State of Georgia, the result followed by a compass point

8     Whisky event captivates island (4)
SKYE Captivated by whiSKY Event

9     Go and get married again? (6)
REPAIR Shakespeare used this verb to mean go – if you were to put in a hyphen (2-4) you’d have an expression that might mean to get married again

14     Eats out at King’s with fine array of sharp cutlery (5,5)
STEAK KNIFE An anagram (out) of EATS, two lots of the chess abbreviation for King and an anagram (array) of FINE

17     Compares guerillas to Soviet leaders (9)
CONTRASTS Nicaraguan guerrillas followed by the leaders of To and Soviet

19     Aiming to go fishing (7)
ANGLING Double definition – Going towards a particular direction, possibly to do some fishing when you get there!

20     Uncovered within Austria, nepotism is rising (4-3)
OPEN-AIR Hidden in reverse (is rising) within austRIA NEPOtism

21     Live wire party admits several from the south (6)
DYNAMO A party ‘admits’ a reversal (from the south) of a number of people or things (several)

22     Mistake to lie back in African country and get burned (7)
CHARRED A reversal (to lie back) of a verb meaning to mistake inserted into an African country

24     Live and thrive without love (5)
DWELL Take a phrase meaning thrive and remove the O (without love)

26     Turnabout twice to find maple (4)
ACER Reverse (turn) two ways of saying ‘about’

22 comments on “NTSPP – 546

  1. A gentle lunchtime diversion with lots of anagrams – many thanks to Shabbo.
    Candidates for my podium were 23a, 25a and 24d.

  2. Very enjoyable and straightforward enough that I could multitask with watching some entertaining NZ Super Rugby – 60 minutes gone and 44 points scored.
    A couple of Hmms – perhaps ‘wine’ in 10a should have been plural ‘wineS’ to match the answer and ‘The’ in 2d appears to be superfluous.
    21a got a smile.
    Thanks Shabbo.

  3. I’ve picked 25a, 5d and 24d as my contenders for the podium. Possibly, the three easiest clues in the puzzle … but the smooth surfaces reminded me of Rufus.

    Thanks, Shabbo.

  4. 9d & 21a my favourites in a fun though gentle offering. Perfect for a Quiptic or Monday back pager. Thanks Shabbo

  5. Just got back like a drowned from playing cricket. In view of the inclement weather forecast we agreed to play a 20:20 instead of 40 overs-a-side, but we couldn’t even finish that which was a great pity as we were nicely placed on 75-1 off ten overs chasing 149. Why weren’t we playing in Manchester?

    This was light but I did enjoy it a lot. I agree with Senf both about the “The” being padding in 2d and that “wines” would have been better in 10a.

    My joint favourites were 21a & 24d.

    Many thanks to Shabbo and in advance to CS.

  6. Thanks Shabbo. After rather wading through the SPP this morning this was a much more pleasurable accompaniment to the events in Manchester where, unbelievably, it’s not raining! I would personally add 14d and 18a to the roll of honour.

  7. Where is everyone – don’t tell me – under several feet of water or is Oxford the only place with monsoon like conditions today?
    I enjoyed this one a lot.
    I have discovered that it’s better not to know something and know that you don’t know it than it is to think you know it and be wrong. Oh dear! I thought a Wurlitzer was a gun – husband tells me that that’s a Howitzer but it didn’t half mess up 18a. :oops:
    Too many good clues to pick out any for particular mention so thanks to Shabbo for the crossword and in advance to whoever is doing the review tomorrow.

    1. Loved your ‘whoops’ Kath, you obviously never went to a cinema in your youth where one of those used to rise up through the floor and get played during the intermission. Yes, I do know exactly how old you are so maybe your ‘neck of the woods’ was just more advanced than Sale ever was!

  8. Enjoyable as ever, Shabbo, thank you. Hope you’ve got plenty more under way, you seem to be much in demand these days!

  9. Agree with others that this was straightforward but enjoyable. The cluing was consistently good so nothing really jumped out at me as outstanding, but I made a mental note of 9, 24& 25d plus 21a as podium contenders. Many thanks Shabbo.

  10. We have people staying with us who are not regular crossword solvers and this was a perfect puzzle to share with them.
    Thanks Shabbo from all four of us.

  11. Thank you for the review, CS. I noticed that you didn’t comment on the suggestion from some that ‘wine’ in 10a should have an ‘s’ on the end. Is it a case of either/or being acceptable or is there a convention to be followed? Even my friend Mr G seems to be somewhat hazy on the subject!

    1. I didn’t have a problem with it but you reach a point where you get fed up of having to justify all the niggles people come up with – Clarets are an example of wine from Burgundy – Burgundy wine – and that’ll do for me, as long as no-one makes me drink it as red wine ‘doesn’t like me’!

  12. Many thanks to Sue for the blog and to BD for his continued support.
    Many thanks also for the very helpful comments and encouragement.
    The omission of “s” in 10a and the addition of “the” in 2d were both last minute and probably ill-advised changes.
    Humble and abject apologies for virtually giving away the answer in the clue for 1d. Entirely my fault. I’m now off to gather birch twigs!
    Best wishes to you all.

  13. Thanks once more to Shabbo and thanks to CS for the review.
    I’m not convinced that “King’s” (with the apostrophe) in 14d works as a double dose of the abbreviation for king.

    1. Fair point, but my understanding is that potentially misleading punctuation and capitalisation are legitimate parts of the setter’s armoury? I am happy to be corrected.

      1. I’m fine with the false capitalisation but I don’t think it works with the apostrophe. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

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