NTSPP – 550 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 550

Double Trouble by Prolixic

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Setter’s note: Each row and column has two solutions. The clues for these solutions have been combined and solvers must determine which part of the clue relates to which solution. Note that the clue for the second word may come before the clue for the first word

Please note that this is a full review with answers shown and full explanations rather than hints and tips

Prolixic returns to Saturday afternoons with another ‘double trouble’ crossword (his first one appeared as NTSPP 496 back in August 2019) – I’ve gone for the full review option as trying to hint rather than explain would have been ‘triple trouble’!

The instructions said: Each row and column has two solutions. The clues for these solutions have been combined and solvers must determine which part of the clue relates to which solution. Note that the clue for the second word may come before the clue for the first word


1    Young lad and barber start to eat Mark’s bananas and cheese (6)
SHAVER – a double definition to start with, an informal term for a youngster or a barber

4     See 1a (8)
EMMENTAL – The ‘start’ to Eat, M (mark) and MENTAL (bananas)

10    Singer from opera company in Turkey we see tap dancing after beginning to sing Flowers (5,4)
SWEET PEAS – An anagram (dancing) of WE SEE TAP goes after the ‘beginning’ to Sing

11     See 10a (5)
TENOR – ENO (English National Opera) inserted into TR (the IVR code for Turkey)

12    Opponents for example review steps to discuss legal action after start of suit against Tesla (5)
ESSAY – E S (opponents in a bridge game) SAY (for example)

13     See 12a (9)
STAIRCASE – S (start of suit) T (Tesla) AIR (to discuss) CASE (legal action)

14    Attack Charlie hiding cannabis among travellers returning to Cork? (7)
STOPPER Insert (among) POT (cannabis) into (among) REPS (travelling salesmen) and then reverse (returning)

16     See 14a (4)
GOAT – GO AT (attack)

19    Intrepid chap holds large mug with brown dark liquid (4)
BOLD – BOD (chap) ‘holds’ L (large)

21     See 19a (7)
TANKARD – TAN (brown) and an anagram (liquid) of DARK

24    Catholic film studio succeeded with most excellent lines making sense (9)
UNIVERSAL – Double definition

25     See 24a (5)
SMELL – S (succeeded) with ME (most excellent) L L (lines)

26    Copy article composed about record result in 70’s (5)
EVENT – Hidden in sEVENTies

27     See 26a (9)
REPLICATE – EP (record) inserted into an anagram (composed) of ARTICLE

28    Driver’s leading after second hill station following strategy to pursue nucleus of riders (8)
MOTORIST – IST (leading) goes after MO (second) TOR (hill)

29     See 28a (6)
DEPLOY – PLOY (strategy) goes after the middle letters (nucleus) of riDErs


1    Excitement of old poet briefly touring American institution with mother describing object (8)
SUSPENSE – Almost all (briefly) of SPENSEr (the old poet) ‘touring’ US (American)

2    No live items edited in this movie Horror – An Account (8)
AVERSION – A VERSION (an account)

3     Record guard heading off striker for inspector (5)
ENTRY – Remove the ‘heading’ from sENTRY (guard)

5    Shed erected containing high-class flowers, new wine and a worthless horse (7)
MUSTANG – MUST (new wine) A (from the clue) NG (no good, worthless)

6     Look happy cycling a long way to please host (9)
ENTERTAIN – Double definition

7    Polynesian in Hoxton gang‘s vile cry heard in game (6)
TONGAN – Hidden in HoxTON GANg

8    True lady aroused in affair left revolutionary communist artist in store (6)
LARDER – L (left) and a reversal (revolutionary) of RED (communist) and RA (artist)

9    Minor saints occupying shelter initially refuse virtues of wilderness places (6)
LESSER – SS (saints) ‘occupying’ LEE (shelter) and the initial letter of Refuse

15     See 3d (9)
PROTESTER – PRO (for) TESTER (inspector)

17     See 7d (8)
BASEBALL – BASE (vile) and a homophone (heard) of BAWL (cry)

18     See 8d (8)
ADULTERY – An anagram (aroused) of TRUE LADY

20     See 9d (7)
DESERTS – Double definition)

21     See 5d (6)
TULIPS – A reversal (erected) of SPILT (shed) into which is inserted U (high class)

22     See 1d (6)
– MUM (mother) describing or going round USE (object)

23     See 2d (6)
– An anagram (edited) of NO LIVE ITEMS produces SILENT MOVIE

25     See 6d (5)
– MILES (a long way) ‘cycling’ the final letter to the front

14 comments on “NTSPP – 550

  1. The ingenuity of some setters never fails to amaze me, and this is a very fine example. It must be hard enough to compose a puzzle by combining two clues but to do so while maintaining sensible surfaces is truly remarkable.

    I thought this might prove to be too tough for me, but, after gaining a small foothold in the NE, it all started to come together steadily.

    I still have two answers that I can’t fully parse but apart from that everything is ship-shape.

    Very well done, Prolixic, and many thanks for the entertainment.

  2. Oh dear – I rather suspect that this is a very long way beyond me.
    I’m going to have another go when I’ve recovered from the first one . . .

      1. Not quite in Elgar territory – I know it’s not even worth a look to see if I can get a single answer in an Elgar crossword.

  3. That was tremendous fun.
    Took a while to get started but once we got familiar with the pattern it started to flow much more smoothly. Took quite a long time though so it will be a slightly later than usual Sunday morning walk for us.
    Many thanks Prolixic

  4. I wouldn’t like to say just how long this has taken me, suffice to say that nothing else has been crossed off my ‘to do’ list since lunchtime!
    Time you got back to the day job, Prolixic, you’ve obviously got too many hours to spare! Seriously, it was a great piece of work but definitely caused ‘double trouble’ here.

  5. As I completed the Saturday prize crossword early, I was going to have a dart at this as I enjoy Prolix’s puzzles, unfortunately I have absolutely no idea what the instructions mean!!

  6. Many thanks for the review, CS. Amazingly I got a full house complete with parsing!
    Seems very churlish to bring out the comb given the complexities you had to deal with but I think you might want to tweak a few –
    11a surely refers to the English National Opera – there’s no reversal indicator given.
    13a Mr Tesla seems to have been abandoned.
    21d shouldn’t it refer to ‘spilt’ rather than ‘split’.
    Sorry, CS, but I do know you like things to be correct!

  7. I’ve just read the review. I would never, ever have got anywhere with this one so thanks, three cheers, and congratulations to CS who deserves a big bunch of 10a’s. I can’t pick any because the green fly have murdered all mine but I think she has plenty of her own.
    Well done to those who did manage this crossword and thanks to Prolixic.

    1. The photo is just one of the five vases of 10a around the house. They are slowing down and only a tiny bit of greenfly

  8. I was very pleased to finish this whilst half-watching the test match, albeit in two sittings.
    A bit like the cricket – a slow start but once it got going, it flowed quite smoothly.
    I failed to parse 23d, so thanks to CS for explaining it.
    Great fun. Many thanks, Prolixic.

  9. Didn’t start this one until today, but once I had worked out the instructions (which was easier than it looked) I started to get a grip. I cannot begin to understand how any setter can compile a puzzle of this calibre whilst keeping surface readings intelligible. Well done, Prolixic. Was stumped by 16a (was going to put in ‘gear’ since I knew it has something to do with drugs (as does ‘Charlie’). Turns out ‘gear’ means heroin).

    Thanks to Sue for the review as well.

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