NTSPP – 554 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 554

A Puzzle by Radler

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The return of Radler (he hasn’t had an NTSPP since July) with his usual amount of trickiness to keep us occupied for a very long time on a Saturday afternoon


6     University drinking annoyingly cancelled: left taking over (8)
USURPING The abbreviation for University and a way of drinking annoyingly without the L (cancelled left)

9     Strange tailless dog gone off searching base (6)
ODIOUS A synonym for strange minus its ‘tail’ and a synonym for searching without its [worthless] dog

10     Pale clothing around mask (6)
FAÇADE A verb meaning to pale ‘clothing’ the abbreviation for about (around)

11     Suspiciously clean, current Government getting in a bind (8)
ENLACING An anagram (suspiciously) of CLEAN, the two-letter way of indicating current (fashionable) and the abbreviation for Government

12     Struggle, catching foot in handle and shooting aid (10)
VIEWFINDER A verb meaning to struggle and the abbreviation for Foot inserted into a handle

14     Barrels twice filled with old jug (4)
BOOB Two lots of the abbreviation for Barrel ‘filled twice’ with the abbreviation for Old

15     Making waves with sine? So what, we hear (6)
NOISES An anagram (making waves with) of SINE SO

16     That‘s assumed by many on deregulation (6)
YONDER – Hiding (assumed by) in manY ON DERegulation

19     Trouble reported after King leaves (4)
KALE A homophone (reported) of some trouble goes after the chess abbreviation for King

21     Set puzzle number two (3,7)
TEA SERVICE A puzzle and a title for a number two in a governing body or business

22     One spoiling river and lakes, true to form (8)
POLLUTER The crossword setters’ favourite Italian river, two lots of the abbreviation for Lake and an anagram (to form) of TRUE

24     Dictator’s hiding Rob (4,2)
HOLD UP Dictator indicates we need a homophone of a two-word expression meaning hiding

25     Restricted by free trade (1-5)
X-RATED The letter used to indicate by in a multiplication sum and an anagram (free) of TRADE

26     Defer to husband, wife retreats in any situation (8)
WHEREVER A reversal (retreats) of a verb meaning to defer to and the abbreviations for Husband and Wife


1     Period of hallucination having drunk mild, we hear (10)
DREAMWHILE An anagram (drunk) of MILD WE HEAR

2     Music club with poor reputation needs another leader (4)
JIVE Change the first letter (needs another leader) of a club with a poor reputation

3     Body part revealed by topless moll wearing diamond, perhaps on drug (10)
COLLARBONE Remove the ‘top’ from mOLL and insert what’s left into an element of which diamond is perhaps an example; finish with the abbreviation for Ecstasy (drug)

4     Element life mostly needs: carbon (4)
ZINC Almost all of a synonym for life plus the chemical symbol for carbon

5     As new, spirit and body (6)
QUANGO The Latin word for as, the abbreviation for new and some spirit

7    Creature from outer space, ET’s love for earth (3,4)
SEA LION The outer letters of SpacE and the type of being ET is, swapping the E (earth) for an O (love)

8     Tight clothing, finally skinny (6)
GREEDY The final letter of clothinG and a synonym for skinny

13     I record singer’s altogether limiting lack of ability (10)
INEPTITUDE I (from the clue) and a way of saying naked (altogether) into which inserted (limiting) a record and a small singing bird

14     Did Harry Patch dwell over used to be at the front? (10)
BEDEVILLED A patch (in the garden perhaps), a reversal (over) of a synonym for dwell followed by a way of saying was at the front

17     Monk, maybe needing recreation and Latin exercise (7)
RECLUSE The abbreviations for recreation and Latin and a verb meaning to exercise

18     Set up memory bank to reveal inner purpose (6)
MARROW A reversal of some computer memory and follow with a bank

20     On a committee (6)
ABOARD A (from the clue) and a committee

23     New or old (4)
LATE Double definition

24     Bank work at last (4)
HEEL Double definition – bank or lean to one side; something a cobbler might do at his last

When I was first sent this crossword to test and saw that it was an alphabetical jigsaw, my first reaction was to reply and remind Radler that I don’t ‘do’ alphabetical jigsaw crosswords – if I want to do a jigsaw, then I do a jigsaw, if I want to solve a crossword, then I like to do so with clues and a ‘normal’ grid.  However, a combination of knowing that I’d eventually have to review the crossword and the tedium of ‘staying Covid sensible’ all the time, I decided to just look at the clues and see how I got on.   I printed off the crossword  and left the sheets of paper on the kitchen table, looking at them from time to time and solving what I could.  By the following lunchtime, I had written 26 words by the clues, three of which it turned out were wrong but seemed to me to fit the wordplay.   Probably if I’d tried to fit the solutions into the grid, I’d have had checking letters and amended my first thoughts for those three but there was no way I was doing that.   Like all Radler puzzles, whichever form they take, you know you’ll be there for longer than just the time you take for the usual post Saturday lunchtime solve.

19 comments on “NTSPP – 554

  1. Great puzzle – I do enjoy struggling with a Radler production.
    I ended up revealing one letter and I can’t parse 7d.
    I have lots of ticks including 9a, 21a, 22a and 14d.
    Many thanks to Radler.

  2. Quite a tussle but got there in the end – didn’t check but I suspected a pangram early on
    Many thanks for the challenge Radler

    1. This was originally set as an alphabetical jigsaw. I solved it as a straight puzzle and decided that as a jigsaw it would have been almost impenetrable.

  3. Crikey if you 2 fellas found it difficult no wonder I stalled after a few answers – gave up & switched to the Graun Prize which was a breeze in comparison

  4. I have dipped into and out of this all day and I am sorry to say I found it a real slog. I spotted it was a pangram when I was about two thirds of the way through but this didn’t help me and I needed to reveal about half-a-dozen letters to get me over the line. I still can’t fully parse four entries and I can only do so for 4d if “n” is an accepted abbreviation for “needs” which I can’t find in my BRB.

    This was very clever, but far too tough for me to enjoy. Thanks Radler, and in advance to CS.

    1. ‘Needs’ is just a link word in 4d. You need to start with a 4-letter word for life, not a 3-letter word.

  5. Well, I’ve managed to slot letters into all the spaces but can’t claim a win over the fiend as I’ve got four entries that aren’t fully parsed. To be honest, I doubt I’d have got the grid filled had it not been for BD’s timely comment about an alphabetical puzzle.

    Thanks for the challenge, Radler, sadly I think you’ve won this round!

    1. Overnight cogitation obviously helped – I can now read the review from CS with a smile on my face because the Radler fiend didn’t quite beat me after all!

  6. We revealed a few letters to eventually get a filled grid. A very clever puzzle that ultimately beat us.
    Thanks Radler.

  7. Many thanks for the review CS – happy to report that my parsing was fine at the end of the day. I did write down a list of all the letters of the alphabet and crossed them off as I solved each clue, don’t think I’d ever have got there otherwise, particularly with the likes of 1d which I hadn’t heard of beforehand. 9a was the last to fall on the parsing front and my favourite was 21a.

    Thanks to Radler and to CS – by the way, I don’t think there’s an insertion involved in 14d.

  8. This one was too difficult for us. When we read that it took CS ‘a very longtime’ we knew we were out of our depth. Can somebody explain, please, the difference between a pangram and an alphabetical puzzle/jigsaw? Still enjoying going through the solution and the helpful comments.

    1. My understanding is that in an alphabetical puzzle, each answer starts with a different letter of the alphabet whereas a pangram is simply a completed grid that contains at least one appearance of every letter in the alphabet.

  9. My thanks to BD and CS

    To answer Hilton’s question…
    A pangram is simply a crossword where the solutions contain every letter of the alphabet.
    In an alphabetical jigsaw, each answer begins with a different letter of the alphabet, and the clues are listed in alphabetical order of their answers, labelled with their initial letters instead of their positions. The solver has to work out where they will fit. This means some “cold solving” is needed before you can take advantage of the crossing letters, but the individual clues are generally more accessible because you know the first letter of the answer. My own view is that this puzzle would have been easier in its jigsaw form, but it’s not easy for me to judge.
    Some people like jigsaw crosswords; others dislike them.

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