NTSPP – 555 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 555

A Puzzle by Simon

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

We’ve had an NTSPP from Simon before (No 357 way back in December 2016) He’s back with a mostly normally-clued pangram but with ten undefined clues which needed a bit more teasing out. I enjoyed solving the crossword,  although providing the hints for the ten special clues did require a bit of thought  as to how to be helpful without giving too much away


1     B (11)
QUARTERBACK If the letter B is part of a four-letter word, then the solution might describe it

9     Non-flier in poor health (4)
RHEA Hidden in pooR HEAlth

10     By way of newspapers, TV etc. taking middle course (3,5)
VIA MEDIA A preposition meaning by way of and the word used to describe newspapers and television generally

11     DANTS (5,3)
STAND OFF One of those solutions where the second word is an instruction to make an anagram of DANTS

13     A continental peer found it was not evenly balanced (7)
UNEQUAL The French (continental) word for a and another word for a peer

15     Like a speaker perhaps in so many words (7)
VERBOSE In the manner of someone using more words than is desirable

16     Country farmers lack nothing (5)
YEMEN Remove the O (lack nothing) from some small-scale farmers

17     Celebrated without newsman (5)
NOTED An adverb expressing the lack of something (without) and the abbreviated top newsman

19     Instrument Rita’s playing (5)
SITAR An anagram (playing) of RITAS

21     A member entering passage getting whole range (5)
GAMUT A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Member (usually accompanied by the word of) inserted into a passage

23     A manor’s converted by one of eight (7)
OARSMAN An anagram (converted) of A MANORS

24     CP (7)
SEEPAGE A word produced by saying C out loud and an abbreviation for one side of a leaf of a book

26     Interpreter was quiet with one set of books (8)
EXPONENT The two-letters indicating old or former (was), the musical instruction to play quietly, ONE (from the clue) and the abbreviation for a set of books in the Bible

28     At home revising claim I included that was hostile (8)
INIMICAL The usual two-letter way of saying ‘at home’ and an anagram (revising) of CLAIM into which is inserted (included) an I

29     Water colour (4)
LAKE A body of water enclosed by land or a reddish-pigment (colour)

30     OUR (6,5)
CENTRE COURT The word OUR is found in the middle of two letters to make another word. So you need a synonym for middle and then the new word. I’m hoping the illustration will help😉


2     Said of you fool, there’s always one (4)
UNIT A homophone (said) of you plus a fool

3     Sound comment distinguishing mark on engraving (8)
REMARQUE A homophone (sound) of a comment gives us a distinguishing mark on an engraving

4     Y (7)
ENDPLAY The letter Y finishes a synonym for a dramatic performance. As with the other ‘literal’ clues, find a way of describing this

5     Second final explosion (5)
BLAST The second letter of the alphabet and a synonym for final

6     Reduce by ha’pence somehow (7)
CHEAPEN An anagram (somehow) of HAPENCE

7     WORTH (5,3)
THROW OUT Another clue where the second word is an anagram indicator telling you what to do with the first word

8     AL (4-7)
HALF-HEARTED The letters AL come in the middle of a word meaning one of two equal parts – so the second word describes the position of those letters

12     TELL JOY (4,2,5)
TURN TO JELLY Another anagram where the first word tells you what to do with TELL JOY

14     The Parisian bloke who’s a paramour (5)
LEMAN The French (as used in Paris) word for ‘the’ and a more formal word for a bloke

15    Planet on victory day before sun rises (5)
VENUS The abbreviated way of referring to the day celebrating the Second World War ‘victory’ goes before a reversal (rises) of SUN

18     KEPI (8)
TURNPIKE The first four letters of this word indicate the need to cycle the final two letters of KEPI to the front of the word. I think this definitely has to be an instruction to ‘cycle’ as we’ve already had this word used as an anagram indicator earlier in the crossword

20     I go after gastropod not starting skin disease (8)
IMPETIGO I and GO (from the clue) go after a gastropod without its first letter (not starting)

21     Newspaper or geographical index unhesitatingly produced (7)
GAZETTE Remove a two-letter hesitation from a geographical index

22     TT (7)
TEATIME Start by saying the first word out loud and write down what you hear (be careful what you put for the third letter!) and then add the word indicated by the symbol T

25     Most interesting part of a day’s work (5)
STINT Hidden in part of moST INTeresting

27     Couple tune piano first (4)
PAIR The abbreviation for the musical instruction piano goes before a tune


Thank you to Simon – nice to have something a bit different on a Saturday afternoon

19 comments on “NTSPP – 555

  1. I did enjoy this, though I’m not sure I’d want a puzzle like this on a regular basis. Thanks Simon.
    The ‘normal’ clues were fairly straightforward which helped to provide checkers for the ‘specials’.
    I was held up in the SW corner by writing in ‘aqua’ for 29a but, that apart, all the answers went in fairly smoothly with a number of d’ohs along the way.
    I’m not sure that 18d is quite fair as the answer implies a reversal rather than an anagram.
    Among the normal clues I liked 9a and 6d and I also liked 8d and 12d.

  2. A reasonable puzzle, but I don’t think the guessing game adds anything to the enjoyment, personally
    The implied grammar is wrong in places in addition to having no definition
    Thanks for the challenge nevertheless, Simon
    *edit* Me too with aqua

  3. Many thanks, Simon. That was weird but good fun. It made an interesting change from a “normal” cryptic (If such a thing exists) and I’d welcome something like this again (but not too frequently!)

    I started badly when my eyes instantly spotted 22d. I wrote in Doublet immediately and patted myself on the back. What a mess that mistake made in the SE corner until I came to realise there was another way to interpret TT!

    I learnt a new expression in 10a and a new word in 14d.

    On my podium were 13a, 17a & 24a.

  4. Really enjoyed this though currently two shy of a finish (4d &30a – hint gladly accepted) & reluctant to reveal a letter. Not sure I’d have got my head around it if I hadn’t seen something similar in a Paul cryptic in the Graun the other week. Progress was hampered by putting out in 11a & two at the start of 22d but soon corrected. 1a is a bung in & don’t understand why and like RD 14d is a new word to me. Think it’s a pangram which helped with 21d – another I can’t parse. Favourite was 8d when the penny dropped.
    Thanks Simon – good fun

    1. 4d Y is the end of **** (think chess, synonym of endgame)
      30 OUR is the centre of ***** (think tennis)
      It’s a bit of a guessing game

  5. Like RD, I got off to a flying but erroneous start – in my case it was with having ‘out’ as the second word of 11a. I also struggled to see beyond two-time for 22d.
    10a and 14d were new to me and my favourite was probably 21a.
    Not sure that I enjoyed the experience, perhaps too much of a guessing game for me, but it was certainly ‘different’ so thanks to Simon for that.

      1. Yes indeed – it’s always rather comforting when someone else falls into the same traps, isn’t it!

  6. Ingenious but too much so. as i’ve said before – i like a laugh but bugger a pantomime. thanks simon & i look forward to the review from Prolxic(?).

  7. Not my cup of tea I’m afraid and agree with LbR – not much added enjoyment really. Isn’t it just like having some dingbats or whatever those things are called? Once one knows that is what is required it becomes much easier.

    Hope you all looked at Dutch’s puzzle in the Independent this morning.

  8. We got into trouble in the SE where we had put two-time for 22d and then got stuck on 24a. A pity that both of theses had double unches which added to the difficulty.
    Nice to try something a bit different for a change and despite our initial reaction of “This looks impossible” it started making sense once a few checkers were in place.
    Thanks Simon.

  9. Many thanks for the review, CS, and the reminder that we’ve seen Simon previously – I obviously didn’t look back far enough in the NTSPP list. I see that we did ask him to reveal himself back in 2016 but he didn’t oblige so I don’t suppose we’re likely to hear from him today either which is a shame.
    Think I preferred the alphabet puzzle but that’s doubtless just down to personal taste – this one was certainly novel!

    Quick tweak needed to the 13a hint if you have time, CS.

    1. I was just peeling potatoes when my tablet made the noise that tells me I’ve got an email. “That’ll be Jane, telling me what I’ve got wrong” so I can now go back and tell Mr CS what I’ve corrected

  10. Just read your review CS. The reason 1a is what it is has only just occurred to me a day later. Thanks for 21d explanation – a new word to me so no wonder I couldn’t parse it.

  11. We struggled with the ones to be taken literally. Still can’t parse 1a? Favourite clues 16a, 13a and 21d. Hope to do better with the next one from Simon. Thanks to CS.

      1. Mr Ton still doesn’t understand how you know it’s ‘back’ from the clue. It could be a quarter of bark/bunk etc. Once you know it’s ‘back’ then quarterback makes sense. I think we need to keep doing more puzzles and reading the wonderful comments from everybody which do help a lot. Mr Ton has also bought us the BCS lists! Thank you CS.

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