NTSPP – 556 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 556

A Puzzle by Harold

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Harold returns with a nice Saturday lunchtime crossword, although there were a couple of bits of parsing that required a bit of head-scratching


8     How one might tend fully with single resolve? (4- 11)
SELF-INDULGENTLY An anagram (resolve) of TEND FULLY with SINGLE

9     Enigmatic figure is special Greek character, name unknown (6)
SPHINX The abbreviation for Special, the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet, the abbreviation for Name and a mathematical unknown

10     One supporting monarchist who’s changed sides (8)
LOYALIST Change the first letter of a monarchist to the ‘opposite side’

11     Non-U national broadcaster almost siding with the Opposition (4)
ANTI Remove the U from almost all of the nickname of our national broadcaster

12     Computers manage optical device (10)
MICROSCOPE An informal abbreviation for a computer and a word meaning manage

15     Commercial centre‘s a pound away from disaster (4)
CITY Take away from a disaster A (from the clue) and a verb meaning to beat (pound)

16     Something not right about East German city (5)
LIEGE A false statement (something not right) goes ‘about’ the abbreviations for East and German

17     Per capita allocation of teachers (4)
EACH Found in part of (allocation of) tEACHers

18     Not facing the music at Sing Sing? (6,4)
BEHIND BARS A preposition meaning not facing and some rhythmic units in music

20     Tenth Roman primate’s most prominent point (4)
APEX A Roman would add his numeral representing ten to a primate

21     Princess, I’m dismayed to say, wears restyled Armani (8)
MAHARANI Take an interjection indicating dismay and insert (wears) into an anagram (restyled) of ARMANI

24     Tolstoy’s capital obliterated in struggle for … Tolstoy’s capital (6)
ROUBLE Remove the letter that starts Tolstoy from a struggle and you’ll get the currency (capital) used in Russia, the home of Tolstoy

25     Is Anita wielding extraordinary powers at the Palace? (6-2-7)
LADIES-IN-WAITING An anagram (extraordinary) of IS ANITA WIELDING – these people stand behind the Queen’s throne, so could perhaps be called the ‘powers behind the throne’


1     Sensitive persons vie disconcertedly (10)
RESPONSIVE An anagram (disconcertedly) of PERSONS VIE

2     Attraction of a fellow dropping in from impossibly deep space? (8)
AFFINITY A (from the clue), the abbreviation for Fellow and a word for impossibly deep space without the IN (dropping in)

3     Unseen? A French test taken under pressure (10)
UNEXAMPLED The French indefinite article, an abbreviated test and a way of saying taken, the latter under the abbreviation for Pressure

4     Spin doctors misleadingly spout brilliance (6,9)
PUBLIC RELATIONS An anagram ( misleadingly) of SPOUT BRILLIANCE – the definition is, as Harold said a good while after I’d typed this hint, in the BRB

5     Pugsley’s prime features seen as homely in New Jersey? (4)
UGLY What the Americans would informally call homely – the prime features of pUGsLeY

6     Noble & Cooley initially knocked about together (2,4)
EN BLOC An anagram (knocked about) of NOBLE and C (the initial letter of Cooley)

7     Extra bit is luxurious, but lacking finish (4)
PLUS A synonym for luxurious without its last letter (lacking finish)

13     Price differential in deliveries is excessively broadcast (10)
OVERSPREAD One set of six deliveries in a game of cricket followed by a term used in the Stock Exchange to mean the gap between the bid and offer price of shares

14     Cluster around plant’s exterior perhaps inhibiting scab proliferation? (6,4)
PICKET LINE A cryptic definition of some people gathering round a plant’s exterior to stop strike breakers (scabs) going to work

17     Leave EU around holiday period before appointed time, disregarding Germany (8)
EVACUATE Put EU (from the clue) around a period of holiday and add an appointed time without (disregarding) the IVR code for Germany

19     Having an inclination for Latin? (6)
ITALIC Sloping type or an adjective meaning relating to Ancient Italy (Latin)

22     Ace service flying up to a great distance (4)
AFAR The abbreviation for Ace and a reversal of the initials by which our ‘flying service’ is known

23     Liberal in decline is deselected in recess (4)
APSE Remove (is deselected) the abbreviation for Liberal from a decline

25 comments on “NTSPP – 556

  1. Good fun with smooth surfaces throughout – thanks to Harold.
    For my podium I’ve selected 15a, 2d and 14d.

  2. A bit confused about leaving the EU (no change there then)
    Very good, thanks for the entertainment Harold

  3. I found this a bit of a mixed bag, although on reflection there was more to like than not. As Gazza says, the surfaces were all nice and smooth. My podium choice is 9a, 18a, 2d & 4d.

    The definition for 14d is very clever but I failed to parse it.

    I didn’t know the American meaning of “homely” but it’s nice to see that its provenance was clearly indicated.

    I’m not a fan of shortened “words” like “micro” in 15a and “vac” in 17d but, to be fair, they are both in the BRB.

    Is “rarely” in 1d an acceptable anagram indicator?

    If I have parsed it correctly, the letters needed to form the answer to 21a are not exactly in the centre of Bharati.

    Many thanks to Harold for the fun and in advance to CS.

    1. Re 1d – the list of anagram indicators in my edition of the BRB has ‘rare’

      21a Why ‘Bharati’???????

    2. I think that 14d is just a cryptic definition.
      Do you have a different version from what I have? The anagram indicator in 1d that I have is ‘disconcertedly’ and Bharati doesn’t appear in 21a.

        1. The clues for 21A and 1D were amended earlier this week: there was an error in the wordplay in 21A. The final version of 1D is “Sensitive persons vie disconcertedly (10)”, and that of 21A is “Princess, I’m dismayed to say, wears restyled Armani (8)” (Armani is in italics). They appear correctly on my screen, but it seems that Rabbit Dave is seeing the original clues.

      1. Yes, my pdf file has:
        21a – Princess’s mother meets revolutionary in centre of Bharati
        1d – Sensitive persons rarely vie recklessly

        Harold obviously shared my concerns with those two and changed them!

        Thanks very much, Gazza, for the simple explanation for 14d. I was taking “perhaps inhibiting scab proliferation?” as the definition and was trying unsuccessfully to make sense out of “cluster around plant’s exterior” as the wordplay.

    3. 1d and 21d were both amended before the puzzle was uploaded, although an older pdf, that I created prior to my test solve, was present prior to that. If you download anything early then “caveat emptor” applies.

  4. Something of a curate’s egg for me which took a little while to ‘crack open.’ However, once I got going it came together quite easily.
    It’s a long time since I have heard the term for computers in 12a, long since replaced by laptops and tablets in my book.
    I am not sure that the definition and answer for 4d fit well together.
    I liked 12a, 16a, 18a, and 14d.
    Thanks Harold and CS (in advance).

    1. Senf, that was my first thought too about 4d but I decided that it works if you simply take “spin” as the definition and “doctors misleadingly” as the anagram indicator.

      1. Problem with that is doctors rather than doctor, the first is not an instruction, the latter is
        Had it read doctor {fodder} the misleadingly could be omitted altogether if that was the intention, though then we would need doctor spouts because doctor spout doesn’t work
        Agree with Senf – the answer does not match the definition, it’s like defining chef as roast

  5. Made hard work of this & needed 3 letter reveals to complete. Unable to parse a couple also but still enjoyed it. 18a was my favourite.
    Thanks Harold.

  6. I did have a few reservations about one or two of the clues but obviously, like RD, I was guilty of having printed off the pdf before the final adjustments were made. Having said that, I was quite happy with the ‘spin doctors’ in 4d.
    Favourite by a mile was 18a.

    Thanks to Harold for the puzzle, I look forward to reading the review.

    1. I’m so pleased you found things to enjoy in the puzzle, Jane, as I do realise that my efforts have not always been your cup of tea. Perhaps you are getting used to my style? What I aim to do is to produce puzzles that fairly abide by Ximenean principles whilst providing a challenge for solvers which they find enjoyable. If I fail to do that it is helpful if solvers explain why by identifying specific clues that they feel are in some way defective.

      1. You could well be right, Harold, but perhaps you’ve also made your puzzles somewhat more accessible?

  7. We really enjoyed this puzzle. A few struggles – we initially had a different answer in 3d which slowed us down for 16a. Some super anagrams. Also liked 24a, 9a, . Struggled with 15a until we found the relevant disaster. Many thanks, Harold and BD – and CS in advance.

  8. We must be a bit thick this morning but can’t seem to make the wordplay in 13d work. Got the right answer though and the rest all came together with a decent amount of head scratching. Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Harold.

  9. Many thanks to BD, CS and everyone who has posted comments. I hope to back again here before long.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS. I thought that was Harold’s best puzzle to date so am looking forward to his next one.

  11. Didn’t quite finish as I got 3dn slightly wrong which meant I couldn’t get 16ac. Otherwise a satisfying solve. Thanks, Harold and CS.

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