NTSPP – 557 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 557

A Puzzle by Shabbo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Shabbo has provided a most enjoyable crossword, perfectly pitched for Saturday lunchtime solving


1     Impress Reading constituents with poetic description of Oxford (8,6)
DREAMING SPIRES An anagram (constituents) of IMPRESS READING

10     Happen to see former police company making a comeback (5)
OCCUR A reversal (making a comeback) of a former Northern Irish police force and the abbreviation for company

11     Disconsolate skinflint joins island retreat (9)
MISERABLE A skinflint joins a reversal of a Mediterranean island

12     Prepared to dine out after top restaurant advertises starters (7)
TRAINED An anagram (out) of DINE goes after the starters of Top Restaurant Advertises

13     I’m done for if I celebrate smuggling crack (7)
ORIFICE Smuggling in the sense of hiding in fOR IF I CElebrate

14     Charming to see a US soldier wearing British medal (5)
MAGIC A (from the clue) and an abbreviated US Soldier ‘wearing’ a British medal awarded for an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land

16     Urges small French spa to return clothes (9)
APPETITES A reversal (to return) of SPA ‘clothes’ the French word for small

19     It’s a different matter with hospital department providing care (9)
TREATMENT An anagram (different) of MATTER with an abbreviated hospital department

20    Leads out into Yorkshire beauty spot (5)
DALES An anagram (out) of LEADS

22     I’d abandon Trump here? (7)
PRESENT Remove (abandon) the ID from Mr Trump’s job title

25     Averse to work set (7)
OPPOSED The abbreviation for work and another way of saying set, as in set a question

27     Security ruins awful African party drug (9)
INSURANCE An anagram (awful) of RUINS, an African political party, and the abbreviation for Ecstasy (drug)

28     Bad smell in street earlier (5)
ABOVE A bad smell inserted into an abbreviated wide street

29     Suggestion of information let slip about bodyguard (6,8)
GENTLE REMINDER Some abbreviated information, an anagram (slip) of LET, the two-letter word meaning about and a bodyguard


2     Playing field confusion regarding shape of football pitch (9)
RECTANGLE A playing field and a confusion

3     Article about specialist clothing protection (5)
APRON An indefinite article goes ‘about’ an abbreviated specialist

4     Prompt umpire goes at the end of one maiden (9)
IMMEDIATE A verb meaning to umpire goes after (at the end of in a Down clue) I (one) and the abbreviation for Maiden in cricket scoring

5     Original greedy oil company produces paint (5)
GESSO The original letter of Greedy and an oil company

6     Went without right glove – it’s allowed (9)
PERMITTED An informal way of saying urinated (went) goes outside (without) the abbreviation for Right and a glove

7     Teacher can talk no end (5)
RABBI Remove the final letter (no end) from an informal verb meaning to talk on and on

8     Quiet sleek criminal makes money (7)
SHEKELS An instruction to be quiet and an anagram (criminal) of SLEEK

9     Base saw uprising after introduction of Brexit (6)
BOTTOM A reversal (uprising) of a saying (saw) put after the ‘introduction’ of Brexit

15     See building that had cartel agitated (9)
CATHEDRAL An anagram (agitated) of HAD CARTEL

17     Our temple building is crude? (9)
PETROLEUM An anagram (building) of OUR TEMPLE

18     Set about key surgery with optical instrument (9)
TELESCOPE An abbreviated set goes ‘about’ a key on your computer keyboard and an abbreviation for some surgery

19     Killing is ending without starting (7)
TOPPING A synonym for ending or finishing without its ‘starting’ letter

21     He directs Disney production (6)
SIDNEY An anagram (production) of DISNEY gives us either the name of a number of film directors or what a certain rabbit would call a nebulous man

23     Eat in Dortmund? Slightly further west (5)
ESSEN The German verb meaning to eat (as used in Dortmund) is the same word as the name for a German city slightly further west than Dortmund

24     Cash on the radio is a singer (5)
TENOR A homophone (on the radio) of a particular monetary note (cash)

26     Justify former partner leaving Frank (5)
PLAIN Remove the two letters used to indicate a former partner from a verb meaning to justify

30 comments on “NTSPP – 557

  1. Thanks Shabbo. I always enjoy a NTSPP that I can complete pre-caffeine on my Saturday morning.
    I really liked 29a and 23d.
    Thanks again and in advance to CS.

  2. Thanks, Shabbo … but should’nt 5d be gesso?

    I revealed the letters to produce “gusto” but still no banner saying “Congratulations … “

    Where did I go wrong?

    1. You didn’t go wrong – the solution is GESSO – not sure what’s happened here but I’m sure BD will fix it!

    2. Mmm. I put “gesso” as my answer but I never check the answers by revealing letters on the grid. I wonder if the setter decided to change the answer to something less obscure but didn’t change the clue?

  3. This was light and great fun to solve with accurate cluing and nice surfaces. I have just two queries. Unless I’m missing something, 21d seems a bit strange as it appears to lead to the first name of a deceased film director which makes it rather obscure. Also, isn’t “I’m done” in 13a padding?

    For someone who spent an entire lifetime working in the paint industry, I was surprised to learn of a new type of paint in 5d but the wordplay was very clear.

    23d was my favourite, joined on the podium by 22a & 28a.

    Many thanks to Shabbo and in advance to CS.

  4. First of all, thank you all for your very kind remarks.
    My humble apologies for the mistake in 5d. The answer is indeed gesso, but I was playing with alternative options and clearly the answer and the clue got out of sync. Entirely my fault, so apologies again.
    Regarding RD’s queries:
    21d – the definition is just intended to be a male Christian name. I accept that the addition of “directs” does not help.
    13a – “I’m done” is padding added to help the surface read. Not ideal, I know.
    Now, where are those birch twigs?!

  5. A light & breezy delight with great surfaces throughout. The paint was new to me & 13a was the last to fall because as per I missed the lurker & opiates clouded my judgement as they tend to. 28a also caused a head scratch & nicks it for my pick of the clues.
    Thanks Shabbo – really enjoyed it.

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed. Was a little unsure that 21d was correct but having read Shabbo’s comments feel happier now. 16d – still haven’t worked out where clothes come into the clue? Otherwise loved the clues and enjoyed solving.
    Thank you Shabbo, look forward to your next one.

  7. Very enjoyable puzzle with smooth surfaces throughout and quite a high anagram count. Many thanks Shabbo.
    I’d not heard of the paint but the wordplay was clear.
    My ticks went to 1a (clever anagram), 16a and 23d but my favourite was 9d.


  8. Excellent stuff Shabbo, a first class puzzle that I’d have rated 2*/4* if it had appeared on the back page.
    Fresh and innovative surfaces, there’s just one that I can’t fully parse, I suspect I may be over thinking it.
    I particularly liked the use of “see” and “saw” in 15& 9d respectively, very clever, and they along with 19d make up my podium.
    Many thanks.

  9. Thank you for another very enjoyable puzzle, Shabbo. You seem to be gaining a most appreciative audience here, well done indeed!

  10. I was stuck on 19d for quite a while since Everest popped into my head from the checkers I had for 22A and I couldn’t shake the visual imagery. Revealed a letter and all became clear.
    Thanks, Shabbo. I enjoyed this.

  11. Good morning, Sue and many thanks for your review.

    This rabbit’s concern about first names is when they are used as part of the wordplay without qualification and not, as in this case with 21d, when the name is the answer. My specific reservation about this particular clue is that the definition “he directs” is too vague as the answer is a first name. Arguably the most famous director named Sidney is Sidney Lumet who is dead, so, in any event, “he directed” would have been more accurate.

    By the way, I think “directs” needs to be underlined in your review as well as “he”.

    P.S. Part of your comment for 13a is invisible until you click on “Click here!”

    1. I did originally underline ‘directs’ but then Shabbo said he was just intending it to be a male Christian name so I removed the underlining – I’ve put it back now at your request – Interestingly there are more film directors called Sidney than you’d think

      I’ve made the clue for 13a visible again.

      I’ve reached a point now where, when solving crosswords, I see a name or a ‘castle’ and think of you, a religious clue and think of Brian and so on. I’ll try very hard to just solve without thinking of commenters in future but it isn’t easy!

  12. Many thanks for the review, CS. Must admit that my director was specifically Mr Poitier, the actor/director who sat on the board of directors at Disney from 1995 to 2003. Perhaps I was over-thinking it!

    PS Totally off topic but you were quite right about the ‘Crawdads’ CS – I finished reading it last night with a box of tissues to hand……

    1. The Crawdads ending was brilliant, wasn’t it?

      Can I now suggest The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson – both on the same main theme but with different ‘sub-themes’ I lent the former to my friend and (her excuse was that it was raining) she spent all last Sunday afternoon reading it because she ‘had to get to the end to find out what happened’

      1. I’ve just asked that useful Mr Amazon to send them both although I really must get to grips with The Pillars of the Earth before I start them.

  13. Didn’t quite finish as I couldn’t get 28ac; I spent ages convinced that the answer had to be the ‘bad smell’ and when eventually I thought it might be ‘earlier’ all I could think of was ‘afore’ (as in ‘aforesaid’).
    Apart from that all very straightforward and satisfying. Thanks, Shabbo and CS.

  14. A very late comment from me to say I thoroughly enjoyed this. I whizzed through the top half but found the lower half a little more tricky. Nevertheless, all went well and I had a full grid correctly parsed. All in all, an excellent NTSPP Shabbo. Many thanks for the entertainment.
    And many thanks for the review Crypticsue. (Loved the cute pics of 29a and 18d!)

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