NTSPP – 570 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 570

A Puzzle by Hippogryph

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Quick and dirty review today thanks to clients who needed some urgent work to do this weekend.  


1 Pet hates to carry insects about (8)
BUGBEARS – A four-letter word meaning to carry has a four-letter word for insects around it.

5 Bill protects wild boar on the continent (6)
ABROAD – A two-letter word for an advert or bill includes (protects) an anagram (wild) of boar.

9 Return greeting to the Parisian holding back cross judge (8)
EVALUATE – Reverse (return) a three-letter word for a Latin greeting and follow with the French masculine singular of the around (holding) a reversal of a three-letter word for a letter of the Greek alphabet that looks like a cross.

10 Waistcoat makes person cool? (6)
BODICE – A three-letter word for a person followed by a three-letter word meaning to cool.

12 Players teed off hopelessly (11)
DESPERATELY – An anagram (off) of PLAYERS TEED.

15 One arrested by the force? (5)
THIEF – The letter representing one inside (arrested by) the the from the clue followed by the abbreviation for force.

17 English boast about cutting fat, supplying raw material for sweetener (5,4)
SUGAR BEET – The abbreviation for English and a four-letter word meaning to boast all reversed (about) inside (cutting) a four-letter word for beef fat.

18 Reportedly passed a source of eggs, bacon and cheese? (9)
CARBONARA – A type of pasta sauce (homophone of “passed a source”) consisting of eggs, bacon and cheese.  I think in the context of a cryptic definition this works.  I am not so happy where the definition itself if a homophone or other form of wordplay as you then have wordplay to definition of a definition where there are two many steps to reach the solution.

19 Turns around Arizona Mountain shopping centre (5)
PLAZA – A bit Yoda link but reverse (turns) a three-letter word for a European mountain around the state abbreviation for Arizona.

20 Digs Pete and Dud looking for romance in a hurry (5,6)
SPEED DATING – An anagram (dud) of DIGS PETE AND.

24 Rector is one hosting prayer (6)
ORISON – The answer his hidden in (hosting) the first three words of the clue.

25 Command of French Guards – I am not bothered! (8)
DOMINATE – A two-letter word in French meaning of around (guards) an anagram (bothered) of I AM NOT.

26 Walked and travelled by speedboat on vacation (6)
STRODE – A four-letter word meaning travelled after (by) the outer letters (on vacation) of speedboat.

27 Don’t have as much sex as Billy perhaps? (8)
MATELESS – Another way of saying “Billy no …”;


1 Nans possibly approve of aperitif accompaniment (10)
BREADSTICK – A five-letter word for the foodstuff of which nans are a type followed by a four-letter word for a mark of approval.  

2 Agent providing reinforcement in lie about holding up German girl (5,5)
GLASS FIBRE – A three-letter word for a lie or untruth and a two-letter word meaning about underneath (holding up) the abbreviation for German and a four-letter word for a girl.

3 Avoid start of concert, missing publicity (5)
ELUDE – The start of a 7 letter word for a concert (actually a piece of music rather than a concert itself) omits an abbreviation for publicity.

4 Distributed red ant alerts written in yet another language (12)
RETRANSLATED – An anagram (distributed) of RED ANT ALERTS.

6 Practical joke in celebration back-firing after stupid error (5,4)
BOOBY TRAP – A reversal (back-firing) of a five-letter word for a celebration after a four-letter word for a stupid error.

7 Miss Germany’s with Oscar at first (4)
OMIT – A three-letter word in German meaning with after the letter representing Oscar in the Nato phonetic alphabet.

8 Left unpaid before fight (4)
DUEL – The abbreviation for left after a three-letter word meaning unpaid.

11 “Go defend one-nil lead without Edin Dzeko initially” suggests City leader (3,9)
PEP GUARDIOLA – A three-letter word meaning go or energy followed by a five-letter word meaning defend and the letters for one (again!) and nil and the letters in lead without the first letters (initially) of Edin Dzeko.

13 Top gallery, I stepped up to the front (10)
DECAPITATE – A four-letter word for an art gallery with a reversal (up) of the I from the clue and a five-letter word meaning walked before it (to the front).

14 They’re found wandering near the back street, right by the East End bargain-hunters? (10)
STRAGGLERS – The abbreviation for street and the abbreviation for right followed by an eight-letter word for those who argue about the price without the initial H (East End bargain hunters).

16 Demons collapse according to Spooner, leaving iron compound (5,4)
FOOLS GOLD – A Spoonerism of Ghouls (demons) Fold (collapse).

21 Tolerate a president – almost! (5)
ABIDE – The A from the the clue and the name of the next president of the USA without the final letter (almost).  Perhaps almost twice would be better as the intended person is almost the president and almost also means to remove the last letter.

22 Top Man displays odd characters in blouses? (4)
BOSS – The odd letters in the final word of the clue.

23 Stand at funeral and drink, we’re told (4)
BEIR – A homophone (we’re told) of beer (drink).

43 comments on “NTSPP – 570

  1. Very entertaining, started off at a pace but was left scratching my head over the parsing of my last few
    Thought 15a was particularly neat so is my pick of the bunch
    Thanks Hippogryph, that was a fun challenge, just right

  2. Great lunchtime entertainment with some good laughs – thanks Hippogryph.
    I gave my ticks to 15a, 20a,27a and 14d.

  3. A mix of straightforward and ?? (particularly in the SE Corner) but I got there in the end. I too liked 15a and also 27a, although I do wonder how many will know the required expression. I thought 11d particularly complicated – one of those “the solution must be but how” clues. Finally, purely because I was taken to task the other day by someone complaining that ‘old’ Sue would have commented on the use of very long clues, I’ll just let them know that I did ‘notice’ 14d was particularly lengthy

    Thanks to Hippogryph and in advance to Prolixic

  4. This was great fun, Hippogryph, for which many thanks. My experience was very similar to that of LbR – a fast start with several clues taking quite a time to unravel at the end, notably the parsing of 9a and 18a. My problem with 18a was the complete and utter non-homophone involved, at least in this neck of the woods!

    Two very minor points. I don’t think that the word needed in 3d is the “start of concert”. It is the start of a specific piece of music, which is not necessarily the start of a concert. Perhaps it needs a “perhaps”? The pedant in me thinks that, even with the exclamation mark, “almost” is doing double duty in 21d, but it will be fine in a few days. :wink: Congratulations though, Hippogryph, on the first mention in crosswordland of the soon to be new incumbent.

    My page is littered with ticks, with my podium choice aligning precisely with Gazza’s: 5a, 20a, 27a &14d.

    1. don’t ask me where or when, but the new incumbent has certainly appeared in a crossword in the last week or so

      1. Yes, I seem to recall it involved a word being half-hearted, but I was referring to him today being mentioned in the context of his new job – I imagine it will keep him quite busy!

      2. From Morph’s year-end puzzle:

        1d How the US voted encompasses Donald’s number one taboo (9)

      1. Thanks, Hilton, but my problem with 18a is that “passed a” sounds nothing like “pasta”. :sad:

        1. Homophones are very divisive aren’t they. Lots and lots of horrible homophones have made me grind my teeth over the years, but this one works fine for me.

          1. Yes I seem to have a habit of coming up with homophones which divide rather than unite – its a good lesson. Apologies RD, it sounded fine in my head. Glad that you enjoyed the rest of the puzzle and thanks for the comments

            1. They’re OK by me if I can pronounce it in any kind of accent (which is fun!)
              I remember one of the late great PJ’s clues was along the lines of a posh diner ordering trout which made me laugh out loud (Trite)

              1. Very good. Also, now I think about it some more, there are a couple of different ways of pronouncing pasta – certainly John Torode on Masterchef has a different take on the word…

        2. I’m with you RD – mind you I hadn’t even got that far parsing it until Hilton’s comment.

  5. Stuck on 27a and can’t parse our answer for 14d. Otherwise very enjoyable. Many thanks Hippogryph.

    1. Hi Hilton,
      27a relies upon knowledge of a term used to describe someone called Billy who has no friends.
      14d – try putting a comma after ‘back’ and it should become clear.

      1. Thank you Jane. Your comment about Billy certainly did the trick for 27a but we are still being thick on 14d and the penny hasn’t dropped yet! Will think about it overnight but many thanks.

  6. Took a fair bit of head-scratching in places but a good NTSPP challenge. Unlike RD, I was happy with the exclamation mark to justify 21d but I thought the first four words of the clue for 20a were unnecessary and said clue would have read better without them.
    I’d agree that 14d had an overly long clue but at least it read well which is more than can be said for 11d – the player mentioned doesn’t even play for that team! Having said that, as a non-football fan, I was actually just grateful for the inclusion of ‘defend’ which gave me a word that rang a very faint bell.
    Leader board here features 1,15&27a plus 14&21d.

    Thanks to Hippogryph for the challenge – best of wishes to you for 2021.

    1. Jane, I took the first four words of 20a to be the wordplay and the final six to be the definition.

      1. I realise that RD, just think the clue would read better without those first four words and still give the answer.

    2. Thanks for the comments Jane and happy new year to you.
      RD is correct with the intended structure of 20a. I think 11d makes some sense in a football context and you’re absolutely right, Dzeko doesn’t play for that team at the moment but did play for them for 5 years – I was just grateful to find a player with the right initials for the wordplay to be honest.
      Thanks again

    3. The first three words of 20a provide the letters of the answer, and Dud is the anagram indicator, surely…

      1. Yes – and that’s apparently how Hippogryph intended it from what he’s said. My point was simply that if the clue just read as ‘Looking for romance in a hurry’ it would lead to exactly the same answer in far fewer words.

        1. Agree with that Jane though the fun of the clue, for me at least, was dud as the indicator & Pete in the anagram. Don’t know why but it made me think of the tap tap tap at the window sketch.

  7. Similar comments to those above. Some fun clues in there, but like RD, I struggled to parse 9a and 18a. I can now see 18a, although that is not how I would pronounce it. Perhaps someone could help me with 9a, assuming I have the right answer, of course!
    15a, 17a and 14a got my ticks. I agree with CS that 14a is a bit wordy, but I loved the East End bargain-hunters!
    On the negative side, I think 4d is a bit weak.
    Trump has been useful in crosswords over the last four years. Sadly, that is his only redeeming feature. It looks like Biden will also prove useful to compilers.
    Good fun. Thanks, Hippogryph

  8. Hi Hippograph

    I enjoyed the pasta sauce homophone. It took me a while to see, I needed all the checkers – i was looking for a kind of cheese. Homophones fall into the precise and the “so bad it’s good” categories (groan-worthiness is an asset too). A fine and funny clue.

    I also smiled at the exclamation mark in 21. To me it says “almost”, although word-play, can be read differently too.

    And i like the all-in-one 15a.

    My favourite is 24a. A very elegant clue.

    5a strictly that is a definition by example and needs a QM
    9a “to” as a juxtaposition indicator makes me wince a little
    4d the definition in 4d is not that elegant and perhaps not entirely accurate
    11d the definition gives it away here – pity
    13d not quite sure we have enough cryptic instruction here? “moved to the front” or “put at the front”. “to go first” works best for me

    22d – this is my main concern, and maybe you think it is subtle. Are you mixing surface and cryptic grammar? The verb is 3rd person singular, as though it follows from the definition. But cryptically, definition and wordplay are separate entities. So you have as stand-alone wordplay “displays odd characters in blouses”. This doesn’t work nicely. You might expect the imperative “display odd characters in blouses”, but that doesn’t work in surface. Usual get-arounds are “displaying” “is displaying” (where “is” is a link) or “to display” – each gives a lovely clue.

    I also noted that your wordplay word-splits are good, and not along the enumeration (e.g. 1d, 6d)

    well done and thanks!

  9. Yet again in my view the NTSPP beats the SPP handsomely for a fun solve & with a few head scratchers thrown in. Loads to like – Man City, Pete & Dud & even one of Rev’s that made me groan. Top spot has to be 27a though, which I thought superb, with 1d & 15a in the medal positions.
    Hugely entertaining so thanks H

  10. The setter and I discussed three of the clues before publication and we decided to let you folks decide. Seems like it has been a mixed reaction!

    In 18a the homophone forms part of the definition, which I found to be an interesting twist.

    The “problem” I had with 27a was the difficulty caused by three out of the four checking letters being vowels.

    In 21d does “almost” perform double duty or is the exclamation mark enough to excuse it?

    1. 18a is interesting, but I don’t think it gels as sufficient a clue, it seems more suggestive than ‘nailed’
      27a no problem here, it’s by no means unusual
      21d I don’t see any problem, the clue works fine for me
      That’s my tuppence worth, interested to see Prolixic’s review

    2. thanks Dave, interesting.

      I’ve seen homophones in definitions before, but it is a twist that always comes as a surprise. I think LBR has a point: is this a double definition? in that case the second feels incomplete, perhaps
      “Reportedly passed a sauce – one of eggs, bacon an cheese”
      I’ve always made mine with ham, incidentally often using the post-boxing day ham joint.

      i’ve commented on the “!” in 21d. Without it, i think there would be a double duty ambiguity, with it, it seems to become cheeky, which i think works – well it made me smile which is one way of getting away with it – perhaps strictly it is still double duty.

      i did need all the checkers for 27a, but i had readily convinced myself the ending would be -LESS, so in a way i had more than the vowel checkers. But vowel checkers are definitely something to be wary of

      1. Hi Dutch, in my mind 18a was more of a cryptic definition than a double definition but interested to see what Prolixic and others think. Thanks for your comments

  11. Totally defeated by 11d of course which rather spoilt our appreciation of this puzzle. Lots of other stuff that we did like though and some real aha moments with clues like 2d and 18a.
    Thanks Hippogryph.

  12. An inventive and tricky puzzle with PDMS throughout. Not my fastest solve by any means but enjoyable teasing out the answers.
    Loved the 18a homophone, the very clever 20a (great anagram indicator) 25&27a plus 1&11d (even though their careers never crossed…I suppose you could have “played safe” and gone with something like “”without expecting draw” initially).
    I have a couple of parsing issues so will look forward to the review.
    Thanks Hyppogryph and in advance the reviewer.

  13. Many thanks for bringing us the review, Prolixic. How dare the ‘real world’ interfere with your blog commitments!
    Well done again to Hippogryph, a most enjoyable NTSPP.

  14. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and to all for your insightful comments – hope to be back soon!

  15. Thank you for an enjoyable solve, Hippogryph. My favourite type of puzzle, a bit like going for a run, with a slow warm-up, a steady pace through the middle and then a grind to the finish. On the theme of sports, 11d brought a smile, as did 20a for the memories of Not Only… But Also. Other favourites were 1a, 12, 15, 1d and 21 (the duality of ‘almost’ now being redundant :-) ). Sorry my comments have come late, but I’m now working my way backward through the archive, having previously started at NTSPP-001. Still got 569-025 to go, but I have plenty of time on my hands these days :-( . I see I will encounter you at least 3 more times, includng any new puzzles we can look forward to. Thanks also to Prolixic for the review and to the other commentators for their interesting repartee.

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