NTSPP – 571 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 571

The Fab Five by Phibs

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The Fab Five

The five asterisked clues lack definitions, which must be deduced from the solution to 16 across.

Another fine crossword from Phibs, full of his usual sneaky deviousness, but I’d have to say one of the most difficult NTSPP crosswords we’ve had for quite a while.

The five undefined clues are all synonyms of the aliases of the members of 16a


8     Clumsy tradesmen dropping new shed (8)
STREAMED An anagram (clumsy) of TRADESMEn (dropping the ‘new’)

9     Two ways a knight could get shortened jacket (6)
ANORAK There are two ways you can abbreviate a knight, split this jacket 1, 1, 2, 1, 1  

10     *Local tense, eating absolutely nothing (6)
INFANT A local hostelry and the abbreviation for tense ‘eating’ the two-letter abbreviation for a slang expression meaning absolutely nothing

11     *Tip bins over in upstairs room (8)
ATHLETIC Remove the O (‘bins’ O [cricket scoring abbreviation)) and insert the remaining letters of a synonym for a miserable place (tip) into an upstairs room

12     State spending cut, at the expense of communication (10)
CONNECTION Remove ‘spending’ CUT from the Southernmost State in New England and then add a very small word with a multitude of meanings, one of which is ‘at the expense of’

15     Encourage doctors getting son’s cast off (4)
URGE An old friend of the crossword solver – simply cast off or remove SONS from some doctors

16     Their singles (number released) ‘vacuous claptrap’? Possibly (3,5,5)
THE SPICE GIRLS Release or remove the N (number) from THEIR SInGLES, empty (vacuous) ClaptraP and an anagram (possibly) will give you the name of the Fab Five

18     Nicola Sturgeon perhaps drunk when embracing Conservative (4)
SCOT A drunk ’embracing’ the abbreviation for Conservative

20     One’s played in goal as cover for crowd- pleaser (injured) (3,7)
COR ANGLAIS An anagram (injured) of IN GOAL AS and the ‘cover’ for CrowdpleaseR

21     Remains fed up about America taking lead from Trump (8)
DETRITUS A reversal (about) of a synonym for fed up into which is inserted (taking) the ‘lead’ of Trump, with the abbreviation for America added at the end

24     *Pale blue skirts (6)
SWANKY A synonym for pale inserted into the ‘heavens’ (blue)

25     *Tears held back by child singled out from the others (6)
SPIRIT A reversal (held back) of a way of saying tears, followed by the person chosen (singled out from the others) in a child’s game (You’re xx)

26     Filled with love, initially Scully and partner repress strong feelings (8)
SMOULDER The initial letter of Scully and the surname of her partner in the X-Files into which is inserted (filled) the letter representing love or nought


1     What could make strong dark beer something exceptional (8)
STANDOUT I’m grateful to Kcit and his Toughie 2575 as 17d in that crossword explained how the word for a particular type of dark beer was formed – xx xxx xxx

2     Detective keeping a lot of corrupt fellows in custody (10)
DETAINMENT An abbreviation for detective keeping four of the five-letter synonym for corrupt and some fellows

3     Put out – in fact I’m extremely upset (4)
EMIT Hidden in reverse (upset) in facT IM Extremely

4     Assistant has a last suggestion (4)
IDEA Take an assistant and move the A at the front of that word to the end (last)

5     One rapidly fires staff smuggling cocaine in huge pants (7-3)
MACHINE-GUN A verb meaning to staff into which is inserted (smuggling) an anagram (pants) of the abbreviation for Cocaine IN HUGE

6     Spring crop beginning to emerge (4)
LOPE A verb meaning to crop or cut back and the ‘beginning’ to Emerge

7     Friend occupying Government post (6)
PALING A friend, a word meaning occupying, and the abbreviation for Government

13     Make competent head set about work involving one teaching assistant originally (10)
CAPACITATE A head(land) put about a verb meaning to work ‘involving’ I (one) and the abbreviation for Teaching Assistant

14     Sustain rapid attacks, scoring five in second half (5)
INCUR A ten-letter synonym for rapid attacks, the second half of which should be marked for deletion (scoring out five)

15     Flaky pastry lacking breadth, rolling error primarily to blame (10)
UNRELIABLE A type of baked product (pastry) lacking the abbreviation for Breadth, the primary letters of Rolling and Error and an adjective meaning to blame

17     Puzzle supporting conclusion of this pedant (8)
STICKLER A puzzle ‘supporting’ or going after the conclusion of thiS

19     *A fit of weeping has water rising inside (6)
CREEPY A fit of weeping has a reversal (rising) of an informal term for urine (water) inserted

22     Few regularly wear hair up (4)
RARE Found in reverse (up) in the regular letters of wEaR hAiR

23     Soprano has malfunctioning girdle (4)
SASH The abbreviation for Soprano and an anagram (malfunctioning) of HAS

24    Dim friend of Pooh’s? The reverse (4)
SLOW A reversal of the way Winnie-the-Pooh might refer to something belonging to one of his cleverer friends


22 comments on “NTSPP – 571

  1. If you are going to print this off, please note that the final (tiny) clue goes onto a second piece of paper so you might want to just print page 1 and then write the clue on that single sheet

  2. Thanks Phibs – it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out what was going on and I had all the asterisked clues before the penny dropped.
    1d is a big coincidence in that we had a very similar clue recently.
    My ticks went to 12a, 26a,14d, 15d and 24d.

  3. Gosh, that was tough. Tough, but fair. The themed secrets revealed themselves slowly. Many ticks, but for the chutzpah of the clue, 1d was terrific.

    Thanks to Phibs, and to the reviewer.

      1. 1d Quality raised in top hospital monument (8)

        Is this the Kcit clue?

        Still don’t understand …

  4. My goodness, I have come to expect a battle with Phibs and this was no exception. A few bits of low hanging fruit fell quite quickly including 16a, and I was fooled into thinking that it was going to be fairly easy. I was soon disabused of that notion! The good news is that was great fun and, despite the struggle, it was a joy to solve.

    Yes, 1d was quite a coincidence, and, like Gazza, it took me a while to understand the correlation between the undefined answers and 16a. Very clever!

    There were some very complex constructions which took me a long time to parse, notably 20a, 25a, 2d, 13d, 14d & 24d; and I still haven’t parsed the middle bit of 11a.

    I was sorry to see the use of the profane abbreviation for nothing, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

    23d made me smile, and my podium comprises 18a, 25a, 1d & 15d.

    Many thanks to Phibs, and in advance to CS.

  5. Yes that was a very tough but enjoyable workout with a theme that revealed itself nicely as I progressed. As others have said there were a couple (13d, 15d) which i found difficult to parse. Biggest smiles for 9a,16a,20a,26a,1d,3d and 24d. Thanks very much to Phibs for the high quality challenge. Time for a beer now….

  6. That certainly took some time – unexpectedly so, given that the ‘Fab Five’ rapidly became apparent.
    Didn’t care for the rising water in 19d but otherwise I enjoyed the challenge of this one.
    Podium places went to 21,24&26a along with 7&15d.

    Thanks to Phibs for the workout, I look forward to reading the review and checking my parsing – could be a bit flaky in places!

  7. Phew – and I’ve barely started yet.
    I’m finding this really really tough and have only got a handful of answers, including 16a which doesn’t seem to be helping yet.
    I’ll carry on tomorrow but I just popped in to say that I absolutely loved the little tiny over the page 24d – this is going to be my favourite whatever else I come across in the rest of the struggle.
    Thanks to Phibs and to whoever (I’ve given up trying to understand whether it’s CS or Prolixic because I always get it wrong) is doing tomorrow’s review.

  8. Took me even longer than most but eventually got there.
    Solved 16a at the beginning which I found to be in par with the kind of clue Elgar would write.
    It would have been so much easier if the real adjectives were used but finding synonyms was a great and satisfying challenge.
    10a was a bit rude but made me laugh when the penny dropped.
    Lots of other clues to like.
    Thanks to Phibs for a proper workout.

  9. I thought Kcit was tough on Thursday but reckon this one is probably harder. I have a completed correct grid (with the aid of 3 letter reveals) but parsing a number of answers is beyond me – eg only just twigged 10a wordplay after reading jean-luc’s comment. Took me a while to get 16a & only cottoned on to the asterisk malarkey when I got 19d & immediately my appreciation of the crossword increased & solved the remaining 3 * clues.
    Thanks Phibs – I can now give this snooker semi final the attention it deserves. Look forward to the review.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS, I’m relieved to learn that even you thought this was a difficult one. It all looked so straightforward when the name of the group popped up easily enough but I should have realised that Phibs wouldn’t make life that simple for us!
    Thanks again to him, that was a most enjoyable challenge.

  11. Took me a while – got 16a quite quickly, and then 11a which made me realise what the other asterisked ones needed to be…but it took me two goes – yesterday and today – to get there, along with one or two reveals, to finally be able to finish.

  12. Thanks to CS for the review, and to all who have commented on the puzzle.

    I set the crossword some months ago, and when I looked at it following publication there were several clues that struck me as being pretty tough (they were so much simpler just after I’d written them :???: ). I apologise to those who found it overly hard going, and I promise that the clues in my next puzzle (currently in production) will be a tad easier…although of course you should still expect plenty of ‘sneaky deviousness’ :wink:

  13. Thank you, Phibs, I really enjoyed this puzzle and the added dimension of the theme. Having just taken 2 days over NTSPP-572 I must have been warmed up because I thought this was pitched nicely. On another day..? :scratch: My fab five with ticks alongside were 9, 21, 26, 1 and 14, whilst 10 and 19 got exclamation marks!! I note you have 8 more puzzles in the NTSPP archive and I shall look forward to tackling them one day, so thank you in advance as I expect comments will be long closed. Thanks also to CS for the nicely illustrated review.

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