NTSPP – 583 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 583

A Puzzle by Prolixic

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prolixic makes a welcome return to the NTSPP slot – I’m pleased to report that I did actually spot the clever Nina, if you didn’t then have a look at the Across solutions


7     Lead singer cut short meeting a friend (9)
PRINCIPAL Cut short the name of an American singer-songwriter and then add (meeting) I (one) and a friend

8     Team involved in air staff alliance (4)
AXIS The Roman numerals used for the number of players in, for example, a football team, inserted into the abbreviation for Air Staff

9     End with lyric composed for old record (8)
CYLINDER An anagram (composed) of END with LYRIC

10     Stop building (5)
BLOCK Double definition – the first a verb and the second a large building

14     Go with half a cask of wine (4)
HEAD The second half of the name of a large cask of wine

16     Small rock cake with a piece of tart for Charlie (5)
STONE A type of cake with the first letter (a piece) of Tart replacing the letter represented in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet by Charlie

17     Reserved a sample of glycol distearate (4)
COLD  Found in part (a sample) of glyCOL Distearate

19     Committee in favour of Tory leader’s support (7)
COMFORT An abbreviated committee, a preposition meaning in favour of and the ‘leader’ of Tory

21     Hostile interference with spy leaving Westminster? (7)
STATION Remove (leaving) a spy who infiltrates a rival organisation from some hostile interference

24     Writing cards to offer worker promise of marriage (4)
HAND A wonderful five definition clue

26     After changing sides, sing for composer (5)
GLASS Sing here means to turn informer – change the R side in a synonym for informing into an L

27     Looks at on-line vote? (4)
EYES The letter used to indicate something on-line and a vote in favour

29     Correct ceremony in the House (5)
RIGHT A homophone (in the House) of a ceremony

32     Ought the queen to carry a burden (8)
SHOULDER A synonym for ought and the regnal cipher of our current Queen

35     Informally seize brownie on a regular basis (4)
BONE A slang verb meaning to seize can be found in the regular letters of BrOwNiE

36     Form of china of which no replica can be made (9)
PORCELAIN An anagram (can be made) of NO REPLICA


1     In for a clear-eyed vision (6)
ORACLE Hidden in fOR A CLEar

2     Trouble about new dye (4)
ANIL A verb meaning to trouble goes about the abbreviation for New

3     Mark‘s forewarning (4)
SIGN Double definition

4     The Spanish entering hotel for fast food (7)
SAVELOY The Spanish definite article ‘entering’ a London hotel

5     Post a member of Oasis returned (4)
MAIL A reversal (returned) of the Christian name of a member of Oasis

6     Record a couple of policemen (4)
DISC A couple of abbreviated policemen

11     It’s not a winning line for gravy maker (3)
OXO The name of this useful addition to gravy making would not be a winning line in a game of Noughts and Crosses

12     Tease a short pirate (3)
KID Shorten the name of a famous pirate

13     Wrens sleep here with Moors (6)
BERTHS Apart from casting aspersions about the sleeping habits of Wrens, the M for Moors is a misleading capital as what we actually have is a double definition

14     Involuntary sound made by Greek character when cycling (3)
HIC Cycle or move the first letter of the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet to the end of the word

15    Rebel against duke coming back to Welsh county (5)
DYFED A reversal (coming back) of a verb meaning to rebel and the abbreviation for Duke

16     She cut carpets to make woollen garments (6)
SHRUGS Cut the final letter from SHe and add some small carpets

17     Rod carries note for sweetheart (5)
CUTIE A rod used in snooker ‘carries’ the seventh note of the tonic sol-fa scale

18    Left spectacles in toilet (3)
LOO The abbreviation for Left and two lots of a letter that when put together could look like spectacles

20     Contents of cardiovascular cells (3)
OVA Hidden in the contents of cardiOVAscular

22     Flipping evil Scandinavian goblin (3)
NIS A reversal (flipping) of some evil

23     Footballers’ quiet boss retired in style (7)
FASHION The abbreviation for the Football Association, an instruction to be quiet and a way of referring to a boss reversed (retired)

24     That lady has different books taken away (3)
HER Remove the abbreviation for the first section of books in the Bible from an adjective meaning different

25     Worry an old hack (3)
NAG A verb meaning to worry or an old horse (hack)

28     I grew a deformed insect (6)
EARWIG An anagram (deformed) of I GREW A

30     India’s king working to make portrait (4)
IKON The letter represented by India in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, the chess abbreviation for King and a simple way of saying working

31     He is holding ordinary tools (4)
HOES A shorter way of saying he is ‘holding’ the abbreviation for Ordinary

33     A French conscientious objector’s unusual in Falkirk (4)
UNCO A Scottish (as used in Falkirk) word meaning unusual is obtained from the French indefinite article and the abbreviation for Conscientious Objector

34     English youth raised in valley (4)
DALE A reversal (raised) of the abbreviation for English and a youth

28 comments on “NTSPP – 583

  1. Definitely for lovers of three and four letter answers! But I did manage to complete pre-caffeine, although I did have to use some confirmatory Reveals and there are some parsings that continue to elude me.
    I liked 16a and 2d but there was quite a large groan for 27a which should probably have had an enumeration of (1-3).
    I thought 14d was an example of the ‘forbidden’ indirect anagram (cycling) but I settled for it being ‘cycling’ the first letter to the end.
    Thanks to Prolixic and in advance to CS or will it be BD.

  2. 36 clues, and lots of little ‘uns. A nice time spent filling in the gaps – I liked 11d for the gaming reference.

    I must be missing the parsing on 7a, as I can’t see where the 6th letter is coming from

    Thanks to Prolixic and in advance CS.

    1. In 7a, convert the A preceding friend in the clue into another letter that could be its equivalent in Roman numerals. I did think that there was some ‘looseness’ (don’t ask me to define that) in some of the clues with this being an example.

  3. I was certain that this slightly odd grid was designed for some Nina etc, but can’t see anything
    Thanks for the entertainment Prolixic, and in advance to CS

  4. Decided to start my Saturday solving marathon with this enjoyable crossword.
    Even if I am not very keen on short answers, only a few needed extra cogitation.
    Nice sequence of answers.
    Thanks to Prolixic and to CS for the upcoming review.

  5. Thanks Prolixic, v enjoyable.
    Favourite 24a, also liked 26a once I’d seen it – needed the theme to help out there.
    A few ‘checks’ required, and still not sure of a couple of parsings so looking forward to review (thanks in advance to crypticsue)

  6. This proved to be quite a challenge as is often the case with Prolixic, but it was certainly well worth the effort. I can’t parse 29a and, for reasons which are difficult to understand with hindsight, parsing 21a took me quite a while.

    35a was a new meaning of the answer for me, and I don’t think I’ve come across that specific spelling of 30d before.

    I had a lot of ticks on my page, but nothing can quite match the brilliance of a quintuple definition, which gets my vote as favourite.

    I actually spotted the Nina – unusual and very clever.

    Many thanks to Prolixic and in advance to CS.

  7. Initially made good headway but then, like the Ever Given, ran aground on the starboard side. Trial and error eventually yielded a penny drop on 17d, which cleared the passage to the final couple of grid entries. Thanks for constructing a nicely challenging puzzle, Prolixic. 24a must surely have set some kind of record, with other favourites being 26, 36, 11, and 14d. The thematic layer was indeed the icing on the cake!

  8. Found what JL neatly referred to as the sequence although I do ‘come over a bit peculiar’ when words like 8a are involved. I didn’t know the Scandinavian goblin or the required definition of 35a (what a strange one!) and have yet to nail the spy who’s left 21a but no doubt he’ll turn up in good time.
    Favourite was 32a – poor lady has a wretched few days ahead of her.

    Thanks to Prolixic for the challenge – off to hunt out the spy now……….

  9. Been back and forth nibbling at this since just after lunch. Had the wrong friend in 7a at first, which held me up for a while and fitted with an alternative 3d. But did a ‘check’ when I was getting no further with the NW corner, and discovered they were both wrong, so started that section afresh, and got it all completed. As almost always, I had to look for the theme after it was all done – I never seem to see them en route.
    Thanks, Prolixic! – and to CS in advance.

  10. We thought the grid was a bit odd so guessed that something clever must be going on. We made slow dogged progress with the odd answers throughout the grid until we eventually twigged what was happening with the across answers. Progress increased rapidly from that point until finally everything fell into place.
    Excellent fun.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  11. The unusual grid suggested that something was going on, but it wasn’t till I’d nearly finished that I spotted what it was – a cruciverbal version of the Tennis Elbow Foot Game – great stuff! In fact that helped me get my last few answers.
    Thanks, Prolixic for the entertainment and CS for the review.

    1. Prolixic’s note when he submitted this puzzle said ‘it would be suitable for a MPP by adding:
      “What game is the setter playing?” The correct answer would be “Word Association Football”.’

      I decided that everyone who solved the puzzle would probably have a different answer to the question, making it somewhat difficult to judge.

  12. Needed a few reveals to finish & even after reading the hints (what spy ?) there are still a couple I can’t quite parse. I’m not a lover of 4 letter words let alone 3 in crosswords as they are invariably the ones that cause me most trouble so this one was always going to be a bit of an ask. I did twig the Nina however & enjoyed it nevertheless.
    Thanks Prolixic & CS

      1. Talk about not seeing the wood for the trees…
        I assumed that but still couldn’t see it but the penny has now dropped thanks. Great clue.

  13. Many thanks for the review, CS. Having read BD’s comment @11, I have to say that I’m very glad he didn’t use this one as an MPP!

  14. A splendid puzzle! 24a was my fave, with its five meanings! Brilliant! I did find the Nina but certaily didn’t connect it with ‘Word Association Football’. Very clever!
    Many appreciative thanks to Prolixic for much enjoyment spent solving this NTSPP and to CrypticSue for her review.

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