NTSPP – 589 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 589

Little Pitchers by Phibs

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


Phibs returns to Saturday lunchtime with a tricky but most enjoyably themed crossword

The ‘Little Pitchers’


6     Tea to be found in mug (7)
CHARLIE A slang word for tea and a verb meaning to be found in thematically linked with the solution to 16a

7     Metal piece that’s split off has left one out of order (6)
SILVER Take a piece of something that’s split off and change the order of the L (left) and I (one)

10     Go about Italy carrying a spicy sausage (9)
PEPPERONI An informal noun meaning go or life, a simple way of saying about and the IVR code for Italy, into which is inserted (carrying) a preposition meaning for each (a)

11     Everyone wearing skirts on Sunday outing (5)
 SALLY Everyone ‘wearing’ or going inside the ‘skirts’ on SundaY

12     Federer perhaps getting wide and unleashing good stroke? (5)
ROWER Unleashing or removing the abbreviation for good from the Christian name of Mr Federer, and replacing it (getting) with the cricket abbreviation for Wide

14     Delete inappropriate text from former lover and put gear out (9)
EXPURGATE A former lover and an anagram (out) of PUT GEAR

16     Toast British navy holding line (5)
BROWN Abbreviations for British and navy ‘holding’ a line

17     Those at the front wanting guard? He’s here! (3)
VAN Remove (wanting) guard from those who lead the way to reveal where you might find the guard on a train

18     Hides buckets (5)
PELTS – Double definition, one some animal hides, the other a verb meaning buckets (both of which we’ve used quite a lot in the last week or so)

The solutions to 17 and 18a combine to give the surname of two more characters

19     Judges: idiots for the most part irritated with society (9)
ASSESSORS Some idiots, most of a verb meaning irritated and the abbreviation for Society

21    Sinks, needing new footing (5)
BASIS Some sinks without ‘needing’ the abbreviation for New

23     Bit of cloth on groin? (5)
THONG Hidden in a bit of cloTH ON Groin

25     Moving book about a lion that’s reincarnated (9)
EMOTIONAL A reversal (about) of a large book followed by an anagram (that’s reincarnated) of A LION

27     Not understanding a French joke involving Napoleon’s rear (6)
UNKIND The French indefinite article (a) and a verb meaning to deceive as a joke into which is inserted (involving) the ‘rear’ of NapoleoN

28     A number in set- up working for a pittance (7)
PEANUTS A (from the clue) and a single-letter abbreviation for Number in an anagram (working) of SET UP


1     Seize missing Government file (4)
RASP A synonym for seize ‘missing’ the abbreviation for Government

2     Dumps boxing career after rejecting initial proposals (10)
BLUEPRINTS The plural of a colour used to represent the ‘dumps’ or being in low spirits, followed by a verb meaning to career or run fast without (rejecting) its initial letter

3     Cashier returning cheque to me defends limits (6)
DEMOTE Hidden in reverse (returning) in chequE TO ME Defends – cashier here meaning to dismiss from a post, especially in the armed forces, in disgrace, and the solution means to reduce in rank

4     A pork pie and a Whopper? That sounds like me! (4)
FIBS A pork pie and a whopper are both informal terms for a lie. A third one is a homophone (sounds like) the alias of our setter

5     Energy lost, seems vacant – it’s a sign of age (8)
GREYNESS An anagram (lost) of ENERGY plus the outside (vacant) letters of SeemS

6     Dance around gym ending in disaster (5)
CAPER The Latin abbreviation meaning around, the abbreviation for school gym lessons and the ‘ending’ in disasteR

8     Treasures V&A hawk around keeping us all busy at first (9)
VALUABLES V and A, a reversal (around) of a verb meaning to hawk, into which is inserted (keeping) the first letters of Us All Busy

9     Where you’ll find swine regularly spying on female swimmer (6)
PIGPEN The regular letters of sPyInG and a female swan (swimmer)

13     Club holding music festival (9)
WOODSTOCK A golf club and a holding of shares

15     Ruin place about to host Biden’s inauguration? Me? (10)
REPUBLICAN An anagram (about) of RUIN PLACE to ‘host’ the first letter (inauguration) of Biden

16     Puffed-up snakes honest: “Ruth’s been consumed” (8)
BOASTFUL Some snakes and a synonym for honest without RUTH (as she’s been consumed!)

17     Nameless wild flower (6)
VIOLET Remove the abbreviation for Name (name-less) from an adjective meaning wild

20     Inquisitive son puzzled over cover of Playboy (6)
SNOOPY An anagram (puzzled) of SON, the cricket abbreviation for Over and the ‘cover’ of PlayboY

22     One source of Strepsils? Boots have them (5)
SOLES An adjective meaning consisting of one person and the ‘source’ of Strepsils

24     Left instruction for Brummie travelling to Newcastle? (4)
GONE Split 2,2 this verb meaning left would be a simple instruction to tell a Brummie how to get to Newcastle

26     Sense rising star’s secured Oscar (4)
NOUS A reversal (rising) of a star ‘secured’ the letter represented in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet by Oscar

Thank you very much to Phibs for a most enjoyable Saturday lunchtime diversion – fun to solve and blog and with  the extra pleasure of deciding which illustrations to use in the review. The perfect antidote to another a dreary wet chilly afternoon.

31 comments on “NTSPP – 589

  1. A very enjoyable puzzle with a nice theme – thanks Phibs.
    Top clues for me were 10a, 23a, 2d and 15d.

  2. A bit of an experiment this morning as I was having my first caffeine of the day while solving. The result is that I will have to check to see if I had brewed decaf by mistake as this was quite a head scratcher and the coffee was no help. I am quite glad that this was not a Phibs MPP because I cannot begin to imagine the riddle that would have gone with it.

    Nevertheless it was very enjoyable and I really liked 8d and 23a raised a smile.

    Thanks to Phibs and in advance to CS.

  3. At the risk of being accused of plagiarism, I thought this was a very enjoyable puzzle with a nice theme – thanks Phibs! :smile:
    It was a steady solve until I had just 2 down left to go, then it took most of a second mug of tea before the penny finally dropped. A very nicely constructed clue :good: Podium places for me, though, were 18a, 23a and 15d; with a special mention given to 4d, of course.

  4. You know what to expect from a Phibs puzzle – a rewarding challenge which is a lot of fun with clever, and sometimes devious, wordplay coupled with super-smooth surfaces. This one was no exception.

    Some of the parsing took quite a bit of teasing out, particularly 2d & 16d, and I missed the reverse lurker in 3d for some considerable time. I’m not quite convinced by the definition for 17a or perhaps I am just overthinking it.

    The fun theme was exemplary because it wasn’t needed to solve the puzzle and it didn’t intrude in any way.

    Amid loads of ticks, 18a, 23a & 4d rose up to take their places on my podium.

    Many thanks to Phibs and in advance to CS.

    1. I think you have to cut some slack for 17a as it is also (I have discovered) a contributor to the theme…

      1. However it is not missing an ‘a’ just ‘guard’, which makes it wrong.

        1. I’m not sure what ‘a’ you’re referring to – there isn’t one in the clue.

    2. Many thanks for your review, CS, particularly for the explanation for the very clever definition for 17a which I’d missed.

      1. I was in a parallel universe here, or perhaps at a Moondance? However, I really liked my justification for ‘He’ (note the capital letter) being ‘the Man’ (note the capital letter), as in Van the Man (Morrison)… Guard’s van may be the intended definition but it is a touch prosaic in comparison :wink:
        Thanks for the review CS (despite dispelling my van illusion) and the illustrations of one of my favourite comic strips!

  5. Thanks Phibs, very enjoyable. Needed help from the theme to get 6a, but that was my fave in the end. 18a and 23a also big ticks, and 4d of course, though it was a pleasure throughout. Thanks again!

  6. This flowed quite nicely for me, though the West was a little more challenging than the East.
    Thought cashier was “dismiss” rather than the solution but otherwise nothing to frighten the horses but plenty to amuse them.
    Clues that stood out for me were the excellent 6&12a, along with 23&27a plus 4&24d.
    Thanks Phibs, good stuff.

        1. I thought they did work as synonyms – Chambers Crossword Dictionary agrees with me (and Phibs)

    1. Stephen L – I agree with you about demote/cashier not being the same thing. I’m sure that I got the idea from a thesaurus, and all three of the thesauri that I use have demote->cashier, though none of them show the the reverse (which is invariably a warning sign). I am normally very careful to check anything that comes from a thesaurus, but I think on this occasion I started with ‘bust’, rejected it because Chambers gives it as ‘North American’, and then moved gratefully on to ‘cashier’ without asking too many questions! :oops:

      1. Thanks for your feedback Phibs. I’m normally someone who like to give the setters a degree of “artistic licence” but in this case I felt the need to point it out. Nonetheless it didn’t detract from my enjoyment and admiration of your excellent puzzle.

  7. I think that RD must have been right about the theme, I’ve completed the puzzle but haven’t got a clue what it is!
    Couple of bits of parsing to sort out yet but top marks went to 18&23a plus 17d.

    Thanks to Phibs – sorry that your theme was wasted on me!

  8. Took a long time time to find the theme … now, I must have a lie down … on top of my kennel, of course.

  9. I completed it without realising the theme – even after I had got 28a – but having gone back and looked through after reading Spartacus’ remark, I could then see what it was. Mind you, I don’t think I had noticed the title, as I’m very bad about plunging straight in without reading any titles or preambles. I did notice the setter’s name, though, so I was OK on 4d!

    Thanks Phibs, and in advance to whoever will be doing the review.

  10. We’re another team who did not understand what the title was about until the very end of the puzzle and then we had the extra fun of identifying all the themed entries.
    A real joy to solve and much appreciated.
    Thanks Phibs.

  11. Tackled this late last night but had 2d left for this morning & just couldn’t see it until I lost patience & revealed the first letter – very irritating. Think this is my first Phibs crossword & thoroughly enjoyed it. Started in the south & twigged the theme immediately despite never really reading the Schultz strip & it certainly helped with 6a. Found some of the wordplay pretty tricky & very clever. The NE & particularly 7a,5&8d were my stand outs.
    Thanks Phibs & in advance to CS for the review.

  12. I enjoyed this but I had to rely on CS for clarification on some my answers. Thanks to Phibs & CS.
    Re: 22d Boots actually manufacture Strepsils for RB, not something everybody would know – I wonder if Phibs is an ex- colleague of mine.

  13. Many thanks for the review, CS. I did eventually work out the theme but I only know the main characters so several of Phibs’
    clever additions went over my head. I should have looked more carefully at the title and done some homework – serves me right!

    1. When I printed the puzzle off and saw the ‘Little pitchers’ title my first thought was ‘S[mall] ewers’ and I prepared to look for drains, gutters and the like. :D

  14. Got the theme towards the end and it helped me completing the NW.
    Great crossword.
    Thanks to Phibs and to CS for the review.

  15. I struggled with this a bit until I got 26ac and the penny dropped, whereupon 13dn for which I’d only got the first letter became a write-in and the rest followed quite easily, even though I’m not familiar with all the names. All good stuff, anyway.
    Thanks, Phibs for the fun and CS for the pics to go with it.

  16. Thanks to CS for the beautifully-illustrated review, and thanks to all who have commented on the puzzle.

    The theme presented itself a few months ago when I re-read several books of Peanuts cartoons. They really are superb, particularly the ones from the 1960s. I was sorry not to be able to include Schroeder, but I couldn’t see how to define his name without reference to the strips; on the other hand, I was pleased to find that I could include Lucy, Linus and Rerun under the collective ‘Van Pelts’.

    I wondered whether the saying ‘little pitchers have big ears’ might possibly lead solvers in the direction of Noddy, but I thought that Gazza’s preliminary assessment of the title was splendid :smile:

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