NTSPP – 591 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 591

A Puzzle by Jaffa

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.


1 Pastoral caring for cattle (7)
BUCOLIC – Double definition for describing a pastoral setting and the care of cattle.

Our church organist, Terry, played this wonderful piece this morning – a pastoral toccata  ‘La vallée verte ‘ by Edward Marsh 

5 Timorous forward is an avaricious grasping person (7)
SHYLOCK – A three-letter word meaning timorous followed by a forward (as a rugby position).

9 Reported childcare closure leads to nothing but increasing intensity (9)
CRESCENDO – A homophone (reported) of creche (childcare) followed by a three-letter word meaning closure and the letter representing nothing.

10 Half-hearted Swedes visiting Guernsey perhaps for summers (5)
ABACI – The name of the Swedish pop group who came to fame winning the Eurovision Song Contest without one of the central letters (half-hearted) followed by (visiting) the abbreviation for the island group of which Guernsey is a part.

11 Two sets of squaddies appearing in trials leads to troubles (8)
TORMENTS – The abbreviation for other ranks and a four-letter word for soldiers (two sets of squaddies) inside (appearing in) the pluralised abbreviation for time trials.

12 A dimension revealed by the French at the heart of string theory (6)
LENGTH – The French masculine singular for the followed by (at) the central four letters of string theory.

14 Back on this side I find climber making music around Etna? (9)
SICILIANA – Three-letter combing form meaning on this side reversed (back) followed by the I from the clue and a five-letter word for a climbing plant.

16 Honourable women, more prevalent at Christmas-time? (5)
DAMES – Cryptic definition – these honourable women also feature in pantomimes – traditionally played by men.

17 Head covering trimmed for a Pope? (5)
URBAN – A traditional Sikh head covering without the initial letter (trimmed).

19 French refusal for scheme with unlimited care is not on the level (9)
NONPLANAR – The French word for no followed by a four-letter word for a scheme and the inner letters (unlimited) of care.

21 Ding-dong about papers for a council area (6)
RIDING – A four-letter word for a ding-dong (sound of a bell) around a two-letter word for papers.

22 Preparation of hood for 14th February in Chicago was worrying (8)
ALARMING – The first name of Mr Capone and what he might be doing in preparation for the St Valentine’s Day massacre.

25 London venue increases  capacity by 50% – it’s still a gas (5)
OZONE – The name of the London events venue (formerly the Millennium Dome) has the number increased by 50% to give the chemical symbol for this gas.

26 Exhaust system, given headroom by Abe? (9)
STOVEPIPE – Definition and cryptic definition of the type of hat word by Abraham Lincoln.

27 Part of hospital, inadequate and in a state of chaos (7)
ENTROPY – A three-letter abbreviation for a hospital department followed by a four-letter word meaning inadequate or poorly.

28 Latin sidestep takes guts (7)
INSIDES – The answer is hidden (takes) in the first two words of the clue.


1 Recooks a banquet freshly for a new start (4,2,6,3)
BACK TO SQUARE ONE – An anagram (freshly) of RECOOKS A BANQUET.

2 Artiste displaying inner energy – often one of three (5)
CHEER – The usual American female singer in crossword land around (displaying inner) the abbreviation for energy. 

3 Milky effect of duck on French lake (7)
LACTEAL – Although it words in an across clue, it does not in a down clue with a three letter word in French for a lake followed by (on) a four-letter word for a type of duck.

4 Pressure cannot stir dislocation (10)
CONSTRAINT – An anagram (dislocation) of CANNOT STIR.

5 Ninety degrees gained in small Gloucestershire town (4)
STOW – One cardinal point to another thaT involves a 90 degree change of direction.

6 Time for resolution or reckoning? (4-3)
YEAR-END – When resolutions are made and financial audits become due.

7 Is Ex-President Trump one involved in Irish politics? (9)
ORANGEMAN – The colour of this man’s tan?

8 Prince and man-eater join nobleman’s all-inclusive onboard journey (7,8)
KNIGHT’S PROGRESS – A six-letter word pluralised for nobleman’s followed by the two-letter abbreviation for prince and a six-letter word for a man-eating monster.

13 Brusque Scottish bank manager’s verbal refusal to fund the purchase of Italian food? (10)
CANNELLONI – A homophone (verbal) of CANNAE LOAN I (how a Scottish banker may say I cannot give you a loan).

15 Diced carrot or 3 of 27 with dead centre? (5,4)
CUBED ROOT – A description of diced carrot might give this mathematical description of a function applied to 27 that gives the answer 3 with the abbreviation for dead of the centre.

18 Putative old fiddler, taking on most of French XI, has some value (3-4)
NON-ZERO – The name of the Roman emperor who would have fiddled whilst Rome burned if fiddles had been invented at the time includes the French word meaning eleven without the final letter (most of).

20 Generosity of Great Britain perhaps (7)
LARGESS – A description 5-2 of the ship named “Great Britain”.

23 I struggled at Harvard maybe (5)
IVIED – The I from the clue and a four-letter word meaning struggled.

24 Discover hacker? (4)
ESPY – The answer split 1-4 might indicate an on-line agent hacking a computer system.

53 comments on “NTSPP – 591

  1. Thanks very much for the enjoyable NTSPP, Jaffa. I found it quite tricky in places with a number of ‘tea tray’ moments when the pennies dropped.
    I can’t fully parse 25a and I thought the components of 3d were the wrong way round for a down clue.
    I ticked 26a, 20d and 24d but my favourite was the LOL 7d.

    1. Gazza – I agree on 3d being the ‘wrong way round.’

      25a – the gas associated with the (temporary but permanent) London venue, ‘increase’ its chemical symbol by 50% and you have another gas.

      1. Thanks, Senf. My lack of knowledge of chemical symbols has been demonstrated yet again.

  2. That definitely needed the caffeine I enjoyed while solving it (so heaven know what I will need as assistance for the Radler MPP).

    I really liked 5a, 15a, 8d, and 18d but 7d got a slight groan.

    Thanks Jaffa and in advance to Prolixic(?).

  3. Well I don’t feel quite so inadequate having read Gazza’s & Senf’s comments. A dozen answers in & going nowhere fast with the RHS virgin territory. Think I’ll give it another look later on

  4. A most enjoyable puzzle with some great clues. I agree with Gazza about 3d but, overall, a satisfactory solve. I liked 22a but my COTD is 26a with 7d bringing a smile.

    Grateful thanks for the entertainment, Jaffa.

  5. Thanks Jaffa, a real toughie with some great clues – faves included 10a, 26a, 1d, 18d. Big groan for 7d :-) So overall very enjoyable, even though I struggled to get on the right wavelength at times. Also a couple of frustrations – 3d as mentioned above, and (anticipating my ignorance to be shown up…) is 15d a thing?
    Thanks again!

    1. Well, I think the answer is an accurate description of the “diced carrot” but I must admit that the clue was amended at the eleventh hour when I realised that mathematically I’ve been calling the said quantity by the wrong name for the best part of 50 years by including the central d 😜😂

      1. It’s a common mistake (I used to teach maths!) … a shame as the shorter original clue would’ve been very nice. (I’m also not sure about the final letter of 13d – I may well have parsed it incorrectly, as neither my Italian nor Scottish are up to much, but I think the wordplay leads to an extra letter? Will await review with interest!) Minor quibbles, all very good fun overall!

        1. And I’m so confused that I forgot Faraday is Jaffa when he composes puzzles…..😆

        2. F. I think both elements of the 13d answer are homophones generated by the word-play.

            1. Thanks Jose, I don’t get how the sound at the end fits into the homophone … but I’m guessing either my Scots or Italian pronunciation is wrong

              1. I’m guessing it’s brusque Scottish for “cannae loan thee” (cannae is cannot in Scottish syntax). Or cannae (brusque Scottish) loani (whimsical/comedy Italian for loan) = can’t loan. Maybe Jaffa or the reviewer will explain later.

  6. As I have found before with this setter, this was a curate’s egg again for me. A lot of the clues were excellent but I found a few disappointing and there is one which I can’t parse: 16a. It was also a mixed bag for me in terms of difficulty with some clues falling into place immediately and others set at a real Toughie standard, which is fine as the solver at least has some entry points.

    – Perhaps I am overthinking it as ex-chemist, but I don’t think 25a works – going from O2 to O3 is not an increase in capacity.
    – 3d is the wrong way round.
    – The town is question is commonly known as 5d, but that is not its full name so I think the clue needs a ? to finish.
    – I can see what is needed to parse 13d but I can’t quite make the ending work.
    – In 20d, I think “Great” is doing double duty as the ship in question is the SS Great Britain.

    7d is my favourite (although I am surprised that BD’s “bot” hasn’t censored it!) and is joined on my podium by 26a & 24d.

    Thanks to Jaffa and in advance to whomever writes the review.

    1. RD. 25a. I don’t think any actual chemistry is involved. Just a 50% increase in the chemical symbol from 02 to 03. 5d. Isn’t the “small” an indication that the town’s name has been truncated. 13d. See my comment above at #5.

      1. * Also, 20d. The definition is “generosity” and the answer split (7,2) is an example (perhaps) of what the Great Britain was. Does that mean the Great is doing double duty?

        1. Yes, Jose. That was exactly my point. “Great” = “Large” and “Great Britain perhaps” = “SS”.

          1. It could just be “Great Britain perhaps” = “Large SS” (which it was for its time). Though I did parse it as Great=Large originally and completely missed the double duty.

          2. I think I was hoping that “Great Britain perhaps” = “large SS” as she was the longest ship in the world when built. My initial thoughts were to use the Titanic but she was apparently the RMS Titanic. I guess I needed a SS without the word Great in its name.

            1. I think Fez and I were typing at the same time but he’s obviously quicker than me 😂

            2. The essence of the clue is that “Great Britain perhaps” = (an example of a) large SS, which it was – a large steam ship. It doesn’t need to be the biggest or longest, just “large”. The confusion is that people are assuming that the “Great” in Great Britain = “large”, but it does not. It is part of a name and this “Great” = eminent, illustrious, outstanding, etc.Therefore, I can’t see any double duty but with my individual parsing I’m not 100% sure it works anyway.

                1. I probably have. I’m easily confused nowadays….😂
                  (In truth of course, I probably wrote this clue a couple of months ago and it’s quite difficult to remember my thought processes at the time, especially when it contains unforeseen problems)

              1. Pedant’s corner: That’ll be a screw steamship (ie with a propeller, rather than PS = paddle steamer, which I’ve not seen used in crosswords) With Mrs Fez & kids away for a couple of days I’ve really had too much time to think about this puzzle!

                1. SS does = steam ship, but here it does indeed = screw steamer. Have a good break with the family.

          3. RD. The definition is “Generosity” and the word-play is a cryptic description (by example) of the answer, split 5,2. The Great in Great Britain doesn’t mean “large”. That’s how I see it.

    1. Thanks, Stephen. That makes sense. I haven’t been to a pantomime for over sixty years …

  7. Thank you Fez, Jose and Stephen for your comments. With regard to 16a, 5d and 20d you definitely seem to be on my wavelength. Should you be worried by this….? 😂

    I guess with 3d I can only say “guilty as charged”. To be honest I’ve never quite got my head around the concept of A+B = B+A in CrosswordLand. I think I’ve used the same device in 8d but I guess in 3d the word “on” in a Down clue scuppers it.

    In 25a RD I agree, also as an ex-chemist, that “increases capacity” is not particularly scientifically accurate but I guess I was trying to express the idea in lay terms and in a limited number of words. Atomicity didn’t really seem to have much mileage in it…. With regard to the degree of difficulty of the clues I’ve always tried to have a range of complexity within my crosswords. Aren’t nearly all crosswords like this?

    I knew 13d was taking linguistic liberties. I have been living near Glasgow since last December and have met several people who could very easily have uttered this phrase – I hope that’s not a deportation offence. Its origins are in my Uxbridge English Dictionary and I was hoping the “joke” warranted its inclusion.

    Once again, thank you for all of your insightful comments.

  8. That had us working very hard on our Sunday morning here but we did eventually get everything sorted although there are still a few bits of wordplay to fully understand.
    13d was our last one to fall.
    Thanks Jaffa.

  9. Made very heavy weather of this one and came across five new words/expressions and about another five where I can’t justify my answers. Quite a demoralising experience!
    The ones that particularly appealed were 9a & 13d.

    Thanks to Jaffa – sorry not to be really on your wavelength!

  10. I’m kind of with Jane on this one. I managed the LHS unaided earlier though with some difficulty but just couldn’t seem to gain a foothold on the right. Thought I’d give it another bash before bed & as I wasn’t faring any better I resorted to the jump start of 4 strategic letter reveals which did the trick. Definitely a wavelength issue as it was very fairly clued albeit tough with only 14a & 19d new to me.
    Thought there were some excellent clues – 9,10,22&26a plus 7&15d were the big ticks for me. Sorry but I thought 13d was poor.
    Thanks Jaffa.

  11. Hats off to anyone who solved this in good time, I needed a couple of sittings but eventually worked it all out, the NE being particularly tricky. There are three I can only partially parse so I’ll be particularly interested in the reviewers comments. Overall very enjoyable, if a little tougher than the average NTSPP .
    7,13(giving the setter a degree of artistic licence)and 18d were my picks.
    Thanks Jaffa and in advance the reviewer.

  12. A fun puzzle from Jaffa with a nice range of clue styles – even if some were a bit edgy! I didn’t spot the O2 to O3 transition, I had settled on OZ being an ‘edgy’ way to write O2, with the addition of ONE (being 50% of 2) :scratch: Parsing the first 3 letters of 14a is eluding me, so I am looking forward to the review. Nobody else has mentioned this so perhaps I’m missing the obvious? My favourites were 10a, 11a, 1d (impressive anagram within a smooth surface), 7d :smile: and the succint 24d. Thanks, Jaffa.

    1. cis = “on this side” eg cis-atlantic, “on this side of the Atlantic”, reversed (back)

    2. Ah, a deeper dive into Collins Online has cleared up the 14a dilemma. Not a prefix I had come across before, and it appears that expert chemists have another advantage here! [Thanks also for your help, Fez, your reply came in while I was researching in the dictionary.]

      1. The chemistry thing was… indicating that two groups of atoms in an unsaturated compound lie on the same side of a double bond e.g. cis-butadiene.
        I prefer Fez’ example!

        1. Yes, I was relying on my chemical background for this clue but it was pointed out to me that in this age of fluidity of gender one is now able to identify as either transgender or cisgender so we might be hearing more of it.

  13. Thank you to everyone for your detailed comments and especially to Prolixic for his review. I particularly enjoyed the view of Stow-on-the-Wold as No.1 son and family used to live nearby and I quite miss that part of England’s green and pleasant land.

    I’m sorry it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I guess that’s par for the course. Exactly 50% of the clues are mentioned in dispatches so I guess I’ve pleased some of the people some of the time. I’m sorry about 3d which is now part of my learning curve and thank you for the indulgences shown with 7d and 13d. The difficulty of my crosswords is however a complete and utter mystery to me as by the time they are published I am beginning to wonder about their worthiness. I guess it’s a familiarity thing.

    Thank you to everyone for their advice about this crossword and of course to BD for making this all possible 😎

    1. And once again I’ve forgotten that with my compiler’s hat on I’m Jaffa. Should I be worried? 😜😂

  14. A puzzle of two halves. It was all pretty tricky but I completed the left hand side without assistance then ground to a halt with several unsolved on the right and had to resort to revealing a few letters to get going again. As usual in retrospect it all seems obvious.
    Quite a few to savour – favourite was 18dn.
    Thanks, Jaffa and Prolixic.

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, that was definitely a tough one for the NTSPP slot!

  16. So much lateral thinking was needed that I almost lost faith in my ability to solve crosswords.
    Gave up in time as my brain was overheating.
    Just noticed that a Radler is published on the same day. I feel another backlog is building up.
    Thanks to Jaffa and to Prolixic for the explanations.

    1. Very sorry to reduce you to such a state. I’m sure a large glass of something suitable will help matters….🍷😋🍷😋

  17. Dear Jaffa (and fellow commentators),
    Since joining the NTSPP community at the start of this year, I have also been working my way back through the NTSPP archive (aka treasure trove). Comments are now closed on earlier puzzles so I want to take the opportunity to thank you (and other setters – and BD, of course) for the legacy of entertainment contained there. I just went past your NTSPP-489, but I do want to single out NTSPP-529, ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, which I particularly enjoyed :smile:

    I still have many hours of fun ahead of me…

    1. Thank you. You are very kind.
      I think the lion’s share of the thanks should however go to BD for creating this wonderful site and the NTSPP offshoot. I can still remember the thrill of being “promoted” from Rookie Corner. This is a wonderful online community which offers excellent advice and comment although I think, since putting my head above the parapet, my skin has had to thicken up a little 😂
      I’m glad you liked NTSPP 529. Most people did but for some it was a bit like Marmite. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend “The Complete Uxbridge English Dictionary (Comprehensively Reviled)”. It is a very chuckleworthy book that is great to dip into. I think most of my crosswords since 529 have had contributions from it. My problem is to remember, amidst the giggles, that I have to make the clue work! I think my “Cannelloni” clue in this last crossword was perhaps pushing it a bit – but it does still makes me laugh 🤣

        1. Thank you. I think the giggles stopped me worrying about where the last letter came from 😆

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