NTSPP 596 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Exit

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows:

A classic example of a very well composed crossword from Exit this week that shows that a highly enjoyable crossword does not have to be complex.


8 Very backward old woman accepts iodine for a metal (6)
OSMIUM – Reverse (backward) a two-letter word meaning very and follow with a three-letter word for an old woman (any young mums should e-mail complaints direct to Exit) that includes (accepts) the chemical symbol for iodine.

9 Unseat tenor he’d recast (8)
DETHRONE – An anagram (recast) of TENOR HED.

11 “Happy-clappy? Could be a sham!” – critic (11)
CHARISMATIC – An anagram (could be) of A SHAM CRITIC.

12 Weed Drake’s bowling green? (3)
HOE – Double definition of a gardening activity and where Drake played bowls.

13 Admiration of bizarre spectacles (7)
RESPECT – The answer is hidden in (of) the final two words of the clue.

14 Best ship – or some of its canvas? (7)
TOPSAIL – Split 3, 4, this might imply the best ship.

16 ‘Cider tin’ not an acceptable clue? (8,7)
INDIRECT ANAGRAM – A reverse anagram clue to a form of anagram that setters should not use.  The solution, followed by an anagram indicator would result in the solution CIDER TIN.

20 Educated girl follows mother beginning to learn about wedlock (7)
MARITAL – The name of the girl in the film Educating ???? After (follows) a two-letter word meaning month with the resulting letters followed by the first letter (beginning to) of learn.

22 An exquisite morsel for a savoury snack (7)
RAREBIT -A four-letter word meaning exquisite followed by a three-letter word meaning a morsel.

24 Tamper with phone, withholding number (3)
RIG – A four-letter word meaning phone without (withholding) the abbreviation for any number.

26 The corner Orlando Bloom finally set up for clock (11)
CHRONOMETER – An anagram (set up) of THE CORNER O M (Orlando Bloom finally).

27 Sailor despatched to seek, essentially, for missing person (8)
ABSENTEE – The abbreviation for able seaman (sailor) followed by a four-letter word meaning dispatched and the central letters (essentially) of seek.

28 Puts foot in resin?  On the contrary! (6)
PLACES – A three-letter word meaning resin inside a three-letter word meaning foot.


1 Squeeze-box missing? Not applicable for The Four Seasons perhaps (8)
CONCERTI – A ten-letter for a squeeze-box without (missing) the abbreviation for not applicable.

2 Fool acquires managerial qualification to love short envoy (10)
AMBASSADOR – A three-letter word for a fool around (acquires) a three letter abbreviation for Master of Business Administration followed by a five-letter word meaning love without the final letter (short).

3 Setters up tree, lying down (6)
SUPINE – A two-letter meaning setters of crosswords collectively reversed (up) followed by a four-letter word for a tree.

4 Something to do with an egg? Get away! (4,2)
BEAT IT – Double definition for something you might do to an egg before cooking with it and a phrase meaning get away.

5 Pick each wonky vegetable (8)
CHICKPEA – An anagram (wonky) of PICK EACH.

6 Offensive weapon in disco? Shame! (4)
COSH – The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue.

7 Disturbed, Simon abandons ceremonials in Rye (6)
CEREAL – Remove the rearranged (disturbed) letters in Simon for ceremonials.

10 Quote writer recalled: “it’s sickening” (6)
EMETIC – A four-letter word means quote and a two-letter word meaning the writer all reversed (recalled).

15 Juggling: endless action with Barsac for circus act? (10)
ACROBATICS – An anagram (juggling) of ACTIO (endless action) BARSA (endless Barsac)

17 Secretive about explosive packaging for diamonds (8)
RETICENT – A two-letter word meaning about followed by a three-letter abbreviation for an explosive around (packaging for) a three-letter word for diamonds.

18 Utter “soldier” after arrival (6)
ARRANT – A three-letter abbreviation for a arrival followed by a three-letter word for a soldier insect.

19 One driving round hill in poor visibility (8)
MOTORIST – The letter that is round and a three-letter word for a hill all inside a four-letter word for conditions for poor visibility.

20 Take in test with argon for building material (6)
MORTAR – The abbreviation for take inside a three-letter word for a vehicle test all followed by the chemical symbol for Argon.

21 “He lieth in wait” – first of readings in Gospel, say, by Romeo (6)
LURKER – The first letter of readings inside the name of one of the gospels followed by the letter represented by Romeo.

23 Low humming and strange bleeps – not half! (6)
RUMBLE – A three-letter word meaning strange followed by half of the word bleeps.

25 Doctor swallows arsenic – sharp intake of breath! (4)
GASP – A two-letter abbreviation for doctor includes (swallows) the chemical symbol for Arsenic.

28 comments on “NTSPP 596

  1. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Exit.
    I liked 12a and 3d but my favourite was the excellent and innovative 16a.

  2. The perfect lunchtime solve (although eating lunch did take longer than solving the crossword!)

    A most enjoyable crossword – much better than the DT’s offering today- thank you Exit – my favourite was 16a

  3. That was fun with no caffeine required on my Saturday morning.

    I really liked 1d, 17d, and 21d.

    Thanks Exit and in advance to Prolixic(?).

  4. Thanks Exit, very enjoyable. Favourites were 1d and 16a/21d (thought I’d spotted a theme there early on)
    Thanks again!

  5. Very enjoyable with many good clues to like. My particular favourite was 16a.

    Many thanks, Exit. I look forward to more of your offerings.

  6. Very enjoyable. Yet again the NTSPP slot beats the DT puzzle hands down. 16a the pick of the bunch for me but big ticks also for 8,20,&26a plus 1,2,17,18,19&21d.
    Thanks Exit

  7. Just right for the NTSPP slot – nice combination of the ‘not too challenging’ plus the odd head scratcher all laced with a touch of humour.
    I’ll go with the flow and nominate 16a for the top slot and I also awarded ticks to 12&20a plus 17&19d.

    Many thanks to Exit for the enjoyment.

  8. Much 13a for putting this together Exit, very enjoyable offering, which for me was about the perfect level of difficulty for the NTSPP. Some nice misdirection I thought, some of it coming from clever use of punctuation.
    I liked almost too many to single out but I’ll try. 12,16,22(crosswordland’s favourite snack it seems!)&24a plus 1,3,7,10&23d.

    Many thanks and to CS? in advance.

  9. 16a clever indeed. Don’t think I’ve seen that device used before. I have a question about 21d but I’ll wait until the review is published.

  10. Thanks Exit. Some lovely clues, really liked 21d, so I will be interested to see the comments about it.

  11. Many thanks Exit for a really enjoyable puzzle on this murky day in E. Sussex. . Hope to see another crossword from you soon. Thanks in advance to Prolixic/CS.

  12. An absolute pleasure to solve with the star of the show being 16a. This must be the only way that a setter can get away with one of these.
    Thanks Exit.

  13. Thank you to everyone for your encouraging comments. Thank you too in advance to Prolixic for the review which I await with interest. And, in case anyone’s wondering, there was no ghost theme this time

  14. Thanks Exit I really enjoyed doing this. I usually solve crosswords in the newspapers so it was really thrilling to get an e message telling me that I’d solved it correctly. Didn’t manage it all on my own and will admit to using the reveal button a couple of times.

  15. Thank you Exit. A bit late to the party so most of my thoughts have been written by others already but I do think that 16a deserves yet another endorsement – and it is conveniently 15 letters long! A very enjoyable exercise.

  16. I thought this was excellent – a lot of fun with 16a the outstanding clue.

    Unless Exit is more than one person (which I doubt), I don’t think 3d works, and, although I have found it in Collins in a religious context, I would never have dreamt of equating “happy-clappy” with 11a.

    Many thanks to Exit and in advance to Prolixic(?).

      1. I wondered if it was a typo – “setter’s” (with apostrophe) would have worked, with us = me (informal) and I think a better surface.

    1. RD, this is how I see it but I’m only surmising:

      3d. I think he’s referring to the group of people to which he belongs, the setters. As in Us (the setters) v Them (the solvers).

      11a. I’m guessing that the setter is suggesting that “happy-clappy” and the answer can both mean inspirational/inspiring.

      But I have been known to be wrong before …

  17. I can only echo the above comments. A pleasure from start to
    finish. More of the same please.

  18. Had a real battle with some Toughies from 2018 this week so this puzzle provided welcome relief. Perfectly pitched to fit into a busy weekend. 16a stood out, and I also liked 22a and 19d. My thanks to Exit and, in advance, our reviewer.

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment expressed in your preamble.
    By the way, your typo in the answer for 20a made me laugh!

  20. Thanks, Prolixic, for the positive review. You’ve explained the working of 3d very neatly and your advice to young mums about 8ac elicited a chuckle.
    In 11ac I’ve taken ‘happy-clappy’ as referring to any demonstratively enthusiastic style of worship – ‘usually derogatively’ as the BRB puts it.
    A couple of minor points: in 20ac the two-letter abbreviation is that for ‘mother’ and in 15dn ‘endless’ refers to removing both ‘ends’ of ‘action’ giving ‘ctio’.
    And thanks again to all commenters and to BD

  21. Very late to the party but I saw the positive feedback abd decided i should give it a crack. I wasn’t disappointed.
    A really enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks, Exit.
    16a is my favourite and I see am not alone in that!
    I am probably being stupid, but in 20d, why is R an an abbreviation for “take”, please?

    1. Shabbo, this confused me too when I first came across it in crosswords.

      R is the abbreviation for “recipe”.

      “Recipere” is the Latin word for “to take” and “recipe!” is the imperative form which is used as an instruction “take!” The French and English words “recipe” are derived from this, e.g.: take two eggs …

      1. Perhaps a better known (?) usage of R for ‘recipere’ may be in the context of prescribed medications, where the abbreviation R may be written ℞ (the ‘leg’ of the R crossed to indicate abbreviation) or sometimes Rx.

        1. Thanks, both. Very helpful. I’ll try to remember that, but no guarantees, of course!

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