NTSPP 608 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Jaffa

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome welcome back back to to Jaffa Jaffa.

Pressed for time this week having stepped in at short notice to preach at two services, so a bare bones review.


1 E-learner regularly has  two grand for a seasonal treat (6,3)
EASTER EGG – The direction whose abbreviation is E followed by the even letters (regularly) in learner and the abbreviation for grand twice.

6 Puff cigarette (5)
WHIFF– Double definition.

10 My progress report on first primer is laid on thickly (7)
IMPASTO – Split 2,4,1, this is how the letter P (first primer) may describe itself.

11 Reversing Renault has article essential for the Tin Man’s release (6)
OILCAN – Reverse a four-letter name of a model of Renault car and follow with an indefinite article.

12 City car going to and fro (5)
CIVIC – The name of a model of Honda car that is a palindrome (going to and fro).

13 Film partridge? Angry Birds perhaps (5,4)
VIDEO GAME – A five-letter word for a type of film followed by a four-letter word describing the type of bird of which a partridge is an example.

15 Confidante for girl with no inhibitions (4)
AIDE – A six-letter word for a girl without the first and last letters (no inhibitions).

17 Glum comic desperado needs limitless lubricant down under for Riverdance (4,6)
BLUE DANUBE – A four-letter word meaning glum followed by the three-letter name of a separate comic character and an Australian term (down under) for a lubricant without the first letter (limitless).

18 Church censer, said to be found on the dashboard? (3,7)
REV COUNTER – The solution could be someone who acts against a reverend person.

20 Smell, declared by Speaker, to emanate from those in opposition (4)
NOES – A homophone (declared by speaker) of NOSE (smell).

22 Couples in court have final decrees after terminal allocation (9)
TRAMLINES – The last letter (final) of decrees after an anagram (allocation) of TERMINAL.

23 Verse audible from dove employing helium’s comedic effect (5)
HAIKU – A homophone (audible) of HIGH COO (the sound a dove may may if it had inhaled helium).

26 Article following trail of the Khyber Pass tribesman (6)
PATHAN – The indefinite article (again – see 11a) after (following) a four-letter word for a trail.

27 Cheat in golf in a Gleneagles round (7)
FINAGLE – The answer his hidden in third to fifth words of the clue.

28 Aztec burial regularly provides a means of passing over (5)
ZEBRA -The even letters (regularly – again – see 1a) of the first two words of the clue.

29 Eastender and ‘is missus flirt (9)
PHILANDER – The first name of one of the Mitchell brothers from Eastenders followed by the AND from the clue and how a Cockney might describe his wife.


2 Excuse offered when five hundred leave and one joins improvised speech (5)
ALIBI – Remove the Roman numeral for 500 from a five-letter word for improvised speech and add the letter representing one at the end.

3 To drink hard regularly, holding nothing back, will be the main news (7)
TOPLINE – A four-letter word meaning to drink hard on a regular basis includes (holding) a three-letter word meaning nothing reversed (back).

4 Welsh flower or cake? (4)
RUSK – How the River Usk might be abbreviated.

5 Distinguished man held in reserve when the shooting begins (8,7)
GLORIOUS TWELFTH – An eight-letter word meaning distinguished followed by the number of a reserve player.

7 I maybe, find information following good sign (7)
HALOGEN – A three-letter word for information after (following – again – see 26a) the sign of a holy person.

8 Story about hitman in Paris is incendiary (9)
FLAMMABLE – A five-letter word for a story around (about) a three-letter word meaning hit and the abbreviation for Monsieur (man in Paris).

9 Door rates are outrageous to see these horsemen (9)
TOREADORS – An anagram (are outrageous) of DOOR RATES.

12 Orchard infusion? (3)
CHA – The answer is hidden (infusion) in Orchard.

14 Priestly remissions of sins so lacking in cleansing (9)
ABLUTIONS – An eleven-letter word describing priestly remissions of sins without (lacking) the SO from the clue.

16 One, anti-beer, is confusingly drunk (9)
INEBRIATE – The letter representing one (again – see 2d) followed by an anagram (is confusingly) of ANTI-BEER.

19 Organic musty repellent found in transport carrying member to the House (7)
CAMPHOR – A three-letter word for a type of transport includes (carrying) the abbreviations for a member of parliament and for house.

20 Gentian distillation produces drink without mixer (4,3)
NEAT GIN – A anagram (distillation) of GENTIAN.

21 Reportedly prosecute for 0.05F (3)
SOU – A homophone of sue (prosecute).

24 Midland university using energy to trap fish (5)
KEELE – The abbreviation for kinetic energy includes (to trap) a three-letter word for a slippery fish.

25 Rank film, totally uncensored, is quite blue (4)
ANIL – The inner letters (totally uncensored) of the first two words of the clue.

31 comments on “NTSPP 608

  1. I found this quite tricky (possibly because I’m still reeling from the Radler MPP) but very enjoyable with some neat twists.
    I don’t really like ‘first primer’ and ‘final decrees’ to identify a letter and I don’t know the Eastender bit of 29a.
    I really liked 1a, 27a, 5d and 8d.
    Many thanks to Jaffa for the fun.

    1. G, 29a. The first 4 letters of the answer is the name of a long-term character in Eastenders (since 1990, apparently). I don’t watch it myself.

  2. I don’t normally have time on a Saturday to look at these, but today I do. This was a fine puzzle with good clues providing an enjoyable solve. There’s one or two bits of parsing I haven’t yet fully sussed out but hopefully they will be discussed in the comments. I was wondering about 17a – is “down under” essential?

    1. The word being shortened is listed in the BRB as North American or Australian hence the “down under”. I thought it also added something to the image being portrayed. I definitely need lubrication to help me dance although it is most likely to have an alcoholic content rather than being a petroleum based product 😂

      1. Yes, thanks Jaffa, I see what you mean. That Tin Man at 11a would definitely need some to help him dance! With reference to the lubricant, I wasn’t quite sure if “down under” did mean Oz or some unmentionable product for the “nether regions”. Not a petroleum product, but a petroleum jelly type product (if you get my drift)!

        1. I can in all honesty say that this interpretation of the clue had not occurred to me. I must have led a very innocent life 😂

  3. Got there eventually but not without a fair few ‘if-but-maybes’ along the way.
    Top two for me were 27&29a.

    Thanks to Jaffa for the brain exercise.

  4. Somewhat of a struggle but I got there in the end! Favourites were 7d, 1a and 27a. 18a brought a wry smile when the penny dropped. Last in was 4d even though I had 2 of the 4 letters. Needed trial and error to eventually tease out the answer – the ‘flower’ construction was rather devious and something I hadn’t come across before. I made a start on the MPP this morning but after this workout I think I’ll leave it aside until tomorrow (except it may take more than just another day!). You can have too much of a good thing… :wacko:
    Thanks, Jaffa!

  5. Like Gazza, I found this quite, almost very, tricky but, in my case it was before tackling the MPP!

    And, I agree with Jane on the ‘if-but-maybes’ as towards the end I was left with some ‘have to bes’ that I used the Reveal button on and I am still left with a few Hmms.

    Thanks Jaffa but not a lot of fun for me and thanks in advance to Prolixic(?).

  6. I came to this late. Parts were very tough and I still have a handful of answers unparsed. I thought it was a curate’s egg for enjoyment, with ticks and hmms in almost equal measure. My repetition radar bleeped for “regularly” being used in the same way in 1a & 28a. (I see it also put in an appearance in 3d but as that is one of the clues I can’t parse I can’t tell if that is a further repetition although I suspect not).

    With a lot of wordy clues in evidence, my favourite was the short and sweet 29a.

    Thanks to Jaffa.

    1. In 3d you need a verb meaning ‘to drink hard regularly’ containing the reversal of a synonym for nothing.

  7. Really enjoyed this one though it took me 2 stabs at it to nearly finish unaided. 13a was my undoing & finally revealed the 3rd letter of the first word for the penny to drop – never heard of the product but my knowledge doesn’t extend much beyond Lara Croft & that hedgehog. Am unable to parse 1a beyond the two grand bit & 4d was a right head scratch for 2 letters.
    27a predictably my favourite but big ticks for a number of others- 11,17&29a plus 2,5,7,8,14&16d all good ‘ins in my book.
    Many thanks Jaffa.
    Ps Ruth & Jose weren’t alone in their thoughts re 17a

    1. For 1a you need to spell out the direction E, then the even letters of learner plus the 2 grand.
      I found 13a a real annoyance, as I couldn’t fit ‘computer’ into 5 letters! I’d heard of Angry Birds, but the term required for the answer did not come immediately to mind, and I needed to reveal the first letter to realise what it was. 6a was the other I had to use a reveal for, and I’m old enough to remember the Wills variety in packs of 10, so I should have got it unaided! Otherwise I found it a reasonably straightforward solve, though I had to go through more than once; some clues didn’t come immediately.

      1. Ruth, your mention of ‘the Wills variety’ in regard to 6a has made me look again at my answer – which was based on steam trains and a word apparently favoured by aficionados of e-cigarettes and spliffs! Oh, well…

        1. That was my thinking also. Park Drive, Players Navy Cut & Capstan Full Strength as far back as I go…..

          1. Woodbine, Senior Service, Consulate. Not that I’ve ever been a smoker – I just remember my parents and relatives sending me to the shop to do bits of shopping.

      2. It never occurred to me to spell out the direction. No wonder I could make head nor tail of it.

  8. Thank you for all the comments. Is there a Marmite Award for Crossword Compilation? I seem to be a strong contender 😂
    RD, as I suspected he would, spotted my repetition faux pas with 1a and 28a. The clue for 28a was a fairly late substitution and I realised my mistake a couple of hours before the NTSPP was published. Pretty sloppy of me really especially as ” ignoring the odds” would have worked quite well in 1a. As for wordy clues, I was sad enough last night to take time to do a word count. The average length of clue is approximately 7.5 words long , compared to our Thursday maestro coming in at 5.5 words long on his last outing. Room for improvement I guess but I do distinctly remember my first Rookie Corner puzzle had a 15 word clue so I guess there has been some progress. 😆

  9. Got there in the end but I will need the review to fully parse my answers. No particular favourites but 27a stands out as I just like the sound of the word. Thanks Jaffa & our reviewer.

  10. thanks Jaffa! I (not pun intended) really liked how well the definition in 7d was hidden. OTOH, while I understand how 18d works, I think the answer must be a Britishism (?) and the homophone was odd. At least to me. 23a took some lateral thinking but was worth the effort.

    But overall, quite enjoyable.

    1. Thank you for the comments Ilan. I agree the homophone in 18d was “odd”. I included the homophone indicator to differentiate between the -er and -or endings of cens(er/or) wondering at the time “is this necessary?” but knowing that if I didn’t it would be commented on. When you add regional variations to the mix homophones become a bit of a minefield. Why do we do it? Well they are often quite fun so I guess we’ll persevere with them 😎

  11. Thank you Prolixic for your review which was as insightful as ever. I seem to be both the Marmite and repetition king in this one. It’s no excuse but three of the four sins of repetition resulted from eleventh hour changes to clues. One lives and hopefully one learns – is that also repetition?
    Thank you to everyone for taking time to comment and to those who gave advice and especially to BD for making this all possible.

  12. Thanks for the review, Prolixic, which dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s for me on 10a and 18a! I had wondered why “I’m past zero” was considered such progress, and also whether a “Church censer” was someone who might perform a census count on clergymen :scratch:
    Perhaps my earlier efforts on the MPP had (R)addled my brain!

  13. Thanks Jaffa
    A difficult puzzle that I gave up on yesterday and came back to today. Needed the hints for a few clues but eventually got there.
    However, even after revealing the answer, I do not understand 21d. I have put both the answer and the definition into Google but this hasn’t helped

    1. Hi, JoSelecta. The F in the clue is, in this instance, the French franc. There were 20 sou in a franc, hence 0.05F. Sou is also a homophone (reportedly) for sue (prosecute).

      1. Thanks Spartacus
        I would never have worked the out for myself, but it will go into the memory bank for future crosswords

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I certainly needed it to sort out a couple of bits of parsing!

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