NTSPP 614 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Acnestis

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Acnestis.  With the possible exception of 1d, a lovely crossword to solve on a Saturday afternoon, not too difficult and smoothly put together.


8 Agree to a very quiet stroll (7)
APPROVE – The A from the clue followed by the musical abbreviation for very quiet and a four-letter word meaning to stroll.

9 Find some of you near theatre (7)
UNEARTH – The answer is hidden (some of) in the final three words of the clue.

11 Boy with catapult bored by excursion (9)
STRIPLING – A five-letter word for a catapult includes (bored by) a four-letter word for an excursion.

12 Capital Charlie invested in firm (5)
SUCRE – The letter represented by Charlie in the NATO alphabet in a four-letter word meaning firm or certain.

13 Quentin Tarantino initially said she’s attractive (5)
CUTIE – A homophone (said) of QT (the initial letters of Quentin Tarantino).

15 Shackled outside, grand king becomes vexed (9)
CHAGRINED – A seven-letter word meaning shackled around the abbreviations for grand and king.

16 Jean’s so lost in US city (3,4)
SAN JOSE – An anagram (lost) of JEANS SO.

17 Prison with bandit (7)
BRIGAND – A four-letter word for a prison followed by a three-letter word meaning with.

19 Shabby hotel bar hosts tense engagement (9)
BETROTHAL – An anagram (shabby) of HOTEL BAR includes (hosts) the abbreviation for tense.

21 Stops scratching head and becomes more relaxed (5)
EASES – A six-letter word meaning stops without the initial letter (scratching head).

22 Religious teacher, almost fanatical, hugs bishop (5)
RABBI – A five-letter word meaning fanatical without the final letter (almost) includes (hugs) the abbreviation for bishop.

23 Terminate visit, making narrow escape (5,4)
CLOSE CALL – A five-letter word meaning terminate followed by a four-letter word meaning visit.

25 I cry out loud finding object in orbit (7)
EYEBALL – A homophone (out loud) if I BAWL (cry).

26 Student avoids sort of tropical fruit (7)
APRICOT – An anagram (sort) of TROPICAL without (avoids) the abbreviation for student.


1 Cushions can keep feet warm? (8)
HASSOCKS – Split 3,5, the means the owner possesses something to keep the feet warm.  This does not quite work as a clue for me.

2 Upset a Belgian potter’s patient supporter (9,5)

3 TV drama is very suitable, barring finale (4)
SOAP – A two-letter word meaning very followed by a three-letter word meaning suitable without the final letter (barring finale).

4 Average doctor bandages old soldiers (8)
MEDIOCRE – A five-letter word for a doctor around (bandages) the abbreviation for old followed by the abbreviation for Royal Engineers (soldiers).

5 Question adult about a horse, one that’s extinct (6)
QUAGGA – A two-letter abbreviation for question and the abbreviation for adult around the A from the clue and a two-letter abbreviation for a horse.

6 Problem with corruption in China (3,7)
TEA SERVICE – A six-letter word for a problem followed by a four-letter word for corruption or sin.

7 Don’t talk about wife with daughter — that’s canny (6)
SHREWD – A two-letter word meaning don’t talk followed by a two-letter word meaning about and the abbreviations for wife and daughter.

10 Survey right-winger inspired by revival (14)
RECONNAISSANCE – The abbreviation for conservative (right-winger) inside inspired by an eleven-letter word for revival.

14 Thrifty European has funny clothing on (10)
ECONOMICAL – The abbreviation for European followed by a seven-letter word meaning funny around (clothing) the ON from the clue.

17 Dog goes round high-minded royals’ residence (8)
BALMORAL – A reversal (goes around) of a three-letter word for a type of dog followed by a five-letter word meaning high-minded.

18 Sad to see lad suffering (8)
DESOLATE – An anagram (suffering) of TO SEE LAD.

19 Fellow with terrible shock might seek this person’s services? (6)
BARBER – Cryptic definition for someone with bad hair (terrible shock) would need to say.

20 I’m surprised the French Taunter does this? (6)
HECKLE – A four-letter word meaning I’m surprised followed by the French masculine singular for the.

24 Aristocrat is almost naked (4)
EARL – A six-letter word meaning almost without the outer letters (naked).

29 comments on “NTSPP 614

  1. The crossword should now be accessible. For some reason, the page did not publish correctly at midday.

  2. Thanks Acnestis, a very enjoyable puzzle. Nothing too tricky, except 12a unfamiliar and perhaps needing a further indicator? (17a arguably needing a US indicator too?) Favourite from a crowded field: 6d.
    Lots of fun, many thanks again – and in advance to reviewer

  3. As with every Acnestis puzzle we have seen on this site, this was a joy to solve with clueing that was accurate, brief, and imaginative. Super-smooth surfaces were the icing on the cake for me.

    I was delighted to find a reference to Monty Python, which was a bit of a surprise coming from a 19 (20?) year-old New Zealander! For those who don’t know it:

    I didn’t know 12a and was surprised to find from my BRB that 15a could be used as a verb. I’m not convinced that 1d quite works and I think it’s a moot point whether or not 5d is a horse. Perhaps replacing “one that’s extinct” by “or an extinct zebra” would have avoided this.

    My page is littered with ticks. Perm any three clues from about 20 for a podium choice.

    Many thanks, Acnestis. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to the reviewer.

    1. Hi RD, I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed the puzzle. I’m actually a big Monty Python fan and was very happy when I spotted an opportunity to reference them. (Btw, I’m 21 now, which means it’s been quite over a year since my first Rookie appearance. Time does fly!).
      Re 5d, I hadn’t intended ‘one that’s extinct’ to refer to the word ‘horse’ preceding it, though I appreciate it could be interpreted like that, so I probably should have reworked it.

      1. I interpreted the “one” as referring to the horse, too, but had no problem with this -BRB has horse as “any member of the genus Equus” – which Equus quagga certainly was!

  4. Thanks Acnestis and thanks to Prolixic for making the puzzle ‘accessible’ and, presumably, in advance for the review.

    An entertaining puzzle, no caffeine required.

    I really liked 17a, although I agree with Fez that a US indicator is probably needed,’ and 7d – it’s not often we see a four part charade in 6 letters.

    I have assumed that 3d is a generic term rather than a particular TV drama.

    Thanks again.

    1. Yes, for 3d you need a phrase (2,3) that means very suitable and remove the last letter (barring finale)

  5. just right for an NTSPP for me.
    5 7 and 17d were on my podium today.
    I will pop back after the review to check a couple of parsings but thanks for the diversion.
    I note that Acnestis is an anagram of CINEASTS and SCANTIES I hope that Acnestis is a film buff rather than a collector of unmentionables!

  6. Thought this was perhaps a little easier than our setter’s debut in the NTSPP slot but it bore all his trademarks of excellent clueing and smooth surface reads.
    Almost impossible to play favourites, some on the list of candidates would be 11a plus 1,6&14d.

    Many thanks to Acnestis for a most enjoyable solve.

  7. I really enjoyed this. I couldn’t quite parse 9A & 13A so I will read tomorrow’s review with interest.

    My favourites were 6D, 7D and 24D.

    Many thanks

    1. 9a is what my father always called a ‘follow-on’, but I think is known in this circle as a ‘hidden in view’.
      13a, if you say the answer out loud, you hear the initials of the film director named. (or vice versa – if you say his initials you hear the answer)

  8. This went very straightforwardly for me, and I didn’t need any reveals, though I had several false starts for 12a – Cairo and Accra, both of which I could ‘make’ fit the clue, were each disproved when I hit the ‘check’ button. But once I got to the down clues and had all the checking letters, I remembered hearing about the place.
    1d was the last one in, and I agree the surface is perhaps less smooth than most of the rest.

    Many thanks, Acnestis

    1. Thanks Ruth you’ve set me on right lines re 12a – Chambers has it as Ecuadorian “capital” which I thought a little obscure, rather than the Bolivian “capital” (which still was a little obscure to me, but fairer without any further indicator). Both are apparently named after the great marshal of the Battle of Ayacucho (December 9, 1824) – thanks Wikipedia!

  9. Thoroughly enjoyable with the Goldilocks amount of difficulty to keep us on our toes.
    Lots of ticks on our pages.
    Many thanks and well done Acnestis

  10. Excellent puzzle. Not particularly difficult but delightfully clued throughout. Never heard of the extinct critter but the wordplay made it gettable. Way better than today’s SSP in my view.
    Many thanks Acnestis.

  11. 4d this was certainly not, for me one of the best NTSPPs for quite a while with clunk free surface reads and very clever and smile inducing clueing throughout.
    11&13a plus 6,7,20&24d particularly appealed but could have mentioned several more. Great stuff Acnestis, many thanks.

  12. Late to this NTSPP after a day filled with rousing rugby and enjoyable birthday celebrations – what’s not to like! And this puzzle was definitely ‘to like’ (especially when accompanied by coffee and an aged cognac) – a perfect end to the day. All of my front-runners were found amongst the down clues – 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 14 and 24. Some neat surfaces along with artful wordplay. 12a needed some thinking through before hitting on the most likely answer – confirmed as correct by my dictionary but previously unknown to me. Great fun, Acnestis, thank you!

  13. Many thanks everyone for the comments so far. I tried to pitch this puzzle quite a bit easier than any others I’ve set, and I’m pleased that people seem to have enjoyed it.
    As always, a huge thank you to BD for publishing the puzzle, and in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  14. Not for the first time I’m late with my comment. I really enjoyed this puzzle with its very accurate clueing and smooth surfaces. Thanks to Acnestis.
    The clues on my podium are 25a, 6d and 24d.

  15. Most enjoyable however I admit I was beaten by 12a, 6d & 15 across. Also I have several clues circled which I can’t fully parse so will have to wait for the review. Interim I now have to go & jump start my son’s car – it’s also an excuse to see the grand kids.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Sorry that you didn’t like 1d – it was one of my favourite clues!

  17. Very late to do the crossword as we were away. Really enjoyed it today. Many thanks Acnestis. We look forward to your next one.

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