NTSPP 620 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Gifted by Phibs

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by crypticsue follows:

Phibs usually produces a slightly trickier post-Saturday lunchtime puzzle to solve and I found this one more difficult than usual. Whether that was because I was solving it after Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, accompanied by a very nice locally-produced Chartham Vineyard Pinot de Noir sparkling rosé, I really wouldn’t like to say!

As the heading of the puzzle indicates, the numbers in the clue provide a seasonal reference and, if you didn’t know the song in question before you started, you certainly will when you’ve finished.


1 Model posing close to turtle 2 (7)
PIGEONS An anagram (model) of POSING and the ‘close’ to turtle produce the birds, two of which were given by “my true love”

5 Drumming 12 initially omitted from band I get playing (7)
BEATING An anagram (playing) of BANd I GET without the initial letter of the people who numbered 12 in the song

9 Surprise – online retailer delivering on schedule at last (5)
AMAZE An online retailer without (delivering) ON, the last letter of schedulE being added

10 Touching Nativity scene by third-rate artist (9)
CONSTABLE A preposition meaning touching, and the building (scene) where the Nativity took place go after (by) the letter indicating something is third-rate

11 Adjust wheels before time trial (4)
TEST A synonym for adjust reverses (wheels) before the abbreviation for Time

12 Bemused nobles are largely ignoring first pair of leaping 10 (6)
BARONS An anagram (bemused of NOBleS (ignoring the first two letters of leaping) and Are (largely telling you to ignore the E

13 Social event runs out of ale (3)
BEE Remove the cricket abbreviation for Runs from some ale

15 With leader of ramblers departing, make certain to follow (5)
ENSURE The ‘leader’ of Ramblers departing a way of saying make certain

16 Colourless drink one’s introduced to India (7)
INSIPID A verb meaning to drink and the letter meaning one ‘introduced’ to the IVR Code for India

19 Times leaving D. Mail’s rival desolate (7)
DEPRESS Desolate here being a verb – take a rival newspaper of the D.Mail and remove the letter used in multiplication sums to mean ‘times’

20 Dancing 9 almost perfect (5)
IDEAL An anagram (dancing) of almost all of the people dancing in the song

23 Something taken from laying 6, round? (3)
EGG Write out the words laying and the birds of which there were 6 in the song – the solution is hidden in reverse (round) in the middle

24 Zoom wobble: meet without me (6)
ROCKET A verb meaning to wobble and meET (from the clue) without the ME

26 Fixed fire alarm following evacuation of centre (4)
FIRM Merge the words FIRE ALARM and then ‘evacuate’ the letters in the centre

28 Terrible to-do – I was hugging Newton’s tree (9)
SATINWOOD An anagram (terrible) of TO DO I WAS ‘hugging’ the symbol for the SI Unit of Force (Newton)

29 A newly-wed wanting rector to suffer (5)
ABIDE A from the clue and a newly-wed without (wanting) the abbreviation for Rector

30 Attracts swallows and French 3 (7)
PULLETS These birds (3 in the song) are obtained by inserting the French word for ‘and’ into part of a verb meaning ‘attracts’

31 Lies about parties (7)
RESIDES The usual two-letter ‘about’ and some parties or factions


1 Cover for 1 a beater hears regularly stirring? (4,4)
PEAR TREE The ‘cover’ or outside letters of the bird that was the first of the gifts, A (from the clue) and an anagram (stirring) of the regular letters of bEaTeR hEaRs

2 They could hold pop back from milking 8 (7)
GLASSES The ‘back’ from milkinG and some young ladies, 8 of whom were gifted in the song

3 Left wrapping on vintage gold 5 (4)
OVER The heraldic symbol for gold ‘wrapping’ the wrapping or outside letters of VintagE

4 Mass arrests over US spies left to consort with others (9)
SOCIALIZE A quantity (mass) ‘arrests’ the [cricket] abbreviation for Over, the US Spies, and the abbreviation for Left

5 British try drinking during game (5)
BINGO The abbreviation for British and a verb meaning to try into which is inserted (drinking) a preposition meaning during

6 Lacking emotion? One summons it up when embracing prince (10)
ANTISEPTIC In addition to the usual definition, this solution can also mean emotionless and bland. An indefinite article (one) and a reversal (up) of a way of saying summons and IT (from the clue), all ’embracing’ the abbreviation for Prince

7 Big Dave announces himself thus – I stay inside, drunk (7)
IMBIBED The way Big Dave might announce himself, into which in inserted (inside) I (from the clue) and a verb meaning to stay

8 Fancy love’s bypassed old man (6)
GEEZER An interjection meaning fancy [that] and the number represented by love without (bypassed) the abbreviation for Old

14 Dream about English Prime Minister upset with European restraint (10)
TEMPERANCE A dream goes ‘about’ a reversal (upset) of the abbreviations for English, Prime Minister and European

17 Suspect priest’s consumed last butt of wine – I keep stocking up (9)
SUSPENDER An abbreviated suspect followed by an abbreviated priest into which is inserted (consumed) a synonym for last and the ‘butt’ of winE

18 They install piping 11 drained, including useless odds and ends (8)
PLUMBERS Drain or remove the insides from the 11 people in the song and replace with (include) some useless odds and ends

19 Like PCs to call round offering shot of felon’s face (7)
DIGITAL A verb meaning to call (using a telephone perhaps) goes round an offering without (short of) the first letter (face) of Felon

21 Condition I caught in England on vacation (more than once) improved (7)
EDIFIED A conjunction meaning on condition that and I (from the clue) inserted (caught) in two (more than once) lots of the outside letters (on vacation) of EnglanD

22 Phibs given something in Boots reversing confusion (4-2)
MESS UP How Phibs would refer to himself followed by a reversal of a pantomime character known for his Boots

25 Arguments supporting introduction of calling 4 (5)
CROWS Arguments ‘supporting’ or going after in a Down solution the ‘introduction’ of Calling

27 Swimming 7 avoiding Navy cutters (4)
SAWS An anagram (swimming) of the gifted 7 without (avoiding) the abbreviation for Navy

Thanks and Seasons Greetings to Phibs – I look forward to solving and reviewing more of your crosswords in 2022

14 comments on “NTSPP 620

  1. Thank you for the seasonal gifts, Phibs, turns out that I wasn’t quite as word perfect as I thought!
    Very cleverly designed, as are all your BD offerings. Ear worm now well and truly lodged…………

  2. Phanks Phibs. Very enjoyable. There did seem to be some lateral thinking required or perhaps I was a little ‘heavy handed’ with the single malt last night.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to CS(?) for the review.

  3. Very cleverly constructed puzzle and very enjoyable. I did look up to the song lyrics as I probably only know the partridge and the leaping Lords!
    I particularly liked 11&24a plus 22&27d but my favourite once I’d parsed it was the brilliant 19d.
    Many thanks and season’s greetings to Phibs and in advance to CS.

  4. We thought that the theme was used very cleverly and even sneakily in places which led to a really good fun solve for us.
    Thanks Phibs.

  5. Many thanks Phibs, lots of fun with a cleverly worked theme. Glad you included ‘hints’ for each of the thematic numbers in the clues (swimming, leaping ,etc) or it might have taken quite a bit longer! Of the non-themers, favourite clues were 13a and 8d for their superb surfaces; also, 19d for the penny-drop when finally parsing!
    Thanks again Phibs and in advance to reviewer – and Happy Christmas to all!

  6. Thank you for the challenge, Phibs. We weren’t quite so ‘Gifted’ as your crossword and had to reveal letters to help find the answers. Thank you also to CS for some explanations that passed us by!

  7. Great stuff – thanks Phibs.
    I have lots of ticks including 19a, 2d, 7d, 8d, 17d and 19d.

    I’ve now read CS’s review – thanks to her for that. I parsed 3d a bit differently – I think 5 is the containment indicator with our usual gold tincture containing the outer letters of vintage.

  8. Many thanks for review CS, and super illustrations. There was some tricky parsing there … though I expect this may have also provided a nice warm-up to Elgar’s double toughie? (Unfortunately I don’t have access to that but will look forward to ‘reverse-engineering’ from the review)
    Fir 3d I had the “wrapping on” VintagE which a usual 2-letter abbreviation for “gold” encloses (“rings”)
    Thanks again Phibs for a fine puzzle!

    1. But would you have seen that if you’d been solving this crossword having spent the morning with Elgar while cooking and then enjoying Christmas lunch??

      1. I expect if I’d spent the morning with Elgar I’d have continued into the afternoon, burnt the lunch, and still be here struggling with that!

  9. This was the usual fun challenge from Phibs, who always displays an intriguingly different style.

    I parsed 3d like Gazza.

    There were too many excellent clues from which to try to pick a favourite.

    Many thanks to Phibs and to CS.

  10. A Christmas cracker from Phibs, with the ‘seasonal reference’ cleverly woven into the puzzle. I had as many ticks as there are pipers! 11, 12, 19a, 30, 2, 3, 7, 8, 19d, 21 & 22 – being spoiled for choice I can’t decide on a favourite. 6, 8 & 19d took a bit of unravelling, but I overlooked the correct parsing of 23 – thanks to CS for that!
    Thank you for the fun, Phibs. Now, back to Elgar…

  11. Many thanks for the review, CS. Goodness knows how you manage to cram so much into your days!
    Also thanks again to Phibs for a truly seasonal ‘gift’.

  12. My thanks to CS for the review, and to everyone who has commented on the puzzle – I’m very glad that it seems to have been generally enjoyed. I can see that it was quite tricky in places, and I hope that the ’12 days’ clues didn’t give solvers who were less than familiar with the song too much trouble.

    I wish all of you the comps of the season and good things in 2022 :good:

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