NTSPP 625 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Happy Birthday by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Had we been able to meet at The Bridge House then this puzzle would have been distributed to attendees.

This year it is only available here.

Next year?  Who knows?


A review by crypticsue follows:

A crossword from Prolixic to celebrate the Blog’s 13th Birthday – doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself? Congratulations to Big Dave on the milestone achievement and thanks, once again, to Prolixic

There was a very helpful NINA around the perimeter of the grid – starting with the first letter of 9a and working in an anti-clockwise direction BAKER’S DOZEN TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA 


8 Gautama‘s American friend died in this year (6)
BUDDHA An American friend, the abbreviation for Died and an abbreviated Latin term for in this year

9 Last item on the agenda’s about snake (3)
BOA A reversal (about) of the last item on any agenda

10 Extreme pain‘s grating (4)
RACK Extreme pain or a grating

11 Promoted desired VAT reforms (10)
ADVERTISED An anagram (reforms) of DESIRED VAT

12 Struggle to defend cocaine habit (4)
VICE A synonym for struggle to ‘defend’ the abbreviation for Cocaine

13 Decisive moment when state invades Greek island (6)
KAIROS A verb meaning to state ‘invades’ a Greek island

16 Amphibian has to walk nursing broken toe (4,4)
TREE TOAD A verb meaning to walk ‘nursing’ an anagram (broken) of TOE

17 Record island’s poem as part of series (7)
EPISODE A type of record, an abbreviated Island (don’t forget the ‘S) and a poem

18 Stories originally invented about the Spanish rock singer (7)
LORELEI Stories and the original letter of Invented go about the Spanish definite article

22 Sports equipment seen in rows we hear (8)
RACQUETS A homophone (we hear) of some noisy rows

25 Celebration one’s held in part of Whyteleafe station (6)
FIESTA I (one) held in part of whyteleaFE STAtion

26 History of Shanghai’s regularly overlooked (4)
SAGA Overlook or ignore the even (regular) letters of ShAnGhAi

27 Main runway? (6,4)
FLIGHT DECK A cryptic definition of a runway on an aircraft carrier

30 Liquid I located to make this cola (4)
DIET A compound anagram (liquid) of I LOCATED gives you COLA and the word describing a particular type of it

31 Runner very loudly leaves boat (3)
SKI The musical instruction to play very loudly ‘leaves’ a small light boat

32 Oscar wants eggs (6)
OVOIDS The NATO Phonetic Alphabet letter represented by Oscar and some wants or strongly-felt emotional lacks


1 Old Glaswegian thief drops off pot right away (4)
AULD Take a large pot and remove (drops off) a thief and take away the abbreviation for Right

2 Lazy duke occupies French island (4)
IDLE The abbreviation for Duke ‘occupies’ the French word for island

3    What John did before a meal in ramshackle bedsit (8)
BAPTISED The Latin abbreviation for Ante Prandium (before a meal) inserted into an anagram (ramshackle) of BEDSIT

4 Agree to house model in unhealthy condition (7)
OBESITY A verb meaning to model is ‘housed’ by a synonym for agree

5 Give the French name (6)
HANDLE A verb meaning to give and the French definite article

6 Squaddie has regard for Shamus? (7,3)
PRIVATE EYE A squaddie in the army and a synonym for regard or look at

7 Plant consular agent in American group of spies (6)
ACACIA The abbreviation for Consular Agent inserted between the abbreviation for American and their ‘group of spies’

14 Mountain seen in glacial period rising in uplands (3)
ALP Seen in glaciAL Period and in reverse (rising) in uPLAnds

15 Crystal files measures in the House (4,6)
ROSE QUARTZ Homophones (in the house) of some files and some measures of liquid

19 Leave quickly exchanging words with scion (8)
OFFSHOOT Take an expression meaning leave quickly and swap the two words over

20 Innards of muscular animal (3)
EFT The insides of a synonym for muscular

21 Terrible pain sir – try this (7)
ASPIRIN An anagram (terrible) of PAIN SIR

23 Fuss involving a soldier’s slow movement (6)
ADAGIO A synonym for fuss ‘involving’ A (from the clue) and an abbreviated American soldier

24 Pour out a description of swearing? (6)
EFFUSE Split the solution 3,3 and you’ll get a description of swearing

28 Cross over threshold (4)
DOOR A reversal (over) of a type of cross

29 Big Dave, say, visits Channel Islands to get African bread (4)
CEDI The monetary unit (bread) of Ghana – the role BD plays with some of the crosswords on his site (including this one) ‘visits’ the abbreviation for the Channel Islands

22 comments on “NTSPP 625

  1. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle with a new word for me at 13a. Many thanks Prolixic and also for the clever way of acknowledging the significant date! Could that be considered a 13a?

      1. Of Course! I have had a nagging itch about where I had heard 13a before, that you have just scratched RD

      2. Thanks for that info – I have remained loyal to the Telegraph for more years than I care to admit!

  2. Tricky little blighter – I got the western border and that helped. I plumped for the other half of the border to help with the west and a bit of investigoogling later I learned about greek islands and decisive moments and got it cracked. Thanks to Prolixic a very nice way to mark the occasion.

  3. Thank goodness this wasn’t a Prolixic MPP! Even with caffeine, a bit of a struggle which did need some electronic assistance to get across the finishing line.

    9a raised a smile and it was good to see 22a spelt ‘correctly.’

    I did wonder what sort of 360 degree Nina Prolixic would come up with to mark the occasion as I was thinking that ‘thirteenth’ would not be easy to fit in so we get the phobic term instead!

    Thanks to Prolixic for an entertaining puzzle and in advance to CS.

  4. I agree with John Bee, this was very tricky. It was most enjoyable and the double Nina was very clever.

    There were a couple of new abbreviations for me but I managed to guess both by dragging up some of my old school Latin from the depths of my memory.

    I didn’t understand the reference to Shamus in 6d, but I am not surprised after having found out from my BRB that it is an archaic American word! 30a was my last one in even though I had three of the four letters (2 checkers plus the first letter from the Nina), but the parsing still doesn’t make sense to me unless “liquid” is perhaps drug related slang for DET.

    I think the self-referential 13a was my favourite but plenty of other clues came into contention.

    Many thanks to Prolixic for the fun and in advance to CS.

    1. Given the number of times we’ve tried to persuade Jane that the alias of one of her favourite setters isn’t an Irishman but a 6d, I’m surprised you didn’t know that one. 30a is one of Prolixic’s favourite clue types

  5. I couldn’t figure out where the reference to the blog’s special day was until one of the Ninas showed herself – the second remained hidden until almost the last gasp but did appear in time to confirm a couple of my answers.
    I’ve got a couple of parsing issues that await CS’s words of wisdom but Prolixic found a brilliant way to mark the occasion.
    PS I wouldn’t even attempt to spell the second Nina without a dictionary to hand!

  6. Wow, a lot of Google/BRB required, but a great challenge – many thanks Prolixic. The Ninas proved essential to solving for me. I thought 24d rather more 6d than Telegraph – childishly, that was my favourite :-) but too many good tricky clues to really choose. Thanks again!

  7. Crikey that was tough. I was 6 shy of a finish before I started revealing letters so not my finest effort.
    Still enjoyed what little I managed though.
    Thanks Prolixic

  8. Exactly what Fez said, even down to the Ninas being essential for the last few and choice of 24d as favourite. I’ll also mirror Jane in keenly awaiting CS’s explanations as I take it Prolixic won’t be marking his own homework. I now need a beer!
    Thanks Prolixic and in advance CS.

  9. To quote MP, “golly bongs” that was a decidedly tricky puzzle, but a better solve than the cryptic today.
    More fun.
    16a & 22d favourites

    Thanks to Prolixic

  10. An excellent tribute to BD and the blog anniversary from Prolixic. Seeing the grid, I reckoned there must be a Nina around the perimeter, but halfway through I began to think I was mistaken! Only when the left side crystallized did I begin to have faith again. As for podium places, I have 27a and 24d as runners-up, but pride of place goes to the Nina!! The ‘Shamus’ and the ‘decisive moment’ were new to me, the Nina helping to confirm the latter. I’m looking forward to the review as 18a appears to have ‘about’ doing double duty…?
    I solved this puzzle over a nice glass of wine this evening, raising my glass to BD as I finished :smile:

  11. Re 18a….I don’t think “about” is doing double duty Spartacus if you take the second “e” to be part of lore and not the first “e”
    *Meant to be a reply to Spartacus above.

  12. Quite a struggle but I did get there in the end.
    Knew there must be a Nina but did not find them until I had a completed grid.
    Good fun.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  13. Many thanks for the review, CS, which helped enormously with the parsing of my troublesome ones. Turned out to be the two Latin abbreviations and the compound anagram that had tied me up in knots.
    Thanks again to Prolixic for the puzzle, such a shame that you couldn’t hand it out at a birthday bash again.

  14. Got about half of this before giving up. I guessed there might be a nina bit couldn’t work it out and tried instead to see some sort of connection between various answers – obviously to no avail. Anyway, congratulations to BD on the blog achieving teenage status!

  15. A happy birthday to the blog from me. Thanks to all who have commented and to Crypticsue for the review of the anniversary puzzle.

  16. A late comment from me. What a super Birthday tribute! That is some Nina! Wow! Brilliant!
    I thoroughly enjoyed this crossword. It is very difficult to select any fave clues, but I particularly liked 13a and 18a.
    Huge appreciation and thanks to Prolixic. And a special thank you to crypticsue for clarifying parts of the parsings of a few of my answers and for confirming the correctness of the remainder. It is always good to know if one is on the right track or not.

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