NTSPP 626 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Starhorse

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Starhorse returns with an enjoyable crossword – I found the right-hand side a lot trickier than the left and did think as I was solving some of the clues that, once again,  there’d be grumpiness in the Rabbit Hutch ;)


1 Promote parody (4,2)
SEND UP A double definition to start with

5 Reclines in mud? Most foolish (8)
SILLIEST A way of saying reclines inserted into fine sediment (mud)

9 A couple of boys getting intimate (8)
PERSONAL A preposition meaning for each (A) and two boys, one a male child, the other a diminutive boy’s name

10 City avenge being thrashed (6)
GENEVA An anagram (being thrashed) of AVENGE

11 Killer‘s paper rejected, not finished off (8)
GARROTTE A reversal (rejected) of a derogatory term for a newspaper and a synonym for off or bad without its last letter (not finished)

12 Troops cut power from surgical equipment (6)
FORCES Remove (cut) the abbreviation for Power from some surgical instruments

13 Virulent character‘s name on sign (8)
SCORPION A highly poisonous insect (virulent character) is obtained by placing the abbreviation for Name on or after a Sign of the Zodiac

15 Parts of minutes from Congress discussed (4)
SECS Some abbreviated parts of minutes are a homophone (discussed) of one of the meanings of congress with a small C

17 Supplier of sugar adds one on (4)
BEET I could see the ‘supplier of sugar’ but am grateful to BD for letting me into the secret of the wordplay – if you go one letter further than ADDS in the alphabet, you get XXXX!

19 It sets the scene before a stroll (8)
PREAMBLE A preposition meaning before and a stroll

20 Flight from America after former love died (6)
EXODUS The abbreviation for the United States of America goes after the usual ‘former lover’ and the abbreviation for Died

21 Flying from Australia by way of Thailand, no- one returned (8)
AVIATION The abbreviation for Australia, a preposition meaning by way of, the IVR Code for Thailand and a reversal (returned) of NO (from the clue) and the letter representing one

22 Ill-fated soldier in orbit briefly? (6)
TRAGIC An abbreviated American soldier inserted into a truncated orbit or course

23 Where one might be caught and dismissed by competitors (8)
OUTFIELD A cryptic definition for what Kath would call a ‘crickety’ clue  On edit: As Starhorse says, the solution can be split 3,5 to make ‘dismissed’ and ‘competitors’

24 Characteristic of a brew from the pot, some would say (8)
PROPERTY If you say this characteristic out loud it might describe some people’s thoughts on a cup of tea brewed in a pot rather than using a teabag in a mug

25 The French entering flat – one by one? (6)
ELEVEN The French definite article ‘entering’ an adjective meaning flat


2 Polish member in key area nicked regularly (8)
ELEGANCE A member of the body inserted between a musical key and the abbreviation for Area, the result followed by the regular letters of NiCkEd

3 Shock of girl’s hair (8)
DISTRESS A diminutive girl’s name (don’t forget the S) and a lock of hair

4 Troop in Northern Ireland turned to drink (5,4)
PINOT NOIR An anagram (turned) of TROOP IN NI (Northern Ireland)

5 No wordplay needed? (4-11)
SELF-EXPLANATORY The clue is apparently understandable without explanation!

6 Rest of song to enjoy (3,4)
LIE DOWN A (German) song we’ve seen a lot in crosswords lately, and a verb meaning to enjoy

7 Implement European right to cut tax (8)
EXERCISE Implement here being a verb – the abbreviations for European and Right ‘cut’ a tax

8 Inebriated star can’t perform (8)
TRANSACT An anagram (inebriated) of STAR CANT

14 Secret underground cell fix elite bout (9)
OUBLIETTE A secret pit in the floor of a dungeon where a prisoner might be kept and forgotten about – an anagram (fix) of ELITE BOUT

15 Cork’s alternative bar welcomes band (8)
SCREWTOP A verb meaning to bar or prevent ‘welcomes’ a band or gang

16 State in America, exaggerate trouble (8)
COLORADO The American spelling of a verb meaning to exaggerate or misrepresent followed by some trouble

17 Top-class horse to dominate (8)
BESTRIDE This verb meaning to stand or sit across in an imposing manner might if split 4,4, describe a top-class horse

18 Recruit nurse taking drugs over lunch? (8)
ENROLLEE Once you realise that ‘recruit’ is a noun, the solution is obvious – an abbreviated Enrolled Nurse, and two lots of the abbreviation for Ecstasy (drugs) going ‘over’ something you might eat for lunch

19 She‘s in a queue south of French city (7
PAULINE A queue goes under (south in a Down solution) a French city

15 comments on “NTSPP 626

  1. We solved this as a family group with visitors here for a holiday weekend. Took several wrong turns along the way but eventually got it all sorted including the the new to us French city in 19d. Biggest chuckle from 24a but plenty of others too.
    Thanks Starhorse.

  2. Thank you, Starhorse. This was light and good fun, although I can’t parse two of my answers – 11a, for which I can see the paper rejected but not the rest , and 17a.

    18d is a ghastly word and Collins online says it is American. I was also sorry to find a vague boy and a vague girl in evidence.

    That said, there was a lot to like with 15a, 24a, 25a & 17d my top selection.

    1. 11a is a downmarket newspaper reversed + ‘off’ without its last letter.
      17a Move each of the letters of ‘adds’ along by one.

  3. Didn’t have the 2Ks benefit of family and visitors to assist but made it eventually and would agree with them that the biggest chuckle came from 24a and the French city necessitated a bit of homework. Still pondering one bit of parsing but as all the letters came from checkers I’m assuming that I have the correct answer.

    Good to see you again, Starhorse, thank you for the puzzle.

  4. Thank you, Starhorse. I really enjoyed this, especially 24a and 19d (when the penny dropped!). Like RD and Jane, some of the parsing caused some head scratching but overall, it was a fun solve. Now back to the MPP which is proving a much greater challenge!

  5. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks Starhorse.
    I’m not sure that 25a works – it seems to be two lots of wordplay with no real definition.
    I ticked 17a, 23a and 5d but my LOL favourite was 24a.

  6. A puzzle worth waiting for! Thanks, Starhorse, for my Sunday evening entertainment. Clues ranged from straightforward to very tricky, also from somewhat contrived to beautifully crafted – all of which added to the fun. My favourites included 11a, 12a, 17a, 20a, 25a and 4d – but I gave first prize to 24a! Talking of which, it’s time to put the kettle on…

  7. Really enjoyed this Starhorse, entertaining with a great range of clues.
    I couldn’t parse 17a but I see Gazza has shed some light there. I liked several including 11,12&23a plus 4,5&19d but my favourite when the penny dropped on the parsing was the hilarious 24a. Well done and thanks.

  8. Morning. I only just discovered this was here.

    Thanks CS for the review – I think that’s the first time I’ve ever stumped you with a parsing! Also 23a is meant to be in two parts, so words for dismissed and competitors make up the answer, but also coincidentally add to the definition.

    I’m not absolutely sure if the standalone cryptic definition in 5d would get past an editor. It might depend on the publication.

    The irony of 24a having gone down well is that personally I can’t stand the drink in question. But I know many who do and who would share the sentiment.

    I’m sorry to get on RD’s wrong side. Random names of any kind aren’t ideal. But given that Di and Al appear quite frequently I was more expecting the random, and not particularly well-known, French city to be an issue.

    Thanks to all for your comments and to BD for publishing.

  9. Thanks, CS, for a nicely illustrated review which has confirmed a couple of tentative parsings – and also to Starhorse (again) for the puzzle and exposing the ‘hidden depths’ of 23a which I had overlooked. I’ll now add it to my list of favourites :smile:

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS, and thanks to all our experts who sorted out the parsing of 17a! I’m tempted to shout ‘foul’ over that one but it was obviously doable for those of bigger brains!
    Thanks again to Starhorse – I still remember the furore when you tried to change your pseudonym – you’ll always be Starhorse to us!

  11. Thanks Starhorse. Unless my memory betrays me it’s been a while since we’ve got to enjoy one of your puzzles. Thought this was a belter & great fun to solve. Pretty tricky in places too. The dungeon & the SW French city were both new to me & needed confirmation & wasn’t close to parsing 17a. So many excellent clues to choose from but hard to overlook 24a.

  12. Many thanks Starhorse & CS – a bit late to the party as I missed the original publication then couldn’t get the link to comments working! I particularly liked the clever 17a and 25a, and 9a (despite Al), 21a & 15d, but overall favourite 24a.

  13. Very late to this party but enjoyed the challenge. Favourites were 25a, 21a and 19d. We had the answer to 17a but couldn’t parse it without the help above. Thanks to CS and Starhorse. Looking forward to the next one

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