NTSPP 638 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Twmbarlwm

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.  Nice to welcome Twmbarlwm into the hallowed halls of the NTSPP.


1 Rock music in Palladium? (5,5)
HEAVY METAL – Double definition.

7 Rot affecting Uffizi’s frames (4)
GUFF – The answer is hidden (frames) in the second and third words of the clue.

9 North American people not completely happy with Washington (8)
CHIPPEWA – A seven-letter word meaning happy without the last letter (not completely) followed by the state code for Washington.

10 Specialist wine bottles unavailable (6)
BOFFIN – A three-letter word for wine includes (bottles) a three-letter word meaning unavailable.

11 Fix councillor, one tailed by intelligence officers (6)
CRISIS – The abbreviation for councillor followed by the letter representing one and the abbreviation for Secret Intelligence Service.

13 Swipe right? Not the last two – terrible hairpieces! (8)
PERIWIGS – An anagram (terrible) of SWIPE RIGHT without the last two letters.

14 Cuba’s part of this area, beset by poor climate and rain (5,7)
LATIN AMERICA – The abbreviation for area inside an anagram (poor) of CLIMATE RAIN.

17 Get wrong nursing home: man smart and right to move (12)
MISINTERPRET – A six-letter word for a man includes (nursing) a two-letter word meaning home all followed by a four-letter word meaning smart with the abbreviation for right moved one place to the left.

20 Firm’s in difficulty (8)
HARDSHIP – A four-letter word meaning firm with the S from ’s added followed for a three-letter word meaning in or trendy.

21 Lack of variety from Hendrix, regularly stifled by pot? (6)
TEDIUM – The even letters (regularly) of Hendrix inside (stifled by) a three-letter word for a pot or stomach.

22 Olivier delivered for the audience a tense Rope (6)
LARIAT – A homophone (delivered for the audience) of Larry (Olivier) followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for tense.

23 Retiring setter spread out books and a piece of music (4,4)
TONE POEM – A reversal (retiring) a two letter word for the setter, a four-letter word meaning spread out and the abbreviation for Old Testament (books).

25 March Disney Time put out for kids originally (4)
WALK – The first name of Mr Disney with the T (time) replaced (put out for) by the original letter of Kids

26 Provide a duct through lane, inches out of place (10)
CHANNELISE – An anagram (out of place) of LANE INCHES.


2 Heavenly woman pens touching article (8)
ETHEREAL – A five-letter name for a woman includes (pens) a two letter word meaning touching or about and the indefinite article.

3 Maybe someone Famous Five turned good (3)
VIP – The Roman numeral for five followed by a reversal (turning) of a two letter word meaning good.

4 English and French plugging Shell for motocross rallies (5)
MEETS – The abbreviation for English and the French word for and inside (plugging) the outer letters (shell) of Motocross.

5 Suffering most of epic Star Trek wearily (7)
TRAIPSE – An anagram (suffering) of EPI (most of epic) STAR.

6 Lech Walesa essentially inspiring one bloke here (9)
LIBERTINE – The middle letters (essentially) of Walesa include (inspiring) the letter representing one, a four letter man’s name and a two letter word meaning here.

7 Boon finished filming in attractive surroundings in Bow? (4-7)
GIFT-WRAPPED – A four-letter word meaning a boon followed by a seven-letter word meaning finished filming.

8 Unconventional skirt (6)
FINGE – Double definition.

12 Removed fleece product from farm? (7,4)
SKIMMED MILK – A seven-letter word meaning removed followed by a four-letter word meaning fleece or con.

15 In Great Taste Awards, initially cites the brewing (9)
AESTHETIC – The first letter (initially) of awards followed by an anagram (brewing) of CITES THE.

16 Inspectors with a drug addict’s son (8)
PERUSERS – A three-letter word meaning a head followed by a four-letter word for a drug user and the abbreviation for son.

18 Oil reportedly tasteless? Mostly that (7)
NAPHTHA – A homophone (reportedly) of naff (tasteless) followed by the first three letters (mostly) of that.

19 A delay cracking open mother’s dessert wine and port (6)
MALAGA – The A from the clue and a three-letter word meaning a delay inside (cracking open) a two-letter word for a mother.

21 Joint uprising is suppressed amid hostility (5)
TENON – A seven-letter word meaning hostility or stress without (suppressed) the IS from the clue.

24 One from Friends – Joey, maybe (3)
PAL – Elliptical definition, think of the musical ??? Joey as well as the character in friends.

19 comments on “NTSPP 638

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks Twmbarlwm.
    The North American people were new to me and I’m not terribly convinced by the ‘here’ in 6d.
    Lots of good clues including 11a, 20a, 21a, 25a and 24d.

  2. Warm sunshine made a timely appearance for this to be solved al fresco. I was risking sunburn, though, as it took some teasing out with hardly any gimmes available to obtain a foothold. Several answers were pencilled in before I managed to unravel the wordplay, the 23a/21d pair holding out the longest.
    Like Gazza, I had not heard of the North American people, and my pronunciation of 18d is not precisely aligned with the required homophone – but it is close enough!
    I ticked 8 clues along the way, my top three being 20a, 6d and 7d.
    Thank you, Twmbarlwm, for presenting a challenging, fun puzzle.

  3. :phew: For me, this was a genuine Toughie, particularly in the bottom half. However, it proved to be a very enjoyable challenge on the whole although sadly two of my bugbears were included with the appearance of nebulous names in 2d & 6d. It was a real pity about 6d, because otherwise this would have been a terrific clue – Lech Walesa is a great spot.

    I can’t quite parse of my three answers 17a, 7d & 21d; and 18d involves an awful homophone for me.

    The answer to 26a is a ghastly, contrived word, but it does exist and so is perfectly valid from a setter’s point of view.

    In terms of top clues, I can’t do better than borrow Gazza’s comment: “Lots of good clues including 11a, 20a, 21a, 25a and 24d”.

    Many thanks for the fun, Twmbarlwm.

  4. Good to see you rise into the NTSPP slot although I did feel that you’d leapt from Rookie to Toughie and possibly lost some of your sense of humour along the way.
    Still struggling with a few bits of parsing that need more thought but I’ll follow Gazza and RD with my list of ‘favourites’ and put 5d into the mix as well.

    Thanks, Twmbarlwm, I’ll be very interested to see what level you take us to next time!

    1. Rookie to Toughie. You ain’t kidding Jane & a helluva leap too. I’ve done half & my head hurts. Think I’ll return to it later tonight.

  5. Thanks Twmbarlwm, an enjoyable Toughie challenge. Favourite perhaps the relatively straightforward 20a, but lots of other contenders with pleasingly tricky wordplay. Not sure I entirely ‘get’ 24d but think I’ve parsed everything now – thanks again, and in advance to reviewer

  6. Thank you all for commenting and trying the puzzle.
    Gazza, ‘here’ and ‘in’ are linked as synonyms in Chambers Crossword Companion: “Is ___ here?” / “Is ___ in?” (i.e. in the room etc).
    RD, sorry about the person’s name, I know you have an aversion. It was unavoidable, but I thought it wasn’t unfair in the context.
    As for the ‘awful’ homophone, the p is silent in the standard pronunciation, and the last three letters of the solution aren’t part of the homophone. I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with it.
    I’m currently away on Anglesey with intermittent access, should I disappear!

    1. Ah – so can I blame you for the sudden downturn in our weather? Tops of hills and pubs with wifi are your best chances of internet access!

      1. Hi Jane, I am quite high up actually! I can see that new Ferris wheel monstrosity in Beaumaris as I type. How many times have you been on it so far? :)

    2. Twmbarlwm, homophones are very personal! As someone who worked in the paint industry all my working life, it is a word that has been very familiar to me for many years. I have always pronounced the “p” and have never heard anyone pronounce it any other way. However you have covered all eventualities by including the “?” which is very fair. By coincidence. Ethel and Bert, the two random names you have used are those of my mother and father, so I can forgive you on this occasion!

      None of that detracts from this being a great puzzle, and I am looking forward very much to your next one.

      1. Thanks, RD. I appreciate that homophones are personal, and can easily be contentious with variations. In this case, Chambers and Collins have the ph/ff sound as the primary pronunciation and Oxford/Lexico.com has it as the only pronunciation, so I think technically it’s phine ;) I wasn’t trying to trick anyone.
        The inadvertent tribute to your parents is a nice coincidence that cheered me up.

  7. I echo Jane’s sentiments, for me it was just a little too tough to be fun. However I did complete it with some e help but probably admired more than enjoyed it.
    6d was super clever, notwithstanding the name and I’ve also given big ticks to 17,20&21a plus 5&8d but my favourite was the short but sweet 25a.
    Thanks Twmbarlwm and in advance to the reviewer

  8. This took rather more of our Sunday morning than we were expecting but we did doggedly work through to a conclusion. Still a couple of parsings to work out though after our constitutional walk.
    Thanks Twmbarlwm.

  9. We found this quite challenging and needed a couple of first letter reveals and Google (9a) – but enjoyable nonetheless. 23a was new to us also. Thank you Twmbarlwm. We look forward to Prolixic’s review and your next puzzle. Favourites were 1a, 13a, 26a and 12d.

  10. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’ve become so used to your in-depth analysis of Rookie Corner submissions that it always surprises me when they move up to the NTSPP and you no longer wave the dreaded ‘meter’ in front of them!

    Thanks again to Twmbarlwm – hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to ‘my’ island.

  11. Obviously not on Twmbarlwm’s wavelength – for now, anyway. I found this tough going and abandoned with less than half done. Never heard of the North American people. Thanks, though, and especially to Prolixic for explaining it all.

  12. Thanks to Prolixic for the explanations and thanks again to all who tried the puzzle.
    I’m sorry that the level of difficulty may have been too high. I thought there was a handful of straighter ones in there, but as a relatively new setter I’m probably too wary of putting plain ‘gimmes’ into the puzzle for fear of duplicating existing clues. One person’s ‘gimme’ is another’s ‘old chestnut’, and that’s probably something I should stop worrying about.
    I hope I manage to create surface readings that make sense without any technical faults at least.

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