NTSPP 642 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Gazza

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


9 Implement prohibition on native language (7)
CROWBAR – A three-letter word meaning a prohibition after (on) a four-letter word for a Native American language.

10 Way to deliver extra power (7)
OVERARM – A four-letter word meaning extra followed by a three-letter word meaning power.

11 Managed to get over a nonsensical period of chastity (7)
RAMADAN – A three-letter word meaning managed around (to get over) the A from the clue and a three-letter word meaning nonsensical.

12/13 Orientals identified in affairs abroad? (7,9)
FOREIGN RELATIONS – The first word of the solution applied as an anagram indicator to the second word of the solution might give ORIENTALS as the outcome.

15 What gives rise to Irish poet’s son arriving early? (5)
YEAST – The surname of the Irish poet (initial names) William Butler has the final S moved forward (arriving early).

16 Fetching youth at court (7)
BALLBOY – Cryptic definition of someone seen at Wimbledon.

19 Decries liquid aids to making out (2-5)
DE-ICERS – An anagram (liquid) of DECRIES.

20 Occasionally group prefer Indian bread (5)
RUPEE – The even letters (occasionally) of the second and third words of the clue.

21 Nothing but seven-pointers for national team (3,6)
ALL BLACKS – A snooker table with only this coloured ball would score only seven pointers.

25 Leg trouble’s being assessed (2,5)
ON TRIAL – A two-letter word for a leg in cricketing terms followed by a five-letter word for trouble.

26 Started play after actors shielded leading man (7)
CASTLED – A three-letter word meaning started play after a four-letter word for a group of actors.

28 Liberal centre rubbished support for religious works (7)
LECTERN – The abbreviation for liberal followed by an anagram (rubbished) of CENTRE.

29 Renowned artist starts to exhibit nauseating tableaux (7)
EMINENT – A four-letter surname of a modern artist followed by the initial letters (starts to) of the final three words for the clue.


1 One compiling a record 20 runs (6)
SCORER – Another term for 20 followed by the abbreviation for runs.

2 Official‘s in favour of short bloke (6)
FORMAL – A three-letter word meaning in favour of followed by a four-letter word for the gender of a bloke with the final letter removed (short).

3 Familiar president died in dream setting (4)
ABED – A familiar three-letter name of an early American president followed by the abbreviation for died.

4 Nag sergeant, say, to go after British Gas (6)
BRONCO – A three-letter abbreviation describing the rank of a sergeant after (to go after) the abbreviations for British and Oxygen (gas).

5 Delirious prisoner’s fitted with security device (8)
CONFUSED – A three-letter word describing a prisoner followed by a five-letter word meaning fitted with a security device.

6 Gregory, embarrassed to be found cuddling soldier, left film (6,4)
GEORGY GIRL – An anagram (embarrassed) of GREGORY around the two-letter abbreviation for an American soldier all followed by the abbreviation for left.

7 Mark squeezes in a bit of banter (8)
BADINAGE – A five-letter word for a mark or insignia includes (squeezes in) the IN and the A from the clue.

8 Iran loses out to American navy in Gulf States discharges (8)
EMANATES – An eight-letter word for the Glue States has the IVR code for Iran replaced by (loses out to) the abbreviations for American and Navy.

14 Having arrived unannounced in constituency, served up bottled drinks (5,5)
TABLE WINES – A phrase 4,2 meaning arrived unannounced inside a reversal (served up) a four-letter word for a parliamentary constituency.

16 Counter northern members of parliament? They’ll screech a lot (4,4)
BARN OWLS – A three-letter word for a pub counter followed by the abbreviation for northern and a four-letter word for the birds described collectively as a parliament.

17 Cosmetic is on the verge of getting mark of approval (8)
LIPSTICK – A four-letter word meaning is on the lips of followed by a four-letter word for a mark of approval.

18 Being not yet two daughter’s missed by the old dear (8)
YEARLING – The two-letter old English word for the followed by a seven-letter word for a dear without the abbreviation for daughter.

22 Poodle topped and tailed mouse (6)
LACKEY – A phrase 5, 3 word for a mouse (in terms of the mark on the face following a punch) without the first and last letters.

23 Youngsters found skulking in local vestry … (6)
CALVES – The answer is hidden (found skulking) in the final two words of the clue.

24 … knock out young man from London area (6)
SEDATE – Split 2,4 this might suggest a boyfriend from an area of London south of the Thames.

27 Dozes off cycling to dance (4)
SKIP – A four-letter word meaning dozes off with the letters read in a circular form starting with the final letter.

26 comments on “NTSPP 642

  1. Enjoyed this, Gazza, especially your very clever definitions (some, I must admit, too clever for me!). As a not very competent solver, the more accessible clues like 5d, 29a consequently appealed to me more. Just one thing though – in 15a, do you not have Def to WP?

  2. I don’t normally do these NTSPP puzzles, but I saw it was Gazza so thought I’d have a look. And I’m glad I did. This was a cracking puzzle, right up my street. Great clues, using clever /obscure-ish definitions and synonyms (rather than transparent/obvious ones), providing a good challenge. It was a bit quirky and a very enjoyable/entertaining solve. If it was a back-pager I would rate it 4*/4.5*. I’ve ticked quite a few clues but will mention 21a, not because it was the most difficult but because it took me a while to suss out the seven-pointers/blacks relationship – from a “sport” far more sedate that the one the solution plays. For 17d, I would probably have used “verges” in the plural but I’ve probably misssed something (as usual). In fact, I’ve just had another look at it and can now see what I missed – so I’ll withdraw my statement.

  3. Thanks Gazza, this was most enjoyable & was a welcome diversion after lunch with the family (2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, 3 grandsons & 2 granddaughters). One highly deserved pint of Mcewan’s Champion Ale now on stand by.

  4. Great entertainment, thanks Gazza. Definitely more toughie territory than back page. My favourites were 12/13a, 16a and 14d.

  5. I’ve been working in the garden all day and decided to treat myself to this puzzle from Gazza while winding down in the bath. It was certainly a tough nut to crack, particularly in the case of some of the parsings, and the water was pretty cold by the time I had everything done and dusted.

    But what a joy it was – a thoroughly rewarding challenge, with all of Gazza’s humour and cunning on display.

    The native language in 9a was new to me as was the slang meaning of “mouse” in 22d, and 24d involved what might be suitably described as a dated expression. :wink:

    Picking a favourite was another challenge as there were so many good clues to choose from, but in the end I’ll settle for 26a with its beautifully disguised definition.

    Many thanks, Gazza, and thanks too presumably to Prolixic who will probably have the pleasure of reviewing this.

  6. Gazza getting tough with us today, I thought! Like RD, I hadn’t previously encountered that particular mouse and I’m not at all sure about my parsing of the seven-pointers although the national team was easy enough.
    29a made me laugh and I have personal reasons for giving 18d a podium place. Others that really amused were 15&16a.

    Many thanks, Gazza, I enjoyed my afternoon in your company – albeit at a distance!

  7. Many thanks Gazza – tough and very enjoyable. 26a, 14d and 22d (once I’d discovered the unfamiliar mouse) my top three, but great all round.

  8. Excellent fun and the star of the show for us was of course 21a despite taking a little while to get the parsing. However the last one to parse was 14d. 22d was new to us but we guessed the wordplay correctly and checked in BRB.
    A real delight to solve and very much appreciated.
    Thanks Gazza.

  9. This was tough, but after completing the parsing, appreciated the wit and deviousness of the setter.
    While I am here, thumbs up to Big Dave and his entourage who grace their pages and make sense of the incomprehensible.

  10. Gazza has a knack of providing amusing crosswords, and this was no exception – providing highly entertaining breaks in a busy day of gardening, rugby and football. 22d had me puzzled and I first thought of LICKER, but could only ‘top’ my mouse, as in (C)LICKER. The requirement to ‘tail’ as well eventually led me to the correct answer, although this meaning of mouse was unfamiliar territory. Favourites were 19a, 21a, 28a, 1d, 16d, 18d and, my clue of the day, 14d – this latter clue resonating cleverly with matters that currently dominate the news headlines.
    Thanks, Gazza!

    1. Having just re-read Jane’s comment on 29a, I had a fresh look at the clue and now appreciate why it made her laugh! It is duly added to my long list of favourites.

  11. Just seen this Gazza – I do like your crafty style and this is no exception
    Thanks for the entertainment, great fun to solve, as it should be
    A superbly crafted puzzle, I doff my cap Sir :smile:

  12. Many thanks to all who commented and especially to Prolixic for the beautifully illustrated decryption.
    I’m sorry that it seems to have been rather tougher than I intended – I’m rubbish at gauging the difficulty of my own puzzles.

    1. Didn’t get around to doing this Gazza but just reading through Prolixic’s review and can see what a well constructed and witty puzzle it is.

  13. Many thanks for the excellent pictorial review, Prolixic. I now understand the whys and wherefores of 21a – I was completely bogged down in Rugby Sevens which was of no use at all!
    Thanks again to Gazza as well – we don’t get puzzles from you very often but it’s a treat when they do arrive.

  14. Thanks for the review, Prolixic. Your Seekers post motivated me to look up a similar clip from their prime years. What a voice Judith Durham possessed, and still very good at the time your clip was recorded.

  15. Only just got around to this Gazza & I thought it absolutely top notch & great fun. Far too many crackers to pick a favourite but foreign relations took some beating. Slightly surprised about the comments on the difficulty level as I made lighter work of it than Madcap’s RC puzzle which most found accessible.
    Many thanks.

  16. Been away so late to the puzzle but thoroughly enjoyed. A couple of answers defeated us, especially 22d. Favourite was 22a, closely followed by 8d. Thank you Gazza and also to parsing from Prolixic where needed.

  17. Another late entry to the list, but had to thank you Gazza for a great puzzle. Tackled clockwise from the SW and finishing in the SE with 22d, so many clues were ticked for their wit and artistry. Some lovely surfaces and my only bunged-in parsing fails were that final clue and 26a.

    Hon Mentions to 9, 11, 16, 25 & 29a; 4, 8, 16 & 18d. COTD to 14d – a loud groan when I parsed that one!

    Many thanks indeed, and also to Prolixic of course.

    1. 14d bothered me, Mustafa, when I read the parsing (it defeated me at the time until Prolixic explained). “Having arrived unannounced” surely defines “blown in” while I would have thought “blew in” requires just “arrived unannounced”. The “having” helps deliver a great surface, but…
      Have I got that wrong? (not for the first time!)

      1. I know what you mean, Dr D, but whether or not I read it properly, I took “having” as an instruction to place “blew in” (“arrived unannounced”) within the reversed constituency – that way the tense worked for me!

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