NTSPP 651 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Jaffa

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Jaffa’s turn to provide our Saturday afternoon entertainment –  a typical offering from him although I didn’t think this was quite as tricky as some of his previous offerings


1 Old, loyal, confused, bonkers (8)
DOOLALLY An anagram (confused) of OLD LOYAL

5 Vicious short delivery bites track (6)
BRUTAL A cricket delivery without its final letter (short) ‘bites’ a track made by wheels

10 Chum led off to be dressed in bed (7)
MULCHED An anagram (off) of CHUM LED produces something you might have done to a flower bed

11 German port gaining nothing with area replacement providing cover (7)
HOMBURG Replace the A in the name of a German port with an O (gaining nothing) to get a man’s head cover

12 Energy of cavorting nudist online (8)
INDUSTRY An anagram (cavorting) of NUDIST goes on the abbreviation for railway (line)

13 Impose cut back by court (5)
EXACT A reversal (back) of a verb meaning to cut followed by the abbreviation for court

15 Relieved when Charlie, attending university, matured (8)
ASSUAGED A synonym for fool (Charlie) with the abbreviation for University and a synonym for matured

17 I go east of the river with doctor for a cold customer (6)
ESKIMO I (from the clue) goes after (east of) a North Yorkshire river, the result followed by one of the abbreviations for doctor

18 Politician’s commitment to essential drive for IT (6)
LIBIDO An abbreviated member of a political party, and the commitment made, for example, at a wedding

20 Soldiers with unguided missile indicates tension (8)
MENISCUS Some soldiers and a missile thrown in athletic contests without its first letter (unguided)

24 Beau Geste, essentially on the wagon (5)
SWAIN The ‘essential’ letter of geSte and a (hay) wagon

25 Montgomery and Wellington maybe at the heads of columns (8)
CAPITALS Montgomery and Wellington are the chief towns in Alabama and New Zealand respectively. The word also refers to the heads or top parts of columns

27 Catch hair in massage (3,4)
RUB DOWN Synonyms for catch and hair

28 Accumulates wealth quickly like a croupier? (5,2)
RAKES IN This informal expression meaning accumulates wealth quickly could also mean part of the role of a croupier

29 Birdie seen taking relief twice (6)
PEEWEE Two (twice) informal expressions meaning urinate (taking relief)

30 Greek boxers maybe are pants down under (8)
GRUNDIES The abbreviation for Greek and an informal term for clothing of which boxers are an example


1 Nice of the doctor to be Mum (4)
DUMB Misleading capitals time as mum here is a word meaning silent – The French (as used in Nice) word for of and another abbreviation for doctor

2 Former pupil yearns for specific quads? (7)
OBLONGS An abbreviated former pupil and a synonym for yearns

3 French friend interpreted in Rome, for very many (1,8,3,3)
A THOUSAND AND ONE Convert the Roman numerals found in the French word for friend

4 Baseless communication about a daughter – she’s a feisty girl (7)
LADETTE A written communication without its final letter (baseless) into which is inserted (about) A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for daughter

6 Worried miller puts set limits on family goldsmith (15)
RUMPELSTILTSKIN An anagram (worried) of MILLER PUTS, the outside (limits) letters of SeT and another word for family

7 Shock wave coming – I must capsize, swallowing sodium (7)
TSUMANI An anagram (capsize) of I MUST ‘swallowing’ the chemical symbol for sodium

8 Pale Croft’s, on the rocks perhaps (10)
LIGHTHOUSE A synonym for pale and a type of dwelling you’d find on a croft

9 Reportedly evaluates milk components (5)
WHEYS A homophone (reportedly) of a part of a verb meaning evaluates

14 Cooked lumpy pears in sweetener (5,5)
MAPLE SYRUP An anagram (cooked) of LUMPY PEARS

16 Day prayer for Benedictine? (3)
DOM The abbreviation for day and a sacred syllable used in prayer produce a title given to monks, especially Benedictines

19 On reflection, dog’s first walk could be fruitful (7)
BRAMBLE ‘Reflect’ the first letter of dog, then add a walk [the letter d reflected in a mirror would look like a letter b!]

21 Nero‘s agent imprisoned back in rebellious Rome? (7)
EMPEROR A reversal (back) of an abbreviated agent inserted into (imprisoned) an anagram (rebellious) of ROME

22 Small change covers deficit of giant corporations (7)
COLOSSI Remove the last letter (small) from a piece of money (change) and insert (covers) a deficit

23 Southern volcanic hill – the site of a West Country dispute? (5)
SCONE The abbreviation for Southern and a volcanic hill

26 Antelope initially go northwards unusually slowly (4)
GNUS The initial letters of Go Northwards Unusually Slowly

31 comments on “NTSPP 651
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  1. Hahaha – 1a made me smile and it didn’t stop there
    Thanks Jaffa, very entertaining
    Thanks also to Mr K – hello!

  2. An enjoyable accompaniment to watching the Commonwealth Games – thanks to Jaffa.
    ‘Unguided’ is an interesting indicator in 20a but I think it works well.
    I can’t parse the dog bit of 19d.
    My ticks went to 15a, 24a, 3d and the laugh-out-loud 23d.

    1. My take on 19d, with a Hmm, the first letter after reversing the abbreviated name of a golden, black, or even chocolate dog.

    2. You are both overcomplicating the ‘reflecting the dog’s first’ and that’s all I’m saying – you’ll have to read the review!

  3. Caffeine required! A bit of a head scratcher, but very enjoyable spoiled slightly by the no longer PC 17a – just ask the Edmonton (Alberta) CFL team that had to ‘do’ a name change.

    Smiles for 18a, 24a, 29a, and 3d.

    Thanks to Jaffa and in advance to CS – I will await 19d with interest.

    1. The only thing I can think of for 19d is that if you put one D (first letter of dog) on top of another you get what looks like a B. I suppose you could achieve that with a vertical reflection but it seems rather far-fetched.

      1. Thanks to a ‘nudge’ from our Ynys Mon correspondent, we are too ‘hung up’ on Upper Case, probably because that is what we use to fill in crossword grids – go lower case.

        1. Thanks Senf (and Jane). As you say the wordplay gives us a lower-case b when what we need for the grid is upper-case.

  4. Very enjoyable Jaffa. I found the LHS a fair bit easier than the right but overall about a Tuesday Toughie time, though a couple short on full parsing as yet
    Plenty of ticks including 12,15,24&30a plus 7&8d but residing in Devon, 23d has to be favourite, a real smiler.
    Thanks and thanks in advance to Cryptic Sue.

  5. Have to admit to a few of the famous ‘hmms’ along the way in this one. 29a is simply awful – I didn’t like it when it popped up previously and don’t feel any better about it now – and I’m not convinced about ‘small’ in 22d. The ‘d’ reversal in 19d seemed overly contrived and I’m not sure when I’ll ever use my newfound knowledge about Aussie underwear!

    10a made me smile thinking of the advice from good old Monty and his team so goes to the top of my pile.

    Thanks to Jaffa – looking forward to checking my answers with CS’s review.

  6. Many thanks Jaffa, 1a got things off to a great start and fun throughout. A few boundaries pushed, maybe – I think I have everything parsed but looking forward to review to check (thanks in advance CSl)

  7. A perfect accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks in the garden. I started smiling with 1a :smile: and didn’t stop smiling throughout, except perhaps for the look of surprise on my face when I twigged the parsing for 19d :surprise:
    No apologies for a long list of ticked clues: 1, 15, 18, 20 & 25 across; 1, 3, 4, 8 & 23 down and my favourite clue 6d – not for the surface reading perhaps, but definitely for the ambition!
    Thanks, Jaffa, for some fine entertainment.

  8. I’ve been out all day playing cricket, and in a bit of a hurry so I can save time be saying I agree with Jane @5.

  9. We started well but struggled towards the end. 20a, 24a and 30a defeated us and it took us a long time to parse our answer to 19d. Nevertheless very enjoyable and entertaining. Thanks to Jaffa and in advance to CS.

  10. Thoroughly enjoyable Sunday morning solve for us. It is so wet and windy here that even we will postpone our walk today.

  11. Thank you for all of the comments. I’m sorry 19d caused so much consternation and loss of brain cells. I’ll try and explain my devious thought processes tomorrow. I’m glad however that I seem to have spread a little cheer worldwide!

  12. Many thanks for the review, CS, much appreciated as always.

    Another book for your reading list – The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. Robert recommended it and I found it most enjoyable – I shall certainly be reading more of the series.

      1. Sorry, Ms Dalhousie hadn’t previously featured on my radar – just those who worked at the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency.

  13. A bit tricky in places but some lovely ‘aha’ moments when I twigged what was going on in (especially) 3dn, 6dn and 19dn. Thanks, Jaffa and CS.

  14. A somewhat belated thank you to CrypticSue for her fine revue. I’m afraid that I’ve been somewhat delayed by an unexpected grandson visit and events in Birmingham and at Wembley, but sadly not Southampton…

    Sorry about 19d. I think Sue has explained it’s “logic”. The idea came from a NTSPP from some time ago where a b was reflected to become a p. I thought it was a Gazza device but apparently not. I guess it needs to be consigned to the “too clever by half” dustbin. I must confess however that I’ve never worried before about a letter being upper/lowercase. My BRB seems to accept both S and s. as being acceptable abbreviations for second. Am I wrong not to be worried by the case of a letter?

    29a is, I accept, not particularly savoury. I guess I felt that the pee and the wee fitted in with the BRB’s childish non lapwing definition. I think my main motivation may however have come from my inner golfer where a birdie might be achieved by receiving two free drops (i.e. taking relief twice). Having said that you need no golfing knowledge to solve the clue and it is rather unsavoury.

    A special thank you to Spartacus for liking 6d. Yes not the smoothest read but I was quite proud of myself to get a 15 letter (well, 12 3) anagram from an 8 word clue. Not quite Ray T but heading in the right direction.

    Over half the clues were liked by different correspondents and it did give me the opportunity to use a couple of clues that were mentioned in dispatches in the much missed (by me at least) DT clue writing competition.

    Once again, thank you for all your comments and to Sue for all her help and of course, best wishes to BD.

    1. I did recall a previous instance of the reflected/inverted lower-case letter, which helped me out when parsing 19d. I ran a very quick search for ‘reflect’ in my saved PDFs but couldn’t find that instance, maybe it didn’t include the word ‘reflect’… Anyway, in my non-expert opinion, this device (used sparingly) is an acceptable entry in the catalogue of devious tricks to be found in the setter’s arsenal. As Gazza says, the ‘wordplay gives us a lower-case b’ – but for some reason I do always opt for upper-case to fill in my grid!

    2. I eventually found the clue. It was 1d in Gazza’s NTSPP-575 (February 13, 2021). It merited a number of appreciative comments…
      Waddling creatures’ leader going topsy-turvy – they slip easily on ice! (5)

      1. It’s a fair cop. I’d totally forgotten that clue – thanks to Spartacus for the reminder and thanks again to Jaffa for a fine NTSPP.

        1. Imitation is… as they say. Thank you for the idea.
          I’m just amazed that I can remember something from about 18 months ago when yesterday is frequently a problem 😂

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