NTSPP 654 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 


A Puzzle by Harold

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Harold’s turn to provide our Saturday afternoon entertainment – quite a tricky crossword but with some helpful anagrams to get us going


1 It could provide direction for school lacking Head (5)
ARROW A public school without its first letter (lacking head)

4 Something driven around old capital is taxi for pygmies? (9)
CABRIOLET The old capital of the State of Brazil inserted between a taxi and a suffix used to form diminutives (for pygmies?)

9 She delivers former politician on time to centre of Paris (9)
LIBERATOR An abbreviated member of an old (former) political party, a period of time, TO (from the clue) and the letter at the centre of paRis

10 Use it to cross river in either direction (5)
KAYAK This type of canoe is a palindrome (so can go in either direction)

11 Returning later, perhaps with one character replaced by a slut? (6)
WANTON A reversal (returning) of a two-word phrase meaning later, perhaps, where one of the characters is replaced by A (from the clue)

12 Play in event entertaining a former Republican (8)
VENETIAN An anagram (play) of IN EVENT ‘entertaining’ A (from the clue)

14 Rail supporter in party reviewed American traffic (10)
BALUSTRADE Something that supports a rail is obtained by following a reversal (reviewed) of an abbreviated political party with the abbreviation for American and a synonym for traffic

16 Backsliding Aussie almost showing restraint? (4)
CURB A reversal (backsliding) of almost all of a slang term for an Australian man, coming from a time when Australian men were said to all have this name!

19 Man of importance eschews highway for high life (4)
ERNE An eagle, especially a sea-eagle (although I think of this word as the name of the beautiful Lough near where No 1 son and his family live!) The name of the main character in an Oscar Wilde play without (eschews) the abbreviated synonym for a highway

20 Victoria’s tongue briefly described by delegate as sharp (10)
ASTRINGENT Almost all of an informal jocular name given to Australian English (as spoken in the State of Victoria) inserted (described by) into a delegate acting on behalf of another

22 Determined to throw out reels (8)
RESOLUTE An anagram (to throw) of OUT REELS

23 Scotsman possibly exchanging daughter for German monster (6)
GORGON The name of a Scotsman (possibly) swapping the abbreviation for Daughter with that for German

26 Sodium is associated with character of Greek pottery (5)
CHINA The chemical symbol for sodium follows (is associated with) a Greek letter

27 Case abandoned by monarch before taking flight (9)
CHRYSALIS The case abandoned by a monarch butterfly when it flies away!

28 Writer of Rocketman on the phone? (9)
STEVENSON The surname of this writer is a homophone (on the phone) of the surname of the man who invented Rocket steam locomotive

29 Quantities taken as before in line with directions (5)
DOSES The abbreviation for ditto (as before) and some compass points (directions)


1 Muddy quality attractive to hippo initially absent? It’s OK (9)
ALLOWABLE The quality of a hollow depression filled with mud and water (which a hippo would find attractive) without its initial letter

2 Singer imbuing service with charm (5)
ROBIN The abbreviation for the Royal Navy (service) ‘imbued’ with a charm used in West Indian witchcraft

3 Frequently performed play (8)
WARHORSE A much performed piece of music or drama or the name of a play

4 Prominent couple of Cypriots entertaining relations in Nicosia? (4)
CITY The first two (prominent couple) letters of Cypriots ‘entertaining’ an informal term for sexual relations – the question mark at the end indicating that Nicosia is an example of the solution

5 They may apply optics to the formulation of glasses (10)
BARTENDERS A cryptic definition of people whose work involves using optics to get measures of spirits to add to a mixture of glasses of drink

6 Likely to be lost in this part of Yorkshire? (6)
ILKLEY An anagram (to be lost) of LIKELY

7 Artist’s model reclined on one? (3-6)
LAY-FIGURE A synonym for reclined and a character denoting a number (one?)

8 Captured by way of mistake? No! (5)
TAKEN Hidden in misTAKE No

13 Essential details of underwear lots (5,5)
BRASS TACKS Some underwear and an informal term for lots

15 Addinsell composed a movement of substance (9)
LANDSLIDE An anagram (composed) of ADDINSELL

17 Plantsmen apply program to new resistance-free strains (9)
BOTANISTS A computer program designed to perform routine tasks and an anagram (new) of STrAINS without the R (resistance-free)

18 Retrospectively, boy and man nearly approved (8)
ENDORSED A reversal (retrospectively) of an abbreviated boy’s name and almost all of a man’s name

21 Conservative to resign after split (6)
CLEAVE A verb meaning to resign goes after the abbreviation for Conservative

22 Topless dresses revealing sparkling assets (5)
ROCKS Some dresses without the first letter (top less)

24 One moving slowly upwards ensnares fifty birds (5)
GULLS A reversal (upwards) of something that moves very slowly into which is inserted the Roman numeral for 50

25 Look pleased when final element of opera cycle appears first (4)
GRIN Cycle the final letter of the opera cycle to the front of the word of the name of Wagner’s famous opera cycle

15 comments on “NTSPP 654
Leave your own comment 

  1. I found this pretty tricky but it was well worth persevering to the end. Many thanks to Harold.
    There are some good laughs here and I have lots of ticks on my printout – I’ll just mention 4a, 16a, 20a and 1d.

  2. A real head scratcher but, like Gazza, worth persevering to the end. I almost needed a second dose of caffeine.

    Smiles for 20a, 27a, 5d, 13d, and 24d.

    Thanks Harold and thanks in advance to CS(?).

  3. That was tough but I seem to recall that I found this setter’s previous NTSPP very difficult.
    Still worrying away at a couple of bits of parsing but the grid is now filled which is rather a relief!
    I did need to look up 7d – something new learnt but doubtless soon forgotten……..
    Top three for me were 14&27a plus 5d.

    Thanks to Harold for the tricky little number!

  4. I found this extremely tough, but as the previous commentators have mentioned it was well worth persevering with although I still can’t parse 4a. This was a satisfying solve and my only slight quibble is that 18d takes the concept of a guess a name to a new level.

    I’ve never heard of 7d but it was one of the easier ones to derive from the wordplay.

    I had a lot of ticks, with 14a, 16a & 13d making it onto my podium.

    Many thanks to Harold and in advance to CS.

  5. Very tough indeed and I resorted to a couple of reveals to get it done. I’m also struggling with a couple of parsings so will continue to ponder those.
    Although I liked both 16&23a are they names synonymous with those countries any more? I would say not….and I think the relations in 4d should be retired too, very dated.
    Lots to like though, 10a was good, 14a &27a very clever (though shouldn’t there be a “perhaps” after monarch in the latter?), 13d made me 25d broadly but my favourite was 28a, brilliant!
    Thanks Harold (not so difficult next time please!) and thanks to CS for the inevitable enlightenment tomorrow.

  6. Phew, that was a struggle! My grid was half-empty (or is that half-full?) for quite some time before a final flurry of clue-solving got me across the finish line. All of my favourite clues came in that late flurry – possibly due to a sense of relief? Not at all – my genuine favourites were 4a, 12a, 19a, 27a, 1d and 5d. I did need to check my answer to 7d, a term which was new to me.
    A most enjoyable head-scratcher, Harold, thank you!

  7. Yes, we agree that it was a real head-scratcher, but well worth the effort required to get it sorted.
    The only thing we are left pondering is the wordplay for 19a…….. which has just come to mind while writing this. A huge penny-drop moment.
    Thanks Harold.

  8. Thanks Harold, really super stuff I was pleased to finish without a reveal but did need a fair bit of online help. Great throughout but I thought some of the fiendish tricks were great fun to ‘reverse-engineer’ – 4a in particular My favourites were 1d and 28a. Thanks again, and in advance to CS.

  9. Thank you to Sue for providing the excellent explanations, to Mr K for posting, and Tilsit and others for keeping the NTSPP series going so well in BD’s absence (and very best wishes to him). I’m so pleased that solvers found much to enjoy in this puzzle, and am grateful to those who posted comments. It was compiled over two years ago and submitted to the Indy, but was not published there because I was given the push after my second Indy received some criticism on 15 squared (too hard for the Monday slot). Fortunately, I was subsequently taken on by the FT (under a different pseudonym). If you enjoyed this crossword and would like to see a more recent puzzle of mine, you will find the latest one on the FT crosswords website – No 17,176, published on 18th August. I hope to be able to provide another for the NTSPP slot before long.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS, quite a relief to discover that my parsing had eventually turned out to be accurate.
    Must take a look at Harold’s FT puzzle – very curious to see what pseudonym he uses for their puzzles!

  11. We tried and battled on but failed miserably to complete without some reveals. Nevertheless we enjoyed the challenge. Thank you Harold and CS for explanations when we couldn’t parse the answer.

  12. Definitely a toughie, requiring wordfinder and anagram solver assistance to complete, but quite satisfying in the end. Favourite was 15dn for the misdirection. Thanks, Harold and CS.

Leave a Reply to Rabbit Dave Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.