NTSPP 656 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 


A Puzzle by Shabbo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Shabbo returns with a great Saturday lunchtime puzzle – not difficult but full of fun


1 Plan to study the point of religion (8)
CONSPIRE A verb meaning to study and the point found on some churches

5 Walker will stroll right to the end (6)
AMBLER The abbreviation for right at the start of a synonym for stroll moves to the end of the word  [I see that RD thinks that ‘will’ is unnecessary in the clue, without it, the clue sounds more like an order than something a walker would do?]

10 More genuine regret in Turkey (5)
TRUER A synonym for regret inserted into the IVR Code for Turkey

11 Large lens adjusted to detect pollens? (9)
ALLERGENS An anagram (adjusted) of LARGE LENS

12 With wording so convoluted, entry can go either way (5,4)
SWING DOOR An anagram (convoluted) of WORDING SO

13 Track records, then Farah retires (5)
EPSOM Some vinyl records and a reversal (retires) of the first name of Mr Farah, the athlete

14 Series links jewellery ranges (6)
CHAINS A nice piece of wordplay for this four-definition clue

15 A French flute playing outside is melodic (7)
TUNEFUL An anagram (playing) of FLUTE goes outside the French indefinite article

18 Reportedly studied much loved ruminants (3,4)
RED DEER Homophones (reportedly) of studied and much loved

20 A group of directors all at sea (6)
ABOARD A (from the clue) and a group of directors

22 Small drink before a play? (5)
DRAMA A small drink of spirits goes before A (from the clue)

24 Married seigneur chewed sweets (9)
MERINGUES The abbreviation for Married and an anagram (chewed) of SEIGNEUR

25 Uniformed informant? That rings a bell (4,5)
TOWN CRIER Someone who wears a uniform, rings a bell, and makes public pronouncements  [I can imagine someone saying the clue as it is, if as RD suggests, the ‘that’ was removed, you’d have to remove the ? too and the clue would, for me anyway, be less ‘cryptic’]

26 2s 6d for sparkling headgear (5)
TIARA The name given to 2s 6d in pre-decimal currency could be a description of this sparkling headgear

27 Eating and drinking avoiding rice and kebabs for starters (6)
DINING The third word of the clue without ‘avoiding’ the starters of Rice and Kebabs

28 They post fliers for speakers (8)
TWEETERS Another nice piece of wordplay, this time for a three-definition clue


1 Nicest copper on trial (6)
CUTEST The chemical symbol for copper on top of (in a Down solution) a trial

2 Well-fed Geller ate wraps (9)
NOURISHED A slang way of saying ate ‘wraps’ the Christian name of Mr Geller, the magician

3 Enforcer leaping to foul speedy winger (9,6)

4 Works out motives (7)
REASONS Double definition – the first one a verb, the second a noun

6 Revolutionary irate nation met European Queen advocating consumption of 24? (5,10)
MARIE ANTOINETTE An anagram (revolutionary) of IRATE NATION MET E (European)

7 City guides using headphones (5)
LEEDS A homophone (using headphones) of guides

8 Engineers’ logo drops male look alike (8)
RESEMBLE The abbreviation for the Royal Engineers and a logo without the abbreviation for male

9 Bordeaux college tutors beginner (6)
CLARET A wine produced in Bordeaux – A University of Cambridge college and the letter at the beginning of tutors

16 Lucky to have the strength to eat fish (9)
FORTUNATE A type of fish is ‘eaten’ by a synonym for strength

17 Came before 3 made a kill (8)
PREDATED Another way of saying came before, or what a 3d did before it made a kill

19 Marine airmen both arranged to stay (6)
REMAIN You can make an anagram (both arranged) of either MARINE or AIRMEN to get the solution

20 Barnet team join high fliers (7)
AIRCREW Barnet is Cockney Rhyming Slang for this head covering – remove the H as someone who lived in Barnet would do and add a team

21 Limousines seen at awards ceremony (6)
OSCARS One could describe limousines as outsize vehicles – you need the abbreviation for the first word and a synonym for the second

23 Equally colourless Egyptian city (5
ASWAN Merge a way of saying equally colourless to get an Egyptian city


24 comments on “NTSPP 656

  1. Great fun – many thanks to Shabbo.
    My ticks went to 25a, 26a, 19d and 21d though I could have selected several more.

  2. Like Gazza said, great fun and no caffeine required!

    Smiles for 12a, 19d, and 21d.

    Thanks Shabbo and thanks in advance to CS.

  3. Thanks Shabbo, a very pleasant accompaniment to lunch, much enjoyed. Favourites were 24a, 26a and 19d. We look forward to your next one. Thanks also to CS/Prolixic for the review to clarify an answer.

    1. Shabbo is a nationally published setter and so I’m the person who has just prepared the draft review ready for the morning

  4. I’ve not done many puzzles quicker than this but plenty of smiles along the way.
    1a got us off to a good start, I also particularly liked 13&25a plus 19&21d.
    Many thanks Shabbo and thanks in advance to CS I presume.

  5. Good stuff Shabbo. Lovely concise inventive clueing. A pleasure to solve.
    Stared at my last-one-in answer 17d for a while before thoughts of Packham made the bell ring.
    Just enough to make up for the lack of TV sport.

  6. What a super, fun puzzle – as Stephen said, few have been completed so swiftly, but what delights and pleasure throughout. Concise clueing, nothing to alarm the equines, no arcane “G”K required. Could have selected any number of the clues for special mention but will limit to 12a, 13a, 25a, 9d, 17d, 19d, & 23d.

    Many thanks to Shabbo, and of course also to CS

  7. Before going out to play cricket at around midday, I noticed that today’s NTSPP from Shabbo, who is one of my favourite setters, and I was looking forward to tackling it when I got home. In any event I needed cheering up as our opponents scored 380-4 from their 40 overs and we managed a meagre 99-4 in reply.

    This puzzle didn’t disappoint and certainly improved my mood after our trashing. I can always write the same thing about Shabbo’s puzzles – light and a lot of fun with brief, accurate clueing and super-smooth surfaces.

    I thought that 25a was a very clever idea, but wouldn’t it work slightly better by omitting “That”? Assuming I’m parsing 5d correctly, I’m also not sure what role “will” is playing as it’s not a link word between definition and wordplay like “in”.

    I have a lot of ticks on my page, with double ticks for 13a, 26a, 28a, 19d, 20d & 21d.

    Many thanks to Shabbo and in advance to CS.

  8. Thanks Shabbo, good fun – from plenty of choices, 25a gets top spot for me. Thanks again, and in advance to CS

  9. Good evening to you all.
    RD – I agree that a bit more polishing could have eliminated your two gripes. Thank you.
    Many thanks to you all – your very kind comments mean a lot to me.
    It has often been noted that my puzzles are too easy. Whilst I am trying to make them more difficult, I hope not to lose the sense of fun that I hope most of you find in my puzzles. In my book, a good puzzle is one that makes you smile.
    Many thanks to Mr Kitty and CS in anticipation of a gentle review tomorrow!

    1. Shabbo, all I can say is that one can get as much pleasure and satisfaction from a beautifully written puzzle completed swiftly, such as yours, as from a hugely complex puzzle that takes far longer to solve.

      Personally I should rather have the sense of fun that you provide in a puzzle such as this, than a puzzle that tries to be more challenging but lacks the finesse, wit, and pleasure.

      1. I couldn’t agree more, MG.

        Shabbo, you don’t need to change anything to keep providing solvers with a lot of enjoyment.

      2. Absolutely agree MG. A quick gentle pre lights out solve as an early start the morrow but each clue is a joy. 25a on my podium but 2&16d can fight it out for gold & silver.
        Top notch Shabbo & thanks.

    2. On the recommendation from the main blog, this is the first time that I have tried one of your puzzles Shabbo. I really enjoyed it, maybe at the simpler end of the scale but not a read and write for me, so plenty challenging enough.
      I also learnt something new in 26a, I have never heard that use of tiara before.
      So big thanks to Shabbo and also CS for the much needed explanation of the aforementioned 26a

  10. Well done on another excellent puzzle, Shabbo, I think Mustafa has said it all. Your style is ‘just what the doctor ordered’ and leaves solvers smiling, don’t ever try to change that.

  11. Thanks for another beautifully illustrated review, CS.

    Probably wrongly, having been indoctrinated by a pedantic English teacher, I have always taken “that” to be inanimate when used as a relative pronoun. I bow to the BRB on this one which suggests it can mean “which”, “who” or “whom”.

    I agree with you that the surface of 5d is fine. Putting “in” instead of “will” however would be better for the cryptic grammar while maintaining a good surface. I hesitate to be nit-picky about such an enjoyable puzzle and I would be delighted if someone can demonstrate that I have got this wrong.

    1. Pedant’s Corner: Agree “in” (or “[i]’s”) would be preferable for the walker. The informant is interesting – I liked it as it is (my COTD) but I also agree removing the “that” may be smoother … and no need to lose the question mark (reading it as a list of descriptive nuggets for a missing person, say – which also then gives a context for the surface reading as descriptive question & possible answer) So I think on this occasion RD you are top dog! All great fun of course, many thanks to Shabbo and CS for super puzzle and super illustrated review.

  12. Many thanks for the review, CS. It always amazes me that no matter how many reviews you have to write in a day, you manage to do them all justice.

  13. This certainly was full of fun! Delightful fresh clues! I have many ticks. My selection includes 1a, 13a, 14a, 25a, 26a, 28a and 23d. I particularly enjoyed the 11a and 6d anagrams too.
    Many thanks Shabbo for a most entertaining puzzle.
    Although I did not need it, I also enjoyed reading the review, crypticsue, for which much appreciation. I echo what Jane has said at #13 above.

  14. Thanks, Shabbo – a lovely puzzle and a satisfying solve. I couldn’t see the parsing of 9dn so thanks, CS, for the explanation.

  15. I’m starting to play catch up with my favourite puzzles after a week or so away so this was a lovely crossword to ease my way back into the right mindset… :wacko:

    I particularly enjoyed the anagrams in this puzzle and am going to award them my favourites spots – 11a, 12a, 3d, 6d and 19d. However, I can’t pass by 7d, 16d and 21d without mention!
    Thanks, Shabbo, always a pleasure to tackle your puzzles. Also thanks to CS for her review.

Comments are closed.