NTSPP 658 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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I Have Collections by The Void

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The Void gave us a crossword that was a double pangram for our Saturday lunchtime entertainment which I found friendly in places and tricky in others


1a Least imposing Loach movie featuring athletics competition? Au contraire! (7)
MEEKEST: The opposite of what the wordplay suggests – the Ken Loach movie is featured in an athletics competition

5a Maybe Scaramanga Six lines accompany Ivor Novello’s overtures (7)
VILLAIN: The Roman numerals for six, two abbreviated lines and the ‘overtures’ or letters at the beginning of Accompany Ivor Novello

9a Snootier, more mischievous knight goes to hospital (9)
HAUGHTIER: Change the chess abbreviation for knight at the start of a word meaning more mischievous to the abbreviation for hospital

10a Closures in Britannia Road, with no tarmac when necessary (2,3)
AD HOC: The ‘closures’ in britanniA roaD witH nO tarmaC

11a Death came from reversal of prophecy: RIP Xerxes (6)
EXPIRY: Hidden in reverse in prophecY RIP XErxes

12a Try to get info by introduction of blackbird to animal enclosure (8)
FISHBOWL: A verb meaning to try to get information, the ‘introduction’ of Black and a bird

14a Purchases old tree ‘umberside city described as leaning in two directions (8)
BISEXUAL: Homophones of a synonym for purchases, a tree and the Humberside city (without the H, as is ‘Humberside’ in the clue) go round the usual ‘old’.  As others have said, this doesn’t work for many of us as the city wouldn’t be pronounced like that, with or without an H

16a Including previously unknown metal (4)
ZINC: A mathematical unknown goes before (previously) the abbreviation for including

19a Haven at Odessa harbours many allies (4)
NATO: Hidden in haveN AT Odessa

20a American idiots are helpful in parties (8)
DOOFUSES: A two-word expression meaning ‘are helpful’ inserted into some parties

23a With guile, Poe constructed final part of story (8)
EPILOGUE: An anagram (constructed) of GUILE with POE

24a One grooving senior takes heart (6)
SCORER: The abbreviation for senior ‘takes’ the heart or central part of something

27a “It isn’t exactly hot” slurred a lot of people (5)
SWARM: How someone slurring their words might something that isn’t exactly hot (or exactly cold either)

28a I bail out drunk by taking half of blame (9)
LIABILITY: An anagram (drunk) of I BAIL, a synonym for drunk and the second half of bY

29a Locks could be anticipated fretfully (7)
DREADED: Something that can be done to locks of hair or part of a verb meaning anticipated fretfully

30a “SOS!” – Jane, experiencing tremor in Californian settlement (3,4)
SAN JOSE: An anagram (experiencing tremor) of SOS JANE


1d “Harlem Shuffle” composer (6)
MAHLER: An anagram (shuffle) of HARLEM

2d Provide the end of the joke (5)
EQUIP: The letter at the end of thE and a joke

3d Cable alien hunter of legend with conclusion of report (8)
ETHERNET: A famous alien, a legendary hunter and the letter that concludes reporT

4d Realise branch downscaled (4)
TWIG: An informal verb meaning to realise or a very small or downscaled branch

5d Red pests devour tatty lilo (10)
VERMILLION: Some pests ‘devour’ an anagram (tatty) of LILO

6d See hate yielding hate (6)
LOATHE: An interjection meaning see and an anagram (yielding) of HATE

7d Working at Pride – oh god! (9)
APHRODITE: An anagram (working) AT PRIDE OH produces the name of a goddess -presumably now that actresses have to be called actors, goddesses can be called gods?

8d Swallow string ornament (8)
NECKLACE: A slang verb meaning to swallow or drink, and a string

13d Perhaps racehorse’s implanted bit of liver grew four times larger (10)
QUADRUPLED: A term for an animal such as a racehorse into which is inserted (implanted) a bit of Liver

15d Detailed tips on public liability insurance left out of three copies (8)
INTRICATE: Remove the tips of Public Liability Insurance from a way of describing three copies of the same thing

17d Lacking education in how prose is formed? (8)
UNVERSED: Prose is formed in a different way to poetry

18d Union Jack seen above ceremonial investiture (8)
JUNCTION: The abbreviation for Jack goes above (in a Down solution) something used at a ceremonial investiture

21d Tore up protest against Australia (6)
ZOOMED: A reversal (up) of an informal protest and the Australian slang word for Australia

22d Cicely graciously rejected a little presentation of diamonds (6)
ARGYLE: Hidden in reverse in cicELY GRAciously

25d Horny beast starts to rub his irritating nodules off (5)
RHINO: The ‘starts’ to Rub His Irritating Nodules Off

26d Tediously talks of elevated resort by the side of Torquay (4)
YAPS: A reversal (elevated in a Down solution) of a resort and the letter at the right-hand side of Torquay

28 comments on “NTSPP 658

  1. A very enjoyable puzzle – thanks The Void.
    It’s a double pangram (I presume that’s what the title is telling us) which is a major feat without resorting to obscurities. The only thing I had to look up was the 3d hunter of legend.
    For my podium I’ve selected 9a, 20a and 22d.

  2. I found this a very mixed bag. Parts of it may have been more suited to Rookie Corner than the NTSPP slot but there were a lot of very good clues too.

    14a I felt this was rather contrived. Also, the homophone for the last syllable doesn’t work for me, but no doubt it will for some.
    20a What a horrible word! At least the wordplay is precise and the Americanism is indicated.
    29a I don’t think “anticipated fretfully” is strong enough to be synonymous with “dreaded” – perhaps “… fearfully” would be better. Although “dreads” can mean “dreadlocks” as a noun, I don’t think “dreaded” in that sense works as a verb. Also, the surface of this one is rather strange.
    2d The first “the” is superfluous.
    3d The answer is actually a wired computer network. “Type of cable” would have been better.
    7d I would have said the answer is a goddess. Collins, Wikipedia and Britannica all agree.
    26d I’m not convinced that “side of” specifies the final letter. “Close to” would be OK.

    I particularly liked 9a, 10a, 11a, 12a, 16a, 1d, 8d, 15d (despite the wrong enumeration) 18d & 22d.

    Thank you, The Void, and well done, particularly for constructing a double pangram with (for me) only two obscurities. Please keep working on the few rough edges and come back soon. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic (?) for the review.

    1. RD. I can’t disagree with much of that. 29a: Fretful can mean anxious, so anticipated fretfully might = anticipated anxiously (or dreaded)? The BRB only gives fretful: peevish.

      I must be missing something with 14a: I’ve got Purchases (buys = BIS); old = EX; tree (yule = UAL) with “described” as the homophone indicator. So, ‘umberside city seems redundant. Can’t be, surely?

        1. Thanks, RD. Yes, I realised Kingston upon ‘ull must come into it somewhere but, like you, it doesn’t really work for me. ‘ull = AL? Should’ve ditched the ‘umberside city and gone with my version.

      1. I did check my BRB but the print far was too small for me to see it! Now I’ve looked again, it is definitely there.

  3. Like RD, I wasn’t sure what to make of this and wondered how our setter had gained such early promotion – does being nationally published confer an automatic right?
    Top clues for me were 9&12a plus 1&22d.

    Thanks to The Void for a rather ‘different’ NTSPP.

    1. Once a setter is nationally published, they move out of Rookie Corner to the NTSPP – even if they didn’t, it would still be me doing the review, as both Prolixic and Silvanus follow the “convention”.

  4. Enjoyable and not overly tricky with the exception of 20a.
    I would obviously have liked to find a place for 26d amongst the honours but I’ll put 14a on my podium (for ambition if nothing else) along with 9a&22d but my out and out winner is 21d.
    Many thanks The Void and thanks in advance to CS.

  5. Having refreshed my memory on the setter’s two Rookie puzzles I decided that caffeine assistance might be required, and it was. Although, thankfully, this was closer to his second Rookie than his first.

    Definitely a curate’s egg for me – in particular, cable vs. network in 3d, god vs. goddess in 7d, and the homophone element of 14a didn’t work for me.

    I did have some smiles for 1a, 10a. 29a, 5d, and 15d.

    Thanks to The void and in advance to CS.

  6. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this, so thank you The Void. I did mentally query ethernet / cable and the side of Torquay (which side?), but accepted everything. A double pangram is worth some extra kudos in my book.

  7. I experienced a couple of minor cringes (accompanied by wry smiles), but overall a very enjoyable puzzle and an impressive double pangram. Spotting the latter was helpful in filling my last one in, 21d. Podium places went to 9a, 12a and 3d.
    My thanks to The Void and, in advance, to CS.

  8. An enjoyable solve for us. The ‘animal enclosure’ in 12a was the last to get sorted.
    Thanks The Void.

  9. Hi all,
    Thanks for the slot, and to everyone who solved and commented. The title comes from the (entirely accidental) column 14. Sorry about the enumeration error – an embarrassing slip.
    For 7, I have no trouble describing Aphrodite as “a supernatural being, an object of worship”.
    In the surface of 29: A narrowboat owner might not be looking forward to going up the Hanwell flight. I’m familiar with phrases like “I’m thinking of dreading my hair”, so I didn’t think to check for it as a verb in that context. Clearly I should have. Fret=worry, so “anticipated [in a worried manner]” for “feel great apprehension towards” doesn’t seem too far off to me. Perhaps a “very” or a slightly stronger word could have been used, okay.
    In 2, while the first “the” isn’t strictly necessary for the grammar, I don’t think it harms it, and I think it makes the surface smoother.
    Admittedly, “side of” gives a choice of two letters here, but only one will give a word that matches the definition.
    There’s nearly always the risk a homophone won’t work for some, yes. I don’t stress the “A” much when I pronounce it, so sorry to those who do. Thanks for the “ambition” comment, Stephen. Made me laugh. (Which is clearly what I’ve failed to do for others with this clue. :-) )
    Glad you all found at least something to like in there.
    Thanks in advance for the review.
    Cheers everybody, have a great rest of the weekend!

    1. Thanks The Void, thoroughly enjoyed this (didn’t get chance to solve it yesterday so sorry for late commenting) – in particular I loved the 14a homophone, I think these are best when audacious (and perhaps slightly dodgy) – eg the Quickie puns are more enjoyable when they’re more ridiculous. But overall favourite was 12a amongst lots of super clues. Thanks again (and to CS – I will go read the review now!)

      1. Hi The Void.
        My comment on 14a was actually meant as a compliment, for me a super clue.
        Thanks again for the top-notch puzzle and thanks to CS for a likewise review.

  10. I thought this was very enjoyable in places but a bit uneven in others. I particularly liked 9a, 1d, 2d and 26d.
    I knew the ‘American idiots’ but had no idea that was how it is spelled! It’s a word I’ve often heard so perhaps it is creeping into English parlance as well…
    Well done, The Void! A double pangram is pretty impressive! Big thanks to you and also to crypticsue for a lovely review.

  11. A lovely puzzle, which I enjoyed very much – interesting challenges and some unfamiliar constructions. At 29a was unconvinced with fretfully=dreaded – the latter is some considerably way up the scale from the former, in my book! Still cannot see any problem with the homophone in 14a – it works perfectly for me. COTD for me is 18d but any number could have taken that acolade.

    Thank you The Void, and thank you too CS

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