NTSPP 683 – 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.

A welcome return by Gazza to the pages of the NTSPP.


1a  &17. Relatively accessible assistance to get home? (4,2,3,3,3)
BANK OF MUM AND DAD: Cryptic definition of parents who fund their offspring’s purchases.

4a  Pet hates creepy-crawlies biting stomach (8)
BUGBEARS: A four-letter word for creepy-crawlies around (biting) a four-letter word meaning to stomach something.

10a  Racing vehicles leave muddy traces with no hint of excuse (2-5)
GO-CARTS: A two-letter word meaning leave followed by an anagram (muddy) of TRACES without the letter E (with no hint of excuse).

11a  Conceivably the German’s to become a Communist? (4,3)
TURN RED: A reverse anagram clue where the solution read as clue would give the German definite article.

12a  Gossip’s essentially handy for Conservative whip (4)
YANK: A four-letter word meaning gossip with the middle letter (essentially) of handy replacing the abbreviation for conservative.

13a  When salty she scares all forgetting clothing for keeping fit (6,4)
HEALTH CARE: The middle letters (forgetting clothing) of the first four words of the clue.

15a  Everyone gets off boat failing to start on river (6)
EXEUNT: A four-letter word for a flat bottomed boat without the initial letter (failing to start) after (on) a three-letter river.

16a  After injury I wee so messily – at first it’s personally distressing (3,2,2)
WOE IS ME: An anagram (after injury) of I WEE SO M (messily at first).

20a  Confrontational, trying to gain an edge? (7)
STROPPY: Double definition, the second cryptically referring to the leather strap used to hone a razor.

21a  Bogus useless investigator in Detroit (6)
SHAMUS: A four-letter word meaning bogus followed by the abbreviation for useless.

24a  Cat coming to play around by side of mainline tracks is daft behaviour (10)
TOMFOOLERY: A three-letter word for a male cat followed by (coming to) a four-letter word meaning play around, the final letter (side) of mainline and the abbreviation for railway (tracks).

26a  Granny could be retiring in Milton Keynes … (4)
KNOT: The answer is hidden and reversed (retiring in) the final two words of the clue.

28a  … prompting BBC boss to replace Kay in bombing programme (7)
NUDGING: The abbreviation for Director General (BBC boss) replaces the K in a bombing programme involving nuclear weapons.

29a  PC 11 is no quick worker (7)
PLODDER: A four-letter slang word for a police constable followed by the German definite article referenced in 11a.

30a  On vacation Manchester police mistreated me (8)
COMPILER: An anagram (mistreated) of MR (Manchester on vacation) POLICE.

31a  Governor dictates sandwiches to be sourced from Sweden? (6)
NORDIC: The answer is hidden (sandwiches) in the first two words of the clue.



1d  In March colonel comes down on soldiers who frighten children (8)
BOGEYMEN: The name of the colonel in the British military march before (comes down on) a three-letter word for soldiers.

2d  New Orleans criminal trial is a foregone conclusion (2,7)
NO CONTEST: The abbreviation for New Orleans followed by a three-letter word for a criminal and a four-letter word for a test.

3d  He avoids raucous rows (4)
OARS: Remove the letters HE from the outside of a six-letter word meaning raucous.

5d  Previously student lodged in bustling uni town (5,3)
UNTIL NOW: The abbreviation for student inside (lodged in) an anagram (bustling) of UNI TOWN.

6d  Legal delivery originally due (10)
BIRTHRIGHT: A five-letter word meaning legal with a five-letter word for a delivery of a new baby before it (originally).

7d  Main line regularly bypassed aboard tram (5)
AORTA: The odd letters (regularly bypassed) of the last two words of the clue.

8d  Hole beneath ground’s waterlogged (6)
SODDEN: A three-letter word for a hole or a lair underneath (beneath) a three-letter word for ground.

9d  Congress overwhelmed by opponents in county (5)
ESSEX: A three-letter word for congress or intercourse after (overwhelmed) by opponents in a game of bridge.

14d  Passing of time encapsulated in the heart of Broadway (4,6)
ANNO DOMINI: The middle letters in Broadway expanded when read as an abbreviation.

17d  See 1a

18d  In conclusion one record after another starts to unsettle everybody (8)
EPILOGUE: The letter for one and a three-letter word for a record after a two-letter abbreviation for a record all followed by the initial letters (starts) to the final two words of the clue.

19d  Idle English drunkard appearing initially enigmatic … (8)
ESOTERIC: The name of the Monty Python team member Idle with the abbreviation for English and a three-letter word for a drunkard before it (appearing initially).

22d  … principally exhibiting traditionally honoured notably indigenous characteristics (6)
ETHNIC: The initial letters (principally) of the second to seventh words of the clue.

23d  Rubbish food (5)
TRIPE: Double definition.

25d  Bossy small girl jumping up and down (5)
MADAM: A word for a bossy small girl that is a palindrome (jumping up and down).

27d  Miss March gets to the bottom of hoax in games room (4)
DOJO: The name of Miss March in Little Women below (gets to the bottom of) a two-letter word meaning hoax.

24 comments on “NTSPP 683

      1. Thank you. This is something to look forward to on initial reading. Thanks Gazza.

  1. Excellent stuff Gazza, clever and (very in parts) witty throughout.
    Hard to choose highlights, it was all top-notch but if pushed I’ll go for 1/17 plus 4,16&28a along with 25d but my favourite was the lol 1d.
    Many thanks indeed and thanks to whoever reviews it.

  2. I was delighted as soon as I saw who had set today’s NTSPP. Gazza’s puzzles don’t appear very often but, when they do, they are always a joy to solve.

    I think I have only ever previously seen 10a spelt with a K. Although the answer seemed obvious I didn’t write it in because I couldn’t see how to parse it. The penny dropped after I had solved 2d.

    I expect I’m missing something, but 20a doesn’t quite work for me, even with the question mark. Isn’t “trying to gain an edge” stropping?

    Among all the excellent clues, my highlights were 1/17, 11a, 13a, 15a, 26a, 28a, 1d, 6d & 19d.

    Many thanks to Gazza, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Isn’t 20a one of those whimsical/waggish contrivances that setters use occasionally – bunging a Y on the end? If you’re stropping, you’re being “stroppy”. There’s a couple of good past examples in DT puzzles, but I can’t for the life of me recall them.

  3. As to be expected with a Gazza NTSPP, some head scratching required and caffeine most definitely required. Really enjoyable and a great start to my Saturday.

    Smiles for 13a, 28a, 7d, 9d, and 18d.

    Thanks to Gazza and thanks in advance to Prolixic (I think).

    1. I did say in the introduction to my Hints post that I only had to do one blog post this weekend!

      Gazza is not a nationally-published setter so Prolixic will be the one reviewing the NTSPP

  4. An excellent puzzle! Great clues with a good smattering of humour, a decent challenge and a very enjoyable/entertaining solve. I have ticked about half of the clues and particualrly liked 20a, 21a, 28a, 30a and 1d. I did sovle 27d and eventually discovered that Miss March, whom I’d never heard of. Before that, I did try to convince myself that there must a typo in the clue and it should read Miss Marsh – ie the former model Jodie Marsh! But then thought: “Nah, Gazza won’t know her”. If this was a back-pager, I’d rate it 3*/4.5*. Really enjoyed it!

  5. A gazza NTSPP is always most welcome.

    Podium places go to 14d, 16a and 15a (not to mention the two little women in 25d & 27d)

    Thanks, Gazza. Looking forward to the next one.

  6. A sheer delight to solve from start to finish. The very last to fall was the parsing for 13a. The only thing that has us still pondering is the significance of 084b in the heading.
    Thanks so much Gazza.

  7. Always a pleasure to get one of Gazza’s little gems to solve, quite made my day.
    Rueful smile for 1/17 and a slight swoon for the twinkly-eyed leprechaun in 21a (sorry, CS, couldn’t resist!) – other big ticks went to 4,16,26&28a plus 14&19d.
    Only downside was that despite latching on to the correct Miss March immediately, I had to enlist Mr G’s assistance with the games room.

    Thank you very much for the great fun, Gazza.

  8. Thank you Gazza,
    . We did struggle at the end and needed a couple of reveals. Favourites are 1a, 4a, 31a, 25d and 23d. We look forward to the review and to your next puzzle.

  9. Definitely going to print this one.
    Should get a chance to tackle it over the weekend.

  10. n absolute cracker of a puzzle! Favourite clue was 13a and I failed to solve 27d. Thanks for the review Prolixic & please don’t leave it so long until your next puzzle Gazza. Now it’s time to get ready for 2 of the grandkids to descend upon us.

  11. Many thanks to all who commented and heartiest thanks to Prolixic for the explanations.

    Just to clarify the ‘b’ in the title, my test solver reported that my original version of the puzzle was on the tough side so I tried to simplify a few of the clues in this revised version.

  12. Thank you for that puzzle, Gazza – really enjoyed the challenge last evening & this morning, and found it a very satisfying solve. When I managed to parse 29a the groan was audible from a distance – v clever & good interaction with 11a. So many ticks – 4a, 11a, 13a, 29a, 31a, 5d, 14d, 22d – but my top two (any order) were 24a and 19d.

    Thank you also to Prolixic for the review

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, gave me the opportunity to savour Gazza’s puzzle for a second time!

  14. A terrific puzzle. Many thanks Gazza.
    I didn’t know the games room in 27d, but worked it out once I had established who Miss March was.
    Loved the 1/17 combo, which is an institution that is active in this household!
    Great fun.

  15. Nothing really to add to the comments above; I enjoyed the penny-drop moment in 1dn.
    Thanks Gazza amd Prolixic.

  16. Cracking puzzle Gazza. Gave up o it Sat & only just remembered I still had it to try & complete. Needed Prolixic to explain a couple & used a 2 letter reveals to finish but thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Many thanks both

  17. Thanks, Gazza. Moderately difficult in parts with a few not-so-obvious synonyms to ponder on, but I made steady progress before screeching to a halt in column 11: despite all the crossers being in, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees in 6d and 27d – my last two in. Came back to them later and got them straight away – a good idea not to go for the obvious ‘little woman’ in the latter, obviously!
    Favourites were 4a (nicely disguised defn), 12a, 16a, 30a, 5d and 18d.

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