NTSPP 688 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Widdersbel

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Welcome to Widdersbel as he joins the halls of the NTSPP.


1a  What archer wants, English had, somewhere near San Francisco (6,4)
GOLDEN GATE: A four-letter word for the colour of the inner circle on the archer’s target followed by a three-letter abbreviation for English and a three-letter word meaning had or consumed.

6a  Judi Dench perhaps last to come forward for cheese (4)
EDAM: The title of an ennobled lady such a Judi Dench with the last letter moved to the front.

10a  Bad smell in cocktail a sign of infection? (9)
SNIFFLING: A four-letter word for a bad smell inside a five-letter word for a cocktail.

11a  Fine palatial houses where the Buddha grew up (5)
NEPAL: The answer is hidden (houses) in the first two words of the clue.

12a  Answer 25 first (5)
AHEAD: The abbreviation for answer followed by a four-letter synonym for the answer to 25a.

13a  Beowulf unabridged? I cut the most intense part (9)
EPICENTRE: A four-letter word for a work such as Beowulf followed by a six-letter word meaning unabridged or whole without (cut) the letter I.

14a  Nominate patient fellow for deception (3-2,3)
PUT-UP JOB: A phrase 3,2 meaning nominate followed by the three-letter name of the biblical character noted for patience.

16a  Criticises demands for access (6)
KNOCKS: Double definition.

19a  Regularly sips fancy hotel’s aperitif (6)
SPRITZ: The odd letters (regularly) of sips followed by the four-letter name of a posh or fancy hotel.

20a  Irrational to evict horse? (8)
UNSTABLE: Split 2-6, this could mean to remove a horse from its lodgings.

23a  European daisy, say - good thing for kids to hunt in spring (6,3)
EASTER EGG: The abbreviation for European followed by a five-letter word for the family of plants of which a daisy is an example, a two letter abbreviation meaning say or for example and the abbreviation for good.

25a  Return non-uniform loaf (5)
BONCE: A six-letter word meaning return or spring back without the letter U (non-uniform).

26a  Tea in McDonald's? (5)
CHAIN: A three-letter word for tea followed by the IN from the clue.

27a  French 25 repeatedly hosts a party for two? (4-1-4)
TETE-A-TETE: The French word for 25a repeated with an A between (hosts) them.

28a  Plain meal oddly lacking a kind of bean (4)
LIMA: The even letters (oddly lacking) in the first two words of the clue.

29a  Digs snazzy lad's outfit (6,4)
STUDIO FLAT: An anagram (snazzy) of LADS OUTFIT.


1d  Opening boxes to find fault with old street light (3,4)
GAS LAMP: A three-letter for an opening around (boxed) a four-letter word meaning to find fault.

2d  City in Crete lies in ruins (9)
LEICESTER: An anagram (in ruins) of CRETE LIES.

3d  Used four-letter words - this don is strangely offended (5)
EFFED: A compound anagram where an anagram (strangely) of the solution and DON give the word OFFENDED.

4d  Leading companion reportedly made fun of tail (5,3)
GUIDE DOG: A homophone (reportedly) of GUYED (made fun of) followed by a three-letter meaning tail or follow.

5d  Entitled berk capsized in Middle East river (6)
TIGRIS: A three-letter word for a knighted person and a three-letter word for a berk all reversed (capsized).

7d  Uproot houseplant from store? (5)
DEPOT: Split 2-3 this could mean uproot or remove a plant from its container.

8d  Mother, shall we put away large hammers? (7)
MALLETS: A two-letter word for mother followed by a four-letter word meaning shall we includes (put away) the abbreviation for large.

9d  Apprentice with case of 21 computers joined together (8)
INTERNET: A six-letter word for a trainee followed by the outer letters (case) of the solution to 21d.

15d  Blueprints supplied by partners after "persuasive chat" (8)
PATTERNS: A pair of bridge partners after a six-letter word for a persuasive chat or sales spiel.

17d  An instruction to dog after youngster finds something on bottom of boot (5,4)
CUBAN HEEL: The AN from the clue and a four-letter word of instruction that might be given to a dog after a three-letter word for a youngster.

18d  Made Sir Ged think erroneously (8)
KNIGHTED: An anagram (erroneously) of GET THINK.

19d  What might make 15 clients upset? (7)
STENCIL: An anagram (upset) of CLIENTS.

21d  Extreme cycling over top of this peak (7)
EVEREST: A six-letter word meaning extreme with the letters rotated around (cycling) over the first letter (top) of this.

22d  Make like a bird and fly (4,2)
BEAT IT: Split 2,2,3 this could mean being a small bird.

24d  Did butterfly netting at first restrict some bees? (5)
SWARM: A four-letter word for the form of exercise or sport in which one might do the butterfly stroke includes (netting) the first letter of restrict.

25d  What's said to lift Charlie's predecessor (5)
BRAVO: The letter in the NATO phonetic alphabet before Charlie.

21 comments on “NTSPP 688

  1. An excellent puzzle with smooth surfaces and d’oh moments throughout – thanks to Widdersbel for the entertainment.
    It seems invidious to select favourite clues because there’s not a dud here – I’ll just mention 13a, 26a, 3d, 4d and 9d.

    1. The perfect lunchtime crossword – hard to pick just one favourite from so many good clues, so I won’t

      thanks to Widdersbel and, in advance, to Prolixic

  2. Widdersbel, having successfully scored zero on Prolixic’s Rookie Corner commentometer to earn promotion to the NTSPP, you have continued here in the same vein of excellence.

    I thought this was just right for the Saturday lunchtime slot with great clueing, smooth surfaces and clever disguises.

    Although it is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, I think it is normal to indicate if a clue cross-reference is across or down when this is ambiguous, as is the case here where two of your clues refer to “25” meaning “25 across”.

    From a long list of ticked clues, I have selected 26a, 3d & 4d for my podium.

    Very well done, Widdersbel, and thanks for the fun. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks, RD. I think the convention is that you don’t need to specify when the cross-referenced clue is the same direction, but yes, it maybe would have been better to make it explicit in this instance, for the total avoidance of ambiguity.

  3. Excellent job, widders. Well done. Bubbling with fun and creativity and very tightly clued throughout. A splendid NTSPP debut.

    Yes, it does seem unfair to single out any particular clues but particular favourites include 6a, 11a, 20a, 23a, 29a, 2d, 3d, 15d, 17d and 18d.

    Many thanks and I look forward to the review.

  4. Very enjoyable Widders, smiles and misdirection throughout.
    For my extended podium I’ll go for 13,23&29a plus 3,8&17d but could have chosen several more.
    Many thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic I presume.

  5. Welcome to your new slot on the blog, Widdersbel.
    My ticks in this one went to 13,20&29a plus 4&15d.
    Keep up the good work.

  6. Thank you, Widdersbel, much enjoyed but we do need to check with Prolixic on a couple of answers which we couldn’t completely parse. We look forward to your next one. Thank you in advance to Prolixic also.

  7. Excellent puzzle and much appreciated. We not even going to try picking a favourite from such a great bunch.
    Thanks Widdersbel.

  8. A vey entertaining evening solve. Many elegant clues and a couple I couldn’t quite parse, 3d and 21d, so I await the review to remove the scales from my eyes. LOI was 16a and last one to parse was 13a which was in toughie territory IMHO.
    Thanks Widdersbel and well done.

  9. Very entertaining crossword with just the right level of difficulty and smooth surfaces. My ticks go to 11a, 20a, 21d and 25d among others . 12a (though cleverly done) does have a problem of using a word with the same root as Ahead is just an extension of head.

    Looking forward to your next one

  10. A great puzzle for your debut in the NTSPP slot – nothing obscure but some thought required. Thanks, Widdersbel.

  11. Thanks everyone for the comments, glad it has gone down well, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  12. First NTSPP? This puzzle had all the qualities of a seasoned setter! Well done, Widdersbel, for making your debut in this slot and thank you for the splendid entertainment. I did try to find a ‘head’ in 25d at first but then quickly realised there was a 25a! However, I put that down to my doing this at bedtime after a busy day rather than any issue with your setting. My podium places were awarded to 13a, 15d and 17d.
    My thanks once again, Widdersbel, and also thank you to Prolixic in advance.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, as usual it was the subtractive anagram that caused me grief!

  14. Thanks, Widdersbel. Quite tricky from time to time, but excellent clueing all round, my favourites being 6a, 12a, 28a, 5d and 17d, with 5d getting the gold.
    I didn’t spot the rare composite for a while, even though I knew it was something you liked to practise. My reaction to eventually getting there was not reflected in the solution, honest.

    1. Off-topic, I see Prolixic has illustrated 2d with a photo of the old Lewis’s store in that city, now demolished (except for the tower). The writer Colin Wilson (‘The Outsider’ etc) met his future wife on his first day at work there in 1963. [Tagged: facts, useless]

      1. One of my childhood treats in the late 1960’s was a trip to Lewis’s. I loved to old fashioned lifts with the lift attendants in uniform and the rickety wooden escalators that would take you up to the toy department and the Lego counter! Less enjoyable was the inevitable trip from the back entrance to the store to M&S which as a young lad seemed the most boring shop in Leicester. My other abiding memory of Leicester was the imposing banking hall of the Midland Bank.

  15. That was a cracking puzzle widders, rather late to the party but this made for a most entertaining solve. Hard to pick a short list from this set of fun and inviting surfaces but I particularly liked 10a, 11a, 19a, 20a, 25a, 29a, 1d, 5d, 8d, 17d, 19d and 22d. Thanks for the puzzle!

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