NTSPP 694 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Starhorse

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A welcome return to normality from Starhorse.


1a  Reportedly support Martian, possibly debauched (12)
BACCHANALIAN: A homophone (reportedly) of back (support) an alien (Martian, possibly).

9a  Cook blames following recipe for waffles (7)
RAMBLES: An anagram (cook) of BLAMES after (following) the abbreviation for recipe.

10a  Turn left for a place to pray in the East End (7)
CHANCEL: A six-letter word for a turn or opportunity followed by the abbreviation for left.

11a  Press quiet about dispute (6)
SMOOTH: A two-letter abbreviation meaning quiet about a four letter word for a dispute.

12a  Basic shack, no fittings, no TV, rejected (8)
SKELETON: The outer letters (no fillings) of skeleton followed by a reversal (rejected) of the NO from the clue and a four-letter word for a TV.

14a  Lose control of favourite artefacts? (2,2,6)
GO TO PIECES: If you have zero artefacts and express this a different way you have a phrase meaning lost control.

15a  Greek character, not quite the brightest? (4)
BETA: The Greek letter following alpha (the brightest).

16a  Has drinks without daughter (4)
OWNS: A five-letter word meaning drinks without the abbreviation for daughter.

17a  OK, place bet, possibly on account (10)
ACCEPTABLE: An anagram (possibly) of PLACE BET after (on) a two-letter abbreviation for account.

20a  Animals spotted by old men next to sign across the way (8)
LEOPARDS: A three-letter word (in the plural) for old men after (next to) a three-letter sign of the zodiac all around (across) the abbreviation for road.

21a  Criminal gangs mentioned advice from marketeers? (6)
TRIADS: A homophone (mentioned) of try ads (advice from marketeers).

24a  Clarinet, not new, repaired for performance (7)
RECITAL: An anagram (repaired) of CLARINET without the abbreviation for new.

25a  Note describes article on source of Italian wine (7)
CHIANTI: A four-letter word for a written note around (describes) the two-letter indefinite article all followed by the first letter (source) of Italian.

26a  Part of another racket? (6,6)
SECOND FIDDLE: A six-letter word for another followed by a six-letter word for a racket or con. 


1d  Ask Rabbi to bring up sample snaps (5)
BARKS: The answer it hidden (sample) and reversed (to bring up) in the first two words of the clue.

2d  What openly gay policemen do to tackle a riot? (4,3,2,5)
COME OUT IN FORCE: Overlapping cryptic definition and definition.

3d  Summit reached by husband and I above large lake on Jersey? (7)
HILLTOP: The abbreviation for husband followed by the I from the clue, the abbreviations for large and lake and a three-letter word for an item of clothing such as a jersey.

4d  Ancient Mariner taking son for a meal (4)
NOSH: The biblical mariner from the book of Genesis with the abbreviation for son replacing the A.

5d  One's hairy role on the canal? (4-6)
LOCK-KEEPER: Cryptic definition and definition.

6d  Farmland in Arkansas, and elevated Italian island (6)
ARABLE: The state code for arable followed by a reversal (elevated) of a four-letter name of an Italian island.

7d  Daft clue for a binder? (14)
SCATTERBRAINED: A reverse anagram clue where the first part of solution (as an anagram indicator) applied to the second part of the solution would give a binder.

8d  Crook loses head on opening stretch (8)
ELONGATE: A five-letter word for a crook without the initial F (loses head) followed by a four-letter word for an opening.

13d  Minor fault in coil placed incorrectly (10)
PECCADILLO: An anagram (incorrectly) of COIL PLACED.

14d  Old vehicles pulled by horses or dogs? (8)
GROWLERS: Double definition.

18d  Government levy after period one ends (7)
TERMINI: The abbreviation for national insurance (government levy) after a phrase (4,1) meaning period one.

19d  Launch the French Defence? (6)
CASTLE: A four-letter word meaning launch or throw followed by the French masculine singular for the.

22d  Shoot carp or wading birds (5)
SNIPE: A triple definition.

23d  Current month, up north, is very cold (4)
ICED: The abbreviation for current followed by a reversal (up north) of the abbreviation for December (month).

20 comments on “NTSPP 694

  1. Thank goodness Starhorse is back to normal again after his April 1st folly.

    I thought this was superb, with brief and accurate clueing, cunning disguises and nice smooth surfaces (with the single exception of the grammar for 3d – it should be “me” not “I”).

    I had a page full of ticks, with 1a (great homophone), 19d (clever chess-related surface) and 22d (excellent triple definition) making it onto my podium.

    Many thanks to Starhorse and in advance presumably to Prolixic.

    1. I can imagine Starhorse’s dilemma RD. ‘I’ is wrong grammatically in the surface but using ‘me’ to clue ‘I’ always grates a little for me. Paradoxically, by using ‘I’ in the surface, maybe Starhorse believes the two words are substitutable – in which case, he could have used ‘me’! 🤔

  2. A very enjoyable puzzle – many thanks to Starhorse.
    My ticks went to 14a, 21a, 4d, 7d, 8d and 22d.

  3. Well – I’ve now established that it takes me a few attempts to spell 1a correctly and that I should have thought harder before writing in my answer to 26a – incorrect second word until checkers arrived to advise me of my error.
    Not an easy solve but well worth the effort and lateral thinking required.
    Biggest ticks went to 1,20&21a plus 5,7&22d.

    Many thanks, Starhorse, good to see you back here again.

  4. Really good stuff, Starhorse. Many thanks.
    Some clever wording which raised many a smile along the way.
    Ticks to 1a, 14a, 4d, 7d, 18d, 22d and 23d.
    I didn’t understand 14a until I revisited it at the end, but having worked it out, it is probably my CoD.
    More of the same, please!

  5. Clever cluing, smooth surfaces (interesting concept to ‘Shoot carp’… :wink: ) and a sprinkling of misleads – just what was needed to accompany a lovely, sunny Saturday. Plenty of favourites ticked along the way, I will mention five from each direction – 1, 12, 14, 21 and 26 across; 2, 4, 7, 13 and 22 down. I agree with Shabbo about 14a, I thought this use of ‘favourite’ was brilliant.
    Thanks, Starhorse, I thought your April puzzle was fun but there were clearly no mistakes this time around! More of a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ than a ‘Comedy of Errors’ :smile:

  6. Top stuff thanks Starhorse, very enjoyable throughout with lots of neat deception but my clear COTD is 14a :-) Thanks again!

  7. Thanks Starhorse, caffeine and some head scratching required and, as RD said, it’s good to see you ‘back to normal.’

    Smiles for 1a, 26a, 2d, 3d, and 6d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic(?).

  8. Very nice Starhorse with plenty to keep me guessing right up to the last, really enjoyed the misdirection.
    I liked the cryptic definitions but my podium contenders are 12&20a plus 4 (my favourite) 6,7&23d.
    Many thanks to you and to whoever has the pleasure of reviewing it.

  9. Much enjoyed but some head scratching needed also. Last in was 8d. Favourites were 14a, 26a and 1a. We look forward to your next one Starhorse.

  10. Good evening, and thank you for all the positive comments. After my temporary “Shorerats” reincarnation I’mrelieved not to be banished for good….

    It’s always interesting to see which clues go down best and gratifying when a good range of them earn a tick or two.

  11. Started late last evening and largely completed first thing this morning, I found this a wonderful challenge, very witty and clever with great deception employed throughout. My COTD was the laugh-out-loud 1a, joined on the podium by 26a and 7d. Another Saturday puzzle that deserves a far wider audience, in my view.

    4* for enjoyment, no question. Thank you to Starhorse (I don’t recall completing one of your puzzles before, but please return soon!) and to the blogger – Prolixic?

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Must admit I didn’t think that the ‘favourite’ part of 14a had anything to do with zero but perhaps you don’t have any go-to outfits!
    Thanks again to Starhorse for a most enjoyable NTSPP.

  13. A day late to this. Great NTSPP Starhorse. 1&14a plus 7d my top 3 of many fine clues. Have just read the review to confirm my parsing & not sure I understand the explanation for 14a – I’m with Jane re the go to bit (gentle fade a fav/go to shot in golf)
    Thanks both

    1. Hi, thanks (and also to Mustafa above) for the positive comments and Prolixic for the review.

      Yes, 14a was intended to be “Go-to” pieces; hadn’t seen the possibility of got zero to be honest. But judging by the lack of illustrations I’m guessing Prolixic was pushed for time this week

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