NTSPP 699 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Twmbarlwm

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I thought that Twmbarlwm had given us a crossword perfect for the Saturday lunchtime spot, and that was before I saw the Nina at the top and bottom of the grid


6a Telling tailor to get commercial art (7,6)
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Telling in the sense of describing and a verb meaning to invent or describe (tailor)

8a Bum on saddle, finally on your bike (6)
BEGONE: A verb meaning to sponge (bum), ON (from the clue) and the final letter of saddlE

9a Forwarding new image showing duck going back inside (8)
EMAILING: An anagram (new) of IMAGE into which is inserted a reversal (going back inside) of another word for the score known as a duck

10a Novel, the first from Nathanael West, gripping English (3)
NEW: The first letters of Nathanael and West 'gripping' the abbreviation for English

11a Supplement Dobermann exercised needs (6)
ANNEXE: Hidden in dobermANN EXErcised

12a Crude word aunt finds inappropriate (8)
UNTOWARD: An anagram (crude) of WORD AUNT

14a Bass perhaps accompanying organ in Lens (7)
FISHEYE: Misleading capital time. A creature such as a bass with an organ of the body

16a Free kick for this away team (7)
OFFSIDE: An adverb meaning away and a team

20a Farming valley once in Indian region, ultimately barren (8)
AGRARIAN: A drowned  river valley inserted into a region of India, the result finished with the ultimate letter of barreN

23a A filling meal? Begin (6)
LAUNCH: A (from the clue) filling or going inside a meal

24a Member of parliament reading Orwell regularly (3)
OWL: The regular letters of OrWeLl

25a Says no to train spotters (8)
PROTESTS: An anagram (train) of SPOTTERS

26a Vain still? (6)
SELFIE: A cryptic definition of a photograph (still) taken by someone vain enough to want to appear in the photograph

27a Cook had claret, crackers, maybe nuts in such a bar? (4,9)
DARK CHOCOLATE: An anagram (crackers) of COOK HAD CLARET


1d Molecular science of microfauna, note, Church tackles (8)
NANOTECH: Hidden in (tackled by) microfauNA NOTE CHurch

2d Dickens - or Defoe, some say (3,5)
THE ENEMY: Double definition, the first a euphemism for the devil (something that is harmful or acts against); the second relating to the fact that in youth speak, you'd split Defoe (2,3) to mean the solution

3d Spoil party, going outside to drink (5,2)
SCREW UP: A verb meaning to drink goes outside a party or group of people

4d Literalist and poet sadly lacking love (6)
PEDANT: An anagram (sadly) of AND PoET without (sadly lacking) the letter representing love

5d Pain in the neck that hurts? Put your head on this (6)
PILLOW: A tiresome person (pain in the neck) and an interjection expressing pain (that hurts)

6d Politician identified criminal adept at growing plants? (5-8)
GREEN-FINGERED: A member of a particular political party and a slang word meaning identified [a] criminal

7d Dry, as cough may be, liquid tonic unproved (3-10)

13d Spoiled posh people edging away (3)
OFF: Remove the edges or outside letters of some posh people

15d Reflecting at last, ponder on sin (3)
ERR: A reversal (reflecting) of the last letter of pondeR and the usual on (the subject of)

17d Crowded bar. (4,4)
FULL STOP: A definition where it helps if you have really good eyesight. Another way of saying crowded and a synonym for stop

18d Wandering around lake, plucks a plant (8)
SKULLCAP: An anagram (wandering) of PLUCKS A into which is inserted the abbreviation for Lake

19d Help boy up by back of truck in Cretan city (7)
KNOSSOS: The letter at the back of trucK is followed by a reversal (up) of SOS (help) and SON (boy)

21d Adult seabird taking bit of shrimp to the back of boat (6)
ASTERN: The abbreviation for Adult and a seabird between which is inserted the first letter (bit) of Shrimp

22d Bug Moon worshippers here? (6)
INSECT: Split the solution 2,4 and you'll find where the Moonies (worshippers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon) are to be found

17 comments on “NTSPP 699
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  1. Very enjoyable with relevant Ninas – many thanks to Twmbarlwm.
    I was held up slightly in the SE corner until I peered more closely at 17d.
    I’ve picked out 23a, 6d and 17d with my favourite being 26a.

  2. I thought this was a really excellent NTSPP complete with two very appropriate Ninas.

    I didn’t know the plant in 18d but my resident horticultural expert, Mrs RD, saved me from having to look it up. I was puzzled for a while by the parsing for 5d, but then I remembered having used the expression in 4d for a “pain in the neck” at school over 60 years ago!

    Being a 4d, I was going to mention what I initially thought was a spurious full stop at the end of 17d until the penny dropped.

    My page is littered with ticks from which I will select 16a, 25a, 26a, 2d & 6d as my top picks.

    Many thanks to Twmbarlwm and in advance presumably to CS now that Mr T. is deservedly a nationally published setter.

  3. Thanks Twmbarlwm for early morning brain exercise which needed caffeine assistance.

    Like RD, I was surprised by the full stop in 17d until its clever usage became clear.

    Smiles for 8a, 23a, 1d, and the aforementioned 17d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to CS for the review.

  4. Very enjoyable Twmbarlwm. I liked 16a, the neatly disguised anagram at 25a plus 3&17d but I think my favourite was the cleverly cryptic 26a.
    Thanks and thanks in advance to whoever reviews it.

    1. As RD points out above, Twmbarlwm is now a nationally-published setter so I will be the one doing the review

  5. Nicely pitched puzzle with several clues that exercised the old grey matter. Plenty that made me smile particularly the succinct 16a and my other big ticks went to 8&26a plus 6d. Needless to say, I didn’t think to look for our old friend Nina but there she was repeatedly staring me in the face!

    Thanks to Twmbarlwm for a splendid Saturday afternoon diversion.

  6. Very enjoyable MrT. Solving bottom up helped, as cracking the NE corner took as long as the rest put together. I missed the clever lurker till the very end. Still can’t parse 2d – not sure what Dickens has to do with it. 8a went on my podium when the penny dropped. Lots to like elsewhere: 16a, 25a – clever anagram – 26a and 17d among the favourites.

  7. Thanks Twmbarlwm, lovely stuff. Two teensy quibblets, I think the grammar is slightly off in 1d’s “of … tackles”, and 12a ought to be “found” rather than “finds”? I originally had “Devil” in 2d, but crossers came to the rescue. And 3d, though perfectly fine I might’ve preferred a little less Yoda (“having drink outside” maybe?) So, appropriately my favourite was 4d! And special mentions for 8a, 16a, 25a, 26a, 5d, 7d, & 17d. Thanks again and in advance to CS.

    1. Thanks, Fez. I see what you’re getting at with 3d, but I wanted to word it so there was more of a story about someone doing something wrong and taking themselves outside to avoid the fallout. In 1d, I still think ‘tackles’ (or ‘is tackling’) is okay as there’s an elided ‘that’ before Church. In 12a, I think your suggestion of ‘found’ would be wrong. Although it’s grammatically correct in the phrase itself, I don’t think the past tense is right for a link word to a definition. Just my POV, obviously, I could be mistaken.

      1. D’oh, 12a I had the first word as the definition not the anagrind, sorry! No problem with “tackles” as the indicator, but to read grammatically it’s the “of” that is jarring (def of fodder tackles, rather than omitting “of” or def that/which fodder tackles?) Thanks again!

  8. A most enjoyable puzzle, testing – indeed quite challenging. As is quite usual for me I had no idea there was a Nina until coming here! Lots of red herrings and some lovely clever clueing. For me Hon Mentions to 14a, 23a, 1d, 7d & 17d, with COTD 26a.

    Many thanks Twmbarlwm, and in advance to Sue

  9. Hi everyone. Thank you all for tackling the puzzle and for the comments.
    Good to see 26a went down well. As far as I can tell it hasn’t been used before, though I did worry that it might have been!

  10. A top quality puzzle that was an absolute joy to solve. A real penny-drop moment when we looked closely at the clue for 17d and we spent ages trying to make 26a a double definition.
    Spotting the Ninas quite early certainly helped us with the solve.
    Many thanks Twmbarlwm.

  11. ^ Thank you 2Kiwis, glad you liked it.

    Many thanks to Crypticsue for the review and photos, spot-on as always.

  12. Our eyesight isn’t up to scratch as, although we had the correct answer, we knew we were lacking something in 17d. Now it’s our favourite! Thank you CS. We also missed the Nina! Nevertheless we really enjoyed the puzzle and we look forward to your next one Twmbarlwm.

  13. A perfect way to start Sunday morning for me, after enjoying ourselves at Eastbourne tennis on Saturday. I have picked out three favourites from each direction: 8, 23 & 25 across and 4, 17 & 18 down; but last one in and surpassing all others was 26 across!
    Thanks for the fun puzzle, Twmbarlwm, and thanks to CS for the review and Nina prompt. When I saw the hedgehog grid layout I had thought, aha, ‘Nina alert’, but by the time I had finished I had forgotten all about it so missed what was staring me in the face… :roll:

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