NTSPP 700 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Hydra

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

To celebrate the 700th NTSPP puzzle, that many headed beast Hydra, last seen in NTSPP 600, is back.

Can you guess which clue was set by which of the 20 different setters?  All will be revealed in the review.

Special thanks to Prolixic for putting the puzzle together.

Hydra is the many headed beast of Acnestis, Alchemi, Chalicea, Conto, Elgar, Exit, Fez, Gazza, Hippogryph, Hubble, Jaffa, Meles, Phibs, Prolixic, Radler, Shabbo, Silvanus, Skinny, Starhorse, The Void and Twmbarlwm.  Thanks to all of them and  especially to Prolixic for organising the celebratory crossword

When BD started the NTSPP Series, I wonder if he ever imagined it would reach the magic number of 7a?


1a    Occasionally we, the peaceful liberators, drag out war transporter (11)
WHEELBARROW Every third letter (occasionally) of WetHe pEacEfuL liBerAtoRs dRag Out War

7a     Secret agent returns to me! (3)
700 A reversal (returns) of the number associated with a fictional secret agent – the 'me' referring to this crossword

9a     Boisterous and macho like actor Alan? (7)
LADDISH The suffix meaning like or similar to follows the surname of an American film actor from the 1940s and 1950s

10a     Check story involving a right plonker (7)
CHARLIE The abbreviation for check and a story into which is inserted (involving) A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Right

11a     The Observer's masthead position? (5-4)
CROWS-NEST An elevated platform near the top of a ship's mast used by a lookout (observer)

13a    London museum given the first part of valuable letter in Hebrew (3)
VAV The letters used to refer to a particular London museum, followed by the first part of Valuable

15a    Starter of blog with free advice that's good for one beginning cryptics (3,4)
BIG DAVE The 'starter' of Blog and an anagram (free) of ADVIcE where the abbreviation for Good replaces the letter beginning the word Cryptics

16a     West coast city ready for Status Quo? (5)
LATIN An abbreviated city on the West coast of America and a slang term for money (ready)

18a     Home Counties archdeacon becomes cardinal (5)
SEVEN The abbreviation for the part of the country where the Home Counties are found and an abbreviated archdeacon

20a    Square height less than diameter when base shifted right (7)
HUNDRED The abbreviation for height, a prefix meaning less than, and the abbreviation for Diameter when the letter representing the base of natural logarithms [E] is 'shifted' to the right

23a     Type of fly-drive? (3)
ZIP A type of trouser fly or some drive or vigour

24a    Compiler's unfilled Jumbo, something with which to do battle (9)
CROSSWORD The outside (unfilled) letters of CompileR, an abbreviation meaning jumbo sized and something you might use in battle

26a    Prospect of nothing satisfactory penetrating bumpkin (7)
LOOKOUT The letter representing nothing and an informal way of indicating that something is satisfactory inserted into (penetrating) a bumpkin

27a    Passionate Lulu fans collecting singer's earliest stuff regularly (7)
LUSTFUL An anagram (fans) of LULU into which is inserted (collecting) the 'earliest' letter of Singer and the regular letters of sTuFf

29a     Firm support lost by sofa (3)
SET A golfing support lost or removed from a sofa

30a    Big swimmers, little swimmers, weak and healthy swimmers, originally (5,6)
SPERM WHALES Some 'little swimmers', an abbreviation for weak, a synonym for healthy and the original letter of Swimmers


1d    Young beast with flipping punch decking female copper (4,3)
WOLF CUB A synonym for punch is reversed (flipping) and then goes around (decking) the abbreviation for Female and the chemical symbol for copper

2d     Straight on once object extended (7)
ENDLONG An archaic (once) word meaning straight on is obtained by combining an object and a synonym for extended

3d     Capital of Romania's freedom? Not sure (3)
LEI A synonym for freedom without (not) SURE

4d    Olympian from spa town not starting obstacle race in the end (7)
ATHLETE A West Country spa town without its first letter (not starting), an obstacle and the letter at the end of race

5d     Performance held up by brawl at ice rink (7)
RECITAL Hidden in reverse (held up by) in brawL AT ICE Rink

6d    Lacking strength and energy during hike overlooking lake (4)
WEAK Take a synonym for a hike, insert the abbreviation for Energy and then 'overlook' the abbreviation for Lake

7d     Prime time, late morning in convenience store (1-6)
7-ELEVEN A prime number and a time in the late morning

8d    Bacon, perhaps with duck, gets left in extremely low temperature (1,6)
O KELVIN The forename of an actor called Bacon goes after the letter/number representing the score of a duck in cricket, the abbreviation for Left being inserted

12d    Blabs about empty vehicle that's fast (6)
STARVE A reversal (about) of part of a verb meaning informs on (blabs) followed by the outside (empty) letters of VehiclE

14d     Possibly nutmegs England defender (6)
STONES What nutmegs may be and the name of an English footballer

17d    Moving south, drumming crowds - Zulus - creating beats (7)
PUZZLES Take a synonym for drumming or throbbing and move the abbreviation for South to the end of the word; then insert (as indicated by 'crowds') two of the letter represented by Zulu in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

18d     Back up into fencing? (7)
SUPPORT UP (from the clue) inserted into a recreational pastime of which fencing is an example

19d    Nice finishing touch for ensemble deployed with knot in? (7)
NECKTIE The abbreviation for a nautical knot inserted into an anagram (deployed) of NICE and the finishing 'touch' of ensemble

20d    Rowdy bar in Paris: you upset drunken loudmouth (7)
HOODLUM An anagram (drunken) of LOUDMOutH without the reversed French (as used in Paris)word for you

21d    Maximum attending naked cliff and heathland climb (7)
ROOMFUL A reversal (climb) of the inside (naked) letters of a type of cliff and a heathland

22d     Fixed odds led to easy victories (7)
DODDLES An anagram (fixed) of ODDS LED

25d     Gets chopped wood (4)
COPS A slang word meaning gets is obtained by chopping the final letter from a thicket of trees and bushes (wood)

28d     Very hard note (3)
SOH An adverb meaning very and the abbreviation for Hard


7 Prolixic 700
10 Phibs CHARLIE
13 Conto VAV
15 Acnestis BIG DAVE
16 Starhorse LATIN
18 Shabbo SEVEN
20 Radler HUNDRED
23 Hippogryph ZIP
26 Chalicea LOOKOUT
27 Twmbarlwm LUSTFUL
29 Jaffa SET


1 Silvanus WOLF CUB
2 Alchemi ENDLONG
3 Skinny LEI
4 Hubble ATHLETE
6 Acnestis WEAK
7 Silvanus 7-Eleven
8 Twmbarlwm 0 Kelvin
12 Skinny STARVE
14 Hippogryph STONES
17 Conto PUZZLES
18 Meles SUPPORT
19 Phibs NECKTIE
21 Elgar


22 Jaffa


25 Hubble


28 Alchemi



14 comments on “NTSPP 700

  1. On the basis that I couldn’t even remember which clue I had written, I will not attempt to allocate clues to the various setters! In my defence, the puzzle was put together some time ago!
    The theme should help and some knowledge of actors and footballers will also be useful.
    Good fun. Many thanks to Prolixic for putting it all together.

  2. Caffeine, and some e-help, required! Thanks to the team and especial thanks to Prolixic for, as Shabbo has confirmed, ‘pulling’ it all together.

    Smiles for 7a, 15a, 18a/20a, 30a, and 17d.

    And, we live and learn, at least I do, I was not aware that there had been some of 7d in the UK.

    Thanks again to everyone and in advance to CS.

  3. Enjoyable solve to mark the occasion although I couldn’t help but feel sorry for some of our setters, given the answers they had to clue!
    My favourite, despite it having nothing to do with the theme, was 30a.

    Many thanks to Hydra and to Prolixic for organising the whole shebang.

  4. Many thanks to the many setters for providing a fine milestone tribute to the NTSPP slot. I’m still working my way through the previous 699, just another 272 to go… :good:
    It was difficult to pick out favourite clues from the quality on offer, but I eventually settled on 15a, 16a, 20a, 23a and 20d. I also thought 1a was ingenious. There were some new words to me, but all could be teased out from the crossers and wordplay. I still have 19d left to parse, hopefully I will find some inspiration before CS reveals all.
    Finally, my thanks to Prolixic for masterminding the puzzle and delivering this testimonial to BD’s foresight.

    1. The wordplay for 19d finally dawned on me :smile:
      It is duly added to my list of favourites.

  5. It was some time ago that I last saw the filled grid so I came to this virtually fresh (although I did remember my clue). Many thanks to Prolixic for organising the whole thing and achieving an excellent mixture of clues and thanks to all who contributed.
    Apart from all the themed clues (which were all top-notch) my favourite clue was 30a.

  6. Many thanks Prolixic and all setters, a very enjoyable challenge (like Gazza, a while since seeing the grid so whilst I had an advantage a lot of this still took some time!) Top stuff throughout, my faves were 15a, 24a, 18d & 19d. Thanks in advance to CS for review.

  7. Well that was certainly a potpourri of a puzzle, which is only to be expected with 20 setters.

    There were a couple of clues which caused me to raise my eyebrows, but these will remain my secret. One clue (17d) utterly defeated me; I can make a guess what the answer might be in keeping with the theme, but (apart from the Zulus) the wordplay is a mystery, as is the definition.

    I ended up with a lot of ticks on my page and, presumably coincidentally, all my double-ticked clues were acrosses: 1a, 9a, 15a, 16a, 18a & 30a.

    Thanks to Prolixic and the compilers. Thanks too in advance to CS for the review.

  8. Thanks to Prolixic for organising, all the setters, and to CS in advance for the review.

  9. We did have to reveal letters to finish the puzzle. I think the long list of compilers scared us from the start but many thanks to all for a great crossword and to CS for parsing where we couldn’t!

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS, and for letting us know which of our setters compiled each clue. Made me smile to see that Gazza confessed to being LADDISH and that Skinny came up with STARVE.
    A big thank you to all our setters and also to Prolixic for bringing everything together to celebrate 700 NTSPPs.

    1. With the exception of 7a (editor’s right), all clues were allocated randomly, so any association between the solutions and the setters is purely co-incidental – for which I suspect Fez and Twmbarlwm are extremely grateful!!

  11. Like other setters I had not seen the puzzle since its compilation and came to it virtually unseen, apart from remembering 7ac, which did help. On the other hand it took me a few moments to remember my own clue!
    Thanks, Prolixic for drawing it all together, and to crypticsue for the review.

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