NTSPP 720 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 


A Puzzle by PostMark

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


PostMark set what I thought was quite a tricky, but extremely enjoyable,  Saturday lunchtime puzzle but then, as I said in the Prize Puzzle hints, it wasn't a day for doing anything but solve crosswords. This one had a theme relating to various 'plants'.


9a Worked up copy, needing page (5)
IRATE: To copy work illegally without (needing) the abbreviation for Page

10a Igloo redesigned by college for competition of sorts (9)
OLIGOPOLY: An anagram (redesigned) of IGLOO followed by a college

11a Plant funny pieces in film (9)
EQUIPMENT: A funny remark and some [chess] pieces inserted into Crosswordland's favourite film

12a Daisy, 10, consumed by Overwatch! (2-3)
OX-EYE: The Roman numeral for 10 'consumed' by the cricket abbreviation for Over and a verb meaning to watch

13a Cheerful cry from number one, 'Band's aboard!' (7)
WHOOPEE: A circular band goes 'aboard' an informal, childish, word for urinating (no 1)

15a Driven daughter split with journalist (7)
DRIFTED: The abbreviation for Daughter, a split and the usual abbreviated top journalist

17a One stirring in more sage, wife deferring to recipe (5)
RISER: Replace the abbreviation for Wife in a way of saying more sage with the abbreviation for Recipe

18a Prize plant (3)
POT: An informal name for a trophy (prize) or a plant

20a Picture screened by Roeg, a minor revolutionary (5)
IMAGE: Hidden in reverse (screened by … revolutionary) in roEG A MInor

22a Plant one's pulled on track? (7)
SLEEPER: A spy (plant) or a type of railway carriage

25a Remove something stuck on books - not lecturer's ointment? (7)
UNGUENT: Unstick something followed by the abbreviation for the books in the second part of the Bible – the L (not lecturer) being removed from the first part

26a Penny's given plant that might be purple (5)
PROSE: The abbreviation for Penny and a plant – a type of writing that is flowery and ornate (may be purple)

27a Old cut plant associated with smell (9)
OLFACTORY: Cut the final letter from OLd and add a plant

30a Rotten centre in a peach (9)
NECTARINE: An anagram (rotten) of CENTRE IN A

31a Shiny small plant that symbolises nation (5)
SLEEK: The abbreviation for Small and a plant that symbolises Wales (nation)


1d Sentries regularly going round plant (4)
SITE: A reversal (going round) of the regular letters of sEnTrIeS

2d Falsely unboastful, dismissing new Tesla as 'not half bad' (8)
FABULOUS: An anagram (falsely) of UnBOAStFUL 'dismissing' the abbreviation for New and the symbol of the SI Unit of magnetic flux density (Tesla)

3d Earth in Wormwood Scrubs, say, producing ropey plant? (4)
HEMP: The abbreviation for Earth inserted into the abbreviation for a building for the confinement of criminals of which Wormwood Scrubs is an example

4d In hotel, seventies supergroup and visiting support? (4,4)
HOME HELP: Where you are if you are 'in', the abbreviation for Hotel and the abbreviated way a 1970s supergroup were known

5d Heartlessly took notes becoming wealthy (6)
MINTED: Took notes, at a meeting perhaps without the middle letter (heartlessly)

6d Mark and I join Carol in planting new lands (10)
COLONISING: A punctuating mark, I (from the clue) and a verb meaning to carol

7d Brother missing hard shot?  Plant in group? (6)
ROBERT: An anagram (shot) of BROThER 'missing' the abbreviation for Hard. Not only is this the forename of Mr Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, it is also [with Herb] the name of a flowering wild plant

8d Kind teacher's first year covering games (4)
TYPE: The first letter of Teacher and the abbreviation for Year 'covering' the abbreviation for school games

13d Movement succeeds (5)
WORKS: The movement inside a watch, for example, or a synonym for succeeds

14d Help repair broken joystick? (10)
PERIPHERAL: An anagram (broken) of HELP REPAIR

16d Settled down, oddly replete, enjoying every second (5)
DWELT: The odd letters of DoWn and every second letter of rEpLeTe

19d Pig out finding these sweets? (8)
TRUFFLES: A pig might go out to find these non-sweet food items

21d Plants hash on seamen (8)
ANEMONES: An anagram (hash) of ON SEAMEN

23d Symphony in Blue material that's timeless (6)
EROICA: Some 'blue' material without the abbreviation for Time

24d Castle that is as yet unproven (6)
ROOKIE: The name for the chess piece that resembles a castle and the abbreviation meaning that is

26d Plant in buttonhole that identifies one at meet (4)
PINK: A flower (plant) often seen in buttonholes on occasions such a wedding; the name given to the colour of jackets worn at a hunting meet

28d Change cigar after smoking Hamlet originally (4)
CASH: The 'original' letters of Cigar After Smoking Hamlet

29d Tie picking up a bit of egg (4)
YOKE: To join together (tie) - a homophone (picking up) of part of an egg

29 comments on “NTSPP 720
Leave your own comment 

  1. When I saw all the ‘plants’ in the clues I was afraid that my lack of horticultural knowledge would be exposed. I needn’t have worried – PostMark has wrung every possible meaning out of the word. I thought that some parts of the puzzle were quite tricky but I enjoyed it a lot – thanks PostMark.
    For my podium I’ve selected 4d, 7d and 23d,

  2. As one would expect from this setter, a very enjoyable puzzle with some 2d misdirection, that proved to be very tricky. Also an extremely clever “theme”
    I’ve selected to highlight 12&17a plus 4,6&16d (liked the enjoying every second, not seen that before) with a nod to 28d as it’s a particularly good example of its clue type.
    Well done and many thanks to PostMark and in advance to Sue.

  3. I was delighted when I saw who had set today’s NTSPP. This was nicely challenging and a lot of fun, with many very clever clues, commendably brief clueing, and smooth surfaces. I started to think I would be able to describe it as a perfect NTSPP, but then I encountered 24d. Arrgh!

    Passing quickly over that, everything else was very enjoyable with ticks all over my printout. With lots of different types of plant scattered around, 7d was my favourite. 13d is a beautifully disguised double definition and deserves a special mention.

    I assume 26d refers to “hunting pink”, which has always confused me as the riders’ coats are red. Anyone know the reason for this seemingly anomalous description?

    It took me a while to sort out the parsing for 13a. I stupidly thought that the band could be The Who (despite the spurious “the”) but couldn’t see where the second O might come from. Then the penny dropped.

    Many thanks to PostMark and in advance to CS.

      1. As per my comment below, AgentB, I suspect it is a US thing. Castle is defined as ‘rook’ in Chambers (and in Collins) as well as in its verbal form.

  4. When I saw who had set this NTSPP, I immediately thought that it would be a head scratcher with caffeine most definitely required. That proved to be absolutely correct. But, slowly but surely, with checking a few individual entries, progress was made and, hey presto, there was a completed and correct grid.

    Smiles for 9a, 26a, 3d, 7d, and 23d.

    Thanks PostMark and thanks in advance to CS(?).

  5. This came together quite slowly but it was an enjoyable tussle. Thought of RD as soon as I reached 24d – that’s one trap I won’t fall into ever again, thanks to his tuition!
    Top of my pops was the double definition in 19d and I also ticked 30&31a plus 7&23d.

    Thanks to the lesser-spotted PostMark for a very good NTSPP.

  6. Just popping in to thank those who have solved and/or commented so far. I am pleased the theme has been enjoyable and it is rewarding to see a range of clues being mentioned.

    I do note Rabbit Dave’s concern; I assume this will be in connection with our pals across the Pond? I use Chambers as my stock dictionary and there is no mention of US attribution there. I believe Collins is the source of choice for this site but I’m far too old for changing my ways – and I paid for Chambers!

    Thanks in advance to CS.

    1. PM, on this occasion my bugbear is nothing to do with America! The piece itself is called a rook (on both sides of the pond!) In my opinion, the only use of the word castle in chess should as a verb referring to the move involving a king and a rook.

      Some children may refer to a rook as a castle (in the same way that they might refer to a knight as a horse) but in my view that doesn’t make them the correct terminology. There are those who argue that although it may be incorrect in purist chess terms, it is OK for a crossword. I do believe that no lesser an authority than Prolixic agreed with me in one of his Rookie Corner reviews some while ago.

      However much I try to ignore it when it crops up, it still rankles – sorry! :sad:

      Nevertheless, this was a splendid puzzle which I really enjoyed.

      1. Everyone is entitled to a pet rankle, RD, so why should you not have one? Given I had already referred to my great age, it is refreshing to find I retain some childish qualities 🤣🤣🤣. The Wikipedia article on rook makes for interesting reading – English would appear to be somewhat unusual insofar as two thirds of the 75 odd non-English words for the chess piece translate as castle, tower or bastion. Japanese, Korean, Urdu and … Icelandic … are the ones who join us in sticking with rook. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for your kind words.

        1. Just to note, “castle” is defined in Chambers as the chess piece (albeit “informal or childish”) so I think it is perfectly fair :-)

        2. It’s not just children who call rooks castles. Castle is an informal term used by many non-chess playing adults, too. In recent years, I have seen the word castle meaning chess piece used in no less then 4 questions/answers on different popular TV quiz programmes. The most recent: Which piece stands on each corner square at the start of a chess game? (answer: castle), asked on The Chase. Big Dave put this one to bed (and in red text) way back in 2017 (DT 28359):

          Just Mark
          February 26, 2017 at 3:31 pm
          Rook or Castle. why is the corner piece sculptured as a castellated tower like a castle. If it is now called a rook why not with wings or wheels of the Persian chariot

          Big Dave
          February 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm
          Welcome to the blog Mark

          The bottom line is that, whatever the purists think, castle = rook = castle in crossword terms.

          *The red text hasn’t survived the c/p process.

  7. Thanks PM, super stuff. Faves 11a, 17a, 30a, 31a, 7d, 14d & 23d … plus the fun use of the theme (and mini-theme … hemp, pot, hash?!) Thanks again, and in advance to CS.

  8. Certainly had its head-scratching moments but everything ultimately solvable with plenty of aha moments along the way.
    Thanks PostMark.

  9. Many thanks PM, quite a struggle for us in parts and we needed a couple of reveals to complete. Challenging but enjoyable. Favourites were 11a, 3d, 18a and 5d. Many thanks in advance to CS for the parsing we still need.

  10. Great puzzle, PM! Really clever use of the theme. Like Gazza, if the plants had all been…er.. plants, I would have been in serious trouble! Favourites: 10a, 17a, 25a, 30a, 7d, 8d and 16d. Thanks PM and, in advance, CS.

  11. Crikey PM not quite the gentle evening solve I’d anticipated. Found the LHS very tricky & even revealed a letter to get me kick started with half a dozen to go. Anyway thought it a super puzzle that was extremely well clued throughout. Loads of ticks on my page – 11,13&26a + 3,4,19&23d the standouts for me. Fav has to be 4d for the time it took to for the Keith, Greg & Carl penny to drop.
    Many thanks

  12. I settled down to a late-in-the-day solve and it became a late night solve! Like others have noted, the spectre of numerous plants was at first daunting, but to my relief they were an eclectic collection of ‘plants’, my favourite by far being 7a :good: Other ticks on my page (not Jimmy!) went to 11, 13 & 17 across and 13, 14 & 21 down. A number of definitions required a double-take before the pennies dropped – all very misleading! Although 25a didn’t get a ‘tick’ it was awarded a ‘smiley’ for being a lovely word to say out loud a few times :smile: I only ever knew the 4d ‘seventies supergroup’ by the full name, but it had to be them as ELO didn’t conform with anything!
    Thanks, PostMark, for an enjoyable challenge, and to CS for the review. I didn’t know previously that riding jackets were described by the name of the paler colour, so thanks also to Senf for his diligent research.

  13. A quick note to thank CS for a lovely, colourful and very precise blog and to all those who solved and commented. I mentioned in my earlier post that it was gratifying to see mention made of a range of clues and that trend continued which suggests the balance was about right for solvers, even if there was the occasional head-scratcher.

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.