NTSPP 730 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Madcap

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Madcap provides the alternative entertainment today with a puzzle befitting his name in that it was certainly quirky, but with a lot of very clever stuff thrown in. Does a lot of cross-referencing enhance a puzzle though, I'm not so sure.


7a Anthropomorphist’s tale is so apt occasionally (5)
AESOP: Alternate letters (occasionally) of tAlE iS sO aPt.

9a It offered a moment of illumination when making a shot in the dark (9)
FLASHBULB: Cryptic definition, the “shot” being a photograph.

11a Result of too much swimming, I hear, in flip-flops? (7)
SEESAWS: The solution sounds like (I hear) the possible result of swimming too much in a large body of salt water.

12a Model was in the van set on fire (7)
KINDLED: A synonym of model or type followed by a verb meaning “was in the van” or at the front of.

13a Bin tame broadcast of muzak, perhaps? (7)
AMBIENT: Anagram (broadcast) of the preceding two words

15a Heretical! That woman runs away to bed husband - is it moral? (7)
ETHICAL: Remove the pronoun meaning that woman from the first word of the clue and insert the single-letter abbreviation for Husband into the result.

16a Camel on taxi 4 creates shout of surprise (11)
EXCLAMATION: Anagram of the first three words of the clue, the indicator being the solution to 4d.

21a & 6 4 and file fashion replacing blue (7)
GENERAL: Anagram (fashion) of REPLACING BLUE

23a 21 is so, in 21 (7)
OVERALL: Double definitions

25a Furthest away doesn’t essentially promise exotic (7)
ENDMOST: Anagram (exotic) of DOESN'T plus the essential letter of proMise

27a Labour’s 4 outsiders are embraced by roughly half the population (7)
WORKMEN: The outside letters of the solution to 4d are “embraced” by half the population by gender (although one never knows these days)

28a Streaking naked, Brit breaks 4! (9)
STRIATION: The inside letters (naked) of Brit are inserted into a synonym of 4d.

29a Suspicious welcome - it could be fishy (5)
SUSHI: An informal adjective meaning suspicious (in fact just an abbreviated version of it) plus an informal word of welcome.


1d Bog drained - awful 4 (7)
MARSHAL: A synonym of a bog or swamp plus the outside letters (drained) of AwfuL 4d

2d 1 is adroit, covering mess-up (8)
ASSEMBLE: A synonym of adroit or capable around (covering) mess from the clue reversed gives a synonym of 1d as a verb. Very clever.

3d Curses consequences when seizure-inducing treatment is banned (4)
EFFS: Remove an abbreviated electroconvulsive therapy from a synonym of consequences or results.

4d Some heading to the top took narcotics to get off (4)
RANK: Hidden (some) and reversed (heading to the top) in the clue.

5d City press to take new recruit on board (8)
SHANGHAI: Double/cryptic definition

6d See 21 (6)

8d Prince left top-4ing position (5)
PLACE: The abbreviations for Prince plus Left followed by a synonym of top give a 4ding position…very smart.

10d 17’s raw recruit folds cap wrong way round (6)
BODILY: A possible description of a raw recruit  goes around (folds) an informal word for a cap or hat reversed

14d Track timeline (5)
TRAIL: To obtain the solution we need to split the word “timeline” into the abbreviation for Time and a synonym of a line (that a train runs on). Some editors wouldn't allow this.

15d Artist inspired by extremely earnest love for muse (5)
ERATO: The usual the two- letter  abbreviated artist inserted into (inspired by) the outer letters of EarnesT. Add the abbreviation for love in the sense of zero.

17d I’m astonished promotion principally is by exam for this 4 (8)
CORPORAL: An exclamation indicating astonishment plus the initial letter of promotion and one of the usual exams to give an example a 4d.

18d Close thing - careful, old girl (4,4)
NEAR MISS: A synonym of careful in the sense of miserly and the title of an unmarried female. Here's my very favourite

19d Losing versus Greaves when playing in matches (6)
AGREES: Anagram (when playing) of GREAvES.

20d He walked a tightrope, needing investment to keep large home (7)
BLONDIN: A type of investment with an insertion of L(arge) plus a synonym of home giving a French acrobat.

22d New bombing raids resulting in all-time lows (6)
NADIRS: The abbreviation for New plus an anagram (bombing) of raids.

24d Are High Lords not ordinary ones of 4? (5)
EARLS: Anagram (high) of ARE onto which is appended LordS (Lords without an abbreviated “ordinary” to give another example of a 4d)

26d & 27 Bottom flatulence? It helps one run faster! (4)
TAIL: Synonyms of bottom and flatulence give something all runners I'm sure are very grateful for.

27d See 26 (4)



10 comments on “NTSPP 730
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  1. Quite tricky even when I’d worked out 4d

    An enjoyable stretch of the cryptic grey matter which did take more than ‘lunchtime’ to solve

    Thanks to Madcap and in advance to Stephen

  2. I was rather frustated by the large number of cross-references in the clues initially but it gradually all came together and I enjoyed the puzzle. Many thanks to Madcap.
    There are some very neat clues here (drawing a veil over the 11a ‘homophone’) and I particularly liked 27a, 2d, 14d, 17d and 26/27d.

  3. Crikey. This was a real Toughie. I understand why “4” needed to be used so often as part of the theme, but I did find the number of cross-references rather off-putting. This, in turn, didn’t help with several surface readings. I’m also not convinced by the use of 4 as an anagram indicator in 16a, but there seems to be a growing trend that almost anything goes in this respect.

    Nevertheless I did enjoy the challenge with some superb clues on show. My page is littered with ticks with 26d/27d in first place.

    Many thanks to Madcap and in advance to whomever is the reviewer.

  4. Nowhere near finishing this one yet and the urge to cheat is getting ever louder……….
    My only consolation is that I doubt anything is likely to topple the 26/27 combo off the top of my podium.
    More lateral thinking obviously required!

    1. The lateral thinking eventually came good and I crossed the finish line, albeit in some disarray! Once completed, I had a much better appreciation of all the cross-referencing but the 26/27 combo remains firmly on the top of the pile.

      Thanks to Madcap for the challenge and the chance to give vent to some private 3d’ing!

  5. Have to confess that after looking fruitlessly for some time, decided to get some help by revealing the answer to 4d. Once we had that we then proceeded to work through and thoroughly enjoy the rest of the puzzle. Lots of good clues and agree with Jane that 26/27 takes a lot of beating.
    Thanks Catnap.

    1. Alas! T’is not I, 2Kiwis. I wish I were able to set a crossword.
      I’m just about to embark on this NTSPP with some trepidation. Wish me luck all you who have succeeded.
      Many thanks in advance to Madcap and to StephenL. I think I’m going to need that review… I have not peeped at it yet!

  6. A real toughie to be sure. Eventually got 4d (but only after twigging 21a/6d) though not 100% sure I’ve the right why. 28a last in & a new word for me. Fav was 26/27d even though I confidently put in rear to begin with. Not an unaided finish as I used a letter reveal & hit the check button a couple of times & made a correction en route not having Jane’s patience.
    Thanks Madcap – enjoyed it. Look forward to Stephen’s review.

  7. Many thanks for the review, Stephen. With regard to the question you posed, if this hadn’t been one of BD’s NTSPP offerings, I’d have probably given up as a result of all the cross-references. The main problem is that having so many of them severely restricts the order in which the clues have to be solved – unless the solver is having a very lucky streak!

  8. I caught up with this during the week, so am very late to comment. Like others, the references to 4 confused me for a while as I couldn’t solve the pesky 4 letter word 4d clue. Only when I got 17d did the penny drop on 4d, then I had to kick myself for overlooking the little reverse lurker! 11a was not the best homophone clue in the world, but it did bring a smile. 23a was also a bit odd, for me, although I could see the double definition that Stephen has commented on. It also occured to me that 21 is ‘over all’ in 21, the card game, so perhaps it is a triple definition! 20d was LOI as I had to research famous such dare-devils to find the chap. Once found, his name did ring a bell in a long-neglected brain cell, of which I have many…
    My podium holds three consecutive across clues: 25, 27 & 28.
    My thanks to Madcap and StephenL.

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