NTSPP – 284 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 284

NTSPP – 284

A Puzzle by Prolixic

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows.

I would have loved to begin this review by saying that Prolixic had gone where no setter had gone before, but sadly I don’t think he’s the first to produce a crossword on this theme, and I’m sure he won’t be the last.  I thought it one of his more difficult puzzles but perhaps that had something to do with fitting in all the themed words.


1a           Thoroughly defeat  party (6)
THRASH    Double definitions.

4a           Agency finds chemical in unfinished cake (6)
BUREAU   Insert a chemical into almost all (unfinished) of a round sweet cake.

10a         Ancient vault – one found in a college (7)
ARCHAIC   A vaulted ceiling followed by A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for College, between which should be put the letter that looks like a one.

11a         Fruit is a necessity when travelling to the West (7)
SATSUMA   A reversal (travelling to the west) of A (from the clue) an essential (necessity) and a synonym for when.

12a         Be miffed when Kay goes for posh sarong (4)
SULU    Remove the K (Kay goes) from a verb meaning to be miffed and replace it with the letter used to denote posh or upper class.


13a         So we and our dog slaughtered a capercaillie (10)
WOODGROUSE   An anagram (slaughtered) of SO WE OUR DOG.

15a         Russian playwright gives up heroin for make of vodka (6)
CHEKOV   Remove the abbreviation for Heroin from the surname of a Russian playwright and replace with a single letter representing a brand of vodka.


16a         Sweet talk former envoy to leave Italy with marshal (7)
BLARNEY   Remove the I (to leave Italy) from the surname of a former Prime Minister turned Middle East envoy and follow with the surname of probably the best known of Napoleon’s marshals.

20a         Play back pleasing noises about sex for supporter (7)
STIRRUP   A reversal (play back) of pleasing noises often made by cats into which you have inserted one of the informal words for sex.

21a         Purser losing his head becomes more pale (6)
ASHIER   Remove the first letter (losing his lead) of someone responsible for the receiving and paying of money, such as a purser on a ship

24a         Prepare to clean up a melon (10)
CANTALOUPE An anagram (prepare) of TO CLEAN UP A

26a        Annoy 1000 before church(4)
KIRK   Another of the themed words.   The Roman numeral for 1,000 goes before a verb meaning to annoy.


28a/9d Excitedly cycle to harem – that’s kosher! (3,4,5)
THE REAL MCCOY   An anagram (excitedly) of CYCLE TO HAREM.


29a         Wine levy on port (mature) (7)
CORKAGE   An Irish port followed by a verb meaning to mature.

30a         Case of fruit – four included (6)
DATIVE The Roman numeral for four is included in the fruit of a palm tree.

31a         High balls for sportswomen (6)
SKIERS We started the Acrosses with a double definition and we finish with one too.   Cricket balls hit high in the air, or people who partake in a particular winter sport.

1d           Deal with paper omitted from transport bill (8)
TRANSACT     Remove the single initial which is the name of a concise London newspaper from some rail transport and follow with a legislative bill.

2d           Think about prayer (9)
RECOLLECT   The two letters used to mean about followed by a short prayer.

3d           Celebrity discovered in Costa Rica (4)
STAR   Hidden in CoSTA Rica.

5d           Relieve the burden on land used for ploughing (8)
UNSADDLE   An anagram (for ploughing) of LAND USED.

6d           Record award received for business (10)
ENTERPRISE   A verb meaning to make a record of followed by a homophone (received) of an award.


7d           Uniforms worn by charioteer getting freedom in Africa (5)
UHURU   Freedom from slavery, especially in East Africa.   Insert the surname of a famous charioteer between two Us (Uniforms plural).   Had the U at the end been an A, this solution would also have been part of the theme and I could have used this picture   wp-monalisa icon.


8d           Man on railroad finds a small 26a (6)
CHAPEL   An informal word for a man followed by an informal American term for an elevated railroad.

9d           See 28a

14d         Turn on mate playing in competition (10)
TOURNAMENT   An anagram (playing) of TURN ON MATE.

17d         Ice cream eaten by bird – quite the reverse (9)
ELIMINATE   Ice here being American slang for to kill.   The cream or best of something ‘eats’ a bird famed for its ability to mimic speech.

18d         Victor and Guy stand up for old countryman (8)
YUGOSLAV   The letter represented by Victor in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, an adverb meaning and, further, and GUY (from the clue) are all reversed (stand up for).

19d         Kings and queen welcomed by very French fans (8)
TREKKERS   Insert into the French word for very, two abbreviations for King and the regnal cipher of our current Queen.   Like Expat Chris, I always thought the fans had a different name.


22d         Loner leaving society behind becomes vinegary (6)
ASCETIC   Remove the S (leaving Society behind) from a strict hermit (loner who literally leaves society behind).

23d         Doctor Benjamin has small skin lesion (5)
SPOCK The doctor who told mothers how he thought babies should be brought up –   the abbreviation for Small followed by a small elevation on the skin.


25d         Very much love as I may see it! (2,3)
NO END   A clue that’s easier to solve than explain.   Look at your solution and think about where the letter that looks like a nought (love) appears.

27d         Fairbank’s regularly wanting a drink (4)
ARAK   The regular or event letters of fAiRbAnKs produce an Asian strong alcoholic drink.

29 comments on “NTSPP – 284

  1. Nice puzzle, although unfortunately 7d is not correctly spelt if it’s supposed to be a thematic entry,

    1. I totally missed that. Is it an obscure plural for charioteer’s uniforms?

  2. Are those…. Unches???!

    Only kidding, delighted to see them actually since I’ve got some in my current grid!

    Lovely theme and my favourites were 18 and 25 d. Isn’t the bird in 17 spelt with a y though?

    Thanks Prolixic

  3. Lovely stuff. Got the theme straight away with 26A and 23D, my first answers in. I count 10 thematic answers (including 7D), with the theme named in a down clue and part of another down clue. I always thought hard line fans preferred a different word to the 19D answer. Thanks, Prolixic!

  4. Oh dear – I’m obviously going to be a lone voice in the wilderness today. Sorry, but I thought the puzzle suffered a lot under the constraints of the theme.
    I certainly did enjoy some clues – 20&29a plus the 26a/8d combo – but overall I was rather disappointed.

    Apologies, Prolixic, I always look forward SO much to your puzzles.

    Just call me Brian……….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  5. First time I have attempted the NTSPP and thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree with Expat above that 19d might have a different ending but I’m nit-picking. Great fun and many thanks.

  6. For me it was 15a that gave the game away.
    19d is absolutely fine as we are talking about these people. Not their fans.
    Really enjoyed it.
    But I will remain on earth and besides there’s nobody to beam me up.
    Thanks to Prolixic for the great fun.

        1. just have to say, that of the several captains of the 6D, Jean-Luc is my favorite!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

          1. Patrick Stewart is such a wonderful actor. Saw him a few times under differents wigs at the National. Always a pleasure. He’s made for the boards.

  7. Hi CS,
    Many thanks for the review – a few questions if I may:-

    4a – As Kath would say, I’m being really dim here, but what is the sweet cake?
    31a – Why does the clues specify ‘sportswomen’?
    25d – OK – it’s the second letter, the last letter of the first word and it sits just before the ‘end’ but I’m still not getting there!

    By the way, if it hadn’t been for the missing hyphen (which apparently has to be there!) set-aside would have been a good answer for 5d.

    1. For 4a, I think the chemical is urea and the cake a bun.
      For the love thing, don’t you say I love you no end? Or am I imagining it?

      1. Many thanks, JL – I was looking for a one/two letter chemical symbol and didn’t know ‘urea’.
        As for the ‘love’ thing – I can imagine someone saying ‘there is no end to the ways in which I love you’ but it’s a bit of a stretch!
        Any clues as to why the sports people need to be female? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

        1. If you read the labels of some of the lotions etc you use daily, you’ll find that urea is in quite a lot of them.

          25d No end is an expression meaning very much – if you look at the solution O (love) is the end of NO.

          I think the sportspeople are female just because they are. Similarly, I could have an issue with 22a in today’s ST puzzle as I am definitely not a he!

          1. Thanks CS – the ‘women’ threw me off track. In the end I settled for ‘skeets’ – the high thrown clays used in one discipline of clay-pigeon shooting and apparently the one generally preferred by female shooters!

            By the way – I think Chekov is the brand name – no need to insert anything as in the review.

          2. Forgot to thank you for the review.
            But the answers don’t appear on my windows phone.

  8. I thought this was very difficult, not helped by knowing absolutely nothing about the theme so didn’t even spot it – oh dear!
    Anyway, not knowing anything about the theme didn’t make getting the answers impossible.
    I needed the hints to explain a few answers and, like Jane, was a bit mystified about the women in 31a.
    I liked 13 and 30a and 17 and 18d.
    Thanks to Prolixic and to CS.

  9. I really enjoyed the theme – didn’t want to say too much in my first comment and give it away. It must be a real challenge to have umpteen proper names to include, several of which are only well known in relation to the person in the theme and therefore very difficult to define any other way. This only occurred to me afterwards, at the time all the clues seemed as smooth as normal so I didn’t think how difficult it must be.

  10. Greetings from Holland, where I’ve had a bit of a family reunion. Hadn’t seen my USA-resident sister for 7 years. One more day then back to Macclesfield.

    I’m afraid the wrong kind of fans spoiled the theme for me. Not that I’m one of them, but I think they take themselves and their name pretty seriously.

    Otherwise fun but some minor quibbles. It gets used a lot, but I think doing it = sex, it = sex appeal, but it is not sex, unless someone can give me an “interchangeable use” example. And there’s a few more in there….

    but congratulations and thanks for an entertaining puzzle
    and thank you CS for the review

    1. I notice brb has trekkers as an alternative, but I’ve never, ever, heard anyone use that, and in a themed puzzle like this i feel you need to follow the popular norm.

    2. Hmmm…I don’t think that many would venture to take the mighty Prolixic to task for unnamed ‘quibbles’. As for trekkies and trekkers, I did say ‘hard-line’ in my comment for a reason. There are two categories of fans, those who are rooted more in reality and appreciate the series and films as entertaining fiction (trekkers) and those who seriously wonder what qualifications they need to apply for admission to the Star Fleet Academy. So I don’t think Prolixic is wrong at all in his choice.

      1. I’m happy if you have actually heard trekkers – I hadn’t. In my head I know the first category as armchair trekkies (a phrase I’ve seen used in cv’s), while I imagine the more serious attend events in costume etc (possibly not cv material). As for the unnamed quibbles, apologies for bad form of not naming: I just wasn’t sure i was happy with think = recollect where a closer synonym might easily have been used, and whereas brb includes kosher = genuine as one of the meanings and I’m happy with the real mccoy = genuine, I didn’t think that extended to a comfortable equivalence between kosher = real mccoy, and again it would have been straightforward with little damage to surface to use a tighter synonym. Just my opinion.

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