NTSPP – 477 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 477

NTSPP – 477

Bit of a Bit by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

At John Henderson’s celebratory lunch in the Marcia at Bishopthorpe on Friday, the conversation turned, as it usually does when member of Crosswordland are together, to various setters and their crosswords. One thing we all agreed on was that Chalicea’s NTSPP puzzles always require the solver (and most definitely the blogger) to spend a considerable amount of time with their copy of the BRB. Little did we know that, twenty-four hours later, we’d definitely need our Chambers for this week’s NTSPP, as we didn’t have to just check multiple times that A could mean B, but also that all the shaded words did indeed appear under the same headword PORT.


8a Where film is put, maybe, in secret (2,6)
IN CAMERA Somewhere we used to put a film or an expression meaning in secret

9a Fur, long-term in English wraps (6)
ERMINE ‘wraps’ indicating the presence of a lurker

10/12a Small trading community‘s broken down ATM network (6,4)
MARKET TOWN An anagram (broken down) of ATM NETWORK

11a Purchase, we hear, flimsy shells of goods, old objects of little importance (2,6)
BY THINGS A homophone (we hear) of a synonym for purchase, another way of saying flimsy and the ‘shells’ of GoodS gives us an archaic term for things of minor importance

12a See 10a

13a Heard annoyed expression regularly crop up on right side of playing area (5,5)
DEUCE COURT An exclamation (heard annoyed expression) referring to the devil and the regular letters of CrOp Up go on (before) the abbreviation for right

15a Gradual absorption of brine essentially in old style northern peat bog (7)
OSMOSIS The middle (essentially) letter of brIne inserted into the abbreviations for Old and Style and a Scottish (northern) word for a peat bog

16/21a Curiously peeping about, not openly at first, for Cock o’ the North, for example (7,4)
BAGPIPE TUNE An anagram (about) of PEEPING ABUT (not openly at first telling you to remove the O from about)

19/23a What might be served guest in Western Europe (10,4)
PORTUGUESE WINE This one confirmed for me the required ‘headword’ – Thanks to Jane for pointing out the obvious – an anagram (served) of GUEST IN W EUROPE

21a See 16a

22a Work force‘s grass cutter possessing advanced new power (8)
MANPOWERIf I’d been sent this crossword to test, one of the things I’d have pointed out was that it was a shame that the word forming the majority of the solution is contained in the clue. The abbreviations for Advanced New and Power are inserted into a grass cutter

24a Carry rabbit round Vatican City (6)
CONVEY A type of rabbit goes around the IVR code for the Vatican City

25a Some Arabic or Namibian military hat (6)
BICORN Lurking in some of AraBIC OR Namibian

26a Typeface‘s surprising fairness (8)
SANSERIF An anagram (surprising) of FAIRNESS  If you look carefully, you’ll see that this hint is typed in the required typeface


1d In France a little rodent docked! Wicked! (8)
INFAMOUS The second appearance of an IN from the clue, the abbreviation for France and a small rodent without its final letter (docked)

2d Distress about tricky talking point; treading very carefully (7,2,6)
WALKING ON TIPTOE A three-letter synonym for distress goes ‘about’ an anagram (tricky) of TALKING POINT. Until I’d worked out what the ‘distress’ was, I was a bit confused by having six of the seven letters required for the first word of the solution appearing in the anagram fodder

3d Adorning with projecting objects most excellent dessert course (paper at first removed) (10)
BESTUDDING – Another way of saying most excellent followed by a dessert course without (removed) the P (paper at first)

4d Take shelter circling bar during memorable period (7)
HARBOUR A memorable period might be a finest xxxx. Insert into this period an anagram (circling) of BAR

5d Quit group favouring radical views (4)
LEFT Part of a verb meaning quit or a group with radical views

6d Abilities to cope with everything of organisation of top science men pursuing last components of atom (15)
OMNICOMPETENCES An anagram (organisation) of TOP SCIENCE MEN goes after (pursuing) the last two letters (components plural) of atOM

7d Culinary herb not at first turning up for Asiatic wild ass (6)
ONAGER A reversal (turning up) of a culinary herb without (not) its first letter

14d Even a dreadful smell quickly fading (10)
EVANESCENT An anagram (dreadful) of EVEN A followed by a smell

17d Frantic fear about rising inland sea affecting widespread area (8)
PANDEMIC Put a frantic fear about a reversal (rising) of an abbreviated inland sea

18d Further performance of sales agent come into view (7)
REPRISE – An abbreviated sales agent and a verb meaning to come into view

20d Elevated originally Celtic idealized image of ancient alphabet (6)
OGAMIC A reversal (elevated) of the first letter (originally) of Celtic followed by another word for an idealised image

23d See 19a

Oh… the bit of a bit is, apparently, this

13 comments on “NTSPP – 477

  1. Quite tricky in places, but all good, though 18d jarred slightly on first read as I thought there may be an S missing somewhere.

    Thanks for the challenge Chalicea.

  2. Thanks Chalicea very enjoyable and, LbR says, quite tricky in places In fact, even with all three checkers, I was totally defeated by 20d; oh dear, another word to try to remember.

    I believe the particular headword entry in the BRB begins towards the bottom of the RH column on Page 1207 (Revised 13th Edition).

  3. I thought this was a “bit bitty” rather than a “bit of a bit”. There were a lot of clever clues but a few seemed to me to be not up to the normal high standard from this setter.

    3d & 20d were obscure answers, with the checking letters not helping at all. I don’t understand the relevance of “northern peat” in 15d as I thought “bog” on its own would suffice to define the four letters required. It was a pity that “power” in 22a was used to clue a P, when power itself appears as part of the answer, and the first word of 2d appeared almost in its entirety in the anagram fodder. I can’t parse 19/23 and its surface reads very strangely – is there a word missing from the clue?

    On the plus side, 24a was of course my favourite, with 13a coming close. The anagrams in 10/12 and 16/21 were very good.

    Isn’t English a wonderful language when one word can have so many different meanings? Many thanks to Chalicea and very well done on finding a word like that and managing to incorporate it into a puzzle.

    1. In her notes, Chalicea points out that the headword can also be part of a horse’s bit – hence the title is a further hint.

  4. Have to say that this wasn’t my favourite puzzle from this setter but I guess she was somewhat constrained by the requirements of the various definitions of the same word – thanks for the heads-up on that, Senf! Some of the clues were very long-winded which I always find slightly off-putting.

    2d made me smile so gets my vote for the day.

    Thanks to Chalicea and I’ll look forward to reading the review tomorrow.

  5. We ended up revealing letters to get 20d but managed to fathom the rest and sort out the headword. A good challenge and fun to solve.
    Thanks Chalicea

  6. Somewhat annoyed with myself for failing with 20d – of course I didn’t know the word, but it should have been guessable from the wordplay. I really enjoyed this otherwise.

  7. Many thanks for the review, CS – relieved to learn that it wasn’t just me who needed the BRB!
    I think the 19/23 combo is an anagram of ‘guest in W Europe’.

    1. Of course it is – I was one of many exhausted victims of the chaos caused by the St Pancras trespasser on Friday evening – I was (and still am a bit) so tired yesterday afternoon that it is a wonder I could solve crosswords at all

  8. Failed to see the headword connection as I was looking for something a bit more devious But I just about got everything after guessing the answer to 13ac and confirming the expression by googling – although I have played the game referred to (years ago) I’d never heard the term before. Incidentally, there’s a small error in the review there – “abbreviation for court” should be “abbreviation for right”.
    Thanks, Chalicea and crypticsue.

    1. Thank you – now corrected – I’m still going to blame the St Pancras trespasser chaos exhaustion effect!

  9. Apologies for the wordiness and bittiness that bothered a couple of solvers and many thanks to Cryptic Sue for the blog, especially the wild asses at 7d. I had no idea what they looked like, or, for that matter, what the bit of a bit is – poor horse having that thing in its mouth! I’m sorry too that you had to suffer the idiocy of the St Pancras loon. My reaction, had I been the police, would not have been so charitable. Many thanks to all.

  10. I enjoyed this enormously. I was quite puzzled about the dictionary headword until i got the wine. After that it all made perfect sense until CS showed her picture of a bit of a bit – but now i see that is in chambers too.

    took me a while to get cock o the north, and i knew that i knew the asian ass, but could i think of it? Had to look up the ancient script after working it out from the wordplay.

    A wonderful NTSPP, many thanks Chalicea for sharing with us. And thanks as always to CS

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