NTSPP 616 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Shabbo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A straightforward Saturday lunchtime solve


1 Out of sorts and spitting feathers, perhaps (4,2,3,5)
DOWN IN THE MOUTH This expression meaning out of sorts does sound like you might be spitting feathers

10 Right to replace head of Paris Underground early (5)
RETRO Replace the first letter (head) of the Paris underground with the abbreviation for Right

11 Dash half a mile with students’ banner (5,4)
MINUS SIGN The first half of Mile, the abbreviation for the students’ union and a banner

12 More dangerous to broadcast entering Berlin here (7)
HAIRIER A verb meaning to broadcast ‘entering’ the German (as used in Berlin) word for here

13 A dodgy haircut’s centre parting charms (7)
AMULETS A (from the clue) and a dodgy haircut without the middle letter (centre parting) but not forgetting the S (haircut’s)

14 Diana resorted to female spirit (5)
NAIAD An anagram (resorted) of DIANA

16 Warren initially takes issue about race against the clock (4,5)
TIME TRIAL A reversal (about) of an animal retreat (warren), the initial letter of Takes and a verb meaning to issue

19 Upsets plain vases (9)
OVERTURNS A synonym of plain and some vases

20 Draughts emanate from doorsteps oddly (5)
DOSES The odd letters of DoOrStEpS

22 Covering Spooner’s “Entrance of the Queen”? (4,3)
FLAT CAP How Reverend Spooner might describe an entrance used by a female moggy (queen)

25 Rubber produced in bulk of Western Europe (7)
MASSEUR A quantity of something (bulk) and the western half of EURope

27 Prisoner agreed to be committed (9)
CONSIGNED An informal prisoner and part of a verb meaning agreed [in writing]

28 Taken in by state school (5)
EATEN A homophone (state) of a public school

29 Rides with Matt, say, in posh cars (14)
ROLLERCOASTERS Something put under a glass to prevent damage to a table)  (say indicating that Matt is a homophone not a reference to my lovely No2 son) inserted into an informal way of referring to some posh cars


2 Tempting fate with crack, nicotine and heroin (2,4,3)
ON THIN ICE An anagram (crack) of NICOTINE and H (heroin)

3 I complain about Ms Campbell (5)
NAOMI A reversal (about) of I (from the clue) and another way of saying complain

4 Cook or Trueman? One is fractionally on top (9)
NUMERATOR An anagram (cook) of OR TRUEMAN

5 Anne Hathaway initially comes up with pigment (5)
HENNA Hidden in reverse at the start of the clue

6 Perverted eccentric quits demo (9)
MISQUOTED An anagram (eccentric) of QUITS DEMO

7 Couple held up by retinue (5)
UNITE Hidden in reverse (held up by) in rETINUe

8 Gift for Gretel’s brother reportedly (7)
HANDSEL I did know this gift to bring good luck which is a homophone (reportedly) of the name of Gretel’s brother

9 Minor Phantom part or Oliver, perhaps (6)
ORPHAN Hidden in part of minOR PHANtom

15 18 is out of order dropping Fahrenheit for temperature (9)
DETECTIVE Take a word meaning out of order and swap the abbreviation for Fahrenheit with that for Temperature

17 Majority aimed to change channels (4,5)
MASS MEDIA A majority and an anagram (to change) of AIMED

18 Pub ghost reported by Clouseau? (9)
INSPECTOR More homophones – this time a pub and a ghost

19 18 appears if force is deployed (7)
OFFICER An anagram (deployed) of IF FORCE

21 Odds on league season (6)
SPRING Some abbreviated betting odds and a league

23 Partial ban null and void (5)
ANNUL Hidden in part of bAN NULl

24 Pot one colour at the outset then lose one’s nerve (5)
PANIC A cooking pot, the letter representing one and the first (outset) letter of Colour

26 Utterly aroused by fragrance (5)
SCENT A homophone (utterly) of a verb meaning aroused to ecstasy

24 comments on “NTSPP 616

  1. Great fun – thanks Shabbo.
    The 8d gift was a new word for me.
    My podium contains 11a, 13a and 22a (a new take on an old chestnut).

  2. No caffeine required, thanks Shabbo.

    Ditto on 8d – apparently it comes from North of the Border – a gift given on the first Monday after New Year’s Day.

    I was also a little surprised to see 29a as a single word rather than hyphenated or two words but the BRB has it that way.

    I really liked 11a, 16a, and 26d (for the homophone indicator).

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

  3. I thought this was a perfect NTSPP! Starting with a brilliant hook at 1a, this carried on delightfully with brief clueing, super-smooth surfaces, and some clever disguises. What’s not to like.

    I’ll join the “didn’t know 8d” club but that was all that I needed to check.

    My page is littered with ticks, which always makes picking a podium choice difficult, but I’ll settle for 1a, 11a, 22a & 18d.

    Many thanks Shabbo, and thanks too in advance presumably to CS.

  4. We join the “didn’t know 8d” club also. Great puzzle, thank you Shabbo. It brightened up a cold, windy, overcast and wet Saturday. Roll on the next one, Shabbo. Too many favourites to mention but one we still haven’t parsed yet – 21d.

    1. This was huge fun, fresh, vibrant and well crafted throughout. A couple actually produced LOL moments so well done Shabbo.
      I particularly liked 1,11,13,22&29a plus 18d.
      Many thanks and in advance to the reviewer.

  5. In an echo of RD’s comments, I also considered 1a to be a great start to an excellent and most enjoyable puzzle. I am a fan of clever homophones, so happy to see a few more than usual – which included a “didn’t know 8d”. Unravelling 16a gave me pause for thought – very wily cluing! Favourites today were mostly across: 1, 11, 12, 19 and 22; and being a cricket fan I also appreciated 4d. The cluster of three around the witty 18d was a nice touch. Thank you, Shabbo.

  6. As good if not better than his last one & right up there with Jay, Ray T & Eccles for puzzle of the week in my view. Superbly clued throughout & with surfaces that I reckon the likes of Silvanus would be pleased with – 2d being my favourite. Not particularly difficult & with nowt obscure other than 8d. Not a dud clue to be found, great fun from start to finish & with more ticks than you’d find on a woodland walk – 1,11,13,16&25a plus 15,18,19 &26d to name a few.
    Thanks Shabbo

  7. Funnily enough I knew 8d – it was used and explained in a children’s book I read at the age of 11 and has stayed with me ever since!
    Found it quite straightforward other than not being able to completely parse 16a

    Thanks Shabbo

  8. I am also in the 8d and terrific puzzle club. Many thanks, Shabbo for brightening a diabolical weather day in Yorkshire.

  9. Thanks, Shabbo that was a very good NTSPP. I made a bit of a mess at 24d 27a (OPTIC and CONSENTED) but when checkers disagreed I soon sorted out the errant answers. It took a while for the penny to drop on12a too but when the Berliner revealed itself 9d was a shoo-in and my LOI. 8d needed a dictionary but that was today’s learning moment
    Thanks to Shabbo and the reviewer.

  10. Well done indeed, Shabbo. It’s a delight to see how far you’ve come since those early days of Rookie Corner!

  11. Shabbo, here. A bit late on parade, for which many apologies. I have been watching my rugby club, Welwyn, play at Royston. If you know the geography of north Hertfordshire, you will know that it is very exposed to a northerly wind. It was freezing cold, but at least we won. Thanks for asking!
    I am so grateful to you all for your very, very kind comments. When BD kindly told me this morning that this puzzle was going to be in the NTSPP slot, I read it again and was immediately filled with self doubt. Fortunately, it seems to have been well received, so perhaps I shouldn’t have worried too much after all!
    Thanks again. Comments from such respected members of the crossword community mean an awful lot to me.

  12. Great stuff. 1ac might be a bit of a chestnut but it gave me a flying start for an enjoyable solve. I did know 8dn, but I was slightly held up in 12ac having got the first five letters of 4dn wrong at first, but soon realised my mistake. Thanks, Shabbo – and in advance to our reviewer.

  13. I’ve just got around to this puzzle & all I can say is that it was most enjoyable from start to finish. More please Shabbo.

  14. Many thanks for the review, CS. Kath will have been delighted by the inclusion of her favourite Inspector in your illustration for 15d!

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