NTSPP 671 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Twmbarlwm

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


1a  Line‘s grammar questionable in part (6)
MARQUE: The answer is hidden (in part) in the second and third words of the clue.

4a  Sweet bound to curb current onset of peckishness (8)
LOLLIPOP: A six-letter word meaning to bound around in an uncoordinated manner includes (to curb) the single letter representing current and the first letter (onset) of peckishness.

10a  Beatle Paul’s back, excited about a grand piano piece (9)
BAGATELLE: An anagram (excited) of BEATLE L (Paul’s back) around the A from the clue and the abbreviation for grand.

11a  Spin pieces for Truss (5)
STRAP: Reverse (spin) a five-letter word for pieces.

12a  Student‘s joint reported after short course (7)
TRAINEE: A homophone (reported) of a leg joint after a five-letter word for a course or path.

13a  As Syracuse is to NYC University’s aptest fresher (7)
UPSTATE: The abbreviation for University followed by an anagram (fresher) of APTEST.

14a  Mustelid took food into empty lair backwards (5)
RATEL: A three-letter word meaning took food inside a reversal (backwards) of the outer letters (empty) of lair.

15a  Contest‘s runner runs miles loosely (8)
SKIRMISH: A runner used by Alpine sports persons followed by the abbreviations for runs and miles and a three-letter suffix meaning loosely.

18a  Pass a rude tag up the wall (8)
GRADUATE: An anagram (up the wall) of A RUDE TAG.

20a  Hint of chocolate in two shakes is standard (5)
CANON: The first letter (hint) of chocolate followed by a four-letter word meaning in two shakes.

23a  Perhaps Google the location of a Harvester? (7)
WEBSITE: Double definition, the second where a Harvester is a species of spider.

25a  I must move forward in dog pen (7)
SHARPIE: A breed of dog (4,3) with the letter I moved forward by one place.

26a  Ace high, anyway (2,3)
AT ALL: The abbreviation for ace followed by a four-letter word meaning high.

27a  Nonconformist doth smite another! (9)
METHODIST: An anagram (nonconformist) of DOTH SMITE.

28a  Judge charges shop for fleecing (8)
SHEARING: A four-letter word meaning judge inside (charges) a four-letter word meaning to shop or betray.

29a  Briefly hesitate to put on hat that’s dull (6)
STOLID: A four-letter word meaning hesitate without the final letter (briefly) followed by a three-letter word for a hat.


1d  New Met boss admitting resistance to get criminals (8)
MOBSTERS: An anagram (new) of MET BOSS includes (admitting) the abbreviation for resistance.

2d  Ruling: no piano in the club (7)
REGNANT: Remove (no) the abbreviation for piano from an eight-letter word meaning in the club.

3d  Rising above light, insect Greek character sorted out (9)
UNTANGLED: The abbreviation for light emitting diode with a reversal (rising) of a four-letter type of insect and a two-letter character of the Greek alphabet before it (above).

5d  Remote chance of becoming 18 here? (4,10)
OPEN UNIVERSITY: Cryptic definition of a distance learning provider whose courses lead to degrees.

6d  Does lean lamb in sauce taste sweet first of all? (5)
LISTS: The initial letters (first of all) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

7d  Maybe hornpipe rhapsody includes (7)
PERHAPS: The answer is hidden (includes) in the second and third words of the clue.

8d  Basil Brush is one chosen by 50% of schoolkids (6)
PUPPET: A three-letter word meaning chosen or favoured after (by) half (50%) of a six-letter word for schoolkids.

9d  Cabinetmaker once possibly says staff must join wood (5,9)
ELDER STATESMAN: A six-letter word meaning says and a three-letter word meaning to staff after (joins) a five-letter word for a type of tree (wood).

16d  Skylark friend heard over patch (4,5)
MUCK ABOUT: A homophone (heard) of mucker followed by a four letter word for a patch (as in a patch of bad luck).

17d  Islingtonian, exhausted and depressed, moved a bit to the Right? (8)
INDENTED: The outer letters (exhausted) of Islingtonian followed by a six-letter word meaning depressed.

19d  Big race damaged bones and surrounding tissue (3,4)
RIB CAGE: An anagram (damaged) of BIG RACE.

21d  Oddly uppity Irishman almost bottles wedding (7)
NUPTIAL: The odd letters in uppity inside (bottles) a five-letter Irish name with the final letter removed (almost).

22d  Flaps in exercise clothes (6)
SWEATS: Double definition.

24d  Python beginning to restrict sloth (5)
IDLER: The surname of one of the Monty Python team followed by the first letter (beginning) to sloth.

22 comments on “NTSPP 671
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  1. Thanks Twmbarlwm – off to a flying start in the NW and I was beginning to think that the precautionary caffeine would be unnecessary, but then it was, especially in the SW which required some head scratching.

    Smiles for 25a, 28a, 2d, 9d, and 17d.

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

  2. I thought it was pretty tricky T. Cross with myself for losing patience & revealing the M checker at 15a/16d for my last 2 in both of which then became immediately obvious. Can’t say I would have known what a mustelid is but the wordplay clear & Mr G told me all about it. I’d also forgotten 10a is a piece for the piano. All parsed I think with the exception of 25a – can’t find a dog no matter where I stick the letter I.
    Very enjoyable indeed. My top 3 are 23a plus 2&9d.
    Many thanks T

  3. Unlike Senf, it was a couple in the SE that messed with my head and the caffeine was definitely required to make it to the finishing line.
    Gold star goes to 2d which really made me laugh and silver to 23a which was hard on its heels.

    Well done, Twmbarlwm, a most enjoyable NTSPP.

  4. This was a game of two halves for me in terms of difficulty. The top half was nicely challenging but the bottom half proved to be fiendish. I expected that I might need a few reveals to get over the line but persistence paid off and I got there unaided in the end. Nevertheless, the whole thing was highly entertaining with quite a few bits of deviousness to be unscrambled.

    Is “fresher” really OK in 13a as an anagram indicator? I think 22d is definitely American, despite the BRB’s attribution esp N American.

    With plenty of goodies to choose from, 2d emerged at the top of the pile – a brilliant clue – with 17d hot on its heels.

    Many thanks for the fun, Twmbarlwm, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Given some of the ingeniously creative anagram indicators that our esteemed editor is allowing in back pagers these days, I would say yes to fresher in 13a.

  5. There was much to enjoy here, with my list of favourites being 4a, 28a, 2d, 5d, 9d and 24d. There was also much to learn as I was not previously familiar with the particular dog, mustelid or harvester, but verified all species on a 23a. I can’t think of a good example replacing ‘patch’ with my grid entry in 16d, but maybe I haven’t thought hard enough! Our reviewer will, no doubt, explain all…
    Thanks, Twmbarlwn, for another very entertaining NTSPP.

  6. Many thanks to all commenters, and anyone else who did the puzzle.

    Spartacus @6, RD and Jose in their replies have the intended sense of patch, which is synonymous in Collins thesaurus with the word in the solution, in the sense of period or spell.

    RD and Senf @5, my personal opinion is that a comparative adjective can work as an anagram indicator if the root adjective is also an indicator, and if it still implies movement or rearrangement, and is needed by the surface story. I think fresh/fresher works in that way, and of course the latter has a different meaning in the surface reading.

    1. Thanks for the pointer, Twmbarlwm, Collins does indeed make reference to both words as nouns in the sense of period. Despite RD’s and Jose’s best efforts (my thanks to them also) I still can’t ‘hear’ a direct replacement (maybe it’s a regional thing), but I can comfortably replace either word with ‘period’, so fair enough… :good:

    2. Just heard on the BBC national weather forecast this evening, “…bringing bouts of rain…”, which I can quite happily replace with “…bringing patches of rain…”. What’s good enough for the BBC is good enough for me :smile:
      Thanks again to Twmbarlwm, and to Prolixic for the review.

      1. A very neat coincidence!
        Stretched synonyms can often be a bone of contention, but sometimes they have to be chanced to accommodate a plausible surface reading. Anax/Elkamere, who hasn’t set a Toughie here for ages, is brilliant at that.

  7. I came a day late to this and enjoyed it a lot – many thanks to Twmbarlwm.
    I progressed at a fair rate of knots until I hit the SE corner which held me up for some time (possibly because the friend homophone in 16d doesn’t work at all to my delicate ears).
    My podium is populated by 2d, 5d and 17d.

  8. We’re away from home and very late at getting on to this one.
    Certainly quite a challenge but persistence did see us through to a completion.
    Lots of cleverness and much appreciated.
    Thanks Twmbarlwm and Prolixic.

  9. Tricky in places but I got there in the end, last one in being 15ac. I particularly liked 27ac, being of a (different) nonconformist persuasion myself.
    Thanks to Twmbarlwm, and to Prolixic.

  10. Many thanks to Prolixic for the review.

    In case it’s not already clear, although the surface of 5d refers to the unlikeliness of someone in the Open University turning 18, as it’s mainly for mature students, the cryptic definition uses ‘remote’ as a reference to distance learning, and ’18’ refers to the solution of 18a.

    Thank you all again.

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