NTSPP 681 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Hubble

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I think that this is Hubble’s first appearance in the NTSPP puzzle series, so welcome to our newest setter in these hallowed halls.


1a  Police perform for show (7)
DISPLAY: The abbreviation for detective inspectors (police) followed by a four-letter word meaning to perform or act.

5a  Unhygienic caveman holding back prophylactic (7)
VACCINE: The answer is hidden and reversed (holding back) in the first two words of the clue.

9a  Italian primarily working in charge of ancient Greek division (5)
IONIC: The first letter (primarily) of Italian followed by a two-letter word meaning working and the abbreviation for in charge.

10a  Timetables of coaches crossing Eastern land chaotic (9)
CALENDARS: A four-letter word for coaches around (crossing) an anagram (chaotic) of E (eastern) LAND.

11a  Brooking returning books ahead of the French class (10)
TOLERATING: A reversal (returning) of the abbreviation for old testament (books) followed by the French masculine singular form of the and a six-letter verb meaning class or categorizing.

12a  Fellow occupying centre of bed is thin (4)
FINE: The abbreviation for fellow followed by a two-letter word meaning occupying and the middle letter (centre) of bed.

14a  Tune intended to promote third character (11)
TEMPERAMENT: A six-letter word meaning tune followed by a five-letter word meaning intended with the third letter of that word then moved toward the left of the resulting word (to promote third).

18a  Record concerning official documents is disturbing (11)
DISCONCERTS: A four-letter word for a record followed by a two-letter word meaning concerning an a four-letter word contraction of certificates (official documents).

21a  Want to prepare dough loudly (4)
NEED: A homophone (loudly) of knead (to prepare dough).

22a  Not drinking aboard particular truck (2,3,5)
ON THE WAGON: Double definition, the second part illustrative.

25a  Being informed current pothole repaired (2,3,4)
IN THE LOOP: A two-letter word meaning current followed by an anagram (repaired) of POTHOLE.

26a  A price to pay for small island (5)
ATOLL: The A from the clue followed by a price paid to use a road.

27a  Yankee papers briefly criticise origin of Hebrew language (7)
YIDDISH: The abbreviation for Yankee followed by a two-letter word for papers, a four-letter word meaning to criticise with the final letter removed (briefly) and the first letter (origin) of Hebrew.

28a  Ties down number between two and six at the outset (7)
TETHERS: A five-letter word for an anaesthetic (number) inside (between) the initial letters (at the outset) of two and six.


1d  Pretty Dublin parent’s home with vacant tenancy (6)
DAINTY: A two-letter word for a father in Ireland (Dublin parent) followed by a two-letter word meaning home and the outer letters (vacant) of tenancy.

2d  Second fireplace for one (6)
SINGLE: The abbreviation for second followed by a five-letter word for a fireplace.

3d  Cut tree by entrances to important overpass in outskirts of London (10)
LACERATION: A four-letter name of a tree, a two-letter word meaning by and the opening letters (entrances to) of important overpasses all put in the outer letters (outskirts) of London.

4d  Initially yardmen attaching connection above hydrant drained boat (5)
YACHT: The initial letters (initially) of the second to fourth words of the clue above the outer letters (drained) of hydrant.

5d  Offer to serve wretched lout? Never! (9)
VOLUNTEER: An anagram (wretched) of LOUT NEVER.

6d  Bias German philosopher heard (4)
CANT: A homophone (heard) of Kant (German philosopher).

7d  Dreamt aged Mini crashed (8)
IMAGINED: An anagram (crashed) of AGED MINI.

8d  Enclose 75% of hens on moor (8)
ENSHEATH: The final three-letters (75%) of hens on a five-letter word for a moor.

13d  Straw cap was nearly rewoven for alliance (6,4)
WARSAW PACT: An anagram (rewoven) of STRAW CAP WA (was nearly).

15d  Scotsman liking son’s hot computer (9)
MACINTOSH: A three-letter name for a person from Scotland followed by a four-letter word meaning liking and the abbreviations for son and hot.

16d  Name of one able to ascend through decline (8)
IDENTIFY: The letter representing one followed by a three-letter word meaning able reversed (to ascent) inside (through) a four-letter word meaning to decline or refuse.

17d  Agreed to rebuild Dane’s set (8)
ASSENTED: An anagram (rebuild) of DANES SET.

19d  Disregard section of campaign or effort (6)
IGNORE: The answer is hidden (section of) in the final three words of the clue.

20d  Relatives in America wrapping engine housing oddly (6)
UNCLES: The abbreviation for United States (America) around (wrapping) the odd letter in nacelle (engine housing).

23d  Get away from dance before finales of ceili and ballet (3,2)
HOP IT: A three-letter word for dance followed by the final letters (finales) of ceili and ballet.

24d  Samson’s barber dropping note in food shop (4)
DELI: The name of the woman who distressed Samson without a three-letter musical note.

30 comments on “NTSPP 681
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  1. Enjoyably completed pre-caffeine on my Saturday morning.

    Parsing ‘the obvious with the checkers’ 28a took a while until a PDM on ‘number.’

    Smiles for 14a, 26a, the aforementioned 28a, 1d, and 20d.

    Thanks Hubble, well done on your first NTSPP, and thanks in advance to Prolixic(?).

  2. Well done, Hubble, on providing a puzzle which was good fun on your NTSPP debut. It provided a very pleasant diversion to accompany my lunch, with 28a my favourite.

    I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a clue like 20d before where the solver needs to pick alternate letters from a synonym, but I suppose it is no different to cutting the first or last letter (or both) from a synonym. However, if it is OK, why are indirect anagrams forbidden, which involve manipulating letters from a synonym?

    I think “pretty” is a bit of a stretch as a synonym for 1d. I would have said “elegant” perhaps.

    Many thanks Hubble, and thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. I had similar thoughts on 20d and decided that I would wait for our expert reviewer to enlighten us. Perhaps it falls into the ‘some editors will allow’ category.

    2. Rules about things like indirect anagrams are checks to make sure you’re being fair to the solver, not to be slavishly followed for the sake of it. The pertinent question should therefore be: “could I solve it?”

      In this case, the definition and the “American” part were enough to lead me to the correct solution. I’d prefer it if the “engine cover” were less obscure but since I did solve it, I’m ok with it – though I probably wouldn’t do that in one of my own puzzles as it does feel too indirect for my liking.

      Regarding indirect anagrams, Azed long ago established the precept that as long as any indirect elements are unequivocal, it’s fair. I think the same principle should hold true generally with other forms of “rule breaking”.

      1. That’s a very fair assessment, Widdersbel, the only problem being that what is unequivocal to some may be arcane to others.

        1. Of course, though Azed would tend to be quite strict about that kind of thing and I think would err on the side of caution.

          In this case, the word for engine cover is certainly towards the arcane end of the spectrum, definitely not a word I use every day, so possibly a bit unfair, but the very straightforward definition kind of balances it out.

          Even if it is regarded as fair, it’s a device to be used very sparingly.

          1. Any reference to Azed immediately gets my attention, being a long-time solver and admirer of his crosswords. The extent to which he allows indirection of this general type is limited to things along the lines of ‘Flattens 7 rocks’ for EVENS or (at a stretch) ‘Wrecked capital of France with English approval’ for PRAISE .I have never seen anything comparable to the construction at 20d in one of his puzzles.

            Incidentally, Azed doesn’t accept that ‘oddly’ can mean ‘take the odd letters from’.

              1. Coincidentally, today’s Azed puzzle contains a very good example from the man himself,

                Rats etc? See one of them I dealt with round old lair (8),

                where ‘one of them’ has to be pre-processed into RAT.

  3. A pleasant, gentle NTSPP, which is good as there is lots of sport to follow today! My podium places, which I thought employed the best combinations of wordplay and surface readings, went to 11a, 18a and 3d. I quite liked the 20d device and agree with RD’s assessment.
    Thanks, Hubble.

  4. A pleasant, gentle NTSPP, which is good as there is lots of sport to follow today! My podium places, which I thought employed the best combinations of wordplay and surface readings, went to 11a, 18a and 3d. I quite liked the 20d device and agree with RD’s assessment.
    Thanks, Hubble.

  5. Light and enjoyable, my only real pause for thought seeing how the clever 16d was put together, so it goes on my podium along the (almost) equally clever 12a with the amusing 15d (though I’m not a huge fan of “Mac” for Scotsman) and 28a making up the numbers.
    Thanks Hubble and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  6. I’d have done better with 20d if I’d known straightaway the word that isn’t given in the clue instead of having to consult with Mr G. That and my seeming inability to parse 16d gave rise to a few choice words along the way!
    23d raised a smile and my favourites were 27&28a.

    Thanks to Hubble for his debut NTSPP.

  7. Didn’t find some of it as straightforward as others obviously did but got there eventually albeit with a correction required – had T instead of F at 16d (can’t parse it either Jane). Must confess that prophylactic doesn’t mean quite what I thought it meant so was very slow to spot the lurker & (sorry if I’m being thick) but still can’t parse 20d. Very enjoyable & congrats on your NTSPP debut. 11,27&28a my picks.
    Many thanks

  8. Thanks to all at BD and to everybody who has commented on the puzzle.

    No surprise at the reservations about 20d. As far as I know, there are only two synonyms to choose from, so I felt the clue was fair, although I see now that the correct choice is a word not as widely known as I had assumed.

    It is hard to grasp what is acceptable and what is not. It’s interesting that nobody has expressed reservations about the reversal of a synonym in 16d, which is not a dissimilar device.

    Thanks once again to all the commentators.

  9. A good fun Sunday morning puzzle for us.
    18a gets our vote for favourite but plenty of others also in the running.
    Thanks Hubble.

  10. A good fun Sunday morning puzzle for us also over breakfast. We also, like Huntsman, had T instead of F in 16d and couldn’t parse it until the letter changed. Thoroughly enjoyable, thank you Hubble.

  11. An enjoyable late evening solve with one or two clues left for Sunday morning, but I got it all in the end. Can’t say I noticed any indirectness, so it obviously passes the ‘can I solve it?’ test, at least as far as I’m concerned.
    Thanks, Hubble and Prolixic.

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