NTSPP 686 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Timely Puzzle by Shorerats

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Congratulations to Rashers for being the the first person to score 100% on the commentometer.  Trying to write hints for so many incorrect clues was well nigh impossible so I have modified the review as below:

No Solution Clue Wordplay Error
1a OPAL Shop all alone for hidden gem Hidden in shOP ALl alone Redundant word (ALONE) in hidden fodder
4a STATIONARY Still get pencils and paper? Double definition Incorrect spelling of second definition
9a SANDALWOOD Clubs kept by shoe tree SANDAL (shoe) + CLUB Clubs should be singular
10a DISK Computer storage to slide backwards Reversal (backwards) of SKID (to slide) SKID back is not DISK
11a UNSEAT Vote out one bum UN (one)+SEAT (bum) No French indicator
12a ESPECIAL Unusual drug with fresh plaices E (drug) + an anagram (fresh) of PLAICES Plaices is incorrect plural
14a SPAM Health resort serving pork product SPA (Health resort) + M No indicator for M
15a PSYCHOPATH Keep quiet in posh yacht of maniac P (quiet) in an anagram of (POSH YACHT) No anagram indicator included
17a SKIN GRAFTS Lacking funds to cover tennis player’s son {GRAF[F] (tennis player} inside SKINT (lacking funds) +S (son) No definition
20a INCA Old Greek at home with accountant IN (at home) +CA (accountant) The Incas were in South America, not Greece
21a ANCESTOR Creations recreated for one who may have created you An anagram (recreated) of CREATIONS Extra letter (I) in anagram fodder
23a EXCEED Former leading player’s top Homophone of EX SEED No homophone indicator
24a IRIS She‘s from Belfast IRIS[h] No removal indicator for last letter of Irish
25a APOCRYPHAL Dubious royal chap misrepresented An anagram (misrepresented) of ROYAL CHAP Letter missing from fodder (another A)
26a SEAMLESSLY Line the secretive French find continuously SEAM (line) + LES (the French) + SLY (secretively) Wordplay in wrong order (and a rubbish surface too!)
27a EWE Sheep‘s short vessel EWE[R] For grid symmetry answer should be a 4-letter word
2d PLAIN SPOKEN People at inn oddly told to be forthright Odd letters of PEOPLE AT INN + SPOKEN (told) PeOpLe At InN oddly = POLAIN not PLAIN
3d LADIES MAN One who’s attentive to women Straight definition, no wordplay
4d SPLIT-UP Broken mug leads to divorce SPLIT (broken)+[C]UP (mug) No removal indicator for first letter of CUP
5d A COMEDY OF ERRORS How was your experience with us today? Cryptic definition Cryptic summary of the whole thing
6d IN DEPTH Detailed actor to visit home by the outskirts of Teignmouth DEP[P] (detailed actor) inside IN (home) and TH (outskirts of Teignmouth) Detailed is doing double duty (definition and to shorten DEPP)
7d ALIBI Boxer with major excuse ALI (boxer)+BI[G] (major) No removal indicator for last letter of BIG
8d YOKEL Starter of yoghurt or kedgeree eaten last Sunday by bumpkin First letters of yoghurt or kedgeree eaten last Extra word (Sunday) in the clue
13d ATTACHE CASE Investigate diplomat’s bag ATTACHE (diplomat) + CASE (investigation) No indicator to swap wordplay elements
16d PRINCIPLE In law William takes over one place PRINCE around I + PL (one place) William = Prince requires Definition by example indicator
18d RAT RACE Sailor leads humans in attempt to get on in the world Reversal of TAR (sailor)+ RACE (humans) No reversal indicator for TAR
19d SWEAR BY Recommended Times after promise SWEAR (promise)+BY (Times) Definition in wrong part of speech
21d AMISS Jam is so wrong Hidden in jAM IS So Hidden indicator missing
22d CHINA Friend having tea at home IN (at home) inside CHA (tea) Missing containment indicator and repetition of IN (for home)

20 comments on “NTSPP 686

  1. I wondered what might be going on when I saw that our vertically-challenged setter had changed his alias and then read the title of the crossword.

    The effort and time that must have gone into making the clues/solutions not quite right is quite something.

    Thank you and well done to Starhorse and, in advance to Prolixic

  2. Clever in the manner of Les Dawson’s piano playing and Tommy Cooper’s magic, though I’m glad that this could only appear on one day of the year so we’re unlikely to get a repeat for some time. Thanks to Starhorse.
    There are a couple of clues (11a and 27a) where I can’t see much wrong.
    My favourite clue was the explanatory 5d.

    1. 11a I think it depends how you ‘see’ the one. To match 1a in the grid, I think 27a should be a four letter word

  3. Not for me, I’m afraid. I gave up after finding errors in the first few clues I solved. What a waste of time.

    Sorry to be a curmudgeon but April Fool’s jokes stop at noon.


    1. Apologies I thought Mr K had made an error scheduling this for 11 instead of 12 so I changed it, only realising why I shouldn’t have done so when I solved the crossword

      1. I’ll forgive you if you can have some Simnel cake ready for me in the naughty corner in case I need it next weekend. :wink:

        1. I will probably have some hot cross buns – I’m one of those traditional people who only eats them at Easter 🐣

  4. OK – I fell for it! Started out by thinking that Mr K had posted this week’s Rookie instead of the NTSPP and had all manner of scribbled notes alongside various clues until I lit upon 5d and the light slowly began to dawn.
    Nice one, Starhorse, hope I get the chance to exact some revenge…………….

  5. Well I’m sorry it didn’t quite appeal to everyone, but as Gazza says it will be a few years before April 1st is on a Saturday again. And it is true that writing erroneous clues which you’ve still got a reasonable chance of solving is harder than you expect! Still, I’m just relieved that nobody has demanded I be banned for good, so far.

  6. I was hoping to like this. The concept is a strong one and well worth constructing a puzzle with.

    But if you’re going require people to enter things which don’t fit the clue, you need more than “Most of the answers are wrong”, which is about all one can actually say of this set of clues and answers. They need to be wrong in a consistent way, or in a limited list of different ways, and the erroneous text or the letters displaced, possibly treated differently for each different type of error, to form some sort of identifiable thing with which the solver can use to check that they’ve correctly identified where the tricky bit is and thus that their entry is what was required. Without some thread running through the deviations, all you end up with is a crossword with a lot of bad clues. Being able to say “Well, I’ve filled it in with vaguely plausible answers, but I’ve got no real idea whether I’ve successfully solved it” isn’t a satisfying outcome.

    Bravo for trying, but you need to plan the next one better.

  7. Well I finished it (I think) but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Fair play to shortarse for setting themselves such a difficult task though. I look forward to the review from Prolixic.

  8. I don’t often pick up an Nys op these days but somehow looked at this one and thought wtf? Standards are slipping. Then I remembered date and recognised setter. I’m sorry I didn’t pursue beyond halfway – too painful! But a very good joke, well done.

  9. Well done, Prolixic, that must have taken almost as long as it took Starhorse to construct the puzzle!

    1. Starhorse provided me with notes in advance that I used to produce the review so it did not take too long!

  10. When I sent this to Mr K and Prolixic (I felt it was only fair to provide the “parsings” table for this one!) I wasn’t sure whether it would actually see the light of day as I thought someone such as Alchemi might have come up with a properly themed puzzle around jokes, pranks etc. I don’t do themed puzzles as such, this is definitely a one-off, but can see where Alchemi is coming from in his (I assume it’s “his”, apologies if not) comments.

    As far as constructing it, I tried to make it reasonably solvable from definitions/crossers. I deliberately made the first couple of across clues both fairly easy but clearly not quite right. I also picked Crosswordland’s favourite boxer in 7d to give the correct crosser. After that I just tried to get in as many possible types of error as I could.

    I guessed that many people’s experience would be similar to Jane’s and Dutch’s, so fair enough. Guilty as charged.

    PS A quick check suggests that the next occurrence is 01/04/28, so if anyone fancies it you’ve got 5 years to come up with something….

  11. Only just got around to this so failed to spot the ‘obvious’ April 1st connection, although I did correctly identify the culprit as Starhorse! Shall we just say it was novel? It didn’t take long to recognise the ‘deliberate mistake’ theme, as eventually confirmed by 5d, although I failed to spot the 27a grid error and couldn’t see what was wrong with it. My favourite clue element (perhaps the only favourite!) was calling the secretive French ‘Les sly’, although I’m not sure this bit of Franglais was even intended…
    Thank goodness it is 5 years to the next one, but we’ll be ready and waiting for it now!
    Thank you :scratch: for entertaining us with this novel, interesting but somewhat weird puzzle, Shorerats!

    1. PS The title was not included in the PDF file, so I didn’t note the ‘Timely Puzzle’ hint until reading CS’s comment.

  12. Just got to this puzzle and completed it with the help of some letters revealed. As it’s past April 1st and we didn’t have a title on our sheet we missed the reason for the ‘mistakes’ and wondered who the setter was – doh moment when we read the comments! Well done Starhorse, very clever. Thank you.

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