NTSPP 706 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Fez

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

We don't appear to have had an NTSPP from Fez since last year. This one was both tricky and enjoyable


1a City battling weak opposition (9)
WAKEFIELD: An anagram (battling) of WEAK followed by a synonym for opposition in, for example, a game of cricket

6a Black gloop - Guinness? (5)
BOOZE: The abbreviation for Black and a thick viscous liquid (gloop)

9a Skate on smooth material (5)
RAYON: Another name for the fish also known as a skate and ON (from the clue)

10a I'm worried about doctor failing to reach conclusion overnight (9)
IMMEDIATE: IM (from the clue) and a synonym for worried goes about almost all of a informal term for a doctor (failing to reach conclusion)

11a All night parties - popping pill really early on (10)
EVERYTHING: An anagram (parties) of NIGHT goes after (the rest of the wordplay going 'early on', an abbreviated drug (pill) and an adverb meaning really

12a Element of jazzy improvisation enhancing concert, essentially (4)
ZINC: The 'essential' letters of jaZzy improvIsation enhaNcing conCert

14a Probing Parisian's mother? Easy, tiger! (7)
MAIGRET: An informal name for a mother and an anagram (easy) of TIGER

15a Where Rishi might feel at home, perhaps reading out orders to bankers? (7)
CHEQUES: The country house of the UK Prime Minister without the letter representing Reading in a description of a basic education

17a That's an ace - making a comeback, clinching game (7)
CANASTA: Hidden in reverse (making a comeback) in the first three words of the clue

19a Is a poet dabbling in drugs? (7)
OPIATES: An anagram (dabbling) of IS A POET

20a Country governed by imams, primarily (4)
IRAN: A simple way of saying governed goes after the primary letter of Imams

22a Rugby sides to react after sports reporter's exposed "adventurous" character in Express (6,4)
RUPERT BEAR: The abbreviation for Rugby Union, the sides to ReacT which go after some school sports, followed by a homophone (reporter's) of a synonym for exposed

25a Old farm equipment men no longer appearing to utilise: unused, ultimately withdrawn (9)
EXTRACTED: The usual two-letter 'old', some farm equipment without the abbreviation for Other Ranks of Soldiers (men) and the ultimate letters of utilisE and unuseD

26a A new job, playing instrument in bluegrass band (5)
BANJO: An anagram (playing) of A N (new) JOB

27a 3ft snake initially seen in gardens (5)
YARDS: A measurement of three feet and the initial letter of Snake

28a First couple of climbers reaching mountain most likely to achieve success? (9)
CLEVEREST: The first couple of CLimbers and a well-known mountain


1d Duffer's wife nags endlessly (5)
WORSE: The abbreviation for Wife and some equines (nags) without the first and last letters (endlessly)

2d Kwarteng's enterprising yet principally insane reworking of orthodox economic ideas (9)
KEYNESIAN: The principal letters of Kwarteng Enterprising Yet and an anagram (reworking) of INSANE

3d Costume rap star wears - like Slim Shady originally (5,5)
FANCY DRESS: The name of a rap star Dr DRE goes inside (wears) a verb meaning to like or be attracted to, the result followed with the original letters of Slim Shady

4d Lacking any hint of self-awareness, Steps' "H" is set on changing nickname (7)
EPITHET: Without any of the S's (lacking any hint of self-awareness) an anagram (changing) of sTEPs H Is

5d Review of short comedy set around Northern Ireland: "Diabolical!" (7)
DEMONIC: A reversal (review) of COMEDy without its final letter (short) put around the abbreviation for Northern Ireland

6d Reguarly blow-dry to attain thickness of hair? (4)
BODY: The regular letters of BlOw-DrY

7d Took a picture capturing animal (5)
OKAPI: 'Captured' in the first three words of the clue

8d Works out case for Exchequer to cut taxes (9)
EXERCISES: The 'case' or outside letters of ExchequeR 'cut' or go inside some taxes

13d Is blister festering on one's backside easy to ignore? (10)
RESISTIBLE: An anagram (festering) of IS BLISTER on the letter at the back of onE

14d High-speed railway surrounding nuclear energy plant (9)
MACHINERY: A speed faster than the speed of sound and an abbreviated railway 'surrounding' the abbreviation for Nuclear Energy

16d You discussed articles - in private - to increase costs (2,3,4)
UP THE ANTE: A homophone (discussed) of you and a definite article and an indefinite article inserted into the abbreviation for private

18d Marine answers pressing question with nervous response (7)
AQUATIC: Two abbreviations for answer going round (pressing) an abbreviated question, a nervous response being added at the end

19d Behind in contest, virtually finished before it's begun (7)
OVERDUE: Almost all of a contest go after a synonym for finished

21d Seeking active female at heart, ignoring the odds (5)
AFTER: Abbreviations for Active and Female and the even (ignoring the odds) letters of At hEaRt

23d Occasionally riotous time: settle down! (5)
ROOST: The occasional letters of RiOtOuS and the abbreviation for Time

24d Jokes about 'wizard school' - to begin with, they might frustrate Potter (4)
JAWS: Apparently these are a term for the sides of pockets in a snooker table which might frustrate someone trying to pot a ball. The letters at the beginning of Jokes About Wizard School

9 comments on “NTSPP 706
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  1. Quite tricky in places but very enjoyable with cunning touches – thanks to Fez.
    I had to check the 3d, unknown to me, rap star.
    The clues I liked best were 10a, 14a, 15a, 22a and 14d.

  2. A couple of the clues were a bit wordy but overall very smart with lots of cunning misdirection.
    I particularly liked 10&15a plus 2&13d.
    Thanks Fez and to whoever reviews it.

    1. Fez is a nationally-published setter so I will be the reviewer. It is one of my ‘draft four blog posts’ weekends

  3. Finally got letters in all the white spaces but still fighting a couple on the parsing front. Have to say that I thought our setter was being overly verbose which didn’t help matters!
    Top two for me were 15&28a.

    Thanks to Fez for the NTSPP battle.

  4. Well a correctly completed grid without any letter reveals is the plus. Quite how I got there is anybody’s guess as I’ve a number yet to satisfactorily parse. Of the ones where I’ve understood the wordplay fully (I think) – 10,15&28a appealed & I liked the anagram indicators at 1&14a but my clear fav was 2d.
    Thanks Fez for a rather challenging puzzle & in advance to Sue

  5. Tricky in places but highly enjoyable. A pangram, too – might even be a double pangram.
    I particularly liked 14ac (and the picture from the original BBC series now on Talking Pictures TV) and 24dn. Couldn’t parse 3dn although the answer was obvious. Thanks, Fez and CS.

  6. Many thanks for the review, CS, which I certainly needed to sort out my last three bits of parsing.
    Quite a tough cookie from Fez!

  7. Many thanks for the review and super illustrations CS :-) I do love a wordy clue (I’m a big fan of Django/Bluth/Fed, for example) sorry that’s not everyone’s cup of tea but pleased some of the long-ish ones have been selected as faves. Well done exit on spotting the double pangram … I hoped that might help a little on a few (eg the J an W confirming 24d despite the obscure-ish definition!) Hopefully there were enough easier ones to get the crossers for some of the trickier clues; it wasn’t meant to be *especially* tough – unlike my other offering this w/e in the EV! Thanks to all solvers & especially for the feedback, always much appreciated.

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