NTSPP 709 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Sirdakka

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows: 


1a  Stimulate excitation! (10)
INTOXICATE: An anagram (stimulate) of EXCITATION.

7a  Don't start - that lot's next in line (4)
HEIR: A five-letter word meaning that lot’s with the first letter removed (don’t start).

9a  Odd one out of five owns a Tesla (6)
QUAINT: A four-letter word meaning one out of five includes (owns) the A from the clue and is followed by the abbreviation for Tesla.

10a  One mean drunk with a drop of Drambuie (8)
TIGHTWAD: A five-letter word meaning drunk followed by the abbreviation for with, the A from the clue and the first letter (a drop) of Drambuie.

11a  Irritable, as you might be after solving 1, 4, 24, 27? (3,2,5)
OUT OF SORTS: Cryptic definition of how you might be having solved all the anagrams in the crossword.

12a  Passionate verse penned by a retired detective (4)
AVID: The abbreviation for verse inside (penned by) the A from the clue and a reversal (retired) of an abbreviation for a detective.

13a  Brown, as sap in oddly stunted plant (6)
BONSAI: The odd letters of the first four words of the clue.

15a  It's possible for one to follow fish across a river (1,4,3)
I DARE SAY: A three-letter word meaning for one goes after (to follow) a three-letter word for a fish around (across) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for river.

17a  American sweetheart swallowing pill with sip of apple juice (4,4)
ALOE VERA: The single letter abbreviation for American and a five-letter word for a sweetheart around (swallowing) the abbreviation for ecstasy (pill) and all followed by the first letter (sip) of apple.

19a  Attacks fellow men, screaming "Aaa!" (6)
FORAYS: The abbreviation for fellow followed by the abbreviation for other ranks (men) and a homophone (screaming) of As (aaa).

21a  Some rays originally entering aperture here? (4)
UVEA: The abbreviation for ultra-violet (some rays) and the first letters (originally) of entering aperture.

22a  Mark on staff nearly cut three times? (6,4)
TREBLE CLEF: A word meaning three followed by a work meaning cut with the final letter removed (nearly).

24a  It comes off after touch of cleanser (8)
COSMETIC: An anagram (off) of IT COMES after the first letter (touch) of cleanser.

25a  A cross on the end of this archipelago (6)
AZORES: The A from the clue followed by a two-letter cross-breed animal, a two-letter word for on and the final letter (end) of this.

26a  Fool entertaining king's demands (4)
ASKS: A three-letter word for a fool includes (entertaining) the abbreviation for king.

27a  Introduce permeating liquid? (10)
IMPREGNATE: An anagram (liquid) of PERMEATING.


2d  Island nation's opening a primitive university (5)
NAURU: The first letter (opening) of nations followed by the A from the clue, a two-letter word meaning primitive and the abbreviation for university.

3d  Sinister knight breaking promises under order (7)
OMINOUS: The chess abbreviation for knight inside (breaking) a four-letter word for promises to pay all after (under) the abbreviation for order of merit.

4d  Initially nutritious entities digested here (9)
INTESTINE: The first letter (initially) of nutritious followed by an anagram (digested) of ENTITIES.

5d  Pastor Min ate a cupboard's contents - a trifle? (1,5,2,1,6)
A STORM IN A TEACUP: The answer is hidden (contents) in the first five words of the clue.

6d  They cut marsh grass front to back (5)
EDGES: A five-letter word for marsh grass with the first letter moved to the back (front to back).

7d  Steamy Rendezvous in HD! (3,4)
HOT DATE: A word that is abbreviated to H and a word that is abbreviated to D.

8d  Single wise guys never pretend (9)
IMAGINARY: The letter representing single followed by a four-letter word for wise men or guys and a four-letter word meaning never.

14d  Preoccupied with patent that conserves lithium (9)
OBLIVIOUS: A seven-letter word meaning patent or clear includes (that conserves) the chemical symbol for lithium.

16d  A horse noisily chewed a branch (9)
AFFILIATE: The A from the clue followed by a homophone (noisily) of filly (horse) and a three-letter word meaning chewed.

18d  Scholar's tots are growing up (7)
ERASMUS: A four-letter word meaning adds up or tots and the are from the clue are all reversed (growing up).

20d  Vehicle held up by criminal boarded by old masked bandit (7)
RACCOON: A reversal (held up) of a three-letter type of vehicle followed by a three-letter word for a criminal that includes (boarded by) the abbreviation for old.

22d  Excessively hot drink ordered for each player (5)
TUTTI: A homophone (ordered) of TOO (excessively) TEA (hot drink).

23d  Judge overriding institute's right to bail out (5)
EJECT: A five-letter word meaning to build or institute has the R (right) replaced (overriding) by J (judge).

19 comments on “NTSPP 709
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  1. While checking to make sure that this would be a one blog post weekend, I see that I found Sirdakka’s last Rookie Corner puzzle to be a ‘toughie’ . His first NTSPP was, for me anyway, another toughie, but I got there in the end.

    Lots to enjoy, my particular favourite was 7d, although I remain mystified as to what is going on in 11a. I’ll go and survey the garden through my closed eyelids and see if this helps things become clearer

    Many thanks to Sirdakka and, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. Probably incorrectly, with some lateral thinking, I took the answer for 11a to be an ‘indicator’ for the type of clue of the four listed clues.

  2. I echo CS’s comment, definitely in the Toughie spectrum with caffeine required. Some e-help required and a Reveal in 15a to get across the finishing line.

    Smiles for 11a and it’s four ‘contributors,’ 5d – who wouldn’t smile at a 15 letter lurker, and 18d.

    Thanks Sirdakka for an enjoyable first NTSPP, not so Tough next time please, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Very entertaining stuff – thanks to Sirdakka.
    The tougher clues were balanced by a few ‘gimmes’ so I thought it was just right for the NTSPP slot.
    My ticks went to 7a, 15a, 24a, 25a, 5d and 7d.

  4. Beaten by 21a & several question marks next to some of the clues but overall an enjoyable distraction while we wait for the arrival of Princess Grace & her brother, Billy Rambunctious.

  5. Welcome to the NTSPP, Sirdakka, with a challenging but extremely enjoyable debut.

    I did find this very tough but, as Gazza has pointed out, there were a number of easier clues spread across the grid which provided a good measure of assistance with the solve. Recognising near the end that we were on course for a pangram also helped with my last couple of entries.

    Twigging what was going on with 11a took me quite a while but, when the penny dropped, that got my vote as joint favourite along with the amazing 5d.

    Very well done and thank you, Sirdakka. If there are any newspaper puzzle editors reading this who are looking for new setters, Sirdakka definitely merits consideration.

    1. What a lovely comment, Rabbit Dave, and most gratefully received. I’m so glad it sounds like the challenge was worth it!

  6. I didn’t expect this setter’s first foray into NTSPP territory to make for an easy solve and it certainly wasn’t! Maybe a couple of clues were rather too complex but the desire to achieve a pangram may well have been responsible for that.
    Top three for me were 7a plus 7&18d.

    Thank you, Sirdakka, perhaps use the soft pedal a little more often next time?

  7. Super puzzle, sirdakka, and great to see it so well received. Couldn’t agree more with Rabbit Dave’s final comment. I’ll nominate 7d as COTD.

  8. For us it was a struggle and we needed to reveal some starter letters to finish. Favourite clues were 1a, 13a, 19a, 27a and the great 5d. A tad easier next time, please, Sirdaka. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  9. Sirdakka certainly delayed our Sunday morning walk but we are more than willing to forgive him as it was such an enjoyable solve. Lots of penny-drop moments and chuckles. Spotting the pangram possibility was really helpful with the last couple of answers in the SE.
    Thanks Sirdakka.

  10. A massive thank you to everyone for solving and leaving such helpful and heartening feedback, and an apology for having the difficulty dialed so far up in this one! I set this a while ago and have been making a concerted effort to calibrate the challenge level of my puzzles, so it’s most useful to hear how you all fared here and motivating to see what was enjoyable. I did manage recently to produce something more resembling a quiptic if you will all forgive a bit of shameless self promotion (https://www.mycrossword.co.uk/cryptic/1309) and will endeavour to make my next submission to this esteemed slot far more approachable. Thank you again to you all, and in advance to Prolixic.

  11. A really great puzzle with some tricky clues here and there. But 11ac caught my attention as I skimmed through the clues so I started with 1,4, 24 and 27 and realised what was going on there to give me 11ac; then I spotted 5dn, helped by the enumeration, but what a super clue. After that it was just a steady work through for a satisfying solve. And a pangram to boot. Thanks, Sirdakka.

  12. Sorry to be so late to this but I didn’t know it was up until last night. A puzzle to get the brain cells working and there is nothing wrong with that in my book. I enjoyed the anagrams and the &lits hugely and your hidden is a thing of beauty. Congrats.

  13. Thanks Sirdakka, super stuff – challenging but everything fell slowly and steadily into place with plenty of nice PDMs and laughs along the way, thanks again, & to Prolixic for review

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I never remember that you don’t give a detailed analysis after Rookies graduate to the NTSPP slot – such a shame.

  15. For some reason I didn’t do this NTSPP at the time but saved it to do later. Well, I have just done that!
    I found it very tough but most rewarding in terms of enjoyment. From an abundance of very good clues top of my list are 15a, 22a, 16d, 18d, and 20d. (Love Prolixic’s illustration for this last!)
    Apart from one clue, I did manage to complete this without help. 21a is a new word for me, so many thanks to Prolixic for that and for the excellent review.
    Very many thanks to Sirdakka and congratulations on your debut. Entertaining as this certainly was, something a lilttle less tough next time would be super!

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