NTSPP 749 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Exit

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Exit provides this week's alternative exercise in lateral thinking with an enjoyable puzzle.


7a Combined letters from Mo Morgan? (8)
MONOGRAM: Anagram of Mo Morgan for a kind of extended definition,

9a Match end, we’re told, to add colour (6)
TIEDYE: A synonym of match and a homophone (we're told) of one of end as a verb. It's not ideal to.have part of this solution so closely related to part of 13a.

10a A king enrolled in Open University with money for old rope (5)
OAKUM: A from the clue, plus a single-letter abbreviation for King inside (enrolled in) an abbreviated Open University all followed by a single-letter abbreviation for Money

11a Poor quality jewel taken in error? On the contrary! (8)
RUBBISHY: An informal synonym of error is taken or contained by a pinkish red jewel (On the contrary tells us to invert the instruction in the wordplay)

12a &17d. Office worker’s instrument (4)
SEXT: A church service (better known these days as a sexually explicit message) and a working insect

13a Mark caught colourist with judge (9)
DIACRITIC: A homophone (caught) of someone who adds colour to something and a synonym of a judge or someone who expresses an opinion

15a Student’s short holidays mostly in Scarborough (not the town) (7)
SCHOLAR: An abbreviated holidays loses its last letter and goes inside the first four letters of Scarborough (not the town)

18a Willingly approved driving instructor seen in bank (7)
READILY: An abbreviated Approved Driving Instructor in a synonym of bank as a verb

21a Randomly chosen array tribe arranged without drug (9)
ARBITRARY: Anagram of ARRAY TRIB(e)... dropping the drug.

24a Youngster with energy, 8 (4)
CUBE: A younger scout maybe or the young of several animals and the abbreviation for Energy. For me, to avoid ambiguity 8 here should be written as eight.

26a Reg ’n’ Vera disturbed etcher (8)
ENGRAVER: Anagram of Reg ‘n’ Vera

28a Graduate and corporal put together money in account – but not local currency (5)
BANCO: An abbreviated Bachelor of Arts and Non Commissioned Officer (corporal)

29a Run Mini; swerve, missing front of Vauxhall (6)
CAREER: Something of which a Mini is an example (perhaps this should be indicated) and a synonym of swerve once the initial letter of Vauxhall has been removed from its front

30a Require a smaller quantity? Not required! (8)
NEEDLESS: Synonyms of require and a smaller quality when put together give a word meaning not required or unnecessary



1d Wolfe reportedly evasive over expected remuneration (6)
COYOTE: Put together a synonym of shy or evasive and add an abbreviated On Target Earnings. Not entirely sure this is fair

2d Prepare gun for firing at old Oscar, a parrot (8)
COCKATOO: A word that could mean prepare a gun for firing AT from the clue and abbreviations for Old and Oscar

3d Mad ref wild on trumped-up charge (6)
FRAMED: Anagram (wild) of MAD REF. Why did I think of events in America here?
4d Go crazy over … (4)

STAB: Reverse a synonym of crazy.
5d … show - some grand epic - Titanic? (6)
DEPICT: Hidden (some)

6d Goodness! This almost covers a state of doubtful veracity (8)
MYTHICAL: An exclamation meaning “goodness” and THI(s) from the clue cover (over in a down clue) an abbreviated American state

8d Setter’s stuck-up attitude seen by 500 – a large number (6)
MYRIAD: A first person possessive pronoun (setter’s), a reversal of a synonym of attitude or bearing and the Roman numeral for 500.

14d Port or whiskey? (3)
RYE: Double definition, the first not being a drink.

16d Mistake in cash Washington raised for felling tree? (8)
CHAINSAW: Anagram (mistake} of IN CASH plus a reversal of WA(shington). The definition here cannot describe the solution (or any noun), we need "something" for felling tree or similar. "That's" for felling tree would perhaps be the best option.

17d See 12a (3)

19d “Shelter after going down,” said in a fitting manner (8)
DECENTLY: Homophones (said) of synonyms of going down and shelter (from the wind)

20d President’s 13, say (6)
MACRON: Double definition, the less obvious being an example of a 13a, used to indicate a stressed vowel

22d Tout for Dog and Gun? (6)
BARKER: Three meanings, one being this...A barker, often a carnival barker, is a person who attempts to attract patrons to entertainment events, such as a circus or funfair, by exhorting passing members of the public.

23d French priest, maybe, included in your short conversation (6)
YABBER: An informal way of YouR placed around a title bestowed to a (mainly in France) priest

25d Sampling life and half of soul (6)
BIOPSY: A medical sample obtained from an abbreviated life (story maybe) and half of soul or spirit

27d Change lamb’s keeper – Victor to replace Mike (4)
VARY: Replace an abbreviation for Mike with that for Victor in the name of the female who had “a little lamb”.

Very nice, thanks Exit.


25 comments on “NTSPP 749
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  1. Thanks Exit. Caffeine, and some checking while solving, required for a very enjoyable challenge! Two or three parsings elude me so I will await the review with interest.

    Smiles for 30a, 6d – I couldn’t help thinking of Steve Cowling, and 14d.

    Thanks again and thanks to whomsoever will be the reviewer.

    1. Stephen will be blogging this one which is possibly a good thing as I’m currently drinking beer at the George with Times for the Times bloggers and some setters – Elgar Cephas Notabilis and Micawber to name just few

        1. Now he is the Times Puzzles Editor, he isn’t allowed to have crosswords in rival publications. :(

          The NY Doorknob had arrived

  2. Thanks to Exit for an enjoyable lunchtime solve.
    The 9a answer is usually hyphenated and I’m in two minds about having a homophone for the 1d definition.
    Top clues for me were 11a, 12/17, 22d and 25d.

  3. This was a very enjoyable puzzle, which was nicely constructed crossword in that there were some relatively straightforward clues spread across the grid which gave a foothold for tackling those that were considerably more challenging.

    10a was a new word for me, and I can’t find any justification in either Chambers or Collins for TE being “expected remuneration” in 1d.

    I think it was Prolixic in Rookie Corner recently who mentioned that when a digit is used which is within the range of the clue numbers (1-30 in this case), this must refer to a specific clue. If the setter wants to use a number itself (as in 24a), then it needs to be shown as a word, in this case “eight”.

    I had a lot of ticks, with 13a, 8d & 22d my podium choice.

    Many thanks to Exit and to the reviewer (SL?)

      1. Ah, yes! I assumed the O came from “over”. Thanks, Gazza.

        That’s triggered my somewhat fallible memory. OTE cropped up in a puzzle fairly recently and I hadn’t heard of it then despite having managed sales teams for many, many years.

    1. I’ve just been doing some checking and it was Zandio in the blog for Sunday Toughie 113 who explained the number rule which I’d never heard of. He did say that it may apply only at the Telegraph.

      1. It may well only apply to the Telegraph and probably the Times. As far as I recall (without searching for specific examples) it doesn’t seem to apply to the FT, Graun and Indy.

  4. Somewhat dispirited now that Gazza’s elected to put the 12/17 combo on his ‘favourites’ list – I haven’t even got a clue as to what is the answer! Think I managed reasonably well elsewhere although, like Senf, I have a couple that I’ll need SL to help with the parsing of tomorrow.

  5. 22d had meanings we were unaware of and we had to Google what part of the answer to 11a meant. We also had to reveal 9a but didn’t know the answer as one word. 13a was also a new word, linking in with 20d. However Google reassured us we had the correct answer. We very much enjoyed the solve even though it took us a while! Thank you Exit and we look forward to your next one. Thanks also in advance to Stephen.

  6. Excellent Sunday morning fun for us. Had us working quite hard but kept smiles on our faces all the way through.
    Thanks Exit.

  7. Thank you to everyone for your comments – I’m glad you found it enjoyable.
    And thank you specially to StephenL for the comprehensive review. I take your point about 16dn and agree that inserting ‘that’s’ would have made both the surface and the definition better; maybe the question mark could then have been omitted.

  8. Many thanks for the review, Stephen, and thanks to Gazza for his assistance! Am I correct in thinking that the Telegraph wouldn’t accept the 12/17 combo in that form?

    1. Hi Jane.
      No the Telegraph wouldn’t accept that, certainly not enumerated 4,3. Even enumerated as 7 I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be accepted in it’s present form but other publications may differ.

  9. I had a first look at this on Sunday evening and made a reasonable start but ran aground with 28a/25d and 12a/1d. I have picked it up a couple of times since then and figured out 28a and 25d, but the other pair still evaded me. I had an answer for the 12/17 combo but wasn’t happy with my parsing or the word split. CS once advised that after 3 looks at a crossword you should move on (good advice, but I wouldn’t complete too many ‘Elgars’ if I stuck to it rigidly!), so I checked out StephenL’s review today. My 12a was right, but I doubt I would have twigged 1d, no matter how many looks!
    Thanks for posing the challenge, Exit, and thanks for throwing me a lifebuoy, Stephen.

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