NTSPP – 144 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 144

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 144

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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NTSPP - 144

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle  by Crypticsue follows.

Following Alchemi’s debut crossword in the Independent this week, he returns to the NTSPP slot with another puzzle which I test solved three weeks ago, and, being short of time then, decided to return later and work out the wordplay of the very long clues.   ‘Later’ came sooner than I thought as Prolixic is away this weekend, but I hope I have both sorted it out and managed to explain it ‘in simple terms’.


1/5/11/19 Search for food after  pair of yokels replaced country’s leader and unexpectedly sent her the order for immediate appearance of buses (3,4,3,4,4,5,4,5,2,4)
{YOU WAIT FOR AGES THEN THREE COME ALONG AT ONCE}  Replace the first letter of a Middle Eastern Country with the first two letters of YOkels.  The remaining words of the solution come from following a search for food with an an anagram (unexpectedly) of SENT HER THE and then an expression  (4,5,2, 4) your mother might use if she wanted you to appear somewhere without any delay. 

9 Breath pause in American performance of paean (5)
{APNEA}  The American spelling of a medical condition being a  temporary cessation of breathing is an anagram (performance) of PAEAN.

10 Reacting to beast and former dictator with considerable energy (9)
{OXIDIZING}  Reacting and becoming rusty –   A male bovine (2) the forename of an African dictator (3) and a way of saying considerable energy, zest or spirit.

11 see 1

16 Initially retrieve only one piece of jewellery left in bond before Silvio’s first period of debauchery (7,8)
{ROARING TWENTIES}  An era of social, economic and cultural dynamism following the First World War.   The initial letters of Retrieve and Only, A (one) and  a piece of jewellery worn on the hand make up the first word.   The second word is formed by inserting into a synonym for bond or link, part of a verb meaning left or departed, and then finishing with the first letter of Silvio.

19 See1

20 I’m buttery, meltingly soft, silvery metal  (9)
{YTTERBIUM}  The lady who sets the Telegraph Saturday GK puzzle is very fond of including this soft, silvery metal in her puzzles.  In this clue it’s  an anagram (meltingly)of IM BUTTERY.

27 Town is complete after accepting formerly oppositionist sides back (9)
{UTTOXETER}   I have only heard of this historic market town in Staffordshire because of references to its racecourse.   Insert into complete in the sense of total, a reversal (back) of the ‘sides’ of oppositionist and the two letters used to describe a former partner.

28 Material part unfortunately crashed (5)
{LYCRA}   Stretchy material is extremely well hidden in part of unfortunateLY CRAshed.

29 Improves performance with air drink? (5,2)
{TUNES UP}  People do this to various things such as car engines or computers in order to improve their performance.   A charade of an air or melody and a verb meaning to drink, mainly used in crosswords these days, split 5,2.

30 Liberated female in space vacated by Silkwood, perhaps (3,4)
{SET FREE}  The outside letters of SpacE (space vacated) are followed by the type of growth of which the misleadingly capitalised Silkwood is an example, into which has been inserted F for female.


1/8  Almost long for pudding from the past (5,3)
{YEARS AGO}  I am not a particular fan of these solutions that split in an odd way over two different parts of the puzzle.    Nearly all of a word meaning long or pine for followed by an old type of nursery pudding you either loved or loathed, split 5, 3.

2 Bone appearing in regular full-on war (4)
{ULNA}   Hidden in the regular or even letters of fUlL oN wAr.

3 Air Canada has first to replace a revamped Animal Class (9)
{ARACHNIDA} A class including spiders, scorpions and mites.     Replace one of the As in AIR CANADA with H (the first letter of Has) and then make a revamped anagram of the resulting letters.

4/22 Choice of leading characters in “Harlem Nights” gripped by disease and Irish detective novel (5,5)
{THORN BIRDS}  Insert into the abbreviation for the disease sometimes called consumption, a choice  (either/OR )of the leading characters of Harlem Nights, and then follow with  the two letter abbreviation for Irish and the two letter abbreviation for a Detective Sergeant. 

5 Artificial hair standing on end for loud fascists without number (6,3)
{FRIGHT WIG}  False hair that stands out or sticks out dramatically.  F (the musical instruction to play something loudly) and the description of a political movement opposed to socialism etc, removing the N (without Number) from the second word, and splitting the result 6,3.

6/21 To mention thanks to upstanding relations is something politicians can do to make themselves unpopular (5,5)   
{RAISE TAXES} To bring up in conversation (5) followed by the childish way we might say thank you and a reversal (upstanding) of the activity for which relations is a euphemism.

7 Superficial rubbish pointlessly turned over  (4)
{GLIB}  Superficial, easy and plausible.   A reversal (turned over) of a slang word for rubbish or drivel with the last letter, an E (the compass point East) removed.

8 See 1

12 See 14

13 Bad mark for type of 6 reportedly (5)
{GAMMA}  The third letter of the Greek alphabet is used to denote a bad mark or third grade.   It is also the name for a type of radiation produced in a homophone (reportedly) of 6d.

14/12 Aerobic fun involves newsreader (5,5)
{FIONA BRUCENot sure what this might say about our setter’s fantasies, especially if they include the wearing of 28a!  One of our favourite newsreaders is obtained from  an anagram (involves) of AEROBIC FUN.

15  As Heston’s lost a lot of weight, there’s a series in England (or Australia) (5)
{ASHES}   Yes, Kath, it’s the cricket clue!    Remove a lot of weight  (20 cwt) from  AS HESTONS.

17  March surprises even Meryl, perhaps (5,4)
{GOOSE STEP}  A military way of marching with stiff knees and soles flat on the ground   Surprises by grabbing the behind,  followed by the even letters of the surname of Meryl,  the American actress.

18  American crazy to shorten lease of dish (3, 6)
{NUT CUTLET}   A dish typically offered to vegetarians, although my own vegetarian wouldn’t touch one with a barge pole, perhaps it is because I don’t shape them like the ones in the illustration!    How an American might refer to a crazy person (3)  a verb meaning to shorten (3) and a synonym for lease (3).

21  See 6

22 See 4

23/26  Clubs bag, up to a point, is luggage (8)
{SUIT CASE}   Clubs is an example of one part of a pack of cards.  The second part of the solution is a reversal of a pouch or bag followed by the compass point East.

24 Maybe what boxers try to do to turn heads (4)
{STUN}   A reversal of an informal term for heads.

25   Pit where former miners’ leader loses breathing equipment (4)
{SCAR}   Remove the organ a fish uses to breathe from the surname of possibly the most famous miner’s leader and you are left with a blemish on the skin.   Pit here isn’t where Arthur worked but  refers to the indentation left on the skin by a disease such as chicken pox.

Of all the people who send me puzzles to test, Alchemi is definitely the most awesomely productive as he usually sends out two and occasionally three a week.   This one, his 75th, was tricky in places with some good d’oh moments, and the ideal diversion for a very wet Saturday afternoon.

23 comments on “NTSPP – 144

  1. It’s beaten me so I’ll wait for the review from CS & indulge in a bit of back solving then, hopefully I’ll learn something the next time round.

    1. Cracked it! Get in there my son! Back of the net! Nice one Cyril! (It’s the first NTSPP that I’ve completed in a long time hence the euphoria.)

    2. I have “d’oh’ written by both of those clues on my solved grid, if that makes you feel any better.

    3. spindrift, you’re doing far better than me. But I think I have 29a! Perservate! But, keep in tune!

  2. Manners spindrift! Thanks to Alchemi and to CS for the review which I await with great interest.

  3. Phew, I think Alchemi’s recent debut in the Indy must have gone to his head! A tricky little rascal as pommette would say!

    If solved this you have, the force with you strong it must be! :grin:

    First in was 1a etc – guessed from the def and enumeration. Haven’t parsed it yet and I think I’ll leave the hard work to CS, I’m off out for a pre-prandial.

    Thanks to Alchemi and CS, in anticipation.

  4. Ummm, too difficult for me only did 1/2 before I had to go looking for help.

    Thanks to Alchemi.

    Thanks CS needed lots of help.

    You’ll all be pleased to know that the frontal system that should have cleared Dover by 1300 hrs is still hissing down.

  5. Have skipped over the hints and comments but just thought I’d ask if I’m being dim/missing something with 1/8d – the clue says 5, 3 but the spaces in the puzzle are split 4, 4 – oh dear, not a good start.

    1. (5,3) is correct, Kath, but the 8 letters are split across two positions in the grid. This only works if the individual elements in the grid (i.e. the two sets of 4 letters) are each valid words/phrases in their own right (as they are here).

      1. Thanks, gazza – I think I’ve just about got there now. Should have ‘perservated’ for a bit longer before yelling for help but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this in my life.

  6. Many thanks to Alchemi for a teasing crossword and to CS for stepping to review whilst I am visiting Mum for her birthday. I went via Derby and whilst waiting for a connecting train popped over the road to the Waterfall for a quick visit to the Sloggers & Betters and surprised BD.

  7. Peter raves about crypticsue’s neologism? (10)

    Sorry this seems to have been a bit tough, but I’m a poor judge of how hard a puzzle of mine is.

    Obviously the prompt for the puzzle was the long one from 1a. I just thought it was quite cool to be able to use “buses?” as the definition of a 38-letter, 10-word sentence.

    Trouble with having a clue that big, though, is that it makes it difficult to get from one part of the puzzle to another if you haven’t got the biggie. So I put in the 1/8d, 23/26d, 14/12d, 4/22d and 6/21d pairs to give alternative routes between the corners (and the middle). I’m quite pleased with the layout of the grid.

    1. Excellent anagram/clue but sadly it isn’t my new word, credit for that one goes to the lovely Mary.

      However, I can claim the ‘numberal’ which is a sort of cross between a number and a Roman numeral.

  8. I (the Mr part of the Kiwi pair) am feeling very pleased with myself for having got this one out all by myself while the literary and classical expert in the team was elsewhere. Some really challenging clues for foreigners too (eg 27a) and, luckily, Antiques Roadshow made 12/14d possible. Mrs B and Mr G had a bit of input as well.
    A lot of fun, just right for a wet Sunday morning.
    Thanks Alchemi and Crypticsue.

  9. Good puzzle although I didn’t help myself by starting with ‘ALONG COME THREE’ instead of ‘THREE COME ALONG.’

    Unlike Sue, I quite liked the split answer at 1/8. As Gazza said, each part has to be a valid word.

    Last one in was FIONA BRUCE. At the beginning, I thought it was an anagram of ‘newsreader.’

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