NTSPP – 175 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 175

NTSPP – 175

Centenaries by Alchemi

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NTSPP - 175

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle follows.

One of Alchemi’s easier puzzles – I think you can tell from some of the wordplay how much fun he must have had finding centenarians and devising clues to fit their surnames – the relevant clues are highlighted in green.


1a           St Paul worried after Felix gets weapons (9)
{CATAPULTS}   Follow the type of animal Felix is (either the old cartoon character or the one used to advertise the eponymous food) with an anagram (worried) of ST PAUL.

6a           Be in debt to Poles for Olympian (5)
{OWENS}   Follow a verb meaning to be in debt with the single letters used to denote the Poles.

Jesse Owens

9a           Van corrupted with rust is a moon rocket? (6,1)
{SATURN V}  One of the rockets used to send astronauts to the moon –   an anagram (corrupted) of VAN and RUST.  My brother’s Airfix model of this rocket used to take pride of place on our sideboard –  I wonder what happened to it?

Saturn V

10a         Source of tapioca found in Africa’s savannah (7)
{CASSAVA}  The plant from which we get tapioca is found hidden in AfriCAS SAVAnnah.

11a         Chopping into little pieces, getting rid of the last of old decoration (5)
{ICING}   Remove the first letter (which just happens to be the last letter of olD) from a word meaning chopping  into little pieces to get a decoration for cakes.


12a         Karl has no trouble with person of enormous interest (4,5)
{LOAN SHARK}   An anagram (trouble with) of KARL HAS NO.

13a         Take a holiday, somewhere near an Indian coastal state? (2,4)
{GO AWAY}   An expression meaning to take a holiday might, if split 3, 3, sound like you might be travelling in the region of a particular Indian coastal state.

15a         Stupid little child takes Lee Evans initially for a journalist (8)
{DIMBLEBY}  Now I would have said ‘broadcaster’ but…    Follow an informal term for stupid with a small infant after you have replaced the A with the initial letters of Lee Evans.

18a  Transport expert living around Spain and Switzerland (8)
{BEECHING}   A verb meaning living into which is inserted the IVR codes for both Spain and Switzerland.

19a         British king with time for German statesman (6)
{BRANDT}  The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1969 to 1974.   B (British) followed by the single letter used to denote a King, the conjunction meaning with, also, and finally the abbreviation for Time.

22a         New recruits somehow enticed us (9)
{INDUCTEES}   An anagram (somehow) of ENTICED US.

24a         Expression of disbelief as new lover rubs out wounded owl (5)
{NEVER}   Lovely wordplay!    Remove the letters of OWL from NEW LOVER.   Wounded indicates that the poor old owl has his letters in the wrong order.

26a         Shot back-to-front rodents held in veneration (7)
{TOTEMIC}  Rituals associated with venerated objects –  a shot or small amount of, eg, rum followed by some small rodents who have the last letter of their name (the ‘back’) moved to the front (ie before the other three).

27a        Precedents seen in country backing on to California (4,3)
{CASE LAW}   The abbreviation for the State of California followed by a reversal of a country nearer to home, especially if you are Mary !

28a         Tyneside street has small homes (5)
{NESTS}   The two letters showing which part of the country Tyneside is situated, followed by the abbreviations for street and small.

29a         Actors going into the street, having resistance to another actor (9)
{LANCASTER}  Insert a group of actors into a small street and follow with the abbreviation for electrical resistance.


1d           Feature about America finally encouraging actor (7)
{CUSHING}  Insert  the two-letter abbreviation for America into a facial feature and finish with the final letter of encouraging.

Peter Cushing

2d           African king a long time dead is risen (5)
{TUTSI}  A member of a Bantu tribe living in the African country of Rwanda.   The informal way one refers to the Ancient Egyptian boy king followed by a reversal (risen) of IS.

3d           Soldier with chart for passage (9)
{PARAGRAPH}   An informal short form of a particular type of soldier followed by a symbolic diagram (chart).

4d           Astronomer‘s almost beautiful line (6)
{LOVELL}   The first five letters of a synonym for beautiful followed by the abbreviation for line gives us the astronomer who, amongst other achievements, created the Jodrell Bank radio telescope.

5d           Complicated acrostic about Greek bloke (8)
{SOCRATIC}  Relating to or associated with a particular Greek philosopher –a complicated anagram of ACROSTIC.

6d           Expels Jack from mediaeval fights? (5)
{OUSTS}   Simply remove the J from a contest between two  medieval knights.


7d           Airline taking a trio of Americans home for battle (2,7)
{EL ALAMEIN}  The Israeli airline is followed by the first three letters (trio) of AMEricans and a word meaning [at] home.

8d           Unfinished joint passed round by socially awkward manager (7)
{SHANKLY}   Insert a truncated (unfinished) joint  (the one joining the leg to the foot) into a word meaning bashful, socially awkward, to get a past manager of Liverpool Football Club

14d         Amusing stories of energetic dance breaking toes (9)
{ANECDOTES}  An anagram (energetic) of DANCE followed by another (breaking) of TOES.

16d         Stretch of water where breastfeeding is awkward without deft arrangement (6,3)
{BARING SEA} More nice wordplay.    An anagram (awkward) of BREASTFEEDING once you have removed (without) the letters of DEFT.

17d         Tentatively entered hotel, taking exercise clothed in leotard initially (2,6)
{IN PENCIL}  How one might fill in a crossword solution when one isn’t sure one is right.    Insert the abbreviation for school exercise into a type of hotel and follow with the initial letters of Clothed In Leotard.

18d         Composer chewed over the end of “Tannhäuser” (7)
{BRITTEN}  Insert the last letter of Tannhäuser into a synonym for chewed.

20d         Gardener to propel boat through the river (7)
{THROWER}  Insert between THE (from the clue) and the abbreviation for River, a verb meaning to propel a boat using oars, to get the first ‘celebrity gardener’.

Percy Thrower

21d         Tree is able to be a receptacle for rubbish (6)
{ASHCAN}  Split 3,3, this receptacle for household rubbish, especially used for the remains of anything burnt, would indicate that a particular type of tree is able to do something.

23d         Eccentric American writer (5)
{CAMUS}   One of the French writers I studied at A level –  an adverb meaning eccentric, odd, awry, followed by the abbreviation for American.

25d         Servant‘s beer time after five (5)
{VALET}   The Roman numeral for five, a synonym for beer and the abbreviation for Time.


37 comments on “NTSPP – 175

  1. Not as tricky as usual for an Alchemi puzzle but very enjoyable.

    Last in was 26a which held me up for ages! 19a was also a bit tricky as I was trying to find some sort of construction where a D or G was swapped for a T (Time for German) but the penny eventally dropped with a resounding clang!

    Thanks for the entertainment Alchemi.

    1. how’s the weather? It’s more like November than June here. BBQ plans for father’s day tomorrow are on hold so I may just got to the pub with my lads even though they’ve both forsworn the evil drink on the grounds of needing to get buff for their holidays. Pantywaisted wimps!

  2. Another splendid Saturday afternoon puzzle, fun to do and an interesting theme woven in so neatly, clever stuff.

    Many thanks Alchemi.

  3. Very enjoyable. Many thanks to Alchemi.

    I needed to cheat to reveal the missing letters for 15a, and, although I’m sure I’ve got the right answer for 17d, I don’t fully understand the wordplay. I can see the PE bit but not the rest. Any enlightenment would be much appreciated please.

    1. Am just starting to type the H&T now but as its you – the definition is tentatively entered. Put the PE into a ‘hotel’ and then finish with the initial letters of the last three words in the clue.

      1. I was also struggling with 17d – thanks to CS for the explanation!

        No Tippex required!

  4. I really enjoyed this and agree with pommers that it’s not as tricky as Alchemi can be sometimes.
    Completely sunk with 2d so will have to wait for CS’s H&T – not that I know what she means – H is presumably hints but what the hell is the T?
    I also need explanations for a couple of others.
    There were quite a few of the names that I didn’t know but they were possible to work out from the clues and look up just to make sure that they were born in 1913.
    I liked 10 and 11a and 20d. My favourite was 16d – wonderful mental image!!
    With thanks to Alchemi and, in advance, to CS.

      1. Thanks CS and stan – see, I said in the ‘other place’ that I was dim today. Yet another excuse to play while I watch the rain pour down . . . :sad:

  5. I usually struggle more with Alchemi but I completed this one without hints and loved every minute of it. It brought back many memories. I think being of a certain age helped! Many thanks to Alchemi (and to CS in advance).

    1. Surely you’re not 100 years old too! :smile:
      I agree that this wasn’t as difficult as most Alchemi crosswords – look on the bright side – perhaps we’re getting better at them!

      1. I aim to be one day, Kath! My mum made it to 96, so I reckon I’m in with a chance. It’s just that I’m old enough to remember watching 20D on the telly. I can even ‘see’ his face all these years later.

        1. I remember him well! And 15a and 18a! Remember the outcry when 18a closed all those small stations. Flanders and Swann made hay with that.

  6. Forgot to mention…I loved 17D. My favorite clue, closely followed by 12A.

    1. Until I pointed out that he had two of those ‘remove some letters, then rearrange the rest’ clues one after another, the original clue for 17a (which I think is just as much fun, image-inducing-wise) was ‘King George leaving princeling in confusion about how to draw a picture?’

      1. 23d – Cam = Kam = Awry?

        Never heard of it before … and possibly will never hear of it again!

        1. I bet you will – it is in another of Alchemi’s puzzles that I tested the other day – my trouble was I didn’t remember it from testing this one.

        2. A cam-shaft, for instance, is a shaft which has several cams, or eccentrics, on it, an eccentric being a device to translate lateral motion into rotary.

          1. Or as Chambers says:


            n: a device for taking an alternating rectilnear motion from a revolving shaft (mech)

            Presumably, I’m the only one who didn’t know this? :wink:

            ps. I really enjoyed the puzzle! Many Thanks!

  7. Oh good – my problem ‘African king’ (2d) sorted now – getting the wrong definition doesn’t help, not that I would have got it anyway having never heard of it.
    Also needed the hints to explain 7d and the first three letters of 23d.
    I think I prefer today’s clue for 17d to the original one.
    Thanks again to Alchemi and CS.

  8. A fun theme and some very entertaining clues of which 8d was my favourite. Bottom left corner had me pleasantly stumped for a while, and the synonym for eccentric in 23d was new to me. Thanks Alchemi!

  9. My first NTSPP and it was great fun. I had to get help for 15a and 18a and that helped me get the rest. Maybe next time I’ll do better.

  10. Great fun. Loved all the themed clues – 20d had me reminiscing on the great Blue Peter vandalism incident all those years ago, loved 8d’s definition, 17 d, brilliant. So much to enjoy. Thank you Alchemi and CS for the review.

  11. Thanks to CS for the review and to all for the nice comments. And I’m glad someone has at last highlighted my favourite clue: the idea of a shy, dope-smoking 8d is exquisite, if I say so myself. I also like “about Greek bloke” as a very down-to-earth definition in 5d.

    It wasn’t specifically designed to be easy, but I don’t suppose it makes things harder if eleven of the definitions have the unwritten addition of “born in 1913”, because that rules out a lot of possible candidates for “composer”, say. Not that I’m unduly concerned about toughness: NTSPPs are supposed to be more fun than mind-bending anyway, and judging by the above, this one is.

    1. Alchemi, this was great. The theme didn’t really help or hinder as far as I was concerned – just a fun puzzle.

      Now off to the Village Square for the disco – it’s FtESTA this weekend and the loudspeakers are 40 metres from my bedroom window, so I might as well go out for a beer or two as a sleep is impossible before 0500 tomorrow. This is a LOUD disco – can you hear it?

    2. I echo all that Pommers has said. A real pleasure to solve & some penny dropping moments. Many thanks Alchemi & to CS for her tints & hips (just to confuse Kath even more).

  12. Thanks to Alchemi and to CrypticSue for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, I had heard of most of the people, so that helped. Needed 4 hints to finish. Favourites were 29a and 1d. Was easier than most of Alchemi’s puzzles, I can’t normally get anywhere. I don’t really understand the hint for 23d, am I correct in assuming that the first three letters of the answer mean “eccentric”?

  13. Great entertainment for a cold wet Sunday morning for us. Had to investigoogle a couple, 8d and 20d to confirm that who we had worked out, were actually people, despite being unknown to us. Good fun.
    Thanks Alchemi and CS.

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