NTSPP – 202

NTSPP – 202

A Puzzle by Alchemi

– + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

NTSPP - 202

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle follows

Late yesterday afternoon, sitting in the Penderel’s Oak, Big Dave said ‘Oh, by the way, who’s blogging today’s Alchemi?’   ‘That’ll be me, then!’ which is of course why the review is a bit later than usual!!!

I looked back at my emails and found that when I first met this crossword I didn’t take long to solve it and returned my comments to the setter saying “What a very nice straightforward puzzle.   Perfect for BD, I would say”.   Judging by yesterday’s comments, I wasn’t wrong.


1a           Racing writer went fast (at the speed of light!) in Formula One events in the end (7)
{FRANCIS}  Insert between the abbreviation for Formula One, part of a verb meaning went fast, the single letter used in maths and physics to represent the speed of light, and then add an S (events in the end).

5a           Secretary gets to school before nearly everyone about Easter (7)
{PASCHAL}  The abbreviation for a secretarial role, the abbreviation for school and the first two letters of a word meaning everyone.

9a           Even I ain’t bothered by Asian capital (9)
{VIENTIANE}    The capital of Laos is an anagram (bothered by) of EVEN I AINT.

10a         Safe to look searchingly round the centre of Chatham (5)
{PETER}  A slang term for a safe is obtained by placing the middle letter of Chatham into a verb meaning to look searchingly.

11a         Think about a boy (6)
{REASON}  The two letters used to denote ‘about’ especially in emails, A (from the clue) and a boy child.

12a         It’s expedient, initially, to keep quiet about low temperature before getting a drink (8)
{SMOOTHIE}  Start with the two letters used to tell someone to keep quiet, insert the sound made by a cow (low) T (temperature) and finish with the initial letters of Its and Expedient.


14a         Plant top BBC man in bishopric (5)
{SEDGE}   Insert the abbreviated title of the man at the top of the BBC into another word for a bishopric.

15a         Alternative experiment on sodium is the most highly embellished (8)
{ORNATEST}  The conjunction used to link alternatives, the chemical symbol for sodium followed by (on)  a simple experiment.

18a         Part of French legal case (8)
{FRACTION}  The abbreviation for French  followed by a lawsuit.

20a         Prohibition on return game in town (5)
{URBAN}  A reversal  (return) of the game of Rugby Union followed by a prohibition.

22a         Cruel and stupid about bad smell (8)
{INHUMANE}  Insert a strong unpleasant smell into an adjective meaning stupid.

24a         For dimwit, irritating itch is a knockout (6)
{THICKO}   An anagram (irritating) of ITCH followed by the two-letter abbreviation for a knockout in boxing.

26a         Mug on cleared tablecloth will vibrate (5)
{THROB}  The outside letters (cleared) of tablecloth, followed by a verb meaning to steal (mug).

27a         Five get beer and a greater number take a little tea on romantic day (9)
{VALENTINE}   The Roman numeral for five, some beer, and another number with T inserted (take a little tea).


28a         In Whitstable, do mermaids return to change shape? (7)
{REMODEL}  A hidden reversal (return) in WhitstabLE DO MERmaids.   I checked again the other day and the answer is ‘not as far as I can tell’  Mind you it was a very cold day, perhaps they only do so in the summer!   :)

29a         Mild glue obscuring line (7)
{CLEMENT}  Insert L (line) into a type of glue.


1d           Hectic and loud almost all the time? (8)
{FEVERISH}    The musical symbol for loud, an adjective meaning always with the three letters which can be added to adjectives to mean somewhat, roughly.

2d           About 10, a legendary swimmer gets a cocktail (9)
{ALEXANDER}  A (from the clue) and the legendary swimmer who swam the Hellespont every night to visit his love Hero, with the Roman numeral for 10 inserted.

3d           Pet carrier has electronic conductor (7)
{CATHODE}   A feline pet, a carrier for bricks and the single letter abbreviation for electronic.

4d           Break kitchen equipment up (4)
{SNAP}   A reversal (up in a Down clue) of equipment found in every kitchen.

5d           With the greatest authority, early arrival brings note on books (10)
{PREEMINENT}  An informal term for a prematurely born infant, with the single letter abbreviation for Note inserted, the result finished off with  the abbreviation for the books in the second half of the Bible.

6d           Give encouragement to drink and drink (7)
{SUPPORT}  A verb meaning to drink followed by a type of fortified wine(drink).

7d           Snag as Director of Birds loses one of his responsibilities? (5)
{HITCH}   Remove a type of bird from the surname of the film director.

8d           Parrots extracting central component of trucks (6)
{LORIES}   Remove the middle letter from some trucks to get some parakeets.


13d         Funny book has rodents taking a month to go through mountain pass (5,5)
{COMIC NOVEL}  Insert into a mountain pass (3) some rodents who in turn have the abbreviation for the 11th month of the year inserted.

16d         Underwriter to make regular payments (9)
{SUBSCRIBE}  A prefix meaning under, followed by a writer.

17d         Once broken into, pub has time to get clean (8)
{INNOCENT}  A pub followed by an anagram (broken) of ONCE and T (time).

19a         Arrived in the lead? Contrariwise, leading to slightly damp sleeping arrangement (4,3)
{CAMP BED}   Insert the chemical symbol for lead into part of a verb meaning arrived, and finish with the first letter (slightly) of Damp.

camp bed

20d         To drive someone mad, crazy Hun gets elected going backwards, for example (7)
{UNHINGE}    An anagram (crazy) of HUN, followed by a word meaning elected to office (2) and a reversal (going backwards) of the two letters used to mean for example.

21d         Flying bomb man holding court is a winner (6)
{VICTOR}   A war-time flying bomb, informally known as a doodlebug, the abbreviation for court, and the two letters beloved of crossword setters denoting an ordinary soldier (man).

23d         Plasticine finally stops damage in women’s residence (5)
{HAREM}  Insert the last letter (finally) of plasticine into a synonym for harm.

25d         French policeman finding film finishes early (4)
{FLIC}  A French slang word for a policeman is obtained by removing the last letter (finishes early) of an informal term for a cinema film.

No, I didn’t notice the ‘hidden in plain sight’  Popes either but they can be found in 1a, 10a, 20a, 27a, 29a, 2d, and 17d and 21d.


  1. gazza
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Very entertaining – thanks to Alchemi. My favourite clue was 7d.

  2. spindrift
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Please sir – may I have some more? Absolute cracker! Many thanks to Alchemi.

  3. pommers
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Splendid stuff, thanks Alchemi.

    Agree with Gazza about 7d but thought 3d also very good. The pet carrier conjured up a rather bizarre mental image that I’m still smiling about :lol:

    • Catnap
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink


  4. Colmce
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyable, nice witty clues.

    Many thanks Alchemi.

  5. KiwiColin
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyable. Really good clever clues I thought. NE corner was the last to yield.
    It is a beautiful Sunday morning here so we are going for a walk along the beach before taking on the Centenary Toughie which we have saved as a special treat.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  6. Alchemi
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments.As far as I can make out, no-one has spotted the Popes infesting the puzzle. 20A and 17D were the words which inspired creation: a little research yielded 1A, 2D, 10A, 21D, 27A and 29A as ones I reckoned I could clue without giving the game away. I was deeply disappointed that I couldn’t use HILARIUS, but you can’t have everything. Season’s greetings to all.

  7. Catnap
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I find I am getting very partial indeed to the NTSPPs, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I thought the clues very clever. Particularly liked 1a, 5a, 12a, 3d, 7d, and 23d. I also thoroughly enjoyed the review, Crypticsue. Luscious-looking illustration for 12a!
    Very well done, Alchemi, and look forward to more. Many appreciative thanks to Crypticsue.