NTSPP – 249 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 249

NTSPP – 249

A Puzzle by Alchemi

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows.

A crossword at the easier end of the Alchemi spectrum – he’s already pointed out why the eight letter solutions are split 2, 2, 4 thus ruining my original draft prologue, but as this is the first of two reviews I have to sort out today, in addition to making large batches of mince pies for the freezer, I haven’t got time to think of anything new to say!


1a           Certainly tense, you are caught in fat (2,2,4)
TO BE SURE   The abbreviation for Tense, followed by a word meaning very fat into which is inserted ‘you are’ in ‘text speak’

5a           Compelling mother to get a ruler (6)
MAKING Follow an informal name for a mother with a male ruler.

9a           Among gracious black ducks the king, as I see it (2,2,4)
IN MY BOOK   An adverb meaning among, an interjection of surprise (gracious), the abbreviation for black, two letters that look like noughts (ducks in a game of cricket) and the abbreviation for King.

10a         Show half-dead old northerner (6)
DEPICT   The first half of DEAD and a member of an ancient tribe living in NE Scotland.

12a         Taking steps here leads to swimming through a northern river (9)
STAIRWELL The ‘leads’ of Swimming Through, A from the clue) and a river found in NW England.


13a         Prepared to follow when it’s advantageous (5)
ASSET   A conjunction meaning when is followed by an adjective meaning prepared.

14a         Amateur on about sort of tennis court (4)
CLAY   The abbreviation for the Latin word meaning about, followed by a word meaning non-professional, amateur.


16a         Papa about to compete with trailer (7)
PREVIEW   The letter represented by Papa in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, the preposition meaning concerning, about; a verb meaning to compete and the abbreviation for with.

19a         Presumably against short stretch (7)
PROLONG   If you are against something short, you are presumably for something lengthy!

21a         Time Robin and Doris were seen on screen (4)
DAYS The surname of TV’s Robin and film’s Doris.

24a         After midday, leader of extra-terrestrials reveals who lives on Jupiter (5)
NOONE    My test solve piece of paper has “??  Ah!” and then a hyphenated version of the solution.  Had I pointed out more clearly that the enumeration ought to be 2, 3,  it might have been possible to solve this one much earlier.   Simply put the leader of extra after  midday.

25a         Castor oil mixed with iodine not a legal agent (9)
SOLICITOR is an anagram of CASTOR OIL and the chemical symbol for Iodine, once you have removed the A (not A) from CASTOR.

27a         Grim character to copy ringleader again (6)
REAPER   The two letters you use if you say you are doing something again, a verb meaning to copy, and the ‘leader’ of ring.

28a         Never turn into meat! (2,2,4)
AT NO TIME An anagram (turn) of INTO MEAT.

29a         Snack sales assistant starts playing order back (6)
SAMOSA –   The ‘starts’ of Sales Assistant followed by a reversal of a word meaning (playing)in the role of a particular character (eg ‘starring Daniel Radcliffe xx Harry Potter’) and the abbreviation for the Order of Merit


30d         You might say wire seat is uncomfortable (2,2,4)
AS IT WERE   An ‘uncomfortable’ anagram of WIRE SEAT.

1d           Need to drink? Hand in this ticket (either end) (6)
THIRST Put the abbreviation for one of your hands into  THIS from the clue and then finish with one of the letters at either end of TickeT – as Alchemi implies, it doesn’t matter which.

2d           Deplore Belgium putting extinct bird into space (6)
BEMOAN The abbreviation for Belgium and a printer’s space the width of a letter N, the latter having  an extinct giant bird from the home of the 2Kiwis inserted into it.

3d           Be in pain, almost, when not drunk (5)
SOBER   Insert BE (from the clue) into a word meaning in pain or discomfort.

4d           Many birdies to be had here, possibly, as McIlroy swallows endless Cokes (7)
ROOKERY   Take the end letters from cOKEs and insert what’s left into Mr McIlroy the golfer’s Christian name.


6d           American Forces’ Sweetheart drops notes but receives rousing applause finally in a routine way (9)
AVERAGELY The abbreviation for American, the singer who was (probably still is) the Forces’ Sweetheart – you need to remove the two Ns from her surname (drops a couple of Notes) – and then put the final letters of rousing and applause between her Christian name and surname.

7d           Reportedly India needs help to replace a third of soft paper (2,2,4)
IT IS SAID   The letter represented by India in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet followed by some soft paper from which you remove the last third (two letters) and replace with a word meaning help.

8d           Film dog wearing a dress will get on with things very enthusiastically (2,2,4)
GO TO TOWN   Put Dorothy’s dog from the Wizard of Oz into a posh dress.

11d         Key circuit causes panic (4)
FLAP   A musical key and a circuit of a racetrack.


15d         Ladies possibly sense wild inaccuracy (9)
LOOSENESS   An informal way of referring to Ladies toilets followed by an anagram (wild)of SENSE.

17d         Needle active marines imprisoned in America – they’re very angry! (2,2,4)
UP IN ARMS Take something sharp and pointed (needle), A (active)  and the abbreviation for the Royal Marines and imprison them  in the abbreviation for the United States.

18d         Refusal to enter note on weapon which will be ineffective? (2,2,4)
DO NO HARM   Insert a simple refusal into the first note of the tonic sol-fa scale and finish with a weapon.

20d         Breathe noisily or talk quietly! (4)
GASP An informal way of saying talk followed by the musical abbreviation instructing you to play quietly.

21d         Weakens and papers over instruments (7)
DILUTES   A reversal of an abbreviation for identity paper followed by some stringed musical instruments.

22d         To take big steps is a way to go on (6)
STRIDE   The abbreviation for street (way) followed by a verb meaning to go on (a bus, bicycle, etc).

23d         To stop moving is liberating 7 (6)
FREEZE A homophone (7 referring to the solution of 7d which many compilers would use in a clue to indicate a homophone) of part of a verb meaning liberates.

26d         Look into edited hit (5
CLOUT A word meaning look inserted into a verb meaning edited.

24 comments on “NTSPP – 249

  1. I’ve filled the grid … but I cannot explain the theme … if there is one.

    My rating of this puzzle:-

    Is it easy? (2, 2, 4) or … is it hard? (2, 2, 4) – somewhere in the middle.

    Thanks to Alchemi.

    1. You’ve just ruined the opening paragraph of the review – now I’ll have to think of something else.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  2. Ah – I’ve been looking at all the 2,2,4 answers and wondering if we were meant to understand something from it – now I know.
    I’m completely stuck on 18d and although I have answers (well, ideas for answers anyway) for 12 and 29a I don’t understand why, or even if, they’re right – they’re probably wrong.
    I was also stuck for ages on 24a and started talking to myself – “Who lives on Jupiter?” and husband said 24a! Surely it’s 2,3 or 2-3 but not 5. Or am I being dim.
    Whatever – I really liked Alchemi’s crossword – I always do, so thanks to him and, in advance, to CS for all the hard work.

    1. PS Forget 18d – just got it which makes my 29a almost certainly right even if I don’t understand why. Oh dear.

      1. 29a is the starting letters of sales assistant followed by the the reversal of a) ‘playing’ (e.g. “a production of Macbeth with Freda Bloggs playing Lady M.”) and b) the abbreviation for an order or honour.

        1. 29a – gazza’s explanations are normally so very clear … but

          a) I do not understand it and …

          b) I do not understand it.

        2. Thanks gazza – I have to confess that I agree with Franco – I normally find your hints absolutely second to none – I’ve been known to work out a word that I’ve never heard of JUST from your hint. I still don’t get this one so will just have to wait for CS’s review.

        3. Thanks Gazza. This explanation has worked for me, too. I had parsed the first four letters of my answer correctly. Now I know how ‘playing’ fits the last two. Clever!

      2. Hi Kath, I’m SO pleased that you’ve got 18d – a nudge would be very much appreciated. I found this puzzle really ‘odd’ and have quite a list of ‘bung ins’ that await tomorrow’s revelations. Many thanks to gazza for sorting out my ‘has to be’ at 29a! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        1. 18d A refusal (2) inside a note from tonic sol-fa (3), followed by a weapon (3). The definition is ‘be ineffective’ (relating to the weapon).

      3. I take it all back, gazza – you’re still the king of the hints – I was slow and spent too long wondering who Freda Bloggs might be! Oh dear, yet again. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif
        It was a great hint – I was just being really dim so a little http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif to you.

  3. Well that one had us working hard, but slowly, corner by corner, it all fell into place. The SW was the last to yield with 24a being the very last word. We had to confirm the river in 12a too. Really enjoyed it.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  4. Good brain stretcher. The use of 2,2,4 very novel. But three to go all in NE corner. I think I have 7, but would appreciate help with 6 and 10.

    1. 6d . Start with A(merican), then the name of the wartime Forces Sweetheart with the last two Ns (notes) dropped from her name and include the last letters (finally) of rousing and applause. There, that will give you an extra checker to work with for 10a.

  5. Spent ages and ages pondering the last two (7D and 13A). Just came back to the puzzle after a break and they both clicked into place. I must admit, though, that I was adrift on my answer to18 down. I was also on the no-go track and I’m not admitting to what I thought the last word was. Then I saw Gazza’s hint above. Ta much, Gazza, and thanks to Alchemi too for a fun puzzle.

  6. I was on the right wavelength, and thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Plenty of lovely clues, including 10a, 24a, 4d and 6d (which was my last in).

    I think I have managed to parse everything correctly, but that remains to be seen when Crypticsue posts her review.

    Thanks, Alchemi, for a super NTSPP,

  7. Thanks to Alchemi and to CS for what has gone into the setting and the sorting out of this crossword. I really enjoyed it.
    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.giffor Alchemi and another http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif for CS.

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