NTSPP – 304

NTSPP – 304

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Big Dave follows:

A very enjoyable puzzle, with a tiny twist (see the end of the review).


1a Zoroastrian goes around Norway with case of precious root vegetables (8)
PARSNIPS: put a descendant of the Zoroastrians, who emigrated from Persia to India in the 8th Century, around the IVR code for Norway then add the outer letters (case) of P(reciou]S

5a Found people interrupting Irish politician (6)
TRACED: put the people who are descended from a common ancestor inside (interrupting) the abbreviation for the Irish equivalent of our Prime Minister

10a More flexible provider no longer independent (7)
SUPPLER: start with a provider of goods and drop the I(ndependent)

11a Eccentric third delivery? (7)
ODDBALL: Split as (3,4) this could describe the third (or the first or fifth) delivery in a bowler’s over

12a/14a Concentrating on extracting woman’s refusal with instruction for chorus (3,8,3)
ALL TOGETHER NOW: a phrase that could, at a pinch, mean concentrating on extracting woman’s refusal (3,2,3,3,2) followed by W(ith)

15a Issue about the Pub Landlord being put under lock and key (6)
SEALED: start with a formal word for issue or children then insert the first name of the comedian known as the Pub Landlord

16a Top man carries stone for thief (7)
RUSTLER: – the top man (or woman) in a country around ST(one)

18a Case used in lobby (7)
HOLDALL: a three-letter adjective meaning used or second-hand inside a lobby or foyer

21a Complained as Osborne finally came in to get dinner (6)
BEEFED: the final letter of [Osborn]E inside a phrase meaning to get dinner (2,3)

24a Pair backing something up north (3)
TWO: the reversal (backing) of a northern dialect word for “something”

25a Something in Windows invalidated by instant cure (3,8)
NET CURTAINS: an anagram (invalidated) of INSTANT CURE

26a Making known Jagger’s reply to “Do you play drums?” (7)
NOISING: split as (2,1,4) this is how Mick Jagger might reply to the question “Do you play drums?”

27a Is bored, surprisingly, by strip (7)
DISROBE: an anagram (surprisingly) of IS BORED

29a Flood could possibly remove sled (6)
DELUGE: split as (2-4) this could possibly mean to remove a sled

30a Dearest clergyman I see within (8)
PRICIEST: a clergyman around (within) the I from the clue and the letter represented phonetically by “see”


1d French sage fathers around fifty (6)
PASCAL: a colloquial word for fathers followed by the two-letter Latin abbreviation for around and the Roman numeral for fifty

2d Beat off and beat again (7)
REPULSE: this could mean to beat or throb again

3d Fix lacking a zero (3)
NIL: a verb meaning to fix without (lacking) the A from the clue

4d Be a sign of drink running out? (7)
PORTEND: split as (4,3) this could, as similarly clued in ST 2825 today, mean the drink is running out

6d Soldiers oddly duck getting energy on trail of humanitarians (3,8)
Revised version: Soldiers oddly duck about on trail of humanitarians (3,8)
RED CRESCENT: Some soldiers followed by the odd letters of D[u]C[k], [E(nergy)] | [a two-letter word meaning about] and a trail – I missed this when I originally checked the puzzle, the wordplay is incomplete as there should be an R before the E(nergy)

7d 4, possibly, in march Anne led (7)
CHANNEL: 4 is an example (possibly) of this narrow range of frequencies used for the transmission of a television station, and it’s hidden (in) inside the clue

8d Nearly postpone fighting over eastern state (8)
DELAWARE: most of (nearly) a verb meaning to postpone followed by some fighting and E(astern) gives a US state

9d Turn Henry into a rodent (6)
GOPHER: a two-letter turn followed by H(enry) inside our usual suspect for “a”

13d Mona Lisa, possibly gasping, takes foil top off before inhaling one (3,8)
OIL PAINTING: a verb meaning gasping preceded by [f]OIL without (takes … off) its initial letter (top) and around (inhaling) I (one)

17d Complained about one leaving neckwear which lost its colour (8)
WHITENED: a verb meaning complained around an item of neckwear from which the I (one) has been dropped (leaving)

19d Appear sick? Bog off! (4,3)
LOOK ILL: a three-letter a colloquial word for a bog or toilet followed by a verb meaning to off or murder

20d Drops  we should be off (4,2)
LETS GO: two definitions – the second being (3’1,2)

21d Rock sounds more daring (7)
BOULDER: sounds like an adjective meaning more daring

22d Regularly stood eastern food without incident (7)
EPISODE: the odd letters (regularly) of S[t]O[o]D with E(astern) and a popular item of food outside (without)

23d Like some money? Climb! (6)
ASCENT: split as (2,4) this could mean like some US money

28d Mo‘s a Wall St regulator (3)
SEC: two definitions – a mo or short period of time and the abbreviation for US governmental agency which regulates Wall Street

Did you notice that the 11-letter answers are all (3,8)? No I didn’t either, but the setter pointed it out in his email.


  1. Gazza
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable and pretty gentle puzzle which I eventually managed to print out – thanks to Alchemi. My top three clues, all provoking a d’oh, were 18a, 9d and 19d.

  2. Jane
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Had to ask Mr. Google to verify 28d and to find the food in 22d but this was a lovely diversion on an absolutely appalling day in N. Wales.
    Plenty of ticks – 10&26a plus 4,8&20d. The laurels go to 18a.
    Many thanks, Alchemi – a quality puzzle.

    • Gazza
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      I can’t believe that you needed to Google the food in 22d. :D

      • Alchemi
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        To make the clue work for the food Jane found on Google (since I’ve just realised what hers is), the answer would have a T as the middle letter.

        • Jane
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          No, Alchemi – I was being even more stupid than you imagined. I didn’t use enough ‘regulars’ but did find a type of Turkish flatbread that fitted with the plan! Sometimes, even I wonder about myself. On the upside – I did finish up with the right answer!

          • Alchemi
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

            I realised what you had actually done, but as a result I was noticing that if the word we were looking for had a T as its middle letter rather what it does have, the exact same clue would work perfectly well.

    • Alchemi
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Why you had to ask Mr Google about the food in 22d is quite beyond me.

      Thanks to those few who’ve struggled with the site today and managed to post nice comments.

  3. Kath
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Nothing like as tricky as Alchemi can be.
    I enjoyed it very much.
    I didn’t know 28d but, assuming I’m right, it is in the BRB.
    I haven’t quite untangled 12a yet and am completely stuck with 15a even with alternate letters in.
    I liked 26a and 9d, 19 and 20d.
    With thanks to Alchemi.

    • Jane
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      With your 12a dilemma, try splitting your answer as 3,2,3,3,2,1.

      • Kath
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Oooooh – smarty pants – not sure I would ever have got that far and I still don’t understand your machinations about 22d.

        • Jane
          Posted December 6, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          Now that the review’s been posted I can answer your query, Kath. Stupidly, I only picked out the S and O from the ‘regulars’ which left me looking for ‘pide’ as the food source. It turns out to the Turkish equivalent of a pitta – I was quite happy with that! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  4. windsurfer23
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Alchemi. I took a little while to get started on this.

    Kath my LOI was 15a – if you Google TV pub landlord I think you’ll find what you’re looking for.

    I liked 22d with its ‘difficult’ Eastern food!

    • Jane
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Don’t you have a go at me as well, Windsurfer! The Turkish flatbread sounds really nice.

      • Alchemi
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        Depends on which kebab shop you go to, I guess. In Britain, it’s more normally spelt with TTA at the end.

  5. Maize
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff, chock full of lovely groan-worthy puns. Top three clues for me would be 18a, 8d and a beaut of an anagram at 25a. Thanks Alchemi.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    I have absolutely no clue ( if you’ll excuse the expression) about 15A, and my last few answers took longer than they should have. I
    am blaming it on a very early (way before dawn) start to a busy day. Anyhoo..loved 24A, 1D and 2D, but 19A tops my list. Thanks, Alchemi.

  7. Snape
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Lots of lovely clues in there. I did this pretty much quarter by quarter, SE, NW, SW, then the NE was last to yield. A couple I need to wait for the parsing, and I had to use check to find out which way round 24 was, but many smiles, 18a 21a, 26a and 20d were my pick. 19d looks a great clue, if I understood why off = kill. Great stuff, many thanks, Alchemi.

    • Jane
      Posted December 6, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi Snape,
      I wouldn’t worry too much about not knowing the off=kill thing. I doubt either of us would want to be around the sort of person who would use that particular alternative! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      • Snape
        Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Ah, thank you. I get back to my BRB and there it is, of course. I’ll look out for it ever being used in that way, perhaps in films, but it doesn’t seem an obvious use of the word, as some slang can be. 19d can be added to my list! And 6d was one I couldn’t parse, so I feel better about that too. Still a very entertaining puzzle, though.

  8. silvanus
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Superbly crafted and a joy to solve with plenty of smiles and some delicious puns.

    Difficult to choose a favourite, but I’ll go for 18a, deceptively simple and I loved the disguise of “used”.

    Many thanks to Alchemi for an excellent piece of work.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t get a chance to look at it until today. And wasn’t going to pass by a puzzle from Alchemi. Must admit that I visit Alchemiland every now and then.
    Always a pleasure.
    This one was a bit harder as I needed to get a foothold in each individual corner.
    SW was last to yield and that’s where my favourite clues are. In fact all the clues in that corner are my favourites.
    The “bog off” really made me laugh.
    Thanks to Alchemi.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  10. Alchemi
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, BD. Apologies for 6d, but I didn’t notice, my test solvers didn’t notice, none of the commenters noticed, and it was only when you came to blog it that it became apparent, so it’s not exactly the most egregious error ever. When this finally gets published in Alchemiland (thanks j-lc), the clue will read “Soldiers oddly duck about on trail of humanitarians”, which is a nicer clue anyway.

    • Posted December 6, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      It’s definitely a nicer clue. I’ve updated the review and all instances (.js, .jpz, .pdf, .puz and crossword.info) of the puzzle.

      • Alchemi
        Posted December 6, 2015 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        Thanks muchly.

  11. Jane
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, BD – I’m sure Alchemi will be relieved to hear that my parsing was, eventually, correct! No, I hadn’t registered the missing ‘R’ (that won’t surprise anyone) but would agree that the ‘new’ clue is rather good.
    Thank you again, Alchemi, I’ll be more careful over ‘regulars’ in future!

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Very late getting on to this as we have been away. Although we worked out the answer for 15a were in doubt about the AL part of it as had not heard of him. Good fun, much enjoyed and we did not notice the error.
    Thanks Alchemi and BD.

  13. dutch
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    only got around to this later in the weekend – enjoyed it a lot so many thanks, quite unique, though I missed the pub landlord. thanks also BD for review