NTSPP – 333

NTSPP – 333

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Big Dave follows:

Minor issues with a couple of clues didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this puzzle.  Fitting no less than nine of the characters mentioned in the chosen comic song into the grid was quite a feat, so congratulations Alchemi.


1a Wrinkled dessert with evenly crisped filling (6)
PURSED: a three-letter dessert around (with … filling) the even letters of [c]R[is]S[p]E[d]

5a Rings go missing from training establishment, say the Spanish (8)
SCHLEGEL: drop (go missing) the two ring-shaped letters from a training establishment then add the Latin abbreviation for say / for example and the Spanish definite article

9a Very old ruse almost takes in one idiot (8)
TRIASSIC: most of (almost) a ruse around I (one) and an idiot

10a Unpleasant fellow ingested too many drugs with migrant (6)
GODWIT: an unpleasant fellow around (ingested) the taking of too many drugs and W(ith) gives a migrant bird

11a Finally sack worker (4)
KANT: the final letter of [sac]K followed by a worker insect

12a Patient facilities a doctor cut in America (10)
AMBULANCES: the A from the clue followed by a doctor and a cut, typically one made by said doctor, with the latter inside the two-letter abbreviation for America

14a Isn’t tweeting appalling? (12)
WITTGENSTEIN: an anagram (appalling) of ISN’T TWEETING

18a New money to encourage doctor (12)
NEUROSURGEON: N(ew) followed by some money, of the kind that no less than nineteen nations were conned into adopting, and a phrasal verb meaning to encourage (4,2)

22a Man behind curtain with old letter belonging to lightweight (6,2,2)
WIZARD OF OZ: W(ith) followed by what I thought was an old name for the letter Z, but it turns out to be a goatlike antelope found in the Pyrenees and the letter is spelt with two Zs, a two-letter word meaning belonging to and the abbreviation for a light weight in the avoirdupois system

25a Hockey umpires make excellent leaders (4)
HUME: the initial letters (leaders) of four words in the clue

26a Range depleted flyers’ energy by half (6)
HOBBES: a kitchen range followed by a flying insect with one instead of two (depleted … by half) of its E(nergy)s

27a Very mischievous goddesses accept credit (8)
SOCRATES: a two-letter word meaning very and the Greek goddess of mischief in an inappropriate plural form around (accept) CR(edit)

28a Stops French director being surrounded by children (8)
STATIONS: the surname of a French film director inside (being surrounded by) some male children

29a Secret exercise partly reflecting city (6)
EXETER: hidden (partly) and reversed (reflecting) inside the clue


2d Lessons are in German and not looked at (6)
UNREAD: the abbreviations for some religious lessons and are (as a metric land measure) inside the German for “and”

3d Saw two rats mess around and begin fighting (5,1,3)
START A WAR: an anagram (mess around) of SAW with RAT + RAT (two rats)

4d Remove blemish on group from the south (9)
DESCARTES: what could be a word meaning to remove a blemish followed by (on in a down clue) the reversal (from the south in a down clue) of a group

5d Big cask strange people heave here (7)
SICKBAG: an anagram (strange) of BIG CASK – although Chambers has the enumeration as (4,3) others give (7)

6d What’s up with setter? (5)
HEGEL: the reversal (up in a down clue) of an interjection meaning “what!” followed by a product used to set or style hair

7d Finish with space to dress in (3,2)
END ON: a space used in printing followed by a verb meaning to dress in

8d Big film featuring Moore possibly all over the place (8)
EPIDEMIC: a big film around (featuring) the first name of an actress with surname Moore

13d Promotions boys left out (3)
ADS: some boys without their initial L(eft)

15d Zone One abandoned since the explosion (9)
NIETZSCHE: an anagram (explosion) of Z(one) SINCE THE without (abandoned) the “one”

16d Terrible red wine heart-breaking (5-4)
TENTH RATE: a deep red sweet wine from Spain followed by an anagram (breaking) of HEART

17d Her pilot bungled landings here (8)
HELIPORT: an anagram (bungled) of HER PILOT

19d Time to hear from us (3)
OUR: sounds like (to hear) a period of time

20d Official employment society denies (7)
REFUSES: the shortened version of an official who keeps control at a sporting event followed by a word meaning employment and S(ociety)

21d A mark for each English measure (6)
AMPERE: the A from the clue followed by M(ark), a three-letter word meaning for each and E(nglish)

23d Religious leader has adult books to put up with (5)
ABBOT: A(dult) followed by two B(ooks)s and the reversal (put up in a down clue) of TO

24d Music causing friction? No way! (5)
DISCO: a word meaning friction or conflict without (no) the abbreviation for R(oa)D (way)

And here is the song, complete with lyrics:



  1. dutch
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks alchemi

    Very enjoyable. You are in great company with notabilis, it is now trendy to see if we are awake by using incorrect anagram fodder (3d).

    Did no damage to the fun. I didn’t remember the song and had to google a comic song with the characters I found.

    I am not sure I’ve fully parsed the first word of 22a or 2d, so I look forward to the review.

    I though 5d should be 2 words, and I wonder sometimes about using things like goddesses when there is only one, very minor quibbles.

    I have an appointment with an 18a soon, hopefully that may put an end to my back pains.

    Last one in was 10a.

    Congratulations, excellent stuff

    • Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Tut tut – I checked this one out before publication and 3d is correct – the fodder is SAW + RAT + RAT (two rats).

    • dutch
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ah – apologies.

      However I really don’t like the s in rats, if that kind construct is used I would prefer to work in rat’s somehow, so it is easier to see the s is not part of the fodder. I’d be surprised if others don’t fall into the same trap.

      Many thanks bd for the enlightenment

      • Alchemi
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Two rats = RAT + RAT is too difficult for you?

        • dutch
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Well, you foxed me today! It is not a favourite construct – watch me use it sometime.

          Please read the rest of my comment too, I enjoyed the puzzle.

          • dutch
            Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

            i think it’s because I imagine two rats could be a cryptic instruction for RATS + RATS. Not saying I’m right.

            And here, cleverly perhaps, ‘two’ has two letters in the answer.

            • Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Rats + rats is at least four rats!

              • dutch
                Posted June 25, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

                in the surface, certainly, in the cryptic reading i think i can see both (both interpretations, that is, not both rats)

          • Alchemi
            Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I’m happy to concede that it isn’t the most beautiful device ever fashioned. I’m getting near to my 500th puzzle and I doubt I’ve used it more than three or four times, because I don’t like it much either. But “Saw rat and rat…” is ugly. And the phrase it was clueing is quite difficult to find much else for. So it’s the best of a bad job.

            • dutch
              Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

              I feel a fool for calling wrong anagram fodder. I was just foxed – and I have no end of respect for your 500 puzzles (almost) – I aspire to being as good as you.

        • Kath
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

          One rat is one too many for me – I hate them. :sad:

  2. Kath
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    :phew: Alchemi strikes again – that’s finished me off for the day.
    Have finally finished this one – difficult – well, I thought so anyway – it’s taken me ages but has kept me happily occupied on a day when anything else has been ruled out by the weather.
    I confess that I’m not well up in philosophers – even if I’ve heard of them I can’t usually spell them so I had to resort to extensive ‘help’.
    10a was my last answer – was hunting for another philosopher – it’s now my favourite clue.
    I have a few answers that I can’t quite untangle so I’ll look forward to the review.
    I liked 14 and 28a and 3 and 6d.
    With thanks to Alchemi for the entertainment and in advance to whoever does the review.

  3. baerchen
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    great idea; well executed, highly enjoyable. Got the theme from 11a and the rest sort of wrote themselves in, since I’m very familiar with it. 14a bravo, really great clue that.

  4. windsurfer23
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Alchemi; some really nice clues.

    Once I got 11 I searched for that and comic song to find the theme. I’m not a great fan of undefined clues but the wordplay was fine, just needing a spellcheck before grid entry.

  5. Jane
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Only now had the chance to look at this one. Think it could be a long night………..

  6. Gordon
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Alchemi. Very enjoyable. 25a followed by 11a gave the theme quite quickly. The song brought back good memories of MP and made the rest of the puzzle very doable.
    I will need BD’s explanation on the full parsing of three clues.
    Favourite clue is 5a

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A truly delightful Sunday morning romp. We picked the theme quite early on when we stumbled onto 11a and then it was a matter of remembering the song and working out where they fitted in. It would have been diabolical without having heard of the song. Excellent fun, much appreciated and we now have an ear-worm to haunt us for the rest of the day.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  8. Jane
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2Ks were quite correct – if you haven’t heard of the song then this was diabolical. I can vouch for that! Doesn’t help if you’re not well up on philosophers or certain red wines either.
    Thank goodness for Google.
    Top spots for me went to 1,10&18a plus 8d.

    Thanks to Alchemi and I look forward to BD’s review to sort out a couple of parsings for me.

    • Kath
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Well – damn it! Should have paid more attention to Monty Python because I don’t remember that one so a bit diabolical but got there in the end without the song.

      • Kath
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        PS – Most of the Monty Python songs that I remember were used in hospital Christmas shows and the words they substituted are not repeatable here!!!

        • Kath
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

          PPS – Sung to the tune of ‘Lumberjack’
          “I’m an anaesthetist and I’m OK
          I sleep all night and I sleep all day . . .
          . . . the rest of it wouldn’t pass BD’s bad language filter but was very funny

          • Jane
            Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink | Reply

            Well done indeed, Kath. I had to ask Mr. Google about my first ‘odd looking’ answer and then follow through from there to the song lyrics.
            Speaking of song lyrics – I’m still trying to work out the possible ending for your anaesthetist one!

  9. Jane
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks for the review, BD. I’m not at all surprised that I couldn’t parse either 22a or 21d – new words for me in both – but I should have got there with 24d.
    Goodness, this has been a week of tough Toughies.

  10. Maize
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Love that song, which I’m known to sing snatches of at odd times to the consternation of my nearest & dearest.
    And the puzzle too was terrific, Alchemi, many thanks. 14a jumped out as a pretty obviously undefined clue, so the theme (and song) were apparent from the outset. 18a has to be a candidate for ‘charade of the year’, surely, other top clues include 1a, 5a, 9a, 10a, 12a, golly loads of them. ‘Two rats’ was perfectly fine, I thought, please don’t be put off using that device again!
    My only misgiving was the pluralisation of the goddess at 27a, a concern shared by BD I see, to whom many thanks for the rogues gallery of drinkers and another chance to hear that cracking song again.

  11. stanXYZ
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Alchemi for the puzzle and BD for the review.

    This took a lot of thought (and and a lot of cheating/Googling)

    ps BD, I can’t correctly spell 15d either (even though he appeared in a recent Toughie)

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I can now! Unforgivable as I watched a programme about him on BBC4 last Thursday.

      • stanXYZ
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Nice to see that Nietzsche got a place in the Germany first team.

        • Maize
          Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Thanks for that! :)

  12. Alchemi
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to BD for the review and to everyone else for commenting.

    Personally, I’m of the opinion that Python has infiltrated the national consciousness to the extent that it’s fair game as a theme which solvers can be expected to know; obviously there will be those that disagree, but I suspect more people are familiar with the works of Monty Python than they are with those of William Shakespeare, which have always been part of the cruciverbalist’s essential curriculum.

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    I had never heard of the song so it was very hard going. I had a bit more than half done, mostly on the left side, then having worked out 5A from the clue, I googled that + comic song and the missing answers fell into place. Not my preferred way to solve a crossword, though. On that basis, I can’t say I enjoyed it but I grant that it was clever. Thanks to Alchemi and BD.

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