NTSPP – 342

NTSPP – 342

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:

Alchemi has produced yet another excellent puzzle.  I particularly liked 1 Down and the lock-keeper in 5 Down.


1a Training college opening with missile (9)
DARTMOUTH: an opening, like the one used to take in food, preceded by (with) a missile

6a Decline last of meal found in drain (5)
SLUMP: the final letter (last) of [mea]L inside a drain

9a Working with almost unbelievable claw (5)
TALON: a two-letter word meaning working preceded by (with) most of (almost) an adjective meaning unbelievable

10a Ruling the waves is disappointing fare (4,5)
THIN GRUEL: an anagram (waves) of RULING THE

11a Intend assistance escorting vessel I’m backing (4,2,4)
HAVE IN MIND: some assistance around a blood vessek and the reversal (backing) of I’M

12a Film people leave Europe for America (4)
JAWS: Start with a specific race of people, drop (leave) E(urope) for A(merica)

14a Licks dirt on guest’s cases (7)
TONGUES: hidden (cases) inside the clue

15a Pig comes back in to book a couple (7)
TWOSOME: the reversal (comes back) of a female pig inside a large book

17a Shakespeare’s sister rings round for herb (7)
OREGANO: the sister of Goneril and Cordelia, the daughters of Shakespeare’s King Lear, between two of the ring-shaped letters

19a Burrowers belonging to woman backing the Republicans (7)
GOPHERS: a pronoun meaning belonging to woman, when used without a noun, preceded by (backing) the three-letter abbreviation for the Republicans – if you want to know what it stands for Grand Old Party

20a Terrible experience finishing with impure ethyl alcohol (4)
HELL: the final letters (finishing) of four words in the clue

22a Collection to compress one pound in total (5,5)
STAMP ALBUM: a verb meaning to compress, as in to compress tobacco in a pipe, A (one) and the abbreviation for a pound in weight all inside a total

25a Head back to university in central Ohio City with semi-cold food (4,5)
OSSO BUCCO: the reversal (back) of a head or chief is followed by U(niversity, then all is placed inside the middle (central) two letters of [Ohi]O C[ity], finnaly add the first half (semi) of CO[ld]

26a From the beginning, information is missing down in Holland (5)
NATAL: start with some information, drop the initial D(own), an abbreviation that is surprisingly not supported by Chambers but is familiar to all crossword solvers (and it is in Chambers XWD: A Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations) , and put what remains inside the IVR code for Holland (Netherlands)

27a County cross to be Roman earlier (5)
ESSEX: The cross-shaped letter is preceded by (earlier) the Latin (Roman) for to be

28a Lie-a-bed subsequently blocked by father’s return (4,5)
LATE RISER: an adverb meaning subsequently around the reversal (return) of a father


1d Policeman has ultimately corrupt companion to get rid of (5)
DITCH: a senior plain-clothes policeman is followed by the final letter (ultimately) of [corrupt]T and a Companion of Honour

2d Point of 11 car crashes (9)
RELEVANCE: an anagram (crashes) of ELEVEN (11) CAR – nothing to do with 11 Across!

3d Bum (and liar) out of 12 (10)
MANDIBULAR: an anagram (out) of BUM AND LIAR gives an adjective meaning concerning the answer to 12 Across

4d Periods of operation increasing on paper (7)
UPTIMES: a two-letter word meaning increasing is followed by a national newspaper (without its definite article)

5d Lock-keeper corrupt in heart (7)
HAIRNET: something to keep the locks in control is an anagram (corrupt) of IN HEART

6d Nutritive stuff obtained by combining oxygen and chlorine, possibly in reverse (4)
SAGO: the reversal of the chemical symbol for Oxygen and the state in which chlorine naturally exists

7d Spinning gold rings sort of light up large fleshy protuberance (5)
UVULA: the reversal (spinning) of the chemical symbol for gold around (rings) the reversal (up in a down clue) of a type of lamp and L(arge) – yet another of those everyday abbreviations that are not supported by Chambers (as with down = d, it is in Chambers XWD)

8d People who ask questions about lines adopted by web commenters (9)
POLLSTERS: a pair of L(ine)s inside (adapted by) those who leave comments on websites

13d One arriving to escort obvious whinger (10)
COMPLAINER: someone who is arriving around (to escort) an adjective meaning obvious

14d Delicious piece of oyster awkward host brought in my direction (9)
TOOTHSOME: the initial letter (piece) of O[yster] and an anagram (awkward) of HOST inside (brought in) a phrase meaning my direction (2,2) that is much used by the Chuckle Brothers

16d Some formations of 12 bristle oddly during part of cricket match (9)
OVERBITES: these extensions of the upper incisors beyond the lower when the mouth is closed are derived by putting the odd letters of B[r]I[s]T[l]E inside some periods of bowling that form part of a cricket match

18d Visual shows current temperature dropping (7)
OPTICAL: start with an adjective meaning current or up-to-date and move the T(emperature) down a couple of places (dropping)

19d Boss understood about footwear (3,4)
GUM BOOT: the central boss of a shield inside a word meaning understood or comprehended

21d Is breaking records but speaks indistinctly (5)
LISPS: IS from the clue inside some vinyl records

23d Big old bird crossing left and right tooth (5)
MOLAR: a big extinct bird around (crossing) L(eft) and followed by R(ight)

24d Team up to grab live goat (4)
IBEX: the reversal (up in a down clue) of the number of players, in Roman numerals, in a football or cricket team around a verb meaning to live


  1. Gazza
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable – thanks Alchemi. Parsing 26a took me as long as the rest of the puzzle, so that has to be my favourite.

  2. Maize
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks Alchemi.
    Pretty tricky here and there (19, 24, 26, 27, 3d, 4d) but universally excellent.
    Favourites were 12, 15, 17, 20, 22, 7d, 13d, 14d, 18d, 24d.
    Thanks Gazza too, I’d bunged in 26a without fully parsing till now!

    • Posted August 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Strange – I had no trouble with that one, although I did get the definition first. It becomes obvious when you strip out the the IVR code for Holland.

  3. Kath
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I always enjoy Alchemi’s crosswords – I didn’t think this was as tricky as his sometimes are.
    If we hadn’t had the 5a ‘drain’ quite recently I probably wouldn’t have thought of it.
    I always forget the 19a Republicans.
    25a too me ages to untangle – it was the ‘semi-cold’ bit that completely foxed me which was dim.
    Still don’t get 26a even after what BD has just said although I think my answer has to be right and I don’t understand 2d either.
    I liked all the linked answers – I made it seven but not sure.
    With thanks to Alchemi and in advance to whoever is going to be doing the hints.

    • Maize
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Kath. Re 2d, think of another way of writing 11. Re 26a, think of another way of expressing down (as in previous sentence!).

    • Gazza
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Linked answers? Oh, so there are – I’d missed those.
      For 2d you have to spell out 11 as a word.

    • Kath
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      :roll: Thanks Maize and Gazza – and there I was thinking that 2d was something to do with the clue 11. Just how dim is it possible to be sometimes?

      • Jane
        Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Worry not, Kath – I was right there with you!

  4. Jane
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A few sticking points which I don’t think were down to the rather splendid lunch out with friends………

    Like Kath and others, I struggled to parse 2d&26a and I’m still not 100% sure that I’ve nailed 18d.
    If I knew the Republicans, I’d forgotten them and – just how many words are there for a ‘boss’?!!
    4d had to be guessed and subsequently checked – IT language discombobulates me even more than cricket jargon!

    Many thanks, Alchemi, hope this one didn’t come about as a result of 20a at the dentist’s hands?

    • Gazza
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      For 18d you have to start with an adjective meaning current or ‘in the news’ then drop the abbreviation for temperature down a bit.

      • Jane
        Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Gazza – I was thinking of the wrong current!

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent fun and much enjoyed. Unusually for us we did recognise the IVR code in 26a to help with the parsing. When we were working on the parsing for 25a we looked in BRB and could only find the answer with one of the duplicated letters. However other sources did accept the spelling needed here. We chanced on 12a quite early on in the solve and found this was a help with many of the linked clues.
    We have an unexpectedly brilliant fine day here so off for our morning walk now.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    Am I the only one who found this hard? Not helped by my first thought for 28A being lazy bones. 14A took me ages to spot, and I still don’t understand 26A or the middle bit of 19D. Loved 25A. The linked answers went right over my head! Thanks Alchemi.

    • Maize
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Chris. The review will be here in a bit, thank goodness, but ‘umbo’ is in the BRB and ‘data’ is a synonym for information.
      I couldn’t have finished without the crossers!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Oh…that kind of boss. I was thinking it was some kind of rude British acronym! For 26A, I couldn’t get low(down) out of my head for quite a while! Thanks, Maize.

  7. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Superb crossword.
    Last ones were the two 19s.
    Almost considered 2d as an indirect anagram.
    The whole thing reminded me that I have to go to the dentist soon. Not looking forward to it at all.
    Thanks to Alchemi.

  8. Jane
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks for the review, BD – it was a great puzzle from Alchemi and reading through it again made me appreciate it all the more.

  9. Alchemi
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks everyone for the kind comments. And thanks for enjoying the puzzle.

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