NTSPP – 353 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 353

NTSPP – 353

A Puzzle byAlchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Big Dave follows:

The instructions state that “A number of 2016 are otherwise undefined” and you are left to work out just what that means.  It turns out that the event in question is the Rio Olympics and no fewer than eleven sports lack definition – the clues for these are highlighted in blue below.  A few other clues and answers have Olympic-related content.


2a Governing body which hangs round the neck (3)
BOA: Two definitions – the abbreviation for the governing body of our thematic answers and an item of clothing which hangs round the neck

8a Quintet inside play a hootenanny for troublemaker (5)
YAHOO: the five letters of the answer are hidden inside the clue

10a Tossing and turning – do not wake (3,4,2)
TAE KWON DO: the first of our undefined thematic answers is an anagram (tossing and turning) of DO NOT WAKE

11a Computer manufacturer gets popular backing clouds (5)
NIMBI: the reversal (backing) of a computer manufacturer and a word meaning popular

12a Cover most of bathing area (3)
LID: drop the final letter from (most of) a bathing area

13a Horse loses tail down hill (5)
MOUND: drop the final letter (tail) from another word for a horse and then add D(own), an abbreviation which, while not supported by Chambers, is in Chambers XWD and is familiar to all crossword solvers

14a Deceptions at second large rowing event (8)
SLEIGHTS: S(econd) followed by L(arge) and a rowing event – L can also be found in Chambers XWD

15a Looking for water, though not at home (6)
DIVING: drop (not) the two-letter word meaning at home from a verb meaning looking for water DIVINING

18a See 4 Down

19a Currently missing essentials to hold on to (7)
CYCLING: drop the inner letters (missing essentials) from C[urrentl}Y and add a verb meaning to hold on to

20a Measure beheaded murder victim (3)
BEL: drop the initial letter (beheaded) from the name of Cain’s brother, who became the first victim of murder

21a Protest at German’s placing (6)
SITING: a protest (3-2) is followed by G(erman)

23a Old-fashioned piece of coding harms CIA (8)
ARCHAISM: an anagram (coding) of HARMS CIA

25a Person half-contracts animal disease (5)
MANGE: a person followed by the first half of a verb meaning contracts or obtains

26a Talk of casting a spell (3)
GAS: hidden (of) inside the clue

27a Issue got less heated when the French left (5)
CHILD: to get this issue or progeny start with a verb meaning got less heated or cooled down and drop (left) the French definite article

28a What a court in session has restraining a couple of thieves (9)
TRIATHLON: what a court that is in session has (5,2) around the initial two letters (couple) of TH[ieves]

29a 23 for your punching the Spanish radical (5)
ETHYL: an old-fashioned word (i.e. the answer to 23 Across) for your inside (punching) the Spanish definite article gives a radical or group of atoms behaving as a unit

30a Tyson possibly finishes fighting for ever (3)
GAY: this Tyson is the first name of an athlete rather than the last name of a boxer – the final letter (finished) of [fightin]G is followed by a poetic word meaning for ever


1d Grammar school receives many bad reactions (10)
GYMNASTICS: the abbreviation for Grammar School around (receives) an anagram (bad) of MANY and followed by some involuntary reactions

2d Cross about sound of spring? Quite the opposite (6)
BOXING: put the cross-shaped letter inside (quite the opposite of around) the sound made by a spring

3d Slice that every which way (9)
ATHLETICS: an anagram (every which way) of SLICE THAT

4d/18d Starts lies and smears (4-3)
LEAD-INS: an anagram (smears) of LIES AND

5d Shift of political opinion around 2001 (8)
SWIMMING: put a shift of political opinion around the Roman numerals for 2001

6d Abolish international rings (6)
ANNULI: a verb meaning to abolish followed by I(nternational)

7d Provoke Energy Bill (4)
GOAD: a two-letter word meaning energy or vitality followed by a bill or poster

9d Henry is the new leader of old actors who don’t know the lines (7)
HUMMERS: I am sure I was not the only one who wrote in HAMMERS as actors who don’t know the lines and then wondered about the rest of the wordplay – it took a quick look in Chambers to determine that MUMMERS are old actors and replacing the initial letter (leader) with H(enry), the SI unit of inductance, gives those who don’t know the lines of a song

16d Dodge small explosive trophies (4,6)
GOLD MEDALS: an anagram (explosive) of DODGE SMALL

17d Keeping a journal of cryptic help (9)
DIARISING: split as (3,6) this is a cryptic way of describing a word meaning help

19d Doctor to infect small pieces of paper (8)
CONFETTI: an anagram (doctor) of TO INFECT

20d Wave – it goes in and comes out from an island (7)
BRITISH: start with a verb meaning to wave, insert IT (it goes in) and drop AND (and comes out)

22d Tyrannical leader supported by former champion (6)
TENNIS: the initial letter (leader) of T[yrannical] followed (supported) by the surname of a former Olympic champion

24d Drug, nothing less, swallowed by former champion (6)
HOCKEY: start with a four-letter drug, drop (less) the O (nothing) and insert what remains inside (swallowed by) the surname of a former Olympic champion

25d Silent character with terrible clothes (4)
MUTE: a letter of the Greek alphabet is followed by the outer letters (clothes) of T[erribl}E

26d Beat up (4)
GOLF: The reversal (up in a down clue) of a verb meaning to beat

30 comments on “NTSPP – 353

  1. I thought at first that this was going to be much tougher than a standard Alchemi NTSPP but once I’d got the theme it all went in fairly smoothly (aided by happy recollections of 2016 happenings).
    Thanks Alchemi – very clever with some great clues. I’ll pick out 10a and 20d for the runners-up places but top of the podium for me is 17d.

  2. Many thanks Alchemi, very enjoyable.
    The last ones in were 22d and 24d, the two clues ending in former champion.

    I particularly liked 10a – a lovely clue.

    It was tricky figuring out which were the undefined 2016s but a lot of fun

    17d was a lovely penny drop moment, the clue might have been even nicer if the reversal was a genuine word – my only quibble in yet another brilliant puzzle, congratulations

      1. I think what Dutch is saying is that the letters to be reversed do not form a genuine word. They do, however, form a valid abbreviation. In the context of the clue I can’t see that it matters.

        1. Ah – I see where Dutch is coming from now. I don’t think it’s a problem – what’s important is that the ‘help’ is a real word.

    1. sorry – to explain, I just imagined that ideally it would be a word in both directions in this type of clue, not unlike an anagram. In dutch, it means a photographic slide, as a common abbreviated form of a longer word that also exists in English, but I don’t think English uses the shorter form – at least I didn’t find it in brb, Collins or oxford (except as a general prefix, which isn’t a whole word)

      Unless I got the clue completely wrong.

      I hasten to add that it has not detracted in the slightest from my enjoyment of the puzzle, including this clue. I did say “even nicer”

  3. Thoroughly enjoyable – and an excellent sporting accompaniment to England doing a job on the Springboks.

    I loved ALL of the themed clues, especially the way that not needing a definition allowed for some extra fun with the wordplay – as in 10a, 3d and 26d.
    As well as those I gave ticks to 8a, 21a, 27a, 29a, 19d and my favourite too – 17d.

    Many thanks Alchemi.

    1. I read 10a as having a definition, which i thought made it clever (the preamble says “a number of…”)

      …and regarding a comment i made on your last puzzle, i believe congratulations are in order!

      1. Ah, okay, I see that now.

        And it seems someone’s been talking… Next Saturday in another place, maybe.

      2. looking into it more, it seems to be more kicking than tossing (it may not surprise people that i am no expert) – but still, there seems to be some tossing….

        apologies if I’ve been indiscrete, don’t blame anyone but me – i was very excited though..

  4. Highly enjoyable Saturday fare. I particularly liked the wordplay only/theme clues. Thanks Alchemi.

  5. I’m enjoying these comments a lot.

    I wasn’t sure whether to try and inflict a bunch of undefined clues on a Saturday afternoon audience but decided to chance it. So I’m incredibly pleased that those commenting are making a point of having liked them.

    It’s definitely brightening up a gloomy day for me.

  6. To use Alchemi’s words, this puzzle certainly brightened up a gloomy day! This took me a long while, but I had plenty of time to spare and I enjoyed every minute of it.

    I am struggling to parse fully what I am almost sure are the correct answers for 9d and 20d, but otherwise this proved to be a totally satisfying solve.

    I have got lots of ticks all over my page but my favourite is 17d – brilliant!

    Well done and many thanks, Alchemi.

    1. 20d is brilliant really – try reversing the components to make the wordplay: Wave; ‘and’ comes out, ‘it’ goes in.

      1. D’oh – thanks very much, Maize. I simply hadn’t considered that “and” was other than a conjunction. As you say, brilliant!

    2. 9d I first thought of the wrong answer – changing one letter made the clue work nicely, and i learned a new word for old actors.

  7. Must admit that I started out by grumbling to myself over undefined clues when 10a had to be what it was but, once the penny dropped over the theme, it helped enormously as all I had to worry about was which discipline would slot in where. Parsing is so much easier when you already know the answer!
    Having said that, 26d was still one of the last ones to go in – along with 30a because I couldn’t recall hearing that news about Mike Tyson! OK – I’d forgotten all about the other chap.

    Top of the shop for me were 17&20d.

    Many thanks, Alchemi – a very clever theme that can’t have been easy to clue.

  8. Thanks very much, Dutch. I knew the old word for actors which originally meant those involved in mime, and so were those who did not need to know the lines. My problem therefore was that I assumed the wordplay was H replacing the first letter of that word with the meaning “old actors who don’t know the lines”. This left me with no definition unless “who don’t know the lines” was doing double duty. If however the word in question is considered simply as an old word for “actors”, then it just about works, but a bit unconvincingly in my opinion,

    1. i thought “who don’t know the lines” was the definition, with everything prior being the wordplay – I don’t know if that was the real intention, and I can imagine that sort of definition construct is not to everyone’s taste

  9. We have been away again so late getting on to this one. The theme was of course much harder for us than for most others and it took us some time to even pick it at all. Once we did it was much more plain sailing and we managed to sort it all out. Agree with everyone else that there are lots of excellent clues in there. Much enjoyed.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  10. Oh, my! I can finally get in via Bing, though not yet via Chrome. I’ll take it. Now for the puzzle. Back later (I hope!).

  11. Many thanks for the review, BD – I’d got all the parsing sorted and the two words that were new for me – the measure and the rings – were very fairly clued so presented little problem.
    I did, however, wonder for quite a while about my first answer for 23a – ‘charisma’ did not help at all with the rest of the SE corner!

    Thanks again to Alchemi – I enjoyed this one very much.

  12. Thanks for the review.

    It seems to have passed some people by that 20/16 is BRITISH GOLD MEDALS.

      1. Me too! Well done again, Alchemi, for a superbly enjoyable puzzle and many thanks to BD for the review..

          1. I don’t know. I supply a perfectly good gateway for the theme and no-one takes any notice.I give up. :)

            1. I suspect in this case it was because all the solvers’ brain cells were totally exhausted by the time the puzzle had been completed. Speaking for myself, certainly exhausted but very well pleased!

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