NTSPP – 359 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 359

NTSPP – 359

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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This festive puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Fitting all twelve days of Christmas into one puzzle is such a clever feat that I feel we can forgive the occasional repetition, like get(s) up in 24 Down and 26 Down, and little-used word, like the answer to 23 Across.


1a Goes round Florida getting desserts (7)
TRIFLES: a word meaning goes or attempts around the abbreviation for Florida

5a Allegation that cricket club in Australia hit cover off ball (7)
ACCUSAL: the abbreviation for Cricket Club inside AUS(tralia) and followed by [b]AL[l] without its outer letters (cover)

9a Detective leaves parts of Yorkshire in circles (5)
RINGS: drop DI (detective) from the historic divisions of Yorkshire

10a Can accountant back boss in a crisis (it’s advisable)? (1,4,4)
A COOL HEAD: another word for a can or toilet and the letters associated with a Scottish or Canadian accountant, all reversed and followed by a boss or chief

11a Archbishop said he built a cricket ground (4)
LORD: This person responsible for building a famous cricket ground sounds like (said) an early seventeenth century Archbishop of Canterbury

12a Travelling fast without large East German before getting rigid (9)
OSSIFYING: A verb meaning travelling fast without L(arge) preceded (before) by a nickname given to a former resident of East Germany

15a Doctor I don’t know married emperor’s clothing salesman (7)
DRUMMER: The usual abbreviation or D(octo)R followed by a two-letter word meaning “I don’t know”, M(arried) and the outer letters (clothing) of E[mpero]R

18a Where to dry up for an audience (7)
WHITHER: Sounds like (for an audience) a verb meaning to dry up

19a Sid‘s six hundred promissory notes (7)
VICIOUS: the surname of one of the Sex Pistols comes from a charade of the Roman numerals for six and one hundred and some promises to pay

20a Arrives to back some organised ironworkers (5,2)
RIDES IN: hidden (some) and reversed (back) inside the clue

21a Actor’s job: use bike to ensnare German bird (9)
PARTRIDGE: an actor’s role followed by a verb meaning to use a bike around (to ensnare) G(erman)

23a I’m surprised about dad’s deep-sea fish (4)
OPAH: an expression meaning “I’m surprised” around a two-letter word for dad

27a Listening carefully, musical backing contains camp element (9)
ATTENTIVE: The reversal (backing) of a famous musical around (contains) part of a camp

28a Wood program left paper out (5)
APPLE: a program for a phone or tablet followed by LE[FT}without FT (paper)

29a Eccentric queen for a day showing frailty of age (7)
DODDERY: swap a three-letter word meaning eccentric and our queen’s regnal cipher for the A in D[A]Y

30a Works instead of punching amphibians (7)
EFFORTS: a three-letter word meaning instead of inside (punching) some amphibians


1d Working group surprisingly revolted by bird (6,4)
TURTLE DOVE: an group for workers followed by an anagram (surprisingly) of REVOLTED

2d Victor loses first point near the centre (5)
INNER: start with a victor and drop its initial letter (first), the compass point W(est)

3d We leave bottom missing (4)
LOST: drop (leave) the WE from the middle of a word meaning bottom

4d Aimlessly moves pale ship around (5)
SWANS: An adjective meaning pale inside our usual SteamShip

5d Huge fight as writer wears tatty warm coat (6,3)
ATOMIC WAR: the first person subjective pronoun (writer) inside (wears) an anagram (tatty) of WARM COAT

6d Flyers locally by Driscoll (5,5)
COLLY BIRDS: This dialect (locally) word for blackbirds is an anagram (represented) of BY DRISCOLL

7d Used Hank’s strange Scottish weapons (5-4)
SKEAN-DHUS: an anagram (strange) of USED HANK’S

8d Boy with unknown woman (4)
LADY: a boy followed by a mathematical unknown

13d Prestige of one person left inside church (10)
IMPORTANCE: I (one) and a person around a nautical term for left followed by the Church of England

14d Oddly for redneck, he has space for one among his birds (6,4)
FRENCH HENS: the odd letters of three words in the clue followed by H[I]S with a printer’s space instead of the I (one)

16d Wasting hours, searched around daily, having no plan (9)
UNCHARTED: drop (wasting) the H(ours) from a verb meaning searched and put what remains around a daily cleaner

17d Bucolic nature of reportedly decaying population centre (9)
RUSTICITY: what sounds like (reportedly) an adjective meaning decaying followed by a population centre

22d It’s amazing someone gutted jackasses (5)
GEESE: a three-letter expression meaning “it’s amazing” followed by S[omeon]E without its inner letters (gutted)

24d Very good to get up in a light plane (5)
PIPER: the reversal (to get up in a down clue) of a two-letter adjective meaning very good inside a word meaning a, as in tuppence a pound

25d Servant unconscious after seeing master (4)
MAID: the mass of primitive instincts and energies in the unconscious mind preceded by (after seeing) the letters granted to someone with a Master’s degree in the Arts

26d Maybe Gordon gets up and misses second part (4)
HALF: The reversal (gets up in a down clue) of first part of the name of a sci-fi hero called Gordon without (misses) S(econd)

13 comments on “NTSPP – 359

    1. That’s a style thing with me. When I’m doing a ghost-themed puzzle, the only way I can ensure that it’s still vaguely entertaining for those who don’t spot it is to completely avoid the theme.

  1. Merry Christmas to all my friends in the crossword world. My motherboard died earlier in the week, and I’ve still not got everything set up on the new machine – in particular, I haven’t got my email working yet, which is why BD hasn’t yet received an MPP for a couple of weeks’ time, and why I’m not replying to anyone who’s dropped me a seasonal line.

  2. 4D was my second one in and from that I (for once) guessed the theme straight away, which certainly helped to fill in a couple I couldn’t (and still can’t) parse. 10A was my last one in and my favorite though 28 across is close behind. Thoroughly enjoyable. Many thanks, Alchemi and a very merry Christmas to you.

  3. Like Chris, I got the theme early on, which was certainly a big help.
    Still got a little way to go on the parsing front!

    Many thanks, Alchemi and a merry Christmas to you.

  4. :phew:
    That was tough, but it proved to be a very enjoyable struggle with the SE corner resisting for the longest time. 23a, 7d and the first part of the answer to 12a were new to me but couldn’t have been anything else from the wordplay and checking letters. My BRB confirmed 23a and the first four letters of 12a, and Mrs RD, whose first husband was a Scot, knew 7d.

    I had a blind spot initially with 5a, having convinced myself it must be something to do “whack” with the wordplay based on a homophone of WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association). Silly me… A couple of checking letters soon revealed the error of my ways.

    Many thanks, Alchemi, for the entertaining distraction keeping me from the preparations needed for tomorrow’s family invasion which I must now attend to, particularly in case Mrs RD has a 7d hidden away somewhere in the house.

  5. We were beaten in the SE corner. We had a different wood for 28a that would be more familiar to Canadians and this made 26d impossible. Bother! We should have looked further. Spotted the theme quite early on and enjoyed sorting out that they were indeed all included. Well done on achieving this and yet not making the puzzle too easy. Good fun.
    Thanks Alchemi.
    Merry Christmas everyone.

  6. Phew, got it now but it took me a while – that was partly because i was trying to do all sorts of other things today and looked at this puzzle intermittently. NE was where i got stuck, but all sorted out eventually.

    got the theme from 1d and 21a pretty quick, but unlike Stanxyz, I had not prepared myself: i had to google the lyrics…

    My favourite was 29a. also liked 19a and 5d.

    A very enjoyable and challenging puzzle, many thanks Alchemi. best Xmas wishes.

  7. An entertaining puzzle with a nice festive theme – thanks Alchemi. I thought that this was a bit trickier than we normally get from Alchemi but I managed to work it all out eventually. I’ll list 10a, 27a, 29a and 17d as the highlights.
    Merry Christmas to everyone.

  8. Noticed the theme quite quickly and prepared my little list.
    Mind you, I didn’t really need it as the parsing was very fair.
    Remembered the different name for 6d from past crosswords and also the Scottish weapons in 7d.
    12a caused the most trouble as I thought it would start with the usual Ost.
    Favourite 26d.
    Thanks to Alchemi.

  9. Beautifully illustrated, BD – many thanks for that and for sorting out my parsing problems.
    I didn’t know the East German in 12a and had convinced myself that the eccentric in 29a was Ken Dodd!
    As for Gordon – never gave him a thought……….

    Certainly an amazing feat to get all 12 days into the grid and without making any reference to Christmas in the clues – well done indeed, Alchemi.

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