NTSPP – 411 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 411

NTSPP – 411

Christmas Pudding by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Big Dave follows:

Alchemi’s instructions were “there are a number of sixpences in the grid but, since they’re supposed to be a surprise, the wordplay ignores them” which solvers soon realised meant that whenever VID or VIP appeared in the answer it was ignored in the wordplay.  

This enjoyable seasonally-themed puzzle could so easily have been a prize puzzle in which the total value of the sixpences would have been the question! If you haven’t been able to work it out click here: there are 8 old sixpences (VI d), worth 2½ new pence each and 2 new sixpences (VI p), total 8×2½+2×6 = 20+12 = 32p.

The clues to the answers which are hiding the sixpences are highlighted in blue.


1a    Tony is sick with fever frequently (4,5)
VERY OFTEN: an anagram (sick) of TONY with FEVER

6a    Furious Luxembourg confronts Italy (5)
LI[VID]: the IVR codes for Luxembourg and Italy

9a    Cater for eccentricity (7)
PRO[VID]E: a word meaning for followed by the symbol for the eccentricity of a conic section

10a    Cut Belgium free in time (7)
ABRIDGE: the IVR code for Belgium and a verb meaning to free inside a long period of time

11a    Services entitlements over the phone (5)
RITES: sounds like (over the phone) some entitlements

12a    Blade cutting away skin of mouse laying eggs (9)
O[VIP]AROUS: a blade used to row a boat followed by [m]OUS[e] without (cutting away) its outer letters (skin)

14a    University in Asian country – large one (10)
INDI[VID]UAL: U(niversity) inside an Asian country followed by L(arge)

16a    Study England’s first prime minister (4)
EDEN: a study with E(ngland) in front (first) – “first” indicates that the “E” goes first, not that it is the first letter of England

18a    See and kill deputy (4)
VICE: the Latin abbreviation for vide (see) followed by a verb meaning to kill

20a    Craftsmen smoke a lot, right? Wrong! (10)
TOOLMAKERS: an anagram (wrong) of SMOKE A LOT R(ight)

22a    Detective finishes getting rewards (9)
DI[VID]ENDS: the abbreviation for a Detective Inspector followed by a verb meaning finishes

25a    Here in Abidjan, no good decoration (5)
ICING: Abidjan is the chief port of Côte d’Ivoire, and so we need the French for “here” followed by the abbreviation for N(o) G(ood)

27a    I see old bananas as a useful plant (7)
OILSEED: an anagram (bananas) of I SEE OLD

28a    Filthy graduate gets the last hole in one (7)
OBSCENE: a science graduate and the final letter (last) of [hol]E inside ONE from the clue

29a    Quiet year with monarch being more retiring (5)
SHYER: an exhortation to keep quiet followed by Y(ear) and the queen’s regnal cipher (monarch)

30a    Stones are disrupting echoes (9)
RESONATES: an anagram (disrupting) of STONES ARE


1d    Queen snake (5)
[VIP]ER: The regnal cipher for our queen

2d    Slept in tree – door set to explode (7)
ROOSTED: an anagram (to explode) of DOOR SET

3d    Old letter about leaving things out (8)
OMISSIVE: O(ld) followed by an official letter

4d    Partners stopping god playing god at the start (3,4,2)
THE WORD GO: two bridge-playing partners inside the Scandinavian thunder god and followed by an anagram (playing) of GOD

5d    One supporter turns up outside a canteen (5)
NAAFI: the reversal (turns up in a down clue) of I (one) and an enthusiastic supporter around (outside) the A from the clue gives the acronym for a military canteen

6d    Immature creature hides in cellar vault (5)
LARVA: hidden (hides in) inside the clue

7d    Shot before odd bits drop down (7)
[VID]EOED: drop the odd letters from [b]E[f]O[r]E and then add D(own)

8d    Arrange hot glasses (empty) for relishes (9)
DRESSINGS: a verb meaning to arrange followed by a two-letter word meaning hot or fashionable and the outer letters (empty) of G[lasse]S

13d    Friend‘s tree lacking root (3)
PAL: a tropical tree without (lacking) its final letter (base)

14d    Gratuitously discriminating between debt acknowledgements (9)
IN[VID]IOUS: a two-letter word meaning between or among followed by some acknowledgements of debt

15d    Hints the whole of America is keeping going (9)
ALLUSIONS: a three-letter word meaning the whole followed by a two-letter abbreviation for American followed by IS from the clue around (keeping) a two-letter word meaning going

17d    American lawyers working for Scottish politician (8)
DA[VID]SON: some American lawyers followed by a two-letter word meaning working

19d    One hands in rodent to get horsemen (7)
CAVALRY: A (one) and L(eft) R(ight) (hands) inside a member of the guinea-pig genus of rodents

20d    Constrain match (3)
TIE: two definitions – a verb meaning to constrain and, typically, a football match in a knockout tournament

21d    Obvious film about nurse (7)
E[VID]ENT: a famous Spielberg film around an Enrolled Nurse

23d    Poetically boring otologist? (5)
DREAR: split as (2,3) this could be an otologist

24d    Bottom drain is faulty (5)
NADIR: an anagram (faulty) of DRAIN

26d    Horses feed noisily (5)
GREYS: sounds like (noisily) a verb meaning to feed on grass

15 comments on “NTSPP – 411

  1. Nice one – thanks Alchemi. I particularly liked 14a (for the well-hidden definition) and 23d (because it made me laugh).

  2. A very clever concept which I really liked and which yielded a grand total of 32p (if my maths is correct).

    My favourites were 23d and 26d, both producing extremely wide smiles.

    Great stuff, many thanks Alchemi and a Merry Christmas to you.

    1. Umm – I’m struggling to see how you worked out the money. You seem to have rather more than your fair share!

  3. That was a scrumptious pudding, Alchemi, cooked just right for me. My dear old Granny certainly never put that many sixpences in our Christmas pud. Not only that, we had to give them back to her after lunch for re-use the following year!

    Think the honours go to the otologist.

    Many thanks, Alchemi, and best of seasonal wishes to you.

  4. many thanks Alchemi. I’m 5 bob richer and i thought it was very considerate to keep the puzzle on the easier side when using a device like this. Finding the sixpences was fun, and even helped with some clues (14a, 22a, 17d). Glad i remembered what language they speak in Cote d’Ivoire. Earned me some brownie points with the friend i was solving this with in the pub. Lots of nice clues

    Because P is simply an abbreviation for penny, I thought both P & D were applicable to old pennies, but only P to new – am i wrong?

    1. Yes you are wrong – “p” was never used with old pennies, only “d”. £sd stood for librae, solidi, and denarii (pounds, shillings, and pence) a legacy of Roman Britain.

  5. A scrumptious feast and if our count is correct we now have ten coins jingling in our pockets. Our last one to sort out was 4d although in hindsight can’t work out why it took so long. All good fun.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  6. Many thanks for the review, BD – I did enjoy this Christmas NTSPP. I finished up with only 20p because I neglected to include in my total that new-fangled stuff that we now use in place of ‘real’ money! Oh dear – showing my age again……….

    Thanks again to Alchemi – looking forward to your next puzzle.

  7. Thanks to everyone for their compliments on this puzzle, and on all the others I’ve set you this year, thanks to BD for the review and the site and friendly editing, and best wishes to you and yours for whatever celebrations you consider appropriate. Bah! Humbug! :)

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