NTSPP – 449 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 449

NTSPP – 449

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of the puzzle by Big Dave:

There is an obvious (ghost) theme in this puzzle – I have highlighted, in blue, the clues for as many thematic answers as I have found.  Let me know if I have missed any.


1a Film teaches snooker skills (13)
TRAINSPOTTING: split as (6,7) this could mean teaches plus snooker skills

9a Hit back at Fat Duck (7)
MALLARD: The reversal of a three-letter verb meaning to hit is followed by a type of fat

10a Encroach for one to pinch note back (7)
IMPINGE: the Latin abbreviation for “for one” or “for example” is followed by a three-letter verb meaning to pinch and a note of the scale in sol-fa notation and then all of it is reversed (back)

11a Acting for one is protection (5)
AEGIS: A(cting) is followed by the Latin abbreviation for “for one” or “for example” and IS from the clue

12a I’m halting awful poem (5,4)
NIGHT MAIL: an anagram (awful) of I’M HALTING

This is the Night Mail crossing the Border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,

Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door.

Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time.

Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder,
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,

Snorting noisily, she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from bushes at her blank-faced coaches.

Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.

In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes.

13a Relative ran back in for cocktails (8)
SIDECARS: the shortened form of a female relative around (in) the reversal (back) of a verb meaning ran

15a Go to marry again? (6)
REPAIR: as (2-4) this could possibly (hence the question mark) mean to marry again

18a Very quick note on deception (6)
FLYING: a note in the diatonic scale is followed by a deception

19a Robert the Bruce maybe most upset during examination (8)
SCOTSMAN: an anagram (upset) of MOST inside (during) an examination, typically one undergone in a hospital

22a Buries port in parts hidden from view (9)
INTERIORS: a verb meaning buries with a Soth American port inside

24a Gas line as straight as this? (5)
ARROW: the chemical symbol for a gas is followed by a line – I remember having a conversation with an American business colleague, back during the fuel crisis in the early seventies, when he mentioned gas lines – it was a while before I realised he was talking about the petrol queues

25a Joint separation between Republicans and Democrats caused resentment (7)
RANKLED: a joint in the body is sandwiched between R(epublicans) and D(emocrats)

26a Almost drained car before being heard (7)
AUDIBLE: most of a verb meaning drained extorted follows a German car

27a Murder venue to determine one’s location, say (6,7)
ORIENT EXPRESS: a charade of verbs meaning to determine one’s location and to say


1d Adds about 1100 American fighters (7)
TOMCATS: a verb meaning adds or counts around the Roman numerals for 1100 and A(merican)

2d Partner in crime maintains ledger (mostly falsified, they say) (9)
ALLEGEDLY: a partner in crime around an anagram (falsified) of most of LEDGE[r]

3d Merits bringing up national approaches (5)
NEARS: start with a verb meaning merits and bring the N(ational) up to the top (in a down clue)

4d Finding fault with shortened Christmas show featuring Sheeran track (8)
PEDANTRY: most of (shortened) a Christmas show around (featuring) the first name of singer Sheeran all followed by a track (one in keeping with today’s theme)

5d Possessions no good in this (6)
THINGS: the abbreviation for N(o) G(ood) inside THIS from the clue

6d Hospital resident doctor ain’t inept (2-7)
IN-PATIENT: an anagram (doctor) of AIN’T INEPT

7d Sail one put up in the Atlanta area (5)
GENOA: the reversal (put up in a down clue) of ONE inside the abbreviation of the US state where the city of Atlanta is situated

8d Fish in a kitchen tool (6)
PEELER: a three-letter fish inside the word meaning a (as in tuppence a bag)

14d Singers opposed to line bringing up sex (9)
CONTRALTI: a charade of a word meaning opposed to, L(ine) and the reversal bringing up in a down clue) of a two-letter word meaning sex

16d Wonderful barmaid upset by the French (9)
ADMIRABLE: an anagram (upset) of BARMAID followed by the French definite article

17d Blade chills princess (3,5)
ICE SKATE: a verb meaning chills followed by a British princess

18d Look up cook outside monastery (6)
FRIARY: the reversal (up in a down clue) of a look or manner inside a verb meaning to cook

20d Novelty winner oddly hidden by cape (7)
NEWNESS: the odd letters of WINNER inside a cape or headland

21d Used information about blonde (6)
GOLDEN: an adjective meaning used inside some information

23d Insect climbs over steps (5)
TANGO: the reversal (climbs in a down clue) of an insect followed by O(ver)

24d Total party support for evacuation of Auckland (3,2)
ADD UP: a Northern Irish political party receded by (support for) A[ucklan]D without its internal letters (evacuation)

27 comments on “NTSPP – 449

  1. Thanks Alchemi, good challenge.

    I’ve only just seen the theme staring me in the face, despite getting 1A (I liked it) early on.

    I couldn’t see 8d for a while, devious! Lots to like, including 1a, 10a, 15a etc.

  2. Excellent stuff, Alchemi – I’m having to work hard to restrain myself from mentioning the theme so early in the day!
    14d was a guess and check (logical but not something I remember coming across before today) and the 7d sail was new to me. Like Windsurfer, I had to think a bit to justify 8d.

    As for a favourite – any of those mentioned by Windsurfer plus 9&27a along with 2&24d.

    Thank you very much for the challenge – hope you are now feeling ‘more like yourself’.

    1. I had a follow-up consultation with my surgeon earlier this week. He said that as far as he was concerned, I was fully healed, although the sternum will continue to itch and sometimes be painful until about the end of the year. And yesterday, I’d have agreed with him.

      Today, I woke up with a foul headache and some miscellaneous aches in other places and will probably crawl back to bed later this afternoon, depending on whether the pills and potions I have ingested have the desired effects. Though I doubt it has much to do with the surgery.

      1. Hopefully it’s just one of those ‘bugs’ that has got hold of you now as it sounds as though the surgeon is quite satisfied with regard to your recovery from the bypass. Perhaps your system has just had to work so hard to combat the trauma from that operation that it can’t easily deal with anything else at the moment.
        Crawling back into bed for a while sounds like a good plan – take good care of yourself for a while longer.

        1. I’m already feeling a bit better – I strongly suspect now that the headache was simply caffeine deprivation.

  3. I’m not sure I’ve previously encountered an Alchemi puzzle that was quite so straightforward, but it was a very pleasant lunchtime solve.

    Although it’s become something of an old chestnut in recent years, my favourite clue was 1a. My repetition radar picked up several cases of indicators being duplicated, but perhaps our setter was more concerned with other aspect of the puzzle, e.g. the theme?

    Many thanks, Alchemi.

    1. I did write ‘Silvanus’ alongside 10&11a but hadn’t picked up on any others until you made mention. Perhaps I was also too carried away with the theme!

      1. 10a was rewritten, at my request, because of repetition of “no good” in the wordplay with 5d (African soldiers no good – Europeans start to encroach). The rewritten 10a then had “for one” which clashed with 11a, so 11a was changed to “for example”. I am happy that there is no repetition between those two clues, only in the construction of the answer, which happens many times in other puzzles.

  4. Really enjoyed this. And the nice theme (which I clocked towards the end). Lots of ticks…esp liked 12a,2d and 6d.

    Thanks, Alchemi. Get well soon.

  5. Really good Sunday morning fun for us. We twigged the theme from 1a and have identified several of the themed answers but are pretty sure that there are more that are not known to us. Quite a bit of head scratching and plenty of chuckles.
    Thanks Alchemi and good to hear that your health is on the up and up.

  6. Fairly gentle but most enjoyable with a pleasant theme – thanks Alchemi (I’m glad to hear that the convalescence is going well).
    I’ll opt for 12a, 27a and 24d as being most tickworthy.

  7. Completed in 2 sittings – 1 before the 2 year old grandson’s birthday bash & 1 pre breakfast today. I’ll wait for Prolixic’s review in order to parse 10a but most enjoyable overall.

    Thanks to Alchemi & here’s to a full recovery.

  8. Very fine – both grid construction and clues. Worth it just for the pun in 1a. Many thanks Alchemi.

  9. Missed the obvious (?) theme until it was too late to be of any use.

    I really liked the “Wonderful barmaid” one for the surface reading.

    Thanks! Alchemi.

  10. Many thanks for the well illustrated review, BD. The only other possible themed entry I picked up on was the Tango train in Sydney which looks like a good way to make oneself feel extremely ill!
    Thanks again to Alchemi – hope to see you in January for the big 10th Birthday Bash.

  11. Thanks, Alchemi – very enjoyable. I saw a relation between 1ac and 27ac, thought “is there a theme here?” but then failed to see anything else thematic. Doh! And it looks like the puzzle I was compiling themed around express trains of the old ‘big four’ had better head for the cruciverbal equivalent of the buffers.

  12. I enjoyed this a lot. Highlights for me were 13a, 24a, 1d, 5d, 7d, 16d, and 23d. If I had to pick a favourite it’d be 5d. Thanks, Alchemi, for an excellent puzzle. Very impressed that you were able to compose this in hospital.

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