NTSPP – 499 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 499

NTSPP – 499

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It doesn’t take long to discover that there are a lot (eleven to be precise) of stones, of all varieties, in this excellent puzzle from Alchemi.


1a Companion dries seats (6)
CHAIRS: a Companion of Honour is followed by a verb meaning dries, as in dries washed clothing

4a Double trouble, finally, for precious stones (8)
BOULDERS: an anagram (trouble) of DOUBLE followed by the final letters of two words in the clue

10a Merkel con blown by actor (3,6)
LEO MCKERN: an anagram (blown) of MERKEL CON

11a Stone‘s power output (5)
WATTS: two definitions – a member of the Rolling Stones and a measure of power output

12a Location of Halifax hotels (4)
INNS: the location of Halifax (2,2) where the second part is the abbreviation of a Canadian state (rather than Yorkshire which is the desired misdirection)

13a Bony structure a way China can stop ill will (4,6)
HARD PALATE: the A from the clue, a two-letter abbreviation of a way and a Cockney china all inside a word meaning ill will

15a 10 wrap up where many stones are cut (7)
ANTWERP: an anagram (up) of TEN (10) with WRAP

16a Bear rejecting agreement with Irish politicians (6)
PUDSEY: the famous bear from BBC Children in Need comes from the reversal (rejecting) of a word of agreement and the three-letter abbreviation for a NI political party

19a Stone breaks right muscle (6)
TENSOR: an anagram (breaks) of STONE followed by R(ight)

21a Wind devastated most of Corsica at the beginning of October (7)
SIROCCO: an anagram (devastated) of most of CORSIC[a] followed by the initial letter (beginning) of OCTOBER

23a Some of the clergy, very soft touches, welcoming one (10)
VICARESSES: V(ery) and some soft touches around (welcoming) I (one)

25a Stone flourished by senior lawyer (4)
FLAG: this paving stone is found by combining FL(ourished) with the abbreviation for the Attorney-General (senior lawyer)

27a Hydrogen added into fuel, which enriches the mixture (5)
CHOKE: put the chemical symbol for Hydrogen inside a form of fuel obtained by the heating of coal in a confined space to get a valve in a carburettor which reduces the air supply and thus enriches the petrol/air mixture

28a Friar meets dishevelled beggar, losing good portable food supply (6-3)
TUCKER-BAG: a friar who was one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men followed by an anagram (dishevelled) of BEG[g]AR without (losing) one of the G(ood)s

29a Steal which band? (4,4)
TAKE THAT: a verb meaning to steal followed by a word meaning which

30a Kind of stone seen by German gentleman visiting Cyprus (6)
CHERRY: this fruit stone is derived by inserting the title accorded a German gentleman inside (visiting) the IVR code for Cyprus



1d One old woman has to select first stone (8)
CULLINAN: I (one) and an elderly female relative preceded by (first) a verb meaning to select gives a famous diamond (stone)

2d See 3 Down

3d/2d/24d Song‘s timer apparently set in stone (4,6,3,5)
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK: a cryptic definition of a famous song by Bill Haley and His Comets

5d “It hurts,” Edward cheerfully confessed (5,2)
OWNED UP: an exclamation meaning “it hurts” followed by a three-letter familiar for of the name Edward and an adverb that loosely means cheerfully

6d Large bird roams, but not with those from the valleys (10)
LOWLANDERS: L(arge) followed by a three-letter bird and a verb meaning roams without the W(ith)

7d Maybe wide square former artist holds (5)
EXTRA: a type of square used in mechanical drawing inside (holds) a two-letter word meaning former and our usual artist

8d Frames Boris as he steals bottles (6)
SASHES: hidden (bottles) inside the clue

9d Leave a male priest after a month (6)
DECAMP: the A from the clue, M(ale) and P(riest) preceded by (after) the three-letter abbreviation for one of the months of the year

14d Picked up one who stopped, having confined marine monster (3,7)
SEA SERPENT: sounds like (picked up) one who stops and a verb meaning confined or shut up

17d Feature of stone once old bore reported (9)
EXCALIBUR: a word meaning old followed by what sounds like the bore of a gun

18d Ought somehow to make fun of violent chap (5,3)
TOUGH GUY: an anagram (somehow) of OUGHT followed by a verb meaning to make fun of gives the violent chap

20d Stone breaking toaster (7)
ROSETTA: an anagram (breaking) of TOASTER – I didn’t notice at the time, but the anagram indicator in 19a is breaks; it would have been easy to use a different one, like destroying, here

21d Foul smell from essence of turpentine detected in stone church (6)
STENCH: the middle letters (essence) of [turp]EN[tine] inside ST(one) and CH(urch)

22d Advocate scrubbing commercial arrangement getting bird (6)
AVOCET: an anagram (arrangement) of [ad]VOCATE without (scrubbing) the ad (commercial)

24d See 3 Down

26a Speed of supreme thoroughbred (4)
METH: this drug is hidden (of) inside the clue

18 comments on “NTSPP – 499

  1. Enjoyable with a nice mix of themed items – be interesting to see who remembers 10a. My favourite Across clue was 29a and my favourite Down clue was 17d

    Thanks to Alchemi and, in advance, to BD.

    1. I didn’t remember 10a’s name until the checkers somewhat narrowed the field but I certainly remember those court appearances!

  2. Delightful crossword using every conceivable variation on the theme word – thanks Alchemi. My last answer was 23a because I don’t remember ever having seen that word before.
    I ticked lots of clues including 11a, 12a ,16a and 17d but my favourite was 3/2/24d.

  3. Very enjoyable and not too tricky, though 1d/10a held me up (who? – don’t answer that!)
    My pick was the 3/2/24 too amongst some very nice inventive cluing
    Thanks for the entertainment Alchemi

  4. Well worth the wait on a very soggy holiday weekend Saturday morning.
    I really enjoyed the theme; very clever to come up with such a variety.
    Outstanding favourite – 6d.
    Thanks to Alchemi.

  5. A very enjoyable puzzle that made excellent use of a theme. Highlights for me included 11a, 12a, 27a, 3d/2d/24d, 5d, and 26d. Thanks to Alchemi for the entertainment and in advance to BD for the blog.

  6. Found the two theme members I’d expected to see relatively quickly but some of the others gave me the run around. It also took a visit to the BRB to assure myself that 23a was a ‘real’ word and also that the 25a abbreviation existed – still learning after all this time!
    11&16a amused the most in a very enjoyable solve.

    Many thanks, Alchemi.

  7. Very enjoyable puzzle to follow an equally fun prize puzzle.
    The actor took a lot of work for an anagram and only revealed itself with a lot of checkers, Like Jane I remember Rumpole. I knew it didn’t fit the enumeration but wanted Rock Hudson to fit the theme. When I got 3/2/24 I realised we were not going to get rock again. Marg has covered those I had chosen but you could argue for most of the others too.

  8. When we saw who the setter was we knew we were in for a tussle. How right we were!
    Our last one in and after a long fight was 16a. Had to do it all from the wordplay as we had never heard of the answer and the Irish part was not that familiar although we had met it before.
    We were impressed that the theme was used in so many different ways.
    Thoroughly enjoyable solving experience from start to finish that left us still chuckling over so many of the clues.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  9. I didn’t have time to look at this during the day and deliberated this evening whether or not to bother. I’m certainly glad I did bother because not only were the multiple themes very clever, it was a lot of fun. I was defeated by 1d, and, as a lifelong fan, I can’t believe how long it took me to parse 11a which now has three ticks beside it on my page.

    28a is an Australian expression. Collins on-line and Chambers agree and the latter also enumerates it as (9).

    My first encounter with 10a was in the late 60s, in his role as one of the many no. 2s in the wonderful series The Prisoner.

    Many thanks, Alchemi, for a challenging and very enjoyable diversion.

  10. The last three (16A, 17D and 25A) took me forever fill in and even then I don’t know the bear and had the wrong first letter for 25A. My favorite clue of all was 17D. Thanks Alchemi. I found this a challenge but satisfying to get as far as I did.

  11. Quite a virtuoso theme and variations! I needed Google for 1d, but this is a good example of the many interesting things one can discover when solving crosswords. I do remember 10a very well from the classic series.

  12. Thanks BD and commenters.

    The double use of break was deliberate. Since the “stone” functioned differently in the two clues, I took the opportunity to make the clues similar.

    Since TUCKER-BAG occurs in “Waltzing Matilda”, I didn’t see the necessity to indicate that it was Strine.

  13. Many thanks for the review, BD, and thanks again to Alchemi for the stones. Must admit that I’m not word perfect on the lyrics to Waltzing Mathilda so I’ve just investigated. Learnt another new word in ‘jumbuck’!

  14. Thanks for the review BD
    Don’t think the Aussies care much whether it’s 9, 6,3 or 6-3 and it made no difference to the solve – don’t think grammar can really be applied to slang
    By the time I was living down under, it was just ‘smoko’

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