NTSPP 595 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This excellent puzzle from Alchemi focuses on one of my favourite periods of English history.


1a Vehicles here have chests for fish (3,5)
CAR PARKS: a four-letter fish followed by some biblical chests

6a Cut short playwright who annoyed 9 (6)
BECKET: the surname of the playwright who wrote Waiting for Godot without his final letter (cut short) – Will no one will rid me of this turbulent priest?

9a Entry he’d chosen disturbing king (5,3,6)
HENRY THE SECOND: an anagram (disturbing) of ENTRY HE’D CHOSEN – also the answer to Judith Keppel’s Million Pound question Which King was married to 18d of 14d?

10a It’s queenly to keep nothing provincial (8)
REGIONAL: an adjective meaning queenly around (to keep) O (nothing)

11a Use up old writer and director (6)
EXPEND: old, as in old or former partner, followed by a writing implement and D(irector)

13a Some Reaganite Republicans flip on body tissue (6)
RETINA: hidden (some) and reversed (flip) inside the clue

15a Vehicle engineers first to practise (8)
REHEARSE: a vehicle used in funerals preceded by (first) the Royal Engineers

16a Inexperienced at blocking wall up (8)
IMMATURE: AT from the clue inside (blocking) a verb meaning to wall up

19a Hate to cancel exam? (6)
DETEST: this could (but doesn’t) mean to cancel an exam

21a Theatre’s thick walls not moving (2,4)
AT REST: hidden (walls) inside the clue

22a Figures leading couples in effect finalise gigantic estate (8)
EFFIGIES: the first two letters (couples) of four words in the clue

24a 13 eat lunch unhappily with edge of plate underwater (8,6)
ALEUTIAN TRENCH: an anagram (unhappily) of the answer to 13a with EAT LUNCH gives an underwater trough along the edge of a tectonic plate

26a Actors essentially blew move on board (6)
CASTLE: a group of actors followed by the middle letters (essentially) of [b]LE[w] gives a special chess move

27a Turning round, sailor books in (8)
ROTATING: a sailor around a set of books of the bible


2d Expert keeps hive buzzing to win (7)
ACHIEVE: an expert around an anagram () of HIVE

3d Petrifaction process not right for religious office (11)
PONTIFICATE: an anagram (process) of PET[r]IFACTION without the R(ight)

4d Material for artist over there (5)
RAYON: our usual artist followed by a word meaning over there

5d Serious student Mark takes short break (7)
SCHOLAR: a mark around a short break from work

6d Begged to eat cheese, appropriately when 21? (9)
BESEECHED: an anagram (appropriately) of CHEESE inside (to eat) the answer to 21 Across, for example

7d About 600 American doctors (3)
CDC: the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about followed by the Roman numerals for 600

8d Therefore 9 turns up around large weather systems (2,5)
EL NINOS: the reversal (turns up in a down clue) of a word meaning therefore and NINE (9) around L(arge)

12d House design cheers French author (11)
PLANTAGENET: the Royal house for the descendants of 17 Down and Geoffrey of Anjou is a charade of a design, a two-letter word meaning cheers or thanks and the surname of a French author

14d Academician fairly retaining own Scottish duchy (9)
AQUITAINE: A(cademician) and an adverb meaning fairly around (retaining) the Scottish word for own

17d Carpet laid out for queen (7)
MATILDA: a carpet followed by an anagram (out) of LAID – very nearly the first Queen Regnant of England, some 400 years before the Tudor Queens Mary and Elizabeth

18d 9’s wife of 14, one real mess (7)
ELEANOR: an anagram (mess) of ONE REAL

Pictured above, with 9 Across

20d Guinea pigs possibly climb over bird ruler (7)
STEPHEN: the reversal (climb in a down clue) of some tame animals kept for companionship (guinea pigs possibly) followed by a female bird gives the King who prevented 17 Down from becoming Queen

23d Hungarian ready to give up name deserving of punishment (3,2)
FOR IT: the Hungarian currency without (giving up) the N(ame)

25d You will regret finishing last month (3)
ULT: the final letters (finishing) of three words in the clue gives a term used in business correspondence, along with inst. (current month) and prox. (next month)

32 comments on “NTSPP 595

  1. Quite a few unknown GK references made this heavy going for me with a reveal or two required
    Many thanks for the challenge Alchemi

  2. Thanks to Alchemi for an enjoyable puzzle with a helpful theme.
    I did get the 24a answer from the anagram and checkers but I had to do some investigoogling to find out what ‘edge of plate’ was all about.
    My podium features 1a, 15a and 23d.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle mainly because I finished the majority unaided. I did not know the American doctors but it could be nothing else from the parsing. I had totally forgotten the deep sea trench so I struggled with that one. I liked 6d and this is my COTD for NTSPP.

    Many thanks for the entertainment, Alchemi and, in advance, to the reviewer.

  4. Thanks Alchemi, a great puzzle that refreshed some long-forgotten history studies. 6d, 17d & 23d were my top 3. A bit of Googling required to verify the US doctors and underwater feature, but both clues left no doubt.
    Thanks again!

  5. Very much enjoyed this crossword. I liked the theme it took me back more years than I care to think about to 3rd year history. But the clueong was fun too.

  6. Thanks Alchemi very enjoyable, especially the reminder of 12th century history, which allowed me to keep one eye on the very entertaining Ireland-Japan rugby.

    I really liked 10a, 21a, and 12d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to CS.

  7. Very much enjoyed Alchemi, thank you. SE corner was last in, 2 reveals helped. We also needed Google to check 7d and 24a. We didn’t know one of the meanings of chest in 1a. Favourites were 3d, 6d, 15a. Thanks also to CS / Prolixic in advance.

  8. What a tremendous crossword! Really enjoyed this puzzle, some good red herrings and a great Ks&Qs of E refresher. Plenty of chuckles, and I don’t know how I dragged 24a from the similarly deep recesses of my memory, but with the checking letters of the first word it suddenly sprang to mind. Pennies dropped more like manhole covers, with resounding clangs – 25a, 23d, 20d.

    Hon. mention for 16a, and my vote for COTD to 22a – a real PDM when that fell.

    Many thanks to Alchemi, and in advance to BD.

  9. Four ‘things’ that I needed to check but I did cross the line without revealing any letters – phew!
    Favourite here was 1a but a mention also for 4d which made me laugh out loud.

    Thanks to Alchemi – not easy by any means but all scrupulously fair.

  10. Thanks everybody. I’m very pleased to see so many different clues floated various people’s boats.

    1. Big thanks & appreciation for a super crossword from me too – made me think of Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter – a great film adaptation with Peter O’Toole & Katherine Hepburn (her 3rd Oscar) both superb & Hopkins in his first film role.
      More like this always welcome Alchemi

  11. 6a & 14d we’re both real head scratchers for me until the penny dropped that they were both thematic. Not sure I have the latter fully parsed mind you. An unaided solve apart from a couple of stabs at the correct spelling of the trench which I vaguely knew was also islands of the same name. Not for the first time much more fun than today’s Prize.
    6a&d were my joint favs

  12. A bit GK heavy for my personal taste but there were some super clues, all very smoothly put together.
    I particularly liked 1,16,21&27a plus 4&5&6d but my favourite, rather predictably was 20d.
    Thanks Alchemi and in advance BD.

  13. Thumbs up from me too – hugely enjoyable puzzle, and thank you very much, Alchemi.

  14. Saw the name Alchemi so knew we were in for a tussle. It was that, and a most enjoyable one too.
    Liked picking and unraveling all the themed answers.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  15. I had two goes at it, separated by some tennis watching, but didn’t need any reveals though only got 7d from my knowledge of Roman numerals.

    Enjoyed the theme and generally enjoyed the puzzle – apart from 1a which is a bit of an old chestnut as far as I’m concerned, rather on a par with the mutual anagrams of carthorse and orchestra that did the rounds in the 1960s – but then not everyone is as old as I am!

    1. To be honest, there aren’t that many ways of cluing that word, and not many alternative entries which haven’t also been clued a hundred thousand times and are also write-ins for those of who have solved literally millions of clues over our careers.

      1. Fair dos – My problem was that it was done to death as a pun in a Joan Aiken children’s book in the 60s/70s too, so I’m perhaps a bit more sensitive to it.

  16. Thanks Alchemi. Good theme, all very fairly clued.
    Doubly pleasurable as I sit here watching England perform surprisingly well

  17. What a busy day! Starting with the back-pager and MPP, then dipping into the NTSPP. Next off round the M25 to play cricket (and very nearly arriving late after 40 minutes to travel half-a-mile at one point), back home in time to watch the football (how good was that!), and finally finish off the NTSPP.

    Many thanks, Alchemi, for a superb puzzle which was both challenging and a lot of fun. I’d never heard of the French author nor the American doctors but both were pretty obvious, in the first case from the definition and in the latter case from the wordplay.

    What a pleasure to find a setter who understands how to clue 26a correctly! That rounded off my day very nicely after watching England score 4 goals.

    Thanks too in advance to BD.

  18. A bedtime solve for me providing a period of calm after a sporting storm of a day. Thanks, Alchemi, for a perfectly pitched puzzle. A background in earth sciences helped with 24a and a smattering of history was enough to get me through the thematic elements. In this case ‘ghost’ theme is very aptly named :wink: .
    24a was my favourite with runners-up spots to 16a and 6d.
    Thanks to BD in advance for his review.

    1. Since you can’t solve the puzzle without knowledge of the theme, calling it a “ghost” theme would be to wildly misuse the term. That Chalicea doesn’t understand the term and announces themes in advance, thus rendering what could have been a ghost theme visible is not my fault, but she’s clearly been successful at getting people here to use the term wrongly too.

      1. Guilty of deliberately misusing the term – but I surely spotted 5 ghosts, and maybe even felt the presence of one of them when visiting Canterbury Cathedral… :eek:

        Apologies if I inadvertently stirred up a hornet’s nest :rose:

  19. Perfect fare for a lazy Sunday morning although I need BD’s review to fully parse 8 of my answers. Thanks to Alchemi & to BD.

  20. Hadn’t realised that you’d published the review, BD, so a rather tardy thank you for all the information that you gave. I’ve been trying to decide which castle you showed as the illustration for 26a – thought it might have been in Aquitaine but couldn’t pin it down. 3d certainly threw me a little as I’m more familiar with a different spelling but it all ‘came good’ in the end.

    Many thanks to you and again to Alchemi for a most interesting NTSPP.

    1. Arundel Castle – from Wikipedia “In 1139 the Empress 17d was invited to stay at Arundel during her travels to press her claim to the English throne upon King 20d. The apartments constructed to accommodate her and her entourage survive to this day.”

      1. Thank you, BD, no wonder I couldn’t find it amongst the castles of Aquitaine!
        All in all, this NTSPP has been a good history lesson for those of us whose ‘O’ & ‘A’ level history dealt with rather different periods.

  21. My knowledge of history is a bit sketchy in places but I was OK with the themed entries here. In fact I can add a rider to the comment about 17dn in that the queen consort of 20dn also had that name, and it avoids confusion to refer to 17dn by her alternative name of Maud.
    An enjoyable solve, As well as the themed entries I liked 26ac, 3dn and 6dn.
    Thanks, Alchemi for the challenge, and BD for the appropriately illustrated review.

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