NTSPP 613 – 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.

A review of this puzzle by Big Dave follows:

I hadn’t spotted it until pointed out by the setter, but answers to the nine clues highlighted in blue below are all plays by Samuel Beckett.  I’m sure I am not the only one who only knows the title of one of Beckett’s plays, although in my case I have actually seen this play on stage, with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson in the main roles.


1a Animal remains left back inside after the fourth disaster (11)
CATASTROPHE: a feline animal is followed by some remains which are around the reversal (back) of a nautical word for left then finally the fourth letter of aftEr

7a Somewhat debatable vampire? (3)
BAT: hidden (somewhat) inside the clue

9a Figures is perfect for one (5)
TENSE: some numbers (figures) followed by the base of natural logarithms – perfect is one, future another!

10a Father on about space being a surprising shade (4,5)
PALE GREEN: the two-letter word for father is followed by the “on” side in cricket and two-letter words for about and a printer’s space – “surprising” because space itself is usually seen as black!

11a Dwarf finally found, say, ruining good time (5,4)
HAPPY DAYS: one of the seven dwarves followed by the final letter of [foun]D and an anagram (ruining) of SAY

12a Carnivore consumed food held in both hands (5)
RATEL: a three-letter verb meaning consumed food inside both “hands”

13a Necessary to end fuel problem (7)
NEEDFUL: an anagram (problem) of END FUEL

15a Make music quietly to produce eggs (4)
PLAY: the musical notation for quietly followed by the verb meaning to produce eggs

18a Writer denying responsibility for putting it on backwards (3,1)
NOT I: the reversal (backwards) of IT ON

20a In the latter stages, 15 aged men (7)
ENDGAME: anagram (answer to 15 across) of AGED MEN

23a Design reflected by suitable chant (5)
MOTIF: the reversal (reflected) of a word meaning suitable and a two-letter chant

24a Company intend false god to appear occasionally (4,3,2)
COME AND GO: CO(mpany) followed by a word meaning to intend and an anagram (false) of GOD

26a Draws level and sees quail flying around (9)
EQUALISES: an anagram (flying around) of SEES QUAIL

27a It’s cold-blooded to reverse sanction against Cuba, for example (5)
GECKO: the reversal (reverse) of all of a two-letter word meaning to sanction or approve, the IVR code for Cuba and a two-letter abbreviated form of the Latin phrase meaning for example

28a At first, some are glad to decline (3)
SAG: the initial letters (at first) of three words in the clue

29a Group of artists airs results confusingly (11)
SURREALISTS: an anagram (confusingly) of AIRS RESULTS


1d Picking up netting (8)
CATCHING: two definitions

2d Monet and Poe composed piece of music (4,4)
TONE POEM: an anagram (composed) of MONET and POE

3d Shabby recording listened to (5)
SEEDY: sounds like a two-letter abbreviation for a recording format

4d Artist playing a harp well when naked (7)
RAPHAEL: an anagram (playing) of A HARP followed by the inner letters (naked) of [w]EL[l]

5d Gathers some among leadership use lipstick all over (5,2)
PILES UP: hidden (some among) and reversed (all over) inside the clue

6d Put flowers round a river in the country (9)
ENGARLAND: the A from the clue and R(iver) inside a country

7d Whisper about getting into tub (6)
BREATH: the two-letter word2 for about (also seen in 10 Across) inside a tub

8d Piquancy the French mess up (6)
TANGLE: a word meaning piquancy followed by the French definite article

14d Number of potential customers to pay for drops (9)
FOOTFALLS: a word meaning to pay a bill, typically in a restaurant) followed by a verb meaning drops

16d Fish owned ships here (8)
HADDOCKS: a word meaning owned followed by places where ships can be found

17d As COBRA is very, very big, Raab’s first to be kicked out (8)
VENOMOUS: V{ery) followed by an adjective meaning very big from which the initial letter (first) of R[aab] has been dropped (kicked out)

19d Sharp one exchanges coins in Ireland (7)
INCISOR: an anagram (exchanges) of COINS inside an abbreviation of IR(eland)

20d Wholesale phone network introduces new service (2,5)
EN MASSE: a two-letter mobile phone network around (introduces) N(ew) and a church service

21d Leaderless parliamentarians that glow in the dark (6)
EMBERS: those who make up Parliament without their initial letter (leaderless)

22d In a line, like a guitar? (6)
STRUNG: two definitions

25d Language‘s energy is an inspiration for everybody (5)
ALGOL: this computer language is derived by putting a two-letter word meaning energy inside (an inspiration for) a word meaning everybody

21 comments on “NTSPP 613

  1. Quite a crowded podium here with places claimed by 15&24a along with 3,4,7&21d.
    A most enjoyable NTSPP – many thanks, Alchemi.

  2. Nice and straightforward – no need for any reveals though some took a bit of figuring out. Thanks, Alchemi

  3. Enjoyed this puzzle in between the overs of the T20. Thanks, Alchemi, for pitching this just nicely so that I could nudge and nurdle my way through. Somewhat of a sterner challenge is perhaps now faced by England’s batsmen…? My favourites today were 11a, 3d and 17d.

  4. Very enjoyable with the degree of difficulty being spot on for me, giving some nice PDMs.
    I liked 11a but I think the definition would work better as good timeS plural.
    My podium consists of the very clever 10a along with 14&17d with a nod to the homophone at 3d and the lizard at 27a.
    Many thanks Alchemi, great stuff.

  5. Many thanks Alchemi, lots of fun. Favourite 17d. Also liked 1a, the “after the fourth” construction is interesting – it works for me but not something I recall seeing before. (Perhaps I’ve parsed it incorrectly though! I may also be being thick here but … why is the shade in 10a surprising?)
    Thanks again Alchemi, and also in advance to reviewer (CS?)

    1. Space doesn’t look that colour in all those Star Trek documentaries, so I found it surprising.

  6. This was great fun and a huge relief after last weekend’s impenetrable NTSPP. Like Fez I was surprised that 10a was a surprising shade but Alchemi’s inventive explanation made me laugh.

    Doubtless I am wrong, but I didn’t think that an anagram indicator like “ruining” in 11a could be put after the fodder?

    My page is covered in ticks so I won’t even try to pick a single favourite or even a podium choice.

    Many thanks to Alchemi and in advance to CS.

    1. re 11a, BRB has “to ruin” as intransitive (although noted as archaic) so I think this form is OK?

  7. Breezed through this until 27a & 25d. Couldn’t get the wordplay or think of the cold blooded critter until I lost patience & revealed the G checker & all was clear. 27d is a bung in – I suppose they’re inspirational is as far as I can get.
    I really enjoyed the puzzle & found parsing the answers more difficult than filling them in. Numerous big ticks from me – 1,10,11&24a plus 3,4,16&17d.
    Thanks Alchemi

      1. Takes me back to my unversity days, coding forms, punch cards and paper tape! The alternative language we had there was Fortran and, after university, the latter was so omnipresent that I never used 25d again. At long last this aspect of my education has come in useful once more…!

  8. Most enjoyable – thanks Alchemi. Last ones in were 25down & 27 across which came to me while showering! Just had a call from my son to tell me that our fifth grandchild, due in April, will be a girl.

  9. Many thanks to BD for the review and apologies to Alchemi for my being completely oblivious to the theme!

  10. Many thanks for review BD and thanks again to Alchemi for a terrific puzzle. The theme was way beyond me, sorry Alchemi – even if Godot had been in there I wouldn’t have known the others – but very nicely done!

  11. I wouldn’t have sussed out such a theme in a month of Sundays (or Saturdays in this case). Thanks, BD, for the review and enlightenment, but I confess to being a philistine in the context of Mr Becket. Sorry, Alchemi, the theme went well over my head – but a very enjoyable puzzle nevertheless!

  12. Got to this very late, 24 hours to be precise.

    Quite enjoyable for a solve at a steady plod.

    Theme? What theme? Passed me by completely.

    Thanks to Alchemi and BD.

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