NTSPP 631 – 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 by Big Dave follows:

Alchemi returns with an NTSPP that makes creative use of the answer to 21 Down.


1a Prime Minister‘s party backing down – victory! (7)
BALDWIN: the reversal (backing) of the shortened form of the name of a political party, followed by D(own) and a victory; some doubt has been cast on the validity of the abbreviation used here – although it is not supported by any of the main dictionaries (Chambers, Collins, ODE) it is supported by Chambers XWD – a Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations, which is good enough for me

5a Not ready to tear a Parisian’s clothing (6)
UNRIPE: a verb meaning to tear with the feminine French indefinite article around it (clothing)

8a 9 nurse sick sisters’ homes (9)
NUNNERIES: an anagram (sick) of NINE (9) with NURSE

9a Detective ignored theologian’s plants (5)
VINES: a theologian without (ignored) the DI (detective) and followed by the S from ‘S

11a Lobby about a method of killing (5)
HALAL: a lobby around the A from the clue gives a way of preparing meat as prescribed by Muslim law

12a Mother looked half-cut arranging accommodation (5,4)
HOTEL ROOM: an anagram (arranging) of MOTHER LOO(ked) (half-cut)

13a Perhaps disliking certain fruit, American withdraws from battle (8)
FIGHTING: possibly disliking certain fruit (3,6) without (withdraws) the A(merican)

15a Back in Cambuslang, I smash a traffic light, maybe (6)
SIGNAL: hidden (in) and reversed (back) inside the clue

17a Routine of British Army unit inspires American soldier (6)
REGIME: a British Army unit (around) inspires our usual American soldier

19a Mild expletive left inside fish (8)
DRAGONET: a four-letter mild expletive with a verb meaning left or departed inside

22a Stars round Scottish port spare no feelings (4,5)
PLAY ROUGH: a group of seven stars that form part of a constellation around a three-letter Scottish port

23a See 21 Down

24a Jesus hiccuped swallowing food (5)
SUSHI: hidden (swallowing) inside the clue

25a Nitrogen constantly increasing? Not again! (9)
NEVERMORE: the chemical symbol for Nitrogen followed by a phrase (4,4) meaning constantly increasing

26a Unexpectedly finish taking extreme liberty to arouse affection (6)
ENDEAR: a phrase (3,5) meaning to finish unexpectedly without (taking) the outer letters (extreme) of L[ibert]Y

27a Hairdresser on register of piggeries (7)
STYLIST: split as (3,4) this could be a register of piggeries


1d Some fruit cake chaps almost forget about (5,2,6)
BUNCH OF GRAPES: a kind of sweet roll or cake followed by an anagram (about) of CHAPS with most of FORGE[t]

2d Crane-fly daddy’s lost somewhere near the boundary (4,3)
LONG LEG: a popular name for a crane-fly (5,8) without DADDY from the beginning and the S from ‘S from the end

3d 21 with fish he initially swallowed (5)
WHEEL: W(ith) and a fish around (swallowed) the initial letter of H[e]

4d Horse’s expression of voting against, you say? (8)
NEIGHING: sounds like (you say) voting against

5d Firm in profit beginning to see unexpected losses (6)
UPSETS: could be a firm or group that is in profit (2,3) followed by the initial letter of (beginning to) S[ee]

6d Presumably 21’s work only occasionally stops increasing power (9)
REVOLVING: the odd letters (occasionally) of O[n]L[y] inside (stops) a verb meaning increasing power in an engine

7d Game based on 21: boat bridge (7)
PONTOON: two definitions – here 21 is a number not a clue reference

10d Some hieroglyphics imply Thebes threatened 21’s work (6,3,4)
SIMPLY THE BEST: hidden (some) inside the clue – this 21 is Tina

14d Measure encountered rising anger after the 13 21’s work (9)
TEMERAIRE: a measure of land and a verb meaning encountered reversed (rising) followed by a word meaning anger gives, with “The 13a”, the title of a famous work by J.M.W. 21 – I have been amazed at how many have not heard of this painting

16d Records are right about urticaria (8)
ARCHIVES: A(re), R(ight) and C(irca) (about) followed by another word for nettle rash (urticaria)

18d/23d 21/23a winner angry, so spills drink (7,5)
GRAYSON PERRY: an anagram (spills) of ANGRY SO followed by a drink made from pears

20d City in Iran blown up by witchcraft (7)
NAIROBI: an anagram (blown up) of IRAN followed by witchcraft practised in the West Indies

21d/23a Rerun tripe somehow acquiring last character award (6,5)
TURNER PRIZE: an anagram (somehow) of RERUN TRIPE around (acquiring) the last character in the alphabet

23d See 18 Down

18 comments on “NTSPP 631

  1. A really enjoyable puzzle with some clever uses of 21d – many thanks to Alchemi.
    Top clues for me were 13a, 2d and 7d (I presume 21 is being used in two different ways here) but my favourite was the brilliant 10d.

  2. I have to admit I don’t understand some of the references/names but enjoyable to work through
    Many thanks Alchemi

  3. Nice straightforward after-lunch solve, with interesting use of both 21d and the 21d/23a combination. Thanks Alchemi. I think I’ve parsed everything, but awaiting tomorrow’s review with interest.

  4. Got off to a flying start, even remembered the fish from its previous outing, but the unfamiliar artwork caused some grief.
    Podium places went to 1&27a plus the amusing 2d. I reckon our blogger now has a ready-made ear worm courtesy of 10d for tomorrow’s review!

    Thanks to Alchemi for the Saturday challenge.

  5. Happy to see a cricket reference immediately, then my heart sank when the artwork emerged! However, there was not too much to fear – apart from the spelling of 14d. I enjoyed working through the variants of 21d, especially 10d. 19a indeed had me fishing around until a likely construction fell into place, after which the dictionary confirmed my answer. 9a also had me puzzled for a while, as I started out by trying to remove DD from an unheard of detective! Solving 6d helped me change tack on 9a, and 6d together with 27a and 1d were my podium places of the day.

    Thank you for a fun challenge, Alchemi.

  6. An enjoyable NTSPP with the cross-referencing and non-cross-referencing, such as in 8a, easy enough to unravel.

    Standout favourite – the 10d lurker.

    Thanks Alchemi.

  7. Many thanks Alchemi, lots of fun and clever misdirection. I liked the different uses of 21 particularly the deceptive 7d and the nice lurker. Thanks also in advance to reviewer (will be interested in 1a as it uses an abbreviation I think is perfectly fair but have previously been advised against!)

  8. Happy to join the chorus of approval. Loved it from start to finish & I’m not usually a fan of linked clues. Close call between 2&10d for COTD but the lurker just gets the nod.
    Thanks Alchemi

  9. We needed to use a few references but did manage to get everything sorted. Very clever and most enjoyable.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  10. To my complete surprise, I was able to finish the puzzle, though parsing all the clues is a different story. I remember seeing the piece of art decades ago at the Tate on a school trip. Thanks, Alchemi.

  11. Got there in the end with some research needed. Thank you Alchemi, we enjoyed the challenge. Favourites were 10d, 2d, 11a and 12a. We look forward to the review to parse a couple we still don’t fully understand.

  12. Very enjoyable. Had to look up the artwork at 14d, otherwise nothing too tricky.
    Clever stuff. Thanks, Alchemi.

  13. Many thanks for the review, BD. I was certainly thrown by the use of the abbreviations in 1a & 16d but our setter obviously found justification for them so that’s fine.
    As for the piece of artwork – there’s no way it would meet my criterion of ‘would I want it hanging on my wall’ but having seen how much it sold for at auction I’d be happy enough to receive it as a gift!

    Thanks again to Alchemi for an intriguing puzzle.

  14. Many thanks for review BD – glad to see the abbreviation in 1a get the thumbs up, that’ll be a useful (re)addition to the cruciverbal armoury! And thanks again for a top puzzle Alchemi.

  15. Thanks for the review, Big Dave, and thanks again to Alchemi for Saturday’s fun. Interesting observation, perhaps, that nearly every comment in the blog uses ‘d’ as an abbreviation or shorthand for down! So, by popular acclamation… :good:

  16. Thanks all. As Spartacus points out, a = across and d = down shouldn’t need explanation in a crossword, however correct or incorrect they would be in real life.

    1. In which case ‘acclimation’ might be more appropriate than ‘acclamation’… :wink:

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