NTSPP 637 – 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:

This time Alchemi gives us an NTSPP that makes ambiguous use of the number 4.


1a Look good, Pierce! (6)
GLANCE: G(ood) followed by a word meaning to pierce

4a Book producer has 15 days inventory (8)
NOVELIST: follow the first half of a 30-day month with an inventory

10a Film 4 thanks director (7)
AMISTAD: the surname shared by Kingsley and his son Martin, both of them 4 Acrosses, is followed by a brief word of thanks and D(irector)

11a Comparatively pointless hat covered in ermine? (7)
FUTILER: a word for a hat, these days only used in crosswords, inside a word that could describe the outer coat of a stoat

12a Driving on unpaved roads initially grim (4)
DOUR: the initial letters of four words in the clue

13a Tied house 4s? (10)
BOUNDARIES: a word meaning tied or secured followed by the first house of the Zodiac- 4s are shots in cricket that score four runs

16a Maybe 4 emptying gold-plated trash (6)
AUTHOR: put the chemical symbol for gold and the heraldic term for gold around TrasH (gold-plated), then drop (emptying) the middle 3 letters to get someone who may be a 4 Across

17a City servant backing 4 (3,4)
TEL AVIV: a male servant who attends to a gentleman’s clothes, dressing, grooming, etc. reversed (backing) followed by the Roman numerals for 4

20a 4 not beginning to eat tart (7)
TROLLOP: start with Anthony, a 19th century 4 Across, and drop the initial letter of E[at]

21a More certain to be king with money in sack (6)
FIRMER: the Latin abbreviation for king preceded by M(oney) inside a verb meaning to sack

24a Screen fuzzy, ie 4 (10)
TELEVISION: an anagram (fuzzy) of IE with the answer to 4 Across

25a Pickles, possibly from America (4)
ERIC: the first name of Pickles, a former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, is hidden (possibly from) inside the clue

27a Mundane instrument Henry let me see earlier (7)
HUMDRUM: a percussion instrument preceded by (earlier) H(enry) and a two-letter word meaning let me see

29a Florist with rings in odd places to get sherry (7)
OLOROSO: start with fLoRiSt and replace its odd letters with Os (rings)

30a Wild pigs done giving testimony (8)
DEPOSING: an anagram (wild) of PIGS DONE

31a Fairly cheeky to include fruit (6)
LYCHEE: hidden (to include) inside the clue


1d A drug in a rolling paper (8)
GUARDIAN: anagram (ROLLING) of A DRUG IN A – crumpled might have been a better anagram indicator

2d Hearing about sanctimonious unorthodox system of beekeeping (11)
APICULTURAL: an adjective meaning of the ear around a two-letter adjective meaning sanctimonious and an adjective meaning unorthodox

3d See 26 Down

5d Crimes to do with barriers (8)
OFFENCES: split as (2,6) to do with barriers

6d Auntie has a shocking service from Dignitas (10)
EUTHANASIA: an anagram (shocking) of AUNTIE HAS A – Dignitas is a Swiss non-profit members’ society providing assisted/accompanied suicide to those members of the organization who suffer from terminal illness and/or severe physical and/or mental illnesses

7d A little armadillo is sick (3)
ILL: hidden (a little) inside the clue

8d Rely on conserving hydrogen power (6)
THRUST: a verb meaning to rely on around (conserving) the chemical symbol for hydrogen

9d Pour in white wine, say, for the moment (2,3)
AD HOC: sounds like (say) to pour in some white Rhine wine

14d 4 sent up fish strange teacher caught in Hawai’i (4,7)
IRIS MURDOCH: a three-letter fish, an adjective meaning strange and a male teacher inside the abbreviation for Hawai’I, all reversed (sent up) gives an Dublin-born female 4 Across

15d Drives TV ref to stop chaotic doubles (10)
BOULEVARDS: the TV referee that checks for offences in the build-up to goals inside an anagram (chaotic) of DOUBLES

18d Time you finally leave seed for apocalyptic 4 (8)
HORSEMEN: a period of time without the final letter of [yo]U followed by some sperm (seed) gives these four “riders” of the Apocalypse who first appeared in the OT Book of Zechariah

19d 4 oddly creates new form of sugar (8)
FRUCTOSE: an anagram (new) of FOUR with the odd letters of CrEaTeS

22d Abandoned Democrat leaving irritated (6)
ITCHED: drop the D(emocrat) from a word meaning abandoned

23d Russian 4 sort of dancing on line (5)
GOGOL: this Russian 4 Across is derived from a type of erotic dancing (2-2) followed by L(ine)

26d/3d Stay over after environmental gathering to restrain Conservative imitators (8)
COPYCATS: the reversal of STAY follows an environmental gathering, like the recent one in Glasgow, and goes round (to restrain) C(onservative)

28d Cleaner politician receiving nothing (3)
MOP: a politician around (receiving O (nothing)

12 comments on “NTSPP 637

  1. Great fun – thanks Alchemi.
    The various ways in which 4 was used was excellent and led to several penny-drop moments.
    I’ll just commend 4 (see what I did?) of my ticked clues: 13a, 17a, 27a and 18d.

  2. Many thanks Alchemi, top stuff. Enjoyed the various uses of 4, most of which caught me out in one way or another. Great clues throughout so any could make podium, but I’ll mention 1d for the surface, 29a for the wordplay and 13a for the PDM. Thanks again!

  3. Thanks Alchemi. As Fez and Gazza say, great and so many uses of 4. I give special mention to 19d. Most enjoyable.

  4. Hard work but well worth the effort as lots of very clever clues. The number of times I thought “Must be someone I’ve never heard of”, and then discovered I was on the wrong path. Much appreciated.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  5. A few guesses and recourse to reference books along the way but eventually crossed the finish line.
    Can’t fault Gaza’s 4 picks for the podium.

    Thanks to Alchemi for a rather different NTSPP.

  6. Thanks all. What actually prompted this puzzle was seeing a different clue for BOUNDARIES in someone else’s puzzle, thinking I’d clue it differently, and then realising I had a whole puzzle if I could think of a useful word to put in a 4 across or down.

  7. Many thanks for review BD. I thought “rolling” in 1d gave the perfect surface, but maybe that’s a reflection on a misspent youth.

    1. Given how I’ve just self-medicated, “crumpled” would be nowhere near as appropriate.

  8. Tough end of the spectrum for me, but satisfying. Favourite clue 13a. Thanks to both Alchemi & BD.

  9. Thanks, Alchemi. This was an enjoyable puzzle waiting for me on my return from holiday.
    The ‘4’s were varied and fun, with 13a and 16a my favourites. Non-‘4’ favourites were 29a and 6d. I failed to get the 20a ‘4’ having pencilled in an incorrect 2d – that could be why my dictionary did not have an entry for ‘apioustrial’ :smile:
    Thanks to BD for the review and helping me to see the error of my ways!

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