NTSPP 653 – 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.

Alchemi provides a crossword themed around the 11a family for our Saturday afternoon entertainment. Watch out though as there’s a very sneaky definition in the mix


1 Dig towards enemy tunnels to enumerate 11 (11)
COUNTERMINE A verb meaning to enumerate and a member of the 11a family

7 Caught winning trophy (3)
CUP The abbreviation for caught and a synonym for winning

9 River current rises (5)
RAMPS The abbreviation for River and some abbreviated units of electrical current

10 19th century reformer working for hours as a swindler (3,6)
CON ARTIST Change the H in the name of a 19th century reform movement campaigning for the extension of political power to the working classes, to an adverb meaning working and then split the result 3,6

11 Animals have to slide around (9)
MUSTELIDS Another way saying ‘have to’ and an anagram (around) of SLIDE.  I had heard of the genus but Alchemi provides a very fair clue for those who hadn’t

12 Book in trade for one of 11 (5)
SABLE The abbreviation for book inserted into a trade

13 Makes Australian visiting island sick at first (7)
CREATES The abbreviation for Australian ‘visiting’ a Mediterranean island, the first letter of Sick being added at the end

15 Origin of heartless automaton (4)
ROOT Remove the heart from an automaton

18 Capital loses fourth one of 11 (4)
MINK Remove the fourth letter from the capital of Belarus

20 11 from North London to push organised resistance (7)
HOTSPUR This 11 isn’t anything to do with 11a, it is a team of eleven players from North London! An anagram (organised) of TO PUSH followed by the abbreviation for Resistance

23 Country to get more guns changing hands (5)
REALM Changing hands indicates the need to change the R in a verb meaning to get more guns to an L

24 Drowning in drink, you don’t start one of 11 (9)
WOLVERINE Insert into some alcoholic drink (drowning) what we are when we do a crossword without the first letter (don’t start)

26 Constituent for Cabinet? Surprisingly, 2 said no (9)
SATINWOOD An anagram (surprisingly) of TWO SAID NO

27 Test line for a singing sound (5)
TRILL Replace the A in a test with the abbreviation for Line

28 Notes about American bread (3)
NAN Two abbreviations for Note go ‘about’ the abbreviation for American

29 Excited boy had green one of 11 (5,6)
HONEY BADGER An anagram (excited) of BOY HAD GREEN


1 8 products scarce – I’m sorry (8)
CERAMICS Products made by an 8d – an anagram (sorry) of SCARCE IM

2 Many questioned after large body exposed (8)
UNMASKED The abbreviation for a large international organization, the abbreviation for Million (many) and another way of saying questioned

3 Discrimination evident as team shrinks (5)
TASTE Hidden in evidenT AS TEam

4 Starts back and tidies rope up (7)
RECOILS With a hyphen, this solution would mean tidies rope up

5 One making charges brings form of cannabis up to satellite (7)
IONISER A reversal (up) of a form of cannabis follows a satellite of Jupiter

6 Cash left channel (9)
EUROSPORT Some cash and the left side of, for example, a ship

7 What centipedes ought to have increases (6)
CLIMBS The Roman numeral for 100 and the parts of the body a centipede supposedly has 100 of

8 Do very little to put pressure on one of 11 (6)
POTTER The abbreviation for Pressure and a member of the 11 family

14 A couple of short articles about Simon Rattle in the current issue? (4,5)
THIS MONTH Truncate (short) two definite articles and put them ‘about’ an anagram (rattle) of SIMON

16 Ruining special lubrication (8)
SPOILING The abbreviation for special and a synonym for lubrication

17 Vineyard magazine reporters essentially more savage (8)
CRUELLER A French word for a vineyard, a magazine and the essential letter of repoRters

19 End fight with diver in Hong Kong area (7)
KOWLOON The abbreviation for something that would end a fight, the abbreviation for With and another name for a member of a family of diving birds

20 Cyclist hides hat originally acquired for vacation (7)
HOLIDAY A famous cyclist ‘hides’ an informal term for a hat and the original letter of Acquired

21 King George rides one of 11 (6)
GRISON The regnal cipher of a king called George and a two-word phrase meaning rides

22 One of 11 people taking pictures (6)
MARTEN Insert some pictures into a synonym for people

25 More sex trafficking claims (5)
EXTRA Hidden in (claims) sEX TRAfficking


11 comments on “NTSPP 653
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  1. We are aware that there is an error in the on-line solution to 22d

    This will hopefully be corrected when it is morning where Mr K lives

  2. Very enjoyable with a clever theme – thanks Alchemi.
    I actually got most of the 11a references before getting 11a itself because 11a is not a word I knew.
    I ticked 1a, 10a and 19d but my favourite (for the misleading ’11’) was 20a.

  3. Caffeine most definitely required!

    7a and 28a went in very early, but zero help with the theme, and then the big breakthrough came with solving 29a and using e-help to get 11a which was a term I had never heard of.

    Smiles for 10a, the very well misdirected 20a, and 19d.

    Thanks Alchemi and thanks in advance to CS.

  4. Having got 11a under my belt (yes, I did know it!) I really thought I was going to breeze through this one – should have had more sense given who had set it! Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable challenge with just the ‘sporty’ clues holding me up along with the vineyard.
    Not sure about a favourite but maybe it was 24a.

    Many thanks to Alchemi – I’ll look forward to checking my parsing when we get the review.

  5. Hi all.

    The genesis of this puzzle was an attempt to clue “WEASEL” as “rodent”, checking, and finding it’s not a rodent but the much less common word 11. Most of the specimens in the grid are pretty well-known, and most of us know that most of them are at least cousins, even if we just call them “weasels and stuff” rather than use the technical term. So I thought it would be fun to collect some.

  6. Many thanks Alchemi, a super puzzle with a super theme – enjoyed your origins story :-) Great throughout but favourite maybe 20a – partly for the wonderful.misdirection of the 11, and partly as a THFC fan!

  7. Very glad I didn’t attempt this sitting in the sunshine as I would be burnt to a crisp! I got the gist of the theme early on, but refrained from looking up lists to see how I might fare on my own. I did have to check 11a and 21d in the dictionary, though, as they were not familiar to me. I had three other quite reasonable answers for 4d before I lit on the best/correct one – which then led me to 10a and 11a. 10a/6d were my last ones to parse which both provided satisfying penny-drop moments. Ticks went to 10a, 23a, 26a, 5d & 7d. The thematic elements were all very enjoyable, but my double tick of the day went to the very misleading 20a!!

    Great fun, Alchemi, thank you!

  8. I guessed that our reviewer would bring us some delightful illustrations today and she didn’t disappoint – many thanks, CS.
    Also, thanks again to Alchemi for an enjoyable NTSPP.

  9. So that’s what a 21d looks like! Thanks, CS! Nice touch to include the 20a logo with the other ’11’ illustrations :smile:
    Didn’t I once read somewhere that BD is a 20a fan? Wrong team if you ask me, but as my Dad used to say, “There’s nowt so queer as folk” :wink: Anyway, if so, I hope this puzzle has provided some cheer – as would a win later today at Chelsea, no doubt! Best wishes to you, BD.

  10. Seeing all the references to 11 in the other clues I thought ‘oho’ and went for 11 first of all. Well, I knew the two most common members of the family, but wasn’t sure what the others were, so a spot of googling produced a list which was quite an education in itself as I didn’t know half of them were in that family. Anyway that helped me to solve in rerasonable time instead of making it a gruelling marathon – and I did manage to spot the misdirection of the ‘other’ 11. An enjoyable solve although one or two parsings escaped me, notably 10ac. Thanks, Alchemi and CS.

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