NTSPP 690 – 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.


It has been a couple of months since Alchemi last provided our Saturday lunchtime entertainment. This was a perfect NTSPP, although one where more time was spent remembering how to spell the names of some of the 26 than solving the relevant clues


1a European ski-run gloomy, could be concern of 26 (12)
EPISTEMOLOGY: The Theory of Knowledge. The abbreviation for European, a ski-run and an anagram (could be) of GLOOMY

8a Someone allowed to come there regularly after hot sex (7)
INVITEE: The regular letters of ThErE go after the 'usual' synonym for fashionable (hot) and the Roman numerals for six (sex being the Latin word for that number)

9a One of 26 puts little weight on political interpretation advanced (7)
SPINOZA: An abbreviated (little) weight goes on or after some political interpretation, the result followed with the abbreviation for Advanced. If you ever go to Amsterdam as we did back in 2018, this statue is well worth a look (and a photograph!)

11a Weak Starmer kicks out independent one of 26 (7)
THINKER: A synonym for weak and the forename of the Labour Party leader without the I (kicks out independent)

12a Mad meal swallowing children gets a reaction (7)
LUNATIC: A meal people may have eaten while solving this crossword without (swallowing) the abbreviation for children, followed by A (from the clue) and an involuntary reaction

13a Benson's partner in London sides (5)
EDGES: How a Cockney, who would omit the H, would say the partner of Benson's in the name of a cigarette brand

14a See chintz irritating one of 26 (9)
NIETZSCHE: An anagram (irritating) of SEE CHINTZ

16a Speed user's turn to succeed as replacement (9)
SUPERSEDE: An anagram (turn) of SPEED USER

19a One of 26, say, blocking gas line (5)
HEGEL: The abbreviation meaning for example (say) 'blocking' or going between the chemical symbol for a type of gas and the abbreviation for line

21a Passed electronic circuits, extremely excited (7)
ELAPSED: The abbreviation for electronic, some circuits and the extreme letters of ExciteD

23a Funny American engaging in activity for 26 (7)
AMUSING: The abbreviation for American and what a 26 might be doing

24a Second left-wing academic rejected by yes-men (7)
NODDERS: A reversal (rejected) of the abbreviation for second, the colour associated with things left-wing and an academic

25a They can get away at any time, bypassing commercial security at first (7)
EVADERS: An adverb meaning at all times going round (bypassing) an abbreviated commercial, the result followed by the first letter of Security

26a Massage helps his poor theorists (12)
PHILOSOPHERS: An anagram (massage) of HELPS HIS POOR


1d Begrudging nurse being in competition (7)
ENVYING: An Enrolled Nurse and a way of saying 'being in competition'

2d Valves from successive school years (7)
INTAKES: Valves in an internal combustion engine or new pupils in a school

3d Recent hip replacement a Machiavellian work (3,6)
THE PRINCE: An anagram (replacement) of RECENT HIP

4d Troublesome hold-up for wine (5)
MOSEL: Hidden in reverse (up) in troubLESOMe

5d Garland neutral in the business of one of 26 (7)
LEIBNIZ: A garland of flowers and the abbreviation for Neutral inserted into a slang term for business

6d School of 26 rejecting big-selling single about to be No 1 (7)
GNOSTIC: A reversal (rejecting) of a big-selling single record where the first letter (No 1) changes to the Latin abbreviation for about

7d One of 26 newts get in it to circulate (12)
WITTGENSTEIN: An anagram (to circulate) of NEWTS GET IN IT

10d American digger breaks oligarch's toe (12)
ARCHEOLOGIST: An anagram (breaks) of OLIGARCHS TOE produces the American spelling of a person digging up ancient remains

15d Say setter invents mascara? (3,4-2)
EYE MAKE-UP: A homophone (say) of how our setter might say he invents

17d Hope drug-free lady can become model material (4-3)
PLAY-DOH: Remove the E (drug-free) from hope – an anagram of HOP and LADY will then produce the solution

18d One of 26 said to steal cattle (7)
RUSSELL: A homophone (said) of a verb meaning to steal cattle

19d Transporting proceeds of raid takes a long time (7)
HAULAGE: The proceeds of a raid followed by a long time

20d In general stores, newspaper for old trainspotters (7)
GRICERS: Replace the O (old) in some sellers of goods and household supplies, with the single letter that is the name of a newspaper. This clue was the last to get solved but the word eventually made its way from the deep recesses of my memory to the front, followed by the usual remark from Mr CS "How on earth do you know that?" My response being, as usual, that I must have read it somewhere and retained the word as it was 'unusual'

22d Acts about small amounts of medicine (5)
DOSES: Part of a verb meaning acts goes 'about' the abbreviation for Small

15 comments on “NTSPP 690

  1. A very enjoyable accompaniment to an early lunch – thanks to Alchemi.
    I surprised myself by knowing all the themed entries but I needed Mrs Bradford’s assistance for the old trainspotters.
    The clues I liked best were 8a, 19a and 6d.

  2. 26a are not my specialist subject at all, so I would have struggled to complete this without some electronic aid.
    A remarkable achievement to get no fewer than 12 themed clues into the puzzle – good work!
    I also did not know the old trainspotters.
    Good fun. Many thanks, Alchemi.

  3. Alchemi in a very philosophical frame of mind which even I managed to detect!

    I hadn’t heard of 20d even though I used to be one but fairly clued.

    Smiles for 11a, 21a, 25a, 15d, and 19d.

    Thanks Alchemi and thanks in advance to CS.

  4. This proved to be an interesting challenge. I was pleased to know all the themed entries, but 20d was a new (old) word for me.

    I can’t fully parse either 8a or 6d but I’m happy with my answers.

    Many thanks to Alchemi and in advance to CS.

    1. The sex in 8a is a number once used in Rome.
      6d is a big-selling single (3,4) with the first letter changed to ‘about’ – then all reversed.

  5. Needed some assistance to nail all the 26a’s and yet my top three came from their ranks – 11&19a plus 18d. 20d took a fair bit of research, hadn’t heard of that one before today.

    Thanks for a ‘different’ NTSPP, Alchemi.

  6. Thanks all. By the way, the definition for 20d is simply “trainspotters” – the “old” is wordplay.

  7. What a treat to sit outside in warm sunshine solving this crossword – and Alchemi has also served up a treat with this puzzle. I solved 26a first and was dismayed at the prospect of identifying the individuals, however it turned out that I did know them all – albeit I had to be careful with some of the spelling! I enjoyed 11a and 23a being lateral to the theme, with 12a and 17d being my other favourites. The clever wordplay for 6d took a bit of head-scratching to resolve and 20d needed dictionary confirmation. I didn’t know the Machiavelli work, but the anagram was straightforward.
    Thank you Alchemi and my thanks, in advance, to CS.

    1. I agree on the spellings of some of the 26as – 14a for example, how can a name have 5 consonants in a row and still be pronounceable?

  8. We started off without a great deal of hope and then surprised ourselves that we did know so many of the themed answers and happily worked through the grid in reasonable time although we did need to check the trainspotters.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  9. Many thanks for the review, CS. Reckon I’ll still have trouble spelling the names of some of those gentlemen but it was quite fun attempting it!

  10. Thanks for the review, CS. I think if Popeye had been one of the philosophers in the grid I would felt pretty confident about the spelling…

    Mmm, now was it Popeye or Descartes who said, “I think, therefore I am what I am, and that’s all that I am”…?

  11. An enjoyable solve as the theme soon became apparent – 18dn helped with that. The only holdup was checking the spelling of 14ac. Thanks, Alchemi and CS.

  12. Very late to the crossword but thoroughly enjoyed – with electronic aid. I didn’t know 20d and couldn’t parse 8a until I read CS’s review. Many thanks.

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