NTSPP 678 – 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.

An enjoyable lunchtime diversion from Alchemi, with a nice theme related to the works of 24/25/17. I don’t know whether you’d call it an ear worm and/or what it says about my memory skills, but, as I solved the crossword and typed the review, I found myself reciting great swathes of both 5/30 and 10/19, both of which we studied for English Literature exams back in the 1960s


1a Film 10 going around elevating people (4-3)
LIFT-MEN: An anagram (going around) of FILM and 10 written as a word

5a & 30. American intern spoils subject for 24/25/17 (7)

9a Keen and clever, receiving nothing unnecessary (9)
AVOIDABLE: Synonyms for keen and clever, the former receiving the letter representing nothing

10a & 19. Mongol leader last to break bank haul up (5)
KUBLA KHAN: The last letter of breaK and an anagram (up) of BANK HAUL

11a Regularly assist as giant joins meeting (4,2)
SITS IN: The regular letters of aSsIsT as gIaNt

12a Song openings of popular kind coming back (6)
INTROS: The usual two-letter popular and a reversal (coming back) of a kind or variety

15a Sailor keeps craving singles cuts (10)
AITCHBONES: An abbreviation for sailor into which is inserted (keeps) a craving, the result followed by singles

16a Jewellery conversation overheard (4)
TORC: A homophone (overheard) of a conversation

19a see 10 (4)

21a Son of God and son of Adam about whom 24/25/17 wrote (10)
CHRISTABEL: The Son of God and one of the sons of Adam

24a & 25 & 17d. Royal amulets junked by old king to free up, say, a poet (6)
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE: An anagram (junked) of ROYAL AMULETS followed by the name of an old nursery rhyme king, a verb meaning to free and a reversal (up) of the abbreviation meaning say, for example

28a As grammar school head does steps (5)
RUNGS: A way of saying what a grammar school head does – xxxx xx

29a Stretched broken leg and toe (9)
ELONGATED: An anagram (broken) of LEG AND TOE

30a See 5 (7)

31a Time to study the French foot control (7)
TREADLE: The abbreviation for time, a verb meaning to study and the French definite article


1d Moneylender has no trouble punching singer (4,5)
LOAN SHARK: An anagram (trouble) of HAS NO inserted into (punching) a bird famed for its singing

2d & 3. TV personality once on late in dark, cold work of 24/25/17 (5,2)
FROST AT MIDNIGHT: A TV personality known for his satirical programmes in the 1960s (hence the once), a preposition meaning on and a time of day when it would be both late and dark

3d See 2 (8)

4d Small trash-can turned over – his is supposedly important (4)
NIBS: A reversal (turned over) of the abbreviation for small and a trash-can

5d Astonished? One day! (4)
AWED: A (one) and an abbreviated day of the week

6d Sort of coal for roasting, perhaps with less oxygen (6)
COKING: A method of heating food (roasting perhaps) without (less) one of the chemical symbols for oxygen

7d Without a degree, therefore ban (7)
EMBARGO: A Latin word meaning therefore goes outside (without) a business degree

8d Carriers go off course moving south (5)
TRAYS: A verb meaning to go off course where the abbreviation for south moves to the end of the word

13d Fliers I’m not sure will leave parents (5)
MOTHS: Remove the interjection expressing hesitation (I’m not sure … will leave) some female parents

14d Extremely risible, soldiers in Bognor? (5)
REGIS: The extreme letters of RisiblE and some American soldiers usually combined with Bognor to give the name of a seaside resort in West Sussex

17d See 24a (9)

18d Terror ends in street-corner murder (8)
STRANGLE: The ‘end’ of terror inserted between the abbreviation for street and a corner

20d Old hospital worker ran mole off (7)
ALMONER: An anagram (off) of RAN MOLE

22d Dead, having apparently retired behind schedule (7)
BELATED: A synonym for deceased inserted into the place you retire to at the end of the day

23d Class not as busy having this (6)
LESSON: Splitting the solution 4,2 would describe a way of being not as busy

24d Rugby players right to stop nasty stuff floating around (5)
SCRUM: Some nasty stuff floating on the surface going around (to stop) the abbreviation for right

26d Stand mendicant losing horse (4)
BEAR: A person asking for money (mendicant) losing the letters in the middle which sound like the word a small child would call a horse

27d Disease beginning to get caught? (4)
GOUT: The letter at the beginning of Get and a word meaning caught in cricket

14 comments on “NTSPP 678

  1. A very enjoyable lunchtime treat with a nice theme – thanks to Alchemi.
    I didn’t know one element of the theme (the 2/3d clue) or the 15a cuts so I had to verify both of those.
    My ticks went to 4d, 8d, 22d and 27d.

  2. As Gazza says, this was a very enjoyable lunchtime treat. I found it less challenging than usual for an Alchemi puzzle, helped enormously by second hand knowledge as my son is something of an expert on 24/25/17’s life and works and I could identify him instantly from “a poet (6,6,9)”.

    I assume I must be misparsing 18d as I have ended up with an extra T by putting TR in ST ANGLE.

    Lots of great clues here and my favourite against stiff competition is 22d.

    Many thanks to Alchemi and in advance to CS.

    1. I meant to add that 24/25/17 was very unhealthy throughout his life and was regularly treated with laudanum which led to him becoming addicted to opium. He frequently complained of suffering from 27d, although it is not known if this was real or imagined, so perhaps 27d is part of the theme?

      1. Not deliberately.

        One of the minor pleasures of setting themed puzzles is discovering what else I’ve inadvertently included which is vaguely relevant. With something like this one, I’m just chucking in as many titles as will fit and can be clued reasonably sensibly while making sure the remaining entries aren’t obscurities.

  3. Thanks Alchemi – thankfully not too much of a head scratcher as we also have a Q/MPP today.

    I have to admit that, apart from the obvious one, I am unfamiliar with the works of 24a/25a/17d so an e-search of his ‘catalogue’ was required for some of them. 15a was also a mystery to me.

    Plenty of smiles – 12a, 8d, 23d, 26d, and 13d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to CS.

    Now, can I solve the Prolixic Q/MPP while watching the first Six Nations game?

  4. There were two of the works I needed to check on but fortunately I did know the 15a cuts which came in useful.
    31a made me smile, I remember mum having a sewing machine that had been converted from a model operated by same.
    Top three here were 4,8&22d.

    Thanks to Alchemi for an interesting NTSPP.

  5. Most enjoyable, possibly because I got the gateway clue fairly quickly from the enumeration. I thought I might have to look up some of the poet’s works but that wasn’t necessary as they were easily got from the wordplay. Interesting, though, that the one work of his that most people have heard of (even if they don’t know it) wasn’t clued with reference to him.
    Thanks, Alchemi and in advance to CS.

  6. Thanks Sue and all.

    I too did STC as one of my A-level set books.

    exit noticed that I didn’t clue the poem about Xanadu with reference to the theme: that’s because I could – the other ones referenced have no other significance worth exploiting. (“Lesser-known suffragette Pankhurst” as a definition, anyone?) Furthermore, it’s very difficult to come up with a clue which allows you to make at least a decent guess from the wordplay (anagrams don’t meet that standard in my view) without a non-theme definition. I don’t particularly want people to need to look things up to solve the puzzle; if they want to go and confirm that their parsing of what I hope is pretty clear wordplay has led to the correct solution, that’s people extending their knowledge after the fact and arms them for another puzzle in 7 years time by someone completely different.

  7. Did this Sunday afternoon having finished the cryptic and watched the Italy-France match.

    Tricky puzzle but enjoyable.
    2.5*/3.5* for me

    I too was not up to scratch with the works of 24a/25a/17d so used Mr G to help me out.
    Liked 5/30a, 11a, 21a & 2d …with winner 2d

    Thanks for the head scratching puzzle and education, Alchemi

  8. A busy weekend kept me away from crosswordland, but it was worth the wait to enjoy this delightful puzzle from Alchemi. The theme was quickly apparent and the two titles I was unfamiliar with were very accessible from wordplay. I have since read Christabel and a sinister poem it is too. It’s a shame the last verses were never completed to see what Geraldine (rhymes with line) was up to! In addition to the themed clues my favourites were 1d, 5d and 8d.
    Thanks to Alchemi and CS.

  9. Just back from holiday and really enjoyed this crossword. We needed to check on a couple of the works and the meat cuts but all gettable from the excellent clues. Many thanks, Alchemi.
    Now to catch up on the other Rookies and NTSPPs we’ve missed – for which many thanks to BD’s site.

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