NTSPP – 256 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 256

NTSPP – 256

Swan enclosure by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

If you’ve solved one of Chalicea’s earlier puzzles then you will know what to expect – if not then you are in for a treat.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Chalicea with a themed crossword.  The title (a double definition) clue gives the missing word (PEN) that is omitted from 14 of the clues.  A copy of the completed grid with the theme words highlighted is at the end of this review.

Fortunately, I spotted the theme word straightaway from the title of the crossword so completing the crossword was relatively straightforward but I had to verify some of the more unusual Spenserian and dialect / archaic words when completing the review.


1 Move stealthily back for lager (4)
PILS – Reverse (back) a word meaning move stealthily.

3 A spoiled alternative brought in as a digression (8)
EPISODAL – An anagram (alternative) of A SPOILED.

9 Old meadow aperture (7)
OPENING – The theme word inside the abbreviation for old and a dialect word for a meadow.

10 Carefully move bit of loose supporting framework (5)
EASEL – A word meaning carefully move followed by the first letter (bit of) loose.

11 Council of Europe coins (5)
PENCE – The theme word followed by the abbreviation for Council of Europe.

12 Did see turbulent miniature whirlpools (6)
EDDIES – An anagram (turbulent) of DID SEE.

14 Twisted chin is quite delightful (6)
NICISH – An anagram (twisted) of CHIN IS.

16 Led around site of Lancashire witchcraft (6)
PENDLE – The three letter theme word followed by an anagram (around) of LED.  Three anagrams in a row!

19 Tyrant drank too much alcohol once, retiring, entertaining sons (6)
DESPOT – Reverse (retiring) an old word (once) for drank too much an insert (entertaining) the abbreviation for sons.

21 Heart of privet that is dead, overgrown with vegetation (5)
IVIED – The central letters (heart of) prIVet followed by the abbreviations for that is and dead.

24 Like trembling poplar (5)
ASPEN – A two letter word meaning like followed by the three letter theme word.

25 Led feud violently marked by exploits in poems (7)
DEEDFUL – An anagram (violently) of LED FEUD.

26 Label affixed to US Defence establishment (8)
PENTAGON – The three letter theme word followed by a word for a label and a word meaning affixed to.

27 Fruit refuse after wine-making sent back to completely fill available space (4)
CRAM – Reverse (sent back) a word for the leftovers from making wine.


1 Capital sponsor, from time to time, with millions put on hospital (8, two words)
PNOM PENH –The three letter theme word inside The even letters (from time to time) of sPoNsOr and by the abbreviations for millions and hospital.  As others have commented, this is a rare variant of the spelling but it is given in Collins English Dictionary.

2 Get up late; according to poet, cease going around, that is (5, two words)
LIE IN – A poetic word used by Spenser for cease goes around the abbreviation for that is (already used in 21a).  I wonder whether references to Spenser’s spelling of words is a little bit of a stretch for the NTSPP?

4 Regularly spring clean place? No! Quite the contrary (6)
PIGPEN – The even letters (regularly) of sPrInG followed by the three letter theme word.

5 Use up limits of stipend (5)
SPEND – The three letter theme word inside the first and last letters (limits of) stipend.

6 Possessing shilling did pay out in the past (7)
DISPEND – An archaic word (in the past) for the answer.  The DID from the clue includes (possessing) the abbreviation for shilling and the three letter theme word.

7 Plainly now and then with time speak with swinging rhythm (4)
LILT – The even letters (now and then) of pLaInLy followed by the single letter abbreviation for time.

8 Gentleman on the up matures (6)
RIPENS – Reverse (on the up) the form of address used for a gentlemen and include the three letter theme word.

13 Modulus rectified, not old style, for swinging device (8)
PENDULUM – The three letter theme word followed by an anagram (rectified) of MODULUS  after removing the letters in the abbreviation for old style.

15 Deceive mostly; make tawdry (7)
CHEAPEN – A word meaning deceive with the final letter removed (mostly) followed by the three letter theme word.

17 Almost heroic injection device for medical emergencies (6)
EPIPEN – A word meaning heroic with the final letter removed (almost) followed by the three letter theme word.

18 Workroom‘s curiously outside mostly (6)
STUDIO – An anagram (curiously) of OUTSIDE with the final letter removed (mostly).  Three consecutive final letter removal clues with a repetition of one of the wordplay devices is not ideal.

20 Feather not available (5)
PENNA – The three letter theme word followed by the abbreviation for not available.

22 Popular umpire turns up to conclude from evidence (5)
INFER – A word meaning popular followed by a reversal (turns up) of a word for an umpire.

23 Petulant and spiteful person used to be priest (4)
WASP – A word meaning used to be followed by the abbreviation for priest.


16 comments on “NTSPP – 256

  1. Going to need the review to justify a couple of ‘bung-ins’ but enjoyed working through this one. Possibly need to ‘mug up’ on my knowledge of archaic and poetic language?

    Many thanks, Chalicea, it’s always good to have the challenge of a different style as a change from those of the regular DT setters.

  2. Very nice, apart from the fact that 1d is misspelled, which made it rather harder than it need have been. The correct version is (5,4).

      1. Just checking a couple of English-language sites maintained by the country’s government, they always use the version I know. It’s clearly the official Latin alphabet spelling, and before solving this puzzle I can’t recall ever seeing that version in print.

        I’m not entirely convinced by BD’s invocation of the difficulties of phonetic rendering, though. It’s technically true to say that you can defend a number of spellings of a foreign word, but I suspect English-language solvers would be a bit put out by a clue for a composer leading to CHAYKOVSKIY (which is arguably more in line with modern Russo-English transliteration practice).

        It’s a grey area (the now-“correct” ULAANBAATAR, anyone?), and I definitely understand the temptation to take advantage of an uncommon spelling being in a dictionary making it legit. I can only say that I think that if it were me, I’d have resisted the temptation because I think it strays just beyond the border of fairness to the solver. I can easily accept that others might take a different view, but I don’t think any of the bowler’s foot was behind the line on this one and it’s (just) a no-ball.

  3. Thanks Chalicea; good fun.

    I didn’t know the word sent back in 27. The ODE has 14 with an extra ‘e,’ although Chambers has both versions. I think I would write it with the ‘e’ added.

  4. Good fun, and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be when I first saw the instructions. New word for me at 20D and new factoid at 16A. 1D was the last one in and I agree with Alchemi on that. 26A was my favorite. Thanks, Chalicea.

  5. A couple of things that we had to check on, such as the significance of 16a, but it all went together smoothly. Guess that most people, like us, knew what three letter word we were looking for before we started the puzzle. A pleasant diversion.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  6. That was good fun but I have to admit to sweating over 1d. I could only find the 5,4 spelling which made me think I’d really messed it all up.
    Apart from that one I didn’t have too many problems although it does seem to have taken me quite a long time in dribs and drabs.
    I’m not sure I’ve heard of 3a and I’ve only heard of 17d because I’m supposed to carry one with me because of my allergy to 23d stings! Where is it – who knows? When did it expire – who knows? Oh dear.
    I didn’t know the 9a meadow.
    Too difficult to pick any clues in particular so thanks to Chalicea for a crossword which has cheered up a miserable cold wet Saturday afternoon.

  7. Blimey, despite featuring 9 words I’d never heard of, I actually found this to be a reasonably straight forward solve. Very educative and enjoyable. Thanks Chaliceahttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  8. Many thanks for the excellent and well-illustrated review, Prolixic – and you’ve set my mind at rest over the 2 or 3 answers I hadn’t managed to justify. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    One that wasn’t a problem for me was 16a as a girl I went to school with used to brag that she was directly descended from the last witch of Pendle Hill. She was adopted, so none of us had any way of checking her story – but it certainly made her a popular member of class!

    By the way, BD, I for one hadn’t registered the grid size – a rather small enclosure for such big birds. Maybe I should have a word with the RSPB?

  9. I enjoyed this and thought the archaic / poetic words rather fun. I did manage to complete it without help, but had to check a couple of the old words.

    I also enjoyed Prolixic’s excellent review.

    Big thanks to Chalicea and to Prolixic for a thoroughly enjoyable solve and review respectively.

  10. The sheer joy of Prolixic’s review makes it a real pleasure to set the NTSPP. I am sorry to have upset Alchemi with the alternative spelling of Pnom Penh, though a friend who lived there for her first twenty years always spells it that way and it is an official variant (unlike that rather fanciful CHAIKOVSKIY – maybe I’d better include that one next time :) ). I felt that the easy cluing of it would help solvers.
    I do take on board the editorial comment about three consecutive uses of the same device – that’s just carelessness, and I obviously need to tread carefully with the Spenserian words.
    Thanks to all. It’s a lovely little crossword community.

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