NTSPP – 360 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 360

NTSPP – 360

Malin by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows.


15 across identifies a three-word thematic place. The expression is not in Chambers but is given as an example of its first word in ODE.

Chalicea provides the final NTSPP of 2016.  It wasn’t that difficult, the solution to 15a wrote itself in without much thought at all and once you started singing to yourself, the themed words became clear.   If one of the crèche had sent it to me for testing, I would have suggested making 15a a bit more cryptic, that both 7a and 7d include the same word in their solutions, and finally pointed out the number of clues requiring you to ‘take a letter and …’


6a           To write mournful poem on the Spanish, for example, is emotional at first (7)
ELEGISE The Spanish definite article, the abbreviation used when we want to say for example, IS (from the clue) and the first letter of Emotional

7a           Be informed about the purple-flowered moorland plant (7)
HEATHER A verb meaning be informed goes ‘about’ THE (from the clue)

9a           Rough, mostly hard stony hill for starters (5)
HARSH HARd (hard mostly) and the ‘starters’ of Stony and Hill

10a         Moved along a course principally twisted and tangled (9)
TRAVELLED The principal letter of Twisted and another way of saying tangled

11a         Furious refusnik, not ultimately one to slowly introduce something (7)
INFUSER An anagram (furious) of REFUSNIk without its ultimate letter

13a         Dark and gloomy unspecified number going round Britain (6)
SOMBRE An unspecified number of something goes round the abbreviation for Britain.

15a         Beetle (it’s said) with Wings celebrated this promontory (4,2,7)
MULL OF KINTYRE A homophone (it’s said) of a beetle whose group Wings number one hit  celebrated the promontory on which this themed puzzle is based.   .

19a         Anger following old Department of Education and Science request (6)
DESIRE Apparently, the Science in this Department has now changed to ‘Skills’ hence the ‘old’ in the clue.   The abbreviation for the Department of Education and Science is followed by another word for anger

20a         Court house involved in reactionary relief with sentence finally cut for thief (7)
FILCHER The abbreviation for court house inserted into (involved in) an anagram (reactionary) of RELIEF without one of the E’s (sentence finally cut)

23a         Brief time international organisation took originally active in southern land masses (9)
MOUNTAINS A two-letter short period of time, an international organisation, the original letter of Took the abbreviation for Active, IN (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Southern.   My brother-in-law, nephew and nieces climbed  Scafell Pike yesterday but the weather wasn’t good enough for photos like this one.

24a         Heading off to chatter and gas (5)
ARGON Remove the ‘heading’ from chatter

26a         Passage Franklin was searching for at compass point 315° (7)
NORWEST A passage that Sir John Franklin set off to search or the compass point 315°.  If you have time to spare, it is worth reading about this voyage of exploration https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition  and especially the efforts of his wife to ensure that a search mission was mounted when the two ships involved ‘vanished’

27a         25 downs‘ foremost of verdant passages (7)
VALLEYS Another word for 25ds is obtained by taking the first, foremost, letter of Verdant and following it with some passages or narrow lanes


1d           Marsh grass raised for grazing ruminant (4)
DEER A reversal (raised in a Down clue) of some marsh grass

2d           Dark hours, things seen with different polarity (6)
NIGHTS Change the South pole at the beginning of some things seen with a N (North pole)

3d           Richer person who gambles money away (6,3)
BETTER OFF A person who gambles and an adverb meaning away

4d           One who accepts challenge, maybe, subsequently too upset to settle down (4,4)
TAKE ROOT Someone who accepts a challenge and a reversal (upset) of TOO (from the clue)

5d           Life force lady regularly brings into relief primarily with the brief process of parturition (10) CHILDBIRTH A Chinese word for an individual’s life force, the regular letters of LaDy, the ‘primary’ letters of Brings Into Relief and the first two letters (brief) of THe

6d           Concerning nations and French, Hungarian, Norwegian, Irish and Croat initially (6)
ETHNIC The French word for and followed by the initial letters of Hungarian, Norwegian, Irish and Croat

7d           Have news of frisky hare (4)
HEAR An anagram (frisky) of HARE

8d           Journeys around German hill ranges (6)
RIDGES Journeys around the abbreviation for German

12d         Straightforward price of passage involving our group of team players with no publicity (4-6) FOUR-SQUARE The price of a passage on a train or bus for example into which is inserted (involving) OUR (from the clue) and a team of players without the AD at the end (no publicity)

14d         Extending round America, I’ve put under Defence Intelligence very loudly (9)
DIFFUSIVE Take the abbreviation for Defence Intelligence and put under it the abbreviated musical instruction for very loudly, the abbreviation for the United States (America) and IVE (from the clue)

16d         Behold setter brought up courtesans! (8) LORETTES An archaic way of saying ‘behold’ followed by a reversal (brought up in a Down clue) of SETTER gives us some courtesans named after the church of their district in Paris

17d         Peculiar fellow, one who is frequently left out (3,3)
ODD MAN Synonyms for peculiar and fellow

18d         Duke and gentleman turning up: lazy, idle people (6)
DRONES The abbreviation for Duke and a reversal (turning up) of a Spanish gentleman.  I do wonder if there should be a reference to the gentleman being someone from another country.

21d         Exposed to risk, Light Infantry having sufficient strength (6)
LIABLE The abbreviation for Light Infantry and an adjective meaning having enough strength

22d         Reportedly discovered the absence of thin fog (4)
MIST A homophone (reportedly) of a word meaning ‘discovered the absence of’

25d         Characters in panel game give rise to depression (4)
GLEN Reversed and lurking in some of the characters of paNEL Game

As for the title of the puzzle, 15a is in the Malin area of the Shipping Forecast

If you haven’t worked out the themed solutions while you were singing along as you solved 

21 comments on “NTSPP – 360

  1. I thought this was absolutely lovely, but then 15A was my first one in and I did know all the theme answers without having to check, though I didn’t start looking for them until the grid was filled. 5D was my favorite by far. Thanks, Chalicea.

  2. An absolute pleasure, Chalicea – what a superb puzzle to round off the NTSPP year.

    4d took me ages and I didn’t know (or had forgotten) the courtesans but everything eventually fell into place.
    3d gets my vote for favourite.
    Still finding more themed answers as I look at the completed grid!

    Many thanks and a very happy new year to you.

  3. Thank you Chalicea, very nice – found 9 thematic entries plus 15a, and perhaps a few references in clues. A very, very pleasant solve. The clues read very nicely.

    I’m not sure it was necessary to define the theme – but that is just my personal taste, I love ghost themes. The title confused me, but I guess there is geographical relevance.

    The first thing I noticed was the minuscule font size of the clues: a possible symptom of clues being too long. I find small font especially difficult – I use the largest possible font on my iPhone etc. And yes, there were quite a few clues longer than 8 words (admittedly a completely arbitrary self-imposed cut-off for some setters)

    Some super minor elegance quibbles with 7d/7a – the solver will solve these in succession since they share an initial letter, and they are unfortunately based on the same word. Also, I didn’t know the meaning of parturition, but was disappointed that when I looked it up, it immediately gave me the answer – another thing to avoid if possible (though clearly there is nothing wrong here).

    I didn’t find the abbreviation in 20a in my dictionaries – but maybe i am missing something, or maybe it is listed somewhere

    I particularly liked 24a, 3d, 6d, 8d, 17d and 25d.

    Well done, congratulations! And thanks! and Happy New Year!

    1. The abbreviation in 20a is the BRB – I know because I checked in while drafting the review

  4. I’m clueless as to the theme, but that didn’t prevent this from being a gentle and enjoyable puzzle. I didn’t know 16d but followed the directions and got there. My only hold-ups were with the intersecting 24a (which I wanted to be the right answer but couldn’t parse) and 18d.

    Many thanks and a Happy New year to Chalicea.

  5. Thanks to Chalicea for brightening up an otherwise rather dull grey day.
    4d was my last answer and I missed the 25d lurker for ages.
    I liked 20a and 7d made me laugh.
    Thanks again to Chalicea and in advance to CS for the review – Happy New Year.

  6. It was only when we got to the end that we appreciated the theme and then enjoyed spotting all the relevant answers. We made 25d hard for ourselves by initially misspelling 27a. We are still not sure of the significance of the title and a look at Google did not help either. Good fun from start to finish and now we have an ear-worm to keep us company for New Year’s Day.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  7. Thanks Chalicea.

    Nice puzzle to finish 2016, Happy New Year to everyone!

    I also was a bit foxed by the Malin, so thanks to Jane for that.

    I liked 12d among others.

  8. thanks to Chalicea for today’s puzzle, and happy new year to all .
    Just my opinion, but I think the puzzle would have been improved by the omission of the preamble and by finding a way, either by re-writing the clue or by relaxation of editorial guidelines, to lose the capital W of Wings which made the gateway clue a write-in.

  9. Many thanks for the review, CS, great pics for 11a & 17d.

    The last ‘click here’ (for the themed answers) doesn’t seem to work for me

    The foreign gentleman is interesting – we have had similar debates before (e.g for gendarme). If you accept appearance in brb as a sufficient justification, well, this gentleman is there along with gendarme, bistro, restaurant, flamenco, etc.. I have adopted the the view that if a word is listed in an English dictionary and thus acceptable in English usage, no language indicator is needed (even though the reference might quite specifically be to a Spanish gentleman, or a Spanish dance, etc). That is not to suggest it would be wrong to add an indicator.

      1. Thanks are due to BD not me. I either can’t cover up the grids or I cover them up too well

  10. Many thanks, CS – like Dutch, I particularly enjoyed the pics for 11a & 17d.
    The ‘click here’ for the themed solutions isn’t working for me either!

    Thanks again to Chalicea for the fun.

  11. A very Happy New Year to all and many thanks for that lovely warm reception. We were actually up not very far from the Mull of Kintyre for Hogmanay so I was really happy that this NTSPP appeared then. Cryptic Sue, as always, I loved your illustrations and really appreciated the review. Critical comments duly taken on board. My over-explicit clue at 15 was deliberate, partly because, when Big Dave first suggested I should compile for NTSPP, he said ‘not thematic’ but then said thematic crosswords were OK as long as the theme was not essential to the solve – a sort of ghost theme. I like dutch’s comments on the presence in Chambers of foreign words being an adequate indicator – there is often a niggle about it when I overuse Scottish words. How would one composed entirely of such words appeal?

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