NTSPP – 423 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 423

NTSPP – 423

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Big Dave follows:

Had this enjoyable romp through the wardrobe, possibly that of a certain person known to Elgar as the “shoe lady”, had a title I think it would have spoilt the fun of discovering the ghost theme – 26 Down leads you to find a further eleven “examples”, all of which are highlighted in green.


1a Clogs return of some troops to base (6)
SABOTS: hidden (some) and reversed (return of) inside the clue

4a Slim poll leads change shipping line (8)
PLIMSOLL: a Spoonerism (leads change) gives a line found on most, especially cargo, ships

10a Tram flops around trains here (9)
PLATFORMS: an anagram (around) of TRAM FLOPS

11a Regularly thawing car in Siberian forest (5)
TAIGA: the odd letters (regularly) of two words in the clue

12a Suspend coins having no edges (4)
HANG: a mass noun for coins, as opposed to banknotes, without its first and last letters (having no edges)

13a I put my foot in it casting spell I read (10)
ESPADRILLE: an anagram (casting) of SPELL I READ

15a Flowers put shelter back for four people dancing (7)
REELERS: start with a word for the cryptic meaning of flowers, then replace the Roman numerals for four with the reversal (back) of a three-letter word for shelter

16a Pieces set on board ship (6)
SHARDS: an adjective meaning set or firm inside (on board) our usual ship

19a Hot cake a pound lighter (6)
STOLEN: drop (lighter) an L (pound) from a German cake, popular at Christmas – it doesn’t matter which L is dropped, which is why, in this instance, there is no indication

21a Menacing bouncer taking notice of you at last (7)
BALEFUL: start with what a bouncer is an example of in cricket and insert the final letters (at last) of three words in the clue

23a Mountain I’m blowing up with weaponry (10)
AMMUNITION: an anagram (blowing up) of MOUNTAIN I’M

25a Fuel source maybe winning back politician (4)
PUMP: the reversal (back) of a two-letter word meaning winning or in front is followed by our usual politician

27a Small flyer backing the Spanish couple going out (5)
OWLET: this small flyer (young bird) is derived by putting the Spanish definite article inside the number that make up a pair and then reversing it

28a Cathedral‘s direction healthy (9)
SOUTHWELL: whichever way you pronounce it, this cathedral in Nottinghamshire is a charade of a compass direction and an adjective meaning healthy

29a Whose flannel wash essentially results in joyful cries? (8)
HOSANNAS: the inner two or three letters (essentially) of each of the first three words in the clue

30a Drink with clergyman goes faster (4,2)
REVS UP: a verb meaning to drink preceded by (with) an abbreviated clergyman


1d Piece of software acquired by county is a gem (8)
SAPPHIRE: the three-letter word for a piece of software for a phone or tablet inside a word for a county

2d Extremely clever bear isn’t one to get confused (9)
BRAINIEST: an anagram (to get confused) of BEAR ISN’T with I (one)

3d Sonically testing volcanic rock (4)
TUFF: sounds like (sonically) an adjective meaning testing or difficult – also sounds like a brand of 26d, but apparently that was only spelt with a single F

5d Oriental sailors confined by Douglas Carswell (7)
LASCARS: hidden (confined by) inside the clue

6d Significantly, teacher leaving school has one supporter (10)
MATERIALLY: start with a teacher, drop the S (abbreviation for school, not supported by Chambers but is in Collins), all I (one) and a supporter or friend

7d Role I play in college (5)
ORIEL: this anagram (play) of ROLE I gives this college, much favoured by setters as it is the only word in most dictionaries which fits the pattern O?I?L

8d Brewing ale for one does nothing (6)
LOAFER: an anagram (brewing) of ALE FOR

9d Understands German files (6)
GRASPS: G(erman) followed by some files used in woodwork

14d Point at John, say, eating fish in old aircraft (10)
WELLINGTON: a compass point and the first name of a so-called singer whose stage surname is John around (eating) one of Crosswordland’s favourite fish – can anyone please explain the surface reading of this clue?

17d Disagrees about American hairdryer attachments (9)
DIFFUSERS: a verb meaning disagrees around a two-letter abbreviation for American

18d After crossing line, facetious dandy to have a change of heart (4-4)
FLIP-FLOP: an adjective meaning facetious and a dandy around (after crossing) L(ine)

20d Name of Russian woman at a shampooer’s (7)
NATASHA: hidden inside the clue – this doesn’t quite work for me unless either Russian or woman is dropped, allowing “of” to indicate the hidden word

21d Belgium out of control, in a manner of speaking (6)
BROGUE: the IVR code for Belgium followed by an adjective meaning out of control

22d Good look into wood overshoe (6)
GALOSH: G(ood) followed by a two-letter look inside a type of wood

24d Considers electronic replacement for large pack animals (5)
MULES: start with a verb meaning considers and replace its second L(arge) with E(lectronic) – unlike 19a, where either L could be dropped, this clue would be better if there was an indication as to which of two Ls should be replaced

26d Woman taking over – many examples here (4)
SHOE: put the female pronoun (woman) around (taking) O(ver) to get the key to the “ghost” theme – something of which there are a further eleven examples among the answers

39 comments on “NTSPP – 423

  1. A lovely puzzle with a helpful theme that was a pleasure to solve. Having used 11a myself last Saturday, it was a surprise to see it crop again so soon!

    3d was a new word, and the location in 28a was only known to me in a horse-racing connection rather than an ecclesiastical one. My ticked clues were 13a, 19a, 29a, 14d, 18d and 21d.

    I have to admit that, in substitution clues like 24d, where there is more than one potential “large” to be replaced, my personal preference is to indicate which one, but I appreciate that setters’ (and solvers’) views on this differ.

    Great stuff, many thanks indeed Alchemi.

  2. Pleasant puzzle with a nice footy theme, solved whilst watching Italy build a lead against Scotland – thanks to Alchemi.
    I didn’t know the 3d volcanic rock which I had to verify. I don’t recognise the S abbreviation in 6d and I thought the 20d clue would work better without ‘Russian’.
    My favourite clue was 14d.

        1. I took the ‘s at the end to stand for “has”, so the definition helpfully becomes “name of Russian” (which “womaN AT A SHAmpooer” has).

  3. Think a quick blast of Nancy Sinatra is called for here! Many thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Alchemi.
    3d was new to me as was the homophone indicator – clever one – and I confess to not being familiar with the cathedral.

    Top two at this end were 30a & 21d.

  4. Very enjoyable, completed just before Spurs scored their third goal.

    Not sure why, but I am familiar with cathedral, must be something in my murky past.

    I’m with Jane on the favourites.

    Thanks Alchemi.

  5. This themed puzzle was a lot of fun and not too difficult by Alchemi’s normal standards. 3d was a new word for me and I can’t quite work out in my mind the full parsing of 18d.

    Many thanks, Alchemi.

    1. 18d – you need to take a synonym for ‘facetious’ followed by one for ‘dandy’ and then put a ‘line’ into the latter.

  6. Many thanks alchemi, it was sheer delight getting to 26d and realising the theme. Beautifully done, congratulations.

      1. Ah, my apologies BD, I’ve just checked and it was Tuf shoes – well, we were young…
        I still want to count it though :)

              1. I’m glad you said that as I made it 11 “examples” of 26d. I was going to include Tuff as well, but it was about 50 years ago and I couldn’t remember whether the shoes were spelt with 1 F ot 2.

                1. My 16 included 26d and, as already mentioned, wrongly included Tuff. The three not included in CS’s list were:

                  – 28a: Charles Southwell is a men’s shoe brand
                  – 7d: there is an Irish company called Oriel who supply dance shoes
                  – 20d: Natasha is a range of ladies’ shoes marketed by Hotter

                  and my other two (arguably even more dodgy) possibilities for which I found Google references were Taiga shoes and Hosanna shoes.

                  1. You certainly did do your homework, RD – bonus points for you!
                    I thought that perhaps with the theme word at 26d being singular you were counting a pair of anything as two answers – but even that only got me up to 15!

      2. I also thought they were called Tuff – quite disappointed when I discovered that I was wrong.

  7. There were a couple in the SE that held us up because our knowledge of hairdryer technology is a bit lacking, and we did need to confirm the cathedral, but we did manage to get it all sorted. We’re in the process of adding up all the themed answers. There certainly are quite a few of them. Great fun.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  8. Enjoying this so far. I think I have the theme but only about half done so far. I used to have those 3d’s when younger I also had some with a compass in the heel. To this day I wonder what situation could arise where I was lost enough to need a compass yet still prepared to remove my shoes!

  9. Great theme that would make Imelda Marcos very proud.
    Even checked if 16a were part of theme.
    Bunged in Southwark in 28a before realising my mistake.
    Thought 14d was going to be Burlington which I couldn’t parse. I’m sure there are some John Burton around but couldn’t find the Point.
    Thanks to Alchemi for the fun.

  10. Solved yesterday while waiting for the rugby to start. I watched the wrong match – England offered too little & too late.

    The puzzle was a pleasant diversion although I will need the review to properly parse several answers. As far as 28a is concerned there is always a debate locally as to how to pronounce the name. Even the residents of the town can’t agree on it. Some say ‘south well’ and others say ‘suthul’.

    Thanks to Alchemi & to the reviewer

    1. ‘Suthul’ always – just like so many city and town names that are never pronounced ‘literally.’ One of my favouries is Costessey (on the outskirts of Norwich), unless you ask a local for directions to Cossey you will stay lost.

  11. Many thanks for the review, CS. Can’t say that I had too much problem with the surface of 14d – the smell from fish being served on an aircraft is enough to make anyone point out the eater of same!

    Looking forward to seeing RD’s comment re: shoe types.

  12. This review was the work of Big Dave. I’m pleased to see that I’m not the only one who forgets to change the author name from Admin to my own ;)

    1. That’s one very good reason why BD under comment #9 above reported the same number of themed answers as the reviewer. :wink:

      1. I was surprised that the Eagle Eye of Anglesey missed that but she must have done when she thanked me

  13. Very enjoyable puzzle which I only came to at about m’night on Sun and finished in two rounds with some chores in between. Realised there was a “shoe” thing going on just before I got to SHOE itself (luckily, as it’s defined by the theme itself), but hadn’t noticed some of the shoes I’d already filled, like PLATFORMS and FLIPFLOPS since they weren’t so defined. I was already staggered by the number of shoes (having also included TUFF, an unknown word I just guessed) and am flabbergasted by RD’s revelations.

    Missed the parsing for PLIMSOLL, just getting it from the theme and also REELERS, which I simply BIFD.

    Found out that I didn’t really know what BALEFUL meant!

    I think STOLEN was the best pdm for me.

    Elton John a “so-called singer”, Dave? I say! Maybe that could have been expressed differently!

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