NTSPP – 463 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 463

NTSPP – 463

A Puzzle by Radler

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

There is a ghost theme (i.e. one that it is not necessary to spot in order to solve the entire puzzle).

It is exactly three months to the day since we last had a Radler NTSPP. This one has a ghost theme ghost which even this renowned non-noticer of themes and Ninas couldn’t miss!

Having drafted the review early on Saturday afternoon, I was interested to read all the later comments about the difficulty level. I checked back and found that I’d solved this in one session (normally a Radler can take two or three separate goes) in a time I’d take for a fairly tricky Toughie – perhaps I was helped by the fact that I noticed the ear-worm (sorry ghost theme) fairly early on in the solving process.



1a Stormy sea in the end, nearly crippled gull (4,4)
EASY GAME An anagram (stormy) of SEA, the end of nearlY and a synonym for crippled

5a Company on the phone after receiving pine nuts (6)
PSYCHO A homophone (receiving) of a verb meaning pine in the sense of long for and another (on the phone) of an abbreviated company

10a It charges one nothing: Amber perhaps, taken aback (7)
IONISER Letters representing one and nothing and a reversal (taken aback) of a type of yellow fossil (amber, perhaps)

11a Late deposit secured by reversible contract (7)
DELAYED A synonym for deposit secured by a type of contract which is a palindrome (reversible)

12a Result of wheeze, Saint lacks halo (7)
SNORING The abbreviation for saint and a way of describing someone without a halo

13a It’s exactly like Victoria said (5)
PLUMB A homophone (said) of the type of fruit such as a Victoria

16a 20 cats and dogs lost in group (7)
POURING An anagram (lost) of IN GROUP

18a Off target, marginally somehow I’m best at pool (7)
OUTSWIM Another way of saying off target followed by the ‘marginal’ letters of SomehoW and IM (from the clue)

20a Kid confined with it at home: that’s not fair (7)
RAINING A verb meaning to kid or tease ‘confining’ the usual ‘with it’ and another way of saying at home

22a Recycled steel cans, no way to decontaminate (7)
CLEANSE An anagram (recycled) of stEEL CANS – no way tells you to ignore the ST (street)

23a Proceed smoothly from house to guesthouse (5)
SEGUE Hidden in houSE to GUEsthouse

25a Otto removed coat and jacket (7)
DOUBLET Remove the ‘coat’ from oTTo, say what the middle two letters are and you have a type of jacket

28a Mains originally running beneath, not British Gas (7)
METHANE The original letter of Mains and an anagram (running) of bENEATH (without the B, not British)

29a River Dee at its source a small stream (7)
DRIBBLE D (Dee at its ‘source’ and a river that runs through Yorkshire and Lancashire

30a Ire moderated chasing rag and bones man (6)
NAPIER This particular bones man invented a calculating device. An anagram (moderated) of IRE ‘chasing’ another word for rag or cloth

31a Was present on time and wrapped up? (8)
ATTENDED Another way of saying on, the abbreviation for time and an alternative way of saying wrapped up or finished


1d Split level housing by roundabout (4)
EXIT Split here is slang for make yourself scarce, go. A verb meaning to level (a match perhaps) ‘housing’ the letter used in multiplication to mean ‘by’, the result then reversed (roundabout)

2d Transported as cousins to big house near Berlin (9)
SANSSOUCI An anagram (transported) of AS COUSINS produces the summer palace of Frederick the Great

3d Pleasure rush over (5)
GUSTO A rush of wind and the cricket abbreviation for Over

4d Am I in mood? Rant and nag occasionally (7)
MORNING So how long did it take you to realise that the M should also be a capital letter? I (from the clue) inserted into the occasional letters of MoOd RaNt and NaG

6d Stone spoon on absorbing aluminium nitrate (9)
SALTPETRE The abbreviation for stone absorbing the chemical symbol for aluminium followed by a verb meaning to spoon or canoodle, the two letters used to mean on [the subject of]

7d Rabbitty on top, from below a large rodent (5)
COYPU Another way of saying timid or shy (rabbitty) and a reversal (from below) of an adverb meaning on top

8d Former feature of schooldays (3)
OLD A feature of schoOLDays

9d Madam stripped, I take off clothing slowly (6)
ADAGIO The inside letters (stripped) of mADAm followed by I (from the clue) inserted into another way of saying leave (take off)

14d Made contact unexpectedly behind deputy’s back (6)
BUMPED An informal term for one’s behind and a reversal (back) of an abbreviated deputy

15d First to switch stations car radio operator (6)
SPARKS The first letter of Switch followed by a way of saying ‘stations car’

17d The aforementioned trainee requiring work travelling (9)
ITINERATE A pronoun meaning the aforementioned and an anagram (requiring work) of TRAINEE

19d Retired party girl exaggerated contemporary for promotion (4,2,3)
WENT TO BED A reversal (for promotion) of an abbreviated party girl, the three letters meaning exaggerated and a synonym for contemporary

21d Wander about, follow sat nav perhaps (6)
GADGET Another way of saying wander about followed by a verb meaning to follow or understand

22d Was unable to tell, admitting 50 died (7)
COULDN’T A verb meaning to tell ‘admitting’ the Roman numeral for 50 and the abbreviation for died

24d Clothes stand (3,2)
GET UP Add a hyphen to another way of staying stand and you’d get an outfit of clothes

26d Tours valley learning about Italy (5)
LOIRE A French valley is obtained by inserting (about) the IVR coded for Italy into some learning

27/28d Chief bean-counter (7)
HEADMAN The part of the body sometimes known as a bean followed by something used in a game (man)


So did you spot the theme?


It’s raining
It’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed
and bumped his head
and couldn’t get up in the morning


17 comments on “NTSPP – 463

  1. Quite tricky with some really good misdirection which made for some large clangs (which I particularly enjoy).

    I thought 2d a little unfair – if you’ve never heard of the foreign word, even with the checkers and the anagram fodder, it could be any one of several possibilities, and the solution does not appear in my dictionary. I had to reveal which is disappointing – perhaps a wordplay driven clue may have got me to the correct answer?

    A very enjoyable tussle, thanks Radler.

  2. I nearly always get –

    “Safari can’t find Server”

    – when I click on puzzles from this site from home. This happens with different browsers and with 2 different computers (both Macs). It never happens from my PC at work.

    Is there a way round this?

    1. No idea about how to fix your problem but I’ve sent you a pdf of today’s NTSPP so you can solve it

  3. Crikey, Mr Radler – I see you decided not to make life easier for us over the festive season!
    Fortunately, the theme was straightforward enough to find post-solve – just as well as I’d almost lost the will to live by then.

    Favourite here was 26d.

    Thank you for the challenges throughout the year – hope you have a great time over Christmas.

  4. We usually do the NTSPP before going for a Sunday morning walk. No way could that happen with this one.
    The walk must have helped though as once we were home again we managed to make slow and steady progress until everything eventually fell into place. A real challenge for us and after a break to gird our loins we will start searching for the ghost theme.
    Thanks Radler.

  5. Radler’s as devious as ever – thanks to him for a real brain-stretcher.
    I’ve too many ticks on my paper to list them all – I’ll just mention 4d (for the well-hidden definition), 25a and 26d.

  6. Shame about the difficulty level as I really faancied this as Sunday back-pager was a bit of stroll.

  7. too difficult for this soldier i’m afraid. I’m now going up to York to pick up the aged p & bring her home to us for Christmas.

  8. Many thanks for the review, CS. Having successfully got rid of it overnight, I’m now stuck with that ear-worm again!

  9. This was tough but just about solvable – I needed a wordfinder for 2dn (incidentally Chambers Word Wizard only came up with the two word phrase meaning ‘without care or worry’ but at least I then got the building name from google). And to my chagrin 1dn was my last one in. But I spotted the theme, the first phrase of which was quite appropriate here in the southern half of the UK this morning!
    Thanks, Radler and Crypticsue.

  10. Thank you Sue for the review, and thank you to the rest of you for the feedback

    I hadn’t intended, or expected, the puzzle to be quite so difficult.
    On the whole, I was pleased that all the significant words from the rhyme fitted into a fair grid. Sanssouci was all I could get to fit at 2d when constrained by the theme words. I’ve visited Potsdam, and didn’t realise it wasn’t more widely known. (I also hadn’t realised that the French phrase 4,5 was in Chambers, or I’d have clued that instead.)

    Merry Christmas, and all the best for 2019

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