NTSPP – 515 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 515

NTSPP – 515

Composition by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The puzzle has a ghost theme alluded to by the title – as with all ghost themes it is not necessary to identify the theme in order to solve the puzzle.  The setter has identified thirteen thematic entries, twelve of them in the across answers – see if you can spot all of them!

Chalicea returns with a ghost themed crossword – leading to much discussion over lunch as to whether x might be the name of a y? As usual with this setter, a dictionary is essential – not least when it comes to the ‘did she paint herself into a corner’ word at 17d. I found eleven of twelve Across themed solutions. I then resorted to typing the word Composer + each of the remaining solutions one by one into Google and discovered one I never knew existed!


1a Sailor embracing father of science fiction, a publican (8)
TAVERNER A sailor’ embracing the author thought of as the father of science fiction

5a German capital‘s limousine with glass partition (6)
BERLIN The German capital was obvious but a bit of research was needed to discover that the second definition refers to a limousine with a glass partition between the front and back seats

9a High commendation of commune I remodelled (8)
ENCOMIUM An anagram (remodelled) of COMMUNE I

10a Secret, primarily obscure, corrupt sect (6)
OCCULT The primary letters of Obscure and Corrupt followed by a sect

12a Dingy, durable straw item (9)
DUNSTABLE A synonym for dingy and an adjective meaning durable gives us a hat made of straw

13a Girl with bit of old rope for catching animals (5)
LASSO A girl and the first bit of Old – the one I’d never heard of!

14a Goal of conservative maturity (4)
CAGE The abbreviation for Conservative and a synonym for maturity

16a Revolutionary prig chasing retreating large arboreal apes (7)
GIBBONS A reversal (revolutionary) of a prig ‘chasing’ another reversal (retreating) this time of another way of saying large

19a Sieve lacking resistance; one that leaves dirty marks (7)
STAINER Remove the R (lacking resistance) from a sieve

21a Range of knowledge about queen’s troop of highland foot soldiers in the past (4)
KERN A range of knowledge goes about the abbreviation for the Latin word for queen to give us a troop of historical (in the past) foot soldiers

24a Entangle gravely, lopping extremities (5)
RAVEL ‘Lop’ the extremities of gRAVELy

25a French baker in higgledy-piggledy lounge bar (9)
BOULANGER An anagram (higgledy-piggledy) of LOUNGE BAR – There are two themed ladies with this name, Lili being the better known of the two, although her sister Nadia did write music as well as teaching it

27a Gatekeeper‘s liquor? (6)
PORTER Double definition

28a Ash keys regularly at first somewhat cloak view of the heavens (8)
SKYSCAPE The regular letters of aSh KeYs, the first letter of Somewhat and a cloak

29a Dippy moggie in pigpen (6)
SCATTY A moggie inserted into a pen for pigs

30a Offspring including foremost of English scat songs in musical performances (8)
SESSIONS Male offspring including the foremost letters of English Scat and Songs – shame that the letters of scat appear both here and in the previous solution


1d Hear about objective that’s fashionable (6)
TRENDY A verb meaning to hear goes ‘about’ an objective

2d Vacuous very amateur hypocritical talk (6)
VACANT The abbreviations for Very and Amateur followed by some hypocritical talk

3d Put back upset mechanism for recording duration of events (5)
REMIT A reversal (upset) of a mechanism for recording duration of events

4d Not easily angered, fair without the ne plus ultra (7)
EQUABLE Remove the IT (without the ne plus ultra) from a synonym for fair

6d Formzer degree of suitability, we’re told, for legendary sword (9)
EXCALIBUR The two-letter word we use to mean former followed by a homophone (we’re told) of a ‘degree of suitability’

7d Sadly I sold our old, gold French coin (5,3)
LOUIS D’OR An anagram (sadly) of I SOLD OUR

8d Head to reside in mental hospital, it’s said (8)
NUTHOUSE An informal term for the head and a verb meaning to reside

11d September greenery covers hill (4)
BERG Lurking in SeptemBER Greenery

15d Formal termination‘s surprisingly unsentimental, with no broken ties (9)
ANNULMENT An anagram (surprisingly) of UNsENtiMeNTAL, once you have removed the letters TIES, broken indicating that they aren’t in that order

17d He finally abnormally pesters and lays waste rented property (8)
ESTREPES This is a legal term relating to tenants who lay waste to rented property – the final letter of hE and an anagram (abnormally) of PESTERS

18d Physical variation includes upper part of skull enclosing brain (8)
CALVARIA Lurking in physiCAL VARIAtion

20d Carry off eastern ceremonial gown (4)
ROBE A verb meaning to carry off followed by the abbreviation for Eastern

21d Luck exceptionally for last bit of bone inside knee joint (7)
KNUCKLE An anagram (exceptionally) of LUCK replaces the E (last bit of bone) inside KNeE

22d Some sign a rogue is an ill-bred person (6)
IGNARO This archaic term for an ignorant person is found in some sIGN A Rogue

23d Places for putting vegetables (6)
GREENS Double definition

26d Small sibling and old man turning up in recess (5)
APSIS A reversal (turning up) of an abbreviated (small) female sibling and an informal term for a father (old man)

to see the thematic entries

19 comments on “NTSPP – 515

  1. A most enjoyable puzzle although I do admit to needing a fair bit of electronic help. I have not spotted the theme but will continue to study it. Learned a number of new words, which is always a good thing.

    Thank you, Chalicea.

  2. Very enjoyable, just as well that the theme was not needed for solving because I have yet to identify any of the appropriate answers.
    The BRB got a work out in the solving for confirmation of some answers such as 17d and 22d.
    Favourite – 12a – easy to get from the wordplay (and checkers) and another that needed the BRB for confirmation.
    Thanks to Chalicea and tomorrow’s reviewer (BD/CS?).

  3. Oh dear. I normally absolutely love Chalicea’s puzzles, and I was looking forward to this one very much particularly following today’s disappointing back-pager. Sadly, although there were some excellent clues, I found a lot of this an unrelenting slog with my BRB ending up very well-thumbed.

    I was held up in the NW corner having entered 3d, which was my first one in, the wrong way round, and, even now, knowing which is the right answer I can’t see that the wordplay is specific.

    9 of the answers were obscure to me, presumably all connected with the theme. There is a typo in 21a, and the enumeration of 7d is utterly misleading. We have had this debate before, but surely for foreign words the apostrophe has to be indicated.

    I will certainly not let this put me off tackling future puzzles from this setter and I’ll write this one off as a blip (or perhaps I am just having a bad day …)

    Thanks anyway, Chalicea, and I’m sorry this was not my cup of tea.

    1. 7d is in Chambers, so the foreign argument doesn’t help. Apostrophes are not included in enumeration by convention, i realise this can be misleading and annoying

  4. Fortunately I guessed the theme as soon as 1a fell but there was nevertheless much recourse to the BRB entailed throughout the solve. My favourite – with apologies to our setter – was 23d.
    Quite an accomplishment to fit in all those themed elements so thanks to Chalicea for her efforts. All good wishes to you for the festive season.

  5. Sterling work Chalicea. I haven’t spotted the ghost references yet but I have learned 4 new words in 12a, 21a , 26d & 22d . Looking forward to the review CS.
    If anybody fancies a tough puzzle then take a look at today’s FT – it’s a belter!

  6. I found the ghost theme straightaway which helped a lot.

    Favourite: 23d for its smooth surface.

    Last one in was 14a … definitely took me more than 4’33”.

    Thanks, Chalicea.

  7. Very very much a mixed bag for me, some excellent clues let down by quite a few (for me anyway) obscurities that weren’t that sympathetically clued, so a fair bit of electronic help was required to complete.
    I wonder if this appeared as a Tuesday Toughie it would get a “fluffy” label!
    Concentrating on the positives I liked the witty 29a and the very clever 23d in particular. I’m definitely not the most PC person in the world but 8d…Umm!
    Anyway, overall enjoyable so thanks to Chalicea.

  8. This was a fun round of “well, i guess this must mean ……”
    BRB very helpful at confirming some precise definitions for words i didn’t know, like 5a, 9a, 12a, 21a, 17d, 18d, 20d, 22d – ai ai ai, a humbling list.

    All exquisitely clued but as others, i really liked 23d – classic simple elegance with a subtle and satisfying mislead

    And the theme added more fun, I think i counted an impressive 13, are there even more?

    Many thanks Chalicea

  9. Picked up the theme very early on which was a big help, especially with the across clues. On completion we identified all the themed names.
    Good fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  10. Naughty of me (apologies to some) but it is a real pleasure when the ‘ghost’ theme doesn’t leap out at you. It is always slightly difficult to find words that can be clued in some other way but are still part of the ‘theme’. I am looking forward to reading what CrypticSue will say about it – not too fluffy for an NTSPP, I hope – and she is sure to include some enchanting illustrations. Thank you to solvers.

    1. My review will be up later (BD is kindly adding it for me as we have an airport taxi coming shortly). I didn’t find it particularly fluffy, but then that’s because you have to use the BRB a lot! I’m not sure either that the illustrations I’ve used are ‘enchanting’, more theme related

      Merry Christmas to all

  11. Thanks for the review CS.
    Despite having the obvious answer for 5a I couldn’t justify it from limousine etc…and it’s a straightforward double definition…doh.
    Also, I completely missed the lurker at 18d…double doh! Apologies to Chalicea and it’s back to school for me.
    Ps 4d has part of the wordplay as the solution!

    1. Sorted. Given that I had so many things to do yesterday, crossword and otherwise, I’m not surprised I got something not quite right

  12. Many thanks for the review, CS, although I doubt that crosswords are on your mind at the moment!
    13a was the one that fooled me as well.

    Thanks again to Chalicea for the music.

  13. Many thanks CrypticSue. Your images were appreciated – a glum set – well, some of them. I have to admit that 13ac was new to me too but Mrs Bradford had him in her list so he became No. 13. Sadly no ladies in there.

  14. Sorry CS -I missed your comment about two thematic ladies in 25a. I thought there were only two thematic men with that name.

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