NTSPP – 522 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 522

NTSPP – 522

A Puzzle by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

As is usual with Chalicea’s puzzles, there is a ghost theme (i.e. one that is not needed in order to be able to solve the puzzle).

As someone who is a lover of words and who always uses a dictionary as a first port of call when checking a word (probably because that was all those of us who started solving crosswords pre-internet had to use), I’m always (as Brian will tell you) telling people to check in the dictionary before saying I didn’t know x meant y.

However, I do think having to use the BRB to look up twenty-one different things in one crossword (two separate times in two of the clues) is at least eighteen too many. I also needed the services of Mrs Bradford and her Crossword Dictionary and Mr Google in order to confirm the parsing of the second bit of 22d. The ghost theme was fairly obvious once the first two Across clues had been written in, but there was one word where I did have to check in the BRB (again) that it did fit the theme.


1a Adult tucking into midday meal in power-driven boat (6)
LAUNCH The abbreviation for Adult ‘tucking into’ a midday meal

5a Bit of frolicking on the heather in lively Scottish country dance (5)
FLING The first ‘bit’ of Frolicking on an alternative name for heather

8a More difficult keeping order primarily for one who accumulates things (7)
HOARDER A way of saying more difficult ‘keeping’ the primary letter of Order

9a Living in the open sea, unusually accompanied but not exceptionally damp (7)
OCEANIC An anagram (unusually) of ACCOmpaNIEd without the letters DAMP (exceptionally telling you that they do not appear in that order)

11a In the past exalt fresh sea-air (6)
ARAISE An anagram (fresh) of SEA-AIR produces an obsolete (in the past) word meaning exalt

14a Kudos, guru at last sorted out number puzzle (6)
SUDOKU An anagram (sorted out) KUDOS followed by the last letter of gurU

15a Wonderful wise men with computer assisted learning (7)
MAGICAL Some wise men and the abbreviation for Computer Assisted Learning

16a One time domestic slave seen in a mess (4)
ESNE An anagram (in a mess) of SEEN gives us a historical (one time) word for an Anglo-Saxon slave

18a Utter some anecdotal knowledge (4)
TALK Lurking in some anecdoTAL Knowledge

20a Short jerky movement of pouch, barrel or cask (7)
SACCADE This pouch has appeared many times in crosswords so you write those three letters in. You then have to find a word that means a barrel or cask with the checking letters CxDx and having looked that up, you then have to check the word you’ve ‘created’ to make sure that it is a short jerky movement [of the eye, apparently]

21a Magpie in Lanark returned plaything pilfered originally (4)
PYOT A reversal (returned) of a plaything plus the original letter of Pilfered gives us a Scottish word for a magpie (as used in Lanark and other Scottish towns)

23a Arrests big cheese (4)
NABS I knew the solution meant an informal way of saying ‘arrests’ but I’d have saved myself a lot of trouble if I’d looked seven definitions down in the BRB and found that it could also be an informal term for le grand fromage

26a Brave soldier in battle with king and French king making a comeback (7)
WARRIOR A battle, the abbreviation for king and a reversal (making a comeback) of the French word for king

28a Very small, tense, nervous and unable to relax (6)
TITCHY The abbreviation for Tense and a way of saying tense and unable to relax

29a Somewhat rough arrival in Indian vehicle (6)
GHARRI A clue where I didn’t have to go anywhere near the BRB as I did know the name of this vehicle which is to be found lurking (somewhat) in rouGH ARRIval

32a Hurtle about it’s said and nip round type of sharp bend (7)
HAIRPIN A homophone (it’s said) of a synonym for dash (hurtle) followed by a reversal (round) of NIP

33a To align incorrectly number of which given number is logarithm (7)
ANTILOG An anagram (incorrectly) of TO ALIGN

34a Weapon for hunting, say, sand eel (5)
LANCE A double definition, or perhaps, as the word is part of the ghost theme, should that be a triple definition?

35a Turned with lathe chair of state, we’re told (6)
THROWN A homophone (we’re told) of a chair of state – and yes, I did check, it does mean this!


2d Membranous outgrowth extensive by hand (1,2,4)
A LA MAIN A botanical term for a membranous outgrowth on a fruit and an adjective meaning extensive

3d Naturism; unclothed anus odist essentially hymns (6)
NUDISM The inside (unclothed or without their ‘outsides’) letters of aNUs oDISt and the ‘essential’ letter of hyMns – not my most favourite ever surface reading!

4d Ride in vehicle in Balmoral to play Ireland’s national game (4)
HURL A Scottish (as used in Balmoral) verb meaning to convey in a wheeled vehicle or a verb meaning to play Ireland’s national game

5d Fiasco of floating point operation (in computing) (4)
FLOP This abbreviated computing term can also mean a fiasco

6d Ireland, Spain and France united with Luxembourg, showing extreme anger (6)
IREFUL The abbreviation for Ireland, the IVR codes for Spain and France, the abbreviation for United and the IVR code for Luxembourg

7d Shifting gold on a boat (7)
GONDOLA An anagram (shifting) of GOLD ON A

8d Elevate endless place of complete bliss (5)
HEAVE Remove the last letter (endless) from a place of complete bliss

10d Gently stroke chicken (5)
CHUCK A verb meaning to stroke under the chin or another word for a chicken

12d Gnaw and nosh continuously (3,4)
EAT AWAY A more formal way of saying nosh and an adverb meaning continuously

13d Peculiar ID cards; useless one played that does not follow suit (7)
DISCARD A term used in a game of whist is an anagram (peculiar of ID CARDS

14d Underwater worker worriedly holding sway, not unusually wily (7)
SANDHOG A North American [unindicated] slang term for a person who works on underwater construction projects in an enclosed area supplied with compressed air. An anagram (worriedly) of HOlDiNG SwAy without the letters WILY (unusually telling you that they aren’t in that order)

17d Timid gibe (3)
SHY Double (or as it is part of the ghost theme triple) definition

19d Behold old bachelor, a lout (3)
LOB A way of saying look (behold) and the abbreviation for bachelor

21d Pave with stones and bituminous resin (5)
PITCH To pave a road with stones set on edge or some bituminous resin

22d Working French tenor with aptitude for comedy parts being tested (2,5)
ON TRIAL An adverb meaning working and the surname of a French tenor used to describe a tenor with a nasally weak voice in Opera Comique

24d Faint illumination of tune, good, quiet and soft (7)
AIRGLOW A tune, the abbreviation for good and an adjective meaning quiet and soft produces a light remaining after a light source has faded, especially in the sky after sunset

25d American drink‘s a casual bribe in Canberra (5)
SLING An American drink of spirits and water, sweetened and flavoured; an Australian (as used in Canberra) informal term for a bribe

26d Act as huntsman’s assistant with very fashionable international number (4,2)
WHIP IN The abbreviation for With, an informal adjective meaning fashionable, and the abbreviations for International and Number

27d Professional speaker by right he served up rubbish (6)
RHETOR The abbreviation for Right, HE (from the clue) and a reversal (served up in a Down clue) of a synonym for rubbish

30d Formerly concealed content (4)
ONCE Found in the content of cONCEaled

31d Last two characters swapping places in musical troupe (4)
CAST Take a well-known musical and swap the last two letters

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote an entirely different paragraph here about the difficulties encountered with this crossword. Thinking about it early this (Sunday) morning while listening to Storm Ciara whistling through next door’s poplar trees, with occasional large gusts of wind that make you glad you aren’t on a cross-channel ferry!, I realised that actually, if you trust that Chalicea always gives us words that appear in the dictionary, the only clue that wasn’t quite ‘gettable’ from the wordplay was 20a, which means this NTSPP was straightforward enough and would have almost met the ‘can it be solved on a train without aids’ criteria,. It didn’t meet the ‘can I prepare a review and then get on with my other Saturday afternoon plans’ criteria as  I would say I haven’t spent this long preparing a review for a very long time.


23 comments on “NTSPP – 522

  1. Quite a few new words for me and one or two I’m struggling to parse
    Thanks for the challenge Chalicea, good fun puzzle

  2. easy start, harder finish! Quite a few interesting words. All definitions fair and square if you look at Chambers. Must admit I get confused with “or” definitions, e.g. “barrel or cask”, but that’s exactly what Chambers says!
    many thanks Chalicea.

  3. :phew: This was a puzzle for which the word quirky might have been designed!

    About half of my answers went in very quickly; the other half took ages involving copious use of Google and my BRB. I learnt 17 new words or meanings (including one unindicated Americanism!) and I can’t fully parse two answers: what has “big cheese” got to do with 23a, and how is the second word in 22d derived?

    I’ve actually no idea whether I enjoyed this or not, but it was certainly a challenge. Many thanks in any event, Chalicea.

      1. Thanks, BD. I suspected as much, but, believe me, I tried that without success. The only possible inkling I got was to find an archaic meaning of the singular form of 23a which is a synonym for “big cheese”, but that doesn’t explain where the final S comes from.

          1. So it is!

            I considered first “his nibs”, which is an expression I am familiar with but that doesn’t fit with the checkers or the definition. When I then found the entry without the S meaning a “big cheese”, I naturally/stupidly [delete whichever is not applicable] assumed that, by implication, it would also cover the plural with the meaning of “big cheeses”. Sigh!

            1. You really had me worried and racing to my BRB. Possibly a ‘slang’ indicator would have been helpful but it would have spoiled the clue to add something like ‘in the street’ wouldn’t it?

  4. Phew, that was hard work – my BRB needs to go for a lie down now. Not sure that I really enjoyed the fight – in fact, once I’d latched onto the theme (post-solve it has to be said) it accurately described what I’d felt like doing with the puzzle at various points during the solve!
    Sorry, Chalicea, I usually enjoy your puzzles but there were rather too many obscure words and definitions in this one for me.

  5. Sorry Jane (but you made the comment I expected at least one solver to make and added a smile to my rather cold and windy afternoon, thanks). I promise something ‘prettier’ for the next one.

    1. Hi Chalicea, I felt quite bad about leaving a less than glowing comment but am pleased to hear that at least I made you smile!
      I’ll look forward to the ‘pretty’ one!

  6. Our BRB will also need a quiet lie down in a darkened room after the workout it has just been through.
    Eventually all sorted and we enjoyed the process.
    Thanks Chalicea

  7. Oh dear and :phew:
    One thing that I don’t associate with a Chalicea NTSPP is a struggle. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it because I did but I thought it was jolly tricky.
    There were lots of words I’d never heard of until today but that’s how we learn things which is fine – all we need to do now is remember them! :unsure:
    I don’t have an answer for 24d – I can’t even think of a word that would fit, let alone make sense.
    I don’t ‘get’ why my somewhat tentative answer for 22d can be right although I think it probably is.
    Thank you, Chalicea, – this was a bit different to your ‘normal’ NTSPP’s which are more the kind of ‘suck your thumb in front of a fire on a February afternoon when the weather is horrible’ ones.
    Thanks too to whoever does the review tomorrow.

    1. PS – now I need to go on a bit of hunt for the ‘ghost theme’. Maybe that will sort out my couple of problems.

  8. ah yes, forgot to mention that half way through the theme made it a bit easier to get some of the remaining clues! Thanks again Chalicea

  9. Is it naughty of me to say that I am absolutely delighted to have given cryticsue a bit of a challenge as I always await her judgements with some trepidation, afraid that she is going to ‘solve on a train with no aids’ or, as James Leonard, the original EV editor once said to me “Solved it while the froth settled on my beer” (those were a lot of words for him – we ran a setters’ competition one year to see who could get the shortest email from him and I won with “No”)

    Honestly, in setting it, I didn’t expect to be causing NTSPP solvers such difficulty. I suppose my love of Scots’ words causes some trouble but we northerners do have to know the names of London tube stations and the like so maybe that is fair game.

    1. Solving it wasn’t the challnge (apart from 20a) – solved ‘while Mr CS did the lunchtime washing up’ or about ‘as long as it takes to solve two of your Tuesday puzzles’

      The problem with the crossword really is that the dedicated solver, or the blogger, has to spend a considerable time checking that the “unusual” words that are clear from the wordplay, are actually as defined.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS, I certainly couldn’t have solved this ‘on a train without aids’ with or without the inclusion of 20a!

  11. I found this very slow going and I admit to a couple of bung-ins and a good few “guess and check” answers. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it all, but there were high spots. I got the ghost theme early which helped with a couple. Happy to say that I did know 14D straight away since I’ve written about the history of those men more than once in my work. Thanks Chalicea and CS.

  12. Slow and Steady for this little worker bee. As I am slow to this party most has already been said. Lots of new words learned today and a few bung and solve it laters but glad to get there in the end with CS’s help and Chalicea’s brain.

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