NTSPP – 536 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 536

A Puzzle by Chalicea

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Chalicea returns with another fairly-clued crossword, presumably intended to be difficult to solve, on the assumption that many of us would never have heard of several of the solutions, or in some cases, words referred to as parts of the wordplay. Fortunately for your blogger, she had heard of most of them, (otherwise this would have turned from a mostly enjoyable crossword solve to a trawl through the dictionary), thus enabling her to solve the crossword, draft the review relatively quickly and then return to helping Mr CS in the garden.  There is a, fairly obvious, ghost theme too, some items of which are more historical than others, in one case positively Shakespearean!


1a Stumped thoroughly, or in a daze (6)
STUPOR The cricketing abbreviation for stumped, an adverb meaning thoroughly and OR (from the clue)

5a Prickly things, complicated brainteasers senate cunningly abandoned (6)
BRIARS If you ‘abandon’ the letters  SENATE (cunningly telling you that they aren’t in that order) from BRaInteAseRS, you are left with some prickly things – the word complicated implied to me that we were to solve a compound anagram, but if you remove the right (first) letter A, it is surely just a straightforward removal job to get the solution?

10a Capri’s icon, its unwrapped fruit (7)
APRICOT Unwrap or remove the outside letters from cAPRIs iCOn iTs

11a Kitchen apparatus of special cooked meat trimmed here (7)
STEAMER The abbreviation for special, an anagram (cooked) of MEAT and the inside letters (trimmed) of hERe

12a Old hag, we hear, getting royal Scandinavian coins (6)
KRONER A homophone (we hear) of an old hag followed by, presumably, the regnal cipher for our current queen (as R is not an abbreviation for royal unless accompanied by Air Force or similar

15a Dad to foot the bill for American tropical fruit (6)
PAPAYA An informal term for dad, a verb meaning to foot the bill and the abbreviation for American

16a Huge old god in command (7)
TITANIC An old god followed by the abbreviation for in command

17a Large number, leader of rabble towards the rear (4)
RAFT The ‘leader’ of Rabble and a word meaning towards the rear or an aircraft or ship

18a Upset little item of mountaineering equipment producing clamour (4)
BARK A reversal (upset is usually used in a Down clue to indicate a reversal – more often used in an Across clue as an anagram indicator but not here as the only possible anagram would be an indirect one!) of a short form of a steel link with a spring clip in one side used in mountaineering


19a Reptile to keep under surveillance (7)
MONITOR Double definition – a type of large lizard or a verb meaning to keep under surveillance

20a Londoner without revolutionary urge to strut (4)
COCK If you reverse (revolutionary) the last three letters of the name of a person from a particular area of London, you’ll see that they spell an urge – remove these letters and you are left with a verb meaning to strut or swagger

22a Winter phenomenon seen originally in these times (4)
SNOW The original letter of Seen and an adverb meaning at the present (these) times

25a Vagrant‘s foot wrapped in towel, say (7)
DRIFTER The abbreviation for foot inserted (wrapped) in something that removes moisture (towel, say)

27a Add piquancy to North American republic in breach of continuity (6)
SALTUS A substance used to season or add piquancy to a recipe followed by the abbreviation for the North American republic

28a Scruffy Australian with local chief in dome-shaped shrine (6)
DAGOBA A scruffy Australian probably well-known to anyone who has ever watched an Australian soap opera (and in my case knowing its ovine-related origins), followed by a chief or ruler from a West African ethnic group

31a Some girl is so memorably nimble and flexible (7)
LISSOME Hidden in some of girL IS SO Memorably

32a Dark red resin from body of water in France and England (3-4)
LAC-LAKE The French and English words for a large body of water surrounded by land joined together with a hyphen to produce a scarlet colouring obtained from a resin secreted by coccid insects

33a Sailor with yellowish-brown checked material (6)
TARTAN One of the many words for sailor plus a colour that is yellowish-brown

34a Ill-will very regularly in aircraft’s cooking area (6)
GALLEY Some ill-will followed by the regular letters of vErY


2d Performer’s act not up to standard, it causes boredom (4-3)
TURN-OFF A performer’s act followed by a way of saying not up to standard

3d Carton to fill to capacity with European tat primarily (6)
PACKET A verb meaning to fill to capacity, the abbreviation for European and the primary letter of Tat

4d Corrupt adult list showing order for performing duties (4)
ROTA A verb meaning to corrupt followed by the abbreviation for Adult

5d Playful kiss of coach, we hear (4)
BUSS A homophone (we hear) of a type of motor coach

6d What makes me sick? Icecap melting (6)
IPECAC An anagram (melting) of ICECAP

7d Syrupy little cake of droll holy man in Delhi (3,4)
RUM BABA A word meaning droll followed by an Indian (in Delhi) holy man

8d Additional locomotive to store for future use on English rail principally (6)
BANKER A verb meaning to store for future use followed by the abbreviation for English and the principal letter of Rail – this is a locomotive used to push engines up a heavy slope

9d Endlessly loudly jeers strong alcoholic drink (6)
ARRACK Remove the outside letters (endlessly) from part of a verb meaning to jeer loudly

13d Regionally important geological site concealing our harsh conditions (7)
RIGOURS The abbreviation for a Regionally Important Geological Site ‘concealing’ or having inserted OUR (from the clue)

14d To meet requirements, announce hedging surprisingly fits (7)
SATISFY A verb meaning to announce ‘hedging’ an anagram (surprisingly) of FITS

15d Acted as guide, made heap including sacred scriptures (7)
PILOTED Part of a verb meaning made a heap ‘including’ or having inserted some abbreviated sacred scriptures

20d Rejected the French fortress (6)
CASTLE A way of saying rejected or thrown followed by the French masculine definite article

21d Strangely select a keyboard instrument with hammers and steel plates (7)
CELESTA An anagram (strangely) of SELECT A


23d Recent delivery of element irritated (7)
NEONATE A gaseous element and an informal word meaning irritated

24d Perth’s casual tramp now finally more sound of body (6)
WHALER An old informal Australian word (as used in Perth) for a tramp is obtained by following the final letters of noW with a word meaning more sound of body

25d Of the French energy as in an underground shelter (6)
DUGOUT The French word for of, some energy, and a two-letter Latin abbreviation and conjunction meaning ‘as’

26d Prince caught a large monkey (6)
RASCAL An Ethiopian prince, the abbreviation for caught, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Large

29d Somewhat slatternly bird (4)
TERN Hidden in slatTERNly

30d Draw attention to paving stone (4)
FLAG Another double definition to finish, one a verb, the other a paving stone


25 comments on “NTSPP – 536

  1. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks Chalicea. I normally miss themes but I did notice the number of craft.
    There were a few words I didn’t know (including all three parts of 28a) but the wordplay helped a lot as did having 4 out of 6 letters checked in 28a.
    My ticks went to 10a, 20a, 25a and 9d.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this, as I always do with Chalicea, for whom many thanks. A couple of new words for me but managed to work them out.

  3. :phew: That was very challenging and certainly not a “floughie”. This puzzle certainly provided a lot of clues for the money. There was a lot of clever cluing in evidence and I think I enjoyed it overall. However, I did find myself having to use Google and my BRB much more often than I like to.

    I learnt a lot of new words and new meanings, which will be great if only I can remember them. 28a in fact provided three novelties: the answer itself and its two component parts. I also didn’t know the mountaineering equipment in 18a, the answer to 27a, the locomotive in 8d, the drink in 9d, the Australian tramp in 24d, the prince in 26d.

    The acronym in 13d is very obscure and I needed to check that “thoroughly” could mean “up”. I had also forgotten the two-letter synonym for “as” and, assuming I am parsing 17a correctly, I can’t understand how “towards” leads to “if”.

    My podium comprises 19a, 7d, 8d, 20d & 30d.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for the stimulating mental workout.

      1. Not in my answer they don’t! I had written in RIFE, which I did think was a bit of a stretch for “large number”.
        Thanks, Gazza.

  4. Has Chalicea been flipping through her Chambers again? Or maybe she doesn’t need to anymore. I did remember the scruffy Australian and the unpleasant origin of that. Didn’t recognise the Australian tramp though

    Luckily, I’m besotted with my excellent chambers app where i quickly found the unexpected abbreviation in 13d and those extra locomotives in breach of continuity that make me sick

    Many thanks Chalicea – i very much enjoyed this, always wonderful to have one of your puzzles on this site

  5. I was enjoying this immensely … until the last few that I had never heard of … 9d, 27a, 28a etc, etc.

    I really liked picking the bones out of the wordplay of 5a and 10a.

    Thanks, Chalicea

  6. At the risk of being heretical, I have to say that I much preferred this setter’s puzzles when she was in what was unkindly referred to as ‘floughie’ mode. Like RD, I got a bit bogged down with the constant need to refer to the BRB, Mr Google et al and that somewhat reduced the enjoyment. I used to like your flora and fauna puzzles, Chalicea!
    Think the vagrant with his poorly foot was my favourite today.

    Thanks to Chalicea and apologies for being a bit grumpy!

    1. Sorry, Jane – I am working on a floughier one that will take us back to the flora and fauna.

  7. That was harder than I was expecting with some choice vocabulary, much of which was new to me – SE corner in particular
    Lots to enjoy here so thanks for the challenge Chalicea

  8. A gentle solve, I thought, and the more obscure words were clearly flagged. A little thrown by ‘upset’ in 18a, otherwise all good.

    Thanks to Chalicea

  9. Completed pre-caffeine on my Saturday morning although I need some urgently as I compose this comment. A bit of a head scratcher caused by some obscurities which needed electronic verification.
    Favourite – a toss-up between 16a and 19a – and the winner is, oh dear the coin has landed on its edge.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  10. Our BRB had to work very hard as our trusty assistant with this and we did manage to get everything sorted without having to reveal any letters. 18a was the last one to yield although the biggest delays were in the SE corner.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  11. What a strange puzzle. About 80% of it was reasonably accessible and good fun, the remainder very difficult and impossible for me without a lot of electronic help, which rather spoiled an otherwise pleasant solve.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and in advance to the reviewer.

  12. Many thanks for the review, CS. Of course you knew most of the required vocabulary, I would expect nothing less! The final indignity here was that I had to research several of the highlighted answers to convince myself that they were part of the theme.
    Never mind, I believe that there’s some more flora and fauna in the offing!

    1. All the themed answers are to be found in a list of Boats in Collins “Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Lists”, a very useful book to have, especially when blogging as you can check whether anything belongs to the theme all in one place rather than back and forth through the BRB

      1. Many thanks to crypticsue, as always, and all the kind commentators. Indeed, apologies for the R = Royal as it is limited to rex and regina in Chambers, which we are supposed to stick to, though Collins sometimes gives us a wider choice of abbreviations and some crosswords, like the Telegraph and Times allow L = Large and S = Small (Ludicrous that Chambers doesn’t when it admits M = Medium). I wish we could prompt Chambers to look in the necks of their shirts and add the most common uses of the letters.
        I can’t pretend to know the thematic ‘other’ meaning of half of the words I used but find Mrs Bradford’s wonderful ‘Crossword Solver’s Dictionary’ and her ‘Crossword Solver’s Lists’ invaluable when setting and solving. I’m working on another NTSPP (kind of ‘flora and fauna’ for Jane) and almost seventy of Mrs Bradford’s list words in the relevant theme provide a second or third meaning. I think her books are an absolute ‘must’ for crossworders.

        1. I have got a copy of ‘Crossword Solver’s Dictionary’ but it’s the pocket edition and didn’t seem to have some of the boats in it – maybe I need to put ‘Crossword Solver’s Lists’ on my next Christmas list!

  13. Thanks to CS for the review.
    I too doubted that R in 12a meant royal but, to my surprise, I did find it in Collins.

  14. Just had a go at this & surrendered 5 short when it became apparent that there were a host of words I’d never heard of. If I keep using Mr G so much he’ll be looking for a subscription. The remainder was very doable/enjoyable though.
    Thanks Chalicea & to CS for bridging my intelligence deficit

  15. Tricky in places but I got there with a little help from Chambers. Didn’t know the abbreviation in 13dn and was assuming that the setter had missed out ‘initially’ or some such first letters indication.
    Thanks, Chalicea and CS.

  16. I don’t usually leave comments. I am a dim newbie, gazing in on a new world of which I know little.
    I do not have a Chambers, I don’t know what NTSPP stands for, but I enjoyed this crossword.
    Guessed a couple from the wordplay, didn’t know a couple, rather liked this setter’s approach.
    Didn’t spot the theme, that is a dimension new to me, I will add it to the list.
    “Monitor” was also a class of ship , I expect you knew that.

    1. Welcome to the blog – stick with us and comment/ask questions and you’ll progress quite quickly

      NTSPP stands for Not The Saturday Prize Puzzle – Big Dave set it up as another puzzle for people to do as the DT Prize Crossword often didn’t take very long at all to solve and so people were looking for another crossword. You can click on NTSPP under the Home tab at the top of the page – just click on that, and then Cryptic Crosswords – and have a go at solving some of the previous ones.

      Not everyone has a hidden or ‘ghost’ theme – but with certain setters, including Chalicea, it is always worth having a look for something extra

      I don’t know how I missed Monitor as a vessel – you won’t believe how many times I double-checked that I’d highlighted them all.

  17. Nice to meet you Simon. One of the great pleasures of NTSPP is the lovely illustrated blog with the explanations that appears the following day. It is a pleasure for a setter as well as a solver. See you next time.

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