NTSPP – 541 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 541

A Puzzle by Chalicea

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

There is a ghost theme which involves symmetrically placed answers.

Chalicea returns with a fairly obviously ghost themed crossword. A nice NTSPP lunchtime solve with very few ‘unknowns’, all of which I actually knew so no need to spend the afternoon trawling through the BRB, a quick solve, quick draft review and picture hunt and then out to water the garden


1     Wretchedness of gambling stake really emptied (6)
MISERY A stake in gambling and the outside letters (emptied) of ReallY

4     Relating to the topic, like 7, 8 and 9d, say (8)
THEMATIC The three clues mentioned are all examples of the ghost ‘topic’

10     Get possession of horse’s jointed bit (7)
SNAFFLE A nice double definition clue

11     Jugs indeed and drinking vessels holding last of hock (7)
LOCKUPS A synonym for indeed and some drinking vessels ‘holding’ the last letter of hoc– jugs being a slang term for prisons

12     Set clue not completely second rate (4)
CLUB Remove the final letter of CLUe (not completely) and replace with the letter used to indicate that something is second rate

13     Racket involving immature fashionable doctor’s way of posting information (7,3)
DRAWING PIN A noisy racket into which is inserted (involving) a synonym for immature, the usual two-letter ‘fashionable’ and an abbreviation for a doctor

15     Dipsomaniac quitting bottles to release from accusation (6)
ACQUIT ‘Bottled’ in dipsomaniAC QUITting

16     Very special person‘s sixtieth anniversary? (7)
DIAMOND An informal way of saying that someone is very special or the gift you might expect on your sixtieth wedding anniversary

20     Spot ants endlessly about, essentially, on type of 22 (7)
PONTOON The essential letters of sPOt and aNTs, followed by the ‘essential’ letter in abOut and ON (from the clue)

21     Water heater for old eccentric fellow, it’s said (6)
GEYSER One of those clues that turns up regularly where the choice of solution varies according to how the setter feels and what checking letters they have to play with – today the water heater is a homophone (it’s said) of the old eccentric fellow

24     Ways to catch jaguars, for example; ones to avoid if you’re over 70 (5,5)
RADAR TRAPS A cryptic definition, the jaguars aren’t wild cats!

26     Select area for international store (4)
PACK Take a verb meaning to select and replace the I for International with an  A for Area 

28     Under the influence of narcotics, daughter giving appearance of strength (7)
DRUGGED The abbreviation for Daughter followed by an adjective meaning giving appearance of strength

29     One who with effort draws sharp weapon restraining leader of riot (7)
DRAGGER A sharp weapon ‘restraining’ the first letter (leader) of Riot

30     Muscles of those who vote, changing sides (8)
ERECTORS Change the second letter of some people who vote from one side to another

31     Some valid car document, one showing who you are (2,4)
ID CARD Hidden in some valID CAR Document


1     Member of band, fellow going round US chemical company (8)
MUSICIAN A fellow goes round US (from the clue) and an [old] chemical company

2     The way things are; attitudes occasionally central to falsified quotas (6,3)
STATUS QUO The occasional letters of atTitUdeS put in the centre of an anagram (falsified) of QUOTAS

3     Pope unpolished on the radio … (4)
RUFF Pope and the solution are names for a particular fish – a homophone (on the radio) of a way of saying unpolished will provide the solution, which also forms part of the ghost theme

5     … worthily organised the scriptures (4,4)
HOLY WRIT An anagram (organised) of WORTHILY

6     Barmen much harassed producing sonic speed (4,6)
MACH NUMBER An anagram (harassed) of BARMEN MUCH

7     President‘s a good, trusty person some say (5)
TRUMP The current POTUS or an informal term (some say) for a good, trusty person (someone relied on to be very friendly and especially helpfu)

8     About son in old establishment for gambling (6)
CASINO The abbreviations for About and Son, IN (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Old

9     Listen with a hint of tact and compassion (5)
HEART A verb meaning to listen with a ‘hint’ of Tact

14     Cheerful about girth dropping grammes, a privilege (10)
BIRTHRIGHT Another way of saying cheerful goes about the letters remaining once you have removed the abbreviation for grammes from gIRTH

17     Sadly lost again, longing for things past (9)
NOSTALGIA An anagram (sadly) of LOST AGAIN

18     Bullfight not accepted on principally restricted belt of land (8)
CORRIDOR A bullfight minus (not) the abbreviation for accepted, O (on) and the principal letter of Restricted

19     Hard up and bolshie, negotiated on Wall St (8)
BROKERED Hard up for money plus the colour associated with someone with left-wing opinions (bolshie)

22     Irish patron saint’s endless attempt to reconcile seeming incompatibles (6)
BRIDGE Remove the final letter (endless) from a patron saint of Ireland

23     Digger‘s home in south-east (5)
SPADE An informal home inserted into the abbreviation for South East

25     Italian dictator welcoming European devil (5)
DEUCE An Italian dictator ‘welcoming’ the abbreviation for European

27     Round of applause for worker (4)
HAND Double definition

19 comments on “NTSPP – 541

  1. Always look forward to doing a Chalicea crossword and today was no exception. Many thanks for an enjoyable puzzle. Learnt a new meaning for 3d in the light of the ghost theme.

  2. Very enjoyable, a steady methodical plod required with this grid
    Bit of a mix of relatively simple starters and a few pauses for thought – namely where I was misdirected as intended, no doubt
    Thanks for the entertainment Chalicea

  3. There’s a typo in 28a which you probably wouldn’t notice if you weren’t preparing the draft blog!

  4. This was great fun with an easy to spot theme.

    I made life more difficult for myself by putting in “speed traps” initially for 24a. I’ve always thought the Irish saint was St. Brigid and, although I had a quick look, I couldn’t find the alternative spelling needed for 22d. I think “some say” is padding in 7d but I can understand why Chalicea has included it! Sadly the fine British chemical company in 1d is long gone. :-(

    Many thanks, Chalicea, for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    1. Thanks very much for your usual thorough review, CS. I see you have omitted “some say” from 7d.

      1. Got back from my walk and was in a bit of a rush to get this posted before starting on picking the strawberries – I saw the words ‘some say’ in my hint but not in the clue and didn’t check the clue but removed the ‘some say’. That’ll learn me.

        Now back to finishing off the Scarlet Charlotte (a Nigel Slater recipe) and get it in the oven

  5. Very enjoyable but some head scratching required with some Reveals for confirmation.
    I had 25d so, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t write in speed as the first word of 24a.
    I did like 13a, the aforementioned 24a, and 18d.
    Thanks Chalicea and CS for the upcoming review.

  6. I think there’s one bit of parsing I haven’t completely nailed but I enjoyed piecing the elements of the theme together although my favourite was the old eccentric fellow with a water heater.

    Thanks to Chalicea for the Saturday diversion – certainly beats wading on through the jobs list!

  7. Thanks Chalicea, very pleasant and a little trickier in SW. Had to check the patron saint and the bullfight. Enjoyed the theme – didn’t want to enter 7d though. didn’t know the fish either, just the term for trumping.

  8. Good fun which was added to by the search for all the themed answers. A real pre-Sunday morning walk treat for us.
    We also delayed our solve in the SW by initially putting in speed as the first word in 24a.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  9. I really must be the most unobservant would be solver. As RD said easy theme to spot but I was oblivious which was a shame as had I picked up on it 12&26a, my last 2 in, would have proved far less pesky.
    Very enjoyable – like Dutch the saint & bullfight were new to me & as with the 2Ks I was snared in the speed trap for a while
    Thanks Chalicea

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS. The 1a gambling stake was an unknown for me and although the answer was what it had to be, I spent a while looking for ‘MI’ for gambling followed by an empty StakE and ReallY.
    Chalicea obviously has hidden talents!

    ps Think the hint for 26a needs a little adjustment?

      1. Pure chance, CS, my ability to concentrate has more or less deserted me as I’ve just spent quite some time, courtesy of Skype, watching my new granddaughter sleeping peacefully whilst her exhausted mum tries to cope with ‘everything else’!

  11. All good fun this – not too tough – though I didn’t quite sort out the wordplay for 26a (should have!), I wrote it in from the theme.

    As a confirmed 22d-player, I should perhaps point out that 8d and 20a are not actually in my regular vocabulary! I’ve never heard the 25d for “two” at my local club, I think it’s more American usage. But some of our members do say “knave” rather than “jack”. I think it’s a case of “U versus non-U” usage. I admit to just saying “two” or “jack”. At the moment, all the play is online so I don’t say anything….

    There was an almighty row in Thailand, some years ago, when police raided an expats’ 22d club. They saw several packs of cards on the tables and came to the conclusion that it was an illegal gambling den. Took quite a lot of sorting out apparently!

    Anyway (forgive my rabbiting on) many thanks to Chalicea, and CS for the analysis.

  12. Apologies for some havering with the ‘some say’ of 7d. I wasn’t really intending to make a political comment but, in a context like that, it is difficult not to. Thanks to all and particularly to crypticsue – your POTUS joker card was magnificent. I’m glad you had plenty of time left for the garden.

  13. As Laccaria said, All good fun this – not too tough. The only one I had trouble parsing was 1ac where I didn’t know the gambling stake and so, like Jane, wondered where the MI came from.
    Thanks Chalicea and CS.

    1. I suppose it’s a bit of a paradox that, even as a non-gambler (I’ve never played the lottery nor anything similar), I’m familiar with quite a few gambling terms. “Mise” was one of them. I think a knowledge of French helps!

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