NTSPP – 553 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

NTSPP – 553

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 (one that it is not neccessary to spot in order to complete the puzzle, just a bit of extra fun).  Eleven answers are involved, seven acrosses and four downs.

Chalicea’s been using the Bradford’s Book of Crossword Lists again – it was easy to find ten of  the themed artists’ names so my copy stayed on the bookshelf until in desperation I checked every Across solution in both that book and two others,  and am still none the wiser  – I have lots of other things (both crossword and non-crossword related) to do today (Sunday) so I’ll let someone else point it out.  I did also use the BRB to check on the obsolete adverb in 28a and the marmot in 5d.


9     Old bet, one about a cactus (7)
OPUNTIA The abbreviation for old, a bet, the letter representing one and A (from the clue) – we are custodians of Son No 1s cactus collection (too numerous and prickly to be transported to Northern Ireland) and there are many fine examples of this large cactus in our greenhouse – you can make nice jam with the fruit too

10     Too fine to finally dash back in haste (7)
HOTFOOT A reversal (back) of TOO (from the clue), the abbreviation for Fine, TO (from the clue) and the final letter of dasH

11     Encounter ruin, not organised (3,4)
RUN INTO An anagram (organised) of RUIN NOT

12    Disheartened shopper clasping small coins for short undergarment (7)
SPENCER The outside letters (disheartened) of ShoppeR ‘clasping’ some small coins

13     Singular braid, oddly foully nerve-wracking (9)
STRESSFUL The abbreviation for Singular, a braid of hair and the odd letters of FoUlLy

15     Steadily eat a great deal, gobbling heart of lunch (5)
MUNCH A great deal into which is inserted (gobbling) the ‘heart’ of luNch

16     Article rejects quotes about conservative man leading life of austerity (7)
ASCETIC An indefinite article followed by a verb meaning quotes which goes ‘about’ the abbreviation for Conservative

19     Maybe does caviar that’s expensive, by the sound of it (3,4)
ROE DEER Fish eggs (caviar) and a homophone (by the sound of it) of expensive

20     Stretch one’s neck in order to see wading bird (5)
CRANE – Double definition

21     Deceive well-balanced policeman (9)
CONSTABLE A verb meaning to deceive and an adjective meaning well-balanced

25     Mostly scornfully abusive with no time for hormone (7)
INSULIN Take a word meaning scornfully abusive, remove the final letter (as you only need ‘most’ of the word) and then take out the T (no time)

26     Sheepdog right for mine worker (7)
COLLIER A sheepdog and the abbreviation for Right

28     Carriage horse for hire, not in the past unknown (7)
HACKNEY A horse for hire, an obsolete (in the past) word meaning no and a mathematical unknown

29    More with it to rattle on about tripe essentially (7)
NATTIER A verb meaning to talk a lot (rattle on) goes ‘about’ the essential letter of trIpe


1     Counter English type of folk dance (6)
MORRIS A counter used in games such as Nine Men’s xxxxxx, or a type of English folk dance

2     Resistance interrupting one who adjusts engine-pitch; worker using a lathe (6)
TURNER The abbreviation for Resistance ‘interrupting’ someone who adjusts the pitch of an engine

3     School‘s characteristic set up (4)
ETON A reversal (set up in a Down clue) of a characteristic

4     Produce eggs no longer fresh; put an end to activity (3-3)
LAY-OFF Produce eggs followed by an adjective meaning no longer fresh

5     Large marmot; game the French originally reintroduced (8)
WHISTLER A card game, the French definite article and the original letter of Reintroduced

6    Most hot and humid around river with greatest number of rivulets (10)
STREAMIEST A synonym for most hot and humid goes around the abbreviation for River

7     Look, good, working ocean boat made from hollowed out tree trunk (3-5)
LOG CANOE An old-fashioned or poetic way of saying look, the abbreviation for Good and an anagram (working) of OCEAN

8     Laundry worker from Chartres perhaps (8)
STARCHER An anagram (perhaps) of CHARTRES

14     Reformed Lutherans discovered ultimately in old Scottish county (10)
SUTHERLAND An anagram (reformed) of LUTHERANS followed by the ultimate letter of discovereD – my mother’s paternal grandmother’s family had this as a surname because the family orginated from that old county

16     A Roman Catholic gentle source of illumination (3,5)
ARC LIGHT A (from the clue) the abbreviation for Roman Catholic and a synonym for gentle

17     School year-group in charge, principally studying ancient literary works (8)
CLASSICS A school year-group, the abbreviation for In Charge and the principal letter of Studying

18     East Enders cold and out of sorts on Skye going round clubs (8)
COCKNEYS The abbreviation for Cold, an anagram (out of sorts) of ON SKYE going round the abbreviation for the card suit Clubs

22     Some demonic energy of ancient city in Asia Minor (6)
NICENE Hidden in some demoNIC ENErgy

23     Sibling endlessly cooked little buckwheat pancakes (6)
BLINIS An anagram (cooked) of SIBLINg without the final (endlessly) letter

24     Wrongdoings of troublesome children not primarily tolerated (6)
ERRORS Remove the T (not primarily tolerated) from some troublesome children

27     Frothy milky coffee losing hint of taste towards the end (4)
LATE Remove one of the t’s (losing hint of taste) from a frothy milky coffee

24 comments on “NTSPP – 553

  1. A very pleasant solve for a bright sunny day. 9a was a new word for me but the clue helped me solve it. When I looked it up afterwards, I knew the more popular name. That made 1d go in to complete the crossword, which I guessed by the ghost theme, but had never come across this counter before. No special favourites, but many thanks Chalicea for another great puzzle.

  2. Very enjoyable. Mr G needed to confirm a number of answers reached via the wordplay (5d, 9a, 12a & 22d). Got the ghost theme (though only 6 of the across ones) & had I paid a bit of attention to it I wouldn’t have considered chess as the 5 letter game in the 5d wordplay – not up to speed with my marmots & wasn’t at the front of the queue when brains were handed out.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  3. Another one of those very enjoyable NTSPPs that was straightforward enough, with a sprinkling of oldies but goodies, that I could multi-task and keep one eye on the Oz Super Rugby that I had recorded overnight.
    I liked 10a and 29a.
    Thanks Chalicea and, in advance, to CS for the review.

  4. I didn’t spot the ghost theme so I’ll need to look at the answers a bit closer. A very enjoyable puzzle with some good clues. I liked 10a and 25a. 9a was a new word and I have not heard of Marmots large or otherwise. Many thanks, Chalicea for the entertainment.

  5. You always know there’s going to be something that needs looking up when Chalicea’s in the NTSPP slot! For me today that was the 1d counter and the large marmot and would probably have also been 22d had it not been lurking in the clue.
    19&20a made me smile and there’s no prizes for guessing which answer will get Kath’s vote!

    Many thanks, Chalicea – I was very slow on the uptake with the theme.

  6. II thought I was as smart as a box of frogs spotting the theme mid solve but coming here it is mentioned in the preamble. I will save my study of the hints until a bit later as I still have a fair bit to do

  7. Same as Jane on the lookups. For a while, I was looking for Ski resorts, and a couple of theme entries require further research.
    Thanks for the challenge Chalicea, your usual gravatar and 5d nudged me towards my first stab at the theme. Does anyone else remember “Marmots” as the little plastic marmot shaped things with an elasticated string for lift passes before they went all electronic?

  8. We have now spotted the theme – but not until we read the intro and then looked for it! An enjoyable puzzle, 9a new to us and found 6d an unusual word but solvable from the clue. Favourites 19a and 15a. Thank you Chalicea and also CS for tomorrow’s review.

  9. We spotted the ghost theme quite early on and it certainly helped the solve. We’re also feeling smug that we managed to locate all the themed answers before we realised that the preamble told us how many there were.
    Good fun.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  10. Just back from a very enjoyable playing cricket at an idyllic village ground in the heart of Kent, and I was delighted to have such a lovely NTSPP to tackle on my return.

    I think even I would have spotted the theme without the tip in the introduction and I found all eleven entries without much trouble. I needed to look up the cactus, the undergarment, the counter and the marmot.

    19a was my favourite of an excellent selection.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for the fun and, in advance, to CS for the review.

  11. I’ll almost mirror Senf’s comment in that I was able to complete this while watching the Sunday morning repeat of Match of the Day, turning the sound off when Lineker came on.
    I see that I’m not alone in having to consult Mr G for one or two in the North…and I wasn’t aware there was a theme but I’ll look for it now.
    Quite a few contenders for favourite but I’ll for 15a.
    Thanks Chalicea, good fun.

  12. I have found a couple of themed people who fit 28a but they seem a little obscure. I tried hard to justify changing the first vowel to a better known Yorkshire artist but I failed and will do a bit more research into 28a as the clue.
    Thanks again to Chalicea and to CS for the review.

  13. Many thanks for the review, CS, looks to me as though you found all eleven of the themed entries unless I can’t count, which is entirely possible!
    I’m still not sure what ‘about’ is doing in 1a – could you enlighten me?

    1. I haven’t found them all – I put the clue to 28a in red by mistake!

      No idea what about is doing in 1a unless it is just there to make a sensible sentence

      1. I puzzled about “about” when I was solving, and ended up wondering if it was there to clue the final “a” of the answer with the other “a” being part of the definition “a cactus”. :unsure:

      2. That is the trouble with names. Mr G can find a couple of artists for 28a and 8d. There is probably a whole school of 3d or 22d artists too I suspect Chalicea herself only had 10 in mind and the 11th was a misreading of 28a

  14. Many thanks, CrypticSue, as always, I loved the illustrations, especially the marmot. We were in the Alps a week ago and saw and heard dozens of them (sitting on rocks and whistling their warnings of our arrival as we trudged up le Roc d’Enfer). Yes, I was surprised to find that 28a is a fairly well-known abstract example of the theme and he was indeed the last of the set of eleven (and not a misprint for his more famous almost-namesake).
    I just checked my own solution notes for the A in 9a and had intended it as Rabbit Dave suggests, with the ‘about’ being the final letter of the cactus and the ‘a’ simply an article to improve the surface reading – and clearly one of them could have been omitted.
    Thank you for all those warm comments. I am working on another NTSPP that will produce some smiles.
    Sorry – it is Chalicea here but the site is logging me in as ‘The Numpties’ as I am part of the team that is giving the new Big Dave series of EV hints (take a look!) to help newcomers to the thematic cryptic Enigmatic Variations series.

  15. Very much what others have said, so what can one add. I needed a wordfinder for the cactus but that then helped me with the folk dance. I knew the word for the undergarment but only in its other meaning of an overcoat! I saw what the theme was but didn’t bother to check asll the thematic entries.
    Thanks, Chalicea and CS.

    1. Some crosswords are clearly themed. Some crosswords have solutions which could also relate to a theme but aren’t obviously indicated as such and so are called ghost themes

Comments are closed.