NTSPP – 558 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 558

A Puzzle by Chalicea

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

As with most of Chalicea’s puzzles, there is a ghost theme.  Good luck with finding the 13 thematic answers.


Chalicea has given us a trickier crossword than some of her previous Saturday lunchtime puzzles, this one guaranteed to do wonders for sales of Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary where, once you have a completed grid, and look at the three solutions in row 8, it is obvious where to look to check the other ten ghost-themed tools solutions. As with all of Chalicea’s crosswords, you can be confident that all the obscure/obsolete definitions will be found in the BRB so I only checked the ‘bacon pancake’ element of 6d.   The BRB did come in very handy when looking for illustrations as some of the themed items did have several different pictures and so it was necessary to check the BRB definition to see which one was the most relevant


8     Stake a chess piece (4)
PAWN A verb meaning to pledge take or a chess piece

9     Troubled scholar, from time to time, worrier – a greenie (3-7)
ECO-WARRIOR An anagram troubled of alternate (from time to time) letters of sChOlAr and WORRIER

10     Unruly mob struggle losing ground at first (6)
RABBLE A verb meaning to struggle losing the first letter of Ground

11     Many in number cross about liberal hint (8)
MULTIPLE A cross between a male donkey and a female horse (or, according to the BRB, a cross between a canary and another finch) goes ‘about’ the abbreviation for Liberal and a hint

12     US bird‘s short jerky movement over golf course mostly (8)
BOBOLINK A short jerky movement, the cricket abbreviation for over and most of a golf course, especially one by the sea

14     Coins kind son dropped (6)
SPECIE Drop the second abbreviation for Son from a synonym for kind

16     Lie around after following small body of soldiers (4)
FILE An anagram (around) of LIE goes after the abbreviation (small) for following

17     Level a tree (5)
PLANE Double definition

18     Select part of topic knowingly (4)
PICK Hidden in part of toPIC Knowingly

19     Woodlouse locally essentially vanishing some time in the future (6)
SLATER  I did know this dialect word for a woodlouse which is obtained by taking the middle letter (essentially) of vaniShing and following it with a way of saying some time in the future

21     Sadly I’m leftie for duration of existence (8)
LIFETIME An anagram (sadly) of IM LEFTIE

23    Indirect answers of disconcerted rector quitting badly managed conservatories (8)
EVASIONS The letters RECTOR (disconcerted telling you that they aren’t in that order) are removed (quitting) from coNSerVAtOrIES

26     Bug Ringo, say, on the phone (6)
BEETLE A homophone (on the phone) of how one might refer to Ringo Starr

27     Small currant bun; Spike Milligan’s delicacy? (6,4)
ECCLES CAKE A character played by Spike Milligan and a delicacy

28    Female leaving one musical instrument for another (4)
LUTE Remove the abbreviation for Female from a musical instrument


1     A Latino art roughly related to swimming (10)
NATATORIAL An anagram (roughly) of A LATINO ART

2     Eleven, perhaps, in single file (3,2,3)
ONE BY ONE If you write eleven in numbers, you put a xxx next to a xxx

3     The old folk, originally indigenous Gulf inhabitants (6)
YEMENI The old-fashioned way of saying ‘the’, some folk and the original letter of Indigenous

4     Diver‘s money at bottom of bog (4)
LOOM An alternative spelling for a diving bird – the abbreviation for money goes at the bottom of an informal term for a lavatory (bog)

5     Cumbrian city‘s beginning of car rallies in a turmoil (8)
CARLISLE The first letter (beginning) of Car and an anagram (in a turmoil) of RALLIES

6     Fine to produce strawberry brandy or bacon pancake (6)
FRAISE The abbreviation for Fine and a verb meaning to produce – it is easy to see how the themed item got its name!

7     An act of rotating or reversing lines (4)
ROLL A reversal of OR (from the clue) and two abbreviations for Line (lines plural)

13     Adult in frolic overturning village of huts (5)
KRAAL The abbreviation for Adult inserted into a reversal (overturning) of a verb meaning to frolic

15     Unfinished during brief competition, allowed time finally (10)
INCOMPLETE A synonym for during, an abbreviated (brief) competition, a verb meaning allowed and the final letter of time

17 Aquatic mammal‘s power or graceful carriage (8)
PORPOISE The abbreviation for Power, OR from the clue and a graceful carriage

18     Petty Officer on telly, clutching top of bulging paunch (8)
POTBELLY The abbreviation for Petty Officer goes on TELLY (from the clue) ‘clutching’ or going round the first (top) letter of Bulging

20     Struggle of tense American golfer making a comeback (6)
TUSSLE The abbreviations for Tense and American followed by a reversal (making a comeback) of a golfer

22    Famous sailor escaped guards (6)
FABLED A verb meaning escaped ‘guards’ an abbreviated sailor

24     In place of old winding stair (4)
VICE Double definition, the latter being described by the BRB as ‘obsolete’

25     Overturned cooking utensils suddenly break (4)
SNAP A reversal (overturned) of some cooking utensils

18 comments on “NTSPP – 558

  1. Some relatively straightforward clues to get started, then some new words for me which notched the level up a bit
    Think I can see the elusive spectre but I’m not confident I’ve found thirteen
    Very enjoyable Chalicea, thanks for the entertainment

  2. I enjoyed this a lot in spite of lots of thumbing through my BRB. I didn’t know 12a, 19a, 1d, the uncommon spelling of the 4d bird, the various meanings of 6d, and the winding stair in 24d; and I would have enumerated 18d as either (3-5) [as per Chambers] or (3,5) [as per Collins].

    My favourite was 27a which I absolutely loved.

    Theme, what theme?

    Many thanks to Chalicea and in advance to CS.

  3. Enjoyable but I cannot claim to have finished unaided. I learned some new words that I will try to retain in my increasingly addled brain. Thank you, Chalicea for 27a. I loved The Goons but I doubt they would be allowed today because of the accursed “wokeness”!

    I have not found the theme yet but I will ponder some more.

    Thank you for a great puzzle, Chalicea.

  4. Benevolence certainly in short supply here Chalicea as I thought this very tough indeed. Managed about 80% unaided but then resorted to a letter reveal on 3 occasions to stumble across the finish line & like Steve there were words completely new to me. If the theme is as obscure as some of the answers I’ll leave it to brighter folk to figure out. Enjoyed it nevertheless but simply too difficult an examination paper. Many thanks.

  5. Half done so far – but definitely struggling with the other half! Enjoying it despite the frustration and battling on. NE and SW corners are proving difficult.

  6. Several new words for me in this one including, I’m ashamed to admit, the variant spelling of the diver in 4d.
    27a & 17d topped the board for me and I haven’t got a clue as far as the theme is concerned.

    Thanks to Chalicea for extending my vocabulary!

  7. Finished! (With a lot of google help.) 24d, 4d, 12a and 19a were new words and we hope 6d is the correct bung in! Most enjoyable, Chalicea, thank you. We’ll check in with CS tomorrow.

  8. Trouble in the NE slowed me down considerably and I needed a couple of reveals to finish. I have never heard of 4d and, hopefully, it will be quite a while before I hear of it again. The best reference provided to me by Google was the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 16!
    I did like 12a, 3d, and 17d.
    Thanks Chalicea and CS in advance.

  9. BRB had to work quite hard to help us with some of the answers and it was good fun as ever from this setter.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS. Apart from the three obvious ones (in row 8, I think!) and a couple elsewhere in the grid, I didn’t know any of the other themed items so hadn’t made the connection.
    I also didn’t find the title of the puzzle referred to by LBR.
    Not sure that I want to have to spend so much time trawling through dictionaries but I did enjoy solving the puzzle without going to such lengths.

  11. Indeed, Steve Cowling, the Goons would probably be banned these days, and Monty Python etc. because of the accursed “wokeness”. It would have been difficult to clue that one without Spike Milligan. Many thanks to all for the appreciative comments and particuarly to CrypticSue. I had no idea some of the thematic items looked like that, especially 6d.

  12. Quite a quick solve for me, although I had to check a few guesses or alternative meanings in the BRB. 16, 17 and 24 suggested the theme, but I didn’t look for all the thematic answers. Very enjoyable; thanks, Chalicea and CS.

  13. I completed Chalicea’s NTSPP-574 yesterday so I was on the lookout for themed items in this crossword. The theme became apparent with 16, 17 and 18 across, but that didn’t help much. I fell short in the NE corner with 2 words I would never have found and by mistakenly entering LOON, even though I had no idea where the N came from – which also blocked 11a. Without adequate reference works I was struggling. As for obscure theme words, in future I will not try to find them all but will guess at likely candidates and then turn to CS’s excellent reviews for enlightenment! So overall a bit frustrated by this puzzle but I still enjoyed the uphill battle – just need to acknowledge when to cede defeat!

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