NTSPP – 563 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 563

A Puzzle by Chalicea

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

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

No need for a trawl through the Book of Lists for Crossword Solvers this time as Chalicea’s ghost theme informal terms for silly or gullible people became clear fairly early on while solving this straightforward, ideal for post-lunch solving, crossword; twelve links were found quite easily, the thirteenth revealed itself while checking one of Chalicea’s “obscure” definitions


1     Reluctant about a child’s horse, say, that’s ragged and unkempt (6)
SHAGGY A word meaning reluctant goes about A (from the clue) and a homophone (say) of the word a small child would call a horse

4     Old copper with catalogues for eye specialists (8)
OCULISTS The abbreviation for Old, the chemical symbol for copper and some catalogues

10     In exultant spirits cook a chop differently (4-1-4)
COCK-A-HOOP An anagram (differently) of COOK A CHOP

11     Farm bird to hiss off the stage (5)
GOOSE Well it wouldn’t be a Chalicea crossword without an obscurity (or several – there are more to come), the second part of this double definition clue being theatrical slang meaning to hiss off the stage

12     Bird on a chessboard? (4)
ROOK A clue that will have pleased Rabbit Dave as he does like his chess pieces to be accurately named

13     Journalist pursuing a French vehicle because showing signs of neglect (7- 3)
UNCARED-FOR The abbreviated head journalist goes after (pursuing) the French indefinite article and a vehicle; a preposition meaning by reason of (because) is then added at the end

15     Code word for Chaplin’s moustache? (7)
CHARLIE A NATO Phonetic Alphabet word or a small moustache resembling that of Mr Chaplin

16     Bring up old partner with expression of doubt and hint of envy (6)
EXHUME An old partner, an expression of doubt and a ‘hint’ of Envy

19     Measure litre then gallon in confusion (6)
LENGTH The abbreviation for Litre and then an anagram (in confusion) of THEN and the abbreviation for Gallon

21     Somehow ease dad into salty inland lake (4,3)
DEAD SEA An anagram (somehow) of EASE DAD

23     In the middle of departure caught English workforce – before time! Agitation! (10)
EXCITEMENT Insert the abbreviation for Caught into the middle of a departure, add the abbreviation for English, a workforce, and the abbreviation for Time

25     Cheat seabird (4)
GULL – Another double definition

27     Cut back wrinkled fruit (5)
PRUNE – And another

28     Keyboard instrument angered or troubled (4,5)
REED ORGAN An anagram (troubled) of ANGERED OR

29     Immerses mite into fluid? You might measure its depth with this (8)
DIPSTICK Another way of saying immerses and a small insect (mite)

30     Old one cooked strip of pasta (6)
NOODLE An anagram (cooked) of OLD ONE


1     Sports-day event to fire people? (4,4)
SACK RACE A verb meaning to fire and a particular group of people

2     Chilli pepper mania in place where coaster might be found (9)
ANCHORAGE A type of chilli pepper and a craze for something (mania)

3     Vigorously attack agile ruminant (4)
GOAT Merge the two words in a way of saying vigorously attack

5     Iced bun for attractive US lady (7)
CUPCAKE An iced bun or a North American slang word for an attractive lady. The word that is part of the theme is also North American slang

6     Lumberjack with principal piece of timber in whaleboat (10)
LOGGERHEAD A nautical term for a piece of timber in a whaleboat over which the line is passed is obtained by adding a synonym for principal to a lumberjack

7     Speak derisively of signal corps orator initially very loud (5)
SCOFF The initial letters of Signal Corps Orator and the abbreviated musical instruction to play very loudly

8     Clips wool of tips of sheep hearing organs (6)
SHEARS The ‘tips’ or first two letters of Sheep followed by some hearing organs

9     Resilience of black feline – or dead one? (6)
BOUNCE The abbreviation for Black and the feline that appears more in Crosswordland than there are probably left in the wild – the reference to the dead one relates to a brief recovery in the price of a stock

14     Most irresponsible air journey Mideast regularly chartered essentially (10)
FLIGHTIEST An air journey, the regular letters of mIdEaSt and the ‘essential’ letter of charTered

17     Was wrong about girl, we hear; Japanese university director regularly agreed (9)
MISJUDGED A homophone (we hear) of a girl, the abbreviations for Japanese, University and Director, and the regular letters of aGrEeD

18     Manner of speaking of standard weapon (8)
PARLANCE A standard and a type of weapon

20     Dwelling place mostly sumptuous, characteristic of Greek epic poet (7)
HOMERIC A dwelling place and most of a synonym for sumptuous

21     Professor with set of answers for smuggler employed by drug dealers (6)
DONKEY A professor and a set of answers

22     Retain possession of publicity, we’re told, for device with push-button controls (6)
KEYPAD A homophone (we’re told) of a synonym for retain possession of followed by some abbreviated publicity

24     End of piece of meat‘s cold rounded protuberance (5)
CHUMP The abbreviation for Cold and a rounded protuberance

26     Clumsy old bird; one who is out of fashion (4)
DODO An extinct (old) clumsy flightless bird or an informal term for one who is out of fashion

30 comments on “NTSPP – 563

  1. A light & breezy swift solve but very enjoyable. Even I couldn’t fail to spot the theme but can only spot 12. Many thanks Chalicea.

  2. Comfortably completed pre-caffeine.
    Not familiar with 21d, more used to hearing its 4 letter relative as the smuggler in question.
    I liked 18d.
    Thanks Chalicea and in advance to CS for the review.

  3. Quite a swift solve although I did have to verify the chilli pepper and rather thought the 21d smuggler had a slightly different name.
    Maybe 1a doesn’t need the inclusion of ‘ragged’ – a bit too close to the answer – and 9d could perhaps stand the removal of the last three words?
    Think I spotted the theme because one of them happens to be a favourite of mine but without access to Chalicea’s favourite reference book it could take a while to gather together all 13 of them.

    Thanks to Chalicea for the puzzle – my word, you’ve been a busy girl recently!

    1. The last three words in 9d do have relevance, especially when you think of how Chalicea does like to introduce us to new meanings of things

      1. After a bit of investigation, I take your point – although I still don’t like the apparent surface meaning of the clue!

  4. Thanks Chalicea, a lovely way to wake up on a saturday. I haven’t found all 13, no doubt i’ll kick myself tomorrow

  5. Quick solve but I’m evidently being thick today as I can’t see the theme. I thought of a couple of possibilities, but only found about half a dozen that went together for each idea…

    1. The actual theme did turn out to be one of the ones I had considered, but I could only find 7 or 8 such terms rather than the 13 there were meant to be.
      I had also thought of birds – shag, rook, goose, dodo etc and found 6 or 7 of them too…

  6. Really enjoyable on this dank, cool Saturday afternoon. Thank you Chalicea. We think we have the theme but can’t find 13 of ‘them’ so maybe we are barking up the wrong tree! Favourites were 29a and 13a. Will check in with CS tomorrow.

  7. Very enjoyable puzzle for a dank November day – many thanks Chalicea. Worked out the theme but needed to double check some of my 13 as I hadn’t come across them in this context before. Happy I didn’t throw away my 2009 edition of a certain book when I had a clearout recently.

  8. Many thanks for the review, CS, Chalicea can now add me as No.14 on her themed list! I was totally convinced that she’d been delving into her mushroom book again and to be honest, if you look hard enough you can find one that will equate to any number of words. One of my favourites is the Shaggy Inkcap so I was off and away with 1a. Then, your comment in response to mine @4, led me to discover that 9d is indeed a fungicide.
    Double thanks, Chalicea, haven’t laughed at myself so much in a while!

  9. That was nice, Jane, and I even appreciated LetterboxRoy’s first comment. I felt that a rather simple one like this might produce a few smiles. Many thanks to CrypticSue for the review, especially for the delightful donkey. So sorry to learn that the Times Championship is a disaster (again today) and that CS won’t be doing the lady solvers proud.

    1. crypticsue decided long ago not to bother with the online championship and spent both mornings doing other things. Looks like I made the right decision

    2. Thanks again for the puzzle Chalicea – I was another looking for birds but obviously fell well short; I now see the relevance of the title
      Thanks too to CS for the review

  10. Most enjoyable. Thank you, Chalicea for a pleasant solve. I missed the theme as usual. I think I will have to look harder at the answers to suss a theme out. I didn’t know that 6d was a timber in a whale boat. There is a village of the same name in Shropshire.

    Thanks again.

  11. Most enjoyable and I even found all the theme words. Only complaint – it was over too quickly. Thanks, Chalicea and CS

  12. Really enjoyed this Chalicea, thank you.
    I didn’t bother looking for the theme, just happily filled in the answers.
    Minor podium places go to 3&18d with top spot going to the very clever 9d.
    Thanks to CS too for her excellent review

  13. Didn’t know about the theme as nothing appeared on my print out.
    Little problem with 5d as I wrote cook a pooh in 10a. I shall blame it on Framboise’s dog Fifi. Beautiful and lively as ever.
    Didn’t know about the moustache bit in 15a.
    Thanks to Chalicea for a very pleasant crossword and to CS for the review.

    1. On the puzzle page the title of the puzzle appears in the bottom right corner – this was named ‘Numpties’

        1. Yes, jean-luc cheval, but it was difficult to resist the urge to set a puzzle including all those simple souls as Bradford produces so many lovely Numpty words.

  14. I am still arguing with the DT about my puzzle site subscription going awry. therefore in order to have something to take to work today, I saved this and enjoyed it Immensely. I wasn’t aware of the ghost theme but looking at the completed grid I do see what it would likely be.
    Was Mr Chaplin’s moustache a necessary part of the clue as to me I went to toothbrush rather than the codeword when I saw the enumeration I wondered a bit.
    I did like 9d and I think it really needed the last 3 words and I had to check the chilli too. I too thought of another equine for 21d but would nominate 14d as a very well constructed clue too.
    Thanks, Chalicea and CS
    In order to have something to do at work tomorrow, I may save today’s dead tree for then.

    1. The BRB defines the moustache meaning of Charlie as being like one just like Mr Chaplin’s, or words to that effect, I can’t summon up the energy to get out the chair and look

      If Chalicea has something in her clues that could well be a definition, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be in the BRB

  15. Yes, indeed. The NATO code word and the Charlie Chaplin moustache helpfully appear as two separate head words in the BRB and allowed me to obey the rules and have a double definition clue, as well as using the ‘Charlie’ simpleton definition of the ghost theme.

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