NTSPP 611 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Chalicea

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A NTSPP from Chalicea which, like the majority of her previous Saturday lunchtime puzzles, is one of those where, as you are solving you “spot a few words that would fit with a theme – finish solving and then get the crossword lists book out to make sure you’ve found every ‘ghost’


7 Vessel used with pestle for grinding bonding material (6)
MORTAR A double definition to start us off

8 Stretch neck to better see knowing and clever daddy-long-legs (5,3)
CRANE FLY A verb meaning to stretch one’s neck in order to better see and a synonym for knowing and clever

9 Minor issue? Regulation concerning mature years, maybe (3,5)
AGE LIMIT A problem for a minor perhaps

10 Some nicest uses for an ancient bride’s belt (6)
CESTUS Hidden in some of niCEST USes

11 Constituent represents an irregular soldier (8)
PARTISAN A constituent of something, a simple way of saying represents and AN (from the clue)

12 Explosive sex involving umpteen from time to time (6)
SEMTEX SEX (from the clue) into which is inserted (involving) the even (from time to time) letters of uMpTeEn

13 Lamenting, we hear, leading performer – Venus maybe? (7,4)
MORNING STAR The name given to the planet Venus is formed from a homophone (we hear) of a synonym for lamenting followed by a leading performer

18 Medicine man‘s counterfeit article (6)
SHAMAN A counterfeit or pretence followed by an indefinite article

20 Reject short walk on treeless upland (4,4)
TURN DOWN A short walk on a piece of treeless upland

22 London area primarily set up over revolutionary works (6)
OPUSES A reversal (revolutionary) of the abbreviated area of England where London is situated and the primary letters of Set Up Over

23 Immorality of warped promiscuity, twisted society briefly rejected (8)
IMPURITY An anagram (warped) of PRoMIscUiTY without (rejected) the three-letter abbreviation for society (twisted telling you that the letters aren’t found in that order

24 Justifications of French barriers (8)
DEFENCES The French word for ‘of’ and some barriers

25 Culinary herb not initially backed for Asiatic wild ass (6)
ONAGER A reversal (backed) of a culinary herb without its first letter (not initially)


1 Base equipment needed to get car moving (3,4)
LOW GEAR Another word for base or lacking in morals followed by some equipment

2 Heel‘s argument about sesame (8)
STILETTO An argument (3,2) goes about a Hindi word for sesame

3 Turbulent episodes of afternoon engaged in whisky tipples (6)
DRAMAS A possible abbreviation for Afternoon  inserted into some tipples of whisky

4 Effect of drugs turning some mafiosi so cranky (8)
NARCOSIS Hidden (turning) in some mafioSI SO CRANky

5 Items discarded from planes over America (6)
JETSAM Some planes over (in a down solution) an abbreviation for America give us items discarded from ships

6 Book space for store of food (7)
ALBUMEN A type of book and a printer’s space

8 Nasty centralisation with no right for old way to punish offenders (3-1-4-5)
CAT-O-NINE-TAILS An anagram (nasty) of CENTrALISATION without the R (no right)

14 Black medick plant; an extraordinary thing once (8)
NONESUCH Another name for the black medick plant (which appears from time to time in our lawn) or an archaic term for something extraordinary

15 Civic dignitary planting tree on isle, say (8)
ALDERMAN A type of tree goes on top of an island quite often found in crosswords!

16 Bobby gains height in this? (7)
CHOPPER An informal term for a policeman (bobby) ‘gains’ the abbreviation for Height

17 Dreadfully raw test for one who studies hard (7)
SWATTER An anagram (dreadfully) of RAW TEST

19 Male sparrow hawk encountered circling US park finally (6)
MUSKET A simple way of saying encountered ‘circling’ US (from the clue) and the final letter of parK

21 Predatory bird savaged parrot (6)
RAPTOR An anagram (savaged) of PARROT

42 comments on “NTSPP 611

  1. Hmm, not as much fun as a Chalicea NTSPP usually is and I did need to confirm some of my answers e.g. 10a, 25a, and 19d. But I did complete it without caffeine assistance.

    If there is one of Chalicea’s ‘famous’ ghost themes it remains a mystery to me.

    Thanks to the Floughie Lady and in advance to CS.

    1. I did know 25a, but needed to confirm 10a and 19d. My last ones in were 2a, 6d, 16d & 19d – otherwise fairly straightforward for me.

  2. This made a pleasant diversion for Saturday lunchtime. I only needed to look up a very few things: the answers to 10a & 14d; and the alternative name for “sesame” in 2d.

    I’m not sure why “base” in 1d leads to the first word of the answer.

    The unnecessary split infinitive in 8a earned a hmm. Why not simply omit “better”?

    24a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and in advance presumably to CS.

    1. RD. Base (adj.) = *** (adj.) in the sense in the sense of dishonourable, or immoral, mean, etc. That’s how I see it, old chap.

      1. :oops: That could be because I had the wrong gear! It would be foolish in the extreme to try to get a car moving in “top gear”.

    2. Regarding 8a, I’m sure this clue could easily be reduced from 11 words to 8 by something like: Stretch neck to see cunning daddy-long-legs (5,3). Sorry, setter, if I’m being an annoying clever-dick.

  3. A pleasant solve on a dull day. I always look forward to what Chalicea offers.

    I did find the ‘ghost’ even though I was surprised with some of the ones included; only knew them in different contexts, so needed to double check.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and CS.

      1. That’s my thinking. I connected the first two or three relatively easily, decided on what I thought was the connection and checked out the rest.

      2. That was all I could come up with, Huntsman, but I have to admit that I didn’t trawl through any of Mrs Bradford’s missives to test the theory.

    1. Some of Chalicea’s answers can be grouped together as a ‘ghost’ theme. The fun is working out which ones and why.

    2. Answers that appear unrelated, but in fact there is a ‘ghost’ theme, or hidden connection

  4. Light & breezy. Much preferred it to the SPP. Can’t parse 2d otherwise no problems though 10a, 14d & 19d all required confirmation. Liked the reverse lurker at 4d but top 3 for me were 24a plus 16&21d.
    Thanks Chalicea

  5. It’s ages since I tackled one of these NTSPPs and I’m glad I did today. A very nice puzzle with fine clues providing a reasonable challenge and plenty of entertainment. I liked 8d – who would have thought that long word, minus the R, was an anagram of the answer? An intriguing discovery by the setter! Obviously, I haven’t found any theme, but then I never do.

  6. Quite a bit of general knowledge in this enjoyable exercise but most could be worked out from checkers and wordplay.
    No real favourites but I did quite like 24&25a plus 1&15d.
    Many thanks to Chalicea and presumably CS.

    If you look at the first three letters along the top of the grid and then go to the next letter and read the word which it heads (4d) there’s an uncanny connection. Coincidence?

  7. As expected with a puzzle from this setter, there were a few things I needed to verify – 10a, 2d’s sesame and 14d. I was slightly surprised to find the abbreviation used in 3d listed in the BRB – obviously another school day!
    Nothing really jumped out for favouritism but the possibly tongue in cheek 24a rather amused.

    Thanks to Chalicea – without having checked I would suspect that Radler & yourself must share the leader board when it comes to setting NTSPPs.

    1. ‘Yourself’ seem to have forgotten the most prolific NTSPP setter of them all – Prolixic with 83, followed by Radler with 71, Alchemi 53, Chalicea 49 and Gazza 39

  8. Thanks Chalicea, very enjoyable. Favourite for me 5d. I’m sure I’ve seen that parrot a few times recently! Not sure on theme though – various ‘offensive’ items but maybe there’s something more? (Also enjoyed today’s Chalicea Inquisitor – gentle by IQ standards, but a nice theme and recommended.)

  9. Thank you Chalicea. Sadly we weren’t on the wavelength and needed to reveal letters to help. Will check in with CS tomorrow to clarify one or two.

  10. Many thanks. I’m really happy that this gave some pleasure to most solvrs. The ‘offensive’ items were, I agree, not a particularly likeable ghost theme (I did wonder whether Colin’s avatar was giving a hint) and will be a challenge for crypticsue tomorrow (but she always manages!) My next one in the setters’ queue is far more light-hearted and should go down well.

  11. Sorry, I should have posted that last one as Chalicea – we use our Numpty label for the hints on the EV. Those will be appearing on Big Dave’s site at noon tomorrow on a crossword by one of the newer lady setters, Skylark. It is rather more difficult than the NTSPP but worth having a go.

  12. We found a few tricky bits in this so not a quick solve for us. Certainly an enjoyable one though.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  13. Thanks for the well-illustrated review CS. Re 3d, afternoon is the 12th abbreviation given under A in BRB (although that’s on the app – perhaps print version is different?) And thanks again Chalicea!

    1. It is in the book too – I was looking under ‘A’ not ‘a’ – I’ll amend my hint

  14. Many thanks for the review, CS. I didn’t quite nail all the ‘ghosts’ but knew you could be relied on to ferret them all out!

  15. Just starting to recover from the worst cold & cough ever (originating in my youngest granddaughter’s school) so thanks, Chalicea, for not making my somewhat dazed brain work too hard! Mind you, I still had to get my dictionary out to check a few words previously unknown to me, but that is characteristic of a Chalicea puzzle. My favourite clue today was the succinct 21d, which others may have seen before but was new to me and brought a smile (I needed cheering up). Thanks for revealing the full list of weaponry, CS, although the swatter looks somewhat out of place amongst the rest of the bloodthirsty gear!

  16. As always, I loved your illustrations, crypticsue. I had no idea 10 across looked like that. Thanks to all.

  17. A fairly quick solve with a little delay in the SW corner till I found the double definition via the BRB, and I was slightly puzzled by 17dn as I would spell the earnest student with an O not an A.
    All very enjoyable even without looking for the theme. Thanks, Chalicea and CS.

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