NTSPP 624 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Chalicea

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Chalicea provides this week’s lunchtime entertainment. As usual, there’s a ghost theme[measurements] one of which I discovered when checking a double definition clue


8 Boundless thanks for loop of rope, say (4)
HANK The inside letters (boundless) of tHANKs  [A specified length of rope]

9 Young Satan confused these female advisers (5,5)
AGONY AUNTS An anagram (confused) of YOUNG SATAN

10 Rustle up a heavy coat (6)
ULSTER An anagram (up) of RUSTLE

11 Spin yarn we’re told and scarper (4,4)
TURN TAIL A synonym for spin and a homophone (we’re told) of a yarn

12 Observe, it’s said, entire society, through these openings in masks? (8)
EYEHOLES A verb meaning to observe and a homophone (it’s said) of a word meaning entire, followed by the abbreviation for Society

14 Simpleton‘s casual glance (6)
GANDER An informal term for a simpleton or a slang word for a casual glance

16 Cross way in on the way back (4)
ROOD A reversal (on the way back) of a means of entry (way in)  [A rod, pole, perch linear or square varying locally in value; a quarter of an acre]

17 China promoting a string of islands (5)
CHAIN ‘Promote’ the A in CHINA further up the word [A measure of 100 link or 66 feet]

18 Spot spy (4)
MOLE A spot or a spy [SI Unit of substance]

19 Ultimate goal – spend all or three quarters of it (3-3)
END-ALL Found in spEND ALL or

21 Slice of meat left over during flight (8)
ESCALOPE The abbreviations for Left and Over inserted into (during) a flight from danger or harm

23 Inward-looking sorrow of ludicrously tipsy elf (4-4)
SELF-PITY An anagram (ludicrously) of TIPSY ELF

26 Old footwear of Polish-born French composer and pianist (6) [An old French measure of liquid containing nearly an English pint, or an old Scottish measure containing nearly an English quart]
CHOPIN A high clog or patten introduced from Venice in the reign of Elizabeth the First, or the name of a composer

27 Rifle one of the oldest public schools (10) [A unit of various measures, eg a Winchester bushel]
WINCHESTER The name of either a rifle or a public school founded in 1382

28 Test old partner before noon (4)
EXAM An old partner and the abbreviation for the time before noon


1 Lorry can be used for grain (10) [An obsolete measure of length – about a third of an inch]
BARLEYCORN An anagram (used) of LORRY CAN BE

2 Drew outline of singular sailing vessel on heart of foredeck (8)
SKETCHED The abbreviation for Singular and a sailing vessel go on (top) of the ‘heart’ of forEDeck

3 Pub briefly oddly ejected roly-poly person (6) [Various quantities that can be kept in different sizes of barrel]
BARREL A pub and the even (oddly ejected) letters of bRiEfLy

4 US fellow heartlessly left as a horse might do (4) [A measure for cloth]
BOLT A US slang familiar term of address for a man and the outside (heartlessly) of LefT

5 Spoilt greyhound lacking socially acceptable element (8)
HYDROGEN An anagram (spoilt) of GREYHOuND without the U (lacking ‘socially acceptable)

6 Mongrel working old sheep (6) [Measurement of a type of wool]
MUTTON An originally US slang word for a dog, especially a mongrel, followed by the usual two-letter ‘working’

7 Some private tuition for housewife (4)
ETUI Hidden in some privatE TUItion

13 Mount section of fiscal event (5) [A device used in weighing]
SCALE A verb hidden in a section of fiSCAL Event

15 Having an oval shape; I’ll place it differently (10)
ELLIPTICAL An anagram (differently) of ILL PLACE IT

17 Telephone Italy for a type of splint (8) [Compasses used for measuring]
CALLIPER A verb meaning to telephone, the IVR code for Italy and a preposition meaning ‘for a’

18 Honey, behold, married became more tolerant (8)
MELLOWED A Latin word, specially used in pharmaceuticals, for honey, an archaic interjection meaning behold and a synonym for married

20 Make a show of preferring endlessly daffy sects (6)
AFFECT The definition being the first entry for this word in the BRB – simply remove the ‘ends’ from dAFFy and sECTs

22 Roman orator‘s company including cake decorator (6) [A measure of type between pica and English]
CICERO An abbreviated company ‘including’ someone who decorates cakes

24 Impressive European film (4)
EPIC The abbreviation for European and an informal term for a film

25 Extracted from eye tiny creature (4)
YETI Hidden in (extracted from) eYE Tiny

29 comments on “NTSPP 624

  1. Not the first time that we have seen Chalicea on (accidental/coincidental) double duty of SPP and NTSPP. This one was as much fun as the SPP and, perhaps, less of a challenge – definitely no caffeine required.

    27a and 22d got smiles.

    Thanks to Chalicea and, in advance, to CS(?).

  2. As usual with Chalicea I needed references to confirm a few answers – the heavy coat, simpleton and old footwear were new to me, although not difficult to construct. I enjoyed 11a, 1d and 6d, the latter conjuring up a lovely pastoral image! If there is a theme in the grid I haven’t spotted it as yet… :scratch:
    Thanks, Chalicea

    1. Mmm, I’ve found a number of common elements in the grid, some obscure (as usual!). I expect there will be others in there, but probably even more obscure!!! I’ll look forward to the review identifying them all for me…

        1. Hmmm… may have got it – a possibility I’d previously discounted as there didn’t seem to be enough … but with looking up a few obscurities I’ve got to 8 so think that must be it

        2. Just gone back to the puzzle as I forgot about the theme. Possibly 12 answers? Certainly some of the words needed double checking to be sure.

          1. 12 answers – you certainly have the measure of this puzzle! I did find a tenth but with diminishing returns (and rugby to watch) I decided to let CS finish the job for me in her inimitable way. I will look forward to the review.

  3. I knew the coat but had to check on the simpleton & the footwear too. A lovely diversion while stuck & awaiting inspiration most of the way through the Graun prize. Nicely clued throughout as per usual & a pleasure to solve. Reckon your puzzles would be perfect for the Graun’s Quiptic slot each Monday where the frequent feedback is that the puzzles are far too difficult for the brief.
    Thanks for the double helping of entertainment today Chalicea

  4. Don’t think CS is going to need help from Mrs Bradford today unless there’s a theme that has totally passed me by – wouldn’t be the first time!
    I did feel the need to check on the simpleton and the footwear although I suspect that both were lurking in the dusty nether regions of the old grey matter.
    Think my favourite was 11a.

    Thanks to Chalicea for the second time today – what a busy lady you are!

        1. Don’t worry, Jane. The theme is pretty obscure even to me. I need Mrs Bradford even to set these NTSPPs and am really grateful when CS reveals what some of the thematic items are (in her beautiful colourful way). The whole point is that the puzzle can easily be solved with no inkling of the theme. When Big Dave asked me to have a go at NTSPPs (at a Listener setters’ dinner many years ago) he stipulated “Plain blocked cryptics – not thematic!” – but I have trouble working without a theme so opted for the sneaky ghost themes for some of them.

  5. I enjoyed that! Thank you Chalicea.
    Nice to be able to do it all without either of the extremes of needing to reveal a letter, or of feeling it was too easy to be worth doing.
    I knew the coat, and the simpleton comes up in the name of a folk tune/dance I’ve known for ages, and I read something that mentioned that footwear only the other day, though it wasn’t entirely new to me then.
    I couldn’t see a theme, but then I seldom do unless someone rubs my nose in it!

  6. Thanks Chalicea – for me, this one edged the SPP. As with others, needed to check the coat, simpleton and footwear – but all fairly clued. Favourite 5d (as we have a household member exactly fitting the description). Can’t see a theme (I thought maybe meat, then measures…) Thanks again, and also in advance for review (CS?).

  7. We enjoyed the puzzle but cannot see a theme. Thank you, Chalicea and in advance to CS. We didn’t know the footwear.

  8. I had lots of issues trying to parse almost half the clues, but I quite often do with Chalicea offerings.
    Even when I got the answer, not a lot of satisfaction in the solve as nothing really seemed to link.
    Clues I liked (and made sense too me) include 16a 1d, 3d & 6d
    Theme … what theme?
    For me 2*/2* with a couple of hints for letters to get through this.

    Thanks to Chalicea

  9. Many thanks for the review CS, and thanks again Chalicea. I got the theme (belatedly) but not by any means all the themers – and had INCH within Winchester and TON within mutton, so got those by mistake!

    1. I saw those, and also found ELL within elliptical and mellowed, which made me look harder at the others, though I didn’t get them all.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS. Like Fez, I did belatedly arrive at the theme – courtesy of 8a & 4d, but have to confess that I didn’t spend too much time looking for all the others!
    Thanks again to Chalicea for the puzzle.

  11. Thank you for the review, CS, and the careful explanations of all the theme words. I missed 3 of them, although my usual reference source would have given me one of them had I looked for it. It will teach me not to discard any words I consider way too unlikely to be amongst the themed group! [ On the other hand, it’s easier to wait for your review :wink: ] .
    Thanks again, Chalicea, this was an intriguing theme selection that piqued my interest.

  12. When it says “ congratulations you have completed the puzzle” does it mean it’s correct or just that you’ve filled all the spaces?

    1. Interesting that you should ask that as I wondered the same. I bunged in an answer in a recent one (Skinny puzzle I think) as my last in & the successful completion banner duly appeared. Promptly posted that I couldn’t parse it & once I received some helpful advice I knew my bung in was wrong so am none the wiser.

      1. Well I wasn’t sure about 16a and now I see I was wrong so it just means you’ve finished it

  13. As Saturday’s cryptic was such fun, I was pleased to see we had a double treat this weekend, with this one also by Chalicea. It didn’t fail to please, and again it was almost all my own work. Just complicated things by misspelling 15d, which made 18a impossible to solve. But no excuse as I should have worked that out for myself. Thanks so much to Chalicea for restoring my spirits, after I failed so badly at today’s cryptic, and to CrypticSue.

  14. I just whizzed through this in a couple of passes; very enjoyable but over too quickly. Didn’t bother looking for the theme, so thanks to CS for pointing it out – and thanks, of course, to Chalicea for the fun.

  15. I always like Chalicea’s puzzles and this one was no exception.

    Thanks to her for brightening my day !

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