NTSPP 635 – 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’s turn to provide the alternative Saturday crossword

I fondly imagine that, while her husband reads the latest whodunnit, Chalicea reads the dictionary,  turning to random pages in the BRB and selecting words with several meanings, some of which are far away from the definition we might recognise, and noting them down for inclusion in future NTSPP puzzles.   This is why, whenever someone says I didn’t know x meant y, you’ll always always find it in the BRB!


1 Plan of half of school examiners occasionally (6)
SCHEME The first half of SCHool and the ‘occasional’ letters of ExaMinErs

4 Sect she’s organised for equipment for board game (5,3)
CHESS SET An anagram (organised) of SECT SHES

10 More delicate way of setting fire to something (7)
LIGHTER Double definition

11 Disastrously ruin ram with this disease? (7)
MURRAIN An anagram (disastrously) of RUIN RAM – An obscure word for a pestilence now used for a cattle-plague, especially foot-and-mouth disease

12 Set upright small pile of hay (4)
COCK Double definition

13 Plant snail-shaped shellfish (10)
PERIWINKLE Double definition

15 Inhale smoke maybe from fabulous fire- breathing monster (6)
DRAGON Split this monster 4,2 and you’ll see a way of inhaling smoke

16 Mounted sentry in the past intricately vetted enemy essentially (7)
VEDETTE A mounted sentry stationed to watch an enemy – an anagram (intricately) of VETTED plus the ‘essential’ letter of enEmy

20 Tramp‘s foot wrapped in towel, say (7)
DRIFTER The abbreviation for foot ‘wrapper’ in a description, say of a towel

21 Set in motion adult tucking into midday meal (6)
LAUNCH The abbreviation for Adult ‘tucking’ into a meal eaten at midday

24 Funnily red can become hostile (10)
UNFRIENDLY An anagram (can become) of FUNNILY RED

26 Drag leg lacking stiffness (4)
LIMP Double definition

28 North Briton gets round with energy principally riding child’s toy (7)
SCOOTER Insert an O (gets round) into a North Briton, add the abbreviation for Energy and the principal letter of Riding

29 Cheat in Washington, maybe used by last US President (7)
SHARPIE An informal word for a cheat which doesn’t appear to be American so I’m assuming the reference to Washington refers to the previous POTUS using this type of pen to sign his name,  to redact parts of documents he didn’t agree with, and famously to mislead the residents of Texas about an expected hurricane (Chalicea’s comment @7 tells you more about this)

30 Kind of opening in overturned cross component (8)
TRAPDOOR A reversal (overturned) of a type of cross and a component

31 Just get by, using reekie yogurts from time to time (3,3)
EKE OUT The even (from time to time) letters of rEeKiE yOgUrTs


1 Wacky team it’s said, describing this compound (8)
SILICIDE Homophones (it’s said) of synonyms for wacky and a team

2 Elevated church tune; one to lift up offspring? (9)
HIGHCHAIR Another way of saying elevated, an abbreviation for church and a tune

3 Mum with no hesitation is a fragile, frivolous creature (4)
MOTH Remove the expression of hesitation from a more formal word for a mum

5 Cough to draw attention to verses; these rise and fall we’re told (8)
HEMLINES A half-cough to draw attention and some verses

6 Member of the armed forces: fellow employed to repair machinery (10)
SERVICEMAN Double definition

7 Taste with relish some of Scotland’s mackerel (5)
SMACK Hidden in some of ScotlandS MACKerel

8 Fragile revolutionary trap turns up (6)
TENDER A reversal (turns up) of a colour which gives its name to things revolutionary, and a trap

9 Precious metal that is left in bay window (5)
ORIEL The heraldic term for gold (precious metal), the abbreviation meaning that is, and the abbreviation for Left

14 Prisoner, French policeman and stroppy adolescent fought (10)
CONFLICTED A prisoner, a French slang word for a policeman and an unruly 1950’s adolescent

17 One who earns a living playing in Preston in a fashion (6,3)
TENNIS PRO An anagram (in a fashion) of IN PRESTON

18 Renaissance artist rejected Christmas: a primarily regrettable event (8)
LEONARDO A reversal (rejected) of what the BRB refers to as an obsolete word for Christmas, followed by A (from the clue), the primary letter of Regrettable and an informal term for a party or event

19 Cargo sailors in the past transported initially (8)
SHIPMENT An archaic (in the past) word for sailors and the initial letter of Transported

22 Piece of chain-mail troubled guests (6)
GUSSET A piece of chain-mail covering a join in armour, as at the armpit – an anagram (troubled) of GUESTS

23 Kind of down following defeat (5)
FLOSS A kind of fluff (down) – the abbreviation for Following and a defeat

25 Plants I’d taken from south-eastern US state (5)
FLORA Remove (taken) the ID from the name of a SE US State

27 How dogs react to the outer sheath of tree trunks (4)
BARK One might be moved to enquire how many double definitions in one crossword is too many? Here’s a final one!

24 comments on “NTSPP 635

  1. A lovely puzzle from Chalicea, as it should be, a step up from the SPP. A few words new to me but clearly clued and they provided several learning moments. (1d 11a 29a 16a) I will pick 2d as my favourite today, but it could have been several others.
    Thanks, Chalicea (and reviewer)
    Two puzzles down what to do with the rest of the day – go back to Elgar’s toughie or write the review of Sunday Toughie 10? B@$4er it I will take Mama Bee out for a cup of coffee and a bun somewhere.

  2. Nice puzzle, all fairly clued and only a couple of head-scratching moments. Had nearly everything in and couldn’t get 16a, so did a check and I’d messed up 17d – once that was sorted 16a was obviously what I’d thought all along it might be, but that hadn’t fitted with my incorrect 17d – so now all done! A couple not fully parsed, so looking forward to the review tomorrow.
    Good job we’re going out for lunch!
    Thanks Chalicea

  3. I found this light and very good fun. I learned two new words in 11a & 16a, plus a new meaning for 29a, all of which I needed to check in my BRB once I had decided what the answers must be.

    I had only previously come across 29a when used by one of my granddaughters when talking about some of her pens. However, although I now understand the answer and definition, I can’t make any sense of the wordplay.

    Many thanks to Chalicea.

    1. The pen was/is the favourite writing implement, especially for signing any form of document, of The Orange One.

    2. I coudn’t find it in the BRB either but WordWeb found it; Def 2. in this case.
      Noun: sharpie
      1. An alert and energetic person
      2. A professional card player who makes a living by cheating at card games
      3. A shallow-draft sailing boat with a sharp prow, flat bottom, and triangular sail; formerly used along the northern Atlantic coast of the United States

      Noun: Sharpie
      1. A pen with indelible ink that will write on any surface


      1. As with everything Chalicea includes in her crosswords, the first definition is in the BRB. The second one is found online once you link the solution to the Orange One

  4. The Floughie Lady perhaps a little less floughie than usual but still no caffeine required and as enjoyable as ever.

    28a and 5d got the biggest smiles.

    Thanks to Chalicea and in advance to Cryptic Sue.

  5. A new word for me at 11a, and a couple that I found in long-undisturbed backwaters of my mind after sorting out the wordplay. I looked at 29a for quite a while before concluding the second meaning had to be some sort of golfing reference, subsequently confirmed with help from a well known search engine. Apparently, from Senf’s comment, said President didn’t just use them for marking his golf balls. An enjoyable puzzle all round, with 2d, 17d and 23d just sneaking in front as favourites. Thanks, Chalicea.

  6. Certainly didn’t find this Floughie in the least. 1d,12a(only knew rick),16a &29a (in the definition context) all unfamiliar. Would never have twigged the Trump relevance & can’t parse 23d either. Think it’s the first time that I’ve come across that use of occasionally in the 1a wordplay.
    Very enjoyable & pleased to complete without a letter reveal. Many thanks Chalicea

    1. 23d ….you’ll kick yourself Huntsman. The down is not an adverb or adjective but a noun, fluffy or fine feathers The abbreviation for Following and a defeat

  7. Don’t know whether I’ll earn a handsmack for giving more clarification for the second part of 29ac. The orange one whose signature Senf gave us was famed for once adjusting the map of an expected hurricane that was due to hit the eastern seaboard of the USA (with his favourite writing implement) and drew a sweeping circle including, I believe, Texas. Many of his deluded followers packed up their houses preparing to flee. Of course he shifted the blame but has been known ever since for his use of that item.
    So glad you enjoyed the NTSPP.

  8. Pleasant and slightly tougher than the usual puzzles from this setter I thought but a nice accompaniment to an early evening beer.
    Can’t decide whether I like 5d or think it’s silly.
    My ticks go to 28a plus 2&18d.
    Many thanks to Chalicea for the fun and to CS for the forthcoming review

  9. No wonder we could not parse 29a.
    Good fun to solve with the last one in being 5d.
    Thanks Chalicea.

  10. The online Oxford Dictionary of English definition of “occasionally” is “at infrequent or irregular intervals; now and then”, and Chambers has “now and then; on or for an occasion”. I fear these don’t appear to provide firm support for the meaning of “regularly”, which is required for part of the wordplay in 1A.

  11. Many thanks to crypticsue. I’m somewhat surprised that no-one has commented on the fact that, as almost always in my NTSPPs, there is a ghost theme. This time, it was rather obvious – eleven words that have a shared meaning in addition to the ones clued. crypticsue will have seen it but stayed silent.
    Indeed RichardCV22, we struggle to find original ways of saying ‘regularly’ and I should be careful to satisfy Chambers.

    1. Expecting people to look for a ghost theme reminds me of a commenter we had long ago, who used to think we were here to look things up in the dictionary for him!

      I hope I’ve got the right eleven – 10a, 12a, 20a, 21a, 29a,3d, 7d, 8d, 22d, 23d and 27d

      1. Well, for once I spotted the theme, and one of the alternative definitions of 29ac (not 28) confirmed it for me.
        And by one of those coincidences that occur in crosswordland, 23dn is almost identical to 23ac in Saturday’s Indy.
        A very pleasant solve. Thanks, Chalicea and CS

    2. Obvious to some, perhaps, but I’m afraid I failed the test on this occasion!
      Thanks to CS for the review and for pointing out the obvious…

  12. I didn’t complete this one – I had a few that I couldn’t quite make sense of – had I persevered I might have just about managed it.
    29a are the thingies that are very useful in the greenhouse – they survive almost everything!!
    I particularly liked 15a and 27d made me laugh.
    Thanks to Chalicea for the crossword and to CS for the hints and answers.

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