NTSPP 724 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Celebration by Chalicea

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Chalicea gives us a seasonally themed crossword for our Saturday lunchtime solving – as usual it was very solver-friendly leaving enough time to get on with the list of things still to be achieved before Monday.


1a Smarten up, curse about maintaining pressure (6)
SPRUCE: An anagram (about) of CURSE into which is inserted (maintaining) the symbol used in physics to represent Pressure

4a Crazy people who break into computer systems (8)
CRACKERS: An informal synonym for crazy or people who break into computer systems

10a Suffer two foreign articles with success (7)
UNDERGO: French and German 'articles' and a synonym for success

11a Ingenue surprisingly becomes sincere (7)
GENUINE: An anagram (surprisingly) of INGENUE

12a Fair view regularly reveals cardinal (4)
FIVE: A cardinal number can be found in the regular letters of FaIr ViEw

13a Rickety Oslo garret conceals fortune teller (10)
ASTROLOGER: An anagram (rickety) of OSLO GARRET

15a Funeral bell, we hear that is for a numpty (6)
NELLIE: A homophone (we hear) of a funeral bell and the abbreviation meaning that is

16a Dumpy dumbo of dwarf breed of dog incorporating principally dire din (7)
PUDDING: A dwarf breed of dog 'incorporating' the principal letter of Dire and DIN (from the clue)

20a Produces shoots in the open with sun after first half of spring (7)
SPROUTS: The first half of SPRing, an adverb meaning in the open and the abbreviation for Sun – Mr CS thinks I might have got a little carried away as there are only the two of us eating Christmas dinner (and Bubble and Squeak on Boxing Day), but I couldn't resist these beautiful, locally-grown examples of the solution

21a Riddle of German wartime cipher (6)
ENIGMA: Double definition

24a Warwickshire town's disorderly struggle? No! An orderly way of restarting its game (5,5)
RUGBY SCRUM: A town in Warwickshire and a disorderly struggle

26a Boss a stallion (4)
STUD: Double definition

28a Language is curiously whimsical, neither conservative nor primarily modern (7)
SWAHILI: An anagram (curiously) of WHImSIcAL without the C (Conservative) or the 'primary' letter of Modern

29a Illinois city's form of contract bridge? (7)
CHICAGO: Every day is an education with a Chalicea crossword – I didn't know the second definition, only the city

30a Islands closely follow base level in National Curriculum (3,5)
KEY STAGE: Some islands, a verb meaning to closely follow, and the letter that is the base of the natural system of logarithms

31a Jailer lacking bit of nous, very slow, inept person (6)
TURKEY: An under jailer without (lacking) the N (a bit of Nous)


1d Essence in gallons; it can be knocked out of you (8)
STUFFING: The essence of something, IN (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Gallons. Always home-made in our house – Son No 2's favourite, the name he gave it when quite small "Save an Onion" is still what we call it today

2d Communist first lady to eliminate and build again (9)
REDEVELOP: The colour associated with Communism, the first lady in the Bible and a verb meaning to eliminate or cut off

3d Amusing fellow to comb fibres before spinning (4)
CARD: Double definition

5d Harsh and demanding equipment letting in water with top removed (8)
RIGOROUS: A synonym for equipment and an adjective meaning letting in water without its first letter (top removed)

6d Wrapping up encrypting, involving new clue mostly (10)
CONCLUDING: Encrypting into which is inserted (involving) the abbreviation for New and most of CLUe

7d English monarch making things last longer (5)
EKING: The abbreviation for English and a monarch

8d Is retrograde to stray on a mountain range (6)
SIERRA: A reversal (retrograde) of IS (from the clue), a verb meaning to stray, and A (from the clue)

9d Silly person to hiss off stage (5)
GOOSE: A silly person or a slang verb meaning to hiss off stage

14d Person who hates women mending missing toy (10)
MISOGYNIST: An anagram (mending) of MISSING TOY

17d Bird's one that likes to stay out late (9)
NIGHTHAWK: A bird or a person more active at night

18d Laying up supplies of little beds upset ruler (8)
STOCKING: A reversal (upset) of some little beds and a ruler we met a few clues ago

19d Policeman getting into Wessex novelist's output on paper (4,4)
HARD COPY: An informal policeman inserted into the writer of Wessex novels

22d In Cyprus I knackered this bit of climbing gear (6)
PRUSIK: Hidden between the 2nd and fourth words of the clue is a type of rope sling attached to a climbing rope

23d Thump Judy's partner (5)
PUNCH: Another double definition

25d Elegist penning verse gets unexpected money (5)
GRAVY: The writer of a well-known poem of mourning 'penning' the abbreviation for Verse

27d Regularly sluice out place (4)
LIEU: The regular letters of sLuIcE oUt

Many thanks to Chalicea - Merry Christmas to you and Charles


24 comments on “NTSPP 724
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  1. A first for me – as soon as I saw who the setter was I knew that there would be a theme and I didn’t need the ‘information’ above the grid to know what it would be. Thanks Chalicea for a very enjoyable start to my Saturday morning with a mug of caffeine going cold beside me as it was not needed.

    I did need to verify the 22d lurker, although with two of the checkers it couldn’t be anything else, and I had to look up the 17d bird, the only one I could think of would have to be plural which is not the way the clue read.

    Smiles for 31a, 19d, and 25d.

    Thanks Chalicea, a very Happy Christmas to you and yours, and thanks in advance to CS.

  2. That was light and fun with a festive theme. Just the job!

    Many thanks to Chalicea, and in advance to the very hardworking CS.

  3. Spot on for the festive season and I was very grateful for the helpful lurker in 22d – not a piece of kit with which I’m familiar.
    Shopping list now all present and correct!

    Thanks to Chalicea and a very merry Christmas to you and your kin.

    1. Well, I was beginning to think that RD and I were the only ones up and about to be able to enjoy this seasonal offering from the Floughie Lady.

        1. Don’t be churlish, RD, I’m enjoying the blog snow!
          I reckon a lot of people are fighting their way through the masses at food stores and/or delivering Christmas presents.

  4. A fine way to while away an hour when all the other jobs are done (I hope)
    not too difficult and the most Christmassy theme so far this yuletide
    I did like 22d as a misspent youth on Armscliffe Crags and the Cow and Calf in Ilkley meant I was familiar with the term even if I tended to favour the Bachmann alternative
    Thanks to Chalicea and CS in advance

    1. Yorkshire Grit used to frighten the living daylights out of me, especially Almscliffe! But I guess I’m a Lancashire softie used to climbing on limestone and up in the Lakes!
      I preferred the 22d personally.

      1. Sloop John Bee and Mikep – I used to climb at Almscliffe many years ago during the Wednesday night gatherings when I was teaching French at Undercliffe Junior High. It scared the living daylights out if me too and I don’t think 22ds were invented then! Good to know that you are fellow northerners.

        1. I should have said thanks for the crossword Chalicea but I’m saving it as a Christmas treat! I had a look through the comments and saw SJB’s comment about Almscliffe and that piqued my interest. Good to know there’s a few climbers in the ranks! Hope you have a good Christmas and New Year.

      2. When tied with a sling, as opposed to a bit of paracord the Bachmann was almost as assuring as the Jumar clamps that were outwith my budget
        When Doug Scott came to school to talk about Everest the Hard Way he took a few of us kids to Armscliffe and appeared to stroll up everything with his hands in his pockets

        1. Arthur Dolphin, Britain’s top climber of the day, used to do that there too and on Gimmer and V diff Lakeland climbs. He was a sort of ‘uncle’ to us when I was small – he died on the Dent du Geant. The Gritstone Club has published a book about him.

          1. I will have to look out for that, as well as Doug Scott I have books by Dougal Haston, Joe’s Brown and Tasker, Chris Bonnington and Pete Boardman in my collection, they have a good mountaineering section at Barter Books in Alnwick I will look out for Dolphin when next there

  5. Despite seeing it pop up on the blog each week I was never too sure what the NTSPP was all about. I’ve now read the info page, learnt who Chalicea is and broken my NTSPP duck with this puzzle – and very enjoyable it was too. Alas, two clues are holding out on me so I look forward to the review tomorrow. Thanks, Chalicea.

  6. An enjoyable evening solve. Had to confirm the 22d lurker post solve & blundered in with lark for hawk so not a correct first time completion.
    Thanks to Chalicea for all of your puzzles throughout the year.

  7. Proper festive fare! COTD for me was 2d. I’ll need the review to understand one answer, but in the meantime thank you & merry Christmas Chalicea, and thank you too in advance, Sue.

    1. Thanks again, Sue – last evening I was exploring the deepest recessed my brain for a Wessex author by the name of “Haropy”, to include the policeman as a DC …. Clearly the pre-solve bottle of wine had had a deleterious effect!

  8. As always with a Chalicea puzzle I have expanded my vocabulary. I have never used climbing gear so had not come across 22d, and trying to find out if my 9d answer could mean ‘hiss off stage’ I came across exsibilate! On the other hand, being a cricket fan, I was familiar with 17d as this term started to be used to describe Stuart Broad in his style of being ‘nightwatchman’. We shall miss watching Stuart bowling out the Aussies on a regular basis :good:
    I had never heard of ‘hackers’ being referred to as 4a, but I did consider people who break (i.e. torture) to be a ‘racker’ – but CS would have to be computer science rather than computer systems (as well as our highly-esteemed reviewer)! And I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone being cruelly called a ‘dumpy dumbo’…
    My favourite clue of the day was the straightforward but rather elegant 20a.
    Happy Christmas to you too, Chalicea, and thanks to CS for a very nicely illustrated review.

  9. Many thanks, CS and all the solving friends. CS, we all really appreciate all you do. Charles and I hope you have a lovely Christmas.

  10. Many thanks for the review, CS, and thanks again to Chalicea for the seasonal reminders. Must remember your son’s name for the stuffing, Sue, really made me smile.
    Wishing a very Merry Christmas to both of you along with your husbands and families.

  11. A late contribution from me. Thanks Chalicea for this enjoyable light seasonal offering. Thanks too to CS for the review and the splendid illustrations.
    Very merry Christmas to you both.

  12. A very enjoyable themed puzzle. Many thanks to Chalicea and CS.
    Like others, I did not know the climbing equipment at 22d, but it was fairly clued.
    Happy Christmas to all.

  13. That’s the most enjoyable crossword I’ve done for a long time, a proper Christmas treat! Thanks Chalicea and Cryptic Sue. And a merry Christmas one and all.

  14. Finally found time to tackle this Chalicea treat. Very much enjoyed its seasonal flavour, even if I did have to succumb to a few hints. I did not know the climbing gear, but guessed it from the clue. Needed the hint to verify. Was convinced 17d was another bird known for late nights, and not heard of the answer. COTD for me is 19d, despite being forced to read his books in school and not liking them. So thank you Chalicea for this Boxing Day puzzle. I needed this after wasting 2 hours trying to load a gift card on line…. Also thanks to CrypticSue.

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