NTSPP 701 – 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 been reading the dictionary again :)   – there are several 'unknowns' in this crossword but all, as usual, fairly clued; if you are short of time, rest assured that I've checked every single one.

There is, as usual with a Chalicea NTSPP, a ghost theme. It is many years since I read the book so it wasn't until I looked at my completed grid that I recognized the book and some of its characters


6a With extreme tiredness be dressed in one coating of livery (7)
WEARILY: A simple way of saying 'be dressed in', the letter representing one and the outside letters (coating) of LiverY

7a Backing brief revision provided that we get a small banknote (5)
FIVER: A reversal (backing) of an abbreviated (brief) revision and a conjunction meaning provided that

9a Ruined coat that's furry and pongs (4)
ATOC: An anagram (ruined) of COAT produces a species of skunk (that's furry and pongs)

10a Custodian's office, what finders are said to be - very fashionable! (10)
KEEPERSHIP: What finders are said to be followed by an informal word meaning very fashionable

11a Surprisingly in order a cleric who invests with ministerial functions (8)
ORDAINER: An anagram (surprisingly) of IN ORDER A

13a Tree is so-so when cultivated (6)
SISSOO: An anagram (when cultivated) of IS SO SO produces an Indian tree used for timber

15a Man from north, east and south (4)
ESTH: A man from Estonia – abbreviations for East and South

17a A cereal and fruit (5)
ACORN: A (from the clue) and a cereal crop - although this is a type of true nut, most sources definite it as the fruit of the oak tree

18a German river going back for further attempt (4)
REDO: A reversal (going back) of a German river

19a Metal splinter left moving nearer to heart (6)
SILVER: Move the L in a splinter nearer to the middle of the word

20a The Spanish withdraw and jostle others away? (5,3)
ELBOW OUT: The Spanish definite article and a two-word phrase meaning to withdraw

23a Caught sight of daughter with essentially savoury good pudding (7,3)
SPOTTED DOG: Caught sight of or located, the abbreviation for Daughter, the essential letter of savOury and the abbreviation for Good

26a Thus man-eating monster's overthrown (4)
ERGO: A reversal (overthrown) of a man-eating monster

27a A drip's unusually speedy (5)
RAPID: An anagram (unusually) of A DRIP

28a Wife employed for wages admitting error essentially made a regular humming noise (7)
WHIRRED: The abbreviation for Wife, part of a verb meaning employed for wages, into which is inserted (admitting) the 'essential' letter of erRor


1d Nastily scratch American RV in distasteful TV material (3-5,2)
CAR-CRASH TV: An informal term for distasteful material shown on TV is obtained from an anagram (nastily) of SCRATCH A (American) RV

2d Get the better of relatives in a small vessel (6)
PIPKIN: A verb meaning to get the better of and some relatives combine to make a small earthenware pot

3d Instrument to depend upon when cycling (4)
LYRE: Take a verb meaning to depend upon and 'cycle' the last two letters to the front of the word

4d Chasing offspring we hear for skin lotion? (8)
AFTERSUN: Chasing or following and a homophone (we hear) of a male offspring

5d Birds' ancient greetings (4)
AVES: Birds as a class of vertebrates or some old greetings

6d Element of note involved in armed conflict (5)
WATER: A musical note inserted (involved) in armed conflict

8d Fashion designer upset about greeting unknown little organ (7)
RHIZOID: Reverse (upset) a French fashion designer and insert an informal greeting and a mathematical unknown

12d In Scotland praise Aussie jumpers with energy (5)
ROOSE: Some informal Australian animals that jump with the abbreviation for Energy

14d Kind of blonde fruit? (10)
STRAWBERRY: If I were to write a hint, I'd probably just use the words in the clue!

16d Southern fashionable agent turning up, one who transports goods (7)
SHIPPER: The abbreviation for Southern, an informal word meaning fashionable and a reversal (turning up) of an abbreviated agent

17d Shaken and stirred brandies might produce this airman's condition? (3-5)
AIR-BENDS: An anagram (shaken and stirred) of BRANDIES

21d Large artificial hair covering for a powerful person (6)
BIGWIG: A synonym for large and an artificial hair covering

22d Advised strongly and clarified without pressure (5)
URGED: A synonym for clarified without the P (pressure)

24d Little shark to drink hard (4)
TOPE: Double definition

25d Blue swallow (4)
DOWN: And another


12 comments on “NTSPP 701
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  1. I’m used to Chalicea slipping in the odd Scottish reference and a couple of obscurities but she really went to town with this one and I found a couple of them difficult to verify. Also, 1d bothered me with its set from the clue appearing in the answer.
    Ah well, at least I found RD’s mates!

    Sorry I didn’t make the most of this, Chalicea.

    1. I have to say I only occasionally dip into NTSPP and, sad to report, I was disappointed. Lots of NHOs, obscure word forms, seemingly questionable parsings (though that could be me), awkward surfaces and a 1d that had me shaking my head. Unravelling the wordplay wasn’t a problem but it really isn’t satisfying if definitions are so obscure one has no means knowing if one has reached the right conclusion. Sorry, Chalicea, not for me.

  2. We usually really enjoy Chalicea’s puzzles but we struggled with this one and even with Google’s help we had difficulties. We don’t understand 15a and we didn’t know the tree in 13a and the old term for 5d was unknown to us. 1d was also a puzzle. We look forward to the review to understand the answers.

  3. First time trying to solve a NTSPP. I was doing ok for about half of it. But then I hit a wall of stuff I’ve never heard of! Mainly 9a, 15a, 13a, 8d. I didn’t know 17a is a fruit either. Also it took a while for me to accept the likelihood of the last word of 1d being what it is.

  4. A delightful theme, which has forced quite a few obscure entries – I’m happy with that as they are all Chambers-friendly and mostly clearly clued (9a my fave). But it did feel like a bit of a first draft – with words from solution in definition (1d, 17d), repeats of “essentially” and “fashionable”, and a few surfaces perhaps in need of a polish? Alongside 9a, also enjoyed 15a, 17a 19a, 3d, 6d & 25d plus fond memories of the theme. Thanks Chalicea.

  5. 7ac and 14dn suggested a possible theme to me and, yes, it seems I was right. But then, I had a puzzle with the same theme a couple of years ago. Chaliciea has gone one better, though, by incorporating the book’s title spread over a few entries.
    The few obscure entries needed checking in the BRB but were all clued fairly; 1dn was a bit puzzling but couldn’t be anything else.
    An enjoyable challenge, though. Thanks, Chalicea and, in anticipation, to Prolixic.

  6. Hi there, I am so glad the last two solvers spotted the theme (Prolixit gave a fine Rabbit Dave hint!) and sorry this caused the early solvers problems. Indeed the names produced by the theme meant that a few fairly difficult words to clue had to appear and they can also be difficulr to solve. I’m working on a new one which should not cause so much trouble.

  7. I think my computer might start inserting ‘thanks to CS’ automatically with every comment I post!
    This was certainly a challenging puzzle, Chalicea, but at least I didn’t burst into tears as I did when I first read the book – steered well clear of seeing the film, it would have been far too embarrassing!
    Thanks to Chalicea for another visit to the warren and of course to CS for the review – I make that three this morning!

  8. I was all at sea trying to solve this – on a sun deck in the Bay of Biscay, without internet – so I was without any much-needed reference materials to help me out. I’m briefly on-line now so I have filled in the empty squares with CS’s help. I did guess two anagrams correctly! In my frustration I also missed the theme, which I really should have looked harder for given Chalicea’s well-known penchant for themed puzzles. Perhaps watching dolphins distracted me. Only one favourite today, which was 20 across – for a nice surface reading plus I am en route to Bilbao!
    My thanks to Chalicea and CS.

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