NTSPP – 299

NTSPP – 299

An Alphabetical Puzzle by Hieroglyph

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

On the vexed question of those constructs where a word must be split into two other words in order to be able to resolve the wordplay (the so-called lift-and-separate clues), I have decided, somewhat subjectively, that for NTSPP and MPP puzzles, starting today, the following will apply:

If the word which is to be separated splits naturally into two parts – such as “nut case” and “sweet heart” – it is admissible, but if it is forced and unnatural – like “has ten” and “pret end” then it is not.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows:

This crossword represents yet another attempt by Hieroglyph to persuade me to enjoy Alphabetical Crosswords.   Looking back at my test solve, I see that I solved it back in July when on a visit to Northern Ireland during a quiet moment while my lovely grandson was having a nap.   I described the experience as a nice, easy solve, easy “fit-in” – perhaps his next Alphabetical will have ‘harder’ clues but I’d welcome the same easy  “jigsaw” experience as I much prefer the solving rather than the working out where to put my solutions.

Song due for transmission from one plane to another (3-2-3)
AIR-TO-AIR     A song followed by an expression meaning due for transmission.


Attack bachelor when hot (4)
BASH   The abbreviation for Bachelor, a conjunction meaning when and the abbreviation for hot.

Brutish man a politician’s imprisoned? (7)
CALIBAN   I was helped here by having studied The Tempest for A Level English!   A (from the clue) and an abbreviated politician from a particular party are imprisoned or inserted into a slang (American) term for a prison.

Greek character in racket takes a share (4,2)
DIPS IN   The twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet inserted into a racket or loud noise.

Emergency room containing dead beetle (6)
ELATER   Another name for the skipjack beetle is obtained by inserting a way of saying dead into the abbreviation for the Emergency Room.


Falsify dates in reference papers (6)
FIDDLE   Two lots of the abbreviation for Date inserted into a collection of papers arranged for reference.

Philosopher appears in novelty singles featuring piano and percussion instruments (13)
GLOCKENSPIELS   The surname of a philosopher and the abbreviation for Piano both feature in an anagram (novelty) of SINGLES.


One laughs extremely heartily about a Northern European (5)
HYENA   The ‘extreme’ letters of HeartilY followed by a reversal (about) of A (from the clue) and the abbreviations for Northern and European.

Business in Springfield accepting Homer’s termination (8)
INDUSTRY This misleading wordplay has nothing to do with the Simpsons! IN (from the clue) and the  singer whose surname was Springfield, the latter having the ‘termination’ of HomeR inserted.

A large and lively gathering crowd carried ecstasy (8)
JAMBOREE   Split your solution 3, 4, 1 and you’ll see how a crowd carried the drug Ecstasy. Jane queried the surface reading of the clue – I see ‘gathering’ as the action in the whole clue, and as an assembly when you split into definition and wordplay.

In Kuala Lumpur, trees camouflaged small birds of prey (8)
KESTRELS   An anagram (camouflaged) of TREES inserted into the abbreviation for Kuala Lumpur, the result being followed by the abbreviation for Small.


Member returned free from guilt to prepare for exercise (6,2)
LIMBER UP   Another word for a body part (member) followed by a reversal (return) of another way of saying free from guilt.

Soup order sent in Rome? (10)
MINESTRONE   This Italian soup  is an anagram (order) of SENT IN ROME.


Casino surprisingly conceals individual’s capital (7)
NICOSIA     I (one, individual) hidden in an anagram (surprisingly) of CASINO.

Old pretences involved something that’s common knowledge (4,6)
OPEN SECRET   An anagram (involved) of O (old) and PRETENCES.

Police Sergeant comprehending expert’s steps (5)
PACES   An informal term for an expert inserted into the abbreviation for Police Sergeant.

Isolates question, isn’t near a resolution (11)
QUARANTINES   QU (question) followed by an anagram (resolution) of  ISNT NEAR A

Island ways, by the sound of it (6)
RHODES   This Greek island sounds like (a homophone of) some ways.

Highlights at the tip of sister’s hair (8)
STRESSES   The ‘tip’ of Sister followed by some hair.

Principles originally expressed under canvas? (6)
TENET   The original letter of Expressed put ‘under canvas’.

On horseback, bishop attacks reprimands (8)
UPBRAIDS   A way of saying on horseback, the abbreviation for Bishop and some attacks.

In Rome, see duck newspaperman’s committed to film (7)
VIDEOED   The Latin (in Rome) for ‘see’, the number used to indicate zero runs on a cricket score sheet (a duck) and the abbreviation for the top newspaperman.

Withstands sly characters (7)
WEASELS   To understand the wordplay you have to split  ‘with  stands’ and then see that you need the abbreviation for With and some stands used by artists, for example.


Cross over South African’s language (4)
XOSA   An alternative spelling for this South African language is obtained by following the letter that looks like a cross with the abbreviations for Over South and African.

Water sport excited Cathy in Gabon (8)
YACHTING   An anagram (excited)of CATHY followed by IN (from the clue) and the IVR code for Gabon.

Revolutionary force at the end of Saratoga (6).
ZAPATA This Mexican revolutionary is obtained by following a force or vitality with AT (from the clue) and the ‘end’ of SaratogA.



Your solved grid should look like this:


















  1. Gazza
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I do enjoy an Alphabetical – thanks Hieroglyph. I thought that this was at the easier end of your range. Top clues for me were C, I and W.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    My heart sank when I saw what sort of puzzle this was but this one was surprisingly easy to get a foothold in. I solved as many clues as I could before starting to position them, and everything then fell into place quite quickly. Last one in,and the only one that gave me any trouble, was the C word. I did reveal a letter to confirm I was on the right track and the BRB did the rest. The answer made me laugh, so it’s my favorite of a good field. Thanks Hieroglyph!

  3. dutch
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Yes, last one in was C. Wasn’t sure how this was going to go but it was fairly gentle, easy enough to place the longest answers, and all followed smoothly although there always seemed to be extra 8 letter clues just when I thought I had them all. Favourite clue was I.

    Many thanks hieroglyph!

    • dutch
      Posted October 31, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I only fully parsed one of Gazza’s favourites after re-reading the above very sensible guideline on lift-and-separate clues!

  4. Jane
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Over-confidence will get you every time! Really should have waited a little while longer before committing pen to grid – just as well I haven’t got to ‘hand in’ the completed sheet.
    Like Chris, the C word was my last one in and I also had to check with Mr. Google about the E word and the feasibility of X (seems to be more often spelt with an extra letter?).
    Line up on the podium is C,I,J&W – torn between C&W for top spot.

    Many thanks, Hieroglyph – that must have taken some constructing. I wonder whether you started with the toughest letters first?

  5. Kath
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Well – everyone seems to say that the C was their last answer – everyone also seems to say that the C is amongst their top clues – I can’t do it! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
    Apart from that I loved it as much as I always love Hieroglyph’s alphabetical masterpieces.
    The G took a while – thought I was after a philosopher.
    Too many clever ones to put them all down but I did particularly like W – if, or when, someone explains the C to me I’ll probably like that too.
    With thanks and congratulations to Hieroglyph. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 31, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      My review will explain C in the morning http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

      • Jane
        Posted October 31, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        OK – I’ll take the hint, CS! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

      • Kath
        Posted October 31, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        OK – I give in, maybe not gracefully, but I give in and will wait, not patiently, but I’ll wait! Maybe inspiration will strike but I suspect not! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
        Off to watch dancing and have supper now. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • crypticsue
          Posted October 31, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          A from the clue and an abbreviated political party member inserted into an American prison

          • Jane
            Posted October 31, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

            And there was me, being so good. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

            • Expat Chris
              Posted October 31, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

              Blogger’s privilege.

            • crypticsue
              Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

              My first comment had a lot to do with not wanting to leave Strictly to go upstairs to look at my notes.

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    We are also in the club with C being the last to yield. And it is our favourite too. We solved a good percentage of them without even looking at the grid. Then put in the long one down the middle which gave some useful checkers to speed up filling in the grid. Good fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Hieroglyph.

  7. pommers
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    We seem to have gone about this in a different way from most others. We weighed up the grid and saw there was only one long one. The answer to that was pretty obvious so in it went and it gave a couple of starters, which in turn gave some more etc. We ended up needing 3 seven letter answers and a 6. They put up a bit of a fight I can tell you!

    Never heard of the beetle or the brutish chap but both fell from the wordplay and I’m being a bit thick about how the J word works – I’ll look at the review tomorrow.

    Thanks Hieroglyph, it was a lot of fun.

    • Jane
      Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      Try splitting your answer 3,4,1.

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Re J – you are a bit. .. try splitting your solution 3 4 1. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    • pommers
      Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      D’oh http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  8. Jane
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, CS – nipped in before you! By the way – isn’t one of the words in the clue for J rather superfluous?

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think so. Definition as per BRB then wordplay

      • Jane
        Posted October 31, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        I see what you mean – just doesn’t read very well as it stands.

  9. Maize
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    When these started to yield so readily, I thought I ‘d have a go at solving the lot prior to putting any in… nearly made it!
    Absolutely superb surfaces – every one made complete sense, with I my favourite – but apart from C and the trickiest one E, which was new to me , the difficulty level was rather like receiving underarm bowling – one for beginners, I thought.
    Having said that, I gave up on last Saturday’s rainbow puzzle as being too hard, so maybe there’s just no pleasing some people!

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Just as everyone else, my last ones were C and E.
    Good thing the clueing wasn’t too hard as I solved without any checkers. Only started to fill the grid when I had most answers. Silly me. I thought the two long words had the same number of letters.
    Really enjoyed and look forward to the review by CS.
    Thanks to Hieroglyph.

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, CS! I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t much like this type of puzzle.

    Our clocks went back last night, so I’m back on track. A week of 4-hour lag instead of the usual five just throws me off. At least I didn’t wake anyone up with a too early phone call this time!

  12. Jane
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the review, CS. I should have got 1d quickly for exactly the same reason as you but, instead, I started out by checking whether ‘cannibal’ had an alternative spelling!
    Like Kath, I thought I was looking for a philosopher at 8d and that, coupled with tardiness at solving some of the across clues, meant that I had three of the 8 letter answers in the wrong places for a while. As I said – I shouldn’t have been in such a rush to start filling in the grid.
    I’d agree that some of the clues were on the easy side but I wonder whether the puzzle would have been as enjoyable if we’d had to fight through fiendish clues with no checking letters?
    Thanks again, Hieroglyph – this was a new experience for me.

    • Maize
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Yes, he’s difficult to define, isn’t he – half witch, half fish… I think ‘brutish man’ is probably fair enough.
      Nice piccies CS!

  13. dutch
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review CS.

    I think it is very good use of this slot to offer tasters of different puzzle variations.

    Hard to tell if the clues were easier or the first letters were an enormous help. Either way it’s just as well, I imagine these can soon get pretty fiendish. I have a book of araucaria alphabetic puzzles somewhere – i think i did the first three.

    The completed grid gives the answer but doesn’t reveal much about the filling process. I’ve never understood the point of publishing sudoku answers – what are you meant to do, go oh yeah, 3!! that’s where I went wrong!! ?

  14. Hieroglyph
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments and to CrypticSue for the review. I’m pleased to note this puzzle marks my quarter century in (solo) NTSPPs – here’s to the next twenty-five! Hope to be back anon http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  15. windsurfer23
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Hieroglyph & CS.

    I always enjoy alphabeticals. Had a stab at putting the J word in where the L word went – it fitted in quite nicely at the beginning.

    C & W were my last ones in, not helped by ignorance of the beetle. My favourites as per Gazza.

  16. Kath
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to stick with saying that I loved it.
    I don’t agree with CS because for me at least half the fun is trying to put the right answer in the right place.
    I didn’t get the C – never read or studied The Tempest so was completely stuffed there.
    Thanks again to Hieroglyph – when is the next Alphabet one going to be – as far as I’m concerned the sooner the better – love them! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif
    Thanks too to CS.

  17. Encota
    Posted November 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Hieroglyph! Only just got round to solving this today: some really nice clues, with I being my favourite too – fabulous sleight of hand(writing). I only had vague recollection at best of E and largely put it in from the wordplay; and C then Z were my last two in, after a pause…
    I liked how the words fitted without too much of a struggle – not one of those grids with 8 or more eight or nine letter words!
    Much appreciated – thank you for this.
    – ACTEON –