NTSPP – 330 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 330

NTSPP – 330

An Alphabetical Puzzle by Knut

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows

Despite Hieroglyph’s best efforts to try and persuade me otherwise, I am still not a fan of the Alphabetical Jigsaw Crossword.  I really love solving crosswords but I leave the jigsaw puzzles to Mr CS.  

However, I was able to solve 21 of the 28 clues of this one without even looking at the grid which pleased me no end and once I started the task of fitting in the solutions (the SE corner being particularly user-friendly here) I was able, with the help of the handy Nina at the top and bottom of the grid, to solve the remaining seven clues.

Kath wanted to know how people solve an alphabetical puzzle – well, as I said above I solve as many clues as I can,  and then write out lists of the 6 letter words, 7 letter words etc, and once I know how many 10 letter words there are (or any other number where there are only a couple of words to fit in), then I start to look at the grid.  The SE corner was particularly helpful as to which word went where and then the rest gradually filled itself in and I solved the remaining clues.

This particular crossword contains  an awful lot of General Knowledge  (not to mention, for me anyway, unknown song lyrics), and I’m going to have to get the eggs out as I’ve been fancying some Z ever since I solved the clue.

A Discover Belinda Carlisle’s requirement? (6,2)
ALIGHT ON     If you are a fan of Ms Carlisle, you probably know her song where she asks you to perform a particular task ready for when she gets home in the dark.   If not, like me you’ll remain mystified for some considerable time until you haven’t many spaces left on the grid and have the Nina to help you.  Split the solution 1, 5, 2 to see what Belinda required.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

B Hector Dickens about wizard content (7)
BERLIOZ   Hector a verb? Hector a Christian name? – Ah, Hector the composer.   Insert the middle three letters of King Arthur’s wizard into the nickname Charles Dickens   used when writing for the Morning Chronicle

C Charles, entertaining Earl, absorbs Victor Hugo (6)
CHAVEZ   Hugo the President of Venezuela.   A pet name for someone called Charles ‘entertains’ the abbreviation for Earl, and then ‘absorbs’ the letter represented by Victor in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

C Send to the bottom headless resident of the inky depths? (6)
CUTTLE    Remove the first letter (headless) of a verb meaning to sink a ship (send to the bottom) and you are left with a cephalopod mollusc known for its ink.


D One cornered with paper hat (5)
DUNCE   A cryptic definition which took me so long to ‘see’ that I really should be wearing such a hat.


E Wessex, England’s outsiders for return tie (6)
EDWARD  The outside letters of EnglanD followed by a reversal (for return) of a verb meaning to tie in the sense of ending a game without winning give us the Christian name of the Earl of Wessex.


F Music genre role playing is the stuff of legend (8)
FOLKLORE    A genre of music handed down by tradition followed by an anagram (playing) of ROLE.

G Slurp this, having exchanged PG Tips! (6)
GUZZLE  ‘This’ is the thing you’ve been scratching your head over since Saturday lunchtime.   Exchange the P at the tip for a G and you’ll get a verb meaning to eat or drink greedily or immoderately – slurp means to drink noisily which is not quite the same thing.

H Lack of fine 18″ special lines (8)
HALYARDS    Mr CS and I pondered long about the 18” until we remembered the measurement that is 36”.   So you have the measurement signified by 18” without its F (lack of Fine) followed by the abbreviation for Special.

I Knut’s magnetic flux density meter (4)
IAMB   A metric foot of two syllables.   If our setter was talking about himself, he wouldn’t say Knut is, but X XX, and this should be followed by the symbol for magnetic flux density.   How the average woman at her kitchen table is supposed to know this, when even my resident science go-to person didn’t, is beyond me.   Fortunately, I did do English Lit for A-Level so the solution was obvious.

J Condom (yellow) keeping it up, Romeo is more perky (8)
JAUNTIER   Condom is a place in France so you need the French word for yellow, into which (keeping) is inserted a reversal of IT (from the clue), the result then finished off with the letter which Romeo represents in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

K The King’s head is swelling (4)
KNOB   The abbreviation for King followed by an informal term for the head.

L Fearful chicken outlet after being set on fire (6)
LITTLE   Here in the UK, we’d call this fearful chicken by a different name, but to find what I think of as the American name, you need part of a verb meaning set on fire followed by an anagram (out) of LET. Our well-worn copy of the Ladybird book of this story remains the only book I actually buried in the garden because I couldn’t face reading it  again to a two-year-old who loved the story A LOT!   He’s 32 now but I’ve never let on what I did with the book!


M She brushes off drunken PM’s romp (3,4)
MRS MOPP   An anagram (drunken) of PMS ROMP

N Being told off (failing in definition) (8)
NOTIFIED    An anagram (off) of DEFINITION without the (failing) IN.

O Text “love you madly” – it gets seedy (5)
OVULE  An anagram (madly) of LOVE and the letter used to represent ‘you’ in text speak.

P Having snooped on Brussels, I grabbed a pew (4-4)
PRIE-DIEU  A verb meaning snooped goes before (on) the abbreviation for the organization informally known as ‘Brussels’ into which is inserted (grabbed) I (from the clue).    I’ve looked up both the solution and pew in the dictionary, and checked with a man of the cloth  and both confirmed my view  the solution is a prayer desk not a pew.


Q Wrap around blue Lalique sculpture (10)
QUESADILLA    Blue here isn’t a colour but a way of describing how you are feeling and this word should be inserted into an anagram (sculpture) of LALIQUE.


R Diminish D disheartened, tore wildly about (6,2)
REDUCE TO   Take your solution to D, remove its ‘heart’, and put the letters you have left inside an anagram (wildly) of TORE.

S Girl’s fringe affair (7)
SHEBANG   The feminine form of the 3rd person pronoun followed by the American word for the hairstyle we’d call a fringe

T Red hot dish sold in Cannes, on dit (6,4)
TOMATO SOUP   A particular tone of red and a hot dish which is sold in a homophone (on dit) of CANNES

tomato soup

U Ms Palmer-Tomkinson left struggling manufactory awkwardly positioned (7)
UNCOMFY     The letters of Ms Palmer-Tomkinson’s Christian name are not in that order (awkwardly positioned) in MANUFACTORY but should be removed (left) and an anagram made of the remaining letters.

V He wrote V for Z in DRC once (8)
VOLTAIRE   V is an abbreviation for the SI Unit of Electromotive Force.   The word that V represents should be used in full to replace the Z in the name of the country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

W Infantry Warrant Officer runs streets ahead (3,2,5)
WAY IN FRONT An anagram (runs) of INFANTRY W O (Warrant Officer)

X Thud! An axeman returns to capture Kubla Khan’s city (6)
XANADU   Hidden and reversed (returns to capture) in thUD AN AXeman

Y Boat hauled up dry slipway (4)
YAWL   A reversal (hauled up) of SLIPWAY once you have removed the small amount of drink (dry).

Y The old recording of Hound Dog? (4)
YELP  The archaic way of saying the plus a type of record.

Z “It takes some beating to shoot Cecil in South Africa” – Express leader (10)
ZABAGLIONE  The IVR Code for South Africa, a verb meaning to kill game (shoot), the animal named Cecil who was recently shot by an American dentist on safari in South Africa, and the ‘leader’ of Express.



If you want to know which solution went where in the grid, and spot the Nina, then look no further, just NTSPP_330


43 comments on “NTSPP – 330

  1. Phew – that was tricky! I do enjoy an alphabetical and this one has some great clues although the grid is not ideal for this sort of puzzle. I thought that it contained rather a lot of GK – I was not aware of the Belinda Carlisle requirement so had to check that out. I particularly liked E, G, L and T. Thanks for the mind exercise, Knut.

  2. Very tricky; my computer and I eventually solved it.

    It’s very clever to put in a NINA as well as the alphabetical, but perhaps too clever as some obscurities creep in. I agree with Gazza that there was a little too much GK involved.

    I did particularly like G & H. I don’t really understand the definition of L.

    1. You ought to know the fearful chicken in question but you have to think what our friends over the Pond call him.

  3. :phew: Tricky – very tricky I’d say.
    I wouldn’t have spotted the Nina – maybe that’ll help.
    I’ve only got eight answers so far and I don’t understand why, or even if, a couple of those are right – oh dear.
    Off to the garden for a while to see if the brain works a bit better later on.

  4. :phew:
    I decided that as I find Prolixic’s puzzles quite tough, I would go for the easier option of the NTSPP. What a mistake to make!! With some judicious electronic help I got there in the end, and I even spotted the Nina.

    I can’t fully parse Y, nor the wizard bit of B. The very topical P was my last one in, not helped by the fact that I had missed that R was enumerated (6,2) and not (8), so I bunged in the only 8 letter word that would fit which then gave an incorrect checker for P.

    Now I can’t get Belinda Carlisle and Olivia Newton-John out of my head.

    Well done Knut, and thank you for the mind-numbing challenge.

      1. Thanks very much, Gazza. I don’t think I would ever have thought of that.

        The Y that I can’t quite get is the one with the boat in the clue. I can see how the answer is derived but not how you remove the unwanted letters.

        1. I presumed that if you don’t have a sip you remain dry (but there may be a better explanation).

          1. I did think of that but ruled it out as a bit implausible. But “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

  5. I used a lot of electronic help with this one, and the Nina helped a lot when I was slotting in the last few as I had J in the wrong place.

    My favourites were G and Q, I still cannot parse L even with the hints above. Thanks very much Knut

  6. Just got home – am slowly solving clues in the pub, so far have only entered a y and a b in the grid (the 4-letter words!). Will soldier on.

    1. I have only entered c and y in the grid.
      What is infuriating is that I have both c answers but they can both go in either position
      so I cannot get a kick-start.

      1. If you look at the third letters of the C answers, it becomes clear which one goes where, well I think so anyway

  7. Thank you for that.
    Unfortunately I am finding some of these clues troublesome.
    For instance I only have one 10-letter solved so far but following your advice
    would that put w at 6 down or the across one at bottom left?

  8. Hmmm – still completely sunk – several hours in the garden doesn’t seem to have helped.
    Wine and supper soon – back tomorrow . . .

  9. I think it would be quite interesting to know how others go about solving these alphabetical crosswords.
    I don’t put anything into the grid until I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least something right. I feel like giving up now but will probably come back to it tomorrow . . . I do so hate being beaten!

    1. Read the review in the morning and you’ll find out how ( go about solving them

  10. A supreme effort. I always enjoy puzzles that go the extra mile. Didn’t find any of the general knowledge problematic (but I did used to have a Belinda Carlisle box file c. 1990…)

    Favourite clues were A, Z, G & J – the Condom was a Nice touch ;-)


  11. I’m another one who needed a lot of electronic help to get through this – rather spoilt the enjoyment. On the plus side, I now know quite a lot about Belinda Carlisle and Lalique sculptures!
    D&G raised the biggest smiles.
    Didn’t spot the Nina until after I’d filled the grid.

    Thanks to Knut – somewhat above my pay grade I’m sorry to say!

  12. Haven’t read the comments as I haven’t finished.
    Lack of time really.
    But I just love it so far.
    Managed to get the R thanks to the D which I guessed right and the parsing made sense.
    My cookery knowledge came handy for Q and Hugo and Wessex from the parsing.
    I also have half a dozen more.
    I love a puzzle within a puzzle as I obviously have no checking letters whatsoever as I can’t start to fill the grid.
    Shall definitely concentrate on solving the rest over the next few days and post when done.
    The monthly prize will have to wait.
    Thanks to Knut for the great challenge.

  13. First alphabetical I’ve attempted. Looked up a couple of sites for some tips first. Didn’t get the nina. That would have helped. Great fun, and some gems of clues. Liked G, N, and L. Couldn’t have done it without google and 2 sheets of paper though.

  14. Got there in the end. It took me a long time to find a way into filling the grid that wasn’t ambiguous – e.g. both Q and Z have an I crosser in the same place, etc etc. It was placing M that finally gave me a toe hole in the grid, then the rest dropped out very quickly after that. The NINA was very useful for placing G, and the second word for solving B and C!

    I wasn’t sure my D was right until much later when I got R (where I had forgotten the 6,2 enumeration, argh)

    Some unusual cluing, Volt, outlet, Condom, etc, all part of the fun.

    for me T was just a hot dish that is coloured red ( a red hot dish)

    I had discounted the belinda carlisle lyric earlier by forgetting the initial A! duh – it’s the A clue!

    Like CS, I found myself needing to write the answers as I got them on a sheet of paper grouped by length – not from any set protocol, I just had to do this to be able to see what was going on.

    Plenty to like, N & T were probably my greatest penny drop moments – though I’ve never pronounced Cannes that way, ugh.

    Many thanks Knut – quite an achievement it seems to me, I’m not sure what is needed from the compiler to ensure these are solvable – and very clever to have the alphabetic (which of course also gives you a pangram if all the alphabet is used) plus a NINA – respect.

    And many thanks CS for the review

  15. Many thanks for the review, CS. We used to have an antique ‘P’ at home. The uprights at the back were ingeniously double-hinged to allow the whole of the back to be pulled forward so that the user could kneel on the back of the seat and use the padded top as a resting place for a prayer book. We were told that it would have been used by the master of the house at mealtimes. He would say grace etc. with the chair in this position and then pull the top back and use the chair as his seat at the dining table.

    I think ‘B’ utilises the middle 4 letters of the wizard?
    I took ‘ awkwardly positioned’ as the definition of ‘U’?

    Thanks again to Knut – wish I’d spotted the Nina sooner, it would have helped a lot!

  16. Hi folks,
    Thanks to BD for hosting this puzzle and to CS for the lovely review, hopefully not through entirely gritted teeth.
    I’ve always had a soft spot for these puzzles as a solver (comes from cutting my teeth with my dad doing the Skeleton in the Sunday Express).
    I read a few comments yesterday……”soldier on” (Dutch) “infuriating…troublesome”(Dennis Waterman) “completely sunk” (Kath) and thought “blimey…..what have I inflicted on these poor souls? This is supposed to be fun”
    I originally had something like “Come across Goliath travelling north” for the A space but I think I must have heard Ms. Carlisle on the wireless while pushing around the vacuum cleaner and changed it, probably while the balance of my mind was disturbed; sorry if you didn’t like it (I think I described it as “Marmitey” in my original submission to BD).
    I think the clueing approach needs to be “different” when the solver knows the first letter of every light, hence a bit of eccentricity.
    You said that you thought this grid was not ideally suited for this type of puzzle. Nina apart, I disagree, for the simple reality is that if the perimeter is populated with lights, it makes it far too easy to solve. There aren’t that many grids in the main papers’ libraries which are suitable.
    Anyhow, thanks to all who gave it a go.
    warmest regards,

    1. Hi Rob,
      I hadn’t twigged that the little bear was the same person as Knut so it’s good to know who you are. I didn’t mean that the grid wasn’t suited to an alphabetical because of the unchecked letters around the perimeter but because both the answers for the double letters (C and Y) are of the same length, making it tricky to get a toehold even if you know all four answers.
      I always enjoy alphabeticals and this was really good so thanks a lot for it (it wouldn’t have been quite so tricky to fit in the answers if I’d spotted the Nina).

    2. It was fun – I didn’t mean that I wasn’t enjoying it, just that I was finding it incredibly difficult.
      Thank you.

    3. me too – soldier on, in a really fun masochistic kind of way…

      many thanks for the puzzle, the soldiering on was well worth it.

  17. I really love alphabetical, or jigsaw, puzzles. I haven’t done that many of them – just however many we’ve had in the NTSPP’s over the last few years.
    This was by far the most difficult I’ve ever done – I very nearly gave up but got there, sort of, in the end.
    I didn’t spot the Nina for myself – I never do – but having read the comments yesterday I saw that there was one and that helped.
    With thanks to Knut for the fun and to CS for explaining the ones that I’d ‘bunged in’ in desperation.

  18. An absolute tour de force. I loved it and would be happy to nominate it as a candidate for puzzle of the year, if anybody’s counting. Congratulations to Knut.
    Only one real obscurity (P) but that, along with all the other more difficult answers was perfectly solvable from the watertight wordplay, so I managed to complete without even needing a dictionary… although it did take me half the morning!
    Great fun though with just about every clue a cracker (maybe D was a bit weak, but hey, it was okay). Maybe my podium would include H, N, W & Z.
    And yes I did spot ‘what was going on’ about half way through, which helped considrably.

  19. Just wondered if I’m the only one having trouble accessing this puzzle this afternoon. I managed to load it last night, but decided to leave it for today, and now I get a page load error in Firefox when I click the link above.

      1. Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll wait and try it from the office tomorrow, where I should be able to print it. Seems to be affecting more than just one browser now, so maybe some security setting has changed somewhere.

        1. Just in case it helps anyone else, I can confirm that the link works fine here in the office – I suspect it’s just one rogue DNS server that happened to be the one my home ISP chooses to use – I could see from the event log that the DNS lookup for crypticcrosswords.net was failing.

    1. Thanks to Knut/baerchen for a very entertaining puzzle – for me this was more difficult than many of Araucaria’s alphabeticals, largely because he usually chose more helpful grids, but to get the Nina in as well makes it a very impressive feat of grid-filling. Thanks also to Sue for the blog and for sending me the PDF.

  20. Excellent stuff.
    Decided to go hell for leather with the few I had, namely the C’s and Y’s, Wessex fitted perfectly in the last across and my Mexican wrap on the other side.
    The rest of the bottom side went in quite well and saw the word appearing.
    Guessed what to expect at the top and NW was soon filled.
    From then on the crossword changed into a normal puzzle.
    Got all the clues in the NE with a lot of perseverance.
    For the A, I thought Belinda needed a disguise as it is one of her songs but that didn’t bring me very far. I then thought it might be “arrive at” but that didn’t make sense either.
    The checkers finally helped much much later on.
    Though Cecil in ZA was Cecil Rhodes and that we called him the Lion. Who knows where I find these things.
    Had to check quite a few things on the web but it was great fun.
    A lot of the clues made me laugh and even if my copy looks a mess with all the scribbling, I can see stars next to a good number.
    Thanks again to Knut and to CS for the explicit review.

  21. Late on deck.

    Only my second NTSPP (I did the Elgar recently after seeing it referred to elsewhere) – must add it to my regular round.

    I’m not really keen on alphabeticals (pace Araucaria) – you have to get lots of answers cold – they have to be the useful ones which enable you to make a start at entering them – then you you have to keep scanning back for eg a 10-letter one you haven’t used yet – then, if you took a risk there’s the chance you may have to prise yourself off the sofa and reprint the grid. All pretty daunting.

    Anyway I got there – all apart from the Z one – which I shan’t be attempting to make – mine would probably sink in the middle. Oops – I say I – that should be Mrs Bradford and I.

    My favourite – my last-one-in (aside from the above-mentioned ) was the P clue.

    This setter’s starting to get about a bit – seems to be in everything except the crib – maybe in that too by Christmas.

    Many thanks to Knut and CS for the fun and explanations respectively.

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