NTSPP – 343 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 343

NTSPP – 343

A Puzzle by Maize

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of by Prolixic follows.

A-maize-zing.  This was a triple treat with added goodness.  Creating a grid with all the letters of the alphabet used at least three times is an achievement in its own right.  To do so without obscure words and to maintain a high standard of cluing is even more remarkable.  Kudos to Maize for a superb crossword.


1 Rock music group’s brief entertaining spot (9)
QUARTZITE – The name given to a group of four musicians has its final letter removed (brief) and includes (entertaining) another word for a spot on the face.

6 Broadcast of Ms. Perkins describing her Japanese cakes (5)
SUSHI – A homophone (broadcast) of SUE (Ms Perkins in the Great British Bake Off) and a pronoun for a female (describing her).   Chambers describes the answer as a small cake of vinegar rice topped with fish, vegetables, eggs etc.

9 Hardened nurses beginning to justifiably get upset (7)
INJURED – A word meaning hardened includes (nurses) the first letter (beginning to) of justifiably.

10 Lying by a dozen peers? (7)
PERJURY – A three letter word meaning a (as in each) and another word for a panel of 12 people.

11 Over in America I do Zumba in houses of the stars (6)
ZODIAC – The answer is hidden and reversed (over in) in AMERICA I DO ZUMBA.

12 Productive insect loses tail injecting you (8)
FRUITFUL – Remove the final letter (loses tail) from a small insect of the class drosophila and include (injecting) the texting version of you.

14 Start of ‘chop, chop, chops’ action? (4)
CHEW – The first letter (start of) of chop followed by a three letter word meaning to chop.

15 Burn these stories about the French Messieurs (10)
FLAMMABLES – A word for the types of stories produced by Aesop goes around the French feminine for of “the” and the abbreviation for messieurs.

18 Finding solution of filing query involved leaving computer terminal (10)
LIQUIFYING – An anagram (involved) of FILING QUERY after removing (leaving) the final letter (terminal) of computer.

20 Three behind victor? Grab a pasty! (4)
WAXY – The three letters of the alphabet that follow (behind) V (victor) include (grab) the A from the clue.

23 Romantic Parisian who’s with non-European from distant shores (8)
QUIXOTIC – The French for “who” followed by a word meaning from distant shores with the initial E (non-European).

24 Bliss for all to see: expertly shaped cutting with railway shed (6)
UTOPIA – The film classification meaning all can see it followed by the word for cutting and shaping bushes with the abbreviation for railway removed (shed).

26 Youngster’s wicked to old person – it’s intimidating (7)
AWESOME – A double definition of the word that to the younger generation means wicked or brilliant and to the older generation means intimidating.

27 Tin mine owner‘s field crosses over the hill (7)
POLDARK – A word for a field used for recreation goes around (crosses) a word meaning over the hill or aged.

28 In deep, so my horses must try to win here (5)
EPSOM – The answer is hidden (in) in DEEP SO MY.

29 Found a way to get reclining couch over barrier (9)
NAVIGATED – Reverse (reclining – lying back) a word for a couch and put it around (over) a word for an entrance barrier.


1 Gently wry interpretation of short, quick lazzi (9)
QUIZZICAL – An anagram (interpretation of) QUIC (short quick) LAZZI.

2 Adjective used extremely oddly goes to pronounce sentence (7)
ADJUDGE – The abbreviation for adjective followed by the outer letters (extremely) of used and the odd letters of goes.

3 Hair dressing tip from Talk of the Town (6)
TURBAN – The first letter (tip from) of talk followed by a word meaning of the town.

4 Virtual paper chase involving cars (4)
INDY – Double definition The shortened name of the paper that is now available only on-line and a race or chase involved cars.

5 Test upcoming agent and other ranks separately during leave (10)
EXPERIMENT – A four letter word meaning leave or depart includes both a reversal (upcoming) of a three letter word for an agent or travelling salesman and, separately, a word for soldiers (other ranks).

6 Persistence of mutant virus coming up toilet (8)
SURVIVAL – An anagram (mutant) of VIRUS followed by a reversal (coming up) of a three letter word for a toilet.

7 Moving sound of flatfish when fed (7)
SOULFUL – A homophone (sound) of SOLE (flatfish) FULL (when fed).

8 Picturesque scene discovered in partially dilapidated retreat (5)
IDYLL – The answer is hidden (discovered in) and reversed (retreat) in PARTIALLY DILAPIDATED.

13 After endless applause, Daley finally dove into moving target (4,6)
CLAY PIGEON – A word meaning applause with the final letter removed (endless) followed by the final letter of Daley and a word for a dove.

16 Held up spades’ king, unknown court card and first of eight diamonds (9)
SKYJACKED – The abbreviations for spades and king and an unknown variable followed by the name of one of the court cards in a deck of cards, the first letter of eight and the abbreviation for diamonds.

17 Get mojo working with a half-empty beer bottle (8)
JEROBOAM – An anagram (working) of MOJO A BER (half empty beer).

19 Addicts once dry replaced by five getting shakes (7)
QUIVERS – A word for those who were once addicts or are in the process of giving up has the TT (dry) replaced with the Roman numeral for five.

21 Snake, crippled once it’s put on road (7)
ASPHALT – A three letter word for a snake followed by an old word meaning crippled.

22 Small child cut from limestone deposited in prison (6)
STALAG – Remove the final four letters meaning a small child from a limestone deposit that rises up from the floor to meet one coming down.  If ever you have a problem remembering which is which the phrase “tites down mites up” should help you remember.

23 Get nervous as Queen encounters a kerfuffle on vacation (5)
QUAKE – A two letter abbreviation for queen followed by the A from the clue and the outer letters (on vacation) of kerfuffle.

25 Odds: four to one on the black market (4)
SPIV – A two letter abbreviation for betting odds followed by the Roman numerals for four.

33 comments on “NTSPP – 343

  1. Thanks Maize – this was very enjoyable with some great clues. I particularly liked 10a, 20a, 26a, 27a and 13d. I suspect, from the number of unusual letters, that it’s a pangram or even a double pangram, but I have to go out so I’ve no time to do the counting.

      1. When I first met this puzzle I was so convinced he might have gone even further and had a quadruple pangram that I wrote out all the alphabet and counted each appearance of every letter in the puzzle, and I’ve still got the piece of paper to prove it.

          1. yes, I remember seeing that – it’s the only example I know, but perhaps there are more. As you mentioned below, shorter and more obscure words are more evident here, but I’m still impressed many words are reasonably normal

  2. Bloody hell Maize – that really deserves congratulations! Suspected the triple pangram early on. Very impressive. I have no idea how difficult that is to achieve

    I’m particularly impressed that you managed that without obscure grid entries.
    Lovely clues as well. I thought 20a and 14a were very clever and original, and I liked 17d a lot. Plenty more, 3d very nice, loads to like

    Many thanks, a most enjoyable solve. Together with the monthly prize puzzle, today has been a brilliant day – what a treat

    1. Thanks Dutch.
      I’m sure we’ve all noticed that as pangrams start to multiply in a grid that a) the words tend to get shorter and b) the entries tend to get more obscure. So the starting point here was to try and buck that trend. Average word length is 7, and 15a is arguably the most obscure entry, given that it only appears in online as a noun.

  3. I loved this – found it quite tricky and it’s taken some time, to put it mildly.
    I think I fell into every single trap there was and went for some very long walks up lots of garden paths.
    I can’t do 14a and don’t understand my answer to 26a although I think it probably has to be right.
    It’s difficult to pick any particular clues as there were so many good ones but – 1, 20 and 29a and 3 and 13d.
    With thanks and :yes: to Maize for the rainy afternoon entertainment.

  4. Hi Maize,

    It’s very rare for me, but I’m almost lost for words. To call this a tour de force would not do it sufficient justice. It was of such a high standard that I started ticking the clues I liked, but then gave up when I realised I was ticking almost every single one! How you manage to maintain such a high quality of craftsmanship with each puzzle – and then find a way to surpass it with your next one – is incredible. I’m truly in awe.I’ve learnt a new word today too in lazzo/lazzi.

    I’d love to know how long it took you to compile it?

    As I said, I’d find it impossible to single out a specific clue as a favourite, such was the excellence on show.

    With your puzzle, and Prolixic’s one today, Big Dave has really spoilt us rotten!

    Bravo, Maize, I cannot wait for your next one.

    1. Thanks Silvanus.
      My problem is that I don’t really have any outlet other than Big Dave, so when I’ve completed a first draft of a puzzle I’ve still got masses of time to fiddle with it. Given that I have a job which doesn’t really demand too much thinking outside of working hours, I simply play with ideas while I’m driving around, doing the washing-up or whatever… for weeks… it’s a wonder I don’t get bored with the same words!
      No big mystery but loads of re-drafts. And I think I’ve said before that I try to follow Quiller-Couch’s advice to ‘murder your darlings’.

  5. Wow. To achieve a triple pangram without resorting to any obscure words as answers is remarkable. Obviously 17d is a favourite, but there’s no filler here. You certainly couldn’t squeeze another drop out of this puzzle, Maize. This really is an object lesson in setting and an inspiration.

  6. Hearty congratulations, Maize! This was a corker. I could see that it was a pangram and there were a lot of Qs but it never occurred to me that it was a double, let alone a triple. I’ve never seen the old 27A, but I did watch the first of the new series, so I didn’t have any problem with the answer. 1A was last-but-one in and takes one of my podium spots. That left me with 4D and I kicked myself hard when I twigged it. Good clue, dreadful sport. My other two podium spots go to 14A (gold medal) and 20A. i am however, puzzled by 22D, which I can’t parse so maybe I’m wrong.

    1. 22a – I doubt you’re wrong – remove a small child from the end of ‘limestone deposited’ (normally in a cave)

  7. What is there to say, except very well done to Maize. There’s no way to fit a triple into that grid and it’s not fair to use witchcraft, as was clearly the case here. Making nice surfaces from that alphabet soup is also impossible, so I’m going to assume that all these counterexamples are pure coincidence.

  8. Maize, that was just amazing. How you managed to do that and still avoid using obscure words is hard to believe but the evidence is in front of us. We thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.
    Thanks and congratulations.

  9. Quite unbelievable, Maize – jolly hard work for us solvers but what an exceptional feat!

    So many ticks including 1,14&29a plus 7&25d but my absolute favourite has to be 27a – only one more day to wait……

  10. Wow! I echo what everybody has said. Incredible, Maize. Very well done and many thanks.

    Many thanks too to Prolixic.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – not to mention the 27a pic!
    So full of admiration for Maize. As you said, not a single obscurity and some brilliant cluing.

  12. Many thanks for the review & pics Prolixic.

    Really pleased to have been able to share the weekend on BD’s site with you!

  13. Congratulations to Maize.
    What an achievement and what fun this was.
    Glad I found the time to solve it.
    Thanks also to Prolixic for the review.

  14. I was away at the weekend, but had to make time for a Maize, and add my congratulations. The achievement of the triple pangram might have been diminished slightly if the clues didn’t reach the same standard, but they did. I did cheat a lot on the right side or I’d have been here a lot longer, but the clues were brilliant. 3d, 14a, 19d, 25d among the many favourites, can’t really find one that wasn’t superb. I hadn’t even spotted the wordplay in 10, just thought it was a CD. Cheers to Maize and Prolixic.

  15. Thanks Snape, and I hope you had a good one.

    I’d be interested to know how it compared for difficulty with the crosswords of my role models. Who are they? Well there may be better setters out there, and I haven’t forgotten the likes of the much admired Prolixic on this site, but the ones I model myself on most closely are Dac, Anax and Alberich/Klingsor.

    And by the way, I haven’t forgotten your first NTSPP which I missed for similar reasons to you but still have on my to-do list!

    1. Cheers, I did, ta – when it stopped raining.

      I am so slow at solving it is difficult for me to compare as I often don’t have time to finish one a day, but I often then just look at the answers and admire the constructions and read the blogs – perhaps trying to remember a nifty device. I would have Arachne top of my ‘wish I was like’ list for her hilarious surfaces, but there aren’t any I don’t admire. I would suggest that your crossword is as good as any setter – but their brilliance is they can do it several times a month (or week, even), and it staggers me.

      If you want a different puzzle of mine, there’s always the Independent. My first one there is today, hopefully fairly gentle (not as Snape). Isn’t Rookie Corner brilliant!

      1. Oh my God! You’ve only gone and got Eimi to take you on! I now have an extra role model…

        I agree with you about Arachne – there are others like Paul and Brendan I could mention. However those three seem to be touched by something rather extraordinary to which I could never aspire. I love doing Anax and Alberich just as much but – and maybe because of their generously open websites – I also vainly imagine their way of working (or something vaguely close to it) to be something to which I might one day aspire – or at least them on a bad day!. All I have to offer is diligent application and, like you I am in awe of those who can keep on producing.

        How did you approach the Indy may I ask? Just wrote a letter? Kept on plugging away with letters? I am, as they say well-jel.

        And I have now printed off Mr Eccles’ puzzle and will let you know how I’ve got on later…

  16. Great puzzle over at the Indie. Many congratulations. I may well be blogging it at the idothei website in about four years time!
    Unmistakeably Snape in style with gags like deter/gent, per/pet/rate, pla(y)cards, ad/here etc being very much how I see your style. A big bravo from me!

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