NTSPP – 440 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 440

NTSPP – 440

An Alphabetical Puzzle by Knut

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that an alphabetical jigsaw is definitely not my most favourite type of crossword, but this one had some great clues, including the ones for D, the first of the Ks, and T


A Went off to get ready to ride in The Oaks – missed the start (6)
ADDLED If you were getting ready to ride in a horse race such as The Oaks, you’d have xxxxxxx your horse. To get the solution required here, just miss off the ‘start’

B Pat on head for naming tree (9)
BUTTERNUT A type of spread that can be served in a pat followed by an informal term for the head. I always think of this as a vegetable – our garden is full of self-sown plants that grew after we’d spread the compost heap on the veg patch, but it is a type of tree too

C Shirt-cum-tunic hem is embroidered, partly lined (7)
CHEMISE Found lurking (as indicated by partly lined) in tuniC HEM IS Embroidered

D Rover’s early sports utility vehicles? (8)
DOGCARTS This cryptic definition made me smile

E Canal dredging might help to ease this (7)
EARACHE Another cryptic definition – the canal in question is part of the body

F To get natural light, switch web browser components (7)
FOXFIRE Phosphorescence produced by some fungi on rotting wood is obtained by switching the two sides of the name of a particular web browser – handily the only one I can think of that starts with an F

G Fitzgerald’s hero, leaving America for Europe, just manages to survive (4,2)
GETS BY Take the surname of F Scott FitzGerald’s ‘Great’ hero, leave out the A for America and replace it with E for Europe

H It impels doctor to cure Henry, patriotic old chap (11,4)
HIPPOCRATIC OATH An anagram of H (Henry) PATRIOTIC (old) and CHAP

I WWII Major stripped off for battle (3,4)
IWO JIMA Remove (stripped) the ‘outsides’ of wWII MAJOr and an anagram (off) of the remaining letters will produce a famous battle

J A danger to bathers in Skopje? Tsk! Illegal! (3-3)
JET-SKI Hidden in SkipJE TSK Illegal

K Lucky people who find help in Regent’s Park? (7)
KEEPERS Because as everyone knows, finders (lucky people who find) are xxxxxxx, losers weepers. The helpers in Regent’s Park [Zoo] may, in addition to looking after the animals, assist with finding things

K Chinese vessel going east to west, bow very low (6)
KOWTOW A reversal (going East in an Across clue) of a Chinese cooking ‘vessel’ followed by TO (from the clue) and the abbreviation for West

L Rocket starter Mike refused to eat in Bel Air apartment (6,3)
LAUNCH PAD Insert Into an abbreviated way of referred to an apartment in Bel Air, California, a verb meaning to eat deliberately, often with a crunching noise, without the M at the beginning (Mike ‘refused)

M Tiny, tiny person penning letter to Plato (6)
MINUTE A Greek (to Plato) letter inserted into a diminutive person

N Gas lighting up “Go” sign? Quite the opposite! (2,5)
NO ENTRY A reversal (up) of a type of gas lighting follow by another go

O Formerly punctual service finally pulled in (3-4)
ONE-TIME Another way of saying punctual with the final E in service ‘pulled in’ or inserted

P Featured every now and again by Pascal: lute (early instrument) (8)
PSALTERY Featured in the alternate (every now and again) letters of PaScAl LuTe EaRlY

Q It’s French silk, having regularly useable lining (6)
QUEBEC The abbreviation for a Queen’s Counsel (silk) into which is inserted (lining) the regular letters of UsEaBlE

R Scamp cut fringes off women’s underwear range (6)
RASCAL Cut or remove the fringes or outside letters of an item of lady’s underwear and a graduated series (range)

R Denying United can seduce match official (German) (8)
REFUTING U (united) and another word for a tin (of beans) ‘can seduce’ or get inside an abbreviated match official we’ve seen quite a bit of lately, the result then followed with the abbreviation for Germany

S Well-dressed Poles have a yen to snatch forty winks (6)
SNAZZY The two Poles, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation or Yen, ‘snatching’ a two-letter representation of forty winks

T In which drunken gent struggles with treble notes? (3,5,7)
TEN GREEN BOTTLES An anagram (struggles) of GENT with TREBLE NOTES

U The specialist field of original gooly treatment? (7)
UROLOGY A prefix meaning original followed by an anagram (treatment) of GOOLY

V 6-0! Leeds wingers: “take a bow for them” (5)
VIOLS The Roman numeral for six, O (nil) and the ‘wingers’ of LeedS

W General Electric cut up about compensation (5)
WAGES The abbreviation for General Electric inserted into a verb meaning to cut, the result then reversed (up)

X Spaniard forced taxi driver to dish dirt (6)
XAVIER An anagram (forced) of tAXi dRIVEr once you have ‘dished’ or removed the letters DIRT

Y Ball player, although not a Union fan, makes sporting wager (6)
YANKEE Someone who plays for a particular baseball team; an inhabitant of the Northern US states (not a union fan) or a multiple bet on four horses in four races

Z Having focussed on Australian turn, silly mid-on catches England opener (6,2)
ZOOMED IN A reversal (turn) of the informal way we refer to Australia, followed by an anagram (silly) of MID ON which ‘catches’ or has inserted the E that opens England

What goes where is shown here:

25 comments on “NTSPP – 440

  1. I do enjoy an alphabetical and this one was excellent – thanks Knut. I particularly liked the D and Y clues.

  2. It seems impossible until you hit that tipping point where everything seems to slot into place – unless, of course, you’ve managed to solve all the clues before committing to writing anything in!

    Made one wrong move over B which threw things awry for a while and had to do a bit of research over F & I.

    Difficult to pick a favourite but Q & T probably raised the biggest smiles.

    Thanks to Knut for an excellent challenge.

  3. I found this incredibly difficult but was determined to finish, even if it did take several hours in total. As Jane rightly says, once the tipping point is reached, then the remaining answers and their places in the grid are much, much easier, but one has to get there first!

    My two favourites were the “I” and second “K” clues.

    Many thanks to Knut, a great achievement in putting this together.

  4. Most enjoyable – and with a better result than the footie.
    Favourites probably T, Q, N and I.
    Needed to double-check both D and F which were new.
    Many thanks for the entertainment Knut.

    In R down, does range = call?

      1. So the wordplay must be ‘cut fringes off women’s underwear range’ and therefore ‘women’s underwear range’ must be ?rascal?… No… I give up!

        1. I could tell you now or I could make you wait until the morning :)

          The underwear is singular and the range is a separate word. Run them together and then do what the clue says

          1. Ah – I had the women’s underwear as plural – clearly need to brush up on the subject. Many thanks Sue :)

  5. Well that was very enjoyable, and easier than initial impression. Learnt a new word for bioluminescence. Favourite was N followed by D and Q. Many thanks Knut and, in advance, to CrypticSue.

  6. I have about a little over half of the letters solved, but only about about half of those entered in the NW corner. Sadly, there is no tipping point in sight – possibly because I cannot solve either of the Rs.

  7. Many thanks for the review, CS. Isn’t the second definition of K simply a reference to those who look after the animals in Regent’s Park zoo?
    The name of the musical P intrigues me. Almost identical to the name given to the book of psalms yet there seems to be little connection between them. Were the psalms perhaps sung to the accompaniment of said instrument?

    Should have added K2 to my list of ‘favourites’ – took me far too long to spot the significance of ‘to west’.
    Thanks again to Knut for the workout.
    PS Loved the illustration for T!

    1. I’ve updated my hint for K to include both options.

      There is a psalm which mentions the instrument,

      Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. (Psalm 33:2)

  8. This was lost on me. I could solve individual clues here and there, but not being familiar with this type of puzzle, I gave up on it none the wiser. Thanks all the same to Knut and CS.

    1. Hi Roy. Knut had kindly given us a clear indication of where the two R’s and K’s should be placed – with none of those four solved though, I guess it would be tricky to get a toe-hold!

      1. Thanks for trying to enlighten me, but I remain none the wiser – how am to know where the answers are to be inserted in this type of puzzle?

        For my sanity, please tell me, what is the ‘clear indication’? Apologies if I am being dense here!

        1. I think the key is that there are two sets of entries in the grid that share a common first letter, the one being at the very top left hand corner, and the other essentially defining the SE quadrant. The top left is a combination of a 6 letter word and a 7 letter word, and the other a combination of a 6 letter word and an 8 letter word. Looking at the clues, and their enumeration, the Ks must therefore go in the top left corner and the Rs (where I met my Waterloo) in the SE quadrant.

        2. First of all you have to examine the grid to find the places where across and down clues start with the same square. In this grid there are two such places – now check the clues to find which starting letters are repeated – in this case K and R. Knut has been kind and arranged the enumeration so that we can immediately tell which of the four R/K answers go where. Once those answers are in place we can see where four more clues (W, O, F & N) go and we’re away. Hope this helps!

        3. Oh, I see. Thank you Maize, Tony and Gazza – I at least understand the puzzle now, but for me a really good, straight, cryptic crossword (tough or not) already has enough room for playfulness so I’m still not overly keen on themes/twists. Impressive from the setter all the same.

          Glad BD avoided the other ‘option’. Thanks again to all.

    2. Knut submitted an option for this puzzle which did not show the initial letter of each answer – now that would have been hard!

  9. Thanks BD for publishing my puzzle, thanks to CS for the very generous review, and thanks to those who took the trouble to post a comment. I know that alphabetical jigsaws aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (particularly not the reviewer’s!) so thanks for not pelting me with rotten veg.
    Best wishes to all, Rob/Knut

  10. I really enjoyed this. The cold solving part of a crossword is not generally my favourite bit, but I do like the occasional alphabetical. The different strategy required makes a nice refreshing change.

    Here I actually found the greatest difficulty in tidying up a few loose ends after most of it was in place. Needed to research a couple of things.

    All great fun. I ticked K K O Q U V. Thanks to K N U T and to C S for the review.

    Back to watching men playing with balls now.

  11. Thanks Knut.
    I’m a great fan of alphabeticals.
    The wit in the clues added to the enjoyment.
    Thanks to CS for the review.

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