NTSPP – 456 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 456

NTSPP – 456

A Puzzle by Knut

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


“In all bar four clues, a single letter* is omitted from the wordplay” are words to strike fear into the blogger who had to fight with Elgar’s special York puzzle last week with all the ‘add a letter in some clues and then do something else with them’. However, Knut has been really kind to solvers and bloggers alike so once you spot the obvious (which let’s face it, if I notice it then it is definitely obvious), there shouldn’t be many problems with this lovely crossword, which naturally has to be a pangram!

To save a lot of repetitive typing – the single letter clues are marked with an * and in the hints, I’ve just referred to them as an L


*8a Where to take a bullet for Aragon’s principal painter? (6)
NAGOYA This particular bullet is a train, to get a station where you could board such a train, you follow an L with the principal letter of Aragon and a Spanish painter

*9a Taking into account batting struggle for Worcestershire openers… (2,4,2)
IN VIEW OF The two-letter word relating to being the cricket side that is batting rather than fielding, a verb meaning to struggle, the first two (openers) letters of Worcestershire and an L

*10a …using too much time fiddling with new glove when pinching run (8)
OVERLONG An L, followed by an anagram (fiddling with) of N (new) GLOVE into which is inserted (when pinching) the abbreviation for Run

*11a Observe absence of twitch (6)
NOTICE A brief way of saying that there is an absence of a twitch, followed by an L

12a The French king’s play area for sexy birds (3)
LEK The French masculine word for the, followed by the abbreviation (in chess) for King gives us the piece of ground where black cocks and cock capercaillies gather to display in the mating season

13a Fuel left to start fire (7)
LIGNITE The abbreviation for Left and a verb meaning to start a fire

*15a Be there when the news is announced (6)
ATTEND The time (2,3) when the news is broadcast (announced) followed by an L

*16a Flowers? Sheldon occasionally has half a dozen sent round (7)
PHLOXES Start an L, add the ‘occasional’ letters of sHeLdOn and a reversal (sent round) of the Latin word for six

*18a It helps to pump liquid gold to Virginia (7)
AUTOVAC The chemical symbol for gold, TO (from the clue), the abbreviation for the State of Virginia and an L

*20a American – very loud – gets stuck into American drinks (6)
QUAFFS an L, a single-letter abbreviation for American followed by the musical abbreviation meaning very loud ‘stuck’ into another abbreviation for American

22a Having to move round the office administering kiss of death, poor Asif gets sacked (7)
HOTDESK An anagram of KISS OF DEATH once ASIF has been sacked or removed, poor indicating that the letters aren’t in that order

24a Sanchez regularly picked up a card (3)
ACE The regular letters of sAnChEz

*25a Express remorse, say, about time (6)
REGRET an L, the abbreviated way of saying say or for example, the two-letter word meaning about and the abbreviation for Time

*26a Head of Beeb notes withdrawal of key DNA testing programme (5,3)
BLAST LAB The head or first letter of Beeb, some musical notes, the reversal of a computer key, and an L

*28a Wilful destruction; a bad smell time after time (8)
SABOTAGE an L, A (from the clue), a bad body odour, the abbreviation for time followed by a synonym for time

*29a Over the sea in Calais, tense conspiracy of secrecy (6)
OMERTA The abbreviation for over, the French (as used in Calais) word for sea, the abbreviation for tense and an L


*1d Prodigy rave out of control at first light (6)
MARVEL an L, an anagram (out of control) of RAVE and the first letter of Light

*2d Threaten what belongs to you and me (4)
LOUR an Land a way of describing what belongs to you and me

*3d A chavvy tv programme featuring Charlie in the city (8)
KATOWICE A (from the clue), a chavvy tv programme I’ve never watched, featuring or having inserted the letter represented by Charlie in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet produces a city in Southern Poland

*4d It helps to advertise fireplace (6)
JINGLE an Lplus a type of fireplace

*5d Trump‘s Ford Transit leading? (6)
IVANKA an Lfollowed by the type of vehicle a Transit is, and the name of a small Ford car

*6d Devour butterfly, possibly a result of too much sun (10)
HEATSTROKE an L, a verb meaning to devour and a way of describing butterfly when swimming

*7d Ancient area surrounding conservative southern Indian citadel (8)
GOLCONDA An Indian citadel is obtained from an L and a synonym for ancient and the abbreviation for area, ‘surrounding’ the abbreviated way of referring to Conservative

*14d Well done, sticky mess; food served on board railway (4,3,3)
GOOD FOR YOU A sticky mess, an anagram (served) of FOOD, the abbreviation for railway and an L

*17d Hotel on river’s a managed property (5-3)
HOUSE-SAT The abbreviation for Hotel, a Yorkshire river’s, A (from the clue) and an L

*19d 2, a tv programme producer of 80s Vienna? (8)
ULTRAVOX An anagram (programme) of the solution to 2d and A TV, plus an L

*21d It guides leader of terrorists into heart of Yemeni capital (3-3)
SAT NAV The ‘leader’ of Terrorists inserted into the heart of one way of spelling the name of the capital of the Yemen, and then followed by an L

*22d Scottish islands banished ex-Tory leader; the language! (6)
HEBREW Some Scottish islands without (banished) the abbreviated way in which we might refer to an ex-Tory leader, plus an L

*23d Immanuel kidnaps Romeo in Africa (it could be a bluff) (6)
KRANTZ The surname of a German philosopher (Immanuel being his Christian name) ‘captures’ the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, the result being finished off by an L

*27d Bridge opponents‘ article (4)
THEY The definite article followed by the only letter you haven’t yet used round the perimeter of the grid

Thank you to Knut for the crossword – lovely to finally get to meet you yesterday afternoon.

If you are still stuck then

18 comments on “NTSPP – 456

  1. Sorry, Knut, but a bit tedious to be enjoyable. What’s not to like with a nicely clued cryptic without any frills? Mr Mutch and Mr Greer, for example.

  2. In the company of Mr Google, I’ve spent most of the afternoon on this but even after I’d registered what was going on round the perimeter I still had to reveal part of four answers.
    Sorry, Knut – my paper has ‘no fun at all’ written on it.

  3. Thanks Knut; a nice idea but IMHO you need to use fairly common words in this type of puzzle because of the difficulty of the missing letters. Some of the words/phrases were unusual and/or needed some GK, like 26.

    I solved this with my computer and an occasional letter reveal, but I can’t parse 26 or 27 satisfactorily.

    I think my favourite clue was 8, although I needed the crossers to solve it.

    1. Doh, forgot to look at the perimeter, which I suppose is why there were ‘funny’ words. I’ve parsed 26 now.

  4. I thought this was a nifty idea, well executed. Not easy, granted, but once it was clear what was going on, I stuck with it.

    Thanks to Knut and to the reviewer in advance.

  5. Well, I enjoyed it. I had to use a word finder for the B, but none of the rest seemed obscure to me.

    There’s a lot of fun to be had exploiting the difference between the grid entry and the one missing the letter, ain’t there Knut?

  6. What a great trick, shame it seems to have found the wrong audience. First two in were adjacent, so I took an early punt on what might be going on – still amazed that it was right. Didn’t have to look any up to get them, though didn’t know B or Z. I liked N, K, T, Y among others, also 22a.
    Thanks Knut

  7. After last week’s puzzle, I was certainly dismayed to read the instructions, and initially I put this aside almost immediately. However, I came back to it later in the day and I am glad I did. I thought the idea behind the puzzle was very clever, and that it was very well constructed. It did take me longer than it should have to realize how the missing letter in the wordplay worked exactly. Perhaps this was mainly because there were at least 8 definitions that I was not familiar with (my SE quadrant was almost completely blank) and which detracted significantly from my enjoyment of it all. Thank you Knut and Cripticsue.

  8. “A bit tedious” and “no fun at all”.
    Oh dear.
    Thanks anyhow to BigDave for hosting the puzzle, to dear crypticsue for taking the time to blog it, and to those who commented. It was a tricky grid to fill and I’m sorry if some of the entries seemed unfair.
    Best wishes Rob/Knut

  9. I still don’t get the ‘bridge opponents.’ Is this something to do with the game of bridge?

    1. Having consulted my bridge expert, apparently bridge game score sheets have two columns, one headed 27d and the other ‘we’

    2. haven’t done the puzzle yet, but bridge players are compass points, NSEW. NS & EW are partners, NE/NW and SE/SW are opponents.

      best game in the world, by the way

      1. ah, just got my computer charged again. forget bridge. Whoa, just realised what’s going on here – that’s amazing! well done knut!

        And what a pleasure it was to see you on saturday.

  10. Thank you for the review, CS. I think many of my problems resulted from lack of the required GK – I didn’t know 8,18 or 26a along with 3&7d and I still don’t understand the relevance of ‘bridge opponents’ in 27d.

    I’m sure this was a cleverly constructed puzzle which was greatly appreciated by our more competent solvers but I thought the NTSPP slot was intended for puzzles that would appeal to a wider audience.

  11. I enjoyed this but didn’t get the bridge opponents definition. Guessed what was going on with the missing letters pretty early and knowing what they were definitely helped with the last few.

    Thanks to Knut and Sue

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