MPP – 002 (Review)

Monthly Prize Puzzle No 2 (July 2012) by Alchemi

In association with Hamlyn Books,

the publishers of Telegraph Crossword Books

A review by Prolixic

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Our second Monthly Prize Crossword was set by Alchemi (who also set yesterday’s Not The Saturday Prize Puzzle, which is well worth solving). Solvers were asked to identify the theme of the crossword and to supply the missing member of the group so revealed.

Without further ado, this month’s winner is Alex McKinlay (Axe). Congratulations to him. To those who were unlucky this time, the next prize crossword will appear on Saturday 4 August.

The theme of the crossword was planets in the solar system. If you look carefully at rows 2, 8 and 14 of the grid (shown in yellow in the grid below), you will see the theme spelled out for you. Answers to 7 of the clues (highlighted in blue in the grid below) gave the names of planets with Jupiter omitted. Solvers had to supply this planet as the answer. Correctly, Alchemi omitted Pluto from the grid as this former planet is now designated a planetoid.

Alchemi did well to get the theme into the rows of the crossword and include the 7 planets without having too many unusual words. However, despite this achievement, I did not think that this was one of his better crosswords and I had several issues with some of the clues that I have tried to explain below. To be fair to Alchemi, a couple of these were due to revisions not making it into the published grid, one of which was later amended after I had solved the original puzzle.


1 Automatic signals for metal limbs (6)
ALARMS – These automatic signals come from the chemical symbol for aluminium followed by a word for the upper limbs.

4 Ms Braun’s charges bring equivocations (8)
EVASIONS – A word for equivocations comes from the first name of Ms Braun with the ‘S included followed by a word for electrically charged particles. Technically the charges are carried by the particles; they are not the charges themselves. The ion is the charged particle, not the charge.

10 Hero began destroying mail armour (9)
HABERGEON – This type of mail armour is an anagram (destroying) HERO BEGAN. An anagram indicator in this form should come before the words to be re-arranged as the verb to destroy takes a direct object. Therefore, destroying A to get B works, as does A destroyed to give B.

11 Everything and nothing – arcaneness starts in Scotland(5)
ALLOA – This place in Scotland comes from a word meaning everything followed by an O (nothing) and the first letter (starts) of Arcaneness. I don’t think that starts on its own is a good choice of initial letter indicator. If the word is being used as a verb, it cannot be used to indicate an initial letter. If not, then as it is in the plural, it would indicate two letters. The more usual way of indicating a first letter is “start of” or “beginning of”.

12 Have nothing – on the (empty) wagon (3)
OWN – A word meaning have or possess comes from an O (nothing – as used in the previous clue!) and the outer letters (empty) of WAGON.

13 Stamping-ground missing an unprepossessing dwelling (3)
HUT – This unprepossessing dwelling comes from a word meaning stamping ground from which the AN has been removed (missing).

14 Completing rigorous NASA test, vessel becomes a rocket (6)
SATURN – This type of rocket comes from the final letters (completing) of rigorouS NASA tesT and a word for a vessel. This is the first of the theme words.

15 Stirring up trouble for US firm: no good after it is curtailed (8)
INCITING – A word for stirring up trouble comes from the three letter designation for an American company (like Ltd for a UK company), an abbreviated form of IT IS with the final letter removed (curtailed) and the abbreviations for no and good.

17 Leave note in Middle English with leading scholar found in Zurich? (6)
GNOMES – A word for these Swiss bankers (found in Zurich) comes from a word meaning leave with the abbreviation for note included followed by the abbreviation for Middle English and the first letter (leading) of scholar.

20 Area on Britain’s bottom left, formerly on the lower right (6)
EXMOOR – This area of SW England (Britain’s bottom left) comes from a prefix meaning formerly followed by a word meaning the lower and the abbreviation for right. Lower here would normally indicate the animal not the sound that the animal makes which is a low. [Crossword Editor – mea culpa, this was changed to “low right” in the review process, but I omitted to update the published version!]

22 Storyline has sacred Noah regularly reaching port (8)
SCENARIO – A word for a storyline comes from the odd letters (regularly) of SACRED NOAH followed by the name of a Brazilian port.

24 Sky creator sending text to Bill Clinton, say, telling him what he already knows (6)
URANUS – In mythology, this god created the sky. It comes from how you might (very loosely) tell Bill Clinton of his nationality if you were to text him. This is the second of our theme words.

26 A diamond, though unofficerlike at heart (3)
ICE – Another word for a diamond is hidden inside (at heart) unoffICErlike.

28 12 in trouble presently (3)
NOW – An anagram (in trouble) of the answer to 12a gives a word meaning presently.

30 Right to go forward in eccentric itinerary (5)
ROUTE – Take a word meaning eccentric and move the R forward (to the front of the word) to give a word meaning itinerary.

31 Prize pool backed by the upper class (3-6)
TOP-DRAWER – Reverse (backed) words meaning prize and pool to give an phase describing the upper class.

32 Unethical practitioners retiring before rest’s disturbed (8)
SHYSTERS – A word for unethical practitioners comes from a word meaning retiring or coy followed by an anagram (disturbed) of RESTS.

33 Lectures about where birdwatchers conceal themselves (6)
CHIDES – A word meaning lectures or tells off comes from the abbreviation for about (circa) and a word for where bird watchers conceal themselves.


1 Old goddess’s hat period was very puzzling (9)
APHRODITE – An anagram (very puzzling) of HAT PERIOD gives the name of an old goddess.

2 In a pedal-bin, ice is lacking in colour (7)
ALBINIC – A word meaning lacking in colour is hidden inside PEDAL-BIN ICE.

3 Swamp debtors’ prison half torn down (5)
MARSH – Another word for a swamp comes from the name of the old debtor’s prison Marshalsea with the final half of the word removed. The first four letters conceal the next of out theme words.

5 Williams, say, loses third point in stadia (5)
VENUS – The first name of a tennis player whose surname is Williams comes from a word for stadia or arenas with the third cardinal point in the word removed.

6 Begin to criticise celeb wearing a can? (5,2,2)
START IN ON – A phrase meaning begin to criticise comes from word for a celebrity together with phrase that could mean he or she was wearing a can.

7 Can we hear Irish musician’s offer to keep time? (3,4)
OIL DRUM – Homophone time. How an Irishman might say the he will play a set of musical instruments could be a storage container (can).

8 Bad reviews written up in break (4)
Amended after publication to “Reviews badly written up break (4)
SNAP – A word for break comes from reversing a word meaning bad reviews. I don’t think that the word pans as a noun means bad reviews. Chambers gives only to pan as verb meaning to criticise. [Crossword Editor – Soon after the crossword was published, the clue was amended to “Reviews badly, written up in break” and the published version now reflects this change. Apologies to those who solved from the version as originally published.]

9 “Ante Up!” no odd melody for D-Day operation (7)
NEPTUNE – The code name for one of the D-Day landings comes from the even letters (not odd) of ANTE UP followed by a word for a melody.

16 Old god, home looking after number one, is most difficult (9)
THORNIEST – A word meaning most difficult comes from the name of an old Norse god followed by the name of a bird’s home around (looking after) an I (number one).

18 Legless lizards confuse owls on famous diet (9)
SLOWWORMS – These legless lizards come from an anagram (confuse) of OWLS on the name of a famous diet or parliament which responded to Luther’s theses.

19 Saves seconds at the speed of light – on the edge of perceptible space initially (7)
SCRIMPS – A word meaning scrimps comes from the abbreviation for seconds, the abbreviation for the speed of light, a word for edge and the first letters (initially) of Perceptible Space.

21 Copper surrounded by drunken element (7)
MERCURY – A metallic element comes from a word meaning drunken around the chemical symbol for copper. This is the next in our themed entries.

23 Modernised Frenchman to get married (7)
RENEWED – A word meaning modernised comes from the first name of a Frenchman (think ‘Allo, ‘Allo) followed by a word meaning married.

25 Old goat represented as artsy (5)
SATYR – An anagram (re-presented) of ARTSY gives a word meaning an old goat.

27 Connection is rather deficient when twisted (5)
EARTH – A type of electrical connection comes from an anagram (twisted) of RATHER with the final letter removed (deficient).

29 Times when following queen (4)
ERAS – A word for times (as in ages) comes from the designation of the Queen followed by a word meaning when.


  1. axe
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    there are times that you can be right for all the wrong reason’s.

    Please ignore me it’s age related.

  2. axe
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I too enjoyed the Tremeloes.

  3. stanXYZ
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    How many correct / incorrect entries were there? Just interested.