MPP – 016 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP – 016 (Review)

Monthly Prize Puzzle No 16 (September 2013) by Radler

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A review by Prolixic

The sacred runes have been expertly cast by Mrs BD and the lot has fallen on Nick Hubbard as the lucky winner of the September Monthly Prize Puzzle.  He correctly identified that the crossword produced by Radler omitted sixteen occurrences of the letter Z from the wordplay and that the answers to 1, 5, 11 and 13 across asked us to identify the number of times the letter Z was used in the solutions.

Explanations for the answers are given below.


1a Where one hints cryptically? (2,4)
IN THIS – An anagram (cryptically) of I (one) HINTS.

5a *Having joie de vivre au contraire, the French paradox (6)
PUZZLE – A word meaning being full of fun (having joie de vivre) reversed (au contraire) followed by the French for the.  Include two of the unclued letters.

11a Staff following method acquiring quality ultimately as well as quantity (3,4)
HOW MANY – A word for method followed by a word for staff (as a verb) and the final letter (ultimately) of quality.

12a Person swearing behind you on phone right next to Her Majesty (7)
ASSURER – A word for behind or bottom followed by a homophone (on the phone) of you, the abbreviation for right and an abbreviation for Her Majesty.

13a *Letters from Alfred Smith (4)
ZEDS – The answer (absent the unclued letter at the beginning is hidden in alrED Smith.

15a Singers tear black dress dancing (10)
REDBREASTS – … of the avian variety. An anagram (dancing) of TEAR B (black) DRESS.

17a *Trendy new area has outlet spreading disease (9)
INFLUENZA – A word meaning trendy and the abbreviations for new and area go around (spreading) a word for an outlet or vent.  One of the unclued letters goes into the final solution.

18a Italian taking role of novice in Elia’s verses (5)
IAMBS – Charles Lamb wrote Elia’s essays.  Take his surname (with the ‘s) and change the L (novice) to I (Italian) to find the answer.

20a X-rated prior to cuts (5)
GROSS – A double definition of something that may be of an adult nature and the description of a sum of money before tax or other deductions are made.

21a *Militant political students excluded from participation in plucky performance (9)
PIZZICATO – An anagram (militant) of POLITICAL with both Ls removed (students excluded from participation).  Two of the unclued letters are inserted.

23a Non-classroom activities and disciplines to incorporate drug experience (5,5)
FIELD TRIPS – A word describing a drug experience or high goes inside a word meaning disciplines of areas of study.

24a *G-gosh! (4)
GEEZ – The letter G spelled phonetically followed by one of the unclued letters.

26a Occurrences of one cold length during freezes? (7)
ICICLES – A I and the abbreviations for cold and length go inside (during) a word meaning freezes.

27a Spooner’s come a cropper, can use this to improve stability? (4,3)
TAIL FIN – A Spoonerism of FAIL (come a cropper) TIN (can)

29a *Take turns to proceed, yours truly then Sally (6)
ZIG-ZAG – I (yours truly) and GAG (Sally) with two of the unclued letters added.

30a *Greek letter followed by a dash (6)
PIZAZZ – The Greek letter describing a mathematical ratio followed by the A from the clue and three of the unclued letters.


2d Currently without work? (3)
NOW – Split 2,1 this would mean without work (with the W meaning Work).

3d Exhibition of theatrical passion (4)
HEAT – The answer is hidden in (exhibition of) THEATRICAL

4d Oil supplier obeys an order (3,4)
SOY BEAN – An anagram (order) of OBEYS AN.

6d General broken sun covering Spain: still no start to autumn (10)
UNSPECIFIC – An anagram (broken) of SUN followed by an E (Spain) and a word meaning calm (also the name of an ocean) with the A removed (no start to autumn).

7d *Memos argue for redistribution in economic theory with no overall benefit (4-3,4)
ZERO-SUM GAME – An anagram (for redistribution) of MEMOS ARGUE after one of the unclued letters.

8d Urge primarily constrained by desire for money (5)
EUROS – A U (urge primarily) goes inside (constrained by) a word for desire.

9d *Fly around high, casually flying through the air (8)
WHIZZING – A word for fly (and part of an aircraft) goes around a casual way of saying HIGH as in Hi-Tec.  Add in two of the unclued letters.

10d *Namibia expels revolutionary in creating African state (6)
ZAMBIA –Remove the IN reverse order (revolutionary) from NAMIBIA and put this after one the unclued letters.

14d Fed up and gloomy from loss of honour (11)
DEFLOWERING –Reverse (up) the FED from the clue and follow this with a word meaning gloomy.

16d Cut short journey to meet drinkers stuffing herb in Mexican food (10)
QUESADILLA – Remove the final letter (cut short) the final letter from quest (journey) and follow this with the abbreviation for Alcoholics Anonymous (drinkers who want to quit) with a type of herb inside.

19d *Sleeping with nothing on, taken aback by whistle (8)
SNOOZING – An O (nothing) and ON are reversed (taken aback) and put inside a word meaning whistle or spill the beans.  One of the unclued letters has to be added.

21d Study through employment (6)
PERUSE – A word meaning through followed by a word meaning employment.

22d *International match ended silence (3,2,2)
ZIP IT UP – An I for international followed by PIT (match, as in pit A against B) and UP (ended, as in the game is up).  One of the unclued letter needs to be added.

23d *Bad hair day (5)
FRIZZ – The abbreviation for Friday followed by two of the unclued letters/

25d *Uncertainty about life (4)
FIZZ – Reverse (about) IF (uncertainty) and follow this with two of the unclued letters.

28d *Iron hat (3)
FEZ – The chemical symbol for Iron followed by one of the clued letters.

8 comments on “MPP – 016 (Review)

  1. Congratulations Nick. Are you someone we would recognise by a different alias in the comments?
    Good to find out that I had submitted a correct answer too. It was a fascinating and much enjoyed challenge.
    Thanks again Radler and Prolixic for the review.

  2. Yes, congratulations to Nick – do we ‘know’ you by another name?
    This was probably the most difficult crossword that I’ve ever done – it took me HOURS but, having found the missing letter right at the end of all the clues, I just couldn’t leave it alone! I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, particularly as I usually find Radler “pules” completely impossible.
    With thanks to Radler and to Prolixic and congratulations again to Nick.

  3. Good puzzle and most enjoyable, I think the explanation at 14d needs a slight tweak, thanks to Radler and to Prolixic for the comments.

  4. Well I’m a relative newbie to cryptic crosswords so you can imagine I was gobsmacked to get that email from Big Dave! No I don’t have another name on here but perhaps I’ll have to post now rather than lurking!

    I’m now beginning to get the idea of how twisted you need to be to set and solve these crosswords and Big Dave’s blog has been invaluable in hinting the right direction when I get stuck.

    I kept thinking of my teachers going on about rereading the exam question with this one. It really didn’t make much sense until I got to 28d. Once the penny dropped, it wasn’t too difficult to think of answers with Zs in.

    Agree with Pegasus that in 14d, I had lowering for gloomy.

    Many thanks to Radler and Prolixic and the other setters of the monthly crossword – they add another layer of fiendishness which (usually) adds to the enjoyment!

    I’m looking forward to the next one!


    1. Yet again, well done to you, NickH – now you really will have to keep commenting! I agree with you that nothing made sense until I got right to the end of all the clues ie 28d. I do think that Radler is one of the most difficult setters of the NTSPP and the MPP – well, I certainly always struggle with his puzzles.
      The other thing that I agree with you on is how great BD’s blog is – oh dear – appalling grammar, I suspect, but I’m sure that you get the general drift!

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