Prize Puzzle – February 2014

Monthly Prize Puzzle No 21 (February 2014) by Alchemi

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Why not have a go at our latest Monthly Prize Puzzle?  The winner will receive a copy of The Telegraph Centenary Crossword Collection, kindly donated by Phil McNeill, the Telegraph Puzzles Editor, and signed by Phil and six of the Telegraph setters who are featured in the book  (Elgar, Roger Squires/Rufus, Micawber, Peter Chamberlain/Cephas, Notabilis and Don Manley/Giovanni).  Yes, I blagged two copies off Phil McNeill so you have a second chance to win one!

Please note that, due to punitive postal charges, while the competition is open to all, the prize is only available to UK solvers.

A review will follow after the closing date (15th February 2014).

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I’ve left this post open for comments, but if you don’t want your comment to be deleted then avoid asking for or giving help with the clues.



  1. pommers
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Sneaky indeed! Excellent puzzle which I really enjoyed solving.

    Particularly liked 25a, 2d and 12d.

    Thanks Alchemi.

  2. stanXYZ
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve finished the crossword and I’ve found the question .

    I have an answer … but I’m sure there is something sneakily devilish that I haven’t yet found.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I always call on Mr CS when testing a puzzle with a question but had to give him the sack as he missed the blooming obvious devilish bit! (I know I did too, but that’s not the point)

      • Alchemi
        Posted February 1, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        There are several possible responses to finally seeing a setter’s trick. A gasp of admiration, helpless guffawing, or a narrowing of the eyes as one contemplates precisely how much pain one would inflict as revenge for such chicanery. I’m expecting a fourth: head being banged on desk.

  3. KiwiColin
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable romp. I printed it off before bed last night and thought I would just have a quick peek. The inevitable happened and I couldn’t put it down until finished solving. Delayed submitting to allow overnight cogitation to work on the “sneakiness”.
    I reckon that the puzzle is well within the solving abilities of everyone who comments on the blog, and, as I can vouch for the excellent quality of the prize, hope that there will be heaps and heaps of entries this month.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  4. Kath
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    OK you smug lot – you may have finished it but I haven’t. This is going to be one of those that drives me, and everyone around me, completely barking mad. I will ‘perservate’.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    11A finally fell into place, so I’ve completed the puzzle. Thanks, Alchemi. I have absolutely no idea where to start with the question, though.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      The question is hidden in plain sight in the completed grid if you look at it carefully enough.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted February 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Oh! Got it!! Thanks, CS.

        • Kath
          Posted February 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          Lucky or clever old you – I haven’t.

  6. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    What a great puzzle! This was my first ever attempt at a prize puzzle, and I really enjoyed it.

    I’ve got lots of asterisks littering my print-out of clues that I particularly liked, and 25a gets the star prize from me.

    Of the possible reactions to Alchemi’s sneakiness as listed in the comment above on this occasion I’m going for a gasp of admiration. Thanks very much, Alchemi.

  7. Una
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Perfect puzzle , which I have yet to complete ! Almost there.But it’s fun while its lasting. Well done Alchemie !

  8. Una
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I wish to add “Ireland won the Rugby”’s the on line Haka

  9. Kath
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink now have an answer to all the clues.
    I can’t explain my answer to 9a which experience tells me could be wrong – or even probably is.
    BD or Alchemi says there is a question in the across lines and that our task is to answer it – my task, so far, is to find the blasted thing.
    I don’t like 24a but will quibble about it when the review is posted in a couple of weeks – anyway BRB agrees with Alchemi so it’s Kath – 0 and Alchemi + BRB – 2.
    Will carry on playing ‘hunt the question’.
    I really enjoyed this crossword – I don’t really care if I never find the question, let alone the answer – just to finish a crossword by the devious Alchemi is enough for me.
    With thanks to ‘his deviousness’ and whoever eventually unravels all this and puts me out of my misery.

  10. Senf
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Well, that’s the quickest I have ever completed a MPP, and I have only ever managed to complete three or four. Last one is was 25a – I had to stare at that one for a long time. I had even found the hidden question before the penny dropped. Very enjoyable. Thanks to Alchemi.

  11. Jezza
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed this one. Many thanks to Alchemi for the entertainment.

  12. andy
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Loved it, only finished today as i’m hopeless at doing any crossword unless it’s printed out (covertly in the office). Many thanks to Alchemi

  13. Brian
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Tricky little devil but all finished now but how do you find the question? What does it mean by symmetrically placed? This is all new to me as. Have never got to this stage before.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Get Mrs B to have a look – as I said to Expat Chris – the question is hidden in plain sight!!

      • Brian
        Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Mrs B has just given it back to me in disgust having used a word I didn’t realise she even knew.

    • Brian
      Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      I give up, I’ll just have to be content with finishing it which Lords knows was difficult enough. If the MPP is always like this, I doubt I will bother again as I must admit to feeling a little cheated

      • crypticsue
        Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Oh come on Brian – don’t be defeated. The instruction as to where to find the question is clear. You have perservated and solved the crossword – don’t give up at the final hurdle. (And don’t forget the sneaky bit either!)

        • Brian
          Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          I’ll have another look tomorrow but at the moment it is a mystery.

          • Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            This was any easy puzzle, they are usually more difficult

            • Kath
              Posted February 3, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

              Please don’t be mean to Brian, BD – it wasn’t that easy – Alchemi’s crosswords never are.

          • andy
            Posted February 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            There are many days Brian when I just cannot see the wood for the trees and put the crossword down for a few hours, and then Voila. Good luck for tomorrow, as Alchemi said above, option 4 for me :)

            • Kath
              Posted February 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

              andy – there are many days when I can’t see the wood for the trees, put the crossword down for a few hours and that’s the last I ever see of it – such is the chaos in our house!

          • Kath
            Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

            Brian – don’t feel defeated – Alchemi is devious – just remember that all this is FUN and all that matters is that we enjoy it.

  14. Kath
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    As I said yesterday I now have a ‘full house’ of answers. I still can’t explain my 9a. I have, at last, found the question. Now comes the tricky bit. Knowing how sneaky Alchemi is I think that there is only one possible answer to his question. I’m going to carry on thinking about it for a while but I’m pretty sure that by the time the deadline comes I will have lost the crossword/forgotten about it. It doesn’t matter – I really enjoyed the whole process.
    Good luck to all, especially Brian, and thanks again to Alchemi.

    • andy
      Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      Oh thank goodness you’ve found it, I didn’t see it for quite a while but Sue is right it is staring us in the face.

      • Kath
        Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    • stanXYZ
      Posted February 5, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      My way of “not forgetting” where the unsolved MPP is … fold it up neatly and then put it inside the front cover of the BRB.

      If you cannot find the BRB … ?