MPP 031 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 031 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle – 031

December 2014

A puzzle by Alchemi

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + –

The instructions told us that this was not a pangrammatic grid, so the first thing you had to know was that a pangram is something (not necessarily a crossword) containing all the letters of the alphabet. I remember when learning to touch type many moons ago, we were made to type ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ so that’s the first pangram that always comes into my mind.

Congratulations to Anne Skipper   who worked out that the missing letters spell the word GLYPH (a sculptured mark or small graphic symbol, depending on whether you are an architect or computer buff). She wins a choice of Telegraph Puzzle Books published by Hamlyn.



1a           Old doctors snack around scene of devastation (8)
BOMBSITE – O (old) and MBS (Bachelors of Medicine, doctors) inserted into BITE (snack).

5a           Homes one foreshadows (6)
ABODES –   A (one) plus BODES (foreshadows).

9a           Country booting out conservative, initially for Italy’s Captain Fantastic (8)
TERRIFIC –   Remove TORY (booting out conservative) from TERRITORY (country) and replace with the initial letters of Italy and Captain.

10a         Two-wheeler dropping round duck (6)
SCOTER –   Remove one of the Os (dropping round) from SCOOTER (two-wheeler)


12a         King Edward commonly accepted a massage (5)
KNEAD –   K (king) NED (Edward ‘commonly’) with A (from the clue) inserted.

13a         Instruments put steaks in the right order? Just the opposite! (9)
TROMBONES –   Do the opposite of the wordplay and put R (right) and OM (Order of Merit) into T BONES (steaks).


14a         Mostly succeed in impressing malefactor finally banged up (2,4)
IN STIR – Most of INSTIL (succeed in impressing) with the final letter of malefactor.

16a         Queen to lie down missing welcome guests (7)
RECEIVE –   R (Regina, Queen) and DECEIVE (lie) missing the D for down.

18a         Leaders in dire emergency, needing relaxation, order dinner and return smartened up (7)
ADORNED –   Returned indicates the reversal of the leading letters of Dire Emergency Needing Relaxation, Order, Dinner, And

20a         Clerics‘ refusal to wear headphones (6)
CANONS –   NO (refusal) put inside (wearing) CANS (headphones).

22a         South Africa and Australia separately block chemical in tea from Dar es Salaam, maybe (9)
TANZANIAN –   Someone or something from Tanzania (Dar es Salaam being the capital city) –   the chemical in tea is TANNIN into which is inserted first ZA (the IVR code for South Africa) and then further along the word (as indicated by the ‘separately’) A (the abbreviation for Australia).

23a         Spanish agreement to redevelop centre is something that will leak (5)
SIEVE –   SI (the Spanish word for yes) and the centre of redEVElop.


24a         Keep control over , for example, Polaris’s core (6)
RETAIN –   REIN (control) with TA , the core of the sTAr, Polaris

25a         Impractical to leave without bringing back farm animal with nice body (8)
QUIXOTIC – Put QUIT (leave) outside a reversal (bringing back) of OX (farm animal) and finish with IC (the ‘body’ or bits inside NICE.

26a         Europeans returning choose Dewsbury houses (6)
SWEDES are hidden and reversed (returning)  in chooSE DEWSbury.

27a         People promise to get trousers? (8)
MENSWEAR –   Split 3, 5 – MEN (people) SWEAR (promise).

1d           Crazy about half of furniture store’s decorative fabrics (6)
BATIKS –   BATS (crazy) with IK (half of the furniture store IKEA).  I like this festive example of the fabric.


2d           Train at one time troubling English queen (5,10)
MARIE ANTOINETTE –   An anagram (troubling) of TRAIN AT ONE TIME followed by E (English).

3d           Went downhill, perhaps, having failed to work once first of valves blew out (5)
SKIED – SKIVED (failed to work) minus the first letter of Valves.

4d           Party game‘s stopping heartless flood of messages (7)
TWISTER – S (from game’s) ‘stopping’ or being put into TWITTER once you have removed the middle letter (heartless).

Twister6d           Something of a pig to take sides in dispute over who wrote Shakespeare’s plays? (4,5)
BACK BACON –   BACK (take the side of) BACON (Sir Francis Bacon is believed by some people to have written some of Shakespeare’s plays.

7d           One charged with recent disturbance after relief of tension almost gets prison (9,6)
DETENTION CENTRE – Almost all of DÉTENTE (relief of tension) followed by ION (an electrically-charged particle) followed by an anagram (disturbance) of RECENT.

8d           Emphasised grass under stone covered bodyguard (8)
STRESSED – ST (stone) READ (covered) and SS (bodyguard).

11d         Unpleasant person demolished centre of south coast resort (4)
BOOR –   Demolish or remove the centre of BOGNOR (south coast resort).

15d         Provisional camp initially adjoining the Italian village evacuated (9)
TENTATIVE – TENT (camp) A (the initial letter of adjoining) I (Italian) and VE (the outside letters – evacuated – of VILLAGE).

17d         Preserve square dance and music, say, as things which are sweet (3,5)
JAM TARTS –   JAM (preserve)T (square) ARTS (dance and music, say).

jam tarts

19d         Platform where Idi Amin occasionally met head of state (4)
DAIS –   The even letters (occasionally) of iDi AmIn followed by the ‘head’ of State.

20d         Study birds getting up to eat (7)
CONSUME –   CON (study) followed by a reversal (getting up in a Down clue) of EMUS (birds).

21d         What might help a driver see contraption hiding front of vehicle on hand (6)
DEICER – The BRB says DE-ICER…   DEVICE without the V (hiding ‘front’ of vehicle) and R (right hand).

23d         It gets harder to accept unknown services (5
SEXTS – Services originally held at the sixth hour of the day (midday).   SETS (gets harder) with X (an algebraic unknown) inserted.


When I first met this puzzle, it was described as a ‘straightforward’ solve, with no mention of competitions.   Looking at it for the review, I found that it took me as long to solve the seven changed clues and solutions as it did to solve the whole original version of the crossword .   It is also only when you do the review, that you notice how many times you have remove a letter/letters from one word to get another.

3 comments on “MPP 031 – Review

  1. Congratulations Anne Skipper. I remember when I was solving it I started to get worried that I would not have any vowels left to make the answer word but it all eventually made sense. Enjoyable to solve.
    Thanks again Alchemi and Sue for the review.

  2. Congratulations to worthy winner. Thanks to Alchemi for crossword and to Sue thanks for explaining how I solved what I hope will be the first of many prize crosswords. My Mum used to drive me mad by referring to life’s little challenges but it seems an apposite word for crosswords so it is back in my vocabulary.

  3. Heartiest congratulations to Anne Skipper for winning the Monthly Puzzle Prize – 031. Thanks to Alchemi for the crossword which was superb!

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