MPP 041 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle – 041

October 2015

Tour of Africa by Alchemi

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In this puzzle the clues to ten African countries lack definitions – these clues are highlighted in red in the review.  Solvers were asked to identify the one which doesn’t have a land border with any of the others.  Congratulations to Beet who correctly identified that country as Ghana and was the lucky winner pulled from a record number of entries in the electronic hat by Mrs BD.   She wins her choice of one of the  Telegraph puzzle books.



1a Mechanical rubbish surrounds old boy in charge (7)
ROBOTIC: ROT (rubbish) around the abbreviation for Old Boy and followed by the abbreviation for In Charge

5a A large quantity fighting inside fortification (7)
BULWARK: BULK (a large quantity) around WAR (some rather significant fighting)

9a A 26 a boy brought back for spiritual leader (5,4)
DALAI LAMA: the A from the clue, the answer to 26 down, another the A from the clue and LAD (boy, all reversed

10a Sounds oddly romantic at heart (5)
SUDAN: the odd letters of S[o]U[n]D[s] followed by the middle two letters (heart) of [rom]AN[tic]

11a Posh lawyer on horseback (6)
UGANDA: the usual letter that represents posh and the abbreviation for a US lawyer, the latter preceded by the reversal (back) of NAG (horse) – my views on this type of libertarian construct do not need to be repeated, all I will do is to say that, if unchecked, it ultimately leads to pretend for T (pret-end) and hasten for the insertion of IO (has-ten)

12a Alien greeting the return of sloth after work (8)
ETHIOPIA: ET (the alien in the Steven Spielberg film) followed by HI (greeting) and the reversal (return) of AI (the three-toed sloth), the latter preceded by OP (the usual musical work)

14a Artist captures old ship going south-east in very cold water (4,3)
ROSS SEA: RA (Crosswordland’s usual artist) around (captures) O(ld), SS (Steam Ship) and SE (south-east) give this sea in Antarctica

16a Naive member of elected government not against appointed place for meeting (7)
INGÉNUE: IN (elected) followed by G(overnment) and [V]ENUE (appointed place for meeting) without (not) V (versus / against)

18a Regret law banning leader of Luddites (3)
RUE: RU[L]E (law) without (banning) the initial letter (leader) of L[uddites]

19a Group of Conservatives welcoming new retainer (7)
SERVANT: six letters (group) of [Con]SERVAT[ives] around N(ew)

21a Weird pets buy finer distinction (7)
SUBTYPE: an anagram (weird) of PETS BUY

23a Sing about morning event not opening (8)
CAMEROON: CROON (sing) around AM (morning) and E[VENT] without (not) VENT (opening)

24a George Bush accepted by prestigious golf club (6)
RWANDA: the middle initial by which George W (Dubya) Bush is known inside R AND A (R&A / The Royal and Ancient Golf Club)

27a Final part of diorama put up on the wall back to front earlier (5)
GHANA: the final letter (part) of [dioram]A preceded by (earlier) HANG (put up on the wall) with its final letter moved to the beginning (back to front)

28a Hold up hand and change direction slightly (4,5)
BEAR RIGHT: BEAR (hold up) followed by RIGHT (hand)

29a Parry the first to lunge through fault-line (7)
DEFLECT: the initial letter (first) of L[unge] inside DEFECT (fault-line)

30a Churchill possibly popular with certain Republicans (7)
INSURER: IN (popular) followed by SURE (certain) and R[epublicans]


1d Ways to get round Poe, perhaps, being blocked by posh revolutionaries (3,6)
RED GUARDS: RDS, some abbreviated roads / ways, around EDGAR (first name of Edgar Allan Poe) itself around (, being blocked by) U (posh) – using the same construct twice in the same puzzle deserves a rap over the knuckles, although Alchemi did apologise

2d Turn over a big piece of wood (5)
BALSA: the reversal (turn over in a down clue) of the A from the clue and SLAB (big piece)

3d Valves amplifying call to have a go at poetry (7)
TRIODES: sounds like (amplifying call) TRY (have a go at) followed by ODES (poetry)

4d Switzerland the leaders in assisted dying (4)
CHAD: The IVR code for Switzerland followed by initial letters (leaders) of A[ssisted] D[ying] – a delightfully topical clue

5d Cruellest holy man tells stories in rhythm (10)
BEASTLIEST: ST (saint / holy man) and LIES (stories) inside BEAT (rhythm)

6d The French bass player is going on (7)
LASTING: LA (the French definite article) followed by STING, who first came to prominence as the bass player in the group The Police

7d Watch with Mother puppet with unknown dish, dirty on the outside (4,5)
ANDY PANDY: AND (with) followed by Y (mathematical unknown), PAN (dish) and the outer letters of D[irt]Y

8d Irish singer supports king (5)
KENYA: ENYA (Irish singer) preceded by (supports in a down clue) K(ing)

13d Organ Norse god ate into going round the world (5,5)
EARTH ORBIT: EAR (organ of the body) followed by THOR (Norse god) and BIT (ate into)

15d Rugby player oddly sick on dodgy glass of beer? (5,4)
SCRUM HALF: the odd letters of S[i]C[k] followed by RUM (dodgy) and HALF (I’m told this is a small glass of beer, whatever that is!)

17d Second person joining flyers starts to take exercise regularly from then on (4,5)
EVER AFTER: EVE (the second person) followed by RAF (Royal Air Force / flyers) and the initial letters (starts) of T[ake] E[xercise] R[egularly]

20d The food on planes is the price of flying (7)
AIRFARE: split as (3,4) this could be the food provided on planes

22d People recognised as experts who heartlessly split Roger McGuinn’s band (7)
BYWORDS: W[h]O without its inner letter (heartlessly) inside (split) the BYRDS (Roger McGuinn’s band) – as well as being a word or expression summarizing a thing’s characteristics a byword can also be a person cited as a notable and outstanding example or embodiment of something

23d Caught pensioners in prison (5)
CAGED: C(aught) followed by the AGED (pensioners)

25d Molesworth uses the other hand (5)
NIGER: start with NIGEL (Molesworth), the self-styled “curse of st custards” in the wonderful books by Geoffrey Willans (magnificently illustrated by Ronald Searle), and change L(eft) hand into R(ight) hand – Down with Skool! and How to be Topp were two of my favourite books when I was at school back in the fifties and I still occasionally take a nostalgic dip into my dog-eared copy of the compilation The Compleet Molesworth

26d Man converting energy into current (4)
MALI: Start with MALE (man) and change (converting) E(nergy) into I (the symbol for electric current)

Thanks to Alchemi and Mrs BD  for their parts in this month’s prize competition.


  1. KiwiColin
    Posted October 19, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Beet. A good fun puzzle to solve and very pleased to see that it attracted a record number of entries.
    Thanks again Alchemi and BD for the review.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Another wall we can scribble on.
    Congratulations to Beet, thanks to Alchemi for a fun crossword and to BD for the review.

  3. Beet
    Posted October 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    This is very apt as I am shortly going to Ghana on my holidays. Thanks to Alchemi for a very nice puzzle.

    • Jane
      Posted October 19, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Have a great time, Beet. Your knowledge of Ghana’s position on the continent and which countries surround it should impress your fellow tourists!

  4. Jane
    Posted October 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Well done indeed, Beet – and from a record number of entries! I wonder whether the size of the postbag simply reflects the popularity of Alchemi’s puzzles or are more and more people latching on to the excellent standard of the MPPs? Either way, I remember this one as being a most enjoyable solve – thank you for that, Alchemi.
    Also a big thank you to BD for including two of my musical requests in the review – more than I dared to hope for!

  5. Kitty
    Posted October 19, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Congrats, Beet :) .

    Thanks to Alchemi. and to BD for the review. I enjoyed the puzzle, but nearly forgot to send in my answer.

  6. Rahmat Ali
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Heartiest congratulations to Beet for emerging as the lucky winner from a record number of entries! Once again, thanks to Alchemi for this superb and enjoyable crossword. Thanks also to BD for the wonderful review. However, in 17d above, the initial letter (start) of T[ake] is missing before E[xercise] R[egularly] to make it (EVER AF)TER.

    • Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing that out – now corrected.