Prize Puzzle – 043

Monthly Prize Puzzle (December 2015)

A Puzzle by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Why not have a go at our latest Monthly Prize Puzzle?

The winner will receive their choice of any of the Telegraph Crossword Books published by Hamlyn.

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 (19th December 2015).

Crossword logo

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. Jane
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Nice one, Prolixic! You clever fellow.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    All done, including the nina. One left to parse, though. Loved it. Thanks Prolixic!

    • Jane
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris,
      If you scroll down to find the answer box are you just getting ‘the competition is now closed’?

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        That doesn’t affect me, though. I’m not eligible for the prize so I don’t enter these days.

        • Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          The box should be there now.

          • Jane
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            Thanks BD. Still took about seven tries to get the post through – you must be tearing your hair out over the current site problems!

            • Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

              I’ve temporarily disabled quite a few plugins – no special emoticons, no comment subscriptions etc. at the moment.

  3. Hilary
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I have read all about Ninas but I still don’t understand what I am looking for, saying that it might just help if I had got anywhere with the crossword – I can dream perhaps one day.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Ninas are messages to solvers usually in a particularly obvious part of the solved grid. That’s all I can say without being sent to the Naughty Corner

      • Maize
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t started this one yet, Hilary, but if ever I see a puzzle fron Prolixic with unches (unchecked squares) around the perimeter, I try to remember to look for a hidden message. Typically it might start in the top left corner and go clockwise, but not necessarily. It could, for example, only be in the top and bottom rows… only one way to find out!

    • Hilary
      Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your encouragement, I have decided to put it away for a few days and come back to it, I am determined that one magic day I will manage to solve a Prize Crossword and proudly send the answer in but as I said before until then I can only dream.

      • Jane
        Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        You will get there, Hilary. Goodness, if I can do it then so can you! One piece of advice I would give you is that Prolixic has made use of every word in the clues – try dealing with them one by one rather than spend too much time concentrating on the clue as a whole. You will need to get a full grid before you can find the Nina and answer the question, but it’s well worth the effort. Best of luck.

  4. silvanus
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Very enjoyable, although I have three or four that I can’t fully parse. No matter, as the answer has yielded in any case.

    Favourite clue is undoubtedly 3d, you are a naughty man, Prolixic!

    Many thanks for the entertainment.

  5. KiwiColin
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I have been away and very busy the last couple of days, so late getting on to this. Good fun, much enjoyed.
    Thanks Prolixic.

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Last one in was 19a which remained with only the checkers for a long long time.
    Second time today that I see Gazza’s “a” as I call it. It seems to become a new norm.
    Not too sure about 9a. Maybe I am missing something.
    Congratulations and thanks to Prolixic.

    • Jane
      Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi JL,
      Given that it’s a prize puzzle I can’t give too much away, but the source word required to make sense of 9a could well be something with which you are unfamiliar in that context. It has cropped up in previous puzzles but I couldn’t tell you when it made its last appearance. Hopefully, you’ve been able to answer the question posed even though you can’t put your name in the hat for the prize!

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Jane.
        Found it in the Cambridge dictionary at last.
        And for the answer, after two monumental cock-ups, I finally got it .

  7. Doughnut
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Phew! Ace puzzle, but the brilliant Nina didn’t hit me until a few minutes after I’d finished it; usually I cotton on about halfway through.
    I hope it isn’t a trick question ***********!
    Can’t parse 8 for the life of me although I understand the definition.
    Thank you to Prolixic.

    • Maize
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      That’ll be ********************* …

      • Doughnut
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:04 am | Permalink

        I understand that bit, it’s the rest that’s foxed me. It’s no doubt embarrassingly obvious.

        • Posted December 7, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

          Please avoid discussing any of the clues.

          By the way, It is not a trick question.

          • Maize
            Posted December 7, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink


  8. Doughnut
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Apologies. I meant my joke to be vague enough not to help anyone.

    • Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      I’m sure it didn’t help anyone, but it may have caused confusion and doubt.

  9. dutch
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks prolixic, not sure i’ve parsed everything right, congratulations on the nina.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      I agree, except that I am sure that I haven’t parsed everything correctly! I will wait with bated breath for the review to explain five answers. And yes, many thanks, Prolixic, for a challenging but very enjoyable puzzle; very clever.

      • Jane
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Just in case you pop in again, RD. I’m not seeing your name on the cast list for the birthday bash as yet. I do hope you’re planning to come? Hanni and I have a bet going on as to what you actually look like – she thinks I’m going to be disappointed by my belief that you have long, floppy ears.

  10. Lymey
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Well I managed the grid OK & therefore can read the Nina. But……as often is the case….I don’t understand the question!!

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 8, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Put the Nina into Google, see what it represents and then look at your solved grid.

      • Lymey
        Posted December 8, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Sue. I didn’t see it at all!!

  11. Rob Ford
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Completed it after several days of cogitation. Thanks Prolixic for a fantastic puzzle and a real challenge, and course thanks to BD for hosting etc. I spotted the Nina with about 3 clues still to go, which as it was part of two of them, proved to be a great help in solving those final few – especially as one of those was crucial to the answer. Just one clue left to fully parse.

  12. Sheffieldsy
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Prolixic for a challenging but doable puzzle. Will wait for the blog to understand the parsing for 8a. Lovely nina. Favourite clues 19a, for the humour, and14d for the massive penny-dropping moment when we understood why.

  13. Lizzie59
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Was hoping someone else might have asked this already……do the letters of the nina have to be consecutive in the clue or can they be separated by other letters. Could make a difference to the answer!

    • Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Lizzie

      At the bottom of the post it says “if you don’t want your comment to be deleted then avoid asking for or giving help with the clues”. There is already more help available in these comments than I would have liked. What I will say is that when you have found the Nina you should be in no doubt. Try reading about Ninas in the FAQ.

  14. Lizzie59
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I know about ninas thanks, and agree that one person in particular gave far too much help a week ago, and also someone in last months prize puzzle. Why are their comments not being deleted? Just ‘new’ to the blog, not cryptic crosswords. Your reply did not help at all, but then it was not meant to. I will just take the chance and enter anyway…although as a previous winner (under my normal name) I am not bothered about the prize. However as a bit of a perfectionist I like to know I am getting the answer right every time.

    • Jane
      Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Hi Lizzie. As has been said many times before, the rules about giving hints only apply to Prize Puzzles – for the remainder it is up to solvers to choose whether or not to look at the comments before finishing the puzzle.
      As for the Prize Puzzles – to some extent, it has to be down to commenters to ‘play fair’. To make certain that no hints (however obtuse) slip through the net, would involve BD and the bloggers being on duty 24/7 to monitor the posts. Given that people post at all times of the day and night ( larks, night owls, different time zones etc.) this would be a mammoth task.
      We don’t pay to join the BD site and the bloggers give their time and energies freely – maybe we all need to remember that?

  15. stanXYZ
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I have finally filled in all the white squares … and I now fully understand the Nina … but I’m still not certain if my answer to the question is correct.

    It will be very interesting to see the right answer.

    Thanks to Prolixic … even though people setting such clever crosswords make me feel incredibly dumb!