MPP 043 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle – 043

December 2015

A puzzle  by Prolixic

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Congratulations to our regular commenter Werm,   whose name was drawn from the electronic hat by Mrs BD and so wins his choice of a Hamlyn Telegraph Puzzle Book.   All we had to do this month was to solve the puzzle, and then spot the Nina round the edge of the crossword – “three point one four one five nine” – which even the least mathematical of us (me!) knows is PI (π), a symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter .    The solutions to three clues, 17a 31a and 21d contain the letters PI, and so three was the answer to the question ‘how many solutions describe the Nina? “



8a           Nice to be cycling with an old actor (4)
TREE –   This actor from the 1870s (Beerbohm Tree) is obtained by moving the E at the front of the French (as spoken in Nice) word for to be to the back – thus ETRE becomes TREE.

9a           Heather maybe good for bachelor – one getting married (5)
GROOM –   Replace the B for bachelor at the front of BROOM (heather) with a G for good.


10a         Author‘s identity (4)
SELF –   Double definition, the first being a reference to the author Will Self.

11a         Gangster loves to bewitch (6)
HOODOO –   HOOD (gangster) O O (‘loves’ where O = love).

12a         Praise rock group’s appearance after moving university (8)
EULOGISE –   Move the U (university) from GUISE (appearance) to  ELO (rock group)

13a         Devout carer in lapse (8)
REVERENT –   EN (Enrolled Nurse – carer) inserted into REVERT (lapse)

15a         Right island for sheep? (3-3)
YES-MAN –   YES (right) MAN (island).

17a         Letter‘s almost impressive wording lacks unknown quantity (7)
EPISTLE –   EPIc (almost impressive) ST[y]LE –   STYLE (wording) lacking the mathematical unknown Y.


19a         Children’s character who recycles  flower! (7)
ORINOCO –   This recycling Womble is named after the South American river (flower)


22a         Folk welcomed by Elizabeth and Nicholas (6)
ETHNIC –   Hidden in (welcomed by) ElizabETH NICholas

24a         Rival cut up plant (8)
CULTIVAR –   An anagram (up) of RIVAL CUT.

26a         Nicer column describes soldiers on the wagon (8)
PRETTIER – PIER (column) ‘describes’ or goes round RE (Royal Engineers, soldiers) and TT (teetotal, on the wagon).

28a         Synopsis of a copper pursuing one (6)
APERCU –   A (from the clue) PER (one, each) CU (copper).

30a         Aware of cognition being regularly overlooked (2,2)
ON TO –   The ‘regular’ letters of cOgNiTiOn

31a         Grit put in seed oddly (5)
SPINE –   PIN inserted into the odd letters of SeEd.

32a         Group held back in choir tour (4)
TRIO – Hidden and reversed (held back) in chOIR Tour.


1d           Therefore say nothing about rector (4)
ERGO –   EG (say, for example) O (nothing) ‘about’ R (rector).

2d           Syringe’s point is dispensable (8)
NEEDLESS –   NEEDLES (syringe’s) S (compass point).

3d           Overlook erection of old king riding soldier (6)
IGNORE – Reverse (erection of) ER (Edward Rex, old king) ON (riding) GI (American soldier)

4d           Ditzy girl leaves revoltingly awful knick-knack (7)
NOVELTY –   Remove GIRL (ditzy tells you that the letters aren’t in that order) from REVOLTINGLY and then make an anagram (awful) of the remaining letters.

5d           Boss‘s European master plan supported by monarch (8)
EMPLOYER – E (European) M (master) PLOY (plan) ER (Elizabeth Regina, monarch).

6d           Insults veterinary surgeon holding function we hear (1-5)
V-SIGNS –   VS (Veterinary Surgeon) holding SIGN, a homophone (we hear) of SINE (function).

7d           Evils of liberal left infiltrating Iceland (4)
ILLS –   Insert L (liberal) and L (left) into IS (the IVR code for Iceland).

14d         Overseas resident heads off argument after intercourse (5)
EXPAT –   Take the ‘heads’ or first letters off sEX  (intercourse)  and sPAT (argument)

16d         Bow cases raised in African port (5)
ACCRA –   A reversal (raised) of ARC (bow) and CA (an abbreviation for cases)

18d         Most successful variety of Silk Cut includes drug (8)
LUCKIEST –   An anagram (variety of) SILK CUT plus E (ecstasy, drug).

20d         Hazelnut flavoured    cut of meat (8)
NOISETTE –   Double definition.


21d         Crops threshed by priestess in house (7)
SCORPIO – This house of the Zodiac is obtained by following an anagram (threshed) of CROPS with IO (priestess).


23d         India blocks unacceptable idea (6)
NOTION –   I (IVR code for India) blocks NOT ON (unacceptable).

25d         Subtly influence to go north (6)
LEAVEN –   LEAVE (to go) N (north).

27d         Hindu princess published Independent (4)
RANI – RAN (published) I (Independent).


29d         Officer provided Number Two? (4)
COIF –   CO (commanding officer) IF (provided).     One of the definitions of COIF in the BRB is “a hairstyle (inf)”.   Being a mother of boys who at one time did have their hair this short, I did know that a Number Two is also an informal term for a haircut – the two referring to the size of guard on a pair of hair clippers.

Number Two


Thanks to Prolixic, BD and Mrs BD for their parts in the December Prize Puzzle ‘process’.



  1. Jane
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to Werm and many thanks to CS for the review. I had, eventually, worked out all the parsing correctly with the exception of 10a which had never occurred to me as being a double definition. I haven’t heard of Mr. Self – must ask Mr. Google about him!
    Also, thanks again to Prolixic for a masterful monthly puzzle.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to Werm and thanks again to Prolixic for the fun and to CS for the review.
    Next time I will read the instructions more carefully.

  3. Rob Ford
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to Werm and thanks to Prolixic for an excellent and very clever (as always) puzzle – for me at least, it really exercised the brain cells to finish it, almost all of which was required to get the Nina, and to the answer to the question. Thanks also to CS for the review and also to BD for running the competition. Merry Christmas to all and a very Happy New Year.

  4. debi smith
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I had the right answer too.
    How come my name is not mentioned?
    Thanks to Procyclic and Criticsue.

    • Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Debi

      There were quite a lot of correct answers, but the only name that is published is the one drawn from the electronic hat by Mrs BD.

      • debi smith
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks BD.
        You probably noticed that I gave the game away.
        After entering two wrong answers, I decided to disguise myself.
        debi smith is an anagram of HI BD it’s me!
        She will now disappear.
        JL aka debi smith.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink

          I did wonder about the Procyclic and Criticsue…

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:08 am | Permalink

            I would have done wonders with her.
            Her name stayed recorded in the fields and when I posted a reply to SL, I discovered to my horror that she had appeared on the screen. Requested deletion so the overseer certainly spotted me.
            Damned mainframe. Should have stayed on the Windows Phone.

  5. KiwiColin
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Werm.
    Thanks again Prolixic and CS for the review.

  6. Kitty
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, crypticsue. I needed it to clear up a few bits of parsing.

    It was a great puzzle which I very much enjoyed. Very clever, and I particularly liked the nina. Thanks Prolixic .

    Congratulations to Werm on being pulled out of the magic hat.

  7. Kath
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    No CS – I knock you into second place for being the least mathematical of us – I seem to remember being ‘had’ with that one quite recently when I was doing hints.
    I never did quite manage to work out the Nina and now I’ve lost the crossword anyway – oh dear!
    Congratulations to Werm and thanks to Prolixic and to CS.

  8. Werm
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Wow, I won ! A great end to a great year for me ! Thanks to Prolixic for a great test, CS for a wonderful review and the Mr & Mrs BD for their generosity.
    I don’t post as often as maybe I should but I doubt there is a day goes by without me visiting this wonderful site at least once. I even manage to complete a toughie or two every week now.
    I wish each and every person associated with this site, posters and contributors alike, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    Thanks again


  9. Prolixic
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    My thanks to all for the comments and to CS for the review. In the interests of excessive pedantry 28a is PER (a) CU (copper) after (pursuing) A (one).

    Wishing everyone a very joyful and peaceful Christmas.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Well done, Werm!

      I submitted the right answer – three ,,, but I thought it might also have been four as the solution to 26a – PRETTIER also contains a “P” and an “I”

      Who mentioned pedantry?

  10. dutch
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Well done Werm, thanks Crypticsue and thanks again Prolixic for a great challenge and wonderful nina.

  11. Rahmat Ali
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Heartiest congratulations to Werm! Thanks to Crypticsue for the dazzling review and thanks once again to Prolixic for the puzzling entertainment or, rather, for the entertaining puzzle. Sadly, on my part, I could not spot the Nina despite completing the puzzle, albeit after a very long time and hence could not send my entry. It’s time now to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016!