MPP 044 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle – 044

January 2016 2015

Zoology by Alchemi

The instructions for this puzzle were:

A number of mostly unfamiliar animals are roaming around the grid, but only one of them has a characteristic spelled out in two asymmetrically-placed vertical columns, and that’s the one to put in the box.

Well, there were no less than nine animals roaming around the grid, but only the Ross seal satisfied the requirement that it was “native to fourteen”, where the answer to 14 down was Antarctica.

Congratulations to Robert, who not only found the right animal but was lucky enough to be drawn from the electronic hat by Mrs BD.


1a    At the end of the day, moving the head back clears the controls (6)
UNSETS: start with SUNSET (something that happens at the end of the day) and move its first letter (head) to the end

4a    German artist backs fight with what’s central to serious public art (8)
GRAFFITI: G(erman) followed by RA (artist), the reversal (back) of TIFF (fight) and the middle letter (what’s central to) of [ser]I[ous]

10a    Begin at the start with one bird and a ratlike marsupial (9)
BANDICOOT: The initial letter (at the start) of B[egin] followed by AND (with) I (one) and COOT (bird)

11a    Very German and healthy (5)
SOUND: SO (very) followed by UND (German for and)

12a    Carve and the rest start to help (4)
ETCH: ETC (et cetera / and the rest) followed by the initial letter (start) of H[elp]

13a    Mid-auction disturbance reveals raccoon family member (5-5)
COATI-MUNDI: an anagram (disturbance) of MID-AUCTION – Chambers has a hyphen in the name of this animal, but dictionaries vary on whether or not it should be included,

15a    Insects get outside enclosure for freedom (7)
LICENCE: LICE (insects) around (outside) ENC(losure)

16a    Note laboratory has returned insectivorous mammal (6)
TENREC: TE (seventh note of the scale in sol-fa notation) followed by the reversal (has returned of CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire / European Laboratory for Particle Physics)

19a    Fussy eaters, say, travelling in commercial vehicles (6)
VEGANS: EG (Latin abbreviation for say / for example) inside (travelling in) VANS (commercial vehicles)

21a    Left one by business entrance (7)
PORTICO: PORT (nautical term for left) followed by I (one) and CO (company / business)

23a    Ruining my case, Clegg missed final note showing frequency (10)
MEGACYCLES: an anagram (ruining) of MY CASE CLEG[G] without (missed) the final G (fifth note of the diatonic scale of C major)

25a    God has painful back (4)
EROS: the reversal (back) of SORE (painful)

27a    Porcine habitat with light metal needles (5)
STYLI: STY (porcine habitat) followed by LI (chemical symbol for lithium, the lightest metallic element)

28a    Being unaware CNN see ice melting (9)
NESCIENCE: an anagram (melting) of CNN SEE ICE

29a    This puzzle ought to be very clever about luncheon vouchers (8)
SOLVABLE: SO (very) and ABLE (clever) around LV (luncheon vouchers) – just a minor quibble here as both Chambers and the Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE) gives LV as the abbreviation for luncheon voucher (singular), but I missed it when I checked the puzzle

30a    Fairy tale character‘s cheap nosh oddly missing gutted eel (6)
HANSEL: the even letters (oddly missing) of [c]H[e]A[p] N[o]S[h] followed by E[e]L without its middle letter (gutted)


1d    Bull and mare combine in temporary shelter (8)
UMBRELLA: an anagram (combine) of BULL and MARE

2d    Set of numbers showing Chinese dynasty’s recurrent pattern (4,5)
SONG CYCLE: this set of musical numbers comes from SONG (Chinese dynasty from AD 960–1279) followed by CYCLE (recurrent pattern)

3d    Honey possum one buried in rubbish (4)
TAIT: I (one) inside (buried in) TAT (rubbish)

5d    Rodent gets up to say goodbye hearing a knock on the door (3-1-3)
RAT-A-TAT: RAT (rodent) followed by the reversal (gets up) of TATA (say goodbye)

6d    Fertiliser unfortunately fries human (4,6)
FISH MANURE: an anagram (unfortunately) of FRIES HUMAN

7d    Store remains essentially yours, right, though absorbed by pub (5)
INURN: U (essentially [yo]U[rs]) and R(ight) inside INN (pub)

8d    Among doctors, one goes in for lemurs (6)
INDRIS: IN (among) and D(octo)RS around (goes in) I (one)

9d    Modest over gutting the wolf’s relative (6)
COYOTE: COY (modest) followed by O(ver) and T[h]E without its middle letter (gutting)

14d    Sailor caught in funny business at a place down south (10)
ANTARCTICA: TAR (sailor) and C(aught) inside ANTIC (funny business) and followed by the A from the clue

17d    Space this person allows for travellers (9)
EMIGRANTS: EM (printing space equal to the width of the lower-case m) followed by I (this person) and GRANTS (allows)

18d    In the end, zoo has conspicuous success impregnating genuine pinniped (4,4)
ROSS SEAL: the final letters (in the end) of [zo]O, [ha]S, [conspicuous]S and [success]S inside (impregnating) REAL (genuine)

20d    Wax-coated trick barbiturate (7)
SECONAL: SEAL (wax) around (coating) CON (trick)

21d    Desperate requests a drug could satisfy (6)
PLEASE: PLEAS (desperate requests) followed by E (ecstasy / drug)

22d    Entertains two Americans with enormous clothes (6)
AMUSES: AM and US () followed by the outer letters (clothes) of E[normou]S

24d    Bovine seen in Harringay allotment (5)
GAYAL: hidden inside (seen in) [Harrin]GAY AL[lotment]

26d    Floyd perhaps name-dropping a lagomorph (4)
PIKA: PI[n]K (Floyd, perhaps) without (dropping) N(ame) followed by the A from the clue

Many thanks to Alchemi for this combined Prize Puzzle and nature lesson.



  1. Jane
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, BD, and congratulations to Robert – enjoy your prize.
    Alchemi certainly does bring us some superb puzzles. :good:

  2. dutch
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Well done Robert!

    • dutch
      Posted January 19, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      enjoyed the pics, BD

  3. KiwiColin
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Robert. After solving, I spent an enjoyable time finding out more about some of the unfamiliar creatures we met here.
    Thanks again Alchemi and BD.

  4. Hilary
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    How many other people spotted native to Goa and put bandicoot?

    • Posted January 20, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Only you!

      There were also two pikas, one gayal and one indri.

      • Doughnut
        Posted January 20, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        I got Ross seal eventually but spent an embarrassingly long time on Wikipedia and Google looking for an appropriate creature that was “native to fourteen” countries! (The red-tailed wheatear is, for what it’s worth!) Eventually the penny dropped; I am thick. :yes:

        Thanks again to Alchemi for an entertaining challenge.

  5. Rahmat Ali
    Posted January 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Heartiest congratulations to Robert for winning the Monthly Prize Puzzle – 044. Thanks to Big Dave for the superb review and thanks once again to Alchemi for the magnificent entertainment. However, I would like to suggest some minor changes in the review. 30d should have been 30a; the ‘if’ in 4a could have been ‘I’ or ‘I of’; the ‘ffn’ in 10a could have been better omitted and the final letters in 18d, having also ‘has’, should have been shown as [zo]O, [ha]S, [conspicuou]S and [succes]S.

    • Posted January 20, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing out my typos – now changed. In particular, I use AutoCorrect in Word to change ffb into “followed by” – if I type ffn by mistake AutoCorrect leaves it as ffn!

  6. Werm
    Posted January 23, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Robert, I also admit to at first thinking “Native To Goa” but realised my error in time to change it ! All seems so obvious after as these things do of course. Thanks to Alchemi for a good challenge and BD for the review.