MPP 075 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 075 – Review

MPP 075 – Review

Too Many Words by Alchemi

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

The instructions were:

Each clue contains a superfluous word which has to be ignored when solving the clue. Read in clue order, the first letters of these words pose a question, the answer to which belongs in the box.

The question and its answer can be found at the end of this post,

Congratulations to Jepi, and he wins his choice of a Daily Telegraph Puzzle Book.

In this review, the superfluous words can be found inside [square brackets].


9a Fear [walled] castle suggested by Weetabix? (9,6)
BREAKFAST CEREAL: Split as (5,4,6) the answer gives BREAK FAST CEREAL which can be considered to define an anagram (break) of FEAR CASTLE

10a Blast those left during offensive [harangue] (7)
TRUMPET: RUMP (those left) inside (during) TET (offensive launched in January–February 1968 during the Vietnam War)

12a Note [angry] man leaving heirs an autobiography (7)
MEMOIRS: MEMO (note) followed by [HE]IRS without (leaving) HE (man)

13a Eats [turkey] during fights, making a lot of unnecessary noise (9)
ROWDINESS: DINES (eats) inside (during again) ROWS (fights)

14a Make fun of drinks [invented] online (5)
TEASE: TEAS (drinks) followed by E (prefix for online)

15a Plans [surprise], right away dressing badly (7)
DESIGNS: an anagram (badly) of D[R]ESSING without (away) R(ight)

18a Small companion lives with [transparent] script breaks (7)
SCHISMS: a charade of S(mall) CH (Companion of Honour), IS (lives) with MS ([manu]script)

21a Middle [harmonica] sounding rubbish (5)
WAIST: sounds like (sounding) WASTE (rubbish)

23a See [explosive] diary edited by Republican becoming film (4,5)
EASY RIDER: an anagram (edited) of SEE DIARY followed by R(epublican)

25a Keep [coughing], cutting short delicate work (7)
CITADEL: an anagram (work) of DELICAT(e) without its final letter (cutting short)

26a Gangster’s partner (American) caught [awkward] invertebrate (7)
MOLLUSC: a charade of MOLL( a gangster’s partner), US (American) and C(aught)

29a Punishment involving trousers, musical instruments, [paper] and wine (5,5,5)
SHORT SHARP SHOCK: a charade of SHORTS (trousers), HARPS (musical instruments) and HOCK (wine)


1d Help American lay [insulation] (4)
ABET: A(merican) followed by BET (lay, as a verb)

2d A [terribly] posh country (4)
PERU: PER (A, as in tuppence a pound) followed by U (posh)

3d Missing school, [apparently] asleep (8)
SKIPPING: S(chool), an abbreviation supported by Collins dictionary, followed by KIPPING (sleeping)

4d [Layer] covering chap carrying books (6)
MANTLE: MALE (chap) around (carrying) NT (New Testament, books of The Bible)

5d Lists actresses I [originally] met improbably rejecting parts (8)
ITEMISES: hidden (parts) and reversed (rejecting) inside the clue

6d Retiring sort of woman at [French] university (6)
HERMIT: HER (woman) followed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, university)

7d Birds injured in [three] places (8)
PELICANS: an anagram (injured) of IN PLACES

8d Swellings [upending] minor celebrities (8)
BLISTERS: B-listers (minor celebrities)

11d Take hours [rowing] on a river (5)
RHONE: R (recipe / take [Latin]) followed by H(ours) and ONE (a)

15d Sad actors follow [king’s] direction (8)
DOWNCAST: CAST (actors) preceded by DOWN (direction)

16d Hawking’s destination in the near future opened by former Prime Minister [Maggie] (8)
SPITTOON: SOON (in the near future) around (opened by) PITT (former Prime Minister) – hawking is a slang verb meaning spitting; the capitalisation, required as it is the first word in the clue, falsely suggests Professor Stephen Hawking

17d Covert way to get well [endowed] in East London (8)
STEALTHY: ST (street / way) followed by ‘EALTHY (healthy with an East London / Cockney accent)

19d Innocuous Henry, [never] lacking a gun (8)
HARMLESS: H (the symbol representing the henry, a derived SI unit of inductance) followed by ARMLESS (lacking an arm / gun)

20d Tournaments for ham, lamb and, [importantly], spam, they say (5)
MEETS: sounds like (they say) MEATS (ham, lamb and, spam)

22d Time consumed holding up [socialist] party until now (2,4)
TO DATE: T(ime) and ATE (consumed) around (holding) the reversal (up in a down clue) of DO (party)

24d As in mourning, [top] hat 25% off (6)
SOMBRE: SOMBRE[RO} without (off) 2 of its 8 letters (25%)

27d Supported by [amazingly] cheerful working (4)
UPON: UP (cheerful) followed by ON (working)

28d Drink [not] acceptable in church (4)
COKE: OK (acceptable) inside CE (Church of England)

Thanks to Alchemi for the puzzle and to Mrs BD for her usual magnificent effort in clicking the mouse to select the winner.  When you arrange the superfluous words as an acrostic:







the question “What is the capital of Turkmenistan?” emerges, and the answer, Ashgabat (how many knew that before solving this puzzle?), is what was required to enter the competition.


9 comments on “MPP 075 – Review

  1. Congratulations Jepi.
    And congratulations and thanks again to Alchemi for putting together such a clever poser. I really enjoyed sorting it out.
    Thanks BD for the review.

    1. You asked for some notes on its construction.

      This was a very easy puzzle to construct, as it happens.

      The brief for the MPP is to come up with a question which can’t be answered until someone has solved at least the majority of the clues in the puzzle; BD doesn’t have the time, inclination or other resources to check whether several hundred grids have been fully and accurately completed.

      Having decided that I’d set the question using the first letters of superfluous words, I first had to devise a question of 28, 30 or 32 letters to which I didn’t think anyone was likely to know the answer (and didn’t contain an X because there aren’t many words beginning with X you can slide into a sentence somewhere without it being pretty obvious). Having an obscure answer was meant to require that solvers did some looking up, which proves they’ve done some work on the puzzle itself.

      This one had 30, so I then put together a 30-word grid of things which could be fairly easily clued. So then I have a list of clue numbers and corresponding letters.

      So I’d come up with a perfectly normal clue for each word, and then think of a word which begins with the relevant letter which I could put into the sentence and still have it mean something. The interesting bit is getting it into a nice misleading place. In the middle of anagram fodder or a hidden word is an obvious one; making it look as though the superfluous word is the definition is another. Otherwise, try and make it change the meaning of the sentence or try and make it a hint to go up a dead end. The idea is to get the solver to try and use it to solve the clue for a bit until they say “D’oh” and realise they’ve been fooled.

      On other matters, I’m certain that the supportive messages I’ve received from people I’ve mostly never met in this and other online fora have contributed significantly to my recovery being some distance ahead of what would be considered typical for a person of my age and general health.

      1. Thank you for all that. I really appreciate that you have taken the time and effort to respond.
        What I found most satisfying, as it was different from the usual solving process, was looking for the superfluous word. You had done a great job in many instances in sending me on false tracks, which was great fun.
        As you intended, I did need Google to help with the answer. Incidentally, the next day, we were visiting our son and his family and dropped into the conversation (as one does) “What is the capital of Turkmenistan?” and got an immediate response of “Ashgabat”. So there are people in the world who remember these things.
        Glad to hear that you continue to make a speedy recovery. We have been thinking of you.

  2. Congratulations to the winner of the month.
    Congratulations also to Alchemi not just for setting the crossword (which, I have to confess, I couldn’t do) but also for making such a speedy recovery from major surgery.

  3. Congrats to Jepi. Thanks again to Alchemi, with extra thanks for the insight above – best wishes from me too.

  4. Congratulations to Jepi.

    This was a very satisfying puzzle to complete, even if I had to guess a few, so many thanks to Alchemi and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Sorry if I am being dense, but how does “take” give the letter R or “recipe” in 11d, please? I see you have [Latin] but I am afraid that I don’t know what that means. Thanks.

    1. Recipe, shortened to R, is Latin for “take”. The most common usage of R like that is on drug prescriptions.

  5. Heartiest congratulations to Jepi. Once again, thanks to Alchemi for the magnificent construction. Thanks also to Big Dave for the excellent review. Although the question could be framed even at a time when there were some clues yet to be solved and the answer assured, I erroneously parsed 2d as ‘terribly’ (anagram of) ‘posh’ (PURE) leading to ‘country’ (PERU) without taking into account ‘a’. My heart was not ready to accept ‘terribly’ as the superfluous word and my eyes were ogling all the while at the clues, hoping for yet another word starting with ‘t’ creeping in. The matter is now sorted out. Thanks, once again, to BD for the explanation.

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