MPP 086 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 086 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle 086 – Review

July 2019

A Puzzle by Phibs

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Similarly Constructed

Phibs’ instructions read: I intended that the upper part of the grid should use exactly the same mix of letters (same number of A’s, B’s, C’s etc) as the lower part, but as usual something has gone wrong. To fix the problem, one word in the top half of the grid needs to be changed – what is the original entry, and what is the replacement?

I wonder how many people did the same as me and typed out in one line all the letters that appeared in the top half of the grid and then those that appeared in the bottom half on another line, and then deleted all the letters that appeared in both, only to find that the answer to the question was blooming obvious, particularly given the title of the puzzle “Similarly constructed” as what we needed to do was replace LIKE at 2d with WISE.  One of the brilliant things about a Phibs MPP is that as soon as you ‘get’ the answer, you know it has to be correct

This month’s winner is Paul Wakely who wins a Telegraph crossword book of his choice.



8a    Pig breeder wanting tips about breeding (8)
PEDIGREE – Remove the outside letters (wanting tips) of  bREEDEr and an anagram (about) of PIG and REEDE produces the solution

9a    Tickled dame’s fancy with ultimate in shiatsu (6) 
AMUSED – An anagram (fancy) of DAMES with the ultimate letter of shiatsU

10a    Peers into regularly backed-up drain (4)
TIRE – Lurking in reverse in the regular letters of pEeRs InTo

11a    What’s buckled with catch to secure a little Cartier? (10) 
WATCHSTRAP An anagram (buckled) of WHATS  with TRAP (catch) to secure C (a little Cartier)

14a    Book editor looked at including special cover (9) 
BEDSPREAD – B (book) ED (editor) READ (looked at) ‘including’ SP (special)

18a    Scoffs at less feminine hooligans (5) 
LOUTS – Remove the F (less feminine) from FLOUTS (scoffs at)

21a    Political group turning round drug production captures popular vote (7,8) 
GENERAL ELECTION – GENERATION (production) ‘captures’ a reversal (turning) of CELL (political group) into which is inserted (round) E (Ecstasy, drug)

22a    Flipping ages cancelling hotel room (5) 
SCOPE – Reverse (flipping) EPOCHS after removing (cancelling) the H (hotel)

24a    One cares desperately about number’s special significance (9) 
RESONANCE – An anagram (desperately) of ONE CARES goes ‘about’ N (number)

27a    Article sister attached to former F1 champ missing extremity? (10) 
PROSTHESIS – THE (definite article) SIS (sister) attached to or following PROSt (former F1 champion missing the last letter (extremity)

31a    Female impersonator changes into this terrifying woman? Just not on! (4) 
DRAG – Just omit the ON from the end of DRAGON (terrifying woman)

32a    Make late noise, drowning English cheers (6) 
DETAIN – DIN (noise) ‘drowning’ or covering E (English) TA (cheers, thank you)

33a    Not good to eat in bed and lie in mess (8) 
INEDIBLE – An anagram (in mess) of IN BED and LIE


1d    Fret about protecting electronic security code (6)
REPINE – RE (about) ‘protecting’ E (electronic) PIN (security code)

2d    Love story’s entertaining introduction to Kamasutra (4) 
LIKE – LIE (story) entertaining the ‘introduction’ to Kamasutra

3d    One developing golf stroke, perhaps (6) 
GROWER – G (golf in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet) ROWER (stroke being one of the oarsmen in a boat)

4d    Given hand exchanging fine for term in prison (4) 
LENT – Change the F (fine) in LEFT hand for the ‘term’ or last letter of prisoN

5d    Reluctant to abandon Latin swear-word (4) 
OATH – Remove (abandon) the L for Latin from LOATH (reluctant)

6d    Relish releasing last burst of wind (4) 
GUST – Remove the O that is the last letter of GUSTO (relish)

7d    Withdraw right to receive impeccable service up north (6) 
RECANT – RT (right) to ‘receipt’ a reversal (up) of ACE (impeccable service) and N (north)

12d    Embraces odd clues covering old ground (7) 
CUDDLES – An anagram (ground) of oDD CLUES (covering old tells you not to use the O)

13d    Six leaving unknown to represent this element (7) 
SILICON – Remove the X (mathematical unknown) from Six and you get the chemical symbol for this element

14d    Pretended to repair wheels after stopping coach (5) 
BOGUS – One of the meanings of repair is GO and this needs to be reversed (wheels) and inserted into (stopping) BUS (coach)

15d    Something inhabiting woodland in Goondiwindi? (5) 
DINGO – Lurking in woodlanD IN GOondiwindi

16d    Take in strong warning (7) 
PORTENT – R (the instruction on a doctor’s prescription meaning ‘take’ inserted into POTENT (strong)

17d    Increase general’s rank (7) 
ENLARGE – An anagram (rank) of GENERAL – if you did NTSPP 491 on the same day as this MPP, you’d have had quite a sense of deja-vu!

19d    Where you see students willing to join in? (5) 
UNION – UNI (where you see students) ON (willing to join in)

20d    Reason to envisage clothing discharged nudists (5) 
SENSE – SEE (envisage) ‘clothing’ the outside letters (discharged) of NudistS

23d    Wave beginning to engulf wife’s wader (6) 
CURLEW – CURL (wave), the beginning of Engulf and W (wife)

25d    Put out due to criminal pinching lead from steeple (6) 
OUSTED – An anagram (criminal) of DUE TO ‘pinching’ the S that is the lead of Steeple

26d    Stand upright when participating in field archery (6) 
CRADLE – Lurking in reverse in fiELD ARChery

28d    Odds and ends from another box (4) 
SPAR – SP (Starting Price, betting odds) and the ‘ends’ of AnotheR

29d    Start to finish, sheer innuendo (4) 
HINT – Move the initial letter (start) of THIN (sheer) to the end (finish)

30d    Dip primarily served with Indian meals (4) 
SWIM – The primary letters of Served With Indian Meals

31d    Weed finally obscured inscription on tombstone (4)
DRIP – the final letter of obscureD and RIP (inscription on tombstone)

Many thanks Mr and Mrs BD and especially to Phibs for the amazing crossword feat – it must have taken ages to work out having almost the right matching letters in each half of the crossword, let alone write all the clues.

24 comments on “MPP 086 – Review

  1. Another brilliant puzzle by Phibs. Thanks to him, to Mr & Mrs BD and to CS for the review (my method was the same as yours). Congratulations to Paul Wakely (do we know you under a different name?).
    I took 19d to be an all-in-one with the wordplay being UNI (where you see students) + ON (willing to join in, as in “I’m on for the card game tonight”).

  2. Congratulations to Paul – please tell me that your printed sheet was as much of a mess as mine was!
    Thanks also to CS for the illustrated review. With 19d I took it to be UNI (where you see students) plus ON (willing to join in – as in ‘I’m up for it’).

  3. Thanks to CS for the review, and congrats to Paul Wakely.

    Just a few points:

    In 8a the ‘tips’ are removed from BREEDER rather than PIG BREEDER.

    11a is an anagram of WHAT’S (What’s buckled) plus TRAP (with catch) all around (to secure) C (a little Cartier), the definition being the whole thing.

    19d was also intended as an &lit, UNI (Where you see students) + ON (willing to join in, as in ‘We’re going for a few drinks. Are you on?’).

    1. Hi Phibs,
      That was indeed a tour de force! How on earth did you go about constructing it? I guess that you started out with ‘likewise’ and went on from there but – HOW?!!

      1. Hi Jane, and thank you most kindly.

        Yes, I started with LIKE/WISE, and decided that to eliminate any chance of there being an alternative solution I would have no other K’s in the filled grid (I also hoped that this would help guide solvers towards LIKE as the word to be changed). I felt as well that it would make sense to put a 15-letter solution across the middle to avoid any possible confusion about top and bottom ‘halves’.

        I’ve found that the trick with puzzles like this where you’re trying to include a particular mix of letters is to design a grid that contains a fair number of four-letter words where the two checked letters don’t limit the possible entries too much – these are by far the easiest words to change when doing the tweaking at the end. So, having created what seemed like a suitable grid, I filled in the longer entries with words that gave me something close to the desired result (this took a few attempts!) and then used the four-letter slots to do the final adjustments. So S?I? at 30d could have ended up as SHIP or SLIM instead of SWIM, but perhaps more importantly could equally have become SAID or SOIL if I’d needed to lose a consonant and gain a vowel: swapping a consonant for a vowel (or vice versa) in longer words is a nightmare – even in a five-letter entry with three checkers it’s usually impossible.

        And that was it :phew: – just the clues to write then, but that’s the fun bit!

        1. Thanks for that Phibs.
          I too wondered how on earth one would go about putting it all together.

        2. Thank you so much for the insight, Phibs, you have my total admiration. Think my first problem would have been that, having determined to have no other words that contained a ‘K’, such words would have been all that popped into my head!
          Your efforts were certainly greatly appreciated and thank you for being so approachable where question were concerned.

  4. Thank you to the three of you for pointing out the correct parsing of 19d etc. I’ll correct them now

    I wonder if I can get away with blaming Post Phibs Question Working Out Syndrome for my errors :scratch:

  5. Well – we all piled in together with the UNION!

    As an aside – why does the new blog format persist in changing a lower case ‘i’ to an ‘l’? Phlbs is somewhat difficult to pronounce and ’emall’ looks ridiculous.

    1. The only place where an i looks like an l is in Phibs name in his comment box – everything else looks OK to me

      1. If you scroll down to the instructions for leaving a comment doesn’t the asterisked box requesting your email address read as ’emall’?

        When the site was being re-formatted and the only way I could ‘appear’ was via my wp address, I was also re-christened with an ‘l’ in place of the ‘i’. Something’s not quite right and I don’t think it’s me for once!

        1. I see what you mean – it appears to be all the words in bold type that are affected in this way. All the ‘ordinary’ words have the correct ‘i’

        2. Jane, re ‘Emall’, I noticed the same thing when I commented on the MPP yesterday. I noticed it had been corrected by this morning, but is back again here.

        3. I believe it’s a problem with how that font is rendered at particular magnifications. Watch the “Email” while typing Control with + to increase the magnification and Control with – to decrease it. The gap between the body of the i and its dot comes and goes as the browser makes different choices about how to render the character with the pixels available. Control with 0 will restore 100% magnification.

          We should be able to substitute a different font that doesn’t have that issue.

          1. I’ve changed the font used for those headings (on this blog only). How does it look now?

  6. Top puzzle, a remarkable construction. Congrats to Paul Wakely.
    My method involved a highlighter pen leading to a massive Aaah! D’oh!
    No problem with the i here.
    Thanks again for a corker Phibs

  7. Warmest congrats to Paul Wakely. Very well done!

    Oh dear! Yes, my method was the same as yours, CS. I got as far as ‘like’ but the penny didn’t drop… Thank you for your excellent review which I much appreciate.

    Phibs, what a brilliant crossword! I thoroughly enjoyed it but wish I’d had more time to ponder over it. It certainly deserved savouring. Thank you very much indeed.

  8. Congratulations Paul.
    My biggest hold up came from trying to justify DEPART for 7d. Until that was sorted I had no chance of getting the letters to make any sense at all. Just loved the DOOH moment when I did find the right answer and then twigged the significance of the title.
    A brilliant tour-de-force from Phibs and thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed.

    PS. Sue for 8a there is an R missing from the anagram fodder.

    1. thanks Colin – I should have waited until all our visitors had gone before making the corrections earlier then I might have concentrated a bit better

  9. Heartiest congratulations to Paul Wakely and tonnes of thanks, once again, to Phibs for the wonderful invention that turned into a memorabilia for me!
    I couldn’t parse 4d to my content as I somehow took it to be ‘sent’ instead of ‘lent’ and sent the answer after deducing it from the grand elimination round of letters from both the halves. I now realise the silly mistake after going through the brilliant review by crypticsue. Of course, thanks to her, too. However, I would like to humbly point out that on the lines of the clues of 11a, 15d and 19d, the underlining of the clue of 27a is missing, the underlining of ‘female impersonator’ in 31a and ‘this element’ in 13d would have sufficed, the close bracket is missing in 31d and ‘deja-vu’ should have been ‘déjà vu’ in 17d.

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