MPP 090 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

MPP 090 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle 090 – Review

November 2019

Seeking Ease – A Puzzle by Phibs

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


The instructions provided by Phibs said “I intended that the letter E would appear in the completed grid followed once, and only once, by each of the 26 letters of the alphabet (ie one appearance each of EA, EB etc). But, as you have probably come to expect by now, something has gone wrong. It can be fixed by changing one letter to form a new word (thus also offering, perhaps, a suggestion of what I felt when I had finished filling the grid). What is the new word?”

Our November winner is Senf – as one of our foreign correspondents, unless he comes over to the UK anytime soon so that BD can arrange to post him a Telegraph puzzles book,, he will just receive the ‘honour and glory’ associated with winning this month’s competition 

Another setting tour de force from Phibs where,although solving the crossword was fairly straightforward, marking all the E and a letter combinations took a while.  Eventually after much looking at the completed grid,  I worked out that I could change TERM TO TEEM because there was an ER combination at the end of the solution to 9a/beginning of that for 10a. It took overnight cogitation to see how the only word I could change related to ‘what Phibs felt’. And then the next morning, the 16a moment happened – if you read out loud the solutions in row 5 of the grid you’ll discover that GREY TEEM OCEAN sounds like GREAT EMOTION


1a    ‘Stuff I supply’ essentially implies ‘what one can get hold of‘ (7)
FISTFUL – An anagram (supply) of STUFF I followed by the ‘essential’ letter of impLies

5a    Knocked back beer after belting out initial tenor and soprano parts of fugue (7)
STRETTI – A reversal (knocked back) of bITTER (beer after removing [belting out initial] the B, and the abbreviations for Tenor and Soprano

9a    Settled for immersion in English double cream (5)
ELITE – LIT (settled) ‘for immersion’ in two lots (double) of the abbreviation for English

10a    Description of wet-weather clothing for pair on rambles (9)
RAINPROOF – An anagram (rambles) of FOR PAIR ON

11a    Like animal fat, but not as pale (4)
GREY – Remove the AS (not AS) from GREASY (like animal fat)

12a    Stretch shorter mini skirts (4)
TERM – lurking in (as indicated by skirts) shorTER Mini

13a    Deep Ecstasy found in old film container (5)
OCEAN – E (Ecstasy) found in O (old) CAN (film container)

14a    Article ‘Johnson taking Britain out’ written by European is conjecture (8)
THEORISE – THE (definite article) bORIS (Mr Johnson taking out the B for Britain) E (European)

16a    I’ve found it tackles routes regularly rejected when put in reverse (6)
EUREKA – Lurking in reverse in tAcKlEs RoUtEs

19a    Quote from a dead Italian dictator (6)
ADDUCE – A (from the clue) D (dead) DUCE (Italian dictator)

20a    Broadcast range for Radio 5 Live reflected American being among staff (8)
WAVEBAND – The Roman numeral for five and a reversal (reflected) of BE (live) and A (American) inserted into (being among) WAND (staff)

23a    Manipulate judge to stop period of control ending prematurely (5)
REJIG – J (judge) to ‘stop’ REIGn (period of control ending prematurely or without the last letter)

25a    Sally‘s outfit concealing hint of expansion (4)
QUIP – Remove the E (concealing hint of expansion) from eQUIP (outfit)

26a    Philanderer women beat endlessly from behind (4)
WOLF – W (women) followed by a reversal (from behind) of FLOg (beat endlessly)

28a    Best friend is against vigorous cuddling and cavorting (9)
CONFIDANT – CON (against) FIT (vigorous) ‘cuddling’ an anagram (cavorting) of AND

29a    A male picked up by random sex tests (5)
EXAMS – A (from the clue) M (male) ‘picked up’ by an anagram (random) of SEX

30a    Catch vacuous employee holding unknown (daring) young man’s equipment (7)
TRAPEZE – A lovely ear worm-inducing definition – TRAP (catch), EE (vacuous indicating the need to remove the inside letters of EmployeE, ‘holding’ Z (mathematical unknown)

31a    Prorogue parliament, primarily inspired by suspicious objective? (7)
SUSPEND – P (Parliament ‘primarily’) inserted into (inspired by) SUS (suspicious) END (objective)


1d    French crew charge for transporting cargo (7)
FREIGHT – FR (French) EIGHT (rowing crew)

2d    I looked after animals when sire sadly died (9)
SWINEHERD – An anagram (sadly) of WHEN SIRE followed by D (died)

3d    Only one or two taking Latin passed quickly (4)
FLEW – FEW (only one or two) ‘taking’ L (Latin)

4d    Announced start of Santa’s gift distribution (8)
LARGESSE – The start of Santa is a LARGE S

5d    Swindle chap repeatedly wanting name brand (6)
STIGMA – Two lots of removing an N (repeatedly wanting Name) firstly STInG (swindle) and secondly MAn (chap)

6d    Brought up South American country omitting ace for every match (9)
REPRODUCED – A reversal (brought up in a Down clue) of ECUaDOR (omitting the abbreviation for Ace) and PER (for every)

7d    Unopened communication raised a recurring theme (5)
TROPE – A reversal (raised) of an ‘unopened’ rEPORT (communication)

8d    Cool orange drink for princess in Seville? (7)
INFANTA – IN (cool in the sense of trendy) FANTA© (orange drink)

15d    Identify Queen running around with corgis? No question! (9)
RECOGNISE – Remove the QU (no question) and then an anagram (running around) of EEN and CORGIS will produce the solution

17d    Tape over bum hiding one’s boil away (9)
EVAPORATE – An anagram (bum) of TAPE OVER ‘hiding’ A (one)

18d    Is involved in saving traditional English drinks, shunning electronic coffee makers (8)
BARISTAS – IS (from the clue) ‘involved’ in BAR (saving) TeAS (traditional English drinks shunning or ignoring the E (electronic)

19d    A largely formal bed for fruit (7)
APRICOT – A (from the clue) PRIm (largely or most of prim or formal) COT (bed)

21d    Relieved date said no to skipping starter (7)
DEFUSED – D (date) rEFUSED (said no to ‘skipping’ the first letter or starter)

22d    Square hedge, with one very ordinary college out of sight within (6)
EQUATE – Hide (out of sight) the I (one) V (very) O (ordinary) C (college) from within EQUIVOCATE or hedge)

24d    Japan much obliged to host United Nations Council (5)
JUNTA – J (IVR code for Japan) and TA (much obliged) to ‘host’ UN (United Nations)

27d    Eleven at bingo like filling empty lines (4)
LEGS – The bingo call “Legs Eleven” – EG (like, for example) filling the outside letters (empty) of LineS

Thanks once again to Phibs – were this anything other than a brilliant prize puzzle, I’d probably mention the number of times we have to remove a letter/s, but as it is, I’ll just mutter about it at the end) and the BDs for their parts in hosting the MPP series/picking the winner

10 comments on “MPP 090 – Review

  1. Thanks to Mrs BD for pulling my name out of the (electronic) hat.
    I have to admit I had no idea what Phibs’, thankfully unnecessary, feeling was so, thanks to Sue for explaining it.

  2. Thanks to Phibs for another magnificent prize puzzle and congratulations to Senf on his win.
    I did have the right answer but I had no idea how that related to what Phibs felt on completing the grid so thanks to CS for explaining that and deciphering all the clues.

  3. Heartiest congratulations, Senf – about time that you won!
    Also, thanks to CS for both the review and for sorting out how Phibs felt, completely passed me by.

    Many thanks for the puzzle, Phibs, there were times when I thought I wouldn’t get to the answer!

  4. Well done, Senf, and thank you, Sue for the review. I have to admit not seeing “grey teem ocean”, but I thought I had the answer by putting “EE for ER”, which sort of sounds like “euphoria” – an emotion quite possibly felt by Phibs at the time.

  5. Congratulations Senf.
    I had the right answer but had missed the three word pun that went across the grid and explained how Phibs felt.
    Incidentally Sue you don’t need to use the 9a/10a combination to get the ER. It exists within one word in the answer to 2d, immediately below the EH.

  6. Brilliant puzzle. Not a hint in the clues of whatever tortures Phibs had to go through.
    I didn’t spot great emotion, I thought it was an ‘end of term’ feeling.

  7. Heartiest congratulations to Senf on his win. Thanks to Phibs once again for his creativity. I thought I had the idea about what Phibs felt when he had finished filling the grid, but now I know that I didn’t. Thanks to CS for sorting that out and also for her wonderful review. However, ER is 2d seems more appropriate than in the combination of 9a and 10a, although E appears twice followed by different letters, viz., EH and ER. There are two other solutions in which E appears more than once and followed by different letters – EU and EK in 16a and EF and ED in 21d. My only consolation is that I had the right answer.

  8. Congratulations to Senf, thanks to CS for the review, and thanks also to those who have commented on the puzzle.

    I did wonder if my ‘great emotion’ might prove tricky to identify, but since the original grid contains two ‘ER’s (when only one is allowed) and the TERM/TEEM change also provides two missing combinations (EE and EM), I was optimistic that no-one with TEEM would be in doubt that they had the right answer. I hope that the elusive pun didn’t cause anyone too much grid-staring grief, and I very much like the alternative decodings of my ‘finished-grid feeling’ :good:

    Apologies to CS for all the clues that required letters to be removed from words. Before I started setting puzzles I wrote clues for clue-writing competitions, and as a result I tend to avoid the more obvious ways of breaking down a solution (which would typically be used by multiple competitors), but that does mean that I probably include more deletions and letter selections than most setters. There would have been one less in this puzzle, my original clue for BARISTAS being ‘Costamongers?’, but ultimately I replaced it on the grounds that it would probably be unfair to solvers based outside the UK.

Comments are closed.