MPP 091 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 091 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle 091 – Review

December 2019

Initial Letters – A Puzzle by Alchemi

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

The instructions provided by Alchemi said “Some words when said aloud begin with the sound of their first letter, eg BEAST,. CEASE or PEASHOOTER, unlike BOY, CAST or PHILOSOPHER. How many of today’s answers begin with the sound of their first letters?”

Our December winner is Rahmat Ali, who wins a Telegraph puzzles book of his choice so long as he lives in the UK.  Rahmat enters most months so it is good to see his name come out of the electronic hat.An excellent puzzle from Alchemi, although I did raise an eyebrow at the use of G for Group as it is usually in context, such as G7 – Group of 7.  As far as the competition is concerned, mindful of differences in pronunciation, I decided to accept plus or minus 1 on the total of 20, i.e. 19, 20 or 21.


1a    Large tree put back in clay (6)
KAOLIN: L(arge) OAK (tree) are reversed and followed by IN from the clue

4a    Habitual criminal to be indisposed with broken rib, as described by Salinger? (8)
JAILBIRD: AIL (to be indisposed) and an anagram (broken) of RIB, inside (described by) the initials of Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, one of the most over-rated books I have ever read

9a    Articles about marine heating units (6)
THERMS: THES (definite articles) around a Royal Marine

10a    Constable keeping each fuel supply tranquil (8)
PEACEFUL: A Police Constable around (keeping) EA(ch) followed by an anagram (supply) of FUEL

12a    First people with drills (8)
DENTISTS: IST (first) inside (covering) DENTS (impressions)

13a    Warning sounded in spirited style? (6)
ALARUM: split as À LA RUM this could mean in spirited style

14a    Went back a long way down (4)
DEEP: PEED (went, urinated) reversed (back)

15a    Work on smell of beer with a milky sheen (10)
OPALESCENT: OP (opus, musical work) followed by ALE SCENT (smell of beer)

19a    Spouts stupidly about dead axioms (10)
POSTULATES: an anagram (stupidly) of SPOUTS around LATE (dead)

20a    A little humour takes hours (4)
WHIT: WIT (humour) around (takes) H(ours)

23a    Starts to enjoy as all French restaurants hope people will (3,3)
EAT OUT: the initial letters of (starts to) Enjoy As followed by TOUT (all, in French)

25a    European with a pulse, a tall thin man (8)
BEANPOLE: POLE (European) preceded by BEAN (a pulse)

27a    Licensing arrangement ignores new upper limits (8)
CEILINGS: an anagram (arrangement) of LICE[N]SING without (ignores) N(ew)

28a    Clever woman has information on India and America (6)
GENIUS: GEN (information) followed by the letter represented by India in the NATO Phonetic alphabet and US (America)

29a    Greed is a cycling quarrel (8)

30a    Yes, 10 could be very small (6)
TEENSY: an anagram (could be) of YES TEN (10)


1d    American flyer cheated after starting aerobatic training in Kentucky (7)
KATYDID: DID (cheated) after the initial letters of (starting) Aerobatic Training inside K(entuck)Y

2d    No-dealers flummoxed by shrubs (9)
OLEANDERS: an anagram (flummoxed) of NO-DEALERS

3d    Iowa medic in charge of feet (6)
IAMBIC: IA (Iowa) followed by MB (medic) and In Charge

5d    Cards for clubs lacking money (4)
ACES: [M]ACES (clubs) without (lacking) M(oney)

6d    Restrict area so all ice melts (8)
LOCALISE: an anagram (melts) of SO ALL ICE

7d    Conclude whistle-blower is up to being elected (5)
INFER: REF(eree) (whistle-blower) reversed (is up) preceded by IN (being elected)

8d    Bound to be afraid about the French being put up (7)
DELIMIT: TIMID (afraid) around LE (the French definite article) all reversed (put up)

11d    Unexpectedly up at 10 in ideal state (6)
UTOPIA: an anagram (unexpectedly) of UP AT IO

16d    Misrepresented Queen songs (6)
LIEDER: LIED (misrepresented) followed by ER (Queen)

17d    The piano I built for someone in Africa (9)
ETHIOPEAN: an anagram (built) of THE PIANO I

18d    You and I separately poke cat group in a line (8)
QUEUEING: U (you) and I inserted into (poke) QUEEN (cat) followed by G (group as in G7)

19d    Stuck up last month, First Bank (7)
PIERCED; DEC(ember) (last month of the year) reversed (up) preceded by (first) PIER (bank)

21d    Hay’s yet to be collected, according to rumour (4,3)
THEY SAY: an anagram (to be collected) of HAY’S YET

22d    Extension 21 marks the spot (6)
ANNEXE: sounds like (21 = they say) AN “X” (marks the spot)

24d    Goes without old Conservatives (5)
TRIES:T[O]RIES (Conservatives) without O(ld)

26d    Old English king swallowed by old English monster (4)
OGRE: GR (George Rex / Old English king) inside (swallowed by) Old English

I have highlighted my twenty answers in blue and would be interested to know which of these you didn’t count in a total of nineteen or which other you did count in a total of twenty-one.


9 comments on “MPP 091 – Review

  1. Thanks to Alchemi for an interesting puzzle and to BD for the Review. I did submit an answer of 20 (corresponding to BD’s highlighted answers) but I wasn’t at all confident that I’d got it correct.
    Congratulations to Rahmat Ali.

  2. Yes, I had the same 20 although I did hesitate over Oleander which seems to have alternative pronunciations.
    Congratulations to Rahmat Ali – hope you get to enjoy your prize – and many thanks to Mr & Mrs BD for hosting the monthly Prize Puzzle.

  3. Congratulations Rahmat Ali.
    I also had settled on 20 as my entry and think it was a very fair decision to accept a slight variation from this to allow for variant pronunciation.
    The one I had my biggest internal debate about was ALARUM, which I eventually left out.
    All good fun.

  4. Congratulations to Rahmat Ali
    I settled on 19 – I have always pronounced oleander with the O sound as in box
    Good puzzle and thanks for the review BD, a very fair compromise

    1. Me too, I have always pronounced Oleander as in the name “Oliver”.
      A most enjoyable puzzle – maybe a little easier than the norm.
      Well done Rahmat Ali.

  5. One of the finest moments of my life while I gaze with eyes wide open at my name that has been listed in the ‘Roll of Honour’. It does not matter whether or not I am able to see the prize that has already reached my heart. My sincere thanks to Mrs BD for pulling my name out of the hat. Thank you BD for the excellent review. Once again, thank you Alchemi for the challenge. Last, but not the least, thank you Gazza, Rabbit Dave, Jane, KiwiColin, LetterboxRoy and Robert for your compliments. Wishing all once again a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2020 ahead.

  6. Also in the 20 club.
    Congratulations to Rahmat Ali and thanks again to Alchemi and to BD.

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