MPP 094 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 094 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle 094 – Review

March 2020

Two Bad – A Puzzle by Phibs

Phibs said; “I intended that each of the 26 cells around the perimeter of this puzzle would contain a different letter of the alphabet, but you won’t be surprised to learn that things haven’t quite worked out as planned. However, it seems that replacing two of the outside letters will fix my problem. What are the two new words thus produced?”

I’m always delighted when the MPP is by Phibs, firstly because you know it will be a finely crafted and enjoyable solving experience, and secondly, I won’t have tested it and so am able to enter the competition. The other great thing about a Phibs MPP is that once you’ve finished the solve and answered the question, there is no doubt whatsoever that you have the correct answer*.

Having solved the crossword and written down all the letters of the alphabet around the perimeter of the puzzle, I found that there were two Ss and two Ms. The problem was easily resolved by changing MOTH and SOUND to *BOTH FOUND!!

Our March winner is Milvus who wins a Telegraph Crossword Puzzle Book of their choice


8a    Doubting one in France will carry on there (6)
UNSURE – UNE (French feminine one) will carry SUR (the French word for on)

9a    Abused senior academic as well as possessing ecstasy (8)
PROFANED – PROF (Professor, senior academic) plus AND (as well) ‘possessing’ E (Ecstasy)

10a    Relish king-size steak sandwiches (4)
ZEST – Sandwiched in king-siZE STeak

11a    Chairs are meant to be this fabric (5)
SATIN – Chairs should be SAT IN

12a    Decline contract, putting HR out (4)
SINK – Put HR out of SHRINK (contract)

13a    Female kangaroo ultimately able to avoid boomerangs (3)
DOE The ultimate letters of ablE tO avoiD – boomerangs indicating that they come back (or are reversed)

15a    Knowing to hold one fast without making a sound (8)
SILENTLY – SLY (knowing) ‘holding’ I (one) LENT (fast)

17a    Time of St. Patrick’s Day parade (5)
MARCH – Double definition, St Patrick’s Day being the 17th March

20a    Soul-searching pub hosts stop erotic dancing (13)
INTROSPECTION – INN (pub) ‘hosts’ an anagram (dancing) of STOP EROTIC

23a    Meat containing minimum of nitrites available to be bought (5)
VENAL – VEAL (meat) containing the first letter (minimum) of Nitrites

25a    Time to stop ethical posturing related to sport (8)
ATHLETIC – T (time) stops or fills an anagram (posturing) of ETHICAL

27a    Main residence in country not finished (3)
SEA – An unfinished country residence SEAt

29a    Element of truth to myth about emperor/clothes? (4)
MOTH – Lurking in reverse (about) as an element of trutH TO Myth

31a    Eventually I do it for besotted admirer (5)
LATER – Remove I DO from an IDOLATER (besotted admirer)

32a    ‘Goat‘ taunt leaving judge cross (4)
IBEX – Leave off the J (judge) from JIBE (taunt) and add an X (cross) at the end

33a    Pirate! Or panic at sea about nothing? (8)
PICAROON – An anagram (at sea) of OR PANIC goes about O (nothing)

34a    Warn United backs after opening for blocked shot (6)
BULLET – TELL (warn) U (united) reversed (backs) and put after the ‘opening’ for Blocked


1d    Sitting on the fence, sharp nails both sides of derrière (10)
INDECISIVE – INCISIVE (sharp) ‘nails’ DE (both sides of DerrierE

2d    Result of division not quite working out (8)
QUOTIENT – An anagram (working out) of NOT QUITE

3d    Prove earth originally just spun round in circle (3,3)
JET SET – A reversal (spun round) of TEST (prove) E (earth originally) and J (‘originally’ Just)

4d    Lack of concern from a postman over letters covering hallway (6)
APATHY – A (from the clue) and PAT (postman) go over the letters ‘covering’ HallwaY

5d    Measure depth of well (5)
SOUND – Double definition

6d    Loathing new application adopted by breakdown service (6)
NAUSEA – N (new) and USE (application) ‘adopted’ by AA (breakdown service)

7d    Skinny latte, not a dry one (4)
LEAN – Remove the A (one) TT (dry) from LattE and add AN (one)

14d    Dog seen cooking and knitting denied gross neglect (4)
OMIT Remove the GR (gross) from GROMIT (often seen knitting and cooking in the Wallace and Gromit films) – my favourite clue, not least for the time it took me to see the ‘dog’

16d    Girl scratching rear, just a suggestion of tennis wear (4)
LAST – Scratch or remove the rear letter from LASs and add a ‘suggestion’ of Tennis

18d    Support for bridge clubs constantly taking against learner (10)
CANTILEVER – C (clubs) ANTI (against) L (learner) EVER (constantly)

19d    Princess wanting rice to fluff up (4)
BEAT – The Princess, of course, being BEATrice

21d    Wind up having two starters in each hand (4)
RILE – The first two starters of RIght and LEft (each hand)

22d    The Spanish order English province to be returned? That’s unpalatable! (8)
INEDIBLE – A reversal (to be returned) of EL (The in Spanish) BID (order) E (English) NI (province of Northern Ireland)

24d    Hermitage has cracking stuff (6)
ASHRAM – An anagram (cracking) of HAS followed by RAM (stuff)

25d    Going on stage could be hard with former lover taking lead (6)
ACTING – Adding EX (former lover) to the solution makes EXACTING or hard

26d    Through this catch online auction site repeatedly discounting same article (6)
HEREBY – HEAR (catch) and EBAY (online auction site) both ‘discounting’ the same article, an A

28d    Tolerate everything that hurts (5)
ALLOW – ALL (everything) OW (that hurts)

30d    Stew featuring many ingredients, even bits of coal and lino (4)
OLIO – A savoury dish of different sorts of meat and vegetables comes from the even bits of cOaL and lInO

Thanks to Phibs and the BDs

20 comments on “MPP 094 – Review

  1. Congratulations to Milvus
    I enjoyed this for all the reasons our reviewer gives in the preamble
    Excellent, thanks to Phibs and CS

  2. Another in the series of superb puzzles from Phibs. Thanks to him and congratulations to Milvus.
    Thanks also to BD, Mrs BD and CS.

  3. Thank you for the review, CS, and congratulations to Milvus – don’t think we know you, do we?
    I did get the correct answer – as CS said – one invariably knows when the answer becomes apparent, but it has to be said that Phibs doesn’t pander too much when it comes to giving solvers instructions in individual clues!

    Many thanks, Phibs, that got the old grey cells working.

    Thanks also to Mr & Mrs BD – the MPPs are always a source of fun for us all.

    1. Milvus won the MPP back in January 2019, as well as being a commenter on and off for many years.

      1. Thanks, CS, the name sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn’t nail it. Not that it really matters, it’s just nice when the winner is someone who’s a regular on the blog.

  4. Heartiest congratulations to Milvus on winning the Monthly Prize Puzzle – 094. The answer was really obvious and I was thrilled. Still, I controlled myself and didn’t run through the streets like Archimedes, shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” Thanks once again to Phibs for this wonderful creation. Thanks also to crypticsue for her brilliant review. However, I like to add that in 27a, an unfinished residence in country is also SEAt and in 30d, the stew is derived from even bits of cOaL and lInO.

    1. Not sure why my drafted finished hint for 30d didn’t make it to the final version – I have sorted both that and 27a

  5. Congratulations Milvus.
    An excellent MPP and as CS points out, one is in no doubt when the correct answer is worked out.
    Thanks again everyone involved.

  6. Only when the review was up that I realised this one passed me by.
    Just finished it and really enjoyed it.
    Specially 13a. Made me laugh out loud.
    Thanks to Phibs and congratulations to the winner.
    Thanks to CS for the review.

  7. Congratulations to Milvus and thanks to Phibs for a great puzzle.

    I seem to have Found Both words but by the wrong route.

    I didn’t fully understand 29a … so bunged in “loth” … so I had two “L”s and two “S”s.

    Is the definition of 29a as underlined “clothes” correct?

  8. Congrats to Milvus; thanks to Mr and Mrs BD, and thanks also to CS for the excellent review.

    I’m glad that the puzzle seems to have been enjoyed; I feel the prize puzzles should be reasonably tricky, but I hope that this one wasn’t too difficult. I’d be interested to hear how solvers would assess it in terms of BD Difficulty Rating.

    For 21d (RILE) the intended parsing of ‘two starters in each hand’ was ‘the first two letters from each hand’, ie RI(ght) + LE(ft). In 29a (MOTH), the definition part is ’emperor/clothes?’, the ‘?’ indicating a definition by example (emperor moths and clothes moths being just two sorts of moth among many others). I’d have preferred to use ’emperor and clothes?’, which would have improved the surface reading but would also of course have led to MOTHS rather than MOTH :negative:

    And I hope that those of a certain age identified the image – which adorned many a student room or bedsitter in the late 70s and 80s – that I had in my mind when writing the clue for 16d… :wink:

    1. I do remember the image in 16d very well, not that I had a copy myself you understand

      As for the moth – I think I’ve had more experience with the clothes variety :( rather than the emperor

      Difficulty-wise, my writing on the grid is quite neat which usually is an indication of not being unduly tough. Probably middling on the BD scale. The tricky bit came post solve when checking which letters of the alphabet were in there twice.

    2. 3.5/5 stars here difficulty/enjoyment
      Thanks again, excellent puzzle with a nifty twist
      ps Yes, remember the poster well

    3. One doesn’t have to be male to remember that poster – first thought in my mind when I read the clue!

  9. Thanks, all – that’s very helpful (and reassuring!)

    I need hardly say that I too remember the poster only from seeing it on other people’s walls (and in the once-ubiquitous Athena). The sort of moth I’m most familiar with – but have never seen and don’t know the name of – is the one that shrinks your clothes while they’re in the wardrobe…I’ve had so much trouble with them, particularly in recent years…

  10. I pray to the Almighty for the speedy recovery of those affected by coronavirus in the United Kingdom as I pray alongside for the affected ones in the other countries including my country India.

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