MPP 102 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 102 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle 102 – Review

November 2020

The Facts of Life by Phibs

Which entry is the odd one out?

Another splendid MPP from Phibs – a joy to solve and blog, and helpfully when you have the correct answer, you have no doubt that you are right and can submit your entry

This month’s winner is Rabbit Dave  who wins his choice of a Telegraph Crossword Puzzle Book

The Facts of Life are also known as the Birds and the Bees. Once you have a completed grid, you will see that you have a number of birds and that the solutions without birds all have a B in them. The only one that doesn’t is 24d which as the setter helpfully tells us is an ERROR!


1     Small company turned over a hundred thousand (4)
KNOT – a reversal (turned over) of TON (hundred) K (thousand)

4     Mail carriers disposed to pass empty building (8)
POSTBAGS – An anagram (disposed) of TO PASS and the outside letters (empty) of BuildinG

9     Sent back note about performance- enhancing drug, not very good buy (7)
BARGAIN – A reversal (sent back) of NB (nota bene, note well) goes about vIAGRA (a performance-enhancing drug) without the V (not very)

10     A half-hearted mob ripe for cultivation (6)
ARABLE – A (from the clue) and a half-hearted RABbLE (mob)

11     It involves dunking first of biscuits in lounge and others closer to hall (10)
BASKETBALL – BASK (lounge) and the first letter of Biscuits inserted into ET AL (and others) and finished with the final letter (closer) to halL

12     Fishing expert has me working nets (4)
SMEW – A fish-eating duck is netted by haS ME Working

13     Carriage clock includes new key (8)
CARDINAL – CAR (carriage) DIAL (clock) ‘includes’ N (new)

16     Craftsperson with energy, say (6)
WEAVER – W (with) E (energy) AVER (say)

17     ‘Good value’ sandwiches less than half roast beef (6)
GROUSE – G (Good) USE (value) ‘sandwiches’ RO (less than half of roast)

19     Worried more after retiring, perhaps? (8)
BOTHERED – OTHER (more) going inside BED (after retiring)

21     Greenish-blue Sierra’s pulled out of nick (4)
TEAL – Pull out or remove the S (Sierra in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet) from sTEAL (nick)

22     Fan added to Ritz suite? (10)
NUTCRACKER – NUT (fan) added to CRACKER (Ritz)

25     Consume contents of six-pack brother brought round (6)
ABSORB – ABS (contents of six-pack) and a reversal (brought round) of BRO (brother)

26     Male is associated with skilful reversing, right? Cobblers! (7)
HEELBAR – HE (male) is associated with a reversal of ABLE (skilful) and then an R (right) is added on the end

27     Debates misguided introduction of drying frame for kippers (8)
BEDSTEADS – An anagram (misguided) of DEBATES followed by the ‘introduction’ of Drying

28     Left Indiana quarry to have a merry time (4)
LARK – L (left) ARK (what Indiana Jones was looking for)


2     Region around Nile Delta shunning UN aid bemused to receive billions (5)
NUBIA – Remove (shunning) the D (Delta fourth letter of the Greek alphabet) from UNAId and then adding a B (billions) to an anagram (bemused) of the remaining letters will give you the solution

3     Tramp set about East Russian shore-dweller (5)
TEREK – A bird that lives on the River Terek in Russia – TREK (tramp) ‘set’ about E (east)

4     Diver unfortunate, line getting detached underneath Columbus’s ship (7)
PINTAIL – A diving duck – PINTA (Columbus’s ship) ILl (unfortunate) with the last L (line) detached

5     Consume pasty wife’s filled (7)
SWALLOW – SALLOW (pasty) filled by W (wife)

6     Undergarments with lead to supplement weight constitute metallic items (9)
BRASSWARE – BRAS (undergarments) with S (lead to supplement) W (weight) ARE (constitute)

7     Bond with Boris in Cuba: admitting love, deny dancing with glee (9)
GOLDENEYE – The name of a James Bond film – an anagram (dancing) of DENY and GLEE with O (love)

8     Sheen, perhaps, metal’s shown following damage (6)
MARTIN – TIN (metal) shown following MAR (damage)

14     Pleasant time involving lively dance around a barrel (9)
AGREEABLE – AGE (time) ‘involving’ REEL (lively dance) ‘around’ A (from the clue) and B (barrel)

15     Suspect mostly trousers pieces of Spanish gold (9)
DOUBLOONS – Most of DOUBt (suspect) and LOONS (trousers). In addition to being the name of some trousers that flare from the knees, it is also yet another bird

18     Glorify person of social distinction in the French guards (7)
ENNOBLE – NOB (person of social distinction) EN (the French word for in) LE (the French definite article)

19     Spotted sheds learner driver made a mess of (7)
BOTCHED – L (learner drive) shed from BlOTCHED (spotted)

20     US bomb Mediterranean country (three strikes, one after another) (6)
TURKEY – A US term for a complete failure (bomb), a Mediterranean country and a term used in bowling for three strikes once after another

23     Those heading conspiracies are better alone, eschewing one? (5)
CABAL – the headings or first letters of Conspiracies Are Better and ALone without the ‘one’

24     When driving off tee, dread inaccuracy (5)
ERROR – ‘Drive off’ the T from tERROR

Thanks once again to Phibs and the BDs

To see the answer grid

11 comments on “MPP 102 – Review

  1. Aargh, that’s where the bees got to. I understood the title, found the birds but couldn’t see any bees. Then I noticed that one bird (grebe) in 14d was the only one with non-contiguous letters so I hastily assumed it was the odd one out and submitted it as my answer. I should have known that Phibs was more subtle than that.
    Thanks to Phibs for the very clever puzzle, to Mr & Mrs BD and to CS for the explanations. Well done to Rabbit Dave on a well deserved win.

  2. Wow! There were, indeed, two sets – that of the birds and that of the Bs (bees) and what the solution revealed was obvious. I am happy to learn that my method of analysis was not at all bizarre, but lateral and literal.
    Heartiest congratulations to Rabbit Dave on winning the MPP-102. Thanks to Phibs for setting such an entertaining puzzle, to Crypticsue for the review and to BD and Mrs BD for hosting the event. And finally, congratulations to all those who have thought that laterally.

  3. DOUBLOONS, as in 15D, figured in my set of Bs (bees) and not in my set of birds, since I could not find any bird having a ‘B’ in it. Moreover, when I started to search beyond the Spanish two-escudo gold coins, I did come across the bird LOON, but not DOUBLOON.
    In 19D, BLOTCHED should be BOTCHED and made a mess of should be underlined.

  4. How appropriate that our winner is one of the ‘bees’ – many congratulations to Rabbit D.
    Thank you for the beautifully illustrated review, CS, and thanks also to Phibs for the fun and Mr & Mrs BD for organising another MPP.

  5. What a lovely surprise. Many thanks to CS for the review including such lovely pictures, and to Mr & Mrs BD for their regular involvement in the MPP. Thanks again too to Phibs for such an excellent puzzle.

  6. Congratulations RD.
    I have to admit that I stared at my completed grid for quite some time before Carol had a quick peek over my shoulder and spotted the answer almost immediately. HUMPH!
    I would have felt guilty if I had won.
    Thanks again for the fun Phibs and CS for the review.

  7. Hearty congrats to RD, and thanks to CS for the review with its splendid illustrations. Thanks also to all those who attempted the puzzle – it was one that I enjoyed setting, and I hope that you enjoyed unravelling it…and didn’t curse me too much when it came to finding the odd word out. :smile:

  8. …and particular thanks to Big Dave, specifically for pointing out that my original clue for the key entry, ERROR, was the hardest to parse in the whole puzzle, but even more importantly for providing the sole outlet for my blocked crosswords. :good:

  9. Are these monthly prize crosswords available on line or only in the actual paper?
    Sorry if this information Is available somewhere. I have looked in FAQ.

  10. The monthly prize puzzles are only available on Big Dave’s Blog and a new one appears on the first Saturday of each month

    If you click on the home tab and then on Crosswords, you can scroll down and see all 102 if them and their reviews

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