MPP 106 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 106 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle 106 – Review

March 2021

Permutations – A Puzzle by Phibs


This month’s winner of a Telegraph Crossword Puzzle Book of their choice is Jez Wagg who correctly read the instructions …

Phibs intended that the 32 solutions would use every possible combination of the vowels AEIOU (ranging from none of them to all five), but not for the first time something has gone wrong. Thankfully the problem can be fixed by changing one letter in the completed grid. What are the two new words that result?

… and realized that replacing the E at the end of the solutions to 20a and 14d with an O would result in two new words – BINGO and BRAVO – thus producing the required combinations of IO and AO which don’t appear elsewhere in the solutions

I misread the instructions and got fixated on the wrong idea and, even though I knew I was looking for something that would create the usual ‘you’ve been successful’ message from Phibs, I couldn’t see the obvious and so ended up quite grumpy, especially as this is one of the months when I could have entered the competition as I only ‘met’ the crossword at the same time as the rest of you.


8     Couple taking turn with quiet child – in this? (9)
PUSHCHAIR – PAIR (couple) ‘taking’ U (turn) with SH (quiet) and CH (child)

9     Date dad’s sister put off (5)
DAUNT – D (date) AUNT (dad’s sister)

10     The spiritual home of cricket masters (5)
LORDS – Double definition

11     Police constables avoiding northern bars (9)
OBSTACLES – An anagram (police) of COnSTABLES (avoiding northern telling you to omit the N)

12     Abandoned camel with BO – it’s related to bodily processes (9)
METABOLIC – An anagram (abandoned) of CAMEL BO IT

15     France closes wards (5)
FENDS – F (IVR code for France) ENDS (closes)

16     Conservative stratagem adopts form of publicity campaign (7)
CRUSADE – C (Conservative) RUSE (stratagem) ‘adopts’ AD (form of publicity)

18     One in French city with little time for sightseer (7)
TOURIST – I (one) in TOURS (French city) with T (abbreviated, little, Time)

20     Orgy disturbing elderly hosts (5)
BINGE – Hosted by disturBING Elderly

21     Bolt losing lead, hot and irritated – no longer fast (9)
UNHITCHED – Remove the first letter (losing lead) from rUN (bolt), add H (hot) and ITCHED (irritated)

23     Reproduces essentially dull article in new Times section (9)
SIMULATES – The essential letters of dULl and A (indefinite article) inserted into an anagram (new) of TIMES followed by S (the abbreviation for Section)

25    Italian’s very quick to conceal recipe for his sauce (5)
PESTO – Conceal the abbreviation for Recipe in PrESTO (the Italian for very quick)

27     Where we would go to get newer interior? (5)
INNER – WE would go IN NER to make the word NEWER

28     Six deliveries spin. Stokes is upset (9)
OVERTURNS – TURN (spin) ‘stokes’ or goes inside OVERS (six deliveries) OVER (six deliveries) TURN (spin) S (Stokes is apparently the CGS unit for kinematic viscosity) 


1     Person who milks steer leaves hospital (4)
USER – Remove H (leaves hospital) from UShER (steer)

2     Performs musical with leading characters switched (4)
ACTS – The leading characters of CATS the musical ‘switched’

3     Anorak previously arrested by copper heading for locomotives (6)
CAGOUL – AGO (previously) ‘arrested’ by CU (chemical symbol for copper) and followed by L (the ‘heading’ for Locomotives)

4     It goes against the grain to cuss heartless compiler? Possibly (8)
CROSSCUT – An anagram (possibly) of TO CUSS and CompileR (…. without its heart)

5     I shortened boring clue (4)
IDEA – I (from the clue) and DEAd (shortened DEAD – boring)

6     Rum? Aldi shut. No rum (10)
OUTLANDISH – An anagram (rum) of ALDI SHUT NO

7     What’s finishing 50% of baristas? Inactivity (6)
STASIS – STAS (the second 50% of bariSTAS) IS

8     Controversial plan of action largely involves Phibs retiring (7)
POLEMIC – Most (largely) of POLICy (plan of action) ‘involves’ a reversal (retiring) of ME (how Phibs would refer to himself)

13     Title you and I share in explosive competition (10)
TOURNAMENT – OUR NAME (title you and I share) inserted into TNT (explosive)

14     Daring item of underwear on cover of Vogue (5)
BRAVE – BRA (item of underwear) on VE (the outside letters or cover of VoguE)

15     Benefit: I grass up nurses (5)
FRUIT – I (from the clue) inserted (nurses) in a reversal (up) of TURF (grass)

17     EU country wanting head welcoming Queen’s correspondence (8)
EQUATION – EU (from the clue) and nATION (country without its first letter) ‘welcoming’ Q (Queen)

19     Tiresome young ruffian’s going around Oxford University (7)
TEDIOUS – TED IS (young ruffian’s) going around OU (Oxford University)

20     Region playing a part in Britain’s obesity rising (6)
BOSNIA – Hidden (playing a part) in reverse (rising) in BritAINS OBesity

22    Beetle she confused with ant (6)
HASTEN – An anagram (confused) of SHE with ANT

24     Lie in wait to tempt passing English king (4)
LURK – Remove the E (passing English) in LURe (tempt) and replace with K (King)

25     Mine hard substance (4)
PITH – PIT (mine) H (hard)

26     Smiley, perhaps, when keeping Romeo active (4)
SPRY – George Smiley was a SPY in the books written by John Le Carré. Insert R (keeping Romeo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet)

Thanks once again to Phibs and the BDs

11 comments on “MPP 106 – Review

  1. Heartiest congratulations to Jez Wagg on winning the MPP-106. Thanks to Phibs once again for setting such a brilliant and ‘mathemagical’ puzzle, to crypticsue for the review and to BD and Mrs BD for hosting the event. The puzzle was really very entertaining. I tried to find the answer through observation, but could not succeed. Finally, I had to resort to the ‘permutation’ arrangement and got the two words.

  2. Congratulations Jez.
    I’m still amazed at the cleverness that must have been involved in putting this puzzle together. And all done without using outlandishly obscure words too.
    A real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks again Phibs and CS.

  3. Many thanks for the review, CS, and well done, Jez, enjoy your prize! Have to confess that, once the grid was filled, I searched for Phibs usual message and then worked backwards from there which is obviously what CS intended to do had she not gone awry somewhere along the way. Not to worry, CS, I would doubt that you actually want another book of crosswords!

    Thanks to Phibs for an absorbing MPP and thanks also to Mr & Mrs BD for organising the monthly ‘extras’ for our enjoyment.

  4. Many thanks to Phibs for another brilliant puzzle. I marvel at the effort that must have been involved in producing it. As others have said to do all that without resorting to obscurities is even more impressive.
    Thanks to Mr & Mrs BD and to CS for the explanations. Congratulations to Jez on the victory.

  5. A great puzzle Phibs, thank you and congratulations to Jez Wagg. We are very pleased that we also arrived at the correct answer after putting together all the possible vowel combinations. Superb fun, really enjoyable. Thanks also to CS for the review and to Big Dave for this wonderful site.

  6. Congratulations to Jez and hats off to Phibs for a remarkably constructed grid which was a pleasure to solve
    Thanks and commiserations to CS and thanks also to Mr & Mrs BD

  7. Congratulations to Jez Wagg. I’m still bedazzled by the brilliance of this puzzle. Five stars to the puzzle plus ticks for no fewer than 12 individual clues along the way, my favourite being 27a. I also recently encountered Phibs in NTSPP-518 as I head back in time through the archive – a very entertaining Beatles-themed puzzle. Phibs has form! Thanks again to him, and to CS for the excellent review. My thanks also to the BD household for producing this much anticipated monthly challenge.

  8. Congrats to Jez Wagg, thank you to CS for the review (sorry for occasioning the grumps), and thanks to all those who attempted the puzzle.

    In 28a, the intended wordplay was OVER (‘six deliveries’) TURN (‘spin’) S (‘stokes’, the CGS unit for kinematic viscosity). It’s not a clue for the purist, since ‘turn’ and ‘overturn’ are much too closely related, but I think when I wrote it I was watching the English batsmen toiling vainly against the Indian spin attack!

    Constructing the puzzle did warm the grey cells up a bit, but the kind comments made it all worthwhile :good:

  9. (just going through the backlog — not sure anyone’s listening though :) – Was wondering why “EU” was necessary in 17d? seems a bit superfluous (though not wrong per se I guess)

    1. Because it is part of the solution. You insert Q for Queen into the EU and the follow with nATION without its first letter

      The person who reviews a crossword is always listening. We get an email each time someone comments on one of our posts

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