MPP 114 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 114 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle No 114– Review

November 2021

Septet – A Puzzle by Phibs


Phibs’ instructions said: I planned that all the solutions would be thematically linked, but an unchecked letter in one entry isn’t as I intended. What was this entry meant to be?

Saturday morning, 6th November – download the crossword and solve it – look at the finished grid to see if I can answer the question – no idea. Saturday afternoon, draft the review including adding the pictures – look at the solved grid again – still no idea. Stare at the finished grid for the rest of the weekend and into Monday – still no idea. Thinking about it on and off and then woke up at some unearthly hour of the night on both Monday and Tuesday having dreamt about the crossword because my brain was obviously still trying to work out the theme and the entry to change. Decided that if it was giving me nightmares, the only thing to do was to put the solved grid at the bottom of my ‘puzzles to be blogged’ pile and forget all about it.

Congratulations to our November winner – KiwiColin – who as a foreign correspondent has to bask in the honour and glory of being an MPP winner rather than getting a Telegraph Crossword Puzzles Book. He obviously didn’t have to do what I did, and ask Big Dave to tell me what entry I should have changed – SCOPE @ 12a changes to SCORE – to complete the theme the tonic sol-fa: DO, RE, MI, SOL, FA, LA, TI, DO – he also had to tell me what that was too!!


1 Seemed happy turning to sin part- way through dessert (6)
PURRED – A reversal (turning) of ERR (sin) goes part-way through PUD (dessert)

5 Cap from famous school concealing my appearance (6)
FACADE – The first letter (cap) of Famous and an ACADEmy (school ‘concealing’ my)

11 Unusually, I stop at an hors d’oeuvre (9)
ANTIPASTO – An anagram (unusually) of I STOP AT AN

12 Sample from Tesco perfume range (5)
SCOPE – Found in a sample of teSCO PErfume

13 Stuffed marrow from deli and crackers (5)
LADEN – An anagram (crackers) of the inside (marrow) of dELi and AND

14 Last of frozen fish smothered in nice hot sauce (9)
INSOLENCE – The last letter of frozeN and SOLE (fish) ‘smothered’ in an anagram (hot) of NICE

15 Backed appeal for help framing main indicators of progress (7)
SPEEDOS – A reversal (backed) of SOS (appeal for help) ‘framing’ DEEP (main, sea)

16 Source of medication stopping nasty itches? (7)
CHEMIST – M (the ‘source’ of Medication) stopping or going inside an anagram (nasty)of ITCHES

18 Devoted daughter handsome beau largely avoids (7)
DUTIFUL – D (daughter) and beaUTIFUL (handsome without most of beau)

20 Can under pressure lose head in arguments or in action (7)
AEROSOL – An anagram (in action) of LOSE A (the head in arguments) and OR

23 Slough on refection different, but not very wicked (9)
NEFARIOUS – A reversal (on reflection) of FEN (slough) and a synonym for different – vARIOUS – without the abbreviation for Very

26 Removed M&S tills (5)
FARMS – FAR (removed, at a distance) M S

27 Ornament much appreciated around India and Arabia (5)
TIARA – TA (much appreciated) goes around the IVR code for India and the abbreviation for Arabia

28 Goad beginners rebuffed by Van Gogh, V (9)
INCENTIVE – Rebuff or ignore the first letters of vINCENT and fIVE (V being the Roman numeral for five)

29 Helping pretty but frivolous young woman with work (6)
DOLLOP – DOLL (a slang term for a pretty but frivolous young woman) with OP (work)

30 X-ray edges of lesion about where vocal cords are (6)
LARYNX – An anagram (about) of X RAY and the ‘edges’ of LesioN


2 Extremely chaotic time after I start to turn somersaults in lingerie (9)
UNTIDIEST – UNDIES (lingerie) into which is inserted a reversal (somersaults) of I (from the clue) and the first letter of Turn, the abbreviation for Time being added at the end

3 Lamented element of ‘hidden’ I perspired over (7)
REPINED – Hidden in reverse (over) in hidDEN I PERspired

4 Maiden succeeds maiden in dreary end to innings (9)
DISMISSAL – DISMAL (dreary) into which is inserted MISS which replaces (succeeds) the M that is the abbreviation for Maiden in dismal

6 Clear a brewer primarily loves brewing (7)
ABSOLVE – A (from the clue) B (brewer ‘primarily’) and an anagram (brewing) of LOVES

7 A fellow rings right tart up (5)
ADORN – A (From the clue) DON (fellow) ‘rings’ R (right)

8 First female rector in France is trying undertaking (7)
EVEREST – EVE (first female) R (rector) EST (French word for is)

9 Fine reduced when admitting last month’s offences (6)
FAULTS – F (an abbreviation (reduced) for fine on lead pencils) AS (when) ‘admitting’ ULT (abbreviation for in the last month)

10 Tracks, to which degenerate has gone? (4)
DOGS – A verb meaning tracks or added to ‘gone to the’ an expression meaning something has deteriorated markedly)

16 Well-proportioned college girl I caught with a lecturer (9)
CLASSICAL – C (college) LASS (girl) I (from the clue) C (caught) A (from the clue) L (lecturer)

17 Supplement hotel’s introduced to rise extravagantly (9)
INSERTION – An anagram (extravagantly) of TO RISE is introduced to the INN (hotel)

18 Gave party and exhausted the bubbly (7)
DONATED – DO (party) and an anagram (bubbly) of AND and ThE (exhausted or worn out, indicating the requirement to only use the outside letters

19 Fluorine gas endlessly drawing itself around in disordered mixture (7)
FARRAGO – The chemical symbol for Fluorine and ARGOn (gas ‘endlessly’) into which is inserted a reversal (around) of AR, the chemical symbol for argon

21 I get rid of superfluous material in boring guide (7)
REFINER – IN (from the clue) ‘boring’ REFER (guide)

22 Kept final printing of newspaper? (6)
LASTED – LAST ED (final edition of newspaper)

24 Trouble after flour’s abandoned by our windmill (5)
FLAIL – AIL (trouble) goes after FL (the ‘our’ in flour being abandoned)

25 Polo’s shape and flavour – except closer to lemon drop (4)
OMIT – A Polo mint is shaped like an O and is flavoured with MInT – the ‘closer’ to lemoN being left out (except)

Thanks (I think) to Phibs and BD

14 comments on “MPP 114 – Review

  1. Well done KiwiColin.
    I couldn’t even get the grid filled , so I had no chance with the puzzle….but even if I had there is no way I would have come up with the Sol-fa as the solution.

    Thanks to Phil for the mindbender and to crypticsue.

  2. Thinking about it post-blog-posting, if I only I’d realised that the DO at the end (in eighth place) doesn’t count for purposes of the scale septet, I’d have got the right answer and been able to enter the competition – muttering like Muttley, Dick Dastardly’s dog, I’m going for a cup of tea

  3. Like CS I solved the puzzle on the morning of publication and the title together with a number of ‘notes’ in the answers persuaded me I was on the right track. However I didn’t manage the final step to notice that all except one answer had a note. I thought I had put the printout to one side to peruse again later but when I tried to find it I had obviously recycled it. Oh dear, as Kath would say.

    Many thanks to Phibs for another excelllent MPP and to BD and CS. Congratulations to KiwiColin (I hope the win will make up for losing two rugby internationals in a row!).

  4. Well done, Colin, and thanks to CS.

    I would have stood a better chance if I hadn’t solved an earlier version of the puzzle which led to a different answer. That’ll teach me to download the MPP too early! Caveat solver as BD will doubtless say.

    Muttering like Muttley, I’m going for a cup of coffee…

    1. The earlier version was flawed, which is why it was replaced (before publication!).. DENOTED could be said to contain TE (rather than TI) so changing it to DONATED wouldn’t fit the conditions.

    2. Oh no! :sad: I didn’t realize that the first version had ever got ‘into the wild’. It had a slightly different grid fill, where DONATED had suffered the ‘unexpected’ change, becoming DENOTED. I wasn’t entirely happy with it, given that TE is a variant spelling of TI (so arguably DONATED hasn’t become completely DE-NOTED), and BD’s feedback confirmed my unease – hence version two with a couple of new clues written hastily the night before publication :phew:

  5. Congratulations, KiwiColin, on your successful entry. And congratulations to Phibs also on setting such a fine puzzle and MPP theme, which took me several hours to tease out. I posted earlier that I had a crowded podium, and they all deserve mention – 1a, 5a, 14a, 16a, 26a, 28a, 2d, 4d and 25d. Thanks also to CS for the review, which dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s in 19d for me – well, not actually I and T but a ‘loose’ R and A. Finally, my thanks to BD for providing the opportunity to join in all the fun and games!

  6. Many thanks for a wonderful puzzle Phibs, and CS for review. The endgame took me a long time but well worth it for the penny dropping! Well done KiwiColin

    That took me several days of coming back to the puzzle again and again before I got it sorted.
    I had a list of all the answers, a table of all the unchecked letters with their frequency, and a list of lots of groups of seven such as dwarfs and colours. It wasn’t until I twigged that an octave was only an octave when DO was used twice that I had the big DOH! moment.
    Thanks all involved. I have a very pleased feeling.

  8. Many congratulations to Colin, I’ve been tearing my hair out to no avail for weeks! A good friend on the blog finally revealed the answer to me today – after the deadline – so at least I was able to relax whilst awaiting the review.
    I know that Phibs always gives us a heads-up when we’ve found the right answer so I even tried to work it backwards but this time it didn’t spark any electrons.

    Well done indeed, Phibs, very clever. Thanks also to CS – makes me feel better knowing that you also had a fight on your hands!

  9. Heartiest congratulations to KiwiColin on winning the MPP 114. On the first day, I clicked the grid and started to solve the puzzle straightaway. After completing more than 50%, I had a look at the instruction, but somehow missed to notice the word ‘Septet’ in the heading, otherwise I would not have spent two days on searching for authors, one of whom I thought might have used the solutions in his or her novel. The heading was noticed by me only after I had worked out the correct answer by recollecting all the solutions and tracing the odd one and had sent my entry. The notes of the Indian classical music are sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni and sa vis-à-vis do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti and do of the Western classical music, with some slight variations. Once again, thanks to Phibs for his magnificent puzzle, to crypticsue for her excellent review and to BD for hosting the event.

  10. Congrats to KiwiColin and everyone else who found the answer, commiserations to RD (a bit like the Two Ronnies’ ‘answering the question before last’ Mastermind spoof, I guess) and thanks to everyone who attempted the puzzle, as well as CS and the BDs.

  11. Congratulations to Phibs on a great puzzle and to anyone who actually solved it. I considered the possibility of all solutions containing 2 consecutive letters of the alphabet it didn’t work but it came surprisingly close! I eventually gave up looking and had to wait for the review.

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