MPP 118 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 118 – Review

Monthly Prize Puzzle No 118 – Review

March 2022

Mates by Phibs

Phibs said: I wanted to include eight pairs of similarly linked items in the grid, but two of the sixteen had to be hidden slightly differently from the rest. Which are they?

I noticed fairly early on in the solving process that there were pairs of male and female animals (mates) appearing in the solutions: COB and PEN; COCK and HEN; COW and BULL; BOAR and SOW; STAG and HIND; EWE and RAM; MARE and STALLION; TOM and QUEEN. The majority of them appear as part of a solution, but STALLION and QUEEN both appear as part of crossing solutions, in 7d/22d and 19a/21a so these were the ‘differently hidden’ items that were the answer to be submitted.

Congratulations to Jepi – this month’s winner of a Telegraph Crossword Book of their choice


1 NA tribe once regularly repulsed dangerous reptile (5)
COBRA – The letters found regularly in a reversal (repulsed) of nA tRiBe OnCe

4 Initially Brown and partner landing large contraption in reservoir (8)
BALLCOCK – The initial letter of Brown and his partner in the early days of manned flight – ALCOCK – into which is inserted (landing) L (large)

8 Frittering away salary entertaining a vacuous starlet (7)
WASTAGE – WAGE (salary) ‘entertaining’ A (from the clue) and the outside (vacuous) letters of StarleT

9 Absurd lies and contradictions (7)
DENIALS – An anagram (absurd) of LIES AND

11 Deplores guidelines lacking latitude (4)
RUES – RulES without the L (lacking [the abbreviation for] Latitude)

12 What stops Julian being Julia soon afterwards? (4)
THEN – What stops Julian being Julia is, of course, THE N

13 Following where M4 takes Englishman delivering ales (2,3)
IN TOW – The M4 would take an Englishman INTO Wales – ‘delivering’ telling you to omit the ALES

14 Block dating app husband opens for short time (6)
HINDER – Change the T (short or abbreviated time) at the start of TINDER (dating app) and replace with H (husband)

16 Order book about enthralling origin of unusual slug (6)
BULLET – TELL (order) and B (book) reversed (about) and then ‘enthralling’ the ‘origin’ of Unusual

19 Answer question in largely accessible cryptic (6)
OPAQUE – A (answer)and QU (question) inserted into most of (largely) OPEn (accessible)

21 Paint sample from possible Manet sent back (6)
ENAMEL – Hidden in reverse (sample … sent back) in possibLE MANEt

24 Take every pass (5)
REACH – R (take) EACH (every)

25 Substantial draught ultimately dislodges hairpiece (4)
SWIG – The ultimate letter of dislodgeS and WIG (hairpiece)

26 Great work as far as Phibs is concerned? (4)
TOME – TO ME (as far as Phibs is concerned)

28 Dines out, devouring a river fish (7)
SARDINE – An anagram (out) of DINES ‘devouring’ A (from the clue) and R (river)

29 Apart from backtracking, one’s devious (7)
EVASIVE – A reversal (backtracking) of SAVE (apart from) followed by IVE (one has)

30 Accepted millions don’t drink ordinary liqueur (8)
AMARETTO – A (accepted) M (millions) ARE TT (don’t drink) O (ordinary)

31 Gather Prince consented to embracing American (5)
PLEAT – P (Prince) LET (consented to) ’embracing’ A (American)


1 Eccentric fellow crossing duck with chicken (6)
COWARD – CARD (eccentric fellow) ‘crossing’ O (duck in cricket scoring) W (with)

2 Solicit second rate cheese spread (7)
BESEECH – B (second rate) and an anagram (spread) of CHEESE

3 One on the lookout drops right off (4)
AWAY – A (one) WA[r]Y (on the lookout) ‘drops’ R (right)

4 Brent erupting about HR backing for Office colleagues (8)
BRETHREN – An anagram (erupting) of BRENT goes about HR (from the clue) and the ‘backing’ for officE

5 Packed Hollywood hideaway? (5)
LADEN – LA (Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood) DEN (hideaway)

6 Against wearing uniform introduced by corporation – it’s seamless (9)
CONTINUUM – CON (against) and IN (wearing) U (Uniform in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet) ‘introduced’ into TUM (corporation)

7 Adjoining main street, area bordered by very old wood? (7)
COASTAL– ST (street) and A (area) ‘bordered’ by COAL (very old wood!)

10 SA township extremely damp, essentially flooded (6)
SOWETO – SO WET (extremely damp) and the essential letter of floOded

15 Check set up to catch anything more risqué (9)
NAUGHTIER – A reversal (set up) of REIN (check) to ‘catch’ AUGHT (anyting)

17 Puts up panels (6)
BOARDS – Double definition

18 Confused re oath in Hamlet perhaps (4-4)
ANTI-HERO – An anagram (confused) of RE OATH IN

20 Result of a large naked man running amok? (7)
ANAGRAM – A (from the clue) following by an ANAGRAM (running amok) of the inside (naked) letters of lARGe and MAN

22 Honour Luxembourg international, one breaking into French XI (7)
LIONIZE – L (IVR code for Luxembourg) I (international) and I (one) ‘breaking into’ ONZE (the French word for eleven – XI)

23 Most recent amalgamation of the Yorkshire Ridings? (6)
NEWEST – The Yorkshire Ridings are North, East and West – so amalgamated they are N E WEST

25 Consumed odds and ends from outside Indian restaurant (5)
SPENT – SP (Starting Price, odds) and the ‘ends’ from outsidE IndiaN restauranT

27 One’s inclined to stomp but not tango (4)
RAMP – tRAMP – stomp without the T (Tango in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet) – I’m not sure whether the sheep are in a ménage à trois, but the EWE in 23a appears to have two ‘mates’ in the solutions, here and in 20d :D

Many thanks once again to Phibs and to the BDs

9 comments on “MPP 118 – Review

  1. Thanks to Phibs for another enjoyable and clever puzzle – thanks also to CS and Mr & Mrs BD.
    Congratulations to Jepi.

  2. Congratulations Jepi.
    It took me ages to spot the answer. Really cannot understand why it took so long now.
    Thanks again Phibs and CS.

  3. Many thanks for the review, CS, and congratulations to Jepi.
    I suppose the use of the M4 into Wales rather depends upon from whereabouts in England one is starting the journey!
    I was slightly worried when I submitted my answer (fortunately correct) as it’s unusual for Phibs not to make it apparent to the solver when they’ve found the correct word/s but perhaps he’s decided to make life rather more challenging for us these days……..
    The ménage a trois raised a smile!

    Thanks again to Phibs and also CS and both of our BD mentors.

  4. Congratulations to Jepi.

    I am pleased that I got the right answer, though I was not confident at all .

    Thanks to Phibs, Mr & Mrs Big D and crypticsue

  5. Congratulations, Jepi. It did take me a while to spot the well-hidden ‘mates’ as I got distracted by looking at the incidence of letter combinations. In my comments I had wanted to say that in hindsight it was staring me in the face, but to mention the sight of ‘hind’ was too close to the riddle solution!

    Thanks to Phibs, crypticsue and to Mr & Mrs BD.

  6. Congratulations Jepi – I failed to spot the theme entirely, but enjoyed doing the crossword itself.

  7. Congrats to Jepi, and my thanks to CS, the BDs, and everyone who attempted the puzzle.

    Regarding that menagerie à trois, I hadn’t spotted the ‘ram’ in ‘anagram’ – though I do remember noting the ‘nag’ before concluding that it was unlikely to cause any confusion with the stallion and mare. Had I noticed the duplication I would have changed the solution for 27d.

    As for 13a, I’d have to agree that the M4 wouldn’t necessarily take someone from England to Wales, particularly if they were on the eastbound carriageway! I think I originally wrote ‘where M4 might take Englishman’, and I’ve no idea why I changed it :unsure: Incidentally, I thought long and hard about ‘consented to’ for ‘let’ in 31d – it doesn’t pass the substitution test, but I’m not sure there is any verb that can replace ‘let’ (in the permission-giving sense) in a sentence without requiring other changes to be made.

  8. Heartiest congratulations to Jepi on his win and also to the others who spotted the two names hidden slightly differently from the rest. This time I had finished solving the puzzle rather earlier, but left the research part for the last day. In fact, due to much preoccupation, I got time only two hours before the deadline, but it wasn’t a long wait as I quickly found out the two names. I sent in my entry as QUEEN AND STALLION, keeping in mind ‘ladies first’. There were so many easy clues; 3d being the easiest. However, I liked particularly 12a, 14a, 26a, 4d, 20d, 22d and 25d. Thanks to Phibs for his magnificent puzzle, to CS for her brilliant review and of course to BD and Mrs Dave for hosting the event.

  9. Firstly, I apologise for my late comment … I always forget to check the results of the MPP (as I never win anything?)

    Many thanks to Phibs for the ingenious puzzle. After a hard slog filling the grid, I found it surprisingly easy to find all the “mates”.

    Thanks also to Mr & Mrs BD, and to CS for the review.

    ps. BD, there is no need to send me a prize as I always enter the MPP solely for the Honour & the Glory.

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