MPP 122 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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MPP 122 – Review

Quarterly Prize Puzzle No 122 – Review

November 2022

Enigmatic Variations by Phibs

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Phibs asked us “How many letters don’t belong in the completed grid?” The answer lay in the title to this crossword as, once it was solved, all you needed to do was remove every instance of the letters ENIGMATIC (as is usual in crosswords, variations indicated that they were not found anywhere in that order) to be left with the letters FOUR. What I really like about a Phibs Prize Puzzle is that once the penny has dropped, there is no doubt as to what you need to submit as your competition entry.

Many congratulations to our winner – Gazza – who wins a Telegraph Crossword Puzzle book of his choice

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1 Stood for French painter bringing forward start of exhibition (5)
MEANT – Bring forward the E (start of exhibition) in MANET (French painter)

4 A lot of canvas, say, in bag from the East (7)
TENTAGE – A reversal (from the East in an Across solution) of EG (say) AT (in) NET (bag)

9 Bottom fascinates me, one captured by stunted artist (7)
TITANIA –  AN (one) ‘captured’ by almost all (stunted) of TITIAn (artist)

10 American company – it invested in nuclear energy plant that’s dangerous (7)
ACONITE – A (American) CO (company) and IT (from the clue) ‘invested’ in N E (Nuclear Energy)

11 Bread granny cut in both directions (4)
NAAN – NAn (granny ‘cut’) followed by a reversal of the same word (in both directions)

12 Colour shot of car belonging to setter (4)
MINE – The colour carMINE without (shot of) CAR

13 Hostile nation sets one year aside for another purge (5)
ENEMA – ENEMy (hostile nation) without the Y (seats one year aside) but with an A (another)

14 Kay twice taken out by submissive Tyson? I’m in hysterics (6)
MEEMIE – Remove the K twice, once from MEEK (submissive) and once from MIKE (Tyson) to produce a slang term for a hysterical person

16 Colt, not gelded, is initially lacking focus (6)
CENTRE – C (abbreviation for colt) and ENTiRE (not gelded) without the I (is initially lacking)

17 Bar, last piece in grip of obese child (6)
INFANT – INN (bar) with the last piece (N) inserted into FAT (obese)

19 Seduce enrolled nurse on three occasions, putting HR out (6)
ENTICE – EN (Enrolled Nurse) on ThrICE without the HR

23 Shock of hair hiding onset of grisly skin problem (5)
MANGE – MANE (shock of hair) hiding the ‘onset’ of Grisly

24 Old lady introduced to one’s spiritual leader (4)
IMAM – MA (old lady) ‘introduced to’ I’M (one’s)

25 Antelope refuses to run – it ends up in the pot (4)
ANTE – This pot is a large bet or stake – simply remove the LOPE (refuses to run) from ANTElope

27 Tesla means to introduce new line (7)
TANGENT – T (the abbreviation for Tesla) and AGENT (means) into which is inserted the abbreviation for New

28 Film revolving around a tango set in summer, in Paris (7)
ACETATE – A reversal (revolving) of CA (around) and A (from the clue) and T (the letter represented by Tango in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet inserted into ETE (the French, as used in Paris, word for summer)

29 Compact 1910 telephone rings (7)
ENTENTE – Hidden in (rings) nineteEN TEN TElephone

30 Sadly ‘e can’t perform (5)
ENACT – An anagram (sadly) of E CANT



1 Marrying maiden with giant bust (6)
MATING – M (maiden) with an anagram (bust) of GIANT

2 Tensed up part-way through brilliant move (7)
ACTUATE -TAUT (tensed) reversed and  inserted into ACE (brilliant)

3 Young Belgian adventurer’s ultimately discharged in cast (4)
TINT – TINTin (the young Belgian adventurer) without the (discharged) the ultimate appearance of IN

4 When to send out rolls and sandwiches to tuck into? (7)
TEATIME – A reversal (rolls)of EMIT into which is inserted EAT (tuck into)

5 Tidy round leaving one amateur with a score reduced by half (6)
NEATEN – The word oNE without (leaving) the round letter, the abbreviation for Amateur and a TEN (half a score)

6 In agreement over workers beginning to tackle restoration (9)
ATONEMENT – AT ONE (in agreement) MEN (workers) T (the beginning to tackle)

7 Famous contemporary of Hirst, D, embracing extremes of emotion (7)
EMINENT – EMIN T (a contemporary of Hirst D) ’embracing’ the extreme letters of EmotioN

8 Troublemaker Phibs receiving punishment bent over (6)
MENACE – ME (Phibs) ‘receiving’ a reversal (bent over) of CANE (punishment)

15 Cook came back from France inspired by brand-new pie filling (9)
MINCEMEAT – An anagram (cook) of CAME and the letter at the back of FrancE ‘inspired’ by MINT (brand-new)

17 Con man misguidedly wearing flashy tie (6)
INMATE – An anagram (misguidedly) of MAN ‘wearing’ an anagram (flashy) of TIE

18 Sponsor intended to have name suppressed (7)
FINANCE – FIANCE(intended) into which is inserted (suppressed) N (name)

19 Spring term uprising at Eton – 100 expelled (7)
EMANATE – A reversal (uprising) of NAME (term), followed by AT (from the clue) and Eton, the TON (100) being ‘expelled’

20 Cheers following Canadian choral piece (7)
CANTATA – CAN (Canadian) TA-TA (cheers, goodbye)

21 It offers protection against cold, dry air pockets (6)
MITTEN – MIEN (air) ‘pockets’ TT (teetotal, dry)

22 Support ditching rein for stick (6)
CEMENT – reinforCEMENT ‘ditching’ the REIN FOR

26 Dope and ecstasy one’s found in cell (4)
GENE – GEN (dope, information) E (Ecstasy)

Thanks very much to Phibs for another extremely cleverly constructed crossword, and to BD and Mr K for their parts in the competition administration

13 comments on “MPP 122 – Review
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  1. What a pleasant surprise. Many thanks to crypticsue, BD and Mr K and thanks again to Phibs for the brilliant puzzle (I am always amazed by his ability to make everything come together so superbly at the end).

  2. My thanks to CS for the review.
    A couple of modifications to the parsings:
    17a – the bar is INN, with its final letter (‘last piece’) ‘in the grip of’ FAT
    2d – It is TAUT (‘tensed’) which is to be reversed inside ACE
    The solution to 18d is FINANCE, the ‘intended’ being FIANCE

    1. Apologies – I think a couple of those were where my fingers were typing independently of my brain – all now corrected

  3. Well done Gazza, and thanks CS for review – and of course many thanks to Phibs for a fabulous puzzle, an amazing construction with some super clues to boot

  4. Heartiest congratulations to Gazza on winning the Quarterly Prize Puzzle No 122 and congratulations also to all those who arrived at the final answer. Thanks also to Phibs for the magnificent puzzle, to CS for the excellent review and to Big Dave and Mr K for hosting the event. I could not parse 4d. I misunderstood the preamble, the enigma of the ENIGMATIC, added to it the F, O R and U that appeared in the answers and an arbitrary letter in 4d and submitted the wrong answer of 13 that were the remaining letters of the alphabet that didn’t belong to the completed grid. I liked 14a, 19a, 25a, 29a, 21d, but the clue of that day as per my choice was undoubtedly was 7d. However, I annotated 9a and 2d in a different manner. 9a as ‘AN (one) as the determiner meaning one single or one of the two indefinite articles referring to any one taken in (captured) by not fully grown or most of the letters (stunted) of TITIA[N] (artist) as the Italian painter of the Renaissance and 2d as TAUT (tensed) as tensed or not relaxed taken upwards (up) to bifurcate (part-way through) ACE (brilliant) as very good. The D in FINANCED in 18d is a typo.

    1. I presume you prepared this comment earlier but didn’t post it until now as the errors you mention were corrected an hour ago

      1. That is true CS. Thanks for your reply. When I started this comment, there was only one comment of Rabbit Dave. I left it midway for some other work and prayers. However, I feel that in 9a, I that is still showing needs to be replaced by AN.

  5. Well, I solved the crossword – quite enjoyed getting there – but I didnt understand the question.

    Even now I have read Sue’s direction, I dont see how that action follows from Phibs’ instruction. Ah, well – back to the drawing board.

    1. All the solutions contain the letters found in variations of ENIGMATIC … but FOUR of them have an extra letter that doesn’t appear in ENIGMATIC.

  6. Congrats to Gazza.

    Many thanks to Phibs for a great challenge.

    16a It took me ages to get the last of the FOU(R) … couldn’t find anywhere that verified that “C” is an abbreviation for Colt.

  7. My congratulations to Gazza on his win. Any my thanks, once again, to Phibs for an excellent puzzle and MPP composition. I have found my printout and annotations and there are 12 tick marks – so lets just say every clue was a favourite. However I do have a double tick mark, which went to 4d for wordplay, surface and all sorts of cleverness. I was both surprised and delighted that 14a is actually a word in the dictionary, but it is what the wordplay pointed to.
    Thanks also to CS for the review – I wonder if the illustration for 15d is this year’s production or a ‘stock photo’ from earlier years. Either way, they look scrumptious!

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