Mephisto 3030 by Paul McKenna

Posted on Categories Mephisto
Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 8D is a perfect example.

This was a very pleasant puzzle of average complexity. In the clues definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.

Do PM’s puns across the top of the grid continue to deteriorate? Correct!


1 Republican gets outside division for tactical purposes (5)
CORPS: CO(R)PS; Republican=R; gets=COPS; a tactical army unit – the military police for example
5 You and I did set about care for drunk (7)
10 I more or less agree: trade show finally made almost nothing (10, two words)
11 Panel identifying grasses within hedging west of green (8, two words)
SHOP,SIGN: SHOPS-I(G)N; grasses=dobs in=SHOPS; west of green=G(reen);
13 Some dislike pistols such as are issued to legionnaires? (5)
KEPIS: hidden (disli)KE-PIS(tols); French military cap;
14 Clear about loading up a very light ship (7)
CARAVEL: (clear)* surrounds A-V; a small, highly manoeuvrable sailing ship;
16 This signals the end in recognised lines for wife (5)
KNELL: recognised=knew then change ”w” into LL;
17 Thoughtlessly bring forward old hag until stopped (7, two words)
19 Hurdle made from bundle containing sort of thorn (5)
BAYLE: BA(Y)LE; sort of thorn=Old English letter=Y (see initial entry for Y in C);
22 Wit, for example, endlessly gives us sauce (5)
SALSA: SAL(t)-SA(y); wit=SALT;
23 Society ladies blocking a turn that’s no laughing matter to SNP (7, two words)
NAE,MOWS: S-WOME(A)N all reversed; dialect in Dundee for “no joke”;
24 Illuminated fragment of long-forgotten literature (5)
ENLIT: hidden (long-forgott)EN-LIT(erature);
28 Captain and dancer / sleep in a dosshouse (7)
SKIPPER: three definitions all underlined;
29 Established moot objection about Israel (5)
BUILT: BU(IL)T; Israel=IL;
30 Strike across difficult one in the manner of later batsmen? (8)
TAILLIKE: TA(ILL-I)KE; strike=TAKE; cricket reference, the lower order batsmen are called the tail;
31 Berlin’s too easily seen as a feature of some nights out (10, two words)
ORION’S,BELT: (berlin’s too)*; an asterism in the constellation Orion. It consists of the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.
32 Tense old dog circling new block (7)
TRANCH: T-RA(N)CH; tense=T; old word for dog=RACH;
33 What gets Disgusted going? Unsubstantial sort of food (5)
DAIRY: D(isgusted)-AIRY; cheese for example


1 Pussies around with perishing asymmetrical boxes (7)
2 Those struggling to get round runs with gross men (10, two words)
OTHER,RANKS: (those)* surrounds R-RANK; personnel who are not commissioned officers;
3 We believe in bull! Photograph is bordering on tackiness (7)
PAPISTS: PAP-IS-T(ackines)S; photograph=PAP; reference the Papal Bull;
4 Listen to little Cecilia being a crybaby about Canada (5)
SISSY: sounds like “Cicy”; North American spelling of cissy;
5 Strain with stack (5)
6 At sea tear around strait in ____? (7)
REGATTA: (tear)* surrounds GAT=straight;
7 Company on top of peelie-wally Scottish mason (5)
COWAN: CO-WAN; peelie-wally=WAN; mason in Motherwell who had not been trained and initiated
8 New Yorker hiding upper-class and rude sort of sign for SA carrier (8)
KURVEYOR: (Yorker)* surrounds U and V; a traveling trader in southern Africa
9 In a different way hold tip of little Indian plant (5)
DHOLL: (hold)*-L(ittle);
12 Outdoorsy sort’s ruthless shriek of disbelief (10)
FELL-WALKER: FELL-(Hookey) WALKER; ruthless=FELL; shriek of disbelief=Hookey Walker (Victorian slang term). Today we would say “are you pulling my leg?”
15 Parrot in Iowa finds fertiliser in grainy clumps (8)
POLLINIA: POLL-IN-IA; a coherent mass of pollen grains
18 Free security force switch around English (7)
20 Before lunch tug made fast to a vessel carrying oil (7)
21 Boozer covered with weird secret principles rarely seen (7)
24 Dramatically pay for supermarket having shifted head south (5)
ESCOT: supermarket=TESCO then move the “T” to the end; Waggle-Dagger for pay for;
25 Japan topped this perfect winner (5)
IPPON: (n)IPPON; the highest score a fighter can achieve in a Japanese martial arts ippon-wazari contest
26 Bung something to barbecue into the edges of it (5)
BRIBE: B(RIB)E; BE from B(arbequ)E; bung=slang for BRIBE
27 Robust article leaked

5 comments on “Mephisto 3030 by Paul McKenna”

  1. This may be my fastest time for a Mephisto, by which I mean I managed to finish by the end of Monday 🙂 According to my notes, FOI was 13a KEPIS, and the last couple were the twin unknowns of 19a BAYLE and 22a NAE MOWS. I clearly need to spend more time in Scotland, as I also had to guess what “peelie-wally” meant…

    Thanks for the parsings, Jimbo!

  2. Can I suggest a slightly different parsing for 11ac
    Panel identifying – meaning
    grasses – shops, within – in , hedging (going round) g (west of green)
  3. Tried solving this on an Android phone, and managed a surprising number of clues given the through-the-keyhole experience. Finished off much later.
    Must remember to look out for those puns – this one was FAIR ENOUGH. Are Paul and Myrtilus of the TLS related, by any chance?
    I hesitated over SISSY, because that’s how I’d spell it in the UK, but I guess it can be North American too.
    1. What counts is what’s in Chambers. It gives “cissy” as UK and “sissy” as N American

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