Crossword News October 2016

Crossword News October 2016

The September Prize Puzzle was The Merchant’s Tale by Dysart. The puzzle was based on Bring Up the Bodies, the second part of the trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell (23d) by Hilary Mantel. Eight down entries, synonyms for bodies, were reversed in the grid. Highlighting of MANTEL and A BOLEYN (read upwards in the grid) was required. The title is a reference to Cromwell’s dealings in the cloth trade.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Really nice idea, well executed. Some difficult words and clues which kept me guessing until the end. Cromwell I got quite early but that still didn’t help. A challenge and fun to solve. Congratulations Dysart.

Thanks to Dysart for an interesting puzzle. Even with my knowledge of Thomas Cromwell being based on the TV Wolf Hall series, I didn’t know the second Mantel novel was Bringing Up The Bodies, and was slow to realise what all the reversed entries had in common.

I always worry a little about puzzles where you can’t enter any answers with confidence initially. I got lucky by solving a few across clues in the bottom right corner and then guessing that CORPSE and RELIC needed to be reversed. I liked that the clues to the ‘bodies’ had definitions for another sense of the word where possible, rather than having the clues lack definitions.

There were 48 entries, of which 8 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner picked from the electronic hat was Di Living from Chelmsford who will soon be receiving a prize from Chambers.

There is a full solution at

This month you still have lots of time to complete our Round Robin VIII and don’t forget to add a vote for your favourite clue.

In November we will be publishing a crossword by a debutant setter. Top Shoe by Yimin will be available at the end of the month.

I would like to remind setters that there is still a need for puzzles for 2016. Submissions would be destined for prompt publication.
Next weekend sees the Times Crossword Championship in London.

There will be a meeting for crossword setters and solvers at The George, Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH, coinciding with the annual Times Crossword Championship.  The meeting will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday 22nd October 2016, which is when The George opens, and continue until late into the evening.

It is hoped that a number of the setters from the national newspapers will put in an appearance.  There should also be a cross-section of bloggers and readers from Big Dave’s Crossword Blog, Times for the Times and Fifteensquared.  And last, but by no means least, competitors in the Times Crossword Championship will be popping in between the semi-finals and finals of the competition – the winner to celebrate and the rest to drown their sorrows.

If you’ve never been before, this is a very friendly function and provides the opportunity to meet other like-minded people.
Applications are now being accepted for contestants on the next series of Only Connect. Only Connect is a fiendish quiz hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell. They are now casting again for a new series of ‘Only Connect’ which will be filmed in March and April 2017.

They are looking for new contestants to make up teams of three players who share a common passion, ability or profession, to pool their combined wits and knowledge to tackle fiendish conundrums and vexing puzzles.

Teams consist of three members so you might like to team up with friends. However, you can apply individually and they will try to find others of similar interests to make up a team. It seems that teams with female members get preference as the majority of applicants are male.

Send your application to before 21st December 2016.

You can find out more about the show at

The new book by crossword blogger Alan Connor will be published on 3rd November. The Joy of Quiz should be a challenging collection by the man who devises the questions on Only Connect and would be an ideal Christmas present.

I have received information on a crossword game which is available to play for free both for iOS on the iTunes App Store and for Android on Google Play.  The game is called Cross Boss and it’s a competitive turn-based word game, which involves actual crossword solving, but with a twist. You can find out more at

This month the Clue Writing Competition is to write a clue to CHOCTAW. You have until 24th October to submit your clue at

Best wishes





Round Robin VIII

Pound Robin II

Printable PDF version


Each down clue, except the first, has a misprint in the definition; the discarded letters must be used to replace letters in the completed grid. Each across clue, except the first, has an extra letter in the wordplay which must be removed before solving; these letters in clue order hint at how to produce the final grid. All entries in the final grid are real words. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is the primary reference.

2 Source of most local nuts? (4)
7 Sue heartlessly spanks little boy, though not by means of strop (5)
11 Bluish tone adopted by Madonna – it adds flavour (8)
13 Concord Sage riddled son computing head of illiterate retired officers (7)
14 Flunky heads to counter and orders my margarita in interval (5)
15 Hunter’s behind wild beast at noon (5)
16 Very good British pilot cried (6)
17 Cannabis user without hesitation pursues rare form of skunk (4)
19 Man named as woman endearingly (3)
20 Regularly we sin they blame in Kirk (4)
21 Sport increase for old folks’ home (8)
24 One Mars survey heard missing from surface (8)
26 Architect of inferior status is shedding loot that’s split (4)
27 Dive down, saving the last shot, by the looks of it (3)
29 Severe Tory out of toilet to get hot flow from crack (4)
31 Brad waited for Joe (6)
34 Sob when joining writer, a tremulous type (5)
36 Mixed dishes Nadia’s dumped in wheeled storage bin (5)
38 Sticking oar in a small, small but increasing way (7, 2 words)
39 Old warships set out to surround angler disrupting Royal Marines (8)
40 Composer almost talking endlessly at first about score (5)
41 Cosy residence with phoney stone cladding (4)

1 Jag convertible car nut’s invested in (5)
2 Bill’s pale tuft of hairs gelled up (7)
3 Old-fashioned peach and pear jelly served up from time to time (4)
4 Church seat with bits of marble inlaid in wood (5)
5 Cake equipment belonging to Nadiya, in first place after baking treat (6)
6 First knight then gentleman raised weapon, with wives on edge (4)
8 Cookie turned black by Jock’s oven (4)
9 Disgruntled bigamist wanting good pout (7)
10 May embracing an OAP, say (3)
12 A term for valid experience used originally in France (6)
14 Protection for eyes starts to cause odd tingling effect (4)
18 Open for business, unlike stores in recession (4)
20 Bottom’s pinched in full pew (4)
21 Throw down trousers – the heat! (6)
22 Struck by lorry, swerve across deserted thoroughfare (7)
23 It’s hard when young always to get rented housing (7)
24 All these setters working to produce what? I’ll pass (4)
25 Stickier inside the sailor’s warm boat (6)
28 Mac’s torn – Granny’s clothing starts to imbibe rain (5)
30 Plans to become like EU member? Start to leave (5)
32 Knelt amid ayatollahs (4)
33 British composer cycling in rain (4)
35 Veteran out of hand leaving dig (4)
37 Ground that may be followed when the first of April comes at the end of October? (3)


To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the final entries to before 8th November 2016. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

You may vote for your favourite clue with your entry. You can just nominate one clue, which will be awarded 3 points, or your top three which will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points. The person whose clue accumulates the most points will receive a prize, which has been donated by the Crossword Centre.

Grid by Towser and Wan.
Clues by: Steve Bartlett, Rod Beards, Rod Bell, Chris Brougham, Russ Cook, Shirley Curran, Andrew Fisher, Richard Foden, Craig Fothergill, Raphael Goldblatt, Derek Harrison, Richard Heald, David Hogg, John Hood, Margaret Irvine, Chris Lancaster, Eddie Looby, Robert Lorimer, Mike Lunan, Don Manley, Steve Mulligan, John Nicholson, Mark Oshin, Mark Owen, Frank Pasterczyk, Ed Powles, Steve Randall, John Reardon, Darren Roberts, Simon Shaw, Ian Simpson, Andy Smith, Doug Stanford, Andy Stewart, Paul Taylor, John Tozer, Mark Wainwright, Luciano Ward, Nick Warne, Clive Weatherley and Keith Williams

Crossword News September 2016

Crossword News September 2016

The August Prize Puzzle was Hacked Off by Nutmeg. The theme was the song The Slow Train by Flanders and Swann which was based on the railway stations destined to be closed by the Beecham cuts. Four of the stations were to be discovered in the perimeter and St Ives had to be highlighted.

Here are some of the comments.

A nice puzzle, fairly gentle in solving and grid entry but with some head scratching at the end. Finally spotted Midsomer Norton as a possibility and assumed some murder theme, but a bit of Googling revealed the true source which I hadn’t come across before. Thanks to Nutmeg for that discovery and the entertaining solve.

One feels sympathy for Mrs Beeching: a man willing to close stations with such wonderful names as Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Cheslyn Hay and Midsomer Norton could hardly harbour any romantic feeling. Hacking off the line to such a popular seaside town as St Ives must have come as a surprise. A lovely idea from Nutmeg – many thanks

I was fortunate that the NW corner came together for me early, which gave me CH?RL… My first thought was something like “CHARLES,” but the directions indicated that unchecked letter couldn’t be A. So I started googling CHORL…, which led me to CHORLTON. Googling CHORLTON and LYRICS quickly led me to “Slow Train” by Flanders and Swann, with which I was not previously familiar. This made the rest of the solve much easier. Anyway, a clever theme for a puzzle. One quibble: Even though St. Erth and St. Ives are both mentioned in “Slow Train,” the plans to close that section of railway were canceled, so the puzzle directions are, technically, inaccurate, as the train can indeed be seen in both locations. See:

There were 53 entries, of which 7 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat, was Christine Thomas from Aberdare who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution and notes at

You still have lots of time to complete our September puzzle The Merchant’s Tale by Dysart.

For October we have a real treat with our eighth Round Robin crossword. Every clue was written by a different volunteer for a grid by Towser and Wan. You may vote for your favourite clue with your entry. You can just nominate one clue, which will be awarded 3 points, or your top three which will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points. The person whose clue accumulates the most points will receive a prize, which has been donated by the Crossword Centre.

We are now looking for puzzles for 2017. We are very happy to edit, test and advise with sympathy. At present we have puzzles until December but nothing for the new year.
Zag and Oyler are in the final stages of producing a book entitled Challenging Crossnumber Puzzles. Also it is intended to have a quarterly newsletter entitled Crossnumbers Quarterly which will contain some puzzles. The launch issue in October is free and contains 10 new puzzles. Please go to the link below for more information.
Would you like to try a 4D crossword?
Eric Westbrook of 3D Crosswords is offering to donate to charity with a puzzle in memory of Ray Parry-Morris, who designed many of the 3D grids.

“Ray Parry-Morris amongst many other things was the most wonderful 3D grid designer. His BBC CiNA 3D Crossword entries were always perfect, but his Tie-Break grid designs took my breath away.

We are presenting the September 2016 puzzle with its 4D aspect in memory of Ray. I will donate £1 to Air Ambulance and £1 to John Radcliffe Hospital for every correct solution received by September 30th midnight, up to a limit of £1000.

Eric has kindly permitted me to post this beautiful puzzle on the Crossword Centre and you can print a copy from here.
In May I mentioned the research conducted by Kathryn Friedlander and Philip Fine into the make-up of a cryptic crossword solver. The article was recently revived in the Conversation and you may prefer to read this précis of the research which details the main points.
You may have come across the letters to the Guardian complaining about the difficulty of recent crosswords. They make interesting reading.

This subject was discussed in detail in a thread on Fifteen Squared.

Now you can read Guardian crosswords editor, Hugh Stephenson’s opinions on this issue at –
Ben Tausig, US crossword constructor was very excited about his NY Times puzzle which had several correct solutions. Read about it here
You may have noticed more and more indie crosswords appearing. I personally have only noticed a couple but you may be interested in reading this article.
If you are going to the Cheltenham Literary Festival this year look out for Times Crossword editor Richard Rogan who will be there explaining clues from 10th to 14th October.
If you are looking for a fun present for a cruciverbal friend then Drunk Crosswords may be just the thing. It is a collection of over 50 crosswords with a twist by top US compilers Francis Heaney and Brendan Emmett Quigley.
The Guinness World Records 2017 has a section on crossword tournaments. The Times Crossword Championship names John Sykes with 10 wins and Mark Goodliffe as the winner of the most consecutive wins (8). In the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Jon Delfin has the most wins (7) and Dan Freyer the most consecutive wins (6)

Best wishes



Ray Parry-Morris and a 4D puzzle

Eric Westbrook of 3D Crosswords is offering to donate to charity with a puzzle in memory of Ray Parry-Morris, who designed many of the 3D grids.

“Ray Parry-Morris amongst many other things was the most wonderful 3D grid designer. His BBC CiNA 3D Crossword entries were always perfect, but his Tie-Break grid designs took my breath away.

We are presenting the September 2016 puzzle with its 4D aspect in memory of Ray. I will donate £1 to Air Ambulance and £1 to John Radcliffe Hospital for every correct solution received by September 30th midnight, up to a limit of £1000.

You can view the puzzle from the link below.

September 2016 Prize Puzzle

The Merchant’s Tale by Dysart

Printable PDF version


Eight answers must be entered in accordance with the title of a work. Solvers must highlight the author’s surname and 23’s ultimate goal (seven letters including an initial).


1 Material for weaving trade’s unpacked by afternoon (6)
5 Greases bearing in the aforesaid Sierra (6)
10 Engineer once following international group of ministers (6)
11 Cocktail of raki and a slice of orange for Wellington’s good health (6)
14 I must stop endlessly drawing money from Asian bank (5)
15 Plot drove revolutionary out of Lima (3)
16 Planned beginning of broadcast to reflect issue with soldiers crossing Italy (7)
17 Kiln’s broken up (5)
18 End of science lecture about accepted optical feature of crustaceans (8)
22 Crystalline compound only found in catalogue? On the contrary (7)
24 Burden’s set down by the speaker (4)
25 Return of vessel carrying His Excellency, the former Prime Minister (5)
28 It’s a feature of flower power and other things (5)
29 Individual transferring prime capital…(4)
30 …that is distributed by court decisions (7)
32 Lorries jammed by the French conditions (8)
34 It sounds like perhaps a child was misbehaving outside (5)
36 Fruit pulp to be added to spirit (80%) (7)
38 Get going to avoid fellow’s displeasure (3)
39 Trivial article from old cover of Telegraph (5)
40 Begin to eat all of tart that sailor’s left out (6, two words)
41 City in Italy set rent of houses (6)
42 Upright and good-natured dullard endlessly ‘had’ by cheat (6)
43 Speech out of a city in Egypt shortly reverted to an Aramaic dialect (6)


1 Not so lively buck, perhaps getting Alzheimer’s (6)
2 About to tuck into fish and fruit (4)
3 Strong drink, adding a dash of soda first (5)
4 Living in a retreat with fellow worker (7)
5 Saint almost abandoned in tributary of Saint Lawrence? (4)
6 Probably local hack ultimately feeding press (4)
7 Mobile screen assembled around an ancient mound of debris (8)
8 Rogue states – they’re devoid of life (8)
9 Poplar planted at end of park for local district association (6)
12 Part of pump fitting’s regularly damaged by extreme pressure (6)
13 Flap seals letter again (7)
19 What sounds like small obstruction touching part of the ear (5)
20 American mountain lion maybe – the other way round in tree (7)
21 Shells in old chests that prince leaves for queen (8)
23 See preamble
26 Drift towards the Sun, a newspaper following women pursuing success (6)
27 Groups in festival charging outrageous cost (7)
29 Antiquated chap briefly putting foot down, beginning to yield – or become inflexible? (6)
31 Page in score lost, making one forget what to say (6)
33 Saintly memorial provided by priest in church (5)
35 So this local lot fixed motors? (4)
36 University members expanded after dismissal of rector (4)
37 One leading soldiers, 42 from the ranks (4)



Crossword News August 2016

Crossword News August 2016

The July Prize Puzzle was Pending Solution by Chalicea. As one of the testers, I found the final step very tricky. Solvers were instructed to ‘colour forty-seven cells, obstacle, structure and world-famous engineer’ (AVON GORGE, cells depicting the Clifton Suspension Bridge IRON CATENARIES, two TOWERs and the TOLL ROAD, and the engineer BRUNEL). The shading in the final grid showed the bridge above the Avon Gorge with BRUNEL highlighted.

Here are some of the comments.

What a clever idea for a puzzle! I was not familiar with the Clifton Suspension Bridge prior to doing this puzzle, but I am grateful for the introduction to this structure. Chalicea’s puzzle is a fitting tribute, as both bridge and puzzle are impressive engineering feats and lovely to behold!

Very nicely done with some searching for odd words but some accomplishment given the 47 cell requirement. I went off on a red herring looking up designers and their logos but failiing to come up with anything. Eventually (days later) I noticed the two symmetrically placed towers and wondered how Tolkien might fit before finally spotting Brunel which had been staring me in the face all along. After that Avon Gorge was easy and it was only a case of seeing that 14 more cells were needed suggesting a side to side path and iron catenaries emerged. Congratulations Chalicea,

Whenever I come across the subject – Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge – I am always reminded of the telephone boxes at each end linked to the Samaritans. And, more recently, there was a campaign to install safety nets. I wonder what Brunel’s reaction would be to his masterpiece?   Finally, I did like the crossword title!!

A quite straightforward puzzle until the final step — those iron catenaries were tough to find!

There were 52 entries, 43 correct and 9 incorrect. Lower than usual entry for a Chalicea puzzle – probably due to the fact that IRON CATENARIES was pretty tough to spot, but a very well appreciated construction nonetheless.

The lucky winner out of the electronic hat was Ronan Cullinane, who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

A full solution is available at

This month the Prize Puzzle is Hacked Off by Nutmeg. You have until the 8th September to send your solution.

The Prize Puzzle for September will be The Merchant’s Tale by Dysart.
I recently told you of Ray Parry-Morris who was suffering from incurable Brain cancer. Yesterday his daughter asked me to pass on this sad news.

It is with great sadness, I must announce that Ray passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning surrounded by his family.

Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.
New plans for the continuation of the Crossword Club’s monthly magazine look like confirming its existence. Editor Brian Head explained thus.

REACTIONS TO IDEAS FOR SIMPLIFICATION. Thank you all for your opinions most of which expressed modified rapture: Distribution: Most seemed to find acceptable the prospect of electronic publication especially given the limited paper option. Prizes: Some would be quite happy without these, indeed several said they would willingly forego those for the current puzzles. Most, however, would like at least a token award with some suggesting a resurrection of Alfreda’s bookplates. Clue-Writing Competition. I am pleased to announce that the present Judge would be willing to continue in the same role. Fees for Puzzles. So far a limited number of setters have expressed willingness to lend their work FOC. Subscriptions. With the abolition of payments the whole question of maintaining a membership list, managing accounts generally with submission of VAT returns and all the rest of it would be eliminated. The minor remaining expenses could be covered by voluntary contributions.

I would certainly recommend the magazine and if you are interested in subscribing you can get more information at

However, the prices may be out of date. Subscribe now and you can get a special rate. Up till February the charges are: Inland £15; Europe 20; Outside Europe 23; Electronic distribution £12.
The death was announced last month of the setter Petitjean. You can read his wonderful obituary in the Telegraph.
A 91-year-old woman has found herself in trouble with a German museum after writing on an exhibit. Part of the avant-garde artwork was meant to look like an empty crossword puzzle.
The latest edition of the Chambers Crossword Dictionary will be published on the 11th August. The paperback edition is available on Amazon for £13.48.
Crossword blogger, Alan Connor, who also creates the questions on Only Connect, has a quiz book ready for publication in November. You can pre-order for your Christmas list on Amazon
Many of you will know Jon Delfin as a formidable crossword solver with an enviable record in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Not so many will know that he is one of New York’s finest piano accompanists. You can hear him play on his latest album accompanying Aaron Morishita, Singing Sondheim – Songs by Stephen Sondheim.
The Clue Writing Competition this month is a normal clue to LAUGHTER. You have until 31 August to write your clue at
Don’t forget that the Crossword Centre is also a group on Facebook. You can join at
When Roddy Forman died in 2014 I was instructed to look after his crossword books and notes and to find good homes for them. I still have a box containing files with notes and copies of all his crosswords as Radix and as part of the Mango team. It seems a pity that they are just sitting in my loft. If you can think of a home for them please let me know. What happened to the plans for a Crossword Research Library?

Best Wishes

Prize Puzzle August 2016

Hacked Off by Nutmeg

Printable PDF version


The unclued entry can no longer be seen at any of the four thematic places whose names run clockwise round the perimeter, starting at square 1. Each clue contains a misprint in the definition part, the correct letters giving lyrically a consequence of the non-appearance. One clued entry which could be a fifth thematic place must be highlighted. Completely unchecked letters in unclued entries could be arranged as CHOO CHOO IN RY SHED

8 Men with song books that could elevate the fun (6)
9 A lively one in bed, popular one way and another in S Africa (6)
10 Flying kite, nerd played in small bay (8)
12 Like Shaw, maybe, knocking back drink (5)
13 Took a small trap, one that’s fixed externally (7)
15 Royal tea presented differently, depending on fare (8)
16 Player needs another night to accomplish such a score (7)
18 Runs away from battles and shelters in remote parts (6)
19 Troops organised refreshment of brunch (6)
21 Little finger split piercing through card (7, two words)
24 Possibly add fours to 50 during time at wicket (8)
27 Compound typo – Nutmeg needs someone to apply discipline (7)
29 One of two needed to strike object with force for days (5)
30 Flap about, cutting tip for small sub order? (8)
31 Slander against English officer featured in second half of case (6)
32 Adult brought in feed around noon for goat (6)
1 King Charles with current queen, one producing sons (5)
2 New life injected into Chinese daily (6, two words)
3 Star’s in need of good roadies in the Orient (5)
4 Hordes drawn in by this bizarre trial with anonymous participant (6)
5 Organic farmer’s banked this small egg payment (7)
6 Crooked firms, one locally with revolutionary in charge (4)
7 Player’s ball is found in pond (6)
11 The elderly tell folk I housed in tents to move (6)
14 Working party leads to nominee arranging hunger march in Asia (6)
17 Commander supporting Troy bored by dull parts of myths, etc (7)
20 In emulation of Times, helping to make rival envious (6, two words)
22 You don’t spy on anyone taking your side (6)
23 Fewer likely to use this bland fencing at home (6)
25 Preferring to avoid city on return trips, say (5)
26 Sportsman’s job as part of seaside act (5)
28 Mounted police arresting last of French, now us (4)
To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format indicating clearly the final grid, to before the 8th September 2016.The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range which has been donated by Chambers.


Crossword News July 2016

Crossword News July 2016

The Prize Puzzle for July was A Short Time to Set by Wan. This proved to be a tough nut to crack and it was obvious that some solvers did not realise the theme of the puzzle. Letters which moved up from clue to clue gave CONSTRUCT SUM OF MODIFIED ENTRIES, which was an instruction for solvers to rearrange the top row to show SPACE STATION. The entries that were modified were parts of the International Space Station.

Here are some of the comments.

Real quality from last year’s top Magpie setter, thanks. The solving was very tough indeed but there is no harm in that is there.  Thanks to Wan.

Evidently, a great deal of effort and ingenuity was devoted to setting the puzzle, not least in writing precise clues.  Many thanks to Wan. What was required in the submission was not quite clear.  The modified entries can be used to build a schematic of the International Space Station – with PIRS (the airlock) doing duty for its parent service module Zvesda (Star) which does not appear among the modified entries.  So, have a schematic, as well as a grid! Perhaps the rising letters were to be re-arranged to form SPACE (A Short Time) STATION (to Set)?  In which case, INTERNATIONAL is missing – perhaps appropriate given the EU Referendum result! No matter the requirement, a very clever idea indeed.

Wan’s puzzle is brilliant and totally absorbing.  Very challenging though – it’s taken me all month to complete it, with much trial and error, especially at first!  Not sure I would have figured out the significance of those 12 words without Google – I typed them in, and up popped the space station.

For me, a record was smashed in attempting this puzzle.  The time taken before the first answer was revealed – 2 hours!

There were 30 entries of which 3 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner was Andie Johnson who will be receiving a prize donated by Chambers. A full solution is available at

We were also able to publish a referendum special, The Playing Fields of Eton by Shackleton. Cleverly devised, this puzzle had two solutions. You could either have DAVID CAMERON in the grid and highlight REMAIN or BORIS JOHNSON and highlight BREXIT.

Before the polls closed solvers were asked to show their preference. The results were:
BREXIT – 13 votes
REMAIN: 31 votes

Clearly our solvers did not reflect the opinions of the British electorate.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Everything you’d expect from Shackleton – great clueing, clever grid construction and good fun to solve.  Finding nine ways to provide a definition that works two ways is wondrous.  Thanks and appreciation to a master.

I confess I’d never envisaged a scenario where I’d be given a choice and still enter David Cameron, but strange things happen in Crosswords.

I made this harder on myself by not realizing there was 2 possible answers for each of the nine. After filling in 5-6 of them I was stumped as to what word could be made from the letters I had. The penny didn’t drop until a careful rereading of the preamble and the choosing of the letters line was read and understood. This helped my get 24D and subsequently 37A which I thought would the clues besting me. But the reveal beforehand of the centre line just had me in awe of the ability of Shackleton. To get so many words, with the correct alternative spellings so as to fit the same vague enough subsidiary definitions, was simply outstanding. Kudos and extremely well done. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the reveal was one of the most satisfying a-ha moments I’ve had in a long while.

I liked the clues with ambiguous answers, especially when the two answers were unrelated words but I thought it was clever in 4d to make a plural noun and past tense verb have the same definition.

Before I had worked out what was appearing the the central row I thought 23d was COCKNEY/MOCKNEY. I couldn’t find JOCKNEY in Chambers and thought that maybe this is because I don’t have the latest edition, but I looked in my older copies and it seems that it was removed between the 10th and 11th editions.

There were 59 entries of which 6 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner was Vicky Porter who will soon be receiving a prize supplied by the Crossword Centre. A full solution is available at

This month the Prize Puzzle is Pending Solution by Chalicea. You have until 8th August to send your entry.

The August Prize Puzzle will be Hacked Off by Nutmeg, one of our most popular setters.

There is still a need for puzzles for the autumn. In the meantime, watch out for a possible Round Robin to be announced soon.
You may have seen this on our message board.

I am working for a small company in Cambridge (UK) that is looking to conduct informal one-to-one interviews (ideally face-to-face) with people who enjoy crosswords. Each session is expected to take 30 to 45 mins – you will be reimbursed up to £40 for your time.

The purpose of the research is for us to firstly understand users current behaviours with crosswords.

Secondly, we’ll ask you for feedback on a new crossword-solving product, so that we can understand what needs to be improved.

The research session is expected to start mid-July.

If the above is of interest, can you please complete our short questionnaire so we can determine if the product would be suitable for you:

Best wishes