Crossword Centre Maths Special March 2017

Primes by Gnomie

Primes are the subject of homework in December 2016, for the second of four siblings born at evenly spaced intervals. Exploring, she converts the four children’s names alphanumerically (A = 1 etc.) and is surprised that hers is the only one that gives a prime. She fits the names into the grid then fills the grid with prime numbers, none repeated and none beginning with zero. She concludes by writing her name (in letters) below the grid.


Printable PDF version

1 Anagram of 4d (3)
4 Her sister’s name converted alphanumerically (3)
6 Digits of 34ac are reversed (4)
11 Digits add up to 32ac (3)
12 Digits add up to 23ac (2)
13 Consecutive sequence of digits (4)
14 Digits add to half the sum of digits of 18d (4)
15 Digits add up to 23ac (4)
16 Digits add up to a prime (3)
17 Age of 2d (2)
19 Her name converted alphanumerically to a prime (7)
23 Age of 4ac, the youngest sibling (2)
25 Digits in descending order add up to a prime (3)
27 Anagram of 6d and 20d (4)
29 Birth year of 17ac (4)
31 Digits are in ascending order (4)
32 Age of 12d (2)
33 Digits are in ascending order (3)
34 See 6ac (4)
35 Digits add up to 23ac (3)
36 See 30d; digits add up to a 2-digit prime (3)

1 Anagram of 3d and 21d (4)
2 Her elder brother’s name converted alphanumerically (3)
3 See 1d (4)
4 Palindromic anagram of 1ac (3)
5 Anagram of 25d, 26d and 28d (3)
6 See 27ac; contains the same digits as the next prime in the primes list (4)
7 Digits are in ascending order with one repeated (4)
8 Digits are in descending order and add up to 17ac (3)
9 Digits are in descending order and add up to a prime (4)
10 Anagram of 29d; added to 25d this gives a triangular number (3)
12 Her younger brother’s name, converted alphanumerically (5)
18 Digits add to twice the sum of the digits of 14ac (4)
20 See 27ac (4)
21 See 1d (4)
22 Mother’s birth year (she was 20 when her first child was born) (4)
24 Digits add up to 23ac (4)
25 See 5d (3)
26 See 5d; digits are in ascending order (3)
28 See 5d; digits are in descending order (3)
29 See 10d (3)
30 Palindromic anagram of 36ac (3)
To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format, giving the name, to before 8th April 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book donated by the Crossword Centre.

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle March 2017

Bottomless Cubes by Urchin

A tribute to Ad’s Missing Faces


Printable PDF

Thirty-six cubes, whose ‘top’ faces are numbered 1 to 36, are fitted into a six-by-six square. Each cube has a letter on each face and these six letters can be arranged to form a word (cube word). Faces which touch each other bear the same letter. The diagram shows the ‘nets’ of the 36 cubes overlapping at the common faces with the ‘bottom’ faces omitted. Additional clues are given to the 4 edge words and the six words formed by the ‘top’ faces.

Edge Words
a – a Coin in Peru established before outset of Atahualpa
b – b Sleep disturbed over a tree
c – c Agent to run away briskly to audience
d – d Shout of joy trailing Dutch grass
Top Face Words
1 – 6 Battle-axes caught by Glaswegian gutters
7 – 12 Direction finder penetrating merrily in place of current rover
13 – 18 Brief experience with especially good city
19 – 24 TV show swapping one for cunning hard rock
25 – 30 Designer’s difficulty with reversing runner
31 – 36 Mineral water not swallowed
Cube Words
1 Small vessels third-rate golfer held aloft
2 Wily Jewish Mister going west for gems
3 Cultivating soy beans might give you an Aberdonian’s scallions
4 A gun wrapped in that discarded blazed once
5 Forward backwards – an old saw
6 They’re prickly (not any friends)
7 Turning tomato sauce over caught a wild animal
8 Will’s beetle is one struggling with no heart
9 Dessert with a bit of Scottish beef fat
10 Endless wind and bog is soddy
11 Nut in cushy full house?
12 Exercise with parrot for unusual regularity
13 Bird to remain after hope is shattered
14 Locally limp doctor’s in drag
15 Seaweeds are planted in the middle of holidays
16 Sri Lanka to affirm Scottish gas
17 Bird found daily around our country
18 General intelligence was idle like a wally?
19 In Rouen, I regret overtaking queen in search for contraband
20 Concerning fruit partition
21 Make joint with roach possibly hidden in quiet!
22 Rue injury on railway
23 Old lady to smoke plant in Uganda
24 Pillaging raid damaged bins leaving Zanzibaris in ruins
25 Die without overacting following conflict with a fair amount of drink
26 Indian soldiers ultimately taken in by mug
27 Drugs gripping man in US ships
28 Master gets money back for meal
29 A stupid person initially so has to act the fool
30 Memoranda: a strike-breaker in law
31 Fly after junior is rubbished
32 Coat a record in ridicule
33 Marmalade for Bunter? Squelch switches about for start of imposition
34 One expecting to get extra penny for harvester
35 The bard’s dash to get scripture inside Louisiana county
36 Told to go round Jamaica for sitting in field


To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format  to before 8th April 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News February 2017

Crossword News February 2017

The January Prize Puzzle was Sad by Chalicea. This puzzle was based on the six word novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Extra letters gave SIX WORD STORY AND WRITER TO WHOM IT WAS ATTRIBUTED requiring solvers to highlight FOR SALE BABY SHOES NEVER WORN and ERNEST HEMINGWAY. A full solution and notes are available at

There were 68 entries and only one was adjudged incorrect. The marker fairly decided that there was only one noteworthy Hemingway and marked entries correct if that was highlighted.

Here are some of the comments.

Thanks to Chalicea, whose puzzles always find an interesting theme, and whose clueing is fair and never dull. It took me a little while to spot the theme after I’d completed the grid. Hemingway appeared fairly early on, but I got fixated on The Old Man And The Sea after noticing THE and SEA in the downs, and deciding 6 x 3-letter words made good thematic material. I finally recalled the 6-word story attributed to Hemingway, but had to Google the exact wording. It made a satisfying denouement to the puzzle.

This was quite a nice offering with the customary helping of generous clues including lots of friendly anagrams. I might have felt a bit short-changed at any other time of the year, but coming as it did during a hectic spell it was just enough to provide a brief interlude. My thanks to Chalicea

I wasn’t aware of this literary invention, though I think if it had been cobbled up by Joe Blow in a Key West bar it might not have quite the staying power conferred upon it by a more celebrated boozer.  My favourite in not-quite-the-same-genre was a prizewinner in a New Statesman competition donkey’s years ago where a story was to be told using the titles of three films:

On the Beach
A Farewell to Arms

You still have time to complete our February Prize Puzzle, Nicene Creed by Flowerman.

The lucky winners picked from the electronic hat were Albert & Gail Busza who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

In March there will be two puzzles to entertain you. After a long absence Urchin returns to give us his Bottomless Cubes. This reworking of a famous Listener crossword certainly tested our testers! There is also Primes by Gnomie which is a lovely logical maths puzzle.

As usual we welcome submissions. All puzzles will be tested sympathetically. Remember to send puzzle and solution in separate documents and we prefer Word (.doc) format.
On the 11th March lots of crossword setters will be assembling in Gateshead for the annual Listener Dinner at Jury’s quayside hotel. I shall be there and I am looking forward to meeting friends old and new. It has become a tradition for people to meet on the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in a nearby pub. Although pub has not been decided yet, John Henderson has promised to announce it on the Crossword Centre message board after he has done a recce on the Friday morning.
The New York Times celebrated the 75th anniversary of its crossword on the 15th February. You can read more about it and watch a video at this link.
You may know that I occasionally tweet as @dzharrison. I thought you’d like to know of other crossword enthusiasts who have Twitter accounts. Here is a list but you may want to suggest others.

John Henderson, Inquisitor editor and setter @enigmatistelgar

Richard Rogan, Times crossword editor @timescrosswords

John Tozer of &Lit and the Azed Archive who posts a clue of the day @AndlitTwit

Dean Mayer, Anax etc @anaxcrosswords

Chris Lancaster, EV editor @SamuelTheSetter

Best wishes



Sad by Chalicea – Solution and Notes

Sad (solution and explanations)



Across: 1 Stock-feeders, 10 Thali, 11 Forelie, 12 Eiking, 13 Nova, 14 Agamous, 15 Leam, 18 Ketas, 21 Baby, 22 In re , 23 État, 24 Opal, 25 Begs, 26 Torr, 27 Shoes, 30 Lake, 32 Sea apes, 33 Erne, 35 Verity, 36 Relearn, 37 Duple, 38 Sworn enemies .

Down: 1 Steam boilers , 2 The grape , 3 Climb, 4 Kikoi, 5 Eons, 6 Ergate, 7 Den, 8 Riva, 9 Seamstresses, 16 Estop, 17 Abask, 18 Knee, 19 Ergs, 20 Sardelle, 25 Box van 28 Waide, 29 Datum, 31 Arew, 32 Sere, 34 E’er.

Across: 1 S: FESTERED SOCK[S]*, 10 I: IT< round HA[I]L, 11 X: FOR + E[X]ILE<, 12 W: [W]IKI GEN, 13 O: Hidden (sopraNO [O]VA(tions), 14 R: [R]AGA MOUS(y), 15 D: MA[D]E L(ove)<, 18 S: STEAK[S]*, 21 T: BA[T] BY, 22 O: Hidden (M)IN[O]R E(xpenses), 23 R: TATE[R], 24 Y: O PLA[Y]*, 25 A: B S[A]GE<, 26 N: TOR[N] R(epository), 27 D: SHE[D]S O*, 30 W: (fina)L + [W]AKE, 32 R: SPA[R]E EA S(eed)*, 33 I: N(ot) in ER[I]E, 35 T: VER[T] (part)Y round IT, 36 E: INTERRELATE* less TIT*, 37 R: L in D[R]UPE, 38 T: [T]ORIES NEWSMEN.

Down: 1 O: AIMLESS REBO[O]T*, 2 W: G [W]EATHER P(romoting)*, 3 H: C[H] LIMB, 4 O: K[O]I KOI, 5 M: DE[M]ONS less D, 6 I: ETAGE< round [I]R, 7 T: DEN[T], 8 W: RIA round V[W], 9 A: TE[A]MS REASSESS*, 16 S: SE< [S]TOP, 17 A: ALASK[A] with B for (oi)L, 18 T: (th)E [T]EN K(ingdoms)<, 19 T: (s)E(g)R(e)G(a)[T](e)S, 20 R: SELLE[R] round A R(e)D, 25 I: BOX VA[I]N, 28 B: W(ater) A(wash) I(n) + [B]ED<, 29 U: DAD less D [U]T (m)UM, 31 T: [T]AR + WE<, 32 E: SE[E] (a)RE(a), 34 D: [D]EER.

Prize Puzzle February 2017

Nicene Creed by Flowerman


Printable PDF version

Four clues lack definitions. The answers to these clues must be modified before entry into the grid in accordance with 1ac, 50ac (6 words). Numbers in parentheses refer to grid entries. In the completed grid, two words (4) and (5) can be found which contradict what is expressed by 1ac, 50ac. These words must be highlighted.
1 See preamble
8 Tin backing protecting special device (5)
10 Wife out for run in beginning getting stitch (4)
12 Towers casting shadows at first on people in boat (4)
14 Dance in open scrubland not arranged (5)
15 Snake kicked out of the French cottage (4)
17 Gräfenberg Institute leaving volumes on anatomical structures (4)
18 Fish are feeling (4)
19 Asian country contracted to return soldiers’ property (5)
21 A minor thrill when shitzu finally worked on a bone (5)
22 Nuclear material in reactor, naturally (3)
23 “Crafty” work with intelligence service halved on another’s return (6)
24 Surprisingly good depth in unorthodox output from setter (3,2)
26 Mail disregarding royal’s affair (5)
28 Get information from detailed record (3)
30 Orca’s back in pursuit of male seal (5)
31 Distressed women breaking bread with German (5)
33 Old barrel in gutter (6)
35 Girl’s South African relative dropping over (3)
37 Rib of vault in centre about to buckle (5)
41 Mammal using both hands to capture bird (5)
42 Brought back some jasmine trees from the east (4)
43 Souls from 47s out of cheese (4)
44 In Perth, champions recalled getting tight (4)
45 Crew wanting motorway largely clear for concluding part of work (5)
47 Ashamed about having no recipes for legume (4)
48 Worried but not hot when transported on this? (4)
49 Vessels in eastern 40 not hard to manoeuvre (5)
50 See preamble

1 One’s left a long way up in tree (3)
2 Old soldier with heart failure, perhaps almost gave up before operation (8)
3 Government department climbing mountain (5)
4 Penny’s filling up trusty old flower holder (5)
5 Croatian chap’s heading down to get paper, maybe (5)
6 One excessively fond of 10ac turning up at party (6)
7 Abbey’s butler disregarding capital offence (5)
9 Nick’s star is rising (5)
10 Dock weed at times choking channel (6)
11 Set up to advance shortly after noon (8)
13 Unionist interrupting sounds short on intelligence primarily (9)
16 Victorian coastal town turned up record (5)
17 Film fishing boats leaving the Heads (9)
20 Drink mostly hiding in bottom of dresser (8)
24 10ac doesn’t have good level of proficiency (3)
25 Common alpine bee almost wiped out (8)
27 With these old characters about, client could become most angelic (5)
29 Master finding opening offloading old drugs (6)
32 International body in general putting out a ream of words (6)
34 Carol ringing Mark about defective item (5)
36 Set up outstanding medium for communications (5)
38 Determined to extinguish small fire in Glaswegian house (5)
39 Worse still, the local has abandoned boarding (5)
40 Give birth to son finally in shelter (5)
46 Categorise high school pants in Scottish sheds (3)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the highlighted parts to before 8th March 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News January 2017

Crossword News January 2017

Happy New Year! As usual we start with our last competitions. The Prize Puzzle for December was Seasons Greetings VIII by Eclogue. This must have been an easy month for our marker. The letters derived from clues provide DR SEUSS and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Solvers are required to delete all instances of C,H,R,I,S,T,M and A, leaving only NOEL in the grid.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

It can’t have been easy to compose a grid using only the letters of CHRISTMAS (almost) though I have to admit I hadn’t even noticed till I had the grid three quarters full. I had misinterpreted the respectively in the preamble to mean each set of clues in order would provide the message so struggled with that as well. However thanks (again) to Eclogue.

Solve was straightforward enough, did learn a couple of new words (always a good thing) but I got stumped as to the final step after the removal of the “certain characters”. Bar the removal I couldn’t see any season symmetrically in the grid. I put it on the back burner for a couple of weeks, checking every 2-3 days to see if I had missed something obvious, but no joy. It hit me driving home from work on the 5th, I had it backwards, I was supposed to steal “Christmas” and leave Noel. Aargh. Well played gents, well played.

What an amazingly inventive contest by Eclogue!

There were 53 entries, and not surprisingly, they were 100% correct. The lucky winner out of the electronic hat was Peter Covey-Crump from Cheltenham who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

A full solution and notes are available at

Our maths special was Christmas Puzzle by MatriX. This came in two parts. First you had to fill the grid with digits and then in the second part you had to convert them into pentaminos. There is a full solution and notes at

The pentamino that was not used was the L-shape. As there is no L and with a seasonal puzzle calling for an appropriate title to follow ‘The First’ the answer of course is Noel.

Here are some of the comments.

I spent a while trying to think of a clever title for puzzle 2 and eventually came up with what I thought was a very fitting gem. Only then did it occur to me that this might just be the title I was Meant to come up with and which was Expected of solvers by MatriX, in which case congratulations to him/her for a gem of a finish.

Was tempted to offer the title “Tesselation Torment” having always struggled with these types of problems.  A bit of Blue Peter-ing (cutting out shapes and playing with them) at Christmas seemed appropriate, however, and the ending brought a smile.  I wonder if this might be a candidate for puzzle of the year.  Producing a tiling solution from which to write mathematical clues looks straightforward, but checking this is unique for the choice of underlying numbers is another matter entirely.  The added feature of three possible solutions at the halfway stage seems to suggest this was a notable feat of engineering.  I wonder if MatriX might write a short note describing how the puzzle was constructed?  But that might reveal crucial secrets!  Either way, many thanks to MatriX, and to the editors who provided two entertaining routes to the same end.

I naturally assumed we were dealing with the usual 5×12 pentomino rectangle, and so looked for a digit total divisible by 12.  Lo and behold, one of the three possibilities qualified.  Several hours later, I concluded it was impossible to place the X.  After checking everything else several times it eventually occurred to me to count the columns.  Oh.  A very nice trap and I walked right into it.  At least it was obvious what the new title was.

There were only 22 entries, of which 4 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner out of the electronic hat was Gerry Murtagh of Glasgow. Gerry will soon be receiving a 3D puzzle calendar which has been donated by Calendar Puzzles

Our Prize Puzzle for February will be a welcome return for Flowerman with Nicene Creed.

We are struggling to keep up with our monthly puzzles this year. Submissions are very welcome.
The results for 2016 have now been recorded and we can announce the winners of the Crowther Cup.

After the final totting up of the Annual Results we find that once again we have 4 all-corrects for the year – and of course it is a full year this time.  3 of the 4 are ones who achieved the feat last year also, so have now gone two 2 “years” undefeated, and are joined by Matthew Auger, so the full list is:

Matthew Auger
Richard Harvey
Gerry Murtagh
MP Young

All entrants can email Robert Teuton at for their individual records for the year. Many thanks to Robert for his assiduous checking once again.
News that Tom Johnson has stood down as editor of the 1 Across magazine. The new editor is Hamish Symington (Soup).

1 Across is a monthly magazine for cryptic crossword enthusiasts, a rare source of interesting and ingenious speciality and thematic puzzles by professional and amateur compilers. Many may be known to you from their published work; others are up and coming in the world of crossword setting. What all of the puzzles share, though, is a high quality and an entertaining take on the norm. It offers five puzzles every month; four are brand-new, and one is an Araucaria from the extensive 1 Across archives.

Puzzles may be ‘normal’ blocked grids, barred, blank, circular, Scrabble boards… often, anything goes! Many puzzles have Ninas; most have more overt themes. One puzzle every month is a Prize Puzzle, with a prize of a book voucher generously donated by Oxford University Press.

Formerly edited by Araucaria, Mike Rich, John Henderson (Enigmatist) and Tom Johnson (Doc/Didymus/Gozo/Maskarade/…) More information at and you can download a free sample issue.

There is an interview with Hamish in this week’s Guardian blog and a link to a special crossword by Soup. First prize will be a subscription to 1 Across.
A rare chance to see Ashley Knowles (Boatman) with John Halpern (Paul, Mudd & Pink) and Hugh Stephenson (Guardian Crossword Editor) talking about the art, paractice and future of crossword compiling this week. The talk is at Waterstones Brighton, 7pm Thursday 19 January 2017. A free event but do make sure of a place by calling 01273 206017 or emailing

In the January edition of the Crossword Magazine there was more information about its future.

Crossword, Second Series
The monthly publication will be distributed mainly electronically. It will consist of a variable number of separate A4 sheets to be printed single or double-sided at the whim of the recipient.
The suggested paper option will be available for members supplying SAEs or stamps plus address labels.
It is planned that the content will be broadly similar to that of the First Series to include two prize crosswords with the bimonthly clue-writing contest, plus extra suitable content as available.
Two ‘winners’ of each puzzle will be invited to choose a subscription-size monetary prize if they wish.
It is hoped that, with faster communications, it will be possible to include solutions etc in the following month’s issue. Time will tell.
Setters will continue to be offered payment for their crosswords.
It is expected that the annual sub will be £30-£35 world-wide.
The first – March – issue will be offered in the form of a Free Sample. Continued publication thereafter will depend on the number of subscribers enrolled.

Best wishes





Christmas Puzzle by MatriX – Solution

Christmas Puzzle – The First by Matrix

Solution Notes

10d is a cube with a multiple at 3d and linking them is triangular 16a. 10d is one of 125, 216 or 343 (512 does not allow multiples). 343 has the multiple 686 but then there is no valid triangular 11a. 216 has multiples 432, 648 or 864 but none allow a triangular 16a. 10d=125 allows 3d=250 or 750, 16ac=210 and 11a=55.

8d is a square divisor of 27d which in turn is a divisor of 28a and this forces 8d=16. 14ais then one of 678, 679 or 689 but only 678 allows for a valid 6a=311. With 14a=678, 15d=841. 6d is a square starting 3. If 6d=361 this leads to a duplicate 16 at 19a leaving 6d=324 and 19a=49. 12a is a palindrome with digit sum 5d so 12a=282, 5d=12. 17a is the reverse of 7d and cannot start 0 so 7d=15, 17a=51. 4a possibilities as a multiple of 17a are 510, 612, 714, 816, 918 and the only one whose digit sum divides 4d is 816 making 4d=855.

26a is a multiple of 311 that allows 18d to be triangular and this forces 26ac=933, 18dn=190, 27d=32, 28a=64 or 96. This allows just one 20d/32a/28a combination namely 994/124. Possible 1a values are 421 less 144 or 324 with the only valid combination 421 less 144=277. This confirms 1a=277, 3d=750, 32a=124, 21a=144, 21d=163 or 167, 13d=853.

33a is an anagram of a square with an odd middle digit. The options are 316 or 792. 316 has no 2-digit divisor ending 1 to occupy 29d but 792 has 99.

9a/9d combinations are 19/17, 22/27, 82/87, 99/97. 22a has its digital product ending 0 at 31a and so must contain an even digit. The candidates with ascending digits are 568, 569, 578, 589. Only 589 is divisible by one of the 9a options 19 confirming 22a=589, 9a=19, 9d=17, 31a=360, 24d=93. 25d is a multiple of 7 ending 6 hence 2d=78, 25d=56.

Possible 30a values that combine with 93 to form a square are 28, 51 and 76. The corresponding values for 23d+reverse(30a) are 170, 96 and 153 with only the latter triangular confirming 23dn=86, 30a=76 to complete the solution.


Christmas Puzzle The Second by MatriX

Solution Notes

The grid comprises 55 squares using 11 of the 12 shapes. The total of all the digits in the puzzle is 253 and so the digits in each shape must total 253/11=23.

There are many ways of proceeding, all essentially involving some trial and error. In the following, grid locations are given as co-ordinate pairs (row, column); rows numbered from 1 at the bottom to 5 at the top and columns from 1 at the left to 11 at the right.

Sometimes working from the corner possibilities establishes a way in. One systematic approach is to determine possible locations for the more symmetrical pentominos such as I&X that have fewer possibilities for rotation or reflection. I can appear in column 6 but then the sum of the digits to either side is not divisible by 23 and so no fill is possible. I can also appear in the middle row starting (3,6) but after V covering (3,11) no further progress is possible. Another I possibility is starting (4,5) then after L covering (5,4) to (5,7) no further progress is possible. This leaves I starting (1,6) which forces N to cover the bottom right corner then V to cover the top right corner. Working to the left allows only X with its centre at (4,8) with U beneath it. Then T fits to the left of the X into (5,7). The stem of the P fits into (2,6) in both orientations however it has to cover the bottom row to allow progress. W fits next around (5,5) then Z into (3,4). The rest follows straightforwardly with F into (4,3) and T into (2,2). L is not used.

There is also the possibility that I does not appear, in which case X must. X can be centred at (3,7) or (4,8). The latter produces the same fill as that already found. The former allows L running (5,4) to (5,7) and then the hollow in the U can be at (3,6). However counting the unallocated digits in the last 4 columns totals 94 and no effective multiple of 23 can be found that fits below the U&X. Another option with X centred at (3,7) is with the hollow of the U at (4,7) and again totalling the digits on the right shows that no multiple of 23 fits around the bottom of the X. No other pattern works so we are left with the single solution:


You will have noticed that there is no L and with a seasonal puzzle calling for an appropriate title to follow ‘The First’ the answer of course is Noel.

Seasons Greetings VIII – Solution

Seasons Greetings VIII – Solution


The letters derived from clues provide DR SEUSS and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Solvers are required to delete all instances of C,H,R,I,S,T,M and A, leaving only NOEL in the grid.
D 1 amis ; (SAI[D] + M)* ; EXTRA LETTER
R 4 scatch ; S + CATCH ; T[R]AP ; MISSING LETTER
S 9 Riss ; hidden cRISScrossed ; [E]TAGE ; MISPRINT
E 11 chai ; hidden ; chanC[E] HAIlstorm ; EXTRA LETTER
U 12 cant ; 3 mngs ; A[U]CTION ; MISSING LETTER
S 13 Athos ; A + THO(ma)S ; [S]PEAK] ; EXTRA LETTER
S 14 tath ; T + (HAT)* ; GRA[B]S ; MISPRINT
H 15 arts ; (d)ARTS ; [R]UMAN ; MISPRINT
O 16 imam ; initials ; I M [O] A M ; EXTRA LETTER
W 18 at it ; A + TIT ; [K]ICKED ; MISPRINT
T 21 Asti ; (IT + SA)< ; [T]URNS ; MISSING LETTER
H 22 acai ; [H]AI(r) after AC ; EXTRA LETTER
E 23 aits ; initials; A I T S ; PIP[E]S ; MISSING LETTER
25 siss ; IS< +SS
R 28 alar ; A + LAR(k) ; A[R]GON ; MISSING LETTER
I 29 tirr ; IR in TR ; STR[E] P ; MISPRINT
N 30 rami ; RAM + I ; [K]ETTLE ; MISPRINT
C 31 assist ; ASS + [C]IST ; EXTRA LETTER
H 32 smit ; M in SIT ; [H]OLD ; MISSING LETTER

S 1 arctic ; [S]CAR* + TIC ; EXTRA LETTER
T 2 miasma ; S[T] in MIAM(i)A ; EXTRA LETTER
O 3 isn’t ; NITS* ; N[I]T ; MISPRINT
E 6 thoric ; THOR + IC ; [C]LEMENT ; MISPRINT
H 8 hiss ; HIS + S ; SWIS[S] ; MISPRINT
R 10 cathismas ; (SA[R]CASM HIT)* ; EXTRA LETTER
I 17 asters ; (RET + S)< in AS ; RU[I]N ; MISSING LETTER
S 19 tatami ; (MAT in I [S]AT)< ; EXTRA LETTER
T 20 tirrit ; T + I + RR + IT ; [T]ON ; MISSING LETTER
M 23 acta ; AC + TA ; [B]EETING ; MISPRINT
A 24 iris ; IR + IS[A] ; EXTRA LETTER
S 26 slam ; hidden ; AldiSLAMp ; [J]OCK ; MISPRINT

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle January 2017

Sad by Chalicea

The wordplay in every clue leads to an extra letter that is not entered into the grid. These, in clue order, spell out what solvers must highlight in the completed grid.

Printable PDF


1 Farm animal fatteners’ foul festered socks (12)
10 Indian meal; call in returning it (5)
11 Poet’s to have more advanced position, in favour of bringing back exile (7)
12 In Holyrood, having difficulty managing confused Wiki gen (6)
13 Increasingly dazzling star soprano – ovations showing it (4)
14 Asexual basic Indian musical mode, mostly timid and quiet (7)
15 Made love principally going round producing glow once (4)
18 Salmon steaks cooked (5)
21 Racket near young child (4)
22 With regard to some minor expenses (4, two words)
23 State of potato casually turned over (4)
24 Foul play in pursuit of old gemstone (4)
25 Book wise man reviewed avoids giving answers (4)
26 Hill ripped apart by opening of repository (4)
27 Carelessly sheds old footwear (5)
30 Last part of final vigil; take break from work, up north (4)
32 Threshers spare each head of seed in error (7, two words)
33 Large bird not originally found in N American lake (4)
35 Reality of Green Party ultimately accepting information technology (6)
36 Get to know again: inter-relate deviously dropping silly tit (7)
37 Line in fleshy stone fruit consisting of two parts (5)
38 Newsmen and Tories in conflict becoming people who’ve declared state of active opposition (12, two words)

1 Hopelessly aimless reboot for sealed vessels producing power from water (12, two words)
2 Unusually good weather principally promoting wine some say (8, two words)
3 Ascend Chinese mountain spur (5)
4 Pair of carp in piece of African striped cloth (5)
5 Ages when people with great energy lose God (4)
6 Upside-down floor in Paris involved Irish worker, perhaps (6)
7 Make hollow in pit (3)
8 Cleft in rock in submerged river valley hiding view (4)
9 Teams reassess damaged sewers (12)
16 Legally preclude setting up south-eastern place for passengers to alight (5)
17 In genial warmth, US’s northernmost state using barrels for last of oil (5)
18 Inferior joint turning up in the ten kingdoms (4)
19 Regularly segregates work units (4)
20 Vendor holding a gutted red fish (8)
25 Hard, heavy wood without real worth in rigid-sided goods vehicle (6, two words)
28 Once experienced heads of water awash in rising bed (5)
29 Fact – dad drops daughter as mum loses head (5)
31 Sailor we upset involved in lines (according to Ed!) (4)
32 Recognise area’s essentially dry and withered (4)
34 Possibly a hoofed ruminant (3)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the highlighted parts to before 8th February 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News December 2016

Crossword News December 2016

Our Prize Puzzle for November was Top Shoe by Yimin. This puzzle had the theme of Oscar winning ladies.
“Mildred Pierce”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Street Angel” and “Black Swan” are all films for which the leading lady won the Oscar for Best Actress. The fifth instance is indicated by “JULIANNE MOORE” appearing in the leading diagonal. She won the Best Actress Oscar for “Still Alice”. Thus, STILL at 13 Across must be replaced by ALICE. The title is a cryptic form of “Leading Lady takes Oscar”

Here are some of the comments.

Top Shoe (best woman receiving Oscar?) by Yimin (welcome newcomer, to me) gave a very enjoyable challenge. I particularly liked the clue to ‘Laster’! Many thanks, Yimin.

Many thanks to Yimin – not a setter I have come across before. I found some of the word play quite difficult to unravel, even when I was sure what the entry was. Perhaps one or two more thematic entries could have been fitted into the grid, but looking at the list of Oscar winning/ best actress films, there are not too many to choose from which have two word titles.

The theme was films starring Academy Award winning Best Actresses from the years 1928 (Janet Gaynor, STREET ANGEL), 1945 (Joan Crawford, MILDRED PIERCE), 2010 (Natalie Portman, BLACK SWAN), 2013 (Cate Blanchett, BLUE JASMINE) and 2015 (Julianne Moore, STILL ALICE). In fact it was Julianne Moore’s appearance in the leading diagonal which confirmed the theme and allowed me to complete the SW corner of the grid. Many thanks to Yimin for the challenge !

Yimin has written a very helpful blog on his puzzle, which, along with a full solution is available at

There were 55 entries, of which 10 were marked incorrect. The lucky winners picked from the electronic hat were Brian and Ros Rougvie who will soon be receiving a prize supplied by Chambers.

You still have time to send in your entries to our December puzzles, Seasons Greetings VIII and the maths special Christmas Puzzle by MatriX.

We start 2017 with a welcome return for a CWC favourite and Sad by Chalicea. This will be published early as I shall be setting off to spend New Year’s Eve in Portugal.

We still are looking for puzzles for the 2017 season. Any submissions will be tested and edited sympathetically.
As usual at Christmas I encourage you to order your 3D Calendar Puzzles ready for the new year.

The BBC CiNA (Children in Need Appeal)
3D Crosswords World Championship 2017

The BBC CiNA 3D Crosswords World Championship consists of 12 three-dimensional crosswords with clues set by some of the best UK compilers, on the frame of a calendar. Each day has a clue. Each month has a grid to complete in 12 prize competitions. The World Champion will solve all 12 puzzles and win a tie-break requiring skill and imagination.

Entry to the World Championship or just to have some fun is secured by paying £12.99
I was urged to look at the Logical blocked puzzle sequence of US-based  John Nolan (and his cartoonist wife, Stephanie Piro) and to see that our December Prize Puzzle had been announced.
“Also, congratulations to Eddie Looby and Keith Williams, who will have their eighth Seasons Greetings puzzle published on Dec. 1 on the prestigious site, where they are jointly known as Eclogue. Have a look, and if you find it tough, you are not alone.”

I loved that ‘prestigious’!

I tried the current puzzle and enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me of the style of Araucaria (bending the Ximenean rules). John Nolan is originally from Coldstream but now resides in Farmington NH. You can try his puzzles at

If you are looking for a good quiz for Christmas I can recommend the Goodworth Clatford Christmas Quiz 2016. Created by Araucaria’s family the quiz is sent to you when you donate to their chosen charity – Parkinsons UK.

You will be interested to know that Nick Smith is publishing a novel on December 30th. It’s called Drowned Hogg Day. It’s set in the present day but is largely about the events of December 30th 1816 (when Shelley married Mary Godwin, author of Frankenstein) and Dec 30th 1916 (when Rasputin was murdered). One of the unique aspects of the novel is that every chapter starts with a crossword clue (the answer is hidden in that chapter) but you and nearly all those clues go together at the end of the book to make up a single crossword. He is publishing the novel in blog form, chapter by chapter between Nov 10 (just gone) and Dec 30.

You can follow the blog from the link below. Remember that you have to scroll down to Nov 10 to get the first chapter.

It looks absolutely fascinating.

The novel Drowned Hogg Day is a PriSm publication and will be published on 30 December,
There is a crossword workshop for subscribers to Times Plus next month. These are some details:

Join the workshop on Saturday, January 28 for a day of crossword tips and tricks with Tim Moorey, crossword setter for The Times and The Sunday Times.

During the session you will discover the basics of solving cryptic clues and crosswords, as well as a little bit about the history of crosswords and the different types of puzzles. Tim will also reveal his recommended apps, software and top puzzle websites.

The workshop will especially suit those who solve the Times Quick non-cryptic crossword and wish to step up to its bigger cryptic brother.

Complete beginners are welcome. No prior knowledge will be assumed and you will enjoy learning in an embarrassment-free and fun atmosphere.

The day will also include coffee and tea on arrival, a light lunch and you’ll receive handy tips and literature to take away with you.

You will also receive a copy of the tutor’s book How to Crack Cryptic Crosswords and have the chance to get it signed by Tim.

To book tickets, click on ‘book online’ in the information box.

Please note, you will need to be logged in to see the booking link.
The book of the month on the Crossword Centre is Boatman: The First 50, a collection of crosswords by fiendish Guardian setter in which Boatman gives an insight into how the puzzles were composed.
Clue-writing competition.

I hope you have enjoyed the theme that has been running through the competition this year, and perhaps trying to guess each month’s clue word. Well, for this year’s Christmas Special it is your chance to have me guessing…

Your task for our festive frolicking is a RIGHT & LEFT to – TWELVEMONTH (11) plus another 11-letter word/phrase that completes the sequence formed by the other 11 clue words/phrases throughout this year.


A RIGHT & LEFT clue comprises of two separate clues that run together to form one “double” clue, with no overlapping of the two clues and no redundant words in-between. Ideally the “join” between the two clues should be as seamless as possible. The two words can be clued in either order – i.e. TWELVEMONTH/your chosen word – or – your chosen word/TWELVEMONTH– it is up to you.

Take a look at this example of a Right and Left clue from an old Ximenes competition winner. Note how the “join” is well disguised and the two clues combine to create a good overall surface reading:

Curt treatment of brat up in court is a necessary remedial measure

[ABRUPT:anag. “brat up” – TISANE hidden]
I am looking forward to tackling the Christmas specials, many of which are out this weekend as there are no newspapers on Christmas day. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and I shall be back in the new year.

Best wishes

Kindle Edition