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


Prize Puzzle July 2016

Pending Solution by Chalicea

Printable PDF version


Each clue contains an extra word. The initial letters of these, read in clue order, give an instruction.

2    Circuits in units, cooking fries with omelettes now and then (8)
7    Extremely fine band bringing back old airs over time (5)
11    Bark when low earnings cut back (3)
13    Lecturer to acquire non-standard office to teach (5)
14    Catastrophic obliteration losing one rough unclassified fossil order (9)
15    Spirit very rarely accepted in narcotic drink (4)
16    Organic soil flourishing intermittently in gully in Shetland (3)
17    Poet’s ice outcrop smashed into a state of disintegration (8, two words)
19    Configuration of remote stars, part of Chamaeleon (3)
20    Ill-disposed as Tsar to turbulent village headman (8)
21    Nineties, years lacking restraint for baseball teams, for example (5)
23    In Holyrood, directed explosive sardonic tirade (6)
24    Airshows not oddly producing electronic film replay systems (4)
26    Leader of vegetable operatives penetrating chickpea aperture (6)
29    Gypsy man going round with southern, essentially local girls (4)
31    Thieving bird kept finally for pet in northern Scotland (4)
33    Couple’s in-laws sorted out bills in St Andrews’ bars (6)
35    Bird’s eggs primarily second-rate and lacking colour (4)
37    New design for limitless ancient scorn (6)
39    Irritable, hot and angry finally, after bottlenecks regularly lengthen (5)
42    Misuse of petrodollars uncovered doubly subsidising fee-charging expressway (8, two words)
45    Poet’s regret; odes were mostly rejected (3)
46    A hermit surprisingly active in sacred Brahminical temples (8)
47    Misery in Scotland of wife spurned by one Glaswegian (3)
48    One from the other side of the curtain is troubled so, retrospectively (4)
49    Inordinately saintlier one converting anthems to language of antiquity (9)
51    Medical procedure, central part of gene mapping (5)
52    Oppressive Liberian tyrant periodically cross (3)
53    Grim gentleman goes around within limits of East Germany (5)
54    Splendid sparkling stuff followed by top ups, from time to time (8)
1    In a muddle idly omit things of bivalve form (8)
2    Post royal consultant taking on two queens to watch over deplorable power (14, two words)
3    Bird, worshipped by Egyptians, Latin at heart, unwelcome devil for Muslims (5)
4    Clinician to crop one deformed small bone (7)
5    Taxpayer must locally support loan for primitive type of human (6)
6    Island race harbouring unlimited energy for new year festival (3)
7    Without computer technology, Island readjusted monetary units (6)
8    Distraught karate society member’s resort to extreme fighting (8, two words)
9    Firmly established nature of tee at Inverness angled unusually (14)
10    Disconcerted with husband leaving, noticeably cast down (6)
12    Fool about, defusing explosive material (5)
13    Folds Durban’s waste rags (4)
16    Got over offensive archaic expression of disbelief (4, two words)
18    Racket rising near the ear rapidly (4)
22    Monkey language, not entirely uttered in words (3)
23    German writer loses head demanding one-time next-of-kin’s stipend (3)
25    Fluctuating temperature-humidity index in filthy places; local smithies (8)
27    Dynasty discovered in ancient Irish annals (3)
28    Couple backing anything made locally (3)
30    Bloom of delivery following heroin overdose (8)
32    Wherry to use occasionally, form of action word in days gone by (4)
34    Irish playwright not once satisfactorily presented essentially, in native language (7)
36    Dropouts lived somewhere abandoning derelict homes (4)
37    Heartless newly-married man is upset eviscerating monstrous bird (6)
38    Roam around in outskirts of gullery searching for fish (6)
40    Votaress lacking inspirational verse and craft turns to muse (5)
41    Becoming unenthusiastic, losing heart, softly murmuring grievances (6)
43    Sing an accompaniment, one note noisily repeated (4)
44    Drum up satisfactory independent electoral publicity (5)
50    Rotten eggs served up for small change in Macao (3)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format indicating clearly the final grid, to before the 8th August 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 June 2016

Crossword News June 2016

The Prize Puzzle for May was See Trevor’s meaning of toil by Nudd. This was beautifully themed on an album by rock group Genesis. Thematically appropriate first and last letters of extra words spell ANAGRAM CROSSWORD’S TITLE which gives “FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION”

(Also of course “Trevor’s moan notifies glee” and “Trevor’s one mile of teasing”)

This first Genesis album (pre- Phil Collins) featured Tony BANKS, Peter GABRIEL, Mike RUTHERFORD, Anthony PHILLIPS and John SILVER all appearing in the final grid.

This was a very popular puzzle with an above-average entry. Here are some of the comments.

I’m sure aficionados of Genesis would have recognised the thematic names very quickly, certainly far more easily than unjumbling the puzzle title, but in my case it was Google to the rescue again.   By and large, the clues generally were on the easy side, but I now know a new meaning for zebra, that hounds might be geese, and Genesis wasn’t always Phil Collins. So thanks to Nudd for the education, and for reminding me of when I was a cub many decades ago.

Thank you for a most enjoyable puzzle. The damaged tracks clues were an interesting departure from the normal, even if the other clues were not too demanding. I was very interested to learn of Gabriel Hounds. Whilst of the generation that enjoyed Genesis, I was not a fan and I relied completely on Google to take me from partial grid-fill to completion. Once I had identified the album the damaged tracks clues worked out nicely. Then, after easily locating Phillips, Banks, Rutherford and Gabriel, I spent some time looking for Collins and then, in increasing desperation, Stewart (which is nearly there) before further research told me of Silver.

A wonderful idea. Presumably, choosing an album with suitable song titles must involve much work, so a clever suggestion from Trevor.   Writing clues with those constraints seems testing and Nudd should be congratulated for some fine constructions: those splitting the song title between definition and wordplay (“Fireside Song” and “Silent Sun”) were especially charming. Identifying the record came through complete luck; indeed, a misconception – noticing that IDES is “One Day” each month and thinking of Phillip’s crew (sic) as Phil Collins’s group. I wonder how others got there, as getting the album from an anagram of the crossword title would have been too daunting for me.   A lovely puzzle. Many thanks to Nudd and to Trevor.

There were 66 entries for this puzzle (48 correct, 18 incorrect). The main stumbling block was the alternative spelling MAVEN for MAVIN which tripped up 14 of the 18 incorrects.

The lucky winner out of the electronic hat was: Christine Thomas of Aberaman, who will soon be receiving a prize supplied by Chambers.

A full solution with notes is available at

This month you have two crosswords with prizes. The June Prize Puzzle is A Short Time to Set by Wan. We also have a referendum special, The Playing Fields of Eton by master cluesmith Shackleton. We have decided that this will also count for the Crowther Cup competition. You have until the 8th of July to submit a solution to these excellent puzzles. However, in the Shackleton puzzle you have a chance to vote and polling will end at 10pm on 23rd June. We hope to publish the results of the polling on the message board.

The July Prize Puzzle will be Pending Solution by Chalicea.

We are still desperate to receive submissions for our autumn competitions. All submissions are tested sympathetically and we welcome puzzles from setters new and old.
Since I started advertising our puzzles on WordPress we have attracted some new solvers and I am very grateful for the retweets and shares. It is also nice to see our puzzles mentioned on other sites. However, it was a bit of a shock when it was pointed out to me that one site was offering hints to solving the Wan puzzle.

Quite a brief newsletter this month as I have just returned from a week in Portugal to find a house needing major building work after a leak from our fridge wrecked the flooring.

Best wishes




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