Crossword News August 2017

 Crossword News August 2017

The July Prize Puzzle on the Crossword Centre was James Patrick? by Towser. The puzzle was themed on HENRY and a Henry had to be removed from some across clues. The remaining across answers can be somewhat mispronounced (in clue order) by Laurence K(err) Olivier as Henry the Fifth: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close the wall up with our English dead!”

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

A satisfying puzzle to solve on a number of levels. I was thrown for a while by the (occasionally) lengthy definitions in normal clues and by the (occasionally) lengthy clues that lacked a definition! I did like the free rendition of ‘Once more………………’   Good stuff – thanks!

Many thanks to Towser for two crossword’s-worth of clues in one puzzle.  They were very enjoyable, with some delighful abbreviations – hands, mark of the beast, only child.  An inventive idea.  Even when the nature of the redundant words had become clear, spotting them was not straightforward – shrapnel, particularly.  The “withering glisk stead” was cute!  And thanks for not torturing solvers with a tricky clue for STEDD/STEAD.

Have we had a 15 x 16 puzzle before ? This 78 clue extravaganza was a celebration of HENRYs, with the surnames, nickname/titles and in one case first name of 24 famous examples appearing as redundant words in 24 across clues. The 16 remaining across clues had no definition, their answers in clue order providing a roughly homophonic version of Sir Laurence Olivier’s famous Saint Crispin’s Day speech from the 1944 film version of Henry V.

There were 42 entries, of which only one was marked incorrect. The lucky winner was Bill Stewart, who will soon be receiving a prize donated by our sponsors Chambers Dictionaries.

A solution is now available at

You still have time to submit a solution to our August competition, Extraordinary Rendition by Nutmeg.

Our September Prize Puzzle will be Farce by Yimin. As I shall be on holiday on the 1st of September the puzzle will be published on 25 August.

The 1500th Inquisitor crossword was published last month and the editor, John Henderson, wrote this article in the i.

The evolution of a weekend institution
i’s Inquisitor, one of the country’s most ingenious and teasing crosswords, celebrates its 1,500th instalment today. Its editor, John Henderson, recounts its complex history of baffling readers I t has been said that cryptic crossword compilers are an eccentric bunch. If so, perhaps public opinion is well expressed in this email, received shortly after the Inquisitor moved from The Independent to i in April 2016: “Now that I have the solution [to Inquisitor 1439: Life After Death? by Nimrod], and with the aid of an old A-Z and my microwave instructions, after two weeks I have deduced that this is not a crossword at all, but secret instructions about the invasion of Narnia by an armchair and six toothbrushes at 4am tomorrow morning, followed by cocktails on the terrace. Obviously the three ‘winners’ named are actually spies. Perhaps you would let them know that their bover is clown.” Admittedly, the reader had a point. The puzzle, involving rotation of letters in their cells, empty squares and appropriate colouring of certain areas of the solution grid, was a pretty brutal introduction for i readers to the Inquisitor. However, the winners, duly enlightened with respect to their bover, had indeed actually arrived at the correct solution. Which says something, does it not, about the Great British Solver? Specific crosswords typically evolve along similar lines to solvers. Number one in our series, in the Independent Magazine’s Independent Pursuits section of 10 September 1988, was imaginatively headed “Crossword”. Entitled “Sacrificial Pawns” by Mass, the grid was 18-by-18, numbered up to 76 and had 32 thematic entries. A bottle of champagne was the prize and the crossword occupied the whole page, with the early remit for compilers being to “supply something suitable for the additional time people were believed to have available at weekends…” For some unaccountable reason, the week after Crossword 349, “Weekend Puzzle” #1 appeared. There had been no noticeable shift in style up until this point, but it was during this series that Mike Laws took up the editorial reins, and there were various changes in appearance, prizes on offer – and name and numbering. Following Weekend Puzzle 600, we arrived at Inquisitor 1 (and a blogging spot on FifteenSquared); after 151, the correct numbering – from 1107 – was reinstated. During this time, Mike occasionally wrote (in the commentaries he originated) about a “natural development” of puzzles and contributors. I’ve been editing IQ, as it has come to be affectionately known, since Mike died in the spring of 2011. Puzzle 1175 was his last as editor, and my first. As it was a sort of joint editorial effort, I was asked to look after IQ “for a few weeks…” So, here we are at 1500, then, and we hope you enjoy SPINK’s puzzle. To celebrate, there is a separate prize, a bottle of champagne, for deducing SPINK’s identity from the following (answers to Hard surface ended insane, Start of hope with confusion to gain Provided before Uncertain mind, or I’m not sure to go after champagne

Eccentric? Us?

Mark Goodliffe and Simon Anthony, founders of the Magpie magazine, have started a vlog on YouTube, in which they discuss how to solve the Times crossword. Absolutely fascinating! Take a look at

I am indebted to Nick for pointing out this article on Schrödinger puzzles.

Book of the Month on the Crossword Centre is the digital edition of Chambers Crossword Dictionary. As the Kindle app is free, you can read the digital edition on any device. If you are already using this version I would appreciate your views and comments.

The new message board is running well and is getting a lot of visitors. Already well over 100 people have registered as users and there are lots of interesting posts. Make sure you visit and save it in your bookmarks.

In the city of Lvov in the Ukraine a 100 foot crossword puzzle has been designed on the side of a building. Clues have been scattered around the city and at night the answers light up to reveal the solution.

Seven years ago I edited Armchair Crosswords by Afrit and with the help of my daughter, Lucy, the book was published. In his book Afrit (A F Ritchie) had included a short introduction to the puzzles in which, for the first time, some rules of fairness in clue-writing were laid down. Any decent history of the crossword will quote from the introduction. Moreover, the crosswords are fun and can be fairly easily solved.

We published 500 copies and there are now less than 100 copies left. You can find more information at

And finally, Jeff Pearce was solving puzzles in a collection of Times crosswords from 2003 when he came upon this uncanny premonition in two adjacent across answers.
Best wishes

Crossword Centre Summer Special August 2017

Inwards and Outwards by Vernon

Printable PDF Version

Reading inwards, one following the other, is a set of words. Reading outwards is another set of words.

1 Hair with special highlight (6)
2 King with adder slithering around (6)
3 Fruitcake, male, largely silent, weird (6)
4 Wages of sin? Purify by sacrifice (8)
5 Unpleasant person turning informer repeatedly (6)
6 Humour in show? Empty drollery (6)
7 Amazing: angels do return to some extent (8, two words)
8 Fraud hearing charged pretentious person (5)
9 Fail to observe the rules of the game and withdraw? (6)
10 Strangely well fed or reared on blossom (11)
11 After running wild, do I get a bloomer? (7)
12 Container for vessels that are wide and primarily buoyant, curiously (9, two words)
13 Extremely sentimental if repeated (3)
14 On entering bastard son made a loud noise (6)
15 “Rubbed out” (a euphemism): hotshot died (7)

a Unconcerned about cold drink that’s usually hot (5)
b After combining, mixture finally flared up (7)
c The two of them gather round a market stall (5)
d Violently batter old drum (6)
e A nasty wet day with endless rain was in store (7)
f Old giant’s head on monster (4)
g Review mediocre female composer (4)
h Left-wing friends consistently ignored (3)
i Returned Will’s cool emblem to Cambria (4)
j Unsettled, drove round borders of Ukraine (7)
k Wipes out parasites (7)
l Lord’s associate every day, according to Spooner (4)
m In a revolutionary state, see largely moderate politician (8)
n Seeker of better value cost cutting (8, two words)
o Malignly influential newspaper embraces reactionary measure (6)
p Draft incorrectly? I’m returning first of all, so don’t revise anything. Wait! (7)
q Rests uneasily − meeting of French tarts? (8)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format to before 8th September 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book donated by the Crossword Centre.

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle August 2017

Extraordinary Rendition by Nutmeg

Printable PDF version

The 1960’s novel 1ac sounds like a 37ac production, though in fact it wasn’t. Both of these are clued by wordplay only. A historic personage who, being married, was presumably once a 1ac, appears in the grid and must be highlighted (7 cells). His extraordinary rendition of 37ac accounts for the unclued lights, unchecked and mutually checked letters of which could produce FATAL B-BRICK

1 Novel involved 13 minus five (12, 3 words)
9 Priest put back gold-plated vessel (5)
12 That man’s cutting lace pants for little nippers! (6)
13 He drew men over into court (5)
17 Ploughs historically used to be turned west to south (4)
18 Former Italian tenor in inevitable return to gaol (8)
27 Part of insect’s leg, unknown one eaten by mate (8)
30 Suit bound to appear back to front (4)
33 Vital set of instructions compiled in case of surgery (5)
34 Quickly fixes drink after work (6, 2 words)
35 Dig up ground near hut (7)
36 Line representing serviceman in artist’s regular drawing (5)
37 Works by French novelist something to be thankful for (12, 3 words)
2 Bar last to fall within city’s limits, aptly (8)
3 Tireless criminal runs away, making good use of events (7)
4 Talk involved name-dropping (5)
5 Scottish harvest gatherers heading off? (6)
6 Cheers up, welcoming in old faces (5)
7 Round jar such as we have locally (4)
8 Big fellows goin’ down, heading to bottom (6)
11 No sound reason for lack of water? Water coming up (8, 3 words)
14 Bishop drops down over organ case (8)
16 Distinctive quality of hearing ultimately lost (4)
21 If nothing’s struck, oddly it’s a blow to Alpinists (4)
22 Trendy means of opening door one’s found on roof (7)
23 Marsupial needs somewhere to go, with disorder mounting (6)
24 Duke pinches floosie’s bottom prior to a grand celebration (6)
26 Bush in US is up and about, always rising first (6)
28 Firm friend’s contribution to glossy film? (5)
29 Soil must shape nature (5)
31 Car used by Pope located (4)

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

Crossword News July 2017

Crossword News July 2017

The June Prize Puzzle was our ninth Round Robin, Liven Up With… This puzzle was based on the saying MONEY MAKES A MAN. Ten answers had to be arranged with the addition of an M to make a man’s name.

Another toughish puzzle reflected in the smallish entry

Total Entries: 37. Correct: 31. Incorrect: 6

(Main error was KAGU for RAGU)

The Lucky Winner out of the Electronic Hat was Paul Henderson who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

Here are some of the comments.

Can’t believe that we have reached our 9th CWC Round Robin Puzzle already, needless to say I enjoyed this one just as much as previous editions. I particularly like elegantly constructed puzzles where the thematically adjusted entries are located symmetrically in the grid, as here with the original 10 men’s names. It was perhaps a slight shame that not all of the Ms in the names were either unchecked or mutually checked, as contributors clueing MESIAN and MULISH (and AARGH and RAIN once those 2 had been solved) may have started with a marginal advantage over other solvers. On the other hand, contributors of clues to other thematically adjusted answers were possible temporarily delayed by the lack of any immediate certainty on cross-checking with their own clues’ entries.  Many thanks to all contributors for another fantastic group effort!

I found it tough getting a firm toehold at first, possibly due to the variety of authors and also the cunning nature of the thematic clues.

B****y hell! I came close to giving up several times during the month. The penny dropped while sitting in the sun this afternoon and suddenly all became clear. This was a tricky puzzle with some challenging clues – one or two of which I still don’t quite get (eg 2dn). I also don’t quite understand the title of the puzzle – maybe I’ve completely messed up!  However, a tour de force with setters vying to write ‘the clue of the puzzle’. I’ve selected 3 which I thought particularly deft.

Solvers were asked to vote for their favourite clue. There was a clear winner with a tie for 2nd place.

1st: 10 across – Steve Bartlett – 16pts
TONEY – Hip joining two articulated body parts

2nd=: 5 across – Chris Brougham – 7pts
AARGH – Hot platter (divine) almost turned over – how dreadful!

2nd=: 3 down – Margaret Irvine – 7pts
SHOAT – Attempt to secure a potential bacon supplier

Once again, I am gladdened by the good will of the volunteer clue writers. This was a very clever grid conceived by Wan. Many thanks to all.

A full solution with notes is available at

In August we will be publishing two crosswords. The Prize Puzzle is Extraordinary Rendition by Nutmeg. We also have a summer special, Inwards Outwards, a very clever puzzle, by Vernon.

I am pleased to say that, with recent submissions, our pipeline is full until the end of the year. We would still welcome submissions for 2018.

The Crossword Centre message board has been, in my opinion, the best forum for discussion of crossword matters for many years. However, recently I have received lots of complaints about intrusive and upsetting adverts. I intend to move the message board to a Zeta board. The advantages are, firstly, the adverts are smaller and less intrusive. Secondly, once you register the board will recognise you and it is much easier to add comments. Early reaction to the new board has been very positive so I will soon change all links to the new board. In the meantime, do register with the Zeta board at

And add the site to your favourites.
Guardian setter Boatman will be holding another of his popular crossword masterclasses later this year. It will be in Brighton on the 4th November. You can find all about it at

Also in November, another Guardian setter, John Halpern aka Paul will be giving a fun-filled masterclass in how to tackle the cryptic crossword. You can get all the information and how to book at this link.

Remember that tickets for both of these masterclasses would make an ideal birthday or Christmas present.
The crosswords in the Spectator magazine are always of a high standard. You can try the latest by Columba at this link.

The Times National Crossword Championship will be held on Saturday 4 November in Times HQ, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF. Competitors have already done the qualifying puzzles and have been allocated places in the preliminary rounds.
And finally, confirmation of what we have suspected all along. Doing crosswords keeps your brain young.

Best wishes


New Message Board

The Crossword Centre message board has been, in my opinion, the best forum for discussion of crossword matters for many years. However, recently I have received lots of complaints about intrusive and upsetting adverts. I intend to move the message board to a Zeta board. The advantages are, firstly, the adverts are smaller and less intrusive. Secondly, once you register the board will recognise you and it is much easier to add comments. Early reaction to the new board has been very positive so I will soon change all links to the new board. In the meantime, do register with the Zeta board at

And add the site to your favourites.

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle July 2017

James Patrick? by Towser

Printable PDF version

SPEAKER: ____________________

Sixteen across answers are clued without definition; these have an association with 7 down when read (somewhat freely) in clue order. Clues to the remaining across answers contain a thematic redundant word or words; down clues are normal. Proper names may or may not begin with a capital letter. Solvers should add the name of the Speaker under the grid (6 letters).
1. Faint before American football referee loses supporter (5)
5. Partner mixed type ‘O’, stroking organs (5)
11. Moore to keep going forward – rugby player (4)
14. Low second note (5)
15. French maid returns with the Spanish – raise prince to high rank (7)
16. Wood becoming more stable – tree with unpleasant Scottish smell on high (9, two words)
17. Swarthy and savage nomad territory (6)
18. Is optimum when there is no time to finish (6)
20. Common cold (very) starts as Hudson records cold temperatures in Canada (6)
22. Shortened cotton undergarment supporting bedroom advance (3)
23. Foot of clay poetry in a mark of the Beast (4)
25. European Community invested in efflorescence of sodium salts in India (5)
26. Do not start to stop – manoeuvre bishop little by little (4)
27. No good erasing mixture – common cold snack with miller bread (6)
28. Seized for military use without encompassing order or authority (5)
30. Paving tool put up price (3)
32. An indefinitely large number manning American city college (3)
33. Fellow runs for Spenser (7)
35. Take the top off plastic bollards in the road (4)
37. Instigates simple fielding – mistaken? (6)
41. New Zealand white man from Pakistan, Holland, and (slight surprise) Austria (6)
43. Put back opportunity, scope, or occasion (4)
44. Indian tree with unpleasant smell – will students return grass? (7)
47. Publicity shy nymph from Olympus (3)
49. Short sheet of thermoplastic found in Cavendish science laboratory (3)
51. Rude or clumsy person changed from one final direction to the opposite (5)
52. Embrace? Questionably, Lee Cooper can (6)
53. Extremely hot in hall – may make setters stop (4)
54. Wartime camp for Tudor officers with a term of imprisonment (5)
58. Kelso thatch with no end of work (4)
59. Poetic river source gives the navigator run round (3)
60. Arrangement of mah-jongg tiles out of print (6)
62. Higher areas of the eighth moon moved her heart without hands (6)
65. Guess King divorced in Spain (6)
66. Ingenuity or intelligence the male exhibited by call (9)
67. Improve once in the North after shrapnel rearranged hen (7)
68. Good flank or loin, peculiar to a district (5)
69. Watch fowler run over female sandpipers (4)
70. Oddly, the British liquid used in dry-cleaning Bessemer process…(5)
71. …found in waste additives (5)

1. Ed’s “Return of the Few” or “Castaway” (4)
2. Wind is no cure with smoking Scots monarch who liked cigars (9)
3. Girl embraces doctor – one stupid or useless person (6)
4. Explorer started after Central America body of great water (4)
6. Lab gear deciphered by system using symbols involving reasoning about relationships (7)
8. Go with zero fruit (4)
9. Concerned with healthy start to recovery, this may make breathing easier (7)
10. Hard wooden ball in Kashmir, run kept back (5)
11. An obnoxious person, a player who cuts the cards hiding clubrfc (5)
12. Only child holds wreath of flowers derived from oil (5)
13. Fish start to evade second rods (7)
14. Giving direction to mosque, wandering Brahmin loses name (6)
19. Stokes artificial mix of clay and chalk plaster (in some parts of the country) (5)
21. Old injury – tense to get even (4)
22. To live socially depressed on earth or in hell (5)
24. M1 groove? (5)
27. Spurs on bird such as magpie on board (6)
28. Fed up with single point once put out of countenance (6)
29. Without constant set of beliefs, have another go (4)
31. Accustomed to losing a cubic centimetre (small volume) (4)
34. So let it be as the last word, a James or Patrick? (4)
36. Top of the head famous university in Holland (4)
38. Gloss over, perhaps, personal appearance in the…(5)
39. …course. Oil mixture, make chromatic (9)
40. Sing like Crosby – only first parts (5)
42. Vow or promise from Paisley in the Church (unorthodox) (5)
44. Glaswegian drizzle disperses English crowds (7)
45. Top of the head, lack of lines (4)
46. Time creeps, possibly a consideration (7)
48. A knocking sound on hard red wood – rubbish! (7)
50. Withdrew run in leg of stocking (6)
53. To mistake it for a ring on a dog’s collar (6)
55. What leads “Faerie’s” author (in name, Edmund) to dissemble (5)
56. Otherwise known as a Somerset quarryman’s word for limestone (5)
57. Uncle Sam’s intending to grade sodium (5)
61. Small and sweet sewing case does not open (4)
63. Evasive people back secretive Scots (4)
64. Died after, for example, a mild oath (4)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the final entries to before 8th August 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 June 2017

Crossword News June 2017

The May Prize Puzzle was Well-Connected by Dilwitch. This was themed on two celebrated pairs of conjoined twins which solvers had to highlight as well as their countries of origin. The theme was Siamese Twins, CHANG and ENG BUNKER from THAILAND and DAISY and VIOLET HILTON from ENGLAND.  Each twin’s first name shares a letter with that of its sibling.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

I found this tough, only gaining a few entries at each sitting and am still puzzled by a few of the clues. Very clever construction which had me fooled as regards the theme. I thought at first it was novels or characters. T-cloth instead of J-cloth had me baffled for a while but just as well as I guessed it was novel characters and fortuitously searched for Violet and Daisy. If I had included Jane in the search then I might have missed the theme. Then I was looking for Siam instead of Thailand and first identified Eng at 9ac. A good challenge all the way through.

The nature of the clues, a pair sharing something, was a clever device reflecting the theme, as was the joining of the Christian names in the grid.  Whether “well” was a good choice in the title might be moot: if the Wikipedia entry for the Hiltons is accurate, it is hard to imagine the horror of living with a dead conjoined twin for a couple of days, let alone such unremitting intimacy throughout life.  There were some delightful clues.  Long, long ago, in poems without end, extremely famous, inspired name used a cunning definition to which the placing of commas contributed (is my memory faulty or had it not used to be common to see “punctuation might mislead” in preambles? – anyway, nice to see a lovely example).   They go in for performance and rip off clothes, “——!”, I’d say – a flourish that’s linked to lift and Devotees of romantic novels, women devour lovers’ antics with ecstasy were excellent too.   In contrast, “breaking” in 33 and “through” in 38 seemed to serve no purpose other than to help the surface reading, and does “letter” in 42 perform a double duty in wordplay (edh) and definition?

A very tough puzzle as demonstrated by the lowish entry and high percentage error count of those received!  Main problems were with the highlighting and ELEGIT/SNEB with PLUGIN/SNUB being the usual alternative attempted.

Total Entries    37

Correct            24

Incorrect          13

The Lucky Winner out of the Electronic Hat was Keith Williams who will soon be receiving his prize donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution and notes available at

Dilwitch is the pseudonym of David Harry, veteran crossword enthusiast and a noted clue-writer in the Azed competitions. We met in Gateshead in March and discussed this puzzle. I commented on how fit and sprightly he looked. However, a few weeks later he suffered a major stroke and was rushed to hospital. The last I heard he was making progress in recuperating but it will be a difficult time for him and his wife, Barbara. We wish him a healthy recovery.

This month you still have time to solve and enter your solution for our ninth Round Robin, Liven Up With… Do not forget to send a vote for your favourite clue(s).

Our Prize Puzzle for July will be James Patrick? by Towser. This puzzle has the largest barred grid ever published on the Crossword Centre.

We are still looking to publish puzzles for October and November. As usual we welcome crosswords from debutants and seasoned setters.
In July there will be three crossword meetings. The first will be in Macclesfield on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th. Organised by Dean Mayer (Anax etc) this this will be held at the lovely Alpine-themed Snowgoose Cafe on Sunderland Street. This is within 5 minutes’ walk of the railway station and Travelodge.

John Henderson is inviting Inquisitor solvers to The Vine Inn in Kennedy Street in Manchester on July 22nd for a gathering to mark the publication of the 1500th puzzle in the Inquisitor series.

John is also planning a York S & B meeting on 27 to 29 July. Full details are available on the Fifteen Squared site at
A very interesting article in the Washington Post reminds us how D-Day Landing code words found their way into the Telegraph crossword in 1944.

The CWC Clue Writing Competition is going from strength to strength and even if you don’t enter it is worth looking at the clues and joining in the vote. This month’s competition is to compose a Right and Left clue to COLLOP/SURTAX. Voting on the clues to MICKEY continues until the 21st June. The CWCCC is at

If you receive this newsletter by email you are eligible to participate but you will have to register your email address. If you wish to join the mailing list there is advice here

And finally, from The Sunday Post-4 Jun 2017

A SCOTS grandmother, Eileen Doherty, 95 has become so hooked on crosswords that she is vowing to have one engraved on her tombstone.

Best wishes