Crossword News May 2019

Crossword News May 2019

The April prize Puzzle was 12-AC by Apt. By coincidence, this was published on the weekend that BBC1screened the first episode of series 5 of In Line of Duty, and that was the theme of the puzzle! The pairs of entries with swapped definitions are anagrams of the actors playing police officers investigated for corruption by ‘AC-12’ in the first three series of the TV drama Line of Duty: LENNIE JAMES (NINJAS/MELEE), KEELEY HAWES (EELS/HAWKEYE) and DANIEL MAYS (DAILY/MENSA). The pair forming an anagram of the relevant actor for the fourth series, THANDIE NEWTON, was to be highlighted.

A full solution is available at

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Thanks to Apt for the mostly easy clues (and the BBC for the constant trailers for the latest series which must have meant 12-AC was liable to ring a bell somewhere.) Having not watched any previous series, it did mean recourse to Wiki to find, not the names of the villains, but of the actors playing them.

I’m a late convert to ‘Line of Duty’ and, though I entered 12-AC early on and 36-AC not long after, it needed Google to determining the four names required. I thought the puzzle was well-constructed with a good number of clues having a smooth surface reading, enhanced by the transposition of the 6 definitions in three pairs of clues. Thanks to Apt for an enjoyable challenge.

Many thanks for the highly entertaining puzzle 12-AC by Apt. Aside from the new (for me) non-square grid it had some delights in the cluing and overall construction. The theme in 12ac of AC-12 came relatively easily after a few entries in the top left corner and 36ac followed swiftly. Then came the thematic links. All very satisfying. I am looking forward to next month already!

There were 46 entries, of which 2 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat, was Geoff Telfer from Shipley, who will soon be receiving a prize book.

You still have time to complete and submit your solution to the May puzzle, Leads by Hoot.

The June Prize Puzzle will be Evergreen by Flowerman. Flowerman is Ian Thompson, who has enjoyed solving cryptic puzzles since the 1970s. Having had more free time in the past five years, he has become a compiler of both standard and thematic puzzles. Most of his puzzles have been published in the Australian Crossword Club’s monthly magazine Crozworld, but some have also been published in the Crossword Centre and in Magpie.

Born and raised in Numurkah, Victoria, Australia, he currently resides in Melbourne with partner Jo. He has three boys. In his youth he was a keen sportsman and now keeps fit by cycling. He enjoys jigsaw puzzles. He has worked as a veterinary surgeon and as a plant taxonomist, hence the pseudonym. He is now retired apart from a small amount of teaching of biology at the University of Melbourne.

There will also be a June special, Last Word by Chalicea. Solutions to this special will also count towards annual statistics.
Robert Teuton sends a massive apology for the delay in announcing the results of the 2018 statistics. He has overcome lots of problems to get them sorted.

Six competitors manage to remain all correct for the year 2018 – three of them being the all corrects from 2017, i.e. Matthew Auger, Keith Williams and Brian Betker.  Joining them at the top of the pile are RJ Green, Dale Johannesen and Andie Johnson.  In the time-honoured tradition of the Cup passing on the the next in line of the all-corrects with the best countback record the winner for 2018 is thus Brian Betker! So, congratulations to Brian who will have his name inscribed on the beautiful Crowther Cup, named in honour of our old friend Trevor Crowther.

Robert hopes to publish the full statistics shortly.
A recent study on the effects of doing puzzles and word games on brain functions has been carried out at the University of Essex. From their results, researchers calculate that people who engage in word puzzles have brain function equivalent to ten years younger than their age, on tests assessing grammatical reasoning and eight years younger than their age on tests measuring short term memory. You can read more at this link.
If you have ever wondered how setters create puzzles with multiple letters in individual cells, EV editor, Steve Bartlett has written a fascinating explanation on Crossword Unclued. He advises using Qxw and show how he sets some of his complex crosswords.
Should crossword grids be symmetrical? Alan Connor addresses this question with an analysis of Emu’s wonderful Listener crossword 4549, From where I’m Standing.
Last month I mentioned Phi’s 2018 Apex puzzle which is sent to a group of solvers every Christmas. Now that the results have been completed, Phi has put the crossword on his website. You can have a try at this tough puzzle at this link.
The April Azed competition was to write a Printer’s Devilry clue to ERATHEM. The winning clue was by E C Lance who entered his first clue 60 years ago.

In Mozart’s op/inion, Figaro must outwit his master.

(In Mozart’s opera the minion, Figaro, must outwit his master.)

In his slip Azed commented – “And finally, special congratulations to Mr (or is it Dr?) Lance for gaining his first prize after competing for 60 years in Ximenes/Azed competitions, a real triumph of persistence. His earlier near misses (VHCs and HCs) are recorded on the website.”

Best wishes


Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle May 2019

Leads by Hoot

Leads by Hoot PDF version

The wordplay in each clue generates a superfluous letter. These letters, read in clue order, indicate how the unclued perimeter can be filled. One name (14 cells) is to be highlighted in the finished grid.

5 Apply for Social Security using email initially (3)
8 Rowed and separated when start of partnership became ordinary (5)
11 Split second of inspiration occurred during study (4)
13 Without hesitation, gossip about us (3)
14 Herd, nearly all of those furthest away (7)
15 A lorry load of repair tickets (5)
16 Drinks blood near troubled European saint (9)
18 Soldier stabs Horne perhaps, left of the spleen (6)
21 I left part of Venice to get an old viola (4)
22 I alone in the heart of a poet (4)
23 Not special, smallish, nobbled and hobbling (6)
25 Article of copper, half finished, even with aluminium it was not malleable (9)
29 Son is not a Jew, backing practitioners of Hindu philosophy (5)
30 Heart of a goat for example, not new, was misshapen like an egg (7)
32 Bloke endlessly snorts like a pig (3)
33 There is nothing inside many Glaswegian ovens (4)
34 Increased opportunity north of the border, look into it (5)
35 Swindling lender hides inside information (3)

1 I occasionally enter stars’ sporting events (5)
2 Knight, headless, moves back and forth and serves long ago (4)
3 A promise of commitment concerning love (5)
4 Tenses up when gentleman enters southern portico (7)
6 Livid fellow leaves with old wild ox (4)
7 Take all the males away, lament after one of them (5)
8 Insect expert has time after unusual donations (9)
9 Esteemable turncoat and legend (7)
10 Polite mingling with upper class in a boat (6)
12 In Vietnam a song, a group of musicians, and a dance for one (9)
17 Enchantments in Kansas relating to 70’s rock and movements in a raga (7)
19 Ooh no! It’s terrible indeed! (7)
20 That man, an old swindler, in the writ of execution (6)
24 Pain of a migraine returns in part to Pierre, my goodness! (5 two words)
26 German with cash in Sweden and Austria once, very small amounts (5)
27 Old note in a warehouse in Los Angeles (5)
28 Language used by Scottish race in the 16th century (4)
31 Queen Victoria holds little slack (4)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the highlighted name and the perimeter to before 8th June 2019. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News April 2019

Crossword News April 2019

The March Prize Puzzle was Round Robin XI. Solvers had to find the names of eleven actors who had played the role of Robin Hood in films. The mini-grid had to be completed using the letters of ROBIN HOOD. There is only one way it can be done where none of the definitions is in the correct place. (In the only other grid fill, ‘Measure’ would be in the correct place for HIN as the first down entry.)

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Thanks to all involved for an excellent puzzle. In retrospect, given the title, it should not have taken me a full week after I had solved the clues for the penny to drop that we were looking for actors who had played Robin (Hood) and there would be 11 in the quota. Only then did I spot COSTNER and FAIRBANKS, and manage to fill the mini-grid. I was familiar with most of the actors, but not ELWES, BERGIN, or EGERTON and I had a brief vision of BO DEREK in the rôle before discovering it was actually her husband.

Who knew that there have been so many versions of Robin Hood over the past 106 years, and what a great idea for the 11th CWC annual Round Robin puzzle, with 9 of the surnames of actors who have played the outlaw in the outer circle and two in the inner circle surrounding the mini word square composed of the letters of ROBIN HOOD. Congratulations to Ed and John on a great puzzle!

Great theme, concept and grid.  Many good clues with clever wordplay and deceptive surfaces. Wasn’t too difficult so the grid got filled up pretty quickly, helped by seeding from some rather straightforward clues.  But there was nothing to even give a hint of the theme despite the grid being completely filled, and spent quite some time staring blankly trying to make the connection.  Finally with the Costner/Fairbanks combo and a couple of guesses on other names, hit on the theme.  Still didn’t appreciate the full connection and figure out what filter to apply to fix the ‘quota’.  That PDM came a little later. A nice touch connecting all that innocuously to the title.  The mini grid went in fairly easily after that.

There were 40 entries, of which 2 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat was John Alston who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers. Solvers were asked to vote for their favourite clues and the results of the voting are as follows.

1st – 33 down – 16pts
SPEEL Two bars added to entrance to Murray Mount           SPELL with L made into E          Sprout

2nd – 9 across – 14pts
KEEPER         Banks maybe look to back initiators of economic recovery  PEEK< + E R (Gordon Banks)   Luciano Ward

3rd – 3 down – 13pts
ÉPUISÉE        Depleted uranium terrorists placed in weapon           (U + IS) in ÉPÉE            John Tozer

4th – 19 across – 12 pts
BLEAT           Trimmed meat in sandwich filling is beef      [m]EA[t] in BLT            Mark Oshin

I will be sending a small prize to Sprout.

A full solution is available at

You still have plenty of time to submit your solution to this month’s puzzle 12-AC by Apt.

The May Prize Puzzle will be Leads by Hoot. Jon Ballard has been solving cryptic crosswords ever since being introduced to those in The Guardian as a teenager in the 80’s, moving on to the classic puzzles of Ximenes, Apex etc. soon after. He has only very recently started trying to compile his own under the pseudonym ‘Hoot’.

Born and raised in Oxford he is a fan of the Colin Dexter novels, the original Inspector Morse TV show and its spin-offs. He is a classical music lover, especially the works of J.S.Bach, and after moving to the US in the late 90’s he currently resides in Wichita, Kansas where he works building acoustic guitars, rebuilding antique pianos and taking on other instrument repairs. He considers himself a competent craftsman and an amateur but enthusiastic musician.

All the puzzles that we publish on the Crossword Centre are tested cold and all our comments and queries are sent to the setter. For many years the testing team has been myself, John Nicholson and Frank Pasterczyk. Since Frank’s death we would like to have a third tester to give an extra opinion. If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch with me.

On the 29 March 1979 a fifteen-year old John Henderson had his first crossword published in the Guardian. Forty years later we were delighted to join John and Jane for a celebratory lunch in the Marcia in Bishopsthorpe. The anniversary crossword in the Guardian that morning was a demonstration of Enigmatist’s infuriatingly clever clues and a grid packed with synonyms for ‘upstart’. I have put a copy of the first Enigmatist crossword at this link.
On the 22 and 24 March the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament was held in Stamford. In a closely fought competition the winner was Dan Feyer who now holds a record number of wins. The full results are here  
While sorting through some papers I found a copy of the menu for the very first Ximenes Dinner, held to mark the 100th Ximenes crossword. The dinner was held in the Trocadero Hotel in Piccadilly on Monday 25 April 1949. One of the guests, C Allen Baker, had got other guests to sign his menu. Among the signatures you can clearly see those of Ximenes ( D S Macnutt) and Afrit (A F Ritchie) who was the guest of honour.

Also present was Alec Robins who remembered the names of many of the other guests including Dorothy Taylor, who was his partner in the Everyman series. Alec recalled Afrit’s very witty speech into which he worked every solution of X’s competition crossword of the previous day, thus giving the answers to anyone who had been unable to complete it – much to X’s embarrassment.

The menu is posted at

At one time I had a photo of this dinner which I can no longer find. If anyone has a copy, I would love to publish it. I have a bad photocopy which I have posted at
When I was preparing to publish Armchair Crosswords by Afrit, his daughter, Ann Brierly, sent me lots of cuttings where her father was mentioned. I used some of these in the preface and in the appendix. However, I had overlooked an article written at the time of the Ximenes Dinner held to celebrate number 1000. I have made this into a page on the Ximenes site and you can read it at this link.
Paul Henderson continues the tradition started by Apex of sending out A Phi Every Xmas. Last Christmas the puzzle was tougher than usual. Solvers write a clue and send a donation to the Moorfields Eye Hospital. This year more than £500 was raised. The results of the voting have now been released.

Winning clues to KEYBOARD MUSIC

1st Moby Dick sure is complicated without a set of notes Ross Beresford

2nd Scenes from Childhood, eg your backside getting spanked after admitting a bit of mischief Richard Heald

3rd I’d back my Euros to convert into notes for a grand? Richard Morse
Solvers who managed to find the hare in Poat’s 2016 Listener crossword – Buried Treasure, might be interested in this article about Masquerade.
A new crossword book is available this month. The Tes Crossword Book is a collection of 20 puzzles from the Tes magazine at a modest price of £3.50. You can only order it on-line at
On the clue-writing competition site your challenge for April is a STANDARD CRYPTIC clue to SUCKER-PUNCH(6-5) by the closing date of MIDNIGHT BST TUESDAY 30th APRIL.
Remember for more crossword updates and photos you can follow me on Twitter @dzharrison or join our Crossword Centre group on Facebook.

Best wishes


Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle April 2019

12-AC by Apt

12-AC by Apt PDF

Four thematic names have become involved with 12-AC, and each appears as such in the grid, split across two entries. For three of these pairs of entries, the definition in each clue indicates the word in the other entry. Solvers must highlight the remaining pair. A thematic title appears at 36-AC.

1 Booth for one with two mugs in? (8)
7 Setter sheltered several ones (5)
12 See preamble (10)
13 A certain national regalia’s unusual name (8)
14 Country’s flexible exercise of guile gets Government ousted (5)
15 One reading barcodes start to finish for Heinz etc (7)
17 Eye of thunderstorm is, surprisingly, to avoid its target (4)
19 Increasingly emotional row captures attention (7)
21 Enlarged cell block leads to assistant supervisor’s spat with copper (5)
24 Paper boys, after growing up, serve as leaders (5)
26 New hat, no trouser pockets and so forth (7, 2 words)
31 Bring back special festival (4)
33 Ian’s continuously occupying island state near Brunei (7)
34 A nobleman beheaded a priest (5)
35 Catherine, cooking without recipe, becomes prickly (8)
36 See preamble (10, three words)
37 Trouble in Benin’s intelligent society (5)
38 Observe New Zealander’s restless energy at close quarters (8, three words)

1 Monkey poo used in US when raising plants (7)
2 Birds alone: empty nesters? (6)
3 What’s kept in spare napkin ring? (5)
4 Someone online: less loud and more confident (5)
5 Make a jet pack sputter with last of power (5)
6 A large number in Japan like a fight (6)
8 Harry I name as a friend abroad (5, two words)
9 Let nine off, being this? (7)
10 Referee’s assistant is conscious of missing header (4)
11 Letters from former lovers (4)
14 Comfortable with weapon (4)
16 English king’s distressed call to protect sacred site (5)
18 Time component dropped from SI unit in scientific movements (7)
20 Dodgy characters sell knackered pheasants (7)
22 Type of gun with small barrel (4)
23 Product made from coal within small valley (6)
25 Son’s spiteful and disorganized (6)
27 Bikini, perhaps held up by Sellotape (5)
28 US lake that Hoover visited regularly (5)
29 Rip off present’s wrapping paper at last (5)
30 Abandon party with a positive attitude (5)
31 A bit of spit and polish (4)
32 Make heavy demands on advanced classes? (4)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the highlighted entries to before 8th May 2019. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News March 2019

Crossword News March 2019

The February Prize Puzzle was Side to Side by Nod. A hidden message gave CHANGE HANDS TO THE APPROPRIATE SIDE OF THE GRID. All the letters R and L had to change places to give new words.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

I have to say that I found this to be an absorbing struggle and I still do not understand how one or two of the clues work.  I was not helped by my determination to have TASSELS where DOSSELS (which morphed to DOSSERS) should have been.  That said, the puzzle did allow a little working backwards once the grid was near completion.  Great fun.  Thank you Nod.

I waited until I had solved most of the clues before I tried to work out the instruction given by the first letters of the extra words, and I didn’t understand the instruction until I had solved the rest of them. I generally think it is annoying to have to reorder letters produced by the clues to make sense of them, but I liked that I had completed the grid before I noticed that each of R and L only appears on the ‘wrong’ side of the grid and each down answer outside of the two central columns contains exactly one R or L.  It seemed obvious that every R must become and L and vice versa, even when I discovered that KALAS and RASS don’t appear in Chambers. Any doubts I felt were allayed by finding they are both words in ODE, and an online search revealed they are also surnames.

Thanks very much for this puzzle.  I enjoyed it very much.  I have to admit that once I had initially filled the grid, I then used a spreadsheet to the grunt-work of arranging the letters to arrive at the instruction.  All in all a very satisfying denouement!  Please convey my thanks to Nod.

There were 40 entries of which 5 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked form the electronic hat was Eddie Looby who will soon be receiving a copy of Chambers Complete Crossword Lists. I am delighted that Chambers will be continuing their sponsorship of our prizes this year. However, there may be some delay in receiving the books due to reprinting.

A full solution to Side to Side is available at

You still have lots of time to complete the March puzzle, Round Robin XI, before the 8th April.

The April Prize Puzzle will be 12 AC by Apt.
The 2019 Listener Crossword Setters’ Dinner was held in the Gimcrack suite at York Racecourse. Jane Teather read out obituaries to Dave Crossland, Don Bradley, Geoffrey Kay, Paul Taylor, Stephen Rice and Frank Pasterczyk before proposing a toast to Absent Friends.

The guests enjoyed an excellent meal before Shane Shabankareh started the speeches with a toast to the organisers, John Henderson and Jane Teather.

In memory of Roddy Forman, the Radix Auditorum Jar is awarded to the best newcomer solver. For 2018 it was mother and daughter twosome, Meredith Topliss and Denise Wilks.

The Solver’s Silver Salver is awarded to the longest unbroken run of all-correct solutions, with the understanding that winners will defer to the best solver whose name has not appeared on the salver. At the moment Neil Talbott is still going strong with 267 all-correct, with Shirley and Charles Curran second with 237. The winner this year was Richard Foden with 138.

Richard explained how the voting for puzzle of the year was arranged. There were 18 all-correct out of the 1000 people who attempted the Listener crossword in 2018. Each could vote for their favourites, using the prime voting points scheme, 11, 7, 5, 3 or 2. In the end, 27 of the 52 puzzles got at least one vote, with 16 getting at least one 1st or 2nd vote. In reverse order the final vote was –

5th Translate into Spanish by Cagey

4th Disappearances by ‘Eck

3rd Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis

2nd Quads III by Shark

1st Doing a Sort by Elgin

So Glen Mullineux (Elgin) was awarded the Ascot Gold Cup.

All through the meal guests were attempting to solve a devious quiz, compiled by John Henderson. On our table there was myself, Lois McLaren, Peter Harrison, John Minter, Stephanie Perks, Andy Mullins and Alf Mullins. We worked out that the quiz was based on four historical characters who had inspired Carry On films. The final task was to write a clue to Dick Turpin. Alf hurriedly wrote a clue which was to win our table the coveted Bronze Casket. His clue –

Putin (Russia’s leader) upset following idiot robber on horseback

Jane Teather has put the table quiz on her website at

Finally, John Henderson awarded the trophy for the best Inquisitor puzzle of 2018. For the second year running it went to Harribobs, Peter Harrison. Next year’s dinner will be in the south of the UK. I think that John and Jane deserve congratulations for organising such a marvellous event.
On Saturday the 16th of March a new grid-based word puzzle, Square Routes, was launched in The Times. Square Routes is the brainchild of Ian Simpson and Richard Heald, and will be appearing in The Times each Saturday. The puzzle requires seven or more thematically linked words to be fitted into a 5×5 grid by meandering from cell to cell according to a novel set of rules, and should appeal to a range of puzzle fans.

Solvers are given the words to be entered, and are told which cells  contain vowels, and which cells contain the first letter of a word. Most puzzles should take average solvers around 5 to 15 minutes to complete.
John Grimshaw has been setting the Times concise crossword for many years and on the 2nd March, he published his 5000th puzzle. As usual there was a special message hidden in the Saturday crossword. Moreover, in February he achieved the milestone of 1000 jumbo crosswords. He was interviewed in an article in the Times.
Steve Barrett is taking on the job of editor of the Enigmatic Variations puzzles in the Sunday Telegraph. Steve already sets puzzles for the Telegraph and is well known for his thematic crosswords under the pseudonym eXternal.
Very sadly the death was announced of John Harrington, the setter Schadenfreude whose engaging puzzles challenged solvers since his first publication in 1998. His puzzles have appeared in the Listener, the Inquisitor, the EV and the Magpie. Born in 1944, he described his life, in the A to Z of Crosswords, as “largely reclusive, spending most of his time walking the footpaths, setting more crosswords and keeping an extensive garden under some sort of control”.  Our condolences go out to his friends and family.
For any Francophiles trying to solve a crossword in French, I have noticed that Quinapalus has recently added a French word search engine to his marvellous QAT.
The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be taking place on the 22 to 24 March this year. Check out what is going on at this link.
The Clue-writing competition – Your challenge for March is a STANDARD CRYPTIC clue to NARCISSUS (9) by the closing date of MIDNIGHT BST SUNDAY 31st MARCH.

Best wishes

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle March 2019

Round Robin XI

Round Robin XI PDF

Solvers should complete the names going clockwise in the perimeter, and highlight the others in the grid that would make up the quota.
The central mini-grid should be completed using all nine letters of a thematic name to form three across and three down entries. The definitions for the six entries are shown in alphabetical order; for the correct solution, solvers should note that with regard to conventional order none of the six is in the right place.
The Chambers 13th edition is the primary reference.

9 Banks maybe look to back initiators of economic recovery (6)
10 Discontinued screw fixing means delay at works (7)
12 Describing one in Maryculter’s middle age spread? (6)
13 Scrambled egg I do like, Gromit! (6)
14 River gully? (6)
15 Article being one Norman played with I’d assumed (7)
17 Just one stopping off (4)
18 Returning angler discovered reef fish (5)
19 Trimmed meat in sandwich filling is beef (5)
20 Uncovered zealous South African’s plots (5)
22 Beset by difficulty, like being short for so long (5)
25 In audition, actors often do this extract (5)
28 Very much like Kafka’s Das Schloss (5, 2 words)
30 Sessions of courts sanctioned originally by these? (4)
34 Part of orchestra violin case that’s edible? (7)
35 Hidden charge on cloth from the East (6)
36 Bicycle pedal covers styled as before (6)
37 Reason for a mass outpouring? (6)
38 Leading characters in debate into leaving Union think European stonewalling weakens the solution (7)
39 Need to beg, hence dropping caps (6)


1 Distorted alter ego without excuse finally for one who bequeaths (7)
2 Survey returned with area for one bird (6)
3 Depleted uranium terrorists placed in weapon (7)
4 Lawyer boyfriend keeps on hugging one (5)
5 For this abnormal swelling, doctor made dressing extra-tight initially (5)
6 More than one spoke of terrible raid around capital of Iraq (5)
7 Italian student welcomes retired doctor and an attractive young woman (6, 2 words)
8 Tumour beginning to advance after one overwhelmed by despair, abandoned chemo finally (6)
11 Given a degree, perhaps clipped (6)
16 Hire some apprentices (4)
19 Side getting header from Kane to catch up (4)
21 Jess’s ring is left after king is imprisoned in historic days (6)
23 Monitors in hotel room smashed by Democratic convention’s centrists (7)
24 Island Nationalist reportedly abandoned veto (7)
26 Aerial, possibly, aids in the classroom (6)
27 Error raised eyes at the ophthalmic centre (6)
29 Times party hosted by retiring individual by gift (6, 2 words)
31 The case for oceanological study of ancient times (5)
32 Stylish look abandoned for myself as unmanly (5)
33 Two bars added to entrance to Murray Mount (5)


To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the final entries to before 8th April 2019. 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.

Theme and grid: Ed Powles and John Nicholson.
Clues: Steve Bartlett, Rod Beards, Rod Bell, Shirley Curran, Brian Dungate, Peter Finan, Derek Harrison, Richard Heald, Margaret Irvine, Eddie Looby, Leon F Marzillier, Dean Mayer, David McKie, Supriya Mithal, Alf Mullins, Satyen Nabar, Nebuchadnezzar, John Nicholson, John Nolan, Mark Oshin, Bhalchandra Pasupathy, Phylax, Ed Powles, Rishikesh C G, Simon Shaw, Ian Simpson, Mona Sogal, Sprout, Andy Stewart, James Taverner, Paul Taylor, John Tozer, Ajeesh V M, Luciano Ward, Nick Warne, Clive Weatherley and Keith Williams.

Crossword News February 2019

Crossword News February 2019

Francis Pasterczyk 1938 – 2019

It was with a huge sense of loss that I learnt that my old friend Frank Pasterczyk passed away on Saturday 9 February. Frank loved tough crosswords and was a leading solver of Magpie puzzles. He was an integral part of the Crossword Centre from the outset. He tested all of our puzzles and his meticulous editing was appreciated by the setters. He also had crosswords that he had composed under the pseudonym Regson on the site.

He contacted me 20 years ago with queries about the Listener crossword. I started putting the Listener on-line so that he could do them. Over the years we became good friends and in 2010 we met up in New York, where he and his wife took us to their favourite Chinese restaurant. Despite health problems and major surgery, he defied the odds and carried on enjoying life. As soon as he had received the Magpie he would put everything on hold until he had solved all the puzzles.

I shall miss him greatly.

His obituary was posted in the Westfield Leader.
The prize puzzle for January was One to Ten by Chalicea. This was a gentle start to the year as, once you had guessed the theme, you could fill half of the grid. Unclued lights gave the alternate lines of ‘One, Two, Buckle My Shoe’ from one to ten. Solvers were instructed to SORT CIRCLED LETTERS – ELEVEN TWELVE thus requiring them to write ‘Dig and delve’ below the grid.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Thank you for a lovely puzzle that did not find easy to start but once going, it was good fun and interesting.  It was not long before some guesses could be made of the un-clued entries and for once, I was correct first time.  I confess I had to research on-line for the required addition at the bottom of the grid.  Not so much a lapse of memory but I doubt I ever knew that far into the nursery rhyme.  Thank you for a lovely start to the year and I look forward to many more puzzles from Chalicea.

I initially thought this was going to be a battle but, suddenly, something clicked and I ‘saw’ ‘Pick up sticks’ which led to the other thematic entries and completion wasn’t too long in coming! Thanks to Chalicea for another well-crafted and enjoyable puzzle.

Here is my attempt at the January 2019 Prize Puzzle. It always amazes me where the ideas come from and then how the concept is created into such an interesting puzzle. This one had just the right amount of difficulty for me, requiring some consideration and research before the penny finally dropped.

There were 52 entries, of which 2 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner was Chris Edwards, who will soon be receiving a copy of Chambers Complete Crossword Lists which was donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution at

You still have time to finish the February puzzle, Side to Side by Nod.

The March Prize Puzzle will be our eleventh Round Robin crossword. With a grid designed by Wan, each clue was composed by a volunteer setter.
Last month I mentioned that Coin Gumbrell was retiring from setting and many solvers were wondering who would take over on the Everyman crossword. Since its start with Ximenes the Everyman has gained a reputation as an accessible crossword with clues that are fair to the solver. On the 27 January the first post-Gumbrell Everyman appeared and it was, in my opinion, shockingly bad. A crossword editor would have asked for over half to be rewritten for lack of conventional indicators. You can judge for yourself at

Following some discussion on Facebook, George Heard came up with a spoof which he called the Veryman. Well, it made me laugh.
Voting has taken place to name the Inquisitor puzzle of the year. I am delighted that Harribobs took first place for his Go West, Young Man crossword. He had his debut puzzle on our site and since then has produced a number of cracking puzzles. You can see the other results here.
David Astle’s new book, Rewording the Brain, deals with cryptic crosswords and whether they can improve your memory and boost the power and agility of your brain. Kathryn Friedlander has written a fascinating review of the book. It might make you want to buy a copy.
Roy Dean, holder of the record for solving the Times crossword, died in December. He was an exuberant character, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasions. My greatest memory is of him singing at a dinner for Apex. His obituary is published in the Times.
I shall be going to the Listener Crossword Setters’ Dinner at York racecourse on the 2nd March and am looking forward to meeting friends old and new. As usual, a full report on the evening will appear in the April newsletter.

As part of a de-cluttering process chez nous, a lot our books are going to charity shops. However, some of my vintage crossword books, I feel, should go to interested crossword enthusiasts who want to add to their collection. Therefore, I have put some for sale at reasonable prices. You can see them at
The clue-writing competition has a new contest. Your challenge for February is a STANDARD CRYPTIC clue to RAINBOW (7) by the closing date of MIDNIGHT GMT THURSDAY 28th FEBRUARY.

The statistics for 2018 are now available and make for interesting reading. Congratulations to Tom Borland on winning the annual honours competition.

Best wishes